« AnteriorContinuar »
Blast the foul tongues, that would thy peace assail,
And acts awhile th' obedient slave, to play
All these are perils to thyself, though worth
Still would I wing from thee my flight to fame,
with woman's hallow'd name.
Or pour in folly's ear the warning voice;
As if some evil demon had posses'd
O'er thee to wave unseen the potent wand,
'Tis yours to crush or foster, sink or raise ; For who shall dare condemn, when woman deigns to praise ? STATE OF THE NATION.
They who, like ourselves, enter upon an extensive undertaking, of which literature and politics are the basis, are generally expected to deliver an early exposition of their opinions upon the state of the nation, and the spirit of the times. Such, too, has been the usual practice of periodical writers. Yet we will own, that neither of these circumstances would have any peculiar weight with the Council of Ten. We should care little, what the public might expect from us: because the public, although it has every right to approve or censure our performance, has none whatever to direct our operations. And still less should we think of adopting as the necessary rule of our conduct, any regular and approved method, observed by our predecessors or our contemporaries. Upon our mode of proceeding what they had done, or omitted to do, could have no tittle or particle of influence: such a motive would not be thrown into either scale, nor allowed to weigh a single grain in the balance of our deliberations. But the Council of Ten can have no objection to comply with an established custom, which is conformable to their own views : or to follow the example of others, when their course would undoubtedly have been the same, had no such example been before them.
For ourselves, then, we would say, that we cannot, even at this moment, contemplate the general state of the British Empire, without a glow of pride and satisfaction, which rises involuntarily within us, at the thought that we are Englishmen. We see and feel, that with all her faults and all her miseries, England is still the most glorious country which exists, or has ever existed, upon the face of the universe. None, since man was created, has possessed such diversified claims upon the admiration of the world. When we stand upon the eminence, to which this land has been exalted, under the blessing of Providence, by the industry,
the valour, and the virtues of its inhabitants, and survey from that eminence the varied and boundless horizon presented to our view, we gaze upon a prospect, to which no parallel is afforded either by Greece in the fulness of her fame, or by Rome in the plenitude of her power, or by any other of the mighty empires, which have occupied the most conspicuous stations in the annals of mankind. We look at England in every point of view, and we find her unrivalled; we consider first her own extent, and next the immensity of her dominions; we consider the beauty of her agriculture, the vastness of her commerce, the excellence of her manufactures, the benefits which she has conferred upon the human race by her improvements in the useful arts, her ardour in the cause of science, her generous, devoted, never-failing philanthropy; the height to which she has arrived in skill and information, and domestic comfort; the manly character of her sons, the loveliness and purity of her daughters; her lustre of literature and knowledge ; her physical power, her intellectual superiority, her moral grandeur; her constellation of orators, and statesmen, and philosophers, and poets; and, what is far more, of wise and good men in all ranks and classes of life; the wonderful perfection and stability of her constitution-the rational and sober system of her religion-the admirable scheme of things, which unites the polished graces and hereditary dignities of Monarchy with the conscious pride and noble independence of Republicanism-her impartial administration of an unequalled code of laws-her numerous and magnificent institutions, established for benevolent and charitable purposes-her asylums for the destitute-her palaces for the poor, her care and labour for their education-her thousand triumphs, by sea and land-her wealth, her energies, her inexhaustible resources:---when we consider the combination of all these things, any one of which might shed over a realm no common or unenviable radiance, can we have a moment's hesitation in avowing our belief, that England is now the eye of Europe, and that when England falls to the dust, if it is ever destined to fall, the glory of the world will be no more?
Well has it been observed by an American author, in the present century, “ Whatever may be the representations of those who, with little knowledge of facts, and still less soundness or impartiality of judgment, affect to deplore the condition of England, it is nevertheless true, that there does not exist, and never has existed elsewhere, so beautiful and perfect a model of public and private prosperity, so magnificent, and at the same time so solid a fabric of social happiness and national grandeur.”
And this description, we will venture to assert, is as applicable to the state of the country at the existing moment, as in the year when it was written. There is, indeed, a darker side to the picture, from the contemplation of which, when the proper season arrives, we shall not be found to shrink. There is much of distress and indigence, and privation around us :—but throughout Europe such suffering is almost universal. We have here spoken in general terms: we have looked only to the real and permanent splendour of Great Britain, without suffering our view to be obscured by those passing clouds, which will ever, from time to time, darken the political atmosphere; and which timid men from their timidity, and evil-minded men from their mischievous intentions, are always too ready to convert into certain prognostications of an impending tempest, big either with imminent peril or inevitable destruction. We know well the load of temporary pressure on particular interests; but we will not hear of ruin, for we fear none: nor of degeneracy, for we are not degenerate. We have a firm conviction, that desponding lamentation is equally forbidden by a just confidence in Heaven; and by a long and uniform experience of the manner in which this empire has hitherto raised itself from occasional depression; and shaken off its former difficulties, which were all called, as well as the present, insupportable, accumulated, and overwhelming; ay, shaken them off, almost “like dew-drops from a lion's mane. We not only believe, that on the whole, and taking every circumstance into consideration, there never was such a country as England, and that such a country is never likely to arise in after-ages; but that England, so far from having reached the goal of her destinies, has yet a