« AnteriorContinuar »
Whigs and Tories. We are well convinced, that the faults of the one party are no justification of the criminality of the other. The best interests of the empire must suffer in the same degree, to whichever faction the offenders may belong. We have indeed principally attacked a journal, which pretends to espouse the side of the administration on the very account of this arrogant and shameless pretension. But we neither know, nor care, whether the “ John Bull” can, or cannot,make out its case against the rival papers, which maintain the principles of the opposition. The cause of the “ John Bull” may be a good one against the “ Times” or against the Whigs, but it is assuredly a bad one against morality and decency; as the cause of Cæsar was said to be right against Pompey, but wrong against his country.
We have said before, that we are ready to co-operate with any party, in any great and useful work. That assertion we repeat. But we are no less determined to act alone against the ultraism and licentiousness of all parties. We court none; and we fear none. If our first endeavour were to conciliate favour and ensure popularity, this is not exactly, perhaps, the course which we should adopt. who is not with us is against us,” has been ever the maxim of the politician. But the way, in which a faction may be pleased, is not always the method by which the country can be benefited.
We have already made some enemies, and we expect to make a thousand more. Upon considering what we have said, we are disposed to own, that we have written too hastily, but cannot allow, that we have written too harshly. As the real friends of the government and the people ; as the real advocates of order, morality, and religion; as having a true and deep regard for the honour of our countrymen, and the character of our countrywomen; as connected with the press, and feeling the power and dignity of literature, we only regret the inadequacy of our words to express the full scope of our opinions. As resolved to stand in the gap, and oppose, while we have life, and health, and our humble portion of intellect, the present destroying and demoralizing system ; we could not speak of its abettors with commendation or respect. We
would now warn and admonish them; the time shall come, when we may startle and alarm them.
But for the present we have done. An inquiry into the state of the press was to constitute the first part of our labours. We had hoped to finish it in two or three reports of the Council of Ten. But this could not be. The pressing interest of the subject, at once immediate and enduring, demands that we should fix our eyes continually upon it. It is our intention, therefore, to devote much of our attention, from time to time, to the task of keeping a watch and a check upon the Reviews--the Newspapers—in short, the whole periodical literature of the country. The arrangements which are now in progress for this purpose, we shall submit respectfully to the public in an early number of the present publication.
HISTORY OF LIEUTENANT M*****. The conversation of the Council turned, a few evenings ago, upon the varieties of misery which were daily presented to our eyes, and the best practicable method of removing or alleviating them. We reflected, with a proud gratification, upon the comprehensive and unceasing labours of philanthropy in this land; upon the almost incredible number and extent of Benefit Societies, and Charitable Funds, Hospitals, Work-houses, and Alms-houses ; Asylums for the Distressed, and Refuges for the Destitute. “ One would almost think," observed the Merchant, “that penury and want must be, in time, eradicated by the efforts of the benevolent and generous. Yet it is a melancholy fact, that these, the most hideous of all diseases are still too prevalent in England, where assuredly the rich and happy have done more for the relief of the poor and wretched among their fellow-citizens, than in any country which has hitherto adorned the annals of mankind." " There is, at least, one species of misery,” said the President, which, with the best wishes and the best intentions it must be always, I fear, next to impossible to remove; there is one species of misery more painful, more
deplorable, and more hopeless, than the complication of the rest. I mean the extreme poverty of those, whose fortunes are rather decayed, than originally low ; whose parents, if not opulent, have been most respectable; who have been brought up with notions far too high for their resources; who have moved in good society, have been continually in the sphere of affluence and splendour, and lived on an equality with men who are much richer than themselves--of those, in short, who, by birth, by education, in habits and in feeling, are gentlemen. How many of them live by perpetual shifts and in perpetual apprehension, obliged to maintain an appearance beyond their means, and affect a disregard for small sums of money, of which the loss to them is almost the loss of their subsistence! The sensations of the low and uneducated become blunted and benumbed ; their wants are things of course; and their demands for assistance seem the natural consequence of those wants. But to the former the sense of honour is an additional misfortune; the refinement of feeling is an accumulated curse. Their pride forbids them, not only to ask, but to have recourse to some of the most common methods by which a decent competence might be obtained. They are devoured by internal struggles; the demeanour must be calm and cheerful, while the heart is bursting. Complaint would be derogatory to their dignity; their sense of haughty independence refuses charity or compassion. To pity is to affront them; and too often the offer of pecuniary relief is resented as an insult. Incapable of undertaking one employment, unwilling to stoop to another, they may say with the steward in the parable, “I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed." I have often thought upon the matter ; yet for this class of sufferers I know not what remedy can be devised. He who could discover one at once adequate and applicable to the occasion, would deserve to be reckoned among the best benefactors of the human race. He would apply the balm of consolation to some of the most bitter calamities, which have been introduced by the customs of polished life, and the forms of modern society. But, alas! the case seems absolutely desperate. Yet the instances, which have occurred within my own experience, are suffi
cient from their melancholy number, and their appalling interest, to awaken the coldest to sympathy, and inspire the unkindest with benevolence. As connected, indeed, with this subject, I cannot refrain from relating to you the history of an unfortunate man, who was among my earliest friends; and whose memory I still respect for his many noble and valuable qualities. His own breast can be no longer touched by the emotions of human pride ; and little delicacy is due to his unfeeling relations.
Lieutenant M-, for I can only give you the initials of his name, was unhappily born of parents, who could trace their descent on both sides, through many ages of illustrious ancestors. Their genealogical tree had its root from some old king of most apocryphal existence; and was adorned with barons, knights, and nobles, who flourished before the conquest. But the family estate was irretrievably encumbered; and their property neither bore any reasonable proportion to their notions of aristocratic grandeur, nor was at all on a level with the rank which they assumed to themselves among their neighbours. My poor friend was early imbued with this foolish haughtiness; and although the youngest of four brothers, had no slight opinion of his own dignity and importance. Yet, with many of the faults, he possessed all the virtues which are engendered by ideas of hereditary distinction. He recoiled from every thing illiberal and mean, either in action, or in thought, as from the vilest pollution ; he imbibed almost with his mother's milk, the nicest sense of honour and generosity. Frank, high-minded, open-hearted, and impetuous, he scorned all falsehood, or dissimulation, or littleness of spirit, as unworthy, not only of himself, but of those of his race who went before him. Family pride was with him an additional incentive to rectitude of conduct.
But he had a fortune to make in the world ; and, by an unlucky fatality, he was not merely disinclined to flatter or conciliate any created being under heaven; but he was too often disposed to look down upon those who were both able and willing to do him service.
Another misfortune of his life was, that he early loved and was beloved by a beautiful girl, without either family or wealth. Love laughs at the idle distinctions of society; and he married her, therefore, after a sharp struggle between his pride and his attachment. But the connexion was an offence which his parents and relations never could forgive; and he quarrelled with them for ever. The same pride which had yielded with reluctance to a stronger passion, now taught him to support the object of his choice by a marked, exclusive, and almost, as it were, patronising regard.
A small sum of money, which had been left him by an uncle, was soon dissipated, like a snow-wreath melting in the sun, by the warm and too liberal hospitality of the youthful pair. Ignorant of its value, and careless of expense, they hardly knew that it was diminished, before they had wasted it to the last farthing. My friend, in this emergency, placed his wife and an infant daughter in the hands of one of her relations ; and impressed with the haughty belief, that the army was the only profession for a gentleman, sought and obtained a commission in a regiment, which was on the eve of sailing for Walcheren. In that ill-fated expedition, he caught a fever, from which he never afterwards entirely recovered. His health, however, was so far restored, that he was enabled to serve gallantly throughout the war : and his reward was, that when his regiment was paid off at the end of it, he had nothing to subsist upon but the half-pay of a lieutenant.
His wife, in the mean time, harassed with perpetual fears about his safety, and feeling herself a burden to her friends, had sunk beneath the pressure of unremitting vexations, and died of a premature old age. A daughter only remained to Lieutenant M. the representative, and so far as extreme youth can resemble maturity of loveliness, the counterpart of her mother, at the time when he first beheld, and too sincerely loved her. For this child, therefore, as was natural, he felt all the pride, and lavished on her all the fondness, of a father:
But here again, the early notions which he had acquired were the ruin of his happiness. Her education was pursued in a style according rather with the imaginary dignity of his ancestors, than the reality of his situation, and the