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11. Hark! 'twas the death-bell's note! which, full and deep,
Unmix'd with aught of less majestic tone, While all the murmurs of existence sleep, Swells on the stillness of the air alone! Silent the throngs that fill the darkened street, Silent the slumbering Thames, the lonely mart;
And all is still, where countless thousands meet,
Save the full throbbing of the awe-struck heart!
We mourn-but not thy fate, departed One!
And with a father's hopes, a nation's fled.
He with thine early fond affections blest, Lord of a mind with all things lovely fraught, What but a desert to his eye that earth, Which but retains of thee the memory of thy worth.
But when 'tis past, that still and speechless hour,
Of the sealed bosom, and the tearless eye, Then the roused mind awakes with tenfold power,
To grasp the fulness of its agony !
And such his lot, whom thou hast loved and left,
Spirit! thus early to thy home recalled!
Years may pass on-and as they roll along,
May, tho' alone in soul, in seeming blend : Yet still, the guardian-angel of his mind, Shall thy loved image dwell, in memory's temple shrined.
Yet must the days be long, ere time shall steal, Aught from his grief, whose spirit dwells with thee,
Once deeply bruised, the heart at length may heal,
But all it was-oh! never more shall be! The flow'rs, the leaf, o'erwhelmed by winter
Shall spring again, when beams and showers return;
The faded cheek again with health may glow, And the dim eye with life's warm radiance burn;
But the bright freshness of the mind's young bloom,
Once lost, revives alone in worlds beyond the tomb.
But thou!-thine hour of agony is o'er, And thy brief race in brilliance hath been run; While faith, that bids fond nature grieve no
Tells that thy crown-t -is won! Thou, of the world so early left, hast known Nought but the bloom of sunshine,—and for thee,
-though not on earth
Child of propitious stars! for thee alone, The course of love ran smooth, and brightly free.*
Not long such bliss to mortal could be given, It is enough for earth, to catch one glimpse of heaven!
What though as yet the noon-day of thy fame Rose in its glory, on thine England's eye, The grave's deep shadows o'er thy prospect
Ours is that loss-and thou wert blest to die!
"The course of true love never did run smooth." SHAK.
Thou mightst have lived to dark and evil years, To mourn thy people changed, thy skies o'ercast ;
But thy spring-morn was all undimmed by
And thou wert lov'd and cherished to the last! And thy young name, ne'er breathed in ruder tone,
Thus dying, thou hast left to love and grief alone.
Daughter of Kings! from that high sphere look down,
Where, still in hope, affection's thoughts may rise;
Where dimly shines to thee that mortal crown, Which earth displayed, to claim thee from the skies.
Look down! and if thy spirit yet retain Memory of aught that once was fondly dear; Sooth, though unseen, the hearts that mourn in vain,
And, in their hours of loneliness-be near! Blest was thy lot e'en here-and one faint sigh,
Oh! tell those hearts, hath made that bliss Eternity!
Brownwhylfa, 23d December 1817.
ON A DISPUTED PASSAGE IN OTHELLO.
"A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife."
I PERFECTLY agree with your correspondent J. H. that "the commentator of Shakspeare will succeed but indifferently, who cannot identify himself in some measure with the personage whose language and sentiments he would develope;" nor can the correctness of this observation be more apparent than when applied to a character such as Iago,-a knave who was always acting, a wretch who performed his whole part, to the closing scene of his life, behind the mask of integrity, so successfully, as to be styled, almost proverbially, "honest Iago,"-one who says of himselfFor when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and vigour of my heart, In compliment extern, 'tis not long after, But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve, For daws to peck at :-I am not what I am. We do not expect a man such as this to speak as he thinks; his words have little to do with his real meaning; and it is only by endeavouring to discover his exciting motive to action, and to trace the crooked associations of his depraved mind, that we are able at all
to understand or develope his language and sentiments. Guided by this clue, I receive the passage which has called forth the communications in two late numbers of your Magazine, verbatim as it stands. To adopt the emendation of your first correspondent, would, in my opinion, be to give a meaning altogether different from that which Shakspeare intended it should convey. In substituting the reading of J. H., I think we weaken the force, without rendering the meaning of the passage more obvious.-The latter emendation certainly is, in my judgment, much the less objectionable; and were there any necessity for exchanging fair for frail, your correspondent is quite right as to the sense in which he proposes to use the word. It is the sense in which Shakspeare again and again uses it. It is the sense in which it is still used. "A frail one" is a phrase, I believe, perfectly well understood by every one at the present day. But Í contend, that the passage does not require any alteration to render it intelligible. I see not any difficulty as it now stands:
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife.
Let us follow J. H. in his examination of the contest. Iago is relating to Roderigo the causes of complaint against Othello, in order to convince him of his hatred towards him, and therefore of the improbability that he should be privy to his flight with Desdemona. Foremost on the list is the circumstance of Cassio's appointment to the lieutenancy, whilst Iago remained an ancient. Next, the character of the man thus put over him, stings him as an indignity offered to his own superior military courage, skill, and experience. And what was he? "Forsooth, a great arithmetician; one Michael Cassio, a Florentine." This contemptuous account of Cassio's qualifications for the appointment he has obtained, lights up at once all Iago's hatred towards him as his successful rival. For a moment he forgets his first object, that of convincing Roderigo
that he was not privy to Othello's escape with Desdemona, and is hurried away by the impulse of this more newly awakened feeling. After endeavouring to make Cassio appear ridiculous as a soldier, by stating him to be a mere arithmetician, he suddenly recollects the account he has
heard of his intended marriage, and his malignant spirit joys in the recollection. 'Tis as if he had said, "And why is this fellow thus put over me? A great arithmetician forsooth." Then, in the bitterness of his hatred, he execrates him, "D-n the fellow!" Then, recollecting the report of his marriage, he consoles himself with the reflection-but he is "almost damn'd in a fair wife." To understand this perfectly, it is necessary again to turn our attention to the sentiments and opinions we may expect to find in a character like Iago. Completely depraved himself, he seems scarcely to believe in the existence of goodness in others; nor can we expect that he should think more highly of the female sex than he does of his own. Many parts of the play will bear me out in the assertion, that he looks upon them as most despicable. His consolation of Roderigo on his first assurance of the marriage of Othello and Desdemona, beginning, "It is merely a lust," &c. ;-the passage in which he tells Roderigo that Desdemona is in love with Cassio;--his suspicion of his wife's criminality with Othello, which appears not to have excited in him any other sentiment than that of revenge-no sorrow-no doubt-not one feeling that would have had place in a better heart ;-the boldness with which he at once declares his doubts of Desdemona, as a Venetian, to her husband; the fiend-like cruelty of his conduct towards his wife, in making her instrumental to the murder of a mistress whom she loved; and, lastly, his murder of his wife without one expression of remorse or feeling ;-all prove in what estimation he held the In his opinion, any wife would be a curse a necessary one, perhaps, he might think; but not the less a curse on that account. He would consider her as a commodity difficult to keep, and not worth the trouble of keeping; the more difficult to preserve from falling if fair, for her beauty would increase her danger; but, fair or not, still" at heart a rake." The occasional and momentary distrust of the whole sex, by which the noble-minded Hamlet wounded the gentle Ophelia, and which was forced upon him by a conviction of the worthlessness of one of the sex nearly allied to himself, was, in the depraved Iago, a settled and rooted conviction of VOL. III.
the mind. Under this conviction, his malignity found pleasure in dwelling for a moment on the idea, that Cassio was about to be damn'd in a fair wife-that he was all but married. It would be cause of rather more exultation to him, that he was on the point of marrying a customer," because Cassio had not the credit even of saving appearances; but whomsoever he was about to marry, he was, in lago's opinion, about to damn himself;" almost damn'd," almost married. The word fair, I consider more as a term of derision probably in this place, than any thing else. Had Iago said of Othello, that he was almost damn'd in a fair wife, I should have considered his meaning to have been, that his wife's uncommon beauty would have so endangered her honour, that the preserving it would be a task of such difficulty as to render her a curse to Othello; and so applied, I should have laid the emphasis on the word fair;-applied to Cassio, I place it on the word almost-" A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife."
Such appears to me the meaning of this controverted passage; and so received, I think it perfectly intelligible as it has been handed down to us. All readers of Shakspeare, I fancy, must meet with occasional difficulties
with passages hard to be understood; but let us not make difficulties; and when they do occur, let us maintain and explain the integrity of the text, fixed by a collection of the most authentic copies. Let us endeavour to dive into his real meaning, clothed in such language as we find it, before we give the reins to our fancy in conjecturing his meaning, and then altering his language in order to adapt it to our own conjectures.
Leeds, 10th March 1818.
the real interest of that class of people for whose benefit they were originally passed. The fruits of them serve to encourage idleness among the lower ranks, and to repress every desire to secure a provision for themselves when sickness and old age arrive; whilst the rates, levied in consequence of these laws, amount to a sum which far exceeds that of the whole revenue of Great Britain about the middle of the last century. To remedy these evils, the attention of the Legislature has long been excited, though hitherto without the slightest avail; nor does it appear that any good can be done by parliamentary regulation, unless it goes, in some measure, to the bottom of the evil, and introduces a gradual, but radical change of system. In this way, the evils of the present laws might be alleviated, though the existing generation must be removed from the stage, before the full benefits of any regulation can be enjoyed.
Several English members of Parliament, sensible that the law, or at least the practice, of Scotland, with respect to the poor, is infinitely preferable to the system adopted in England for more than two centuries, have of late made inquiries concerning the Scottish system; and queries were last year circulated, by a respectable gentleman, with a view of ascertaining the mode adopted in this country for supporting the poor. These queries are subjoined, together with the substance of the answers which were given by me to them; and should they be viewed as worthy of a place in your Magazine, you are at full liberty to insert them.
Before detailing the queries and answers, it may not be improper to offer a few desultory thoughts concerning the measures that ought to be taken for renovating and reforming the laws of England which relate to the support of the poor. To do away all the evils which arise from these laws is impracticable; because inveterate practice has given them such a deep root, that no attempt of the legislature to remove them can at once be attended with success. Still, after all, I am morally certain, were the following measures adopted, that the system for supporting the poor would not only be considerably improved, but that the amount of the rates would be gradually lessened, and that in a great
er degree than at first sight may be expected.
In the first place,-Let all the laws in force for regulating settlements be instantly repealed; it being enacted at the same time, that paupers should in future be assisted and supported by the parish in which they were domiciliated, when public aid was solicited. In this way, labour would at once be set free, and left to find its own level, which is not the case at present; and the workman who could not procure employment in his own parish, would be at liberty to remove to any other without any dread of the consequence. Besides, by an enactment of this kind, the immense sums expended in litigations, concerning settlements, and in removing the poor from one parish to another, would we wholly saved.
Secondly, As the evils of the present system chiefly arise from the payers of the rates having no control over their expenditure, let it be enacted, that the management of the poor in each parish shall in future be committed to the clergyman, church-wardens, landholders, and tenants, together with such householders as are assessed to the rates. The utility of such an enactment is evident; as, whilst the rates would be kept as low as possible, care would always be used that the sum given to paupers should not be so great as to tempt them to remain in idleness.
Thirdly, As the poor-rates at present are chiefly paid by the occupiers of land, a measure which serves no useful purpose, but, on the contrary, causes proprietors to be careless and inattentive with respect to the administration of the funds, let it be enacted, that from and after a fixed period, the rates falling upon land, should, in every case, be paid by the proprietor and tenant in equal proportion, as is customary in those Scottish_counties where poor-rates are collected. To secure the interest of the proprietor, let it also be enacted, that the proprietor's share of rates shall be levied as additional rent, during the currency of existing leases; or, which is the same thing, the tenant may be held responsible for the whole rates, till these leases are at an end.
Fourthly, The amount of rates being, in numerous cases, greatly augmented by giving aid to working people, whose wages are supposed un
equal to the maintenance of their families, let it be enacted, that no person shall be considered as a pauper who is capable of working; under which enactment, assistance would be restricted to those who, from age, sickness, and bodily infirmities, are incapable of supporting themselves. By such an enactment, the amount of poor-rates would at least be reduced one-half, whilst, after all, the case of every person who really stood in need of public aid might be attended to as well as formerly. No doubt the rate of wages would be effected by the proposed regulation; but this is just what should be, it being no more than fair and reasonable, that the whole expenses of labour should fall upon the person for whose benefit it is performed, without subjecting the public to pay a part of it, as is the case under existing circumstances.
Fifthly, As the overseers of the poor, like the magistrates of our Scottish burghs, are not easily made accountable for their intromissions, it would be highly beneficial were returns made annually to the Quarter Sessions of the county in which the parish is situated, of the sums assessed and expended for supporting the poor. An enactment of that nature should not be neglected in any bill that may be brought forward to amend the poor-laws. The Quarter Sessions should also be invested with powers to investigate the accounts, and to fine or censure those persons who are convicted of mal-practices; likewise, to receive appeals from persons who conceive themselves aggrieved by the decisions of the parochial meetings. To save litigation, the judgment of that court should be final in every case.
I might have illustrated these several heads had a lengthened discussion been necessary, but, considering that in doing so might have been led to repeat some of the sentiments urged when answering the queries that follow, any thing of that nature seems unnecessary, at least in the present instance. Under these impressions, it remains only to add, that the advantages which would attend the measures recommended, are stated in such terms that no person can be at a loss to comprehend them, even though they are presented in an abbreviated shape. I am, yours, &c.
A POLITICAL ECONOMIST.
Queries respecting the Maintenance of
the Poor in Scotland.
1. What have been the laws or usages, relative to the maintenance of the poor, prior to the Union?
A. The law or usages of Scotland, relative to the maintenance of the poor, prior to the Union, were irregular and indistinct, and rather related to common beggars than to the industrious poor; as under them the poor who were in distress had seldom any other resource than the funds of the kirk session. These funds chiefly arose from the weekly collections made at the church-doors; and whilst their amount in country parishes served, in some measure, to keep the poor from starving, no temptation was furnished to apply for assistance unless it was required by imperious necessity. Previous to putting any person upon the poor's roll, the case of the applicant was strictly investigated by the members of the kirk session, and it was the general practice to take an assignation to the furniture of paupers before admitting them to a share of the funds. From these circumstances, it rarely occurred that an improper person was placed upon the poor's roll. Indeed, the relief bestowed was received as charity, in the real sense of the word, and the funds from which it proceeded were considered as sacred, therefore as inapplicable to any other than charitable purposes.
2. Have there been any legislative acts on this subject since the Union, as affecting Scotland? Or any municipal and local regulations independently of parliamentary authority?
A. There have been no legislative acts concerning the management of the poor in Scotland since the Union, though some decisions of the civil courts have, to a certain extent, introduced a new system of administration. The decisions alluded to have been given upon the principle of the poor being entitled to support, and that if their state is neglected by the kirk session, the Judge Ordinary of the county may place them upon the poor's roll, leaving the kirk session to apply to the heritors of the parish for necessary supply. From this cause many parishes have been obliged to levy money by assessment for supporting the poor; and one half of that assessment being charged against the farmers, has occasioned the weekly