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population. While our numbers have increased tenfold, our wealth has increased a hundredfold. Though there are so many more people to share the wealth now existing in the country than there were in the sixteenth century, it seems certain, that a greater share falls almost to every individual than fell to the share of any of the corresponding class of the sixteenth century. The King keeps a more splendid court. The establishments of the nobles are more magnificent. The esquires are richer, the merchants are richer, the shopkeepers are richer. The serving-man, the artisan, and the husbandman have a more copious and palatable supply of food, better clothing, and better furniture. This is no reason for tolerating abuses, or for neglecting any means of ameliorating the condition of our poorer countrymen. But it is a reason against telling them, as some of our philosophers are constantly telling them, that they are the most wretched people who ever existed on the face of the earth.

We have already adverted to Mr. Southey's amusing doctrine about naLional wealth. A state, says he, cannot be too rich; but a people may be too rich. His reason for thinking this is extremely curious :

“A people may be too rich, because it is the tendency of the commercial, and more especially of the manufacturing system, to collect wealth rather than to diffuse it. Where wealth is necessarily employed in any of the speculations of trade, its increase is in proportion to its amount. Great capitalisis become like pikes in a fish-pond, who devour the weaker fish ; and it is but too certain, the poverty of one part of the people seems to increase in the same ratio as the riches of another. There are examples of this in history. In Portugal, when the high tide of wealth flowed in from the conquests in Africa and the East, the effect of that great influx was not more visible in the augmented splendour of the court, and the luxury of the higher ranks, than in the distress of the people."

Mr. Southey's instance is not a very fortunate one. The wealth which did so little for the Portuguese was not the fruit, either of manufactures or of commerce carried on by private individuals. It was the wealth, not of the people, but of the government and its creatures, of those who, as Mr. Southey thinks, can never be too rich. The fact is, that Mr. Southey's proposition is opposed to all history, and to the phenomena which surround us on every side. England is the richest country in Europe, the most commercial, and the most manufacturing. Russia and Poland are the poorest countries in Europe. They have scarcely any trade, and none but the rudest manufactures. Is wealth more diffused in 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 the capitals of some European kingdoms. And this is the state of society in which the great proprietors have devoured the smaller!

The cure which Mr. Southey thinks that he has discovered is worthy of the sagacity which he has shown in detecting the evil. The calamities arising from the collection of wealth in the hands of a few capitalists are to he remedied by collecting it in the hands of one great capitalist, who has no conceivable motive to use it better than other capitalists, -the all-devouring stale.

It is not strange that, differing so widely from Mr. Southey as to the past progress of society, we should differ from him also as to its probable destiny He thinks that, to all outward appearance, the country is hastening to destruction ; but he relies firmly on the goodness of God. We do not see either the piety or the rationality of thus confidently expecting that the Supreme Being will interfere to disturb the common succession of causes and effects. We, too, rely on his goodness,-on his goodness as manifested, not in extraordinary interpositions, but in those general laws which it has pleased him to establish in the physical and in the moral world. We rely on the natural tendency of the human intellect to truth, and on the natural tendency of society to improvement. We know no well-authenticated intance of a people which has decidedly retrograded in civilization and prosperity, except from the influence of violent and terrible calamities, —such as those which laid the Roman Empire in ruins, or those which, about the beginning of the sixteenth century, desolated Italy. We know of no country which, at the end of fifty years of peace and tolerably good government, has been less prosperous than at the beginning of that period. The political importance of a state may decline as the balance of power is disturbed by the introduction of new forces. Thus, the influence of Holland and of Spain is much diminished. But are Holland and Spain poorer than formerly? We doubt it. Other countries have oulrun them. But we suspect that they have been positively, though not relatively, advancing. We suspect that Holland is richer than when she sent her navies up the Thames, -that Spain is richer than when a French king was brought captive to the footstool of Charles the Filth.

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 productions, creales faster than governments can squander, and repairs whatever invaders can destroy. We see the capital of nations increasing, 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. single breaker may recede, but the tide is evidently coming in.

If we were to prophesy that, in the 1930, a population of fifty millions, better fed, clad, and lodged than the English of our time, will cover these islands,—that Sussex and Huntingdonshire will be wealthier than the wealthiest parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire now are,-thal cultiva

sane.

tion, rich as that of a flower garden, will be carried up to the very tops of . Ben Nevis and Helvellyn,—that machines, constructed on principles yet undiscovered, will be in every house, -lhat there will be no highways but railroads, no travelling but by steam,-that our debt, vast as it seems to us, will appear to our great-grandchildren a trifling encumbrance, which might easily be paid off in a year or two,-many people would think us in

We prophesy nothing; but this we say—If any person had told the Parliament which met in perplexity and terror after the crash in 1720, that in 1830 the wealth of England would surpass all their wildest dreams, -that the annual revenue would equal the principal of that debt which they considered as an intolerable burthen,-that for one man of 10,0007., then living, there would be five men of 50,0001.,-hat London would be twice as large and twice as populous, and that, nevertheless, the mortality would have diminished to one half what it then was,-that the post-office would bring more into the exchequer than the excise and customs had brought in together under Charles II.,—that stage coaches would run from London lo York in twenty-four hours,- that men would sail without wind, and would be beginning to ride without horses,-our ancestors would have given as much credit to the prediction as they gave to Gulliver's Travels. Yet the prediction would have been true; and they would have perceived that it was not altogether absurd, if they had considered that the country was then raising every year a sum which would have purchased the feesimple of the revenue of the Plantagenets—ten times what supported the government of Elizabeth-three 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 sorty shillings is the natural qualification of a county voter. Hence it is that though in every age every body knows that up to his own time, progressive improvement has been taking place, nobody seems lo reckon on any improvement during the next generation. We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point -that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. “A million a-year will beggar us,” said the patriots of 1640. “Two millions a-year will grind the country to powder,” was the cry in 1660. “Six millions a-year, and a debt of fisty millions !” exclaimed Swift—"the high allies have been the ruin of us !" "A hundred and forty millions of debt!” said Junius—“well may we say that we owe Lord Chatham more than we shall ever pay, if we owe him such a load as this.” “Two hundred and forty millions of debt!" cried all the statesmen of 1783 in chorus—“what abilities, or what economy on the part of a minister, can save a country so burdened ?" We know that is, since 1783, po fresh debt had been incurred, the increased resources of the country would have enabled us to defray that burden at which Pitt, Fox, and Burke stood aghast—to defray it over and over again, and that with much lighter taxation that what we have actually borne. On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

It is not by the intermeduling of Mr. Southey's idol-lhe omniscient and omnipoteni Stale--but by the prudence and energy of the people, that England has hitherto been carried forward in civilization; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy that we now look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the people by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties-by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment—by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.

SPIRIT OF SOCIETY IN ENGLAND AND FRANCE.*

The French and the English can no longer be accused of that mutual contempt which furnishes the preliminary ground of remark to the writer of the agreeable work before us. After a jealousy of eight hundred years, we have begun to conquer our prejudices and recant our opinions; and we are now contented to glean from the customs and manners of our neighbours benefits somewhat more important than the innovations in caps, or the improvements in cookery, which formed pretty nearly the limits of that portion of our forefathers, ambition which was devoted to the imitation of our “ hereditary foes." Late events have put the finishing stroke to popular prejudice ; and we have now, of two extremes, rather to guard against the desire blindly to copy, than the resolution zealously to contemn. Those national sentiments, "grave, with a bright disdain," of Monsieur and soupe maigre, which give so patriotic a character to the British Theatre, never more will awaken a sympathising gallery to “ the loud collision of applauding hands." But the character of the people, and the spirit of society, in the two countries are still, in many respects, remarkably different. When a French mob are excited, they clamour for glory—when an English mob are inclined to be riotous, they are thirsty for beer. At a contested election, the feelings of the working classes must necessarily be strongly excited. The harangues to their understandings—the addresses to their interests—the artifices for their affections--the congregating together—the conference—the discussion --the dispute—the spirit of party,-ihese, if any emotions, might well be supposed to call forth the man from himself, to excite, to their inmost depth, his generous as well as gry sympathies, and warming him from all selfish considerations, to hurry him into even a blind and rash devotion for the cause he adopts, and a disdain, which no lure can soften, for that which he opposes. And so, indeed, to the uninitiated spectator it may appear; but how generally is that noisy ardour the result of a purchase-how many, in such a time and in such scenes, will grow inebriate on the hospitality of one, with the intention of voting for another-how large the number of those to whom you speak of retrenchment and reform, who remain unmoved till the bribe is hinted, and the vole, callous to the principles, is suborned by the purse! When, in the late general election, a patriotic adventurer was engaged in attempting to open (as the phrase is) a close borough, one of his most strenuous supporters declaiming on the vileness of the few privileged voters in receiving thirty pounds each for their votes, added, with the air of a man of delicate conscience, —" But if you open the borough, sir, we will do it for five!”

* A conparative View of the Social Life of England and France, from the Restoration of Charles the Second to the Freuch Revolution. By ihe Editor of Madame du Defl'and's Leliers, Octavo. Loudon, 1828.--Vol. lii, page 374. January, 1831.

But leaving, for the present, the graver discussions connected with the effects of our civil institutions, it is our intention to make a few observations on that Spirit of Society which is formed among the higher classes, and imitated among those possessing less aristocratical distinction.

The great distinction of fashion in France, as it was—and in England, as it is we consider to be this. In the former country the natural advantages were affected, in the latter we covet the acquired. There the aspirants to fashion pretended to wit-here they pretend to wealth. In this country, from causes sufficiently obvious, social reputation has long been measured by the extent of a rent-roll ; respectability has been another word for money; and the point on which competitors have been the most anxious to vie with each other has been that exact point in which personal merit can have the least possible weight in the competition. The ambition of the French gallant, if devoted to a frivolous object, was at least more calculated to impress society with a graceful and gay tone than the inactive and unrelieved ostentation of the English pretender. And those circles to which a bon mot was the passport could scarcely fail to be more agreeable than circles in which, to be the most courted, it is sufficient to be the first-born. A Frenchman had, at least, one intellectual incentive to his social ambition;-to obtain access to the most fashionable, was to obtain access to the most pleasant, the most witty circles in his capital. But to enjoy the most difficult society of London is to partake of the inspidity of a decorated and silent crowd, of the mere sensual gratification of a cosily dinner.

To give acerbity to the tone of our fashion-while it is far from increasing its refinement there is a sort of negative opposition made by the titled aristocrats to that order, from which it must be allowed the majority have sprung themselves. Descended, for the most part, from the unpedigreed rich, they affect to preserve from that class, circles exclusive and impassable. Fashion to their heaven is like the lotus to Mahomet's; it is at once the ornament and the barrier. To the opulent, who command power, they pretend, while worshipping opulence, to deny ton: a generation passes, and the proscribed class have become the exclusive.

" Si le financier manque son coup, les courtisans disent de lui, c'est un bourgeois, un homme de rien, un malôtru : s'il réussit, ils lui demandent sa fille.' This mock contest, in which riches ultimately triumph, encourages the rich to a field in which they are ridiculous till they conquer ; and makes the one race servile, that the race succeeding may earn the privilege to be insolent. If the merchant or the banker has the sense to prefer the slation in which he respectable, to attempting success in one that destroys his real eminence, while it apes a shadowy distinction, his wife, his daughters, his son in the Guards, are not often so wise. Ifone class of the great remain alool, another class are sought, partly to defy, and partly to decoy ;--and ruinous entertainments are givennot for the sake of pleasure, but with a prospective yearning to the columns of the Morning Post. They do not relieve dulness, but they render it pompous; and instead of suffering wealth to be the commander of enjoyment, they render it the slave to a vanity, that, of all the species of that unquiet

Les Caractères de La Bruyère.

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