Infomotions, Inc.English Traits / Emerson, Ralph Waldo



Author: Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Title: English Traits
Publisher: Eris Etext Project
Tag(s): englishman; england; english literature; american literature
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                         ENGLISH TRAITS
                     by Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
 
 
        Chapter I _First Visit to England_

        I have been twice in England.  In 1833, on my return from a
short tour in Sicily, Italy, and France, I crossed from Boulogne, and
landed in London at the Tower stairs.  It was a dark Sunday morning;
there were few people in the streets; and I remember the pleasure of
that first walk on English ground, with my companion, an American
artist, from the Tower up through Cheapside and the Strand, to a
house in Russell Square, whither we had been recommended to good
chambers.  For the first time for many months we were forced to check
the saucy habit of travellers' criticism, as we could no longer speak
aloud in the streets without being understood.  The shop-signs spoke
our language; our country names were on the door-plates; and the
public and private buildings wore a more native and wonted front.

        Like most young men at that time, I was much indebted to the
men of Edinburgh, and of the Edinburgh Review, -- to Jeffrey,
Mackintosh, Hallam, and to Scott, Playfair, and De Quincey; and my
narrow and desultory reading had inspired the wish to see the faces
of three or four writers, -- Coleridge, Wordsworth, Landor, De
Quincey, and the latest and strongest contributor to the critical
journals, Carlyle; and I suppose if I had sifted the reasons that led
me to Europe, when I was ill and was advised to travel, it was mainly
the attraction of these persons.  If Goethe had been still living, I
might have wandered into Germany also.  Besides those I have named,
(for Scott was dead,) there was not in Britain the man living whom I
cared to behold, unless it were the Duke of Wellington, whom I
afterwards saw at Westminster Abbey, at the funeral of Wilberforce.
The young scholar fancies it happiness enough to live with people who
can give an inside to the world; without reflecting that they are
prisoners, too, of their own thought, and cannot apply themselves to
yours.  The conditions of literary success are almost destructive of
the best social power, as they do not leave that frolic liberty which
only can encounter a companion on the best terms.  It is probable you
left some obscure comrade at a tavern, or in the farms, with right
mother-wit, and equality to life, when you crossed sea and land to
play bo-peep with celebrated scribes.  I have, however, found writers
superior to their books, and I cling to my first belief, that a
strong head will dispose fast enough of these impediments, and give
one the satisfaction of reality, the sense of having been met, and a
larger horizon.

        On looking over the diary of my journey in 1833, I find nothing
to publish in my memoranda of visits to places.  But I have copied
the few notes I made of visits to persons, as they respect parties
quite too good and too transparent to the whole world to make it
needful to affect any prudery of suppression about a few hints of
those bright personalities.

        At Florence, chief among artists I found Horatio Greenough, the
American sculptor.  His face was so handsome, and his person so well
formed, that he might be pardoned, if, as was alleged, the face of
his Medora, and the figure of a colossal Achilles in clay, were
idealizations of his own.  Greenough was a superior man, ardent and
eloquent, and all his opinions had elevation and magnanimity.  He
believed that the Greeks had wrought in schools or fraternities, --
the genius of the master imparting his design to his friends, and
inflaming them with it, and when his strength was spent, a new hand,
with equal heat, continued the work; and so by relays, until it was
finished in every part with equal fire.  This was necessary in so
refractory a material as stone; and he thought art would never
prosper until we left our shy jealous ways, and worked in society as
they.  All his thoughts breathed the same generosity.  He was an
accurate and a deep man.  He was a votary of the Greeks, and
impatient of Gothic art.  His paper on Architecture, published in
1843, announced in advance the leading thoughts of Mr. Ruskin on the
_morality_ in architecture, notwithstanding the antagonism in their
views of the history of art.  I have a private letter from him, --
later, but respecting the same period, -- in which he roughly
sketches his own theory.  "Here is my theory of structure: A
scientific arrangement of spaces and forms to functions and to site;
an emphasis of features proportioned to their _gradated_ importance
in function; color and ornament to be decided and arranged and varied
by strictly organic laws, having a distinct reason for each decision;
the entire and immediate banishment of all make-shift and
make-believe."

        Greenough brought me, through a common friend, an invitation
from Mr. Landor, who lived at San Domenica di Fiesole.  On the 15th
May I dined with Mr. Landor.  I found him noble and courteous, living
in a cloud of pictures at his Villa Gherardesca, a fine house
commanding a beautiful landscape.  I had inferred from his books, or
magnified from some anecdotes, an impression of Achillean wrath, --
an untamable petulance.  I do not know whether the imputation were
just or not, but certainly on this May day his courtesy veiled that
haughty mind, and he was the most patient and gentle of hosts.  He
praised the beautiful cyclamen which grows all about Florence; he
admired Washington; talked of Wordsworth, Byron, Massinger, Beaumont
and Fletcher.  To be sure, he is decided in his opinions, likes to
surprise, and is well content to impress, if possible, his English
whim upon the immutable past.  No great man ever had a great son, if
Philip and Alexander be not an exception; and Philip he calls the
greater man.  In art, he loves the Greeks, and in sculpture, them
only.  He prefers the Venus to every thing else, and, after that, the
head of Alexander, in the gallery here.  He prefers John of Bologna
to Michael Angelo; in painting, Raffaelle; and shares the growing
taste for Perugino and the early masters.  The Greek histories he
thought the only good; and after them, Voltaire's.  I could not make
him praise Mackintosh, nor my more recent friends; Montaigne very
cordially, -- and Charron also, which seemed undiscriminating.  He
thought Degerando indebted to "Lucas on Happiness" and "Lucas on
Holiness"!  He pestered me with Southey; but who is Southey?

        He invited me to breakfast on Friday.  On Friday I did not fail
to go, and this time with Greenough.  He entertained us at once with
reciting half a dozen hexameter lines of Julius Caesar's! -- from
Donatus, he said.  He glorified Lord Chesterfield more than was
necessary, and undervalued Burke, and undervalued Socrates;
designated as three of the greatest of men, Washington, Phocion, and
Timoleon; much as our pomologists, in their lists, select the three
or the six best pears "for a small orchard;" and did not even omit to
remark the similar termination of their names.  "A great man," he
said, "should make great sacrifices, and kill his hundred oxen,
without knowing whether they would be consumed by gods and heroes, or
whether the flies would eat them." I had visited Professor Amici, who
had shown me his microscopes, magnifying (it was said) two thousand
diameters; and I spoke of the uses to which they were applied.
Landor despised entomology, yet, in the same breath, said, "the
sublime was in a grain of dust." I suppose I teased him about recent
writers, but he professed never to have heard of Herschel, _not even
by name._ One room was full of pictures, which he likes to show,
especially one piece, standing before which, he said "he would give
fifty guineas to the man that would swear it was a Domenichino."  I
was more curious to see his library, but Mr. H----, one of the
guests, told me that Mr. Landor gives away his books, and has never
more than a dozen at a time in his house.

        Mr. Landor carries to its height the love of freak which the
English delight to indulge, as if to signalize their commanding
freedom.  He has a wonderful brain, despotic, violent, and
inexhaustible, meant for a soldier, by what chance converted to
letters, in which there is not a style nor a tint not known to him,
yet with an English appetite for action and heroes.  The thing done
avails, and not what is said about it.  An original sentence, a step
forward, is worth more than all the censures.  Landor is strangely
undervalued in England; usually ignored; and sometimes savagely
attacked in the Reviews.  The criticism may be right, or wrong, and
is quickly forgotten; but year after year the scholar must still go
back to Landor for a multitude of elegant sentences -- for wisdom,
wit, and indignation that are unforgetable.

        From London, on the 5th August, I went to Highgate, and wrote a
note to Mr. Coleridge, requesting leave to pay my respects to him.
It was near noon.  Mr. Coleridge sent a verbal message, that he was
in bed, but if I would call after one o'clock, he would see me.  I
returned at one, and he appeared, a short, thick old man, with bright
blue eyes and fine clear complexion, leaning on his cane.  He took
snuff freely, which presently soiled his cravat and neat black suit.
He asked whether I knew Allston, and spoke warmly of his merits and
doings when he knew him in Rome; what a master of the Titianesque he
was, &c., &c.  He spoke of Dr. Channing.  It was an unspeakable
misfortune that he should have turned out a Unitarian after all.  On
this, he burst into a declamation on the folly and ignorance of
Unitarianism, -- its high unreasonableness; and taking up Bishop
Waterland's book, which lay on the table, he read with vehemence two
or three pages written by himself in the fly-leaves, -- passages,
too, which, I believe, are printed in the "Aids to Reflection." When
he stopped to take breath, I interposed, that, "whilst I highly
valued all his explanations, I was bound to tell him that I was born
and bred a Unitarian." "Yes," he said, "I supposed so;" and continued
as before.  `It was a wonder, that after so many ages of
unquestioning acquiescence in the doctrine of St. Paul, -- the
doctrine of the Trinity, which was also, according to Philo Judaeus,
the doctrine of the Jews before Christ, -- this handful of
Priestleians should take on themselves to deny it, &c., &c.  He was
very sorry that Dr. Channing, -- a man to whom he looked up, -- no,
to say that he looked _up_ to him would be to speak falsely; but a
man whom he looked _at_ with so much interest, -- should embrace such
views.  When he saw Dr. Channing, he had hinted to him that he was
afraid he loved Christianity for what was lovely and excellent, -- he
loved the good in it, and not the true; and I tell you, sir, that I
have known ten persons who loved the good, for one person who loved
the true; but it is a far greater virtue to lovethe true for itself
alone, than to love the good for itself alone.  He (Coleridge) knew
all about Unitarianism perfectly well, because he had once been a
Unitarian, and knew what quackery it was.  He had been called "the
rising star of Unitarianism."' He went on defining, or rather
refining: `The Trinitarian doctrine was realism; the idea of God was
not essential, but superessential;' talked of _trinism_ and
_tetrakism_, and much more, of which I only caught this, `that the
will was that by which a person is a person; because, if one should
push me in the street, and so I should force the man next me into the
kennel, I should at once exclaim, "I did not do it, sir," meaning it
was not my will.' And this also, `that if you should insist on your
faith here in England, and I on mine, mine would be the hotter side
of the fagot.'

        I took advantage of a pause to say, that he had many readers of
all religious opinions in America, and I proceeded to inquire if the
"extract" from the Independent's pamphlet, in the third volume of the
Friend, were a veritable quotation.  He replied, that it was really
taken from a pamphlet in his possession, entitled "A Protest of one
of the Independents," or something to that effect.  I told him how
excellent I thought it, and how much I wished to see the entire work.
"Yes," he said, "the man was a chaos of truths, but lacked the
knowledge that God was a God of order.  Yet the passage would no
doubt strike you more in the quotation than in the original, for I
have filtered it."

        When I rose to go, he said, "I do not know whether you care
about poetry, but I will repeat some verses I lately made on my
baptismal anniversary," and he recited with strong emphasis,
standing, ten or twelve lines, beginning,

        "Born unto God in Christ ----"

        He inquired where I had been travelling; and on learning that I
had been in Malta and Sicily, he compared one island with the other,
`repeating what he had said to the Bishop of London when he returned
from that country, that Sicily was an excellent school of political
economy; for, in any town there, it only needed to ask what the
government enacted, and reverse that to know what ought to be done;
it was the most felicitously opposite legislation to any thing good
and wise.  There were only three things which the government had
brought into that garden of delights, namely, itch, pox, and famine.
Whereas, in Malta, the force of law and mind was seen, in making that
barren rock of semi-Saracen inhabitants the seat of population and
plenty.' Going out, he showed me in the next apartment a picture of
Allston's, and told me `that Montague, a picture-dealer, once came to
see him, and, glancing towards this, said, "Well, you have got a
picture!" thinking it the work of an old master; afterwards,
Montague, still talking with his back to the canvas, put up his hand
and touched it, and exclaimed, "By Heaven! this picture is not ten
years old:" -- so delicate and skilful was that man's touch.'

        I was in his company for about an hour, but find it impossible
to recall the largest part of his discourse, which was often like so
many printed paragraphs in his book, -- perhaps the same, -- so
readily did he fall into certain commonplaces.  As I might have
foreseen, the visit was rather a spectacle than a conversation, of no
use beyond the satisfaction of my curiosity.  He was old and
preoccupied, and could not bend to a new companion and think with
him.

        From Edinburgh I went to the Highlands.  On my return, I came
from Glasgow to Dumfries, and being intent on delivering a letter
which I had brought from Rome, inquired for Craigenputtock.  It was a
farm in Nithsdale, in the parish of Dunscore, sixteen miles distant.
No public coach passed near it, so I took a private carriage from the
inn.  I found the house amid desolate heathery hills, where the
lonely scholar nourished his mighty heart.  Carlyle was a man from
his youth, an author who did not need to hide from his readers, and
as absolute a man of the world, unknown and exiled on that hill-farm,
as if holding on his own terms what is best in London.  He was tall
and gaunt, with a cliff-like brow, self-possessed, and holding his
extraordinary powers of conversation in easy command; clinging to his
northern accent with evident relish; full of lively anecdote, and
with a streaming humor, which floated every thing he looked upon.
His talk playfully exalting the familiar objects, put the companion
at once into an acquaintance with his Lars and Lemurs, and it was
very pleasant to learn what was predestined to be a pretty mythology.
Few were the objects and lonely the man, "not a person to speak to
within sixteen miles except the minister of Dunscore;" so that books
inevitably made his topics.

        He had names of his own for all the matters familiar to his
discourse.  "Blackwood's" was the "sand magazine;" "Fraser's" nearer
approach to possibility of life was the "mud magazine;" a piece of
road near by that marked some failed enterprise was the "grave of the
last sixpence." When too much praise of any genius annoyed him, he
professed hugely to admire the talent shown by his pig.  He had spent
much time and contrivance in confining the poor beast to one
enclosure in his pen, but pig, by great strokes of judgment, had
found out how to let a board down, and had foiled him.  For all that,
he still thought man the most plastic little fellow in the planet,
and he liked Nero's death, _"Qualis artifex pereo!"_ better than most
history.  He worships a man that will manifest any truth to him.  At
one time he had inquired and read a good deal about America.
Landor's principle was mere rebellion, and _that_ he feared was the
American principle.  The best thing he knew of that country was, that
in it a man can have meat for his labor.  He had read in Stewart's
book, that when he inquired in a New York hotel for the Boots, he had
been shown across the street and had found Mungo in his own house
dining on roast turkey.

        We talked of books.  Plato he does not read, and he disparaged
Socrates; and, when pressed, persisted in making Mirabeau a hero.
Gibbon he called the splendid bridge from the old world to the new.
His own reading had been multifarious.  Tristram Shandy was one of
his first books after Robinson Crusoe, and Robertson's America an
early favorite.  Rousseau's Confessions had discovered to him that he
was not a dunce; and it was now ten years since he had learned
German, by the advice of a man who told him he would find in that
language what he wanted.

        He took despairing or satirical views of literature at this
moment; recounted the incredible sums paid in one year by the great
booksellers for puffing.  Hence it comes that no newspaper is trusted
now, no books are bought, and the booksellers are on the eve of
bankruptcy.

        He still returned to English pauperism, the crowded country,
the selfish abdication by public men of all that public persons
should perform.  `Government should direct poor men what to do.  Poor
Irish folk come wandering over these moors.  My dame makes it a rule
to give to every son of Adam bread to eat, and supplies his wants to
the next house.  But here are thousands of acres which might give
them all meat, and nobody to bid these poor Irish go to the moor and
till it.  They burned the stacks, and so found a way to force the
rich people to attend to them.'

        We went out to walk over long hills, and looked at Criffel then
without his cap, and down into Wordsworth's country.  There we sat
down, and talked of the immortality of the soul.  It was not
Carlyle's fault that we talked on that topic, for he had the natural
disinclination of every nimble spirit to bruise itself against walls,
and did not like to place himself where no step can be taken.  But he
was honest and true, and cognizant of the subtile links that bind
ages together, and saw how every event affects all the future.
`Christ died on the tree: that built Dunscore kirk yonder: that
brought you and me together.  Time has only a relative existence.'

        He was already turning his eyes towards London with a scholar's
appreciation.  London is the heart of the world, he said, wonderful
only from the mass of human beings.  He liked the huge machine.  Each
keeps its own round.  The baker's boy brings muffins to the window at
a fixed hour every day, and that is all the Londoner knows or wishes
to know on the subject.  But it turned out good men.  He named
certain individuals, especially one man of letters, his friend, the
best mind he knew, whom London had well served.

        On the 28th August, I went to Rydal Mount, to pay my respects
to Mr. Wordsworth.  His daughters called in their father, a plain,
elderly, white-haired man, not prepossessing, and disfigured by green
goggles.  He sat down, and talked with great simplicity.  He had just
returned from a journey.  His health was good, but he had broken a
tooth by a fall, when walking with two lawyers, and had said, that he
was glad it did not happen forty years ago; whereupon they had
praised his philosophy.

        He had much to say of America, the more that it gave occasion
for his favorite topic, -- that society is being enlightened by a
superficial tuition, out of all proportion to its being restrained by
moral culture.  Schools do no good.  Tuition is not education.  He
thinks more of the education of circumstances than of tuition.  'Tis
not question whether there are offences of which the law takes
cognizance, but whether there are offences of which the law does not
take cognizance.  Sin is what he fears, and how society is to escape
without gravest mischiefs from this source -- ?  He has even said,
what seemed a paradox, that they needed a civil war in America, to
teach the necessity of knitting the social ties stronger.  `There may
be,' he said, `in America some vulgarity in manner, but that's not
important.  That comes of the pioneer state of things.  But I fear
they are too much given to the making of money; and secondly, to
politics; that they make political distinction the end, and not the
means.  And I fear they lack a class of men of leisure, -- in short,
of gentlemen, -- to give a tone of honor to the community.  I am told
that things are boasted of in the second class of society there,
which, in England, -- God knows, are done in England every day, --
but would never be spoken of.  In America I wish to know not how many
churches or schools, but what newspapers?  My friend, Colonel
Hamilton, at the foot of the hill, who was a year in America, assures
me that the newspapers are atrocious, and accuse members of Congress
of stealing spoons!' He was against taking off the tax on newspapers
in England, which the reformers represent as a tax upon knowledge,
for this reason, that they would be inundated with base prints.  He
said, he talked on political aspects, for he wished to impress on me
and all good Americans to cultivate the moral, the conservative, &c.,
&c., and never to call into action the physical strength of the
people, as had just now been done in England in the Reform Bill, -- a
thing prophesied by Delolme.  He alluded once or twice to his
conversation with Dr. Channing, who had recently visited him, (laying
his hand on a particular chair in which the Doctor had sat.)

        The conversation turned on books.  Lucretius he esteems a far
higher poet than Virgil: not in his system, which is nothing, but in
his power of illustration.  Faith is necessary to explain any thing,
and to reconcile the foreknowledge of God with human evil.  Of
Cousin, (whose lectures we had all been reading in Boston,) he knew
only the name.

        I inquired if he had read Carlyle's critical articles and
translations.  He said, he thought him sometimes insane.  He
proceeded to abuse Goethe's Wilhelm Meister heartily.  It was full of
all manner of fornication.  It was like the crossing of flies in the
air.  He had never gone farther than the first part; so disgusted was
he that he threw the book across the room.  I deprecated this wrath,
and said what I could for the better parts of the book; and he
courteously promised to look at it again.  Carlyle, he said, wrote
most obscurely.  He was clever and deep, but he defied the sympathies
of every body.  Even Mr. Coleridge wrote more clearly, though he had
always wished Coleridge would write more to be understood.  He led me
out into his garden, and showed me the gravel walk in which thousands
of his lines were composed.  His eyes are much inflamed.  This is no
loss, except for reading, because he never writes prose, and of
poetry he carries even hundreds of lines in his head before writing
them.  He had just returned from a visit to Staffa, and within three
days had made three sonnets on Fingal's Cave, and was composing a
fourth, when he was called in to see me.  He said, "If you are
interested in my verses, perhaps you will like to hear these lines."
I gladly assented; and he recollected himself for a few moments, and
then stood forth and repeated, one after the other, the three entire
sonnets with great animation.  I fancied the second and third more
beautiful than his poems are wont to be.  The third is addressed to
the flowers, which, he said, especially the oxeye daisy, are very
abundant on the top of the rock.  The second alludes to the name of
the cave, which is "Cave of Music;" the first to the circumstance of
its being visited by the promiscuous company of the steamboat.

        This recitation was so unlooked for and surprising, -- he, the
old Wordsworth, standing apart, and reciting to me in a garden-walk,
like a schoolboy declaiming, -- that I at first was near to laugh;
but recollecting myself, that I had come thus far to see a poet, and
he was chanting poems to me, I saw that he was right and I was wrong,
and gladly gave myself up to hear.  I told him how much the few
printed extracts had quickened the desire to possess his unpublished
poems.  He replied, he never was in haste to publish; partly, because
he corrected a good deal, and every alteration is ungraciously
received after printing; but what he had written would be printed,
whether he lived or died.  I said, "Tintern Abbey" appeared to be the
favorite poem with the public, but more contemplative readers
preferred the first books of the "Excursion," and the Sonnets.  He
said, "Yes, they are better." He preferred such of his poems as
touched the affections, to any others; for whatever is didactic, --
what theories of society, and so on, -- might perish quickly; but
whatever combined a truth with an affection was {ktema es aei}, good
to-day and good forever.  He cited the sonnet "On the feelings of a
high-minded Spaniard," which he preferred to any other, (I so
understood him,) and the "Two Voices;" and quoted, with evident
pleasure, the verses addressed "To the Skylark." In this connection,
he said of the Newtonian theory, that it might yet be superseded and
forgotten; and Dalton's atomic theory.

        When I prepared to depart, he said he wished to show me what a
common person in England could do, and he led me into the enclosure
of his clerk, a young man, to whom he had given this slip of ground,
which was laid out, or its natural capabilities shown, with much
taste.  He then said he would show me a better way towards the inn;
and he walked a good part of a mile, talking, and ever and anon
stopping short to impress the word or the verse, and finally parted
from me with great kindness, and returned across the fields.

        Wordsworth honored himself by his simple adherence to truth,
and was very willing not to shine; but he surprised by the hard
limits of his thought.  To judge from a single conversation, he made
the impression of a narrow and very English mind; of one who paid for
his rare elevation by general tameness and conformity.  Off his own
beat, his opinions were of no value.  It is not very rare to find
persons loving sympathy and ease, who expiate their departure from
the common, in one direction, by their conformity in every other.

 
 
 
        Chapter II _Voyage to England_

        The occasion of my second visit to England was an invitation
from some Mechanics' Institutes in Lancashire and Yorkshire, which
separately are organized much in the same way as our New England
Lyceums, but, in 1847, had been linked into a "Union," which embraced
twenty or thirty towns and cities, and presently extended into the
middle counties, and northward into Scotland.  I was invited, on
liberal terms, to read a series of lectures in them all.  The request
was urged with every kind suggestion, and every assurance of aid and
comfort, by friendliest parties in Manchester, who, in the sequel,
amply redeemed their word.  The remuneration was equivalent to the
fees at that time paid in this country for the like services.  At all
events, it was sufficient to cover any travelling expenses, and the
proposal offered an excellent opportunity of seeing the interior of
England and Scotland, by means of a home, and a committee of
intelligent friends, awaiting me in every town.

        I did not go very willingly.  I am not a good traveller, nor
have I found that long journeys yield a fair share of reasonable
hours.  But the invitation was repeated and pressed at a moment of
more leisure, and when I was a little spent by some unusual studies.
I wanted a change and a tonic, and England was proposed to me.
Besides, there were, at least, the dread attraction and salutary
influences of the sea.  So I took my berth in the packet-ship
Washington Irving, and sailed from Boston on Tuesday, 5th October,
1847.

        On Friday at noon, we had only made one hundred and thirty-four
miles.  A nimble Indian would have swum as far; but the captain
affirmed that the ship would show us in time all her paces, and we
crept along through the floating drift of boards, logs, and chips,
which the rivers of Maine and New Brunswick pour into the sea after a
freshet.

        At last, on Sunday night, after doing one day's work in four,
the storm came, the winds blew, and we flew before a north-wester,
which strained every rope and sail.  The good ship darts through the
water all day, all night, like a fish, quivering with speed, gliding
through liquid leagues, sliding from horizon to horizon.  She has
passed Cape Sable; she has reached the Banks; the land-birds are
left; gulls, haglets, ducks, petrels, swim, dive, and hover around;
no fishermen; she has passed the Banks; left five sail behind her,
far on the edge of the west at sundown, which were far east of us at
morn, -- though they say at sea a stern chase is a long race, -- and
still we fly for our lives.  The shortest sea-line from Boston to
Liverpool is 2850 miles.  This a steamer keeps, and saves 150 miles.
A sailing ship can never go in a shorter line than 3000, and usually
it is much longer.  Our good master keeps his kites up to the last
moment, studding-sails alow and aloft, and, by incessant straight
steering, never loses a rod of way.  Watchfulness is the law of the
ship, -- watch on watch, for advantage and for life.  Since the ship
was built, it seems, the master never slept but in his day-clothes
whilst on board.  "There are many advantages," says Saadi, "in
sea-voyaging, but security is not one of them." Yet in hurrying over
these abysses, whatever dangers we are running into, we are certainly
running out of the risks of hundreds of miles every day, which have
their own chances of squall, collision, sea-stroke, piracy, cold, and
thunder.  Hour for hour, the risk on a steamboat is greater; but the
speed is safety, or, twelve days of danger, instead of twenty-four.

        Our ship was registered 750 tons, and weighed perhaps, with all
her freight, 1500 tons.  The mainmast, from the deck to the
top-button, measured 115 feet; the length of the deck, from stem to
stern, 155.  It is impossible not to personify a ship; every body
does, in every thing they say: -- she behaves well; she minds her
rudder; she swims like a duck; she runs her nose into the water; she
looks into a port.  Then that wonderful _esprit du corps_, by which
we adopt into our self-love every thing we touch, makes us all
champions of her sailing qualities.

        The conscious ship hears all the praise.  In one week she has
made 1467 miles, and now, at night, seems to hear the steamer behind
her, which left Boston to-day at two, has mended her speed, and is
flying before the gray south wind eleven and a half knots the hour.
The sea-fire shines in her wake, and far around wherever a wave
breaks.  I read the hour, 9h.  45', on my watch by this light.  Near
the equator, you can read small print by it; and the mate describes
the phosphoric insects, when taken up in a pail, as shaped like a
Carolina potato.

        I find the sea-life an acquired taste, like that for tomatoes
and olives.  The confinement, cold, motion, noise, and odor are not
to be dispensed with.  The floor of your room is sloped at an angle
of twenty or thirty degrees, and I waked every morning with the
belief that some one was tipping up my berth.  Nobody likes to be
treated ignominiously, upset, shoved against the side of the house,
rolled over, suffocated with bilge, mephitis, and stewing oil.  We
get used to these annoyances at last, but the dread of the sea
remains longer.  The sea is masculine, the type of active strength.
Look, what egg-shells are drifting all over it, each one, like ours,
filled with men in ecstasies of terror, alternating with cockney
conceit, as the sea is rough or smooth.  Is this sad-colored circle
an eternal cemetery?  In our graveyards we scoop a pit, but this
aggressive water opens mile-wide pits and chasms, and makes a
mouthful of a fleet.  To the geologist, the sea is the only
firmament; the land is in perpetual flux and change, now blown up
like a tumor, now sunk in a chasm, and the registered observations of
a few hundred years find it in a perpetual tilt, rising and falling.
The sea keeps its old level; and 'tis no wonder that the history of
our race is so recent, if the roar of the ocean is silencing our
traditions.  A rising of the sea, such as has been observed, say an
inch in a century, from east to west on the land, will bury all the
towns, monuments, bones, and knowledge of mankind, steadily and
insensibly.  If it is capable of these great and secular mischiefs,
it is quite as ready at private and local damage; and of this no
landsman seems so fearful as the seaman.  Such discomfort and such
danger as the narratives of the captain and mate disclose are bad
enough as the costly fee we pay for entrance to Europe; but the
wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.  And here, on
the second day of our voyage, stepped out a little boy in his
shirt-sleeves, who had hid himself, whilst the ship was in port, in
the bread-closet, having no money, and wishing to go to England.  The
sailors have dressed him in Guernsey frock, with a knife in his belt,
and he is climbing nimbly about after them, "likes the work
first-rate, and, if the captain will take him, means now to come back
again in the ship." The mate avers that this is the history of all
sailors; nine out of ten are runaway boys; and adds, that all of them
are sick of the sea, but stay in it out of pride.  Jack has a life of
risks, incessant abuse, and the worst pay.  It is a little better
with the mate, and not very much better with the captain.  A hundred
dollars a month is reckoned high pay.  If sailors were contented, if
they had not resolved again and again not to go to sea any more, I
should respect them.

        Of course, the inconveniences and terrors of the sea are not of
any account to those whose minds are preoccupied.  The water-laws,
arctic frost, the mountain, the mine, only shatter cockneyism; every
noble activity makes room for itself.  A great mind is a good sailor,
as a great heart is.  And the sea is not slow in disclosing
inestimable secrets to a good naturalist.

        'Tis a good rule in every journey to provide some piece of
liberal study to rescue the hours which bad weather, bad company, and
taverns steal from the best economist.  Classics which at home are
drowsily read have a strange charm in a country inn, or in the
transom of a merchant brig.  I remember that some of the happiest and
most valuable hours I have owed to books, passed, many years ago, on
shipboard.  The worst impediment I have found at sea is the want of
light in the cabin.

        We found on board the usual cabin library; Basil Hall, Dumas,
Dickens, Bulwer, Balzac, and Sand were our sea-gods.  Among the
passengers, there was some variety of talent and profession; we
exchanged our experiences, and all learned something.  The busiest
talk with leisure and convenience at sea, and sometimes a memorable
fact turns up, which you have long had a vacant niche for, and seize
with the joy of a collector.  But, under the best conditions, a
voyage is one of the severest tests to try a man.  A college
examination is nothing to it.  Sea-days are long, -- these
lack-lustre, joyless days which whistled over us; but they were few,
-- only fifteen, as the captain counted, sixteen according to me.
Reckoned from the time when we left soundings, our speed was such
that the captain drew the line of his course in red ink on his chart,
for the encouragement or envy of future navigators.

 
        It has been said that the King of England would consult his
dignity by giving audience to foreign ambassadors in the cabin of a
man-of-war.  And I think the white path of an Atlantic ship the right
avenue to the palace front of this sea-faring people, who for
hundreds of years claimed the strict sovereignty of the sea, and
exacted toll and the striking sail from the ships of all other
peoples.  When their privilege was disputed by the Dutch and other
junior marines, on the plea that you could never anchor on the same
wave, or hold property in what was always flowing, the English did
not stick to claim the channel, or bottom of all the main.  "As if,"
said they, "we contended for the drops of the sea, and not for its
situation, or the bed of those waters.  The sea is bounded by his
majesty's empire."

        As we neared the land, its genius was felt.  This was
inevitably the British side.  In every man's thought arises now a new
system, English sentiments, English loves and fears, English history
and social modes.  Yesterday, every passenger had measured the speed
of the ship by watching the bubbles over the ship's bulwarks.
To-day, instead of bubbles, we measure by Kinsale, Cork, Waterford,
and Ardmore.  There lay the green shore of Ireland, like some coast
of plenty.  We could see towns, towers, churches, harvests; but the
curse of eight hundred years we could not discern.

 
 
 
        Chapter III _Land_

        Alfieri thought Italy and England the only countries worth
living in; the former, because there nature vindicates her rights,
and triumphs over the evils inflicted by the governments; the latter,
because art conquers nature, and transforms a rude, ungenial land
into a paradise of comfort and plenty.  England is a garden.  Under
an ash-colored sky, the fields have been combed and rolled till they
appear to have been finished with a pencil instead of a plough.  The
solidity of the structures that compose the towns speaks the industry
of ages.  Nothing is left as it was made.  Rivers, hills, valleys,
the sea itself feel the hand of a master.  The long habitation of a
powerful and ingenious race has turned every rood of land to its best
use, has found all the capabilities, the arable soil, the quarriable
rock, the highways, the byways, the fords, the navigable waters; and
the new arts of intercourse meet you every where; so that England is
a huge phalanstery, where all that man wants is provided within the
precinct.  Cushioned and comforted in every manner, the traveller
rides as on a cannon-ball, high and low, over rivers and towns,
through mountains, in tunnels of three or four miles, at near twice
the speed of our trains; and reads quietly the Times newspaper,
which, by its immense correspondence and reporting, seems to have
machinized the rest of the world for his occasion.

        The problem of the traveller landing at Liverpool is, Why
England is England?  What are the elements of that power which the
English hold over other nations?  If there be one test of national
genius universally accepted, it is success; and if there be one
successful country in the universe for the last millennium, that
country is England.

        A wise traveller will naturally choose to visit the best of
actual nations; and an American has more reasons than another to draw
him to Britain.  In all that is done or begun by the Americans
towards right thinking or practice, we are met by a civilization
already settled and overpowering.  The culture of the day, the
thoughts and aims of men, are English thoughts and aims.  A nation
considerable for a thousand years since Egbert, it has, in the last
centuries, obtained the ascendant, and stamped the knowledge,
activity, and power of mankind with its impress.  Those who resist it
do not feel it or obey it less.  The Russian in his snows is aiming
to be English.  The Turk and Chinese also are making awkward efforts
to be English.  The practical common-sense of modern society, the
utilitarian direction which labor, laws, opinion, religion take, is
the natural genius of the British mind.  The influence of France is a
constituent of modern civility, but not enough opposed to the English
for the most wholesome effect.  The American is only the continuation
of the English genius into new conditions, more or less propitious.

        See what books fill our libraries.  Every book we read, every
biography, play, romance, in whatever form, is still English history
and manners.  So that a sensible Englishman once said to me, "As long
as you do not grant us copyright, we shall have the teaching of you."

        But we have the same difficulty in making a social or moral
estimate of England, as the sheriff finds in drawing a jury to try
some cause which has agitated the whole community, and on which every
body finds himself an interested party.  Officers, jurors, judges
have all taken sides.  England has inoculated all nations with her
civilization, intelligence, and tastes; and, to resist the tyranny
and prepossession of the British element, a serious man must aid
himself, by comparing with it the civilizations of the farthest east
and west, the old Greek, the Oriental, and, much more, the ideal
standard, if only by means of the very impatience which English forms
are sure to awaken in independent minds.

        Besides, if we will visit London, the present time is the best
time, as some signs portend that it has reached its highest point.
It is observed that the English interest us a little less within a
few years; and hence the impression that the British power has
culminated, is in solstice, or already declining.

        As soon as you enter England, which, with Wales, is no larger
than the State of Georgia, (*) this little land stretches by an
illusion to the dimensions of an empire.  The innumerable details,
the crowded succession of towns, cities, cathedrals, castles, and
great and decorated estates, the number and power of the trades and
guilds, the military strength and splendor, the multitudes of rich
and of remarkable people, the servants and equipages, -- all these
catching the eye, and never allowing it to pause, hide all
boundaries, by the impression of magnificence and endless wealth.

        (*) Add South Carolina, and you have more than an equivalent
for the area of Scotland.

        I reply to all the urgencies that refer me to this and that
object indispensably to be seen, -- Yes, to see England well needs a
hundred years; for, what they told me was the merit of Sir John
Soane's Museum, in London, -- that it was well packed and well saved,
-- is the merit of England; -- it is stuffed full, in all corners and
crevices, with towns, towers, churches, villas, palaces, hospitals,
and charity-houses.  In the history of art, it is a long way from a
cromlech to York minster; yet all the intermediate steps may still be
traced in this all-preserving island.

        The territory has a singular perfection.  The climate is warmer
by many degrees than it is entitled to by latitude.  Neither hot nor
cold, there is no hour in the whole year when one cannot work.  Here
is no winter, but such days as we have in Massachusetts in November,
a temperature which makes no exhausting demand on human strength, but
allows the attainment of the largest stature.  Charles the Second
said, "it invited men abroad more days in the year and more hours in
the day than another country." Then England has all the materials of
a working country except wood.  The constant rain, -- a rain with
every tide, in some parts of the island, -- keeps its multitude of
rivers full, and brings agricultural production up to the highest
point.  It has plenty of water, of stone, of potter's clay, of coal,
of salt, and of iron.  The land naturally abounds with game, immense
heaths and downs are paved with quails, grouse, and woodcock, and the
shores are animated by water birds.  The rivers and the surrounding
sea spawn with fish; there are salmon for the rich, and sprats and
herrings for the poor.  In the northern lochs, the herring are in
innumerable shoals; at one season, the country people say, the lakes
contain one part water and two parts fish.

        The only drawback on this industrial conveniency, is the
darkness of its sky.  The night and day are too nearly of a color.
It strains the eyes to read and to write.  Add the coal smoke.  In
the manufacturing towns, the fine soot or _blacks_ darken the day,
give white sheep the color of black sheep, discolor the human saliva,
contaminate the air, poison many plants, and corrode the monuments
and buildings.

        The London fog aggravates the distempers of the sky, and
sometimes justifies the epigram on the climate by an English wit, "in
a fine day, looking up a chimney; in a foul day, looking down one." A
gentleman in Liverpool told me that he found he could do without a
fire in his parlor about one day in the year.  It is however
pretended, that the enormous consumption of coal in the island is
also felt in modifying the general climate.

        Factitious climate, factitious position.  England resembles a ship in
its shape, and, if it were one, its best admiral could not have worked it, or
anchored it in a more judicious or effective position.  Sir John Herschel
said, "London was the centre of the terrene globe." The shopkeeping nation,
to use a shop word, has a _good stand._ The old Venetians pleased themselves
with the flattery, that Venice was in 45 degrees, midway between the poles
and the line; as if that were an imperial centrality.  Long of old, the
Greeks fancied Delphi the navel of the earth, in their favorite mode of
fabling the earth to be an animal.  The Jews believed Jerusalem to be the
centre.  I have seen a kratometric chart designed to show that the city of
Philadelphia was in the same thermic belt, and, by inference, in the same
belt of empire, as the cities of Athens, Rome, and London.  It was drawn by a
patriotic Philadelphian, and was examined with pleasure, under his showing,
by the inhabitants of Chestnut Street.  But, when carried to Charleston, to
New Orleans, and to Boston, it somehow failed to convince the ingenious
scholars of all those capitals.

        But England is anchored at the side of Europe, and right in the
heart of the modern world.  The sea, which, according to Virgil's
famous line, divided the poor Britons utterly from the world, proved
to be the ring of marriage with all nations.  It is not down in the
books, -- it is written only in the geologic strata, -- that
fortunate day when a wave of the German Ocean burst the old isthmus
which joined Kent and Cornwall to France, and gave to this fragment
of Europe its impregnable sea wall, cutting off an island of eight
hundred miles in length, with an irregular breadth reaching to three
hundred miles; a territory large enough for independence enriched
with every seed of national power, so near, that it can see the
harvests of the continent; and so far, that who would cross the
strait must be an expert mariner, ready for tempests.  As America,
Europe, and Asia lie, these Britons have precisely the best
commercial position in the whole planet, and are sure of a market for
all the goods they can manufacture.  And to make these advantages
avail, the River Thames must dig its spacious outlet to the sea from
the heart of the kingdom, giving road and landing to innumerable
ships, and all the conveniency to trade, that a people so skilful and
sufficient in economizing water-front by docks, warehouses, and
lighters required.  When James the First declared his purpose of
punishing London by removing his Court, the Lord Mayor replied,
"that, in removing his royal presence from his lieges, they hoped he
would leave them the Thames."

        In the variety of surface, Britain is a miniature of Europe,
having plain, forest, marsh, river, sea-shore; mines in Cornwall;
caves in Matlock and Derbyshire; delicious landscape in Dovedale,
delicious sea-view at Tor Bay, Highlands in Scotland, Snowdon in
Wales; and, in Westmoreland and Cumberland, a pocket Switzerland, in
which the lakes and mountains are on a sufficient scale to fill the
eye and touch the imagination.  It is a nation conveniently small.
Fontenelle thought, that nature had sometimes a little affectation;
and there is such an artificial completeness in this nation of
artificers, as if there were a design from the beginning to elaborate
a bigger Birmingham.  Nature held counsel with herself, and said, `My
Romans are gone.  To build my new empire, I will choose a rude race,
all masculine, with brutish strength.  I will not grudge a
competition of the roughest males.  Let buffalo gore buffalo, and the
pasture to the strongest!  For I have work that requires the best
will and sinew.  Sharp and temperate northern breezes shall blow, to
keep that will alive and alert.  The sea shall disjoin the people
from others, and knit them to a fierce nationality.  It shall give
them markets on every side.  Long time I will keep them on their
feet, by poverty, border-wars, seafaring, sea-risks, and the stimulus
of gain.  An island, -- but not so large, the people not so many as
to glut the great markets and depress one another, but proportioned
to the size of Europe and the continents.'

        With its fruits, and wares, and money, must its civil influence
radiate.  It is a singular coincidence to this geographic centrality,
the spiritual centrality, which Emanuel Swedenborg ascribes to the
people.  "For the English nation, the best of them are in the centre
of all Christians, because they have interior intellectual light.
This appears conspicuously in the spiritual world.  This light they
derive from the liberty of speaking and writing, and thereby of
thinking."

 
 
 
        Chapter IV _Race_

        An ingenious anatomist has written a book (*) to prove that
races are imperishable, but nations are pliant political
constructions, easily changed or destroyed.  But this writer did not
found his assumed races on any necessary law, disclosing their ideal
or metaphysical necessity; nor did he, on the other hand, count with
precision the existing races, and settle the true bounds; a point of
nicety, and the popular test of the theory.  The individuals at the
extremes of divergence in one race of men are as unlike as the wolf
to the lapdog.  Yet each variety shades down imperceptibly into the
next, and you cannot draw the line where a race begins or ends.
Hence every writer makes a different count.  Blumenbach reckons five
races; Humboldt three; and Mr. Pickering, who lately, in our
Exploring Expedition, thinks he saw all the kinds of men that can be
on the planet, makes eleven.

        (*) The Races, a Fragment.  By Robert Knox.  London: 1850.

        The British Empire is reckoned to contain 222,000,000 souls, --
perhaps a fifth of the population of the globe; and to comprise a
territory of 5,000,000 square miles.  So far have British people
predominated.  Perhaps forty of these millions are of British stock.
Add the United States of America, which reckon, exclusive of slaves,
20,000,000 of people, on a territory of 3,000,000 square miles, and
in which the foreign element, however considerable, is rapidly
assimilated, and you have a population of English descent and
language, of 60,000,000, and governing a population of 245,000,000
souls.

        The British census proper reckons twenty-seven and a half
millions in the home countries.  What makes this census important is
the quality of the units that compose it.  They are free forcible
men, in a country where life is safe, and has reached the greatest
value.  They give the bias to the current age; and that, not by
chance or by mass, but by their character, and by the number of
individuals among them of personal ability.  It has been denied that
the English have genius.  Be it as it may, men of vast intellect have
been born on their soil, and they have made or applied the principal
inventions.  They have sound bodies, and supreme endurance in war and
in labor.  The spawning force of the race has sufficed to the
colonization of great parts of the world; yet it remains to be seen
whether they can make good the exodus of millions from Great Britain,
amounting, in 1852, to more than a thousand a day.  They have
assimilating force, since they are imitated by their foreign
subjects; and they are still aggressive and propagandist, enlarging
the dominion of their arts and liberty.  Their laws are hospitable,
and slavery does not exist under them.  What oppression exists is
incidental and temporary; their success is not sudden or fortunate,
but they have maintained constancy and self-equality for many ages.

        Is this power due to their race, or to some other cause?  Men
hear gladly of the power of blood or race.  Every body likes to know
that his advantages cannot be attributed to air, soil, sea, or to
local wealth, as mines and quarries, nor to laws and traditions, nor
to fortune, but to superior brain, as it makes the praise more
personal to him.

        We anticipate in the doctrine of race something like that law
of physiology, that, whatever bone, muscle, or essential organ is
found in one healthy individual, the same part or organ may be found
in or near the same place in its congener; and we look to find in the
son every mental and moral property that existed in the ancestor.  In
race, it is not the broad shoulders, or litheness, or stature that
give advantage, but a symmetry that reaches as far as to the wit.
Then the miracle and renown begin.  Then first we care to examine the
pedigree, and copy heedfully the training, -- what food they ate,
what nursing, school, and exercises they had, which resulted in this
mother-wit, delicacy of thought, and robust wisdom.  How came such
men as King Alfred, and Roger Bacon, William of Wykeham, Walter
Raleigh, Philip Sidney, Isaac Newton, William Shakspeare, George
Chapman, Francis Bacon, George Herbert, Henry Vane, to exist here?
What made these delicate natures? was it the air? was it the sea? was
it the parentage?  For it is certain that these men are samples of
their contemporaries.  The hearing ear is always found close to the
speaking tongue; and no genius can long or often utter any thing
which is not invited and gladly entertained by men around him.

        It is race, is it not? that puts the hundred millions of India
under the dominion of a remote island in the north of Europe.  Race
avails much, if that be true, which is alleged, that all Celts are
Catholics, and all Saxons are Protestants; that Celts love unity of
power, and Saxons the representative principle.  Race is a
controlling influence in the Jew, who, for two millenniums, under
every climate, has preserved the same character and employments.
Race in the negro is of appalling importance.  The French in Canada,
cut off from all intercourse with the parent people, have held their
national traits.  I chanced to read Tacitus "on the Manners of the
Germans," not long since, in Missouri, and the heart of Illinois, and
I found abundant points of resemblance between the Germans of the
Hercynian forest, and our _Hoosiers_, _Suckers_, and _Badgers_ of the
American woods.

        But whilst race works immortally to keep its own, it is
resisted by other forces.  Civilization is a re-agent, and eats away
the old traits.  The Arabs of to-day are the Arabs of Pharaoh; but
the Briton of to-day is a very different person from Cassibelaunus or
Ossian.  Each religious sect has its physiognomy.  The Methodists
have acquired a face; the Quakers, a face; the nuns, a face.  An
Englishman will pick out a dissenter by his manners.  Trades and
professions carve their own lines on face and form.  Certain
circumstances of English life are not less effective; as, personal
liberty; plenty of food; good ale and mutton; open market, or good
wages for every kind of labor; high bribes to talent and skill; the
island life, or the million opportunities and outlets for expanding
and misplaced talent; readiness of combination among themselves for
politics or for business; strikes; and sense of superiority founded
on habit of victory in labor and in war; and the appetite for
superiority grows by feeding.

        It is easy to add to the counteracting forces to race.
Credence is a main element.  'Tis said, that the views of nature held
by any people determine all their institutions.  Whatever influences
add to mental or moral faculty, take men out of nationality, as out
of other conditions, and make the national life a culpable
compromise.

 
        These limitations of the formidable doctrine of race suggest
others which threaten to undermine it, as not sufficiently based.
The fixity or inconvertibleness of races as we see them, is a weak
argument for the eternity of these frail boundaries, since all our
historical period is a point to the duration in which nature has
wrought.  Any the least and solitariest fact in our natural history,
such as the melioration of fruits and of animal stocks, has the worth
of a _power_ in the opportunity of geologic periods.  Moreover,
though we flatter the self-love of men and nations by the legend of
pure races, all our experience is of the gradation and resolution of
races, and strange resemblances meet us every where.  It need not
puzzle us that Malay and Papuan, Celt and Roman, Saxon and Tartar
should mix, when we see the rudiments of tiger and baboon in our
human form, and know that the barriers of races are not so firm, but
that some spray sprinkles us from the antediluvian seas.

        The low organizations are simplest; a mere mouth, a jelly, or a
straight worm.  As the scale mounts, the organizations become
complex.  We are piqued with pure descent, but nature loves
inoculation.  A child blends in his face the faces of both parents,
and some feature from every ancestor whose face hangs on the wall.
The best nations are those most widely related; and navigation, as
effecting a world-wide mixture, is the most potent advancer of
nations.

        The English composite character betrays a mixed origin.  Every
thing English is a fusion of distant and antagonistic elements.  The
language is mixed; the names of men are of different nations, --
three languages, three or four nations; -- the currents of thought
are counter: contemplation and practical skill; active intellect and
dead conservatism; world-wide enterprise, and devoted use and wont;
aggressive freedom and hospitable law, with bitter class-legislation;
a people scattered by their wars and affairs over the face of the
whole earth, and homesick to a man; a country of extremes, -- dukes
and chartists, Bishops of Durham and naked heathen colliers; --
nothing can be praised in it without damning exceptions, and nothing
denounced without salvos of cordial praise.

        Neither do this people appear to be of one stem; but
collectively a better race than any from which they are derived.  Nor
is it easy to trace it home to its original seats.  Who can call by
right names what races are in Britain?  Who can trace them
historically?  Who can discriminate them anatomically, or
metaphysically?

        In the impossibility of arriving at satisfaction on the
historical question of race, and, -- come of whatever disputable
ancestry, -- the indisputable Englishman before me, himself very well
marked, and nowhere else to be found, -- I fancied I could leave
quite aside the choice of a tribe as his lineal progenitors.  Defoe
said in his wrath, "the Englishman was the mud of all races." I
incline to the belief, that, as water, lime, and sand make mortar, so
certain temperaments marry well, and, by well-managed contrarieties,
develop as drastic a character as the English.  On the whole, it is
not so much a history of one or of certain tribes of Saxons, Jutes,
or Frisians, coming from one place, and genetically identical, as it
is an anthology of temperaments out of them all.  Certain
temperaments suit the sky and soil of England, say eight or ten or
twenty varieties, as, out of a hundred pear-trees, eight or ten suit
the soil of an orchard, and thrive, whilst all the unadapted
temperaments die out.

        The English derive their pedigree from such a range of
nationalities, that there needs sea-room and land-room to unfold the
varieties of talent and character.  Perhaps the ocean serves as a
galvanic battery to distribute acids at one pole, and alkalies at the
other.  So England tends to accumulate her liberals in America, and
her conservatives at London.  The Scandinavians in her race still
hear in every age the murmurs of their mother, the ocean; the Briton
in the blood hugs the homestead still.

        Again, as if to intensate the influences that are not of race,
what we think of when we talk of English traits really narrows itself
to a small district.  It excludes Ireland, and Scotland, and Wales,
and reduces itself at last to London, that is, to those who come and
go thither.  The portraits that hang on the walls in the Academy
Exhibition at London, the figures in Punch's drawings of the public
men, or of the club-houses, the prints in the shop-windows, are
distinctive English, and not American, no, nor Scotch, nor Irish: but
'tis a very restricted nationality.  As you go north into the
manufacturing and agricultural districts, and to the population that
never travels, as you go into Yorkshire, as you enter Scotland, the
world's Englishman is no longer found.  In Scotland, there is a rapid
loss of all grandeur of mien and manners; a provincial eagerness and
acuteness appear; the poverty of the country makes itself remarked,
and a coarseness of manners; and, among the intellectual, is the
insanity of dialectics.  In Ireland, are the same climate and soil as
in England, but less food, no right relation to the land, political
dependence, small tenantry, and an inferior or misplaced race.

        These queries concerning ancestry and blood may be well
allowed, for there is no prosperity that seems more to depend on the
kind of man than British prosperity.  Only a hardy and wise people
could have made this small territory great.  We say, in a regatta or
yacht-race, that if the boats are anywhere nearly matched, it is the
man that wins.  Put the best sailing master into either boat, and he
will win.

        Yet it is fine for us to speculate in face of unbroken
traditions, though vague, and losing themselves in fable.  The
traditions have got footing, and refuse to be disturbed.  The
kitchen-clock is more convenient than sidereal time.  We must use the
popular category, as we do by the Linnaean classification, for
convenience, and not as exact and final.  Otherwise, we are presently
confounded, when the best settled traits of one race are claimed by
some new ethnologist as precisely characteristic of the rival tribe.

        I found plenty of well-marked English types, the ruddy
complexion fair and plump, robust men, with faces cut like a die, and
a strong island speech and accent; a Norman type, with the
complacency that belongs to that constitution.  Others, who might be
Americans, for any thing that appeared in their complexion or form:
and their speech was much less marked, and their thought much less
bound.  We will call them Saxons.  Then the Roman has implanted his
dark complexion in the trinity or quaternity of bloods.

        1. The sources from which tradition derives their stock are
mainly three.  And, first, they are of the oldest blood of the world,
-- the Celtic.  Some peoples are deciduous or transitory.  Where are
the Greeks? where the Etrurians? where the Romans?  But the Celts or
Sidonides are an old family, of whose beginning there is no memory,
and their end is likely to be still more remote in the future; for
they have endurance and productiveness.  They planted Britain, and
gave to the seas and mountains names which are poems, and imitate the
pure voices of nature.  They are favorably remembered in the oldest
records of Europe.  They had no violent feudal tenure, but the
husbandman owned the land.  They had an alphabet, astronomy, priestly
culture, and a sublime creed.  They have a hidden and precarious
genius.  They made the best popular literature of the middle ages in
the songs of Merlin, and the tender and delicious mythology of
Arthur.

        2. The English come mainly from the Germans, whom the Romans
found hard to conquer in two hundred and ten years, -- say,
impossible to conquer, -- when one remembers the long sequel; a
people about whom, in the old empire, the rumor ran, there was never
any that meddled with them that repented it not.

        3. Charlemagne, halting one day in a town of Narbonnese Gaul,
looked out of a window, and saw a fleet of Northmen cruising in the
Mediterranean.  They even entered the port of the town where he was,
causing no small alarm and sudden manning and arming of his galleys.
As they put out to sea again, the emperor gazed long after them, his
eyes bathed in tears.  "I am tormented with sorrow," he said, "when I
foresee the evils they will bring on my posterity." There was reason
for these Xerxes' tears.  The men who have built a ship and invented
the rig, -- cordage, sail, compass, and pump, -- the working in and
out of port, have acquired much more than a ship.  Now arm them, and
every shore is at their mercy.  For, if they have not numerical
superiority where they anchor, they have only to sail a mile or two
to find it.  Bonaparte's art of war, namely of concentrating force on
the point of attack, must always be theirs who have the choice of the
battle-ground.  Of course they come into the fight from a higher
ground of power than the land-nations; and can engage them on shore
with a victorious advantage in the retreat.  As soon as the shores
are sufficiently peopled to make piracy a losing business, the same
skill and courage are ready for the service of trade.

        The _Heimskringla_, or Sagas of the Kings of Norway, collected
by Snorro Sturleson, is the Iliad and Odyssey of English history.
Its portraits, like Homer's, are strongly individualized.  The Sagas
describe a monarchical republic like Sparta.  The government
disappears before the importance of citizens.  In Norway, no Persian
masses fight and perish to aggrandize a king, but the actors are
bonders or landholders, every one of whom is named and personally and
patronymically described, as the king's friend and companion.  A
sparse population gives this high worth to every man.  Individuals
are often noticed as very handsome persons, which trait only brings
the story nearer to the English race.  Then the solid material
interest predominates, so dear to English understanding, wherein the
association is logical, between merit and land.  The heroes of the
Sagas are not the knights of South Europe.  No vaporing of France and
Spain has corrupted them.  They are substantial farmers, whom the
rough times have forced to defend their properties.  They have
weapons which they use in a determined manner, by no means for
chivalry, but for their acres.  They are people considerably advanced
in rural arts, living amphibiously on a rough coast, and drawing half
their food from the sea, and half from the land.  They have herds of
cows, and malt, wheat, bacon, butter, and cheese.  They fish in the
fiord, and hunt the deer.  A king among these farmers has a varying
power, sometimes not exceeding the authority of a sheriff.  A king
was maintained much as, in some of our country districts, a
winter-schoolmaster is quartered, a week here, a week there, and a
fortnight on the next farm, -- on all the farmers in rotation.  This
the king calls going into guest-quarters; and it was the only way in
which, in a poor country, a poor king, with many retainers, could be
kept alive, when he leaves his own farm to collect his dues through
the kingdom.

        These Norsemen are excellent persons in the main, with good
sense, steadiness, wise speech, and prompt action.  But they have a
singular turn for homicide; their chief end of man is to murder, or
to be murdered; oars, scythes, harpoons, crowbars, peatknives, and
hayforks, are tools valued by them all the more for their charming
aptitude for assassinations.  A pair of kings, after dinner, will
divert themselves by thrusting each his sword through the other's
body, as did Yngve and Alf.  Another pair ride out on a morning for a
frolic, and, finding no weapon near, will take the bits out of their
horses' mouths, and crush each other's heads with them, as did Alric
and Eric.  The sight of a tent-cord or a cloak-string puts them on
hanging somebody, a wife, or a husband, or, best of all, a king.  If
a farmer has so much as a hayfork, he sticks it into a King Dag.
King Ingiald finds it vastly amusing to burn up half a dozen kings in
a hall, after getting them drunk.  Never was poor gentleman so
surfeited with life, so furious to be rid of it, as the Northman.  If
he cannot pick any other quarrel, he will get himself comfortably
gored by a bull's horns, like Egil, or slain by a land-slide, like
the agricultural King Onund.  Odin died in his bed, in Sweden; but it
was a proverb of ill condition, to die the death of old age.  King
Hake of Sweden cuts and slashes in battle, as long as he can stand,
then orders his war-ship, loaded with his dead men and their weapons,
to be taken out to sea, the tiller shipped, and the sails spread;
being left alone, he sets fire to some tar-wood, and lies down
contented on deck.  The wind blew off the land, the ship flew burning
in clear flame, out between the islets into the ocean, and there was
the right end of King Hake.

        The early Sagas are sanguinary and piratical; the later are of
a noble strain.  History rarely yields us better passages than the
conversation between King Sigurd the Crusader, and King Eystein, his
brother, on their respective merits, -- one, the soldier, and the
other, a lover of the arts of peace.

        But the reader of the Norman history must steel himself by
holding fast the remote compensations which result from animal vigor.
As the old fossil world shows that the first steps of reducing the
chaos were confided to saurians and other huge and horrible animals,
so the foundations of the new civility were to be laid by the most
savage men.

        The Normans came out of France into England worse men than they
went into it, one hundred and sixty years before.  They had lost
their own language, and learned the Romance or barbarous Latin of the
Gauls; and had acquired, with the language, all the vices it had
names for.  The conquest has obtained in the chronicles, the name of
the "memory of sorrow." Twenty thousand thieves landed at Hastings.
These founders of the House of Lords were greedy and ferocious
dragoons, sons of greedy and ferocious pirates.  They were all alike,
they took every thing they could carry, they burned, harried,
violated, tortured, and killed, until every thing English was brought
to the verge of ruin.  Such, however, is the illusion of antiquity
and wealth, that decent and dignified men now existing boast their
descent from these filthy thieves, who showed a far juster conviction
of their own merits, by assuming for their types the swine, goat,
jackal, leopard, wolf, and snake, which they severally resembled.

        England yielded to the Danes and Northmen in the tenth and
eleventh centuries, and was the receptacle into which all the mettle
of that strenuous population was poured.  The continued draught of
the best men in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, to these piratical
expeditions, exhausted those countries, like a tree which bears much
fruit when young, and these have been second-rate powers ever since.
The power of the race migrated, and left Norway void.  King Olaf
said, "When King Harold, my father, went westward to England, the
chosen men in Norway followed him: but Norway was so emptied then,
that such men have not since been to find in the country, nor
especially such a leader as King Harold was for wisdom and bravery."

        It was a tardy recoil of these invasions, when, in 1801, the
British government sent Nelson to bombard the Danish forts in the
Sound; and, in 1807, Lord Cathcart, at Copenhagen, took the entire
Danish fleet, as it lay in the basins, and all the equipments from
the Arsenal, and carried them to England.  Konghelle, the town where
the kings of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were wont to meet, is now
rented to a private English gentleman for a hunting ground.

        It took many generations to trim, and comb, and perfume the
first boat-load of Norse pirates into royal highnesses and most noble
Knights of the Garter: but every sparkle of ornament dates back to
the Norse boat.  There will be time enough to mellow this strength
into civility and religion.  It is a medical fact, that the children
of the blind see; the children of felons have a healthy conscience.
Many a mean, dastardly boy is, at the age of puberty, transformed
into a serious and generous youth.

        The mildness of the following ages has not quite effaced these
traits of Odin; as the rudiment of a structure matured in the tiger
is said to be still found unabsorbed in the Caucasian man.  The
nation has a tough, acrid, animal nature, which centuries of
churching and civilizing have not been able to sweeten.  Alfieri
said, "the crimes of Italy were the proof of the superiority of the
stock;" and one may say of England, that this watch moves on a
splinter of adamant.  The English uncultured are a brutal nation.
The crimes recorded in their calendars leave nothing to be desired in
the way of cold malignity.  Dear to the English heart is a fair
stand-up fight.  The brutality of the manners in the lower class
appears in the boxing, bear-baiting, cock-fighting, love of
executions, and in the readiness for a set-to in the streets,
delightful to the English of all classes.  The costermongers of
London streets hold cowardice in loathing: -- "we must work our fists
well; we are all handy with our fists." The public schools are
charged with being bear-gardens of brutal strength, and are liked by
the people for that cause.  The fagging is a trait of the same
quality.  Medwin, in the Life of Shelley, relates, that, at a
military school, they rolled up a young man in a snowball, and left
him so in his room, while the other cadets went to church; -- and
crippled him for life.  They have retained impressment,
deck-flogging, army-flogging, and school-flogging.  Such is the
ferocity of the army discipline, that a soldier sentenced to
flogging, sometimes prays that his sentence may be commuted to death.
Flogging banished from the armies of Western Europe, remains here by
the sanction of the Duke of Wellington.  The right of the husband to
sell the wife has been retained down to our times.  The Jews have
been the favorite victims of royal and popular persecution.  Henry
III.  mortgaged all the Jews in the kingdom to his brother, the Earl
of Cornwall, as security for money which he borrowed.  The torture of
criminals, and the rack for extorting evidence, were slowly disused.
Of the criminal statutes, Sir Samuel Romilly said, "I have examined
the codes of all nations, and ours is the worst, and worthy of the
Anthropophagi." In the last session, the House of Commons was
listening to details of flogging and torture practised in the jails.

        As soon as this land, thus geographically posted, got a hardy
people into it, they could not help becoming the sailors and factors
of the globe.  From childhood, they dabbled in water, they swum like
fishes, their playthings were boats.  In the case of the ship-money,
the judges delivered it for law, that "England being an island, the
very midland shires therein are all to be accounted maritime:" and
Fuller adds, "the genius even of landlocked counties driving the
natives with a maritime dexterity." As early as the conquest, it is
remarked in explanation of the wealth of England, that its merchants
trade to all countries.

        The English, at the present day, have great vigor of body and
endurance.  Other countrymen look slight and undersized beside them,
and invalids.  They are bigger men than the Americans.  I suppose a
hundred English taken at random out of the street, would weigh a
fourth more, than so many Americans.  Yet, I am told, the skeleton is
not larger.  They are round, ruddy, and handsome; at least, the whole
bust is well formed; and there is a tendency to stout and powerful
frames.  I remarked the stoutness, on my first landing at Liverpool;
porter, drayman, coachman, guard, -- what substantial, respectable,
grandfatherly figures, with costume and manners to suit.  The
American has arrived at the old mansion-house, and finds himself
among uncles, aunts, and grandsires.  The pictures on the
chimney-tiles of his nursery were pictures of these people.  Here
they are in the identical costumes and air, which so took him.

        It is the fault of their forms that they grow stocky, and the
women have that disadvantage, -- few tall, slender figures of flowing
shape, but stunted and thickset persons.  The French say, that the
Englishwomen have two left hands.  But, in all ages, they are a
handsome race.  The bronze monuments of crusaders lying cross-legged,
in the Temple Church at London, and those in Worcester and in
Salisbury Cathedrals, which are seven hundred years old, are of the
same type as the best youthful heads of men now in England; -- please
by beauty of the same character, an expression blending good-nature,
valor, and refinement, and, mainly, by that uncorrupt youth in the
face of manhood, which is daily seen in the streets of London.

        Both branches of the Scandinavian race are distinguished for
beauty.  The anecdote of the handsome captives which Saint Gregory
found at Rome, A. D. 600, is matched by the testimony of the Norman
chroniclers, five centuries later, who wondered at the beauty and
long flowing hair of the young English captives.  Meantime, the
Heimskringla has frequent occasion to speak of the personal beauty of
its heroes.  When it is considered what humanity, what resources of
mental and moral power, the traits of the blonde race betoken, -- its
accession to empire marks a new and finer epoch, wherein the old
mineral force shall be subjugated at last by humanity, and shall
plough in its furrow henceforward.  It is not a final race, once a
crab always crab, but a race with a future.

        On the English face are combined decision and nerve, with the
fair complexion, blue eyes, and open and florid aspect.  Hence the
love of truth, hence the sensibility, the fine perception, and poetic
construction.  The fair Saxon man, with open front, and honest
meaning, domestic, affectionate, is not the wood out of which
cannibal, or inquisitor, or assassin is made, but he is moulded for
law, lawful trade, civility, marriage, the nurture of children, for
colleges, churches, charities, and colonies.

        They are rather manly than warlike.  When the war is over, the
mask falls from the affectionate and domestic tastes, which make them
women in kindness.  This union of qualities is fabled in their
national legend of _Beauty and the Beast_, or, long before, in the
Greek legend of _Hermaphrodite_.  The two sexes are co-present in the
English mind.  I apply to Britannia, queen of seas and colonies, the
words in which her latest novelist portrays his heroine: "she is as
mild as she is game, and as game as she is mild." The English delight
in the antagonism which combines in one person the extremes of
courage and tenderness.  Nelson, dying at Trafalgar, sends his love
to Lord Collingwood, and, like an innocent schoolboy that goes to
bed, says, "Kiss me, Hardy," and turns to sleep.  Lord Collingwood,
his comrade, was of a nature the most affectionate and domestic.
Admiral Rodney's figure approached to delicacy and effeminacy, and he
declared himself very sensible to fear, which he surmounted only by
considerations of honor and public duty.  Clarendon says, the Duke of
Buckingham was so modest and gentle, that some courtiers attempted to
put affronts on him, until they found that this modesty and
effeminacy was only a mask for the most terrible determination.  And
Sir James Parry said, the other day, of Sir John Franklin, that, "if
he found Wellington Sound open, he explored it; for he was a man who
never turned his back on a danger, yet of that tenderness, that he
would not brush away a mosquito."  Even for their highwaymen the same
virtue is claimed, and Robin Hood comes described to us as
_mitissimus praedonum_, the gentlest thief.  But they know where
their war-dogs lie.  Cromwell, Blake, Marlborough, Chatham, Nelson,
and Wellington, are not to be trifled with, and the brutal strength
which lies at the bottom of society, the animal ferocity of the quays
and cockpits, the bullies of the coster-mongers of Shoreditch, Seven
Dials, and Spitalfields, they know how to wake up.

        They have a vigorous health, and last well into middle and old
age.  The old men are as red as roses, and still handsome.  A clear
skin, a peach-bloom complexion, and good teeth, are found all over
the island.  They use a plentiful and nutritious diet.  The operative
cannot subsist on watercresses.  Beef, mutton, wheatbread, and
malt-liquors, are universal among the first-class laborers.  Good
feeding is a chief point of national pride among the vulgar, and, in
their caricatures, they represent the Frenchman as a poor, starved
body.  It is curious that Tacitus found the English beer already in
use among the Germans: "they make from barley or wheat a drink
corrupted into some resemblance to wine." Lord Chief Justice
Fortescue in Henry VI.'s time, says, "The inhabitants of England
drink no water, unless at certain times, on a religious score, and by
way of penance." The extremes of poverty and ascetic penance, it
would seem, never reach cold water in England.  Wood, the antiquary,
in describing the poverty and maceration of Father Lacey, an English
Jesuit, does not deny him beer.  He says, "his bed was under a
thatching, and the way to it up a ladder; his fare was coarse; his
drink, of a penny a gawn, or gallon."

 
        They have more constitutional energy than any other people.
They think, with Henri Quatre, that manly exercises are the
foundation of that elevation of mind which gives one nature ascendant
over another; or, with the Arabs, that the days spent in the chase
are not counted in the length of life.  They box, run, shoot, ride,
row, and sail from pole to pole.  They eat, and drink, and live jolly
in the open air, putting a bar of solid sleep between day and day.
They walk and ride as fast as they can, their head bent forward, as
if urged on some pressing affair.  The French say, that Englishmen in
the street always walk straight before them like mad dogs.  Men and
women walk with infatuation.  As soon as he can handle a gun, hunting
is the fine art of every Englishman of condition.  They are the most
voracious people of prey that ever existed.  Every season turns out
the aristocracy into the country, to shoot and fish.  The more
vigorous run out of the island to Europe, to America, to Asia, to
Africa, and Australia, to hunt with fury by gun, by trap, by harpoon,
by lasso, with dog, with horse, with elephant, or with dromedary, all
the game that is in nature.  These men have written the game-books of
all countries, as Hawker, Scrope, Murray, Herbert, Maxwell, Cumming,
and a host of travellers.  The people at home are addicted to boxing,
running, leaping, and rowing matches.

        I suppose, the dogs and horses must be thanked for the fact,
that the men have muscles almost as tough and supple as their own.
If in every efficient man, there is first a fine animal, in the
English race it is of the best breed, a wealthy, juicy, broad-chested
creature, steeped in ale and good cheer, and a little overloaded by
his flesh.  Men of animal nature rely, like animals, on their
instincts.  The Englishman associates well with dogs and horses.  His
attachment to the horse arises from the courage and address required
to manage it.  The horse finds out who is afraid of it, and does not
disguise its opinion.  Their young boiling clerks and lusty
collegians like the company of horses better than the company of
professors.  I suppose, the horses are better company for them.  The
horse has more uses than Buffon noted.  If you go into the streets,
every driver in bus or dray is a bully, and, if I wanted a good troop
of soldiers, I should recruit among the stables.  Add a certain
degree of refinement to the vivacity of these riders, and you obtain
the precise quality which makes the men and women of polite society
formidable.

        They come honestly by their horsemanship, with _Hengst_ and
_Horsa_ for their Saxon founders.  The other branch of their race had
been Tartar nomads.  The horse was all their wealth.  The children
were fed on mares' milk.  The pastures of Tartary were still
remembered by the tenacious practice of the Norsemen to eat
horseflesh at religious feasts.  In the Danish invasions, the
marauders seized upon horses where they landed, and were at once
converted into a body of expert cavalry.

        At one time, this skill seems to have declined.  Two centuries
ago, the English horse never performed any eminent service beyond the
seas; and the reason assigned, was, that the genius of the English
hath always more inclined them to foot-service, as pure and proper
manhood, without any mixture; whilst, in a victory on horseback, the
credit ought to be divided betwixt the man and his horse.  But in two
hundred years, a change has taken place.  Now, they boast that they
understand horses better than any other people in the world, and that
their horses are become their second selves.

        "William the Conqueror being," says Camden, "better affected to
beasts than to men, imposed heavy fines and punishments on those that
should meddle with his game." The Saxon Chronicle says, "he loved the
tall deer as if he were their father." And rich Englishmen have
followed his example, according to their ability, ever since, in
encroaching on the tillage and commons with their game-preserves.  It
is a proverb in England, that it is safer to shoot a man, than a
hare.  The severity of the game-laws certainly indicates an
extravagant sympathy of the nation with horses and hunters.  The
gentlemen are always on horseback, and have brought horses to an
ideal perfection, -- the English racer is a factitious breed.  A
score or two of mounted gentlemen may frequently be seen running like
centaurs down a hill nearly as steep as the roof of a house.  Every
inn-room is lined with pictures of races; telegraphs communicate,
every hour, tidings of the heats from Newmarket and Ascot: and the
House of Commons adjourns over the `Derby Day.'

 
 
        Chapter V _Ability_

        The saxon and the Northman are both Scandinavians.  History
does not allow us to fix the limits of the application of these names
with any accuracy; but from the residence of a portion of these
people in France, and from some effect of that powerful soil on their
blood and manners, the Norman has come popularly to represent in
England the aristocratic, -- and the Saxon the democratic principle.
And though, I doubt not, the nobles are of both tribes, and the
workers of both, yet we are forced to use the names a little
mythically, one to represent the worker, and the other the enjoyer.

        The island was a prize for the best race.  Each of the dominant
races tried its fortune in turn.  The Ph;oenician, the Celt, and the
Goth, had already got in.  The Roman came, but in the very day when
his fortune culminated.  He looked in the eyes of a new people that
was to supplant his own.  He disembarked his legions, erected his
camps and towers, -- presently he heard bad news from Italy, and
worse and worse, every year; at last, he made a handsome compliment
of roads and walls, and departed.  But the Saxon seriously settled in
the land, builded, tilled, fished, and traded, with German truth and
adhesiveness.  The Dane came, and divided with him.  Last of all, the
Norman, or French-Dane, arrived, and formally conquered, harried and
ruled the kingdom.  A century later, it came out, that the Saxon had
the most bottom and longevity, had managed to make the victor speak
the language and accept the law and usage of the victim; forced the
baron to dictate Saxon terms to Norman kings; and, step by step, got
all the essential securities of civil liberty invented and confirmed.
The genius of the race and the genius of the place conspired to this
effect.  The island is lucrative to free labor, but not worth
possession on other terms.  The race was so intellectual, that a
feudal or military tenure could not last longer than the war.  The
power of the Saxon-Danes, so thoroughly beaten in the war, that the
name of English and villein were synonymous, yet so vivacious as to
extort charters from the kings, stood on the strong personality of
these people.  Sense and economy must rule in a world which is made
of sense and economy, and the banker, with his seven _per cent_,
drives the earl out of his castle.  A nobility of soldiers cannot
keep down a commonalty of shrewd scientific persons.  What signifies
a pedigree of a hundred links, against a cotton-spinner with steam in
his mill; or, against a company of broad-shouldered Liverpool
merchants, for whom Stephenson and Brunel are contriving locomotives
and a tubular bridge?

        These Saxons are the hands of mankind.  They have the taste for
toil, a distaste for pleasure or repose, and the telescopic
appreciation of distant gain.  They are the wealth-makers, -- and by
dint of mental faculty, which has its own conditions.  The Saxon
works after liking, or, only for himself; and to set him at work, and
to begin to draw his monstrous values out of barren Britain, all
dishonor, fret, and barrier must be removed, and then his energies
begin to play.

        The Scandinavian fancied himself surrounded by Trolls, -- a
kind of goblin men, with vast power of work and skilful production,
-- divine stevedores, carpenters, reapers, smiths, and masons, swift
to reward every kindness done them, with gifts of gold and silver.
In all English history, this dream comes to pass.  Certain Trolls or
working brains, under the names of Alfred, Bede, Caxton, Bracton,
Camden, Drake, Selden, Dugdale, Newton, Gibbon, Brindley, Watt,
Wedgwood, dwell in the troll-mounts of Britain, and turn the sweat of
their face to power and renown.

        If the race is good, so is the place.  Nobody landed on this
spellbound island with impunity.  The enchantments of barren shingle
and rough weather, transformed every adventurer into a laborer.  Each
vagabond that arrived bent his neck to the yoke of gain, or found the
air too tense for him.  The strong survived, the weaker went to the
ground.  Even the pleasure-hunters and sots of England are of a
tougher texture.  A hard temperament had been formed by Saxon and
Saxon-Dane, and such of these French or Normans as could reach it,
were naturalized in every sense.

        All the admirable expedients or means hit upon in England must
be looked at as growths or irresistible offshoots of the expanding
mind of the race.  A man of that brain thinks and acts thus; and his
neighbor, being afflicted with the same kind of brain, though he is
rich, and called a baron, or a duke, thinks the same thing, and is
ready to allow the justice of the thought and act in his retainer or
tenant, though sorely against his baronial or ducal will.

        The island was renowned in antiquity for its breed of mastiffs,
so fierce, that, when their teeth were set, you must cut their heads
off to part them.  The man was like his dog.  The people have that
nervous bilious temperament, which is known by medical men to resist
every means employed to make its possessor subservient to the will of
others.  The English game is main force to main force, the planting
of foot to foot, fair play and open field, -- a rough tug without
trick or dodging, till one or both come to pieces.  King Ethelwald
spoke the language of his race, when he planted himself at Wimborne,
and said, `he would do one of two things, or there live, or there
lie.' They hate craft and subtlety.  They neither poison, nor waylay,
nor assassinate; and, when they have pounded each other to a
poultice, they will shake hands and be friends for the remainder of
their lives.

        You shall trace these Gothic touches at school, at country
fairs, at the hustings, and in parliament.  No artifice, no breach of
truth and plain dealing, -- not so much as secret ballot, is suffered
in the island.  In parliament, the tactics of the opposition is to
resist every step of the government, by a pitiless attack: and in a
bargain, no prospect of advantage is so dear to the merchant, as the
thought of being tricked is mortifying.

        Sir Kenelm Digby, a courtier of Charles and James, who won the
sea-fight of Scanderoon, was a model Englishman in his day.  "His
person was handsome and gigantic, he had so graceful elocution and
noble address, that, had he been dropt out of the clouds in any part
of the world, he would have made himself respected: he was skilled in
six tongues, and master of arts and arms." (* 1) Sir Kenelm wrote a
book, "Of Bodies and of Souls," in which he propounds, that
"syllogisms do breed or rather are all the variety of man's life.
They are the steps by which we walk in all our businesses.  Man, as
he is man, doth nothing else but weave such chains.  Whatsoever he
doth, swarving from this work, he doth as deficient from the nature
of man: and, if he do aught beyond this, by breaking out into divers
sorts of exterior actions, he findeth, nevertheless, in this linked
sequel of simple discourses, the art, the cause, the rule, the
bounds, and the model of it." (* 2)

        There spoke the genius of the English people.  There is a
necessity on them to be logical.  They would hardly greet the good
that did not logically fall, -- as if it excluded their own merit, or
shook their understandings.  They are jealous of minds that have much
facility of association, from an instinctive fear that the seeing
many relations to their thought might impair this serial continuity
and lucrative concentration.  They are impatient of genius, or of
minds addicted to contemplation, and cannot conceal their contempt
for sallies of thought, however lawful, whose steps they cannot count
by their wonted rule.  Neither do they reckon better a syllogism that
ends in syllogism.  For they have a supreme eye to facts, and theirs
is a logic that brings salt to soup, hammer to nail, oar to boat, the
logic of cooks, carpenters, and chemists, following the sequence of
nature, and one on which words make no impression.  Their mind is not
dazzled by its own means, but locked and bolted to results.  They
love men, who, like Samuel Johnson, a doctor in the schools, would
jump out of his syllogism the instant his major proposition was in
danger, to save that, at all hazards.  Their practical vision is
spacious, and they can hold many threads without entangling them.
All the steps they orderly take; but with the high logic of never
confounding the minor and major proposition; keeping their eye on
their aim, in all the complicity and delay incident to the several
series of means they employ.  There is room in their minds for this
vand that, -- a science of degrees.  In the courts, the independence
of the judges and the loyalty of the suitors are equally excellent.
In Parliament, they have hit on that capital invention of freedom, a
constitutional opposition.  And when courts and parliament are both
deaf, the plaintiff is not silenced.  Calm, patient, his weapon of
defence from year to year is the obstinate reproduction of the
grievance, with calculations and estimates.  But, meantime, he is
drawing numbers and money to his opinion, resolved that if all remedy
fails, right of revolution is at the bottom of his charter-box.  They
are bound to see their measure carried, and stick to it through ages
of defeat.

        Into this English logic, however, an infusion of justice
enters, not so apparent in other races, -- a belief in the existence
of two sides, and the resolution to see fair play.  There is on every
question, an appeal from the assertion of the parties, to the proof
of what is asserted.  They are impious in their scepticism of a
theory, but kiss the dust before a fact.  Is it a machine, is it a
charter, is it a boxer in the ring, is it a candidate on the
hustings, -- the universe of Englishmen will suspend their judgment,
until the trial can be had.  They are not to be led by a phrase, they
want a working plan, a working machine, a working constitution, and
will sit out the trial, and abide by the issue, and reject all
preconceived theories.  In politics they put blunt questions, which
must be answered; who is to pay the taxes? what will you do for
trade? what for corn? what for the spinner?

        This singular fairness and its results strike the French with
surprise.  Philip de Commines says, "Now, in my opinion, among all
the sovereignties I know in the world, that in which the public good
is best attended to, and the least violence exercised on the people,
is that of England." Life is safe, and personal rights; and what is
freedom, without security? whilst, in France, `fraternity,'
`equality,' and `indivisible unity,' are names for assassination.
Montesquieu said, "England is the freest country in the world.  If a
man in England had as many enemies as hairs on his head, no harm
would happen to him."

        Their self-respect, their faith in causation, and their
realistic logic or coupling of means to ends, have given them the
leadership of the modern world.  Montesquieu said, "No people have
true common sense but those who are born in England." This common
sense is a perception of all the conditions of our earthly existence,
of laws that can be stated, and of laws that cannot be stated, or
that are learned only by practice, in which allowance for friction is
made.  They are impious in their scepticism of theory, and in high
departments they are cramped and sterile.  But the unconditional
surrender to facts, and the choice of means to reach their ends, are
as admirable as with ants and bees.

        The bias of the nation is a passion for utility.  They love the
lever, the screw, and pulley, the Flanders draught-horse, the
waterfall, wind-mills, tide-mills; the sea and the wind to bear their
freight ships.  More than the diamond Koh-i-noor, which glitters
among their crown jewels, they prize that dull pebble which is wiser
than a man, whose poles turn themselves to the poles of the world,
and whose axis is parallel to the axis of the world.  Now, their toys
are steam and galvanism.  They are heavy at the fine arts, but adroit
at the coarse; not good in jewelry or mosaics, but the best
iron-masters, colliers, wool-combers, and tanners, in Europe.  They
apply themselves to agriculture, to draining, to resisting
encroachments of sea, wind, travelling sands, cold and wet sub-soil;
to fishery, to manufacture of indispensable staples, -- salt,
plumbago, leather, wool, glass, pottery, and brick, -- to bees and
silkworms; -- and by their steady combinations they succeed.  A
manufacturer sits down to dinner in a suit of clothes which was wool
on a sheep's back at sunrise.  You dine with a gentleman on venison,
pheasant, quail, pigeons, poultry, mushrooms, and pine-apples, all
the growth of his estate.  They are neat husbands for ordering all
their tools pertaining to house and field.  All are well kept.  There
is no want and no waste.  They study use and fitness in their
building, in the order of their dwellings, and in their dress.  The
Frenchman invented the ruffle, the Englishman added the shirt.  The
Englishman wears a sensible coat buttoned to the chin, of rough but
solid and lasting texture.  If he is a lord, he dresses a little
worse than a commoner.  They have diffused the taste for plain
substantial hats, shoes, and coats through Europe.  They think him
the best dressed man, whose dress is so fit for his use that you
cannot notice or remember to describe it.

        They secure the essentials in their diet, in their arts, and
manufactures.  Every article of cutlery shows, in its shape, thought
and long experience of workmen.  They put the expense in the right
place, as, in their sea-steamers, in the solidity of the machinery
and the strength of the boat.  The admirable equipment of their
arctic ships carries London to the pole.  They build roads,
aqueducts, warm and ventilate houses.  And they have impressed their
directness and practical habit on modern civilization.

        In trade, the Englishman believes that nobody breaks who ought
not to break; and, that, if he do not make trade every thing, it will
make him nothing; and acts on this belief.  The spirit of system,
attention to details, and the subordination of details, or, the not
driving things too finely, (which is charged on the Germans,)
constitute that despatch of business, which makes the mercantile
power of England.

        In war, the Englishman looks to his means.  He is of the
opinion of Civilis, his German ancestor, whom Tacitus reports as
holding "that the gods are on the side of the strongest;"---a
sentence which Bonaparte unconsciously translated, when he said,
"that he had noticed, that Providence always favored the heaviest
battalion." Their military science propounds that if the weight of
the advancing column is greater than that of the resisting, the
latter is destroyed.  Therefore Wellington, when he came to the army
in Spain, had every man weighed, first with accoutrements, and then
without; believing that the force of an army depended on the weight
and power of the individual soldiers, in spite of cannon.  Lord
Palmerston told the House of Commons, that more care is taken of the
health and comfort of English troops than of any other troops in the
world; and that, hence the English can put more men into the rank, on
the day of action, on the field of battle, than any other army.
Before the bombardment of the Danish forts in the Baltic, Nelson
spent day after day, himself in the boats, on the exhausting service
of sounding the channel.  Clerk of Eldin's celebrated man;oeuvre of
breaking the line of sea-battle, and Nelson's feat of _doubling,_ or
stationing his ships one on the outer bow, and another on the outer
quarter of each of the enemy's were only translations into naval
tactics of Bonaparte's rule of concentration.  Lord Collingwood was
accustomed to tell his men, that, if they could fire three
well-directed broadsides in five minutes, no vessel could resist
them; and, from constant practice, they came to do it in three
minutes and a half.

 
        But conscious that no race of better men exists, they rely most
on the simplest means; and do not like ponderous and difficult
tactics, but delight to bring the affair hand to hand, where the
victory lies with the strength, courage, and endurance of the
individual combatants.  They adopt every improvement in rig, in
motor, in weapons, but they fundamentally believe that the best
stratagem in naval war, is to lay your ship close alongside of the
enemy's ship, and bring all your guns to bear on him, until you or he
go to the bottom.  This is the old fashion, which never goes out of
fashion, neither in nor out of England.

        It is not usually a point of honor, nor a religious sentiment,
and never any whim that they will shed their blood for; but usually
property, and right measured by property, that breeds revolution.
They have no Indian taste for a tomahawk-dance, no French taste for a
badge or a proclamation.  The Englishman is peaceably minding his
business, and earning his day's wages.  But if you offer to lay hand
on his day's wages, on his cow, or his right in common, or his shop,
he will fight to the Judgment.  Magna-charta, jury-trial,
_habeas-corpus_, star-chamber, ship-money, Popery, Plymouth-colony,
American Revolution, are all questions involving a yeoman's right to
his dinner, and, except as touching that, would not have lashed the
British nation to rage and revolt.

        Whilst they are thus instinct with a spirit of order, and of
calculation, it must be owned they are capable of larger views; but
the indulgence is expensive to them, costs great crises, or
accumulations of mental power.  In common, the horse works best with
blinders.  Nothing is more in the line of English thought, than our
unvarnished Connecticut question, "Pray, sir, how do you get your
living when you are at home?" The questions of freedom, of taxation,
of privilege, are money questions.  Heavy fellows, steeped in beer
and fleshpots, they are hard of hearing and dim of sight.  Their
drowsy minds need to be flagellated by war and trade and politics and
persecution.  They cannot well read a principle, except by the light
of fagots and of burning towns.

        Tacitus says of the Germans, "powerful only in sudden efforts,
they are impatient of toil and labor." This highly-destined race, if
it had not somewhere added the chamber of patience to its brain,
would not have built London.  I know not from which of the tribes and
temperaments that went to the composition of the people this tenacity
was supplied, but they clinch every nail they drive.  They have no
running for luck, and no immoderate speed.  They spend largely on
their fabric, and await the slow return.  Their leather lies tanning
seven years in the vat.  At Rogers's mills, in Sheffield, where I was
shown the process of making a razor and a penknife, I was told there
is no luck in making good steel; that they make no mistakes, every
blade in the hundred and in the thousand is good.  And that is
characteristic of all their work, -- no more is attempted than is
done.

        When Thor and his companions arrive at Utgard, he is told that
"nobody is permitted to remain here, unless he understand some art,
and excel in it all other men." The same question is still put to the
posterity of Thor.  A nation of laborers, every man is trained to
some one art or detail, and aims at perfection in that; not content
unless he has something in which he thinks he surpasses all other
men.  He would rather not do any thing at all, than not do it well.
I suppose no people have such thoroughness; -- from the highest to
the lowest, every man meaning to be master of his art.

        "To show capacity," a Frenchman described as the end of a
speech in debate: "no," said an Englishman, "but to set your shoulder
at the wheel, -- to advance the business." Sir Samuel Romilly refused
to speak in popular assemblies, confining himself to the House of
Commons, where a measure can be carried by a speech.  The business of
the House of Commons is conducted by a few persons, but these are
hard-worked.  Sir Robert Peel "knew the Blue Books by heart." His
colleagues and rivals carry Hansard in their heads.  The high civil
and legal offices are not beds of ease, but posts which exact
frightful amounts of mental labor.  Many of the great leaders, like
Pitt, Canning, Castlereagh, Romilly, are soon worked to death.  They
are excellent judges England of a good worker, and when they find
one, like Clarendon, Sir Philip Warwick, Sir William Coventry,
Ashley, Burke, Thurlow, Mansfield, Pitt, Eldon, Peel, or Russell,
there is nothing too good or too high for him.

        They have a wonderful heat in the pursuit of a public aim
Private persons exhibit, in scientific and antiquarian researches,
the same pertinacity as the nation showed in the coalitions in which
it yoked Europe against the empire of Bonaparte, one after the other
defeated, and still renewed, until the sixth hurled him from his
seat.

        Sir John Herschel, in completion of the work of his father, who
had made the catalogue of the stars of the northern hemisphere,
expatriated himself for years at the Cape of Good Hope, finished his
inventory of the southern heaven, came home, and redacted it in eight
years more; -- a work whose value does not begin until thirty years
have elapsed, and thenceforward a record to all ages of the highest
import.  The Admiralty sent out the Arctic expeditions year after
year, in search of Sir John Franklin, until, at last, they have
threaded their way through polar pack and Behring's Straits, and
solved the geographical problem.  Lord Elgin, at Athens, saw the
imminent ruin of the Greek remains, set up his scaffoldings, in spite
of epigrams, and, after five years' labor to collect them, got his
marbles on shipboard.  The ship struck a rock, and went to the
bottom.  He had them all fished up, by divers, at a vast expense, and
brought to London; not knowing that Haydon, Fuseli, and Canova, and
all good heads in all the world, were to be his applauders.  In the
same spirit, were the excavation and research by Sir Charles
Fellowes, for the Xanthian monument; and of Layard, for his Nineveh
sculptures.

        The nation sits in the immense city they have builded, a London
extended into every man's mind, though he live in Van Dieman's Land
or Capetown.  Faithful performance of what is undertaken to be
performed, they honor in themselves, and exact in others, as
certificate of equality with themselves.  The modern world is theirs.
They have made and make it day by day.  The commercial relations of
the world are so intimately drawn to London, that every dollar on
earth contributes to the strength of the English government.  And if
all the wealth in the planet should perish by war or deluge, they
know themselves competent to replace it.

        They have approved their Saxon blood, by their sea-going
qualities; their descent from Odin's smiths, by their hereditary
skill in working in iron; their British birth, by husbandry and
immense wheat harvests; and justified their occupancy of the centre
of habitable land, by their supreme ability and cosmopolitan spirit.
They have tilled, builded, forged, spun, and woven.  They have made
the island a thoroughfare; and London a shop, a law-court, a
record-office, and scientific bureau, inviting to strangers; a
sanctuary to refugees of every political and religious opinion; and
such a city, that almost every active man, in any nation, finds
himself, at one time or other, forced to visit it.

        In every path of practical activity, they have gone even with
the best.  There is no secret of war, in which they have not shown
mastery.  The steam-chamber of Watt, the locomotive of Stephenson,
the cotton-mule of Roberts, perform the labor of the world.  There is
no department of literature, of science, or of useful art, in which
they have not produced a first-rate book.  It is England, whose
opinion is waited for on the merit of a new invention, an improved
science.  And in the complications of the trade and politics of their
vast empire, they have been equal to every exigency, with counsel and
with conduct.  Is it their luck, or is it in the chambers of their
brain, -- it is their commercial advantage, that whatever light
appears in better method or happy invention, breaks out _in their
race_.  They are a family to which a destiny attaches, and the
Banshee has sworn that a male heir shall never be wanting.  They have
a wealth of men to fill important posts, and the vigilance of party
criticism insures the selection of a competent person.

        A proof of the energy of the British people, is the highly
artificial construction of the whole fabric.  The climate and
geography, I said, were factitious, as if the hands of man had
arranged the conditions.  The same character pervades the whole
kingdom.  Bacon said, "Rome was a state not subject to paradoxes;"
but England subsists by antagonisms and contradictions.  The
foundations of its greatness are the rolling waves; and, from first
to last, it is a museum of anomalies.  This foggy and rainy country
furnishes the world with astronomical observations.  Its short rivers
do not afford water-power, but the land shakes under the thunder of
the mills.  There is no gold mine of any importance, but there is
more gold in England than in all other countries.  It is too far
north for the culture of the vine, but the wines of all countries are
in its docks.  The French Comte de Lauraguais said, "no fruit ripens
in England but a baked apple"; but oranges and pine-apples are as
cheap in London as in the Mediterranean.  The Mark-Lane Express, or
the Custom House Returns bear out to the letter the vaunt of Pope,

        "Let India boast her palms, nor envy we
        The weeping amber, nor the spicy tree,
        While, by our oaks, those precious loads are borne,
        And realms commanded which those trees adorn."
 
        The native cattle are extinct, but the island is full of
artificial breeds.  The agriculturist Bakewell, created sheep and
cows and horses to order, and breeds in which every thing was omitted
but what is economical.  The cow is sacrificed to her bag, the ox to
his surloin.  Stall-feeding makes sperm-mills of the cattle, and
converts the stable to a chemical factory.  The rivers, lakes and
ponds, too much fished, or obstructed by factories, are artificially
filled with the eggs of salmon, turbot and herring.

        Chat Moss and the fens of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire are
unhealthy and too barren to pay rent.  By cylindrical tiles, and
guttapercha tubes, five millions of acres of bad land have been
drained and put on equality with the best, for rape-culture and
grass.  The climate too, which was already believed to have become
milder and drier by the enormous consumption of coal, is so far
reached by this new action, that fogs and storms are said to
disappear.  In due course, all England will be drained, and rise a
second time out of the waters.  The latest step was to call in the
aid of steam to agriculture.  Steam is almost an Englishman.  I do
not know but they will send him to Parliament, next, to make laws.
He weaves, forges, saws, pounds, fans, and now he must pump, grind,
dig, and plough for the farmer.  The markets created by the
manufacturing population have erected agriculture into a great
thriving and spending industry.  The value of the houses in Britain
is equal to the value of the soil.  Artificial aids of all kinds are
cheaper than the natural resources.  No man can afford to walk, when
the parliamentary-train carries him for a penny a mile.  Gas-burners
are cheaper than daylight in numberless floors in the cities.  All
the houses in London buy their water.  The English trade does not
exist for the exportation of native products, but on its
manufactures, or the making well every thing which is ill made
elsewhere.  They make ponchos for the Mexican, bandannas for the
Hindoo, ginseng for the Chinese, beads for the Indian, laces for the
Flemings, telescopes for astronomers, cannons for kings.

        The Board of Trade caused the best models of Greece and Italy
to be placed within the reach of every manufacturing population.
They caused to be translated from foreign languages and illustrated
by elaborate drawings, the most approved works of Munich, Berlin, and
Paris.  They have ransacked Italy to find new forms, to add a grace
to the products of their looms, their potteries, and their foundries.
(* 3)

        The nearer we look, the more artificial is their social system.
Their law is a network of fictions.  Their property, a scrip or
certificate of right to interest on money that no man ever saw.
Their social classes are made by statute.  Their ratios of power and
representation are historical and legal.  The last Reform-bill took
away political power from a mound, a ruin, and a stone-wall, whilst
Birmingham and Manchester, whose mills paid for the wars of Europe,
had no representative.  Purity in the elective Parliament is secured
by the purchase of seats.  (* 4) Foreign power is kept by armed
colonies; power at home, by a standing army of police.  The pauper
lives better than the free laborer; the thief better than the pauper;
and the transported felon better than the one under imprisonment.
The crimes are factitious, as smuggling, poaching, non-conformity,
heresy and treason.  Better, they say in England, kill a man than a
hare.  The sovereignty of the seas is maintained by the impressment
of seamen.  "The impressment of seamen," said Lord Eldon, "is the
life of our navy." Solvency is maintained by means of a national
debt, on the principle, "if you will not lend me the money, how can I
pay you?" For the administration of justice, Sir Samuel Romilly's
expedient for clearing the arrears of business in Chancery, was, the
Chancellor's staying away entirely from his court.  Their system of
education is factitious.  The Universities galvanize dead languages
into a semblance of life.  Their church is artificial.  The manners
and customs of society are artificial; -- made up men with made up
manners; -- and thus the whole is Birminghamized, and we have a
nation whose existence is a work of art; -- a cold, barren, almost
arctic isle, being made the most fruitful, luxurious and imperial
land in the whole earth.

        Man in England submits to be a product of political economy.
On a bleak moor, a mill is built, a banking-house is opened, and men
come in, as water in a sluice-way, and towns and cities rise.  Man is
made as a Birmingham button.  The rapid doubling of the population
dates from Watt's steam-engine.  A landlord, who owns a province,
says, "the tenantry are unprofitable; let me have sheep." He unroofs
the houses, and ships the population to America.  The nation is
accustomed to the instantaneous creation of wealth.  It is the maxim
of their economists, "that the greater part in value of the wealth
now existing in England, has been produced by human hands within the
last twelve months." Meantime, three or four days' rain will reduce
hundreds to starving in London.

        One secret of their power is their mutual good understanding.
Not only good minds are born among them, but all the people have good
minds.  Every nation has yielded some good wit, if, as has chanced to
many tribes, only one.  But the intellectual organization of the
English admits a communicableness of knowledge and ideas among them
all.  An electric touch by any of their national ideas, melts them
into one family, and brings the hoards of power which their
individuality is always hiving, into use and play for all.  Is it the
smallness of the country, or is it the pride and affection of race,
-- they have solidarity, or responsibleness, and trust in each other.

        Their minds, like wool, admit of a dye which is more lasting
than the cloth.  They embrace their cause with more tenacity than
their life.  Though not military, yet every common subject by the
poll is fit to make a soldier of.  These private reserved mute
family-men can adopt a public end with all their heat, and this
strength of affection makes the romance of their heroes.  The
difference of rank does not divide the national heart.  The Danish
poet Ohlenschlager complains, that who writes in Danish, writes to
two hundred readers.  In Germany, there is one speech for the
learned, and another for the masses, to that extent, that, it is
said, no sentiment or phrase from the works of any great German
writer is ever heard among the lower classes.  But in England, the
language of the noble is the language of the poor.  In Parliament, in
pulpits, in theatres, when the speakers rise to thought and passion,
the language becomes idiomatic; the people in the street best
understand the best words.  And their language seems drawn from the
Bible, the common law, and the works of Shakspeare, Bacon, Milton,
Pope, Young, Cowper, Burns, and Scott.  The island has produced two
or three of the greatest men that ever existed, but they were not
solitary in their own time.  Men quickly embodied what Newton found
out, in Greenwich observatories, and practical navigation.  The boys
know all that Hutton knew of strata, or Dalton of atoms, or Harvey of
blood-vessels; and these studies, once dangerous, are in fashion.  So
what is invented or known in agriculture, or in trade, or in war, or
in art, or in literature, and antiquities.  A great ability, not
amassed on a few giants, but poured into the general mind, so that
each of them could at a pinch stand in the shoes of the other; and
they are more bound in character, than differenced in ability or in
rank.  The laborer is a possible lord.  The lord is a possible
basket-maker.  Every man carries the English system in his brain,
knows what is confided to him, and does therein the best he can.  The
chancellor carries England on his mace, the midshipman at the point
of his dirk, the smith on his hammer, the cook in the bowl of his
spoon; the postilion cracks his whip for England, and the sailor
times his oars to "God save the King!" The very felons have their
pride in each other's English stanchness.  In politics and in war,
they hold together as by hooks of steel.  The charm in Nelson's
history, is, the unselfish greatness; the assurance of being
supported to the uttermost by those whom he supports to the
uttermost.  Whilst they are some ages ahead of the rest of the world
in the art of living; whilst in some directions they do not represent
the modern spirit, but constitute it,--this vanguard of civility and
power they coldly hold, marching in phalanx, lockstep, foot after
foot, file after file of heroes, ten thousand deep.

        (* 1) Antony Wood.

        (* 2) Man's Soule, p. 29.

        (* 3) See Memorial of H. Greenough, p. 66, New York, 1853.

        (* 4) Sir S. Romilly, purest of English patriots, decided that
the only independent mode of entering Parliament was to buy a seat,
and he bought Horsham.

 
 
 
        Chapter VI _Manners_

        I find the Englishman to be him of all men who stands firmest
in his shoes.  They have in themselves what they value in their
horses, mettle and bottom.  On the day of my arrival at Liverpool, a
gentleman, in describing to me the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,
happened to say, "Lord Clarendon has pluck like a cock, and will
fight till he dies;" and, what I heard first I heard last, and the
one thing the English value, is pluck.  The cabmen have it; the
merchants have it; the bishops have it; the women have it; the
journals have it; the Times newspaper, they say, is the pluckiest
thing in England, and Sydney Smith had made it a proverb, that little
Lord John Russell, the minister, would take the command of the
Channel fleet to-morrow.

        They require you to dare to be of your own opinion, and they
hate the practical cowards who cannot in affairs answer directly yes
or no.  They dare to displease, nay, they will let you break all the
commandments, if you do it natively, and with spirit.  You must be
somebody; then you may do this or that, as you will.

        Machinery has been applied to all work, and carried to such
perfection, that little is left for the men but to mind the engines
and feed the furnaces.  But the machines require punctual service,
and, as they never tire, they prove too much for their tenders.
Mines, forges, mills, breweries, railroads, steampump, steamplough,
drill of regiments, drill of police, rule of court, and shop-rule,
have operated to give a mechanical regularity to all the habit and
action of men.  A terrible machine has possessed itself of the
ground, the air, the men and women, and hardly even thought is free.

        The mechanical might and organization requires in the people
constitution and answering spirits: and he who goes among them must
have some weight of metal.  At last, you take your hint from the fury
of life you find, and say, one thing is plain, this is no country for
fainthearted people: don't creep about diffidently; make up your
mind; take your own course, and you shall find respect and
furtherance.

        It requires, men say, a good constitution to travel in Spain.
I say as much of England, for other cause, simply on account of the
vigor and brawn of the people.  Nothing but the most serious
business, could give one any counterweight to these Baresarks, though
they were only to order eggs and muffins for their breakfast.  The
Englishman speaks with all his body.  His elocution is stomachic, --
as the American's is labial.  The Englishman is very petulant and
precise about his accommodation at inns, and on the roads; a quiddle
about his toast and his chop, and every species of convenience, and
loud and pungent in his expressions of impatience at any neglect.
His vivacity betrays itself, at all points, in his manners, in his
respiration, and the inarticulate noises he makes in clearing the
throat; -- all significant of burly strength.  He has stamina; he can
take the initiative in emergencies.  He has that _aplomb_, which
results from a good adjustment of the moral and physical nature, and
the obedience of all the powers to the will; as if the axes of his
eyes were united to his backbone, and only moved with the trunk.

        This vigor appears in the incuriosity, and stony neglect, each
of every other.  Each man walks, eats, drinks, shaves, dresses,
gesticulates, and, in every manner, acts, and suffers without
reference to the bystanders, in his own fashion, only careful not to
interfere with them, or annoy them; not that he is trained to neglect
the eyes of his neighbors, -- he is really occupied with his own
affair, and does not think of them.  Every man in this polished
country consults only his convenience, as much as a solitary pioneer
in Wisconsin.  I know not where any personal eccentricity is so
freely allowed, and no man gives himself any concern with it.  An
Englishman walks in a pouring rain, swinging his closed umbrella like
a walking-stick; wears a wig, or a shawl, or a saddle, or stands on
his head, and no remark is made.  And as he has been doing this for
several generations, it is now in the blood.

        In short, every one of these islanders is an island himself,
safe, tranquil, incommunicable.  In a company of strangers, you would
think him deaf; his eyes never wander from his table and newspaper.
He is never betrayed into any curiosity or unbecoming emotion.  They
have all been trained in one severe school of manners, and never put
off the harness.  He does not give his hand.  He does not let you
meet his eye.  It is almost an affront to look a man in the face,
without being introduced.  In mixed or in select companies they do
not introduce persons; so that a presentation is a circumstance as
valid as a contract.  Introductions are sacraments.  He withholds his
name.  At the hotel, he is hardly willing to whisper it to the clerk
at the book-office.  If he give you his private address on a card, it
is like an avowal of friendship; and his bearing, on being
introduced, is cold, even though he is seeking your acquaintance, and
is studying how he shall serve you.

        It was an odd proof of this impressive energy, that, in my
lectures, I hesitated to read and threw out for its impertinence many
a disparaging phrase, which I had been accustomed to spin, about
poor, thin, unable mortals; -- so much had the fine physique and the
personal vigor of this robust race worked on my imagination.

        I happened to arrive in England, at the moment of a commercial
crisis.  But it was evident, that, let who will fail, England will
not.  These people have sat here a thousand years, and here will
continue to sit.  They will not break up, or arrive at any desperate
revolution, like their neighbors; for they have as much energy, as
much continence of character as they ever had.  The power and
possession which surround them are their own creation, and they exert
the same commanding industry at this moment.

        They are positive, methodical, cleanly, and formal, loving
routine, and conventional ways; loving truth and religion, to be
sure, but inexorable on points of form.  All the world praises the
comfort and private appointments of an English inn, and of English
households.  You are sure of neatness and of personal decorum.  A
Frenchman may possibly be clean; an Englishman is conscientiously
clean.  A certain order and complete propriety is found in his dress
and in his belongings.

        Born in a harsh and wet climate, which keeps him in doors
whenever he is at rest, and being of an affectionate and loyal
temper, he dearly loves his house.  If he is rich, he buys a demesne,
and builds a hall; if he is in middle condition, he spares no expense
on his house.  Without, it is all planted: within, it is wainscoted,
carved, curtained, hung with pictures, and filled with good
furniture.  'Tis a passion which survives all others, to deck and
improve it.  Hither he brings all that is rare and costly, and with
the national tendency to sit fast in the same spot for many
generations, it comes to be, in the course of time, a museum of
heirlooms, gifts, and trophies of the adventures and exploits of the
family.  He is very fond of silver plate, and, though he have no
gallery of portraits of his ancestors, he has of their punch-bowls
and porringers.  Incredible amounts of plate are found in good
houses, and the poorest have some spoon or saucepan, gift of a
godmother, saved out of better times.

        An English family consists of a few persons, who, from youth to
age, are found revolving within a few feet of each other, as if tied
by some invisible ligature, tense as that cartilage which we have
seen attaching the two Siamese.  England produces under favorable
conditions of ease and culture the finest women in the world.  And,
as the men are affectionate and true-hearted, the women inspire and
refine them.  Nothing can be more delicate without being fantastical,
nothing more firm and based in nature and sentiment, than the
courtship and mutual carriage of the sexes.  The song of 1596 says,
"The wife of every Englishman is counted blest." The sentiment of
Imogen in Cymbeline is copied from English nature; and not less the
Portia of Brutus, the Kate Percy, and the Desdemona.  The romance
does not exceed the height of noble passion in Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson,
or in Lady Russell, or even as one discerns through the plain prose
of Pepys's Diary, the sacred habit of an English wife.  Sir Samuel
Romilly could not bear the death of his wife.  Every class has its
noble and tender examples.

        Domesticity is the taproot which enables the nation to branch
wide and high.  The motive and end of their trade and empire is to
guard the independence and privacy of their homes.  Nothing so much
marks their manners as the concentration on their household ties.
This domesticity is carried into court and camp.  Wellington governed
India and Spain and his own troops, and fought battles like a good
family-man, paid his debts, and, though general of an army in Spain
could not stir abroad for fear of public creditors.  This taste for
house and parish merits has of course its doting and foolish side.
Mr. Cobbett attributes the huge popularity of Perceval, prime
minister in 1810, to the fact that he was wont to go to church, every
Sunday, with a large quarto gilt prayer-book under one arm, his wife
hanging on the other, and followed by a long brood of children.

        They keep their old customs, costumes, and pomps, their wig and
mace, sceptre and crown.  The middle ages still lurk in the streets
of London.  The Knights of the Bath take oath to defend injured
ladies; the gold-stick-in-waiting survives.  They repeated the
ceremonies of the eleventh century in the coronation of the present
Queen.  A hereditary tenure is natural to them.  Offices, farms,
trades, and traditions descend so.  Their leases run for a hundred
and a thousand years.  Terms of service and partnership are lifelong,
or are inherited.  "Holdship has been with me," said Lord Eldon,
"eight-and-twenty years, knows all my business and books." Antiquity
of usage is sanction enough.  Wordsworth says of the small
freeholders of Westmoreland, "Many of these humble sons of the hills
had a consciousness that the land which they tilled had for more than
five hundred years been possessed by men of the same name and blood."
The ship-carpenter in the public yards, my lord's gardener and
porter, have been there for more than a hundred years, grandfather,
father, and son.

        The English power resides also in their dislike of change.
They have difficulty in bringing their reason to act, and on all
occasions use their memory first.  As soon as they have rid
themselves of some grievance, and settled the better practice, they
make haste to fix it as a finality, and never wish to hear of
alteration more.

        Every Englishman is an embryonic chancellor: His instinct is to
search for a precedent.  The favorite phrase of their law, is, "a
custom whereof the memory of man runneth not back to the contrary."
The barons say, "_Nolumus mutari_;" and the cockneys stifle the
curiosity of the foreigner on the reason of any practice, with "Lord,
sir, it was always so." They hate innovation.  Bacon told them, Time
was the right reformer; Chatham, that "confidence was a plant of slow
growth;" Canning, to "advance with the times;" and Wellington, that
"habit was ten times nature." All their statesmen learn the
irresistibility of the tide of custom, and have invented many fine
phrases to cover this slowness of perception, and prehensility of
tail.

        A seashell should be the crest of England, not only because it
represents a power built on the waves, but also the hard finish of
the men.  The Englishman is finished like a cowry or a murex.  After
the spire and the spines are formed, or, with the formation, a juice
exudes, and a hard enamel varnishes every part.  The keeping of the
proprieties is as indispensable as clean linen.  No merit quite
countervails the want of this, whilst this sometimes stands in lieu
of all.  "'Tis in bad taste," is the most formidable word an
Englishman can pronounce.  But this japan costs them dear.  There is
a prose in certain Englishmen, which exceeds in wooden deadness all
rivalry with other countrymen.  There is a knell in the conceit and
externality of their voice, which seems to say, _Leave all hope
behind_.  In this Gibraltar of propriety, mediocrity gets intrenched,
and consolidated, and founded in adamant.  An Englishman of fashion
is like one of those souvenirs, bound in gold vellum, enriched with
delicate engravings, on thick hot-pressed paper, fit for the hands of
ladies and princes, but with nothing in it worth reading or
remembering.

        A severe decorum rules the court and the cottage.  When
Thalberg, the pianist, was one evening performing before the Queen,
at Windsor, in a private party, the Queen accompanied him with her
voice.  The circumstance took air, and all England shuddered from sea
to sea.  The indecorum was never repeated.  Cold, repressive manners
prevail.  No enthusiasm is permitted except at the opera.  They avoid
every thing marked.  They require a tone of voice that excites no
attention in the room.  Sir Philip Sydney is one of the patron saints
of England, of whom Wotton said, "His wit was the measure of
congruity."

        Pretension and vaporing are once for all distasteful.  They
keep to the other extreme of low tone in dress and manners.  They
avoid pretension and go right to the heart of the thing.  They hate
nonsense, sentimentalism, and highflown expression; they use a
studied plainness.  Even Brummel their fop was marked by the severest
simplicity in dress.  They value themselves on the absence of every
thing theatrical in the public business, and on conciseness and going
to the point, in private affairs.

        In an aristocratical country, like England, not the Trial by
Jury, but the dinner is the capital institution.  It is the mode of
doing honor to a stranger, to invite him to eat, -- and has been for
many hundred years.  "And they think," says the Venetian traveller of
1500, "no greater honor can be conferred or received, than to invite
others to eat with them, or to be invited themselves, and they would
sooner give five or six ducats to provide an entertainment for a
person, than a groat to assist him in any distress."  (*) It is
reserved to the end of the day, the family-hour being generally six,
in London, and, if any company is expected, one or two hours later.
Every one dresses for dinner, in his own house, or in another man's.
The guests are expected to arrive within half an hour of the time
fixed by card of invitation, and nothing but death or mutilation is
permitted to detain them.  The English dinner is precisely the model
on which our own are constructed in the Atlantic cities.  The company
sit one or two hours, before the ladies leave the table.  The
gentlemen remain over their wine an hour longer, and rejoin the
ladies in the drawing-room, and take coffee.  The dress-dinner
generates a talent of table-talk, which reaches great perfection: the
stories are so good, that one is sure they must have been often told
before, to have got such happy turns.  Hither come all manner of
clever projects, bits of popular science, of practical invention, of
miscellaneous humor; political, literary, and personal news;
railroads, horses, diamonds, agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture,
and wine.

        (*) "Relation of England."

        English stories, bon-mots, and the recorded table-talk of their
wits, are as good as the best of the French.  In America, we are apt
scholars, but have not yet attained the same perfection: for the
range of nations from which London draws, and the steep contrasts of
condition create the picturesque in society, as broken country makes
picturesque landscape, whilst our prevailing equality makes a prairie
tameness: and secondly, because the usage of a dress-dinner every day
at dark, has a tendency to hive and produce to advantage every thing
good.  Much attrition has worn every sentence into a bullet.  Also
one meets now and then with polished men, who know every thing, have
tried every thing, can do every thing, and are quite superior to
letters and science.  What could they not, if only they would?

 
        Chapter VII _Truth_

        The teutonic tribes have a national singleness of heart, which
contrasts wit races.  The German name has a proverbial significance
of sincerity and honest meaning. The arts bear testimony to it.  The
faces of clergy and laity in old sculptures and illuminated missals
are charged with earnest belief.  Add to this hereditary rectitude,
the punctuality and precise dealing which commerce creates, and you
have the English truth and credit.  The government strictly performs
its engagements.  The subjects do not understand trifling on its
part.  When any breach of promise occurred, in the old days of
prerogative, it was resented by the people as an intolerable
grievance.  And, in modern times, any slipperiness in the government
in political faith, or any repudiation or crookedness in matters of
finance, would bring the whole nation to a committee of inquiry and
reform.  Private men keep their promises, never so trivial.  Down
goes the flying word on the tablets, and is indelible as Domesday
Book.

        Their practical power rests on their national sincerity.
Veracity derives from instinct, and marks superiority in
organization.  Nature has endowed some animals with cunning, as a
compensation for strength withheld; but it has provoked the malice of
all others, as if avengers of public wrong.  In the nobler kinds,
where strength could be afforded, her races are loyal to truth, as
truth is the foundation of the social state.  Beasts that make no
truce with man, do not break faith with each other.  'Tis said, that
the wolf, who makes a _cache_ of his prey, and brings his fellows
with him to the spot, if, on digging, it is not found, is instantly
and unresistingly torn in pieces.  English veracity seems to result
on a sounder animal structure, as if they could afford it.  They are
blunt in saying what they think, sparing of promises, and they
require plaindealing of others.  We will not have to do with a man in
a mask.  Let us know the truth.  Draw a straight line, hit whom and
where it will.  Alfred, whom the affection of the nation makes the
type of their race, is called by his friend Asser, the
_truth-speaker_; _Alueredus veridicus_.  Geoffrey of Monmouth says of
King Aurelius, uncle of Arthur, that "above all things he hated a
lie." The Northman Guttorm said to King Olaf, "it is royal work to
fulfil royal words." The mottoes of their families are monitory
proverbs, as, _Fare fac_, -- Say, do, -- of the Fairfaxes; _Say and
seal_, of the house of Fiennes; _Vero nil verius_, of the DeVeres.
To be king of their word, is their pride.  When they unmask cant,
they say, "the English of this is," &c.; and to give the lie is the
extreme insult.  The phrase of the lowest of the people is
"honor-bright," and their vulgar praise, "his word is as good as his
bond." They hate shuffling and equivocation, and the cause is damaged
in the public opinion, on which any paltering can be fixed.  Even
Lord Chesterfield, with his French breeding, when he came to define a
gentleman, declared that truth made his distinction: and nothing ever
spoken by him would find so hearty a suffrage from his nation.  The
Duke of Wellington, who had the best right to say so, advises the
French General Kellermann, that he may rely on the parole of an
English officer.  The English, of all classes, value themselves on
this trait, as distinguishing them from the French, who, in the
popular belief, are more polite than true.  An Englishman
understates, avoids the superlative, checks himself in compliments,
alleging, that in the French language, one cannot speak without
lying.

        They love reality in wealth, power, hospitality, and do not
easily learn to make a show, and take the world as it goes.  They are
not fond of ornaments, and if they wear them, they must be gems.
They read gladly in old Fuller, that a lady, in the reign of
Elizabeth, "would have as patiently digested a lie, as the wearing of
false stones or pendants of counterfeit pearl." They have the
earth-hunger, or preference for property in land, which is said to
mark the Teutonic nations.  They build of stone: public and private
buildings are massive and durable: In comparing their ships' houses,
and public offices with the American, it is commonly said, that they
spend a pound, where we spend a dollar.  Plain rich clothes, plain
rich equipage, plain rich finish throughout their house and
belongings, mark the English truth.

        They confide in each other, -- English believes in English The
French feel the superiority of this probity.  The Englishman is not
springing a trap for his admiration, but is honestly minding his
business.  The Frenchman is vain.  Madame de Stael says, that the
English irritated Napoleon, mainly, because they have found out how
to unite success with honesty.  She was not aware how wide an
application her foreign readers would give to the remark.  Wellington
discovered the ruin of Bonaparte's affairs, by his own probity.  He
augured ill of the empire, as soon as he saw that it was mendacious,
and lived by war.  If war do not bring in its sequel new trade,
better agriculture and manufactures, but only games, fireworks, and
spectacles, -- no prosperity could support it; much less, a nation
decimated for conscripts, and out of pocket, like France.  So he
drudged for years on his military works at Lisbon, and from this base
at last extended his gigantic lines to Waterloo, believing in his
countrymen and their syllogisms above all the rhodomontade of Europe.

        At a St. George's festival, in Montreal, where I happened to be
a guest, since my return home, I observed that the chairman
complimented his compatriots, by saying, "they confided that wherever
they met an Englishman, they found a man who would speak the truth."
And one cannot think this festival fruitless, if, all over the world,
on the 23d of April, wherever two or three English are found, they
meet to encourage each other in the nationality of veracity.

        In the power of saying rude truth, sometimes in the lion's
mouth, no men surpass them.  On the king's birthday, when each bishop
was expected to offer the king a purse of gold, Latimer gave Henry
VIII.  a copy of the Vulgate, with a mark at the passage,
"Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge;" and they so honor
stoutness in each other, that the king passed it over.  They are
tenacious of their belief, and cannot easily change their opinions to
suit the hour.  They are like ships with too much head on to come
quickly about, nor will prosperity or even adversity be allowed to
shake their habitual view of conduct.  Whilst I was in London, M.
Guizot arrived there on his escape from Paris, in February, 1848.
Many private friends called on him.  His name was immediately
proposed as an honorary member of the Athenaeum.  M.  Guizot was
blackballed.  Certainly, they knew the distinction of his name.  But
the Englishman is not fickle.  He had really made up his mind, now
for years as he read his newspaper, to hate and despise M.  Guizot;
and the altered position of the man as an illustrious exile, and a
guest in the country, make no difference to him, as they would
instantly, to an American.

        They require the same adherence, thorough conviction and
reality in public men.  It is the want of character which makes the
low reputation of the Irish members.  "See them," they said, "one
hundred and twenty-seven all voting like sheep, never proposing any
thing, and all but four voting the income tax," -- which was an
ill-judged concession of the Government, relieving Irish property
from the burdens charged on English.

        They have a horror of adventurers in or out of Parliament.  The
ruling passion of Englishmen, in these days, is, a terror of humbug.
In the same proportion, they value honesty, stoutness, and adherence
to your own.  They like a man committed to his objects.  They hate
the French, as frivolous; they hate the Irish, as aimless; they hate
the Germans, as professors.  In February, 1848, they said, Look, the
French king and his party fell for want of a shot; they had not
conscience to shoot, so entirely was the pith and heart of monarchy
eaten out.

        They attack their own politicians every day, on the same
grounds, as adventurers.  They love stoutness in standing for your
right, in declining money or promotion that costs any concession.
The barrister refuses the silk gown of Queen's Counsel, if his junior
have it one day earlier.  Lord Collingwood would not accept his medal
for victory on 14th February, 1797, if he did not receive one for
victory on 1st June, 1794; and the long withholden medal was
accorded.  When Castlereagh dissuaded Lord Wellington from going to
the king's levee, until the unpopular Cintra business had been
explained, he replied, "You furnish me a reason for going.  I will go
to this, or I will never go to a king's levee." The radical mob at
Oxford cried after the tory lord Eldon, "There's old Eldon; cheer
him; he never ratted." They have given the parliamentary nickname of
_Trimmers_ to the timeservers, whom English character does not love.
(*)

        (*) It is an unlucky moment to remember these sparkles of
solitary virtue in the face of the honors lately paid in England to
the Emperor Louis Napoleon.  I am sure that no Englishman whom I had
the happiness to know, consented, when the aristocracy and the
commons of London cringed like a Neapolitan rabble, before a
successful thief.  But -- how to resist one step, though odious, in a
linked series of state necessities?  -- Governments must always learn
too late, that the use of dishonest agents is as ruinous for nations
as for single men.

        They are very liable in their politics to extraordinary
delusions, thus, to believe what stands recorded in the gravest
books, that the movement of 10 April, 1848, was urged or assisted by
foreigners: which, to be sure, is paralleled by the democratic whimsy
in this country, which I have noticed to be shared by men sane on
other points, that the English are at the bottom of the agitation of
slavery, in American politics: and then again to the French popular
legends on the subject of _perfidious Albion_.  But suspicion will
make fools of nations as of citizens.

        A slow temperament makes them less rapid and ready than other
countrymen, and has given occasion to the observation, that English wit comes
afterwards, -- which the French denote as _esprit d'escalier_.  This dulness
makes their attachment to home, and their adherence in all foreign countries
to home habits.  The Englishman who visits Mount Etna, will carry his
teakettle to the top.  The old Italian author of the "Relation of England"
(in 1500), says, "I have it on the best information, that, when the war is
actually raging most furiously, they will seek for good eating, and all their
other comforts, without thinking what harm might befall them." Then their
eyes seem to be set at the bottom of a tunnel, and they affirm the one small
fact they know, with the best faith in the world that nothing else exists.
And, as their own belief in guineas is perfect, they readily, on all
occasions, apply the pecuniary argument as final.  Thus when the Rochester
rappings began to be heard of in England, a man deposited 100 pounds in a
sealed box in the Dublin Bank, and then advertised in the newspapers to all
somnambulists, mesmerizers, and others, that whoever could tell him the
number of his note, should have the money.  He let it lie there six months,
the newspapers now and then, at his instance, stimulating the attention of
the adepts; but none could ever tell him; and he said, "now let me never be
bothered more with this proven lie." It is told of a good Sir John, that he
heard a case stated by counsel, and made up his mind; then the counsel for
the other side taking their turn to speak, he found himself so unsettled and
perplexed, that he exclaimed, "So help me God!  I will never listen to
evidence again."  Any number of delightful examples of this English stolidity
are the anecdotes of Europe.  I knew a very worthy man, -- a magistrate, I
believe he was, in the town of Derby, -- who went to the opera, to see
Malibran.  In one scene, the heroine was to rush across a ruined bridge.  Mr.
B.  arose, and mildly yet firmly called the attention of the audience and the
performers to the fact, that, in his judgment, the bridge was unsafe!  This
English stolidity contrasts with French wit and tact.  The French, it is
commonly said, have greatly more influence in Europe than the English.  What
influence the English have is by brute force of wealth and power; that of the
French by affinity and talent.  The Italian is subtle, the Spaniard
treacherous: tortures, it was said, could never wrest from an Egyptian the
confession of a secret.  None of these traits belong to the Englishman.  His
choler and conceit force every thing out.  Defoe, who knew his countrymen
well, says of them,

        "In close intrigue, their faculty's but weak,
        For generally whate'er they know, they speak,
        And often their own counsels undermine
        By mere infirmity without design;
        From whence, the learned say, it doth proceed,
        That English treasons never can succeed;
        For they're so open-hearted, you may know
        Their own most secret thoughts, and others' too."
 
 
 
 
        Chapter VIII _Character_
 
        The english race are reputed morose.  I do not know that they
have sadder brows than their neighbors of northern climates.  They
are sad by comparison with the singing and dancing nations: not
sadder, but slow and staid, as finding their joys at home.  They,
too, believe that where there is no enjoyment of life, there can be
no vigor and art in speech or thought: that your merry heart goes all
the way, your sad one tires in a mile.  This trait of gloom has been
fixed on them by French travellers, who, from Froissart, Voltaire, Le
Sage, Mirabeau, down to the lively journalists of the _feuilletons_,
have spent their wit on the solemnity of their neighbors.  The French
say, gay conversation is unknown in their island.  The Englishman
finds no relief from reflection, except in reflection.  When he
wishes for amusement, he goes to work.  His hilarity is like an
attack of fever.  Religion, the theatre, and the reading the books of
his country, all feed and increase his natural melancholy.  The
police does not interfere with public diversions.  It thinks itself
bound in duty to respect the pleasures and rare gayety of this
inconsolable nation; and their well-known courage is entirely
attributable to their disgust of life.

        I suppose, their gravity of demeanor and their few words have
obtained this reputation.  As compared with the Americans, I think
them cheerful and contented.  Young people, in this country, are much
more prone to melancholy.  The English have a mild aspect, and a
ringing cheerful voice.  They are large-natured, and not so easily
amused as the southerners, and are among them as grown people among
children, requiring war, or trade, or engineering, or science,
instead of frivolous games.  They are proud and private, and, even if
disposed to recreation, will avoid an open garden.  They sported
sadly; _ils s'amusaient tristement, selon la coutume de leur pays_,
said Froissart; and, I suppose, never nation built their party-walls
so thick, or their garden-fences so high.  Meat and wine produce no
effect on them: they are just as cold, quiet, and composed, at the
end, as at the beginning of dinner.

        The reputation of taciturnity they have enjoyed for six or
seven hundred years; and a kind of pride in bad public speaking is
noted in the House of Commons, as if they were willing to show that
they did not live by their tongues, or thought they spoke well enough
if they had the tone of gentlemen.  In mixed company, they shut their
mouths.  A Yorkshire mill-owner told me, he had ridden more than once
all the way from London to Leeds, in the first-class carriage, with
the same persons, and no word exchanged.  The club-houses were
established to cultivate social habits, and it is rare that more than
two eat together, and oftenest one eats alone.  Was it then a stroke
of humor in the serious Swedenborg, or was it only his pitiless
logic, that made him shut up the English souls in a heaven by
themselves?

        They are contradictorily described as sour, splenetic, and
stubborn, -- and as mild, sweet, and sensible.  The truth is, they
have great range and variety of character.  Commerce sends abroad
multitudes of different classes.  The choleric Welshman, the fervid
Scot, the bilious resident in the East or West Indies, are wide of
the perfect behavior of the educated and dignified man of family.  So
is the burly farmer; so is the country 'squire, with his narrow and
violent life.  In every inn, is the Commercial-Room, in which
`travellers,' or bagmen who carry patterns, and solicit orders, for
the manufacturers, are wont to be entertained.  It easily happens
that this class should characterize England to the foreigner, who
meets them on the road, and at every public house, whilst the gentry
avoid the taverns, or seclude themselves whilst in them.

        But these classes are the right English stock, and may fairly
show the national qualities, before yet art and education have dealt
with them.  They are good lovers, good haters, slow but obstinate
admirers, and, in all things, very much steeped in their temperament,
like men hardly awaked from deep sleep, which they enjoy.  Their
habits and instincts cleave to nature.  They are of the earth,
earthy; and of the sea, as the sea-kinds, attached to it for what it
yields them, and not from any sentiment.  They are full of coarse
strength, rude exercise, butcher's meat, and sound sleep; and suspect
any poetic insinuation or any hint for the conduct of life which
reflects on this animal existence, as if somebody were fumbling at
the umbilical cord and might stop their supplies.  They doubt a man's
sound judgment, if he does not eat with appetite, and shake their
heads if he is particularly chaste.  Take them as they come, you
shall find in the common people a surly indifference, sometimes
gruffness and ill temper; and, in minds of more power, magazines of
inexhaustible war, challenging

        "The ruggedest hour that time and spite dare bring
        To frown upon the enraged Northumberland."
 
        They are headstrong believers and defenders of their opinion,
and not less resolute in maintaining their whim and perversity.
Hezekiah Woodward wrote a book against the Lord's Prayer.  And one
can believe that Burton the Anatomist of Melancholy, having predicted
from the stars the hour of his death, slipped the knot himself round
his own neck, not to falsify his horoscope.

        Their looks bespeak an invincible stoutness: they have extreme
difficulty to run away, and will die game.  Wellington said of the
young coxcombs of the Life-Guards delicately brought up, "but the
puppies fight well;" and Nelson said of his sailors, "they really
mind shot no more than peas." Of absolute stoutness no nation has
more or better examples.  They are good at storming redoubts, at
boarding frigates, at dying in the last ditch, or any desperate
service which has daylight and honor in it; but not, I think, at
enduring the rack, or any passive obedience, like jumping off a
castle-roof at the word of a czar.  Being both vascular and highly
organized, so as to be very sensible of pain; and intellectual, so as
to see reason and glory in a matter.

        Of that constitutional force, which yields the supplies of the
day, they have the more than enough, the excess which creates courage
on fortitude, genius in poetry, invention in mechanics, enterprise in
trade, magnificence in wealth, splendor in ceremonies, petulance and
projects in youth.  The young men have a rude health which runs into
peccant humors.  They drink brandy like water, cannot expend their
quantities of waste strength on riding, hunting, swimming, and
fencing, and run into absurd frolics with the gravity of the
Eumenides.  They stoutly carry into every nook and corner of the
earth their turbulent sense; leaving no lie uncontradicted; no
pretension unexamined.  They chew hasheesh; cut themselves with
poisoned creases; swing their hammock in the boughs of the Bohon
Upas; taste every poison; buy every secret; at Naples, they put St.
Januarius's blood in an alembic; they saw a hole into the head of the
"winking Virgin," to know why she winks; measure with an English
footrule every cell of the Inquisition, every Turkish caaba, every
Holy of holies; translate and send to Bentley the arcanum bribed and
bullied away from shuddering Bramins; and measure their own strength
by the terror they cause.  These travellers are of every class, the
best and the worst; and it may easily happen that those of rudest
behavior are taken notice of and remembered.  The Saxon melancholy in
the vulgar rich and poor appears as gushes of ill-humor, which every
check exasperates into sarcasm and vituperation.  There are
multitudes of rude young English who have the self-sufficiency and
bluntness of their nation, and who, with their disdain of the rest of
mankind, and with this indigestion and choler, have made the English
traveller a proverb for uncomfortable and offensive manners.  It was
no bad description of the Briton generically, what was said two
hundred years ago, of one particular Oxford scholar: "He was a very
bold man, uttered any thing that came into his mind, not only among
his companions, but in public coffee-houses, and would often speak
his mind of particular persons then accidentally present, without
examining the company he was in; for which he was often reprimanded,
and several times threatened to be kicked and beaten."

        The common Englishman is prone to forget a cardinal article in
the bill of social rights, that every man has a right to his own
ears.  No man can claim to usurp more than a few cubic feet of the
audibilities of a public room, or to put upon the company with the
loud statement of his crotchets or personalities.

        But it is in the deep traits of race that the fortunes of
nations are written, and however derived, whether a happier tribe or
mixture of tribes, the air, or what circumstance, that mixed for them
the golden mean of temperament, -- here exists the best stock in the
world, broad-fronted, broad-bottomed, best for depth, range, and
equability, men of aplomb and reserves, great range and many moods,
strong instincts, yet apt for culture; war-class as well as clerks;
earls and tradesmen; wise minority, as well as foolish majority;
abysmal temperament, hiding wells of wrath, and glooms on which no
sunshine settles; alternated with a common sense and humanity which
hold them fast to every piece of cheerful duty; making this
temperament a sea to which all storms are superficial; a race to
which their fortunes flow, as if they alone had the elastic
organization at once fine and robust enough for dominion; as if the
burly inexpressive, now mute and contumacious, now fierce and
sharp-tongued dragon, which once made the island light with his fiery
breath, had bequeathed his ferocity to his conqueror.  They hide
virtues under vices, or the semblance of them.  It is the misshapen
hairy Scandinavian troll again, who lifts the cart out of the mire,
or "threshes the corn that ten day-laborers could not end," but it is
done in the dark, and with muttered maledictions.  He is a churl with
a soft place in his heart, whose speech is a brash of bitter waters,
but who loves to help you at a pinch.  He says no, and serves you,
and your thanks disgust him.  Here was lately a cross-grained miser,
odd and ugly, resembling in countenance the portrait of Punch, with
the laugh left out; rich by his own industry; sulking in a lonely
house; who never gave a dinner to any man, and disdained all
courtesies; yet as true a worshipper of beauty in form and color as
ever existed, and profusely pouring over the cold mind of his
countrymen creations of grace and truth, removing the reproach of
sterility from English art, catching from their savage climate every
fine hint, and importing into their galleries every tint and trait of
sunnier cities and skies; making an era in painting; and, when he saw
that the splendor of one of his pictures in the Exhibition dimmed his
rival's that hung next it, secretly took a brush and blackened his
own.

        They do not wear their heart in their sleeve for daws to peck
at.  They have that phlegm or staidness, which it is a compliment to
disturb.  "Great men," said Aristotle, "are always of a nature
originally melancholy." 'Tis the habit of a mind which attaches to
abstractions with a passion which gives vast results.  They dare to
displease, they do not speak to expectation.  They like the sayers of
No, better than the sayers of Yes.  Each of them has an opinion which
he feels it becomes him to express all the more that it differs from
yours.  They are meditating opposition.  This gravity is inseparable
from minds of great resources.

        There is an English hero superior to the French, the German,
the Italian, or the Greek.  When he is brought to the strife with
fate, he sacrifices a richer material possession, and on more purely
metaphysical grounds.  He is there with his own consent, face to face
with fortune, which he defies.  On deliberate choice, and from
grounds of character, he has elected his part to live and die for,
and dies with grandeur.  This race has added new elements to
humanity, and has a deeper root in the world.

        They have great range of scale, from ferocity to exquisite
refinement.  With larger scale, they have great retrieving power.
After running each tendency to an extreme, they try another tack with
equal heat.  More intellectual than other races, when they live with
other races, they do not take their language, but bestow their own.
They subsidize other nations, and are not subsidized.  They
proselyte, and are not proselyted.  They assimilate other races to
themselves, and are not assimilated.  The English did not calculate
the conquest of the Indies.  It fell to their character.  So they
administer in different parts of the world, the codes of every empire
and race; in Canada, old French law; in the Mauritius, the Code
Napoleon; in the West Indies, the edicts of the Spanish Cortes; in
the East Indies, the Laws of Menu; in the Isle of Man, of the
Scandinavian Thing; at the Cape of Good Hope, of the old Netherlands;
and in the Ionian Islands, the Pandects of Justinian.

        They are very conscious of their advantageous position in
history.  England is the lawgiver, the patron, the instructor, the
ally.  Compare the tone of the French and of the English press: the
first querulous, captious, sensitive about English opinion; the
English press is never timorous about French opinion, but arrogant
and contemptuous.

        They are testy and headstrong through an excess of will and
bias; churlish as men sometimes please to be who do not forget a
debt, who ask no favors, and who will do what they like with their
own.  With education and intercourse, these asperities wear off, and
leave the good will pure.  If anatomy is reformed according to
national tendencies, I suppose, the spleen will hereafter be found in
the Englishman, not found in the American, and differencing the one
from the other.  I anticipate another anatomical discovery, that this
organ will be found to be cortical and caducous, that they are
superficially morose, but at last tender-hearted, herein differing
from Rome and the Latin nations.  Nothing savage, nothing mean
resides in the English heart.  They are subject to panics of
credulity and of rage, but the temper of the nation, however
disturbed, settles itself soon and easily, as, in this temperate
zone, the sky after whatever storms clears again, and serenity is its
normal condition.

        A saving stupidity masks and protects their perception as the
curtain of the eagle's eye.  Our swifter Americans, when they first
deal with English, pronounce them stupid; but, later, do them justice
as people who wear well, or hide their strength.  To understand the
power of performance that is in their finest wits, in the patient
Newton, or in the versatile transcendent poets, or in the Dugdales,
Gibbons, Hallams, Eldons, and Peels, one should see how English
day-laborers hold out.  High and low, they are of an unctuous
texture.  There is an adipocere in their constitution, as if they had
oil also for their mental wheels, and could perform vast amounts of
work without damaging themselves.

        Even the scale of expense on which people live, and to which
scholars and professional men conform, proves the tension of their
muscle, when vast numbers are found who can each lift this enormous
load.  I might even add, their daily feasts argue a savage vigor of
body.

        No nation was ever so rich in able men; "gentlemen," as Charles
I.  said of Strafford, "whose abilities might make a prince rather
afraid than ashamed in the greatest affairs of state;" men of such
temper, that, like Baron Vere, "had one seen him returning from a
victory, he would by his silence have suspected that he had lost the
day; and, had he beheld him in a retreat, he would have collected him
a conqueror by the cheerfulness of his spirit."  (*)

        (*) Fuller.  Worthies of England.

        The following passage from the Heimskringla might almost stand
as a portrait of the modern Englishman: -- "Haldor was very stout and
strong, and remarkably handsome in appearances.  King Harold gave him
this testimony, that he, among all his men, cared least about
doubtful circumstances, whether they betokened danger or pleasure;
for, whatever turned up, he was never in higher nor in lower spirits,
never slept less nor more on account of them, nor ate nor drank but
according to his custom.  Haldor was not a man of many words, but
short in conversation, told his opinion bluntly, and was obstinate
and hard: and this could not please the king, who had many clever
people about him, zealous in his service.  Haldor remained a short
time with the king, and then came to Iceland, where he took up his
abode in Hiardaholt, and dwelt in that farm to a very advanced age."
(*)

        (*) Heimskringla, Laing's translation, vol. iii. p. 37.

        The national temper, in the civil history, is not flashy or
whiffling.  The slow, deep English mass smoulders with fire, which at
last sets all its borders in flame.  The wrath of London is not
French wrath, but has a long memory, and, in its hottest heat, a
register and rule.

        Half their strength they put not forth.  They are capable of a
sublime resolution, and if hereafter the war of races, often
predicted, and making itself a war of opinions also (a question of
despotism and liberty coming from Eastern Europe), should menace the
English civilization, these sea-kings may take once again to their
floating castles, and find a new home and a second millennium of
power in their colonies.

        The stability of England is the security of the modern world.
If the English race were as mutable as the French, what reliance?
But the English stand for liberty.  The conservative, money-loving,
lord-loving English are yet liberty-loving; and so freedom is safe:
for they have more personal force than any other people.  The nation
always resist the immoral action of their government.  They think
humanely on the affairs of France, of Turkey, of Poland, of Hungary,
of Schleswig Holstein, though overborne by the statecraft of the
rulers at last.

        Does the early history of each tribe show the permanent bias,
which, though not less potent, is masked, as the tribe spreads its
activity into colonies, commerce, codes, arts, letters?  The early
history shows it, as the musician plays the air which he proceeds to
conceal in a tempest of variations.  In Alfred, in the Northmen, one
may read the genius of the English society, namely, that private life
is the place of honor.  Glory, a career, and ambition, words familiar
to the longitude of Paris, are seldom heard in English speech.
Nelson wrote from their hearts his homely telegraph, "England expects
every man to do his duty."

        For actual service, for the dignity of a profession, or to
appease diseased or inflamed talent, the army and navy may be entered
(the worst boys doing well in the navy); and the civil service, in
departments where serious official work is done; and they hold in
esteem the barrister engaged in the severer studies of the law.  But
the calm, sound, and most British Briton shrinks from public life, as
charlatanism, and respects an economy founded on agriculture,
coal-mines, manufactures, or trade, which secures an independence
through the creation of real values.

        They wish neither to command or obey, but to be kings in their
own houses.  They are intellectual and deeply enjoy literature; they
like well to have the world served up to them in books, maps, models,
and every mode of exact information, and, though not creators in art,
they value its refinement.  They are ready for leisure, can direct
and fill their own day, nor need so much as others the constraint of
a necessity.  But the history of the nation discloses, at every turn,
this original predilection for private independence, and, however
this inclination may have been disturbed by the bribes with which
their vast colonial power has warped men out of orbit, the
inclination endures, and forms and reforms the laws, letters,
manners, and occupations.  They choose that welfare which is
compatible with the commonwealth, knowing that such alone is stable;
as wise merchants prefer investments in the three per cents.

 
        Chapter IX _Cockayne_

        The english are a nation of humorists.  Individual right is
pushed to the uttermost bound compatible with public order.  Property
is so perfect, that it seems the craft of that race, and not to exist
elsewhere.  The king cannot step on an acre which the peasant refuses
to sell.  A testator endows a dog or a rookery, and Europe cannot
interfere with his absurdity.  Every individual has his particular
way of living, which he pushes to folly, and the decided sympathy of
his compatriots is engaged to back up Mr. Crump's whim by statutes,
and chancellors, and horse-guards.  There is no freak so ridiculous
but some Englishman has attempted to immortalize by money and law.
British citizenship is as omnipotent as Roman was.  Mr. Cockayne is
very sensible of this.  The pursy man means by freedom the right to
do as he pleases, and does wrong in order to feel his freedom, and
makes a conscience of persisting in it.

        He is intensely patriotic, for his country is so small.  His
confidence in the power and performance of his nation makes him
provokingly incurious about other nations.  He dislikes foreigners.
Swedenborg, who lived much in England, notes "the similitude of minds
among the English, in consequence of which they contract familiarity
with friends who are of that nation, and seldom with others: and they
regard foreigners, as one looking through a telescope from the top of
a palace regards those who dwell or wander about out of the city." A
much older traveller, the Venetian who wrote the "Relation of
England," (* 1) in 1500, says: -- "The English are great lovers of
themselves, and of every thing belonging to them.  They think that
there are no other men than themselves, and no other world but
England; and, whenever they see a handsome foreigner, they say that
he looks like an Englishman, and it is a great pity he should not be
an Englishman; and whenever they partake of any delicacy with a
foreigner, they ask him whether such a thing is made in his country."
When he adds epithets of praise, his climax is "so English;" and when
he wishes to pay you the highest compliment, he says, I should not
know you from an Englishman.  France is, by its natural contrast, a
kind of blackboard on which English character draws its own traits in
chalk.  This arrogance habitually exhibits itself in allusions to the
French.  I suppose that all men of English blood in America, Europe,
or Asia, have a secret feeling of joy that they are not French
natives.  Mr.  Coleridge is said to have given public thanks to God,
at the close of a lecture, that he had defended him from being able
to utter a single sentence in the French language.  I have found that
Englishmen have such a good opinion of England, that the ordinary
phrases, in all good society, of postponing or disparaging one's own
things in talking with a stranger, are seriously mistaken by them for
an insuppressible homage to the merits of their nation; and the New
Yorker or Pennsylvanian who modestly laments the disadvantage of a
new country, log-huts, and savages, is surprised by the instant and
unfeigned commiseration of the whole company, who plainly account all
the world out of England a heap of rubbish.

        (* 1) Printed by the Camden Society.

        The same insular limitation pinches his foreign politics.  He
sticks to his traditions and usages, and, so help him God! he will
force his island by-laws down the throat of great countries, like
India, China, Canada, Australia, and not only so, but impose Wapping
on the Congress of Vienna, and trample down all nationalities with
his taxed boots.  Lord Chatham goes for liberty, and no taxation
without representation; -- for that is British law; but not a hobnail
shall they dare make in America, but buy their nails in England, --
for that also is British law; and the fact that British commerce was
to be recreated by the independence of America, took them all by
surprise.

        In short, I am afraid that English nature is so rank and
aggressive as to be a little incompatible with every other.  The
world is not wide enough for two.

        But, beyond this nationality, it must be admitted, the island
offers a daily worship to the old Norse god Brage, celebrated among
our Scandinavian forefathers, for his eloquence and majestic air.
The English have a steady courage, that fits them for great attempts
and endurance: they have also a petty courage, through which every
man delights in showing himself for what he is, and in doing what he
can; so that, in all companies, each of them has too good an opinion
of himself to imitate any body.  He hides no defect of his form,
features, dress, connection, or birthplace, for he thinks every
circumstance belonging to him comes recommended to you.  If one of
them have a bald, or a red, or a green head, or bow legs, or a scar,
or mark, or a paunch, or a squeaking or a raven voice, he has
persuaded himself that there is something modish and becoming in it,
and that it sits well on him.

        But nature makes nothing in vain, and this little superfluity
of self-regard in the English brain, is one of the secrets of their
power and history.  For, it sets every man on being and doing what he
really is and can.  It takes away a dodging, skulking, secondary air,
and encourages a frank and manly bearing, so that each man makes the
most of himself, and loses no opportunity for want of pushing.  A
man's personal defects will commonly have with the rest of the world,
precisely that importance which they have to himself.  If he makes
light of them, so will other men.  We all find in these a convenient
meter of character, since a little man would be ruined by the
vexation.  I remember a shrewd politician, in one of our western
cities, told me, "that he had known several successful statesmen made
by their foible." And another, an ex-governor of Illinois, said to
me, "If a man knew any thing, he would sit in a corner and be modest;
but he is such an ignorant peacock, that he goes bustling up and
down, and hits on extraordinary discoveries."

        There is also this benefit in brag, that the speaker is
unconsciously expressing his own ideal.  Humor him by all means, draw
it all out, and hold him to it.  Their culture generally enables the
travelled English to avoid any ridiculous extremes of this
self-pleasing, and to give it an agreeable air.  Then the natural
disposition is fostered by the respect which they find entertained in
the world for English ability.  It was said of Louis XIV., that his
gait and air were becoming enough in so great a monarch, yet would
have been ridiculous in another man; so the prestige of the English
name warrants a certain confident bearing, which a Frenchman or
Belgian could not carry.  At all events, they feel themselves at
liberty to assume the most extraordinary tone on the subject of
English merits.

        An English lady on the Rhine hearing a German speaking of her
party as foreigners, exclaimed, "No, we are not foreigners; we are
English; it is you that are foreigners." They tell you daily, in
London, the story of the Frenchman and Englishman who quarrelled.
Both were unwilling to fight, but their companions put them up to it:
at last, it was agreed, that they should fight alone, in the dark,
and with pistols: the candles were put out, and the Englishman, to
make sure not to hit any body, fired up the chimney, and brought down
the Frenchman.  They have no curiosity about foreigners, and answer
any information you may volunteer with "Oh, Oh!" until the informant
makes up his mind, that they shall die in their ignorance, for any
help he will offer.  There are really no limits to this conceit,
though brighter men among them make painful efforts to be candid.

        The habit of brag runs through all classes, from the Times
newspaper through politicians and poets, through Wordsworth, Carlyle,
Mill, and Sydney Smith, down to the boys of Eton.  In the gravest
treatise on political economy, in a philosophical essay, in books of
science, one is surprised by the most innocent exhibition of
unflinching nationality.  In a tract on Corn, a most amiable and
accomplished gentleman writes thus: -- "Though Britain, according to
Bishop Berkeley's idea, were surrounded by a wall of brass ten
thousand cubits in height, still she would as far excel the rest of
the globe in riches, as she now does, both in this secondary quality,
and in the more important ones of freedom, virtue, and science."
(* 2)

        (* 2) William Spence.

        The English dislike the American structure of society, whilst
yet trade, mills, public education, and chartism are doing what they
can to create in England the same social condition.  America is the
paradise of the economists; is the favorable exception invariably
quoted to the rules of ruin; but when he speaks directly of the
Americans, the islander forgets his philosophy, and remembers his
disparaging anecdotes.

        But this childish patriotism costs something, like all
narrowness.  The English sway of their colonies has no root of
kindness.  They govern by their arts and ability; they are more just
than kind; and, whenever an abatement of their power is felt, they
have not conciliated the affection on which to rely.

        Coarse local distinctions, as those of nation, province, or
town, are useful in the absence of real ones; but we must not insist
on these accidental lines.  Individual traits are always triumphing
over national ones.  There is no fence in metaphysics discriminating
Greek, or English, or Spanish science.  Aesop, and Montaigne,
Cervantes, and Saadi are men of the world; and to wave our own flag
at the dinner table or in the University, is to carry the boisterous
dulness of a fire-club into a polite circle.  Nature and destiny are
always on the watch for our follies.  Nature trips us up when we
strut; and there are curious examples in history on this very point
of national pride.

        George of Cappadocia, born at Epiphania in Cilicia, was a low
parasite, who got a lucrative contract to supply the army with bacon.
A rogue and informer, he got rich, and was forced to run from
justice.  He saved his money, embraced Arianism, collected a library,
and got promoted by a faction to the episcopal throne of Alexandria.
When Julian came, A. D. 361, George was dragged to prison; the prison
was burst open by the mob, and George was lynched, as he deserved.
And this precious knave became, in good time, Saint George of
England, patron of chivalry, emblem of victory and civility, and the
pride of the best blood of the modern world.

        Strange, that the solid truth-speaking Briton should derive
from an impostor.  Strange, that the New World should have no better
luck, -- that broad America must wear the name of a thief.  Amerigo
Vespucci, the pickledealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a
subaltern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank was boatswain's
mate in an expedition that never sailed, managed in this lying world
to supplant Columbus, and baptize half the earth with his own
dishonest name.  Thus nobody can throw stones.  We are equally badly
off in our founders; and the false pickledealer is an offset to the
false bacon-seller.

 
        Chapter X _Wealth_

        There is no country in which so absolute a homage is paid to
wealth.  In America, there is a toh of shame when a man exhibits the
evidences of large property, as if, after all, it needed apology.
But the Englishman has pure pride in his wealth, and esteems it a
final certificate.  A coarse logic rules throughout all English
souls; -- if you have merit, can you not show it by your good
clothes, and coach, and horses?  How can a man be a gentleman without
a pipe of wine?  Haydon says, "there is a fierce resolution to make
every man live according to the means he possesses." There is a
mixture of religion in it.  They are under the Jewish law, and read
with sonorous emphasis that their days shall be long in the land,
they shall have sons and daughters, flocks and herds, wine and oil.
In exact proportion, is the reproach of poverty.  They do not wish to
be represented except by opulent men.  An Englishman who has lost his
fortune, is said to have died of a broken heart.  The last term of
insult is, "a beggar." Nelson said, "the want of fortune is a crime
which I can never get over." Sydney Smith said, "poverty is infamous
in England." And one of their recent writers speaks, in reference to
a private and scholastic life, of "the grave moral deterioration
which follows an empty exchequer." You shall find this sentiment, if
not so frankly put, yet deeply implied, in the novels and romances of
the present century, and not only in these, but in biography, and in
the votes of public assemblies, in the tone of the preaching, and in
the table-talk.

        I was lately turning over Wood's _Athenae Oxonienses_, and
looking naturally for another standard in a chronicle of the scholars
of Oxford for two hundred years.  But I found the two disgraces in
that, as in most English books, are, first, disloyalty to Church and
State, and, second, to be born poor, or to come to poverty.  A
natural fruit of England is the brutal political economy.  Malthus
finds no cover laid at nature's table for the laborer's son.  In
1809, the majority in Parliament expressed itself by the language of
Mr. Fuller in the House of Commons, "if you do not like the country,
damn you, you can leave it." When Sir S. Romilly proposed his bill
forbidding parish officers to bind children apprentices at a greater
distance than forty miles from their home, Peel opposed, and Mr.
Wortley said, "though, in the higher ranks, to cultivate family
affections was a good thing, 'twas not so among the lower orders.
Better take them away from those who might deprave them.  And it was
highly injurious to trade to stop binding to manufacturers, as it
must raise the price of labor, and of manufactured goods."

        The respect for truth of facts in England, is equalled only by
the respect for wealth.  It is at once the pride of art of the Saxon,
as he is a wealth-maker, and his passion for independence.  The
Englishman believes that every man must take care of himself, and has
himself to thank, if he do not mend his condition.  To pay their
debts is their national point of honor.  From the Exchequer and the
East India House to the huckster's shop, every thing prospers,
because it is solvent.  The British armies are solvent, and pay for
what they take.  The British empire is solvent; for, in spite of the
huge national debt, the valuation mounts.  During the war from 1789
to 1815, whilst they complained that they were taxed within an inch
of their lives, and, by dint of enormous taxes, were subsidizing all
the continent against France, the English were growing rich every
year faster than any people ever grew before.  It is their maxim,
that the weight of taxes must be calculated not by what is taken, but
by what is left.  Solvency is in the ideas and mechanism of an
Englishman.  The Crystal Palace is not considered honest until it
pays; -- no matter how much convenience, beauty, or eclat, it must be
self-supporting.  They are contented with slower steamers, as long as
they know that swifter boats lose money.  They proceed logically by
the double method of labor and thrift.  Every household exhibits an
exact economy, and nothing of that uncalculated headlong expenditure
which families use in America.  If they cannot pay, they do not buy;
for they have no presumption of better fortunes next year, as our
people have; and they say without shame, I cannot afford it.
Gentlemen do not hesitate to ride in the second-class cars, or in the
second cabin.  An economist, or a man who can proportion his means
and his ambition, or bring the year round with expenditure which
expresses his character, without embarrassing one day of his future,
is already a master of life, and a freeman.  Lord Burleigh writes to
his son, "that one ought never to devote more than two thirds of his
income to the ordinary expenses of life, since the extraordinary will
be certain to absorb the other third."

        The ambition to create value evokes every kind of ability,
government becomes a manufacturing corporation, and every house a
mill.  The headlong bias to utility will let no talent lie in a
napkin, -- if possible, will teach spiders to weave silk stockings.
An Englishman, while he eats and drinks no more, or not much more
than another man, labors three times as many hours in the course of a
year, as any other European; or, his life as a workman is three
lives.  He works fast.  Every thing in England is at a quick pace.
They have reinforced their own productivity, by the creation of that
marvellous machinery which differences this age from any other age.

        'Tis a curious chapter in modern history, the growth of the
machine-shop.  Six hundred years ago, Roger Bacon explained the precession of
the equinoxes, the consequent necessity of the reform of the calendar;
measured the length of the year, invented gunpowder; and announced, (as if
looking from his lofty cell, over five centuries, into ours,) "that machines
can be constructed to drive ships more rapidly than a whole galley of rowers
could do; nor would they need any thing but a pilot to steer them.  Carriages
also might be constructed to move with an incredible speed, without the aid
of any animal.  Finally, it would not be impossible to make machines, which,
by means of a suit of wings, should fly in the air in the manner of birds."
But the secret slept with Bacon.  The six hundred years have not yet
fulfilled his words.  Two centuries ago, the sawing of timber was done by
hand; the carriage wheels ran on wooden axles; the land was tilled by wooden
ploughs.  And it was to little purpose, that they had pit-coal, or that looms
were improved, unless Watt and Stephenson had taught them to work force-pumps
and power-looms, by steam.  The great strides were all taken within the last
hundred years.  The Life of Sir Robert Peel, who died, the other day, the
model Englishman, very properly has, for a frontispiece a drawing of the
spinning-jenny, which wove the web of his fortunes.  Hargreaves invented the
spinning-jenny, and died in a workhouse.  Arkwright improved the invention;
and the machine dispensed with the work of ninety-nine men: that is, one
spinner could do as much work as one hundred had done before.  The loom was
improved further.  But the men would sometimes strike for wages, and combine
against the masters, and, about 1829-30, much fear was felt, lest the trade
would be drawn away by these interruptions, and the emigration of the
spinners, to Belgium and the United States.  Iron and steel are very
obedient.  Whether it were not possible to make a spinner that would not
rebel, nor mutter, nor scowl, nor strike for wages, nor emigrate?  At the
solicitation of the masters, after a mob and riot at Staley Bridge, Mr.
Roberts of Manchester undertook to create this peaceful fellow, instead of
the quarrelsome fellow God had made.  After a few trials, he succeeded, and,
in 1830, procured a patent for his self-acting mule; a creation, the delight
of mill-owners, and "destined," they said, "to restore order among the
industrious classes"; a machine requiring only a child's hand to piece the
broken yarns.  As Arkwright had destroyed domestic spinning, so Roberts
destroyed the factory spinner.  The power of machinery in Great Britain, in
mills, has been computed to be equal to 600,000,000 men, one man being able
by the aid of steam to do the work which required two hundred and fifty men
to accomplish fifty years ago.  The production has been commensurate.
England already had this laborious race, rich soil, water, wood, coal, iron,
and favorable climate.  Eight hundred years ago, commerce had made it rich,
and it was recorded, "England is the richest of all the northern nations."
The Norman historians recite, that "in 1067, William carried with him into
Normandy, from England, more gold and silver than had ever before been seen
in Gaul." But when, to this labor and trade, and these native resources was
added this goblin of steam, with his myriad arms, never tired, working night
and day everlastingly, the amassing of property has run out of all figures.
It makes the motor of the last ninety years.  The steampipe has added to her
population and wealth the equivalent of four or five Englands.  Forty
thousand ships are entered in Lloyd's lists.  The yield of wheat has gone on
from 2,000,000 quarters in the time of the Stuarts, to 13,000,000 in 1854.  A
thousand million of pounds sterling are said to compose the floating money of
commerce.  In 1848, Lord John Russell stated that the people of this country
had laid out 300,000,000 pounds of capital in railways, in the last four
years.  But a better measure than these sounding figures, is the estimate,
that there is wealth enough in England to support the entire population in
idleness for one year.

        The wise, versatile, all-giving machinery makes chisels, roads,
locomotives, telegraphs.  Whitworth divides a bar to a millionth of
an inch.  Steam twines huge cannon into wreaths, as easily as it
braids straw, and vies with the volcanic forces which twisted the
strata.  It can clothe shingle mountains with ship-oaks, make
sword-blades that will cut gun-barrels in two.  In Egypt, it can
plant forests, and bring rain after three thousand years.  Already it
is ruddering the balloon, and the next war will be fought in the air.
But another machine more potent in England than steam, is the Bank.
It votes an issue of bills, population is stimulated, and cities
rise; it refuses loans, and emigration empties the country; trade
sinks; revolutions break out; kings are dethroned.  By these new
agents our social system is moulded.  By dint of steam and of money,
war and commerce are changed.  Nations have lost their old
omnipotence; the patriotic tie does not hold.  Nations are getting
obsolete, we go and live where we will.  Steam has enabled men to
choose what law they will live under.  Money makes place for them.
The telegraph is a limp-band that will hold the Fenris-wolf of war.
For now, that a telegraph line runs through France and Europe, from
London, every message it transmits makes stronger by one thread, the
band which war will have to cut.

        The introduction of these elements gives new resources to
existing proprietors.  A sporting duke may fancy that the state
depends on the House of Lords, but the engineer sees, that every
stroke of the steam-piston gives value to the duke's land, fills it
with tenants; doubles, quadruples, centuples the duke's capital, and
creates new measures and new necessities for the culture of his
children.  Of course, it draws the nobility into the competition as
stockholders in the mine, the canal, the railway, in the application
of steam to agriculture, and sometimes into trade.  But it also
introduces large classes into the same competition; the old energy of
the Norse race arms itself with these magnificent powers; new men
prove an over-match for the land-owner, and the mill buys out the
castle.  Scandinavian Thor, who once forged his bolts in icy Hecla,
and built galleys by lonely fiords; in England, has advanced with the
times, has shorn his beard, enters Parliament, sits down at a desk in
the India House, and lends Miollnir to Birmingham for a steam-hammer.

        The creation of wealth in England in the last ninety years, is
a main fact in modern history.  The wealth of London determines
prices all over the globe.  All things precious, or useful, or
amusing, or intoxicating, are sucked into this commerce and floated
to London.  Some English private fortunes reach, and some exceed a
million of dollars a year.  A hundred thousand palaces adorn the
island.  All that can feed the senses and passions, all that can
succor the talent, or arm the hands of the intelligent middle class,
who never spare in what they buy for their own consumption; all that
can aid science, gratify taste, or soothe comfort, is in open market.
Whatever is excellent and beautiful in civil, rural, or ecclesiastic
architecture; in fountain, garden, or grounds; the English noble
crosses sea and land to see and to copy at home.  The taste and
science of thirty peaceful generations; the gardens which Evelyn
planted; the temples and pleasure-houses which Inigo Jones and
Christopher Wren built; the wood that Gibbons carved; the taste of
foreign and domestic artists, Shenstone, Pope, Brown, Loudon, Paxton,
are in the vast auction, and the hereditary principle heaps on the
owner of to-day the benefit of ages of owners.  The present
possessors are to the full as absolute as any of their fathers, in
choosing and procuring what they like.  This comfort and splendor,
the breadth of lake and mountain, tillage, pasture, and park,
sumptuous castle and modern villa, -- all consist with perfect order.
They have no revolutions; no horse-guards dictating to the crown; no
Parisian _poissardes_ and barricades; no mob: but drowsy habitude,
daily dress-dinners, wine, and ale, and beer, and gin, and sleep.

        With this power of creation, and this passion for independence,
property has reached an ideal perfection.  It is felt and treated as
the national life-blood.  The laws are framed to give property the
securest possible basis, and the provisions to lock and transmit it
have exercised the cunningest heads in a profession which never
admits a fool.  The rights of property nothing but felony and treason
can override.  The house is a castle which the king cannot enter.
The Bank is a strong box to which the king has no key.  Whatever
surly sweetness possession can give, is tested in England to the
dregs.  Vested rights are awful things, and absolute possession gives
the smallest freeholder identity of interest with the duke.  High
stone fences, and padlocked garden-gates announce the absolute will
of the owner to be alone.  Every whim of exaggerated egotism is put
into stone and iron, into silver and gold, with costly deliberation
and detail.

        An Englishman hears that the Queen Dowager wishes to establish
some claim to put her park paling a rod forward into his grounds, so
as to get a coachway, and save her a mile to the avenue.  Instantly
he transforms his paling into stone-masonry, solid as the walls of
Cuma, and all Europe cannot prevail on him to sell or compound for an
inch of the land.  They delight in a freak as the proof of their
sovereign freedom.  Sir Edward Boynton, at Spic Park, at Cadenham, on
a precipice of incomparable prospect, built a house like a long barn,
which had not a window on the prospect side.  Strawberry Hill of
Horace Walpole, Fonthill Abbey of Mr. Beckford, were freaks; and
Newstead Abbey became one in the hands of Lord Byron.

        But the proudest result of this creation has been the great and
refined forces it has put at the disposal of the private citizen.  In
the social world, an Englishman to-day has the best lot.  He is a
king in a plain coat.  He goes with the most powerful protection,
keeps the best company, is armed by the best education, is seconded
by wealth; and his English name and accidents are like a flourish of
trumpets announcing him.  This, with his quiet style of manners,
gives him the power of a sovereign, without the inconveniences which
belong to that rank.  I much prefer the condition of an English
gentleman of the better class, to that of any potentate in Europe, --
whether for travel, or for opportunity of society, or for access to
means of science or study, or for mere comfort and easy healthy
relation to people at home.

        Such as we have seen is the wealth of England, a mighty mass,
and made good in whatever details we care to explore.  The cause and
spring of it is the wealth of temperament in the people.  The wonder
of Britain is this plenteous nature.  Her worthies are ever
surrounded by as good men as themselves; each is a captain a hundred
strong, and that wealth of men is represented again in the faculty of
each individual, -- that he has waste strength, power to spare.  The
English are so rich, and seem to have established a tap-root in the
bowels of the planet, because they are constitutionally fertile and
creative.

        But a man must keep an eye on his servants, if he would not
have them rule him.  Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the
hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of
his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function
in the work of the world.  But it is found that the machine unmans
the user.  What he gains in making cloth, he loses in general power.
There should be temperance in making cloth, as well as in eating.  A
man should not be a silk-worm; nor a nation a tent of caterpillars.
The robust rural Saxon degenerates in the mills to the Leicester
stockinger, to the imbecile Manchester spinner, -- far on the way to
be spiders and needles.  The incessant repetition of the same
hand-work dwarfs the man, robs him of his strength, wit, and
versatility, to make a pin-polisher, a buckle-maker, or any other
specialty; and presently, in a change of industry, whole towns are
sacrificed like ant-hills, when the fashion of shoe-strings
supersedes buckles, when cotton takes the place of linen, or railways
of turnpikes, or when commons are inclosed by landlords.  Then
society is admonished of the mischief of the division of labor, and
that the best political economy is care and culture of men; for, in
these crises, all are ruined except such as are proper individuals,
capable of thought, and of new choice and the application of their
talent to new labor.  Then again come in new calamities.  England is
aghast at the disclosure of her fraud in the adulteration of food, of
drugs, and of almost every fabric in her mills and shops; finding
that milk will not nourish, nor sugar sweeten, nor bread satisfy, nor
pepper bite the tongue, nor glue stick.  In true England all is false
and forged.  This too is the reaction of machinery, but of the larger
machinery of commerce.  'Tis not, I suppose, want of probity, so much
as the tyranny of trade, which necessitates a perpetual competition
of underselling, and that again a perpetual deterioration of the
fabric.

        The machinery has proved, like the balloon, unmanageable, and
flies away with the aeronaut.  Steam, from the first, hissed and
screamed to warn him; it was dreadful with its explosion, and crushed
the engineer.  The machinist has wrought and watched, engineers and
firemen without number have been sacrificed in learning to tame and
guide the monster.  But harder still it has proved to resist and rule
the dragon Money, with his paper wings.  Chancellors and Boards of
Trade, Pitt, Peel, and Robinson, and their Parliaments, and their
whole generation, adopted false principles, and went to their graves
in the belief that they were enriching the country which they were
impoverishing.  They congratulated each other on ruinous expedients.
It is rare to find a merchant who knows why a crisis occurs in trade,
why prices rise or fall, or who knows the mischief of paper money.
In the culmination of national prosperity, in the annexation of
countries; building of ships, depots, towns; in the influx of tons of
gold and silver; amid the chuckle of chancellors and financiers, it
was found that bread rose to famine prices, that the yeoman was
forced to sell his cow and pig, his tools, and his acre of land; and
the dreadful barometer of the poor-rates was touching the point of
ruin.  The poor-rate was sucking in the solvent classes, and forcing
an exodus of farmers and mechanics.  What befals from the violence of
financial crises, befals daily in the violence of artificial
legislation.

        Such a wealth has England earned, ever new, bounteous, and
augmenting.  But the question recurs, does she take the step beyond,
namely, to the wise use, in view of the supreme wealth of nations?
We estimate the wisdom of nations by seeing what they did with their
surplus capital.  And, in view of these injuries, some compensation
has been attempted in England.  A part of the money earned returns to
the brain to buy schools, libraries, bishops, astronomers, chemists,
and artists with; and a part to repair the wrongs of this intemperate
weaving, by hospitals, savings-banks, Mechanics' Institutes, public
grounds, and other charities and amenities.  But the antidotes are
frightfully inadequate, and the evil requires a deeper cure, which
time and a simpler social organization must supply.  At present, she
does not rule her wealth.  She is simply a good England, but no
divinity, or wise and instructed soul.  She too is in the stream of
fate, one victim more in a common catastrophe.

        But being in the fault, she has the misfortune of greatness to
be held as the chief offender.  England must be held responsible for
the despotism of expense.  Her prosperity, the splendor which so much
manhood and talent and perseverance has thrown upon vulgar aims, is
the very argument of materialism.  Her success strengthens the hands
of base wealth.  Who can propose to youth poverty and wisdom, when
mean gain has arrived at the conquest of letters and arts; when
English success has grown out of the very renunciation of principles,
and the dedication to outsides?  A civility of trifles, of money and
expense, an erudition of sensation takes place, and the putting as
many impediments as we can, between the man and his objects.  Hardly
the bravest among them have the manliness to resist it successfully.
Hence, it has come, that not the aims of a manly life, but the means
of meeting a certain ponderous expense, is that which is to be
considered by a youth in England, emerging from his minority.  A
large family is reckoned a misfortune.  And it is a consolation in
the death of the young, that a source of expense is closed.

 
 
        Chapter XI _Aristocracy_

        The feudal character of the English state, now that it is
getting obsolete, glares a little, in contrast with the democratic
tendencies.  The inequality of power and property shocks republican
nerves.  Palaces, halls, villas, walled parks, all over England,
rival the splendor of royal seats.  Many of the halls, like Haddon,
or Kedleston, are beautiful desolations.  The proprietor never saw
them, or never lived in them.  Primogeniture built these sumptuous
piles, and, I suppose, it is the sentiment of every traveller, as it
was mine, 'Twas well to come ere these were gone.  Primogeniture is a
cardinal rule of English property and institutions.  Laws, customs,
manners, the very persons and faces, affirm it.

        The frame of society is aristocratic, the taste of the people
is loyal.  The estates, names, and manners of the nobles flatter the
fancy of the people, and conciliate the necessary support.  In spite
of broken faith, stolen charters, and the devastation of society by
the profligacy of the court, we take sides as we read for the loyal
England and King Charles's "return to his right" with his Cavaliers,
-- knowing what a heartless trifler he is, and what a crew of
God-forsaken robbers they are.  The people of England knew as much.
But the fair idea of a settled government connecting itself with
heraldic names, with the written and oral history of Europe, and, at
last, with the Hebrew religion, and the oldest traditions of the
world, was too pleasing a vision to be shattered by a few offensive
realities, and the politics of shoemakers and costermongers.  The
hopes of the commoners take the same direction with the interest of
the patricians.  Every man who becomes rich buys land, and does what
he can to fortify the nobility, into which he hopes to rise.  The
Anglican clergy are identified with the aristocracy.  Time and law
have made the joining and moulding perfect in every part.  The
Cathedrals, the Universities, the national music, the popular
romances, conspire to uphold the heraldry, which the current politics
of the day are sapping.  The taste of the people is conservative.
They are proud of the castles, and of the language and symbol of
chivalry.  Even the word lord is the luckiest style that is used in
any language to designate a patrician.  The superior education and
manners of the nobles recommend them to the country.

        The Norwegian pirate got what he could, and held it for his
eldest son.  The Norman noble, who was the Norwegian pirate baptized,
did likewise.  There was this advantage of western over oriental
nobility, that this was recruited from below.  English history is
aristocracy with the doors open.  Who has courage and faculty, let
him come in.  Of course, the terms of admission to this club are hard
and high.  The selfishness of the nobles comes in aid of the interest
of the nation to require signal merit.  Piracy and war gave place to
trade, politics, and letters; the war-lord to the law-lord; the
law-lord to the merchant and the mill-owner; but the privilege was
kept, whilst the means of obtaining it were changed.

        The foundations of these families lie deep in Norwegian
exploits by sea, and Saxon sturdiness on land.  All nobility in its
beginnings was somebody's natural superiority.  The things these
English have done were not done without peril of life, nor without
wisdom and conduct; and the first hands, it may be presumed, were
often challenged to show their right to their honors, or yield them
to better men.  "He that will be a head, let him be a bridge," said
the Welsh chief Benegridran, when he carried all his men over the
river on his back.  "He shall have the book," said the mother of
Alfred, "who can read it;" and Alfred won it by that title: and I
make no doubt that feudal tenure was no sinecure, but baron, knight,
and tenant, often had their memories refreshed, in regard to the
service by which they held their lands.  The De Veres, Bohuns,
Mowbrays, and Plantagenets were not addicted to contemplation.  The
middle age adorned itself with proofs of manhood and devotion.  Of
Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, the Emperor told Henry V. that no
Christian king had such another knight for wisdom, nurture, and
manhood, and caused him to be named, "Father of curtesie." "Our
success in France," says the historian, "lived and died with him."
(* 1)

        (* 1) Fuller's Worthies.  II. p. 472.

        The war-lord earned his honors, and no donation of land was
large, as long as it brought the duty of protecting it, hour by hour,
against a terrible enemy.  In France and in England, the nobles were,
down to a late day, born and bred to war: and the duel, which in
peace still held them to the risks of war, diminished the envy that,
in trading and studious nations, would else have pried into their
title.  They were looked on as men who played high for a great stake.

        Great estates are not sinecures, if they are to be kept great.
A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence.  In the same line of
Warwick, the successor next but one to Beauchamp, was the stout earl
of Henry VI.  and Edward IV.  Few esteemed themselves in the mode,
whose heads were not adorned with the black ragged staff, his badge.
At his house in London, six oxen were daily eaten at a breakfast; and
every tavern was full of his meat; and who had any acquaintance in
his family, should have as much boiled and roast as he could carry on
a long dagger.

        The new age brings new qualities into request, the virtues of
pirates gave way to those of planters, merchants, senators, and
scholars.  Comity, social talent, and fine manners, no doubt, have
had their part also.  I have met somewhere with a historiette, which,
whether more or less true in its particulars, carries a general
truth.  "How came the Duke of Bedford by his great landed estates?
His ancestor having travelled on the continent, a lively, pleasant
man, became the companion of a foreign prince wrecked on the
Dorsetshire coast, where Mr. Russell lived.  The prince recommended
him to Henry VIII., who, liking his company, gave him a large share
of the plundered church lands."

        The pretence is that the noble is of unbroken descent from the
Norman, and has never worked for eight hundred years.  But the fact
is otherwise.  Where is Bohun? where is De Vere?  The lawyer, the
farmer, the silkmercer lies _perdu_ under the coronet, and winks to
the antiquary to say nothing; especially skilful lawyers, nobody's
sons, who did some piece of work at a nice moment for government, and
were rewarded with ermine.

        The national tastes of the English do not lead them to the life
of the courtier, but to secure the comfort and independence of their
homes.  The aristocracy are marked by their predilection for
country-life.  They are called the county-families.  They have often
no residence in London, and only go thither a short time, during the
season, to see the opera; but they concentrate the love and labor of
many generations on the building, planting and decoration of their
homesteads.  Some of them are too old and too proud to wear titles,
or, as Sheridan said of Coke, "disdain to hide their head in a
coronet;" and some curious examples are cited to show the stability
of English families.  Their proverb is, that, fifty miles from
London, a family will last a hundred years; at a hundred miles, two
hundred years; and so on; but I doubt that steam, the enemy of time,
as well as of space, will disturb these ancient rules.  Sir Henry
Wotton says of the first Duke of Buckingham, "He was born at Brookeby
in Leicestershire, where his ancestors had chiefly continued about
the space of four hundred years, rather without obscurity, than with
any great lustre." (* 2) Wraxall says, that, in 1781, Lord Surrey,
afterwards Duke of Norfolk, told him, that when the year 1783 should
arrive, he meant to give a grand festival to all the descendants of
the body of Jockey of Norfolk, to mark the day when the dukedom
should have remained three hundred years in their house, since its
creation by Richard III.  Pepys tells us, in writing of an Earl
Oxford, in 1666, that the honor had now remained in that name and
blood six hundred years.

        (* 2) Reliquiae Wottonianae, p. 208.

        This long descent of families and this cleaving through ages to
the same spot of ground captivates the imagination.  It has too a
connection with the names of the towns and districts of the country.

        The names are excellent, -- an atmosphere of legendary melody
spread over the land.  Older than all epics and histories, which
clothe a nation, this undershirt sits close to the body.  What
history too, and what stores of primitive and savage observation it
infolds!  Cambridge is the bridge of the Cam; Sheffield the field of
the river Sheaf; Leicester the _castra_ or camp of the Lear or Leir
(now Soar); Rochdale, of the Roch; Exeter or Excester, the _castra_
of the Ex; Exmouth, Dartmouth, Sidmouth, Teignmouth, the mouths of
the Ex, Dart, Sid, and Teign rivers.  Waltham is strong town;
Radcliffe is red cliff; and so on: -- a sincerity and use in naming
very striking to an American, whose country is whitewashed all over
by unmeaning names, the cast-off clothes of the country from which
its emigrants came; or, named at a pinch from a psalm-tune.  But the
English are those "barbarians" of Jamblichus, who "are stable in
their manners, and firmly continue to employ the same words, which
also are dear to the gods."

        'Tis an old sneer, that the Irish peerage drew their names from
playbooks.  The English lords do not call their lands after their own
names, but call themselves after their lands; as if the man
represented the country that bred him; and they rightly wear the
token of the glebe that gave them birth; suggesting that the tie is
not cut, but that there in London, -- the crags of Argyle, the kail
of Cornwall, the downs of Devon, the iron of Wales, the clays of
Stafford, are neither forgetting nor forgotten, but know the man who
was born by them, and who, like the long line of his fathers, has
carried that crag, that shore, dale, fen, or woodland, in his blood
and manners.  It has, too, the advantage of suggesting
responsibleness.  A susceptible man could not wear a name which
represented in a strict sense a city or a county of England, without
hearing in it a challenge to duty and honor.

        The predilection of the patricians for residence in the
country, combined with the degree of liberty possessed by the
peasant, makes the safety of the English hall.  Mirabeau wrote
prophetically from England, in 1784, "If revolution break out in
France, I tremble for the aristocracy: their chateaux will be reduced
to ashes, and their blood spilt in torrents.  The English tenant
would defend his lord to the last extremity." The English go to their
estates for grandeur.  The French live at court, and exile themselves
to their estates for economy.  As they do not mean to live with their
tenants, they do not conciliate them, but wring from them the last
sous.  Evelyn writes from Blois, in 1644, "The wolves are here in
such numbers, that they often come and take children out of the
streets: yet will not the Duke, who is sovereign here, permit them to
be destroyed."

        In evidence of the wealth amassed by ancient families, the
traveller is shown the palaces in Piccadilly, Burlington House,
Devonshire House, Lansdowne House in Berkshire Square, and, lower
down in the city, a few noble houses which still withstand in all
their amplitude the encroachment of streets.  The Duke of Bedford
includes or included a mile square in the heart of London, where the
British Museum, once Montague House, now stands, and the land
occupied by Woburn Square, Bedford Square, Russell Square.  The
Marquis of Westminster built within a few years the series of squares
called Belgravia.  Stafford House is the noblest palace in London.
Northumberland House holds its place by Charing Cross.  Chesterfield
House remains in Audley Street.  Sion House and Holland House are in
the suburbs.  But most of the historical houses are masked or lost in
the modern uses to which trade or charity has converted them.  A
multitude of town palaces contain inestimable galleries of art.

        In the country, the size of private estates is more impressive.
From Barnard Castle I rode on the highway twenty-three miles from
High Force, a fall of the Tees, towards Darlington, past Raby Castle,
through the estate of the Duke of Cleveland.  The Marquis of
Breadalbane rides out of his house a hundred miles in a straight line
to the sea, on his own property.  The Duke of Sutherland owns the
county of Sutherland, stretching across Scotland from sea to sea.
The Duke of Devonshire, besides his other estates, owns 96,000 acres
in the County of Derby.  The Duke of Richmond has 40,000 acres at
Goodwood, and 300,000 at Gordon Castle.  The Duke of Norfolk's park
in Sussex is fifteen miles in circuit.  An agriculturist bought
lately the island of Lewes, in Hebrides, containing 500,000 acres.
The possessions of the Earl of Lonsdale gave him eight seats in
Parliament.  This is the Heptarchy again: and before the Reform of
1832, one hundred and fifty-four persons sent three hundred and seven
members to Parliament.  The borough-mongers governed England.

        These large domains are growing larger.  The great estates are
absorbing the small freeholds.  In 1786, the soil of England was
owned by 250,000 corporations and proprietors; and, in 1822, by
32,000.  These broad estates find room in this narrow island.  All
over England, scattered at short intervals among ship-yards, mills,
mines, and forges, are the paradises of the nobles, where the
livelong repose and refinement are heightened by the contrast with
the roar of industry and necessity, out of which you have stepped
aside.

        I was surprised to observe the very small attendance usually in
the House of Lords.  Out of 573 peers, on ordinary days, only twenty
or thirty.  Where are they?  I asked.  "At home on their estates,
devoured by _ennui_, or in the Alps, or up the Rhine, in the Harz
Mountains, or in Egypt, or in India, on the Ghauts." But, with such
interests at stake, how can these men afford to neglect them?  "O,"
replied my friend, "why should they work for themselves, when every
man in England works for them, and will suffer before they come to
harm?" The hardest radical instantly uncovers, and changes his tone
to a lord.  It was remarked, on the 10th April, 1848, (the day of the
Chartist demonstration,) that the upper classes were, for the first
time, actively interesting themselves in their own defence, and men
of rank were sworn special constables, with the rest.  "Besides, why
need they sit out the debate?  Has not the Duke of Wellington, at
this moment, their proxies, -- the proxies of fifty peers in his
pocket, to vote for them, if there be an emergency?"

        It is however true, that the existence of the House of Peers as
a branch of the government entitles them to fill half the Cabinet;
and their weight of property and station give them a virtual
nomination of the other half; whilst they have their share in the
subordinate offices, as a school of training.  This monopoly of
political power has given them their intellectual and social eminence
in Europe.  A few law lords and a few political lords take the brunt
of public business.  In the army, the nobility fill a large part of
the high commissions, and give to these a tone of expense and
splendor, and also of exclusiveness.  They have borne their full
share of duty and danger in this service; and there are few noble
families which have not paid in some of their members, the debt of
life or limb, in the sacrifices of the Russian war.  For the rest,
the nobility have the lead in matters of state, and of expense; in
questions of taste, in social usages, in convivial and domestic
hospitalities.  In general, all that is required of them is to sit
securely, to preside at public meetings, to countenance charities,
and to give the example of that decorum so dear to the British heart.

 
        If one asks, in the critical spirit of the day, what service
this class have rendered? -- uses appear, or they would have perished
long ago.  Some of these are easily enumerated, others more subtle
make a part of unconscious history.  Their institution is one step in
the progress of society.  For a race yields a nobility in some form,
however we name the lords, as surely as it yields women.

        The English nobles are high-spirited, active, educated men,
born to wealth and power, who have run through every country, and
kept in every country the best company, have seen every secret of art
and nature, and, when men of any ability or ambition, have been
consulted in the conduct of every important action.  You cannot wield
great agencies without lending yourself to them, and, when it happens
that the spirit of the earl meets his rank and duties, we have the
best examples of behavior.  Power of any kind readily appears in the
manners; and beneficent power, _le talent de bien faire_, gives a
majesty which cannot be concealed or resisted.

        These people seem to gain as much as they lose by their
position.  They survey society, as from the top of St. Paul's, and,
if they never hear plain truth from men, they see the best of every
thing, in every kind, and they see things so grouped and amassed as
to infer easily the sum and genius, instead of tedious
particularities.  Their good behavior deserves all its fame, and they
have that simplicity, and that air of repose, which are the finest
ornament of greatness.

        The upper classes have only birth, say the people here, and not
thoughts.  Yes, but they have manners, and, 'tis wonderful, how much
talent runs into manners: -- nowhere and never so much as in England.
They have the sense of superiority, the absence of all the ambitious
effort which disgusts in the aspiring classes, a pure tone of thought
and feeling, and the power to command, among their other luxuries,
the presence of the most accomplished men in their festive meetings.

        Loyalty is in the English a sub-religion.  They wear the laws
as ornaments, and walk by their faith in their painted May-Fair, as
if among the forms of gods.  The economist of 1855 who asks, of what
use are the lords? may learn of Franklin to ask, of what use is a
baby?  They have been a social church proper to inspire sentiments
mutually honoring the lover and the loved.  Politeness is the ritual
of society, as prayers are of the church; a school of manners, and a
gentle blessing to the age in which it grew.  'Tis a romance adorning
English life with a larger horizon; a midway heaven, fulfilling to
their sense their fairy tales and poetry.  This, just as far as the
breeding of the nobleman really made him brave, handsome,
accomplished, and great-hearted.

        On general grounds, whatever tends to form manners, or to
finish men, has a great value.  Every one who has tasted the delight
of friendship, will respect every social guard which our manners can
establish, tending to secure from the intrusion of frivolous and
distasteful people.  The jealousy of every class to guard itself, is
a testimony to the reality they have found in life.  When a man once
knows that he has done justice to himself, let him dismiss all
terrors of aristocracy as superstitions, so far as he is concerned.
He who keeps the door of a mine, whether of cobalt, or mercury, or
nickel, or plumbago, securely knows that the world cannot do without
him.  Every body who is real is open and ready for that which is also
real.

        Besides, these are they who make England that strongbox and
museum it is; who gather and protect works of art, dragged from
amidst burning cities and revolutionary countries, and brought hither
out of all the world.  I look with respect at houses six, seven,
eight hundred, or, like Warwick Castle, nine hundred years old.  I
pardoned high park-fences, when I saw, that, besides does and
pheasants, these have preserved Arundel marbles, Townley galleries,
Howard and Spenserian libraries, Warwick and Portland vases, Saxon
manuscripts, monastic architectures, millennial trees, and breeds of
cattle elsewhere extinct.  In these manors, after the frenzy of war
and destruction subsides a little, the antiquary finds the frailest
Roman jar, or crumbling Egyptian mummy-case, without so much as a new
layer of dust, keeping the series of history unbroken, and waiting
for its interpreter, who is sure to arrive.  These lords are the
treasurers and librarians of mankind, engaged by their pride and
wealth to this function.

        Yet there were other works for British dukes to do.  George
Loudon, Quintinye, Evelyn, had taught them to make gardens.  Arthur
Young, Bakewell, and Mechi, have made them agricultural.  Scotland
was a camp until the day of Culloden.  The Dukes of Athol,
Sutherland, Buccleugh, and the Marquis of Breadalbane have introduced
the rape-culture, the sheep-farm, wheat, drainage, the plantation of
forests, the artificial replenishment of lakes and ponds with fish,
the renting of game-preserves.  Against the cry of the old tenantry,
and the sympathetic cry of the English press, they have rooted out
and planted anew, and now six millions of people live, and live
better on the same land that fed three millions.

        The English barons, in every period, have been brave and great,
after the estimate and opinion of their times.  The grand old halls
scattered up and down in England, are dumb vouchers to the state and
broad hospitality of their ancient lords.  Shakspeare's portraits of
good duke Humphrey, of Warwick, of Northumberland, of Talbot, were
drawn in strict consonance with the traditions.  A sketch of the Earl
of Shrewsbury, from the pen of Queen Elizabeth's archbishop Parker;
(* 3) Lord Herbert of Cherbury's autobiography; the letters and
essays of Sir Philip Sidney; the anecdotes preserved by the
antiquaries Fuller and Collins; some glimpses at the interiors of
noble houses, which we owe to Pepys and Evelyn; the details which Ben
Jonson's masques (performed at Kenilworth, Althorpe, Belvoir, and
other noble houses,) record or suggest; down to Aubrey's passages of
the life of Hobbes in the house of the Earl of Devon, are favorable
pictures of a romantic style of manners.  Penshurst still shines for
us, and its Christmas revels, "where logs not burn, but men." At
Wilton House, the "Arcadia" was written, amidst conversations with
Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, a man of no vulgar mind, as his own
poems declare him.  I must hold Ludlow Castle an honest house, for
which Milton's "Comus" was written, and the company nobly bred which
performed it with knowledge and sympathy.  In the roll of nobles, are
found poets, philosophers, chemists, astronomers, also men of solid
virtues and of lofty sentiments; often they have been the friends and
patrons of genius and learning, and especially of the fine arts; and
at this moment, almost every great house has its sumptuous
picture-gallery.

        (* 3) Dibdin's Literary Reminiscences, vol. 1, xii.
 
        Of course, there is another side to this gorgeous show.  Every
victory was the defect of a party only less worthy.  Castles are
proud things, but 'tis safest to be outside of them.  War is a foul
game, and yet war is not the worst part of aristocratic history.  In
later times, when the baron, educated only for war, with his brains
paralyzed by his stomach, found himself idle at home, he grew fat and
wanton, and a sorry brute.  Grammont, Pepys, and Evelyn, show the
kennels to which the king and court went in quest of pleasure.
Prostitutes taken from the theatres, were made duchesses, their
bastards dukes and earls.  "The young men sat uppermost, the old
serious lords were out of favor." The discourse that the king's
companions had with him was "poor and frothy." No man who valued his
head might do what these pot-companions familiarly did with the king.
In logical sequence of these dignified revels, Pepys can tell the
beggarly shifts to which the king was reduced, who could not find
paper at his council table, and "no handkerchers" in his wardrobe,
"and but three bands to his neck," and the linen-draper and the
stationer were out of pocket, and refusing to trust him, and the
baker will not bring bread any longer.  Meantime, the English Channel
was swept, and London threatened by the Dutch fleet, manned too by
English sailors, who, having been cheated of their pay for years by
the king, enlisted with the enemy.

        The Selwyn correspondence in the reign of George III.,
discloses a rottenness in the aristocracy, which threatened to
decompose the state.  The sycophancy and sale of votes and honor, for
place and title; lewdness, gaming, smuggling, bribery, and cheating;
the sneer at the childish indiscretion of quarrelling with ten
thousand a year; the want of ideas; the splendor of the titles, and
the apathy of the nation, are instructive, and make the reader pause
and explore the firm bounds which confined these vices to a handful
of rich men.  In the reign of the Fourth George, things do not seem
to have mended, and the rotten debauchee let down from a window by an
inclined plane into his coach to take the air, was a scandal to
Europe which the ill fame of his queen and of his family did nothing
to retrieve.

        Under the present reign, the perfect decorum of the Court is
thought to have put a check on the gross vices of the aristocracy yet
gaming, racing, drinking, and mistresses, bring them down, and the
democrat can still gather scandals, if he will.  Dismal anecdotes
abound, verifying the gossip of the last generation of dukes served
by bailiffs, with all their plate in pawn; of great lords living by
the showing of their houses; and of an old man wheeled in his chair
from room to room, whilst his chambers are exhibited to the visitor
for money; of ruined dukes and earls living in exile for debt.  The
historic names of the Buckinghams, Beauforts, Marlboroughs, and
Hertfords, have gained no new lustre, and now and then darker
scandals break out, ominous as the new chapters added under the
Orleans dynasty to the _"Causes Celebres"_ in France.  Even peers,
who are men of worth and public spirit, are over-taken and
embarrassed by their vast expense.  The respectable Duke of
Devonshire, willing to be the Mecaenas and Lucullus of his island, is
reported to have said, that he cannot live at Chatsworth but one
month in the year.  Their many houses eat them up.  They cannot sell
them, because they are entailed.  They will not let them, for pride's
sake, but keep them empty, aired, and the grounds mown and dressed,
at a cost of four or five thousand pounds a year.  The spending is
for a great part in servants, in many houses exceeding a hundred.

        Most of them are only chargeable with idleness, which, because
it squanders such vast power of benefit, has the mischief of crime.
"They might be little Providences on earth," said my friend, "and
they are, for the most part, jockeys and fops." Campbell says,
"acquaintance with the nobility, I could never keep up.  It requires
a life of idleness, dressing, and attendance on their parties." I
suppose, too, that a feeling of self-respect is driving cultivated
men out of this society, as if the noble were slow to receive the
lessons of the times, and had not learned to disguise his pride of
place.  A man of wit, who is also one of the celebrities of wealth
and fashion, confessed to his friend, that he could not enter their
houses without being made to feel that they were great lords, and he
a low plebeian.  With the tribe of _artistes_, including the musical
tribe, the patrician morgue keeps no terms, but excludes them.  When
Julia Grisi and Mario sang at the houses of the Duke of Wellington
and other grandees, a cord was stretched between the singer and the
company.

 
        When every noble was a soldier, they were carefully bred to
great personal prowess.  The education of a soldier is a simpler
affair than that of an earl in the nineteenth century.  And this was
very seriously pursued; they were expert in every species of
equitation, to the most dangerous practices, and this down to the
accession of William of Orange.  But graver men appear to have
trained their sons for civil affairs.  Elizabeth extended her thought
to the future; and Sir Philip Sidney in his letter to his brother,
and Milton and Evelyn, gave plain and hearty counsel.  Already too,
the English noble and squire were preparing for the career of the
country-gentleman, and his peaceable expense.  They went from city to
city, learning receipts to make perfumes, sweet powders, pomanders,
antidotes, gathering seeds, gems, coins, and divers curiosities,
preparing for a private life thereafter, in which they should take
pleasure in these recreations.

        All advantages given to absolve the young patrician from
intellectual labor are of course mistaken.  "In the university,
noblemen are exempted from the public exercises for the degree, &c.,
by which they attain a degree called _honorary_.  At the same time,
the fees they have to pay for matriculation, and on all other
occasions, are much higher." (* 4) Fuller records "the observation of
foreigners, that Englishmen, by making their children gentlemen,
before they are men, cause they are so seldom wise men." This
cockering justifies Dr. Johnson's bitter apology for primogeniture,
"that it makes but one fool in a family."

        (* 4) Huber.  History of English Universities.

        The revolution in society has reached this class.  The great
powers of industrial art have no exclusion of name or blood.  The
tools of our time, namely, steam, ships, printing, money, and popular
education, belong to those who can handle them: and their effect has
been, that advantages once confined to men of family, are now open to
the whole middle class.  The road that grandeur levels for his coach,
toil can travel in his cart.

        This is more manifest every day, but I think it is true
throughout English history.  English history, wisely read, is the
vindication of the brain of that people.  Here, at last, were climate
and condition friendly to the working faculty.  Who now will work and
dare, shall rule.  This is the charter, or the chartism, which fogs,
and seas, and rains proclaimed,--that intellect and personal force
should make the law; that industry and administrative talent should
administer; that work should wear the crown.  I know that not this,
but something else is pretended.  The fiction with which the noble
and the bystander equally please themselves is, that the former is of
unbroken descent from the Norman, and so has never worked for eight
hundred years.  All the families are new, but the name is old, and
they have made a covenant with their memories not to disturb it.  But
the analysis of the peerage and gentry shows the rapid decay and
extinction of old families, the continual recruiting of these from
new blood.  The doors, though ostentatiously guarded, are really
open, and hence the power of the bribe.  All the barriers to rank
only whet the thirst, and enhance the prize.  "Now," said Nelson,
when clearing for battle, "a peerage, or Westminster Abbey!" "I have
no illusion left," said Sydney Smith, "but the Archbishop of
Canterbury." "The lawyers," said Burke, "are only birds of passage in
this House of Commons," and then added, with a new figure, "they have
their best bower anchor in the House of Lords."

        Another stride that has been taken, appears in the perishing of
heraldry.  Whilst the privileges of nobility are passing to the
middle class, the badge is discredited, and the titles of lordship
are getting musty and cumbersome.  I wonder that sensible men have
not been already impatient of them.  They belong, with wigs, powder,
and scarlet coats, to an earlier age, and may be advantageously
consigned, with paint and tattoo, to the dignitaries of Australia and
Polynesia.

        A multitude of English, educated at the universities, bred into
their society with manners, ability, and the gifts of fortune, are
every day confronting the peers on a footing of equality, and
outstripping them, as often, in the race of honor and influence.
That cultivated class is large and ever enlarging.  It is computed
that, with titles and without, there are seventy thousand of these
people coming and going in London, who make up what is called high
society.  They cannot shut their eyes to the fact that an untitled
nobility possess all the power without the inconveniences that belong
to rank, and the rich Englishman goes over the world at the present
day, drawing more than all the advantages which the strongest of his
kings could command.

        Chapter XII _Universities_

        Of British universities, Cambridge has the most illustrious
names on its list.  At the present day, too, it has the advantage of
Oxford, counting in its _alumni_ a greater number of distinguished
scholars.  I regret that I had but a single day wherein to see King's
College Chapel, the beautiful lawns and gardens of the colleges, and
a few of its gownsmen.

        But I availed myself of some repeated invitations to Oxford,
where I had introductions to Dr. Daubeny, Professor of Botany, and to
the Regius Professor of Divinity, as well as to a valued friend, a
Fellow of Oriel, and went thither on the last day of March, 1848.  I
was the guest of my friend in Oriel, was housed close upon that
college, and I lived on college hospitalities.

        My new friends showed me their cloisters, the Bodleian Library,
the Randolph Gallery, Merton Hall, and the rest.  I saw several
faithful, high-minded young men, some of them in the mood of making
sacrifices for peace of mind, -- a topic, of course, on which I had
no counsel to offer.  Their affectionate and gregarious ways reminded
me at once of the habits of _our_ Cambridge men, though I imputed to
these English an advantage in their secure and polished manners.  The
halls are rich with oaken wainscoting and ceiling.  The pictures of
the founders hang from the walls; the tables glitter with plate.  A
youth came forward to the upper table, and pronounced the ancient
form of grace before meals, which, I suppose, has been in use here
for ages, _Benedictus benedicat;_ _benedicitur,_ _benedicatur_.

        It is a curious proof of the English use and wont, or of their
good nature, that these young men are locked up every night at nine
o'clock, and the porter at each hall is required to give the name of
any belated student who is admitted after that hour.  Still more
descriptive is the fact, that out of twelve hundred young men,
comprising the most spirited of the aristocracy, a duel has never
occurred.

        Oxford is old, even in England, and conservative.  Its
foundations date from Alfred, and even from Arthur, if, as is
alleged, the Pheryllt of the Druids had a seminary here.  In the
reign of Edward I., it is pretended, here were thirty thousand
students; and nineteen most noble foundations were then established.
Chaucer found it as firm as if it had always stood; and it is, in
British story, rich with great names, the school of the island, and
the link of England to the learned of Europe.  Hither came Erasmus,
with delight, in 1497.  Albericus Gentilis, in 1580, was relieved and
maintained by the university.  Albert Alaskie, a noble Polonian,
Prince of Sirad, who visited England to admire the wisdom of Queen
Elizabeth, was entertained with stage-plays in the Refectory of
Christchurch, in 1583.  Isaac Casaubon, coming from Henri Quatre of
France, by invitation of James I., was admitted to Christ's College,
in July, 1613.  I saw the Ashmolean Museum, whither Elias Ashmole, in
1682, sent twelve cart-loads of rarities.  Here indeed was the
Olympia of all Antony Wood's and Aubrey's games and heroes, and every
inch of ground has its lustre.  For Wood's _Athenae Oxonienses_, or
calendar of the writers of Oxford for two hundred years, is a lively
record of English manners and merits, and as much a national monument
as Purchas's Pilgrims or Hansard's Register.  On every side, Oxford
is redolent of age and authority.  Its gates shut of themselves
against modern innovation.  It is still governed by the statutes of
Archbishop Laud.  The books in Merton Library are still chained to
the wall.  Here, on August 27, 1660, John Milton's _Pro Populo
Anglicano Defensio_, and _Iconoclastes_ were committed to the flames.
I saw the school-court or quadrangle, where, in 1683, the Convocation
caused the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes to be publicly burnt.  I do not
know whether this learned body have yet heard of the Declaration of
American Independence, or whether the Ptolemaic astronomy does not
still hold its ground against the novelties of Copernicus.

        As many sons, almost so many benefactors.  It is usual for a
nobleman, or indeed for almost every wealthy student, on quitting
college, to leave behind him some article of plate; and gifts of all
values, from a hall, or a fellowship, or a library, down to a picture
or a spoon, are continually accruing, in the course of a century.  My
friend Doctor J., gave me the following anecdote.  In Sir Thomas
Lawrence's collection at London, were the cartoons of Raphael and
Michel Angelo.  This inestimable prize was offered to Oxford
University for seven thousand pounds.  The offer was accepted, and
the committee charged with the affair had collected three thousand
pounds, when among other friends, they called on Lord Eldon.  Instead
of a hundred pounds, he surprised them by putting down his name for
three thousand pounds.  They told him, they should now very easily
raise the remainder.  "No," he said, "your men have probably already
contributed all they can spare; I can as well give the rest": and he
withdrew his cheque for three thousand, and wrote four thousand
pounds.  I saw the whole collection in April, 1848.

        In the Bodleian Library, Dr. Bandinel showed me the manuscript
Plato, of the date of A. D. 896, brought by Dr. Clarke from Egypt; a
manuscript Virgil, of the same century; the first Bible printed at
Mentz, (I believe in 1450); and a duplicate of the same, which had
been deficient in about twenty leaves at the end.  But, one day,
being in Venice, he bought a room full of books and manuscripts, --
every scrap and fragment, -- for four thousand louis d'ors, and had
the doors locked and sealed by the consul.  On proceeding,
afterwards, to examine his purchase, he found the twenty deficient
pages of his Mentz Bible, in perfect order; brought them to Oxford,
with the rest of his purchase, and placed them in the volume; but has
too much awe for the Providence that appears in bibliography also, to
suffer the reunited parts to be re-bound.  The oldest building here
is two hundred years younger than the frail manuscript brought by Dr.
Clarke from Egypt.  No candle or fire is ever lighted in the
Bodleian.  Its catalogue is the standard catalogue on the desk of
every library in Oxford.  In each several college, they underscore in
red ink on this catalogue the titles of books contained in the
library of that college, -- the theory being that the Bodleian has
all books.  This rich library spent during the last year (1847) for
the purchase of books 1668 pounds.

        The logical English train a scholar as they train an engineer.
Oxford is a Greek factory, as Wilton mills weave carpet, and
Sheffield grinds steel.  They know the use of a tutor, as they know
the use of a horse; and they draw the greatest amount of benefit out
of both.  The reading men are kept by hard walking, hard riding, and
measured eating and drinking, at the top of their condition, and two
days before the examination, do not work, but lounge, ride, or run,
to be fresh on the college doomsday.  Seven years' residence is the
theoretic period for a master's degree.  In point of fact, it has
long been three years' residence, and four years more of standing.
This "three years" is about twenty-one months in all.  (* 1)

        (* 1) Huber, ii. p. 304.

        "The whole expense," says Professor Sewel, "of ordinary college
tuition at Oxford, is about sixteen guineas a year." But this plausible
statement may deceive a reader unacquainted with the fact, that the principal
teaching relied on is private tuition.  And the expenses of private tuition
are reckoned at from 50 to 70 pounds a year, or, $1000 for the whole course
of three years and a half.  At Cambridge $750 a year is economical, and $1500
not extravagant.  (* 2)

        (* 2) Bristed.  Five Years at an English University.

        The number of students and of residents, the dignity of the
authorities, the value of the foundations, the history and the
architecture, the known sympathy of entire Britain in what is done
there, justify a dedication to study in the undergraduate, such as
cannot easily be in America, where his college is half suspected by
the Freshman to be insignificant in the scale beside trade and
politics.  Oxford is a little aristocracy in itself, numerous and
dignified enough to rank with other estates in the realm; and where
fame and secular promotion are to be had for study, and in a
direction which has the unanimous respect of all cultivated nations.

        This aristocracy, of course, repairs its own losses; fills places, as
they fall vacant, from the body of students.  The number of fellowships at
Oxford is 540, averaging 200 pounds a year, with lodging and diet at the
college.  If a young American, loving learning, and hindered by poverty, were
offered a home, a table, the walks, and the library, in one of these
academical palaces, and a thousand dollars a year as long as he chose to
remain a bachelor, he would dance for joy.  Yet these young men thus happily
placed, and paid to read, are impatient of their few checks, and many of them
preparing to resign their fellowships.  They shuddered at the prospect of
dying a Fellow, and they pointed out to me a paralytic old man, who was
assisted into the hall.  As the number of undergraduates at Oxford is only
about 1200 or 1300, and many of these are never competitors, the chance of a
fellowship is very great.  The income of the nineteen colleges is conjectured
at 150,000 pounds a year.

        The effect of this drill is the radical knowledge of Greek and
Latin, and of mathematics, and the solidity and taste of English
criticism.  Whatever luck there may be in this or that award, an Eton
captain can write Latin longs and shorts, can turn the Court-Guide
into hexameters, and it is certain that a Senior Classic can quote
correctly from the _Corpus Poetarum_, and is critically learned in
all the humanities.  Greek erudition exists on the Isis and Cam,
whether the Maud man or the Brazen Nose man be properly ranked or
not; the atmosphere is loaded with Greek learning; the whole river
has reached a certain height, and kills all that growth of weeds,
which this Castalian water kills.  The English nature takes culture
kindly.  So Milton thought.  It refines the Norseman.  Access to the
Greek mind lifts his standard of taste.  He has enough to think of,
and, unless of an impulsive nature, is indisposed from writing or
speaking, by the fulness of his mind, and the new severity of his
taste.  The great silent crowd of thorough-bred Grecians always known
to be around him, the English writer cannot ignore.  They prune his
orations, and point his pen.  Hence, the style and tone of English
journalism.  The men have learned accuracy and comprehension, logic,
and pace, or speed of working.  They have bottom, endurance, wind.
When born with good constitutions, they make those eupeptic
studying-mills, the cast-iron men, the _dura ilia_, whose powers of
performance compare with ours, as the steam-hammer with the
music-box; -- Cokes, Mansfields, Seldens, and Bentleys, and when it
happens that a superior brain puts a rider on this admirable horse,
we obtain those masters of the world who combine the highest energy
in affairs, with a supreme culture.

        It is contended by those who have been bred at Eton, Harrow,
Rugby, and Westminster, that the public sentiment within each of
those schools is high-toned and manly; that, in their playgrounds,
courage is universally admired, meanness despised, manly feelings and
generous conduct are encouraged: that an unwritten code of honor
deals to the spoiled child of rank, and to the child of upstart
wealth an even-handed justice, purges their nonsense out of both, and
does all that can be done to make them gentlemen.

        Again, at the universities, it is urged, that all goes to form
what England values as the flower of its national life, -- a
well-educated gentleman.  The German Huber, in describing to his
countrymen the attributes of an English gentleman, frankly admits,
that, "in Germany, we have nothing of the kind.  A gentleman must
possess a political character, an independent and public position,
or, at least, the right of assuming it.  He must have average
opulence, either of his own, or in his family.  He should also have
bodily activity and strength, unattainable by our sedentary life in
public offices.  The race of English gentlemen presents an appearance
of manly vigor and form, not elsewhere to be found among an equal
number of persons.  No other nation produces the stock.  And, in
England, it has deteriorated.  The university is a decided
presumption in any man's favor.  And so eminent are the members that
a glance at the calendars will show that in all the world one cannot
be in better company than on the books of one of the larger Oxford or
Cambridge colleges." (* 3)

        (* 3) Huber: History of the English Universities.  Newman's
Translation.

        These seminaries are finishing schools for the upper classes,
and not for the poor.  The useful is exploded.  The definition of a
public school is "a school which excludes all that could fit a man
for standing behind a counter."  (* 4)

        (* 4) See Bristed.  Five Years in an English University.  New
York. 1852.

        No doubt, the foundations have been perverted.  Oxford, which
equals in wealth several of the smaller European states, shuts up the
lectureships which were made "public for all men thereunto to have
concourse;" mis-spends the revenues bestowed for such youths "as
should be most meet for towardness, poverty, and painfulness;" there
is gross favoritism; many chairs and many fellowships are made beds
of ease; and 'tis likely that the university will know how to resist
and make inoperative the terrors of parliamentary inquiry; no doubt,
their learning is grown obsolete; -- but Oxford also has its merits,
and I found here also proof of the national fidelity and
thoroughness.  Such knowledge as they prize they possess and impart.
Whether in course or by indirection, whether by a cramming tutor or
by examiners with prizes and foundation scholarships, education
according to the English notion of it is arrived at.  I looked over
the Examination Papers of the year 1848, for the various scholarships
and fellowships, the Lusby, the Hertford, the Dean-Ireland, and the
University, (copies of which were kindly given me by a Greek
professor,) containing the tasks which many competitors had
victoriously performed, and I believed they would prove too severe
tests for the candidates for a Bachelor's degree in Yale or Harvard.
And, in general, here was proof of a more searching study in the
appointed directions, and the knowledge pretended to be conveyed was
conveyed.  Oxford sends out yearly twenty or thirty very able men,
and three or four hundred well-educated men.

        The diet and rough exercise secure a certain amount of old
Norse power.  A fop will fight, and, in exigent circumstances, will
play the manly part.  In seeing these youths, I believed I saw
already an advantage in vigor and color and general habit, over their
contemporaries in the American colleges.  No doubt much of the power
and brilliancy of the reading-men is merely constitutional or
hygienic.  With a hardier habit and resolute gymnastics, with five
miles more walking, or five ounces less eating, or with a saddle and
gallop of twenty miles a day, with skating and rowing-matches, the
American would arrive at as robust exegesis, and cheery and hilarious
tone.  I should readily concede these advantages, which it would be
easy to acquire, if I did not find also that they read better than
we, and write better.

        English wealth falling on their school and university training,
makes a systematic reading of the best authors, and to the end of a
knowledge how the things whereof they treat really stand: whilst
pamphleteer or journalist reading for an argument for a party, or
reading to write, or, at all events, for some by-end imposed on them,
must read meanly and fragmentarily.  Charles I.  said, that he
understood English law as well as a gentleman ought to understand it.

        Then they have access to books; the rich libraries collected at
every one of many thousands of houses, give an advantage not to be
attained by a youth in this country, when one thinks how much more
and better may be learned by a scholar, who, immediately on hearing
of a book, can consult it, than by one who is on the quest, for
years, and reads inferior books, because he cannot find the best.

        Again, the great number of cultivated men keep each other up to
a high standard.  The habit of meeting well-read and knowing men
teaches the art of omission and selection.

        Universities are, of course, hostile to geniuses, which seeing
and using ways of their own, discredit the routine: as churches and
monasteries persecute youthful saints.  Yet we all send our sons to
college, and, though he be a genius, he must take his chance.  The
university must be retrospective.  The gale that gives direction to
the vanes on all its towers blows out of antiquity.  Oxford is a
library, and the professors must be librarians.  And I should as soon
think of quarrelling with the janitor for not magnifying his office
by hostile sallies into the street, like the Governor of Kertch or
Kinburn, as of quarrelling with the professors for not admiring the
young neologists who pluck the beards of Euclid and Aristotle, or for
not attempting themselves to fill their vacant shelves as original
writers.

        It is easy to carp at colleges, and the college, if we will
wait for it, will have its own turn.  Genius exists there also, but
will not answer a call of a committee of the House of Commons.  It is
rare, precarious, eccentric, and darkling.  England is the land of
mixture and surprise, and when you have settled it that the
universities are moribund, out comes a poetic influence from the
heart of Oxford, to mould the opinions of cities, to build their
houses as simply as birds their nests, to give veracity to art, and
charm mankind, as an appeal to moral order always must.  But besides
this restorative genius, the best poetry of England of this age, in
the old forms, comes from two graduates of Cambridge.

 
        Chapter XIII _Religion_

        No people, at the present day, can be explained by their
national religion.  They do not feel responsible for it; it lies far
outside of them.  Their loyalty to truth, and their labor and
expenditure rest on real foundations, and not on a national church.
And English life, it is evident, does not grow out of the Athanasian
creed, or the Articles, or the Eucharist.  It is with religion as
with marriage.  A youth marries in haste; afterwards, when his mind
is opened to the reason of the conduct of life, he is asked, what he
thinks of the institution of marriage, and of the right relations of
the sexes?  `I should have much to say,' he might reply, `if the
question were open, but I have a wife and children, and all question
is closed for me.' In the barbarous days of a nation, some _cultus_
is formed or imported; altars are built, tithes are paid, priests
ordained.  The education and expenditure of the country take that
direction, and when wealth, refinement, great men, and ties to the
world, supervene, its prudent men say, why fight against Fate, or
lift these absurdities which are now mountainous?  Better find some
niche or crevice in this mountain of stone which religious ages have
quarried and carved, wherein to bestow yourself, than attempt any
thing ridiculously and dangerously above your strength, like removing
it.

        In seeing old castles and cathedrals, I sometimes say, as
to-day, in front of Dundee Church tower, which is eight hundred years
old, `this was built by another and a better race than any that now
look on it.' And, plainly, there has been great power of sentiment at
work in this island, of which these buildings are the proofs: as
volcanic basalts show the work of fire which has been extinguished
for ages.  England felt the full heat of the Christianity which
fermented Europe, and drew, like the chemistry of fire, a firm line
between barbarism and culture.  The power of the religious sentiment
put an end to human sacrifices, checked appetite, inspired the
crusades, inspired resistance to tyrants, inspired self-respect, set
bounds to serfdom and slavery, founded liberty, created the religious
architecture, -- York, Newstead, Westminster, Fountains Abbey, Ripon,
Beverley, and Dundee, -- works to which the key is lost, with the
sentiment which created them; inspired the English Bible, the
liturgy, the monkish histories, the chronicle of Richard of Devizes.
The priest translated the Vulgate, and translated the sanctities of
old hagiology into English virtues on English ground.  It was a
certain affirmative or aggressive state of the Caucasian races.  Man
awoke refreshed by the sleep of ages.  The violence of the northern
savages exasperated Christianity into power.  It lived by the love of
the people.  Bishop Wilfrid manumitted two hundred and fifty serfs,
whom he found attached to the soil.  The clergy obtained respite from
labor for the boor on the Sabbath, and on church festivals.  "The
lord who compelled his boor to labor between sunset on Saturday and
sunset on Sunday, forfeited him altogether." The priest came out of
the people, and sympathized with his class.  The church was the
mediator, check, and democratic principle, in Europe.  Latimer,
Wicliffe, Arundel, Cobham, Antony Parsons, Sir Harry Vane, George
Fox, Penn, Bunyan are the democrats, as well as the saints of their
times.  The Catholic church, thrown on this toiling, serious people,
has made in fourteen centuries a massive system, close fitted to the
manners and genius of the country, at once domestical and stately.
In the long time, it has blended with every thing in heaven above and
the earth beneath.  It moves through a zodiac of feasts and fasts,
names every day of the year, every town and market and headland and
monument, and has coupled itself with the almanac, that no court can
be held, no field ploughed, no horse shod, without some leave from
the church.  All maxims of prudence or shop or farm are fixed and
dated by the church.  Hence, its strength in the agricultural
districts.  The distribution of land into parishes enforces a church
sanction to every civil privilege; and the gradation of the clergy,
-- prelates for the rich, and curates for the poor, -- with the fact
that a classical education has been secured to the clergyman, makes
them "the link which unites the sequestered peasantry with the
intellectual advancement of the age."  (* 1)

        (* 1) Wordsworth.
 
        The English church has many certificates to show, of humble
effective service in humanizing the people, in cheering and refining
men, feeding, healing, and educating.  It has the seal of martyrs and
confessors; the noblest books; a sublime architecture; a ritual
marked by the same secular merits, nothing cheap or purchasable.

        From this slow-grown church important reactions proceed; much
for culture, much for giving a direction to the nation's affection
and will to-day.  The carved and pictured chapel, -- its entire
surface animated with image and emblem, -- made the parish-church a
sort of book and Bible to the people's eye.

        Then, when the Saxon instinct had secured a service in the
vernacular tongue, it was the tutor and university of the people.  In
York minster, on the day of the enthronization of the new archbishop,
I heard the service of evening prayer read and chanted in the choir.
It was strange to hear the pretty pastoral of the betrothal of
Rebecca and Isaac, in the morning of the world, read with
circumstantiality in York minster, on the 13th January, 1848, to the
decorous English audience, just fresh from the Times newspaper and
their wine; and listening with all the devotion of national pride.
That was binding old and new to some purpose.  The reverence for the
Scriptures is an element of civilization, for thus has the history of
the world been preserved, and is preserved.  Here in England every
day a chapter of Genesis, and a leader in the Times.

        Another part of the same service on this occasion was not
insignificant.  Handel's coronation anthem, _God save the King_, was
played by Dr. Camidge on the organ, with sublime effect.  The minster
and the music were made for each other.  It was a hint of the part
the church plays as a political engine.  From his infancy, every
Englishman is accustomed to hear daily prayers for the queen, for the
royal family and the Parliament, by name; and this lifelong
consecration of these personages cannot be without influence on his
opinions.

        The universities, also, are parcel of the ecclesiastical
system, and their first design is to form the clergy.  Thus the
clergy for a thousand years have been the scholars of the nation.

        The national temperament deeply enjoys the unbroken order and
tradition of its church; the liturgy, ceremony, architecture the
sober grace, the good company, the connection with the throne, and
with history, which adorn it.  And whilst it endears itself thus to
men of more taste than activity, the stability of the English nation
is passionately enlisted to its support, from its inextricable
connection with the cause of public order, with politics and with the
funds.

        Good churches are not built by bad men; at least, there must be
probity and enthusiasm somewhere in the society.  These minsters were
neither built nor filled by atheists.  No church has had more
learned, industrious or devoted men; plenty of "clerks and bishops,
who, out of their gowns, would turn their backs on no man."  (* 2)
Their architecture still glows with faith in immortality.  Heats and
genial periods arrive in history, or, shall we say, plentitudes of
Divine Presence, by which high tides are caused in the human spirit,
and great virtues and talents appear, as in the eleventh, twelfth,
thirteenth, and again in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
when the nation was full of genius and piety.

        (* 2) Fuller.

        But the age of the Wicliffes, Cobhams, Arundels, Beckets; of
the Latimers, Mores, Cranmers; of the Taylors, Leightons, Herberts;
of the Sherlocks, and Butlers, is gone.  Silent revolutions in
opinion have made it impossible that men like these should return, or
find a place in their once sacred stalls.  The spirit that dwelt in
this church has glided away to animate other activities; and they who
come to the old shrines find apes and players rustling the old
garments.

        The religion of England is part of good-breeding.  When you see
on the continent the well-dressed Englishman come into his
ambassador's chapel, and put his face for silent prayer into his
smooth-brushed hat, one cannot help feeling how much national pride
prays with him, and the religion of a gentleman.  So far is he from
attaching any meaning to the words, that he believes himself to have
done almost the generous thing, and that it is very condescending in
him to pray to God.  A great duke said, on the occasion of a victory,
in the House of Lords, that he thought the Almighty God had not been
well used by them, and that it would become their magnanimity, after
so great successes, to take order that a proper acknowledgment be
made.  It is the church of the gentry; but it is not the church of
the poor.  The operatives do not own it, and gentlemen lately
testified in the House of Commons that in their lives they never saw
a poor man in a ragged coat inside a church.

        The torpidity on the side of religion of the vigorous English
understanding, shows how much wit and folly can agree in one brain.
Their religion is a quotation; their church is a doll; and any
examination is interdicted with screams of terror.  In good company,
you expect them to laugh at the fanaticism of the vulgar; but they do
not: they are the vulgar.

        The English, in common perhaps with Christendom in the
nineteenth century, do not respect power, but only performance; value
ideas only for an economic result.  Wellington esteems a saint only
as far as he can be an army chaplain: -- "Mr. Briscoll, by his
admirable conduct and good sense, got the better of Methodism, which
had appeared among the soldiers, and once among the officers." They
value a philosopher as they value an apothecary who brings bark or a
drench; and inspiration is only some blowpipe, or a finer mechanical
aid.

        I suspect that there is in an Englishman's brain a valve that
can be closed at pleasure, as an engineer shuts off steam.  The most
sensible and well-informed men possess the power of thinking just so
far as the bishop in religious matters, and as the chancellor of the
exchequer in politics.  They talk with courage and logic, and show
you magnificent results, but the same men who have brought free trade
or geology to their present standing, look grave and lofty, and shut
down their valve, as soon as the conversation approaches the English
church.  After that, you talk with a box-turtle.

        The action of the university, both in what is taught, and in
the spirit of the place, is directed more on producing an English
gentleman, than a saint or a psychologist.  It ripens a bishop, and
extrudes a philosopher.  I do not know that there is more cabalism in
the Anglican, than in other churches, but the Anglican clergy are
identified with the aristocracy.  They say, here, that, if you talk
with a clergyman, you are sure to find him well-bred, informed, and
candid.  He entertains your thought or your project with sympathy and
praise.  But if a second clergyman come in, the sympathy is at an
end: two together are inaccessible to your thought, and, whenever it
comes to action, the clergyman invariably sides with his church.

        The Anglican church is marked by the grace and good sense of
its forms, by the manly grace of its clergy.  The gospel it preaches,
is, `By taste are ye saved.' It keeps the old structures in repair,
spends a world of money in music and building; and in buying Pugin,
and architectural literature.  It has a general good name for amenity
and mildness.  It is not in ordinary a persecuting church; it is not
inquisitorial, not even inquisitive, is perfectly well-bred, and can
shut its eyes on all proper occasions.  If you let it alone, it will
let you alone.  But its instinct is hostile to all change in
politics, literature, or social arts.  The church has not been the
founder of the London University, of the Mechanics' Institutes, of
the Free School, or whatever aims at diffusion of knowledge.  The
Platonists of Oxford are as bitter against this heresy, as Thomas
Taylor.

        The doctrine of the Old Testament is the religion of England.
The first leaf of the New Testament it does not open.  It believes in
a Providence which does not treat with levity a pound sterling.  They
are neither transcendentalists nor christians.  They put up no
Socratic prayer, much less any saintly prayer for the queen's mind;
ask neither for light nor right, but say bluntly, "grant her in
health and wealth long to live." And one traces this Jewish prayer in
all English private history, from the prayers of King Richard, in
Richard of Devizes' Chronicle, to those in the diaries of Sir Samuel
Romilly, and of Haydon the painter.  "Abroad with my wife," writes
Pepys piously, "the first time that ever I rode in my own coach;
which do make my heart rejoice and praise God, and pray him to bless
it to me, and continue it." The bill for the naturalization of the
Jews (in 1753) was resisted by petitions from all parts of the
kingdom, and by petition from the city of London, reprobating this
bill, as "tending extremely to the dishonor of the Christian
religion, and extremely injurious to the interests and commerce of
the kingdom in general, and of the city of London in particular."

        But they have not been able to congeal humanity by act of
Parliament.  "The heavens journey still and sojourn not," and arts,
wars, discoveries, and opinion, go onward at their own pace.  The new
age has new desires, new enemies, new trades, new charities, and
reads the Scriptures with new eyes.  The chatter of French politics,
the steam-whistle, the hum of the mill, and the noise of embarking
emigrants, had quite put most of the old legends out of mind; so that
when you came to read the liturgy to a modern congregation, it was
almost absurd in its unfitness, and suggested a masquerade of old
costumes.

        No chemist has prospered in the attempt to crystallize a
religion.  It is endogenous, like the skin, and other vital organs.
A new statement every day.  The prophet and apostle knew this, and
the nonconformist confutes the conformists, by quoting the texts they
must allow.  It is the condition of a religion, to require religion
for its expositor.  Prophet and apostle can only be rightly
understood by prophet and apostle.  The statesman knows that the
religious element will not fail, any more than the supply of fibrine
and chyle; but it is in its nature constructive, and will organize
such a church as it wants.  The wise legislator will spend on
temples, schools, libraries, colleges, but will shun the enriching of
priests.  If, in any manner, he can leave the election and paying of
the priest to the people, he will do well.  Like the Quakers, he may
resist the separation of a class of priests, and create opportunity
and expectation in the society, to run to meet natural endowment, in
this kind.  But, when wealth accrues to a chaplaincy, a bishopric, or
rectorship, it requires moneyed men for its stewards, who will give
it another direction than to the mystics of their day.  Of course,
money will do after its kind, and will steadily work to
unspiritualize and unchurch the people to whom it was bequeathed.
The class certain to be excluded from all preferment are the
religious, -- and driven to other churches; -- which is nature's _vis
medicatrix_.

        The curates are ill paid, and the prelates are overpaid.  This abuse
draws into the church the children of the nobility, and other unfit persons,
who have a taste for expense.  Thus a bishop is only a surpliced merchant.
Through his lawn, I can see the bright buttons of the shopman's coat glitter.
A wealth like that of Durham makes almost a premium on felony.  Brougham, in
a speech in the House of Commons on the Irish elective franchise, said, "How
will the reverend bishops of the other house be able to express their due
abhorrence of the crime of perjury, who solemnly declare in the presence of
God, that when they are called upon to accept a living, perhaps of 4000
pounds a year, at that very instant, they are moved by the Holy Ghost to
accept the office and administration thereof, and for no other reason
whatever?" The modes of initiation are more damaging than custom-house oaths.
The Bishop is elected by the Dean and Prebends of the cathedral.  The Queen
sends these gentlemen a _conge d'elire_, or leave to elect; but also sends
them the name of the person whom they are to elect.  They go into the
cathedral, chant and pray, and beseech the Holy Ghost to assist them in their
choice; and, after these invocations, invariably find that the dictates of
the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendations of the Queen.

        But you must pay for conformity.  All goes well as long as you
run with conformists.  But you, who are honest men in other
particulars, know, that there is alive somewhere a man whose honesty
reaches to this point also, that he shall not kneel to false gods,
and, on the day when you meet him, you sink into the class of
counterfeits.  Besides, this succumbing has grave penalties.  If you
take in a lie, you must take in all that belongs to it.  England
accepts this ornamented national church, and it glazes the eyes,
bloats the flesh, gives the voice a stertorous clang, and clouds the
understanding of the receivers.

        The English church, undermined by German criticism, had nothing
left but tradition, and was led logically back to Romanism.  But that
was an element which only hot heads could breathe: in view of the
educated class, generally, it was not a fact to front the sun; and
the alienation of such men from the church became complete.

        Nature, to be sure, had her remedy.  Religious persons are
driven out of the Established Church into sects, which instantly rise
to credit, and hold the Establishment in check.  Nature has sharper
remedies, also.  The English, abhorring change in all things,
abhorring it most in matters of religion, cling to the last rag of
form, and are dreadfully given to cant.  The English, (and I wish it
were confined to them, but 'tis a taint in the Anglo-Saxon blood in
both hemispheres,) the English and the Americans cant beyond all
other nations.  The French relinquish all that industry to them.
What is so odious as the polite bows to God, in our books and
newspapers?  The popular press is flagitious in the exact measure of
its sanctimony, and the religion of the day is a theatrical Sinai,
where the thunders are supplied by the property-man.  The fanaticism
and hypocrisy create satire.  Punch finds an inexhaustible material.
Dickens writes novels on Exeter-Hall humanity.  Thackeray exposes the
heartless high life.  Nature revenges herself more summarily by the
heathenism of the lower classes.  Lord Shaftesbury calls the poor
thieves together, and reads sermons to them, and they call it `gas.'
George Borrow summons the Gypsies to hear his discourse on the
Hebrews in Egypt, and reads to them the Apostles' Creed in Rommany.
"When I had concluded," he says, "I looked around me.  The features
of the assembly were twisted, and the eyes of all turned upon me with
a frightful squint: not an individual present but squinted; the
genteel Pepa, the good-humored Chicharona, the Cosdami, all squinted:
the Gypsy jockey squinted worst of all."

        The church at this moment is much to be pitied.  She has
nothing left but possession.  If a bishop meets an intelligent
gentleman, and reads fatal interrogations in his eyes, he has no
resource but to take wine with him.  False position introduces cant,
perjury, simony, and ever a lower class of mind and character into
the clergy: and, when the hierarchy is afraid of science and
education, afraid of piety, afraid of tradition, and afraid of
theology, there is nothing left but to quit a church which is no
longer one.

        But the religion of England, -- is it the Established Church?
no; is it the sects? no; they are only perpetuations of some private
man's dissent, and are to the Established Church as cabs are to a
coach, cheaper and more convenient, but really the same thing.  Where
dwells the religion?  Tell me first where dwells electricity, or
motion, or thought or gesture.  They do not dwell or stay at all.
Electricity cannot be made fast, mortared up and ended, like London
Monument, or the Tower, so that you shall know where to find it, and
keep it fixed, as the English do with their things, forevermore; it
is passing, glancing, gesticular; it is a traveller, a newness, a
surprise, a secret, which perplexes them, and puts them out.  Yet, if
religion be the doing of all good, and for its sake the suffering of
all evil, _souffrir de tout le monde et ne faire souffrir personne_,
that divine secret has existed in England from the days of Alfred to
those of Romilly, of Clarkson, and of Florence Nightingale, and in
thousands who have no fame.

 
 
        Chapter XIV _Literature_

        A strong common sense, which it is not easy to unseat or
disturb, marks the English mind for a thousand years: a rude strength
newly applied to thought, as of sailors and soldiers who had lately
learned to read.  They have no fancy, and never are surprised into a
covert or witty word, such as pleased the Athenians and Italians, and
was convertible into a fable not long after; but they delight in
strong earthy expression, not mistakable, coarsely true to the human
body, and, though spoken among princes, equally fit and welcome to
the mob.  This homeliness, veracity, and plain style, appear in the
earliest extant works, and in the latest.  It imports into songs and
ballads the smell of the earth, the breath of cattle, and, like a
Dutch painter, seeks a household charm, though by pails and pans.
They ask their constitutional utility in verse.  The kail and
herrings are never out of sight.  The poet nimbly recovers himself
from every sally of the imagination.  The English muse loves the
farmyard, the lane, and market.  She says, with De Stael, "I tramp in
the mire with wooden shoes, whenever they would force me into the
clouds." For, the Englishman has accurate perceptions; takes hold of
things by the right end, and there is no slipperiness in his grasp.
He loves the axe, the spade, the oar, the gun, the steampipe: he has
built the engine he uses.  He is materialist, economical, mercantile.
He must be treated with sincerity and reality, with muffins, and not
the promise of muffins; and prefers his hot chop, with perfect
security and convenience in the eating of it, to the chances of the
amplest and Frenchiest bill of fare, engraved on embossed paper.
When he is intellectual, and a poet or a philosopher, he carries the
same hard truth and the same keen machinery into the mental sphere.
His mind must stand on a fact.  He will not be baffled, or catch at
clouds, but the mind must have a symbol palpable and resisting.  What
he relishes in Dante, is the vice-like tenacity with which he holds a
mental image before the eyes, as if it were a scutcheon painted on a
shield.  Byron "liked something craggy to break his mind upon." A
taste for plain strong speech, what is called a biblical style, marks
the English.  It is in Alfred, and the Saxon Chronicle, and in the
Sagas of the Northmen.  Latimer was homely.  Hobbes was perfect in
the "noble vulgar speech." Donne, Bunyan, Milton, Taylor, Evelyn,
Pepys, Hooker, Cotton, and the translators, wrote it.  How realistic
or materialistic in treatment of his subject, is Swift.  He describes
his fictitious persons, as if for the police.  Defoe has no
insecurity or choice.  Hudibras has the same hard mentality, --
keeping the truth at once to the senses, and to the intellect.

        It is not less seen in poetry.  Chaucer's hard painting of his
Canterbury pilgrims satisfies the senses.  Shakspeare, Spenser, and
Milton, in their loftiest ascents, have this national grip and
exactitude of mind.  This mental materialism makes the value of
English transcendental genius; in these writers, and in Herbert,
Henry More, Donne, and Sir Thomas Browne.  The Saxon materialism and
narrowness, exalted into the sphere of intellect, makes the very
genius of Shakspeare and Milton.  When it reaches the pure element,
it treads the clouds as securely as the adamant.  Even in its
elevations, materialistic, its poetry is common sense inspired; or
iron raised to white heat.

        The marriage of the two qualities is in their speech.  It is a
tacit rule of the language to make the frame or skeleton, of Saxon
words, and, when elevation or ornament is sought, to interweave
Roman; but sparingly; nor is a sentence made of Roman words alone,
without loss of strength.  The children and laborers use the Saxon
unmixed.  The Latin unmixed is abandoned to the colleges and
Parliament.  Mixture is a secret of the English island; and, in their
dialect, the male principle is the Saxon; the female, the Latin; and
they are combined in every discourse.  A good writer, if he has
indulged in a Roman roundness, makes haste to chasten and nerve his
period by English monosyllables.

        When the Gothic nations came into Europe, they found it lighted
with the sun and moon of Hebrew and of Greek genius.  The tablets of
their brain, long kept in the dark, were finely sensible to the
double glory.  To the images from this twin source (of Christianity
and art), the mind became fruitful as by the incubation of the Holy
Ghost.  The English mind flowered in every faculty.  The common-sense
was surprised and inspired.  For two centuries, England was
philosophic, religious, poetic.  The mental furniture seemed of
larger scale; the memory capacious like the storehouse of the rains;
the ardor and endurance of study; the boldness and facility of their
mental construction; their fancy, and imagination, and easy spanning
of vast distances of thought; the enterprise or accosting of new
subjects; and, generally, the easy exertion of power, astonish, like
the legendary feats of Guy of Warwick.  The union of Saxon precision
and oriental soaring, of which Shakspeare is the perfect example, is
shared in less degree by the writers of two centuries.  I find not
only the great masters out of all rivalry and reach, but the whole
writing of the time charged with a masculine force and freedom.

        There is a hygienic simpleness, rough vigor, and closeness to
the matter in hand, even in the second and third class of writers;
and, I think, in the common style of the people, as one finds it in
the citation of wills, letters, and public documents, in proverbs,
and forms of speech.  The more hearty and sturdy expression may
indicate that the savageness of the Norseman was not all gone.  Their
dynamic brains hurled off their words, as the revolving stone hurls
off scraps of grit.  I could cite from the seventeenth century
sentences and phrases of edge not to be matched in the nineteenth.
Their poets by simple force of mind equalized themselves with the
accumulated science of ours.  The country gentlemen had a posset or
drink they called October; and the poets, as if by this hint, knew
how to distil the whole season into their autumnal verses: and, as
nature, to pique the more, sometimes works up deformities into
beauty, in some rare Aspasia, or Cleopatra; and, as the Greek art
wrought many a vase or column, in which too long, or too lithe, or
nodes, or pits and flaws, are made a beauty of; so these were so
quick and vital, that they could charm and enrich by mean and vulgar
objects.

        A man must think that age well taught and thoughtful, by which
masques and poems, like those of Ben Jonson, full of heroic sentiment
in a manly style, were received with favor.  The unique fact in
literary history, the unsurprised reception of Shakspeare; -- the
reception proved by his making his fortune; and the apathy proved by
the absence of all contemporary panegyric, -- seems to demonstrate an
elevation in the mind of the people.  Judge of the splendor of a
nation, by the insignificance of great individuals in it.  The manner
in which they learned Greek and Latin, before our modern facilities
were yet ready, without dictionaries, grammars, or indexes, by
lectures of a professor, followed by their own searchings, --
required a more robust memory, and cooperation of all the faculties;
and their scholars, Camden, Usher, Selden, Mede, Gataker, Hooker,
Taylor, Burton, Bentley, Brian Walton, acquired the solidity and
method of engineers.

        The influence of Plato tinges the British genius.  Their minds
loved analogy; were cognisant of resemblances, and climbers on the
staircase of unity.  'Tis a very old strife between those who elect
to see identity, and those who elect to see discrepances; and it
renews itself in Britain.  The poets, of course, are of one part; the
men of the world, of the other.  But Britain had many disciples of
Plato; -- More, Hooker, Bacon, Sidney, Lord Brooke, Herbert, Browne,
Donne, Spenser, Chapman, Milton, Crashaw, Norris, Cudworth, Berkeley,
Jeremy Taylor.

        Lord Bacon has the English duality.  His centuries of
observations, on useful science, and his experiments, I suppose, were
worth nothing.  One hint of Franklin, or Watt, or Dalton, or Davy, or
any one who had a talent for experiment, was worth all his lifetime
of exquisite trifles.  But he drinks of a diviner stream, and marks
the influx of idealism into England.  Where that goes, is poetry,
health, and progress.  The rules of its genesis or its diffusion are
not known.  That knowledge, if we had it, would supersede all that we
call science of the mind.  It seems an affair of race, or of
meta-chemistry; -- the vital point being, -- how far the sense of
unity, or instinct of seeking resemblances, predominated.  For,
wherever the mind takes a step, it is, to put itself at one with a
larger class, discerned beyond the lesser class with which it has
been conversant.  Hence, all poetry, and all affirmative action
comes.

        Bacon, in the structure of his mind, held of the analogists, of
the idealists, or (as we popularly say, naming from the best example)
Platonists.  Whoever discredits analogy, and requires heaps of facts,
before any theories can be attempted, has no poetic power, and
nothing original or beautiful will be produced by him.  Locke is as
surely the influx of decomposition and of prose, as Bacon and the
Platonists, of growth.  The Platonic is the poetic tendency; the
so-called scientific is the negative and poisonous.  'Tis quite
certain, that Spenser, Burns, Byron, and Wordsworth will be
Platonists; and that the dull men will be Lockists.  Then politics
and commerce will absorb from the educated class men of talents
without genius, precisely because such have no resistance.

        Bacon, capable of ideas, yet devoted to ends, required in his
map of the mind, first of all, universality, or _prima philosophia_,
the receptacle for all such profitable observations and axioms as
fall not within the compass of any of the special parts of
philosophy, but are more common, and of a higher stage.  He held this
element essential: it is never out of mind: he never spares rebukes
for such as neglect it; believing that no perfect discovery can be
made in a flat or level, but you must ascend to a higher science.
"If any man thinketh philosophy and universality to be idle studies,
he doth not consider that all professions are from thence served and
supplied, and this I take to be a great cause that has hindered the
progression of learning, because these fundamental knowledges have
been studied but in passage." He explained himself by giving various
quaint examples of the summary or common laws, of which each science
has its own illustration.  He complains, that "he finds this part of
learning very deficient, the profounder sort of wits drawing a bucket
now and then for their own use, but the spring-head unvisited.  This
was the _dry light_ which did scorch and offend most men's watery
natures." Plato had signified the same sense, when he said, "All the
great arts require a subtle and speculative research into the law of
nature, since loftiness of thought and perfect mastery over every
subject seem to be derived from some such source as this.  This
Pericles had, in addition to a great natural genius.  For, meeting
with Anaxagoras, who was a person of this kind, he attached himself
to him, and nourished himself with sublime speculations on the
absolute intelligence; and imported thence into the oratorical art,
whatever could be useful to it."

 
        A few generalizations always circulate in the world, whose
authors we do not rightly know, which astonish, and appear to be
avenues to vast kingdoms of thought, and these are in the world
_constants_, like the Copernican and Newtonian theories in physics.
In England, these may be traced usually to Shakspeare, Bacon, Milton,
or Hooker, even to Van Helmont and Behmen, and do all have a kind of
filial retrospect to Plato and the Greeks.  Of this kind is Lord
Bacon's sentence, that "nature is commanded by obeying her;" his
doctrine of poetry, which "accommodates the shows of things to the
desires of the mind," or the Zoroastrian definition of poetry,
mystical, yet exact, "apparent pictures of unapparent natures;"
Spenser's creed, that "soul is form, and doth the body make;" the
theory of Berkeley, that we have no certain assurance of the
existence of matter; Doctor Samuel Clarke's argument for theism from
the nature of space and time; Harrington's political rule, that power
must rest on land, -- a rule which requires to be liberally
interpreted; the theory of Swedenborg, so cosmically applied by him,
that the man makes his heaven and hell; Hegel's study of civil
history, as the conflict of ideas and the victory of the deeper
thought; the identity-philosophy of Schelling, couched in the
statement that "all difference is quantitative." So the very
announcement of the theory of gravitation, of Kepler's three harmonic
laws, and even of Dalton's doctrine of definite proportions, finds a
sudden response in the mind, which remains a superior evidence to
empirical demonstrations.  I cite these generalizations, some of
which are more recent, merely to indicate a class.  Not these
particulars, but the mental plane or the atmosphere from which they
emanate, was the home and elements of the writers and readers in what
we loosely call the Elizabethan age, (say, in literary history, the
period from 1575 to 1625,) yet a period almost short enough to
justify Ben Jonson's remark on Lord Bacon; "about his time, and
within his view, were born all the wits that could honor a nation, or
help study."

        Such richness of genius had not existed more than once before.
These heights could not be maintained.  As we find stumps of vast
trees in our exhausted soils, and have received traditions of their
ancient fertility to tillage, so history reckons epochs in which the
intellect of famed races became effete.  So it fared with English
genius.  These heights were followed by a meanness, and a descent of
the mind into lower levels; the loss of wings; no high speculation.
Locke, to whom the meaning of ideas was unknown, became the type of
philosophy, and his "understanding" the measure, in all nations, of
the English intellect.  His countrymen forsook the lofty sides of
Parnassus, on which they had once walked with echoing steps, and
disused the studies once so beloved; the powers of thought fell into
neglect.  The later English want the faculty of Plato and Aristotle,
of grouping men in natural classes by an insight of general laws, so
deep, that the rule is deduced with equal precision from few subjects
or from one, as from multitudes of lives.  Shakspeare is supreme in
that, as in all the great mental energies.  The Germans generalize:
the English cannot interpret the German mind.  German science
comprehends the English.  The absence of the faculty in England is
shown by the timidity which accumulates mountains of facts, as a bad
general wants myriads of men and miles of redoubts, to compensate the
inspirations of courage and conduct.

        The English shrink from a generalization.  "They do not look
abroad into universality, or they draw only a bucket-full at the
fountain of the First Philosophy for their occasion, and do not go to
the spring-head." Bacon, who said this, is almost unique among his
countrymen in that faculty, at least among the prose-writers.
Milton, who was the stair or high table-land to let down the English
genius from the summits of Shakspeare, used this privilege sometimes
in poetry, more rarely in prose.  For a long interval afterwards, it
is not found.  Burke was addicted to generalizing, but his was a
shorter line; as his thoughts have less depth, they have less
compass.  Hume's abstractions are not deep or wise.  He owes his fame
to one keen observation, that no copula had been detected between any
cause and effect, either in physics or in thought; that the term
cause and effect was loosely or gratuitously applied to what we know
only as consecutive, not at all as causal.  Doctor Johnson's written
abstractions have little value: the tone of feeling in them makes
their chief worth.

        Mr. Hallam, a learned and elegant scholar, has written the
history of European literature for three centuries, -- a performance
of great ambition, inasmuch as a judgment was to be attempted on
every book.  But his eye does not reach to the ideal standards: the
verdicts are all dated from London: all new thought must be cast into
the old moulds.  The expansive element which creates literature is
steadily denied.  Plato is resisted, and his school.  Hallam is
uniformly polite, but with deficient sympathy; writes with resolute
generosity, but is unconscious of the deep worth which lies in the
mystics, and which often outvalues as a seed of power and a source of
revolution all the correct writers and shining reputations of their
day.  He passes in silence, or dismisses with a kind of contempt, the
profounder masters: a lover of ideas is not only uncongenial, but
unintelligible.  Hallam inspires respect by his knowledge and
fidelity, by his manifest love of good books, and he lifts himself to
own better than almost any the greatness of Shakspeare, and better
than Johnson he appreciates Milton.  But in Hallam, or in the firmer
intellectual nerve of Mackintosh, one still finds the same type of
English genius.  It is wise and rich, but it lives on its capital.
It is retrospective.  How can it discern and hail the new forms that
are looming up on the horizon, -- new and gigantic thoughts which
cannot dress themselves out of any old wardrobe of the past?

        The essays, the fiction, and the poetry of the day have the
like municipal limits.  Dickens, with preternatural apprehension of
the language of manners, and the varieties of street life, with
pathos and laughter, with patriotic and still enlarging generosity,
writes London tracts.  He is a painter of English details, like
Hogarth; local and temporary in his tints and style, and local in his
aims.  Bulwer, an industrious writer, with occasional ability, is
distinguished for his reverence of intellect as a temporality, and
appeals to the worldly ambition of the student.  His romances tend to
fan these low flames.  Their novelists despair of the heart.
Thackeray finds that God has made no allowance for the poor thing in
his universe; -- more's the pity, he thinks; -- but 'tis not for us
to be wiser: we must renounce ideals, and accept London.

        The brilliant Macaulay, who expresses the tone of the English
governing classes of the day, explicitly teaches, that _good_ means
good to eat, good to wear, material commodity; that the glory of
modern philosophy is its direction on "fruit;" to yield economical
inventions; and that its merit is to avoid ideas, and avoid morals.
He thinks it the distinctive merit of the Baconian philosophy, in its
triumph over the old Platonic, its disentangling the intellect from
theories of the all-Fair and all-Good, and pinning it down to the
making a better sick chair and a better wine-whey for an invalid; --
this not ironically, but in good faith; -- that, "solid advantage,"
as he calls it, meaning always sensual benefit, is the only good.
The eminent benefit of astronomy is the better navigation it creates
to enable the fruit-ships to bring home their lemons and wine to the
London grocer.  It was a curious result, in which the civility and
religion of England for a thousand years, ends, in denying morals,
and reducing the intellect to a sauce-pan.  The critic hides his
skepticism under the English cant of practical.  To convince the
reason, to touch the conscience, is romantic pretension.  The fine
arts fall to the ground.  Beauty, except as luxurious commodity, does
not exist.  It is very certain, I may say in passing, that if Lord
Bacon had been only the sensualist his critic pretends, he would
never have acquired the fame which now entitles him to this
patronage.  It is because he had imagination, the leisures of the
spirit, and basked in an element of contemplation out of all modern
English atmospheric gauges, that he is impressive to the imaginations
of men, and has become a potentate not to be ignored.  Sir David
Brewster sees the high place of Bacon, without finding Newton
indebted to him, and thinks it a mistake.  Bacon occupies it by
specific gravity or levity, not by any feat he did, or by any
tutoring more or less of Newton &c., but an effect of the same cause
which showed itself more pronounced afterwards in Hooke, Boyle, and
Halley.

        Coleridge, a catholic mind, with a hunger for ideas, with eyes
looking before and after to the highest bards and sages, and who
wrote and spoke the only high criticism in his time, -- is one of
those who save England from the reproach of no longer possessing the
capacity to appreciate what rarest wit the island has yielded.  Yet
the misfortune of his life, his vast attempts but most inadequate
performings, failing to accomplish any one masterpiece, seems to mark
the closing of an era.  Even in him, the traditional Englishman was
too strong for the philosopher, and he fell into _accommodations_:
and, as Burke had striven to idealize the English State, so Coleridge
`narrowed his mind' in the attempt to reconcile the gothic rule and
dogma of the Anglican Church, with eternal ideas.  But for Coleridge,
and a lurking taciturn minority, uttering itself in occasional
criticism, oftener in private discourse, one would say, that in
Germany and in America, is the best mind in England rightly
respected.  It is the surest sign of national decay, when the Bramins
can no longer read or understand the Braminical philosophy.

        In the decomposition and asphyxia that followed all this
materialism, Carlyle was driven by his disgust at the pettiness and
the cant, into the preaching of Fate.  In comparison with all this
rottenness, any check, any cleansing, though by fire, seemed
desirable and beautiful.  He saw little difference in the gladiators,
or the "causes" for which they combated; the one comfort was, that
they were all going speedily into the abyss together: And his
imagination, finding no nutriment in any creation, avenged itself by
celebrating the majestic beauty of the laws of decay.  The
necessities of mental structure force all minds into a few
categories, and where impatience of the tricks of men makes Nemesis
amiable, and builds altars to the negative Deity, the inevitable
recoil is to heroism or the gallantry of the private heart, which
decks its immolation with glory, in the unequal combat of will
against fate.

        Wilkinson, the editor of Swedenborg, the annotator of Fourier,
and the champion of Hahnemann, has brought to metaphysics and to
physiology a native vigor, with a catholic perception of relations,
equal to the highest attempts, and a rhetoric like the armory of the
invincible knights of old.  There is in the action of his mind a long
Atlantic roll not known except in deepest waters, and only lacking
what ought to accompany such powers, a manifest centrality.  If his
mind does not rest in immovable biases, perhaps the orbit is larger,
and the return is not yet: but a master should inspire a confidence
that he will adhere to his convictions, and give his present studies
always the same high place.

        It would be easy to add exceptions to the limitary tone of
English thought, and much more easy to adduce examples of excellence
in particular veins: and if, going out of the region of dogma, we
pass into that of general culture, there is no end to the graces and
amenities, wit, sensibility and erudition, of the learned class.  But
the artificial succor which marks all English performance, appears in
letters also: much of their aesthetic production is antiquarian and
manufactured, and literary reputations have been achieved by forcible
men, whose relation to literature was purely accidental, but who were
driven by tastes and modes they found in vogue into their several
careers.  So, at this moment, every ambitious young man studies
geology: so members of Parliament are made, and churchmen.

        The bias of Englishmen to practical skill has reacted on the
national mind.  They are incapable of an inutility, and respect the
five mechanic powers even in their song.  The voice of their modern
muse has a slight hint of the steam-whistle, and the poem is created
as an ornament and finish of their monarchy, and by no means as the
bird of a new morning which forgets the past world in the full
enjoyment of that which is forming.  They are with difficulty ideal;
they are the most conditioned men, as if, having the best conditions,
they could not bring themselves to forfeit them.  Every one of them
is a thousand years old, and lives by his memory: and when you say
this, they accept it as praise.

        Nothing comes to the book-shops but politics, travels,
statistics, tabulation, and engineering, and even what is called
philosophy and letters is mechanical in its structure, as if
inspiration had ceased, as if no vast hope, no religion, no song of
joy, no wisdom, no analogy, existed any more.  The tone of colleges,
and of scholars and of literary society has this mortal air.  I seem
to walk on a marble floor, where nothing will grow.  They exert every
variety of talent on a lower ground, and may be said to live and act
in a sub-mind.  They have lost all commanding views in literature,
philosophy, and science.  A good Englishman shuts himself out of
three fourths of his mind, and confines himself to one fourth.  He
has learning, good sense, power of labor, and logic: but a faith in
the laws of the mind like that of Archimedes; a belief like that of
Euler and Kepler, that experience must follow and not lead the laws
of the mind; a devotion to the theory of politics, like that of
Hooker, and Milton, and Harrington, the modern English mind
repudiates.

        I fear the same fault lies in their science, since they have
known how to make it repulsive, and bereave nature of its charm; --
though perhaps the complaint flies wider, and the vice attaches to
many more than to British physicists.  The eye of the naturalist must
have a scope like nature itself, a susceptibility to all impressions,
alive to the heart as well as to the logic of creation.  But English
science puts humanity to the door.  It wants the connection which is
the test of genius.  The science is false by not being poetic.  It
isolates the reptile or mollusk it assumes to explain; whilst reptile
or mollusk only exists in system, in relation.  The poet only sees it
as an inevitable step in the path of the Creator.  But, in England,
one hermit finds this fact, and another finds that, and lives and
dies ignorant of its value.  There are great exceptions, of John
Hunter, a man of ideas; perhaps of Robert Brown, the botanist; and of
Richard Owen, who has imported into Britain the German homologies,
and enriched science with contributions of his own, adding sometimes
the divination of the old masters to the unbroken power of labor in
the English mind.  But for the most part, the natural science in
England is out of its loyal alliance with morals, and is as void of
imagination and free play of thought, as conveyancing.  It stands in
strong contrast with the genius of the Germans, those semi-Greeks,
who love analogy, and, by means of their height of view, preserve
their enthusiasm, and think for Europe.

        No hope, no sublime augury cheers the student, no secure
striding from experiment onward to a foreseen law, but only a casual
dipping here and there, like diggers in California "prospecting for a
placer" that will pay.  A horizon of brass of the diameter of his
umbrella shuts down around his senses.  Squalid contentment with
conventions, satire at the names of philosophy and religion,
parochial and shop-till politics, and idolatry of usage, betray the
ebb of life and spirit.  As they trample on nationalities to
reproduce London and Londoners in Europe and Asia, so they fear the
hostility of ideas, of poetry, of religion, -- ghosts which they
cannot lay; -- and, having attempted to domesticate and dress the
Blessed Soul itself in English broadcloth and gaiters, they are
tormented with fear that herein lurks a force that will sweep their
system away.  The artists say, "Nature puts them out;" the scholars
have become un-ideal.  They parry earnest speech with banter and
levity; they laugh you down, or they change the subject.  "The fact
is," say they over their wine, "all that about liberty, and so forth,
is gone by; it won't do any longer." The practical and comfortable
oppress them with inexorable claims, and the smallest fraction of
power remains for heroism and poetry.  No poet dares murmur of beauty
out of the precinct of his rhymes.  No priest dares hint at a
Providence which does not respect English utility.  The island is a
roaring volcano of fate, of material values, of tariffs, and laws of
repression, glutted markets and low prices.

        In the absence of the highest aims, of the pure love of
knowledge, and the surrender to nature, there is the suppression of
the imagination, the priapism of the senses and the understanding; we
have the factitious instead of the natural; tasteless expense, arts
of comfort, and the rewarding as an illustrious inventor whosoever
will contrive one impediment more to interpose between the man and
his objects.

        Thus poetry is degraded, and made ornamental.  Pope and his
school wrote poetry fit to put round frosted cake.  What did Walter
Scott write without stint? a rhymed traveller's guide to Scotland.
And the libraries of verses they print have this Birmingham
character.  How many volumes of well-bred metre we must gingle
through, before we can be filled, taught, renewed!  We want the
miraculous; the beauty which we can manufacture at no mill, -- can
give no account of; the beauty of which Chaucer and Chapman had the
secret.  The poetry of course is low and prosaic; only now and then,
as in Wordsworth, conscientious; or in Byron, passional; or in
Tennyson, factitious.  But if I should count the poets who have
contributed to the bible of existing England sentences of guidance
and consolation which are still glowing and effective, -- how few!7
Shall I find my heavenly bread in the reigning poets?  Where is great
design in modern English poetry?  The English have lost sight of the
fact that poetry exists to speak the spiritual law, and that no
wealth of description or of fancy is yet essentially new, and out of
the limits of prose, until this condition is reached.  Therefore the
grave old poets, like the Greek artists, heeded their designs, and
less considered the finish.  It was their office to lead to the
divine sources, out of which all this, and much more, readily
springs; and, if this religion is in the poetry, it raises us to some
purpose, and we can well afford some staidness, or hardness, or want
of popular tune in the verses.

        The exceptional fact of the period is the genius of Wordsworth.
He had no master but nature and solitude.  "He wrote a poem," says
Landor, "without the aid of war." His verse is the voice of sanity in
a worldly and ambitious age.  One regrets that his temperament was
not more liquid and musical.  He has written longer than he was
inspired.  But for the rest, he has no competitor.

        Tennyson is endowed precisely in points where Wordsworth
wanted.  There is no finer ear, nor more command of the keys of
language.  Color, like the dawn, flows over the horizon from his
pencil, in waves so rich that we do not miss the central form.
Through all his refinements, too, he has reached the public, -- a
certificate of good sense and general power, since he who aspires to
be the English poet must be as large as London, not in the same kind
as London, but in his own kind.  But he wants a subject, and climbs
no mount of vision to bring its secrets to the people.  He contents
himself with describing the Englishman as he is, and proposes no
better.  There are all degrees in poetry, and we must be thankful for
every beautiful talent.  But it is only a first success, when the ear
is gained.  The best office of the best poets has been to show how
low and uninspired was their general style, and that only once or
twice they have struck the high chord.

        That expansiveness which is the essence of the poetic element,
they have not.  It was no Oxonian, but Hafiz, who said, "Let us be
crowned with roses, let us drink wine, and break up the tiresome old
roof of heaven into new forms." A stanza of the song of nature the
Oxonian has no ear for, and he does not value the salient and
curative influence of intellectual action, studious of truth, without
a by-end.

        By the law of contraries, I look for an irresistible taste for
Orientalism in Britain.  For a self-conceited modish life, made up of
trifles, clinging to a corporeal civilization, hating ideas, there is
no remedy like the Oriental largeness.  That astonishes and
disconcerts English decorum.  For once there is thunder it never
heard, light it never saw, and power which trifles with time and
space.  I am not surprised, then, to find an Englishman like Warren
Hastings, who had been struck with the grand style of thinking in the
Indian writings, deprecating the prejudices of his countrymen, while
offering them a translation of the Bhagvat.  "Might I, an unlettered
man, venture to prescribe bounds to the latitude of criticism, I
should exclude, in estimating the merit of such a production, all
rules drawn from the ancient or modern literature of Europe, all
references to such sentiments or manners as are become the standards
of propriety for opinion and action in our own modes, and, equally,
all appeals to our revealed tenets of religion and moral duty."  (*
1)  He goes on to bespeak indulgence to "ornaments of fancy unsuited
to our taste, and passages elevated to a tract of sublimity into
which our habits of judgment will find it difficult to pursue them."

        (* 1) Preface to Wilkins's Translation of the Bhagvat Geeta.

        Meantime, I know that a retrieving power lies in the English
race, which seems to make any recoil possible; in other words, there
is at all times a minority of profound minds existing in the nation,
capable of appreciating every soaring of intellect and every hint of
tendency.  While the constructive talent seems dwarfed and
superficial, the criticism is often in the noblest tone, and suggests
the presence of the invisible gods.  I can well believe what I have
often heard, that there are two nations in England; but it is not the
Poor and the Rich; nor is it the Normans and Saxons; nor the Celt and
the Goth.  These are each always becoming the other; for Robert Owen
does not exaggerate the power of circumstance.  But the two
complexions, or two styles of mind, -- the perceptive class, and the
practical finality class, -- are ever in counterpoise, interacting
mutually; one, in hopeless minorities; the other, in huge masses; one
studious, contemplative, experimenting; the other, the ungrateful
pupil, scornful of the source, whilst availing itself of the
knowledge for gain; these two nations, of genius and of animal force,
though the first consist of only a dozen souls, and the second of
twenty millions, forever by their discord and their accord yield the
power of the English State.

 
        Chapter XV _The "Times"_

        The power of the newspaper is familiar in America, and in
accordance with our political systemgonism with the feudal
institutions, and it is all the more beneficent succor against the
secretive tendencies of a monarchy.  The celebrated Lord Somers "knew
of no good law proposed and passed in his time, to which the public
papers had not directed his attention." There is no corner and no
night.  A relentless inquisition drags every secret to the day, turns
the glare of this solar microscope on every malfaisance, so as to
make the public a more terrible spy than any foreigner; and no
weakness can be taken advantage of by an enemy, since the whole
people are already forewarned.  Thus England rids herself of those
incrustations which have been the ruin of old states.  Of course,
this inspection is feared.  No antique privilege, no comfortable
monopoly, but sees surely that its days are counted; the people are
familiarized with the reason of reform, and, one by one, take away
every argument of the obstructives.  "So your grace likes the comfort
of reading the newspapers," said Lord Mansfield to the Duke of
Northumberland; "mark my words; you and I shall not live to see it,
but this young gentleman (Lord Eldon) may, or it may be a little
later; but a little sooner or later, these newspapers will most
assuredly write the dukes of Northumberland out of their titles and
possessions, and the country out of its king." The tendency in
England towards social and political institutions like those of
America, is inevitable, and the ability of its journals is the
driving force.

        England is full of manly, clever, well-bred men who possess the
talent of writing off-hand pungent paragraphs, expressing with
clearness and courage their opinion on any person or performance.
Valuable or not, it is a skill that is rarely found, out of the
English journals.  The English do this, as they write poetry, as they
ride and box, by being educated to it.  Hundreds of clever Praeds,
and Freres, and Froudes, and Hoods, and Hooks, and Maginns, and
Mills, and Macaulays, make poems, or short essays for a journal, as
they make speeches in Parliament and on the hustings, or, as they
shoot and ride.  It is a quite accidental and arbitrary direction of
their general ability.  Rude health and spirits, an Oxford education,
and the habits of society are implied, but not a ray of genius.  It
comes of the crowded state of the professions, the violent interest
which all men take in politics, the facility of experimenting in the
journals, and high pay.

        The most conspicuous result of this talent is the "Times"
newspaper.  No power in England is more felt, more feared, or more
obeyed.  What you read in the morning in that journal, you shall hear
in the evening in all society.  It has ears every where, and its
information is earliest, completest, and surest.  It has risen, year
by year, and victory by victory, to its present authority.  I asked
one of its old contributors, whether it had once been abler than it
is now?  "Never," he said; "these are its palmiest days." It has
shown those qualities which are dear to Englishmen, unflinching
adherence to its objects, prodigal intellectual ability, and a
towering assurance, backed by the perfect organization in its
printing-house, and its world-wide net-work of correspondence and
reports.  It has its own history and famous trophies.  In 1820, it
adopted the cause of Queen Caroline, and carried it against the king.
It adopted a poor-law system, and almost alone lifted it through.
When Lord Brougham was in power, it decided against him, and pulled
him down.  It declared war against Ireland, and conquered it.  It
adopted the League against the Corn Laws, and, when Cobden had begun
to despair, it announced his triumph.  It denounced and discredited
the French Republic of 1848, and checked every sympathy with it in
England, until it had enrolled 200,000 special constables to watch
the Chartists, and make them ridiculous on the 10th April.  It first
denounced and then adopted the new French Empire, and urged the
French Alliance and its results.  It has entered into each municipal,
literary, and social question, almost with a controlling voice.  It
has done bold and seasonable service in exposing frauds which
threatened the commercial community.  Meantime, it attacks its rivals
by perfecting its printing machinery, and will drive them out of
circulation: for the only limit to the circulation of the "Times is
the impossibility of printing copies fast enough; since a daily paper
can only be new and seasonable for a few hours.  It will kill all but
that paper which is diametrically in opposition; since many papers,
first and last, have lived by their attacks on the leading journal.

        The late Mr. Walter was printer of the "Times," and had
gradually arranged the whole _materiel_ of it in perfect system.  It
is told, that when he demanded a small share in the proprietary, and
was refused, he said, "As you please, gentlemen; and you may take
away the `Times' from this office, when you will; I shall publish the
`New Times,' next Monday morning." The proprietors, who had already
complained that his charges for printing were excessive, found that
they were in his power, and gave him whatever he wished.

        I went one day with a good friend to the "Times" office, which
was entered through a pretty garden-yard, in Printing-House Square.
We walked with some circumspection, as if we were entering a
powder-mill; but the door was opened by a mild old woman, and, by
dint of some transmission of cards, we were at last conducted into
the parlor of Mr. Morris, a very gentle person, with no hostile
appearances.  The statistics are now quite out of date, but I
remember he told us that the daily printing was then 35,000 copies;
that on the 1st March, 1848, the greatest number ever printed, --
54,000 were issued; that, since February, the daily circulation had
increased by 8000 copies.  The old press they were then using printed
five or six thousand sheets per hour; the new machine, for which they
were then building an engine, would print twelve thousand per hour.
Our entertainer confided us to a courteous assistant to show us the
establishment, in which, I think, they employed a hundred and twenty
men.  I remember, I saw the reporters' room, in which they redact
their hasty stenographs, but the editor's room, and who is in it, I
did not see, though I shared the curiosity of mankind respecting it.

        The staff of the "Times" has always been made up of able men.
Old Walter, Sterling, Bacon, Barnes, Alsiger, Horace Twiss, Jones
Loyd, John Oxenford, Mr. Mosely, Mr. Bailey, have contributed to its
renown in their special departments.  But it has never wanted the
first pens for occasional assistance.  Its private information is
inexplicable, and recalls the stories of Fouche's police, whose
omniscience made it believed that the Empress Josephine must be in
his pay.  It has mercantile and political correspondents in every
foreign city; and its expresses outrun the despatches of the
government.  One hears anecdotes of the rise of its servants, as of
the functionaries of the India House.  I was told of the dexterity of
one of its reporters, who, finding himself, on one occasion, where
the magistrates had strictly forbidden reporters, put his hands into
his coat-pocket, and with pencil in one hand, and tablet in the
other, did his work.

        The influence of this journal is a recognized power in Europe,
and, of course, none is more conscious of it than its conductors.
The tone of its articles has often been the occasion of comment from
the official organs of the continental courts, and sometimes the
ground of diplomatic complaint.  What would the "Times" say? is a
terror in Paris, in Berlin, in Vienna, in Copenhagen, and in Nepaul.
Its consummate discretion and success exhibit the English skill of
combination.  The daily paper is the work of many hands, chiefly, it
is said, of young men recently from the University, and perhaps
reading law in chambers in London.  Hence the academic elegance, and
classic allusion, which adorn its columns.  Hence, too, the heat and
gallantry of its onset.  But the steadiness of the aim suggests the
belief that this fire is directed and fed by older engineers; as if
persons of exact information, and with settled views of policy,
supplied the writers with the basis of fact, and the object to be
attained, and availed themselves of their younger energy and
eloquence to plead the cause.  Both the council and the executive
departments gain by this division.  Of two men of equal ability, the
one who does not write, but keeps his eye on the course of public
affairs, will have the higher judicial wisdom.  But the parts are
kept in concert; all the articles appear to proceed from a single
will.  The "Times" never disapproves of what itself has said, or
cripples itself by apology for the absence of the editor, or the
indiscretion of him who held the pen.  It speaks out bluff and bold,
and sticks to what it says.  It draws from any number of learned and
skilful contributors; but a more learned and skilful person
supervises, corrects, and coordinates.  Of this closet, the secret
does not transpire.  No writer is suffered to claim the authorship of
any paper; every thing good, from whatever quarter, comes out
editorially; and thus, by making the paper every thing, and those who
write it nothing, the character and the awe of the journal gain.

        The English like it for its complete information.  A statement
of fact in the "Times" is as reliable as a citation from Hansard.
Then, they like its independence; they do not know, when they take it
up, what their paper is going to say: but, above all, for the
nationality and confidence of its tone.  It thinks for them all; it
is their understanding and day's ideal daguerreotyped.  When I see
them reading its columns, they seem to me becoming every moment more
British.  It has the national courage, not rash and petulant, but
considerate and determined.  No dignity or wealth is a shield from
its assault.  It attacks a duke as readily as a policeman, and with
the most provoking airs of condescension.  It makes rude work with
the Board of Admiralty.  The Bench of Bishops is still less safe.
One bishop fares badly for his rapacity, and another for his bigotry,
and a third for his courtliness.  It addresses occasionally a hint to
Majesty itself, and sometimes a hint which is taken.  There is an air
of freedom even in their advertising columns, which speaks well for
England to a foreigner.  On the days when I arrived in London in
1847, I read among the daily announcements, one offering a reward of
fifty pounds to any person who would put a nobleman, described by
name and title, late a member of Parliament, into any county jail in
England, he having been convicted of obtaining money under false
pretences.

        Was never such arrogancy as the tone of this paper.  Every slip
of an Oxonian or Cantabrigian who writes his first leader, assumes
that we subdued the earth before we sat down to write this particular
"Times." One would think, the world was on its knees to the "Times"
Office, for its daily breakfast.  But this arrogance is calculated.
Who would care for it, if it "surmised," or "dared to confess," or
"ventured to predict," &c. No; _it is so_, and so it shall be.

        The morality and patriotism of the "Times" claims only to be
representative, and by no means ideal.  It gives the argument, not of
the majority, but of the commanding class.  Its editors know better
than to defend Russia, or Austria, or English vested rights, on
abstract grounds.  But they give a voice to the class who, at the
moment, take the lead; and they have an instinct for finding where
the power now lies, which is eternally shifting its banks.
Sympathizing with, and speaking for the class that rules the hour,
yet, being apprised of every ground-swell, every Chartist resolution,
every Church squabble, every strike in the mills, they detect the
first tremblings of change.  They watch the hard and bitter struggles
of the authors of each liberal movement, year by year, -- watching
them only to taunt and obstruct them, -- until, at last, when they
see that these have established their fact, that power is on the
point of passing to them, -- they strike in, with the voice of a
monarch, astonish those whom they succor, as much as those whom they
desert, and make victory sure.  Of course, the aspirants see that the
"Times" is one of the goods of fortune, not to be won but by winning
their cause.

        "Punch" is equally an expression of English good sense, as the
"London Times." It is the comic version of the same sense.  Many of
its caricatures are equal to the best pamphlets, and will convey to
the eye in an instant the popular view which was taken of each turn
of public affairs.  Its sketches are usually made by masterly hands,
and sometimes with genius; the delight of every class, because
uniformly guided by that taste which is tyrannical in England.  It is
a new trait of the nineteenth century, that the wit and humor of
England, as in Punch, so in the humorists, Jerrold, Dickens,
Thackeray, Hood, have taken the direction of humanity and freedom.

        The "Times," like every important institution, shows the way to
a better.  It is a living index of the colossal British power.  Its
existence honors the people who dare to print all they know, dare to
know all the facts, and do not wish to be flattered by hiding the
extent of the public disaster.  There is always safety in valor.  I
wish I could add, that this journal aspired to deserve the power it
wields, by guidance of the public sentiment to the right.  It is
usually pretended, in Parliament and elsewhere, that the English
press has a high tone, -- which it has not.  It has an imperial tone,
as of a powerful and independent nation.  But as with other empires,
its tone is prone to be official, and even officinal.  The "Times"
shares all the limitations of the governing classes, and wishes never
to be in a minority.  If only it dared to cleave to the right, to
show the right to be the only expedient, and feed its batteries from
the central heart of humanity, it might not have so many men of rank
among its contributors, but genius would be its cordial and
invincible ally; it might now and then bear the brunt of formidable
combinations, but no journal is ruined by wise courage.  It would be
the natural leader of British reform; its proud function, that of
being the voice of Europe, the defender of the exile and patriot
against despots, would be more effectually discharged; it would have
the authority which is claimed for that dream of good men not yet
come to pass, an International Congress; and the least of its
victories would be to give to England a new millennium of beneficent
power.

 
 
 
        Chapter XVI _Stonehenge_

        It had been agreed between my friend Mr. C. and me, that before
I left England, we should make an excursion together to Stonehenge,
which neither of us had seen; and the project pleased my fancy with
the double attraction of the monument and the companion.  It seemed a
bringing together of extreme points, to visit the oldest religious
monument in Britain, in company with her latest thinker, and one
whose influence may be traced in every contemporary book.  I was glad
to sum up a little my experiences, and to exchange a few reasonable
words on the aspects of England, with a man on whose genius I set a
very high value, and who had as much penetration, and as severe a
theory of duty, as any person in it.  On Friday, 7th July, we took
the South Western Railway through Hampshire to Salisbury, where we
found a carriage to convey us to Amesbury.  The fine weather and my
friend's local knowledge of Hampshire, in which he is wont to spend a
part of every summer, made the way short.  There was much to say,
too, of the travelling Americans, and their usual objects in London.
I thought it natural, that they should give some time to works of art
collected here, which they cannot find at home, and a little to
scientific clubs and museums, which, at this moment, make London very
attractive.  But my philosopher was not contented.  Art and `high
art' is a favorite target for his wit.  "Yes, _Kunst_ is a great
delusion, and Goethe and Schiller wasted a great deal of good time on
it:" -- and he thinks he discovers that old Goethe found this out,
and, in his later writings, changed his tone.  As soon as men begin
to talk of art, architecture, and antiquities, nothing good comes of
it.  He wishes to go through the British Museum in silence, and
thinks a sincere man will see something, and say nothing.  In these
days, he thought, it would become an architect to consult only the
grim necessity, and say, `I can build you a coffin for such dead
persons as you are, and for such dead purposes as you have, but you
shall have no ornament.' For the science, he had, if possible, even
less tolerance, and compared the savans of Somerset House to the boy
who asked Confucius "how many stars in the sky?" Confucius replied,
"he minded things near him:" then said the boy, "how many hairs are
there in your eyebrows?" Confucius said, "he didn't know and didn't
care."

        Still speaking of the Americans, C. complained that they
dislike the coldness and exclusiveness of the English, and run away
to France, and go with their countrymen, and are amused, instead of
manfully staying in London, and confronting Englishmen, and acquiring
their culture, who really have much to teach them.

        I told C. that I was easily dazzled, and was accustomed to
concede readily all that an Englishman would ask; I saw everywhere in
the country proofs of sense and spirit, and success of every sort: I
like the people: they are as good as they are handsome; they have
everything, and can do everything: but meantime, I surely know, that,
as soon as I return to Massachusetts, I shall lapse at once into the
feeling, which the geography of America inevitably inspires, that we
play the game with immense advantage; that there and not here is the
seat and centre of the British race; and that no skill or activity
can long compete with the prodigious natural advantages of that
country, in the hands of the same race; and that England, an old and
exhausted island, must one day be contented, like other parents, to
be strong only in her children.  But this was a proposition which no
Englishman of whatever condition can easily entertain.

        We left the train at Salisbury, and took a carriage to
Amesbury, passing by Old Sarum, a bare, treeless hill, once
containing the town which sent two members to Parliament, -- now, not
a hut; -- and, arriving at Amesbury, stopped at the George Inn.
After dinner, we walked to Salisbury Plain.  On the broad downs,
under the gray sky, not a house was visible, nothing but Stonehenge,
which looked like a group of brown dwarfs in the wide expanse, --
Stonehenge and the barrows, -- which rose like green bosses about the
plain, and a few hayricks.  On the top of a mountain, the old temple
would not be more impressive.  Far and wide a few shepherds with
their flocks sprinkled the plain, and a bagman drove along the road.
It looked as if the wide margin given in this crowded isle to this
primeval temple were accorded by the veneration of the British race
to the old egg out of which all their ecclesiastical structures and
history had proceeded.  Stonehenge is a circular colonnade with a
diameter of a hundred feet, and enclosing a second and a third
colonnade within.  We walked round the stones, and clambered over
them, to wont ourselves with their strange aspect and groupings, and
found a nook sheltered from the wind among them, where C. lighted his
cigar.  It was pleasant to see, that, just this simplest of all
simple structures, -- two upright stones and a lintel laid across, --
had long outstood all later churches, and all history, and were like
what is most permanent on the face of the planet: these, and the
barrows, -- mere mounds, (of which there are a hundred and sixty
within a circle of three miles about Stonehenge,) like the same mound
on the plain of Troy, which still makes good to the passing mariner
on Hellespont, the vaunt of Homer and the fame of Achilles.  Within
the enclosure, grow buttercups, nettles, and, all around, wild thyme,
daisy, meadowsweet, goldenrod, thistle, and the carpeting grass.
Over us, larks were soaring and singing, -- as my friend said, "the
larks which were hatched last year, and the wind which was hatched
many thousand years ago." We counted and measured by paces the
biggest stones, and soon knew as much as any man can suddenly know of
the inscrutable temple.  There are ninety-four stones, and there were
once probably one hundred and sixty.  The temple is circular, and
uncovered, and the situation fixed astronomically, -- the grand
entrances here, and at Abury, being placed exactly northeast, "as all
the gates of the old cavern temples are." How came the stones here?
for these _sarsens_ or Druidical sandstones, are not found in this
neighborhood.  The _sacrificial stone_, as it is called, is the only
one in all these blocks, that can resist the action of fire, and as I
read in the books, must have been brought one hundred and fifty
miles.

        On almost every stone we found the marks of the mineralogist's
hammer and chisel.  The nineteen smaller stones of the inner circle
are of granite.  I, who had just come from Professor Sedgwick's
Cambridge Museum of megatheria and mastodons, was ready to maintain
that some cleverer elephants or mylodonta had borne off and laid
these rocks one on another.  Only the good beasts must have known how
to cut a well-wrought tenon and mortise, and to smooth the surface of
some of the stones.  The chief mystery is, that any mystery should
have been allowed to settle on so remarkable a monument, in a country
on which all the muses have kept their eyes now for eighteen hundred
years.  We are not yet too late to learn much more than is known of
this structure.  Some diligent Fellowes or Layard will arrive, stone
by stone, at the whole history, by that exhaustive British sense and
perseverance, so whimsical in its choice of objects, which leaves its
own Stonehenge or Choir Gaur to the rabbits, whilst it opens
pyramids, and uncovers Nineveh.  Stonehenge, in virtue of the
simplicity of its plan, and its good preservation, is as if new and
recent; and, a thousand years hence, men will thank this age for the
accurate history it will yet eliminate.  We walked in and out, and
took again and again a fresh look at the uncanny stones.  The old
sphinx put our petty differences of nationality out of sight.  To
these conscious stones we two pilgrims were alike known and near.  We
could equally well revere their old British meaning.  My philosopher
was subdued and gentle.  In this quiet house of destiny, he happened
to say, "I plant cypresses wherever I go, and if I am in search of
pain, I cannot go wrong." The spot, the gray blocks, and their rude
order, which refuses to be disposed of, suggested to him the flight
of ages, and the succession of religions.  The old times of England
impress C. much: he reads little, he says, in these last years, but
"_Acta Sanctorum_," the fifty-three volumes of which are in the
"London Library." He finds all English history therein.  He can see,
as he reads, the old saint of Iona sitting there, and writing, a man
to men.  The _Acta Sanctorum_ show plainly that the men of those
times believed in God, and in the immortality of the soul, as their
abbeys and cathedrals testify: now, even the puritanism is all gone.
London is pagan.  He fancied that greater men had lived in England,
than any of her writers; and, in fact, about the time when those
writers appeared, the last of these were already gone.

        We left the mound in the twilight, with the design to return
the next morning, and coming back two miles to our inn, we were met
by little showers, and late as it was, men and women were out
attempting to protect their spread wind-rows.  The grass grows rank
and dark in the showery England.  At the inn, there was only milk for
one cup of tea.  When we called for more, the girl brought us three
drops.  My friend was annoyed who stood for the credit of an English
inn, and still more, the next morning, by the dog-cart, sole
procurable vehicle, in which we were to be sent to Wilton.  I engaged
the local antiquary, Mr. Brown, to go with us to Stonehenge, on our
way, and show us what he knew of the "astronomical" and "sacrificial"
stones.  I stood on the last, and he pointed to the upright, or
rather, inclined stone, called the "astronomical," and bade me notice
that its top ranged with the sky-line.  "Yes." Very well.  Now, at
the summer solstice, the sun rises exactly over the top of that
stone, and, at the Druidical temple at Abury, there is also an
astronomical stone, in the same relative positions.

        In the silence of tradition, this one relation to science
becomes an important clue; but we were content to leave the problem,
with the rocks.  Was this the "Giants' Dance" which Merlin brought
from Killaraus, in Ireland, to be Uther Pendragon's monument to the
British nobles whom Hengist slaughtered here, as Geoffrey of Monmouth
relates? or was it a Roman work, as Inigo Jones explained to King
James; or identical in design and style with the East Indian temples
of the sun; as Davies in the Celtic Researches maintains?  Of all the
writers, Stukeley is the best.  The heroic antiquary, charmed with
the geometric perfections of his ruin, connects it with the oldest
monuments and religion of the world, and with the courage of his
tribe, does not stick to say, "the Deity who made the world by the
scheme of Stonehenge." He finds that the _cursus_ (* 1) on Salisbury
Plain stretches across the downs, like a line of latitude upon the
globe, and the meridian line of Stonehenge passes exactly through the
middle of this _cursus_.  But here is the high point of the theory:
the Druids had the magnet; laid their courses by it; their cardinal
points in Stonehenge, Ambresbury, and elsewhere, which vary a little
from true east and west, followed the variations of the compass.  The
Druids were Ph;oenicians.  The name of the magnet is _lapis
Heracleus_, and Hercules was the god of the Phoenicians.  Hercules,
in the legend, drew his bow at the sun, and the sun-god gave him a
golden cup, with which he sailed over the ocean.  What was this, but
a compass-box?  This cup or little boat, in which the magnet was made
to float on water, and so show the north, was probably its first
form, before it was suspended on a pin.  But science was an
_arcanum_, and, as Britain was a Ph;oenician secret, so they kept
their compass a secret, and it was lost with the Tyrian commerce.
The golden fleece, again, of Jason, was the compass, -- a bit of
loadstone, easily supposed to be the only one in the world, and
therefore naturally awakening the cupidity and ambition of the young
heroes of a maritime nation to join in an expedition to obtain
possession of this wise stone.  Hence the fable that the ship Argo
was loquacious and oracular.  There is also some curious coincidence
in the names.  Apollodorus makes _Magnes_ the son of _Aeolus_, who
married _Nais_.  On hints like these, Stukeley builds again the grand
colonnade into historic harmony, and computing backward by the known
variations of the compass, bravely assigns the year 406 before
Christ, for the date of the temple.

        (* 1) Connected with Stonehenge are an avenue and a _cursus_.
The avenue is a narrow road of raised earth, extending 594 yards in a
straight line from the grand entrance, then dividing into two
branches, which lead, severally, to a row of barrows; and to the
_cursus_, -- an artificially formed flat tract of ground.  This is
half a mile northeast from Stonehenge, bounded by banks and ditches,
3036 yards long, by 110 broad.

        For the difficulty of handling and carrying stones of this
size, the like is done in all cities, every day, with no other aid
than horse power.  I chanced to see a year ago men at work on the
substructure of a house in Bowdoin Square, in Boston, swinging a
block of granite of the size of the largest of the Stonehenge columns
with an ordinary derrick.  The men were common masons, with paddies
to help, nor did they think they were doing anything remarkable.  I
suppose, there were as good men a thousand years ago.  And we wonder
how Stonehenge was built and forgotten.  After spending half an hour
on the spot, we set forth in our dog-cart over the downs for Wilton,
C. not suppressing some threats and evil omens on the proprietors,
for keeping these broad plains a wretched sheep-walk, when so many
thousands of English men were hungry and wanted labor.  But I heard
afterwards that it is not an economy to cultivate this land, which
only yields one crop on being broken up and is then spoiled.

 
        We came to Wilton and to Wilton Hall, -- the renowned seat of
the Earls of Pembroke, a house known to Shakspeare and Massinger, the
frequent home of Sir Philip Sidney where he wrote the Arcadia; where
he conversed with Lord Brooke, a man of deep thought, and a poet, who
caused to be engraved on his tombstone, "Here lies Fulke Greville
Lord Brooke, the friend of Sir Philip Sidney." It is now the property
of the Earl of Pembroke, and the residence of his brother, Sidney
Herbert, Esq., and is esteemed a noble specimen of the English
manor-hall.  My friend had a letter from Mr. Herbert to his
housekeeper, and the house was shown.  The state drawing-room is a
double cube, 30 feet high, by 30 feet wide, by 60 feet long: the
adjoining room is a single cube, of 30 feet every way.  Although
these apartments and the long library were full of good family
portraits, Vandykes and other; and though there were some good
pictures, and a quadrangle cloister full of antique and modern
statuary, -- to which C., catalogue in hand, did all too much
justice, -- yet the eye was still drawn to the windows, to a
magnificent lawn, on which grew the finest cedars in England.  I had
not seen more charming grounds.  We went out, and walked over the
estate.  We crossed a bridge built by Inigo Jones over a stream, of
which the gardener did not know the name, (_Qu_. Alph?) watched the
deer; climbed to the lonely sculptured summer house, on a hill backed
by a wood; came down into the Italian garden, and into a French
pavilion, garnished with French busts; and so again, to the house,
where we found a table laid for us with bread, meats, peaches,
grapes, and wine.

        On leaving Wilton House, we took the coach for Salisbury.  The
Cathedral, which was finished 600 years ago, has even a spruce and
modern air, and its spire is the highest in England.  I know not why,
but I had been more struck with one of no fame at Coventry, which
rises 300 feet from the ground, with the lightness of a
mullein-plant, and not at all implicated with the church.  Salisbury
is now esteemed the culmination of the Gothic art in England, as the
buttresses are fully unmasked, and honestly detailed from the sides
of the pile.  The interior of the Cathedral is obstructed by the
organ in the middle, acting like a screen.  I know not why in real
architecture the hunger of the eye for length of line is so rarely
gratified.  The rule of art is that a colonnade is more beautiful the
longer it is, and that _ad infinitum_.  And the nave of a church is
seldom so long that it need be divided by a screen.

        We loitered in the church, outside the choir, whilst service
was said.  Whilst we listened to the organ, my friend remarked, the
music is good, and yet not quite religious, but somewhat as if a monk
were panting to some fine Queen of Heaven.  C. was unwilling, and we
did not ask to have the choir shown us, but returned to our inn,
after seeing another old church of the place.  We passed in the train
Clarendon Park, but could see little but the edge of a wood, though
C. had wished to pay closer attention to the birthplace of the
Decrees of Clarendon.  At Bishopstoke we stopped, and found Mr. H.,
who received us in his carriage, and took us to his house at Bishops
Waltham.

        On Sunday, we had much discourse on a very rainy day.  My
friends asked, whether there were any Americans? -- any with an
American idea, -- any theory of the right future of that country?
Thus challenged, I bethought myself neither of caucuses nor congress,
neither of presidents nor of cabinet-ministers, nor of such as would
make of America another Europe.  I thought only of the simplest and
purest minds; I said, `Certainly yes; -- but those who hold it are
fanatics of a dream which I should hardly care to relate to your
English ears, to which it might be only ridiculous, -- and yet it is
the only true.' So I opened the dogma of no-government and
non-resistance, and anticipated the objections and the fun, and
procured a kind of hearing for it.  I said, it is true that I have
never seen in any country a man of sufficient valor to stand for this
truth, and yet it is plain to me, that no less valor than this can
command my respect.  I can easily see the bankruptcy of the vulgar
musket-worship, -- though great men be musket-worshippers; -- and
'tis certain, as God liveth, the gun that does not need another gun,
the law of love and justice alone, can effect a clean revolution.  I
fancied that one or two of my anecdotes made some impression on C.,
and I insisted, that the manifest absurdity of the view to English
feasibility could make no difference to a gentleman; that as to our
secure tenure of our mutton-chop and spinage in London or in Boston,
the soul might quote Talleyrand, _"Monsieur, je n'en_ _vois pas la
necessite."_ (* 2) As I had thus taken in the conversation the
saint's part, when dinner was announced, C.  refused to go out before
me, -- "he was altogether too wicked." I planted my back against the
wall, and our host wittily rescued us from the dilemma, by saying, he
was the wickedest, and would walk out first, then C. followed, and I
went last.

        (* 2) _"Mais, Monseigneur, il faut que j'existe."_

        On the way to Winchester, whither our host accompanied us in
the afternoon, my friends asked many questions respecting American
landscape, forests, houses, -- my house, for example.  It is not easy
to answer these queries well.  There I thought, in America, lies
nature sleeping, over-growing, almost conscious, too much by half for
man in the picture, and so giving a certain _tristesse_, like the
rank vegetation of swamps and forests seen at night, steeped in dews
and rains, which it loves; and on it man seems not able to make much
impression.  There, in that great sloven continent, in high Alleghany
pastures, in the sea-wide, sky-skirted prairie, still sleeps and
murmurs and hides the great mother, long since driven away from the
trim hedge-rows and over-cultivated garden of England.  And, in
England, I am quite too sensible of this.  Every one is on his good
behavior, and must be dressed for dinner at six.  So I put off my
friends with very inadequate details, as best I could.

        Just before entering Winchester, we stopped at the Church of Saint
Cross, and, after looking through the quaint antiquity, we demanded a piece
of bread and a draught of beer, which the founder, Henry de Blois, in 1136,
commanded should be given to every one who should ask it at the gate.  We had
both, from the old couple who take care of the church.  Some twenty people,
every day, they said, make the same demand.  This hospitality of seven
hundred years' standing did not hinder C. from pronouncing a malediction on
the priest who receives 2000 pounds a year, that were meant for the poor, and
spends a pittance on this small beer and crumbs.

        In the Cathedral, I was gratified, at least by the ample
dimensions.  The length of line exceeds that of any other English
church; being 556 feet by 250 in breadth of transept.  I think I
prefer this church to all I have seen, except Westminster and York.
Here was Canute buried, and here Alfred the Great was crowned and
buried, and here the Saxon kings: and, later, in his own church,
William of Wykeham.  It is very old: part of the crypt into which we
went down and saw the Saxon and Norman arches of the old church on
which the present stands, was built fourteen or fifteen hundred years
ago.  Sharon Turner says, "Alfred was buried at Winchester, in the
Abbey he had founded there, but his remains were removed by Henry I.
to the new Abbey in the meadows at Hyde, on the northern quarter of
the city, and laid under the high altar.  The building was destroyed
at the Reformation, and what is left of Alfred's body now lies
covered by modern buildings, or buried in the ruins of the old."  (*
3) William of Wykeham's shrine tomb was unlocked for us, and C. took
hold of the recumbent statue's marble hands, and patted them
affectionately, for he rightly values the brave man who built
Windsor, and this Cathedral, and the School here, and New College at
Oxford.  But it was growing late in the afternoon.  Slowly we left
the old house, and parting with our host, we took the train for
London.

        (* 3) History of the Anglo-Saxons, I. 599.

 
        Chapter XVII _Personal_

        In these comments on an old journey now revised after seven
busy yearse much changed men and things in England, I have abstained
from reference to persons, except in the last chapter, and in one or
two cases where the fame of the parties seemed to have given the
public a property in all that concerned them.  I must further allow
myself a few notices, if only as an acknowledgment of debts that
cannot be paid.  My journeys were cheered by so much kindness from
new friends, that my impression of the island is bright with
agreeable memories both of public societies and of households: and,
what is nowhere better found than in England, a cultivated person
fitly surrounded by a happy home, "with honor, love, obedience,
troops of friends," is of all institutions the best.  At the landing
in Liverpool, I found my Manchester correspondent awaiting me, a
gentleman whose kind reception was followed by a train of friendly
and effective attentions which never rested whilst I remained in the
country.  A man of sense and of letters, the editor of a powerful
local journal, he added to solid virtues an infinite sweetness and
_bonhommie_.  There seemed a pool of honey about his heart which
lubricated all his speech and action with fine jets of mead.  An
equal good fortune attended many later accidents of my journey, until
the sincerity of English kindness ceased to surprise.  My visit fell
in the fortunate days when Mr. Bancroft was the American Minister in
London, and at his house, or through his good offices, I had easy
access to excellent persons and to privileged places.  At the house
of Mr. Carlyle, I met persons eminent in society and in letters.  The
privileges of the Athenaeum and of the Reform Clubs were hospitably
opened to me, and I found much advantage in the circles of the
"Geologic," the "Antiquarian," and the "Royal Societies." Every day
in London gave me new opportunities of meeting men and women who give
splendor to society.  I saw Rogers, Hallam, Macaulay, Milnes, Milman,
Barry Cornwall, Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, Leigh Hunt, D'Israeli,
Helps, Wilkinson, Bailey, Kenyon, and Forster: the younger poets,
Clough, Arnold, and Patmore; and, among the men of science, Robert
Brown, Owen, Sedgwick, Faraday, Buckland, Lyell, De la Beche, Hooker,
Carpenter, Babbage, and Edward Forbes.  It was my privilege also to
converse with Miss Baillie, with Lady Morgan, with Mrs.  Jameson, and
Mrs. Somerville.  A finer hospitality made many private houses not
less known and dear.  It is not in distinguished circles that wisdom
and elevated characters are usually found, or, if found, not confined
thereto; and my recollections of the best hours go back to private
conversations in different parts of the kingdom, with persons little
known.  Nor am I insensible to the courtesy which frankly opened to
me some noble mansions, if I do not adorn my page with their names.
Among the privileges of London, I recall with pleasure two or three
signal days, one at Kew, where Sir William Hooker showed me all the
riches of the vast botanic garden; one at the Museum, where Sir
Charles Fellowes explained in detail the history of his Ionic
trophy-monument; and still another, on which Mr.  Owen accompanied my
countryman Mr. H. and myself through the Hunterian Museum.

        The like frank hospitality, bent on real service, I found among
the great and the humble, wherever I went; in Birmingham, in Oxford,
in Leicester, in Nottingham, in Sheffield, in Manchester, in
Liverpool.  At Edinburgh, through the kindness of Dr. Samuel Brown, I
made the acquaintance of De Quincey, of Lord Jeffrey, of Wilson, of
Mrs. Crowe, of the Messrs.  Chambers, and of a man of high character
and genius, the short lived painter, David Scott.

        At Ambleside in March, 1848, I was for a couple of days the
guest of Miss Martineau, then newly returned from her Egyptian tour.
On Sunday afternoon, I accompanied her to Rydal Mount.  And as I have
recorded a visit to Wordsworth, many years before, I must not forget
this second interview.  We found Mr. Wordsworth asleep on the sofa.
He was at first silent and indisposed, as an old man suddenly waked,
before he had ended his nap; but soon became full of talk on the
French news.  He was nationally bitter on the French: bitter on
Scotchmen, too.  No Scotchman, he said, can write English.  He
detailed the two models, on one or the other of which all the
sentences of the historian Robertson are framed.  Nor could Jeffrey,
nor the Edinburgh Reviewers write English, nor can , who is a pest to
the English tongue.  Incidentally he added, Gibbon cannot write
English.  The Edinburgh Review wrote what would tell and what would
sell.  It had however changed the tone of its literary criticism from
the time when a certain letter was written to the editor by
Coleridge.  Mrs. W. had the Editor's answer in her possession.
Tennyson he thinks a right poetic genius, though with some
affectation.  He had thought an elder brother of Tennyson at first
the better poet, but must now reckon Alfred the true one.  .  .  .
In speaking of I know not what style, he said, "to be sure, it was
the manner, but then you know the matter always comes out of the
manner." .  .  .  He thought Rio Janeiro the best place in the world
for a great capital city.  .  .  .  We talked of English national
character.  I told him, it was not creditable that no one in all the
country knew anything of Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, whilst in
every American library his translations are found.  I said, if
Plato's Republic were published in England as a new book to-day, do
you think it would find any readers? -- he confessed, it would not:
"and yet," he added after a pause, with that complacency which never
deserts a true-born Englishman, "and yet we have embodied it all."

        His opinions of French, English, Irish, and Scotch, seemed
rashly formulized from little anecdotes of what had befallen himself
and members of his family, in a diligence or stage-coach.  His face
sometimes lighted up, but his conversation was not marked by special
force or elevation.  Yet perhaps it is a high compliment to the
cultivation of the English generally, when we find such a man not
distinguished.  He had a healthy look, with a weather-beaten face,
his face corrugated, especially the large nose.

        Miss Martineau, who lived near him, praised him to me not for
his poetry, but for thrift and economy; for having afforded to his
country-neighbors an example of a modest household, where comfort and
culture were secured without any display.  She said, that, in his
early housekeeping at the cottage where he first lived, he was
accustomed to offer his friends bread and plainest fare: if they
wanted any thing more, they must pay him for their board.  It was the
rule of the house.  I replied, that it evinced English pluck more
than any anecdote I knew.  A gentleman in the neighborhood told the
story of Walter Scott's staying once for a week with Wordsworth, and
slipping out every day under pretence of a walk, to the Swan Inn, for
a cold cut and porter; and one day passing with Wordsworth the inn,
he was betrayed by the landlord's asking him if he had come for his
porter.  Of course, this trait would have another look in London, and
there you will hear from different literary men, that Wordsworth had
no personal friend, that he was not amiable, that he was
parsimonious, &c. Landor, always generous, says, that he never
praised any body.  A gentleman in London showed me a watch that once
belonged to Milton, whose initials are engraved on its face.  He
said, he once showed this to Wordsworth, who took it in one hand,
then drew out his own watch, and held it up with the other, before
the company, but no one making the expected remark, he put back his
own in silence.  I do not attach much importance to the disparagement
of Wordsworth among London scholars.  Who reads him well will know,
that in following the strong bent of his genius, he was careless of
the many, careless also of the few, self-assured that he should
"create the taste by which he is to be enjoyed." He lived long enough
to witness the revolution he had wrought, and "to see what he
foresaw." There are torpid places in his mind, there is something
hard and sterile in his poetry, want of grace and variety, want of
due catholicity and cosmopolitan scope: he had conformities to
English politics and traditions; he had egotistic puerilities in the
choice and treatment of his subjects; but let us say of him, that,
alone in his time he treated the human mind well, and with an
absolute trust.  His adherence to his poetic creed rested on real
inspirations.  The Ode on Immortality is the high-water-mark which
the intellect has reached in this age.  New means were employed, and
new realms added to the empire of the muse, by his courage.

 
 
 
        Chapter XVIII _Result_

        England is the best of actual nations.  It is no ideal
framework, it is an old pile built in different ages, with repairs,
additions, and makeshifts; but you see the poor best you have got.
London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of to-day.
Broad-fronted broad-bottomed Teutons, they stand in solid phalanx
foursquare to the points of compass; they constitute the modern
world, they have earned their vantage-ground, and held it through
ages of adverse possession.  They are well marked and differing from
other leading races.  England is tender-hearted.  Rome was not.
England is not so public in its bias; private life is its place of
honor.  Truth in private life, untruth in public, marks these
home-loving men.  Their political conduct is not decided by general
views, but by internal intrigues and personal and family interest.
They cannot readily see beyond England.  The history of Rome and
Greece, when written by their scholars, degenerates into English
party pamphlets.  They cannot see beyond England, nor in England can
they transcend the interests of the governing classes.  "English
principles" mean a primary regard to the interests of property.
England, Scotland, and Ireland combine to check the colonies.
England and Scotland combine to check Irish manufactures and trade.
England rallies at home to check Scotland.  In England, the strong
classes check the weaker.  In the home population of near thirty
millions, there are but one million voters.  The Church punishes
dissent, punishes education.  Down to a late day, marriages performed
by dissenters were illegal.  A bitter class-legislation gives power
to those who are rich enough to buy a law.  The game-laws are a
proverb of oppression.  Pauperism incrusts and clogs the state, and
in hard times becomes hideous.  In bad seasons, the porridge was
diluted.  Multitudes lived miserably by shell-fish and sea-ware.  In
cities, the children are trained to beg, until they shall be old
enough to rob.  Men and women were convicted of poisoning scores of
children for burial-fees.  In Irish districts, men deteriorated in
size and shape, the nose sunk, the gums were exposed, with diminished
brain and brutal form.  During the Australian emigration, multitudes
were rejected by the commissioners as being too emaciated for useful
colonists.  During the Russian war, few of those that offered as
recruits were found up to the medical standard, though it had been
reduced.

        The foreign policy of England, though ambitious and lavish of
money, has not often been generous or just.  It has a principal
regard to the interest of trade, checked however by the aristocratic
bias of the ambassador, which usually puts him in sympathy with the
continental Courts.  It sanctioned the partition of Poland, it
betrayed Genoa, Sicily, Parga, Greece, Turkey, Rome, and Hungary.

        Some public regards they have.  They have abolished slavery in
the West Indies, and put an end to human sacrifices in the East.  At
home they have a certain statute hospitality.  England keeps open
doors, as a trading country must, to all nations.  It is one of their
fixed ideas, and wrathfully supported by their laws in unbroken
sequence for a thousand years.  In _Magna Charta_ it was ordained,
that all "merchants shall have safe and secure conduct to go out and
come into England, and to stay there, and to pass as well by land as
by water, to buy and sell by the ancient allowed customs, without any
evil toll, except in time of war, or when they shall be of any nation
at war with us." It is a statute and obliged hospitality, and
peremptorily maintained.  But this shop-rule had one magnificent
effect.  It extends its cold unalterable courtesy to political exiles
of every opinion, and is a fact which might give additional light to
that portion of the planet seen from the farthest star.  But this
perfunctory hospitality puts no sweetness into their unaccommodating
manners, no check on that puissant nationality which makes their
existence incompatible with all that is not English.

        What we must say about a nation is a superficial dealing with
symptoms.  We cannot go deep enough into the biography of the spirit
who never throws himself entire into one hero, but delegates his
energy in parts or spasms to vicious and defective individuals.  But
the wealth of the source is seen in the plenitude of English nature.
What variety of power and talent; what facility and plenteousness of
knighthood, lordship, ladyship, royalty, loyalty; what a proud
chivalry is indicated in "Collins's Peerage," through eight hundred
years!  What dignity resting on what reality and stoutness!  What
courage in war, what sinew in labor, what cunning workmen, what
inventors and engineers, what seamen and pilots, what clerks and
scholars!  No one man and no few men can represent them.  It is a
people of myriad personalities.  Their many-headedness is owing to
the advantageous position of the middle class, who are always the
source of letters and science.  Hence the vast plenty of their
aesthetic production.  As they are many-headed, so they are
many-nationed: their colonization annexes archipelagoes and
continents, and their speech seems destined to be the universal
language of men.  I have noted the reserve of power in the English
temperament.  In the island, they never let out all the length of all
the reins, there is no Berserkir rage, no abandonment or ecstasy of
will or intellect, like that of the Arabs in the time of Mahomet, or
like that which intoxicated France in 1789.  But who would see the
uncoiling of that tremendous spring, the explosion of their
well-husbanded forces, must follow the swarms which pouring now for
two hundred years from the British islands, have sailed, and rode,
and traded, and planted, through all climates, mainly following the
belt of empire, the temperate zones, carrying the Saxon seed, with
its instinct for liberty and law, for arts and for thought, --
acquiring under some skies a more electric energy than the native air
allows, -- to the conquest of the globe.  Their colonial policy,
obeying the necessities of a vast empire, has become liberal.  Canada
and Australia have been contented with substantial independence.
They are expiating the wrongs of India, by benefits; first, in works
for the irrigation of the peninsula, and roads and telegraphs; and
secondly, in the instruction of the people, to qualify them for
self-government, when the British power shall be finally called home.

        Their mind is in a state of arrested development, -- a divine
cripple like Vulcan; a blind _savant_ like Huber and Sanderson.  They
do not occupy themselves on matters of general and lasting import,
but on a corporeal civilization, on goods that perish in the using.
But they read with good intent, and what they learn they incarnate.
The English mind turns every abstraction it can receive into a
portable utensil, or a working institution.  Such is their tenacity,
and such their practical turn, that they hold all they gain.  Hence
we say, that only the English race can be trusted with freedom, --
freedom which is double-edged and dangerous to any but the wise and
robust.  The English designate the kingdoms emulous of free
institutions, as the sentimental nations.  Their culture is not an
outside varnish, but is thorough and secular in families and the
race.  They are oppressive with their temperament, and all the more
that they are refined.  I have sometimes seen them walk with my
countrymen when I was forced to allow them every advantage, and their
companions seemed bags of bones.

        There is cramp limitation in their habit of thought, sleepy
routine, and a tortoise's instinct to hold hard to the ground with
his claws, lest he should be thrown on his back.  There is a drag of
inertia which resists reform in every shape; -- law-reform,
army-reform, extension of suffrage, Jewish franchise, Catholic
emancipation, -- the abolition of slavery, of impressment, penal
code, and entails.  They praise this drag, under the formula, that it
is the excellence of the British constitution, that no law can
anticipate the public opinion.  These poor tortoises must hold hard,
for they feel no wings sprouting at their shoulders.  Yet somewhat
divine warms at their heart, and waits a happier hour.  It hides in
their sturdy will.  "Will," said the old philosophy, "is the measure
of power," and personality is the token of this race.  _Quid vult
valde vult_.  What they do they do with a will.  You cannot account
for their success by their Christianity, commerce, charter, common
law, Parliament, or letters, but by the contumacious sharptongued
energy of English _naturel_, with a poise impossible to disturb,
which makes all these its instruments.  They are slow and reticent,
and are like a dull good horse which lets every nag pass him, but
with whip and spur will run down every racer in the field.  They are
right in their feeling, though wrong in their speculation.

        The feudal system survives in the steep inequality of property
and privilege, in the limited franchise, in the social barriers which
confine patronage and promotion to a caste, and still more in the
submissive ideas pervading these people.  The fagging of the schools
is repeated in the social classes.  An Englishman shows no mercy to
those below him in the social scale, as he looks for none from those
above him: any forbearance from his superiors surprises him, and they
suffer in his good opinion.  But the feudal system can be seen with
less pain on large historical grounds.  It was pleaded in mitigation
of the rotten borough, that it worked well, that substantial justice
was done.  Fox, Burke, Pitt, Erskine, Wilberforce, Sheridan, Romilly,
or whatever national man, were by this means sent to Parliament, when
their return by large constituencies would have been doubtful.  So
now we say, that the right measures of England are the men it bred;
that it has yielded more able men in five hundred years than any
other nation; and, though we must not play Providence, and balance
the chances of producing ten great men against the comfort of ten
thousand mean men, yet retrospectively we may strike the balance, and
prefer one Alfred, one Shakspeare, one Milton, one Sidney, one
Raleigh, one Wellington, to a million foolish democrats.

        The American system is more democratic, more humane; yet the
American people do not yield better or more able men, or more
inventions or books or benefits, than the English.  Congress is not
wiser or better than Parliament.  France has abolished its
suffocating old _regime_, but is not recently marked by any more
wisdom or virtue.

        The power of performance has not been exceeded, -- the creation
of value.  The English have given importance to individuals, a
principal end and fruit of every society.  Every man is allowed and
encouraged to be what he is, and is guarded in the indulgence of his
whim.  "Magna Charta," said Rushworth, "is such a fellow that he will
have no sovereign." By this general activity, and by this sacredness
of individuals, they have in seven hundred years evolved the
principles of freedom.  It is the land of patriots, martyrs, sages,
and bards, and if the ocean out of which it emerged should wash it
away, it will be remembered as an island famous for immortal laws,
for the announcements of original right which make the stone tables
of liberty.

 
 
 
        Chapter XIX _Speech at Manchester_

        A few days after my arrival at Manchester, in November, 1847,
the Manchester Athenaeum gave its annual Banquet in the Free-Trade
Hall.  With other guests, I was invited to be present, and to address
the company.  In looking over recently a newspaper-report of my
remarks, I incline to reprint it, as fitly expressing the feeling
with which I entered England, and which agrees well enough with the
more deliberate results of better acquaintance recorded in the
foregoing pages.  Sir Archibald Alison, the historian, presided, and
opened the meeting with a speech.  He was followed by Mr. Cobden,
Lord Brackley, and others, among whom was Mr. Cruikshank, one of the
contributors to "Punch." Mr. Dickens's letter of apology for his
absence was read.  Mr. Jerrold, who had been announced, did not
appear.  On being introduced to the meeting I said, --

        Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: It is pleasant to me to meet this
great and brilliant company, and doubly pleasant to see the faces of
so many distinguished persons on this platform.  But I have known all
these persons already.  When I was at home, they were as near to me
as they are to you.  The arguments of the League and its leader are
known to all the friends of free trade.  The gayeties and genius, the
political, the social, the parietal wit of "Punch" go duly every
fortnight to every boy and girl in Boston and New York.  Sir, when I
came to sea, I found the "History of Europe" (* 1) on the ship's
cabin table, the property of the captain;--a sort of programme or
play-bill to tell the seafaring New Englander what he shall find on
his landing here.  And as for Dombey, sir, there is no land where
paper exists to print on, where it is not found; no man who can read,
that does not read it, and, if he cannot, he finds some charitable
pair of eyes that can, and hears it.

        (* 1) By Sir A. Alison.

        But these things are not for me to say; these compliments,
though true, would better come from one who felt and understood these
merits more.  I am not here to exchange civilities with you, but
rather to speak of that which I am sure interests these gentlemen
more than their own praises; of that which is good in holidays and
working-days, the same in one century and in another century.  That
which lures a solitary American in the woods with the wish to see
England, is the moral peculiarity of the Saxon race, -- its
commanding sense of right and wrong, -- the love and devotion to
that, -- this is the imperial trait, which arms them with the sceptre
of the globe.  It is this which lies at the foundation of that
aristocratic character, which certainly wanders into strange
vagaries, so that its origin is often lost sight of, but which, if it
should lose this, would find itself paralyzed; and in trade, and in
the mechanic's shop, gives that honesty in performance, that
thoroughness and solidity of work, which is a national
characteristic.  This conscience is one element, and the other is
that loyal adhesion, that habit of friendship, that homage of man to
man, running through all classes, -- the electing of worthy persons
to a certain fraternity, to acts of kindness and warm and staunch
support, from year to year, from youth to age, -- which is alike
lovely and honorable to those who render and those who receive it; --
which stands in strong contrast with the superficial attachments of
other races, their excessive courtesy, and short-lived connection.

        You will think me very pedantic, gentlemen, but holiday though
it be, I have not the smallest interest in any holiday, except as it
celebrates real and not pretended joys; and I think it just, in this
time of gloom and commercial disaster, of affliction and beggary in
these districts, that, on these very accounts I speak of, you should
not fail to keep your literary anniversary.  I seem to hear you say,
that, for all that is come and gone yet, we will not reduce by one
chaplet or one oak leaf the braveries of our annual feast.  For I
must tell you, I was given to understand in my childhood, that the
British island from which my forefathers came, was no lotus-garden,
no paradise of serene sky and roses and music and merriment all the
year round, no, but a cold foggy mournful country, where nothing grew
well in the open air, but robust men and virtuous women, and these of
a wonderful fibre and endurance; that their best parts were slowly
revealed; their virtues did not come out until they quarrelled: they
did not strike twelve the first time; good lovers, good haters, and
you could know little about them till you had seen them long, and
little good of them till you had seen them in action; that in
prosperity they were moody and dumpish, but in adversity they were
grand.  Is it not true, sir, that the wise ancients did not praise
the ship parting with flying colors from the port, but only that
brave sailer which came back with torn sheets and battered sides,
stript of her banners, but having ridden out the storm?  And so,
gentlemen, I feel in regard to this aged England, with the
possessions, honors and trophies, and also with the infirmities of a
thousand years gathering around her, irretrievably committed as she
now is to many old customs which cannot be suddenly changed; pressed
upon by the transitions of trade, and new and all incalculable modes,
fabrics, arts, machines, and competing populations, -- I see her not
dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark
days before; -- indeed with a kind of instinct that she sees a little
better in a cloudy day, and that in storm of battle and calamity, she
has a secret vigor and a pulse like a cannon.  I see her in her old
age, not decrepit, but young, and still daring to believe in her
power of endurance and expansion.  Seeing this, I say, All hail!
mother of nations, mother of heroes, with strength still equal to the
time; still wise to entertain and swift to execute the policy which
the mind and heart of mankind requires in the present hour, and thus
only hospitable to the foreigner, and truly a home to the thoughtful
and generous who are born in the soil.  So be it! so let it be!  If
it be not so, if the courage of England goes with the chances of a
commercial crisis, I will go back to the capes of Massachusetts, and
my own Indian stream, and say to my countrymen, the old race are all
gone, and the elasticity and hope of mankind must henceforth remain
on the Alleghany ranges, or nowhere.

.

Colophon

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