Page images

world,—is contemplated by the working classes. · They aspire to be at the top instead of the bottom of society !” This is language which could not have been uttered, unless the writer felt that he had a mass of Unionists behind him, prepared to carry his declamations into practice, if they can. The first revolution of France was prompted by a desire of universal equality. Every man aspired to be on a level with his neighbour; all were to be citizens of the republic; and talent alone was allowed to create any distinction. But the Unionists of England entertain the hope of becoming the absolute rulers of the other sections of the community. It is not equality which they want, but positive superiority. They must enjoy all the wealth of the country; and those who are now in affluent or easy circumstances must become Helots under the new order of things. These announcements are the open commencement of a Servile war, which it is the duty of every honest man to meet at once with the most vigorous determination. No doctrines half so pernicious as these were propagated in Ireland, when that country was placed under a system of military coercion.

But we must not stop here. It is manifest, beyond all doubt, that our operative classes are completely demoralized ; that they have lost all sense of religion, of honesty, and fair dealing; and that if they be permitted to proceed for a few years more in the habits which they have now acquired, they will destroy the foundations of our national industry. They must be compelled to send their children to well-regulated schools. The time has arrived when, if we really desire to secure the peace and prosperity of the country, we must adopt and enforce a universal system of education. The press has now become so active in every town and village of the empire, that we can erect no defences against the promulgation of the most unblushing immorality, unless the country take into its own hands the care of training up in sound principles the rising generations.

Perhaps, also, it may be found, upon calm reflection, that the condition of the manufacturing labourers is susceptible of some improvements, likely to be beneficial as well to themselves as to those by whom they are employed. We think that they ought, for instance, to possess the elective franchise to any extent which may be really consistent with a discreet use of that valuable privilege. This would render them more respectable members of society, and would impose on them a degree of responsibility which would oblige them to look to their characters. It would tend, moreover, to remove some of those social barriers that separate our population too much into castes, and which are always productive of evil, by awakening a feeling of disdain on one side, and of hatred on the other. It is in vain to disguise the fact, that, since the conclusion of the late war, men's minds, not only in this country, but throughout Europe, have been in a state of ferinent portentous of important modifications in the whole frame of society. The changes which have taken place in France and Belgium are the results of the power of popular opinion. The movements which have occurred in Spain, Naples, the Roman States, Germany, and Poland, have been subdued by artillery; but the matches are kept lighted, the guns remain pointed at their last level, from a consciousness, on the part of the victors, that the battle must again be fought. They feel that the two great principles,-government by force-government by opinion,--are committed in a conflict which can acknowledge no compromise. With us, the latter has obtained the ascendant; whence it has become impracticable for any ministry to remain long in office, unless they resolve uniformly to obey the impulse which is given them by the general sentiment of the country.

The pamphlet lately put together by the different departments of the state has run through eight editions within a few months. It has been eulogized in the leading newspapers, and made the text of much elo- ' quent oratory, by official dependents, in several parts of the country. No, honourable and candid man can read that production without confessing, that it exhibits a very plausible, and even a substantial, case in favour of the present Cabinet. But are the Ministers, in point of fact, popular ? Three years ago, the Lord Mayor's festival was postponed, because the Duke of Wellington durst not venture to go to Guildhall : on the ninth of last month, his health was drank in the same hall with a burst of enthusiasm which threw that of the Lord Chancellor and of the President of the Council into the shade. Was it the intention of the citizens of London to express, in this manner, their admiration for the political principles of the Duke ? Not at all. It was but a decent mode of reprehending Lord. Grey.

We admire Lord Grey as much as the most devoted of his followers, and we feel sincerely grateful to his government for all the solid benefits which it has conferred on the country; at the same time, we cannot but perceive that his Cabinet is scarcely possessed of the vigour which the times require. Neither in boldness of decision, nor in energy of conception, do they keep pace with the spirit of universal amelioration which characterizes the day. The ideas of government which the Unionists entertain are extravagant; and, if attempted to be carried into execution, must be resisted. But they are undoubtedly mingled with some elements which, sooner or later, will assume a tangible and practical form, though they may not be strongly developed in any investigation to which they can at present be subjected. The Unionists are misled, by selfish views, to the adoption of extreme doctrines, which will speedily be destroyed; but something will have been gained in the mean time. Some principles may be met with by an active Ministry on the way, which may prepare the world for the more equal distribution of wealth, destined eventually to exist in all civilized communities. The certain failure that awaits the violent and subversive notions which now prevail, will accelerate the progress of sounder notions in everything that relates to religion, morality, and legislation. Thus the coral insects are busily engaged in raising from the deep a series of edifices which, in time, become their own tombs : but the additions of each generation remain; the work rises higher and higher, until it reaches the surface of the waves, where it detains a variety of floating materials, until, at length, it shuts out the waters as the bulwark of a new continent.

M. M.

[ocr errors]



THERE are many thin-skinned people in the world : but Simon Techy, seemed to have no skin at all. Every person alive is vulnerable at some one point or another: a cuticle of the texture of parchment has a tender place somewhere, which will quiver at a breath, but Techy was sensitive all over; and as for a cuticle, it was as if Nature had left him unprovided with any such garment, and sent him to walk about the world in his cutis. He would wince at an accidental word or look, which might mean nothing, as though you had tickled him with the tip of a red-hot poker. You were never safe with him; he seldom parted from you without leaving an impression on your mind that you had given him pain or offence, though wondering what about; and, be as cautious in your conduct towards him as you could, fifty to one you had done so. " Address him as “ Techy," he would complain that it was to mark his inferiority, as a tradesman, that you addressed him so familiarly. Call him “ Sir," he could at once “ see through this sort of mockrespect.” Say to him, in passing, “How d’ye do, Mr. Techy ?” and within an hour he would write you a long letter, complaining of your very marked coldness, and requesting you would inform him what he had done to deserve it. Indeed, the very effort to please him, or to avoid the opposite consequence, would not unfrequently provoke his displeasure. He was not quite so dull (he would tell you) as to be insensible to the rebuke; yet he really did not know why he was to be treated with such PUNCTILIOUS CONSIDERATION. However, he was not offended—not in the least; on the contrary, he thanked you for the LESSON; and when he had DULY PROFITED by it he trusted he should be allowed to renew his intercourse with you,—but upon easier terms, Till then, he thought it best for both parties that he should decline, &c. &c.-And all this he would utter (as a printer would say) in italics and small capitals. Not only was the whole human race-men, women, and children-continually and purposely, as he fancied, treading upon the toes of his dignity, or (to use his own favourite phrase) “ the proper respect which he entertained for himself;"—the brute creation, nay, the very elements, seemed, to him, in league to treat him discourteously. No dog barked, not a cat mewed, at his approach, but had some offensive motive for the act: a sudden shower of rain was a premeditated insult; a north-east wind a gross personal affront. He has even been known to sulk with his fire; and to sit for a whole evening in the cold, because it resisted his first two or three insinuating attempts to rouse it into 'a blaze with the poker : “ To any one but me," he would mutter, " this would not have happened.”

Simon Techy had been— “I am afraid of this gunpowder Percy though he be dead."). However, since he is no longer of this world, I will venture to utter the word, although I do so at the risk of causing him to turn in his coffin. Simon Techy had been—a tradesman; but his trade being that of a printseller in an extensive way, it led him into an intimacy with most of the eminent artists and virtuosi of his time, and, generally, introduced him to a higher grade of society than shop

keepers of many other descriptions can aspire to. For a man tempered as he was, and one whose mind was not sufficiently ballasted with good sense, (as may be inferred from his character,) this was perhaps an unlucky circumstance: it placed him in a false position. Being a shopkeeper, he was not, in one particular acceptation of the term, a gentleman; and as the occasional associate of gentlemen, he was above being looked upon as a tradesman. He reminded one, in his way, of Molière's Monsieur Jourdain : he was not a print-seller ; he was only so generous as to make presents of fine engravings to his friends and the public, whilst the public and his friends were so liberal as to make him presents of money in return for them. He never alluded to his business except through some such mollifying circumlocution, as “the particular occupation in which I happen to be engaged;" he called his shop an office, his customers clients, his clerk à secretary, his shopmen his deputies, and his errand-boy a messenger. By degrees he grew rich, and more than in proportion with his wealth his self-importance increased. At his outset in the business, in which he succeeded his uncle, his spacious window exhibited a large number of choice engravings, and you walked from the street directly into his shop. Gradually the window was diminished in size, and fewer prints were paraded; till, at length, a passage with an inner door was constructed, which door, always closed, was ornamented with a large brass plate, bearing the word Office ; and the once well-stocked window now gave “ the world assurance of a” print-shop, by only one print of George the Third on horseback, (for it was in the days of that good king that Mr. Techy flourished,) and this was surrounded with gauze blinds. Even this very faint “smell of the shop” was too exciting for poor Simon's nerves, and, after a time, he consulted a friend upon the possibility of inventing some mode of suppressing it. He talked long, and in a roundabout style, (as a man does who, having mystified his own understanding, tries to do the same by his auditors !) about his being “ not exactly what you would call a shop-keeper," and his shop being “ not altogether what is called a shop;" and concluded with—“ And, now, what would you recommend me to do with that window of mine to prevent the public supposing that I keep a mere print-shop ?

“Nothing in the world easier,” laughingly replied his friend; " remove George the Third, and exhibit some soap and candles in his place, and, instead of a print-shop, the devil himself would never guess it to be anything but a tallow-chandler's.”

“O, that's your opinion, Sir, is it?” said Simon; and away he went.

The next morning his friend, who was also one of his most valuable clients, received his bill, or, as Techy termed it, “ a memorandum of the mutual transactions between them," inclosed in a letter consisting of seven closely-written pages--for thin-skinned people are prone to indulge in the writing of what they consider to be fine letters on any the slightest presumed cause of offence. In four different places in his dignified epistle, and in as many various forms of phrase, did Techy complain that, “ Did you not, Sir, owing to the occupation in which I am for the present (and for the present only) engaged, consider me, Sir, as your inferior in society, you never, Sir, would have ventured,” &c. ;-five times did he assure his friend that his “ dignity as a man, and that respect which every man (whatever, Sir, may be his Station in life) is bound to entertain for himself," rendered it imperatively necessary that all intercourse between them must then, and there, and for ever cease; and in these emphatic words did he conclude:-“ And now, Sir, I am willing to throw myself upon the opinion of the universe, and to stand or fall by its decision, whether, Sir, the annals of the intercourse between man and man, from time immemorial, can furnish another instance, Sir, of so un pardonable an affront being put by one gentleman upon another, (and allow me to say, Sir, that notwithstanding. the occupation in which I happen to be engaged, I consider myself as such)—as your advising soap and candles to be exhibited in the windows of, Sir, your very obedient, &c.

But Mr. Techy took nothing by his motion. A few hours after this magnificent explosion of offended dignity, I chanced to be in his office. His countenance, which was always more or less tinged with a bilious hue, was, upon this occasion (doubtless from the excessive irritation of the [ill]humours) as yellow as a guinea. *

“ You appear to be indisposed," said I.

“ Indisposed, Sir!" exclaimed he, at the same time twitching his shirt collar, and twisting his cravat; “ indisposed ! that's very odd-very! Pray-allow me-pray allow me to ask, do you mean anything by that question ?”

“I mean exactly what I say. I may be mistaken ; but you appear to be a little indisposed; to be suffering a little from a bilious attack."

“ Bilious! Now, really, if I didn't well know that you wouldn't wilfully affront me, I should fancy that--No, Sir, I know how to resent any attack upon my dignity as a man; but that once done, I never suffer it to worry me—to prey upon my temper; in short, to excite my bile, as you would insinuate.”

« Indeed I meant to insinuate nothing."

“ Come, come, my dear Sir, you know what I allude to. You have heard—you must have heard-it must be the town-talk by this timeall London must be ringing with it. Me bilious! It was a letter to make somebody look bilious, I admit; though not exactly me. However, he brought it upon himself, and has nobody but himself to thank for whatever its effects upon him may be.”

" You are speaking to me in riddles. I don't understand a word of all you have been saying.”

"No! Indeed! O, then, I'll tell you the whole story, and read you my letter. You may then give me your opinion.” Hereupon he told his story about nothing with such extraordinary gravity, and at so unconscionable a length, that I nearly fell asleep under the operation; and, that ended, he read his letter with an air of such ludicrous importance -looking at me whenever he came to any point which he considered to be overwhelmingly powerful, or as if each sentence had been a thunderbolt hurled at his offender's head—that it was with great difficulty I could refrain from laughing outright.

“ And now that the thing is done,” said he, as he folded up the brouillon of his terrible epistle--(accompanying his words with a sigh

* Some one remarking to Major O'D that a mutual friend of theirs was looking as yellow as "a guinea ; « Is it a guinea he is looking like?” exclaimed the Major; " you should have seen the poor fellow, as I saw him, in India ; there he was looking as yellow as five guineas at least."

« PreviousContinue »