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Such are the contradictory elements of the complex state of society, which perplex the observation of a stranger visiting this country. An enlightened member of the diplomatic corps told Mr. Rush, that, at the end of his first year, he thought he knew England very well; when the third year had gone by, he began to have doubts; and after a still longer residence, his opinions were more unsettled than ever : some he had changed entirely ; others had undergone modification; and he knew not what fate awaited the rest.
• There was reason in his remark. If it be not contradictory, I would say, that he shewed his judgment in appearing to have at present no judgment at all. The stranger sees in England, prosperity the most amazing, with what seems to strike at the roots of all prosperity. He sees the most profuse expenditure, not by the nobles alone, but large classes besides ; and, throughout classes far larger, the most resolute industry supplying its demands and repairing its waste ; taxation strained to the utmost, with an ability unparalleled to meet it; pauperism that is startling, with public and private charity unfailing, to feed, clothe, and house it ; the boldest freedom, with submission to law; ignorance and crime so widely diffused as to appal, with genius and learning and virtue to reassure; intestine commotions predicted, and never happening; constant complaints of poverty and suffering, with constant increase in aggregate wealth and power. These are some of the anomalies which he sees. How is he at once to pass upon them all? he, a stranger, when the foremost of the natives after studying them a lifetime, do nothing but differ!'
The civil festival on the 9th of November, on which occasion Mr. Rush dined at Guildhall, suggests the following reflections, which must be gratifying to all but those incorrigible croakers who delight in predictions of evil.
I should not soon have done if I were to mention all the instances of which I chanced on this occasion to hear, of riches among mechanies, artizans, and others, engaged in the common walks of business in this great city. I heard of haberdashers who cleared thirty thousand pounds sterling a-year, by retail shop-keeping ; of brewers whose buildings and fixtures necessary to carry on business, cost fonr hun. dred and fifty thousand pounds; of silversmiths worth half a million; of a person in Exeter Change, who made a fortune of a hundred thousand pounds, chiefly by making and selling razors, of job-horse men, who held a hundred and forty thousand pounds in the l'hree per Cents; and of confectioners and woollen drapers who had funded sums still larger. Of the higher order of merchants, bankers, and capitalists of that stamp, many of whom were present, whose riches I heard of, I am unwilling to speak, lest I should seem to exaggerate. I have given enough. During the late war with France, it is said that there were once recruited in
single day in the country between Mana chester and Birmingham, two thousand able-bodied working men for the British army. It is the country so remarkable for its collieries, iron-mines, and blast-furnaces. Its surface is desolate. A portion of it is sometimes called the fire country, from the flames that issue in rolling volumes from the lofty tops of the furnaces. Seen all around by the traveller at night, they present a sight that may be called awful. Sometimes you are told that human beings are at work in the bowels of the earth beneath you. A member of the diplomatic corps, on hearing of the above enlistment, remarked, that could Bonaparte have known that fact, and seen the whole region of country from which the men came, seen the evidences of opulence and strength in its public works, its manufacturing establishments and towns, and abundant agriculture, notwithstanding the alleged or real pauperism of some of the districts, it would of itself have induced him to give over the project of invading England.
In like manner, let any one go to a lord mayor's dinner; let him be told of the sums owned by those he will see around him and others he will hear of, not inherited from ancestors, but self-acquired by individual industry in all ways in which the hand and mind of man can be employed, and he will be backward at predicting the ruin of England from any of her present financial difficulties. Predictions of this nature have been repeated for ages, but have not come to pass.
• Rich subjects make a rich nation. As the former increase so will the means of filling the coffers of the latter. Let contemporary nations lay it to their account, that England is more powerful now than ever she was, notwithstanding her debt and taxes. This knowledge should form an element in their foreign policy. Let them assure themselves that instead of declining sheis advancing; and that her population increases fast ; that she is constantly seeking new fields of enterprise in other parts of the globe, and adding to the improvements that already cover her island at home new ones that promise to go beyond them in magnitude ; in fine, that instead of being worn out, as at a distance is sometimes supposed, she is going a-head with the buoyant spirit and vigorous effort of youth. It is an observation of Madame de Staël, how ill England is understood on the continent, in spite of the little distance that separates her from it. How much more likely that nations between whom and herself an ocean interposes should fall into mistakes on the true nature of her power and prospects ; should imagine their foundations to be crumbling, instead of steadily striking into more depth, and spreading into wider compass. Britain exists all over the world in her colonies. These alone give her the means of advancing her industry and opulence for ages to come. They are portions of her territory more valuable than if joined to her island. The sense of distance is destroyed by her command of ships ; whilst that distance serves as a feeder of her commerce and marine. Situated on every continent, lying in every latitude, these, her out-dominions, make her the centre of a trade already vast and perpetually augmenting—a home trade and a foreign trade - for it yields the riches of both, as she controuls it all at her will. They take off her redundant population, yet make her more populous ; and are destined, under the policy already commenced towards them, and which in time she will far more extensively pursue, to expand her empire, commercial, manu
facturing, and maritime, to dimensions to which it would not be
easy to affix limits.' pp. 390–93.
Speaking of our national debt, Mr. Rush remarks, that, as an absolute sum it must strike the world as enormous ; but that it loses this character when viewed in connexion with the resources of Great Britain, which have increased in a ratio greater than her debt. In proof of this position, he adduces the fact, that in the face of this debt, our Government could, at any moment borrow from British capitalists fresh sums, larger than were ever borrowed before, and than could be raised by the united exertions of the Governments of Europe.
• Credit so unbounded can rest only upon the known extent and solidity of her resources ; upon her agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial riches; the first coming from her highly cultivated soil and its exhaustless mines, not of gold and silver, but iron and coal, for ever profitably worked; the second, from the various and universal labour bestowed on raw materials, which brings into play all the industry of her people, suffering none to be lost for want of objects; the third, from a system of navigation and trade, followed up for ages, which enables her to send to every part of the globe the products of this vast and diversified industry, after supplying all her own wants. This system of navigation and trade is greatly sustained by a colonial empire of gigantic size, that perpetually increases the demand for her manufactures, and favours the monopoly of her tonnage. These are the visible foundations of her incalculable riches; consequently of her credit. Both seem incessantly augmenting.' pp. 218, 9.
These remarks would suggest matter for extended comment, but we waive any reflections of our own, and shall proceed to give a specimen or two of the lighter portions of the Journal. The splendours of the English Court appear to have had a fascinating effect upon the Writer's imagination, without, however, putting him out of conceit with the simpler habits and customs of republican society. The following description is given of the Queen's drawing-room. - The doors of the rooms were all open. .
You saw in them a thousand ladies richly dressed. All the colours of nature were mingling their rays together. It was the first occasion of laying by mourning for the Princess Charlotte, so that it was like the bursting out of spring. No lady was without her plume. The whole was a waving field of feathers. Some were blue, like the sky; some tinged with red; here you saw violet and yellow; there, shades of green ; but the most were like tufts of snow. The diamonds encircling them caught the sun through the windows, and threw dazzling beams around. Then the hoops! I cannot describe these. They should be
To see one is nothing. But to see a thousand-and their thousand wearers ! I afterwards sat in the ambassadors' box at a coronation. That sight faded before this. Each lady seemed to rise out of a gilded little barricade, or one of silvery texture. This, topped by
her plume, and the face divine' interposing, gave to the whole an effect so unique, so fraught with feminine grace and grandeur, that it seemed as if a curtain had risen to show a pageant in another sphere. It was brilliant and joyous. Those to whom it was not new, stood at gaze, as I did. Canning for one. His fine eye took it all in. You saw admiration in the gravest statesmen ; Lord Liverpool, Huskisson, the Lord Chancellor, every body. I had already seen in England, signs enough of opulence and power; now I saw, radiating on all sides, British beauty. My own country I believed was destined to a just measure of the two first; and I had the inward assurance that my countrywomen were the inheritresses of the last. Matre pulchrâ filia pulchrior. So appeared the drawing-room of Queen Charlotte' p. 103.
We must select, as our last specimen, an account of a dinner at Jeremy Bentham's.
· From my house north of Portman Square, I was driven nearly three miles through streets for the most part long and wide, until I passed Westminster Abbey. Thereabouts, things changed. The streets grew narrow. Houses seemed falling down with age. The crowds were as thick, but not so good-looking, as about Cornhill and the Poultry. In a little while I reached the purlieus of Queen Square Place. The farther I advanced, the more confined was the space. At length turning through a gateway, the passage was so narrow that I thought the wheels would have grazed. It was a kind of blind-alley, the end of which winded into a small, neat, court-yard. There, by itself, stood Mr. Bentham's house. Shrubbery graced its area, and flowers its window-sills. It was like an oasis in the desert. Its name is the Hermitage.
• Entering he received me with the simplicity of a philosopher. I should have taken him for seventy or upwards. Every thing inside . of the house was orderly. The furniture seemed to have been unmoved since the days of his fathers ; for I learned that it was a patrimony. A parlour, library, and dining-room, made up the suite of apartments. In each was a piano, the eccentric master of the whole being fond of music as the recreation of his literary hours. It was a unique, romantic little homestead. Walking with him into his garden, I found it dark with the shade of ancient trees. They formed a barrier against all intrusion. In one part was a high dead wall, the back of a neighbour's house. It was dark and almost mouldering with time. In that house, he informed me, Milton had lived. Perceiving that I took an interest in hearing it, he soon afterwards obtained a relic, and sent it to me. It was an old carved baluster, from the staircase, which there was reason to think the hand of the great bard had often grasped -so said the note that accompanied the relic.
• The company was small, but choice. Mr. Brougham, Sir Samuel Romilly, Mr. Mill, author of the well-known work on India, M. Dumont, the learned Genevan, once the associate of Mirabeau, were all who sat down to table. Mr. Bentham did not talk much. He had a benevolence of manner, suited to the philanthropy of his mind. He seemed to be thinking only of the convenience and pleasure of his guests, not as a rule of artificial breeding, as from Chesterfield or Ma.
dame Genlis ; but from innate feeling. Bold are his opinions in his works, here he was wholly unobtrusive of theories that might not have commanded the assent of all present. Something else was remarkable. When he did converse, it was in simple language, a contrast to his later writings, where an involved style, and the use of new or unusual words, are drawbacks upon the speculations of a genius original and profound, but with the faults of solitude. Yet some of his earlier productions are distinguished by classical terseness. Mr. Brougham talked with rapidity and energy.
There is a quickness in his bodily movements indicative of the quickness of his thoughts. He showed in conversation the universality and dis. cipline that he exhibits in Parliament and Courts of Law. The affairs of South America, English authors, Johnson, Pope, Swift, Milton, Dryden, Addison, (the criticisms of the last on Paradise Lost, he thought poor things); anecdotes of the living Judges of England ; of Lord Chancellors, living and dead ; the errors in Burrow's Reports, not always those of the reporter, he said ; the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge ; the Constitution of the United States--these were topics that he touched with the promptitude and power of a master. He quoted from the ancient classics, and poets of modern Italy, (the latter in the original also,) not with the ostentation of scholarship, which he is above, but as if they came out whether they would or no amidst the multitude of his ideas and illustrations. He handled nothing at length, but with a happy brevity; the rarest art in conversation, when loaded with matter like his. Sometimes he despatched a subject in a parenthesis ; sometimes by a word, that told like a blow. Not long after this my first meeting with him, one of his friends informed me that a gentleman whose son was about to study law, asked him what books he ought to read. “ Tell him to begin with Demosthenes and Dante."- “What, to make a lawyer ?” said the father.—“ Yes,” he replied, and “ if you don't take, we won't argue about it.” Mr. Mill, M. Dumont, and Sir Samuel Romilly, did their parts in keeping up the ball of conversation. Sheridan being spoken of, Sir Samuel Romilly, who had often heard him in the House of Commons, said “ that nothing could be more marked than the difference between the parts of his speeches previously written out, and the extemporaneous parts. The audience could discover in a moment when he fell into the latter. It was well known,” he added, “ that all the highly wrought passages in his speeches on Hastings' impeachment, were prepared beforehand and committed to memory.".
After we rose from table, Mr. Bentham sought conversation with me about the United States. “ Keep your salaries low," said he ; “ it is one of the secrets of the success of your Government.-- But what is this,” he inquired, “ called a Board of Navy Commissioners that you have lately set up? I don't understand it." I explained it to him. “ I can't say that I like it,” he replied ; " the simplicity of your public departments has heretofore been one of their recommendations, but boards make skreens ; if any thing goes wrong, you don't know where to find the offender; it was the board that did it, not one of the members; always the board, the board !” I got home at a late hour, having witnessed a degree of intellectual point and strength