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therein, has laid a solid foundation to He-l pelled to give it up. He was not conbrew. We recommend the book unhesitat-demned, be it observed, for taking wine in ingly to teachers and learners.
the morning, — his neighbours were quite The beauty of types, and the excellency well aware that he was temperate enough to of the work done by the printer, deserve take them all in, and had he drank beer, a special favorable notice.
as many of his townsmen did, not a word DR. E. M. F. would have been said. But, “Claret for
breakfast! what shocking extravagance !
that man will fail !” was the sentence reFrom The Spectator.
peated in a hundred different ways, for THE MORALITY OF EXTRAVAGANCE.
months after the unlucky merchant had
yielded to social pressure. His whole exThe English people is, we believe, the penditure on his luxury he said was a shilonly one in the world which considers thrift ling a day, which he could perfectly well discreditable, which attaches opprobrious afford; but he could not stand the doubt epithets to carefulness in expenditure, and the claret threw on his reputation for a busiregards foresight against wastry with some- ness head, and, indeed, on his general thing of moral as well as intellectual disdain. character. He might have thrown away It is also the only one which denounces ex- five times the sum in a whist club, and notravagance not as a folly, but a vice, as a body would have made a remark; but he habit showing defect of conscience as well was spending money in a way his neighbours as deficiency of judgment. We are inclined, did not understand, - was, in short, extrain the absence of any more pressing consid- vagans, going beyond the sacred limit of erations, to speculate for a moment on the the usual! - and wandering of that kind in soundness as well as the origin of this feel- England is held to be immoral. “John," ing, which out of London, and sometimes says some old lady of the family, “ is all in London, has a marvellous effect in limit- very well, but, my dear, he is so extravaing the freedom of individual action. In gant;" and she says it with just the feeling New England, as Mrs. Beecher Stowe has with which she would say “he is wild," or told us, it is so powerful that neighbours “ he drinks too much,” or “he is harsh to will sharply remonstrate against what the his wife," or would accuse him of any other Scotch call wasting the mercies, will sit in offence not precisely punishable by law. committee and decide whether gilt salt- The object of the expenditure in her judg. spoons are “consistent.” Even in Eng- ment, which is that of the majority of England, though neighbours hardly venture on lishmen, has nothing to do with the matter, remonstrance, they regard extravagance as and its extent very little indeed. A man full apology for that form of reprobation may put 5001, in a rotten investment and which is half backbiting, half moral repre-escape all blame, and then be held up as an hension, and which the majority of people awful example to the neighbourhood because are so afraid to excite. There are thou- he gives 1001. for a diamond for his wife, sands of families in English country towns an investment about as, secure and nearly where the pursebearer literally dare not live as profitable as Consols. We have known as he likes or do as he likes, because “the a man who could not eat the mass of halffamily," or the neighbours, or the commu- baked flour which it pleases Englishmen to nity generally would think the attendant ex- consider bread condemned for “extravapenditure wanton, and in all future discus- gance" because he “ peeled the loaf,” at a sion of him and his character would qualify cost of about a pound a year, while his any praise by the assertion that he was " so health was worth a pound an hour; and very extravagant." People hire houses for have heard serious reprobation of another years rather than build, because other peo- because he had a fancy for taking in two ple would characterize that act of economy newspapers instead of one. He was exas extravagance, just as the British Govern- travagant, and that was enough, and he ment pays eight per cent. in rent lest the might, as far as his acquaintance were conHouse of Commons should condemn an cerned, almost as well have been called a outlay of the same capital obtainable at drunkard, or a profligate, or a blasphemer. three. We have known an instance in The cause of this special dislike of some which a man in business was half-ruined by forms of spending money among a people the discredit brought on him by an assertion by no means thrifty is, we imagine, the that he drank wine at breakfast." It was rooted blunder in English philosophy which quite true; he had lived long abroad, and tends so strongly to stereotype society, the preferred claret and water to tea, but so confusion between selfishness and seli-will. strong became the bruit, that he was com- | There can be no doubt that there are forms of extravagance in which the habit amounts than that of Mr. Pitt, who ruined himself to vice, and quite deserves all the social in order to be able to govern England unreprobation it receives, and more than it is disturbed by household cares. One is allikely to get. The man who spends on most driven amidst such instances to accept himself till he is unable to meet the claims result rather than motive as the basis of or, it may be, the rights of others, is, of judgment, - a very unsound mode of induccourse, a vicious man, vicious not for his tion in ethics. expenditure, but for indulging a selfishness. There is a form of extravagance which is so great as to involve à cruelty. For a vicious, but as a rule the acts to which that married man, without property, to postpone word is usually applied in England are either a life insurance to a daily glass of port, or indifferent or actually praiseworthy, are the even a daily journal, is an offence against results of mere idiosyncrasy, of that indithe highest law of morals, and so is any viduality of judgment which it ought to be extravagance involving debts which will the object of Englishmen to encourage; or, never be paid. That is in reality a form of at worst, of a wilfulness not worthy blame. theft, though palliated usually as to motive, The most common form of all extravagances, but not as to result, by a certain want of indifference to petty outlays, is very often consciousness of the injury inflicted. So, as right as if it were the result of wise and we suppose, is extravagance of the kind deliberate judgment. Up to a certain point, most usually commented on in newspapers, care about such expenditure cramps and an expenditure on some habit, or taste, or worries the mind — causes in actual loss of pursuit so wild that the spendthrift ultimate-money more waste than it saves. Sixpences ly falls out of his position, - is, in popular smooth life, and to the nervous organizaparlance, a ruined man. It is excessively tions bred in our cities life needs smoothing. difficult to define in words the immorality Nobody is ever ruined in candle-ends, and of this particular form of extravagance, – the effort to keep them only ensures a disthat is, its immorality without reference to contented, and therefore a spasmodically the object of the expenditure,—though we expensive household. No form of waste all feel that it is immoral. To waste a for- fulness strikes some men - and some libtune on the Turf is clearly wrong, because eral men — So much as wastefulness of silthe object is almost always a selfish pursuit ver in cab-hire, in petty gifts, in minute of excitement; and the same condemnation purchases, and no income seems to exempt must be passed on the most ruinous extrav- those who practise it from the charge of esagance of all, social ostentation. That is a travagance. Nevertheless, it is often quite loss of power for the indulgence of a low certain that a waste of half-a-crown a day vanity, and is as morally wrong as it would — 401. a year - will increase a man's power be for a man to cut off his hand in order to of making the best of himself, of earning, excite the impression that he was a wounded if it is to be put in that way, more than hero. But suppose the object to be benefi- twice the sum expended in things yielding cial or indifferent. A childless man might a visible return. It is right to save temper, give, though it never has been done, the even at the expense of cash. There are bulk of his means to reduce the National degrees in all things; but we suspect that Debt, — would that be wrong? The late the professional class, in their habitual exDuke of Buckingham borrowed vast sums travagance in sixpences, are wiser than the at 5 per cent., in order to buy land which trading class, who so often condemn them only returned 3 per cent., in order to in- for that disregard. One of the commonest crease his political influence, and so reduced forms of extravagance, building, is often a his family for a time to the comparative pov- direct moral and intellectual benefit to the erty out of which they are now again emerg- amateur, gratifying a healthy passion of ing. Supposing the increase of political constructiveness, which, ungratified, would influence a worthy or indifferent object, exhibit itself in the search for much more which it might or might not be, — was that dangerous excitements. Book-buying, picwrong? Men have an instinct that it was, ture-buying, gem or toy-buying are defensiand we suppose the true argument is, that ble on the same grounds, as at worst blameno man can have a right to throw away less amusements, and it will rarely be found, his own capacity of usefulness, of which we think, that men with any special extravpower and station and command of money agance of that sort come to much pecuniary are, no doubt, important constituents. It is grief. On the contrary, they as often acvery difficult, however, to show that the gift quire the habit of thrift and regularity in to the National Debt would be worse than pecuniary matters in order to gratify the any other gift to the people, or that the Duke exceptional taste. “Collectors," for examof Buckingham's extravagance was worse ple, even if it be of old china, are very rarely ruined. Other men, again - and nature, and relying for success simply upon this is a very frequent case – get a rep- its truthfulness and its direct expression of utation for extravagance by a habit decid- quiet sentiment. There is a terrible waste edly wise, that of concentrating wasteful- of power amongst novelists caused by their ness, of making presents, or buying toys, want of faith in their capacity to interest us. for example, very seldom, but when they When ladies sit down to write a story, as give or buy securing things really worth the nearly all ladies do at some period of their money. The woman who saves in “chif- lives, they have a natural mistrust of their fons " what will buy lace or diamonds is the knowledge and abilities. They feel that very reverse of extravagant, though she is they have seen very little which has not certain to be so considered by people to been seen by hundreds of other people, and whom daily extravagance in smaller things they have no reason to suppose that they would seem quite unobjectionable.
can invest a commonplace narrative with But, it may be urged, you are proving any special interest. Nothing, in nine cases only that extravagance may be prudent, out of ten, can be better founded than this not that it can be moral. No, we are not; distrust; and if they would only draw from for our point is that, apart from selfishness it the logical and obvious inference, we or loss of usefulness through waste, expen- should have nothing to complain of. Havditure is a matter to be governed by indi- ing nothing to say, they would say nothing; vidual will, with little or no moral meaning the world would be relieved from a great whatever. A man is not bound to spend mass of useless literature, and nobody but his money in the way approved by the com- the waste-paper buyers would have any munity, but in the way approved by him- reason for lamentation. Unluckily, the orself. If he has 3001. a year to spend on a dinary conclusion is very different. They carriage, and chooses to spend it on dia- endeavour to patch up a feeble bit of work mond buttons instead, he may be a fool for out of the boundless stores of fictitious litehis pains, though as an investor he would rature; they take half a dozen conventional be simply shrewd, but he is not in any way characters from the common stock, and set morally wrong. He only prefers his own them to work in the mazes of some artifiway to other people's, and he not only has cial plot. They make one more réchauffé a right to prefer it, but is bound to prefer of the dry old fragments that have been it, if he wants to preserve any individuality served up a hundred times before, and perof character at all - a doctrinė we are pro- haps endeavour to enliven the dismal result claiming from the housetop about once a by a terrible murder or the discovery of the month, without, we fear, the smallest result. rightful heir. Of course they produce It is easy to fight, and not difficult to defeat, nothing but a crude imitation at second-hand Mrs. Worldly Grundy; but to defeat Mrs. of a story which has long ago been exhaustSpiritual Grundy is nearly impossible, and ed of every element of vitality. Nobody, even to fight ber fairly is considered in Eng- it is said, can be so impudent as a very shy land to involve something of the sin of pre- man; in the effort to overcome his natural sumption. It is a work which wants doing, repugnance he loses his head, and is thrown nevertheless, and as the right of Christian completely off his balance. On the same liberty is the last the old pulpit will ever principle, many of the most preposterous preach up, the new one will do well to take combinations of unnatural characters and it under its care.
startling catastrophes are due to their authors' secret conviction that they have no claim to be heard at all. They plunge into
extravagance from sheer distrust of their From The Saturday Review. own powers. STONE EDGE.
Now, if it is hopeless to persuade such This is a book for which, even if the ex
writers into silence, we may possibly induce
some of them to be modest. It is better, ecution were less commendable than is ac
even for one's own vanity, to be dull than tually the case, the critic would feel strongly
trong to be ridiculous, and to fail in attracting us inclined to speak a good word. Whatever mv
by honest bread and butter than to poison may be its faults, it has not the most pro
us by a mess seasoned with adulterated voking fault of affectation; if it had failed,
condiments. The very first principle of we might have called it insipid, but we
novel-writing is that the book should be could not accuse it of pandering to any
founded on personal experience, or, at morbid tastes. It is a fresh, healthy pic
| least, on intimate familiarity with the subjectture of country life, evidently drawn from
matter. There is scarcely a writer, even • Stone Edge. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1868. Iof a high order, who has succeeded in the
LIVING AGE. VOL. X. 386
historical novel, -- that is to say, in writing | impassable in savage snowstorms, are the about a state of things removed by centu- background to an old-fashioned stone farmries from himself. The only chance is that house, perversely placed so as to avoid the his mind should be thoroughly saturated view of a lovely valley, and to look out with the ideas he is endeavouring to repro- upon the bleak hillsides. The inhabitants duce; and probably, if our ancestors could are in harmony with the scenery. They come to life to read even our best de- do not indeed show such tough and indomscriptions of their ways and thoughts, itable eccentricity as Miss Brontë's Yorkthey would find them more ridiculous than shiremen. They are many degrees nearer we find the roughest descriptions of our to the ordinary English clodhopper. But selves by a foreigner. A Frenchman who they have a sturdy character of their own; has passed a month in Leicester Square and we may fancy Mr. Tennyson's Northprobably knows as much about the aspectern Farmer would have found himself at of England as almost any Englishman ease amongst them. Old customs are supknows of the appearance of feudal barons posed to linger in the bills, still unprofaned or Roman gladiators; and we remember by railways or factories. At the chief vilwhat marvellous caricatures are the result lage they retain the ceremony of "blessing of such French investigations. Yet ladies the wells,” and adorning them for the occaoften have a special fondness for describing sion with wreaths of flowers. This poetical to us men about town, or Jesuit priests, or celebration is concluded by a football match, knavish attorneys, with whose ways they in which it is expected that one or two limbs are considerably less familiar than Scott should be broken, and it is considered was with the habits of Wamba or Front- highly creditable if one or more of the comde-Beuf or Louis XI. And, unluckily, we batants are drowned in the river. The have the originals by us to compare with greatest dissipation which the minds of the the strange pictures of their fancy. If they villagers can imagine is the sight of a wildwould only be content to describe what beast show in a neighbouring town., They they have seen, they would add at least look upon reading and writing as rather something to our knowledge. A genuine questionable accomplishments, and hold sketch from nature by a poor artist may that some special justification is required tell us something; but if he insists on high for so unusual a luxury. They entertain a art-on a composition in rivalry with Claude firm belief in witchcraft, charms, and "bogand Turner — his work must of necessity gles." An incipient scepticism in this last be worthless. If a lady ventures to de partici;lar is implied in the assertion of a scribe accurately so simple a thing as life respectable farmer that “there ain't no in a girl's school or under a governess, she such things in nature, not a bit.” He procan hardly fail to give some new ideas to ceeds, however, to assert that the particular the male part of mankind. Unluckily, she ghost in question was “never knowed to is far more likely to describe murderers of come beyont the dale”-a statement which whose thoughts and habits she knows less rather invalidates his general proposition. than the first policeman she meets.
A population of this kind has some good The most remarkable case of success points about it for the novelist's purpose. achieved by a simple reproduction of her One of the great amusements in a quiet own experience was perhaps that of Miss country place is well known to consist in Brontë. She just opened her eyes — eyes, quarrelling. Farmer Ashford lives by himit is true, of very unusual keenness — and self on the top of a dreary hill, and solaces put down what she saw. From a field of his dulness partly by grumbling at his landvision remarkably confined she managed to lord, partly by bullying his wife and family, extract the means of producing a singularly and partly by expatiating at intervals upon profound impression. And though few peo- the bitter grudges which he owes to his vaple could feel the influence of commonplace rious male remote connections. His only objects with such intensity, it is a valuable relaxation is getting drunk at the market, example of what may be done with scanty and quarrelling promiscuously with the rest materials. Although the difference between of the world who may, happen to come in Jane Eyre and Stone Edge is as wide as can contact with him. Any civilized being conbe easily imagined, there is a certain sim- demned to pass his life in the society of ilarity in this respect. Stone Edge, like such people as Farmer Ashford would not Miss Brontë's novels, is a picture of life in improbably end by cutting his throat, to be a secluded country district, and the scenery rid of it. But, as encountered in the pages in both cases is of a similar character. of a novel, there is a certain crabbed origiWide desolate moors, and bills which the nality about this gentleman and his like author boldly describes as mountains, often wbich is decidedly pleasant. If people liv. ing under such circumstances are more
LORD BYRON.* stolid and immovable than the larger world, (SECOND NOTICE. — See Living Age, No. 1258.) they have time to nurse their oddities into The chapter in the work before us that amazing proportions. They have stubborn will doubtless attract the most general atvirtues of their own, and at least they have tention is that in which Byron's marriage is a grotesque quaintness about them which recorded and commented upon. This, besaves them from being purely insipid. sides the ordinary danger of interfering beWhether it is a good thing that all these tween man and wife, is obviously a very provincial oddities should be improved off delicate topic for the noble authoress — as the face of the earth, and that Englishmen delicate as it would have been for Paris to after the Northern Farmer type should be enter upon the grounds of Helen's separacome as rare as dancers round the Maypole, tion from Menelaus. We have, however, may admit of argument. But, at any rate, no other fault to find with this chapter than they are now in the position which fits that it imparts little that was not known althem for fiction; they are so far extinct that ready. Probably there is nothing more to we can afford to look more upon their pic-| be told. turesque side than upon their frequent coarse brutalities; we can admire them as
Lord Byron [says his best biographer), when we admire the still unbroken bits of gorse
at Cephalonia a short time before his death, and heather that survive amidst a triumph
seems to have expressed, in a few words, the ant cultivation, much as we should have dis
whole pith of the mystery. An English gentle
man with whom he was conversing on the subliked the same wild land when cultivation was
jeet of Lady Byron having ventured to enumerstill feebly struggling against it. It is pleas- late to him the various cavses he had heard alant to catch the likeness of a dying form of leged for the separation, the noble poet, who had society before it is too far gone to recover seemed much amused with their absurdity and a faithful portrait, and when it is yet suffi- falsehood, said, after listening to them all, “ The ciently rare to have the charm of rarity and causes, my dear sir, were too simple to be easily of historical association.
found out." There are other characters than Farmer | Without exception the poet's intimate Ashford, showing the amiable side of the
friends perceived the incompatibility of the same rough type, and described with a great deal of quiet humour.
affianced pair, and if they did not forebode
They go the worst, they at least anticipated a very through the scenes of a very unpretending
moderate measure of happiness from the story, and we follow their fortunes with
union. He, not to dwell on graver irregusufficient interest. It must, however, be
larities, was one who lived without such added that the story is the most unsatisfac
rule or measure as society thinks it has a tory part of the book. It begins very well,
right to exact. She, on the contrary, had and up to the horrible murder (for we must
been nurtured in a regular English family, confess that there is a horrible murder even
such as Miss Edgeworth delights.to describe, in Stone Edge, though murder seems to fit
wherein morning and evening certify to one in very well with the rough horseplay of the
another, and the verse of the satirist, district) we have no complaints to make. The lovers have been separated by a due Ipse dies pulcro distinguitur ordine rerum, complication of difficulties, and we anticipate some pleasure in seeing how they are might serve as a rule for the servants' hall, again brought together. Unluckily, the or a motto for the family pedigree. The author seems to have slurred over this part housekeeping at Seaham, Sir Ralph Milof her task, and the story winds up after a banke's seat, was as unlike the housekeeping pointless fashion, giving us the impression at Newstead Abbey as the carte of a Lord that it has been cut short arbitrarily, rather Mayor's dinner is to the beeves, sheep, and than artistically developed to the right con- swine of Homer's heroes. Newstead was clusion. It is true that this has the inci-| liberty hall, whereas at Seaham the halldental advantage of confining the story clock was the arbiter of the household's deswithin the modest limits of a single short | tiny. The morning had its avocations, volume, and for such an advantage we commencing with family prayers and ending should on no account be ungrateful. But a with luncheon; the afternoon was mapped little more care would have materially im- out into drives, visits, dinner, tea, longproved the effect of the whole, and removed whist, and chess; and yet, while a bridean awkward blemish from what is otherwise | Lord Byron, jugé par les Témoins de sa Vie. 2 a very meritorious work.
| tomes. Paris: Amyot. 1868.