On Mr Grenville's promotion to the Home department, in 1789, Addington was proposed for the Speaker's chair, and was elected by two hundred and fifteen to one hundred and forty-two, who voted for the Opposition candidate, Sir Gilbert Elliot. In the private correspondence which was so frequent between him and the minister, various suggestions had been thrown out by Pitt of the Irish secretaryship, a seat at the treasury, &c. But the man and the place were now found together, incomparably adapted to each other. The place implies an honourable neutrality, and Addington was true to the trust. It requires the favourable opinion of the House to the man as well as the officer; and Sheridan's first address to him, as the spokesman of the Opposition, was, "we were all very sorry to have voted against you." It required considerable knowledge of general and parliamentary law, and the new Speaker had devoted years to their acquisition. Even the minor merits of a grave and commanding presence were there; for Addington, in his early years, was of as striking a countenance and figure as in old age he was gentle and amiable.
Characteristic anecdotes are scattered through the volumes: these we think their most attractive portion; and of such Addington's memory was full in his later years. One night, on his crying out, in the usual form, to hush some chattering in the House, "Order, order, or I shall name names!" Charles Fox, then standing beside the chair, told him that Wilkes once asked the Speaker, Onslow, what would be the consequence of his naming names? "Heaven above only knows," was the solemn reply.
One night Fox himself put the same question to Sir Fletcher Norton (the Speaker,) who nonchalantly answered, "Happen! hang me, if I know or care!"
A substantial proof of the general approval was given to the new official, in the addition of L1000 a-year to his salary; thus giving him L6000 a-year—which, besides a house, with some other emoluments on public and private bills, and the sale of certain clerkships connected with the business of the Commons, is generally calculated as equivalent to about L10,000 yearly. For this, however, the Speaker is expected to keep up considerable state, to give occasional banquets during the session to successive parties of the members; to have evening receptions and levees; and, in general, to lead a rather laborious life; the least part of whose labour is in the Speaker's chair. He has also the appointment of a chaplain to the House, which is equivalent to the disposal of valuable church patronage, the chaplain being always provided for, after a few years' attendance, by a request of the House to the crown. To complete this accumulation of good things, the Speaker who exhibits intelligence, is frequently promoted to the higher offices of the cabinet, and generally receives a peerage.
But those were the "piping times of peace;" times of trouble and terror were at hand. The French democracy had already burst on Europe; and every throne was heaving on the surge which it had raised. Pitt alone, of all the great ministers of Europe, seemed to disregard its hazards. Customary as it is for the pamphleteers of later times to assail his memory, as the promoter of hostilities, the chief outcry against Pitt in the year 1790, was his tardiness in thinking that those hostilities could ever force England to take a share in the struggles of the Continent. The whole aristocracy, the whole property, the whole mercantile interest, and even the whole moral feeling of the empire, had become from hour to hour more convinced that a war was inevitable. Even the Opposition, whose office it was to screen the atrocities of every national enemy, and who, for a time, had looked to Jacobinism as an auxiliary in the march to power, had at last shrunk from this horrible alliance—had felt the natural disgust of Englishmen for an association with the undisguised vice and vileness of the Republic, and had at last sunk into silence, if not into shame. Burke had published his immortal "Reflections," and their sound had gone forth like the tolling of a vast funeral bell for the obsequies of European monarchy. Still, nothing could move Pitt. By nature, a financier, and by genius the most magnificent of all financiers, he calculated the force of nations by the depths of their treasuries; and seeing France bankrupt, conceived that she was on the verge of conviction, and waited only to see her sending her humbled Assembly to beg for a general loan, and for a general peace at the same moment.
But those were days made to show the shortsightedness of human sagacity. The lesson was rapidly given; it was proved in European havoc, that utter powerlessness for good was not merely compatible with tremendous power for evil, but was actually the means of accumulating that power; that the more wretched, famishing, and haggard a nation might become at home, the more irresistible it might prove abroad: that, like the madman, it might be fevered and tortured by mental disease, into preternatural strength of frame, and might spring out of the bed where it had lain down to die, with a force which drove before it all the ordinary resistance of man. Pitt had still to learn, that this was a war of Opinion; and had to learn also, that Opinion was a new material of explosion, against whose agency all former calculation was wholly unprovided, and whose force was made to fling all the old buttresses and battlements of European institutions like dust and embers into the air.
It is not worth the trouble now to inquire, whether Pitt's sagacity equally failed him in estimating the probable effect of the French Revolution on England. His expression at a dinner party, where Addington, Grenville, and Burke formed the guests, "Never mind, Mr Burke, we shall go on as we are until the day of judgment;" shows his feeling of the stability of the constitution. As we have no love for discovering the
"Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise,"
we are gratified by thinking that both were partly in the right: Burke, in regarding the Revolution as destined to sweep the Continent with long and tremendous violence, and Pitt as believing it likely to make but little permanent impression on the habits, the power, or the heart of England. Burke argued from the weakness of the Continental governments; Pitt from the strength of the British constitution: the former having no connexion with the national interests, the latter being formed from those interests, for those interests, and being as much supported by them as a tree by its roots. There was not a portion of that stately tree, from its solid trunk to the highest ornament of its foliage, which was not fed from the ground. The truth was, that the Jacobinisim of England was confined to adventurers, and never obtained any hold on the great body of the proprietors and the people. Its spirit evaporated in tavern harangues, to which the multitude went to listen, as to the chattering and grimaces of a mountebank.
No man of distinction, no man of birth, and no man of property was ever engaged in those coffee-house conspiracies; their Jaffiers and Pierres were cobblers and tinkers, with a sprinkling of petty pamphleteers, and ruined declaimers. When Hardy and Horne Took, were the priests, what must be the worshippers at the Jacobin shrine? But in France, the temple of that idol of confusion was crowded with the chiefs of the Noblesse, the Church, the Law; headed by the Prince of the blood next to the throne; all stimulated by a ferocity of folly unexampled in the history of infatuation, and all unconsciously urged to their ruin by a race of beings inferior in rank, and almost objects of their scorn, yet, rather embodied malignities, and essential mischiefs, than men. France in that fearful time reminded the spectator of Michael Angelo's great picture of the "Last Judgment"—general convulsion above, universal torment below; the mighty of the earth falling, kings, nobles, hierarchs, warriors, plunging down, and met by fiends, at once their tempters, their taunters, and their torturers; a scene of desolation and destiny.
Pitt's sentiment on the safety of England from revolutionary movements was so decided, that if France had not invaded Holland, and thus actually compelled a war, we should probably have had none at this period.
A distinction between the state of France and England not less memorable, if not still more effective, than in property, was religion. In France infidelity was not merely frequent, but was the fashion. No man of any literary name condescended even to the pretence of religion; but in England, infidelity was a stigma; when it began to take a public form, it was only in the vilest quarter; and when it assailed religion, it was instantly put down at once by the pen, by the law, and by the more decisive tribunal of national opinion. Paine, the chief writer of the Satanic faction, was a bankrupt staymaker, and a notorious profligate: his pamphlet had only the effect of making the public protest against its abominations; he was prosecuted, was forced to leave the country, and finally died in beggary in America.
It is remarkable to find so cautious a man as Addington at this period speaking of the Church as "an honest drone, who, if she did not stir herself very soon, would be stung by the wasps of the conventicle." The metaphor is not good for much, for the drone can sting too, and does nothing but sting. But what is it that, at any time, makes the church ineffective? The abuse of the ministerial patronage. The clergy altogether depend on the guidance, the character, and the activity of their bishops. If ministers regard the mitre as merely a sort of donative for their own private tutors, or the chaplains of their noble friends, or as provision for a relative, dependent, or the brother of a Treasury clerk, they not merely degrade the office, but they paralyse the church. Of the living prelacy we do not speak: but it is impossible to look upon the list of archbishops and bishops (a few excepted) during the last century, without surprise that the inferior clergy have done so much, rather than that they have done so little. Where there was no encouragement for literary exertion, ability naturally relaxed its efforts; where preferment was lavished on heads "that could not teach, and would not learn," disgust extinguished diligence; and where character for intelligence, practical capacity, and public effect, were evidently overlooked in the calculation of professional claims, it is only in the natural course of things that their exercise should be abandoned, in fastidiousness or in contempt, in disgust or in despair. The church was never in a more ineffective condition than at the close of the last century; and if the sin was to be laid at the right threshold, it must have been laid at the door of Whitehall.
Addington certainly deserves the credit of having formed a just estimate of the French Revolution from the beginning. In a letter to his brother he inserts this stanza,—
"France shall perish, write that word In the blood that she has spilt; Perish hopeless and abhorr'd, Deep in ruin as in guilt."
He, however, fell into the common error of the time, and looked upon her overthrow as certain in the first campaign.
It was on the second reading of the Alien Bill that the dagger scene, of which so much was said at the time, occurred in the House of Commons—thus described by the Speaker: "Burke, after a few preliminary remarks, the house being totally unprepared, fumbled in his bosom, and suddenly drew out the dagger, and threw it on the floor. His extravagant gesture excited a general disposition to smile, by which most men would have been disconcerted; but he suddenly collected himself, and by a few brilliant sentences recalled the seriousness of the house. 'Let us,' said he, 'keep French principles from our heads and French daggers from our hearts; let us preserve all our blandishments in life, and all our consolations in death; all the blessings of time, and all the hopes of eternity.'"
As all partisanship hated Burke, who had trampled it in the mire, this dagger scene was sneered at as a stage trick; but Burke was above all pantomime. The dagger was one which had been sent from France to a Birmingham manufacturer, with an order for a large number of the same pattern: and Burke had received it only on that day—and received it from Sir James Bland Burgess only on his way down to the house—so that there could have been no preparation for public exhibition. It was a natural impulse of the moment, in a time when all was emotion.
The murder of the unfortunate King of France, on the 21st of January 1793, perhaps the most wanton murder in all royal history, instantly brought out a full display of the real feelings of England. The universal sentiment was horror, mingled with indignation; and when the royal message came down to the house on the 28th, stating that, in consequence of the regicide, the king had ordered M. Chauvelin, minister from the late king, to leave the country, as being no longer accredited by the sovereign, the message seemed rather the echo of the national voice than the dictate of the government.
From this period the Whig party diminished day by day. They were chiefly the great landholders of the kingdom, and they saw in this atrocious act a declaration against all property; but they had also the higher motive of its being a declaration against all government. The chief persons of the Opposition at once crossed the house; but as Horne Tooke, in his apt and short style, described the party on his trial, "We all," said he, "entered the revolutionary coach at Reading; but one got out at Maidenhead, another at Slough, a third at Hounslow, and a fourth at Brentford. It was my misfortune, my lord, as it was also Mr Fox's, to go on to London."
The French now threw off all political form, and all diplomatic decorum, and exhibited the whole savagism of republicanism. On the motion of a ruffian of the name of Garnier, the Convention publicly resolved that "Pitt was an enemy to the human race." The same ruffian then proceeded to move, "that every body had a right to assassinate him." This, however, was not carried; but an order was sent, on the proposal of Robespierre, to the armies, that "no quarter should be given to the English troops;" an order which was not repealed until his death by the guillotine.
Those were stirring times, and in every instance of success in the campaign, Pitt sent an immediate courier to Addington when out of town, of which the Speaker gave the signal to the surrounding country by lighting up his house. On one occasion of this kind, a friend of his, travelling on the coach from Bath, heard the coachman say, "I'm sure there's good news come, for there's the Speaker's house all in a blaze."
In this year Addington was offered the high promotion of Secretary of State, in the room of Dundas. He consulted Huntingford, who strongly advised him against giving up his pleasant, safe, and lucrative office, for the toilsome, hazardous, and unpopular office of the secretary. A letter from the Solicitor-general Mitford, (afterwards Lord Redesdale,) confirmed the opinion. It is justly observed by the biographer, that Mitford, who could be so wise for his friend, was not equally so for himself; for, after having obtained the speakership in his own person, he gave it up to assume the office of Irish Chancellor, a situation of great responsibility, and great labour, in which he was assailed on all sides, and from which, on the first change of the cabinet, he was insultingly recalled.
The war had now become almost wholly naval, and it was a war of successive triumphs. The dominion of Europe seemed about to be divided between England and France: England mistress of the sea—France sweeping every thing before her on the land. The famous battle of the 1st of June extinguished the first revolutionary fleet, seven sail of the line being captured, and the remainder of the fleet escaping with difficulty into the French ports.
The minister was also triumphant at home, and the chief persons of the Whig party were gazetted as taking office under his administration. Earl Fitzwilliam as President of the Council, the Duke of Portland as Secretary of State, Earl Spencer, Privy Seal, the Duke of Gordon, Privy Seal of Scotland, and Windham, Secretary at War.
It had been frequently remarked, that Pitt never sought for coadjutors of any remarkable ability, from confidence in his own extraordinary attainments. As Fox candidly and bitterly concluded one of his speeches in Parliament, saying, "There is one point, and only one on which I entirely agree with the right honourable gentleman, and that is, in the high opinion he entertains of his own talents."
It is certain that those accessions to his cabinet were not likely to excite any jealousy on his part, yet there was one whose absence from the cabinet may have been justly regretted as detracting at once from the strength of the administration, and the glory of the minister. The name of Burke was not found there, though no man had operated so powerfully in producing the change; no man had so amply deserved the distinction; and no man would have thrown so permanent a lustre round the councils in which he shared. There can be no doubt that Burke felt this neglect, and that he was justified in feeling himself defrauded of an honour conferred before his face on men who were not fit to be named in the same breath.
But he has had his noble revenge. Posterity, of all tribunals the most formidable, yet the most faithful, has done him Justice. While the favourites of fortune have passed away into the forgetfulness for which they were made, his services assume a higher rank in the records of national preservation, and his genius continually fills a prouder place among the intellectual triumphs of mankind.
In 1794 Burke closed his parliamentary career, by retiring from the borough of Malton, for which his son became member. In this year, also, closed the memorable trial of Warren Hastings, which had extended over ten sessions of parliament, (from February 1788 to 5th April 1795)—the actual trial lasting for seven years, two months, and ten days. The legal expenses of the defence amounted to seventy-one thousand and eighty pounds, which the proprietors of East India stock, by a majority of three hundred, on a ballot, paid. What the expenses of the prosecution were, is not told; probably twice the sum.
The whole holds forth an important lesson for the punishment of public delinquency. If, instead of the masquerade of an impeachment before the peers and king, Hastings had been called on to answer before the common law courts, for any one of the hundred acts of personal injury alleged against him, the decision would have been secured as soon as the witnesses could have been brought from Calcutta. Of course the world would have lost a great deal of parliamentary parade and some capital speeches; all the poetic pomp would have been wanting; and the court-dresses would have been left at the tailors. But justice would have been done, which no one now believes to have been done.
The obvious fact is, that the country had grown tired of a trial which seemed likely to last for life. After the first sounding of trumpets, the flourish excited curiosity no more. The topic had been a toy in the great parliamentary nursery, and the children were grown weary of their tinselled and painted doll. Even the horrors—and some of the details had all the terrible atrocity of barbarism with its passions inflamed by impunity—had ceased to startle; the eloquence of the managers had become commonplace by the repetition which had deprived the horrors of their sting. The prosecution was yawned to death.
Perhaps there was not a peer in the seats of Westminster Hall, nor a member of the committee, nor a man in the kingdom, except Burke and Pitt, who would not have forgiven Hastings twice the amount of his offences, to have silenced the subject at once and for ever.
With Burke, the impeachment was a vision, half Roman, half Oriental—the august severity of a Roman senate, combining with the mysterious splendour of the throne of Aurungzebe. He was the Cicero impeaching Verres in the presence of the eighteenth century, or a high-priest of some Indian oracle promulgating the decrees of eternal justice to the eastern world.
With Pitt, the whole event was a fortunate diversion of the enemy, a relief from the restless assaults of a Whig opposition, a perpetual drain on Whig strength, and by a result more effective still, a fruitful source of popular ridicule on the lingering impotence of Whig labours.
On the acquittal of Hastings, Burke wrote several letters to Addington as Speaker, which have a tone of the deepest despondency. He writes in the impassioned anguish of a man to whom the earth exhibited but one aspect of despair. They were letters such as Priam might have indited on the night when his Troy was in a blaze. It was evident that the powerful genius of Burke was partially bewildered by the bent of his feelings. He raised an imaginary sepulchre for England on the spot where he had contemplated the erection of a dungeon for Indian crime through all ages to come.
The Indian directors voted Hastings, an annuity of five thousand pounds, which he enjoyed to a very advanced age: yet his acquittal has not received the seal of posterity. A calmer view has regarded him as the daring agent of acts fitter for the meridian of Hindoo morality than European. To serve the struggling interests of the Company seems to have been his highest motive, and there can be no doubt that he served them with equal sagacity and success. That he was a vigorous administrator, an enterprising statesman, and a popular governor, is beyond denial; that he was personally unstained by avarice or extortion, is admitted. But history demands higher proofs of principle; and no governor since his time has ever attempted to imitate his example, or ever ventured to excuse his own errors, by alleging the conduct or the acquittal of Hastings.
There are some men, whom no position can render ridiculous, and there are some quite the reverse: of the latter class was Ferguson of Pitfour. Ferguson's notion of the essential quality of a Lord Advocate was tallness. "We Scotch members," said he, "always vote with the Lord Advocate, and we therefore require to see him in a division. Now I can see Mr Pitt, and I can see Mr Addington, but I cannot see the Lord Advocate." His lordship evidently not rising to Ferguson's regulation size of a statesman.
One evening as Ferguson was taking his dinner in the coffee-room, some one ran in, to say, that "Pitt was on his legs." Every one rose to leave the room, except Ferguson. "What!" said they, "won't you go to hear Mr Pitt?" "No," he replied, "Why should I? do you think Mr Pitt would go to hear me?"
At a dinner given by Dundas, at Wimbledon, where Addington, Sheridan, and Erskine were present, the latter was rallied on his not taking so prominent a part in the debates as his fame required. Sheridan said (with a roughness unusual with him,) "I tell you how it happens: Erskine, you are afraid of Pitt, and that's the flabby part of your character."
This piece of candour, however, was probably owing to the claret. But Erskine's comparative taciturnity in the House may be accounted for on more honourable terms. Erskine was no poltroon: he was the boldest speaker at the bar. But the bar was his place, and no man has ever attained perfection in the two styles of oratory. It is true, that distinguished barristers have sometimes been distinguished in the House of Commons, but they have not been of the race of orators; they have been sharp, shrewd, bitter men, ready on vexatious topics, quick in peevish speech, and willing to plunge themselves into subjects whose labour or license is disdained by higher minds. But Erskine was an orator, vivid, high-toned, and sensitive; shrinking from the common-place subjects which common-place men take up as their natural portion; rather indolent, as is common with men of genius; and rather careless of fame in the senate, from his consciousness of the unquestioned fame which he had already won at the bar.
Of Fox some pretty anecdotes are told, substantiating that eminent man's character for courtesy. One day, as Addington was riding by the grounds of St Ann's Hill, he was seen over the palings by Fox, who called out to him to stop, invited him in, and displayed the beauties of his garden, to which he had always devoted a great deal of care. As Addington particularly admired some weeping ash trees, Fox promised him some cuttings. Some months elapsed, when one evening, Fox, after going through a stormy meeting, in Palace-yard, went up to the Speaker in the chair, and said—"I have not forgotten your cuttings, but have brought them up to town with me," giving him directions at the same time for their treatment. In a few minutes after, he was warmly engaged in debate with Pitt and Burke.
Fox's enjoyment of St Ann's Hill was proverbial. On some one's asking General Fitzpatrick, in the midst of one of the hottest periods of the debates on the French war—Where is Fox? the answer was, "I daresay he is at home, sitting on a hay-cock, reading novels, and watching the jays stealing his cherries."
The year 1796 was a formidable year for England. Prussia and Spain had given up her alliance. Belgium and Holland had been taken possession of by the French. Austria was still firm, but her armies were dispirited, her generals had lost their reputation, her statesmen had been baffled, her finances were supported only by English loans, and France was already by anticipation marking out a campaign under the walls of Vienna. The English Opposition, at once embittered by defeat, and stimulated by a new hope of storming the cabinet, carried on a perpetual assault in the shape of motions for peace. The remnants of Jacobinism in England united their strength with the populace once more; and, taking advantage of the continental defeats, of the general timidity of our allies, and of the apparent hopelessness of all success against an enemy who grew stronger every day, made desperate efforts to reduce the government to the humiliation of a forced treaty of peace.
The necessity for raising eighteen millions, followed by seven millions and a half more, increased the public discontent; and, although the solid strength of England was still untouched, and the real opinion of the country was totally opposed to their rash demands for peace, there can be no question, that the louder voice of the multitude seemed to carry the day. A bad harvest also had increased the public difficulties; and, as if every thing was to be unfortunate at this moment, Admiral Christian's expedition—one of the largest which had ever left an English port, and which was prepared to sweep the French out of the West Indies—sailing in December, encountered such a succession of gales in the chops of the Channel that a great part of this noble armament was lost, and the admiral reached the West Indies with the survivors, only to see them perish by the dreadful maladies of the climate.
But, to complete the general disastrous aspect of affairs, a new phenomenon suddenly blazed over Europe. The year 1796 first saw Napoleon Buonaparte at the head of an army. Passing the Alps on the 9th of April, he fell with such skill and vigour on the Austrian and Italian troops, that in his first campaign he destroyed five successive Austrian armies; broke up the alliances of that cluster of feeble and contemptible sovereignties which had so long disgraced Italy in the eyes of Europe; trampled on their effeminate and debauched population, with the sternness of an executioner rather than the force of a conqueror; and after sending the plunder of their palaces to Paris, in the spirit and with the pomp of the old Roman triumphs, dragged their princes after him to swell his own triumphal progress through Italy.
The war now engrossed every feeling of the nation; and England showed her national spirit in her gallant defiance of the threat of invasion. The whole kingdom was ready to rise in arms on the firing of the first beacon;—men of the highest rank headed their tenantry; men even of those grave and important avocations and offices, which might seem to imply a complete exemption from arms, put themselves at the head of corps in every part of the empire; and England showed her prime minister as Colonel Pitt of the Walmer volunteers, and the speaker of her House of Commons, as Captain Addington of the Woodley cavalry.
But a brilliant change was at hand. In September, Addington received the following note from Pitt, enclosing the bulletin of the battle of the Nile:—
"I have just time to send you the enclosed Bulletin (vive la Marine Anglaise,) and to tell you, that we mean, (out of precaution) the meeting of Parliament for the 6th of November.
"Sir, ever yours, W. P."
The bulletin which gave value to this note, belongs to history, and gives to history one of the noblest events of our naval annals. It exhibits a singular contrast to the present rapidity of communication, that even the "rumour" of Nelson's immortal victory did not reach until fifty-seven days after the event. The Gazette could not be published until the 2d of October.
But the star of Pitt, which had hitherto shone with increasing brightness from year to year, and which had passed through all the clouds of time uneclipsed, was now to wane. The Irish attempt to establish a separate Regency, the Irish Rebellion, and the growing influence of the Popish party, combined with Liberalism in the Irish legislature, had determined Pitt to unite the parliaments of the two kingdoms. For this purpose, he made overtures to the Popish party, whose influence he most dreaded in the Irish House; and, in a species of "understanding" rather than a distinct compact, he proposed to the Popish body the measure which has been subsequently called "Emancipation," with some general intimation of pensioning their priesthood.
The Union was carried; and Lord Castlereagh, who had conducted it in Ireland, was appointed to bring the Popish proposition forward. It had been a subject of deliberation in the cabinet for nearly six months before they mentioned it to the king. His Majesty virtually pronounced it irreconcilable to his conscience; and, after having received the opinion of Lord Kenyon, the chief-justice, in complete confirmation of his own, he sent for the speaker. Pitt had written, in the meantime, to the king, that he must carry the measure or resign. The king then proposed that Addington should take the conduct of the government. On his entreating to decline the proposal, the king said emphatically "Put your hand upon your heart, and ask yourself where I am to turn for support, if you do not stand by me?" Addington then honourably attempted once more to induce Pitt to be reconciled to the king's desire, who replied, as to Addington's taking the cabinet, "I see nothing but ruin if you hesitate." A letter from the king to Pitt still left an opening for his return, but his answer was still inflexible; and, on the 5th of January, 1801, the correspondence was concluded by the royal announcement that "a new arrangement would be made without delay."
The determination of George III. was personal and purely conscientious. An anecdote is given by General Garth strikingly in accordance with this opinion. The General, who was one of the royal equerries, was riding out with the king one day at this time, when his Majesty said to him, "I have not had any sleep this night, and am very bilious and unwell;" he added, "that it was in consequence of Mr Pitt's applying to him on the subject of Catholic Emancipation."
On his arrival at Kew, he desired Garth to read the Coronation Oath, and then followed the exclamation,—"Where is that power on earth to absolve me from the due observance of every sentence of that oath, particularly the one requiring me to maintain the Protestant religion? Was not my family seated on the throne for that express purpose? And shall I be the first to suffer it to be undermined, perhaps overturned? No. I had rather beg my bread from door to door throughout Europe, than consent to any such measure."
This was the language of an honest man, and it was also the language of a wise one. What has the introduction of Papists into parliament occasioned to England, but political confusion? What benefit has it produced to Ireland? No country in the wildest portion of the earth has exhibited a more lamentable picture of insubordination, dissension, and public misery. The peasantry gradually sinking into the most abject poverty; the gentry living on loans; the laws set at defiance; the demand for rents answered by assassination; a fierce faction existing in the bowels of the land, as if for the express purpose of inflaming every passion of an ignorant people into frenzy, and deepening every visitation of nature into national ruin. At this moment, England is paying for the daily food of two millions of people; employing seven hundred thousand labourers, simply to keep them alive; and burthening the most heavily-taxed industry in the world with millions of pounds more, for the sole object of rescuing Ireland from the last extremities of famine.
We take our leave of this most distressing subject, by the obvious remark, that Pitt and the politicians, in treating popery as a political object, have all alike overlooked the true nature of the question. Popery is a religion, and if that religion be false, no crime can be greater in the sight of Heaven, nor more sure to bring evil on man, than to give it any assistance in its temptations, progress, or power, by any means whatever. To propagate a false religion is to declare war against the Divine will, and in that warfare suffering must follow. But what Protestant can have a doubt upon the subject? England may regard herself as signally fortunate, if the just penalty of her weakness is already paid.
Mr Addington's Ministry began auspiciously, with the peace of Amiens. The world was weary of war. France had just learned the power of the British army, by the capture of her army in Egypt; she was without a ship on the seas; Napoleon was desirous of consolidating his power, and ascending a throne; and thus, all interests coinciding, peace was proclaimed.
Lord Sidmouth's life from this period was connected with the highest transactions of the state, until 1822, when he retired from office, followed by the universal respect of the country, and bearing with him into his retirement a conscience as void of offence, as perhaps ever belonged to any Minister of England.
Then followed a period, which might have been regarded as, even here, the fitting reward of such a life. Prom 1822 to 1844, he lived in the enjoyment of health, and that honour, and those troops of friends, which are the noblest human evidence of a well-spent existence.
Old age came on him at last, but with singular gentleness. Some of his maxims exhibit the mild philosophy of his temperament. "In youth," said he, "the absence of pleasure is pain, in age the absence of pain is pleasure." He characteristically observed, "At my age, it strikes me very much, what little proportion there is between man's ambition, and the shortness of his life." Of the wars during his time he said, "I used to think all the sufferings of war lost in its glory; I now consider all its glory lost in its sufferings." In allusion to the desponding tone of some public men, he said, "I have always fought under the standard of hope, and I never shall desert it." At another time, he expressed the truth, which only the wise man feels—"It is a very important part of wisdom, to know what to overlook." He repeated a fine expression of George III, of which he acknowledged the full value,—"Give me the man who judges one human being with severity, and every other with indulgence."
His religious feelings were such as might be expected from his well-spent life,—pure, benevolent, and high-toned. Speaking to his family, in his last illness, he said, "Kind, dutiful, affectionate children, all have been to me; and if I am permitted to attain to that happy state to which I aspire, and am permitted to look down, how often shall I be with you, my children!"
On the 3d of February, 1844, he was seized with an attack of influenza, which on the 10th became hopeless; and on the 15th he calmly died, in his 87th year.
We have preferred giving an abstract of the leading portions of this able and amiable man's ministerial career, to following it minutely through his later public years, as the earlier were those which decided the character of the whole: and we have also preferred the tracing the course of the individual, to criticisms on the volumes of his biographer. But the work deserves much approval, for its general intelligence, the clearness of its arrangement, and the fulness of its information. It exercises judgment in the spirit of independence, and, expressing its opinions without severity, exhibits the grave sagacity of a man of sense, the style of a scholar, and the temper of a divine.
 The Life and Correspondence of the Right Honourable Henry Addington, First Viscount Sidmouth. By the Honourable GEORGE PELLEW, D.D., Dean of Norwich. 3 vols. J. Murray.
HOW THEY MANAGE MATTERS IN THE MODEL REPUBLIC.
In our last April number—on the appropriate Day of Fools—we laid before our readers a few stray flowers of speech, culled with little labour in that rich garden of oratorical delight—the Congress of the United States. Sweets to the sweet!—We confess that we designed that salutary exposure less for the benefit of our readers and subscribers in the Old World, than of those who are our readers, but not our subscribers, in the New. For, in the absence of an international copyright law, Maga is extensively pirated in the United States, extensively read, and we fear very imperfectly digested. This arrangement appears to us to work badly for all the parties concerned. It robs the British publisher, and impoverishes the native author. As to the American public, if our precepts had exercised any influence upon their practice, they would have learned long ago that ill-gotten goods never prosper, and that they who make booty of other men's wits, are not excepted from the general condemnation of wrong-doers. Some day, perhaps, they will consent to profit by what they prig, and thus, like the fat knight, turn their diseases to commodity—the national disease of appropriation to the commodity of self-knowledge and self-rebuke.
An American journalist, however, has put the matter in quite a new light, so far as we are concerned. Lord Demus, it appears, like other despots, is a hard master, and exacts from his most oppressed slaves a tribute of constant adulation. We, too, are invited to applaud his felonious favours, and assured that the honour and glory of being read by him on his own free and easy terms, is enough for the like of us.
"So long," says the editor of the New York Gazette and Times "as our National Legislature refuses to give the Republic an International Copyright Law, so that American periodicals of a higher class may be supported among us, the English reviews will do the thinking of our people upon a great variety of subjects. They make no money, indeed, directly, by their circulation here; but their conductors cannot but feel the importance, and value the influence of having the whole American literary area to themselves. Blackwood, whose circulation on this side of the Atlantic is, on account of its cheapness, double perhaps that which it can claim in the British islands, is more and more turning its attention to American subjects, which it handles generally with its wonted humorous point, and witty spitefulness."
This is very fine; but we can assure our friendly critic, that we feel no call whatever to undertake the gratuitous direction of the American conscience. Our ambition to "do the thinking" of our Yankee cousins is materially damped by the unpleasant necessity which it involves, of being "done" ourselves. They seem, however, to claim a prescriptive right to the works of the British press, as well as to the funds of the British public. They read our books, on the same principle as they borrow our money, and abuse their benefactors into the bargain with more than Hibernian asperity. After all, however, we believe that the candour of Maga has as much to do with their larcenous admiration of her pages, as the "cheapness" to which our New York editor alludes. To use their own phrase, "they go in for excitement considerable;" and, to be told of their faults, is an excitement which they seldom enjoy at the hands of their own authors. Now, we are accustomed to treat our own public as a rational, but extremely fallible personage, and to think that we best deserve his support, by administering to his failings the language of unpalatable truth. And we greatly mistake the character of Demus, and even of that conceited monster the American Demus,—
[Greek: agroikos orgen, kuamotrox, akracholos upokophos—]
if this be not the direction in which the interest, as well as the duty, of the public writer lies. Certain it is, that even in the United States those books circulate most freely, which lash most vigorously the vices of the Republic. Honest Von Raumer's dull encomium fell almost still-born from the press, while the far more superficial pages of Dickens and Trollope were eagerly devoured by a people who are daily given to understand, by their own authors, that they are the greatest, the wisest, the most virtuous nation under the sun. Let a European author be never so well disposed towards them, his partial applause contributes but little to their full-blown complacency. But, when they hear that the Republic has been traduced by a foreign, and especially a British pen, their vanity is piqued, their curiosity excited, and their conscience smitten. Every one denounces the libel in public, and every one admits its truth to himself—"What!" say they, "does the Old World in truth judge us thus harshly? Is it really scandalised by such trifles as the repudiation of our debts, and the enslavement of our fellow creatures? Must we give up our playful duels, and our convenient spittoons, before we can hope to pass muster as Christians and gentlemen beyond our own borders? O free Demus! O wise Demus! O virtuous Demus! Will you betake yourself to cleanly, and well-ordered ways at the bidding of this scribbler?" Thus "they eat, and eke they swear;" vowing all the time that they "will horribly revenge." No doubt, however, the bitter pill of foreign animadversion, though distasteful to the palate, relieves the inflation of their stomachs, and leaves them better and lighter than before. But when will a native Aristophanes arise to purge the effeminacy of the American press, and show up the sausage-venders and Cleons of the Republic in their true light? How long will the richest field of national folly in the world remain unreaped, save by the crotchety sickles of dull moralists and didactic pamphleteers?
Not that moral courage is entirely wanting in the United States; but it is a kind of courage altogether too moral, and sadly deficient in animal spirits. The New Englanders especially, set up, in their solemn way, to admonish the vices of the Republic, and to inoculate them with the virulent virtues of the Puritanical school. The good city of Boston alone teems with transcendental schemes for the total and immediate regeneration of mankind. There we find Peace Societies, and New Moral World Societies, and Teetotal Societies, and Anti-Slavery Societies, all "in full blast," each opposing to its respective bane the most sweeping and exaggerated remedies. The Americans never do things by halves; their vices and their virtues are alike in extremes, and the principles of the second book of the Ethics of Aristotle are altogether unknown to their philosophy. At one moment they are all for "brandy and bitters," at the next, tea and turn-out is the order of the day, Here, you must "liquor or fight"—there, a little wine for the stomach's sake is sternly denied to a fit of colic, or an emergency of gripes. The moral soul of Boston thrills with imaginings of perpetual peace, while St Louis and New Orleans are volcanoes of war. Listen to the voice of New England, and you would think that negro slavery was the only crime of which a nation ever was, or could by possibility be guilty; go to South Carolina, and you are instructed that "the Domestic Institution" is the basis of democratic virtue, the cornerstone of the Republican edifice. Cant, indeed, in one form or other, is the innate vice of the "earnest" Anglo-Saxon mind, on both sides of the Atlantic, and ridicule is the weapon which the gods have appointed for its mitigation. You must lay on the rod with a will, and throw "moral suasion" to the dogs. Above all, your demagogue dreads satire as vermin the avenging thumb—'Any thing but that,' squeaks he, 'an you love me. Liken me to Lucifer, or Caius Gracchus; charge me with ambition, and glorious vices; let me be the evil genius of the commonwealth, the tinsel villain of the political melodrama; but don't threaten me with the fool's cap, or write me down with Dogberry; above all, don't quote me in cold blood, that the foolish people may see, after the fever heat has subsided, what trash I have palmed upon them in the name of liberty!' Yet this is the way, Jonathan, to deal with demagogues. You make too much of yours, man. You are not the blockhead we take you for after all; but you delight to see your public men in motley, and the rogues will fool you to the top of your bent, till it is your pleasure to put down the show. So now that the piper has to be paid, and a lucid interval appears to be dawning upon you, to the pillory at once with these "stump" orators, and pot-house politicians, who have led you into such silly scrapes; turn them about, and look at them well in the rough, that you may know them again when you see them, and learn to avoid for the future their foolish and mischievous counsels.
It is remarkable that while a perception of the ridiculous, perhaps to excess, is characteristic of the British mind, and is at the bottom of many defects in the national manners, commonly attributed to less venial feelings, our Transatlantic descendants err in just the opposite direction. The Americans seldom laugh at any body, or any thing—never at themselves; and this, next to an unfortunate trick of insolvency, and a preternatural abhorrence of niggers, is perhaps the besetting sin of an otherwise "smart" people. As individuals, their peculiarities are not very marked; in truth there is a marvellous uniformity of bad habits amongst them; but when viewed in their collective capacity, whenever two or three of them are gathered together, shades of Democritus! commend us to a seven-fold pocket-handkerchief. The humours of most nations expend themselves on carnivals and feast-days, at the theatre, the ball-room, or the public garden; but the fun of the United States is to be looked for at public meetings, and philanthropical gatherings, in the halls of lyceums, female academies, and legislative bodies. There they spout, there they swell, and cover themselves with adulation as with a garment. From the inauguration of a President, to the anniversary of the fair graduates of the Slickville female Institute, no event is allowed to pass without a grand palaver, in which things in general are extensively discussed, and their own things in particular extensively praised. They got the trick no doubt from us, whose performances in this line are quite unrivalled in the Old World, but they have added to our platform common-places a variety and "damnable iteration" entirely their own. Besides, when Bull is called upon to make an ass of himself on such occasions, he seems for the most part to have a due appreciation of the fact, while Jonathan's imperturbability and apparent good faith are quite sublime. The things that we have been compelled to hear of that "star-spangled banner!"—and all as if they were spoken in real earnest, and meant to be so understood. We look back upon those side-rending moments with a kind of Lucretian pleasure, and indemnify ourselves for past constraint by a hearty guffaw. All this magniloquence and bad taste, however, is intelligible enough. It springs partly from a want of discipline in their society, and partly from the absence of those studies which purify the taste, enlighten the judgment, and make, even dulness respectable. American audiences are not critical—not merely because they are not learned, but because they all take it in turns to be orators, as they do to be colonels of militia and justices of the peace. Thus they learn to bear each other's burdens, and Dulness is fully justified of her children. In a country where all men, at least in theory, are equal, and where every man does in fact exercise a certain influence on public affairs, it is not surprising that a large number of persons should possess a certain facility of public speaking, which even in England is far from universal, and is elsewhere possessed by very few. No man in the United States is deterred from offering his views upon matters of state, by the feeling that neither his education nor his position justify his interference. It is difficult in England to realise the practical equality which obtains as a fundamental principle in the Republic. There every man feels himself to be, and in fact is, or at least may be, a potential unit in the community. As a man, he is a citizen—as a citizen, a sovereign, whose caprices are to be humoured, and whose displeasure is to be deprecated. Judge Peddle, for instance, from the backwoods, is not perhaps as eloquent as Webster, nor as subtile as Calhoun, but he has just as good a right to be heard when he goes up to Congress for all that. Is he not accounted an exemplary citizen "and a pretty tall talker" in his own neighbourhood, and where on "the univarsal airth" would you find a more enlightened public opinion? It would never do to put Peddle down; that would be leze-majeste against his constituents, the sovereign people who dwell in Babylon, which is in the county of Lafayette, on the banks of the Chattawichee. Thus endorsed, Peddle soon lays aside his native bashfulness, and makes the walls of Congress vocal to that bewitching eloquence which heretofore captivated the Babylonish mind. He was "raised a leettle too far to the west of sun-down" to be snubbed by Down-easters, any how; he's a cock of the woods, he is; an "etarnal screamer," "and that's a fact"—with a bowie knife under his waistcoat, and a patent revolver in his coat pocket, both very much at the service of any gentleman who may dispute his claims to popular or personal consideration.
To meet the case of these volcanic statesmen,
"Aw'd by no shame, by no respect controll'd,"
and in order that the noble army of dunces (a potent majority, of course) may have no reason to complain that the principles of equality are violated in their persons, the House of Representatives has adopted a regulation, commonly called "the one-hour rule." Upon this principle, whenever a question of great interest comes up, each member is allotted one hour by the Speaker's watch—as much less as he pleases, but no more on any consideration. Of course it occasionally happens that a man who has something to say, is not able to say it effectively within the hour; but then, for one such, there are at least a dozen who would otherwise talk for a week without saying any thing at all. Upon the whole, therefore, this same one-hour rule is deserving of all praise—the time of the country is saved by it, the sufferings of the more sensible members are abbreviated, while the dunces, to do them justice, make the most of their limited opportunities. Who knows, but that the peace of the world may be owing to it? For as there are about 230 representatives, we should have had, but for it, just as many masterly demonstrations of the title of the Republic to the whole of Oregon—and something more. In such a cause, they would make nothing of beginning with the creation of the world, and ending with the last protocol of Mr Buchanan! Decidedly, but for "the one-hour rule" we Britishers should have been "everlastingly used up—and no two ways about it." Poor old Adams actually did begin his Oregon speech with the first chapter of Genesis. The title-deeds of the Republic, he said, were to be found in the words, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth!" Happily, the fatal hammer of the Speaker put down the venerable antediluvian, before he got to the end of the chapter.
In the Senate, on the other hand, which is a less numerous, and somewhat more select body, things still go on in the old-fashioned way. There, when a member has once caught the Speaker's eye, his fortune is made for the day—perhaps for the week. Accordingly, he takes things easy from the very first—kicks his spittoon to a convenient angle, offers a libation of cold water to his parched entrails, and begins. When he leaves off, is another matter altogether—but not generally till he has gone through the round of human knowledge, explored the past, touched lightly upon the present, and cast a piercing glance into the darkness of the future. Soon after three, the Senate adjourns for dinner, and the orator of the day goes to his pudding with the rest, happy in the reflection that he has done his duty by his country, and will do it again on the morrow. We have somewhere read of a paradise of fools. Undoubtedly, Congress is that place. There they enjoy a perfect impunity, and revel in the full gratification of their instincts. Nobody thinks of coughing them down, or swamping them with ironical cheers. There—
"Dulness, with transport, eyes each lively dunce, Remembering she herself was Pertness once, And tinsel'd o'er in robes of varying hues, With self-applause her wild creation views. Sees momentary monsters rise and fall, And with her own fool's colours gilds them all."
Indeed, all the arrangements of Congress favour the influence of the sable goddess. In the first place, the members are paid by the day—eight dollars each. Permit us to observe, Jonathan, that you scarcely display your usual "smartness" here. It would be much better to contract with them by the scrape. As for instance—To involving the country in a war with Mexico, so much—To ditto with Great Britain, so much more. One year you might lay down a lumping sum for a protective tariff, with an understanding, that it was to be repealed the next at a moderate advance. You would thus insure the greatest possible variety of political catastrophes, with the least possible friction and expense. Again, the furniture of the Capitol is altogether too luxurious. Each member is provided with a private desk, stationery ad lib., a stuffed arm-chair, and a particular spittoon. No wonder, then, that your Simmses and Chipmans are listened to with complacency. It's all in the day's work—it's considered in the wages. While these worthies hold forth for the benefit of distant Missouri and Michigan, their colleagues write their letters, read the newspapers, chew tobacco, as little boys do toffy in England, and expectorate at leisure. No one cheers, no one groans, no one cries Oh! Oh!—all the noise that is made is on private account, and not at all personal to the gentleman on his legs. Yet, such is the deceitfulness of the human heart, that the Americans are much given to boast of the dignity and decorum of their Legislature, and to thank God that it is not a bear-garden like another place of the kind that they wot of. We must have been asked at least six times a-day during our visit at Washington, "How Congress compared with the British Parliament?" To which we used to reply, "That they did not compare at all," an answer which fully met the truth of the case, without in the least wounding the self-love of the querist.
When these malignant pages arrive in New York, every inhabitant of that good city will abuse us heartily, except our publisher. But great will be the joy of that furacious individual, as he speculates in secret on the increased demand of his agonised public. Immediately he will put forth an advertisement, notifying the men of "Gotham," that he has on hand a fresh sample of BRITISH INSOLENCE, and hinting that, although he knows they care nothing about such things, the forthcoming piracy of Maga will be on the most extensive scale. Then, all the little newspapers will take us in hand, and bully us in their little way. It is perhaps a shame to forestall the acerbities of these ingenious gentlemen, but we know they will call us "anonymous scribbler," and "bagman," amongst the rest. They called us "bagman" for our last article, and we were sure they would. The fact is, that since Lord Morpeth's visit to the United States, the Americans have taken a very high tone indeed. Their gratitude to that amiable nobleman for not writing a book about them, is unbounded, and they put him down (why, it is difficult to say) as the aristocratic, and therefore impartial champion of Demus. Whenever we fell into the bilious moods to which our plebeian nature is addicted, we were gravely admonished of his bright example, and assured that to speak evil of the Republic was the infirmity of vulgar minds. There is, it would appear, a sympathy betwixt "great ones;" a kind of free-masonry betwixt the sovereign people and the British peerage, which neither party suspected previously, but which is confessed on the slightest acquaintance.
As generally happens in such cases, the conceit of the Americans takes the most perverse direction. It is certain that they do many things better than any people under the sun. Their merchant navy is the finest in the world—their river steamers are miracles of ingenuity,—at felling timber and packing pork they are unrivalled; and their smartness in the way of trade is acknowledged by those who know them best. All this, and much more to the same effect, may be admitted without demur, but all these admissions will avail the traveller nothing. He will be expected to congratulate them on the elegance of their manners, the copiousness of their literature, and the refinement of their tastes. He will be confidentially informed that "Lord Morpeth's manners were much improved by mixing with our first circles, sir;" and what is worse, he will be expected to believe it, and to carry himself accordingly. "Ripe scholars" who make awful false quantities, second-rate demagogues passing for "distinguished statesmen," literary empirics, under the name of "men of power," will claim his suffrages at every turn; and in vain will he draw upon his politeness to the utmost, in vain assent, ejaculate, and admire—no amount of positive praise will suffice, till America Felix is admitted to be the chosen home of every grace and every muse. "Did Mr Bull meet with any of our literary characters at Boston?" Mr Bull had that happiness. "Well, he was very much pleased of course?" Bull hastens to lay his hand upon his heart, and to reply with truth that he was pleased. "Yes, sir, we do expect that our Boston literature is about first-rate. We are a young people, sir, but we are a great people, and we are bound to be greater still. There is a moral power, sir, an elevation about the New England mind, which Europeans can scarcely realise. Did you hear Snooks lecture, sir? the Rev. Amos Snooks of Pisgah? Well, sir, you ought to have heard Snooks. All Europeans calculate to hear Snooks—he's a fine man, sir, a man of power—one of the greatest men, sir, in this, or perhaps any other country."
"Semper ego auditor tantum, nunquam ne reponam, Vexatus toties."——
You leave Boston somewhat snubbed and subdued, and betake yourself to the more cosmopolitan regions of New York. Here, too, "men of power" are to be found in great numbers—but "our first circles" divide the attention and abuse the patience of the traveller. Boston writes the books, but New York sets the fashions of the Republic, and is the Elysium of mantua-makers and upholders. We doubt whether any city in the world of its size can boast so many smart drawing rooms and so many pretty young women. Indeed, from the age of fifteen to that of five-and-twenty, female beauty is the rule rather than the exception in the United States, and neither cost nor pains are spared to set it forth to the best advantage. The American women dress well, dance well, and in all that relates to what may be called the mechanical part of social intercourse, they appear to great advantage. Nothing can exceed the self-possession of these pretty creatures, whose confidence is never checked by the discipline of society, or the restraints of an education which is terminated almost as soon as it is begun. There is no childhood in America—no youth—no freshness. We look in vain for the
"Ingenui vultus puer, ingenuique pudoris."
"The modest maid deck'd with a blush of honour, Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love."
There is scarcely a step from the school to the forum—from the nursery to the world. Young girls, who in England would be all blushes and bread and butter, boldly precede their mammas into the ball-room; and the code of a mistaken gallantry supplies no corrective to their caprice, for youth and beauty are here invested with regal prerogatives, and can do no wrong. In short, the Americans carry their complaisance to the sex beyond due bounds—at least in little things—for we by no means think that the real influence of their women is great, notwithstanding the tame and submissive gallantry with which the latter are treated in public. We doubt whether the most limited gynocracy would tolerate the use of tobacco as an article of daily diet, or permit ferocious murders to go unwhipped of justice under the name of duels. But the absorbing character of the pursuits of the men forbids any strong sympathy betwixt the sexes; and perhaps the despotism which the women exercise in the drawing-room arises from the fact that all that relates to the graces and embellishments of life is left entirely to them. We do not know that this can be avoided under the circumstances of the country, but it has a most injurious effect upon social intercourse. The Americans of both sexes want tact and graciousness of manner, and that prompt and spontaneous courtesy which is the child of discipline and self-restraint. They are seldom absolutely awkward, because they are never bashful; they have no mauvaise honte, because they are all on an equality; hence they never fail to display a certain dry composure of bearing, which, though not agreeable, is less ludicrous than the gaucherie so commonly observed in all classes of English society, except the very highest.
It is curious to observe how the manners of two nations of the same origin, and, in a great degree, of similar instincts, are modified by their political institutions. Neither the British nor the Americans are distinguished for that natural politeness and savoir vivre, which is to be found more or less in all other civilised countries. They are both too grave, too busy, and too ambitious to lay themselves out for trifles, which, after all, go far to make up the sum of human happiness. As for the Americans, the general aspect of their society is dreary and monotonous in the extreme. Whatever "our first circles" may say to the contrary, there is a great equality of manners, as of other things, amongst them; but if the standard is nowhere very high, it never falls so low as with us; if there is less refinement and cultivation amongst the higher classes, (we beg Demus' pardon for the expression,) there is on the other hand less grossness, certainly less clownishness, among the mass. Of course there are many individuals in this, as in other countries, remarkable for natural grace and genteel bearing; but the class which is pre-eminent in these respects, is very small and ill-defined. The great national defect is a want of sprightliness and vivacity, and an impartial insouciance in their intercourse with all classes and conditions of men. For if inequality has its evils, it has also its charms; as the prospect of swelling mountains and lowly vales is more pleasing to the eye than that of the monotonous, though more fertile champaign. Now, as the relation of patrician and plebeian, of patron and client, of master and servant, of superior and inferior, can scarcely be said to exist in the United States, so all the nice gradations of manner which are elicited by those relations, are wanting also. The social machine rubs on with as little oil as possible—there is but small room for the exercise of the amenities and charities of life. The favours of the great are seldom rewarded by the obsequiousness of the small. No leisure and privileged class exists to set an example of refined and courtly bearing; but there are none, however humble, who may not affect the manners of their betters without impertinence, and aspire to the average standard of the Republic. Hence, almost every native American citizen is capable of conducting himself with propriety, if not with ease, in general society. What are fine ladies and gentlemen to him, that he should stand in awe of them? Simply persons who have been smarter or earlier in the field of fortune than himself, who will "burst up" some fine morning, and leave the road open to others. The principle of rotation is not confined to the political world of the United States, but obtains in every department of life. It is throughout the same song—
"Here we go up, up, up, And here we go down, down, down."
Law and opinion, and the circumstances of the country, are alike opposed to the accumulation of property, so that it is rare for two successive generations of the same family to occupy the same social position. The ease with which fortunes are made, or repaired, is only equalled by the recklessness with which they are lost. Prosperity, at some time or other, appears to be the birth-right of every citizen; and, where all are parvenus alike, there are none to assume the airs of exclusiveness, or to crush the last comer beneath the weight of traditional and time-honoured grandeur.
It is not easy to dismiss the peculiarities of our British society in a paragraph. Bull, however, to be appreciated, must be seen in the midst of his own household gods, with his family and bosom friends about him. This is what may be called the normal state of that fine fellow—and here Jonathan can't hold a candle to him. American interiors want relief and variety of colouring. Their children are not like the children of the Old World: they don't romp, or prattle, or get into mischief, or believe in Bogie. They seem to take brevet rank, from the first, as men and women, and are quite inaccessible to nursery humbug of any kind. They are never whipped, and eat as much pastry as they think proper; whereby they grow up dyspeptic and rational beyond their years. Parents don't appear to exercise any particular functions, masters (we again beg Demus's pardon for the poverty of the vernacular) have nothing magisterial about them, and servants won't stomach even the name, at least if they wear white skins, and know it. After the first burst of admiration at the philosophy of the thing, it grows tiresome to live amongst people who are all so much alike. Now in England the distinctions of age, and rank, and sex, are much more strongly marked; while in those countries of Europe which are still less under the influence of the equalising spirit of the age, the social landscape is still more variegated and picturesque. With us, two adverse principles are at work; and this is the reason why our British society is so anomalous to ourselves, and so entirely beyond the comprehension of foreigners. Whenever our brave Bull is thrown into a mixed company abroad, or even at home, where the social position of those with whom he is brought into contact is unknown to him, there is no end to the blundering and nonsense of the worthy fellow. Go where he will, he is haunted by the traditions of his eccentric island, and desperately afraid of placing himself in what he calls a false position. At home, he has one manner for his nobleman, another for his tradesman, another for his valet; and he would rather die than fail in the orthodox intonation appropriate to each. Who has not observed the strange mixture of petulance and mauvaise honte which distinguishes so many of our English travellers on the Continent? Decidedly, we appear to less advantage in public than any people in the world. Place a Briton and an American, of average parts and breeding, on board a Rhine steam-boat, and it is almost certain that the Yankee will mix up, so to speak, the better of the two. The gregarious habits of our continental neighbours are more familiar to him than to his insular kinsman, and he is not tormented like the latter by the perpetual fear of failing, either in what is due to himself or to others. His manners will probably want polish and dignity; he will be easy rather than graceful, communicative rather than affable; but he will at least preserve his Republican composure, alike in his intercourse with common humanity, or in the atmosphere of more courtly and exclusive circles.
The art of pleasing is nowhere well understood in the United States: but the beauty of the women, though transient, is unrivalled while it lasts, and perhaps in no country is the standard of female virtue so high. The formal and exaggerated attention which the sex receives from all classes in public, is at least a proof of the high estimation in which it is held, and must, we think, be put down as an amiable trait in the American character.
We are quite sure, for instance, that females may travel unattended in the United States with far more ease and security than in any country of the Old World: and the deference paid to them is quite irrespective of the rank of the fair objects—it is a tribute paid to the woman and not to the lady. Some travellers we believe have denied this. We can only say, that during a pretty extensive tour we do not recollect a single instance in which even the unreasonable wishes of women were not complied with as of course. We did remark with less satisfaction the ungracious manner in which civilities were received by these spoilt children of the Republic—the absence of apologetic phrases, and those courtesies of voice and expression, with which women usually acknowledge the deference paid to their weakness and their charms. But this is a national failing. The Americans are too independent to confess a sense of obligation, even in the little conventional matters of daily intercourse. They have almost banished from the language such phrases as, "Thank you," "If you please," "I beg your pardon," and the like. The French, who are not half so attentive to women as the Americans, pass for the politest nation in Europe, because they know how to veil their selfishness beneath a profusion of bows and pretty speeches. Now, when your Yankee is invited to surrender his snug seat in a stage or a railroad carriage in favour of a fair voyager, he does not hesitate for a moment. He expectorates, and retires at once. But no civilities are interchanged; no smiles or bows pass betwixt the parties. The gentleman expresses no satisfaction—the lady murmurs no apologies.
Even now we see in our mind's eye the pert, pretty little faces, and the loves of bonnets which flirt and flutter along Broadway in the bright sunshine—Longum Vale! In the flesh we shall see them no more. No more oysters at Downing's, no more terrapins at Florence's, no more fugacious banquets at the Astor House. We have traduced the State, and for us there is no return. The commercial house which we represent, has offered to renew its confidence, but it has failed to restore ours. No amount of commission whatever, will tempt us to affront the awful majesty of Lynch, or to expose ourselves to the tar-and-feathery tortures which he prepares for those who blaspheme the Republic. We have ordered our buggy for the Home Circuit, and propose, by a course of deliberate mastication, and unlimited freedom of speech, to repair the damage which our digestion, and we fear our temper, has sustained during our travels in "the area of freedom."
 [Greek: Estig ara e arete exisproaixetikt, en mesotetizusa te pros emas orismene dogo]
 The principle of rotation in office is a favourite crochet of the Democratic party, and is founded upon the Republican jealousy of power. General Jackson went so far as to recommend that all official appointments whatever should be limited by law to the Presidential term of four years. As it is, whenever a change of parties occurs, a clean sweep is made of all the officers of government, from the highest to the lowest. Custom-house officers, jailers, &c., all share the fate of their betters. It is only surprising that the business of the country is carried on as well as it is, under the influence of this corrupting system.
LETTER TO EUSEBIUS.
You are far more anxious, my dear Eusebius, to know somewhat of the progress or the result of the Curate's misfortune, than to read his or my translations from Catullus. I have a great mind to punish that love of mischief in you, by burying the whole affair in profound secresy. It is fortunate for him that you are not here, or you would surely indulge your propensity, and with malicious invention put the whole parish, with the Curate, into inextricable confusion. It is bad enough as it is. There!—it cannot be helped—I must tell you at once the condition we are in, if I would have you read the rest of my letter with any patience.
A committee has been sitting these two days, to sift, as they pronounce them, "the late disgraceful proceedings;" so that you see, they are of the school of Rhadamanthus,—condemn first, and hear afterwards. We have, in this little township, two "general shopkeepers," dealers in groceries, mops, calicoes, candles, and the usual "omnium-gatherum" of household requirements.
These are great rivals—envious rivals—back-biting rivals; both, in the way of tale-bearing, what Autolicus calls himself, "pickers-up of unconsidered trifles." And truly, in the trade of this commodity, if in no other, this may be called a "manufacturing district." Now the Curate, unhappily, can buy his tea and sugar, and trifling matters, but of one—for to patronise both, would be to make enemies of both; the poor Curate, then, in preferring the adulterated goods of Nicolas Sandwell, to the adulterated goods of Matthew Miffins, has made an implacable enemy. Really, Eusebius, here is machinery enough for a heroic poem: for Virgil's old Lady Fame on the top of the roof we have three, active and lusty—and you may make them the Fates or the Furies, or what you please, except the Graces. Prateapace, Gadabout, and Brazenstare—there are characters enough for episodes; and a hero—but what, you will say, are we to do for a heroine? Here is one, beat out of the brain of Mathew Miffins, a ready-armed Minerva. You will smile, but it is so. The three above-named ladies first made their way to the shop of Mr Miffins, narrated what had passed and what had not. Having probably just completed "sanding the sugar and watering the tobacco," he raised both his hands and his eyes, and, to lose no time in business, dropped them as soon as he decently could, and, pressing both palms strongly on the counter, he asked, if they entertained any suspicion of a particular person as being the object of the Curate's most unbecoming passion? Lydia Prateapace remembered, certainly, a name being mentioned—it was Lesby or Lisby, or something like that. "Indeed!" said Miffins, arching his brows, and significantly touching the tip of his nose with his forefinger—"ah! indeed! a foreigner, depend upon it—a Lisbon lady; that, Miss, is the capital of Portugal, where them figs comes from. Only think, a foreign lady—a lady from Lisbon—that is too bad!" to which the three readily assented. "I doubt not, ladies," he continued, "it's one of them foreigners as lives near Ashford, about five miles off—where I knows the Curate goes two or three times in a week."
Thus, Eusebius, is Catullus's Lesbia, who herself stood for another, converted into a Portuguese lady, whom the Curate visits some five miles off—or, as the three ladies say, protects.
If you ask how I came by this accurate information, learn that our Gratian's Jahn was at the further counter, making a purchase of mole-traps, and saw and heard, and reported. The first meeting was held in Miffins' back-parlour; but fame had beat up for recruits, and that was found far too small; so they have adjourned to the Blue Boar, where, the tap being good, and the landlord a busybody, they are likely to remain a little longer than Muzzle-brains can see to draw up a report. The Curate's door is chalked, and adjacent walls—"No Kissing," "The Clerical Judas," "Who Kissed the School-mistress?" and many such-like morsels. But if fame has thus been playing with the kaleidoscope of lies, multiplying and giving every one its match, she has likewise shown them about through her magnifying glass, and brought the most distantly circulated home to the poor Curate. In a little town a few miles off, it has been reported that Miss Lydia Prateapace has been obliged to "swear the peace against him," which "swearing the peace" is, in most cases, a declaration of war.
Meanwhile the Curate has taken his cue, to do nothing and say nothing upon the subject; and, as in all his misadventures, that was the part taken by Yorick, if his friends do not rescue him, he may have Yorick's penalty. Thus much at present, my dear Eusebius; I will occasionally report progress, but it is now time that we resume our translations, hoping you will find amusement in our
I told you Gratian, worthy veracious Gratian, had hastened away to an Agricultural meeting, to vindicate the character of his Belgian carrots. This vindication inundated us for some days with agricultural visitors. And Gratian was proud, and, like Virgil, "tossed about the dung with dignity." We saw little of him, and when he did appear, "his talk was of bullocks;" so how could he "have understanding," at least for Catullus? Had not a neighbouring fair taken off the agriculturists after a few days, his ideas, like his stick, would have become porcine. He rode his hobby, and at a brisk pace; and, when a little tired of him, stabled him and littered him, and seemed glad of a little quiet and leg-tapping in his easy-chair. He had worked off the lessened excitement by an evening's nap, and awoke recruited; and, with a pleasant smile, asked the Curate if he had had recently any communication with his friend Catullus.
CURATE.—We left him, I believe, in the very glory of kissing—his insatiable glory. He now comes to a check—Lesbia is weary, if he is not.
AQUILIUS.—It is a mere lovers' quarrel, and is only the prelude to more folly, like the blank green baize curtain, between the play and the farce. He affects anger—a thin disguise: he would give worlds to "kiss and be friends again." His vexation is evident.
GRATIAN.—Ah! it is an old story—and not the worse for that—come, Mr Curate, show up Catullus in his true motley. He was privileged at his age to play the fool—so are we all at one time or another, if we do it not too wisely. A wise fool is the only Asinine.—Now for Catullus's folly.
CURATE.—Thus, then, to himself:—
Sad Catullus, cease your moan, Or your folly you'll deplore; What you see no more your own, Think of as your own no more.
Once the suns shone on you clearly, When it was your wont to go Seeking her you loved so dearly,— Will you e'er love woman so?
Then those coquetries amusing Were consented to by both— Done at least of your free choosing, Nor was she so very loth.
Then, indeed, the suns shone clearly, Now their light is half gone out; She is loth—and you can merely Learn the way to do without.
Cease, then, your untimely wooing, Steel your purpose, and be strong; If she flies you, why, pursuing, Make your sorrow vain and long?
Farewell, Fair!—Catullus hardens; Where he is, will he remain; He is not a man who pardons One that must be asked again.
She'll be sad in turn, the charmer, When the shades of eventide Bring no gallants to alarm her, No Catullus to her side.
Lost to every sense of duty, Say, what can you, will you do? Who'll find out that you have beauty? Who'll be loved in turn by you?
Whose will you be called of right? Whom will you in future kiss? Whose lips will you have to bite?— O Catullus, keep to this!
GRATIAN.—Well, now, I think your choice of metre a little too much of the measured elegiac, for the bursts of alternate passion, love, and anger—those sudden breaks of vexation, which I see, or fancy I see, in the original Latin. Now, Aquilius, let us hear you personate the "vexed lover."
Foolish Catullus—trifling ever— Dismiss so fruitless an endeavour; Let by-gone days be days by-gone, Though fine enough some days have shone,— When if she but held up her finger Whom you so loved—and still you linger, Nor dare to part with—you observant, Were at her beck her humble servant; Follow'd her here and there: and did Such things! which she would not forbid— Love's follies, without stint or doubt: Oh! then your days shone finely out. But now 'tis quite another thing,— She likes not your philandering: And you yourself! But be it over— Act not again the silly lover— But let her go—be hard as stone; So let her go—and go alone. Adieu, sweet lady! 'Tis in vain! Catullus is himself again— Will neither love, want, nor require, But gives you up as you desire. Wretch! you will grieve for this full sore, When lovers come to you no more. For think you, false one, to what pass, Your wretched days will come? Alas! No beauty yours—not one to say How beautiful she looks to-day! Whom will you have to love—to hear Yourself called by his name, his dear? Whom will you have to kiss,—be kiss'd And bind your names, in true-love twist? Whose lips to bite so?—yes—to bite.} —Catullus, spare thy love or spite:} Be firm as rock—or conquered quite.}
CURATE.—I protest against this as a translation. He has indeed, as he professed, brought his puppet Catullus upon the stage, and, like Shakspeare's bad actor, has put more words in his mouth than the author bargained for. The very last words are quite contradicted by the text. Catullus does not hint at the possibility of being conquered, of giving in.
GRATIAN.—Oh! that, is always implied in these cases. Besides Catullus evidently doubts, or he would not have so enforced the caution; "At tu, Catulle"—the translation may be a little free, but still admissible.
AQUILIUS.—My friend the Curate has committed the fault himself, if it be one: his "O Catullus, keep to this!" so evidently means, If you do not, it is all over with you.
GRATIAN.—Give me the book.—Oh!—I see we have next that very elegant and very affectionate welcome home to his friend Verannius, on his return from Spain, whither he had gone with Caius Piso. There is much heart in it, and true joy and gratulation. This is the sort of welcome that throws a sunshine upon the path of the days of human life. There is no trouble when friend greets friend. Have you translated this?
AQUILIUS.—I fear your commendation will resemble too rich a frame to a poor picture, and make all more dingy by the glow of the genuine gold.
But here I venture to offer, my translation:—the warmth of the original—the tenderness, is not perhaps in it:
Sweet friend, Verannius, welcome home at last! Had I a thousand friends, all were surpass'd By my Verannius! Art thou home return'd, To thine own household gods, and hearts that yearn'd To greet thee—brothers happy in one mind, And thy dear mother, too,—all fond, all kind? O happy, happy news! and now again To see thee safe! and hear thee talk of Spain— Its history, places, people, and array, Telling of all in thy old pleasant way! And shall I hold thee in a friend's embrace, Gaze on thy mouth, and in thine eyes, and trace The features of the well-remember'd face! Oh, if one happiest man on earth there be, Amongst the happy, I, dear friend, am he!
CURATE.—This Verannius, and his friend Fabullus, seem to have been upon the most intimate and familiar terms with our poet. Little presents, pledges of their mutual friendship, had doubtless been given and received. Catullus elsewhere complains against Marrucinus Asinius, that he had stolen a handkerchief, sent him out of Spain by Verannius and Fabullus.
AQUILIUS.—Have you not translated it?
AQUILIUS.—I have, and will read it, after yours to Verannius: and it is curious as showing that the Romans had the practice of using handkerchiefs, or napkins, of value,—perhaps such a fashion as is now revived by the other sex,—and embroidered with lace.
GRATIAN.—Now, Mr Curate.—If you let our friend digress thus, we shall never have your version.
My friend, the dearest and the best, E'en though ten thousand I possess'd!— My own Verannius! art thou come To greet again thy gods of home, And brethren that so well agree Together, and in loving thee— And come to thy sweet mother, too? O blessed news! and it is true, That I shall see thee safe at last; And hear thee tell thy travel pass'd— Of Spanish places, things, and tribes, (While every word my heart imbibes,) In thine old way: shall I embrace Thy neck—and kiss thy pleasant face? Find me the happy where you can, I still shall be the happiest man.
GRATIAN.—What are we to have next?
AQUILIUS.—An invitation to dinner, or, as the Romans made it, supper—and a curious invitation it is. Fabullus, to whom it was addressed, was companion to his friend Verannius—and both were with the pestilent Piso, in Spain.
CURATE.—And brought little out of it; but returned poorer than they went—as did, it should seem, Catullus himself from Bithynia. So that I should imagine the invitation to Fabullus was a mere jest upon their mutual poverty. For it does not appear that Fabullus was in a condition to indulge in luxuries.
AQUILIUS.—Perhaps, when the invitation was sent, Catullus was not aware that his friend had been as unsuccessful, under Piso, as he had himself been, under Memmius. Thus stands the invitation:—
A few days hence, my dear Fabullus, If the gods grant you that high favour, You shall sup well with your Catullus; For, to ensure the dishes' savour, Yourself shall cater, and shall cull us Best fruits—and wines of choicest flavour. And with you bring your lass—fun—laughter— All plenty: nor confine your wishes To supernumerary dishes;— Bring all—and pay the piper after. Rich be your fare—and all fruition, Taste, elegance, and sweet discourses Familiar, on that one condition. For, truth to tell, my wretched purse is In its last stage of inanition, And not a single coin disburses: A cobweb's over it, and in it— That Spider Want there loves to spin it.
Setting aside this lack of coffer, Which you can supply, Fabullus, Accept good welcome—and I offer, For company, your friend Catullus. Yet, though so hard my purse's case is, With such rare unguents I'll present you, Compounded by the Loves and Graces For my dear girl, that you shall scent you With perfume more divine than roses; And after, pray the gods, within you, To change sense, nerve, bone, muscle, sinew, And make you all compact of noses.
CURATE.—There you are again bolting out of the course. Sending poor Fabullus to market, without money in his purse,—not a word in the original of fruit-culling and "paying the piper."
AQUILIUS.—If Gratian had not the book in his hand, I would boldly assert that it is all there. He will admit it is the entire meaning.
CURATE.—With the elegant diction, "paying the piper," indeed! "Haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster."
GRATIAN.—Well, I almost think "venuste noster," "my good fellow," or "my pleasant fellow," will allow the freedom of the translation, for it is a free and easy appellative. Come, then, Curate, let us have your accurate version.
CURATE.—Perhaps you may think, when you hear it, that I am in the same predicament of blame with Aquilius, and that my criticism was a ruse, to divide the censure pretty equally.
Fabullus, if the gods will let you, Before a table I will set you, A few days hence, with welcome hearty, To my domestic dinner-party. That is to say—you bring the food, (Which must be plentiful and good,) With wine—remembering, I presume, For one fair girl I've always room. On these conditions you shall dine Luxurious, boon-companion mine. Seeing that your Catullus' purse Has nought but cobwebs left to nurse, I can but give you in return The loves that undiluted burn; And, something sweeter, neater still— A scented unguent I'll impart, Which Venus and her Loves distil To please the girl that owns my heart: Which when you smell, this boon—this solely You'll ask the gods to recompose; And metamorphose you, and wholly, To one extensive Roman nose.
AQUILIUS.—What nose would a Roman wish to have? I object to Roman, though it is not a bad one for the purpose. The metamorphosed would certainly have a ballad written on him and sung about the streets. Write it, and call him "The Man-mountain, or real and undoubted Promontory of Noses."
GRATIAN.—It should seem they were like enough to feast—like their gods they so irreverently prayed to—on the smell and the smoke only; so they needed good noses and bad appetites. There is something a little abrupt in the latter part, which I doubt if I like: the Loves and Graces should not be made parties to the making of such a monster; and as monster is now-a-days all adopted adjective, follow the fashion of speech, and call it "One extensive Monster-Nose."—Well, what next?
AQUILIUS.—A little piece of extravagant badinage. It seems Calvus Licinius had sent Catullus a collection of miserable poems, and that, too, on commencement of the Saturnalia, dedicated to joy, and freedom from care and annoyance. Our author writes to complain of the malicious present. There is some force, and a fair fling of contempt at the bad poets of the day in it.
AD CALVUM LICINIUM, ORATOREM.
Now if I loved you less, my friend, Facetious Calvus, than these eyes, You merit hatred in such wise As men Vatinius hate. To send Such stuff to me! Have I been rash In word or deed? The gods forfend! That you should kill me with such trash, Of vile and deleterious verse— Volumes on volumes without end, Of ignominious poets, worse Than their own works. May gods be pliant, And grant me this: that poison—pest Light on 'em all, and on that client Who sent 'em you; and you in jest Transfer them, odious, and mephitic, And execrable. I suspect 'em Sent you by that grammarian critic, Sulla. If so, and you have lost No precious labour to collect 'em, 'Tis well indeed; and little cost To you, with malice aforethought, To send (and with intent to kill him, And on this blessed day, when nought But Saturnalian joys should fill him) Your friend Catullus such a set Of murderous authors; but the debt I'll pay, be even with you yet— For no perfidious friend I spare. At early dawn, ere the sun shine, I Will rise, and ransack shop and stall, Collect your Caesii and Aquini, And that Suffenus: and with care And diligence, will have all sent To you, for a like punishment. Hence, poets! with your jingling chimes: Hence, miserables! halt and lame; Be off, ye troublers of our times! I send you packing whence ye came.
GRATIAN.—Kicking about the volumes, doubtless, as the "Friend of Humanity" did the "Needy Knife-grinder."
CURATE.—I did not translate that—for I thought the authors might easily have been burned for writing bad verses (no hint to you, Aquilius; nothing personal); and that Calvus Licinius, having that remedy, need not have written about them. And I confess I don't see much in what he has written. This Suffenus, however, was no fool, but a man of wit and sense.
AQUILIUS.—Yes,—and Catullus writes to Varrus specially about him. I have translated that too. Here it is:—
This man Suffenus, whom you know, Varrus, is not without some show Of parts, and gift of speech befitting A man of sense. Yet he mistakes His talents wondrously, and makes His thousand verses at a sitting. And troth, he makes them look their best: For, not content with palimpsest, He has them writ on royal vellum, Emboss'd and gilded, rubb'd and polish'd: But read 'em, and you wish abolish'd The privilege to make or sell 'em. You read them, and the man is quite Another man: no more polite— No more "the man about the town," But metamorphosed to a clown— Milker of goats, a hedger, digger, So thoroughly is changed his figure, So quite unlike himself. 'Tis odd, Most strange, the man for wit so noted, Whose repartees so much were quoted, Is changed into a very clod! And stranger still—he never seems Quite to himself to be himself, As when of poetry he dreams, And writes and writes, and fills his reams With poems destined for the shelf. We are deceived—in this twin-brothers All. There's one vanity between us, And our self-knowledge stands to screen us From our true portraits. Knowing others, We ticket each man with his vice; And find, most accurately nice, In all a something of Suffenus. Thus every man one knowledge lacks; Our error is—we read the score Of each man as he walks before, And bear our tickets at our backs.