Imágenes de páginas

let me call your attention to the situation in which we are now placed.

Eton is a soil which has been used to the sun of Royal Patronage, and, if that invigorating heat is withheld, what can be expected but that the earth should be unproductive, and that its plants should fade? This is a most comfortable doctrine, inasmuch as it enables us to set down to your Majesty's account all the degeneracy which modern Eton is said to exhibit. The remedy is as obvious as the evil. Pay us a visit! -Are our cricketers weak in the arm? Your patronage shall add vigour to their sinews! Are our poets weak in the head? Your encouragement shall give new life to their Hippocrene! Are our alumni diminishing in numbers ? Beneath your influence recruits shall tumble in like locusts! Are they diminishing in stature? They shall grow like mustard beneath a Royal smile.

This however is all theory and speculation. There are many who will attribute our degeneracy to other causes, and many who will deny that there is any degeneracy in the case at all. I am now going to mention a specific grievance, the existence of which no one can deny, and to which your Majesty alone can apply a remedy. During the life of your Father we enjoyed three annual Holidays, under the denomination of “ King's Visits;" and the enjoyment of them had become so much a thing of course, that few were aware upon how short a tenure we held our blessings. They are gone! We have no “ King's Visits," because your Majesty has never visited Eton.

It seems to be pretty well determined, that your Majesty, sooner or later, will visit some place or other. Some recommend a visit to Hanover, some recommend a visit to Ireland :-I recommend a visit to Eton. It will be less troublesome, less expensive, and less formal, than either of its rival proposals. It will be soonest begun, and it will be the soonest over. It would be without a hundred inconveniences, which would wait upon your two other journeys. At Eton you would not be bothered by Counts and Courtiers; you would not be stifled with Phelims and Patricks; you would not be pestered with German addresses, as at Hanover; and you would not have to dine with the Mayor and Corporation, as at Dublin. .

The time of your visit I will not presume to point out. If you happen to come on the fourth of this month, you will find certain illicit proceedings going on, which I cannot in this place describe. I can tell you, however, that we shall have a splendid show, and a band that shall play“ God save the King !ad infinitum. If you prefer being present at our Public

Speeches, as your Majesty's Father occasionally was, you will hear much embryo oratory, and see much sawing of the air.

To be serious—may it please your Majesty, I think you ought to come to Eton. Let us have due notice of the honour intended us, and you shall be received in a style worthy both of us and of you. Come, and by your coming disperse over the face of Etona her wonted smile : paste another bright leaf into her annals : give a new excitement to her talents, her studies, and her amusements. You need not come in state; you must not depart in a hurry: bring to us as many smiles, and as few Lords, as you please: above all, drive away for an hour the formality of dress and manner which public life enjoins; come to us provided with an English heart, and dressed in the Windsor uniform.

On Windsor Bridge you shall be met by the Fellows, with “ God save the King ;” and, as you step into College, you shall be saluted by my friend the Captain with a Latin address. This shall not detain you longer than three minutes and a half; and Sir Benjamin Bloomfield shall hold the watch. You will then be conducted to all the Lions of the College, amongst which you will feel particualarly interested in the New Library established last month, and you will probably put a small donation into the hands of Mr. Hawkins, the Treasurer. After your peregrinations you will have the option of taking a cold collation with the Provost, or a hot beef-steak with the King of Clubs. If you prefer the former, my duty for the day is over; but if, as I prognosticate, your choice falls upon the latter, the talents of Mr. Rowley shall be forthwith put in requisition. We will give your Majesty a real English dinner, and a hearty welcome. I will not present my book unless your Majesty desires it, and your Majesty shall not be required to Knight any of the Club, unless you would condescend to confirm the title of my worthy friend Sir Thomas. We will be very merry, may it please your Majesty, and we will have your Majesty's favourite Punch, if your Majesty will give us the recipe. Mr. Oakley shall be driven from the Club-Room, and we will make our furious Whig, Sir Francis, sing loyal staves in honour of the occasion. If this does not bring you to Eton, I don't know what will—that's all.

In the evening your Majesty shall return to-bless my soul, I had forgotten the Holidays. But your own good-nature will prompt you. I have finished my epistle, and—may it please your Majesty.



On Prejudice.

“ Men's evil manners live in brass: their virtues
We write in water"


Of all those errors, to which, from the frailty and weakness of our natures, we are perpetually liable to become subservient, few, I think, have been carried to a more ridiculous excess, or have more completely estranged the mind from notions of right and wrong, than Prejudice. Whenever it has once gained a firm footing in our breasts, by persuading us to admit within them the seeds of enmity or aversion against any particular object, the most clear and convincing arguments will, in most cases, be found insufficient to eradicate them. They rapidly increase, and, from the most trifling and despicable origin, rise to the most absurd and violent extreme of detestation. Nay, to such an extent have they been cherished, that the powers of reason and reflection, which the very wisest can boast of, have been repeatedly blinded and overwhelmed by them.

Talent, Fortitude, Honour, and all the most noble qualities allotted to mankind, will be forgotten and disregarded by him who entertains any dislike against their possessors. Our eyes, when directed by Prejudice, are only open to the vices of men :—their virtues are concealed by the veil of disgust, which she throws indiscriminately over all our mental powers of vision. The advice of our friends, the reprehensions of the world, and sometimes even our own conscience, will admonish us against this weakness :-weakness, however, I should not term it, for notwithstanding that it displays the imbecility of the mind which cannot resist its impulse, it may, nevertheless, if once encouraged, extend itself into the most inveterate hatred which disgraces human nature.

Nor does Prejudice confine herself to any one particular object; but her hateful effects may be observed in all ages, in all countries, amongst all ranks, and all sects of mankind. She interrupts the peace of Governments ; she disturbs the amity and harmony of families : nay, Religion itself is not free from the detestable and injurious turmoils which she has it in her power to excite. And when she has attacked any one upon whom she may publicly wreak her malice, by gaining over to herself the hearts and opinions of the community, no entreaties, no repentance, (if aught which demands repentance has been committed by her victim,) no exertions of talent or industry to regain his former honours, can rescue him from her power; however he may have incurred, or deserved to incur, her odium.

The first, and, in my opinion, the most detestable and overbearing species of Prejudice, is that, which the sects of various religions have repeatedly encouraged against each other. This may be most properly termed Pharisaical Prejudice. It is a melancholy thing to look back upon the page of history, and observe the pollutions and interpolations, which the most holy ordinances of religion have suffered from its influence. If we examine Holy Writ, how forcibly does its virulence appear, in the conduct of the Jews towards a Redeemer! How beautifully, yet how forcibly, does that very Redeemer exemplify its pernicious malevolence, in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican! Let us turn to a later period :-let us behold the cruelties exercised at various periods upon the Continent, in our own, and in a sister country, against the Protestants. Can we, trace in these any of the dictates of Charity, of Kindness, and of Forbearance, which our Divine Master has, in all his words and actions, set before us? Must every different religion be supported by the annihilation of those who are unwilling to conform to its decrees? We have no authority, divine or human, to take such power upon ourselves. Whence, then, is the cause, that so much innocent blood has been shed ? Wherefore do we hear different sects reviling each other, and affirming, that none, excepting those who are of their own persuasion, shall obtain salvation? What is the root of all these evils—this enmity—this abolition of fraternal love amongst mankind ? It is Prejudice.

Another species, more ridiculous in its appearance, but equal in virulence to the abovementioned, in attempting to gain the accomplishment of its wishes, may be aptly denominated Political Prejudice. It is astonishing to see the hatred and dissensions which are carried on from family to family, from century to century—what detestation against each other has displayed itself in hearts, which, in all other respects, might be classed amongst the most excellent and virtuous. The best of Monarchs, the most skilful of Rulers, have not escaped its pernicious influence. Whatever may be the good qualities of a king, they will vanish from the eyes of his subjects, if Prejudice has forbidden them to look upon any of his actions, except those which are worthy of blame. How forcible a representation of its malevolence do the feudal times present to us; when the quarrels of powerful families were handed down, and continued with undiminished enmity and bloodshed, through the lapse of ages! And in later days, when we see a monarch dethroned and decapitated by his subjects, without cause ;when we hear all the invectives which the spirit of Revolution can utter against those who the least deserve them; when we see persons attacked in the performance of those duties

which they have long discharged with honour to themselves, and with success to their country :shall we not naturally, if we behold all these evils with the clear and steady light of reason, inquire into their origin? It is Prejudice.

Under the same head may be included Popular Prejudice. That of the political species is more slow and deliberate in its advances, but more virulent and deadly in the completion of its purposes. Popular Prejudice, on the other hand, is violent and immediate in manifesting itself; but its rage is exhausted in a much shorter space of time. It has been known, however, upon gaining an ascendancylover the passions of an intemperate and senseless mob, to produce the most diabolical paroxysms of fury, and to have operated on the minds of men, as it were, by infernal agency. The conduct of our own countrymen, during the execution of Governor Wall, if we turn back to the chronicles of that period, will show us Popular Prejudice in its most glaring and execrable light. I do not by any means wish to vindicate the character, or palliate the conduct, of that unfortunate man. He was justly and deservedly punished for his cruelty by the loss of life. But, however great his offences might be, I must own that I was shocked and disgusted upon reading an account of the conduct of the lower orders, previous to, and during the time of, his execution. The public press teemed with every invective which could possibly enrage the populace against him ; his name was heard in every street, branded with all the malicious appellations that Revenge could invent; his figure was represented in every printshop, either as inflicting*the cruelties which he had committed, or as undergoing the punishment to which he was to be doomed. His execution was repeatedly announced for a certain day, and then deferred. Hence, so great was the anxiety of the populace, so ardent their wish for the gratification which they expected from beholding his punishment, that, upon seeing the object of their hate, after they had repeatedly been disappointed in the performance of his execution, appear upon the fatal platform, they raised three loud and heart-drawn cheers, as if now certain of their victim. The same species of disgraceful barbarity was repeated at that most appalling moment, when the culprit was launched into eternity. While his limbs were yet quivering with the last agonies of death, the same tumult and hellish gratification manifested itself in almost every mind. But the most disgusting and brutal instance of their hatred, is yet, I think, untold. Some women, even women, at the conclusion of his punishment, stationed themselves at the foot of the scaffold upon which he suffered, and drank perdition to him! Nay, the fatal rope itself, after having performed its duty, was cut into the smallest pieces, and purchased by the mob with avidity! Is this a

« AnteriorContinuar »