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Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 8 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 8.
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Table of Contents
BRIERY CREEK.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE PHILOSOPHER AT HOME.
The Sun,—the bright sun of May in the western world,—was going down on the village of Briery Creek, and there was scarcely a soul left within its bounds to observe how the shadows lengthened on the prairie, except Dr. Sneyd; and Dr. Sneyd was too busy to do justice to the spectacle. It was very long since letters and newspapers had been received from England; the rains had interfered with the post; and nothing had been heard at the settlement for a month of what the minister was planning in London, and what the populace was doing in Paris. Dr. Sneyd had learned, in this time, much that was taking place among the worlds overhead; and he now began to be very impatient for tidings respecting the Old World, on which he had been compelled to turn his back, at the moment when its political circumstances began to be the most interesting to him. There had been glimpses of starlight in the intervals of the shifting spring storms, and he had betaken himself, not in vain, to his observatory; but no messenger, with precious leathern bag, had appeared on the partial cessation of the rains to open, beyond the clouds of the political hemisphere, views of the silent rise or sure progress of bright moral truths behind the veil of prejudice and passion which was for a season obscuring their lustre. Day after day had anxious eyes been fixed on the ford of the creek; night after night had the doctor risen, and looked abroad in starlight and in gloom, when the dogs were restless in the court, or a fancied horse-tread was heard in the grassy road before the house.
This evening Dr. Sneyd was taking resolution to file the last newspapers he had received, and to endorse and put away the letters which, having been read till not an atom more of meaning could be extracted from them, might now be kept in some place where they would be safer from friction than in a philosopher's pocket. The filing the newspapers was done with his usual method and alacrity, but his hand shook while endorsing the last of his letters; and he slowly opened the sheet, to look once more at the signature,—not from sentiment, and because it was the signature (for Dr. Sneyd was not a man of sentiment),— but in order to observe once again whether there had been any such tremulousness in the hand that wrote it as might affect the chance of the two old friends meeting again in this world: the chance which he was unwilling to believe so slight as it appeared to Mrs. Sneyd, and his son Arthur, and every body else. Nothing more was discoverable from the writing, and the key was resolutely turned upon the letter. The next glance fell upon the materials of a valuable tele scope, which lay along one side of the room, useless till some glasses should arrive to replace those which had been broken during the rough journey to this remote settlement. Piece by piece was handled, fitted, and laid down again. Then a smile passed over the philosopher's countenance as his eye settled on the filmy orb of the moon, already showing itself, though the sun had not yet touched the western verge of the prairie. It was something to have the same moon to look at through the same telescopes as when he was not alone in science, in the depths of a strange continent. The face of the land had changed; he had become but too well acquainted with the sea; a part of the heavens themselves had passed away, and new worlds of light come before him in their stead; but the same sun shone in at the south window of his study; the same moon waxed and waned above his observatory; and he was eager to be once more recognising her vol-canoes and plains through the instrument which he had succeeded in perfecting for use. This reminded him to note down in their proper places the results of his last observations; and in a single minute, no symptom remained of Dr. Sneyd having old friends whom he longed to see on the other side of the world; or of his having suffered from the deferred hope of tidings; or of his feeling impatient about his large telescope; or of any thing but his being engrossed in his occupation.
Yet he heard the first gentle tap at the south window, and, looking over his spectacles at the little boy who stood outside, found time to bid him come in and wait for liberty to talk. The doctor went on writing, the smile still on his face. and Temmy,—in other words, Temple Temple, heir of Temple Lodge,—crept in at the window, and stole quietly about the room to amuse himself, till his grandfather should be at liberty to attend to him. While the pen scratched the paper, and ceased, and scratched again, Temmy walked along the bookshelves, and peeped into the cylinder of the great telescope, and cast a frightened look behind him on having the misfortune to jingle some glasses, and then slid into the low arm-chair to study for the hundredth time the prints that hung opposite,—the venerable portraits of his grandfather's two most intimate friends. Temmy had learned to look on these wise men of another hemisphere with much of the same respect as on the philosophers of a former age. His grandfather appeared to him incalculably old, and unfathomably wise; and it was his grandfather's own assurance that these two philosophers were older and wiser still. When to this was added the breadth of land and sea across which they dwelt, it was no wonder that, in the eyes of the boy, they had the sanctity of the long-buried dead.
“Where is your grandmamma, Temmy?” asked Dr. Sneyd, at length, putting away his papers. “Do you know whether she is coming to take a walk with me?”
“I cannot find her,” said the boy. “I went all round the garden, and through the orchard—”
“And into the poultry yard?”
“Yes; and every where else. All the doors are open, and the place quite empty. There is nobody at home here, nor in all the village, except at our house.”
“All gone to the squirrel-hunt; or rather to meet the hunters, for the sport must be over by this time; but your grandmamma does not hunt squirrels. We must turn out and find her. I dare say she is gone to the Creek to look for the postman.”
Temmy hoped that all the squirrels were not to be shot. Though there had been far too many lately, he should be sorry if they were all to disappear.
“You will have your own two, in their pretty cage, at any rate, Temmy.”
Temmy's tearful eyes, twisted fingers, and scarlet colour, said the “no” tie could not speak at the moment. Grandpapa liked to get at the bottom of every thing; and he soon discovered that the boy's father had, for some reason unknown, ordered that no more squirrels should be seen in his house, and that the necks of Temmy's favourites should be wrung. Temmy had no other favourites instead. He did not like to begin with any new ones without knowing whether he might keep them; and he had not yet asked his papa what he might be permitted to have.
“We must all have patience, Temmy, about our favourites. I have had a great disappointment about one of mine.”
Temmy brushed away his tears to hear what favourites grandpapa could have. Neither cat, nor squirrel, nor bird had ever met his eye in this house; and the dogs in the court were for use, not play.
Dr. Sneyd pointed to his large telescope, and said that the cylinder, without the lenses, was to him no more than a cage without squirrels would be to Temmy.
“But you will have the glasses by and by, grandpapa, and I——”
“Yes; I hope to have them many months hence, when the snow is thick on the ground, and the sleigh can bring me my packages of glass without breaking them, as the last were broken that came over the log road. But all this time the stars are moving over our heads; and in these fine spring evenings I should like very much to be finding out many things that I must remain ignorant of till next year; and I cannot spare a whole year now so well as when I was younger.”
“Cannot you do something while you are waiting?” was Temmy's question. His uncle Arthur would have been as much diverted at it as Dr Sneyd himself was; for the fact was, Dr. Sneyd had always twice as much planned to be done as any body thought he could get through. Temmy did not know what a large book he was writing, nor how much might be learned by means of the inferior instruments; nor what a number of books the philosopher was to read through, nor how large a correspondence was to be carried on, before the snow could be on the ground again.
“Now let us walk to the creek” was a joyful sound to the boy, who made haste to find the doctor's large straw hat. When the philosopher had put it on, over his thin grey hair, he turned towards one of his many curious mirrors, and laughed at his own image.
“Temmy,” said he, “do you remember me before I wore this large hat? Do you remember my great wig?”
“O yes, and the black, three-cornered hat. I could not think who you were the first day I met you without that wig. But I think I never saw any body else with such a wig.”
“And in England they would not know what to make of me without it. I was just thinking how Dr. Rogers would look at me, if he could see me now, he would call me quite an American,—very like a republican.”
“Are you an American? Are you a republican?”
“I was a republican in England, and in France, and wherever I have been, as much as I am now. As to being an American, I suppose I must call myself one; but I love England very dearly, Temmy. I had rather live there than any where, if it were but safe for me; but we can make ourselves happy here. Whatever happens, we always find afterwards, or shall find when we are wiser, is for our good. Some people at home have made a great mistake about me; but all mistakes will be cleared up some time or other, my dear: and in the mean while, we must not be angry with one another, though we cannot help being sorry for what has happened.”
“I think uncle Arthur is very angry indeed. He said one day that he would never live among those people in England again.”
“I dare say there will be no reason for his living there; but he has promised me to forgive them for misunderstanding and disliking me. And you must promise me the same thing when you grow old enough to see what such a promise means.—Come here, my dear. Stand just where I do, and look up under the eaves. Do you see anything?”
“O, I see a little bird moving!”
Temmy could not tell what bird it was. He was a rather dull child—usually called uncommonly stupid—as indeed he too often appeared. Whither his wits strayed from the midst of the active little world in which he lived, where the wits of everybody else were lively enough, no one could tell—if, indeed, he had any wits. His father thought it impossible that Temple Temple, heir of Temple Lodge and its fifty thousand acres, should not grow up a very important personage. Mrs. Temple had an inward persuasion that no one understood the boy but herself. Dr. Sneyd did not profess so to understand children as to be able to compare Temmy with others, but thought him a good little fellow, and had no doubt he would do very well. Mrs. Sneyd's. hopes and fears on the boy's account varied, while her tender pity was unremitting: and uncle Arthur was full of indignation at Temple for cowing the child's spirit, and thus blunting his intellect. To all other observers it was but too evident that Temmy did not know a martin from a crow, or a sycamore from a thorn.
“That bird is a martin, come to build under our eaves, my dear. If we were to put up a box, I dare say the bird would begin to build in it directly.”
Tommy was for putting up a box, and his grandpapa for furnishing him with favourites which should be out of sight and reach of Mr. Temple. In two minutes, therefore, the philosopher was mounted on a high stool, whence he could reach the low eaves; and Temmy was vibrating on uptoe, holding up at arms' length that which, being emptied of certain mysterious curiosities, (which might belong either to grandpapa's apparatus of science, or grandmamma's of house-wifery.) was now destined to hold the winged curiosities which were flitting round during the operation undertaken on their behalf.
Before descending, the doctor looked about him, on the strange sight of a thriving uninhabited village. Everybody seemed to be out after the squirrel hunters. When, indeed, the higher ground near the Creek was attained, Dr. Sneyd perceived that Mr. Temple's family was at home. On the terrace was the gentleman himself, walking backwards and forwards in his usual after-dinner state, His lady (Dr. Sneyd's only daughter) was stooping among her flowers, while Ephraim, the black boy, was at tending at her heels, and the figures of other servants popped into sight and away again, as they were summoned and dismissed by their master. The tavern, kept by the surgeon of the place, stood empty, if it might be judged by its open doors, where no one went in and out. Dods was not to be seen in the brick-ground; which was a wonder, as Dods was a hard-working man, and his task of making bricks for Mr. Temple's grand alterations had been so much retarded by the late rains that it was expected of Dods that he would lose not a day nor an hour while the weather continued fair. Mrs. Dods was not at work under her porch, as usual, at this hour; nor was the young lawyer, Mr. Johnson, flitting from fence to fence of the cottages on the prairie, to gather up and convey the news of what had befallen since morning. About the rude dwelling within the verge of the forest, there was the usual fluttering of fowls and yelping of dogs; but neither was the half-savage woodsman (only known by the name of Brawn) to be seen loitering about with his axe, nor were his equally uncivilized daughters (the Brawnees) at their sugar troughs under the long row of maples. The Indian corn seemed to have chosen its own place for springing, and to be growing untended; so rude were the fences which surrounded it, and so rank was the prairie grass which struggled with it for possession of the furrows. The expanse of the prairie was undiversified with a single living thing. A solitary tree, or a cluster of bushes here and there, was all that broke the uniformity of the grassy surface, as far as the horizon, where the black forest rose in an even line, and seemed to seclude the region within its embrace. There was not such an absence of sound as of motion. The waters of the Creek, to which Dr. Sneyd and Tommy were proceeding, dashed along, swollen by the late rains, and the flutter and splash of wild fowl were heard from their place of assemblage,—the riffle of the Creek, or the shallows formed by the unevenness of its rocky bottom. There were few bird-notes heard in the forest; but the horses of the settlement were wandering there, with bells about their necks. The breezes could find no entrance into the deep recesses of the woods; but they whispered in their play among the wild vines that hung from a height of fifty feet. There was a stir also among the rhododendrons, thickets of which were left to flourish on the borders of the wood; and with their rustle in the evening wind were mingled the chirping, humming, and buzzing of an indistinguishable variety of insects on the wing and among the grass.
“I see grandmamma coming out of Dods's porch,” cried Temmy. “What has she been there for, all alone?”
“I believe she has been the round of the cottages, feeding the pigs and fowls, because the neighbours are away. This is like your grandmamma, and it explains her being absent so long. You see what haste she is making towards us. Now tell me whether you hear anything on the other side of the Creek.”
Temmy heard something, but he could not say what,—whether winds, or waters, or horses, or in-sects, or all these. Dr. Sneyd thought he heard cart wheels approaching along the smooth natural road which led out of the forest upon the prairie. The light, firm soil of this kind of road was so favourable for carriages, that they did not give the rumbling and creaking notice of their approach which is common on the log road which intersects a marsh. The post messenger was the uppermost person in Dr. Sneyd's thoughts just now, whether waggon wheels or horse tread greeted his ear. He was partly right and partly wrong in his present conjectures. A waggon appeared from among the trees, but it contained nobody whom he could expect to be the bearer of letters;—nobody but Arthur's assistant Isaac, accompained by Mr. Temple's black man Julian, bringing home a stock of groceries and other comforts from a distant store, to which they had been sent to make purchases.
The vehicle came to a halt on the opposite ridge; and no wonder, for it was not easy to see how it was to make further progress. The Creek was very fine to look at in its present state; but it was anything but tempting to travellers. The water, which usually ran clear and shallow, when there was more than enough to fill the deep holes in its bed, now brought mud from its source, and bore on its troubled surface large branches, and even trunks of trees. It was so much swollen from the late rains that its depth was not easily ascertainable; but many a brier which had lately overhung its course from the bank was now swaying in its current, and looking lost in a new element. Isaac and Julian by turns descended the bank to the edge of the water, but could not learn thereby whether or not it was fordable. Their next proceeding was to empty the cart, and drive into the flood by way of experiment.— The water only half filled the vehicle, and the horse kept his footing admirably, so that it was only to drive back again, and to bring the goods, —some on the dry seat of the waggon, and some on the backs of Isaac and Julian, as the one drove, and the other took care of the packages within. Two trips, it was thought, would suffice to bring over the whole, high and dry.
“What are you all about here?” asked Mrs. Sneyd, who had come up unobserved while her husband and grandchild were absorbed in watching the passage of the Creek. “The goods arriving! Bless me! I hope they will get over safely. It would be too provoking if poor Arthur should lose his first batch of luxuries. He has lived so long on Indian corn bread, and hominy, and wild turkeys, and milk, that it is time he should be enjoying his meal of wheaten bread and tea.”
“And the cloth for his new coat is there, grandmamma.”
“Yes; and plenty of spice and other good things for your papa. I do not know what he will say if they are washed away; but I care much more for your coffee, my dear,” continued she, turning to the doctor. “I am afraid your observations and authorship will suffer for want of your coffee. Do try and make Isaac hear that he is to take particular care of the coffee.”
“Not I, my dear,” replied Dr. Sneyd, laughing. “I would advocate Arthur's affairs, if any. But the men seem to be taking all possible care. I should advise their leaving the goods and cart together on the other side, but that I rather think there will be more rain before morning, so as to make matters worse to-morrow, besides the risk of a soaking during the might. Here they come! Now for it! How they dash down the bank! There! They will upset the cart if they do not take care.”
“That great floating tree will upset them. What a pity they did not see it in time! There! I thought so.”
The mischief was done. The trunk, with a new rush of water, was too much for the light waggon. It turned over on its side, precipitating driver, Julian, and all the packages into the muddy stream. The horse scrambled and struggled till Isaac could regain his footing, and set the animal free, while Julian was dashing the water from his face, and snatching at one package after another as they eddied round him, preparatory to being carried down the Creek.
Dr. Sneyd caught the frightened horse, as he scampered up the briery bank. Mrs. Sneyd shouted a variety of directions which would have been excellent, if they could have been heard; while Temmy stood looking stupid.
“Call help, my dear boy,” said Dr. Sneyd.
“Where? I do not know where to go”
“Do you hear the popping of guns in the wood? Some of the hunters are coming back. Go and call them.”
“Where? I do not know which way.”
“In the direction of the guns, my dear. In that quarter, near the large hickory. I think you will find them there.”
Temmy did not know a hickory by sight; but he could see which way Dr. Sneyd's finger pointed; and he soon succeeded in finding the party, and bringing them to the spot.
“Arthur, I am very sorry,” said the doctor, on seeing his son come running to view the disaster. “Mortal accidents, my dear son! We must make up our minds to them.”
“Yes, father, when they are purely accidents: but this is carelessness,—most provoking carelessness.”
“Indeed, the men did make trial of what they were about,” said the doctor.
“The great tree came down so very fast!” added Temmy.
“Yes, yes. I am not blaming Isaac. It was my carelessness in not throwing a bridge over the Creek long ago. Never mind that now! Let us save what we can.”
It was a sorry rescue. The cart was broken, but it could be easily mended. The much-longed-for wheaten flour appeared in the shape of a sack of soiled pulp, which no one would think of swallowing. The coffee might be dried. The tea was not altogether past hope. Sugar, salt, and starch, were melted into one mass. Mr. Temple's spices were supposed to be by this time perfuming the stream two miles below; his wax candles were battered, so that they could, at best, be used only as short ends; and the oil for his hall lamps was diffusing a calm over the surface of the stream. Mrs. Sneyd asked her husband whether some analogous appliance could not be found for the proprietor's ruffled temper, when he should hear of the disaster.
The news could not be long in reaching him, for the other party of squirrel-hunters, bringing with them all the remaining women and children of the village, appeared from the forest, and the tidings spread from mouth to mouth. As soon as Temmy saw that Uncle Arthur was standing still, and looking round him for a moment, he put one of his mistimed questions, at the end of divers remarks.
“How many squirrels have you killed, uncle? I do not think you can have killed any at all; we saw so many as we came up here! Some were running along your snake fence, uncle; and grandpapa says they were not of the same kind as those that run up the trees. But we saw a great many run up the trees, too. I dare say, half a dozen or a dozen. How many have you killed, uncle?”
“Forty-one. The children there will tell you all about it.”
“Forty-one! And how many did David kill? And your whole party, uncle?”
Arthur gave the boy a gentle push towards the sacks of dead squirrels, and Temmy, having no notion why or how he had been troublesome, amused himself with pitying the slaughtered animals, and stroking his cheeks with the brushes of more than a hundred of them. He might have gone on to the whole number bagged,—two hundred and ninety-three,—if his attention had not been called off by the sudden silence which preceded a speech from uncle Arthur.
“Neighbours,” said Arthur, “I take the blame of this mischance upon myself. I will not say that some of you might not have reminded me to bridge the Creek. before I spent my time and money on luxuries that we could have waited for a while longer; but the chief carelessness was mine, I freely own. It seems a strange time to choose for asking a favour of you—”
He was interrupted by many a protestation that his neighbours were ready to help to bridge the Creek; that it was the interest of all that the work should be done, and not a favour to himself alone. He went on:—
“I was going to say that when it happens to you, as now to me, that you wish to exchange the corn that you grow for something that our prairies do not produce, you will feel the want of such a bridge as much as I do now; though I hope through a less disagreeable experience. In self-defence, I must tell you, however, how little able I have been till lately to provide any but the barest necessaries for myself and my men. This will show you that I cannot now pay you for the work you propose to do,”
He was interrupted by assurances that nobody wanted to be paid; that they would have a bridging frolic, as they had before had a raising frolic to build the surgeon's tavern, and a rolling frolic to clear Brawn's patch of ground, and as they meant to have a reaping frolic when the corn should be ripe. It should be a pic-nic. Nobody supposed that Arthur had yet meat, bread, and whisky to spare.
“I own that I have not,” said he. “You know that when I began to till my ground, I had no more capital than was barely sufficient to fence and break up my fields, and feed me and my two labourers while my first crop was growing. Just before it ripened, I had nothing left; but what I had spent was well spent. It proved a productive consumption indeed; for my harvest brought back all I had spent, with increase. This increase was not idly consumed by me. I began to pay attention to my cattle, improved my farm buildings, set up a kiln, and employed a labourer in making bricks. The fruits of my harvest were thus all consumed; but they were again restored with increase. Then I thought I might begin to indulge myself with the enjoyment for which I had toiled so long and so bard. I did not labour merely to have so much corn in my barns, but to enjoy the corn, and whatever else it would bring me,—as we all do,—producing, distributing, and exchanging, that we may afterwards enjoy.”
“Not quite all, Mr. Arthur,” said Johnson, the lawyer. “There is you brother-in-law, Mr. Temple, who seems disposed to enjoy everything, without so much as soiling his fingers with gathering a peach. And there is a certain friend of ours, settled farther east, who toils like a horse, and lives like a beggar, that he may hoard a roomful of dollars.”
“Temple produces by means of the hoarded industry of his fathers,—by means of his capital,” replied Arthur. “And the miser you speak of enjoys his dollars, I suppose, or he would change them away for something else. Well, friends, there is little temptation for us to hoard up our wealth. We have corn instead of dollars, and corn will not keep like dollars.”
“Why should it?” asked Dods the brickmaker. “Who would take the trouble to raise more corn than he wants to eat, if he did not hope to exchange it for something desirable?”
“Very true. Then comes the question, what a man shall choose in exchange. I began pretty well. I laid out some of my surplus in providing for a still greater next year; which, in my circumstances, was my first duty. Then I began to look to the end for which I was working; and I reached forward to it a little too soon. I should have roasted my corn ears and drank milk a little longer, and expended my surplus on a bridge, before I thought of wheaten flour and tea and coffee.”
“Three months hence,” said somebody, “you will be no worse off (except for the corn ears and milk you must consume instead of flour and tea) than if you had had your wish. Your flour and tea would have been clean gone by that time, without any return.”
“You grant that I must go without the pleasure,” said Arthur, smiling. “Never mind that. But you will. not persuade me that it is not a clear loss to have flour spoiled, and sugar and salt melted together in the creek; unless, indeed, they go to fatten the fish in the holes. Besides, there is the mortification of feeling that your toil in making this bridge might have been paid with that which is lost in the purchase of luxuries which none will enjoy.”
Being vehemently exhorted to let this consideration give him no concern, he concluded,
“I will take your advice, thank you. I will not trouble myself or you more about this loss; and I enlarge upon it now only because it may be useful to us as a lesson how to use the fruits of our labour. I have been one of the foremost to laugh at our neighbours in the next settlement for having,—not their useful frolics, like ours of to-morrow,—but their shooting-matches and games in the wood, when the water was so bad that it was a grievance to have to drink it. I was as ready as any one to see that the labour spent, on these pastimes could not be properly afforded, if there were really no hands to spare to dig wells. And now, instead of asking them when they mean to have their welling frolic, our wisest way will be to get our bridge up before there is time for our neighbours to make a laughing-stock of us. When that is done, I shall be far from satisfied. I shall still feel that it is owing to me that my father goes without his coffee, while he is watching it, rough the night when we common men are asleep.
“That is as much Temple's concern as the young man's,” observed the neighbours one to another. “Freely as he flings his money about, one would think Temple might see that the doctor was at least at well supplied with luxuries as himself.” “Why the young man should be left to toil and make capital so painfully and slowly, when Temple squanders so much, is a mystery to every body.” “A quarter of what Temple has spent in making and unmaking his garden would have enabled Arthur Sneyd's new field to produce double, or have improved his team: and Temple himself would have been all the better for the interest it would have yielded, instead of his money bringing no return. But Temple is not the man to lend a helping hand to a young farmer,—be he his brother-in-law or a mere stranger.”
Such were the remarks which Arthur was not supposed to hear, and to which he did not therefore consider himself called upon to reply. Seeing his father and mother in eager consultation with the still dripping Isaac, he speedily completed the arrangements for the next day's meeting, toils, and pleasures, and joined the group. Isaac had but just recollected that in his pocket he brought a packet of letters and several newspapers, which had found their way, in some circuitous manner, to the store where he had bean trafficking. The whole were deplorably soaked with mud. It seemed doubtful whether a line of the writing could ever be made out. But Mrs. Sneyd's cleverness had been proved equal to emergencies nearly as great as this. She had once got rid of the stains of a stand full of ink which had been overset on a parchment which bore a ten-guinea stamp. She had recovered the whole to perfect smoothness, and fitness to be written upon. Many a time had she contrived to restore the writing which had been discharged from her father's manuscript chemical lectures, when spillings from his experiments had occurred scarcely half an hour before the lecture-room began to fill. No wonder her husband was now willing to confide in her skill—no wonder he was anxious to see Temmy home as speedily as possible, that he might watch the processes of dipping and drying and unfolding, on which depended almost the dearest of his enjoyments,—intercourse with faithful friends far away.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE GENTLEMAN AT HOME.
Master Temple Temple was up early, and watching the weather, the next morning, with far more eagerness than his father would have approved, unless some of his own gentlemanlike pleasures had been in question. If Mr. Temple bad known that his son and heir cared for the convenience of his industrious uncle Arthur, and of a parcel of labourers, the boy would hardly have escaped a long lecture on the depravity of his tastes, and the vulgarity of his sympathies. But Mr. Temple knew nothing that passed prior to his own majestic descent to the breakfast-room, where the silver coffee-pot was steaming fragrantly, and the windows were carefully opened or scrupulously shut, so as to temper the visitations of the outward air, while his lady sat awaiting his mood, and trembling lest he should find nothing that he could eat among the variety of forms of diet into which the few elements at the command of her cook had been combined. Mrs. Temple had never been very happy while within reach of markets and shops; but she was now often tempted to believe that almost all her troubles would be at an end if she had but the means of indulging her husband's fastidious appetite. It was a real misery to be for ever inventing, and for ever in vain, new cookeries of Indian corn, beef, lean pork, geese and turkeys, honey and milk. Beyond these materials, she had nothing to depend upon but chance arrivals of flour, pickles, and groceries; and awfully passed the day when there was any disappointment at breakfast. She would willingly have surrendered She conservatory, her splendid ornaments, the pictures, plate, and even the library, of her house, and the many thousand acres belonging to it, to give to her husband such an unscrupulous appetite as Arthur's, or such a cheerful temper as Dr. Sneyd's. It was hard that her husband's ill-humour about his privations should fall upon her; for she was not the one who did the deed, whatever it might be, which drove the gentleman from English society. The sacrifice was quite as great to her as it could possibly be to him; and there was inexpressible meanness in Temple's aggravating, by complaints of his own share, the suffering which he had himself brought upon her. Temple seemed always to think himself a great man, however; and always greatest when causing the utmost sensation in those about him.
This morning, he stalked into the breakfast room in remarkable state. He looked almost as tall as his wife when about to speak to her, and was as valiant in his threats against the people who disturbed him by passing before ins window, as his son in planning his next encounter with Brawn's great turkey.
“Come away from the window, this moment, Temple. I desire you will never stand there when the people are flocking past in this manner. Nothing gratifies them more. They blow those infernal horns for no other purpose than to draw our attention. Ring the bell, Temple.”
When Marius appeared, in answer to the bell, he was ordered to pull down that blind; and if the people did not go away directly, to bid them begone, and blow their horns somewhere out of his hearing.
“They will be gone soon enough, sir. It is a busy day with them. They are making a frolic to bridge the Creek, because of what happened—”
A terrified glance of Mrs. Temple's stopped the man in his reference to what had taken place the evening before. It was hoped that the stock of coffee might be husbanded till more could arrive, that the idea of chocolate might be insinuated into the gentleman's mind, and that the shortness of the wax candles, and the deficiency of light in the hall at night, might possibly escape observation.
“The bridge over the Creek being much wanted by every body, sir,” continued Marius, “every body is joining the frolic to work at it; that is, if—”
“Not I, nor any of my people. Let me hear no more about it, if you please. I have given no orders to have a bridge built.”
Marius withdrew. The cow-horns were presently no longer heard—not that Marius had done any thing to silence them. He knew that the blowers were not thinking of either him or his master; but merely passing to their place of rendezvous, calling all frolickers together by the way.
“Temple, you find you can live without your squirrels, I hope,” said the tender father. “Now, no crying! I will not have you cry.”
“Bring me your papa's cup, my dear,” interposed his mother; “and persuade him to try these early strawberries. The gardener surprised us this morning with a little plate of strawberries. Tell your papa about the strawberries in the orchard, my dear.”
In the intervals of sobs, and with streaming eyes, Temmy told the happy news that stawberries had spread under all the trees in the orchard, and were so full of blossom, that the gardener thought the orchard would soon look like a field of white clover.
“Wild strawberries, I suppose. Tasteless trash!” was the remark upon this intelligence.
Before a more promising subject was started, the door opened, and Dr. Sneyd appeared. Mr. Temple hastened to rise, put away, with a prodigious crackling and shuffling, the papers he held, quickened Temmy's motions in setting a chair, and pressed coffee and strawberries on “the old gentleman,” as he was wont to call Dr. Sneyd. It was impossible that there could be much sympathy between two men so unlike; but it singularly happened that Dr. Sneyd had a slighter knowledge than any body in the village of the peculiarities of his son-in-law. He was amused at some of his foibles, vexed at others, and he sighed, at times, when he saw changes of looks and temper creeping over his daughter, and thought what she might have been with a more suitable companion: but Temple stood in so much awe of the philosopher as to appear a somewhat different person before him and in any other presence. Temmy now knew that he was safe from misfortune for half an hour; and being unwilling that grandpapa should see traces of tears, he slipped behind the window blind, to make his observations on the troop which was gathering in the distance on the way to the creek. He stood murmuring to himself,—“There goes Big Brawn and the Brawnees! I never saw any women like those Brawnees. I think they could pull up a tall tree by the roots, if they tried. I wonder when they will give me some more honey to taste. “There goes Dods! He must be tired before the frolic begins; for he has been making bricks ever since it was light. I suppose he is afraid papa will be angry if he does not make bricks as fast as he can. Papa was so angry, with the rain for spoiling his bricks before! There goes David——” And so on, through the entire population, out of the bounds of Temple Lodge.
“I came to ask,” said the doctor, “how many of your men you can spare to this frolic to-day. Arthur will be glad of all the assistance that can be had, that the work may be done completely at once”
The reply was, that Arthur seemed an enter-prising young man.
“He is: just made for his lot. But I ought not to call this Arthur's enterprise altogether. The Creek is no more his than it is yours or mine. The erection is for the common good, as the disaster last night”—(a glance from Mrs. Temple to her husband's face, and a peep) from Temmy, from behind the blind)—“was, in fact, a common misfortune”
Mr. Temple took snuff, and asked no questions at present.
“I have been telling my wife,” observed the doctor, “that I am prodigiously tempted to try the strength of my arm myself, to-day.”
“I hope not, my dear sir. Your years—— The advancement of science, you know——Just imagine its being told in Paris, among your friends of the Institute, that you had been helping to build a bridge! Temple, ring the bell.”
Marius was desired to send Ephraim to receive his master's commands. In a few minutes, the door slowly opened, a strange metallic sound was heard, and a little negro boy, stunted in form and mean in countenance, stood bowing in the presence.
“Ephraim, go into the park field, and tell Martin to send as many labourers as he can spare to help to bridge the creek. And as you come back.——”
During this time, Dr. Sneyd had turned on his chair to observe the boy. He now rose rapidly, and went to convince himself that his eyes did not deceive him. It was really true that the right ankle and left wrist of the little lad were connected by a light fetter.
“Who has the key of this chain?” asked Dr. Sneyd of his daughter, who, blushing scarlet, looked towards her husband.
“Give it me,” said the doctor, holding out his hand.
“Excuse me, my dear sir. You do not know the boy.”
“Very true: but that does not alter the case. The key, if you please.”
After a moment's hesitation, it was produced from the waistcoat pocket. Dr. Sneyd set the boy free, bade him make haste to do his master's bidding, and quietly doubling the chain, laid it down on a distant table.
“He never made baste in his life, sir,” protested Mr. Temple. “You do not know the lad, sir, believe me.”
“I do not: and I am sorry to hear such an account of him. This is a place where no one can be allowed to loiter and be idle.”
Ephraim showed that he could make haste; for he lost no time in getting out of the room, when he had received his final orders. At the moment, and for a few moments more, Dr. Sneyd was relating to his daughter the contents of the letters received from England the night before. Mr. Temple meanwhile was stirring the fire, flourishing his handkerchief, and summoning courage to be angry with Dr. Sneyd.
“Do you know, sir,” said he, at length, “that boy is my servant? Let me tell you, that for one gentleman to interfere with another gentleman's servants is——”
Dr. Sneyd was listening so calmly, with his hands resting on the head of his cane, that Temple's words, somehow or other, failed him.
“Such interference is——is——This boy, sir, is my servant.”
“Your servant, but not your slave. Do you know. Temple, it is I who might call you to account, rather than you me. As one of the same race with this boy, I have a right to call you to account for making property of that which is no property. There is no occasion, I trust, for you and me to refer this matter to a magistrate: but, till compelled to do so, 1 have a full right to strike off chains wherever I meet with them.”
“You may meet with them in the woods, or as far over the prairie as you are likely to walk, my dear sir, for this lad is a notorious runaway: he has escaped three times. Nothing short of such an offence could have made me do any thing which might appear harsh. If he runs away again, I assure you I shall be compelled to employ the restraint in question: I give you warning that I must. So, if you should meet him, thus restrained, you know——”
“O, yes; I shall know what to do. I shall take off the chain that he may hie the faster—. I see your conservatory is in great beauty. I imagine you must have adopted Arthur's notion about warming it.”
“Not Mr. Sneyd's. O, no; it was Mrs. Temple's idea.”
“Not originally; it was Arthur who advised me,” declared Mrs. Temple. “I hope you will soon have some of the benefit of his devices about the kitchen-garden, father. The gardener has orders to send you some of the first vegetables and fruit that are ready for gathering; and I am going to carry my mother some flowers today.”
“I was about to ask when you will dine with us,” said Dr. Sneyd. “I think it had better he when some of the good things you speak of are ready; for we have few luxuries to offer you. But When will you come?”
Mr. Temple was sorry that his time was now so occupied with business,—his affairs at the land-office, in addition to all his own concerns,— that he could form no engagements. Mrs. Temple would answer for herself and her son.
Dr. Sneyd was not aware of this new occupation of Mr. Temple's. He was particularly glad to hear of it, and told it to his wife as a piece of very good news. as soon as he got home. They both hoped that their daughter would be all The happier for her husband having something to do and to think about, beyond his own affairs.
“What is all this?” cried Mr. Temple, returning from bowing out Dr. Sneyd with much civility. “What accident happened last night, pray?”
On being told of the upsetting of the waggon, he was not the less angry for his internal consciousness that he caused himself to be treated like a child, by being unable to bear cross accidents. His horse was ordered instantly, his morning gown exchanged for his pretty riding equipments, and his wife and son left to gaze from one window and another to learn, if possible, what was to happen next, and to reason with one another about their lesser troubles, after the manner of tender mothers and confiding children. Temmy saw very clearly that it could do no good to cry whenever squirrels were mentioned, and that it must be much pleasanter to papa to see his boy smile, and to hear him answer cheerfully, than——The child's memory could supply the contrast. This same papa was all the time in great trouble without reasoning. He pursued his way to the Creek as if he had been in mortal terror of the groom who followed at his heels.
“Aside the devil turned for envy,” says Milton. Such a pang has since been the lot of many a splenetic descendant of the arch-fiend, on witnessing happiness that he not only could not share, but could not sympathize in. Such a pang exasperated Mr. Temple on casting his first glance over the scene of the frolic. He despised every body there, from Arthur, now brandishing his rule, now lending a hand to place a heavy beam, to the youngest of Dods's children, who thought she was helping by sticking corn-cobs into the crevices of the logs. He despised Brawn, the woodsman, with his round shoulders. enormous bush of hair, and hands that looked as if they could lift up a house. He despised the daughters, Black Brawnee and Brown Brawnee, as they were called. He was never very easy when he fell in with these girls in the depths of the forest, tapping their row of maple trees, and kneeling at the troughs beneath; or on the flowery prairie, lining the wild bees to their haunt in the hollow tree. He felt himself an object of ridicule to these daughters of the forest, and so insignificant in respect of all the qualifications which they valued, that none of his personal accomplishments gave him any comfortable feeling of confidence in their presence; and the merriment with which they now pursued as sport a toil which would have been death to him, irritated him to a degree which they were amused to witness. He despised the whole apparatus of festivity: the pig roasting in the shade, and the bustle of the women preparing the various messes of corn, and exhibiting their stores of salt beef. He pronounced the whole vulgar,—so excessively vulgar,—that he could not endure that a son of Dr. Sneyds should be assisting in the fête. The axe and mattock sounded in a very annoying way: the buzz of voices and of laughter were highly discreditable to the order of the place; and the work was so rough that, in all probability, he should be obliged to witness some wounds or bruises if he did not get away. So he hastened to conceal his envy from himself, and to express his contempt as plainly as possible.
He raised himself in his stirrups, and called out his men by name. They came forth unwillingly, having but just arrived to join the frolic, and suspecting that their capricious master meant to send them home again. A glance of mutual condolence between two of them was observed by Mr. Temple, and did no good to their cause. They were ordered to return instantly to their work in the park-field, and to appear no more near the Creek this day.
“We will do some of their work in the park-field to-morrow, Mr. Temple,” said Arthur, “if you will let us have the benefit of their labour now.”
Under a sense of infinite obligation, Mr. Temple explained that he permitted none but his own people,—no vagabond woodsmen,—no workmen who came hither because they were driven out of the civilized world,—to touch his land. And, after the losses of the preceding evening, he could not think of giving his men a holiday,— losses of which Arthur had not even had the grace to apprize him. Arthur was surprized. He could not have supposed that such a piece of news could have been long in travelling through the village of Briery Creek, considering that Temple's man had been one of the waggoners, Temple's son a witness of the whole, and the entire population of the place on the spot before the adventure was finished. Why was it more Arthur's duty than any one's else to carry him the disagreeable news?
“Your not having done it, Mr. Sneyd, is of a piece with your conduct about the cattle-marks, sir,—of a piece with the whole of your conduct since you entered upon your speculations in my neighbourhood. My men shall know the story of the cattle-marks, sir, and then we shall see which of them will stir a finger to help you with your bridge.”
“What about the cattle-marks?” asked Arthur, with a perplexed look. “If you told me, I am afraid I have forgotten.”
“You could have given me the earliest intelligence, I fancy, sir. If I mistake not, you haw entered, at the land-office, your design of marking your sheep and pigs with three slanting slits in the right ear.”
This was true.
“And your determination was not made known,—it was not, in fact, taken,—till the fifteenth of last month.”
“I dare say nat. I planned it just before my second visit to the land-office, which was about the middle of last month.”
“Very well, sir; the fifteenth was your day. Now, I have evidence to prove that on the thirteenth I informed my son, who, I understand, informed Dr. Sneyd, that it was my intention to mark my cattle with three slanting slits in the right ear.”
“Well! what then?”
“Why, just that circumstances have so fallen out as to defeat your design, sir, which I will not stop to characterize. I have a connexion with the land-office, sir, which you were perhaps not aware of; and my sheep and pigs will run no risk of being confounded with yours. It is very well to ask—‘What then?’ I should like to know whether my sheep and pigs do not far out-number yours: and how was any one to distinguish the one from the other, straying in the woods and prairies, if all were marked with three slanting slits in the right ear?”
Arthur would not stoop to reply to the insinuations of his brother-in-law. He did, for a moment, condescend to lose his temper, and would probably have frightened the intruder off the ground by an exhibition of passion, if the Brawnees and their father, and a few others who had nothing to hope or fear from Temple, had not relieved him by a timely burst of laughter. Dods dared not laugh, for he was brickmaker to Temple; and much building remained to be done about the lodge. Others, among whom the gentleman's money was distributed in profusion, appeared not to observe what was going on. Arthur only observed, before recommencing his labours,—
“I am surprised to hear all this, Mr. Temple. I thought your cattle had been much too proud to stray about the woods like the beasts of poor, common settlers like us. I am sure when I grow rich enough to have stables, and styes, and pens, such as you can command, my horses will never be beard tinkling their bells in the forest in the evening, and nobody will run over a pig of mine in the prairie.”
“And yet you can spare time to build bridges, Mr. Sneyd; and you can contribute materials for a market-house and a cheese dairy. It is not to every body that you complain of poverty.”
“To no one do I complain of poverty. I am not poor. Nobody present is poor. There was but one short period when any of us could be justly called so; and that was when each of us had barely enough to supply his own actual wants.”
“That did not last long,” said Dods. “In a young settlement like ours, two years ago, every act of labour tells. Ah! there goes my gentle. man! I thought so. He never stays to be reminded what a barbarous place he has got into.”
“Whatever brought him here,” observed Brawn, “is more than any of us can tell. I have seen new settlers enough in my day, my life having lain among new clearings. Many a rough farmer, many a pale mechanic, have I seen; the one looking gloomily into the waste before him, and the other sinking under the toil that was too new to him. And many a trader has passed through with his stores, and many a speculator come to gamble in laud, and go away again. But a beau like this, with a power of money to spend, without caring to earn any, is a thing I have beard tell of far to the east, but never thought to see. It makes one waken one's ears to hear what travellers tell of the reason.”
Arthur could have told the reason, as his neighbours knew; and it was probably the hope that he might forget his discretion that made the gossips of Briery Creek betake themselves to conjectures in his hearing as often as he was believed to have received provocation from Temple. He was never known, however, to deny or confirm anything that was said. It was pretty well understood that Temple had come here because he had made his former place of residence too hot to hold him; but whether he had libelled or slain anybody, made himself odious as an informer, enriched himself by unfair means, or been unfortunate in a duel, it still remained for some accidental revelation to make known.
“How is it, Dods, that you think every act of labour tells in a young settlement?” asked Arthur, on resuming work after a large destruction of roast pig. “I have always understood that labour is worth more the more it is divided; and nowhere is there less division of labour than in a young settlement.”
“Very true. I hold that we are both right, because we are speaking of different states of affairs. Before people have enough of anything to change away, and while each man works for himself, each touch of his finger, if one may say so, supplies some want of his own. No need, in such days, to trouble your head about whether your work will sell! You want a thing; you make it, and use it; and thereby feel how much your work is worth. But the case is different when you have more of a thing than you want, and would fain change it away. You cannot change it away unless others have also some more than they want to use themselves. Then they begin to club their labour together, and divide the work among them, and try by what means they can get the most done; by such division of labour they do get the most done, but it does not follow that the workmen flourish accordingly, as they do when each works for himself:”
“Because it becomes more difficult to calculate how much of each sort of production will be wanted. The matter becomes perplexed by the wishes of so many being concerned. If we could understand those wishes, the more we can get produced, the better it would be for everybody.”
“I have tried both the periods we speak of,” said Dods. “Brickmaking was a fine business indeed in the part of England where I lived when trade was brisk, and manufacturers building country-houses, and speculators running up rows of cottages for weavers. But a sudden change knocked me up when I least expected it. I went on one summer making bricks as before;—for what should I know of the changes that were taking place on the other side of the world, and that spread through our manufacturers, and weavers, and builders, till they reached me? The first I knew of it was, my not selling a brick for the whole season, and seeing house after house deserted, till it was plain that my unbaked bricks must melt in the winter rains, and those in the kilns crumble in the storms, before my labour would be wanted again in that line. As for my little capital, it melted and crumbled away with the bricks it was locked up in. Here mine was, for a long while, the only brick house. I made not a brick too much; so that there was no waste.”
“And the same may be said of the work you do for Mr. Temple. There may be an exact calculation how many bricks are wanted, so that you can proportion your supply exactly to the demand.”
“And use the advantage of division of labour too, sir. No fear of a glut coming unawares, when I have the whole of our little range under my own eye. One of my boys may dig the clay, and another harrow the bricks to the kiln, and the eldest tend the fires, while I am moulding, and no fear of our all being thrown out at once by an unexpected glut; and the more disastrously, perhaps, for our having turned our mutual help to the best account.”
“I rather think your labour is stimulated rather than relaxed by the high wages you get here, Mr. Dods.”
“Why, yes. That seems the natural effect of high wages, whatever people may say of the desperate hard work of such poor creatures as the Glasgow weavers, or the Manchester spinners. I say, look to the Irish, who have very poor wages. Do they work hard? I say, look to the labourers in India. They have miserable wages. Do they work hard? The difference between these and the Lancashire spinners seems to me to be, that in India and Ireland, some sort of subsistence,—rice and potatoes, poor enough, —is to be bad for little labour, and little more can be gained by greater labour; while the Lancashire poor can only get a bare subsistence by excessive labour, and therefore they labour excessively. Put a poor diet of rice within reach of the Lancashire spinner, with the knowledge that he can get nothing better, and he will do as little work as will procure him a bare subsistence of rice. But try all three with high wages, in circumstances where they may add one comfort after another to their store, and you will see whether they will relax in their toils till they have got all that labour can obtain.”
“I say, look to the reason of the case, and it will tell the same story as the facts. If a man is lazy, and loves idleness more than the good things which industry will bring, there is an end of the matter, as far as he is concerned. He is an exception to common rules. But, as tong as there is no end to the comforts and luxuries which most men prefer to idleness, there will be no end of exertion to obtain them. I believe You and your sons work harder than you did two years ago, though you have ten times as many comforts about you.”
“And my wife, too, I assure you. At first, we used to sit down tired before the end of the day, and if we had bread enough for supper, and blankets to spread on the floor of our log-house, were apt to think we could do no more that day. But when we had wherewith to get salt beef, we thought we could work a little harder for something pleasanter to drink with it than the brackish water which was used by us all at first, for want of a sweeter draught. In like manner, when we once had a brick cottage, there was no end of our toil to get things to put rote it;—first, bedsteads, and seats, and a table; and then crockery, and hardware, and matting for the floors; and now my wife has set her mind upon carpets, and a looking-glass for her customers to fancy her handiwork by. She says ladies always admire her gowns and bonnets most when they see them on themselves. It was but this morning that my wife vowed that a handsome looking-glass was a necessary of life to her. We should all have laughed enough at the idea of such a speech two years ago.”
“And with the wish, your wife brings the power to obtain these comforts.”
“The wish would be worth little without the power; which makes it a merciful arrangement that the wish only grows with the power. If my wife had longed for a looking-glass before she was able to set about earning one with her mantua-making and milliner's work, she would have been suffering under a useless trouble. No: it is a good thing that while people are solitary, producing only for themselves, there is no demand for other people's goods—”
“I should say ‘desire.’ There is no demand till the power and the will are joined. If your wife had pined for a mirror two years ago, there would have been no demand for it on her part. To-morrow, if she offers a travelling trader a smart assortment of caps—or, what is the same thing, if she sells her caps to the women of Briery Creek, and gives the trader the money for his mirror,—she makes a real and effective demand. It seems to me a blessed arrangement, too, that there ts always somewhat wherewith to supply this demand, and exactly enough to supply it.”
“Ay, sir; if we were but sharp-sighted enough to take care that the quality was as exactly fitted to human wishes as the quantity. Since we none of us produce more than we want, just for the pleasure of toiling. it is as plain as possible that every man's surplus constitutes a demand. Well! every man's surplus is also his neighbour's supply. The instrument of demand that every man brings is also his instrument of supply; so that, in point of quantity, there is always a precise provision made for human wants.”
“Yes: and if mistakes are made as to the kinds of articles that are wished for, there is always the consolation that such mistakes will correct one another, as long as there can never be too much of everything. If what we have just said be true. there being too much of one thing proves that there must be too little of another; and the production of the one will be slackened, and that of the other quickened, till they are made equal. If your wife makes up more caps by half than are wanted, caps will be ruinously cheap, The Brawnees will give much less maple sugar for their caps—”
The Brawnees never wore caps, Arthur was reminded.
“But they will, in time, take my word for it, if they remain among us. Wed! your wife will refuse to sell her caps at so great a loss. She will lay them by till the present generation of caps is worn out, and go and tap the maple trees for herself, rather than pay others dearly for it. In this case, the glut is of caps; and the deficiency is of maple sugar.”
“My wife's gains must depend on her own judgment in adapting her millinery to the wants of her customers. If she makes half as many caps again as are needed, she deserves to lose, and to have to go out sugar-making for herself.”
“Yes: calculation may avail in a small society like this. In a larger and more complicated society, the most that prudence can do is to watch the changes of wants and wishes, as shown by variations of price. This would avail for all practical purposes, if wants and wishes were left to themselves. They are so at Briery Creek, and therefore every trader at Briery Creek has fair play. But it is not so where bounties, and prohibitions, and unequal taxation are made to interfere among buyers and sellers: where such disturbing influences exist, the trader has not fair play; and it would be a miracle indeed if he could adapt his supply to the demand,—or, in other words, be satisfied in his own demand. What is moving in the wood there, Duds? What takes all our people away from their work when it is so nearly finished?”
“It must be some rare sight,” observed Dods. “Every one, look ye, man, woman, and child, skipping over the new bridge while half of it is prettily gravelled, and the other half still hare and slippery. See how they scramble over the heap of gravel left in the middle! I suppose I must follow where they lead, and bring you the news, sir.” Before Dods had time to complete his first passage over the new bridge, the news told itself. A. company of soldiers, on their way to occupy a military post near, emerged from the green depths of the forest, and appeared to be making straight for the ford, without looking to the right hand or to the left. Their pleasure was instantly visible when, their attention being attracted by a shout from the throng of settlers, they perceived a substantial bridge, finished except the gravelling, overhanging the stream through which they had expected to he compelled to wade. They received with hearty good-will their commander's directions to pay toll of their labour for their passage. Never was a public work finished in a more joyous style. The heap of gravel was levelled in a trice; and, by particular desire, a substantial handrail was fixed for the benefit of careless children, or of any whose nerves might be affected by the sight of the restless waters below. Temple was riding along a ridge whence he could look down, and hoped to observe how much the work was retarded by his labourers being withdrawn. When he saw that no help of his was wanted,— that the erection was now complete, the refuse logs being piled up out of the way, the boughs carried off for fuel, the tools collected, and preparations made for the crowning repast,—he put spurs to his horse, and cast hard words at his groom for allowing him to forget that he was likely to be late home to dinner.
Arthur, meantime, was engaged with the commander, who explained that his men and he would be glad of the advantage of attending divine service on the Sunday, if there was any place within reach of their post where they might do so. The only place of worship at present in Briery Creek was Dr. Sneyd's house, where be bad conducted service since his arrival, for the benefit of all who wished to attend. The commander was very anxious to be permitted, with his company, to join tile assemblage; Arthur had no doubt of his father's willingness. The question was, where they should assemble, Dr. Sneyd's house not being large enough for so many. One proposed the verge of the forest; but Dr. Sneyd was not, at his age made to abide; changes of weather like the hardy settlers about him. Arthur's barn was too far off for the convenience of all parties. Nobody was disposed to ask from Mr. Temple any favour which, being graciously granted for one Sunday, might be withdrawn before the next. Could the market-house be made fit for the purpose? It was a rude building, without seats, and occupied with traffic till the Saturday evening; but the neighbours,—promised to vacate in time to have it cleared,—prepared with log seats, and some sort of pulpit,—and made a temple meet for the worship of the heart.
Dr. Sneyd's afternoon walk brought him to the spot in time to promise to do his part. His blessing was ready for the work newly completed, and for the parting; cup with which the men of peace dismissed the men of war, in a spirit of mutual good-will.[Back to Table of Contents]
The settlers at Briery Creek followed the old custom of the mother country, of holding their market on a Saturday. Saturday was an anxious day to some, a joyous day to others, and a busy day to all. Many a mother bent her steps to the market-house, doubting whether she should be able to meet with the delicate food she desired for her baby just weaned, or for her invalid husband, getting up from the fever, and following her cookery with eager eyes. Many a child held its mother's apron, and watched her bargaining in the hope that some new and tempting article of food would be carried home, after a long sameness; or that the unexpected cheapness of her purchases would enable her to present him with the long-promised straw hat. or, at least, a pocket-full of candy from the Brawnees' sugar pans. The whole village was early astir; and Dr. Sneyd, when he preferred a stroll along the bank of the creek to a turn in the market-house with his lady, could distinguish from a distance the solitariness of the farm-yards and dwellings, and the convergence of driver, drover, rider, and walking trader, towards the point of attraction.
Arthur was the centre of all observation. He offered more for sale than anybody else: he bought more; and he had the largest division of the market-house, excepting always the corner reserved for the passing trader, who could spread out riches far transcending what even Arthur could boast. To such, the young farmer left it to exhibit bear and beaver skins, leather, and store of salted venison, If he came from the North or West; and hardware, cotton, cloth and silk goods, books and stationery, if he was on his way from the East. Any of these, or all in their turn, Arthur bought: but his sales, various as they were considered, were confined to a few articles of food. He traded, not for wealth of money, but of comfort. His purchases were of two kinds, neither of which were destined for sale, as were those of the trader to whom he yielded precedence in the market-house. He bought implements to replace those which were worn out; and this kind of purchase was a similar sort of expenditure to that of the seed-corn which was put into the ground, and the repairs bestowed upon his fences and barn;—it was an expenditure of capital—capital consumed for purposes of reproduction with increase. With the surplus left after thus replacing his former capital, and perpetually adding to it, Arthur purchased articles of unproductive consumption; some for his house, which was becoming so much prettier than a bachelor could want, that the gossips of Briery Creek began to speculate on whom he had chosen to share the occupancy; some for his table, as the sugar of the Brawnees; some for his person, as the stout leggings which Dods occupied himself in making in rainy weather; and some for his friends, as when he could lay hold of a political journal for his lather, or of a fur tippet for his mother, or of a set of pencils for Temmy. to sketch with when he came to the farm. (Arthur seldom went to Mr. Temple's; but he found time to give Temmy many a drawing-lesson at the farm.) Now that Arthur had not only a growing capital, but a surplus after replacing it—a revenue, which furnished him with more comforts perpetually, he was unwilling that his sister should feel so hurt as he knew she did at her husband not having assisted him with capital, from the time that he took his farm in the shape of a patch of prairie. In the early days of his enterprise, he would have been truly thankful for such an addition to his small stock of dollars as would have enabled him to cultivate a larger extent of ground, and live less hardly while his little property was growing faster; but now that be had surmounted his first difficulties, and was actually justified in enlarging his unproductive expenditure, he wished Mrs. Temple to forget that her husband had declined assisting her brother, and be satisfied that the rich man had not been able to hinder the prosperity he would not promote.
The prosperity of the whole village would have increased more rapidly than it did, if all the inhabitants had as careful in their consumption as Arthur. Not only did Temple expend lavishly in caprices as well as luxuries, and the surgeon-tavern-keeper tempt many a labourer and small proprietor to spend that in whisky which ought to have been laid out (if not productively) in enjoyments that were innocent,— but there was a prevalence of wasteful habits, but which Arthur and his establishment might have served as a sufficient example. The merit of the order which was observable on his farm was partly due to himself, partly to Mrs. Sneyd, (who kept a maternal eye on all his interests,) and party to Isaac's wife, who superintended his dairy and dwelling-house.
On this market morning,—after a day of extraordinary fatigue,—the state of the place at six o'clock might have shamed many a farm-house in a region where there is a superabundance instead of a dearth of female service. Isaac's wife had no maid to help her but her own little maidens of four and three years old; yet, by six o'clock, of her employer was driving his market-cart to the place of traffic, the milk was duly set by in the pans, the poultry were fed, the tallow with which she was about to make candles was preparing while she made the beds, and the little girls, were washing up the breakfast things in the kitchen—the elder tenderly wiping the cups and basins which the younger had washed in the basins bowl which her mother had placed and wooden for her in the middle of the floor, as the place whence it was most certain that it could fall no lower. The pigs were in their proper place, within a fence, which had a roof in one corner for their shelter in bad weather. The horses and cattle were all properly marked, and duly made musical with bells, when turned out into the woods. There was a well of pure water, so guarded, that the children and other young animals could not run into it unawares; and all the wild beasts of the forest had tried the strength of the fences in vain. Arthur had not, therefore, had to pay for the luxurious feasts of his enemies of the earth or air, or for any of that consumption which may, in a special sense, be called unproductive, since it yields neither profit to the substance nor pleasure to the mind. If a similar economy had pervaded the settlement, its gross annual produce would have more rapidly increased, and a larger revenue would have been set at liberty to promote the civilization of the society in improving the comfort of individuals.
Brawn and his daughters could never be made to attend to this. The resources which they wasted would have tilled many an acre of good land, or have built a school-house, or have turned their habitation of logs into a respectable brick tenement, with grassy field and fruitful garden. They preferred what they called ease and liberty; and the waste they caused might be considered as revenue spent on a pleasure,—a very unintelligible pleasure,—of their own choice. As long as they supported themselves without defrauding their neighbours, (and fraud was the last thing they could have been made to understand,) no one had a right to interfere with their methods of enjoyment any more than with Temple's conservatory, or Dr. Sneyd's library, or Mrs. Dods's passion for mirrors and old china; but it was allowable to be sorry for so depraved a taste, and to have a very decided opinion of its injuriousness to society, and consequent immorality. This very morning there was dire confusion in their corner of the settlement. For some days the girls had been bee-hunting, being anxious to bring the first honey of the season into the market. In order to make up for the time spent on the new bridge, they were abroad at sunrise this day to track the wild bees in their earliest flight; but after such a fashion, that it would have answered better to them to be at home and asleep. Yet they succeeded in their object. The morning was just such as to tempt all things that fly from the hollow tree, from which the mists had drawn off, leaving a diamond token on every leaf. The sun began to shine warm through the summer haze, and the wild flowers of the prairie to look up and brighten at his presence. As the brown sisters threaded the narrow ways of the woods, bursting through the wild vines, and bringing a shower of dew on their heads from sycamore and beech, many a winged creature hummed, or buzzed, or flitted by the languid drone, or the fierce hornet, or white butterflies in pairs, chasing one another into the loftiest and greenest recess of the leafy canopy. Presently came the honey-bee, winging its way to the sunny space—the natural herb-garden, to which the girls were hastening; and when there, what a hovering, and buzzing, and sipping, and flitting was going on! The bee-women laughed in anticipation of their sport as they drew on their leathern mittens, and applied themselves to catch a loaded bee in each hand. They agreed on their respective stations of experiment, and separating, let fly their prisoners, one by one, tracking the homeward course of each, with a practised eye, through a maze of boughs, and flickering lights and shadows, and clustered stems, which would have perplexed the vision of a novice. The four bees being let fly from different stations, the point at which their lines of flight must intersect each other was that at which the honeycomb might be surely found; and a rich store it was,—liquid, clear, and fragrant,—such as would assuredly make the mouth water of every little person in the village who had advanced beyond a milk diet. Another and another hollow tree was found thus to give forth sweetness from its decay, till the bee-women shook back the lank hair from before their eyes gathered up such tatters of their woollen garments as they had not left on the bushes by the way, and addressed themselves to return. On their walk it was that they discovered that they had lost more this morning than many such a ramble as theirs could repay.
A vast cluttering and screaming of fowls was the first thing that drew off their attention from their fragrant load. Some of the poor poultry that their father had been plucking alive (as he was wont to do six time a year) had evidently made their escape from his hands half plucked, and were now making short flights, higher and farther from home, so that it was more probable that they would join their wild acquaintance, the turkeys or the prairie fowl, than return to roost among the logs. Next appeared,—now entangling its hind legs among the vines, now poking its snout into a ground-squirrel's nest, and now scuttling away from pursuit,—a fine young porker, which had been shut up from its rambles for some time past. The sisters gave chase to their own property; but all in vain: their pursuit only drove the animal farther into the wood, and they hastened home to give notice of the disaster. They could see nothing of Brawn about the house, but could not look farther for him till they had discovered the meaning of the light smoke which issued from the door and the crevices of the log-wall. Black Brawnee's best gown was burning before the fire,—the splendid cotton gown, with a scarlet ground and a pattern of golden flowers, which, to the astonishment of every body, flowers, she had taken a fancy to buy of a passing trader, and which she had washed and hung up to dry in preparation for the market: it was smouldering away, leaving only a fragment to tell the tale. Next came a moan from an enclosure behind the cottage, and there lay a favourite young colt with two legs so broken that it was plain the poor animal would never more stand. How it happened could not be learned from the dumb beast, nor from the two or three other beasts that were huddled together in this place, where they had no business to be. It seemed as if, in some grand panic, the animals had tumbled over one another, leaving the colt to be the chief sufferer. But where was Brawn himself? He was moaning, too, in a hollow place in the wood, where he had made a false leap, and fallen so as to sprain his ankle, while in pursuit of the runaway porker.
“What brought ye here?” asked the brown damsel, as she raised her father with one application of strength.
“What carried the porker into the forest?” he asked, in reply.
“Ask him. We did not give him room,” said one.
“No need,” retorted the other. “Who left the gate open?”
“That did we both, this morning, for the cause that there is no fastening.”
“No latch; but a fastening there is. I knotted the rope last night, and so might you this morning. The loss of the porker comes of losing the lamb.”
“My lamb!” was repeated, with every variety of lamentation, by both the damsels. It was too true. For want of a latch, the gate of the enclosure was tied with a rope. The damsels found the tying too troublesome, and merely pulled it after them. Little by little it had swung open. A sharp-set wild cat had stolen in to make choice of a meal, and run out again with the pet lamb. The master had followed the lamb, and the porker made the best of his opportunity, and followed the master. Then ensued the hue and cry which drove the beasts over the poor colt; and, meantime, the scarlet gown, one sleeve of which had been puffed into the fire by Brawn's hasty exit, was accelerating the smoking of the dried beef which hung from the rafters. A vast unproductive consumption for one morning!
The damsels made nothing of carrying their father home, and, after bathing his ankle, laying him down on his back to study the rafters till they should return from the market. It was a much harder task to go to market; the one without her scarlet and yellow gown, and the other with grief for her lamb lying heavy at her heart.
They found their pigs very trying to their tempers this morning. Instead of killing them, and carrying them to market in that quiet state, as usual, the damsels had resolved to make the attempt to drive them; as from the abundance of pork in all its forms in the market just now, a sale was very uncertain. To drive pigs along a high road is not a very easy task; what then must it be in a wild country, where it is difficult even to follow their vagaries, and nearly impossible to reclaim them? The Brawnees agreed that to prevent such vagaries offered the only hope of getting to market in time; and one therefore belled the old hog which was to be her special charge, while the other was to promote to the utmost the effect of the bell-music on the younger members of the drove. The task was not made easier by the poor beasts having been very ill-fed. There was little in the coarse, sour prairie grass to tempt them: but patches of juicy green were but too visible here and there where travellers had encamped, feeding their beasts with hay, and leaving the seeds of the perennial verdure which was to spring up after the next rains. Nothing could keep the old hog and the headlong train from these patches, whether they lay far or near; insomuch that the sisters were twenty times tempted to leave their swine to their own devices, and sell no pork that day. But the not selling involved the not buying; and this thought generated new efforts of patience and of skill. When they arrived at the scene of exchange, and cast a glance on Mrs. Dods's display of cotton garments set off with here and there a muslin cap, and paraphernalia of pink and green; or on a pile of butter which they were not neat-handed enough to rival; or into wicker baskets of crockery, or upon the trader's ample store of blankets, knives, horn spoons, and plumes of red and blue feathers, they felt that it would indeed have been cruel to be compelled to quit the market without any of the articles that were offered to their choice. Nobody, however, inquired for their pigs. One neighbour was even saucy enough to laugh at their appearance.
“You had better buy a load of my pumpkins,” “Said Kendall, the surgeon and tavern-keeper. Your swine will be more fit for market next week, if you feed them on my fine pumpkins in the meanwhile.”
“When we want pumpkins,” said one of them, “we will go to those that have ground to grow them on. You have not bought a field, and grown pumpkins since yesterday, I suppose?”
“By no means. I have a slip of a garden, let me tell you; and, though it is but a slip, it is of rare mellow mould, where the vines strike at every joint as they run. My wife has kept enough for pies for all the travellers that may pass before next spring. One load is bespoken at four dollars; and you will take the other, if you are wise. There are a few gourds with them. too.”
“Gourds! Who cares for gourds?”
“Who can do without gourds, say I? I am sure we, at the tavern, could not, so dear as crockery is at this place. Cut off the lop, and. you have a bottle; cut off top and tail, and you have a funnel; cut it in two, and you have cups; slice off one side and you have a ladle. Take my gourds, I advise you, and set yonder crockery-man at defiance, with his monstrous prices and brittle ware.”
“We have no drunken guests to break our cups and bottles; and as for prices, how do you know that they are a matter of concern to us? If we take your load, it shall be the pumpkins without the gourds.”
“You will take the pumpkins, then?”
“If you take the sum out in pork or honey. We want our dollars for the crockery-man.”
“Pork, no! I think we shall all grunt soon. We are pretty sure to have no Jews come our way. We all have bacon for the morning meal; and a pig for dinner, and salt pork for supper. When one whistles to the birds, there comes a squeal instead of a chirp; and as sure as one walks in the dark, one stumbles over a pig. Our children learn to grunt before they set about speaking. No pork for me! We have a glut of pigs.”
“Honey, then. Your wife wants honey for her pumpkin-pies; and I have heard that you set out mead sometimes at your tavern.”
“And till you cheapen your sugar, we want honey to sweeten our travellers' coffee, and treat the children with. How much honey will you give me for my load?”
The damsel was checked in her answer by her sister, who perceived that many eyes were turned towards their fragrant store, and that no other bee-hunters seemed to be in the market. A dollar a gallon was the price announced by the sisters, after a consultation. Mr. Kendall shook his head, and stood aside for awhile. The truth was, he was full as much in want of honey for his purposes as an apothecary, as his wife for her coffee and pies. He was resolved to get some, at whatever price, and waited to put in his word at the first favourable opportunity.
Arthur was no less determined upon a purchase of sweets. His mother began to be in distress about her preserves. Her fruit was all ripe, and craving to be preserved; but the destined sugar had gone to sweeten the waters in the Creek. She entreated her son to bring her some honey. None could be found in the woods near the farm. Every body was hay-making, or about to make hay, and could not go out bee-hunting. The Brawnees were the only resource.
“I want some of your honey,” said he, catching the eye of the damsel of the burned gown, over the group which intervened.
“You shall have it, and no one else,” was her reply.
She was again checked by her sister, who knew her disposition to serve Arthur, at the expense of her own interests, and those of every body else.
“What will you give?” asked the more prudent one.
“Pigs; we can agree on the price.”
The one sister shook her head; the other suddenly discovered that it would be a good plan to improve and enlarge their wealth of swine while swine were cheap. She offered her five gallons of honey for one fat pig; which offer caused her sister much consternation, and made Kendall hope that the honey would be his, after all.
“No, no,” said Arthur. “Your terms are not fair—”
“Then I will get another gallon or two before the sun goes down, to make up——”
“I mean altogether tile other way,” replied Arthur. “I do not want to force my pigs upon you; but if you take them, you shall have them cheap, since there is but a poor demand for them to-day. You shall have two of those pigs for your five gallons; and if your sister thinks that not enough, the difference shall be made up in fresh butter.”
While the bargain was being discussed, one sister controlling the generosity of the other, and her admiration of Arthur's generosity, while Arther was thinking of nothing but fair play, Kendall wandered away discontented, seeing that his chance was over.
“You do not happen to have any honey to sell, Mrs Dods?” said he, as he passed the stall of cottons and muslins.
“O, dear, no, Mr. Kendall. It is what I want above every thing. Really, it is impossible to persuade an eve to look at my caps to-day, though the pattern has never been introduced here before. There is no use in my attempting to deal with ladies who dress in such a strange style as Brawn's daughters. Nothing would look becoming on them; or I am sure I would make a sacrifice even on this tasty new thing, to get something to sweeten my husband's toddy with. Indeed I expect to be obliged to make a sacrifice, at all events, to-day; as I beg you will tell Mrs. Kendall. There being such a profusion of pigs, and so little honey to-day, seems to have put us all out as to our prices.”
“How happens it, Mrs. Dods?”
“In the first place, they say, there was never such a season known for young pigs. The price has fallen so that the plenty does more harm than good to the owner; as is the complaint of farmers, you know, when the crops are better than ordinary you they cannot enlarge their market at will. Then, again, cannot seems to have been miscalculation;—no one appears to have been aware that every body would bring pigs, and nobody any honey, expect those slovenly, young women.”
“Ah! both causes of glut in full operation!” exclaimed Kendall. “The caprice of seasons, and the miscalculation of man!”
“And of woman too, Mr. Kendall. If you will believe me, I have been at work early and late, after my fashions, this week; ay, I declined going to see the bridge finished and put off our wedding-day treat, for the sake of getting my stock into pretty order by to-day; and I have scarcely had a bid yet, or even a word from a neighbour, till you came. I did not calculate on the demand for honey, and the neglect of every thing else. Every body is complaining of the same thing.”
“It seems strange, Mrs. Dods, that while we all want to sell, and all to buy, we cannot make our wants agree. I bring my demand to Mr. Arthur,—my load of pumpkins and request of honey or sugar. He wants no pumpkins and has no honey. I bring the same to you. You want no pumpkins, and offer the caps. Now I might perhaps get dollars for my pumpkins; but I want only one cap—”
“You do want one, then! Here is a pretty thing, that would just suit your wife——”
“Let me go on. I bring my demand to those dark girls: and the best of it is, they do want pumpkins, and could let me have honey; but the young farmer comes between, with his superfluity of pigs, to offer a better bargain; so that I suffer equally from the glut of pork and the dearth of honey.”
“We are all suffering, so that any stranger would say that there is a glut of every thing but honey. Neither millinery, nor blankets, nor knives, nor flower-seeds are selling yet. But I believe there is no glut of any thing but pigs. If we could put them out of the market, and put honey out of people's heads, I have little doubt we should exchange, to our mutual satisfaction, as many articles as would set against each other, till few would be left.”
“I hope to see this happen before night, and then I may be rid of my pumpkins, and carry home a cap at a price we should neither of us grumble at, and keep the rest of my dollars for honey hereafter.”
“Next week. No doubt, there will be a fine supply of it next week. Perhaps a glut: for a glut often follows close upon a scarcity.”
“Which should make us careful to husband our stocks till we are sure we can renew them; like the wise Joseph in Egypt.—That puts a thing into my head. I have a good mind to take the girls' offer of pigs for my pumpkins. Who knows but there may be a scarcity of pork after all this plenty—which is apt to make people wasteful? If they will, they shall have half a load for two of their lean animals; and I will keep the other half load to feed them upon.”
“Ah! that is always the way people's wishes grow with opportunity. This morning, you thought of no such thins; as keeping pigs; and now, before night, you will have two.”
“To be sure, Mrs. Dods. Very natural! The demand always grows as wealth grows, you know. When the farmer makes his land yield double by good tillage, he demands double the commodities he demanded before; and if nature gives us a multitude of pigs, a new demand will open in the same way.”
“And there is a double supply at the same time,—of corn by the farmer, and of pigs by the porkseller. Well! in either case, there is a better chance opened for mv caps. The more wealth there is, the better hope of a sale of millinery. You must not forget that, Mr. Kendall. You promised to take one of my caps, you know.”
“Why, so I did; but how to pay for it, I am sure I don't know. I am not going to sell my load for money, you see.”
“Well, I will tell you how. Get three lean pigs, and part with a few more pumpkins. I will take a pig for this pretty cap. I am somewhat of your opinion that pigs will soon be worth more than they are now.”
“And so you help to quicken the demand.”
“Yes. My boys will manage to keep the animal,—behind the house, or in the brickfield. And it would be a thousand pities your wife should not have this cap. I had her before my mind's eye while making it, I do assure you:— and it will soon lose its bloom if it goes into my window, or upon my shelves again.”
The negotiation was happily concluded; and, by the end of the day, when pigs and honey were put out of the question, a brisk traffic took place in the remaining articles, respecting which the wishes of the buyers and sellers agreed better than they had done about the disproportioned commodities. All had come with a demand; and each one's instrument of demand was his neighbour's means of supply: so that the market would have been entirely cleared, if they had but known one another's wishes well enough to calculate what kinds of produce they should bring. If this had been done, there would have been more honey; and if, from a caprice of nature, there had been still more pigs than usual, the only consequence would have been that the demander of pork would have received more of it to his bargain, or that the supplier of pigs would have kept back some of his pork, to be an additional future instrument of demand. In this case, no one would have lost, and some one would have gained.
As it was, Arthur was a loser. He paid much more for honey than would probably be necessary the next week. But he thought himself in another sense a gainer,—in proportion to the pleasure of obliging his mother. The Brawnees carried home two thirds of a load of pumpkins, two fat pigs, and a cherished store of fresh butter, in the place of their five gallons of honey and three lean swine. They were decidedly gainers; though not, perhaps, to the extent they might have been if they had been unscrupulous about pressing their customer hard. Any one but Arthur would have been made to yield more wealth than this; but they were well content with having pleased him, and repaired in part the losses of the morning.
Other parties left little to be removed in preparation for the Sunday. Having carried home their purchases first, they returned for the small remainder of their stock; and the evening closed with a sort of minor frolic, the children running after the stray feathers their mothers were sweeping away, and the men ranging logs for seats, and providing a platform and desk for the use ot Dr Sneyd. One or two serious people were alarmed at the act of thus turning a house of merchandise into a temple of worship; but the greater number thought that the main consideration was to gather together as many worshippers as could be collected in the heart of their wilderness. Such an accession as was now promised to their congregation seemed to mark an era in the history of their community.[Back to Table of Contents]
Temmy was fond of feeling his grandfather's hand upon his shoulder any day of the week; but on the Sunday evening, in particular, it was delightful to the boy to share the leisure of the family. Many a tale of old times had Mrs. Sneyd then to tell; many a curious secret of things in earth, air, and heaven had the doctor to disclose; and uncle Arthur was always ready to hear of the doings of the last week, and to promise favours for the time to come. It was seldom that Temmy could enjoy a whole evening of such pleasures;— only when Mr. Temple chose to make an excursion, and carry his lady with him, or to go to bed at eight o'clock because his ennui had by that time become intolerable. Usually, Temmy could be spared only for an hour or two, and was sure to be fetched away in the midst of the most interesting of all his grand-mamma's stories, or the most anxious of the doctor's experiments.
This evening,—the evening of the day of opening the market-house for worship,—the poor boy had given up all hope of getting beyond the boundaries of the Lodge. Mr. Temple was, as he said, very ill; as every body else would have said,—in a very intolerable humour. He could not bear sunshine or sound. His wife must sit behind closed shutters, and was grievously punished for her inability to keep the birds from singing. Temmy must not move from the foot of the sofa, except to ring the bell every two minutes, and carry scolding messages every quarter of an hour; in return for which he was reproved till he cried for moving about, and opening and shutting the door. At length, to the great joy of every body, the gentleman went to bed. having drunk as much wine as his, head would bear, and finding no relief to his many ailments from that sort of medicine. This final measure was accomplished just in time for the drawing-room windows to be thrown open to the level rays of the sun, and the last breath of the closing flowers. The wine was carried away, and Ephraim called for to attend his young master to Dr. Sneyd's. Temmy was to explain why Mrs. Temple could not leave home this evening, and he might stay till Dr. Sneyd himself should think it time for him to return. Without the usual formalities of pony, groom, and what not, Temmy was soon on the way, and in another half-hour had nearly forgotten papa's terrible headache under the blessed influence of grand-papa's ease of heart.
Uncle Arthur was sitting astride on the low window-sill of the study, with Temmy hanging on his shoulder, when a golden planet showed itself above the black line of the forest. The moon had not risen, so that there was no rival in the heaven; and when the evening had darkened a little more, Temmy fancied that this bright orb cast a faint light upon his grandfather's silver hairs, and over uncle Arthur's handsome, weather-browned face. Temmy had often heard that his father had much beauty; and certainly his picture seemed to have been taken a great many times; yet the boy always forgot to look for this beauty except when some of these pictures were brought cut, while he admired uncle Arthur's dark eyes, and beautiful smile and high forehead, more and more every time he saw him. It was very lucky that uncle Arthur looked so well without combing his eyebrows, and oiling his hair, and using three sorts of soap for his hands, and three different steel instruments, of mysterious construction, for his nails; for the young farmer had no time for such amusements. It was also well that he was not troubled with fears for his complexion from the summer's sun, or from the evening air in the keenest night of winter. This was lucky, even as far as his good looks were concerned, for, if he looked well by candle-light, he looked better in the joyous, busy noon; and more dignified still when taking his rest in the moonlight; and, as Temmy now thought, noblest of all while under the stars. If papa could see him now, perhaps he would not laugh so very much as usual about uncle Arthur's being tanned, and letting his hair go as it would.
“Shall we mount to the telescopes, father?” asked Arthur. “The boy will have time to enjoy them to-night. I will lake care of him home, if Ephraim dares not stay.”
Dr. Sneyd rose briskly observing that it would indeed be a pity to lose such an evening. Temmy grasped his grandmamma's hand, hoping that she was going too. He scarcely knew why, but he felt the observatory to be a very awful place, particularly at night, when only a faint bluish light came in through the crevices of the shifting boards; or a stray beam, mysteriously bright, fell from the end of the slanting telescope, and visibly moved on the floor. Grandpapa was rather apt to forget Temmy when he once got into the observatory, and to leave him shivering in a dark corner, wondering why every body spoke low in this place, and afraid to ask whether the stars really made any music which mortal ears might listen for. When grandpapa did remember the boy, he was not aware that he was uneasy and out of breath, but would call him here and send him there, just as he did in the study in broad daylight. It had been very different with grandmamma, the only time she had mounted hither with him. She had held his hand all the while, and found out that, tall as he was grown, he could see better by sitting on her knee; and she had clasped him round the waist, as if she had found out that he trembled. Perhaps she had heard his teeth chatter, though grandpapa did not. Temmy hoped they would not chatter to-night, as he did not wish that uncle Arthur should hear them; but Mrs. Sneyd was not to be at hand. She declared that she should be less tired with walking to the lodge than with mounting to the observatory. She would go and spend an hour with her daughter, and have some talk with Ephraim by the way.
There needed no excuse for Temmy's being out of breath, after mounting all the stairs in the house, and the ladder of the observatory to boot; and the planet which he was to see being still low in the sky was reason enough for uncle Arthur to hold him up to the end of the telescope. He did not recover his breath, however, as the moments passed on. This was a larger instrument than he had ever looked through before, and his present impressions were quite different from any former experience. The palpable roundness of the orb, the unfathomable black depth in which it moved solitary, the silence,—all were as if new to him.
“You see it ?” asked Arthur.
Another long silence, during which the boy breathed yet more heavily.
“You see it still?”
“No, uncle Arthur.”
“My dear boy, why did you not tell me? We must overtake it. There! there it is once more! You must not let it travel out of sight again.”
“How can I stop it?” thought Temmy, and he would fam have pressed his hands before his eyes, as the silent vision traversed the space more brightly and more rapidly, it seemed to him, every moment. Arthur showed him, however,—not how to stop the planet, but how to move the instrument so as not to lose sight of it: he then put a stool under him, and told him he could now manage for himself. Dr. Sneyd had something to show his son on the other side of the heavens.
If Temmy had had the spheres themselves to manage, he could scarcely have been in a greater trepidation. He assured himself repeatedly that friends were at hand, but his head throbbed so that he could scarcely hear their whispers, and the orb now seemed to be dancing as he had seen the reflection of the sun dance in a shaken basin of water. He would look at something else. He jerked the telescope, and flash went one light after another before his eyes, as if the stars themselves were going out with a blaze. This would never do. He must look at something earthly. After another jerk to each side, which did not serve his purpose, he pushed it up, and saw—something which might belong to any of the worlds in being,—for Temmy knew no more about it than that it was most horrible. An enormous black object swept across the area of vision, again and again, as quick as lightning. It would not leave off. Temmy uttered a shriek of terror, and half slipped, half tumbled from his stool.
“What has the boy found? What can be the matter?” asked grandpapa. Arthur presently laughed, and told Temmy he was very clever to have found what he should have thought it very difficult to discover from this place—Arthur's own mill;—the new windmill on the mound, whose sails were now turning rapidly in the evening breeze. It was some comfort to learn that his panic was not much to be wondered at. Uncle Arthur knew what it was to take in too near a range with a large telescope. He had done so once, and had been startled with an apparition of two red cheeks and two staring blue eyes, apparently within half an inch of the end of his own nose.
“Here, Temmy,” said Dr. Sneyd, “try whether you can read in this book.”
“Shall I go and get a candle, grandpapa?”
“No, no. I want to see whether a little star yonder will be our candle. Lay the book in this gleam of light, and try whether you can read.”
Many strange things were still whisking before Temmy's eyes, but he could make out the small print of the book. He was then shown the star that gave the light,—one of the smallest in a bright constellation. He heartily wished that nobody would ask him to look at any more stars to-night, and soon managed to slip away to the little table, and show that he was amused with turning a greater and a lesser light upon the book, and showing with how little he could read the title-page, and with how much the small type of the notes. The next pleasant thing that happened was the lamp being lighted.
“Father,” said Arthur, “you seldom have me for an assistant now. I am neither tired nor busy to-night, and the sky is clear. Suppose we make a long watch.”
Dr. Sneyd was only too happy. He produced a light in one of his magical ways, and hung the shade on the lamp, while Arthur arranged his pens and paper, and laid his watch on the table. Dr. Sneyd took his place at the best telescope now in readiness, after various screwing and unscrewings, and shiftings of the moveable boards. Arthur meanwhile was cutting a pencil, with which he invited Temmy to draw beside him. Uncle Arthur thought Temmy would draw very well if he chose. In a little while nothing was to be heard but the brief directions of Dr. Sneyd to his secretary, and the ticking of the watch on the table.
Temmy was fast asleep, with his head resting on his drawing, when he was called from below, to go home.
“Just see him down the ladder,” said Dr. Sneyd.
“No, thank you, grandpapa; I can always get down.” In truth, Temmy always went down much more quickly than he came up.
The next time a cloud came in the way, Dr. Sneyd observed,
“Temple is ruining that boy. He will leave him no nerve,—no sense. What will his many thousand acres be worth to him without?”
“Do you think he will ever have those many thousand acres, sir?”
“I almost wish he may not. Perhaps his best chance would be in his being left to manage for himself in some such way as you have done, Arthur. Such a call on his energies would be the best thing for him, if it did not come too late.
Arthur had a strong persuasion that it might come at any time. He was by no means satisfied, that the many thousand acres were still Temple's. He was very sure that much of the gentleman's wealth must have evaporated during bis incessant transmutations of meadows into pleasure-grounds, and flower-gardens into shrubberies, and hot-houses into baths, and stables into picturesque cottages, and cottages into stables again. He was seldom seen three times on the same horse; and it was certain that the money he had locked up in land would never be productive while he remained its owner. Who would come and settle under such a proprietor, when land as good, and liberty to boot, was to be had elsewhere? Temple himself was contracting his cultivation every year. The more he laid out unproductively, the less remained to be employed productively. If Arthur had had one-tenth part of what Temple had wasted since he settled at Briery Creek, his days of anxiety and excessive toil might have been over long ago.
“It is all for the best, Arthur. You would not have been happy in the possession of Temple's money, subject to his caprices, poor man! Nobody is more easy than I am under pecuniary obligation; but all depends on the quarter whence it comes, and the purposes for which the assistance is designed. I accepted this observatory from you, you remember, when I knew that it cost you something to give up your time and labour to it; and I dare say I should have accepted the same thing from Temple, if he had happened to offer it, because, in such a case, the good of science could be the only object. But, if I were you, I would rather work my own way up in the world than connect myself with such a man as Temple. The first time he wanted something to fidget himself about, he would be for calling out of your hands all he had lent you.”
“One would almost bear such a risk,” said Arthur, “for the sake of the settlement. My poor sister makes the best of matters by talking everywhere of the quantity of labour her husband employs. But I think she must see that that employment must soon come to an end if no returns issue from it. I am sure I should be glad to employ much more labour, and in a way which would yield a maintenance for a still greater quantity next year, if I had the laying out of the money Temple wastes on his caprices. I am not complaining, father, on my own account. My hardest time is over, and I shall soon be doing as well as I could wish. I am now thinking of the interests of the place at large. It seems too hard that the richest man among us should at the same time keep away new settlers by holding more land than he can cultivate, waste his capital, instead of putting it out to those who would employ it for his and the common good, and praise himself mightily for his liberal expenditure, holding the entire community obliged to him for it, every time he buys a new luxury which will yield no good beyond his own selfish pleasure.”
“I am afraid you think the community has little to thank me for, Arthur? Perhaps, in our present state of affairs, the money I have ought to go towards tilling the ground, instead of exploring the heavens.”
“My dear sir, no. I differ from you entirely. You do not live beyond your income, nor—”
“Give your mother the credit of that, Arthur. But for her, my little property would have flown up to the moon long ago.”
“But, father, I was going to say that what I and others here produce is but the means of living, after all. It would be deplorable to sacrifice the end to them.”
“What end ? Do you mean the pleasure of star-gazing? I should be delighted to hear that.”
“Pleasure,—whether of star-gazing, or of any thing else that is innocent and virtuous,—that is really happiness. If Temple is really happy over his foreign wines, I am sure I have no more objection to his drinking them than to my men enjoying their cider. Let it be his end, if he is capable of no higher, as long as his pleasures do not consume more than his income. Much more may I be willing that you should enjoy your star-gazing, when out of the gratification to yourself arises the knowledge which ennobles human life, and the truth for which, if wc do not live now, we shall assuredly live hereafter.”
“I have always trusted, Arthur, that the means which have been bestowed upon me would not prove to be lost. Otherwise, I would have taken my axe on my shoulder, and marched off to the forest with you.”
“Father, it is for such as you that forests and prairies should be made to yield double, if the skill of man could ensure such fruitfulness. It is for such as you that the husbandman should lead forth his sons before the dawn, and instruct them to be happy in toiling for him whose light in yon high place is yet twinkling,—who has been working out God's truth for men's use while they slept.”
“Our husbandmen are not of the kind you speak of, Arthur. I see them look up as they pass, as if they thought this high chamber a folly of the same sort as Temple's Chinese alcove.”
“I think you mistake them, sir. I can answer for those with whom I have to do. They see all the difference between Temple's restless discontent and your cheerfulness. They see that he has no thought beyond himself, while you have objects of high and serious interest ever before your mind's eye; objects which, not comprehending, they can respect, because the issue is a manifestation of wisdom and benignity.”
“Enough! enough!” cried the doctor. “I have no complaint to make of my neighbours, I am sure. I should be a very ungrateful man, if I fancied I had. I am fully aware of the general disposition of men to venerate science, and to afford large aid to those who pursue it, on a principle of faith in its results. My belief in this is not at all shaken by what befel me in England; but, as I have appeared here accidentally,—a philosopher suddenly lighting in an infant community instead of having grown up out of it, it was fair to doubt the light in which I am regarded. If the people hated me as a magician, or despised me as an idle man, I think it would be no wonder.”
“I am glad you hold your faith, father, in the natural veneration of society for the great ends of human life. I believe it must be a strong influence, indeed, which can poison men's minds against their legislators, and philosophers, and other wise men who neither dig nor manufacture. I believe it must be such a silver tongue as never yet spoke that could persuade any nation that its philosophers are not its best benefactors.”
“True. It was not the English nation that drove me hither; and those who did it never complained of my pursuits,—only of what they supposed my principles. I wish I could bear all the sorrow of the mistake.”
“Be satisfied to let them bear some of it, father. It will help to guard them against a repetition of it. I am sure your own share is enough.”
“In one sense it is, Arthur. Do you know, I find myself somewhat changed. I perceive it when I settle myself down to my pursuits; and to a greater extent than I anticipated. It may be owing in part to the want of the facilities I had enjoyed for so many years, and never thought to part with more. I sometimes wonder whether I should be the same man again at home, among——But let all that pass. What I was thinking of, and what your mother and I oftenest think of, is the hardship of your having to bear a part,— so large a part in our misfortune. I should wonder to see you toiling as you do, from month to month,—(for I know that wealth is no great object with you,)—if I did not suspect——But I beg your pardon. I have no right to force your confidence.”
“Go on, father.”
“Well, to say the truth, I suspect that you left something more behind you than you gave us reason to suppose. If you had not come of your own free choice, this idea would have made both your mother and me very unhappy.”
“I have hopes that she will come, father. I have been waiting to tell you, only for a prospect of the time when I might go for her. Nothing is settled, or I would have told you long ago; but I have hopes.”
Dr. Sneyd was so long silent, thinking how easily the use of some of Temple's wasted money would have completed Arthur's happiness ere this, —benefiting Temple and the whole community at the same time,—that his son feared he was disappointed. He had no apprehension of his being displeased at any part of his conduct.
“I hoped tile prospect would have given you pleasure, father,” he said, in a tone of deep mortification.
“My dear son, so it does—the greatest satisfaction, I assure you; though, indeed, I do not know how you were to become aware of it with-out my telling you. I know my wife's opinion of her to be the same as my own. I only hope she will be to you all that may repay you for what you have been to us: indeed, I have no doubt of it.”
Arthur was perfectly happy; happy enough to observe that the clouds were parting, and that,—as science had been so lately pronounced the great end for which his father was living,—it was a pity his observations should not be renewed.
“If science be the great object we think it,” observed the doctor the next time he was obliged to suspend his labours, “it seems strange that it should be pursued by so few. At present, for one who devotes himself to the end, thousands look not beyond the mere means of living. I am not afraid to call it the end to you, though I would not have done so in my pulpit this morning without explanation. We understand one another.”
“Perfectly; that since the full recognition of truth is virtue, science is the true end. I hope, I believe, I discern the method by which more and more labour will be withdrawn from the means to be transferred to the end. For a long time past,—ever since I have been in the habit of comparing you and your pursuits with the people about you and their pursuits—ever since I came here,—I have been arriving at my present conviction, that every circumstance of our social condition,—the most trifling worldly interest of the meanest of us,—bears its relation to this great issue, and aids the force of tendency towards it.”
“You have come hither for something worth gaining, then: it is worth while to cross land and sea for such a conviction. Can I aid you with confirmation from the stars?”
“No doubt; for all knowledge, come whence it may,—from incalculable heights or unfathomable depths,—all new knowledge of the forces of nature affords the means of setting free a quantity of human labour to be turned to new purposes. In the infancy of the race, the mind had no instruments but the unassisted hands. By degrees, the aid of other natural forces was called in; by degrees, those forces have been overruled to more and more extended purposes, and further powers brought into subjection, setting free, at every new stage of acquisition, an immense proportion of human labour, and affording a glimpse, —almost too bright to be met by our yet feeble vision,—of times when material production—the means of living, shall be turned over to the machinery of nature, only superintended by man, whose life may then be devoted to science, ‘worthy of the name.’ which may, in its turn, have then become the means to some yet higher end than is at present within our ken.”
“In those days, then, instead of half-a-dozen labourers being virtuously employed in production for themselves and one unproductive philosopher, the six labourers will themselves have become philosophers, supported and cherished by the forces of nature, controlled by the intellect of perhaps one productive labourer.”
“Just so; the original philosopher being the cause of this easy production by his ascertainment of the natural forces in question. This result is merely the protraction of the process which has been going on from the earliest infancy of the race. If Noah, in his first moonlight walk upon Ararat, could have seen mirrored in the watery waste the long procession of gigantic powers which time should lead forth to pass under the yoke of man, would he not have decided (in his blindness to the new future of man) that nothing would be left for man to do?”
“Probably. And in order to exhibit to him the whole case, he must be carried forward to man's new point of view.”
“And so it will be with some second Noah, whose happier lot it shall be to see knowledge cover the earth, bearing on its bosom all that is worthy of the new heavens and new earth; while all that is unworthy of them is sunk and lost. By the agency of his gigantic servants he may be raised to that pinnacle of the universe whence he may choose to look forth again, and see what new services are appointed to man, and who are the guides and guardians allotted to his higher state.”
“And what will he behold?——But it is foolish to inquire. One must be there to know.”
“To know fully. But though we can but barely speculate upon what he will see, we may decidedly pronounce upon what he will not see. We cannot tell how many galaxies will be perceived to complete the circle of Nature's crown, nor what echoes of her diapason shall be wafted to the intent spirit. We cannot tell how near he may be permitted to approach to behold the evolution of a truth from apparent nothingness, as we are apt to fancy a seraph watches the creation of one of yonder worlds—first distinguishing the dim apparition of an orb emerging from the vacuum, then seeing it moulded into order, and animated with warmth, and invested with light, till myriads of adorers are attracted to behold it sent forth by the hand of silence on its everlasting way. We cannot tell to what depth man may then safely plunge, to repose in the sea-caves, and listen to the new tale that its thunders interpret, and collect around him the tributaries of knowledge that come thronging down the green vistas of ocean light. We cannot tell what way will be opened before him to the dim chambers of the earth, where Patience presides, while her slow and blind agents work in dumb concert from age to age, till, the hour being come, the spirit of the volcano, or the angel of the deluge, arrives to burst their prison-house. Of all these things we can yet have but a faint conception; but of some things which will not be we can speak with certainty.”
“That when these inanimate powers are found to be our best servants, the immortal mind of man will be released from the drudgery which may be better performed by them. Then, never more will the precious term of human life be spent in a single manual operation; never more will the elastic limbs of children grow rigid under one uniform and excessive exercise; never more will the spirit sit, self-gnawing, in the fetters to which it has been condemned by the tyranny of ignorance, which must have its gratifications. Then bellows may breathe in the tainted streams of our factories; and human lungs be spared, and men's dwellings be filled with luxuries, and no husband-man be reduced from his sovereignty of reason to a similitude with the cattle of his pastures. But much labour has already been set free by the employment of the agency of nature; and how little has been given to science!”
“It seems as if there must ever be an intermediate state between the discovery of an instrument and its application to its final use. I am far from complaining, as you know, of the nature of human demands being what it has been, as, from time to time, liberated industry has afforded a new supply. I am far from complaining that new graces have grown up within the domains of the rich, and that new notions of convenience require a larger satisfaction day by day. Even when I perceive that a hundred heads and hands are necessary to the furnishing forth of a gentleman's equipage, and that the wardrobe of a lady must consist of, at least, a hundred and sixty articles, I am far from wishing that the world should be set back to a period when men produced nothing but what was undeniably essential.”
“You would rather lead it on to the time when consumption will not be stimulated as it is at present?”
“When it shall be of a somewhat different kind. A perpetual stimulus seems to me to be provided for by labour being more and more set at liberty, since all the fruits of labour constitute at once the demand and the supply. But the desires and tastes which have grown up under a superabundance of labour and a dearth of science are not those which may be looked for when new science (which is as much the effect as the cause of new methods of production) shall have opened fresh worlds to human tastes. The spread of luxury, whether it be pronounced a good or an evil, is, I conceive, of limited duration. It has served, and it still serves, to employ a part of the race and amuse another part, while the transition is being made from one kind of simplicity to another,—from animal simplicity to intellectual simplicity.”
“The mechanism of society thus resembles the mechanism of man's art. What was done as a simple operation by the human arm, is effected as a complicated operation by instruments of wood and steel. But the time surely comes when this complexity is reduced, and the brute instrument is brought into a closer and a still closer analogy with the original human mechanism. The more advanced the art, the simpler the mechanism.”
“Just so. If, in respect of our household furniture, equal purposes of convenience are found to be answered by a smaller variety of articles, the industry which is thus released will be free to turn to the fine arts,—to the multiplication of objects which embody truth and set forth beauty, —objects which cannot be too extensively multiplied. If our ladies, at the same time, discover that equal grace and more convenience are attained by a simpler costume, a more than classical simplicity will prevail, and the toil of operatives will be transferred to some higher species of production.”
“We should lose no time, then, in making a list of the present essentials of a lady's wardrobe, to be preserved among the records of the race. Isaiah has presented one, which exhibits the maidens of Judea in their days of wealth. But I believe they are transcended by the damsels of Britain.”
“I am sure the British ladies transcend the Jewish in their method of justifying their luxury. The Jewesses were satisfied that they enjoyed luxury, and looked no farther. The modern ladies extol it as a social virtue,—except the few who denounce the very enjoyment of it as a crime. How long will the two parties go on disputing whether luxury be a virtue or a crime?”
“Till they cease to float themselves on the surface of morals on the support of old maxims of morality; till they look with their own eyes into the evidence of circumstance, and learn to make an induction for themselves. They will see that each side of the question has its right and its wrong; that there is no harm, but much good in enjoyment, regarded by itself; and that there is no good, but much harm in causing toil which tends to the extinction of enjoyment.”
“In other words, that Dr. B.'s pleasure in his picture gallery is a virtuous pleasure while he spends upon it only what he can well spare; and that Temple's hot-houses are a vicious luxury, if, as we suspect, he is expending upon them the capital on which he has taught his labourers to depend as a subsistence fund.”
“Exactly; and that the milk-maid may virtuously be married in the silk gown which her bridegroom thinks becoming, provided it is purchased with her surplus earnings; while an empress has no business with a yard of ribbon if she buys it after having parted with the last shilling of her revenue at the gaming-table. Silk is beautiful. If this were all, let every body wear silk; but if the consequence of procuring silk be more pain to somebody than the wearing of silk gives pleasure, it becomes a sin to wear silk. A thriving London tradesman may thus innocently dress his wife and nine daughters in Genoa velvet, while the spendthrift nobleman may do a guilty deed in arraying himself in a new fashion of silk hose.”
“Our countrywomen may be expected to defend all luxurious expenditure as a virtue, while their countrymen,—the greyheaded as well as youths,—are overheard extolling a war expenditure as a public good. Both proceed on the notion that benefit resides in mere consumption, instead of in the reproduction or in the enjoyment which results; that toil is the good itself, instead of the condition of the good, without which toil is an evil.”
“If war can be defended as a mode of expenditure by any but gunsmiths and army clothiers, there is no saying what curse we may not next find out to be a blessing. Of all kinds of unproductive consumption, that occasioned by war is the very worst. Life, and the means of life, are there extinguished together, and one might as well try to cause the resurrection of a slain army on the field of battle, as hope for any return to the toil of the labourers who equipped them for the strife. The sweat of the artisan falls as fruitless as the tears of the widow and orphan. For every man that dies of his wounds abroad, there is another that pines in hunger at home. The hero of to-day may fancy his laurels easily won; but he ought to know that his descendants of the hundredth generation will not have been able to pay the last farthing of their purchase-money.”
“And this is paid, not so much out of the luxuries of the rich as the necessaries of the poor. It is not so much one kind of unproductive consumption being exchanged for another as a productive consumption being stinted for the sake of an unproductive. The rich may contribute some of their revenue to the support of a war, but the middling classes give,—some a portion of their capital, and others the revenue of which they would otherwise make capital,—so that even if the debts of a war were not carried forward to a future age, the evil consequences of an abstraction of capital are.”
“It appears, however, as if unproductive consumption was much lessened at home during a war. One may see the difference in the very aspect of the streets in London, and yet more in the columns of newspapers. Puffing declines as soon as a war breaks out,—not that puffing is a sign of any thing but a glut of the article puffed, —but this decline of puffing signifies rather a cessation of the production of the community than such a large demand as needs no stimulating.”
“Yes; one may now see in London fire-arms or scarlet cloth exhibited at the windows of an establishment where, during the peace, might be found ‘the acmè of paper-hanging;’ and where might formerly be had floor-cloth of a marvellous number of yards without seam, whose praises were blazoned in large letters from the roof to the ground, ball cartridges are piled, and gun powder stands guarded, day and night. Since gluts work their own cure, and puffing comes of gluts, puffing is only a temporary absurdity. Long may it be before we are afflicted with it here!”
“Afflicted?—Well! looked at by itself, perhaps it is an affliction, as all violations of truth, all exhibitions of folly, are; but one may draw pleasure too from every thing which is a sign of the times.”
“O, yes; there is not only the strong present pleasure of philosophising on states of society, but every indication of what it serves to the thinker, at the same time, as a prophecy of better things that shall be. But, do you not find it pleasanter to go to worship, as we went this morning, through green pastures and by still waters, where human industry made its appeals to us in eloquent silence, and men's dwellings bore entire the aspect of sabbath repose, than to pass through paved streets, with a horizon of brick-walls, and tokens on every side, not only of week day labour, but of struggle for subsistence, and subservience for bread? The London shop-keepers do not remove their signs on a Sunday. If one catches a glimpse here and there of a spectacled old gentleman reading his Bible in the first-floor parlour, or meets a train of spruce children issuing from their father's door at the sound of the church-bell, one sees, at the same time, that their business is to push the sale of floor-cloth without seam, and to boast of the acmè of paper-hanging.”
“There may be more immediate pleasure in the one Sabbath walk than in the other, Arthur, but they yield, perhaps, equally the aliment of piety. Whatever indicates the condition of man, points out, not only the species of duty owing to man, but the species of homage due to God.— the character of the petitions appropriate to the season. All the methods of going to worship may serve the purpose of preparation for the sanctuary. The nobleman may lean back in his carriage to meditate; the priest may stalk along in reverie, unconscious of all around him; the citizen-father may look with pride on the train of little ones with whom he may spend the leisure of this day; and the observing philanthropist may go forth early and see a thousand incidents by the way, and all may alike enter the church-door with raised and softened hearts.”
“And all listen with equal faith to the promise of peace on earth and good-will to men?”
“Yes, and the observer not the least, if he observe for holy purposes.”
“O, father, think of the gin-shop and the news-office that he must pass by the way! They are infinitely worse than the visible puffery. Think of the thronged green-grocer's shop, where yon may see a widow in her soiled weeds, flushed with drink, careless of the little ones that cling to her gown, hungering as they are for the few potatoes which are all she can purchase after having had her morning dram!—Think of the father cheapening the refuse of the Saturday's market, and passing on, at last, wondering when his pale family will again taste meat! Think of the insolent footmen, impeding the way to the church-door, while they amuse themselves with the latest record of licentiousness in the paper of the day!”
“I have often seen all this, Arthur, and have found in it——”
“Nothing that necessarily hardens the heart, I know; on the contrary, the compassion excited is so painful that devotion is at times the only refuge. But as for the congeniality——”
“What is the value of faith, if it cannot assimilate all things to itself? And as for Christian faith, where and amidst what circumstances did it arise? Was it necessary, in going up to the temple, to overlook the blind beside the way, and to stop the ears when the contention of brethren was heard, and to avoid the proud Pharisee and the degraded publican? Was the repose of the spirit broken when an adultress entered the sacred precincts? Were the avenues to the temple blocked up that the holy might worship in peace? And when they issued forth, were they sent home to their closets, forbidden to look to the right hand or to the left for fear of defilement?”
“If so, it was by order of the Pharisees. You are right, father. The holiest did not even find it necessary to resort to mountain solitudes, or to the abodes of those who were pure as themselves, for the support of their faith or the repose of their devotion. Aliment for piety was found at the table of the publican, and among the sufferers beside Bethesda. To the pure every emotion became a refining process, and whatever was not found congenial was made so. It may certainly be the same with the wise and the benignant of every age.”
“It is indeed a halting faith which dreads as common that which God has cleansed and sanctified; and where is God's own mark to be recognized but in the presence of joy and sorrow, of which he is the sole originator and distributor? Whatever bears a relation to joy and sorrow is a call to devotion; and no path to the sanctuary is more sacred than another, while there are traces of human beings by the way.”
“You prefer then the pastures which tell of our prosperity to the wilds of the prairie; and I observed that you dwelt upon the portraits of familiar faces before you left your study this morning.”
“I did; and many a time have I dwelt quite as earnestly on strange faces in which shone no friendship for me, and no consciousness of the objects of the day. I read in their human countenance,—human, whether it be vile or noble,— the promise, that as all things are for some use, and as all men contribute while all have need, the due distribution will in time be made, causes of contention be done away, and the sources of social misery be dried up, so that——”
“So that we may, through all present dismay and vicissitude, look forward to ultimate peace on earth and good-will towards men. Yes, all things are of use to some, from the stalk of flax that waves in my field below, to Orion now showing himself as the black cloud draws off,—all for purposes of support to body or mind,—all, whether appropriated, or left at large because they cannot be appropriated. Let us hope that each will, at length, have his share; and as Providence has placed no limit to the enjoyment of his gifts but that of food, we may learn so to understand one another's desires as mutually to satisfy them; so that there may not be too much of one thing to the injury of some, and too little of another thing, to the deprivation of more.”
“If we could but calculate the present uses of any one gift!” said Dr. Sneyd, smiling; “but this is a task for the philosophers of another age, or another state. I would fain know how many living beings are reposing or pasturing on your flax-stalk, and how much service will be rendered in the course of the processes it has to go through. I would fain know how many besides ourselves are drawing from yonder constellation knowledge and pleasure.”
“More than there are stars in the heaven, besides the myriads that have their home in one or other of its worlds. What more knowledge are we to derive to-night?”
And Arthur returned to his seat and his task, which he had quitted while the sky was clouded. His father observed, with surprise, how far the twinkling lights had travelled from their former place.
“It is later than I thought, Arthur,” said he. “I ought not to have kept you so long from your rest, busy as your days are.”
Arthur was quite disposed to go on, till sunrise, if his father wished to take advantage of his services. He must meet his men very early in the dewy morning to mow, and the night was now so far advanced that it would be as well to watch it out. Dr. Sneyd was very thankful for his aid. When they had satisfied themselves that the household were gone to rest, and had replenished the lamp, nothing but brief directions and the ticking of the watch was again heard in this upper chamber till the chirping of birds summoned the mower to fetch his scythe.[Back to Table of Contents]
The true cause of Mr. Temple's Sunday headache was spleen at the occurrence of the morning. That Dr. Sneyd should preach, and in a market-house, and that soldiers should come some miles to hear him was, he declared, a perfect scandal to the settlement. He could not countenance it.
The scandal continued, without the countenance of the scrupulous gentleman, till the autumn, when the reason of certain magnificent doings at Temple Hall began to be apparent. Probably the only persons who could have told what all this new building meant were forbidden to do so, as Mrs. Sneyd could never obtain a word from her daughter in return for all her conjectures about what the Lodge was to grow into at last, the builders having no sooner done one task than they had to set about another. There was infinite hurry and bustle about these last additions. Workmen were brought from a distance to relieve those on the spot, that no part of the long summer days might be lost. Wall rose above wall; beam followed beam from the forest, and planks issued from the sawpit with marvellous speed. One would have thought the President was expected on a visit before winter; and, in fact, a rumour was current in the village that some new capitalists were coming to look about them, and were to be tempted to abide on some of the great man's lands. This seemed the more probable as a substantial house was being built in the Lodge grounds, besides the new wing (as it appeared to be) of the mansion itself. Every body agreed that this house must be intended for somebody.
The truth burst forth, one day late in the autumn, that seats instead of partitions were being put up in the new building, and that the windows were to be unlike those of the rest of the house:—in short, that it was to be a chapel. The servants spread abroad the fact that company was expected in a few days; to stay, they believed, all the winter.—Ay! till the new house should be ready, every body supposed. Meantime, Mrs. Temple said nothing more to her family than that friends of Mr. Temple's were shortly coming to stay at the Lodge. She had never seen them, and knew but little about them:—hoped they might prove an acquisition to her father:—depended upon Arthur's civillties, if he should have it in his power,—and so forth.
It was seldom that Mr. Temple called on his father-in-law,—especially in the middle of the day, when less irksome things could be found to do; but, one bright noon, he was perceived approaching the house, driving the barouche, in which were seated two ladies and a gentleman, besides the heir of Temple Lodge. Dr. Sneyd stepped out of his low window into the garden, and met them near the gate, where he was introduced to the Rev. Ralph Hesselden, pastor of Briery Creek, and Mrs. Hesselden.
The picturesque clergyman and his showy lady testified all outward respect to the venerable old man before them. They forgot for a moment what they had been told of his politics being “sad, very sad; quite deplorable,” — and remembered only that he was the father of their hostess. It was not till a full half hour after that they became duly shocked at a man of his powers having been given over to the delusions of human reason, and at his profaneness in having dared to set up for a guide to others while he was himself blinded in the darkness of error. There was so little that told of delusion in the calm simplicity of the doctor's countenance, and something so unlike profaneness and presumption it his mild and serious manners, that it was not surprising that his guests were so long in discovering the evil that was in him.
Mrs. Sneyd was busy about a task into which she put no small share of her energies. She had heard that nothing that could be eaten was half so good as pomegranate preserve, well made. In concert with Arthur, she had grown promegranates with great success, and she was this morning engaged in preserving them; using her utmost skill, in the hope that if it should prove an impossible thing to make her husband care for one preserve rather than another while he was in health, this might be an acceptable refreshment in case of sickness; or that, at least, Temmy would relish the luxury; and possibly Temple himself be soothed by it in one of the fits of spleen with which he was apt to cloud the morning meal.—The mess was stewing, and the lady sipping and stirring, when her husband came to tell her who had arrived, when to request her to appear;—came instead of sending, to give her the opportunity of removing all traces of mortification before she entered the room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Who?—a pastor? what, a methodist?—chaplain at the Lodge, and pastor of Briery Creek?—My dear, this is aimed at you.”
“One can hardly say that, as I only preached because there was no one else.—I must not stay. You will come directly, my dear.”
“I do not see how I can, my dear,”—glancing from her husband to her stewpan, under a sense of outraged affection with respect to both of them. “To take one so by surprise! I am sure it was done on purpose.”
“Then let us carry it off with as little consternation as we can. Peggy will take your place.”
“And spoil all I have been doing, I know. And my face is so scorched, I am not fit to be seen.—I'll tell you what, my dear,” she went on, surrendering her long spoon to Peggy, and whisking off her apron,—“if I appear now, I will not go and hear this man preach. I cannot be expected to do that.”
“We will see about that when Sunday comes” the doctor turned back to say, as he hastened back to the party who were amusing themselves with admiring the early drawings of Mrs. Temple, which hung against the walls of her mother's parlour. The doctor brought in with him a literary journal of a later date than any which had arrived at the Lodge, and no one suspected that he had been ministering to his wife's good manners. Mrs. Temple was in pain for what might follow the introduction.
There was no occasion for her inward tremors, nor for Dr. Sneyd's quick glance at his wife over his spectacles. Mrs. Sneyd might be fully trusted to preserve her husband's dignity. She instantly appeared,—so courteous and self-possessed that no one could have perceived that she had been hurried. The scorched cheeks passed with the strangers for the ruddy health attendant on a country life, and they benevolently rejoiced that she seemed likely to have some time before her yet, in which to retract her heresies, and repent of all that she had believed and acted upon through life. It was cheering to think of the safety that might await her, if she should happily survive the doctor, and come under their immediate guidance.
The ladies were left to themselves while Temple was grimacing (as he did in certain states of nervousness) and whipping the shining toe of his right boot, and the other gentleman making the plunge into science and literature in which the doctor always led the way when he could lay hold of a man of education. One shade of disappointment after another passed over his countenance when he was met with questions whether one philosopher was not pursuing his researches into regions whence many bad returned infidels,—with conjectures whether an eminent patriot was not living without God in the world,— and with doubts whether a venerable philanthropist might still be confided in, since he had gone hand in hand in a good work with a man of doubtful seriousness. At last, his patience seemed to be put to the proof, for his daughter heard him say,
“Well, sir, as neither you nor I are infidels, nor likely to become so, suppose we let that matter pass. Our part is with the good tidings of great deeds doing on the other side of the world. The faith of the doers is between themselves and their God.”
“But, sir, consider the value of a lost soul—”
“I have so much hope of many souls being saved by every measure of wise policy and true philanthropy, that I cannot mar my satisfaction by groundless doubts of the safety of the movers. Let us take advantage of the permission to judge them by their fruits, and then, it seems to me, we may make ourselves very easy respecting them. Can you satisfy me about this new method,— it is of immense importance—of grinding lenses”
Mr. Hesselden could scarcely listen further, so shocked was he with the doctor's levity and laxity in being eager about bringing new worlds within human ken, while there seemed to the pious a doubt whether the agents of divine wisdom and benignity would be cared for by him who sent them.—Mr. Hesselden solemnly elevated his eyebrows, as he looked towards his wife; and the glance took effect. The lady began inquiring of Mrs. Sneyd respecting the spiritual affairs of the settlement. She hoped the population had a serious turn.
“Why, Madam,” replied Mrs. Sneyd, “every thing has so conduced to sober the minds of our neighbours, that there has been little room yet for frivolity among us. The circumstances of hardship, of one kind or another, that led us all from our old homes were very serious; and it is a serious matter to quit country and family and friends; and the first casting about for subsistence in a new land is enough to bring thought into the wildest brain; and now, when we have gathered many comforts about us, and can thank Providence with full hearts, we are not at liberty for idleness and levity. I assure you that Dr. Sneyd has had to enlarge more against anxiety for the morrow than against carelessness or vain-glory.”
“I rejoice to hear it. This is good as far as it goes. But I was inquiring about more important affairs.”
“In more important matters still, I hope you will find much that is encouraging. We are naturally free from the vices of extreme wealth or poverty. Among the few whose labours have proved fruitful, there is a sobriety of manners which I think will please you; and none are so poor as to be tempted to dishonesty, or driven into recklessness. The cry of 'stop thief' has never been heard in Briery Creek, and you will neither meet a drunken man nor a damsel dressed in tawdy finery.—By the way, Louisa,” she continued, addressing her daughter, “I am sorry there Is any difficulty about Rundell's getting more land, and Chapman's setting up a general store. I have some fears that as our neighbours' earnings increase, we may see them spent in idle luxuries, unless there is a facility in making a profitable investment.”
“Where is the difficulty, ma'am?” asked Mrs. Temple. “If Rundell wants land, I rather think Mr. Temple has plenty for him.”
“I understand not.”
Mrs. Temple was about to argue the matter on the ground of her husband's thousands of uncultivated acres, but recollecting that there might be more in the matter than was apparent to her, she stopped short, and there was a pause.—At length, Mrs. Hesselden, turning the fullest aspect of her enormous white chip bonnet on Mrs. Sneyd, supposed that as the neighbourhood was so very moral, there were no public amusements in Briery Creek.
“I am sorry to say there are none at present. Dr. Sneyd and my son begin, next week, a humble attempt at a place of evening resort; and now that Mr. Hesselden will be here to assist them, I hope our people will soon be provided with a sufficiency of harmless amusement.”
“You begin next week ?—A prayer meeting ?” asked the lady, turning to Mrs. Temple. Mrs. Temple believed not.
“We have our meetings for intercourse on the subjects you refer to,” replied Mrs. Sneyd; “but I understood you to be inquiring about places of amusement. My son presented the settlement with a cricket ground lately.”
“A cricket ground, was it?” said Mrs. Temple. “I thought it had been a bleaching ground. I understood, it was the ladies of the place who were to be the better for his bounty.”
“That is true also. The same ground serves the washers on the Monday morning, and the cricketers on the Saturday afternoon. You must know, Mrs Hesselden, there is much trouble here in getting soap enough,—and also candles,—for the purposes of all. There is some objection, I find, to a general store being set up; so that only the richer of our neighbours can obtain a regular supply of certain necessary articles; and the poorer ones are just those who find it most expensive and troublesome to make all the soap and candles they want. My son, knowing how much consumption is saved by association, as he says, had a view to these poorer settlers in opening the bleaching ground. They are truly glad to get their linen washed twice as well in the field as at home, and at half the expense of soap. They are very willing to clear the place for the cricketers three afternoons in the week; and are already beginning to pay off the cost incurred for the shed, with the boilers and troughs. I really hardly know; which is the prettiest sight,— the games of the active young men, when they forget the worldly calculations which are apt to engross new settlers too much,—or the merry maidens in the field at noon, spreading out linen and blankets of a whiteness that would be envied by most of the professional laundresses that I have known.”
“All these things,” observed Mrs. Hesselden, “are of inferior consequence. I mean——”
“Very true: I mention them chiefly as signs of the times—not as the limit to which our improvements have extended. We are anxious to provide a reading-room for the youths, at the same time that we open our school. My daughter has no doubt told you about the school which she is helping to form. We find that the newspapers and journals which were always deposited in the cricket-ground were so much relished by the players in the intervals of their games, that Dr. Sneyd and my son have determined to light up and warm the school-house every evening during the winter, to be the resort of all who choose to go. Dr. Sneyd carries there the humble beginning of a museum of natural history, which it must be the care of our neighbours to improve. They can easily do so by exchanging the productions of our forest and prairie for what may be obtained from the societies Dr. Sneyd is connected with in England and France, All the publications sent to us will find their way to the school-house; and when the snow comes to enable a sleigh to bring us the packages of glass we have been waiting for these eight months, the doctor will erect his large telescope, and send an inferior one down to the village for the use of his star-gazing neighbours.”
Observing Mrs. Hesselden's supercilious silence, Mrs. Sneyd proceeded, smiling,
“I have had my share in the ordering of the affair, and have carried two points, nem. con. The women are allowed as free ingress as their husbands and brothers. I mentioned that candles were scarce, and you do not need to be told that much sewing must be done in our households. By bringing their work to the school-house, (which is within a stone's throw of most of the doors,) many of our hard-working mothers and daughters will be spared the trouble and expense of making above half as many candles as if each must have one burning during the whole of the long evenings of winter. What is more important,—they will the benefit of the reading and other amusements that may be going on. My other point is the dancing. I told Dr. Sneyd that if he carried a telescope, and made them chill themselves with star-gazing, I must beg leave to carry a fiddle for them to warm their feet by when they had done. Two fiddlers have turned up already, and there are rumours of a flute-player; and I have half promised my grandchild to lead off the first dance, if he will persuade my son to take me for a partner.”
Mrs. Hesselden hoped that others would also be allowed to carry their points, and then there would be prayer on meeting and parting in the school-house. If it should be found that such an exercise was incompatible with the dancing part of the scheme, she trusted Mrs. Sneyd saw which must give way.”
Mrs. Sneyd would advocate no practice which was incompatible with religious duty. In the present case, she thought that the only concession required was that each exercise should have its proper season. None of the usual objections to dancing would hold good here, she continued. No shivering wretches stood without, while the rich were making merry. There was no inducement to extravagance, and no room for imprudence, and no encouragement to idleness. There was no scope for these vices among the working-class of Briery Creek, and dancing was to them (what it would be in many another place, if permitted) an innocent enjoyment, a preventive of much solitary self-indulgence, and a sweetener of many tempers. In a society whose great danger was the growth of a binding spirit of worldliness, social mirth was an antidote which no moralist would condemn, and which he would not dare to despise.
Mrs. Hesselden, fearing that she could never make Mrs. Sneyd comprehend how much more she and her husband were than mere moralists, quitted the subject till she could explain to Mrs. Temple on the way home, that though the presence of the Sneyds had undoubtedly been of great use in fostering a morality which was better than nothing, yet it was evidently high time that more should be added, and certainly a great blessing to Briery Creek that her husband and she had arrived to breathe inspiration into the social mass which was now lying,—if not dead,— yet under the shadow of death.
Mrs. Sneyd found time, before returning to her pomegranates, to take a last wondering look at the immensity of Mrs. Hesselden's chip bonnet, as it floated, splendid in its variegated trimming, over the shrubs in her passage to the garden gate.
“I can never make out,” she observed to her husband, “why so many of these very strict religious people dress so luxuriously as they do. Here is this lady,—infinitely scandalized, I perceive, at our having introduced dancing,— dressed after such a fashion as our maidens never saw before. If they begin to bedizen themselves with the money which might be spent profitably in increasing the means of subsistence, or innocently in procuring substantial comforts which are now difficult to be had, I shall lay the blame on Mrs. Hesselden's bonnet. I remember observing that I never saw so splendid a show-room for dress as the new church we attended, in—— street, the Sunday before we left London. It is very odd.”
“Not more strange, my dear, than that the Friends should addict themselves much to the furnishing their houses with expensive furniture, and their tables with more costly and various foods than other people. Not more strange than that Martin, the Methodist, should turn strolling player when he gave up his methodism; or that the Irish betake themselves to rebellion when stopped in their merry-makings; or that the English artizan takes to the gin-shop when the fiddle is prohibited in the public-house. Not more strange, my dear, than that the steam of your kettle should come out at the lid, if you stop up the spout, or than that”
“O, you put me in mind of my preserves! But how did you think Louisa looked to-day?”
“Not very well. There was a something—I do not know what——”
“Well, I wondered whether you would observe. It may be the contrast of Mrs. Hesselden's dress that made me remark the thing so much. It really vexed me to see Louisa so dressed. That collar was darned like any stocking-heel; and how she got her bonnet ribbons dyed in this place, I cannot think. What can be the meaning of her being so shabby? It is so contrary to her taste,—unless she has taken up a new taste, for want of something to do.”
Dr. Sneyd shook his head. He knew that Temple left his lady no lack of something to do. Temmy had also dropped a piece of information about wax candles lately, which convinced the doctor that the lady at the Hall was now compelled to economize to the last degree in her own expenditure, whatever indulgence might still be afforded to her tyrant's tastes.
“He looks wretchedly too,” observed Mrs. Sneyd. “Not all his spruceness could hide it, if he was as spruce as ever. But there is a change in him too. One might almost call his ensemble slovenly to-day, though it would be neatness itself in many another man. I believe he half kills himself with snuff. He did nothing but open and shut his box to-day. So much snuff must be very bad for a nervous man like him.”
“Do you know, my dear,” said the doctor, “I have been thinking lately whether we are not all rather hard upon that poor man——Yes, yes, I know. I am not going to defend, only to excuse him a little. I am as unhappy as you can be about all that Louisa has to go through with him, and about his spoiling that poor boy for life, —doing all that can be done to make him a dolt. But I am sure the man suffers—suffers dreadfully.”
“Nay, you need but look in his face to see whether he is a happy man or not; but what his ailments are, I do not pretend to say. His nerves torture him, I am certain—”
Mrs. Sneyd insinuated speculations about indulgence in brandy, opium, spices, &c., and about remorse, fear, and the whole demon band of the passions. Dr. Sneyd's conjecture was that Temple's affairs were in an unsatisfactory condition, and that this trouble, acting on the mind of a coward, probably drove him to the use of sufficient stimulus to irritate instead of relieving him. Great allowance, he insisted, should be made for a man in so pitiable a state, even by the parents of his wife. This was so effectually admitted by the good lady, that she not only sent a double portion of pomegranate preserve to the Lodge, but restrained her anger when she heard that Rundell could not obtain liberty to invest as he pleased the capital he had saved, owing to Temple's evil influence at tile land-office; and that Arthur's interests were wantonly injured by his interference. Arthur had taken great pains to secure a supply of fresh meat and fresh butter for the approaching winter; and besides the hope of profit from his fine sheep and cows, he had the assurance of the gratitude of his neighbours, who had grown heartily weary of salt pork and salt butter the winter before. But Mr. Temple now set up a grand salting establishment; and made it generally understood that only those who were prudent enough to furnish themselves with his cheap salt provision, rather than Mr. Sneyd's dear mutton, should have his custom in the market, and his countenance at the land office. Arthur's first-slain sheep had to be eaten up by his father's household and his own; and it was a piece of great forbearance in Mrs. Sneyd, when she heard that Arthur meant to kill no more mutton, to say only, “The poor little man punishes nobody so much as himself. I do not see how he can relish his own fresh mutton very much, while he prevents other people having any.”
“He cannot altogether prevent that, mother,” said Arthur. “He may prevent mutton bearing any price in the market, and cut off my gains; but we may still slay a sheep now and them for ourselves; and find neighbours who will quietly make such an exchange of presents as will take off what we cannot consume. But I wish I could see an end of this dictation,—this tyranny.”
“It does seem rather strange to have come to a land of freedom to be in the power of such a despot. I wonder the people do not shake him off, and send him to play the tyrant farther in the wilds.”
“They are only waiting till his substance is all consumed, I fancy. He has such a hold over the investments of some, and finds so much employment for the labour of others, that they will submit to everything for a time. But his hour will come, if he does not beware.”
“It may be all very well for those who have investments to take time to extricate their capital from his grasp,” said Mrs. Sneyd; “but as for the builders and gardeners he employs, I think they would be wiser if they carried their labour where they might depend on a more lasting demand for it. Anybody may see that if he spends more every year in undoing what he did the year before, his substance must soon come to an end, and his labourers become his creditors. If I were they, I would rather go and build barns that are paid for by the preservation of the corn that is in them, and till fields that will maintain the labour of tillage, and set more to work next year, than turn round a fine house from south to west, and from west to south, and change shrubberies into lawns, and lawns into flower-gardens, knowing that such waste must come to an end.”
“But some do not believe that it is waste, mother. They see the money that pays them still in existence, still going the round of the market; and they talk (as some people in England do about royal palaces, and spendthrift noblemen's establishments) of the blessing of a liberal expenditure, and the patriotism of employing so much labour.”
“Which would be all very well if the labourers lived upon the sight of the money they are paid with. But, as long as that money is changed many times over for bread and clothing, which all disappears in the process, it is difficult to make out that anything is gained but the pleasure,— which may be justifiable or not, according to the circumstances of the employers. In the end, the money remains as it was before, and instead of so much food and clothing, there is a royal palace. If you do not like your palace, and pull it down and rebuild it, the money exists as before, and for a double quantity of food and clothing, you still have a palace.”
“The wrong notion you speak of arises partly,” said Dr. Sneyd, “from a confusion between one sort of unproductive expenditure and another. People hear of its being a fine thing to employ a crowd of labourers in making a new line of road, or building a bridge, and they immediately suppose it must be a patriotic thing to employ a crowd of labourers in building any thing.”
“I think they might perceive that, though corn does not grow on a high road, that, nor bridges yield manufactures, the value of corn lauds may be doubled by opening a way to a new market, and that an unused water power may begin to yield wealth from the moment that there is a bridge over which buyers may come for it. It is a misfortune to Briery Creek that Temple is more of a selfish palace-fancier than a patriotic bridge and road maker.”
The first Sunday of the opening of the chapel, Temple appeared in a character which he had only once before attempted to support. On the occasion of using the market-house for service, he had approached the door, cast a glance within upon the company of soldiers, and the village population at their worship, while their aged friend was leading their devotions, and hastily departed, thankful that he was too pious to join in such a service as this. He took the part of a religious man that day, and now was the time for him to resume the character. Under the idea that the market-house might be opened as usual for Dr. Sneyd, making his own appear like an opposition place of worship, he spared no pains to secure a majority in point of audience. He had managed to ride past the military post, and be gracious with the soldiers. His domestics puffed gracious the chapel and chaplain at market, the day before, and the leading villagers received intimation of good sittings being appropriated to them. These pains might have been spared. All who desired might know that Dr. Sneyd, his wife, son, and servants intended to be present, as a matter of course.
When they entered, Temple looked nearly as much surprised as if they had at the moment arrived from England. He made a prodigious bustle about having them accommodated in a seat next his own, and condescendingly sent them books, and inquired into the sufficiency of hassocks. During the greater part of the service he stood up, as if he could not listen with sufficient attention while sitting, like other people. Yet he cleared his throat if any body moved, and sent his pert glance into every corner to command a reverential demeanour, while his chaplain was enforcing, as the prime glory and charm of a place of worship, that there, and there alone, all are equal and all are free. Little Ephraim cowered behind the coachman while the preacher insisted that here the humblest slave might stand erect on the ground of his humanity; and the butler stepped on tiptoe half way down the aisle to huff Jenkins the ditcher for coming so high up, at the very moment that something was quoted about a gold ring and purple raiment in the synagogue.
It was true the preacher and his message had not so good a chance of being attended to as they might have on future Sundays. The bustle produced by the anticipation of the occasion did not subside on the arrival of the occasion. The fine large chip bonnets had been procured, and the trimming and sending them home had been achieved by the Saturday night. But it remained to wear them for the first time: not only to support the consciousness of a new piece of finery, but to compare the fine bonnets with the shabby head-gear of other people, with each other, and, finally, with Mrs. Hesselden's. Then, while Mrs. Dods was thus contemplating the effect of her own peculiar species of architecture, her husband could not but look round him, and remember that every individual brick of this pile had been fashioned by himself and his lads. The builder scanned the measurements of the windows and the ceiling. Two or three boys and girls shuffled their feet on the matting which their mother had woven. A trader from the north gradually made up his mind to approach the ladies after service, for the purpose of recommending fur pouches for the feet during the severe season that was approaching. The Brawnees, unincumbered by any thing beyond their working-day apparel, were among the best listeners. Temmy was so alarmed at the prospect of having to give his father, for the first time, an account of the sermon, that he could not have taken in a word of it, even if he had not been miserable at seeing the tears coursing one another down his mother's cheeks during the whole time of the service. Her left hand hung by her side, but he did not dare to touch it. He looked at Mrs. Hesselden to try to find out whether she thought his mother was ill; or whether the sermon was affecting; or whether this was the consequence of something that had been said at breakfast against grandpapa. Grandpapa seemed to be listening very serenely to the sermon, and that was a better comfort than Mrs, Hesselden's countenance,— so grave, that Temmy feared to provoke a cross word if he looked at her again.
It was not known, till the ladies of the village ranged themselves round the work-table in the school-house, one chilly evening, soon afterwards, how great bad been the bustle of preparation before the fine chip bonnets made their appearance in the chapel. All hearts, even those of rival milliners, were laid open by the sight of the roaring wood fire, the superior candles, the hearty welcome and the smiling company that awaited them as they dropped in at the place of entertainment,—the women with their sewing apparatus, and their husbands and brothers ready for whatever occupation might have been devised for their leisure evening hours. While these latter crowded round the little library, to see of what it consisted, the sewers placed their benches round the deal table, snuffed their candies, and opened their bundles of work. Mrs. Dods made no mystery of her task. She was cutting up a large chip bonnet to make two small hats for her youngest boy and girl, owning that, not having calculated on any one else attempting to gratify the rage for imitating Mrs. Hesselden, she had injured her speculation by overstocking the market. The lawyer's lady had been reckoned upon as a certain customer; but it turned out,— however true that the lawyer's lady must have a chip bonnet,—that the builder's wife had just then entered upon a rivalship with the brickmaker's wife, and had stuck up at her window bonnets a trifle cheaper than those of Mrs. Dods. It only remained for Mrs. Dods to show how pretty her little folks looked in hats of the fashionable material, in hopes that the demand might spread to children.
“If it does, Mrs. Dods, Martha Jenkins will have the same reason to complain of you that you have to complain of being interfered with. It is unknown the trouble that Jenkins has had, following the river till he came to the beavers, and then hunting them, and preparing their skins at home, and all that, while Martha spared no pains to make beaver hats for all the boys and girls in the place. It will be rather hard if you cut her out.”
“And you can do it only by lowering your price ruinously,” observed Mrs. Sneyd. “I should think any mother in Briery Creek would rather keep her child's ears from freezing by putting on her a warm beaver, than dress her out prettily in a light chip, at this season. Nothing but a great difference in price can give yours the preference, I should think, Mrs. Dods.”
“Then such a difference there must be,” Mrs. Dods replied. “I had rather sell my article cheap than not sell it at all. Another time I shall take care how I run myself out at elbows in providing for a new fashion among the ladies.”
Mrs. Sneyd thought that those were engaged in the safest traffic who dealt in articles in the commonest use,—who looked for custom chiefly from the lower, i.e. the larger classes of the people. From their, numbers, those classes are always the greatest consumers; and, from the regularity of their productive industry, they are also the most regular consumers. It seemed probable that the demand for Martha Jenkins's beavers would prove superior in the long run to that for Mrs. Dods's varied supply, though poor Martha might suffer for a while from the glut of chips which occasioned loss to all sellers of bonnets, at present, and gain to all sellers of whatever was given in exchange for bonnets. Fat for candles was scarcely to be had since Temple had discouraged the sale of fresh meat. Mrs. Dods was deplorably in want of candles. She made a bargain with a neighbour for some in return for the hat now under her hands. How few she was to receive, it vexed her to think; but there was no help for it till somebody should supply the deficiency of candles, or till new heads should crave covering.
It now appeared that the ladies were not the only persons who had brought their work. When it came to be decided who should be the reader, it was unanimously agreed that some one who had no employment for his hands should undertake the office. Dods had leathern mittens to make for the less hardy of the woodsmen. Others occupied themselves in platting straw, making mops, cutting pegs to be employed in roofing, and cobbling shoes. Arthur drew sketches for Temmy to copy. Such was always the pretence for Arthur's drawings; but a neighbour who cast a peep over his shoulder, from time to time, could not help thinking that the sketch was of the present party, with Dr. Sneyd in the seat of honour by the fire-side, Mrs. Sneyd knitting in the shadow, that the full benefit of the candles might be yielded to those whose occupation required It; Isaac, who had received the honour of the first appointment as reader, holding his book rather primly, and pitching his voice in a key which seemed to cause a tendency to giggle among some of the least wise of his auditors; and, lastly, the employed listeners, as they sat in various postures, and in many lights, as the blaze from the logs now flickered low, and now leaped up to lighten all the room. Each of these was suspected to be destined to find a place in Arthur's sketch.
It was a pity Temmy was not here to take a drawing lesson, his uncle thought. These evening meetings afforded just the opportunity that was wanted; for Arthur could seldom find time to sit down and make his little nephew as good an artist as he believed he might become. It was not till quite late, when the party would have begun dancing if some one had not given a broad hint about the doctor's telescope, that Temmy appeared. Nobody heard his steed approach the door, and every body wondered to see him. It was thought that Mr. Temple would have allowed no one belonging to him to mix with those whom he was pleased to call the common people of the place. Unguarded, the boy would indeed have been exposed to no such risk of contamination; but Mr. Hesselden had promised to be there, and it was believed that, under his wing, the boy would take no harm, while Mr. Temple's object, of preserving a connexion with whatever passed in his neighbourhood, might be fulfilled.
Mr. Hesselden was not there; and if it was desirable that Temple's representative should make a dignified appearance on this new occasion, never was a representative more unfortunately chosen. The little fellow crept to his grandmamma's side, shivering and half crying. The good lady observed that it was indeed very cold, chafed his hands, requested Rundell to throw another log or two on the fire, and comforted the boy with assurances that he was come in time to dance with her. Every body was ready with protestations that it was indeed remarkably cold. It was thought the beauty of the woods was nearly over for this season. In a few days more it was probable that the myriads of stems in the forest would be wholly bare, and little green but the mosses left for the eye to rest upon under the woven canopy of boughs. Few evergreens grew near, so that the forest was as remarkably gloomy in winter as it was bright in the season of leaves.
When the window was opened, that the star-gazers might reconnoitre the heavens, it was found that the air was thick with snow;—snow was falling in a cloud.
“Do but see!” cried Arthur. “No stargazing to-night, nor dancing either, I fancy, if we mean to get home before it is knee-deep. Temmy, did it snow when you came?”
“O, yes,” answered the boy, his teeth chattering at the recollection.
“Why did not you tell us, my dear?” asked Mrs. Sneyd.
The doctor was inwardly glad that there was so good a reason for Mr. Hesselden's absence.
“No wonder we did not hear the horse trot up to the door,” observed some one. “Come, ladies, put up your work, unless you mean to stay here till the next thaw.”
A child or two was present who was delighted to think of the way to the school-house being impassable till the next thaw.
“Stay a bit,” cried Rundell, coming in from the door, and pulling it after him. “l am not going without my brand, and a fine blazing one too,—with such noises abroad.”
“Wolves. A strong pack of them, to judge by the cry.”
All who possessed sheep were now troubled with dire apprehensions: and their fears were not allayed when Temmy let fall that wolves were howling, as the groom thought, on every side, during his ride from the Lodge. The boy had never been so alarmed in his life; and he laid a firm grasp on uncle Arthur's coat-collar when there was talk of going home again.
“You must let me go, Temmy. I must look after my lambs without more loss of time. If you had not been the strangest boy in the world, you would have given us notice to do so, long ago. I cannot conceive what makes you so silent about little things that happen.”
Mrs. Sneyd could very well account for that which puzzled Arthur. She understood little minds, anti had watched, only too anxiously, the process by which continual checking had rendered her grand-child afraid to tell that there was snow, or that wolves were abroad.
“Come, lads,” cried Arthur. “Who cares for his sheep? Fetch your arms, and meet me at the poplar by the Kiln, anti we will sally out to the pens, and have a wolf-hunt.”
There was much glee at the prospect of this frolic; the more that such an one had not been expected to occur yet awhile. So early a commencement of winter had not happened within the experience of any inhabitant of Briery Creek. The swine in the woods had not yet exhausted their feast of autumn berries; and fallen apples and peaches enough remained to feed them for a month. The usual signal of the advance of the season,—these animals digging for hickory nuts among the rotting leaves,—had not been observed, In short, the snow had taken every body by surprise, unless it was the wolves.
Dr. Sneyd lighted and guided home his wife and Temmy, in almost as high spirits as the youngest of the wolf-hunters. The season of sleighing was come, and his precious package of glass might soon be attainable. Dire as were the disasters which befel the party on their way,—the wetting, the loss of the track, the stumbles, the dread of wild, beasts, and Temmy's disappearance for ten seconds in a treacherous hollow,— the doctor did not find himself able to regret the state of the weather. He fixed his thoughts ou the interests of science, and was consoled for every mischance.
If he had foreseen all that would result from this night's adventure, he would not have watched with so much pleasure for the lights along the verge of the forest, when the snow had ceased; nor have been amused at the tribute of wolves' heads which he found the next morning deposited in his porch.[Back to Table of Contents]
A FATHER'S HOPE.
For several days an unwonted stillness reigned in Dr. Sneyd's abode;—from the day that the fever under which Arthur was labouring had appeared of a serious character. While it was supposed to be merely a severe cold, caught on the night of the wolf-hunt, all had gone on as much in the common way as could be expected under the novelty of a sick person being in the house; but from the moment that there was a hint of danger, all was studious quiet. The surgeon stepped stealthily up stairs, and the heavy-footed maids did their best not to shake the floors they trod Mrs. Temple conducted her consultations with her father in a whisper, though the study door was shut; and there was thus only too much opportunity for the patient's voice to be heard all over the house, when his fever ran high.
Temmy did not like to stay away, though he was very unhappy while on the spot. When he could not slip in behind the surgeon, he avoided the hall by entering the study through the garden-window. Than he could sit unobserved in the tow chair; and, what was better, unemployed. He had an earnest desire to be of use, but so deep a conviction that he never could be useful, that it was a misery to him to be asked to do any thing. If requested merely to go an errand, or to watch for a messenger, he felt as if his uncle's life depended on what he might see and say and do, within a few minutes; and he was therefore apt to see wrong, and speak amiss, and do the very reverse of what he ought to do. All this was only more tolerable than being at home;—either alone, in momentary terror of his father coming in; or with his father, listening to complaints of Mrs. Temple's absence, or invited to an ill-timed facetiousness which he dared not decline, however sick at heart he might be.
He had just crouched down in the great chair one morning, (supposing that Dr. Sneyd, who was bending over a letter at the table, had not seen him enter,) when Mrs. Temple appeared from the sick chamber. As she found time, in the first place, to kiss the forehead of her boy, whom she had not seen since the preceding afternoon, he took courage to ask,
“Is uncle Arthur better?”
Mrs. Temple could not reply otherwise than by a melancholy shake of the head. Dr. Sneyd turned round.
“No, my dear,” he said. “Your uncle is not better. Louisa,” he continued, observing his daughter's haggard and agitated countenance, “you must rest. This last night has been too much for you.”
Arthur had dropped asleep at last, Mrs. Temple said; a troubled sleep, which she feared would soon be at an end; but she saw the surgeon coming up, and wished to receive him below, and ask him—A sudden thought seemed to strike her.
“My dear. go up to your uncle's room—”
Temmy drew back, anti very nearly said “No.”
“You can leave your shoes at the bottom of the stairs. Ask your grandmamma to come down to us; and do you sit at the bottom of the bed, and watch your uncle's sleep. If he seems likely to wake, call me. If not, sit quiet till I come.”
Temmy moved slowly away. He had not once been in the room since the illness began, and nothing could exceed the awe he felt of what he might behold. He dared not linger, and therefore stole in, and delivered his message in so low a whisper that his grandmamma could not hear it till she had beckoned him out to the landing. She then went down, making a sign to him to take her place. It was now necessary to look into the bed; and Temmy sat with his eyes fixed, till his head shook involuntarily with his efforts to keep a steady gaze on his uncle's face. That face seemed to change its form, hue and motion every instant, and sometimes Temmy fancied that the patient was suffocating, and then that he had ceased to breathe, according to the state that his own senses were in. Sometimes the relaxed and shrunken hand seemed to make an effort to grasp the bed clothes, and then Temmy's was instantly outstretched, with a start, to the hand-bell with which he was to summon help. How altered was the face before him! So hollow, and wearing such an expression of misery! There was just sufficient likeness to uncle Arthur to enable Temmy to believe that it was he; and quite enough difference to suggest his being possessed; or, in some sort, not quite uncle Arthur. He wished somebody would come. How was he to know how soon he should ring the bell?
This was soon decided. Without a moment's warning, Arthur opened his eyes wide, and sat up in the bed, looking at Temmy, till the boy nearly screamed, and never thought of ringing the bell. When he saw, however, that Arthur was attempting to get out of bed, he rang hastily, and then ran to him, saying,
“O, uncle, do lie down again, that I may tell you about the lamb that got so torn, you know. I have a great deal to tell you about that lamb, and the old ewe too. And Isaac says——”
“Ay, the lamb, the lamb,” feebly said Arthur, sinking back upon his pillow.
When Dr. Sneyd presently appeared, he found Arthur listening dully, painfully, with his glazed eyes fixed on the boy, who was telling, in a hurried manner of forced cheerfulness, a long story about the lamb that was getting well. He broke off when help appeared.
“O grandpapa, he woke in such a hurry! He tried to get out of bed, grandpapa.”
“Yes, my dear, I understand You did just the right thing, Temmy; and now you may go down. None of us could have done better, my dear boy.”
Any one who had met Temmy crying on the stairs would have rather supposed that he had done just the wrong thing. Yet Temmy was a different boy from that hour. He even thought that he should not much mind being in uncle Arthur's room again, if any body should wish to send him there. It was yet sometime before the event of this illness was considered as decided, and as the days passed on, there became less and less occasion for inquiry in words, each morning. Whenever Dr. Sneyd's countenance was remarkably placid, and his manner particularly quiet, Temmy knew that his uncle was worse. It was rarely, and during very brief intervals, that he was considered better. Strange things happened now and then which made the boy question whether the world was just now going on in its usual course. It was not very strange to hear his papa question Mrs. Temple, during the short periods of her being at home, about Arthur's will; whether he had one; how it was supposed his property would be left; and whether he was ever sensible enough to make any alterations that might be desirable under the late growth of his little property. It was not strange that Mr. Temple should ask these questions, nor that they should be answered briefly and with tears: but it was strange that papa went one day himself into the grapery, and cut with his own hands the very finest grapes for Arthur, and permitted Temmy to carry, them, though they filled a rather large basket. It seemed strange that Mr. Kendall, apt as he was, when every body was well, to joke in season and out of season with guests and neighbours, should now be grave from morning till night, and often through the night, watching, considering, inventing, assisting, till Mrs. Sneyd said that, if Arthur recovered, he would owe his life, under God, to the care of his medical friend. It was strange to see a physician arrive from a great distance, twice in one week, and go away again as soon as his horse was refreshed: though nothing could be more natural than the anxiety of the villagers who stood at their doors, ready to accost the physician as he went away, doors, and to try to learn how much hope he really thought there was of Arthur's recovery. It was very strange to meet Dr. Sneyd, one morning, with Arthur's axe on his shoulder, going out to do some work in the woods that Arthur had been talking about all night, and wanted grievously to be doing himself till Dr. Sneyd had promised that he, and nobody else, should accomplish it for him. It was strange that Mr. Hesselden should choose that time, of all others, to turn back with Dr. Sneyd, and ask why he had not been sent for to the patient's bed-side, urging that it was dreadful to think what might become of him hereafter, if it should please God to remove him in his present feeble condition of mind. Of all strange things it seemed the strangest that any one should dare to add to such trouble as the greyhaired father must be suffering, and that Mr. Hesselden should fancy himself better qualified than Dr. Sneyd to watch over the religious state of this virtuous son of a pious parent. Even Temmy could understand enough to be disgusted, and to venerate the humble dignity with which Mr. Hesselden's officiousness was checked, and the calmness with which it was at once admitted that Arthur's period of probation seemed to be fast drawing to a dose. But nothing astonished the boy so much as some circumstances relating to his mother. Temmy never knew before that she was fond of uncle Arthur,—or of any one, unless it was himself. When his papa was not by, her manner was usually high and cold to every body; and it had become more strikingly so since he had observed her dress to be shabby. He was now awe-struck when he saw her sit sobbing behind the curtain, with both hands covering her face. But it was much worse to see her one day, after standing for a long while gazing on the sunken countenance before her, cast herself down by the bedside and cry,
“O, Arthur—Arthur—you will not look at me!”
Temmy could not stay to see what happened. He took refuge with his grandpapa, who, on hearing what had overpowered him, led him up again to the chamber, where Louisa was on her knees, weeping quietly with her face hid in the bed clothes. She was not now in so much need of comfort. Arthur had turned his eyes upon her, and, she thought, attempted to speak. She believed she could now watch by him till the last without repining; but it had been dreary,—most dreary, to see him wasting without one sign of love or consciousness.
“What must it be then, my dear daughter, to watch for months and years in vain for such a sign?” The doctor held in his hand a letter which Temmy had for some day observed that his grandfather seemed unable to part with. It told that the most beloved of his old friends had had an attack of paralysis. It was little probable that he would write or send message more.'
“That it should happen just at this time!” murmured Louisa.
“I grieve for you, my dear. You have many years before you, and the loss of this brother— But for your mother and me it is not altogether so trying. We cannot have very long to remain; and the more it pleases God to wean us from this world, the less anxiety there will be in leaving it. If the old friends we loved, and the young we depended on, go first, the next world is made all the brighter; and it is with that world that we have now most to do.”
“But of all losses—that Arthur must be the One—”
“This is the one we could be least prepared for, and from this there is perhaps, the strongest recoil,—especially when we think of this boy,”— laving his hand on Temmy's head. “But it is enough that it is the fittest for us. If we cannot see this, we cannot but believe it; and let the Lord do what seemeth to him good.”
“But such a son! Such a man—”
“Ah! there is precious consolation! No father's—no mother's heart—Hear me, Arthur”—and he laid. his hand on that of his son— “No parent's heart had ever more perfect repose upon a child than we have had upon you, my dear son!”
“He hears you.”
“If not now, I trust he shall know it hereafter. His mother and I have never been thankless, I believe, for what God has given us in our children; but now is the time to feel truly what His bounty has been. Some time hence, we may find ourselves growing weary under our loss, however we may acquiesce: but now there is the support given through him who is the resurrection and the life,—this support without drawback, without fear. Thank God!”
After a pause, Mrs. Temple said, hesitatingly,
“You have seen Mr. Hesselden?”
“I have. He believes that there is presumption in the strength of my hope. But it seems to me that there would be great presumption in doubt and dread. If my son were a man of a worldly mind,—if his affections were given to wealth and fame, or to lower objects still, it would become us to kneel and cry, day and night, for more time, before he must enter the state where, with such a spirit, he must find himself poor and miserable and blind and naked. But his Maker has so guided him that his affections have been fixed on objects which will not be left behind in this world, or buried away with the body, leaving him desolate in the presence of his God. He loves knowledge, and for long past he has lived on benevolence; and he will do the same hence-forth and for ever, if the gospel, in which he has delighted from his youth up, say true. Far be it from us to doubt his being happy in thus living for the prime ends of his being!”
Mrs. Temple was still silent.
“You are thinking of the other side of his character,” observed Dr. Sneyd; “of that dark side which every fallible creature has. Here would be my fear, if I feared at all. But l do not fear for Arthur that species of suffering which he has ever courted here. I believe he was always sooner or later thankful for the disappointment of unreasonable desires, and the mortifications of pride, and all retribution for sins and follies. There is no reason to suppose that he will shrink from the retribution which will in like manner follow such sins and follies as he may carry with him into another state. All desires whose gratification cannot enter there will be starved out. The process will be painful; but the subject of this pain will be the first to acquiesce in it. We, therefore, will not murmur nor fear.”
“If all this be true, if it be religious, how many torment themselves and one another in vain about the terrors of the gospel!”
“Very many. For my part, whatever terrors I might feel without the gospel,—and I can imagine that they might be many and great,—I cannot conceive of any being left when the gospel is taken home to the understanding and the heart. it so strips away all the delusions, amidst which alone terror can arise under the recognition of a benignant Providence, as to leave a broad unincumbered basis for faith to rest upon; a faith which must pass from strength to strength, divesting itself of one weakness and pain after another, till the end comes when perfect love casts out fear;—a consummation which can never be reached by more than a few, while arbitrary sufferings are connected with the word of God in the unauthorized way which is too common at present. No! if there be one characteristic of the gospel rather than another, it is its repudiating terrors—(and terrors belong only to ignorance)—by casting a new and searching light on the operations of Providence, and showing how happiness is the issue of them all. Surely, daughter, there is no presumption in saying this, to the glory of Him who gave the gospel.”
“I trust not, father.”
“My dear, with as much confidence as an apostle, were he here, would desire your brother to arise and walk before us all, do I say to him, if he can yet hear me, 'Fear not, for God is with thee.' I wish I feared as little for you, Louisa; but indeed this heavy grief is bearing you down. God comfort you, my child! for we perceive that we cannot.”
With a passion of grief, Louisa prayed that she might not be left the only child of her parents. She had never been, she never should be, to them what she ought. Arthur must not go. Her father led her away, soothing her self-reproaches, and giving her hope, by showing how much of his hope for this world depended on her. She made a speedy effort to compose herself, as she could not bear to be long absent from Arthur's bedside. Her mother was now there, acting with all the silent self-possession which she had preserved throughout.
The snow was all melted before the morning when the funeral train set forth from Dr. Sneyd's door. On leaving the gate, the party turned,—. not in the direction of the chapel, but towards the forest. As Mr. Hesselden could not in conscience countenance such a departure as that of Arthur,—lost in unbelief, and unrelieved of his sins as he believed the sufferer to have been,—it was thought better that the interment should take place as if no Mr. Hesselden had been there, and no chapel built; and the whole was conducted as on one former occasion since the establishment of the settlement. The plain coffin was carried by four of the villagers, and followed by all the rest, except a very few who remained about the Lodge. Mrs. Snyed would not hear of her husband's going through the service unsupported by any of his family. Mrs. Temple's presence was out of the question. Mr. Sneyd and Temmy therefore walked with Dr. Sneyd. When arrived at the open green space appointed, the family sat down beside the coffin, while the men who had brought spades dug a grave, and those who had borne axes felled trees with which to secure the body from the beasts of the forest. There was something soothing rather than the contrary in observing how all went on as if the spectators had been gazing with their usual ease upon the operations of nature. The squirrels ran among the leaves which gaudily carpeted the ground in the shade: the cattle browzed carelessly, tinkling their bells among the trees. A lark sprang up from the ground-nest where she was sitting solitary when the grave-diggers stirred the long grass in which she had been hidden; and a deer, which bad taken alarm at the shock of the woodsmen's axes, made a timid survey of the party, and bounded away into the dark parts of the wood. The children, who were brought for the purpose of showing respect to the departed, could scarcely be kept in order by their anxious parents, during the time of preparation. They would pick up glossy brown nuts that lay at their feet; and trudged rustling through all the leaves they could manage to tread upon, in hopes of dislodging mice or other small animals to which they might give chase. One little girl, with all a little girl's love for bright colours, secured a handful of the scarlet leaves of the maple, the deep yellow of the walnut and hickory, and the pink of the wild vine; and, using the coffin for a table, began laying out her treasure there in a circle. Dr. Sneyd was watching her with a placid smile, when the mother, in an agony of confusion, ran to put a stop to the amusement. The doctor would not let the child be interfered with. He seemed to have pleasure in entering into the feelings of as many about him as could not enter into his.
He was quite prepared for his office at the moment when all was ready for him. None who were present had ever beheld or listened to a funeral service so impressive as this of the greyheaded father over the grave of his son. The few, the very few natural tears shed at the moment of final surrender did not impair the dignity of the service, nor, most assuredly, the acceptableness of the devotion from which, as much as from human grief, they sprang. The doctor would himself see the grave filled up, and the felled trees so arranged upon it as to render it perfectly safe. Then he was ready to be the support of his wife home: and at his own gate, he forgot none who had paid this last mark of respect to his son. He shook hands with them every one, and touched his hat to them when he withdrew within the gate.
Mrs. Sneyd wistfully followed him into his study, instead of going to seek her daughter.— Was he going to write?
“Yes, my dear. There is one in England to whom these tidings are first due from ourselves. I shall write but little; for hers will be an affliction with which we must not intermeddle. At least, it is natural for Arthur's father to think so. Will you stay beside me? or are you going to Louisa?”
“I ought to write to Mrs. Rogers; and I think I will do it now, beside you. And yet— Louisa—Tell me, dear, which I shall do.”
There was something in the listlessness and indecision of tone with which this was said that more nearly overset Dr. Sneyd's fortitude than any thing that had happened this day. Conquering his emotion, he said,
“Let us both take a turn in the garden first, and then—”—and he drew his wife's arm within his own, and led her out. Temmy was there,—lingering, solitary and disconsolate in one of the walks. the servants had told him that he must not go up to his mamma; they believed she was asleep; and then Temmy did not know where to go, and was not at all sure how much he might do on the day of a funeral. In exerting themselves to cheer him, the doctor and Mrs. Sneyd revived each other; amt when Mrs. Temple arose, head-achy and feverish, and went to the window for air, she was surprised to see her father with his spade in his hand, looking on while Mrs. Sneyd and Temmy sought out the last remains of the autumn fruit in the orchard.
When the long evening had set in, and the most necessary of the letters were written, little seemed left to be done but to take care of Mrs. Temple, whose grief had, for the present, much impaired her health. She lay shivering on a couch drawn very near the fire; and her mother began to feel so uneasy at the continuance of her head ache that she was really glad when Mr. Kendall came up from the village to enquire after the family. It was like his usual kind attention; and perhaps he said no more than the occasion might justify of distress of mind being the cause of indisposition. Yet his manner struck Mrs. Sneyd as being peculiarly solemn,—somewhat inquisitive, and, on the whole, unsatisfactory. Mrs. Temple also asked herself for a moment whether Kendall could possibly know that she was not a happy wife, and would dare to exhibit his knowledge to her. But she was not strong enough to support the dignified manner necessary on such a supposition; and she preferred dismissing the thought. She was recommended to rest as much as possible; to turn her mind from painful subjects; and, above all, to remain where she was. She must not think of going home at present;—a declaration for which every body present was heartily thankful.
When Temmy had attended the surgeon to the door, he returned; and instead of seating himself at his drawing, as before, wandered from window to window, listening, and seeming very uncomfortable. Dr. Sneyd invited him to the fire-side, and made room for him between his knees; but Temmy could not be happy even there,—the night was so stormy, and it was raining so very heavily!
“Well, my dear?”
“And uncle Arthur is out in the wood, all alone, and every body else so comfortable at home!”
“My boy, your uncle can never more be hurt by storm or heat, by night dew or rain. We will not forget him while we are comfortable, as you say, by our fire-side; but it is we ourselves, the living, who have to be sheltered and tended with care and pains, like so many infants, while perhaps the departed make sport of these things, and look back upon the needful care of the body as grown men look down upon the cradles they were rocked in, and the cushions spread for them to fall upon when they learned to walk. Uncle Arthur may know more about storms than we; but we know that they will never more beat upon his head.”
Temmy believed this; yet he could not help thinking of the soaked grass, and the dripping boughs, and the groaning of the forest in the wind,—and even of the panther and the wild cat snuffing round the grave they could not reach. He could not help feeling as if his uncle was deserted; and he had moreover the fear that, though he could never, never think less of him than now, others would fall more and more into their old way of talking and laughing in the light of the fire, without casting a thought towards the forest or any thing that it contained. He felt as if he was, in such a case, called upon to vindicate uncle Arthur's claims to solemn remembrance, and pondered the feasibility of staying at home alone to think about uncle Arthur when the time should be again come for every body else to be reading and working, or dancing, during the evenings at the schoolhouse. Mrs. Sneyd believed all that her husband had just said to Temmy; and the scripture which he read this evening to his family, about the heavenly transcending the earthly, did not pass idly over her ear; yet she so far felt with Temmy that she looked out, forest-wards, for long before she tried to rest; and, with the first grey of the morning, was again at the same station. On the first occasion, she was somewhat surprised by two things that she saw;—many lights flitting about the village, and on the road to the Lodge,— and a faint glimmer, like the spark of a glowworm, in the opposite direction, as if precisely on the solitary spot where Arthur lay. Dr. Sneyd could not distinguish it through the storm; but on being assured that there was certainly some light, supposed that it might be one of the meteoric fires which were wont to dart out of the damp brakes, and run along the close alleys of the forest, like swift torch-bearers of the night. For the restlessness in the village he could not so easily account: nor did he take much pains to do so; for he was wearied out,—and the sleep of the innocent, the repose of the pious, awaited him.
“From this he was unwillingly awakened, at peep of dawn, by Mrs, Sneyd, who was certain that she had distinguished the figure of a man, closely muffled, pacing the garden. She had previously fancied she heard a horse-tread in the turf road,
“My dear,” said the doctor, “who should it be? We have no thieves here, you know; and what should anybody else want in our garden at this hour?”
“Why—you will not believe me, I dare say,—but I have a strong impression,—I cannot help thinking it is Temple.”
Dr. Sneyd was at the window without another word. It was still so dark that he could not distinguish the intruder till he passed directly before the window. At that moment the doctor threw up the sash. The wind blew in chilly, bringing the autumnal scent of decaying vegetation from the woods; but the rain was over. The driving clouds let out a faint glimmer from the east; but all besides was darkness, except a little yellow light which was still wandering on the prairie, and which now appeared not far distant from the paling of the orchard.
“Mr. Temple, is it you?” asked Dr. Sneyd. “What brings you here?”
The gentleman appeared excessively nervous. He could only relate that he wanted to see his wife,—that he must see Mrs. Temple instantly. She must come down to him,—down to the window, at least. He positively could not enter the house. He had not a moment to spare. He was on business of life and death. He must insist on Mrs. Temple being called.
She was so, as the intelligence of her being ill seemed to effect no change in the gentleman's determination. He appeared to think that she would have ample time to get well afterwards. When her mother had seen that she was duly wrapped up, and her father had himself opened the shutter of the study window, to avoid awakening the servants' curiosity, both withdrew to their own apartment, without asking further questions of Temple.
“Did you see anybody else, my dear?” the doctor inquired. Mrs. Sneyd was surprised at the question.
“Because—I did. Did you see no torch or lantern behind the palings? I am sure there was a dark face peeping through to see what we were doing.”
A pang of horror shot through Mrs. Sneyd when she asked her husband whether he supposed it was an Indian. O, no; only a half-savage. He believed it to be one of the Brawnees. If so, Mrs. Sneyd could account for the light in the forest, as well as for the maiden being so far from home at this hour. She had marked her extreme grief at the interment the day before, and other things previously, which gave her the idea that Arthur's grave had been lighted and guarded by one who would have been only too happy to have watched over him while he lived.
It was even so, as Mrs. Sneyd afterwards ascertained. The maiden hung lanterns round the space occupied by the grave, every night, till all danger was over of Arthur's remains being interfered with. The family could not refuse to be gratified with this mark of devotion;—except Temple, who would have been glad if the shadows of the night had availed to shroud his proceedings from curious eyes.
When the gate was heard to swing on its hinges, and the tread of a horse was again distinguishable on the soaked ground, Mrs. Sneyd thought she might look out upon the stairs, and watch her daughter to her chamber. But Mrs. Temple was already there. Not wishing to be asked any questions: she had gone up softly, and as softly closed her door; so that her parents, not choosing to disturb her, must wait till the morning for the satisfaction of their uneasy curiosity.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE END OF THE MATTER.
The truth was not long in becoming known when the daylight called the villagers abroad. Temple was gone. He had fled from his creditors, and to escape the vengeance of the land-office for his embezzlement of funds which had come into his hands in the transaction of its business. His creditors might make what they could of that which he left behind; but his mansion, shrubberies, conservatories, and ornamental furniture could by no method be made to compensate for the property which had flown to the moon, or somewhere else where it was as little accessible. The estate, disposed of to the greatest possible advantage, could not be made worth more than what was spent upon it in its present form; and the enormous waste which had been perpetrated in wanton caprices could never be repaired.
Temple had spent more than his income, from the time he set foot in America, if not before. He was only careless at first, forgetting to provide for contingencies, and being regularly astonished, as often as he looked into his affairs, at discovering how much his expenses had exceeded his expectations. He next found it easier to avoid looking too closely into his affairs than to control his passion for ostentation: and from that moment, he trod the downward path of the spendthrift; raising money by any means that he could devise, and trusting that fate or something would help him before all was spent. Fate did not come in as a helper till he could turn nothing more of his own into dollars without the humiliation of appearing to retrench; and to submit to this was quite out of the question. So he compelled his lady to darn and dye, and make her old wardrobe serve; restricted her allowance for housekeeping in all the departments that he had nothing to do with; and betook himself to embezzlement This served his purpose for a short time; but, on the day of Arthur's funeral, a stranger was observed to have arrived in the place, without an introduction to Mr. Temple. Temple's unpaid labourers had lately taken the liberty of asking for their money, and, actuated by some unknown impulse, had this evening come up with torches through the rain: to call the gentleman to account, and show him that they would not be trifled with any longer. It was time to be off; and Temple waited only till the village was quiet, before he stole to the stables, saddled his horse with his own bands, just called to tell his wife that he could not at present say whether he should send for her, or whether she might never see or hear from him more, and turned his back on Briery Creek for ever. Whether his wife would choose to go to him was a question which did not seem to occur to his mind.
A passing traveller, looking down upon Briery Creek from the neighbouring ridge, might perhaps ask the name of the social benefactor who had ornamented the district with yon splendid mansion, presented the village with a place of worship, and the shell, at least, of a parsonage; had reclaimed those green lawns from the wild prairie, and cleared the woodland in the rear so as to leave, conspicuous in beauty, clumps of the noblest forest trees. Such a stranger ought not to use the term “benefactor '' till he knew whence came the means by which all this work was wrought. If from a revenue which could supply these graces after all needful purposes had been fulfilled, well and good. Such an expenditure would then have been truly beneficent. It is a benignant act to embellish God's earth for the use and delight of man. But if there is not revenue enough for such objects,—if they are attained by the sacrifice of those funds on whose reproduction society depends for subsistence, the act, from being beneficent, becomes criminal. The mansion is built out of the maintenance of the labourer; and that which should have been bread to the next generation is turned into barren stone. Temple was a criminal before he committed fraud. He injured society by exhausting its material resources, and leaving no adequate substitute for them. If he had lavished his capital, as Dr. Sneyd laid out his revenue, in the pursuit of science, it is very possible that, though such an expenditure might require justification in comparison with Dr. Sneyd's, the good he would effect might have so superabounded above the harm as to have made society his debtor,—(as in many a case where philosophers have expended all their substance in perfecting a discovery or invention,)—but Temple had done nothing like this. The beauty of his estate, however desirable in itself, was no equivalent for the cost of happiness through which it was produced. He had no claim to a share of the almost unlimited credit allowed, by the common consent of society, to its highest class of benefactors,—the explorers of Providence.
Arthur had done little less than Temple in the way of adorning Briery Creek; and how differently! His smiling fields, his flocks spreading over the prairie, his own house, and the dwellings of his labourers, increasing in number and improving in comfort every year, were as beautiful in the eye of a right-minded observer as the grander abode of his brother-in-law. There were indications also of new graces which were to arise in their proper time. The clearings were made with a view to the future beauty of the little estate; creepers were already spreading over the white front of the house, and no little pains had been bestowed upon the garden. Yet, so far from any suffering by Arthur's expenditure, every body had been benefited. A larger fund had remained had the close of each year for the employment of labour during the next; and if new labourers were induced to come from a distance and settle here, it was not that they might be kept busy and overpaid for a time, and afterwards be left unemployed and defrauded of part of their dues, but that they and their children after them might prosper with the prosperity of their employer. Temple had absconded, leaving a name which would be mentioned with either contempt or abhorrence as long as it would be mentioned at all. Arthur had departed, surrounded with the blessings of those who regarded him as a benefactor. He had left a legacy of substantial wealth to the society in which he had lived, and a name which would be perpetuated with honour.
It was hoped that the effects of Arthur's good deeds would long outlast those of Temple's evil ones. In all communities that can boast of any considerable degree of civilization, there are many accumulators to one spendthrift. The principle of accumulation is so strong, that it has been perpetually found an overmatch for the extravagance of ostentatious governments, and for the wholesale waste of war. The capital of every tolerably governed state has been found to be gradually on the increase, however much misery might, through mismanagement, be inflicted on certain portions of the people. It was to be hoped that such would be the process in Briery Creek; that the little capitals which had been saved by the humbler residents would be more freely employed in putting labour into action, than while the great man had been there to buy up all that was to be had. It might be hoped that the losses of the defrauded labourers might thus be in time repaired, and new acquisitions made. Again:—there was now no one to interfere with the exchanges in the markets, and thus perplex the calculations of producers, causing deficiencies of some articles and gluts of others;—inequalities which no foresight could guard against. Every one might now have as much fresh meat, and as little salt, as he chose; and the general taste would regulate the supply in the market, to the security of those who sold and the satisfaction of those who bought. It would be well for certain nations if those who attempt interference with commerce on a larger scale could be as easily scared away as Temple; their dictation (in the form of bounties and prohibitions) expiring as they withdrew. Greater, in proportion to their greater influence in society, would be the rejoicing at their departure, than that with which Temple's disappearance was hailed, when the first dismay of his poorer creditors was overcome.
The ease which was thus occasioned was not confined to those who had merely a business connexion with him. No one liked to tell his notions upon so delicate a matter; but a significant smile went round, some months after, when it was remarked how uncommonly well Mrs. Temple was looking, and how gracious she had become, and what a different kind of boy Temmy now promised to be from any thing that was expected of him formerly. The air of the farm was pronounced to be a fine thing for them both.
Yes; the farm,—Arthur's farm. Tide estate was of course left to his family; and it was the most obvious thing in the world that Mrs. Temple should establish herself in it, and superintend its management, with Isaac and his wife to assist her, till Temmy should be old and wise enough to take it into his own charge. The lady herself proposed this plan; and it was a fortunate thing that she had always been fond of a dairy and poultry yard, and of a country life altogether. The pride which had chilled all who came near her during “the winter of her discontent,” gradually thawed under the genial influence of freedom and ease. Her parents once more recognized in her the Louisa Sneyd who had been so long lost to them, and every body but the Hesseldens thought her so improved that she could not have been known for the same person;—even as to beauty,—so much brighter did she look carrying up a present of eggs and cream-cheese to her mother, in the early morning, than sauntering through the heat from her carriage, entrenched behind her parasol, with the liveried servant at her heels, burdened with her pocket-handkerchief and a pineapple for the doctor's eating.
She was never afraid of being too early at her father's. Dr. Sneyd was as fond of country occupations as she; and when he had not been in his observatory for half the night, might be found at sunrise digging or planting in his garden. His grievous loss had not destroyed his energies; it had rather stimulated them, by attaching him for the short remainder of his days to the place of his present abode. He had gradually relaxed in his desire to see England again, and had now relinquished the idea entirely,—not through indolence, or because the circle of his old friends at home was no longer complete, but because,— free from superstition as he was,—his son being buried there attached him to the place. Here he, and his wife, and their daughter, and grandchild, could speak of Arthur more frequently, more easily, more happily, than they could ever learn to do elsewhere. They could carry forward his designs, work in his stead, and feel, act, and talk as if he were still one of them. Not only did they thus happily regard him in the broad sunshine, when amidst the lively hum of voices from the village they were apt to fancy that they could distinguish his; but, ill the dead of night, when the doctor was alone in his observatory, or sometimes assisted by Mrs. Sneyd. (who had taken pains to qualify herself thus late to aid her husband,) bright thoughts of the departed would accompany the planets in their courses, and hopes were in attendance which did not vanish with the morning light, or grow dark in the evening shade. The large telescope was not, for some time, of the use that was expected, for want of such an assistant as Arthur. A sigh would occasionally escape from Dr. Sneyd when he felt how Arthur would have enjoyed a newly-made discovery,—how he might have suggested the means of removing a difficulty. Then a smile would succeed at the bare imagination of how much greater things might be revealed in Arthur's new sphere of habitation; and at the conviction that the progress of God's truth can never be hurtfully delayed, whether its individual agents are left to work here, or removed to a different destination elsewhere.
Hopes, different in kind, but precious in their way, rested now on Temmy,—soon to be called by the less undignified name of Temple. The boy had brightened, in intellect and in spirits, from the hour that he began to surmount his agitation at the idea of being some day sole master of the farm. There was something tangible in farm-learning, which he felt he could master when there was no one to rebuke and ridicule almost every thing he attempted; and in this department he had a model before him on which his attention was for ever fixed. Uncle Arthur was the plea for every new thing he proposed to attempt; and, by dint of incessant recourse to it, he attempted many things which he would not otherwise have dreamed of. Among other visions for the future, he saw himself holding the pen in the observatory, sans peur et sans reproche.
He was some time in learning to attend to two things at once; and all his merits and demerits might safely be discussed within a yard of his ear, while he was buried in mathematics or wielding his pencil; which he always contrived to do at odd moments.
“What is he about now?” was the question that passed between the trio who were observing him, one evening, when he had been silent some time, and appeared to be lightly sketching on a scrap of paper which lay before him.
“Ephraim's cabin, I dare say,” observed his mother. “We are to have a frolic in a few days, to raise a cabin for Ephraim, who has worked wonderfully hard in the prospect of having a dwelling of his own. It is Temple's affair altogether; and I know his head has been full of it for days past. He wishes that Ephraim's cabin should be second to none on the estate.”
“Let us see what he will make of it,” said the doctor, putting on his spectacles, and stepping softly behind Temple. He looked on, over the youth's shoulder, for a few minutes, with a quiet smile, and then beckoned his wife.
This second movement Temple observed. He looked up hastily.
“Very like my dear boy! It is very like. It is something worth living for, Temple, to be so remembered.
“So remembered as this, Sir! It is so easy to copy the face, the——”
“The outward man? It is a great pleasure to us that you find it so; but it gives us infinitely more to see that you can copy after a better manner still. We can see a likeness there too, Temple.”
Having illustrated the leading principles which regulate the Production, Distribution, and Exchange of Wealth, we proceed to consider the laws of its Consumption.
Of these four operations, the three first are means to the attainment of the last as an end.
Consumption by individuals is the subject before us. Government consumption will be treated of hereafter.[Back to Table of Contents]
Summary of Principles illustrated in this volume.
Consumption is of two kinds, productive and unproductive.
The object of the one is the restoration, with increase, in some new form, of that which is consumed. The object of the other is the enjoyment of some good through the sacrifice of that which is consumed.
That which is consumed productively is capital, reappearing for future use. That which is consumed unproductively ceases to be capital, or any thing else. It is wholly lost.
Such loss is desirable or the contrary in proportion as the happiness resulting from the sacrifice exceeds or falls short of the happiness belonging to the continued possession of the consumable commodity.
The total of what is produced is called the gross produce.
That which remains, after replacing the capital consumed, is called the net produce.
While a man produces only that which he himself consumes, there is no demand and supply.
If a man produces more of one thing than he consumes, it is for the sake of obtaining something which another man produces, over and above what he consumes.
Each brings the two requisites of a demand; viz., the wish for a supply, and a commodity wherewith to obtain it.
This commodity, which is the instrument of demand, is, at the same time, the instrument of supply.
Though the respective commodities of no two producers may be exactly suitable to their respective wishes, or equivalent in amount, yet, as every man's instrument of demand and supply is identical, the aggregate demand of society must be precisely equal to its supply.
In other words, a general glut is impossible.
A partial glut is an evil which induces its own remedy; and the more quickly, the greater the evil; since, the aggregate demand and supply being always equal, a superabundance of one commodity testifies to the deficiency of another; and, all exchangers being anxious to exchange the deficient article for that which is superabundant, the production of the former will be quickened, and that of the latter slackened.
A new creation of capital, employed in the production of the deficient commodity, may thus remedy a glut.
A new creation of capital is always a benefit to society, by constituting a new demand.
It follows that all unproductive consumption of capital is an injury to society, by contracting the demand. In other words, an expenditure which avoidably exceeds the revenue is a social crime.
All interference which perplexes the calculations of producers, and thus causes the danger of a glut, is also a social crime.
THE THREE AGES.[Back to Table of Contents]
One fine summer day, about three hundred and ten years ago, all Whitehall was astir with the throngs who were hastening to see my Lord Cardinal set forth from the episcopal palace for the Parliament House. The attendants of the great man had been collected for some time,— if bearers of the silver crosses, of the glittering pillars, and of the gilt mace, those who shouldered the pole=axes, the running footmen, and the grooms who held the well-clothed mules. The servants of the palace stood round, and there came among them a troop of gentlemen in foreign costume, whose country could not be divined from their complexions, since each wore a mask, rarely painted wherever left uncovered by a beard made of gold or silver wire. When my Lord Cardinal came forth, glowing in scarlet damask, and towering above everybody else by the height of the pillion and black velvet noble which he carried on his head, these strangers hastened to range themselves round the mule, (little less disguised than they,) and to offer a homage which savoured of mockery nearly as strongly as that of casual passengers, who had good reason for beholding with impatience the ostentatious triumphs of the “butcher's dog,” as an angry man had been heard to call my Lord Cardinal. “Wolsey made a sudden halt, and his goodly shoe, blazing with gems, met the ground less tenderly than was its wont, as its wearer stopped to cast a keen glance upon the strangers. He removed from beneath his nose the orange peel filled with confections which might defy the taint of the common people, and handed it to a page, with a motion which signified that he perceived how an atmosphere awaited him which he need not fear to breathe. There was then a general pause.
“Pleaseth it your Grace,” said one of the strangers, “there are certain in Blackfriars that await your Grace's passage and arrival, to prosper a light affair, in which your Grace's countenance will be comfortable to them. Will it please you to spare them further perplexity of delay?”
The Cardinal bowed low to the speaker, mounted his mule in all solemnity, and in a low voice asked for the honour of the stranger's latest commands to his obedient parliament.
“Commend us heartily to them, and see that they be readily obedient. We commend them to your Grace's tuition and governance. We will be advertised of their answer at a certain fair house at Chelsea, where we shall divert ourselves till sunset. Pray heaven your Grace may meet as good diversion in Blackfriars!”
The strangers renewed their obeisances, and drew back to allow the Cardinal's stately retinue to form and proceed. The crowd of gazers moved on with the procession, and left but few to observe the motions of the strangers when the last scarlet drapery had fluttered, and the last gold mace had gleamed on the sight. He who seemed the leader of the foreigners then turned from the gate of the episcopal palace, followed by his companions. All mounted mules which awaited them at some distance, and proceeded in the direction of Chelsea.
They saw many things on the way with which they might make merry. Pale, half-naked men were employed along the whole length of road in heaping up wood for bonfires, as the people had been told that it pleased the King's Highness that they should rejoice for a mighty success over the French. There was something very diverting, it was found, in the economy of one who reserved a clean bit of board to be sawn into dust to eke out the substance of his children's bread; and nothing could be more amusing than the coolness with which another pulled up the fence of his little field, that the wood might go to the bonfire, and the scanty produce of the soil to any wandering beggar who chose to take it, the owner having spent his all in supporting this war, and being now about to become a wandering beggar himself. He was complimented on his good cheer, when he said that the king's asses were welcome to the thistles of his field, and the king's pages to adorn themselves with the roses of his garden, since the king himself had levied as tribute the corn of the one and the fruits of the other. There was also much jesting with a damsel who seemed nothing loth to part with her child, when they offered playfully to steal it to be brought up for the wars. She thought the boy might thus perchance find his father, since he owed his birth to one who had promised the woman to get her father released from the prison where he pined because he was unable to pay his share of the Benevolence by which the King's wars were to be carried on. She would give her son in exchange for her father, in hopes of forgetting her anger and her shame. The child was cast back into her arms with the assurance that when he was strong enough to wield his weapon, the King's Highness would call for him. The next diverting passage was the meeting with a company of nuns, on their way from their despoiled convent to find a hiding-place in London. There was some exercise of wit in divining, while the maidens kept their veils before their faces, which of them were under four-and-twenty, and might therefore be toyed with, according to the royal proclamation, that all below that age were released from their vows. When the veils were pulled aside, there was loud laughter at the trembling of some of the women, and the useless rage of others, and at the solemn gravity of the youngest and prettiest of them all, who was reproved by her superior for putting on a bold, undismayed face when so many older and wiser sisters were brought to their wits' end. Nothing could be made of her, and she was therefore the first to be forgotten when new matter of sport appeared. A friar, fatter than he seemed likely to be in future, was seen toiling along the road under a loaded basket, which the frolickers were certain must contain something good, from its being in the custody of a man of God. They got round him, so enclosing him with their beasts that he could not escape, and requested to be favoured with the sight and scent of the savoury matters which his basket doubtless contained, and for which they hungered and thirsted, since they had seen none but meagre fare in the houses they had passed:—little better than coarse bread had met their eyes since their own morning meal. The friar was not unwilling to display his treasures, (although unsavoury.) in the hope of a parting gift: so the eyes of the stranger were regaled with the parings of St. Edmund's toes,—the most fastidious of saints in respect of his feet, to judge from the quantity of such parings as one and another of the present company had seen since there had been a stir among the monasteries. There were two of the coals which had roasted St. Lawrence—now cool enough to be safely handled. A head of St. Ursula,—very like a whale,—but undoubtedly a head of St. Ursula, because it was a perfect preventive of weeds in corn. The friar was recommended to bestow it upon the poor man who had been seen pulling up the fence of his barren field; but the leader of the party could not spare the friar at present. The holy man did not know his own age, for certain. He must,—all the party would take their oath of it,—be under four-and-twenty, and his merriment would match admirably with the gravity of the young nun who had just passed. Two of the revellers were sent back to catch, and bring her with all speed to Chelsea, where she should be married to the friar before the day was over; the King's Highness being pleased to give her a dower. The friar affected to enjoy this as a jest, and sent a message to the damsel while inwardly planning how to escape from the party before they should reach Chelsea.
His planning was in vain. He was ordered to ride behind one of the revellers, and his precious burden of relics was committed to the charge of another, and some of the mocking eyes of the party were for ever fixed on the holy man, insomuch that he did not dare to slip down and attempt to escape; and far too soon for him appeared the low, rambling house, its expanse of roof alive with pert pigeons, its garden alleys stretching down to the Thames, and its porch and gates guarded with rare, grim-looking stuffed quadrupeds placed in attitudes,—very unlike the living animals which might be seen moving at their pleasure in the meadow beyond.
On the approach of the party, one female face after another appeared at the porch, vanished and reappeared, till an elderly lady came forth, laden with fruit, from a close alley, and served as a centre, round which rallied three or four comely young women, a middle-aged gentleman who was the husband of one of them, and not a few children. The elder dame smoothed a blow which was evidently too apt to be ruffled, put into her manner such little courtesy as she could attain, and having seen that servants enough were in attendance to relieve her guests of their mules, offered the King's Majesty the choice of the garden or the cooler house, while a humble repast was in course of preparation.
The attendant gentlemen liked the look of the garden, and the thought of straying through its green walks, or sitting by the water's edge in company with the graceful and lively daughters of Sir Thomas More; but Henry chose to rest in the house, and it was necessary for some of his followers to remain beside him. While some, therefore, made their escape, and amused themselves with finding simihtudes for one young lady in the swan which floated in a square pond, and in sprinkling another with drops from the fountain which rained coolness over the circular grass-plat, others were called upon to follow the King from the vestibule, which looked like the antechamber to Noah's ark, and the gallery where the promising young artist, Holbein, had hung two or three portraits, to the study,—the large and airy study,—strewed with fresh rushes and ornamented with books, manuscripts, maps, viols, virginals, and other musical instruments, and sundry specimens of ladies' works.
“Marry,” said the King, looking round him, “there are no needs here of the lackery of my Lord Cardinal's and other palaces. These maps and perspectives are as goodly as any cloth of gold at Hampton, or any cloth of bodkin at York House. Right fair ladies, this holy friar shall discourse to us, if you are so minded, of the things here figured forth.”
The ladies had been accustomed to hear a holy man (though not a friar) discourse of things which were, not dreamed of in every one's philosophy; but they respectfully waited for further light from the friar, who now stepped forward to explain how no map could be made complete, because the end of the land and sea, where there was a precipice at its edge, overhanging hell, was shrouded with a dark mist. He found, with astonishing readiness, the country of the infidels, ant the very place of the sepulchre, and the land where recent travellers had met with the breed of asses derived from the beast which carried Christ into Jerusalem. These were known from the common ass from having, not only Christ's common mark,—the cross,—but the marks of his stripes; and from the race suffering no one to ride them but a stray saint whom they might meet wayfaring. Many more such treasures of natural science did he lay open to his hearers with much fluency, as long as uninterrupted; but when the young ladies, as was their wont when discoursing on matters of science with their father or their tutor, made their inquiries in the Latin tongue, the friar lost his eloquence, and speedily substituted topics of theology; the only matter of which he could treat in Latin. This was not much to Henry's taste. He could at any time hear all the theology he chose treated of by the first masters in his kingdom; but it was not every day that graceful young creatures, as witty as they were wise were at hand to amuse his leisure with true tales,—not “of men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,” but of things quite as unknown to his experience, and far more beautiful to his fancy. It was a pity that Mr. Roper, the husband of the eldest of these young ladies, was present, as it prevented the guests putting all the perplexing questions which might otherwise have occurred to them.
By the time the house had resounded with music, and the King had found his way up to the roof of the house,—where he had more than once amused himself with star=gazing, in the company of his trusty and well-beloved, the honourable Speaker, his host,—dinner was announced.
The dame had bustled about to so much purpose, that the service of pewter made a grand display, the board was amply spread, and the King's Highness was not called upon to content himself with the homely fare of a farm-house, as he had been assured he must. There was a pudding which marvellously pleased the royal palate; and Henry would know whose ingenuity had devised the rare mixture of ingredients.
“If it like your Grace,” replied the lady, “the honour must be parted between me and Margaret, now sitting at your Grace's right hand. The matter was put in a good train by me, in every material point; but as touching the more cunning and delicate—”
“Mine own good mistress Margaret,” interrupted Henry, “we are minded to distinguish the great pain and discretion that you have towardly exercised on this matter; and for a recompense, we appoint you the monies of the next monastery that we shall require to surrender. The only grace we ask is that we may appoint the marriage of the monks who shall owe their liberty to us. Please it you, holy father, to advertise us of a sumptuous monastery that may be most easily discharged?”
“I beseech your Grace to remember that what the regal power may overthrow, the papal power will rectify. Any damageable proceedings may bring on the head of your Highness's servants a grievous punishment.”
“From Servus Servorum?” said the King, laughing. “Let him come to the succour of the monks of Beggam, when they ring their abbey bell, and carry away the sums in their treasury from the hands of Mistress Margaret, to whom we appoint them. Nay, Mistress Margaret, I desire you as lovingly to take this largesse as I do mean it; and ensure yourself that was ill-gotten which is now well-bestowed.”
The friar probably wished to be dismissed from the King's presence before his destined bride should arrive; for he muttered that dogs and base poisoners, who have their chiefest hope in this world, were ever ready to speak unfitting and slanderous words against those whom the holy Trinity held fast in his preservation. The naughty friar received, not an order to go about his business for supposing that Henry was deceived, but a box on the ear from the dignified hands of the monarch, and a promise that he should try the Little Ease in the Tower, if he did not constrain his contumacious tongue in the King's presence. A dead silence followed this rebuff,—partly caused by dismay at the King's levity about popish matters, and partly by sorrow that he should wantonly increase the enmity which was known to be borne to him by the monks and friars in his dominions. The only way of restoring the banished mirth was to call in one who stood without,—the facetious natural who was wont to season Henry's repasts with his jests.
As the jester entered, a royal messenger was seen standing outside, as if anxious to deliver the letter he had in charge; and, unfitting as seemed the time, it was presently in the hands of Henry. Its contents seemed to leave him in no humour for feast or jest; and he had given no further signal for mirth when his entirely beloved counsellor, the Cardinal, and his trusty and honourable Speaker arrived,—the one to glow and glitter in his costly apparel, and feast off “plump fesaunts,” and the other to resume the homely guise he loved best, and refresh himself with fruits and water.
“Marry, my Lords,” cried the King, when they were seated, one on each side of him, “if the Lower House be not mindful of our needs, our sister of Scotland may satisfy herself for her jewels as she may. She is ashamed therewith; and would God there had never been word of the legacy, as the jewels are worth less to her than our estimation.”
“Says the Queen of Scotland so much?” inquired the Cardinal.
“Satisfy yourself how much more,” replied the King, handing to Wolsey the angry letter in which Margaret of Scotland expressed her contempt for the withholding of her father's legacy of jewels.
“Please your Highness, there are matters of other necessity than a perplexed woman's letter,” observed the Cardinal, with a freedom of speech which was not now displeasing to his master.
“Another wager lost by the Princess's governante in her Highness' name? Let us divert ourself with the inventory, my Lord Cardinal, while you refresh yourself in a more hearty wise than our trusty host.”
Wolsey was impatient to consult upon the measures necessary to be taken to follow up the extorted resolution of the House to furnish supplies to the King's needs: but Henry was in a mood for trifling, and he would examine for himself the list of requests from the steward of the Princess's household; a list regularly addressed to the Cardinal, who chose to superintend the details of all the management that he could get into his own hands. Passing his arm round More's neck, the King jested upon the items in the letter,—the ship of silver for the alms dish, the spice plates, the disguisings for an interlude at a banquet, the trumpets for the minstrels, and a bow and quiver for his lady's Grace. There was an earnest beseeching for a Lord of Misrule for the honourable household, and for a rebeck to be added to the band. A fair steel glass from Venice was desired, and a pair of hose wrought in silk and gold from Flanders. There was an account of a little money paid for “Mr. John poticary” coming to see my lady sick, and a great deal for a pound and a half of gold for embroidering a night-gown. Something was paid for a frontlet lost in a wager with my little lady Jane; and something more for the shaving of her Grace's fool's head; and, again, for binding prentice the son of a servant, and for Christopher, the surgeon, letting her lady's Grace blood; and again for a wrought carnation satin for the favoured lady's maid.
“I marvel, my Lord Cardinal,” said the King, “that your Grace can take advice of the ordering of the Princess's spice plates, and leave your master to be sorely perplexed with the grooms and the yeomen and pages, and those that bring complaints from the buttery, and the wardrobe of beds, and the chaundery, and the stables, till my very life is worn with tales of the mighty wants and debts of the household.”
“If it like your Grace, my most curious inquisition hath of late been into the particulars of the royal household; and my latest enemies are divers grooms, yeomen, and pages, whom I have compelled to perform their bounden service to your Majesty, or to surrender it.”
The Speaker conceived that the charge of his own household would be enough for the Cardinal, if he were made as other men; but as the King's was added, that of the Princess might reasonably devolve upon some less occupied——
“Upon yourself?” inquired the King. “Marry, if you were to appoint your spare diet of fruit for the Princess, Mistress Margaret should add to it such a pudding as I have to-day tasted. What say you, Mistress Margaret?” he continued, calling back the ladies who were modestly retiring, on finding the conversation turning upon matters of state.
“My Margaret has no frontlets to lose in betting,” observed Sir Thomas More. “But your Grace knows that there are many who have more leisure for ordering the Princess's household than your poor councillor. There are divers in your good city of London who can tell whether the silver ship for the alms-dish will not carry away the alms; and we have passed some by the wayside to-day who would see somewhat miraculous in these Venetian mirrors, not knowing their own faces therein.”
“These are not mirrors whose quality it is to make faces seem long, or, certes, we ourself would use one,” said the King.
“Long faces might sometimes be seen without glasses,” Sir Thomas More quietly replied.
“As for shaven fools' heads,” observed the King, looking at the friar, “there is no need to go to the Princess's household to divert ourselves with that spectacle. We will beseech our released monks, who must needs lack occupation, to watch over their brethren of our household in this particular.”
Sir Thomas More requested the friar to pronounce the thanksgiving over the board, (as the Cardinal had at length finished his meal,) and to instruct the women in certain holy matters, while the King's Highness should receive account of the passages of the morning.
Henry looked from the one to the other to know what had been their success in raising money from his faithful Commons. The Cardinal opened to him his plans for securing assent to the levy of an enormous benevolence. Wolsey himself had never been more apt, more subtle, more busy, than in his devices on this occasion, He had found errands in remote parts for most whose obstinacy was to be feared. He had ordered down to the House all the King's servants who had a vote there : had discharged easily of their sins many who were wavering in the matter of the subsidy; and had made as imposing an appearance as possible on going to Blackfriars to “reason” with the members who believed that the people could not pay the money. And what was the result?
“Please it your Grace to understand that there hath been the greatest and sorest hold in the House that ever was seen, I think, in any Parliament. There was such a hold that the House was like to be dissevered, but that the Speaker did mediate graciously between your Highness and the greedy Jews that bearded me.”
“Mediate, I trow! And why not command, as beseems the Speaker?” cried the King, glancing angrily on More.
“In his bearing the Speaker is meek,” observed Wolsey, with some malice in his tone. “His words were dutiful, and the lowness of his obeisance an ensample to the whole Parliament.”
“And what were his acts?”
“He informed me that the Commons are not wont to be reasoned with by strangers, and that the splendour of my poor countenance must needs bewilder their deliberations.”
“So be it. We have deliberated too long and too deeply for our royal satisfaction on the matter of filling our coffers. We expect our Commons to fill them without deliberation. Wherefore this repining and delay?” asked Henry of More.
“Because your Grace's true servants would that this vast sum should be well and peaceably levied, without grudge——”
“We trouble not ourself about the grudge, if it be surely paid,” interrupted Henry.
“We would that your Grace should not lose the true hearts of your subjects, which we reckon a greater treasure than gold and silver,” replied the Speaker.
“And why lose their hearts? Do they think that no man is to fare well, and be well clothed but themselves?”
“That is the question they have this morning asked of the Lord Cardinal,” replied More, “when my Lord discoursed to them of the wealth of the nation, as if it were a reason why they should make such a grant as your Majesty's ancestors never heard of. One said that my lord had seen something of the wealth of the nation, in the form of a beautiful welcoming of your Majesty; but of the nation's poverty, it is like the Lord Cardinal has seen less than he may see, if the benevolence is finally extorted.”
“And who is this one that beards my Lord Cardinal?”
“The one who spoke of the nation's poverty is one who hath but too much cause to do so from what his own eyes have seen within his own household. He is one Richard Read, an honourable alderman of London, once wealthy, but now, as I said, entitled, through his service to your Majesty, to discourse of poverty.”
“Marry, I would that he would discourse of our poverty as soothly as of his own. Has he been bearded by France? Is he looking for an invasion from Scotland? Has he relations with his Holiness, and enterprizes of war to conduct?”
“Such were the questions of my Lord Cardinal. He seems to be fully possessed of your Grace's mind.”
“And what was the answer?”
“That neither had the late King left to him in legacy nearly two millions of pounds. Neither had he levied a benevolence last year, nor borrowed twenty thousand pounds of the city of London. If he had, there might not now perhaps have been occasion for alleging such high necessity on the King's part, nor for such high poverty expressed, not only by the commoners, citizens, and burgesses, but by knights, esquires, and gentlemen of every quarter.”
“And the Lord Cardinal did not allow such argument of poverty. How did he rebuke the traitor for his foul sayings?”
“If it like your Grace, this Richard Read was once this day ordered to be committed to prison, but he is still abroad. He regards himself and his family as despoiled by never having rest from payments; and he cares not greatly what he does. This is also the condition of so many that it would not be safe to offer vengeance till the cuckoo time and hot weather (at which time mad brains are most wont to be busy) shall be overpassed.”
The King rose in great disturbance, and demanded of Wolsey why he had not sent to a distance all who were likely to dispute the subsidy he desired. Wolsey coolly assured him that this was an easier thing to speak of than to do, as there were but too large a number who desired that no more conquests should be sought in France, urging that the winning thereof would be more chargeful than profitable, and the keeping more chargeful than the winning. Audacious dogs were these, the Cardinal declared; but it must be wary whipping till some could be prevented from flying at the throat, while another was under the lash. But the day should come when those who ought to think themselves only too much honoured in being allowed to supply the King's needs, should leave off impertinently speculating on the infinite sums which they said had been already expended in the invading of France, out of which nothing had prevailed in comparison with the costs. If his Majesty would but turn over his vengeance to his poor councillor, the pernicious knaves should be made to repent.
“Of the salt tears they have shed, only for doubt how to find money to content the King's Highness?” inquired More.
“Their tears shall hiss hot upon their cheeks in the fire of my vengeance,” cried the King. “Send this traitor Read to prison, that he may answer for his words. If he keeps his head, he shall come out with such a hole in his tongue as shall make him for ever glad to keep it within his teeth.”
The Cardinal endeavoured to divert the King's rage. He was as willing as his royal master that this honest alderman Read should suffer for his opposition to the exactions of the Government; but he knew that to send one murmurer to prison at this crisis would be to urge on to rebellion thousands of the higher orders, to head the insurrections which were already beginning in the eastern counties. He now hastened to assure Henry that there had not been wanting some few men besides himself to rebuke the stupidity of those who complained of the impoverishment of the nation, and to explain that which was given to the King for his needs was returned by the King in the very supplying of those needs.
“After there had been much discourse,” said he, “of what straits the nation would be in if every man had to pay away his money, and how the whole frame and intercourse of things would be altered if tenants paid their landlords in corn and cattle, so that the landlords would have but little coin left for traffic, so that the nation itself, for want of money, must grow in a sort barbarous and ignoble, it was answered that the money was only transferred into the hands of others of the same nation, as in a vast market where, though the coin never lies still, all are accommodated.”
“I will use despatch,” observed More, “to write this comforting news to a cousin-german of mine, who is in sore distress because some rogues have despoiled him of a store of angels that he had kept for his daughter's dower. I will assure him that there can be no impoverishment in his case.”
Wolsey had not finished his speech. He had something still to say about how much more precious was the wealth which descended from the throne in streams of royal bounty and custom than when it went up from the rude hands of his unworthy subjects. His Majesty only accepted for a time, in order to return what he had received, embalmed with his grace, and rendered meet to be handled with reverential ecstacy.
“Further good tidings for my cousin-german,” observed More. “If the money which has been taken from him be spent in purchasing his corn and cattle, he has nothing to complain of. His injury is repaired, and his daughters are dowered. O rare reparation,—when the gentleman is no worse, and the rogues are the better by the corn and cattle!”
“At this rate, O rare philosopher!” said Henry, “the way to make men rich is to rob them; and to tax a people is to give them wealth. We have wit, friend, to spy out jest from earnest. But who reports of these salt tears?”
“Does not every report from the eastern counties savour of them?” inquired More. “And in the west a like pernicious rheum distils in the cold wind of poverty. And so it is in the north and south, though this be the cuckoo time, and the season of hot weather.”
“It is the Parliament, your Grace may be assured,” interrupted the Cardinal,—“it is your right trusty Lower House that devises sad tales of salt tears to move such pitiful hearts as that of the Honourable Speaker. If your Grace had seen how enviously they looked upon my poor train, as we entered Blackfriars, and how they stood peevishly mute in the House, each one like your Highness's natural under disfavour, your Grace would marvel that the tales are not of tears of blood.”
“Patience!” said More. “The next east wind will bring such rumours as you speak of. They are already abroad.”
“The Parliament shall not puff them in our face,” cried Henry. “On our conscience, we have borne with our faithless Commons too long. They shall have another seven years to spy out the poverty that is above them, while we will not listen to their impertinent tales of that which is below. My Lord Cardinal, let them be dispersed for seven years.”
“And then,” observed More, “they will have time to learn what your Majesty's wisdom already discerns,—how much more fatal is poverty in high places than in low. The contemptible handicraftsman can, while consuming his scanty food of to-day, produce the scanty food of to-morrow; while the gallants of your Grate's court,—right noble gentlemen as they are,— must beg of the low artizan to repair to-morrow that. which they magnificently consume to-day.”
“My nobles are not beggars,” cried the King. “They pay for their pomp.”
“Most true. And their gold is right carefully cleansed from the rust of salt tears, which else might blister their delicate fingers. But were it not better for them to take their largess from the people in corn and meat and wine at once,—since the coin which they handle hath been already touched by the owner of land who has taken it as rent, or, worse still, by the merchant as his gains, or, worst of all, by the labourer as his hire?”
Wolsey assured the Speaker that his suggestion would soon be acted upon. The people were so shy of making payments from their rent, their profits, and their wages, that it would be necessary to take for the King's service the field of the landowner, the stock of the merchant, and——
“And what next? For then there will be left no hire for the labourer.”
The Cardinal grew suddenly oracular about the vicissitudes of human affairs, and the presumption of looking into futurity. The Speaker bowed low under the holy man's discourse, and the King was reassured.
“I marvel that your wit does not devise some pastimes that may disperse the ill-blood of the people,” said Henry. “Dull homes cloud men's minds with vapours: and your Grace is full strict with them in respect of shows and outward apparel. My gallants have not ceased their jests on the aged man from whom your Grace's own hands stripped the crimson jacket decked with gauds. And there is talk of many pillories being wanted for men who have worn shirts of a finer texture than suits your Grace's pleasure.”
“Is there not amusement enough for the people.” asked More, “in gazing at the Lord Cardinal's train? For my part, I know not elsewhere of so fine a pageant. If they must have more, the legate is coming, and who has measured the scarlet cloth which is sent over to Calais to clothe Campeggio's train? This will set to people agape for many days,—if they can so spy out my Lord Cardinal's will about their apparel as to dare to come forth into the highway.”
The King thought the pleasure of beholding a pageant did not last long enough effectually to quiet the popular discontents. He wished that fields could be opened for the sports of the young men, and that companies of strolling mummers could be supported at the royal expense. His miraculous bounty and benignity were extolled so that it was a pity the people themselves were not by to say Amen; but it was feared the said people must take the will for the deed, as, in the present condition of the exchequer, it was impossible to afford the appropriation of the ground, the outlay upon it to render it fit for the proposed objects, or the annual expense of keeping it up. The people must remain subject to blue devils, and liable to rebellion, till the Scots were beaten off, and the French vanquished; till the Pope had done with Henry, and the court had been gratified with a rare new masque, for which an extraordinary quantity of cloth of gold, and cloth of silver, and cloth of taffety, and cloth of bodkin, would be necessary; to say nothing of the forty-four varieties of jewelled copes of the richest materials which had been ordered for the chaplains and cunning singing-men of the royal chapel. The king's dignity must be maintained;—a truth in which More fully agreed. What kingly dignity is, he was wont to settle while pacing one of the pleached alleys of his garden as the sun was going down in state, presenting daily a gorgeous spectacle which neither Wolsey nor Campeggio could rival, and which would have been better worth the admiration of the populace if their eyes had not been dimmed by hunger, and their spirits jarred by tyranny into a dissonance with nature. More was wont to ridicule himself as a puppet when decked out with his official trappings; and he was apt to fancy that such holy men as the future Defender of the Faith and the anointed Cardinal must have somewhat of the same notions of dignity as himself.—There were also seasons when he remembered that there were other purposes of public expenditure besides the maintenance of the outward state of the sovereign. His daughters and he had strengthened one another in the notion that the public money ought to be laid out in the purchase of some public benefit; and that it would not be un-pardonable in the nation to look even beyond the Defence of their territory, and ask for an ample administration of Justice, a liberal provision for Public Works, and perhaps, in some wiser age, an extensive apparatus of National Education. He was wont to look cheerfully to the good Providence of God in matters where he could do nothing; but he was far from satisfied that the enormous sums squandered in damaging the French availed anything for the defence of the English : or that those who most needed justice were the most likely to obtain it, as long as it must be sought with a present in the hand which was not likely to be out-bid; or that the itinerant justice-mongers of his day were of much advantage to the people, as long as their profits and their credit in high quarters depended on the amount they delivered in as amercements of the guilty. He was not at all sure that the peasant who had done his best to satisfy the tax-gatherer was the more secure against the loss of what remained of his property, whenever a strong oppressor should choose to wrest it from him. He could see nothing done in the way of public works by which the bulk of the tax-payers might be benefited. Indeed, public possessions of this kind were deteriorating even faster, if possible, than private property; and the few rich commoners, here and there, who dreaded competition in their sales of produce, might lay aside their fears for the present. Competition was effectually checked, not only by the diminution of capital, but by the decay of roads and bridges which there were no funds to repair. As for education, the only chance was that the people might gain somewhat by the insults offered to the Church. The unroofed monks might carry some slight scent of the odour of learning from the dismantled shrines; but otherwise it seemed designed that the people's acquaintance with polite learning should be confined to two points which were indeed very strenuously taught,—the King's supremacy and the Cardinal's infallibility.
More was not much given to reverie. While others were discoursing, his ready wit seldom failed to interpose to illustrate and vivify what was said. His low, distinct utterance made itself heard amidst the laughter or the angry voices which would have drowned the words of almost any one else; and the aptness of his speech made him as eagerly sought in the royal circle as sighed for by his own family, when he was not at hand to direct and enlighten their studies in their modest book-chamber. He was much given to thought in his little journeys to and from town, and in his leisure hours of river-gazing, and star-exploring; but he seldom indulged his meditations in company. Now, however, while Henry and Wolsey laid their scheme for swearing every man of the King's subjects to his property, and taxing him accordingly,—not only without the assistance of Parliament, but while the Commons were dispersed for seven years,—More was speculating within himself on the subject of kingly dignity.
“One sort of dignity,” thought he, “consists with the purposes of him who regards his people as his servants, and another with the wishes of him who regards himself as the servant of his people. As for the monarchs who live in times when the struggle is which party shall be a slave, God's mercy be on them and their people! Their throne moves, like an idol's car, over the bones of those who have worshipped or defied their state; and they have fiends to act as mummers in their pageants, and defiled armour for their masques, and much dolorous howling in the place of a hand of minstrels. In such days the people pay no tax, because the monarch has only to stretch forth his hand and take. It is a better age when the mummers are really merry, and minstrels make music that gladdens the heart like wine; and gaudy shows make man's face to shine like the oil of the Hebrews: but it would be better if this gladdening of some made no heart heavy; and this partial heaviness must needs he where childish sports take place; and the gawds of a court like ours are but baby sports after all. When my little ones made a pageant in the meadow, there were ever some sulking, sooner or later, under the hedge or within the arbour, while there was unreasonable mirth among their fellows in the open sunshine,— however all might be of one accord in the study and at the board. And so is it ever with those who follow childish plays, be they august kings, or be they silly infants. But it is no April grief that clouds the faces of the people while their King is playing the master in order afterwards to enact the buffoon. They have spent more upon him than the handful of meadow-flowers that children fling into the lap to help the show; and they would do worse in their moods than pull these gay flowers to pieces, after the manner of a freakish babe. Remembering that it is the wont of honest masters to pay their servants, they are ill content to pay the very roofs from off their houses, and the seed from out of their furrows, to be lorded over, and for the greatest favour, laid at the gate to see Dives pass in and out in his purple and fine linen. It is ill sport for Dives to whistle up his dogs to lick the poor man's sores when so black a gulf is opening yonder to swallow up his pomp. May be, his brethren that shall come after him shall be wiser; as all are apt to become as time rolls on. The matin hour decks itself gorgeously with long bright trains, and flaunts before men's winking eyes, as if all this grandeur were not made of tears caught up for a little space into a bright region, but in their very nature made to dissolve and fall in gloom. But then there is an end of the folly, and out of the gloom step forth other hours, growing clearer, and more apt to man's steady uses; so that when noon is come, there is no more pranking and shifting of purple and crimson clouds, but the sun is content to light men perfectly to their business, without being worshipped as he was when gayer but less glorious. Perhaps a true sun-like king may come some day, when men have grown eagle-eyed to hail such an one; and he will not be for calling people from their business to be dazzled with him; nor for sucking up all that the earth will yield, so that there may be drought around and gloom overhead. Rather will he call out bubbling springs from the warm hill-side, and cast a glister over every useful stream, to draw men's eyes to it; and would rather thirst himself than that they should. Such an one will be content to leave it to God's hand to fill him with glory, and would rather kiss the sweat from off the poor man's brow, than that the labourer should waste the precious time in falling on his knees to him to mock him with idolatry. Though he be high enough above the husbandman's head, he is not the lord of the husbandman, but in some sort his servant; though it be a service of more glory than any domination.—If he should chance vainly to forget that there sitteth One above the firmament, he may find that the same Maker who once stayed the sun for the sake of one oppressed people may, at the prayer of another, wheel the golden throne hurriedly from its place, and call out constellations of lesser lights, under whose rule men may go to and fro, and refresh themselves in peace. The state of a king that domineers is one thing; and the dignity of a king that serves and blesses is another; and this last is so noble, that if any shall arise who shall not be content with the office's simplicity, but must needs deck it with trappings and beguile it with toys, let him be assured that he is as much less than man as he is more than ape; and it were wiser in him to rummage out a big nut to crack, and set himself to switch his own tail, than seek to handle the orb and stretch out the sceptre of kings.”
It was a day of disappointments to Henry. Not only were his Commons anything but benevolently disposed towards furnishing the benevolence required, but the young nun would not come to be married to the friar. The gallants who had been sent for her now appeared before the King with fear and trembling, bearing sad tidings of the sturdiness of female self-will. They had traced the maiden to the house of her father, one Richard Read, and had endeavoured to force her away with them, notwithstanding her own resistance, and her mother's and sister's prayers and tears. In the midst of the dispute, her father had returned from Blackfriars, surrounded by the friends who had joined him in declining the tribute which they were really unable to pay. Heated by the insolent words which had been thrown at them by the Cardinal, and now exasperated by the treatment his daughter had met with, Read had dropped a few words,—wonderfully fierce to be uttered in the presence of courtiers in those days,—which were now repeated in the form of a message to the King :—Read had given his daughter to be the spouse of Christ, and had dowered her accordingly; and it did not now suit his paternal ambition that she should be made the spouse of a houseless friar for the bribe of a dowry from the King; this dowry being actually taken from her father under the name of a benevolence to aid the King's necessities. He would neither sell his daughter nor buy the King's favour.
Henry was of course enraged, and ordered the arrest of the entire household of Richard Read; a proceeding which the Cardinal and the Speaker agreed in disliking as impolitic in the present crisis. Wolsey represented to the King that there could be no failure of the subsidy if every recusant were reasoned with apart, instead of being placed in a position where his malicious frowardness would pervert all the rest of the waverers. If good words and amiable behaviour did not avail to induce men to contribute, the obstinate might be brought before the privy council; or, better still, be favoured with a taste of military service. Henry seized upon the suggestion, knowing that such service as that of the Border war was not the pleasantest occupation in the world for a London alderman, at the very time when his impoverished and helpless family especially needed his protection. He lost sight, for the time, as Wolsey intended that he should, of the daughter, while planning fresh tyranny towards her father. The church would be spared the scandal of such a jesting marriage as had been proposed, if, as the Cardinal hoped, the damsel should so withdraw herself as not to be found in the morning. The religious More had aspirations to the same effect.
“It is a turning of nature from its course,” said he, “to make night-birds of these tender young swallows; but they are answerable who seared them from beneath their broad eaves when they were nestled and looked for no storm. Pray the Lord of Hosts that he may open a corner in some one of his altars for this ruffled fledgeling!”
Little did the gentle daughters of More suspect for what message they were summoned to produce writing materials, and desired to command the attendance of a king's messenger. Their father was not required to be aiding and abetting in this exercise of royal tyranny. Perceiving that his presence was not wished for, he stepped into his orchard, to refresh himself with speculations on his harvest of pippins, and to hear what his family had to say on his position with respect to the mighty personages within.
“I marvel,” said his wife to him, “that you should be so wedded to your own small fancies as to do more things that may mislike his Grace than prove your own honest breeding. What with your undue haste to stretch your limbs in your bedesman's apparel, and your simple desire to mere fruit and well-water, his Highness may right easily content himself that his bounty can add nothing to your state.”
“And so shall he best content me, dame. Worldly honour is the thing of which I have resigned the desire; and as for worldly profit, I trust experience proveth, and shall daily prove, that I never was very greedy therein.”
Mr. Roper saw no reason for the lady's rebuke or apprehensions. When did the King's Highness ever more lovingly pass his arm round any subject's neck than this day, when he caressed the honourable Speaker of his faithful Commons?
“There is full narrow space, Mr. Roper, between my shoulders and my head to serve as a long resting-place for a king's caress. Trust me, it he had been a Samson, and if it had suited the pleasure of his Grace, he would at that moment have plucked my head from my shoulders before you all. It may be well for plain men that a king's finger and thumb are not stronger than those of any other man.”
Henry and his poor councillor now appeared from beneath the porch, the one not the less gay, the other not the less complacent, for their having together made provision for the utter ruin of a family whose only fault was their poverty. A letter had been written to the general commanding on the Scotch border, to desire that Richard Read, now sent down to serve as a soldier at his own charge, should be made as miserable as possible, should be sent out on the most perilous duty in the field, and subjected to the most severe privations in garrison, and used in all things according to the sharp military discipline of the northern wars, in retribution for his refusing to pay money which he did not possess. The snare being thus fixed, the train of events laid by which the unhappy wife and daughters were to be compelled first to surrender their only guardian, then to give their all for his ransom from the enemy, and, lastly, to mourn him slain in the field,—this hellish work being carefully set on foot, the devisers thereof came forth boldly into God's day-light, to amuse themselves with innocence and flatter the ear of beauty till the sun went down, and then to mock the oppressed citizens of London with the tumult of their pomp and revelry. Perhaps some who turned from the false glare to look up into the pure sky might ask why the heavens were clear,—where slept the thunderbolt?[Back to Table of Contents]
It was not Sunday morning, yet the bells of every steeple in London had been tolling since sunrise; the shops were all shut; and there was such an entire absence of singers and jugglers, of dancing bears and frolicking monkeys in the streets, that it might seem as if the late Protector had risen from his grave, and stalked abroad to frown over the kingdom once more. Nothing this morning betokened the reign of a merry monarch. No savour of meats issued from any house; no echo of music was heard; the streets were as yet empty, the hour of meeting for worship not having arrived, and there being no other cause for coming abroad. There was more than a sabbath purity in the summer sky, unstained by smoke as it could never be but on the day of a general fast in summer. The few boats on the river which brought worshippers from a distance to observe the solemn ordinance in the city, glided along without noise or display. There was no exhibition of flags; no shouting to rival barks; no matching against time. The shipping itself seemed to have a mournful and penitential air, crowded together in silence and stillness. The present had been an untoward season, as regarded the nation's prosperity, in many respects; and when the court and the people were heartily tired of the festivities which had followed the King's marriage, they bethought themselves of taking the advice of many of their divines, and deprecating the wrath of Heaven in a solemn day of entreaty for rain, and for vengeance on their enemies.
The deepest gloom was not where, perhaps, it would have been looked for by the light-minded who regarded such observances as very whole-some for the common people, but extremely tire-some for themselves. Dr. Reede, a young Presbyterian clergyman, the beloved pastor of a large congregation hi London, came forth from his study an hour before the time of service, with a countenance anything but gloomy, though its mild seriousness befitted the occasion. Having fully prepared himself for the pulpit, he sought his wife. He found her with her two little children, the elder of whom was standing at a chair, turning over the gilt leaves of a new book; while the younger, a tender infant, nestled on its mother's bosom as she walked, in a rather hurried manner, from end to end of the apartment.
“What hath fallen out, Esther? Is the babe ill-disposed?” asked the husband, stooping to look into the tiny face that peeped over Esther's shoulder.
“The child is well, my love; and the greater is my sin in being disturbed. I will be so no more,” she continued, returning to the seat where the child was playing with the book; “I will fret myself no more on account of evildoers, as the word of God gives commandment.”
“Is it this which hath troubled you?” asked her husband, taking up the volume,—the new Book of Common Prayer,—of which every clergyman must shortly swear that he believed the whole, or lose his living. “We knew, Esther, what must be in this book. We knew that it must contain that which would make it to us as the false gospel of the infidels; and, thus knowing, there is no danger in the book.”
And he took it up, and turned over its pages, presently observing, with a smile,—
“Truly, it is a small instrument wherewith to be turned out of so large a living. I could lay my finger over the parts which make a gulf between my church and me which I may not pass. The leaven is but little; but since there it must lie, it leavens the whole lump.”
“Do you think?” inquired Esther, hesitatingly; “is it supposed that many will——that your brethren regard the matter as you do?”
“It will be seen in God's own time how many make a conscience of the oaths they take in his presence. For me it is enough that I believe not all that is in this book. If it had been a question whether the King would or would not compel the oath, I could have humbled myself under his feet to beseech him to spare the consciences which no King can bind; but as it is now too late for this, we must cheerfully descend to a low estate among men, that we may look up before God.”
“Without doubt; I mean nought else; but when, and where shall we go?”
“In a few days, unless it should please God to touch the hearts that he hath hardened,—in a few days we must gird ourselves to go forth.”
“With these little ones! And where?”
“Where there may be some unseen to bid us God speed! Whether the path shall open to the right hand or to the left, what matters it?”
“True: if a path be indeed opened. But these little ones——”
“God hath sent food into the heart of wildernesses whence there was no path; and the Scripture hath a word of the young ravens which cry.”
“It hath. I will never again, by God's grace, look back to the estate which my father lost for this very King. But, without reckoning up that score with him, it moves the irreligious themselves to see how he guides himself in these awful times,—toying in his palace-walks this very morning, while he himself puts sackcloth on the whole nation. Edmund is just come in from seeing the King standing on the green walk in the palace-garden, and jesting with the Jezebel who ever contrives to be at that high, back window as he passes by. I would the people knew of it, that they might avoid the scandal of interceding for a jester whom they suppose to be worshipping with them, while he is thinking of nothing so little all the time as worshipping any but his own wantons.”
“If Edmund can thus testify, it is time that I were enlarging my prayer for the King. If for the godly we intercede seven times, should it not for the ungodly be seventy-times seven?”
Mrs. Reede's brother Edmund could confirm the account. In virtue of an office which he held, he had liberty to pass through the palace-garden. The sound of mirth, contrasting strangely with the distant toll of bells, had drawn him into the shade; and he had seen Charles throwing pebbles up to a window above, where a lady was leaning out, and pelting him with sweetmeats in return. It was hoped that the queen, newly married, and a stranger in the country, was in some far-distant corner of the palace, and that she did not yet understand the tongue in which Charles's excesses were wont to be openly spoken of. The Corporations of London had not yet done feasting and congratulating this most unhappy lady; but all supposed matter of congratulation was already over. The clergy of the kingdom prayed for her as much from compassion as duty; and her fate served them as an unspoken text for their discourses on the vanity of worldly greatness. The mothers of England dropped tears at the thought of the lonely and insulted stranger; and their daughters sighed their pity for the neglected bride.
Edmund now came into the room, and his appearance cost Dr. Reede more sighs than his own impending anxieties. Though Edmund held a place of honour and trust at the Admiralty, he had been in possession of it too short a time to justify such a display as he had of late appeared disposed to make. On this day of solemn fast, he seemed to have no thought of sackcloth, but showed himself in a summer black bombazin suit, trimmed very nobly with scarlet ribbon; a camlet cloak, lined with scarlet; a prodigious periwig, and a new beaver.
“What news do you bring from the navy-yards?” inquired Dr. Reede. “Is there hope of the ill spirit being allayed, and the defence of the country cared for?”
“In truth, but little,” replied Edmund, “unless it become the custom to pay people their dues. What with the quickness of the enemy, and the slowness of the people to work without their wages, and the chief men running after the shows and pastimes of the court, and others keeping their hands by their sides through want of the most necessary materials, and the waste that comes of wanton idleness,—it is said by certain wise persons that it will be no wonder if our enemies come to our very shores to defy us, and burn our shipping in our own river.”
“How is it that you obtain your dues, Edmund? This neat suit would be hardly paid for out of your private fortune.”
“It is time for me to go like myself,” said Edmund, conceitedly, “liable as I am to stand before the King or the Duke. I might complain, like the rest, that but little money is to be seen; but, with such as I have, I must do honour to the King's Majesty, whom I am like to see today.”
Mrs. Reede had so strong an apprehension that Edmund would soon be compelled, like others, to forego his salary, that she saw little that was safe and honourable in spending his money on dress as fast as it came in. But that the servants of government were infected with the vanities of the government, they would prepare for the evil days which were evidently coming on, instead of letting their luxury and their poverty grow together.
“So is it ever, whether the vices of government be austere or pleasant,” observed Dr. Reede. “The people must needs look and speak sourly when Oliver grew grave; and now, they have suddenly turned, as it were, into a vast troop of masqueraders, because the court is merry. But there is a difference in the two examples which it behoves discerning men to perceive. In respect of religious gravity, all men stand on the same ground; it is a matter between themselves and their God. But the government has another responsibility, in regard to its extravagance : it is answerable to men; for government does not earn the wealth it spends; and each act of waste is an injury to those who have furnished the means, and an insult to every man who toils hard for scanty bread.”
Government could not be expected to look too closely into these matters, Edmund thought. All governments were more or less extravagant; and he supposed they always would be.
“Because they live by the toil of others? If so, there is a remedy in making the government itself toil.”
“I would fain see it,” cried Mrs. Reede. “I would fain see the King unravelling his perplexed accounts; and the Duke bestirring himself among the ships and in the army, instead of taking the credit of what better men do; and the court ladies ordering their houses discreetly, while their husbands made ready to show what service they had done the nation. Then, my dear, you would preach to a modest, and sober, and thankful people, who, with one heart, would be ready, to listen.”
“It is but too far otherwise now,” replied Dr. Reede. “Of my hearers, some harden their hearts in unchristian contempt of all that is not as sad as their own spirits; and others look to see that the cloak hangs from the shoulder in a comely fashion as they stand. At the same time, there is more need of the word the more men's minds are divided. This is the age when virtue is oppressed, and the selfish make mirth. Of those that pray for the King's Majesty, how many have given him their children's bread, and mourn and pine, while the gay whom they feed have no thought for their misery! Edmund himself allows that the shipwrights go home without their wages, while he who works scarce at all disports himself with his bombazin suit and scarlet ribbons. Can I preach to them as effectually as if they were content, and he——”
“What?” inquired Edmund.
“In truth, Edmund, I could less find in my heart to admonish these defrauded men for stealing bread from the navy-stores for their hungry children, than you for drawing their envious eyes upon you. The large money that pays your small service, whose is it but theirs,—earned hardly, paid willingly to the King, to be spent in periwigs and silk hose? Shall men who thus injure and feel injury in their worldly labour, listen with one heart and mind to the Sabbath word? Too well I know that, from end to end of this kingdom, there is one tumult of bad passions which set the Scriptures at nought. The lion devours the lamb; the innocent know too well the sting of the asp; and as often as a fleece appears, men spy for the wolf beneath it. What chance hath the word when it falls upon ground so encumbered?”
Edmund pleaded that, though he had done little yet to merit his public salary, he meant to do a great deal. This very day, the King had appointed some confidential person to confer with him on an affair in which his exertions would be required. Things had come to such a pass now in the management of the army and navy, that something must be done to satisfy the people; and Edmund hoped, that if he put on the appearance of a rising young man, he might soon prove to be so, and gain honour in proportion to the profit he was already taking by anticipation.
It must be something very pressing that was wanted of Edmund, if no day would serve but that of this solemn fast. It did not occur to the Reedes that it must be a day of ennui to Charles and his court, at any rate, and that there would be an economy of mirth in transacting at such a time business which must be done.
There was a something in Edmund's countenance and gait as he went to worship this morning which made his sister fear that, during the service, he must be thinking more of the expected interview at the palace than of her husband's eloquent exposition of how the sins of the government were the sins of the nation, and how both merited the chastisement which it was the object of this day's penitence to avert. The sermon was a bold one; but the nation was growing bold under a sense of injury, and of the inconsistency of the government. The time was past when plain speakers could be sent off to the wars, for the purpose of being impoverished, made captive, or slain. Dr. Reede knew, and bore in mind, the fate of a certain ancestor of his, and returned thanks in his heart for such an advance in the recognition of social rights as allowed him to be as honest as his forefathers, with greater impunity. He resolved now to do a bolder thing than he had ever yet meditated,—to take advantage of Edmund's going to the palace to endeavour to obtain an interview with the King, and intercede for the Presbyterian clergy, who must, in a few days, vacate their livings, or violate their con-sciences, unless Charles should be pleased to remember, before it was too late, that he had passed his royal word in their favour. Charles was not difficult of access, particularly on a fast-day; the experiment was worth trying.
The streets were dull and empty as the brothers proceeded to the river-side to take boat for the palace. There was a little more bustle by the stairs whence they meant to embark, the watermen having had abundance of time this day to drink and quarrel. The contention for the present God-send of passengers would have run high, if Edmund had not known how to put on the manner of a personage of great importance; a manner which be sincerely thought himself entitled to assume, it being a mighty pleasure, as he declared to his companion, to feel himself a greater man in the world than he could once have expected for himself, or any of his friends for him. He felt as if he was lord of the Thames, while, with his arms folded in his cloak, and his beaver nicely poised, he looked abroad, and saw not another vessel in motion on the surface of the broad river.
This solitude did not last very long. Dr. Reede had not finished contemplating the distant church of St. Paul's, which Wren, the artist, had been engaged to repair. He was speculating on the probable effect of a cupola (a strange form described, but not yet witnessed, in England); he was wondering what induced Oliver to take the choir for horse-barracks, when so many other buildings in the neighbourhood might have served the purpose better; he was inwardly congratulating his accomplished young friend on his noble task of restoring,—not only to beauty, that which was dilapidated,—but to sanctity that which was desecrated. Dr. Reede was thinking of these things, rather than listening to the watermen's account of a singular new vessel, called a yacht, which the Dutch East India Company had presented to the King, when a barge was perceived to be coming up the river with so much haste as to excite Edmund's attention and stop the boatman's description.
“It is Palmer, bringing news, I am sure,— what mighty haste!” observed Edmund, turning to order the boatmen to make for the barge. “News from sea,—mighty good or bad, I am certain. We will catch them on their way.”
“Palmer, the King's messenger! He will not tell his news to us, Edmund.”
“He will, knowing me, and finding where I am going.”
Palmer did tell his news. His Majesty had sustained a signal defeat abroad. The doubt was where to find the King or the Duke, there being a rumour that they were somewhere on the river. Palmer had witnessed a sailing-match between two royal boats, some way below Greenwich, but he could not make out that any royal personages were on board.
“Here they are, if they be on the river!” exclaimed Edmund, inquiring of the watermen if the extraordinary vessel just coming in sight was not the yacht they had described. It was, and the King must be on board, as no one else would dream of taking pleasure on the river this day.
Edmund managed so well to put himself in the way of being observed while Palmer made his inquiries, that both were summoned on board the yacht. The clergyman looked so unlike anybody that the lords and gentlemen within had commonly to do with, that he was not allowed to remain behind. They seemed to have some curiosity to see whether a presbyterian parson could eat like other men, for they pressed him to sit down to table with them,—a table steaming with the good meats which had been furnished from the kitchen-boat which always followed in the rear of the yacht. Dr. Reede simply observed that it was a fast day; and could not be made to perceive that being on the water and in high company absolved him from the observances of the day. Every body else seemed of a different opinion; for, not content with the usual regale of fine music which attended the royal excursions, the lords and gentlemen present had made the fiddlers drunk, and set them in that state to sing all the foul songs with which their professional memories could furnish them. Abundance of punch was preparing, and there was some Canary of incomparable goodness which had been carried to and from the Indies. Two of the company were too deeply interested in what they were about to care for either music or Canary at the moment. Charles and the Duke of Ormond were rattling the dice-box, having staked 1000/. on the cast. It as of some consequence to the King to win it, was he had, since morning, lost 23,000/. in bets with the Duke of York and others about the sailing match which they had carried on while the rest of the nation were at church, deprecating God's judgments.
Having lost his 1000l., he turned gaily to the strangers, as if expecting some new amusement from them. He made a sign to Edmund (whom he knew in virtue of his office), that he would hold discourse with him presently in private, and then asked Dr. Reede what the clergy had discovered of the reasons for the heavy judgment with which the kingdom was afflicted.
Dr. Reede believed the clergy were more anxious to obtain God's mercy than to account for his judgments.
“You are deceived, friend. Our reverend dean of Windsor has been preaching that it is our supineness in leaving the heads of the regicides on their shoulders that has brought these visitations on our people. He discoursed largely of the matter of the Gibeonites, and exhorted us to quick vengeance.”
Dr. Reede could not remember any text which taught that wreaking vengeance on man was the way to propitiate God. He could not suppose that this disastrous defeat abroad would have been averted by butchering the regicides in celebration of the King's marriage, as had been proposed.
The King had not yet had time to comprehend the news of this defeat. On hearing of it, he seemed in a transient state of consternation; marvelled, as his subjects were wont to do, what was to become of the kingdom at this rate; and signified his wish to be left with the messenger, the Duke of York alone remaining to help him to collect all the particulars. The company accordingly withdrew to curse the enemy, wonder who was killed and who wounded, and straightway amuse themselves, the ladies with the dice-box, the gentlemen with betting on their play, and all with the feats of a juggler of rare accomplishments, who was at present under the patronage of one of the King's favourites.
When Palmer had told his story and was dismissed, Edmund was called in, and at his own request, was attended by his brother-in-law,—the discreet gentleman of excellent learning, who might aid the project to be now discoursed of. The King did, at length, look grave. He supposed Edmund knew the purpose for which his presence was required.
“To receive his Highness the Duke's pleasure respecting the navy accounts that are to be laid before Parliament.”
“That is my brother's affair,” replied the King. “I desire from you,—your parts having been well commended to me,—some discreet composure which shall bring our government into less disfavour with our people than it hath been of late.”
Edmund did not doubt that this could easily be done.
“It must be done; for in our present straits we cannot altogether so do without the people as for our ease we could desire. But as for the ease,—there is but little of it where the people are so changeable. They have forgot the flatteries with which they hailed us, some short while since, aud give us only murmurs instead. It is much to be wished that they should be satisfied in respect of their duty to us, without which we cannot satisfy them in the carrying on of the war.”
The Duke of York thought that his Majesty troubled himself needlessly about the way in which supplies were to be obtained from the people. Money must be had, and speedily, or defeat would follow defeat; for never were the army and navy in a more wretched condition than now. But if his Majesty would only exert his prerogative, and levy supplies for his occasions as his ancestors had done, all might yet be retrieved without the trouble of propitiating the nation. The King persisted however in his design of making his government popular by means of a pamphlet which should flatter the people with the notion that they kept their affairs in their own hands. It was the shortest way to begin by satisfying the people's minds.
And how was this to be done? Dr. Reede presumed to inquire. Charles, thoroughly discomposed by the news he had just heard, in addition to a variety of private perplexities, declared that nothing could be easier than to set forth a true account of the royal poverty. No poor gentleman of all the train to whom he was in debt could be more completely at his wit's end for money than he. His wardrobeman had this morning lamented that the King had no handkerchiefs, and only three bands to his neck; and how to take up a yard of linen for his Majety's service was more than any one knew.
Edmund glanced at his own periwig in the opposite mirror, and observed that it would be very easy to urge this plea, if such was his Majesty's pleasure.
“Od's fish! man, you would not tell this beggarly tale in all its particulars! You would not set the loyal housewives in London to offer me their patronage of shirts and neckbands!”
“Besides,” said the Duke, “though it might be very easy to tell the tale of our poverty, it might not be so easy to make men believe it.”
Dr. Reede here giving an involuntary sign of assent, the King would know what was in his mind. Dr. Reede, as usual, spoke his thoughts. The people, being aware what sums had within a few months fallen into the royal treasury, would be slow to suppose that their king was in want of necessary clothing.
“What! the present to the Queen from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen? That was but a paltry thousand pounds.”
Dr. Reede could not let it be supposed that any one expected the King to benefit by gifts to his Queen.
Charles looked up hastily to see if this was intended as a reproach, for he had indeed appropriated every thing that he could lay his hands on of what his dutiful subjects had offered to his Queen, as a compliment on her marriage. The clergyman looked innocent, and the King went on,—
“And as for her portion,—twenty such portions would not furnish forth one war, as the people ought to know. And there is my sister's portion to the Prince of Orleans soon to be paid. If the people did but take the view we would have them take of our affairs at home and abroad, we should not have to borrow of France, and want courage to tell our faithful subjects that we had done so.”
Edmund would do his best to give them the desired opinions. Dr. Reede thought it a pity they could not be by the King's side,—aye, now on board this very boat, to understand and share the King's views, and thus justify the government. As a burst of admiration at some of the juggler's tricks made itself heard in the cabin at the very moment this was said, the King again looked up to see whether satire was intended.
Edmund supposed that one object of his projected pamphlet was to communicate gently the fact of a secret loan of 200,000 crowns from France, designed for the support of the war in Portugal, but so immediately swallowed up at home that it appeared to have answered no more purpose than a loan of so many pebbles, while it had subjected the nation to a degradation which the people would not have voluntarily incurred. This communication was indeed to be a part of Edmund's task; but there was a more important one still to be made. It could not now long remain a secret that Dunkirk was in the hands of the French——
“Dunkirk taken by the French!” exclaimed Dr. Reede, not crediting what he heard. “We are lost indeed, if the French make aggressions like this.”
“Patience, brother!” whispered Edmund. “There is no aggression in the case. The matter is arranged by mutual agreement.”
Dr. Reede looked perplexed, till the Duke carelessly told him that Dunkirk had been sold to the French King. It was a pity the nation must know the fact. They would not like it.
“Like it! Dunkirk sold! Whose property was Dunkirk?” asked Dr. Reede, reverting to the time when Oliver's acquisition of Dunkirk was celebrated as a national triumph.
“We must conduct the bargains of the nation, you know,” replied the Duke. “In old times, the people desired no better managers of their affairs than their kings.”
“'Tis a marvel then that they troubled themselves to have Parliaments. Pray God the people may be content with what they shall receive for a conquest which they prized! Some other goodly town, I trust, is secured us; or some profitable fishing coast; or some fastness which shall give us advantage over the enemy, and spare the blood of our soldiers.”
“It were as well to have retained Dunkirk as taken any of these in exchange,” said the King;— a proposition which Dr. Reede was far from disputing. “Our necessities required another fashion of payment.”
“In money!—and then the taxes will be somewhat lightened. This will be a welcome relief to the people, although their leave was not asked. There is at least the good of a lifting up of a little portion of their burdens.”
“Not so. We cannot at present spare our subjects. This 400,000l. come from Dunkirk is all too little for the occasions of our dignity. Our house at Hampton Court is not yet suitably arranged. The tapestries are such that the world can show nothing nobler, yet the ceilings, however finely fretted, art not yet gilt, The canal is not perfected, and the Banqueting House in the Paradise is yet hart.”
“The extraordinary wild fowl in St. James's Park did not fly over without cost,” observed the Duke.
“Some did. The melancholy water-fowl from Astracan was bestowed by the Russian Ambassador; and certain merchants who came for justice brought us the cranes and the milk-white raven. But the animals that it was needful to put in to make the place answerable to its design, —the antelopes, and the Guinea goats, and the Arabian sheep, and others,—cost nearly their weight of gold. Kings cannot make fair bargains.”
“For aught but necessaries,” interposed the divine.
“Or for necessaries. Windsor is exceedingly ragged and ruinous. It will occupy the cost of Dunkirk to restore it——”
“According to the taste of the ladies of the court,” interrupted the Duke. “They will have the gallery of horns furnished with beams of the rarest elks and antelopes that there be in the world. Then the hall and stairs must be bright with furniture of arms, in festoons, trophy-like : while the chambers have curious and effeminate pictures, giving a contrast of softness to that which presented only war and horror.”
“Then there is the demolishing of the palace at Greenwich, in order to building a new one. Besides the coast of rearing, we are advised so to make a cut as to let in the Thames like a square bay, which will be chargeable.”
“And this is to be ordered by Parliament? or are the people to be told that a foreign possession of theirs is gone to pay for water-fowl and effeminate pictures?”
“Then there is the army,” continued the King. “I have daily news of a lack of hospitals, so that our maimed soldiers die of the injuries of the air. And this very defeat, with which the city will presently be ringing, was caused by the failure of ammunition. And not unknowingly, for this young clerk had the audacity to forewarn us.”
“Better have sold the troops and their general alive into the hands of the enemy, than send them into the field without a sufficiency of defence,” cried Dr. Reede.
“So his Majesty thinks,” observed the Duke; “and has therefore done wisely in taking a goodly sum from the Dutch to delay the sailing of the fleet for the east till the season is too far gone for action. Nay! is it not a benefit for the King to have the money he so much needs, and for the lives to be saved which must be otherwise lost for want of the due ammunition?”
Dr. Reede was too much affected at this gross bartering away of the national honour to trust himself to speak; Edmund observed that he should insist, in his pamphlet, on the exceeding expensiveness of war in these days, in comparison of the times when men went out, each with his bow and arrow, or his battle-axe, and his provision of food furnished at his own charge. Since gunpowder had been used, and engines of curious workmanship,—since war had become a science, it had grown mightily expensive, and the people must pay accordingly, as he should speedily set forth.
“Setting forth also how the people should therefore be the more consulted, before a strife is entered upon,” said the clergyman.
“Nay,” said the Duke, “I am for making the matter short and easy. An expensive army we must have; and a troublesome Parliament to boot is too much. I am for getting up the army into an honourable condition, and letting down the Parliament, His Majesty will be persuaded thereto in time, when he has had another taste of the discontents of his changeable people.”
Dr. Reede imagined that such an innovation might not be the last change, if the nation should have more liking to be represented by a Parliament than ruled by an army. But the Duke did not conceal his contempt for the new fashion of regarding the people and their representatives. There was no telling what pass things might come to when monarchs were reduced to shifts to get money, and the people fancied that they had a right to sit in judgment on the use that was made of it. He seemed to forget that he had had a father, and what had become of him, while he set up as an example worthy of all imitation the spirited old king, bluff Harry, that put out his hand and took what he pleased, and amused himself with sending grumblers to seek adventures north, south, east, or west. If the King would take his advice, he would show the nation an example of the first duty of a king,— to protect his people from violence,—in such a fashion as should leave the Parliament little to say, even if allowed to meet. Let his Majesty bestow all his paternal care on cherishing his army.
“It is true,” said Dr. Reede, “that a ruler's first duty is to give security to his people; and in the lowest state in which men herd together, the danger is looked for from without; and the people who at home gather food, each for himself, go out to war, each with his own weapon. Their ruler does no more than call them out, and point the way, and lead them home. Afterwards, when men are settled on lands, and made the property of the rich and strong, they go out to war at the charge of their lords, and the King has still nothing to do but to command them. Every man is or may be a warrior; and it is for those who furnish forth his blood and sinews, his weapons and his food, to decide about the conduct of the war. But, at a later time, when men intermingle and divide their labour at will, and the time of slavery is over, every man is no longer a warrior, but some fight for hire, while those who hire them stay at their business at home.”
“Or at their pleasures,” observed the Duke, glancing at his brother.
“Under favour, no,” replied Dr. Reede. “It is not. I conceive, the King that hires the army to do his pleasure, but the people who hire it for their defence, the King having the conduct of the enterprises. If the will of the nation be not taken as to their defence,—if they should perchance think they need no armed defence, and lose their passion for conquest, whence must come the hire of their servants,—the soldiery?”
“They must help themselves with it,” replied the Duke. carelessly.
“And if they find a giant at every man's door, —a lion in the path to every one's field?” said the divine.
“Thy learning hath perplexed thee, man. These are not the days of enchantment, of wild beasts, and overtopping men.”
“Pardon me; there are no days when men may not be metamorphosed, if the evil influence be but strong enough. There are no days when a man's household gods will not make a giant of him for the defence of their shrine. There are no days when there are not such roarings in the path of violence as to sink the heart of the spoiler within him.”
“Let but the art of war improve like other arts,” said the Duke, “and our cannon will easily out-roar all your lions, and beat down the giants you speak of.”
“Rather the reverse, I conceive,” said the plain-spoken clergyman. “The expense of improved war is aggravated, not only in the outfit, but in the destruction occasioned. The soldier is a destructive labourer, and, as such, will not be overlong tolerated by an impoverished nation, whose consent to strife is the more necessary the more chargeable such strife becomes to them. Furthermore, men even now look upon blood as something more precious than water, and upon human souls as somewhat of a higher nature than the fiery bubbles that our newly-wise chemists send up into the ether, to wander whither no eye can follow them. Our cannon now knock down a file where before a battle-axe could cleave but a single skull. Men begin already to tremble over their child's play of human life; and if the day comes when some mighty engine shall be prepared to blow to atoms half an army, there may be found a multitude of stout hearts to face it; but where is he who will be brave enough to fire the touch-hole, even for the sure glory of being God's arch enemy?”
“Is this brother of thine seeking a patent for some new device of war-engines?” inquired Charles of the divine. “Methinks your discourse seems like a preface to such a proposal. Would it were so! for patents aid the exchequer.”
“Would it were so!” said the Duke, “for a king might follow his own will with such an engine in his hand.”
“Would it were so!” said Dr. Reede, “for then would the last days of war be come, and Satan would find much of his occupation gone. Edmund, if thou wilt invent such an engine as may mow down a host at a blow, I will promise thee a triumph on that battle-field, and the intercession of every church in Christendom. Such a deed shall one day be done. War shall one day be ended; but not by you, Edmund. Men must enact the wild beast yet a few centuries longer, to furnish forth a barbarous show to their rulers, till men shall call instead for a long age of fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.”
“Meantime,” said Edmund, “they call impertinently for certain accounts of the charges of our wars which his Majesty is over gracious in permitting them to demand.”
“Do they think so?”
“They cannot but see,” said the Duke. “by the way his Majesty gave his speech to the Parliament, that he desires no meddling from them.”
“And how did I speak?” asked the King. “Did I not assure the Commons that I would not have asked for their subsidies if I had not had need: and that through no extravagance of my own, but the disorder of the times! And is not that much to say when I am daily told by my gentlemen of the palace, and others who know better still, that my will is above all privilege of Parliament or city, and that I have no need to account to any at all? How did I speak?”
“Only as if your wits were with your queen, or some other lady, while the words of your speech lay under your eye. Some words your Commons must needs remember, from the many times they were said over; but further—”
“Pshaw!” cried the King, vexed at the description he had himself asked for. “This learned divine knows not what our Parliament is made of. There are but two seamen and about twenty merchants, and the rest have no scruple in coming drunk to the house, and making a mockery of the country people when they are sober. How matters it how I give my speech to them?”
“They are indeed not the people,” observed Reede; “and I forewarn your Majesty that their consent is not the consent of the people; and that however they may clap the hands at your Majesty's enterprises and private sales, the people will not be the less employed in looking back upon Oliver——”
“And forward to me?” inquired the Duke, laughing.
“And forward to the time when the proud father shall not be liable to see his only son return barefoot and tattered from a war where he has spilled his blood; or a daughter made the victim, first of violence, and then of mockery, through the example of the King's court; and no justice to be had but by him who brings the heaviest bribe:—forward to the time when drunken cavaliers shall be thought unfitting representatives of a hungering people; and when the money which is raised by the toils of the nation shall be spent for the benefit of the nation; when men shall inquire how Rome fell, and why France is falling; and shall find that decay ensues when that which is a trust is still pertinaciously used as prerogative, and when the profusion in high places is answerable to the destitution below!”
“Nay; I am sure there is destitution in high places,” cried the King, “and luxury in the lower. I see not a few ladies outshining my Queen in gallantry of jewels; and if you like to look in at certain low houses that I could tell you of, you will see what vast heaps of gold are squandered in deep and most prodigious gaming.”
“True; and therein is found the excuse of the court; that whenever the nation is over-given to luxury, the court is prodigious in its extravagance.”
“Hold, man!” cried the King. “Wouldst thou be pilloried for a libel?”
“Such is too common a sight to draw due regard,” coolly replied the divine. “Libels are in some sort the primers of the ignorant multitude, scornfully despised for their ignorance. There are not means wherewith to give the people letters in an orderly way; so that they gape after libels first, and then they gape to see them burned by the hangman; and learn one sort of hardness by flinging stones at a pilloried wretch, and another sort of hardness by watching the faces of traitors who pray confidently on the scaffold, and look cheerfully about them on the hangman's hellish instruments; and all this hardness, which may chance to peril your Majesty, is not always mollified by such soft things as they may witness at the theatres which profanely give and take from the licentious times. If the people would become wise, such is the instruction that awaits them.”
“Methinks you will provoke us to let the people see how cheerfully you would look on certain things that honest gazers round a scaffold shrink from beholding. It were better for you to pray for me from your pulpit, like a true subject of Christ and your King.”
“Hitherto I have done so; but it pleases your Majesty that from my pulpit I should pray no longer. Alas!” cried he, casting a glance through the window as he perceived that the vessel drew to land, “alas! what a raging fire! And another! And a third!”
“The bonfires for the victory,” quietly observed Edmund.
Dr. Reede was forbidden to throw any doubts abroad on the English having gained a splendid victory. The King had ordered these bonfires at the close of the fast day. They were righted, it appeared, somewhat prematurely, as the sun yet glittered along the Thames; but this only showed the impatient joy of the people. The church bells were evidently preparing to ring merry peals as soon as the last hour of humiliation should have expired. The King's word had gone forth. It suited his purposes to gain a victory just now; and a victory he was determined it should be, to the last moment. When the people should discover the cheat, the favours occasioned by it would be past recall. They could only do that they had done before,—go home and be angry.
This was all that now remained for Dr. Reede, the King's landing being waited for by a throng of persons whose converse had little affinity with wise counsel. Certain courtiers, deplorably ennuyés by the king's absence, sauntered about the gardens, and looked abroad upon the river, in hopes of his approach. An importation of French coxcombs from Dunkirk, in fantastical habits, was already here to offend the eyes of the insulted English people. It was not till Edmund (who was not dismissed with Dr. Reede) began to exhibit at home the confidence with which he had been treated, that Dr. Reede and his lady became aware how much these accomplished cadets could teach Charles on the part of their own extravagant master. Louis the Fourteenth knew of more ways of raising money than even Charles. He had taken to creating offices for sale, for which the court ladies amused themselves in making names. The pastime of divining their object and utility was left to the people who paid for them. They read, or were told,—and it made a very funny riddle,—that the inspector of fresh-butter had kissed bands on his appointment; that the ordainer of faggots had had the honour of dining with his Majesty; and that some mighty and wealthy personage had been honoured with the office of licenser of barber-wig-makers.
The example of Louis in this and other matters was too good not to be followed by one in circumstances of equal necessity. Edmund was not by any means to delay the “discreet composure” by which the minds of the people were to be propitiated and satisfied. He was to laud to the utmost the Duke's conduct of naval affairs, —(whose credit rested on the ability of his complaisant Clerk of the Acts.) He was to falsify the navy accounts as much as could be ventured, exaggerating the expenses and extenuating the receipts, while he made the very best of the results. He was to take for granted the willingness of a grateful people to support the dignity of the sovereign, while he insinuated threats of the establishment of a civil list,—(a thing at that time unknown.) All this was to be done not the less for room being required for eloquence about the sale of Dunkirk, and the loan from France, and the bribe from Holland; —monuments of kingly wisdom all, and of paternal solicitude to spare the pockets of the people. All this was to be done not the less for the bright idea which had occurred to some courtier's mind that the making of a few new ambassadors might bring money to his Majesty's hands. There was more than one man about the court who was very willing to accept of the dignity of such an office, and to pay to the power that appointed him a certain fair proportion of the salary which the people must provide. One gentleman was accordingly sent to Spain, to amuse himself in reading Calderon, and another to some eastern place where he might sit on cushions, and smoke at the expense of the people of England, and to the private profit of their monarch. Amidst all these clever arrangements, nothing was done for the security or the advancement of the community. No new measures of defence; no better administration of justice; no advantageous public work, no apparatus of education, were originated; and, as for the dignity of the sovereign, that was a matter past hope. But by means of the treacherous sale of the nation's property and of public offices, by bribes, by falsification of the public accounts, breaches of royal credit were for the present stopped, and the day of reckoning deferred. If the Duke of York could have foreseen from whom and at what time this reckoning would be demanded, he might have been less acute in his suggestions, and less bold in his advice; and both he and the King might have employed to less infamous purpose this day of solemn fast and deprecation of God's judgments. But, however true might be Dr. Reede's doctrine that the sins of government are the sins of the nation, it happened in this case, as in a multitude of others, that the accessaries to the crime offered the atonement, while the principals made sport of both crime and atonement.
The false report about the late engagement had gained ground sufficiently to answer the temporary purposes of those who spread it. As Dr. Reede took his way homewards, bonfires gleamed reflected in the waters of the river, and exhibited to advantage the picturesque fronts of the wooden houses in the narrow streets, and sent trains of sparks up into the darkening sky, and illuminated the steeples that in a few more seasons were to fall into the surging mass of a more awful conflagration. On reaching the comfortable dwelling which he expected to be soon compelled to quit, he gave himself up, first to humiliation on account of the guilt against which he had in vain remonstrated, and then to addressing to the King a strong written appeal on behalf of the conscientious presbyterian clergy, who had, on the faith of the royal word, believed themselves safe from such temptations to violate their consciences as they were now suffering under.
On a certain Saturday of the same month might be seen the most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames. It far exceeded the Venetian pageantry on occasion of espousing the Adriatic. The city of London was entertaining the King and Queen: and the King was not at all sorry that the people were at the same time entertained, while he was making up his mind whether, on dissolving the Parliament, he should call another which would obligingly give him the dean and chapter lands, or whether he should let it be seen, according to the opinion of his brother, that there was no need of any more parliaments. As he sat beside his Queen, in an antique-shaped vessel, under a canopy of cloth of gold, supported by Corinthian pillars, wreathed with flowers, festoons, and garlands, he meditated on the comfort that would accrue, on the one hand, from all his debts being paid out of these church lands, and, on the other, from such an entire freedom from responsibility as he should enjoy when there should be no more speeches to make to his Commons, and no more remonstrances to hear from them, grounded on dismal tales of the distresses of his people which be had rather not bear. The thrones and triumphal arches might do for the corporation of London to amuse itself with, and for the little boys and girls on either side of the river to stare at and admire: but it was in somewhat too infantine a taste to please the majority of the gazers otherwise than as a revival of antique amusements. The most idly luxurious about the court preferred entertainments which had a little more meaning in them, —dramatic spectacles, pictures, music, and fine buildings and gardens. War is also a favourite excitement in the middle age of refinement; and the best part of this day's entertainments, next to the music, was the peals of ordnance both from the vessels and the shore, which might prettily remind the gallants, amidst their mirth and their soft flirtations, of the cannonading that was going on over the sea. Within a small section of the city of London, many degrees of mirth might be found this day.
In the royal barge, the Queen east her “languishing and excellent eyes” over the pageant before her, and returned the salutations of the citizens who made obeisances in passing, and now and then exchanged a few words with her Portuguese maids of honour, the King being too thoughtful to attend to her;—altogether not very merry.
In the barge immediately following, certain of the King's favourites made sport of the Queen's foretop,—turned aside very strangely,—of the monstrous fardingales and olivada complexions and unagreeable voices of her Portuguese ladies, —and of the old knight, her friend, whose bald pate was covered by a huge lock of hair, bound on by a thread, very oddly. The King's gravity also made a good joke: and there was an amusing incident of a boat being upset, which furnished laughter for a full half hour. A family of Presbyterians, turned out of a living because the King had broken his word, were removing their chattels to some poor place on the other side of the river, and had unawares got their boat entangled in the procession, and were run down by a royal barge. It was truly laughable to see first the divine, and then his pretty daughters, with their dripping long hair, picked up from the water, while all their little wealth went to the bottom: and yet more so to witness how, when the King, of his bounty, threw gold to the sufferers, the clergyman tossed it back so vehemently that it would have struck the Duke of York on the temple, if he had not dexterously contrived to receive it on the crown of his periwig. It was a charming adventure to the King's favourites;—very merry.
In the mansions by the river side, certain gentlemen from the country were settling themselves, in preparation for taking office under the government. They and their fathers had been out of habits of business for fourscore years, and were wholly incapable of it, and knew themselves to be so; the best having given themselves to rural employments, and others to debauchery; but, as all men were now declared incapable of employment who had served against the King, and as these cavaliers knew that their chief business was to humour his Majesty, they made themselves easy about their responsibilities, looked after their tapestries, plate, and pictures, talked of the toils and cares of office, and were—very merry.
In the narrow streets in their neighbourhood might be hourly seen certain of the King's soldiers, belted and armed, cursing, swearing, and stealing; running into public-houses to drink, and into private ones to carry off whatever they had a mind to; leaving the injured proprietors disposed to reflect upon Oliver, and to commend him,—what brave things he did, and how safe a place a man's own house was in his time, and how he made the neighbour princes fear him; while now, a prince that came in with all the love, and prayers, and good-liking of his people, who had given greater signs of loyalty and willingness to serve him with their estates than ever was done by any people, could get nothing but contempt abroad, and discontent at home; and had indeed lost all so soon, that it was a miracle how any one could devise to lose so much in so little time. These housekeepers, made sage by circumstance, looked and spoke with something very little like mirth. Those who had given occasion to such thoughts were, meantime,—very merry.
It was not to these merry men, wise people thought, that the King must look for help in the day of war, but to the soldiers of the republican army, who had been declared by act of parliament for evermore incapable of serving the kingdom. But where were these men to be found, if wanted? Not one could be met with begging in the streets to tell how his comrades might be reached. One captain in the old parliament army was turned shoemaker, and another a baker. This lieutenant was now a haberdasher; that a brewer. Of the common soldiers, some were porters, and others mechanics in their aprons, and husbandmen in their frocks, and all as quiet and laborious as if war had never been their occupation. The spirits of these men bad been trained in contentment with God's providences; and though, as they sat at the loom and the last, they had many discontented thoughts of man's providences, it was clear to observers among the King's own servants that he was a thousand times safer from any evil meant by them than from his own unsatisfied and insatiable cavaliers. While the staid artizans who had served under Cromwell looked out upon the river as the procession passed, they dropped a few words in their families about the snares of the Evil One, and were—not very merry.
Within hearing of the ordnance in which the young gallants of the court delighted was an hospital, meagrely supplied with the comforts which its inmates required, where languished, in a crowded space, many of the soldiers and sailors who had been set up to be fired at while it was known in high quarters that there was such a deficiency of ammunition as must deprive the poor fellows of the power of effectual self-defence. This fact had become known, and it had sunk deep into the souls of the brave fellows who, maimed, feverish, and heart-sore,—in pain for want of the proper means of cure, and half suffocated from the number of their fellow-sufferers, listened with many a low-breathed curse to the peals of ordnance that shook their crazy place of refuge, and forswore mirta and allegiance together.
Within hearing of the shouts aud ot a faint occasional breath of music from the- royal band, were certain of the two thousand clergy, who were to resign their livings the next morning, and whose families. were taking advantage of the neighbourhood being deserted for the day to remove their furniture, and betake themselves to whatever place they might have found wherein the righteous could lay his head. Dr Reede was one of these. He had been toiling all day with his wife, demolishing the tout ensemble of comfort which had been formed under her management. He was now. while she was engaged with her infants, sitting alone in his study lot the last time. He was doing nothing; for his business in this place was closed. He let his eye be amused by the quick flickering in the breeze of the short, shining grass of his little court, which stretched up to his window. The dark formal shrubs, planted within the paling by his own hand, seemed to nod to him as the wind passed over their heads. The summer flowers in the. lozenge-.shaped parterres which answered to each other, danced and kissed unblamed beneath the Rev. Doctor's gaze. All looked as it Nature's heart were merry however sad might be those of her thoughtful children. The Doctor stepped out upon the grass There was yet more for him to do there. He had, with his own hands, mowed the plat, and clipped the borders and the little hands of the elder of his two children had helped to pluck out the very few weeds that had sprung up. But the weather had been warm and dry, and, in order to leave the place. in the beauty desired by its departing tenant, it was necessary to water the flower-court, It was not a very inspiriting thing to glance at doors and windows standing wide, displaying the nakedness of an empty dwelling within: so the Doctor hastened to the well to fill his bucket. Mrs. Reede heard the jingle of the chain, and showed herself at an upper window, while the child that could walk made her way down stairs with all speed to help papa, and wonder at her own round little face in the full bucket. Mrs. Reede was glad that her husband had turned out of his study, though she could not bring herself to sympathize in his anxiety to leave all in a state of the greatest practicable beauty. If a gale had torn up the shrubs, or the hot sun of this summer day had parched the grass and withered the flowers, she did not think she could have been sorry. But it was very well that her husband had left his study open for the further operations necessary there. This room had remained the very last in its entireness. The time was now come when she must have asked her husband to quit his chair and desk, and let his books be dislodged. She would make haste to complete the work of spoliation, and she hoped he would make a long task of watering the flower-court.
He was not likely to do that when he had once perceived that she and one of her damsels were lifting heavy loads of books, while another was taking care of the baby. He hastened to give their final draught to his favourite carnations, placed a chair for Esther on the grass just outside the window, where she might sit with the infant, and, while resting herself, talk to him as he finished her laborious task.
Mrs. Reede did not remember to have ever started so incessantly at the sound of guns; and the air-music of the window-harp that she had seen in the pavilions of great men's gardens had never come sou mournfully over her spirit as the snatches of harmony that the wind now brought from the river to make her infant hold up his tiny finger while his sister said “hark!” She was, for once, nervous. It might be seen in her flushed face and her startled movements; and the poor baby felt it in the absence of the usual ease with which he was held and played with. A sharp sudden cry from him called the attention of the doctor from his talk. In a moment, mamma's grief was more tumultuous than the infant's.
“O, my child! my child! I have hurt my child! my own little baby!” cried she, weeping bitterly, and of course redoubling the panic of the little one.
“My dear love,” said her husband, trying to prove to her that the baby had only been frightened by a jerk; “my dear love, you alarm yourself much more than the child. See!” and he held up in the evening sunlight the brass plate on which his study lamp stood. Its glittering at once arrested the infant's terrors: but not so soon could the tears of the mother be stopped.
“My love, there must be some deeper cause than this trifling accident,” said he, sitting down on the low window sill beside her chair, “Is it that you have pent up your grief all day, and that it will have way?”
Mrs. Reede had a long train of sad thoughts to disclose, in the intervals of her efforts to compose herself. The children, she said, amused themselves as if nothing was the matter; while who could tell what they might think hereafter of being thus removed from a fair and honourable home, and carried where— O, there was no telling what lot might await them! If everybody had thought the sacrifice a right one, she could have gone through it without any regret: but some of her husband's oldest friends thought him wrong——
“Towards God, or towards you, my love?”
“O, towards these children, I suppose. They dare not think that you would do anything wrong towards me. I am sure I only think of you first, and then of the children. How you have preached here, with the souls of your people in your hand, to mould them as you would! and now, you must go where your gift and your office will be nothing; and you will be only like any other man. And, as for the children, we do not know——”
“When the bird leads forth her brood from their warm nest, because springes are set round about them, does she know what shall befall them? There may be hawks abroad, or a sharp wind that may be too strong for their scarce-plumed wings. Or they may gather boldness from their early flight, and wave in the sunshine on a high bough, and pour out there a grateful morn and even song from season to season. The parent bird knows not but she must needs take them from among the springes, however soft may be the nest, and cool the mossy tree. We know more than this parent bird; even that no sparrow falleth unheeded to the ground.”
Mrs. Reede's tears began to flow again as another faint breath of music reached her.
“Is it that you will be more composed when the sounds of mirth, to us unseasonable, have passed away?” asked Dr. Reede, smiling.
“It does seem hard that our spoilers should be making merry while we are going forth we know not whither,” said the wife.
“How would it advantage the mother bird that the fowlers should he close while she plumes her pinions to be gone? Will she stoop in her flight for all their mirth? As for us, music may be to us a rare treat henceforth. Let our ears be pleased with it, whencesoever it may come.”
And he made the children hearken, till they clapped their little hands, and their mother once more smiled. Her husband then said to her,
“If this mirth be ungodly, there is no reason why we should be more scandalized at it than on any other day, only because we ourselves are not merry. If it be innocent, we should thank God that others are happier than ourselves. Yet I am not otherwise than happy in the inward spirit. I shall never repent this day.”
“They say you will, when——But it is not as if we stood alone. It is said that there will be a large number of the separated.”
“Thank God! not for the companionship to ourselves, so much as for the profit to his righteousness. It will be much to meet here and there eves that tell back one's own story, and to clasp hands that are undefiled by the world's lucre. But it is more to know that God's truth is so hymned by some thousand tongues this night, that the echo shall last till weak voices like ours shall be wanted no more.”
“Let us go,” cried Mrs. Reede, dispersing her last tears, and lifting up one child while the other remained in her husband's arms. He took advantage of her season of strength, and resolved to convey her at once to the humble lodging which was to be their present abode, and to return himself to see that, all was done. He detained her only to join him in a brief thanksgiving for the happiness they had enjoyed there since their marriage day, and to beseech a blessing on him who was to succeed to the dwelling and to the pastoral office, Courageous as was Mrs. Reede's present mood, she was still at the mercy of trifles. The little girl's kitten would not bear them company. It had been removed twice, and had returned, and now was not to be found. It had hidden itself in some corner whence it would come out when they were gone; and the child departed in a very unchristian state of distress. Her mamma found that both she and her child had yet to learn Dr. Reede's method of not fretting because of evil-doers.
Though he could not trouble himself with personal resentments, no mall could more strenuously rebuke and expose guilt,—especially guilt in high places, which is so much worse than other guilt, in as far as it desolates a wider region of human happiness. In his farewell discourse, the next day, he urged some considerations on behalf of society far more eagerly than he ever asked anything for himself.
“It is no new thing,” said he, “for men to be required to set their hand to that which they believe not, or to affirm that they believe that which they understand no more in the expression them in the essence. It is no new thing for a mistake to be made as to such protestation, so that if a man say he believes that a sown field will bear corn, though he knows not the manner of its sprouting nor the order of its ripening, he shall be also required to believe a proposition in an unknown tongue, whereof he knows not even what it is that should be proposed. It is no new thing that men should start at such a requisition, as a sound-witted man would start from the shows and babble of the magician; or as a modest wise man would shrink from appointing the way to a wandering comet, lest he should unawares bring the orderly heavens to a mighty wreek. It is no new thing for the searchers of God's ways to respect his everlasting laws more than man's presumptuous bidding: or for Him whom they serve so to change the face of things to them as to make his extremest yoke easy, and his heaviest burden light:—to cast a shade over what must be foregone,—whether it be life itself, or only the goodly things in which maybe too much of our life hath been found,—or to beam a light from his own highest heaven on the wilderness-path, which may seem horrid to those who are not to tread it, but passable enough to such as must needs take this way to their everlasting home. These things being not new, are a sign to us recusants of this day not to be in anywise astonished or dismayed, and also not to allow a dwelling upon the part we have taken, as if it were any mighty mcrit to trust to God's providence, which waits only to be trusted, or required any marvellous faith to commit ourselves to Christ's word, which, if it be Christ's, must stand when the heavens themselves shall be dissolved. It behoves us rather to took to things less clear than these, and more important than the putting forth of a few of Christ's meanest shepherds from their folds;—for whom the chief Shepherd may perhaps find other occasions; and, if not, they may be well content to lie down among the sheep, remembering that he once had not where to lay his head. The true occasion of this day is not to break one another's hearts with griefs and tears, (which may but puff out or quench the acceptable fire of the altar;) but so to fan the new-kindled flame as that it may seize and consume whatsoever of foul and desecrating shows most hideous in its light. Is it not plain that powers whose use is ushered in with prayers, and allernated with the response of God's most holy name,—the powers of government,—are used to ensnare those who open their doors to whatsoever cometh in that name? It is well that governments should be thus sanctified to the cars and eyes of the governed; for, if there be a commission more certamly given straight from the hand of God than another it is that of a ruler of men. Who but he opens the eyes of the blind, and unstops the ears of the deaf, and sets the lame on his feet, and strengthens together the drooping heart and the feeble knees,—by setting before the one the radiant frame of society in all its fitness, and waking up for another the voices of human companionship, and compacting the powers of the weak with those of the strong, and cheering all by warding off injury from without, and making restraint easy where perchance it may gall any of those who are within? Sacred is the power of the ruler as a trust; but if it be used as a property, where is its sanctity? If the steward puts out the eyes that follow him too closely, and ties the tongue that importunes, and breaks the hmbs of the strong man in sport, so as to leave him an impotent beggar in the porch of the mansion,—do we not know from the Scripture what shall be the fate of that steward? As it is with a single ruler, so shall it be with a company of rulers,— with a government which regards the people only as the something on which itself must stand; which takes bread from the children to give it to dogs; which sells God's gifts to them that are without, at the risk of such utter blindness that they shall weary themselves to find the door out of their perplexities and terrors. What governments there be that commit the double sin of lording it over consciences, (which are God's heritage,) and of ruling for their own low pleasures instead of the right living and moving of the people, judge ye. If there be any which mismanage its defence, and deny or pervert justice, and refuse public works, and make the church a scandal, and the court a spectacle for angels to weep over and devils to resort to, and, instead of speeding the people's freedom with the wings of know-ledge, shut them into the little cells of ancient men's wits, it is time that such should know why God hath made them stewards, and should be alarmed for the coming of their Master. It is not for the men and maid-servants to wrest his staff from his hands, or to refuse his reasonable bidding, or to forsake, the one his plough, and the other his mill, and the maidens to spread the table: but it is for any one to give loud warning that the Master of the house will surely demand an account of the welfare of his servants. Such a warning do I give; and such is the warning spoken by the many mourners of this day, who, because they honour the kingly office as the holiest place of the fair temple of society, and kingly agents as the appointed priesthood, can the less bear to see the nation outraged as if there were no avenging angel of Jehovah flying abroad; and comfortless in their miseries, as if Jehovah himself were not in the midst of them.”
It was well that Dr. Reede felt that he could bear the pillory. He was pilloried.[Back to Table of Contents]
History is silent as to the methods by which men were enabled to endure the tedium of journeys by the heavy coaches of the olden time. The absence of all notion of travelling faster might, indeed, be no inconsiderable aid,—an aid of which travellers are at present, for the most part, deprived; since the mail-coach passenger, the envy of the poor tenant of the carrier's cart, feels envy, in his turn, of the privileged beings who shoot along the northern rail-road; while they, perhaps, are sighing for the time when they shall be able to breakfast at one extremity of the kingdom, and dine at the other. When once the idea of not going fast enough enters a traveller's mind, ennui is pretty sure to follow; and it may be to this circumstance that the patience of our forefathers, under their long incarceration on the road, was owing—if patience they had. Now, a traveller who is too much used to journeying to be amused, as a child is, by the mere process of travelling, is dismayed alike if there be a full number of passengers, and if there be none but himself. In the first case, there is danger of delay from the variety of deposits of persons and goods; and in the second, there is an equal danger of delay from the coachman having all his own way, and the certainty, besides, of the absence of all opportunity of shaking off the dulness of his own society.
Mr. Reid, a sociable young barrister, who had never found himself at a loss on a journey, was left desolate one day last summer when he least expected it. He had taken his wife and child down to the south, in order to establish them by the sea-side for a few weeks; and he was now travelling up to town by the stage-coach, in very amusing company, as he thought, for the first stage, but presently in solitude. Supposing that his companions were going all the way, he took his time about making the most of them, and lost the opportunity. There was a sensible farmer, who pointed right and left to the sheep on the downs—green downs—retiring in long sweeps from the road; and he had much to relate of the methods of cultivation which had been pursued here, there, and everywhere,—with the Barn Field, and Rick Mead, and Pond.side Field, and Brook Hollow, and many other pretty places that he indicated. He had also stores of information on the farmer's favourite subject of complaiut—the state of the poor. He could give the history of all the well-meant attempts of my lord this, and my lady that, and colonel the other, to make employment, and institute prizes of almshouses, and induce their neighbours to lay out more on patches of land than less helpless folks would think it worth while to bestow. Meantime, a smart young lady in the opposite corner was telling her widowed chaperon why she could not abide the country, and would not be tempted to leave dear London any more,— namely, that the country was chalky, and whitened the hems of all her petticoats. The widow, in return, assured the unbelievmg girl that the country was not chalky all over the world, and that she had actually seen, with her own eyes, the junction of a white, a red, and a black road, —very convenient, as one might choose one's walk by the colour of one's gown. The widow at the same time let fall her wish to have the charge—merely for the sake of pleasant occupation—of the household of a widower, to whose daughters he could teach everything desirable; especially if they were intended to look after dairy and poulty-yard, and such things.
“Thank'ee, ma'am,” said the farmer, as she looked full at him; “my daughters are some of them grown up; and they have got on without much teaching since their mother died.”
Mr. Reid promised himself to gain more information about the widow's estimate of her own capabilities; but she and her charge were not yet going to “dear London.” They got out at the first country town, just after the farmer had thrust himself half out of the window to stop the coach, flung himself on the stout horse that was waiting for him at the entrance of a green lane, and trotted off, with a prodigious exertion of knee, elbow, and coat-flap.
Mr. Reid had soon done thinking of the widow, and of the damsel who had displayed so intimate a knowledge of rural life. Pauperism lasted longer; but this was only another version of a dismal story with which he was already too well acquainted. He was glad to think of something else. He found that he got most sun by riding backward, and most wind by riding forward, and made his election in favour of the latter. He discovered, after a momentary doubt, that his umbrella was safe, and that there was no occasion to trouble his knees any longer with his great-coat. He perceived that the coach had been new-lined, and he thought the lace suited the lining uncommonly well. He wondered whether the people would be as confoundedly long in changing horses at every stage as they had been at the first. It would be very provoking to arrive in town too late for dinner at G——'s. Ah! the women by the road-side found it a fine day for drying the linen they had washed. How it blew about, flapping, with a noise like mill-sails; big-sleeved pinafores and dancing stockings! This was a pretty country to live in: the gentlemen's houses were sufficiently sheltered, and the cotrages had neat orchards behind them; and one would think pains bad been taken with the green lanes—just in the medium as they were between rankness and bareness. What an advantage roads among little hills have in the clear stream under the hedge,—a stream like this, dimpling and oozing, now over pebbles, and now among weeds! That hedge would make a delicious foreground for a picture,—the earth being washed away from the twisted roots, and they covered with brown moss, with still a cowslip here and there nodding to itself in the water as the wind passed by. By the way, that bit of foreground might be kept in mind for his next paper for the “New Monthly.” It would be easy to give his subject a turn that would allow that hedge and its cowslip to be brought in. What had not Victor Hugo made of a yellow flower, in a scene to which nobody who had read it would need a second reference! But this well, to the left, was even better than the hedge: it must have been described already; for it looked as if put there for the purpose. What a damp nook in the hedge it stood in, with three old yews above it, and tufts of long grass to fringe the place! What a well-used chain and ladle, and what merry, mischievous children, pushing one another into the muddy pool where the drippings fell, and splashing each other, under pretence of drinking! He was afraid of losing the impression of this place, so much dusty road as he had to pass through, and so many new objects to meet before he could sit down to write; unless, indeed, he did it now. Why should not he write his paper now? It was a good idea—a capital thought!
Three backs of letters and a pencil were presently found, and a flat parcel in one of the window-poekets, which served as a desk, when the feet were properly planted on the opposite seat. The lines were none of the straightest, at first; and the dots and stops wandered far out of their right places; while the long words looked somewhat hieroglyphical. But the coach stopped; and Mr. Reid forgot to observe how much longer it took than before to change horses while he was the only passenger. He looked up only once, and then saw so charming an old granny, with her little Tommy, carrying a toad-in-a-hole to the baker's, that he was rewarded for his momentary idleness, and resolved to find a place for them too, near the well and the mossy hedge.
He was now as sorry to be off again as before to stop. The horses were spirited, and the road was rough. His pencil slipped and jerked, this way and that. Presently his eyes ached: his ideas were jostled away. It was impossible to compose while the manual act was so troublesome; it was nonsense to attempt it. Nothing but idleness would do in travelling; so the blunted pencil was put by, and the eye was refreshed once more with green,
But now a new sort of country was opening. The hedges were gone, and a prodigious stretch of fallow on either hand looked breezy and pleasant enough at first; and the lark sprang from the furrow so blithely, that Reid longed to stop the coach, that he might hear its trilling. But the lark could not be heard, and was soon out of sight; and the perspective of furrows became as wearying as making pothooks had been. Reid betook himself to examining the window-pockets. There were two or three tidy parcels for solicitors, of course; and a little one, probably for a maid-servant, as there were seven lines of direction upon it. The scent of strawberries came from a litte basket, coolly lined with leaves, and addressed to Master Jones, at a school in a town to be presently passed through. Reid hoped, for the boy's sake, that there was a letter too; and he found an interstice, through which he couild slip half-a-dozen burnt almonds, which had remained in his pocket after treating his own child. What speculations there could be, next holiday time, about how the almonds got in! Two or three other little parceis were disregarded; for among them lay one of more importance to Reid than all the rest,—three newspapers, tied round once with a bit of red tape, and directed, in pencil, to be left at the Blue Lion till called for. Reid took the liberty of untying the tape, and amusing himself with the precious pieces of type that had fallen in his way. There was little political intelligence in these papers, and that was of old date; but a little goes a great way with a solitary traveller; and when the better parts of a newspaper are disposed of, enough remains in the drier parts to employ the intellect that courts suggestion. That which is the case with all objects on which the attention is occupied, is eminently the case with a newspaper—that whatever the mind happens to be full of there receives addition, and that the mood in which it is approached there meets with confirmation. Reid had heard much from the farmer of the hardships which individuals suffer from a wasteful public expenditure; and his eye seemed to catch something which related to this matter, to whatever corner of the papers it wandered.
“Strike at ∗∗∗∗∗ Palace.—All the wrorkmen at precent employed on this extensive structure ceased work on the appearance of the contractor yesterday morning. Their demand for higher wages being decidedly refused by him, the men quitted the spot, and the works hare since remanned deserted. A considerable crowd gathered round, and appeared disposed to take part with the workmen, who, it is said, hare. for some time past been arranging a combination to secure a rise of wages. The contractor declares his intention to concede no part of the demand.”
The crowd taking part with the workmen! Then the crowd knows less than the workmen what it is about. These wages are paid by that very crowd; and it is because they issue from the public purse that the workmen think they may demand higher wages than they would from a nobleman or private gentleman. The contractor is but a medium, as they see, between the tax-payers and themselves; and the terms of the contract must depend much on the rate of wages of those employed. I hope the contractor will indeed concede nothing; for it is the people that must overpay eventually; and it has been too long taken for granted that the public must pay higher for everything than individuals. I should not wonder if these men have got it into their heads, like an acquaintance of mine in the same line, that, as they are taxed for these public buildings, they have a right to get as much of. their money back as they can, forgetting that if every taxed person did the same, there would be no palace built;—not but that we could spare two or three extremely well;—or might, at least, postpone some of the interminable alterations and embellishments, with an account of which the nation is treated, year after year, in return for its complaisance in furnishing the cash. Let their Majesties be nobly lodged, by all means; and, moreover, gratified in the exercise of tastes which are a thousand times more dignified than those of our kings in the days of cloth of gold, and more refined than those of monarchs who could make themselves exceedingly merry at the expense of their people. The test, after all, is— What is necessary for the support of the administrating body, and what upholds mere pomp? These are no days for public pomp. In one sense, the time for it is gone by; in another sense, it is not come;—that is, we ought now to be men enough to put away such childish things; and, we cannot yet afford them. Two or three noble royal palaces, let alone when once completed, are, in my mind, a proper support to the dignity of the sovereign. As for half-a-dozen, if they do not make up a display of disgraceful pomp, the barbaric princes of the East are greater philosophers than I take them for. Yes, yes; let the sovereign be nobly lodged; but let it be remembered that noble lodgings are quite as much wanted for other parties.
“Mr. —— 's motion was lost without a division.”
Aye: just so. The concentrated essence of the people, as the House of Commons pretends to be, must put up with a sordid lodging, however many royal palaces England may boast. They are not anything so precious as they pretend to be, or they would not so meanly exclude themselves from their right. They might just as faithfully consult the dignity of the empire by making the King and Queen live in a cottage of three rooms, as by squeezing themselves into a house where there is neither proper accommodation for their sittings, nor for the transaction of their business in Committees, nor for witnessing, nor for reporting their proceedings. I thought my wife quite right in saying that she would never again undergo the insult of being referred to the ventilators; and I have determined twenty times myself that I would despise the gallery so utterly that I would never set foot in it again : yet to the gallery I still go; and I should not wonder if my wife puts away, for once or twice, her disgust at inhaling smoke and steam, and her indignation at being permitted to watch the course of legislation only through a pigeon-hole and a grating. The presence of women there, in spite of such insults, is a proof that they are worthy of being treated less like nuns anal more like rational beings; and the greater the rush and consequent confusion in the gallery, the more certain is It that there are people who want, and who eventually will have the means of witnessing the proceedings of their legislators. But all this is nothing to the importance of better accommodation to the members. Of all extraordinary occasions of being economical, that is the most strange which impairs the exertions of the grand deliberative assembly of the nation,—the most majestic body, if it understood its own majesty,—within the bounds of the empire. Why,—every nobleman should be content with one house, and every private gentleman be ashamed of his stables and kennels, rather than that the House of Commons should not have a perfect place of assemblage. I verily believe that many a poor man would willingly give his every third potato towards thus aiding the true representation of his interests. It would be good economy in him so to do, if there was nothing of less consequence to be sacrificed first. But King, Lords, and Commons are not the only personages who have a claim on the public to be well housed, for purposes of social support, not pomp.
“Yesterday morning, Andrew Wilson underwent the sentence of the law, &c. &c. Though only twenty years of age, he was old in guilt, hating been committed for his first offence,—throwing stones at the police, when he was in his thirteenth year. He is supposed to have been for some time connected with a gang of desperate offenders; but nothing could be extracted from him relative to his former associates, though the reverend chaplain of the jail deroted the most unremitting attention to the spiritual concerns of the unhappy man.”
So this is the way we tend the sick children of the great social family, because, forsooth, with all our palaces, we cannot afford a proper infirmary! As soon as symptoms of sickness appear, we thrust all our patients together, to make one another as much worse as possible, and when any one is past hope, we take credit for our humanity in stuffing him with remedies which come too late. To look at our prisons, one would think that we must be out in our Christian chronology. That among the many mansions of the social edifice, room cannot be found for those who have the strongest claim of all on our pitying love and watchful care,—what a scandal this is may be most fully comprehended by those who have passed from the loathsome confusion of the greater number of our prisons to the silence and rigid order of the very few in which a better system has been tried. There are persons to press the argument that while many of our honest poor, in London and in the factory districts, are crowded together, six or seven families in the same apartment, it cannot be expected that the guilty should be better accommodated. But these same honest poor,—trebly honest if they can remain so under such a mode of living,— may well be as glad as other people that the prisoner should be doomed to the solitude which their poverty denies to them. These same honest poor are taxed to pay for the transportation of multitudes of the guilty, and for the idleness of all: while the incessant regeneration of crime through our prison methods affords but a melancholy prospect of augmented burdens on their children's children for similar purposes. In this point of view alone, how dearly has the public paid for the destruction of this Andrew Wilson, and for the offences of the gang he belongs to! Committed in his childhood for the childish fault of throwing stones, kept in a state of expensive idleness for want of an apparatus of labour, thrown into an atmosphere of corruption for want of room to insulate him, issuing forth as a vagabond to spread the infection of idleness and vice, and being brought back to be tried and hanged at the nation's expense, after he had successfully qualified others for claiming from the public the expense of transportation,—would not the injured wretch have been more profitably maintained through a long life at the public expense! Would it not have answered better to the public purse to give him an establishment, on condition of his remaining harmless? If no Christian considerations are strong enough to rouse us to build new jails, or to transmute the spare palaces of the educated and the honoured into I nitentiaries for the ignorant and forlorn there may be calculable truths,——facts of pounds, shillings, and pence,—which may plead on behalf of the guilty against the system of mingled parsimony and extravagance by which guilt is aggravated at home, and diffused abroad, and the innocent have to pay dear for that present quiet which insures a future further invasion of their security. Every complainant who commits a young offender to certain of our jails knows, or may know, that he thereby burdens the public with a malefactor for life, and with all who will become criminals by his means. What wonder that the growing chances of impunity become a growing inducement to crime? There is no occasion to “provide criminals with port wine and Turkey-carpets;” but there would be more sense and better economy in this extreme,—if insulation were secured,—than in the system which remains a reproach to the head and heart of the community. Ah! here are a few hints as to one of the methods by which we contrive to have so many young offenders upon our hands.
“John Ford, a publican, was fined for having music in his house, &c. &c.”
“Two labourers brothers, named White, were charged with creating a disturbance in the neighbourhood of the residence of Sir L. M. N. O., who has lately enforced his right of shutting up the foot-path, &c. &c.”
“The number of boats which passed under Putney Bridge from noon to sunset on a Sunday in summer, was computed by the informant of the right reverend bishop to exceed, &c. &c.”
“The witness stated that he saw the two prisoners that morning in the Albany Road, Regent's Park, selling the unstamped publications which were now produced. He purchased a copy from each of them, and took the rendors into custody. The magistrates committed the prisoners to the House of Correction for one month each, and thrust the forfeited papers into the fire. The prisoners were then removed from the bar, laughing.”
“On the discussion, last night, relative to the throwing open of the Museum, we have to observe, &c. &c.”
“The prisoner related that his dog having, on a former occasion, brought a hare to him in a similar manner, the gamekeeper had ordered the animal to be shot. The prisoner's son had then contrired to secrete it; but he could assure the magistrates that the animal should be immediately sacrified if he might be spared the ruin of being sent to prison.”
Considering that one of the great objects of government is the security, and another the advancement, of the people, it seems as if one of the expenses of government should be providing useful and innocent amusement for the people. All must have something to do in the intervals of their toils; and as the educated can find recreations for themselves, it behoves the guardians of the public to be especially careful in furnishing innocent amusements to those who are less fitted to choose their pleasures well. But where are the public grounds in which the poor of our large towns may take the air, and exercise themselves in games? Where are the theatres, the museums, the news-rooms, to which the poor may resort without an expense unsuited to their means? What has become of the principle of Christian equality, when a Christian prelate murmurs at the poor man's efforts to enjoy, at rare intervals, the green pastures and still waters to which a loving shepherd would fain lead forth all his flock; and if any more tenderly than others, it would be such as are but too little left at large? Our administrators are careful enough to guard the recreations of those who, if deprived of them, are in the least danger of being driven to guilty excitements. The rich who can have music and dancing, theatres, picture-galleries and museums, riding in the parks, and walking in the fields any day of the week, hunting and boating, journeying and study, must also have one more, at whatever expense of vice and misery to their less favoured neighbours, and at whatever cost to society at large. Yes; their game must be protected, though the poor man must not listen in the public-house to the music which he cannot hire, nor read at home almost the only literature that he can buy. He must destroy his cherished dog, if it happens to follow a hare; and must take his evening walk in the dusty road if a powerful neighbour forbids him the quiet, green footway. Thus we drive him to try if there is no being merry at the beer-shop, and if he cannot amuse himself with his dog in the woods at night, since he must not in the day. Thus we tempt him to worse places than a cheap theatre would be. Thus we preach to him about loving and cherishing God's works, while we shut out some of them from his sight, and wrest others from his grasp; and, by making happiness and heaven an abstraction which we deny him the intellect to comprehend, we impel him to make trial of misery and hell, and by our acts do our best to speed him on his way, while our weak words of warning are dispersed by the whirlwind of temptation which we ourselves have raised. If the administration of penal justice be a grievous burden upon the people, it must be lightened by a practical respect to that higher justice which commands that the interests of all, the noble and the mean, the educated and the ignorant, be of equal importance in the regards of the administration; so that government shall as earnestly protest against the slaughter of the poor man's dog for the sake of the rich man's sport, as the prophet of God against the sacrifice of the poor man's ewe-lamb for the rich man's feast. If bible-read prelates preached from their hearts upon this text, we should never have another little boy supposing that he was to be a clergyman, because he went out shooting with his father. Would that such could be persuaded to leave their partridges and pheasants, and go east and west, to bring down and send home the winged creatures of other climes, wherewith to delight the eyes of the ignorant, and to enlarge his knowledge of God's works! Meantime, the well-dressed only can enter the Zoological Gardens; and the footman (who cannot be otherwise than well-dressed) must pull off his cockade before he may look at that which may open to him some of the glory of the 104th Psalm. We are lavish of God's word to the people, but grudging of his works. We offer them the dead letter, withholding the spirit which gives life. Yet something is done in the way of genuine homage. See here!—
“Yesterday being the occasion of the annual assemblage of, schools in St. paul's ∗ ∗ under the dome ∗ ∗children sang a hymn ∗ ∗ crowded to excess ∗ ∗ presence of her Majesty, &c. &c.”
And here follows an account of certain university prize-givings. We are not without public education,—badged,—the one to denote charity, the other endowments.
If education were what it ought to be,—the breath of the life of the community,—there would be an end of this childish and degrading badging. At present, this prodigious display of white tippets and coloured cockades under the dome of St. Paul's tells only that, because the whole of society is not educated at all, a small portion is educated wrong. There is less to he proud than ashamed of in such an exhibition; and though the stranger from a comparatively barbarous country may feel his heart swell as that mighty infant voice chaunts its hymn of praise, the thoughts of the meditative patriot will wander from these few elect to the multitudes that are left in the outer darkness. Till the state can show how every parent may afford his children a good education, the state is bound to provide the means for it; and to enforce the use of those means by making a certain degree of intellectual competency a condition of the enjoyment of the benefits of society. Till the state can appoint to every member a sufficiency of leisure from the single manual act which, under an extensive division of labour, constitutes the business of many, it is bound to provide the only effectual antidote to the contracting and benumbing influences of such servile toil.
Till knowledge ceases to be at least as necessary to the happiness of the state as military skill was to the defence of the Greek Republics, the state is bound to require of every individual a certain amount of intellectual ability, as Greece required of her citizens a specified degree of military skill. Till all these extraordinary things happen, no pleas of poverty, no mournful reference to the debt, no just murmurs against the pension list, can absolve us from the obligation of framing and setting in motion a system of instruction which shall include every child that shall not be better educated elsewhere, Not that this would be any very tremendous expense. There is an enormous waste of educational resources already, from the absence of system and co-operation. Lords and ladies, squires and dames, farmers' wives, merchants' daughters, and clergymen's sisters, have their schools, benevolently set on foot, and indefatigably kept up, in defiance of the evils of insulation anti diversity of plan. Let all these be put under the workings of a well-planned system, and there will be a prodigious saving of effort and of cost. The private benevolence now operating in this direction would go very far towards the fulfilment of a national scheme. What a saving in teachers, in buildings, in apparatus and materials, and, finally, in badges! There will be no uniform of white caps and tippets when there is no particular glory to be got by this species of charity; when none can be found who must put up with the humiliation for the sake of the overbalancing good. When the whole people is so well off that none come to receive alms at the sound of the trumpet, the trumpet will cease to sound. The day may even arrive when blue gowns and yellow stockings shall excite pity in the beholders no more, and no widowed parent be compelled to struggle with her maternal shame at subjecting her comely lad to the mortifications which the young spirit has not learned to brave. This last grievance, however, lies not at the nation's door. It is chargeable on the short-sightedness of an individual, which may serve as a warning to us whenever we set to work on our system of national education. It may teach us, by exhibiting the folly of certain methods of endowment, to examine others; to avoid the absurdity of bestowing vast sums in teaching plain things in a perplexed manner, or supposed sciences which have long ceased to be regarded as such, or other accomplishments which the circumstances of the time do not render either necessary or convenient. It may lead our attention from the endowed school to the endowed university, and show us that what we want, from our gentlemen as well as our poor, is an awakening of the intellect to objects of immediate and general concern, and not a compulsion to mental toil which shall leave a man, after years of exemplary application, ignorant of whatever may make him most useful in society, and may be best employed and improved amidst the intercourses of the world. Let there remain a tribe of book worms still; and Heaven forbid that the classics should fall into contempt! But let scholastic honours be bestowed according to the sympathies of the many; the many being meantime so cultivated as that they may arrive at a sympathy with intellectual toil. “With the progress of science, the diffusion of science becomes necessary. The greater the power of the people to injure or rebel, the more necessary it is to teach them to be above injuring and rebelling, The ancient tyrant who hung up his laws written in so small a character that his people could not read them, and then punished offenders under pretence that his laws were exhibited, was no more unjust than we are while we transport and bang our neighbours for deeds of folly and malice, while we still withhold from them the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Bring public education to the test, and it will bo found that badgery is pomp, while universal instruction is essential to the support of the state.
A pretty new church that! But I should scarcely have supposed it wanted while there is a new Methodist meeting-house on one side the way, and the large old Independent chapel on the other. The little church that the lady is sketching before it comes down, might have served a while longer, I fancy, if the necessity had been estimated by the number of church-goers, and not of souls, in the parish. Whatever may be thought of the obligation to provide a national scheme of worship after the manner in which a national scheme of education is certainly a duty,—-however the essential circumstance of distinction is overlooked, that every member of the state has, without its assistance, opportunities of worship, while such is not the case with instruction,— whatever may be thought of the general question of an ecclesiastical establishment,—It is not pretended by any that its purposes are answered by the application of is funds to the augmentation of private fortunes instead of the religious instruction of the people. Time was when he who presented to a benefice was supposed to confer a benefit on the people connected with it. Now we have the public barter of such presentations for gold; and whether most regard be always paid to the qualifications of the candidate or to the gold he brings, let the face of the country declare. Meeting-houses springing up in every village, intelligent artizans going off to one class or another of Dissenters, while the stolid race of agricultural labourers lounge to church,—-what does this tell but that the religious wants of the people are better met by the privately-paid than the publicly-paid church? The people are not religiously instructed by the clergy, as a body. Look into our agricultural districts, and see what the mere opening of churches does for the population,—for the dolts who snore round the fire in the farm-kitchen during the long winter evenings, and the poor wretches that creep, match in hand, between the doomed stacks, or that walk firmly to the gibbet under the delusion that their lifelong disease of grovelling vice is cured and sent to oblivion by a few priestly prayers and three days of spiritual excitement! Look into our thronged towns, and search in its cellars and garrets, its alleys and its wider streets, how many dwellers there see the face of their clergyman, and have learned from his lips the reason of the hope that is ia them,—if such hope there indeed be! They hear that he who holds the benefice, i.e. is appointed their benefactor, is living in London, or travelling abroad, on the funds which are derived from the people, and that a curate, found by accident or advertisement, is coming to do the duty. He may be a religious instructor, in the real sense of the term, or he may not. If he be, no thanks to his superior, no thanks to the state, no thanks to the university that bred him! For aught they know or trouble themselves about, he may be more ignorant than many a mechanic in his flock, and more indolent than the finest lady who carries her salts to her cushioned pew. He might have the same virtues that he has now if he were a dissenting minister; and nobody disputes that nowhere does virtue more eminently fail of its earthly recompense than in the church. Nowhere do luxury and indolence more shamelessly absorb the gains of hardship and of toil. The sum of the whole matter is, that in the present state of the church, the people pay largely for religious instruction, which it is a chance whether they obtain. If the same payment were made by the people direct,—without the intervention of the state,—they would be sure to demand and receive an equivalent for their sacrifices. If the people be supposed incapable of thus providing fur their own spiritual wants, it behoves the stale to see that those wants are actually provided for, so that more than half the nation may not be compelled, through failure of duty in the establishment, to support a double ministry. No power in earth or heaven can absolve the state from the obligation, either to leave to its members the management of their own funds for religious worship and instruction, or to furnish to every individual the means of learning the Gospel and worshipping his Maker. The first is a plan which has been elsewhere found to answer full as well as any we have yet tried. The last can never be attained by merely opening a sufficiency of churches, and leaving to men's cupidity the chance whether the pulpit shall be occupied by an ape or an apostle.
Have the people got a notion already of such an alternative?
“Tithes.—Parish op C.—On Monday, the Rev. J. B. H. commenced distraining. for tithes due, &c. &c. On that day there were impounded above forty cows. The parishioners offered security for the cattle, which was refused, and they have resolved to let the law, take its course. In the mean time, a large military and police force is stationed in the relieved of the pound. Sentinels are regularly posted and relieved, and the place presents more the appearance of a warlike district than a country village.”
Ah! this Rev. J. B. H. takes for his text, perhaps, “I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword. “The people, it seems, think his claim, 1476., on a valued property of 9000l. a year, excessive. But his advocate declares that no man, acquainted with first principles, can deny that the Rev. J. B. H. has a legal right to demand and take his tithes. Be it so! But first principles tell just as plainly that it is high time the law was altered:—first principles of humanity to the clergy themselves, to judge by what comes next.
“The subscription for the relief of the families of clergymen in Ireland proceeds but slowly, though the necessity for it increases with every passing day. Ladies who hare been educated with a new to filling a highly-respectable station in society may now, be seen engaged in the most laborious domestic offices; while their children are thankful to accept a meal of potatoes from some of the lowest of their father's. flock.”
“The widow of an Irish clergyman, middle-aged, is eager to obtain a situation to superintend the management of the nursery in the family of a widower, or as useful companion to a lady, or as housekeeper in a nobleman's mansion, or as matron in an extensive charitable institution. She would be willing to make herself useful in any situation not menial, her circumstances being of an urgent nature.—References to a lady of rank.”
“A master of arts, in full orders is desirous of a curacy. He feels himself equal to a loborious charge; and a speedy settlement is of more importance, than the amount of salary, especially if there be an opening for tuition.”
Alas! what a disclosure of misery is here! among a body which the United Kingdom is taxed to maintain. Poor as the Dissenting clergy may be, as a body, we bear of no such conflicts in their lot. The poor spirit-broken clergyman bearing, undeserved by him, the opprobrium belonging to his church, seeing his gentle wife washing his floor, or striving to patch up once more the girl's frock and the boy's coat; while they, poor children, peep in at the door of the labourer's smoky cabin, and rush in at the first invitation to take a sup of milk or a potatoe! Scraps of the classics, descriptive of poverty, will run in his head, instead of gospel consolations of poverty; for the good reason that he was taught that his classics, and not his choice of poverty, were his title to preach the gospel. He could find in his heart to inquire further of any heretical sect, which takes for its rule to employ every one according to his capacity, and reward him according to his works. However difficult it might be to fix upon any authority which all men would agree to be a fitting judge of their capacities and their works, none would affirm that an educated clergyman is employed according to his capacities in wandering about helpless amidst the contempt or indifference of his flock, or that his works are properly rewarded by the starvation of his family. Then there is the widow of a brother in the same fruitless ministry! “Any situation not menial!” “Her circumstances of an urgent nature!” One poor relation, perhaps, taking charge of one child, and another of a second; and the third, perhaps, sent to wear the badge of this lady of rank at a charity-school, that the widow may be made childless—may advertise herself as “without incumbrance,”to undertake any situation not menial! Then comes the curate, eager to undertake more than man can do for as little as man can live for;—to use his intellectual tools, framed with care, and polished with long toil, and needing, in their application, all the power of a philosopher with all the zeal of a saint,—for less than is given to the artizan who spends his life in the performance of one manual act, or the clerk, whose whole soul has in one process of computation! This poor curate, heart-sick through long waiting, may find employment according to his capacities, and above them; but, if he be fit for his work, he will not be rewarded according to it, till those for whom he and his brethren toil have, directly or indirectly, the distribution of the recompense. Bring the church, in its turn, to the test. It is certain that it is made up of pomp and penury; and no power on earth can prove that it at present yields any support to the state.
Since the people have no benefit from a state education, and but a questionable benefit from a state church, how much is spent on their behalf? Here are tables which look as if they would tell something, though it requires more wit than mortal man has to make out accurately how the public accounts really stand. Among all the accommodations provided for the transaction of public business, one would think a pay-office might be fixed upon where all public claims should be discharged, in certain allotted departments; and, among all the servants of government, working men or sinccurists, one would think some might be employed in preparing such a document as has never yet been seen among us—an account of the actual annual expenditure of the public money. But one may make some approach to the truth in the gross:—
“The expenditure for the last year may be calculated, in round numbers, at upwards of fifty millions.”
Upon my word, we are a gay nation! If we acted upon the belief held by some very wise persons, that the business of government might be conducted at a charge of one per cent. on the aggregate of individual revenue, this sum total would show us to be rich enough to buy Europe, and perhaps America to boot. This would give us a national wealth which it would be beyond Crœsus himself to form a notion of. But we are far enough from having ourselves governed so cheaply. Let us see how these fifty millions go:—
Here are thirty-four millions and a half devoted to “non-effective”expenditure. This is a pretty triumph of Pomp versus Support.—Yes, —pomp: for few will now dare to affirm that our prodigious wars were necessary to the national defence. They were wars of pomp which undermined our supports: and, as for the glory thus gained, our descendants will be ashamed of it long before they have done paying for it.—As for the other items of non-effective expenditure,—.the smaller they appear by the side of the enormous debt charge, the more necessity there is for their reduction; since the disproportion proves,—not their smallness, but its bigness. Though they cannot be abolished, —though their Majesties must have a household, —though the other branches of the royal family must be supported,—though retired soldiers and sailors must be taken care of on their quitting a service from which it is not easy to turn to any other,—no man will now affirm that reduction is for ever impossible; though the like affirmation was made before the present government proved its falsehood. That their Majesties must have a household on a liberal scale is true; but that there are no sinecures in the royal households remains to be proved. And if such sinecures there must be, it also remains to he proved that they would not be equally well filled if they were merely honorary offices. That the members of the royal family, precluded as they are by their position from being independent, must submit to be maintained by a pitying people, is also true. It is a lot so full of mortification, that a Christian nation will soften the necessity to them to the utmost; cheerfully paying as much as will support them in decent splendour, but not so much more as will expose them to the taunts of their supporters. This regard to their feelings is their due, till their day of emancipation arrives,—till the customs of society shall allow them the natural rights of men and women,—the power of social exertion, and the enjoyment of social independence. Their case, however, is peculiar in its hardships. No other class in society is precluded from either enjoying ancestral property or accumulating property for themselves; and it is too much to expect the nation to approve or to pay for the infliction of a similar humiliation on any who have not, in their own persons or in those of their very nearest connexions, served the people for an otherwise insufficient reward. Let the soldier and sailor who have sacrificed health or member in the public defence be provided for by a grateful people; but there is no reason why the descendants of civil officers, or diplomatists retired from already overpaid services, should receive among them far more than is afforded to naval and military pensions together. As for the proportion of these naval and military pensions to the expenditure for effective defence, it is to be hoped that a long abstinence from war will rectify,—if they must not be otherwise rectified, — such enormous abuses as that of the number of retired soldiers far exceeding that of the employed, and of the expenses of the non-effective service being considerably greater than the maintenance of the actual army. Monstrous absurdities! that the factitiously helpless class should cost the nation more than those who advance some plea, —more or less substantial,—of civil services, rendered by themselves or their connexions! that these last should cost the nation more than the whole body of its maimed, and wounded, and worn-out defenders! and that these again should cost the nation more than its actual defenders! What wonder that they from whose toils all these expenses must be paid talk of a national militia,—of arming themselves, and dispensing with a standing army? It is no wonder: but when we let them be as wise as they desire to be, they will perceive that their best weapons at present are the tongues of their representatives. It has not yet been tried whether these tongues may not utter a spell powerful enough to loosen this enormous Dead-Weight from the neck of the nation.
But how goes the 15,000,000l. for actual service?
“Of the 15,000,000 l, required for active service, three and a half are expended on the collection of the revenue. Eight and a quarter ondefence. Law and justice swallow up three-quarters of a million. Another million is required for and government, and the expenses of legislation. Diplomacy and the colonial coil service as discharged by half a million. About half a million is spent on public works. The remaining odd half million out of the fifteen, is expended on the management of the debt, and for miscellaneous services,”&c.
So we, a most Christian nation, with abundance of Christian prelates, and a church which is to watch over the state with apostolic care,— we, strenuous professors of a religion of peace and enlightenment,—spend eight millions and a quarter on Defence, and——how much on popular Education? I suppose the latter forms some little item in one of the smaller accounts, for I can nowhere see it. Eight millions and a quarter on Defence, and three quarters on Law and Justice! Eight and a quarter on Defence, and one on Government and Legislation! Eight millions and a quarter on Defence, and half a million on Public Works! O, monstrous!—too monstrous a sin to be charged on any ruler, or body of rulers, or succession of bodies of rulers! The broad shoulders of the whole civilized world must bear this tremendous reproach:—the world which has had Christianity in it these eighteen hundred years, and whose most Christian empire yet lays out more than half its serviceable expenditure in providing the means of bloodshed, or of repelling bloodshed! The proportion would be enormous, even if all the other items were of righteous signification,—if the proper proportion of the three and a half millions for Collection went to Education; if Law were simple, and Justice cheap; if the real servants of Government were liberally paid, and all idle hangers-on shaken off; if there were no vicious diplomatic and colonial patronage; and no jobbing in the matter of Public Works. If all else were as it should be, this item might well make us doubt what age of the world we are living in, and for what purpose it is that Providence is pleased to humble us by leaving such a painful thorn of barbarism in the side of our majestic civilization. Long must it be before it can grow out. Meantime, let us not boast as if the whole body were sound; or as if we were not performing as humbling and factitious a duty in paying our defence-taxes as the bondman of old in following the banner of the cross to the eastern slaughter-field. The one was the bondman's duty then; and the other is the citizen's duty now; but the one duty is destined to become as obsolete as the other.—What glory in that day, to reverse the order of expenditure! Education, Public Works, Government and Legislation, Law and Justice. Diplomacy, Defence, Dignity of the Sovereign. When this time shall come, no one can conjecture; but that we shall not always have to pay eight millions a year for our defence is certain; if the voice of a wise man,—(which is always the voice of an awakening multitude,)— say true. “Human intelligence will not stand still: the same impulse that has hitherto borne it onwards, will continue to advance it yet further. The very circumstance of the vast increase of expense attending national warfare has made it impossible for governments henceforth to engage in it, without the public assent, expressed or implied; and that assent will be obtained with the more difficulty, in proportion as the public shall become more generally acquainted with their real interest. The national military establishment will be reduced to what is barely sufficient to repel external attack; for which purpose, little more is necessary than a small body of such kinds of troops as cannot be had without long training and exercise; as of cavalry and artillery. For the rest, nations will rely on their militia, and on the excellence of their internal polity; for it is next to impossible to conquer a people, unanimous in their attachment to their national institutions.”Nor will any desire to conquer them while our example of the results of conquest is before the eyes of nations. Then the newspapers will not have to give up space to notices of military reviews; and gentry whose names have no chance of otherwise appearing in print will not have the trouble of looking for themselves in the list of army promotions. The pomp of defence will be done away, while the support will remain in the hearts and hands of the people.
What a blessed thing it is that as soon as the people do not choose to pay for pomp, pomp will be done away! What a blessed thing that they cannot be put out of the question, as Henry VIII.'s people were, by sending their representatives to the wars as often as they disliked paying for the King's gold and silver beards, or the Lady Mary's fool's cap and bells! What a blessing that they can be no longer feared and yet defied, as when Charles II. did without a parliament because he was afraid to tell them of the bribes he had taken, and the loans he had asked, and the cheats he had committed, and the mad extravagance of his tastes and habits! Here, I see. we are content to pay for
“Robes, collars, badges, &c., for Knight: of the several orders.
“Repairing the King's crown, maces, badges,” Plate to the Secretary of State.
Plate to the Secretary of State.
“Plate and various equipage money to the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.”
This is the people's own doing. No grown man can be supposed to care for crowns and gold sticks, and robes and collars, in themselves. It is the people who choose to preserve them as antiquarian curiosities. So be it, as long as their taste for antiquities takes this turn, and they can find grown men good-natured enough to dress up to make a show for their gratification. But, in another reign or two, it will be necessary to have dolls made to save busy and grave legislators the toil and absurdity of figuring in such an exhibition; or perhaps cheap theatres will by that time be allowed, where those who now act pantomimes, will not be above exhibiting these other mummeries on Christmas nights. Mean-time, if the people choose to have their functionaries surrounded with pomp and parade, they must pay the purchase money with thanks. Whenever they shall become disposed to dispense with guards, trappings, and pageantry, to respect simplicity, and obey the laws for the sake of something more venerable than maces and wigs, they have only to say so, and doubtless the King will feel much relieved, and his ministers very thankful. The laws will work quite as well for the judges looking like other people; in the same manner as it is found that physicians' prescriptions are worth full as much as formerly, though the learned gentlemen now wear their own hair. We tried this method of simplicity in our own North American Colonies, less than a century ago. Their total expenditure was under 65,000l. per annum. We shall not have held those colonies for nothing if we learn from our own doings there how cheap a thing government may be made, when removed from under the eyes and the hands of a born aristocracy.
What a rich, stirring, happy-looking country this is before my eyes, where the people hold up their heads and smile, —very differently, I fancy, from what they did when the proud Cardinal made a progress through it, or when whispers of the sale of Dunkirk circulated in advance or in the rear of the sovereign who bartered away his people's honour! How times are changed, when, instead of complaining that the King and his Ministers sacrifice the nation to their own pomps and vanities, the people only murmur at an insufficiency of courage and despatch in relieving them of the burdens imposed by the mal-administration of a former age! What a change, from being king-ridden, courtier-ridden, priest-ridden minister-ridden, to being,—not king-ridden, less courtier-ridden, priest-ridden only while it is our pleasure to be so, and ruled by a ministry, every tittle of whose power hangs upon the breath of the people! One may bear even the debt, for a short space, with patience, while blessed with the sober certainty that the true instrument of rectification,—the responsibility of rulers to the ruled, is at length actually in our hands. One might almost wish long life to the sinecure pensioners, and be courteous about the three millions and a half consumed in tax collecting, if one rested in a comparison of the present with the past. But there is enough before one's eyes to remind one how much remains to be done before the nation shall receive full justice at the hands of its guardians. By small savings in many quarters, or by one of the several decided retrenchments which are yet possible and imperative, some entire tax, with its cost of collection, might ere this have been spared, and many an individual and many a family who wanted but this one additional weight to crush them, might now have been standing erect in their independence. What a list of advertisements is here! Petitions for relief, —how piteous! Offers of lodging, of service, literary, commercial, and personal, how eager! What tribes of little governesses, professing to teach more than their young powers can possibly have achieved! What trains of servants, vehemently upholding their own honesty and accomplishments,—the married boasting of having got rid of their children to recommend themselves to their employers,—ay, even the mother advertising for sale the nourishment which God created for her first-born! There is no saying how much of all this is attributable to the weight of public burdens, or to the mode of their pressure: but it is enough that this craving for support co-exists with unnecessary public burdens. It is enough, were the craving aggravated a thousand-fold, and the needless burden extenuated to the smallest that could be estimated,—it is enough to prove that no worthless pensioner,—worthless to the nation at large,—should fill his snuff-box at the public charge, while a single tax-payer is distressed. For my part, I have no doubt that many of the cases in this long list of urgent appeals owe their sorrow to this cause. I have no doubt that many a young girl's first grief is the seeing a deeper and a deeper gloom on her father's brow, as he fails more and more to bear up against his share of the public burden, and finds that he must at length bring himself to the point, and surrender the child he has tenderly nurtured, and dismiss her to seek a laborious and precarious subsistence for herself. I have no doubt that many of these boasting servants would have reserved their own merits to bless their own circle, but for the difficulty that parents, husbands and brothers find in living on taxed articles. While these things co-exist with the needless expenditure of a single farthing, I, for one, shall feel that, however thankful we may and ought to be for our prodigious advance in freedom and moral dignity, we have still to pray, day and night, that the cry of the poor and the mirth of the parasite do not rise up together against us. Too fearful a retribution must await us, if we suffer any more honest hearts to be crushed under the chariot wheels of any 'gay, licentious proud'— who must have walked barefoot in the mud, if their condition had been determined by their deserts.
What place is this? I was not aware that these pretty villas, and evergreen gardens, and trim causeways stretched to so great a distance on any London road. Bless me! where can we be? I know that old oak. I must have been dreaming if we have passed through Croydon without my perceiving it. I shall be early at G.'s after all. No! not I! It is some two hours later than I thought. Travelling alone is the best pastime, after all. I must tie up these newspapers. It is a wonder they have not been claimed for the Blue Lion yet.
My wife would say this is just the light for the Abbey; but she has said so of every light, from the broadest noon sunshine to the glimmer of the slenderest crescent at midnight. Long may the Abbey stand, quiet amidst the bustle of moving life, a monitor speaking eloquently of the past, and breathing low prophecies of the future! It is a far nobler depository of records than the Tower: for here are brought into immediate contrast the two tribes of kings,—the sovereigns by physical force, and the sovereigns by moral force,—the royal Henries, and the thrice royal Shakspeare and Locke and Wilberforce;—and there remains also space for some one who perchance may unite the attributes of all;—who, by doing the highest work of a ruler in making the people happy, may discharge the commission of a seraph in leading them on to be wise. Let not the towers totter, nor the walls crumble, till such an one is there sung to his rest by the requiem of a virtuous people! But the noblest place of records can never be within four walls, shut in from the stars. There is one, as ancient, may be, as the Abbey; and perhaps destined to witness its aisles laid open to the sunrise, and its monuments to the shifting moonlight,—the old oak that we passed just now. My wife pities it, standing exposed in its old age to the glare and the dust, when it was perhaps, in its youth, the centre of a cool, green thicket. But it is worth living through all things to witness what that oak has seen. If no prophetic eye were given to men, I think I would accept the elixir vitœ for a chance of beholding the like. As soon as that oak had a shade to offer, who came to court it? The pilgrim on his painful way to the southern shrine,—turning aside to pray that the helpless might not be ravaged by the spoiler in his absence? The nun who mourned within her cell, and trembled in God's sunshine, and passed her blighted life in this sad alternation? The child who slept on the turf,—safely,— with the adder in the neighbouring grass, and the robber looking down from the tree in envy of its innocence; innocence which, after all, was poisoned by a worse fang than the adder's, and despoiled by the hand of a ruder bandit,— tyranny?—Who came in a later age?—The soldier reeking from the battle, and in search of some nook in which to pray for his little ones and die? The maiden, fleeing from royal lust, and her father outlawed by royal vengeance? What tales were brought when the neighbouring stems mouldered away, and left space for the winds to enter with their tidings from afar? Rumours of heaped battle-fields across the sea, and of the murmurings of the oppressed in the comfortless homes, and the indiguant remonstrance of captives silenced in their proclamation of the truth? And then, did weary sailors come up from the sea, and, while they rested, talk of peace? And merchants of prosperity? And labourers of better days?—And now that the old oak yields but a scanty shade,—children come to pick up its acorns, and to make a ladder of its mouldering sides; and even these infant tongues can tell of what the people feel, and what the people intend, and what the King desires for the people, and what the ministers propose for the people. The old oak has lived to see the people's day.—O! may the breath of heaven stir it lightly;— may the spring rains fall softly as the wintry snow;—may the thunderbolt spare it, and the flash not dare to crisp its lightest leaf, that it may endure to witness something of that which is yet to come!—of the wisdom which shall issue sternly from the abyss of poverty, smoothing its rugged brow as it mounts to a milder and brighter region; and of pleasure descending from her painted cloud, sobering her mien as she visits rank below rank, till she takes up her abode with the lowliest in the form of content. If every stone of yonder Abbey can be made to murmur like the sea-shell to the awakened ear, disclosing echoes of the requiems of ages, yet more may this oak whisper from every leaf its records of individual sorrows, of mutual hopes, and now of common rejoicing;—a rejoicing which yet has more in it of hope than of fulfilment. The day of the people is come. The old oak survives to complete its annals,—the Abbey has place for a record—whether the people are wise to use their day for the promotion of the great objects of national association,—public order and social improvement.
It was too late to dine at G.'s; so Reid turned into the Abbey, and staid there till his own footfall was the only sound that entertained the bodily ear.[Back to Table of Contents]
Summary of Principles illustrated in this volume.
It is necessary to the security and advancement of a community that there should be an expenditure of a portion of its wealth for purposes of defence, of public order, and of social improvement.
As public expenditure, though necessary, is unproductive, it must be limited. And, as the means of such expenditure are furnished by the people for defined objects, its limit is easily ascertained.
That expenditure alone which is necessary to defence, public order, and social improvement, is justifiable.
Such a direction of the public expenditure can be secured only by the public functionaries who expend being made fully responsible to the party in whose behalf they expend.
For want of this responsibility, the public expenditure of an early age,—determined to pageantry, war, and favouritism,—was excessive, and perpetrated by the few in defiance of the many.
For want of a due degree of this responsibility, the public expenditure of an after age,—determined to luxury, war, and patronage,— was excessive, and perpetrated by the few in fear of the many, by deceiving and defrauding them.
For want of a due degree of this responsibility, the public expenditure of the present age, —determined chiefly to the sustaining of burdens imposed by a preceding age,—perpetuates many abuses: and, though much ameliorated by the less unequal distribution of power, the public expenditure is yet as far from being regulated to the greatest advantage of the many, as the many are from exacting due responsibility and service from the few.
When this service and responsibility shall be duly exacted, there will be—
Necessary offices only, whose duties will be clearly defined, fully accounted for, and liberally rewarded:
Little patronage, and that little at the disposal of the people:
No pomp,—at the expense of those who can barely obtain support: but
Liberal provisions for the advancement of national industry and intelligence.