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Eind is held in bondage. He dislikes an utterly unenlightened age; he dislikes an investigating and reforming age. The first twenty years of the sixteenth century would have exactly suited him. They furnished just the quantity of intellectual excitement which he requires. The learned few read and wrote largely. A scholar was held in high estimation; but the rabble did not presume to think; and even the most inquiring and independent of the educated classes paid more reverence to authority, and less to reason, than is usual in our time. This is a state of things in which Mr. Southey would have found himself quite comfortable; and, accordingly, he pronounces it the happiest state of things ever known in the world.
many with bread maat eyther of beanes, peason, or otes, or of altogether, and some acornes among. I will not say that this extremity is oft so well to be seen in time of plentie as of dearth; but if I should I could easily bring my trial; for albeit there be much more grounde eared nowe almost in everye place then hath beene of late yeares, yet such a price of corne continueth in each town and markete, without any just cause, that the artificer and poore labouring man is not able to reach unto it, but is driven to content himself with horse-corne; I mean beanes, peason, otes, tares, and lintelles." We should like to see what the effect would be of putting any parish in England now on allowance of "horsecorne." The helotry of Mammon are not, in our day, so easily enforced to content themselves as the peasantry of that happy period, as Mr. Southey considers it, which elapsed between the fall of the feudal and the rise of commercial tyranny.
The savages were wretched, says Mr. Southey; but the people in the time of Sir Thomas More were happier than either they or we. Now, we think it quite certain, that we have the advantage over the contemporaries of Sir Thomas More, in every point in which they had any advantage over savages.
Mr. Southey does not even pretend to maintain that the people in the sixteenth century were better lodged or clothed than at present. He seems to admit that in these respects there has been some little improvement. It is indeed a matter about which scarcely any doubt can exist in the most perverse mind, that the improvements of machinery have lowered the price of manufactured articles, and have brought | within the reach of the poorest some conveniences which Sir Thomas More or his master could not have obtained at any price.
The labouring classes, however, were, according to Mr. Southey, better fed three hundred years ago than at present. We believe that he is completely in error on this point. The condition of servants in noble and wealthy families, and of scholars at the Universities, must surely have been better in those times than that of common day-labourers; and we are sure that it was not better than that of our workhouse paupers. From the household book of the Northumberland family, we find that in one of the greatest establishments of the kingdom, the servants lived almost entirely on salt meat, without any bread at all. A more unwholesome diet can scarcely be conceived. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, the state of the students at Cambridge is described to us, on the very best authority, as most wretched. Many of them dined on pottage made of a farthing's worth of beef with a little salt and oatmeal, and literally nothing else. This account we have from a contemporary master of St. John's. Our parish poor now eat wheaten bread. In the sixteenth century the labourer was glad to get barley, and was often forced to content himself with poorer fare. In Harrison's introduction to Holinshed we have an account of the state of our working population in the "golden days," as Mr. Southey calls them, of good Queen Bess. "The gentilitie," says he, "commonly provide themselves sufficiently of wheat for their own tables, whylest their household and poore neighbours in some shires are inforced to content themselves with rice or barley; yea, and in time of dearth,
"The people," says Mr. Southey," are worse fed than when they were fishers." And yet in another place he complains that they will not eat fish. "They have contracted," says he, "I know not how, some obstinate prejudice against a kind of food at once wholesome and delicate, and everywhere to be obtained cheaply and in abundance, were the demand for it as general as it ought to be." It is true that the lower orders have an obstinate prejudice against fish. But hunger has no such obstinate prejudices. If what was formerly a common diet is now eaten only in times of severe pressure, the inference is plain. The people must be fed with what they at least think better food than that of their ancestors.
The advice and medicine which the poorest labourer can now obtain, in disease or after an accident, is far superior to what Henry the Eighth could have commanded. Scarcely any part of the country is out of the reach of prac titioners, who are probably not so far inferior to Sir Henry Halford as they are superior to Sir Anthony Denny. That there has been a great improvement in this respect Mr. Southey allows. Indeed, he could not well have denied it. But," says he, "the evils for which the sciences are the palliative, have increased since the time of the Druids in a proportion that heavily outweighs the benefit of improved therapeutics." We know nothing either of the diseases or the remedies of the Druids. But we are quite sure that the improvement of medicine has far more than kept pace with the increase of disease, during the last three centuries. This is proved by the best possible evidence. The term of human life is decidedly longer in England than in any former age, respecting which we possess any information on which we can rely. All the rants in the world about picturesque cottages and temples of Mammon will not shake this argument. No test of the state of society can be named so decisive as that which is furnished by bills of mortality. That the lives of the people of this country have been gradually lengthening during the course of several generations, is as certain as any fact in statistics, and that the
lizes of men should become longer and longer, gence in what they thought an exquisite repast; while the physical condition, during life, is be- and that a dropsy of a peculiar description coming worse and worse, is utterly incredible. was produced by the hard fare of the year. Let our readers think over these circum- Dead bodies were found on the roads and in stances. Let them take into the account the the fields. A single surgeon dissected six of sweating sickness and the plague. Let them these, and found the stomachs shrunk, and take into the account that fearful disease which filled with the unwholesome aliments which first made its appearance in the generation to hunger had driven men to share with beasts. which Mr. Southey assigns the palm of feli- Such extremity of distress as this is never city, and raged through Europe with a fury at heard of in England, or even in Ireland. which the physician stood aghast, and before We are, on the whole, inclined to think, though which the people were swept away by thou- we would speak with diffidence on a point on sands. Let them consider the state of the which it would be rash to pronounce a posinorthern counties, constantly the scene of rob- tive judgment, without a much longer and beries, rapes, massacres, and conflagrations. closer investigation than we have bestowed Let them add to all this the fact that seventy-upon it, that the labouring classes of this two thousand persons suffered death by the island, though they have their grievances and hands of the executioner during the reign of distresses, some produced by their own improHenry the Eighth, and judge between the nine-vidence, some by the errors of their rulers, are teenth and the sixteenth century. on the whole better off, as to physical comforts, than the inhabitants of any equally extensive district of the old world. On this very account, suffering is more acutely felt and more loudly bewailed here than elsewhere. We must take into the account the liberty of discussion, and the strong interest which the opponents of a ministry always have to exaggerate the extent of the public disasters. There are many parts of Europe in which the people quietly endure distress that here would shake the foundations of the state; in which the inhabitants of a whole province turn out to eat grass, with less clamour than one Spitalfields weaver would make here, if the overseers were to put him on barley-bread. In those new countries in which a civilized population had at its command a boundless extent of the richest soil, the condition of the labourer is probably hap pier than in any society which has lasted for many centuries. But in the old world we must confess ourselves unable to find any satisfac tory record of any great nation, past or present, in which the working classes have been in a more comfortable situation than in England during the last thirty years. When this island was thinly peopled, it was barbarous There was little capital; and that little was insecure. It is now the richest and the most highly civilized spot in the world; but the population is dense. Thus we have never
It will scarcely be maintained that the lazzaroni who sleep under the porticos of Naples, or the beggars who besiege the convents of Spain, are in a happier situation than the English commonalty. The distress which has lately been experienced in the northern part of Germany, one of the best governed and most prosperous districts of Europe, surpasses, if we have been correctly informed, any thing which has of late years been known among us. In Norway and Sweden the peasantry are constantly compelled to mix bark with their bread, and even this expedient has not always preserved whole families and neighbourhoods from perishing together of famine. An experiment has lately been tried in the kingdom of the Netherlands, which has been cited to prove the possibility of establishing agricultural colonies on the waste-lands of England; but which proves to our minds nothing so clearly as this, that the rate of subsistence to which the labour-known that golden age which the lower orders ing classes are reduced in the Netherlands is in the United States are now enjoying. We have miserably low, and very far inferior to that of never known an age of liberty, of order, and of the English paupers. No distress which the education, an age in which the mechanical scipeople here have endured for centuries, ap-ences were carried to a great height, yet in proaches to that which has been felt by the which the people were not sufficiently numeFrench in our own time. The beginning of rous to cultivate even the most fertile valleys. the year 1817 was a time of great distress in But when we compare our own condition with this island. But the state of the lowest classes that of our ancestors, we think it clear that the here was luxury compared with that of the advantages arising from the progress of civilipeople of France. We find in Magendie's zation have far more than counterbalanced the Journal de Physiologie Expérimentale, a paper on disadvantages arising from the progress of a point of physiology connected with the dis- population. While our numbers have intress of that season. It appears that the inha- creased tenfold, our wealth has increased a bitants of six departments, Aix, Jura, Doubs, hundredfold. Though there are so many more Haute Saone, Vosges, and Saone et Loire, people to share the wealth now existing in the were reduced first to oatmeal and potatoes, and country than there were in the sixteenth centu at last to nettles, bean-stalks, and other kind ry, it seems certain that a greater share fallɛ to of herbage fit only for cattle; that when the almost every individual than fell to the share next harvest enabled them to eat barley-bread, of any of the corresponding class in the sixmany of them died from intemperate indul teenth century. The king keeps a more splet VOL. L.-15
We do not say that the lower orders in England do not suffer severe hardships. But, in spite of Mr. Southey's assertions, and in spite of the assertions of a class of politicians, who, differing from Mr. Southey in every other point, agree with him in this, we are inclined to doubt whether they really suffer greater physical distress than the labouring classes of the most flourishing countries of the Conti
MACAULAY'S MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS.
did court. The establishments of the nobles
of the earth.
this is the state of society in which the great
The cure which Mr. Southey thinks that he
It is not strange that, differing so widely society, we should differ from him also as to He thinks, that to all from Mr. Southey as to the past progress of its probable destiny. outward appearance, the country is hastening to destruction; but he relies firmly on the piety or the rationality of thus confidently exgoodness of God. We do not see either the "A people may be too rich, because it is the pecting that the Supreme Being will interfere tendency of the commercial, and more espe- to disturb the common succession of causes cially, of the manufacturing system, to collect and effects. We, too, rely on his goodnesswealth rather than to diffuse it. Where wealth on his goodness as manifested, not in extrais necessarily employed in any of the specula-ordinary interpositions, but in those general tions of trade, its increase is in proportion to laws which it has pleased him to establish in Great capitalists become like the physical and in the moral world. We rely its amount. pikes in a fish-pond, who devour the weaker on the natural tendency of the human intelfish; and it is but too certain, that the poverty lect to truth, and on the natural tendency of of one part of the people seems to increase in society to improvement. We know no well the same ratio as the riches of another. There authenticated instance of a people which has are examples of this in history. In Portugal, decidedly retrograded in civilization and proswhen the high tide of wealth flowed in from perity, except from the influence of violent and the conquests in Africa and the East, the effect terrible calamities-such as those which laid of that great influx was not more visible in the the Roman empire in ruins, or those which, augmented splendour of the court, and the about the beginning of the sixteenth century, which, at the end of fifty years of peace and luxury of the higher ranks, than in the distress desolated Italy. We know of no country of the people." Mr. Southey's instance is not a very fortu- tolerably good government, has been less prosThe wealth which did so little for perous than at the beginning of that period. Thus the the Portuguese was not the fruit either of The political importance of a state may demanufactures or of commerce carried on by cline, as the balance of power is disturbed by private individuals. It was the wealth, not of the introduction of new forces. the people, but of the government and its crea- influence of Holland and of Spain is much tures, of those who, as Mr. Southey thinks, diminished. But are Holland and Spain poornever can be too rich. The fact is, that Mr.er than formerly? We doubt it. Other counSouthey's proposition is opposed to all history, tries have outrun them. But we suspect that and to the phenomena which surround us on they had been positively, though not relatively, every side. England is the richest country in advancing. We suspect that Holland is richer Europe, the most commercial, and the most than when she sent her navies up the Thames; manufacturing. Russia and Poland are the that Spain is richer than when a French king poorest countries in Europe. They have was brought captive to the footstool of Charles scarcely any trade, and none but the rudest the Fifth. Is wealth more diffused in nanufactures. Russia and Poland than in England? There are individuals in Russia and Poland whose incomes are probably equal to those of our richest countrymen. It may be doubted, whether there are not, in those countries, as many fortunes of eighty thousand a year as here. But are there as many fortunes of five thousand a year, or of one thousand a year? There are parishes in England which contain more people of between five hundred and three thousand pounds a year than could be found in all the dominions of the Emperor Nicholas. The neat and commodious houses which have been built in London and its vicinity, for people of this class, within the last thirty years, would of themselves form a city larger than be capitals of some European kingdoms. And
We have already adverted to Mr. Southey's amusing doctrine about national wealth. A state, says he, cannot be too rich; but a people may be too rich. His reason for thinking this, is extremely curious.
History is full of the signs of this natural progress of society. We see in almost every part of the annals of mankind how the industry of individuals, struggling up against wars, taxes, famines, conflagrations, mischievous prohibitions, and more mischievous protec tions, creates faster than governments can squander, and repairs whatever invaders can destroy. We see the capital of nations increas ing, and all the arts of life approaching nearer and nearer to perfection, in spite of the grossest corruption and the wildest profusion on the part of rulers.
The present moment is one of great distress. But how small will that distress appear when we think over the history of the last forty years;-a war, compared with which all other wars sink into insignificance; taxation, such
as the most heavily taxed people of former times could not have conceived; a debt larger than all the public debts that ever existed in the world added together; the food of the people studiously rendered dear; the currency imprudently debased, and imprudently restored. Yet is the country poorer than in 1790? We fully believe that, in spite of all the misgovernment of her rulers, she has been almost constantly becoming richer and richer. Now and then there has been a stoppage, now and then a short retrogression; but as to the general tendency there can be no doubt. A single breaker may recede, but the tide is evidently coming in.
times what, in the time of Oliver Cromwell, had been thought intolerably oppressive. To almost all men the state of things under which they have been used to live seems to be the necessary state of things. We have heard it said that five per cent. is the natural interest of money, that twelve is the natural number of a jury, that forty shillings is the natural qualification of a county voter. Hence it is that, though in every age everybody knows that up to his own time progressive improvement has been taking place, nobody seems to reckon on any improvement during the next generation. We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error, who tell us that society has If we were to prophesy that in the year 1930, reached a turning point, that we have seen a population of fifty millions, better fed, clad, our best days. But so said all who came beand lodged than the English of our time, will fore us, and with just as much apparent reacover these islands; that Sussex and Hunting- son. “A million a year will beggar us," said donshire will be wealthier than the wealthiest the patriots of 1640. "Two millions a year parts of the West-Riding of Yorkshire now will grind the country to powder," was the cry are; that cultivation, rich as that of a flower- in 1660. "Six millions a year, and a debt of garden, will be carried up to the very tops of fifty millions!" exclaimed Swift; "the high Ben Nevis and Helvellyn; that machines, con- allies have been the ruin of us.” “A hundred structed on principles yet undiscovered, will and forty millions of debt!" said Junius; be in every house; that there will be no high-“well may we say that we owe Lord Chatham ways but railroads, no travelling but by steam; more than we shall ever pay, if we owe him and our debt, vast as it seems to us, will ap- such a load as this." "Two hundred and pear to our great-grandchildren a trifling forty millions of debt!" cried all the statesencumbrance, which might easily be paid off men of 1783 in chorus; "what abilities, or in a year or two, many people would think us what economy on the part of a minister, can insane. We prophesy nothing; but this we save a country so burdened?" We know that say-If any person had told the Parliament if, since 1783, no fresh debt had been incurred, which met in perplexity and terror after the the increased resources of the country would crash in 1720, that in 1830 the wealth of Eng- have enabled us to defray that burden at which land would surpass all their wildest dreams; Pitt, Fox, and Burke stood aghast—to defray it that the annual revenue would equal the prin- over and over again, and that with much lighter cipal of that debt which they considered as taxation than what we have actually borne. an intolerable burden; that for one man of On what principle is it, that when we see no10,000l. then living, there would be five men thing but improvement behind us, we are to of 50,000%; that London would be twice as large expect nothing but deterioration before us? and twice as populous, and that nevertheless the It is not by the intermeddling of Mr. Soumortality would have diminished to one-half they's idol. the omniscient and omnipotent what it then was; that the postoffice would bring State, but by the prudence and energy of the more into the exchequer than the excise and cus- people, that England has hitherto been carried toms had brought in together under Charles II.; forward in civilization; and it is to the same that stage-coaches would run from London to prudence and the same energy that we now York in twenty-four hours; that men would look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers sail without wind, and would be beginning to will best promote the improvement of the ride without horses, our ancestors would have people by strictly confining themselves to their given as much credit to the prediction as they own legitimate duties; by leaving capital to gave to Gulliver's Travels. Yet the predic- find its most lucrative course, commodities tion would have been true; and they would their fair price, industry and intelligence their have perceived that it was not altogether ab- natural reward, idleness and folly their natural surd if they had considered that the country punishment; by maintaining peace, by defend was then raising every year a sum which ing property, by diminishing the price of law, would have purchased the fee-simple of the and by observing strict economy in every derevenue of the Plantagenets, ten times what partment of the state. Let the government do supported the government of Elizabeth, three | this-the people will assuredly lo the rest
MOORE'S LIFE OF LORD BYRON.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1831.]
We have read this book with the greatest pleasure. Considered merely as a composition, it deserves to be classed among the best specimens of English prose which our age has produced. It contains, indeed, no single passage equal to two or three which we could select from the Life of Sheridan. But, as a whole, it is immeasurably superior to that work. The style is agreeable, clear, and manly; and when it rises into eloquence, rises without effort or ostentation. Nor is the matter inferior to the manner.
Of the deep and painful interest which this
It would be difficult to name a book which exhibits more kindness, fairness, and modesty. It has evidently been written, not for the purThe pretty fable by which the Duchess of pose of showing, what, however, it often shows, how well its author can write; but for the purpose of vindicating, as far as truth will per- Orleans illustrates the character of her son the mit, the memory of a celebrated man who can regent, might, with little change, be applied to no longer vindicate himself. Mr. Moore never Byron. All the fairies, save one, had been bidthrusts himself between Lord Byron and the den to his cradle. All the gossips had been public. With the strongest temptations to profuse of their gifts. One had bestowed noegotism, he has said no more about himself bility, another genius, a third beauty. than the subject absolutely required. A great malignant elf who had been uninvited came In the rank of Lord part, indeed the greater part of these volumes, last, and, unable to reverse what her sisters had consists of extracts from the Letters and Jour-done for their favourite, had mixed up a curse nals of Lord Byron; and it is difficult to speak with every blessing. He was born to all that oo highly of the skill which has been shown Byron, in his understanding, in his character, in the selection and arrangement. We will in his very person, there was a strange union not say that we have not occasionally remark- of opposite extremes. ed in these two large quartos an anecdote men covet and admire. But in every one of over others, there was mingled something of which should have been omitted, a letter those eminent advantages which he possessed which should have been suppressed, a name which should have been concealed by aste- misery and debasement. He was sprung from risks; or asterisks which do not answer the a house, ancient indeed and noble, but deBut it is graded and impoverished by a series of crimes purpose of concealing the name. impossible, on a general survey, to deny that and follies, which had attained a scandalous the task has been executed with great judg-publicity. The kinsman whom he succeeded ment and great humanity. When we consider had died poor, and, but for merciful judges, the life which Lord Byron had led, his petu- would have died upon the gallows. The young lance, his irritability, and his communicative- peer had great intellectual powers; yet there ness, we cannot but admire the dexterity with was an unsound part in his mind. He had nawhich Mr. Moore has contrived to exhibit so turally a generous and tender heart; but his much of the character and opinions of his temper was wayward and irritable. He had foot the deformity of which the beggars in the friend, with so little pain to the feelings of the a head which statuaries loved to copy, and a living. streets mimicked. Distinguished at once by the strength and by the weakness of his intellect, affectionate yet perverse, a poor lord, and a handsome cripple, he required, if ever man re quired, the firmest and the most judicious train
But, capriciously as nature had dealt with him, the relative to whom the office of forming his character was intrusted was more capricious still. She passed from paroxysms of rage to paroxysms of fondness. At one time she stifled him with her caresses, at another time she insulted his deformity. He came into mother treated him-sometimes with kind the world, and the world treated him as his ness, sometimes with severity, never with justice. It indulged him without discrimina
The extracts from the journals and corres-
* Letters and Journals of Lord Byron ; with Notices of his Life. By THOMAS MOORE, ESQ. 2 vols. 4to. London: 1830.