« AnteriorContinuar »
Miss PENELOPE PRIMROSE.
Miss FURBELOW FLOUNCE.
SIR LOUIS LOOKDOWNON EM.
SIR DRINK AWAY EATAWAY.
Miss SERAPHINE SONATA.
SiR BRILLIANT FASHION.
MLLE. VERY VANE.
SIR EMPTY E GOTIST.
You'd make any man a most hard-working wife. The above characters, with some more, including King and Queen, had brought it down to the turn of Miss Lucy, to whom ali looked with interest as she read aloud the following:
Miss Phenix PARAGON.
But eagles should fly at, or gaze on, the sun. Poor Mr. Arthur had retired to a corner of the room, unfortunately not too far to enable him to hear the comments of those who were disposed to be facetious at his expense, and far enough for his presence to impose no check on them.
“Very good advice to Miss Lucy, I am sure," began one. “ And so good of the tutor," said another,
“ to instruct the young ladies as well as the young gentlemen.”
“ I suppose," said Mr. Rose Green,“ by the chattering magpies he must mean Lady Clavering's guests.
“ And by the eagle, himself,” said another.
“ Rather a short-sighted one," said a third, glancing contemptuously at the tutor's spectacles.
“ And one," said Mr. Rose Green, with the look of one who was saying a very good thing, “ who seems not so much inclined to fly to and gaze at the sun as at the daughter."
These observations, and many more of the same kind, had poor Mr. Arthur to endure till the party broke up. His only consolation was a short speech from Miss Lucy, as they all went up-stairs at night.
“Well, we have had a very pleasant evening, and Mr. Arthur's characters were very amusing, and I am sure he gave me a very good one."
And on this simple speech the worthy tutor feasted his recollection till he almost fancied it would not be necessary to be an eagle to gaze on that sun.
He took off his spectacles, put on his nightcap, and slept away the remainder of Twelfth Night.
Say, thou art angry with me! say the bitter word;
But thus—not thus-my struggling heart oppress
Would'st thou bring back my young life ! only bless
Say, thou art angry with me anything but this!
Destroys the life whose youth was sunshine bliss,
Tear off the shrouded veil between our hearts !
From such dark sorrow ray less Hope departs ;
THE HISTORY OF A RADICAL.
Wherein have you been galled by the king ?
SHAKSPEARE, Henry IV., Part II. There is an amusing story in the life of Curran, from which, as from most amusing stories, instruction as well as entertainment may be derived. That eloquent declaimer was once counsel for a person not particularly, it should seem, distinguished for knowledge of things, or of the world. The case was of an assault, not very violent or unbearable, but which admitted perhaps of some topics ad captandum in the hands of an adroit advocate, like Curran. As the speech went on, and the assault swelled into importance under the management of the counsel, the plaintiff was observed to become less quiescent than he had at first appeared; and at last, wrought up to the highest pitch by the glowing statement of his injuries, he advanced into the middle of the court, and exclaimed to the jury, “Oh! indeed now, it is every word of it true ; but I did not know I had been half so ill used, till that gentleman told me so." The moral to be drawn from this anecdote was chosen by the duumvirs, Longbrain and our Radical, as a guide to their experiments, through the press, upon the credulity and passions of the public. Though their supposed object was a picture of the present times, it happened unfortunately for their descriptive and defamatory powers, that there never had been times whose character was so little suited to their purpose. There never had been known in history a period when public men had been so little corrupt; when oppression had been so little felt, or rather so totally unknown; when greater respect had been paid to the laws, or more careful attention to the liberty of the subject. In short, there was no oppressor's wrong; no proud man's contumely; no insolence of office; no spurning of patient merit. What were they to do to make the people, like Curran's client, find themselves so much more ill used than they thought they were ? The question might have puzzled meaner geniuses; but great abilities are never at a loss ; so, as there had been kings, and ministers, proud aristocrats, and prodigal courts, in preceding times (no matter how long before), our Radical, with the approbation of his Nestor, resolved to whip up the cream of all the faults of all the ages that were past, and fix them, either directly or by inference, upon the present era. Even when there were no faults, if treasons and political crimes had demanded, in former times, the strict execution of the old laws, or the enactment of new ones to repress them, they were argued upon, as if they still existed, to prove the miseries to which peaceable people in the present moment were said to be exposed. Louis XI. of France, and Henry VIII. of England, had been revengeful tyrants; therefore all kings of France and England were supposed to be at heart of the same family. In enumerating the just causes of the French Revolution, of course whatever instances could be found of oppression, insult, or revolting extravagance in the court, were sought for. This was but fair; but, as they were not sufficiently supplied by the reign or character of the innocent king whom they murdered, search was made into the lives and actions of monarchs and men who had long been in their graves ; and the crimes and prodigality of the two Louises, XIV. and XV., and the Regent Orleans, were marshalled in array against their virtuous descendant. To such a pitch of ridicule, by the way, was this carried by a great female reformer in the sister-kingdom, that, among other instances, Madame Sevigné, in one of her pleasant court-gossips, having related that the roses for a particular fête, in the time of Louis le Grand, had cost 60,000 crowns, it was immediately clapped down in proof of the profligate extravagance of the royalty that had been so properly destroyed by the Convention. In our own country, the long reign of one of the most just of our kings, George III., having been marked by many daring crimes, revolting treasons, open rebellions, and dangerous mutinies, which called for all the firmness of that firm king to repress them by law, it was but natural in those that wished to pull down his descendant, to represent and call him in public “the most bloody tyrant that ever filled the throne." When the same monarch, venerable for age and all domestic virtue, was (probably with a view to the trial of that virtue) marked by inscrutable Providence with the stamp of affliction, which he bore for years with patience and resignation, his misfortune, far from obtaining pity from those who of course hated, because they dreaded his memory, was designated by our adroit Radical as a proof of the indignation of Heaven.
In like manner, his successor, whom Radicalism dreaded (as well it might) as its determined enemy, having in a retired life sought a refuge-granted to the meanest—from the infirmities of age, his retirement was pronounced a voluptuous self-indulgence, at the expense of the people.
Unluckily for those who pursued this policy, the present sovereign could give them no handle for their patriotic misrepresentations. The king was as popular as themselves; he had resolved to give Reform a fair trial, and be had done it: he had no insulting reserves, as they were called ; no solitary self-indulgences; he loved company, he loved his country, and he loved his wife. The Radical, therefore, attacked that wife, and this too was unfortunate, for the queen was unassailable. No matter. Brighter prospects might in time arise ; for the king had refused to destroy the Church, or swamp the House of Lords ; so he could not, therefore, be honest. The people, indeed, would not believe it; but the people were still fools, and wanted enlightening. The Radical felt this, but knew not how to set about it. The constancy the monarch had shown in his early professional friendships, and his unchangeable affability to all he had known before he had approached so near to the crown, were stumbling-blocks to the patriotic printer in endeavouring to misrepresent him. And“ who the devil," said he one day to Longbrain, “could have imagined that a sailor cared a farthing about the Church ?"
The veto, however, was to be put down; and he found in the profound writings of the virtuous Tom Paine, an argument on the subject which rejoiced his patriotic heart. No man, said this author of what he called Common Sense,-no man (a king for instance) can possibly, consistently with common sense, prescribe to a whole people, what they shall not enact. Why? Because one man cannot possibly be so wise as a thousand. Longbrain, to be sure, to whom our Radical stated this argument as proper to work upon, remarked with that unfortunate sneer of his,
“Why, this would do away the wisdom of Socrates, and make his murderers far greater sages than himself. Nay, it would make the livery of London far wiser than their representatives, or even than the whole House of Commons, you and I among them."
“But mark’how Paine goes on,” said Crabtree :-". Even granting, says this clear-sighted patriot, a veto to the King of England, it can only be in England, and from his residence there, that such a power should be allowed. -America was independent of it.''
" Then, of course,'' observed Longbrain, with still more dryness, “if the king had chosen to have crossed to America, his veto would have been granted him immediately. This reasoning will be admirable too for Ireland, Scotland, the Isles of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, and our town of Berwick-uponTweed; in short, everywhere but in England itself. But no matter ; the authority of Paine is that of a canonized saint, and we of the common-sense tribe are bound by it. Pray pursue it therefore, for if it were ten times more ridiculous, being broached for the good of the people, and by such known friends as you and Paine, the people will certainly swallow it.“
Longbrain's advice was followed both in the House and out of the House, in speeches and in writing. “Throw dirt enough, and some of it will stick, was the motto of our accomplished Radical ; and, in truth, he acted so well up to his maxim, that even his protectors,' the Whigs, were afraid of him. He perceived it, and revelled in the power he felt he had in insulting them.
Longbrain, whose power was more in the closet than on his legs, tutored him admirably; and, it must be owned, he was an admirable scholar.
"The Tories," said Longbrain,“ are now completely down : it is the Whigs we must now watch, if not openly attack. They have got into the fastnesses of office, and woe to the people who have placed them there, if suffered to intrench themselves."
Crabtree, who hated both parties, wanted no encouragement to attack them conjointly, and for this purpose affected to blend them always together. "A Tory," said he, in one of his speeches, “is not a man, but a beast; he is styed in his prejudices, and wallows in the mire of his senses.” This was followed by bursts of applause, and laughs of approbation from the Whigs. But the skilful Radical changed his hand and checked their pride ; for ho went on—“A Whig is properly what is called a trimmer (cheers from the Tories); that is, a coward to both sides of the question, who dares not be a knave or an honest man; but is a sort of a whigling, snaffling, cunning, silly, contemptible, unmeaning negation of the two. He stickles for the letter of the Constitution with the affectation of a prude, and abandons its principles with the effrontery of a prostitute*.”
This speech was extolled to the skies by his brother-radicals, who thought their cause was advancing fast under his auspices; and certainly, if impu. dence (I beg pardon, I should have said a noble contempt of flattery in advocating the cause of the people) could have made a great minister, our Servitor would soon have been at the head of the cabinet. It is certain that although this cutting speech created open disdain on the part of the Tories, and deep hatred on that of the Whigs, the hatred of the latter was secret, their outward front conciliating. The design of which was bot penetrated and appreciated by our strong-minded Radical, who was only the more emboldened by it, as a dog becomes the fiercer for seeing that a person is afraid of him.
SHAKSPEARE's Hamlet. The contempt of decency in language and manners is generally the first step, and a considerable one, to the overthrow of honourable and virtuous
* Sketches of Public Characters, by Hazlitt.