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by the movement of that incessant immitigable innovator-Time. They revelled and rejoiced also above measure in the exaltation of the value of land, and they obeyed the impulse with even more sensibility and alacrity than their tenants. The affluence which brought high thoughts; the aspirations which accompanied the sudden influx of wealth; the allurements of the society and amusements of the metropolis*; the diffusion of literature and the arts amongst them; while all these things inspired a new, and prouder, and more independent tone of thinking and of action, they relaxed the ties, broke the associations, and infused a distaste for natural occupations and natural connexions. This was perfectly in order. But then came a reverse, and to retrograde is the difficulty, not to say the impossibility. Their expensive establishments could not be relinquished, scarcely retrenched. “ The squire of five hundred a year,” when he became the master of half as many thousands was a totally different person. But once accustomed to the warmth and supportt, as well as the splendour of his rich plumage, he could not bear to be stripped down to “the squire of five hundred a year" again. Yet is the reduction and reverse from the date of “the high times” scarcely less, and it must, probably, hereafter be more. Mortgages and loans staved off the day of reckoning; the return to cash payments accelerated its advent. It is drawing nigh; and many a bitter politician has its warning made, because it has rendered all who are not impoverished, but brought back to an approximation to their original level, dissatisfied. Thus is this class individualized. Although they are busier in the active concerns of politics, although they are no longer implicit followers of a leader, their imaginary importance--their real embarrassment--their haughty exclusion from all above and all below them, and even from each other, cast them loose, while the want of decided parties in the state, the fear and the desire of change, both operating to distract their views, the loss
* We often quote Mr. Bulwer's “ England and the English,” because, though differing upon many principles and inferences assumed by that gentleman, it is not to be doubted that his book is incomparably the most popular and will sink deeper into the minds of the many than any book of the time. In the whole varied extent of its eminent ability and power, it does not contain a more just or striking illustra. tion than the following passage, which bears directly upon what the character of the country gentleman ought to be, and what it but too universally is not. " What an enviable station,” he says, s is that of a great country gentleman in this beauti
garden of England! He may unite all the happiest opposites-indolence and occupation, healthful exercise and literary studies. In London, and in public life, we may improve the world—we may benefit our kind, but we never see the effects we produce; we get no gratitude for them; others step in and snatch the rewards ; --but, in the country, if you exert equal industry and skill, you cannot walk out of your hall but what you see the evidence of your labours. Nature smiles in your face and thanks you ! Yon trees you planted; yon corn-fields were a common-you called them into existence; they feed a thousand mouths, where, ten years ago, they scarce maintained some half-a-dozen starving cuws. But, above all, as you ride through your village, what satisfaction creeps around your heart! By half that attention to the administration of the poor-laws which in London you paid to your clubs, you have made industry replace sloth, and comfort dethrone pauperism. (Oh, if a country gentleman would awake to a sense of what he might be!) You, a single individual, have done more for your fellow-creatures than the whole legislature has done in centuries. This is true power; it approaches men to God ; but a country gentleman often refuses to acknowledge this power-he thinks much more of a cer. tificate for killing partridges !”
† “ The feather that adorns the royal bird supports his flight; strip him of his plumage, and you fix him to the earth.”—Junius.
of the command over their tenantry and dependents, occasioned by the infinite diversity of causes we have already enumerated, have diminished their influence in the commonwealth almost to comparative insignificancy. The great party of the landed interest is thus broken to pieces. The interior and intimate combinations, its elective attractions so to speak, being sundered or dissolved, its weight and its properties are lost or neutralized. It becomes, however, only the more difficult to guide and determine their effects. Formerly, the minister of the day could compute his strength by the numbers of his loftier adherents, who were the heads and leaders of ascertained political septs, devoted partisans, or personal dependents. He has now no such facile means of calculating his forces. He must consult opinion, which is diverse and versatile as the dispositions of the individuals composing that heterogeneous mass, now incomprehensibly more heterogeneous than ever, whether rightly to be called the public or the people.
We have thus coursed, perhaps it may at first glance be thought too invectively, through the entire compass of rural life; but with the buoyancy of all theorists, we imagine we have found the principle, and done no injustice to the subjects of our examination. We are endeavouring to describe the natural appearances of disorder, and to dive down to their origin; and if we have not discovered the single source of much of the visible disorganization, we, at least, enable the inquirer after truth to detect the grounds of our self-delusion, by giving the details which have misled our judgments.
Ascending the scale of political power and influence as they affect the whole society of England, we arrive at the population of great towns. The generic division is nearly and numerically the same ;-- 1st, the artizan, or, in the fashionable phrase, the operative; 2nd, the middle; and 3rd, the opulent classes; but their specific characteristics are widely different when compared with the same gradations of rural life.
Amongst the artizans of a large manufacturing town is to be found every shade, from the most active intelligence, the most unceasing industry, the steadiest principle, and the results of these qualities, the amplest comfort, down to the lowest and darkest, and most brutally ferocious ignorance, the most reckless idleness, the most confirmed intemperance and vice, and the most ungoverned insolence, with the necessary consequences, a depth of indigence and misery inconceivable * to all but those who have sought out the abodes of this abandoned race.
Again we must repeat, we are not inquiring into causes, but describing effects, political effects. Upon this class, the two most powerful agents, intellectually speaking, religion and literature, have wrought very striking changes. The former, where its consequences are most visible, is the religion of dissent; and it is mere justice to the great denominations, the Wesleyans and Baptists, most especially, to admit that, morally, they have done much service. The Church of England takes á comparatively loose hold of its followers—its mild and lenient spirit, both in doctrine and discipline, is its boast. The sectaries allow no such Jatitude; and the result is, not alone that the members of their societies are strongly bound together, but that there is a check upon all their actions, exterior as well as interior, restraining them, not alone by the inward consciousness of religious hopes and fears, but by the terror of worldly exposure and reprehension. Hence that very numerous class (the dissenters) is, for the most part, distinguished by habits of industry and temperance, by reflection and energy (a part of the religious temperament), and by a consent of motives and opinions common to the body. They are to a man liberals in politics; in by far the greater number of instances verging so near to republicanism, that in any doubtful question they go to the extreme with the people and against the privileged orders. Searching, rigid and economical in their own affairs, they allow no admission to the extenuations of rank, station, and luxury; they carry the same dispositions into their notions of government, and are most earnest and eager advocates of reduced taxation, the disjunction of the church from the state, the maintenance of the ministers of religion by their own flocks, of peace and free trade. Their enthusiasm, patience, perseverance and combination—their modes of action, however astute, and even cunning in the preparation, yet always rapid, vigorous and direct when the preparation is complete, invest them with a degree of vigilance and power, known to no other division of the subjects of the commonwealth. They are, also, content to “bide their time” with the most patient pertinacity. For all these reasons they are inaccessible to the ordinary means of detaching individuals, or of guiding societies. They adhere to their principles strictly and to extremity; they are to be counted upon only in proportion to the affinity the measure or the man is supposed to bear to those principles. Immoveable in the stern fixity of religious doctrine and discipline, their principles are, nevertheless, principles of change, partaking also of the right and exercise of a sturdy private judgment, and that desire of ultra-freedom and simplification of manners, laws, and government, which is one of the strongest characteristics of republicanism. Their literature is scarcely less sectarian than their faith; they read few or no works that advocate any course opposed to their own tenets, and they are no less heated and severe in their practice than in their theory of politics. They go all lengths in condemnation or support. They endure rather than they tolerate, not only on the score of their principles, but because the Church and State, the former more especially, have in their pride continually taunted dissenters with the toleration power has enabled them to inflict. Upon the rest of the class floating free and at large in the ocean of opinion, the tendency towards mental rather than sensual pleasure acts very much in the same way. It is observed in Mechanics' institutions, from whence is propagated almost all of beneficial knowledge which reaches them, that the Tories or Conservatives are very, very few. It consists, indeed, with the essential distinction between those who are anxious for improvement, whether speculative or practical, and those who are satisfied with “. things as they are,” that the one should be more inquiring than the other; and it no less accords with the dispositions
* During the access of the cholera a gentleman visited a court or yard in a manufacturing city where there were thirty patients suffering under the disorder. He wished to bleed one of them, and in all the surrounding habitations no utensil to hold the blood of any sort could be found. In one room, where the family consisted of a father, mother, and nine children, there was literally no furniture, except two broken chairs and a table, and when they laid down on their straw to sleep, the room was divided by a miserable rag called a curtain. The writer of this article heard innumerable relations of this kind from the visiters of these wretched abodes in various parts of the kingdom.
of nature and society, that those writings which are most violent in condemnation of abuses, real or assumed, and which go to reduce the estimation of superiors, should enjoy a wider reception amongst inferiors than any other. It is not to be concealed that the press has been most vilely prostituted; the corruption of the morals of those who should be the industrious classes has been effected by the sporting papers and the penny publications. Thus have these classes been prepared for the wildest political and popular fallacies. We consider this, however, not to be a permanent but a temporary appearance, resulting from the state of transition and the hitherto very imperfect organization of any national scheme for the moral and political instruction of the people. But the immediate consequence is to inoculate almost the whole of this entire class with a disorder of irritability and virulence dangerous above measure ; for to the operatives belongs a power which is not delegated to the rural labourers. They are a most efficient portion of the electors of great towns. While the first returns of a Reformed Parliament have, in but too many instances, shown that the extension of the franchise to the ten-pound householders has only allo freer scope to corruption, co-operating with the decline of the influences of personal respect, of the estimation of place, of the connexion of master and servant, and of the great distinctions of party; we shall still perceive amongst this, the most numerous and heterogeneous class, the operation of that individualization, which renders the task of government so incalculably difficult. This it is which assists to consummate the ascendency of commercial wealth and importance in densely populated places, over the scattered interests of landed property.
There is no equivalent counterpoise to this the purely democratical portion of the commonwealth. Nor is it a minor consideration that the meeting-house so often supersedes the church amongst this section of the people. Dissenters are even now comparatively rare amongst those exalted by station or wealth.
The middle class of the inhabitants of towns, if the most virtuous in their morals, the most regular in their habits, and the most stable in the trains of political action, have, notwithstanding, suffered change in common with the rest of English society. They are beyond all computation the most imbued with the desire of knowledge, and the most ardent in the cultivation of letters. By this somewhat ambitious phraseology, we do not mean to describe them as regular, devoted students, but as decided readers--not as the followers of deep learning and high science, but as having imbibed the love for general information which has converted them from eaters and drinkers into persons of no contemptible taste for books and the fine arts. The symbols are everywhere to be seen in their houses, and to be traced in their conversation and pursuits. The sons of traders of almost all descriptions and degrees, as well as of the professions, have some tincture of classical learning, while the easy access to public libraries and reading rooms, and the diffusion of cheap depositories of general information, together with their patient habits, derived from attention to business, so favourable to acquirement, have not only spread a vast portion of superficial intelligence amongst these classes, but made a sounder acquaintance with the elements of history, polite literature, and natural philosophy almost indispensable. The professors of liberal science, and those engaged in the faculties of law and medicine, it has been constantly observed, incline to ultra-liberal sentiments; they do so because their acquirements not only make them more discerning, but enforce more upon them than any other class the effects of individualization. Their calling is one of judgment, more independently exercised, because more resulting from individual qualities than any other, and hence the universal tendency towards republicanism : for, as they derive all their importance from their intrinsic capacities, they are the more impatient of those artificial superiorities which but too often give to men of inferior abilities a place above them. The very talent by which they win their way, always more sensitive than that of persons of less quickness and attainment, teaches them to feel this superiority as an injury and an injustice, and they the more urgently desire a form of government which allows the fullest and freest scope to genius, industry, and information. This state of things has been no little advanced by the universal education of the females. There is scarcely a tradesman's daughter who is ignorant of French and Italian, and who is not to some extent a musician or an artist. They are very commonly creditably read in history and poetry, and indeed in most of the productions of name of the time. The fact is strongly manifested by the numbers employed in private tuition, and by the enormously increased catalogue of authors. Hence the middle class is more than any other distinguished by its intellectual character, and all the tendencies of these associations go to raise and propagate the power of literature. A certain refinement of taste and manners, not without a loftiness of public sentiment, is inculcated throughout, and although every appetite for luxuries is an opening at which corruption may creep in, there can be no question that the conduct of public men is now submitted to a much more discerning and severe scrutiny than was ever before known; and if the examination be more captious, it must also be admitted, that, in proportion to the knowledge, the judgment is likely to be the more correct; the upright asperity and watchfulness directed towards the most prominent public functionaries extend in all directions, and pervade the body; opinion becomes an universal censor; each man is the superintendent of his fellow; and violence or apathy, prostitution or aberration in political affairs, is certain to be visited by avoidance or disgrace, marked and effectual. Wealth and station must always have influence, but that influence is far less upon this class than it used to be. It is also diminished by division; the number of the rich is greater; they become antagonist forces, and neutralize each other. The augmentation of the constituency has lessened the force of both agents by diffusion. If twenty are to be cajoled or purchased instead of ten, it is clear that twice as much money and art must be employed; the task becomes doubly irksome and doubly expensive, even when it can be attempted with any chance of success, and the decline of such domination is ascertained (though we are satisfied the effects are yet very partial, and stop far short of their future strength) by the returns to the Reformed Parliament. The grand and momentous consequence is, however, the increase of the power of the democracy.