When John Brown, Esquire, found his intentions of wintering within the walls of —— so unexpectedly defeated, he cast about diligently in his own mind for a resting-place for himself, his books, and a nondescript animal which he called a Russian terrier. Home he was determined not to go—any where within the boundaries of the University, the College were equally determined he should not stay; and we all settled that he would fix himself for the vacation either at Woodstock, or Ensham, or Abingdon; the odds were in favour of the latter place, for John was a good judge of ale. It was not, therefore, without considerable astonishment that one morning, at breakfast in my room, after devouring in rigid silence a commons of broiled ham for two, and the last number of Pickwick, (John seldom laughed, but read "Boz" as gravely as he would Aristotle,) we heard him open his heart as follows:—
"I say, old fellow, where do you think I am going to put up this vacation?"
"Really, John, you're such an odd fellow it's impossible to guess; if it had been summer, I shouldn't have been at all surprised to hear of your having pitched a tent at Bullingdon, or hired a house-boat, and lived Chinese fashion on the river; but I suppose you would hardly think of that plan at this time of the year."
"Nonsense, man; you know the Moated Grange, as you call it—old Nutt's!—I've taken lodging there."
"The Grange! Well, there's no accounting for tastes; but if there were any empty rooms in the county jail, I almost think I should prefer them, especially when one might possibly get board and lodging there gratis."
"Don't be absurd; I shall be very comfortable there. I'm to have two rooms up-stairs, that will look very habitable when they've cleaned down the cobwebs, and got rid of the bats; Farmer Nutt is going to lay poison for the rats to-night, and I can go in, if I like, on Monday."
"Upon my honour, John, Chesterton and I can never come and see you in that miserable hole."
"Don't, then; I'm going there to read: I sha'n't want company."
It turned out that he was really in earnest; and the day after the University term was ended, the Grange received its new tenant. We went down there to instal him; it was the first time Chesterton had seen the place, and he was rather envious of our friend's selection, as he followed him up-stairs into the quaint old chambers, to which two blazing log-fires, and Mrs Nutt's unimpeachable cleanliness, had imparted an air of no little comfort. The old oaken floor of the sitting-room had been polished to something like its original richness and brilliancy of hue, and reflected the firelight in a way that warmed you to look at it. There was not a cobweb to be seen; and though old Bruin snuffed round the room suspiciously, Farmer Nutt gave it as his conscientious opinion that every rat had had a taste of the "pyson." There was no question but that if one could get over the dulness of the place, as far as accommodation went there need be little cause to complain.
"I shall get an 18-gallon of Hall and Tawney, and hire an easy-chair," said John, "and then won't I read?"
Full of these virtuous resolutions we left him; and how he got on there my readers shall hear another day.
THE TOMBLESS MAN. A DREAM.
I woke from sleep at midnight, all was dark, Solemn, and silent, an unbroken calm; It was a fearful vision, and had made A mystical impression on my mind; For clouds lay o'er the ocean of my thoughts In vague and broken masses, strangely wild; And grim imagination wander'd on 'Mid gloomy yew-trees in a churchyard old, And mouldering shielings of the eyeless hills, And snow-clad pathless moors on moonless nights, And icebergs drifting from the sunless Pole, And prostrate Indian villages, when spent The rage of the hurricane has pass'd away, Leaving a landscape desolate with death; And as I turn'd me to my vanish'd dream, Clothed in its drapery of gloom, it rose Upon my spirit, dreary as before.
Alone—alone—a desolate dreary wild, Herbless and verdureless; low swampy moss, Where tadpoles grew to frogs, for leagues begirt My solitary path. Nor sight nor sound Of moving life, except a grey curlew— As shrieking tumbled on the timid bird, Aye glancing backward with its coal-black eye, Even as by imp invisible pursued— Was seen or heard; the last low level rays Of sunset, gilded with a blood-red glow That melancholy moor, with its grey stones And stagnant water-pools. Aye floundering on, And on, I stray'd, finding no pathway, save The runlet of a wintry stream, begirt With shelvy barren rocks; around, o'erhead, Yea every where, in shapes grotesque and grim, Towering they rose, encompassing my path, As 'twere in savage mockery. Lo, a chasm Yawning, and bottomless, and black! Beneath I heard the waters in their sheer descent Descending down, and down; and further down Descending still, and dashing: Now a rush, And now a roar, and now a fainter fall, And still remoter, and yet finding still, For the white anguish of their boiling whirl, No resting-place. Over my head appear'd, Between the jagged black rifts bluely seen, Sole harbinger of hope, a patch of sky, Of deep, clear, solemn sky, shrining a star Magnificent; that, with a holy light, Glowing and glittering, shone into the heart As 'twere an angel's eye. Entranced I stood, Drinking the beauty of that gem serene, How long I wist not; but, when back to earth Sank my prone eyes—I knew not where I was— Again the scene had shifted, and the time, From midnight to the hour when earliest dawn Gleams in the orient, and with inky lines The trees seem painted on the girding sky.
A solemn hour!—so silent, that the sound Even of a falling leaflet had been heard, Was that, wherein, with meditative step, With uncompanion'd step, measured and slow, And wistful gaze, that to the left, the right, Was often turn'd, as if in secret dread Of something horrible that must be met— Of unseen evil not to be eschew'd— Up a long vista'd avenue I wound, Untrodden long, and overgrown with moss. It seem'd an entrance to the hall of gloom; Grey twilight, in the melancholy shade Of the hoar branches, show'd the tufted grass With globules spangled of the fine night-dew— So fine—that even a midge's tiny tread Had caused them trickle down. Funereal yews Notch'd with the growth of centuries, stretching round Dismal in aspect, and grotesque in shape, Pair after pair, were ranged: where ended these, Girdling an open semicircle, tower'd A row of rifted plane-trees, inky-leaved With cinnamon-colour'd barks; and, in the midst, Hidden almost by their entwining boughs, An unshut gateway, musty and forlorn; Its old supporting pillars roughly rich With sculpturings quaint of intermingled flowers.
Each pillar held upon its top an urn, Serpent-begirt; each urn upon its front A face—and such a face! I turn'd away— Then gazed again—'twas not to be forgot:— There was a fascination in the eyes— Even in their stony stare; like the ribb'd sand Of ocean was the eager brow; the mouth Had a hyena grin; the nose, compress'd With curling sneer, of wolfish cunning spake; O'er the lank temples, long entwisted curls Adown the scraggy neck in masses fell; And fancy, aided by the time and place, Read in the whole the effigies of a fiend— Who, and what art thou? ask'd my beating heart— And but the silence to my heart replied! That entrance pass'd, I found a grass-grown court, Vast, void, and desolate—and there a house, Baronial, grim, and grey, with Flemish roof High-pointed, and with aspect all forlorn:— Four-sided rose the towers at either end Of the long front, each coped with mouldering flags: Up from the silent chimneys went no smoke; And vacantly the deep-brow'd windows stared, Like eyeballs dead to daylight. O'er the gate Of entrance, to whose folding-doors a flight Of steps converging led, startled I saw, Oh, horrible! the same reflected face As that on either urn—but gloomier still In shadow of the mouldering architrave.
I would have turn'd me back—I would have fled From that malignant, yet half-syren smile; But magic held me rooted to the spot, And some inquisitive horror led me on.— Entering I stood beneath the spacious dome Of a round hall, vacant, save here and there, Where from the panelings, in mouldy shreds, Hung what was arras loom-work; weather-stains In mould appear'd on the mosaic floors, Of marble black and white—or what was white, For time had yellow'd all; and opposite, High on the wall, within a crumbling frame Of tarnish'd gold, scowl'd down a pictured form In the habiliments of bygone days— With ruff, and doublet slash'd, and studded belt— 'Twas the same face—the Gorgon curls the same, The same lynx eye, the same peak-bearded chin, And the same nose, with sneering upward curl.
Again I would have turned to flee—again Tried to elude the snares around my feet; But struggling could not—though I knew not why, Self-will and self-possession vaguely lost.— Horror thrill'd through me—to recede was vain; Fear lurk'd behind in that sepulchral court, In its mute avenue and grave-like grass; And to proceed—where led my onward way? Ranges of doorways branch'd on either side, Each like the other:—one I oped, and lo! A dim deserted room, its furniture Withdrawn; gray, stirless cobwebs from the roof Hanging; and its deep windows letting in The pale, sad dawn—than darkness drearier far. How desolate! Around its cornices Of florid stucco shone the mimic flowers Of art's device, carved to delight the eyes Of those long since but dust within their graves! The hollow hearth-place, with its fluted jambs Of clammy Ethiop marble, whence, of yore, Had risen the Yule-log's animating blaze On festal faces, tomb-like, coldly yawn'd; While o'er its centre, lined in hues of night, Grinn'd the same features with the aspick eyes, And fox-like watchful, though averted gaze, The haunting demon of that voiceless home!
How silent! to the beating of my heart I listen'd, and nought else around me heard. How stirless! even a waving gossamer— The mazy motes that rise and fall in air— Had been as signs of life; when, suddenly, As bursts the thunder-peal upon the calm, Whence I had come the clank of feet was heard— A noise remote, which near'd and near'd, and near'd— Even to the threshold of that room it came, Where, with raised hands, spell-bound, I listening stood; And the door opening stealthily, I beheld The embodied figure of the phantom head, Garb'd in the quaint robes of the portraiture— A veritable fiend, a life in death!
My heart stood still, though quickly came my breath; Headlong I rush'd away, I knew not where; In frenzied hast rushing I ran; my feet With terror wing'd, a hell-hound at my heels, Yea! scarce three strides between us. Through a door Right opposite I flew, slamming its weight, To shut me from the spectre who pursued: And lo! another room, the counterpart Of that just left, but gloomier. On I rush'd, Beholding o'er its hearth the grinning face, Another and the same; the haunting face Reflected, as it seem'd, from wall to wall! There, opening as I shut, onward he came, That Broucoloka, not to be escaped, With measured tread unwearied, like the wolf's When tracking its sure prey: forward I sprang, And lo! another room—another face, Alike, but gloomier still; another door, And the pursuing fiend—and on—and on, With palpitating heart and yielding knees, From room to room, each mirror'd in the last. At length I reach'd a porch—amid my hair I felt his desperate clutch—outward I flung— The open air was gain'd—I stood alone!
That welcome postern open'd on a court— Say rather, grave-yard; gloomy yews begirt Its cheerless walls; ranges of headstones show'd, Each on its hoary tablature, half hid With moss, with hemlock, and with nettles rank, The sculptured leer of that hyena face, Softening as backwards, through the waves of time, Receded generations more remote. It was a square of tombs—of old, grey tombs, (The oldest of an immemorial date,) Deserted quite—and rusty gratings black, Along the yawning mouths of dreary vaults— And epitaphs unread—and mouldering bones. Alone, forlorn, the only breathing thing In that unknown, forgotten cemetery, Reeling, I strove to stand, and all things round Flicker'd, and wavering, seem'd to wane away, And earth became a blank; the tide of life Ebbing, as backward ebbs the billowy sea, Wave after wave, till nought is left behind, Save casual foam-bells on the barren sand.
From out annihilation's vacancy, (The elements, as of a second birth, Kindling within, at first a fitful spark, And then a light which, glowing to a blaze, Fill'd me with genial life,) I seemed to wake Upon a bed of bloom. The breath of spring Scented the air; mingling their odours sweet, The bright jonquil, the lily of the vale, The primrose, and the daffodil, o'erspread The fresh green turf; and, as it were in love, Around the boughs of budding lilac wreathed The honeysuckle, rich in earlier leaves, Gold-tinctured now, for sunrise fill'd the clouds With purple glory, and with aureate beams The dew-refreshen'd earth. Up, up, the larks Mounted to heaven, as did the angel wings Of old in Jacob's vision; and the fly, Awakening from its wintry sleep, once more Spread, humming, to the light its gauzy wings.
A happy being in a happy place, As 'twere a captive from his chains released, His dungeon and its darkness, there I lay Nestling, amid the sun-illumined flowers, Revolving silently the varied scenes, Grotesque and grim, 'mid which my erring feet Had stumbled; and a brightness darting in On my mysterious night-mare, something told The what and wherefore of the effigies grim— The wolfish, never-resting, tombless man, Voicelessly haunting that ancestral home— Yea of his destiny for evermore To suffer fearful life-in-death, until A victim suffer'd from the sons of men, To soothe the cravings of insatiate hell; An agony for age undergone— An agony for ages to be borne, Hope, still elusive, baffled by despair.
Thus as an eagle, from the altitude Of the mid-sky, its pride of place attain'd, Glances around the illimitable void, And sees no goal, and finds no resting-place In the blue, boundless depths—then, silently, Pauses on wing, and with gyrations down And down descends thorough the blinding clouds, In billowy masses, many-hued, around Floating, until their confines past, green earth Once more appears, and on its loftiest crag The nest, wherein 'tis bliss to rest his plumes Flight-wearied—so, from farthest dreamland's shores, Where clouds and chaos form the continents, And reason reigns not, Fancy back return'd To sights and sounds familiar—to the birds Singing above—and the bright vale beneath, With cottages and trees—and the blue sky— And the glad waters murmuring to the sun.
Socialism, as well in this country as in France, may be regarded as an offset of the French Revolution. It is true that, in all times, the striking disparity between the conditions of men has given rise to Utopian speculations—to schemes of some new order of society, where the comforts of life should be enjoyed in a more equalized manner than seems possible under the old system of individual efforts and individual rights; and it may be added that, as this disparity of wealth becomes more glaring in proportion as the disparity of intelligence and political rights diminishes, such speculations may be expected in these later times to become more frequent and more bold. Nevertheless we apprehend that the courage or audacity requisite to attempt the realization of these speculative schemes, must confess its origin in the fever-heat of the French Revolution. It required the bold example of that great political subversion to prompt the design of these social subversions—to familiarize the mind with the project of reducing into practice what had been deemed sufficiently adventurous as reverie.
What a stride has been taken since those olden times, when the philosophic visionary devised his Utopian society with all the freedom, because with all the irresponsibility, of dreams! He so little contemplated any practical result, that he did not even venture to bring his new commonwealth on the old soil of Europe, lest it should appear too strange, and be put out of countenance by the broad reality: but he carried it out to some far-off island in the ocean, and created a new territory for his new people. A chancellor of England, the high administrator of the laws of property, could then amuse his leisure with constructing a Utopia, where property, with all its laws, would undergo strange mutation. How would he have started from his woolsack if any one had told him that his design would be improved upon in boldness, and that such men as his own carpenter and mason would set about the veritable realization of it! At the present time nothing is more common or familiar than the project of changing entirely the model of society. "To subvert a government," writes M. Reybaud of his own country men, "to change a dynasty or a political constitution, is now an insignificant project. Your socialist is at peace with kings and constitutions; he merely talks in the quietest manner imaginable of destroying every thing, of uprooting society from its very basis."
Indeed, if the power of these projectors bore any proportion to their presumption, our neighbours would be in a most alarming condition. To extemporize a social system, a new humanity, or at least a new Christianity, is now as common as it was formerly, on leaving college, to rhyme a tragedy. The social projector, sublimely confident in himself, seems to expect to realize, on a most gigantic scale, the fable of Mesmerism; he will put the whole world in rapport with him, and it shall have no will but his, and none but such blind, imitative movements as he shall impress on it. And it is to a sort of coma that these projectors would, for the most part, reduce mankind—a state where there is some shadow of thought and passion, but no will, no self-direction, no connexion between the past and present—a state aimless, evanescent, and of utter subjugation. Fortunately these social reformers, however daring, use no other instruments of warfare than speech and pamphlets; they do not betake themselves to the sharp weapons of political conspiracy. They must be permitted, therefore, to rave themselves out. And this they will do the sooner from their very number. There are too many prophets; they spoil the trade; the Mesmerizers disturb and distract each other's efforts; the fixed idea that is in them will not fix any where else. Those who, in the natural order of things, should be dupes, aspire to be leaders, and the leaders are at a dead struggle for some novelty wherewith to attract followers. We have, for instance, M. Pierre Leroux, most distinguished of the Humanitarians, the last sect which figures on the scene, bidding for disciples—with what, will our readers think?—with the doctrine of metempsychosis! It is put forward as a fresh inducement to improve the world we live in, that we shall live in it again and again, and nowhere else, and be our own most remote posterity. We are not assured that there is any thread of consciousness connecting the successive apparitions of the same being; yet some slight filament of this kind must be traceable, for we are informed that M. Leroux gives himself out to have been formerly Plato. He has advanced thus far in the scale of progression, that he is at present M. Leroux.
Still the frequent agitation of these social reforms cannot be, and has not been, without its influence on society. It is from this influence they gain their sole importance. Such schemes as those of St Simon, of Fourier, and of our own Robert Owen, viewed as projects to be realized, are not worth a serious criticism. In this point of view they are considered, at least in this country, as mere nullities. No one questions here whether they are feasible, or whether, if possible, they would be propitious to human happiness. But the constant agitation in society of such projects may be no nullity—may have, for a season, an indisputable and very pernicious influence. As systems of doctrine they may not be ineffective, nor undeserving of attention; and in this light M. Reybaud, in the work we now bring before our readers, mainly considers them.
M. Reybaud has given us a sketch of the biography and opinions of the most celebrated of those men who have undertaken to produce a new scheme of human life for us; he has introduced his description of them and their projects by some account of the previous speculations, of a kindred nature indeed, but conducted in a very different spirit, of Plato, Sir Thomas More, and others; and he has accompanied the whole with observations of his own, which bear the impress of a masculine understanding, a candid judgment, and a sound, healthy condition of the moral sentiments. The French Academy has distinguished the work by according to it the Montyon prize—a prize destined annually to the publication judged most beneficial to morals; and in this judgment of the Academy every private reader, unless he has some peculiar morality of his own, will readily acquiesce.
Our author is not one of those who at once, and without a question, reject all schemes for the amelioration of society; nor has he sat down to write the history of these social reformers for the mere purpose of throwing on them his contempt or irony. He has even been accused, it seems, by some of his critics, of manifesting too much sympathy with the enthusiasts he has undertaken to describe. He tells us, in the preface to his second edition, that he has encountered the contradictory accusations of being too severe, and too indulgent, towards them; from which he concludes, that he cannot have widely departed from the tone which truth and impartiality would prescribe. This is a conclusion which authors are very apt to draw; they very conveniently dispatch their several critics by opposing them to each other. But this conclusion may be drawn too hastily. Two contradictory accusations do not always destroy each other, even when they are made by judges equally competent. The inconsistency may be in the author himself, who may, in different portions of his work, have given foundation for very opposite censures. In the present case, although we have already intimated that M. Reybaud writes with a spirit of fairness and candour, we cannot admit him to the full benefit of the conclusion he draws in his own favour, from the opponent criticisms he has met with. There are individual passages in his work which it would be difficult to reconcile with each other, and which invite very different criticisms. On some occasions he appears to attribute a certain value to these tentatives at social reform, and intimates that they may probably be the precursors, or may contain the germ, of some substantial improvement; whilst at other times, he scourges them without pity or compunction, as a species of moral pestilence. He seems not to have been able, at all moments, to defend himself from the vertige which possesses the personages of whom he is writing; like a certain historian of witchcraft, whom we have somewhere read of, who had so industriously studied his subject that a faith in the black art imperceptibly gained upon him. The narrative goes on to say, that the unfortunate historian of witchcraft attempted to practise the knowledge he had obtained, and was burned for a wizard. But there the analogy will certainly fail. M. Reybaud soon recovers from the visionary mood, and wakes himself thoroughly by inflicting the lash with renewed vigour upon all the other dreamers around him.
This shadow of inconsistency is still more perceptible when speaking of the lives and characters of his socialists. Sometimes the reader receives the impression that an egregious vanity, an eccentric ambition, and perhaps a little touch of monomania, would complete the picture, and sufficiently explain that conduct, of a hero of socialism. At another time his enthusiasts assume a more imposing aspect. St Simon sacrificing his fortune, abjuring the patronage of the court, dying in extreme poverty—Charles Fourier refusing all entrance into commerce that would implicate him with a vicious system, and pursuing to the end, amidst want and ridicule, the labours of social regeneration—our own Robert Owen quitting ease and fortune, and crossing the Atlantic for the New World, there to try, upon a virgin soil, his bold experiment of a new society;—these men rise before us endowed with a certain courage and devotion which ought to command our admiration. We see them in the light of martyrs to a faith which no one shares with them—sacrificing all, enduring all, for a hope which is of this world, for schemes which they will never see realized, for a heaven which they may prophesy, but which they cannot enter; manifesting, in short, the same obstinacy of idea, and the same renouncement of self, which distinguish the founders of new religions. And indeed we are not disposed to deny, that in their character they may bear a comparison, in many points, with religious impostors. There is this striking difference, however, in the effect of their teaching: the religious impostor has often promised a paradise of merely voluptuous enjoyment, but he has promised it as the reward of certain self-denying virtues to be practised here on earth; whilst the socialist insists upon bringing his sensual ill-ordered paradise, wherein all virtue is dispensed with as superfluous, here, at once, upon this earth we have to live and toil in.
The first volume of the work contains an account of the life and writings of St Simon, Fourier, and Owen. The second is very miscellaneous. We encounter, to our surprise, the name of Jeremy Bentham in the category of socialists, and are still more startled to learn that the Utilitarians derive their origin from Robert Owen! It is a jumble of all sects, religious and political, in which even our Quakers are included in the list of social reformers—our excellent Friends, who assuredly have no wish whatever to disturb the world, but seek merely to live in it as it is, with the additional advantage of being themselves particularly quiet and comfortable. But we are so accustomed to the haste of negligence of the majority of French writers whenever they leave their own soil, (unless the literature or concerns of a foreign country be their special subject,) that we are not disposed to pass any very severe censure on M. Reybaud; and still less should we do him the injustice to prejudge his qualifications as an historian of his own countrymen, by the measure of accuracy he may display in that part of his work which relates to England. It is a part of his work which we have but slightly perused; our attention has been confined to the socialists of France.
Amongst these founders of society, and constructors of Mahometan paradises, Fourier is, we believe, the least known in this country. Some brief account of him will, we think, be acceptable; more especially as some of his ideas, leaving the narrow circle of his disciples, have found partisans amongst men who, in other respects, have a reputation for sobriety of thought. Our readers need not fear that we shall overwhelm them with all the institutions, plans, projects, arrangements—the complete cosmogony, in short, of this most laborious of the tribe. A very little of such matter is quite enough. One may say with truth that it is such stuff,
"Whereof a little more than a little Is by much too much."
Nothing is more charming to the imagination than the first general idea of some new community, where all men are to be happy, every body active, benevolent, reasonable. But the moment we leave this general idea, enter upon particulars, and set about the arrangements necessary for this universally comfortable state of things, there is nothing in the world more tedious and oppressive. Proposals for new political institutions are sufficiently wearisome; but proposals for earthly elysiums, which are to embrace the whole circle of human affairs, become insupportably dull. It is child's play, played with heavy granite boulders. No; if we were capable of being seduced for a moment into the belief of some golden age of equality, where a parental government, presiding over all, should secure the peace and prosperity of all, we should need no other argument to recover us from the delusion than simply to read on, and learn how this parental government intends to accomplish its purpose. When we find that, in order to be relieved from domestic cares, we are to have no home at all; that our parental government, in order to provide for our children, begins by taking them away from us; when we picture to ourselves the sort of wooden melancholy figures we must become, (something like the large painted dolls in a Dutch garden, stuck here and there without choice or locomotion of their own,) we speedily lose all inclination to enter upon this discipline of happiness. We quit with haste this enchanted garden, which turns out to be an enormous piece of clockwork, and embrace with renewed content the old state of personal freedom, albeit attended with many personal inconveniences. Whilst reading of Utopian schemes, the idea has very vividly occurred to us: suppose that some such society as this, where land and wives, money and children, are all in common, had been for a long time in existence, and that some clever Utopian had caught an inkling of the old system so familiar to us, and had made the discovery that it would be possible, without dissolving society, to have a wife of one's own, a house of one's own, land and children of one's own. Imagine, after an age of drowsy clockwork existence, one of these philosophers starting the idea of a free society, of a social organization based upon individual rights and individual effort—where property should not only be possessed, but really enjoyed—where men should for the first time stretch their limbs, and strain their faculties, and strive, and emulate, and endure, and encounter difficulties, and have friendships. What a commotion there would be! How would the younger sort, rebelling against the old rotten machine in which they had been incarcerated, form themselves into emigrating bands, and start forth to try upon some new soil their great experiment of a free life! How would they welcome toil in all its severity—how willingly practise abstinence, and suffer privation, for the sake of the bold rights which these would purchase!—how willingly take upon themselves the responsibility of their own fate to enjoy a fortune of their own shaping! Hope herself would start from the earth where she had been so long buried, and waving her rekindled torch, would lead on to the old race of life!
Charles Fourier was the son of a woollen-draper at Besancon. Two circumstances in his early history appear to have made a strong impression upon him. When he was a child, he contradicted, in his father's shop, some customary falsehood of the trade, and with great simplicity revealed the truth; for this he was severely reprimanded. Afterwards, when he was of the age of nineteen, and a clerk in a merchant's house at Marseilles, he was present at a voluntary submersion of grain, made in order to raise the price in the market. These circumstances, he used to say, opened his eyes to the nature of human relations. Falsehood and selfishness, systematic falsehood and selfishness without a shadow of scruple, were at the basis of all our commercial dealings. It was time, he thought, that a new order of things should arise, founded upon veracity and a harmony of interests.
For himself, his part was taken. He became the man of one idea. "We might rather say of him," writes M. Reybaud, "that he traversed the world, than that he lived in it." He refused to enter into any commercial dealings that might implicate him in the existing system, and warp his feelings in favour of it; and exercised to the last, for a bare subsistence, the mere mechanical employment of a copying clerk. He never understood the art of making for himself two separate existences: one in the domain of fiction or of thought; the other in the land of reality. He passed all that might be called his life in the ideal world of his own creating.
According to Fourier, there is but one deep and all-pervading cause of the miseries of man: it is, that he does not comprehend the ways of God, or, in other words, the laws of his own being. If humanity does not work well, and with the same harmony that the planetary system exhibits, it is because he is determined to impress upon it other movements than those the Creator designed. Between the creature and the Creator there has been, as he expresses it, a misunderstanding for these five thousand years past.
The great error, it seems, that has been committed, is the supposing that there are any passions of man which require to be restrained. God has made nothing ill—nothing useless. You have but to let these passions quite loose, and it will be found that they move in a beautiful harmony of their own. These attractions—such is his favourite word—are as admirably adjusted as those which rule over the course of the planets. Duty, he says, is human—it varies from epoch to epoch, from people to people. Attraction—that is to say, passion—is divine; and is the same amongst all people, civilized and savage, and in all ages, ancient and modern. At present the passions are compressed, and therefore act unhappily; in future, they shall be free, satisfied, and shall act according to the law they have received from God. To yield to their impulse is the only wisdom; to remove whatever obstacles society has placed in the way of their free exercise, is the great task of the reformer.
Fourier does not hesitate to place himself by the side of Newton, in virtue of his discovery of this new law of attraction. If any comparison can be made, we think—inasmuch as to unravel the problem of humanity is a greater task than to elucidate the movements of the planets—that Fourier was warranted in placing himself infinitely above Newton. Unfortunately, there is this difference between the two, that Newton's law explains existing phenomena, while Fourier's explained phenomena that do not exist—that are, however, to exist some day.
Having established his fundamental law of the attraction of the passions, (which, he finds, amount to the number of twelve, and, in this respect, to bear some occult analogy to the sidereal system, the prismatic colours, and the gamut,) he has nothing to do but to set them fairly at work. This he does, and discovers that they form men into delightful communities, or phalanges, of about eighteen hundred men each. Here nothing shall be wanting. Whether it is love or labour, attraction supplies all. "Labour will be a charm, a taste, a preference—in short, a passion. Each man will devote himself to the occupation that he likes—to twenty occupations, if he likes twenty. A charming rivalry, an enthusiasm always new, will preside over human labour, when, under the law of attraction, men will be associated by groups, the last social fraction—by series, which are the association of groups—by phalanges, which are the association of series."—(P. 123.)
The dwelling-place of a phalange will be called a phalanstere—an edifice commodious and elegant, wherein, while the convenient distribution of the interior will be first considered, the claims of architecture will not be forgotten. It will be a vast structure of the most beautiful symmetry, testifying by its magnificence to the splendour of the new life of which it is to be the scene. Galleries, baths, a theatre, every thing conducive to a pleasurable existence, will be found in it. A strict equality of wealth is no part of the scheme of our socialist; but every one will have a sufficiency, and will obtain apartments and provisions in the phalanstere suitable to his fortune. M. Fourier further guarantees, that there shall be no vanity amongst the rich, and no mortification felt by the poorer brethren of the establishment.
As to the expense of this phalanstere, M. Fourier undertakes to construct it for what the building of four hundred miserable cottages would cost, which would not accommodate a much greater number of individuals, and which would fall to pieces after a few years. And as to housekeeping, would not one enormous kitchen replace to advantage four hundred small and ill-appointed kitchens? one vast cellar four hundred little cellars? one gigantic washhouse four hundred damp, wretched outhouses, not worthy of the name? Add to which, that much may be done in these gigantic kitchens and washhouses by the judicious introduction of a steam-engine, which might also be employed in supplying all the apartments with water.
Labour, proceeding with such facility, such ardour, such enthusiasm, as it will do in the phalanstere, must bring in enormous profits—quadruple, as M. Fourier thinks, of what our present ineffective means produce. It is in the division of these profits that our socialist has been thought particularly happy; here it is that he introduces his famous formula, "to associate men in capital, labour, and talent," (associer les hommes en capital, travail, et talent.) The whole profits of the community are first to be divided into three portions; one for capital, one for labour, and one for talent—say four-twelfths for capital, five-twelfths for labour, and three-twelfths for talent. The portion allotted to the capitalists can create no difficulty—it will be divided amongst them in proportion to the amount of capital they severally supply. But a difficulty presents itself in the distribution of the other two portions. Are all species of labour, and all descriptions of talent, to be equally remunerated, or by what rule shall their several rewards be determined? M. Fourier declares that the labours necessary to the community shall be most highly recompensed; then those that are useful; and last of all, those which administer, as the fine arts, only to pleasure and amusement. For this determination he gives a sound reason, but one which we ought not to have heard from the centre of a phalanstere; it is, that necessary labours are nearly all of a repugnant nature, and should therefore be most amply rewarded.
To determine the degree of talent the individual has displayed, the principle of election is called in. There is, however, a high order of talent which is considered quite apart. Great artists, great mechanicians, great writers—these belong to no phalange, but to humanity. The world will charge itself with their remuneration. They will be relieved from the usual condition of labour; and when, after a long repose, they have produced a work, (how it comes to be known what bird will lay the golden egg till the egg is laid, we are not told,) then will a jury, assembled at the metropolis of the world, which will be built on the site of Constantinople, vote them a recompense. "Imagine, for example, Jacquart or Watt, Newton or Corneille, presenting themselves before this august tribunal—Jacquart with his loom, Watt with his steam-engine, Newton with his theory of attractions, Corneille with his most beautiful tragedy. At the instant, to the exclusion of all delays and hazards of fame, there would be voted to these great men a remuneration, to be levied on all the phalanges. Suppose only five francs on each phalange, and that there were five hundred thousand phalanges on the globe, the jury would have accorded a sum of 2,500,000 francs; Jacquart would not have been compelled to die in a state bordering on indigence, after having enriched the universe."
Fournier was in person short, thin, and pale, but his melancholy and pensive physiognomy bore traces of his long, unquiet, and ungrateful labours. A simple clerk, he did not venture, when he published his writings, to sign them with any other name than that of Charles, declaring himself ready, under that name, to answer any objections that might be addressed to him. Alas! there were few objections addressed to him; Charles got no readers; men pitied or ridiculed him as a visionary. Repulsed by the surrounding world, there remained nothing for him but to live in that creation of his own, in which, at all events, he reigned supreme. In his reveries he found his only happiness. He walked glorious in the midst of joyful enthusiastic multitudes, who saluted him as their benefactor, and proclaimed him as their sovereign; he spoke to these beings, the children of his dreams, in a language which he alone comprehended; he built his phalanstere, peopled, organized it; conducted himself the labours of his harmonic groups, founded his towns, his capitals, nay, his capital of the world, which he erected on the Bosphorus, uniting the east and west, the north and south. There he placed with his own hand the laurel, decreed by his million of phalanges, on the brow of the greatest philosopher of his age. "These festivals of the imagination," says M. Reybaud, "were the only pleasures that relived the long, and gloomy, and proud poverty of Fourier."
One trait we cannot pass over, as it seems, so to speak, to have a psychological value. Such was his habit of ordering and arranging all things, that Charles not only undertook to regulate the affairs of men, and redress the inequalities of their several destinies, but he took into his consideration the inequalities of the several climates of the earth, and very seriously occupied himself with redressing their anomalies. To him, as he walked the streets of Paris, the severe cold of the North Pole was disquieting, and a subject of uneasiness; it was part of his mission to temper and subdue it, and tame it for the habitation of men. Perhaps the heat from those gigantic kitchens in his phalansteres might help him in his task. At all events, this and other gross atmospheric irregularities were not be endured in the world which he was planning.
There are two things, M. Reybaud remarks, especially reprehensible in the theory of Fourier and of kindred socialists—First, the confounding happiness with enjoyment, and the legitimating of all our passions; and Secondly, the egregious expectation of moulding mankind by an external or social organization, without calling in aid the virtues of the individual. The one necessarily follows on the other. The chain of error is manifest, and leads, as a chain of error may be expected to do, to inextricable confusion. If mere enjoyment, if the gratification of our senses and passions, be the highest aim and condition of the human being, it follows that all moral discipline, all self-denial, must be regarded as so much defect, so much imperfection, so much manifest failure in the world-scheme. That lofty gratification which men have been accustomed to attribute to self-control, to abstinence practised under a sense of duty, or in the cause of justice, this is to be measured off as so much simple misery, or so much negation of enjoyment. Let all restraint be discarded: let man be free; but yet, as the good of the whole is to be consulted in all societies, and in the new society is consulted in an eminent degree, the individual thus released from all self-control must be ruled despotically, or, if you will, moulded, fashioned, mechanized by the laws of the community; for we suppose it will be admitted, whatever M. Fourier tells us of his discovered law of attraction, that a very stringent legislation must bind together that harmonic society, which begins by giving loose rein to all the passions of mankind. How the two are to be practically reconciled—how the utmost license of the individual is to be combined with the utmost and most minute supervision of the laws, we leave the socialist to determine. Such is the miserable tissue of error and confusion which these projects present to view.
These socialists are fond of inventing new Christianities, and in some salons in Paris it is, or was till very lately, the fashion to have a new Christianity propounded every full moon. New enough! They present at least a sufficient contrast with the old Christianity, and in no other point more than in this—the complete dependence for the formation of the character of individuals on the art of grouping and regimenting them. Christianity has supported for ages monastic institutions, institutions the most counter to the passions of men, solely by its strong appeal to the individual conscience. St Simonian institutions, or delightful phalansteres, will in vain flatter every passion and indulge every sense; if they leave the conscience inert, if nothing is built on the sense of duty, they will no sooner rise but they will crumble back again into dust.
But we do not touch upon these fundamental errors of the socialists, with the superfluous view of showing the impossibility of realizing their schemes; we note them because their recognition demonstrates at once the ill influence which must attend on the teaching and constant agitation of such schemes. On the one hand, all our desires authorized, and self-control put out of countenance as a mere marplot; on the other hand, perpetual representations that a government or social organization could effect every thing, or almost every thing that can be desired for the happiness of man. What must follow but that men learn to indulge themselves in a very lax morality, and to make most extravagant demands on the government, or the legislative force of society? Their notions of right and wrong, and their ideas of the duty and office of government, become equally unsettled and erroneous.
We have the authority of M. Reybaud—and we could bring other authorities if it were necessary—for saying that, in France, the habit of attributing the vices of individuals, not to their own weakness or ungoverned propensities, but to the malorganization of society, has shown itself in a strange and ominous indulgence to crime. It was the old fashion, he says, upon hearing of any enormity, to level our indignation against the perpetrator; it is now the mode, to direct it against that culpable abstraction, society. Society is, indeed, the sole culprit. When the novelist has detailed some horrible assassination, or gross adultery, he exclaims, Behold what society has done! The criminal himself passes scathless; if, indeed, he may not put in a claim to our especial sympathy, as having been peculiarly ill-used by that society, whose duty it manifestly was to make him wise, and humane, and happy. Man, in his individual capacity, is not to be severely criticised; the censure falls only upon man in his aggregate and corporate capacity. Polite, at all events. No one can possibly take offence at reproofs leveled at that invisible entity, the social body; or suppose for a moment that he is included in the censure. It used to be thought that the aggregate was made up of individuals, and that, in order to constitute a well-ordered community, there must be virtuous and well-ordered men. The reverse is now discovered to be the truth. First, have a well-ordered and divinely happy community, and then the individual may do as he likes; as our comedian says, "his duties will be pleasures."
It is a perilous habit to fall into at the best—that of regarding the present condition of society as something doomed to destruction. But the evil is unmistakeable and most pernicious, when it is proclaimed, that in the new and expected order of things, the old morality will be entirely superfluous, a mere folly, an infliction on ourselves and others. Why take care of the old furniture, that will be worse than an incumbrance in the new premises? Why not begin at once the work of battery and destruction?
The influence which these speculations exert in unsettling men's notions upon the duties of government, on the first principles of political or social economy, is less glaring, but not, on this account, the less prejudicial. Men, who are far from embracing entirely any one of the schemes of these socialists, fall into the habit of looking for the relief and amelioration of society to some legislative invention, some violent interference with the free and spontaneous course of human industry. The organization of industry is the phrase now in high repute; repeated, it is true, with every variety of meaning, but always with the understanding, that government is to interfere more or less in the distribution of wealth, in the employment of capital, and the exercise of labour. The first principles on which modern civilization is based, are taxed as the origin of all the evils that afflict society. All our soundest maxims of political economy are discarded and disgraced. That each man shall be free in the choice and practice of his trade or calling—that the field of competition shall be open to all—that each individual shall be permitted to make the best bargain he can, whether for the wages of his labour or the price of his commodities—all these trite but invaluable maxims are incessantly decried, and nothing is heard of but the evils of competition, and the unequal recompense of labour. In their fits of impotent benevolence, these speculative physicians assail, as the cause of the existing distress, those principles which, in fact, are the conditions of all the prosperity we have attained, or can preserve, or can hope in future to attain.
This title of the individual, whether workman or capitalist, to the control and conduct of his own affairs—this "fair field and no favour" system—is not to be described as if it were a mere theory of political economy, and disputable like some other branches of a science not yet matured. It is the great conquest of modern civilization; it is the indispensable condition to the full development of the activity and enterprise of man. The liberation of the artisan and the labourer, is the signal triumph of modern over ancient times whether we regard classic or Gothic antiquity. Viewing things on a large scale, it may be considered as a late triumph; and, without depreciating its value, we may easily admit that there remains much to be done in the cultivation of the free artisan, to enable him to govern himself, and make the best of his position. But any scheme, which, under the pretext of ameliorating his position, would place him again under tutelage, is a scheme of degradation and a retrograde movement. He is now a freeman, an enrolled member of a civilized state, where each individual has, to a great extent, the responsibility thrown upon himself for his own well-being; he must have prospective cares, and grow acquainted with the thoughtful virtue of prudence. That release from reflection, and anxiety for the future, which is the compensating privilege of the slave or the barbarian, he cannot hope any longer to enjoy. Whatever its value, he must renounce it. He must become one of us, knowing good and evil, looking before and behind. In this direction—in the gradual improvement of the labourer—lies our future progress, progress slow and toilsome, little suited to the socialist who calculates on changing, as with the touch of a wand, the whole aspect of society.
We said that some of the ideas of Charles Fourier had been adopted by men who do not exactly aspire to the rank of social reformers. We will give an instance, which at the same time will illustrate this tendency to introduce legislation on those very subjects from which it has been the effort of all enlightened minds, during the last century, to expel it. A M. Ducpetiaux, a Belgian, who comes vouched to us for a safe and respected member of society by the number of titles, official and honorary, appended to his name, in a voluminous and chiefly statistical work, Sur la Condition des Jeunes Ouvriers, wherein his views are in the main temperate and judicious, declares himself a partisan of some system similar to what Fourier points out in his famous formula—associer les hommes en capital, travail, et talent. He requires a union of interest, a partnership in fact, between the capitalist and the workman. M. Ducpetiaux does not lay down the proportion in which the profits are to be divided between them; he is too cautious to give any figures—there are some ideas which do not bear the approach of arithmetic—but he adopts the principle. It is thus that he speaks in his introductory chapter.
"In so conflicting a state of things there remains but one remedy: to re-establish violated equity, to restore to the producers their legitimate share of what is produced, to bring back industry to its primitive aim and object—such is the work which is now, by the aid of every influence, individual and social, to be prosecuted. It is not a partial relief that is called for, but the complete restoration (rehabilitation complete) of the labourer. The mark which ages of servitude have impressed upon his front, cannot be effaced but by an energetic and sustained effort. The palliatives hitherto employed, have only exposed the magnitude of the evil. This evil we must henceforth attack in its origin, in the organization of labour, and the constitution of society.
"What is the existing base of the relations between master and workman? Selfishness. Every one for himself, that is, every thing for me and nothing, or the least quantity possible, for others. Here is the evil. A blind and bitter contest must spring from this opposition of interests. To put an end to this there is but one means: the recognition of the law of union, (la loi de solidarite,) by virtue of which interests will amalgamate and divisions disappear. This law is the palladium of industry; refuse to acknowledge it, and every thing remains in a state of chaos: proclaim it, and every thing is remedied, every thing prospers. The capitalist comes in aid of the workman as the workman comes in aid of the capitalist; it is a common prosperity they enjoy, and if any thing menaces it, they are united for its defence. The law of union puts an end to an unfeeling employment of our fellow men, (a l'exploitation brutale;) it replaces men in their natural position; it re-establishes amongst them the relations of respect, esteem, and mutual benevolence which Christian fraternity demands; it substitutes association for rivalry; it restores to justice her empire, and to humanity its beneficence."
Translating all this into simple language, there is to be a partition by the legislature, according to some rule of natural equity, between the capitalist and the labourer, of the proceeds of their common enterprise. We confess ourselves utterly incapable of devising any such rule of equity. The share which falls to the capitalist under the name of profits, and the share which falls to the labourer under the name of wages, is regulated under the present system by the free competition amongst the labourers on the one hand, and the capitalists on the other; it is the result of an unfettered bargain between those who possess capital and those who practise industry. This is, at all events, an intelligible ground, and has in it a species of rough equity; but if we desert this position, and appeal to some natural rule of justice to make the division, we shall find ourselves without any ground whatever. For what are the rights of capital in the face of any a priori notions of justice? We shall stumble on from one vague proposition to another, till we find ourselves landed in the revolutionary doctrine of the equal imprescriptible rights of man. This is the first stage at which we can halt. Judged by this law of equality, the capitalist is but one man, and capital is but another name for the last year's harvest, or the buildings, tools, and manufactures which the labourers themselves, or their predecessors, have produced. The utmost the ex-capitalist could expect—and he must practise his handicraft before he can be entitled even to this—is to be admitted on a footing of equality in the extensive firm that would be constituted of his quondam operatives.
We often observe, in this country, an inclination manifested to regulate by law the rate of wages, not with the view of instituting any such naturally equitable partition, but of establishing a minimum below which life cannot be comfortably supported. These reasoners proceed, it will at once be admitted, not on the rights of man, but on the claims of humanity. To such a project there is but one objection; it will assuredly fail of its humane intention. It is presumed that the competition amongst the workmen to obtain employment has so far advanced, that these cease to obtain a sufficient remuneration for their labour. The thousand men whom a great capitalist employs, are inadequately paid. The legislature requires that they should be paid more liberally. But the amount which the capitalist has to expend in wages is limited. The same amount which sustained a thousand men, can, under the new scale of remuneration, sustain only nine hundred. The nine hundred are better fed, but there is one hundred without any food whatever. Our well-intentioned humanity looks round aghast at the confusion she is making.
Suppose, it may be said, that a law of this description should be passed at so fortunate a conjuncture, that it should not interfere with the existing relations between the capitalist and the workman, but have for its object to arrest the tendency which wages have to fall; suppose that the legislature, satisfied with the existing state of things, should pronounce it a punishable offence to offer or accept a lower rate of remuneration, would not such a law be wise? The answer is obvious. If there is a tendency at any time in wages to fall, it is because there is a tendency in population to increase, or in capital to diminish; circumstances, both of them, which it is not in the power of criminal jurisprudence to wrestle with.
We hear political economy frequently censured by these advocates for violent and legislative remedies, for paying more attention to the accumulation than the distribution of wealth. But in what chapter of political economy is it laid down, that the distribution and enjoyment of wealth is a matter of less moment than its production and accumulation? The simple truth is, that the same law of liberty, which is so favourable to the accumulation of wealth, provides also the best distribution which human ingenuity has yet been able to devise. Less has been said on this head because there was less to say. But surely no sane individual ever wished that property should accumulate merely for the sake of accumulation, that society should have the temper of a miser, and toil merely to increase its hoards. Still less has any one manifested a disposition to confine the enjoyment of wealth to any one class, treating the labourer and the artisan as mere tools and instruments for the production of it. The fundamental principles of political economy to which we have been alluding, and with which alone we are here concerned, will be always found to embrace the interests of the whole community. They should be defended with the same jealousy that we defend our political liberties with.
It was with regret we heard the argument we have just stated against the legislative interference with the rate of wages, introduced in the discussion of the ten-hours' bill, and applied against the principle of that measure. It was plainly misapplied. Why do we not relish any legislative interposition, on whatever plea of humanity, between workmen and capitalist? Because it will fail of its humane intention. We should heartily rejoice—who would not?—if a reasonable minimum of wages could be established and secured. But it cannot. Is the legislature equally incompetent when it steps in to prevent children and very young persons from being overworked; from being so employed that the health and vigour of ensuing generations may be seriously impaired, (which would be a grave mistake even in the economy of labour;) from being so entirely occupied that no time shall remain for education? We think not. The legislature is not in this case equally powerless. It may here prevent an incipient abuse from growing into a custom. The law cannot create an additional amount of capital to be distributed over its population in the shape of an advance of wages, but the law can say to all parents and all masters—you shall not profit by the labour of the child, to the ruin of its health, and the loss of all period for mental and moral discipline. Such an overtasking of the child's strength has not hitherto been an element in your calculation, and it shall not become one.
All these various schemes—socialist or otherwise—of legislative interference, take their rise from the aspect, sufficiently deplorable, of the distress of the manufacturing population; and it is almost excusable if the contemplation of such distress should throw men a little off their balance. But it is not so easily excusable if men, once launched on their favourite projects, endeavour to prove their necessity by heightened descriptions of that distress, and by unauthorized prophecies of its future and continual increase. What a formidable array of figures—figures of speech as well as of arithmetic—are brought down upon us with gloomy perseverance, to convince us that the manufacturing population of this country is on the verge of irreparable ruin! We think it right to put our readers upon their guard against these over-coloured descriptions. Even when Parliamentary reports are quoted, whose authority is not to be gainsaid, they ought to defend themselves against the first impression which these are calculated to make. The facts stated may be true, but there are other facts which are not stated equally true, and which the scope and purpose of such reports did not render it necessary to collect. If, in this country, there is much distress, if in some places there is that utter prostration of mind and body which extreme poverty occasions, there is also much prosperity; there is also, in other places, much vigorous industry, receiving its usual, and more than its usual recompense. If there are plague-spots in our population, there are also large tracts of it still sound and healthy. Set any one down to read list after list of all the maimed and halt and sick in our great metropolis, and the whole town will seem to him, for the time being, one wide hospital: he must throw open the window and look on the busy, animated, buoyant crowd that is rushing through the streets, before he shakes off the impression that he is living in a city of the plague.
Without a doubt, he who approaches the consideration of the distress of the labouring classes, should have a tender and sympathizing spirit; how else can the subject possess for him its true and profound interest? But it is equally necessary that he bring to it a cultivated and well-disciplined compassion; that he should know where, in the name of others, he should raise the voice of complaint, and where, in the name of suffering humanity at large, he should be silent and submit. It should always be borne in mind, that it is very difficult for persons of one condition of life, to judge of the comparative state of well-being of those of another condition. An inhabitant of cities, a man of books and tranquillity, goes down into the country, without previous preparation, to survey and give report of the distress of a mining or agricultural district. In what age since the world has been peopled, could such an individual be transported into the huts of peasants, or amongst the rude labours of the miner, without receiving many a shock to his sensibility? Perhaps he descends, for the first time in his life, the shaft of a coal-mine. How foul and unnatural must the whole business seem to him!—these men working in the dark, begrimed, half-naked, pent up in narrow galleries. He has gone to spy out hardships—he sees nothing else. Or perhaps he pays his first visit to the interior of the low-roofed crazy cottage of the husbandman, and is disgusted at the scant furniture and uninviting meal that it presents; yet the hardy labourer may find his rest and food there, with no greater share of discontent than falls to most of us—than falls, perhaps, to the compassionate inspector himself. We have sometimes endeavoured to picture to ourselves what would be the result if the tables were turned, and a commission of agricultural labourers were sent into the city to make report of the sort of lives led there, not by poor citizens or the lowest order of tradesmen, but by the very class who are occupied in preparing largo folio reports of their own distressful condition. Suppose they were to enter into the chambers of the student of law—of the conveyancer, for example. They make their way through obscure labyrinths into a room not quite so dark, it must be allowed, nor quite so dirty as the interior of a coal-mine, and there they find an unhappy man who, they are given to understand, sits in that gloomy apartment, in a state of solitary confinement, from nine o'clock in the morning till six or seven in the evening. They learn that, for several months in the year, this man never sees the sun; that in the cheerful season when the plough is going through the earth, or the sickle is glittering in the corn, and the winds are blowing the great clouds along the sky, this pale prisoner is condemned to pore over title-deeds which secure the "quiet enjoyment" of the land to others; and if they imitate the oratory of their superiors, they will remark upon the strange injustice, that he should be bound down a slave to musty papers, which give to others those pastures from which he never reaps a single blade of grass, and which he is not even permitted to behold. These commissioners would certainly be tempted to address a report to Parliament full of melancholy representations, and ending with the recommendation to shake out such unhappy tenants into the fields. It would be long before they could be brought to understand that he of the desk and pen would, at the end of half an hour, find nothing in those fields but a mortal ennui. To him there is no occupation in all those acres; and therefore they would soon be to him as barren as the desert.
If there is any apparent levity in the last paragraph we have penned, it is a levity that is far from our heart. There is no subject which gives us so much concern as this—of the undoubted distress which exists amongst the labouring population, and the necessity that exists to alleviate and to combat it. Coming from the immediate perusal of Utopian schemes, promising a community of goods, and from the reconsideration of those arguments which prove such schemes to be delusive and mischievous, the impression that is left on our mind is the profound conviction of the duty of government, to do whatever lies really in its power for the amelioration of the condition of the working classes. The present system of civilized society works, no doubt, for the good of the whole, but assuredly they do not reap an equal benefit with other classes, and on them falls the largest share of its inevitable evils. May we not say that, whatever the social body, acting in its aggregate capacity, can do to redress the balance—whether in education of their children, in sanatory regulations which concern their workshops and their dwellings, or in judicious charity that will not press upon the springs of industry—it is bound to do by the sacred obligation of justice?
 Etudes sur les Reformateurs, ou Socialistes Modernes. Par M. LOUIS REYBAUD.
 We shall perhaps take some opportunity to speak separately of M. Leroux's work, Sur l'Humanite. It is a work of very superior pretension to the writings of MM. St Simon, Fourier, and others, who must rather be regarded as makers of projects than makers of books. M. Leroux has the honour of indoctrinating George Sand with that mysticism which she has lately infused into her novels—by no means to the increase of their merit. When M. Leroux was reproached by a friend for the fewness of his disciples, he is said to have replied—"It is true I have but one—mais, que voulez-vous?—Jesus Christ lui-meme n'avait que douze."
 He had been drawing the usual painful picture of the distress of the manufacturing classes, and citing for his authority some English journal. In doing this he has made a somewhat alarming mistake. The colloquial phrase job-work has perplexed, and very excusably, the worthy Belgian, and he has drawn from a very harmless expression a terrible significance. "Partout le travail est le metier de job (job-work) comme disent les Anglais—un metier a mourir sur le fumier." In another place he has understood the turn out of our factories as the expulsion of the artisans by the master manufacturers.
MARSTON; OR, THE MEMOIRS OF A STATESMAN.
"Have I not in my time heard lions roar? Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind, Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat? Have I not heard great ordnance in the field, And Heaven's artillery thunder in the skies? Have I not in the pitched battle heard Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"
Europe had never seen so complete or so powerful an army as that which was now assembled within sight of Valenciennes. The city was already regarded as in our possession; and crowds of military strangers, from every part of the Continent, came day by day pouring into the allied camp. Nothing could equal the admiration excited by the British troops. The admirable strength, stature, and discipline of the men, and the successes which they had already obtained, made them the first object of universal interest; and the parades of our regiments formed a daily levee of princes and nobles. It was impossible that soldiership could be on a more stately scale. Other times have followed, which have shown the still statelier sight of nations marching to battle; but the hundred thousand men who marched under Cobourg to take up their positions in the lines of Valenciennes, filled the eye of Europe; and never was there a more brilliant spectacle. At length orders were sent to prepare for action, and the staff of the army were busily employed in examining the ground. The Guards were ordered to cover the operations of the pioneers; and all was soon in readiness for the night on which the first trench was to be opened. A siege is always the most difficult labour of an army, and there is none which more perplexes a general. To the troops, it is incessant toil—to the general, continual anxiety. The men always have the sense of that disgust which grows upon the soldier where he contemplates a six weeks' delay in the sight of stone walls; and the commander, alive to every sound of hazard, feels that he yet must stand still, and wait for the attack of every force which can be gathered round the horizon. He may be the lion, but he is the lion in a chain—formidable, perhaps, to those who may venture within its length, but wholly helpless against all beyond. Yet those feelings, inevitable as they are, were but slightly felt in our encampment round the frowning ramparts of the city. We had already swept all before us; we had learned the language of victory; we were in the midst of a country abounding with all the good things of life, and which, though far from exhibiting the luxuriant beauty of the British plains, was yet rich and various enough to please the eye. Our camp was one vast scene of gaiety. War had, if ever, laid aside its darker draperies, and "grim-visaged" as it is, had smoothed its "wrinkled front." The presence of so many visitors of the highest rank gave every thing the air of royalty. High manners, splendid entertainments, and all the habits and indulgences of the life of courts, had fled from France only to be revived in Flanders. Our army was a court on the march; and the commander of the British—the honest, kind-hearted, and brave Duke of York—bore his rank like a prince, and gathered involuntarily round him as showy a circle as ever figured in St James's, or even in the glittering saloons of the Tuileries. Hunting parties, balls, suppers, and amateur theatrical performances, not merely varied the time, but made it fly. Hope had its share too, as well as possession. Paris was before us; and on the road to the capital lay but the one fortress which was about to be destroyed with our fire, and of which our engineers talked with contempt as the decayed work of "old" Vauban.
But the course of victory is like the course of love, which, the poet says, "never does run smooth." The successes of the Allies had been too rapid for their cabinets; and we had found ourselves on the frontiers of France before the guardian genii of Europe, in the shape of the stiff-skirted and full-wigged privy councillors of Vienna and Berlin, had made up their minds as to our disposal of the prize. Startling words suddenly began to make their appearance in the despatches, and "indemnity for the past and security for the future"—those luckless phrases which were yet destined to form so large a portion of senatorial eloquence, and give birth to so prolific an offspring of European ridicule—figured in diplomacy for the first time; while our pioneers stood, pickaxe in hand, waiting the order to break ground. We thus lost day after day. Couriers were busy, while soldiers were yawning themselves to death; and the only war carried on was in the discontents of the military councils. Who was to have Valenciennes? whose flag was to be hoisted on Lille? what army was to garrison Conde? became national questions. Who was to cut the favourite slices of France, employed all the gossips of the camp, in imitation of the graver gossips of the cabinet; and, in the mean time, we were saved the trouble of the division, by a furious decree from the Convention ordering every man in France to take up arms—converting all the churches into arsenals, anathematizing the German princes as so many brute beasts, and recommending to their German subjects the grand republican remedy of the guillotine for all the disorders of the government, past, present, and to come.
Circumstances seldom give an infantry officer more than a view of the movements in front of his regiment; but my intimacy with Guiscard allowed me better opportunities. Among his variety of attainments he was a first-rate engineer, and he was thus constantly employed where any thing connected with the higher departments of the staff required his science. He was now attached to the Prussian mission, which moved with the headquarters of the British force, and our intercourse was continued. I thus joined the reconnoitring parties under his command, and received the most important lessons in my new art. But one of my first questions to him, had been the mode of his escape on the night of our volunteer reconnoisance.
"Escape? Why, I committed the very blunder against which I had cautioned you, and fell into the hands of the first hussar patrole I could possibly have met. But my story is of the briefest kind. I had not rode forward above an hour, when my horse stumbled over something in that most barbaric of highways, and lamed himself. I then ought to have returned; but curiosity urged me on, and leading my unfortunate charger by the bridle, I threaded my way through the most intricate mesh of hedge and ditch within my travelling experience. The trampling of horses, and the murmur of men in march, at last caught my ear; and I began to be convinced that the movement which I expected from Dampier's activity was taking place. I then somewhat questioned my own insouciance in having thrust you into hazard; and attempted to make my way across the country in your direction. To accomplish this object I turned my horse loose, taking it for granted that, lame as he was, he was too good a Prussian to go any where but to his own camp. This accounts for his being found at morn. I had, however, scarcely thus taken the chance of losing a charger which had cost me a hundred and fifty gold ducats, when I received a shot from behind a thicket which disabled my left arm, and I was instantly surrounded by a dozen French hussars. I was foolish enough to be angry, and angry enough to fight. But as I was neither Samson, nor they Philistines, my sabre was soon beaten down, and I had only to surrender. I was next mounted on the croup of one of their horses, and after a gallop of half an hour reached the French advanced guard. It was already hurrying on, and I must confess that, from the silence of the march and the rapid pace of their battalions, I began to be nervous about the consequences, and dreaded the effects of a surprise on some of our camps. My first apprehension, however, was for you. I thought that you must have been entangled in the route of some of the advancing battalions, and I enquired of the colonel of the first to whom I was brought, whether he had taken any prisoners.
"'Plenty,' was the answer of the rough Republican—'chiefly peasants and spies; but we have shot none of them yet. That would make too much noise; so we have sent them to the rear, where I shall send you. You will not be shot till we return to-morrow morning, after having cut up those chiens Anglais.'"
I could not avoid showing my perturbation at the extreme peril in which this distinguished man had involved himself on my account; and expressed something of my regret and gratitude.
"Remember, Marston," was his good-humoured reply, "that, in the first place, the Frenchman was not under circumstances to put his promise in practice—he having found the English chien more than a match for the French wolf; and, in the next, that twelve hours form a very important respite in the life of the campaigner. I was sent to the rear with a couple of hussars to watch me until the arrival of the general, who was coming up with the main body. On foot and disarmed, I had only to follow them to the next house, which was luckily one of the little Flemish inns. My hussars found a jar of brandy, and got drunk in a moment; one dropped on the floor—the other fell asleep on his horse. I had now a chance of escape; but I was weary, wounded, and overcome with vexation. It happened, as I took my last view of my keeper outside, nodding on his horse's neck, that I glanced on a huge haystack in the stable-yard. The thought struck me, that helpless as I was, I might contrive to give an alarm to some of the British videttes or patroles, if your gallant countrymen should condescend to employ such things. I stole down into the yard, lantern in hand; thrust it into the stack, and had the satisfaction of seeing it burst into a blaze. I made my next step into the stable, to find a horse for my escape; but the French patroles had been before me, and those clever fellows seldom leave any thing to be gleaned after them. What became of my escort I did not return to enquire; but I heard a prodigious galloping through the village, and found the advantage of the flame in guiding me through as perplexing a maze of thicket and morass as I ever attempted at midnight. The sound of the engagement which followed directed me to the camp; and I remain, a living example to my friend, of the advantage of twelve hours between sentence and execution."
I had another wonder for him; and nothing could exceed his gratification when he heard, that his act had enabled me to give the alarm of the French advance. But for that blaze I should certainly have never been aware of their movement; the light alone had led me into the track of the enemy, and given me time to make the intelligence useful.
"The worst of all this," said he, with his grave smile, "is that the officer in command of your camp on that night will get a red riband and a regiment; and that you will get only the advantage of recollecting, that in war, and perhaps in every situation of life, nothing is to be despaired of, and nothing is to be left untried. A candle in a lantern, properly used, probably saved both our lives, the lives of some thousands of your brave troops, the fate of the campaign, and, with it, half the thrones of Europe, trembling on the chance of a first campaign. I shall yet have some of my mystical countrymen writing an epic on my Flemish lantern."
During this little narrative, we had been riding over the bleak downs which render the environs of Valenciennes such a barren contrast to the general luxuriance of northern France; and were examining the approaches to the city, when Guiscard called to his attendant for his telescope. We were now in the great coal-field of France; but the miners had fled, and left the plain doubly desolate. "Can those," said he, "be the miners returning to their homes? for if not, I am afraid that we shall have speedy evidence of the hazards of inactivity." But the twilight was now deepening, and neither of us could discern any thing beyond an immense mass of men, in grey cloaks, hurrying towards the city. I proposed that we should ride forward, and ascertain the facts. He checked my rein. "No! Amadis de Gaul, or Rolando, or by whatever name more heroic your chivalry prefers being called, we must volunteer no further. My valet shall return to the camp and bring us any intelligence which is to be found there, while we proceed on our survey of the ground for our batteries."
We had gone but a few hundred yards, and I was busily employed in sketching the profile of the citadel, when we heard the advance of a large party of British cavalry, with several of the staff, and the Duke of York, then a remarkably handsome young man, at their head. I had seen the Duke frequently on our parades in England; but even the brief campaign had bronzed his cheek, and given him the air which it requires a foreign campaign to give. He communicated the sufficiently interesting intelligence, that since the victory over Dampier, the enemy had collected a strong force from their garrisons, and after throwing ten thousand men into Valenciennes, had formed an intrenched camp, which was hourly receiving reinforcements. "But we must put a stop to that," said the Duke, with a smile; "and, to save them trouble and ourselves time, we shall attack them to-morrow." He then addressed himself to Guiscard, with the attention due to his name and rank, and conversed for a few minutes on the point of attack for the next day—examined my sketch—said some flattering words on its correctness, and galloped off.
"Well," said Guiscard, as he followed with his glance the flying troop, "war is a showy spectacle, and I can scarcely wonder that it should be the game of princes; but a little more common sense in our camps would have saved us to-morrow's battle. The delays of diplomacy are like the delays of law—the estate perishes before the process is at an end. But now to our work." We rode to the various points from which a view of the newly arrived multitude could be obtained. Their fires began to blaze; and we were thus enabled to ascertain at once their position, and, in some degree, their numbers. There could not be less than thirty thousand men, the arrival of the last few hours. "For this contretemps," said Guiscard, as he examined their bivouac with his telescope, "we have to thank only ourselves. Valenciennes ought to have been stormed within the first five minutes after we could have cut down those poplars for scaling ladders," and he pointed to the tapering tops of the large plantations lining the banks of the Scheldt; "but we have been quarreling over our portfolios, while the French have been gathering every rambling soldier within a hundred miles; and now we shall have a desperate struggle to take possession of those lines, and probably a long siege as finale to the operation. There, take my glass, and judge for yourselves." I looked, and if the novelty and singularity could have made me forget the serious business of the scene, I might have been amply amused. The whole French force were employed in preparing for the bivouac, and fortifying the ground, which they had evidently taken up with the intent of covering the city. All was in motion. At the distance from which we surveyed it, the whole position seemed one huge ant-hill. Torches, thickets burning, and the fires of the bivouac, threw an uncertain and gloomy glare over portions of the view, which, leaving the rest in utter darkness, gave an ominous and ghostly look to the entire. I remarked this impression to Guiscard, and observed that it was strange to see a "scene of the most stirring life so sepulchral."
"Why not?" was his reply. "The business is probably much the same."
"Yet sepulchral," I observed, "is not exactly the word which I would have used. There is too much motion, too much hurried and eager restlessness, too much of the wild and fierce activity of beings who have not a moment to lose, and who are busied in preparations for destruction."
"Have you ever been in the Sistine Chapel?" asked my companion.
"No; Italy has been hitherto beyond my flight; but the longing to see it haunts me."
"Well, then, when your good fortune leads you to Rome, let your first look be given to the noblest work of the pencil, and of Michael Angelo: glance at the bottom of his immortal picture, and you will see precisely the same wild activity, and the same strange and startling animation. The difference only is, that the actors here are men—there, fiends; here the scene is the field of future battle—there, the region of final torment. I am not sure that the difference is great, after all."
At daybreak, the British line was under arms. I feel all words fail, under the effort to convey the truth of that most magnificent display; not that a simple detail may not be adequate to describe the movements of a gallant army; but what can give the impression of the time, the form and pressure of collisions on which depended the broadest and deepest interests of the earth. Our war was then, what no war was since the old invasions under the Edwards and Henrys—national; it was as romantic as the crusades. England was fighting for none of the objects which, during the last three hundred years, had sent armies into the field—not for territory, not for glory, not for European supremacy, not even for self-defence. She was fighting for a Cause; but that was the cause of society, of human freedom, of European advance, of every faculty, feeling, and possession by which man is sustained in his rank above the beasts that perish. The very language of the great dramatist came to my recollection, at the moment when I heard the first signal-gun for our being put in motion.
"Now all the youth of England are on fire, And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies. Now thrive the armourers; and honour's thought Reigns solely in the breast of every man. They sell the pasture now to buy the horse, Following the mirror of all Christian kings With winged heels, as English Mercuries."
Our troops, too, had all the ardour which is added even to the boldest by the assurance of victory. They had never come into contact with the enemy but to defeat them, and the conviction of their invincibility was so powerful, that it required the utmost efforts of their officers to prevent their rushing into profitless peril. The past and the present were triumphant; while, to many a mind of the higher cast, the future was, perhaps, more glittering than either. In the same imperishable eloquence of poetry—
"For now sits expectation in the air, And hides a sword, from hilt unto the point, With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets, Promised to Harry and his followers."
The ambition of the English soldier may be of a more modified order than that of the foreigner; but the dream of poetry was soon realized in the crush of the Republicans, who had trampled alike the crown and the coronet in the blood of their owners. Twenty-seven thousand men were appointed for the attack of the French lines; and on the first tap of the drum, a general shout of exultation was given from all the columns. The cavalry galloped through the intervals to the front, and parks of the light guns were sent forward to take up positions on the few eminences which commanded the plain; but the day had scarcely broke, when one of those dense fogs, the customary evil of the country, fell suddenly upon the whole horizon, and rendered action almost impossible. Nothing could exceed the vexation of the army at this impediment; and if our soldiers had ever heard of Homer, there would have been many a repetition of his warrior's prayer, that "live or die, it might be in the light of day."
But in the interval, important changes were made in the formation of the columns. The French lines had been found of unexpected strength, and the Guards were pushed forward to head a grand division placed under command of General Ferrari. The British were, of course, under the immediate orders of an officer of their own, and a more gallant one never led troops under fire. I now, for the first time, saw the general who was afterwards destined to sweep the French out of Egypt, and inflict the first real blow on the military supremacy of France under Napoleon. General Abercromby was then in the full vigour of life; a strongly formed, manly figure, a quiet but keen eye, and a countenance of remarkable steadiness and thought, all gave the indications of a mind firm in all the contingencies of war. Exactly at noon, the fog drew up as suddenly as it had descended, and we had a full view of the enemy's army. No foreign force ever exhibits so showy and soldierly an appearance as the British. The blue of the French and Prussians looks black, and the white of the Austrian looks faded and feeble, compared with the scarlet. As I cast my glance along our lines, they looked like trails of flame. The French were drawn up in columns in front of their camp, which, by the most extraordinary exertion, they had covered during the night with numerous batteries, and fortified with a circle of powerful redoubts; the guns of the fortress defended their flank and rear, and their position was evidently of the most formidable kind. But all view was lost, from the moment when the head of our brigade advanced. Every gun that could be brought to bear upon us opened at once, and all was enveloped in smoke. For a full hour we could see nothing but the effect of the grape-shot on our own ranks as we poured on, and hear nothing but the roar of the batteries. But at length shouts began to arise in distant parts of the field, and we felt that the division which had been appointed to assault the rear of the camp was making progress. Walmoden, commanding a brigade under Ferrari, now galloped up, to ascertain whether our men were ready to assault the intrenchments. "The British troops are always ready," was Abercromby's expressive, and somewhat indignant, answer. In the instant of our rushing forward, an aide-de-camp rode up, to acquaint the general that the column under the Duke of York had already stormed three redoubts. "Gentlemen," said Abercromby, turning to the colonels round him, "we must try to save our friends further trouble—forward!" Within a quarter of an hour we were within the enemy's lines, every battery was stormed or turned, and the French were in confusion. Some hurried towards the fortress, which now began to fire; a large body fled into the open country, and fell into the hands of his royal highness; and some, seizing the boats on the river, dropped down with the stream. All was victory: yet this was to be my day of ill luck. In pursuing the enemy towards the fortress, a battalion, which had attempted to cover the retreat, broke at the moment when my company were on the point of charging them. This was too tempting a chance to be resisted; we rushed on, taking prisoners at every step, until we actually came within sight of the gate by which the fugitives were making their escape into the town. But we were in a trap, and soon felt that we were discovered, by a heavy discharge of musketry from the rampart. We had now only to return on our steps, and I had just given the word, when the firing was renewed on a bastion, round which we were hurrying in the twilight. I felt a sudden shock, like that of electricity, which struck me down; I made a struggle to rise on my feet, but my strength wholly failed me, and I lost all recollection.