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breakfast to Opera Dukes and Opera Dancers! The Opium King would go forth, “his kincob waistcoat buttoned with the spoils of Golconda ;” while many a Baronet of ancient Norman descent must put up with, and be thankful for, a few bits of Cairngorm. The Railway Queen would monopolize all the "swimmings” of the “ Tyrian murrey;" whereas, Queens of Beauty could only afford their robes a dip of Campeachy logwood. Again, Colonel Rubini would be enjoined, “ whenever he takes his walks abroad,” to prop his military and musical grandeur on a clouded cane, got up with the utmost disregard to expense;" while Colonel whose “valour set the Hooghly on fire,” must needs trudge to the Horse Guards, with a bit of blackthorn or bog oak in his hands, liable to be fined five shillings by Mr. Hardwick or Mr. Maltby, if he lost himself in the wilderness of Bamboo, or wandered into the unwholesome labyrinths of African Cane! So that the end would be the apotheosis (since those who think so much of fine clothes, worship where they are worn,) of Opium Kings or Railway Queens, or of Tenors with a whole unnatural A, B, C, of falsetto ;that is, of commercial success, and ingenious combination, and artistic merit ! To myself this does not appear the most shocking arrangement of human reverence which the world has seen ; but I am fearful that the Protectionist ladies and gentlemen will hardly like it, as well as England wants they should.
Some, Sir, will assure you, that good Religion, as well as good Politics, is involved in the proposed arrangement. What a coil is now kept up about the proper manner of dressing a Church, and for Church: about the orthodox altar Flounce—the saving grace of such or such another surplice ! Grave men are giving their time and their scissors to cutting out patterns which shall keep the golden mean between Protestantism and Papistrie. The uniform humour of Quakerism, which, once upon a time, “found peace” and bore testimony in “ black hoods and green aprons " for Women Friends, is up in the market. Henceforth, no piety is to pass as such, save it has been hall-marked by Patented Interpreters of Tradition! There are to be degrees in coat collars as well as in copes ; dogmas are to be symbolized by the cut of-ahem!-dittoes; and every maid's or matron's hopes of reaching the Delectable Mountains, and the golden Land beyond, are to be set down as “low,” past the power of Synod or Council to raise,-if, having passed an examination under Miss Lambert, that gentlewoman decides that her bonnet belongs to a heterodox period, or that the materiel of
her mantle is Pagan. N.B.-An end is to be put to all India shawls, China crapes, Trichinopoly chains, or Smyrna silks : and by this Protection will reap a twofold profit.
I have been much struck, Sir, while watching my Mrs. Bell's delight at the prospect of giving her neighbours a“proper dressing,” to observe how fervour and enthusiasm can never remain stationary. These same Sumptuary Laws, which the Post declares that England will have revived, were coëval with sundry other patronal and protective engines :- Thumb-screws and the like. I could not help inquiring of my good lady, how far she would desire to see these taken in hand, to rebuke " that Mrs. Ogle” for the bird-of-Paradise tail in her bonnet, or to keep Mr. Thomas Fightington's waistcoats moderate, (which, as worn at present, are enough entirely to destroy the devotion of any quiet person in Church). My question gave offence ; for women, though willing to argue for ever, are puzzled by an illustration ; get angry or stop. “No; she hoped she was too good a Christian for such wickedness as that !—but she did think that it would be useless to make people make a suitable appearance, so long as they were allowed to spend what they pleased on their tables, and about their houses.” And reasonable enough, too. Mrs. Bell is consistent in her notion of arranging her neighbours, whether they like it or not! Down ought to come all the balconies of houses inhabited by people who can't pay the Income Tax. Individuals who are guilty of “ two puddings,” like Sir Balaam, should pay a fine to the Lady of the Manor ; cooks being encouraged to inform. All tea-pots, tankards, posset-dishes, and such like superfluities above the permitted number, must be broken up(the proprietor to be at the expense!) Precise forms to be issued, to be filled up by every householder-according to which the garnishing of garden walks is to be graduated; as for instance, Oyster Shells for the Rector's Lady, Cockle Shells for the Curate's. What an Elysium of Charity, Good Neighbourhood, and Economy is opening before us! As my Wife says—" there is no ascertaining at a moment's warning the lengths to which so great a principle may not be carried out.” But this she is resolved : to see it diffused in her own neighbourhood.
The indignant cry of “Stuff!" which has been long ere this raised by such as mistake their own arguments illustrated for the irony of a shabby old Latitudinarian, discomfits me as little, as I hope it does you, Sir. Nay, it is, in some sort, an “ Imprimatur."
For, indeed, what, more or less, let me venture to ask, Sumptuary Laws ?—the project of their revival, not to be seriously attacked or defended, but to be dealt with in sarsnet phrase, for the use, comfort, and enlightenment of Elderly Ladies. The Morning Post, we trust, with its accustomed elegance, will recognise the suitability of my style to my subject, -even though it call me, as it once did Napoleon, “that ambitious, but undoubtedly talented, enemy to Established Order."
THE WORKS OF WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.*
THERE are many advantages in the form of composition adopted by Mr. Landor. Of these, the chief, perhaps, is, that it enables a man who has not, on many subjects, arrived at positive opinions, to dispute, as it were, with himself, in presence of the public, and get credit for whichever side of the argument happens to be most popular,
Not that Mr. Landor has much availed himself of this privilege. He loves to speak out, and therefore, the veil and shelter of dialogue are frequently of no service to him. Occasionally, when a notion suggests itself to his mind, of whose character and value he is doubtful, though he determines to give it vent, the accommodating forms of conversation come opportunely to his aid and enable him to deliver himself of the strange birth without those intellectual throes to which an author, under any other circumstances, would be subjected.
Generally, however, he is less solicitous to put forward new opinions than to correct those already in circulation. Both in philosophy and literature he appears, therefore, most frequently as a critic, wedded to no theory, but intent upon sifting, in all things, the chaff from the grain, and bringing about a truce, if not a treaty of alliance, between the possessors and vendors of both. But Mr. Landor is a rough peace-maker. He does not betake himself to those subtle, insinuating, winning processes which throw a spell over the understanding and lead men blindfold, whether right or wrong, to whatever point the author would have them reach ; but, taking the disputants forcibly by the ears,
The Works of Walter Savage Landor, in 2 vols. London : Moxon, 1846.
he thrusts them into an inclosure, from which they cannot get out, and bids them accommodate their differences as fast as possible and live thenceforward in amity. With what success this method is likely to be attended, in the case, for example, of sects and parties, we need not say. Enthusiastic men, worshippers of one principle or opinion, such as in all cases make up the vitality of party, are insensible to ridicule. They take in right earnest the business of this life, and treat all who laugh at it as triflers. Wit, therefore, makes no impression on them, and though severe satire may gall their flanks it will not turn them from their course or impede their progress. And the reason is, that they are deaf to the explosions of merriment taking place around them; and if they behold the lips move, are more likely to fancy that it is in approbation than in censure.
Very shrewd thinkers are often out in appreciating the elements of popularity. They tell you, that to obtain a hold on the majority, a writer must be suggestive, that is, full of unblown thoughts, which, transplanted into the minds of other mon, may unfold and flourish there. Mr. Landor is such a writer, and he is not popular. His pages abound everywhere with suggestions, with the finest embryos of thought, with original conceptions, and images with new combinations, generally in good taste, sometimes in bad, with bold judgments of men and things, with enlarged views, dashed and alloyed by coarser materials, such as expressions, allusions, jests, and occasionally protracted passages which true refinement must condemn. He looks forward and backward over the great field of humanity, and by examining what it has produced, so far as yet cultivated, seeks to divine the nature of the erop to be expected from its untried sections.
The very faults of such a writer might be expected to act as a recommendation, being, as they are, the faults of wit betrayed by indulgence into too great license. Conscious of being quite at home with the subject under consideration, and standing in no awe of criticism, he allows his fancy to run riot that he may show his entire independence, and even conducts it occasionally into holes and corners which we would prefer not entering. This is a mistake, criticism is good when it is honest, when it praises heartily, and condemns with reluctance, as Mr. Landor's own criticism generally does. We say generally, because in the case of the French he seems to be under the influence of a rooted dislike, which inclines him systematically to disparage nearly everything they have done or produced. Not that we ourselves indulge any partiality for that people, but that, from a lurking sense of justice, we should hesitate to condemn them so peremptorily and entirely as Mr. Landor does.
We were saying, however, that in criticism Mr. Landor praises ungrudgingly, and only condemns because his judgment compels him. No man throws more zest into his eulogy of other writers, which argues, in our opinion, a large and liberal soul, sufficiently calm and unruffled to reflect all forms of beauty even when emanating from an enemy. This is a rare merit, much rarer than genius, for genius is not always generous ; but Mr. Landor's, upon the whole, is. He may, no doubt, have his antipathies, and find it impossible—as who does not ?—to regard the claims and pretensions of all men with equal mind; but with extremely few exceptions we think it will be found that the warmth of genius melts him into sympathy and sets his admiration in a glow.
The most prominent thought in nearly all great writers discloses the desire to promote the peace and tranquillity of mankind. Even the most distinguished orators nourished amidst the strife of the Agora, and rendered fierce by perpetual opposition, infused into their most tempestuous harangues à hatred of violence and bloodshed. This is true, especially of Demosthenes. It is true also of the Modern who approached him nearest in character Milton : and it is equally true of the distinguished speakers of our own day, not one of whom is found to sympathise with the disturbers of the world's repose. It does not, consequently, surprise us to find a genius like that of Mr. Landor, purely literary, allying itself with the pacific sentiment and inveighing with the voice of Bellona herself against the wars and devastations of ambition. The remarkable thing is, to see the feeling run like a golden thread through the compositions of a whole life, and that, too, in spite of a naturally martial spirit, quick to resent, impetuous to execute, supported by great physical energy, and a share of health which falls to the lot of few. This, we say, is something remarkable, and can only be attributed to the force of conviction overcoming passions and propensities and making way for the sure deductions of reason.
We alluded at the outset to the advantages inherent in the particular modification of dialogue to which Mr. Landor has almost exclusively confined himself. There are also some disadvantages, and on these we shall touch slightly before we discuss their