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The long interval to dinner and the joint, though broken by luncheon and a walk, perchance made in unconscious habit to the crowded region of the city, or in bad weather passed in vacant gaze from the window, was yet, doubtless, to them, one of awful duration. Dinner was succeeded by another fatal pause, until the timely tea resisted in good season the growing drowsiness. The rubber of whist, eked out by dummie, if the smallness of the family circle made his assisļance indispensable, gave the mercy-stroke to the day, which finished with them as it began, with a war against time, implacably carried on. Such, as far as I could learn or observe for myself, is the daily picture of the life of the retired citizen of London.
“But perhaps it would be wrong to say that the whole year revolves for them in joyless and unbroken monotony, One should at least except the annual visit to the theatre, to see the king and queen at the play, when is presented the singular spectacle of an immense house, crowded with living masses from pit to gallery, with two people looking at the entertainment, and all the rest looking at them. It is on this occasion, more than any other, that they nourish that sentiment of loyalty which is natural to every English bosom, and which, evincing itself' in love and veneration to one individual, is yet, though perhaps unknown to him who feels it, only a concentration of patriotism, an ardent love of country, fixing itself on the man who represents its sovereignty, and who is, as it were, only England itself personified. When an Englishman listens with rapture to that noble anthem, -'God save the King,' it is not attachment to a bloated profligate such as George IV., that animates and lifts him to the clouds, but rather the thought of England, with her greatness and her triumphs, which kindles the glow at his heart.
“ This is the citizens' jubilee,—this their annual holiday,-purchased by the endurance of a year made up of monotonous days, succeeded by nights yet more monotonous. They would die, as they doubtless often do, of apathy, were it not for the abiding excitement kept alive by the perpetual dread of being robbed and murdered, and the interest derived from their nightly precautions against such a consummation; from bolting and chaining the doors, seeing the window bells set in a condition to sound should a thief attempt to break in and steal, and taking good care that the rattle is in readiness by the bedside, to spring suddenly, if necessary, at the window, and bring the assistance of the watch. Such a life must necessarily produce singular and unbounded eccentricity of character, and would, if studied, furnish the oddest and most varied subjects to the dramatist. It begets, in many cases, disease of both mind and body, inducing every species of hypochondria, and leading to the swallowing of the thousand pills and philtres which are the prevailing taste of the land, until at length the fear of dying drives them to selfslaughter.
"It has often been said that a great city is a great solitude. Of none is this so entirely true as of London; for the dread of intercourse, and the fear of contamination, must act either upwards or downwards in the case of every one, where the grades and classes are as numerous as the individyals, each of whom comes armed to the conflict with his separate and peculiar pretensions. The evils that result from this life of isolation, are unbounded. It must not only be productive of much misery, but of vice also. The young women, returning from the boarding-school with such lessons of virtue as they may have learned there, pass their time in a corroding solitude, the prey of that ill-nature which developes itself in families that are strangers to the checks of social interçourse and observation. Meantime they continue their daily walks to
the nearest circulating library, and come home charged with novels and romances, which, instead of strengthening and giving a healthy tone to the mind, fill it with artificial notions and preposterous views of life, which there is no real observation of the world to disprove and counteract, thus delivering it up to false and fanciful day-dreams and unreal reveries. With little opportunity, in the well-nigh total absence of social intercourse, of forming a virtuous and well-judged attachment, they must be content, in general, to take such husbands as Providencé may send them; and without the enlightening and guiding advantage of public opinion, which in society assigns to each pretender his proper position, must be content to choose at hazard, with the obvious risk of falling into the hands of adventurers and sharpers.
“Of all the various classes of people in England, these retired citizens are they who would gain most by emigration to America. Any of those who live obscurely and hunibly' in Islington, might lead a life of elegance and luxury on the noble banks of the Hudson. There, in a healthful climate, sirangers to all noxious exhalations, and in the presence of whatever is beautiful or grand in natural scenery, one of these men might, for the sum of five thousand pounds, become possessor of an estate of three or four hundred acres, capable, by tolerable cultivation, of rendering an interest of six or eight per cent. upon the purchasemoney.”
Our traveller does not extend his observation to the country of England, if we except a few remarks in the course of his ride to Brighton. This we regret. Of all the nations of the world, England is pre-eminent in the charms of her country life. In every phase of it, from baronial castles down to cottages, it is perfect of its kind. The strong wish of the people is, to be able to reside in the country; and all that art and luxury have or can devise for its embellishment, has been put into operation. “If there be any thing," says our writer, “that I covet for my countrynien, it is the sweetly rural tastes of the children of this land." “ It is, therefore, that I wish to see cherished among us, tastes calculated to develope virtues so essentially republican. And if I were now to seek for generous and honourable feelings in my country, it would not be among the crowds who congregate in cities about gilded liberty-caps, to shout their anathemas against the sovereignty of the people, but rather among our honest and native-born yeomanry, at once the cultivators and proprietors of the soil, who constitute the best safeguard of the sacred rights of property, and of Ame. rican liberty.” This conclusion is of a very clap-trap order. We do not see exactly why one of the above mentioned city crowd, who happened to own a house or a mortgage, should not.be as anxious to protect his property, as if he was a cultivator of the soil. Interest, we take it, is the main-spring of human actions, and the great conservative principle, and not rural tastes and country air.
After a visit to the Pavilion, and seeing a hurdle-race at Brighton, ennui drives our "American" back to London, in
time for the Christmas festival. He goes to the two great the atres on Christmas eve, and in both places finds the audience most disgusting. Let no Mrs. Trollope, hereafter, talk against ours :-"In the places of inferior price, the occupants were sitting in their shirt-sleeves, their coats hanging down before the boxes, and sometimes falling; bottles were passing from mouth to mouth, while immediately below me, sat two ruffians with their sweethearts, who, in addition to their bottle of gin, had a glass to drink it from, either because their tastes were more scrupulous, or because they had an eye to the just distribution of their 'lush. One of them, who had but half a nose, kept his arms about the neck of his greasy partner, and indulged in open dalliance, in which, indeed, he was supported by the example of many others, in the face of the audience.” The shocking debaucheries of the season are forcibly depicted, and a strong comparison drawn between them and the celebration of a similar festival witnessed at Mahon.
Did our limits permit, we would gladly give some extracts from the American's description of Westminster Abbey, the Poet's Corner, and the “den of a great publishing lion," in London. But for these, and many equally interesting passages, we must refer our readers to the book itself.
A sudden call to become bearer of despatches to Spain, causes our - American” to leave England abruptly, though apparently nothing loth.
In a postscript, he states that he returned some months subsequently to the period to which this work relates, and traveled with far greater gratification than on his first visit. We regret that the causes he mentions should have deterred him from the publication of these subsequent observations, which he might have so far generalised, we think, as to have avoided the stigma of exposing the privacy of families, or infringing the laws of propriety. He states, en passant, his intention of giving to the public a work on Ireland, to the appearance of which we look forward with interest.
ART. XI.-CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM.
An Act to provide for calling a Convention, with Limited Powers.
Passed April 14th, 1835. Pamphlet Laws of Pennsylvania; 1834-35: p. 270.
The benefits and injuries resulting from political establishments are so constantly and vividly portrayed in the condition of mankind, that attempts to change their organisation, form fruitful themes for comment and reflection. In every path of life government is felt; over every pursuit of man it exercises a control ; and every right that is dear to him is, directly or indirectly, affected either by its beneficent, parental care, or by the blighting influence of its despotic power. Whilst governments are undoubtedly indebted to the character of the communities in which they originate, for many of their most prominent features, it is equally true, that they exercise a strong influence on society, and are, in themselves, prominent causes of its vigorous growth or premature decay. Governments radically bad cannot be too soon subverted, unless the certainty of anarchy renders despotic power a more desirable condition.
Frequent changes in governments which are substantially good, are always detrimental to the state. Their nature, the purposes for which they are designed, and the immense interests involved in their successful operation, render durability one of their most valuable properties. To subvert them, through mere capriciousness, or to alter even their less essential attributes from a mere love of novelty, will inflict a blow upon society, the pernicious effects of which may survive the memory of their assailants. History traces their career and perpetuates the records of their existence. Their establishment or subversion may be the cause of exultation or of sorrow for centuries. Hence the gratitude of mankind to the founders of free governments, and the execration which has been bequeathed, from generation to generation, on all who have participated in their overthrow.
A system, theoretically defective, may operate beneficially on a people, to whom custom has endeared it; whilst one apparently of a superior formation may be highly oppressive to those who are unused to its burthens, and incapable of conforming to its most admirable regulations. It is therefore not merely important that a government should be excellent in itself, but it must be adapted to the condition, and congenial to the habits, of the people. Difficulties which prevail when a new system is introduced, are often obviated by custom.Changes in government have been accomplished in this coun
try, without the disorganisation of society which is produced in other nations. The first to found governments by the peaceable exercise of the popular will, and by the deliberative wisdom of the representatives of the people, in conventions organised for that purpose, the Americans have exercised a power of self-government which, if judiciously directed, must conduce to their welfare. Indiscretion may essentially impair the bright prospect before them. Success has inspired confidence in their capacity, and the danger that threatens them is that they may be deluded by the love of experiments, and disturb the permanency of their prosperous condition. Systems so fleeting as to be affected by every breath of popular displeasure, must fail to acquire the confidence of the people. There is no form of government that stands more in need of the strong support derived from habitual respect and veneration than the republican. It is a substitute for military power in other political systems. If a republic be not sustained by the affections of the people, its stronghold is shaken. It is apparent that with changes constantly in view, untried expedients will captivate the hearts of the people, and sap the foundation of the most valuable institutions. The states have heretofore found ample protection in the stability and wisdom of the Federal Constitution. Under its broad and sheltering panoply, they have been secure from violent and perilous coinmotions, and the formation of state constitutions has been attended with but little apparent evil. What may have been the local benefits resulting from them, it is impossible to determine without a close scrutiny into the peculiar condition of each community, and a careful observation of their practical operation in each particular case. The danger of encouraging a spirit of innovation should be carefully avoided, as one of the most formidable which can assail a republic. The facility with which constitutions are made in this country should be attended with a corresponding watchfulness, lest, in the desire after fancied improvements, the foundation of our free institutions should be undermined and destroyed.
Whilst, however, frequent changes should be avoided, and fluctuations firmly resisted, necessary alterations should not be too long retarded, nor a resistance to expedient modifications persisted in, by which revolutions and other disasters are produced. There is a wise medium between the spirit of innovation, by which governments are rendered unsteady and deprived of the stability essential to their operation, and a foolish adherence to error, merely on account of its antiquity or from a fear of change. To avoid these evils, every constitution should contain a provision, regulating the manner in which it should be altered. By rendering the rash or indiscreet