« AnteriorContinuar »
proper for human beings; but everything done for the poor is both bad and expensive. The legislature has passed building acts, and interfered so far in the building of houses in general, as to insert that the walls should be made of a certain thickness, and the timbers of a certain strength, and has taken precaution to diminish the danger of fire-but it is of equal, or rather of infinitely more importance, that the houses should be fit in other respects for the residence of the human beings who live in them. Those persons who at present invest their money in building small houses and cottages for the poor, are too sordid, too grossly ignorant, to lay out their money in any way that does not promise an actual return in money. Nothing efficient can be done towards improving the condition of the lower orders, and thereby lessening the growth of crimé, except by compulsory regulations, adequately enforced and carried out. Men cannot be recommended out of evil; they must be commended from it, by that which has authority to enforce it.
Remedies, before they are applied, bear no manner of similitude to the disorders they are intended to rectify. The evil is sharp, tangible, well defined ;---the remedy is a theory, a possibility, not identified even in the minds of those who recommend it with the fact it is to grapple with. The most sanguine can only hope. At first sight the connexion between improving the streets and dwelling-houses of the poor, and the improvement in their morals and the actual decrease of crime, seems far-fetched and fanciful ; but even if there were not the united testimony of those best able to judge from their extensive acquaintance with statistical facts, the experiment might be tried without any great danger of throwing additional burdens on the higher classes. For it is those who pay the rates who have now to support an immense proportion of the lower orders, either in workhouses or in prisons, and one would think it might be done as cheaply, and much more conveniently, at their own abodes.
It is with those men who have not become actual criminals that any interference can be made with any rational hope of doing them good. When a man has once been convicted of an offence against life and property, he is a marked man for the remainder of his days,-a social Cain, whom all who come near avoid. He is banished beyond the outer court of humanity; he may repent of his crimes, and desire earnestly to lead a new life, but he is like a Ghost, causing dread and confusion if he attempts to return within the pale of his former social relations. And this is by no means unnatural or inhuman. So long as the instinct of self-preservation remains in force, honest men will have the preference over penitent scoundrels,—they are safer to deal with. Very few have the spirit of self-devotion strong enough to offer at their own risk, a fair and frank opportunity for the moral rehabilitation of men who have once fallen under the law and been condemned of Justice ; but so much the more imperative is it on all to endeavour to keep them from evil, to prevent that which, when it once occurs, is irretrievable in its consequences.
THE GOLDEN AGE IS COMING YET.
Bards in praise of Golden Ages
Long have sung in lofty rhyme,
Never was there such a tine :
Iron, iron, iron only,
All the ages that have been,
Here and there a flower between-
By the hope that never dies,
Liberty and Truth arise-
Ev'ry effort brings it on,
From its pathway lifts a stone.
BY PAUL BELL.
66 who gave
« Let me see," said the Regent,—“whom shall I dress next?”—Thomas Brown the Younger.
Our neighbourhood, Sir, has been thrown into a commotion, such as I do not recollect to have known in my time,-except, perhaps, when Miss Adelicia Le Grand chose to demean herself (as her sisters put it) by running away,
with the person our nephew instructions on the flute.” Protection and Paternal care, it seems, wish to take new forms; and these are of extraordinary interest, you will admit, to a population of calico-printersnor less to our Bombazeen cousins at Norwich, our Bandanna relations at Glasgow, and our United Irish Linen neighbours at Belfast. It is not only the manufacturers who are up in armsbut the "women-kind” too. Since the moment, on the 3rd of this month, when my Mrs. Bell read in the Morning Post the solemn declaration, that England desired to be put under Sumptuary Law-because the English people would be clothed as their wisers and their betters pleased, -she has never, she assures me, enjoyed one single hour's good rest on her pillow, for thinking, as she says, what every one ought to wear up and down Halcyon Crescent!
One or two to whom my wife has mentioned the scheme having doubted whether any popular teacher would be bold enough to recommend such a nostrum in these days :-I will subjoin the very precise words written—my Mrs. B. makes no doubt—by some author dressed in the true author's garb of old times—cloth of pepper and salt—the workhouse colours,-out at the elbows. Thus saith the Solomon :
“ England (to use once more Carlyle's phrase) wants to be governed.' We need government for all classes. We need real government. We need government, not merely for the protection of life and of property in masses, but we need government, moreover, for the repression or eradication of those propensities of our common nature, in which social misery in all its forms takes its rise. We need, undoubtedly, among other things, such a censorship of morals as prevailed in Rome during
the best period of Rome's history. We need, not less certainly, such sumptuary laws as were established in Scotland during the 14th and 15th centuries.” "I hope here be truths”.
-a Clothes' question, with a vengeance, for Mr. Carlyle to settle in some future edition of Sartor Resartus ; and for Mr. Moses of Aldgate to propound to his Chancellor or keeper of conscience that it may be properly “ improved” in some future edition of his transcendental speculations
“ the Past, the Present, and the Future !”- What a field for inventive genius! what scope for fancy and philanthropy combined ! May Fair to wear one suit !--Rag Fair another! Saints in crape ! Saints in lawn ! Saints in huckaback! Saints in sacking! We are told that Mr. Cobden has gone down to the print works, full of the idea ; only waiting to see what manner of apparel the Editor of the Morning Post will himself sport, by way of glorious beginning-before he gets up a waistcoat for Lords, another for Commons-one for engineers, another for poets,—and
“bull-head and fetter-lock ” pattern for “ the Country Party!
Difficulties have arisen, however, on the outset, before the scissors have been put to a single yard of cloth (save in cutting out the editorial coat aforesaid). A regulation uniform apportioned to any given class makes comfortless work of the too Tall, or the too Short—as many a Muffin Cap will bear witness ; and I hardly perceive how the paternal and protectionist Toilette can be rendered sufficiently distinctive and embracing, without meanness to some, and misery to others. The glory of the Dukes, for instance, is to be shown forth: so many rows of miniver at Coronation-time being but a beginning. Now, since certain Baronets have had books written to prove their right to thumb-rings,* among other “long pig-tails and such vanities,”—the Buckinghams, Beauforts, and other such more august personages, must be bound to wear rings on every finger,-if they be absolved from the bells on their toes,—with
* The Committee of Baronets claim, however, besides Knighthood for all Baronets, and for their Eldest Sons on attaining the age of twenty-one, the style of “ Honourable,” and “Supporters to their arms, a Badge, a Dark Green Dress, as the appropriate costume pertaining to them as Equites Aurati ; the collar of S. S.—the Belt-the Scarf-a Star—a Pennon-a White Hat and Plume of White Feathers—the Thumb-Ring and Signetthe Sword—Gilt Spurs,” etc.-See Crawford's Address to the Baronets' Committee, 1837.
which the wisdom of our ancestors accompanied that decoration ; (to quote the Nursery Saga). And of course, as in number of jewels, there must be also differences in the quality of the jewellery. It is a chance whether any Mrs. Hardcastle ought to aspire to any ornaments more precious than the garnets which the first of that name, Tony Lumpkin's Mama, pressed on Miss Neville, her niece, by way of pacifying the young lady for the loss of her diamonds. But, if this be so, gentlewomen of “privilege ” must prove themselves such by their brilliants (and, seriously, this was in some measure provided for, by the institution of Heir-Looms). When she leaves her “sea of light” at home, My Lady must sink at once to plain Joan, and may be treated as such, without power of appeal to the Red Book, or the Peerage. I cannot think that such an arrangement is wholly feasible; since, well-a-day for Grandeur !-it may be feared that there are some among the nobility, to whom paste and mosaic gold, even, would not come easily. Such melancholy sights are to be seen as Earls' grand-daughters gaining their bread as Governesses as the Sons of Dukes fighting their
way out of the Straights of Narrow Fortune, on board Her Majesty's ships-or teaching clodpole children their catechism in some remote country parish, where the gleam of even Bristol stones would dazzle the farmers' wives and farmers' daughters into fits. Now if people must be hindered by Law from dressing above their Rank, they must also be hindered by Law from dressing below it : (much good, my helpmate insists, would this do to stingy Mr. Crum and his Sister at Number 29, whose clothes would disgrace a scare-crow!) And, accordingly, all the nobility must be provided with competent incomes, by the England which wants to be governed by properly dressed people. Was it this, sir, which the writer in the Post meant, think you ?
If so, what does it all amount to-but that Purse, not Pedigree, must draw the line. My Mrs. B. will not listen to me, while I tell her that the bare idea is rank democracy an encouragement of that Mammon worship, the name of which makes the Country Party faint! No such proposal, believe me, will ever come from The Post! For if it were once acted upon, good by to Lady Salesbury's blaze of splendour, which struck terror into the heart of the Sultan--good by to the renowned Star court diamonds, the appearance of which in the fashionable world is as regularly chronicled as Lord George's last race with Mr. Benjamin for the Secretary or Vice-President cup, or Mr. Manager's last