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that they sleep so much. Man wonders at all he sees, and at all he hears. He wonders at the past, and he wonders at the present, and he wonders at the future. He wonders backwards and forwards, and upwards and downwards, and all round about. He wonders at himself, and he wonders at his neighbours. He wonders at man's folly, and he wonders at man's wisdom. He wonders that he knows so much, and he wonders that he knows so little. He wonders at the regularity of the material world, and he wonders at the regularity of the moral world. He wonders at the regular return of the seasons, and he wonders at the infinite variety of them. Because he wonders, he seeks for knowledge that his wonder may abate; and yet the more he learns, and the more he knows, the more does his wonder increase. We do now and then meet with a poor witless ignoramus, who says, with a marvellously wise look, “ I have learned to wonder at nothing." Now, with all due deference to this Master Wiseacre, we are compelled to say, that this very speech is a proof that he wonders at everything. For how has he learned to cease from wonder? By what process has he been led to leave off, or to fancy that he has left off, wondering? Why, simply because he has been so bothered and perplexed by the wonders around him, that he has ceased from thinking at all. He could see nothing which did not excite his wonder, and therefore has shut his mind's eye that he may cease from his perplexity. This ceasing to wonder is, therefore, mere talk. Thought itself is wonder. The more a man thinks, the more he wonders. Wonders increase in a geometrical ratio ; the solution of one is the creation of two. The very beauty of wonder is our utter inextricability from it. Existence itself, which seems to be the simplest idea in the world, is an inscrutable wonder; and non-existence is a greater wonder. To be, is marvellous; and not to be, is more marvellous still. But we must not be metaphysical: and yet how can we avoid metaphysics when we are discoursing on wonders, for metaphysics are of all things the most wonderful. They are wonderful, because it is a wonder that, for so many centuries, so many books on the subject should have been read and written, and nobody should be a bit the wiser for them; and yet it would be more wonderful still, if people should have been wiser for books of metaphysics. It is wonderful that so many volumes of metaphysics should have been written; and it is more wonderful that they should have been read. We are sometimes wondering that the study of metaphysics should be out of fashion; and then, again, we wonder that it should ever have been in fashion. One cannot help wondering what the metaphysicians were thinking about when they wrote such books; and one wonders whether they expected that their books would ever be read. Indeed the world of letters is as full of wonders as any part of the universe. We wonder how people can find materials for writing so many books; and we wonder how the world can find time for reading them; and we wonder how the world can find patience to read some of them, and we wonder how the world can find money to buy them withal. To live without wondering is something like attempting to live without breathing; for is not wonder the breath of our intellectual life? It is said that extremes meet; and in this matter they certainly do, for if it were a supposable case that any mind could actually cease to wonder by surpassing all its difficulties, unravelling all its perplexities, and rising above all its clouds, fogs, and obscurities, it would have no motive to think, and its
powers would cease for want of exercise, and it would be even as no mind at all.
Truly, the most wonderful of all things is, that men are miserable because they cannot get rid of that which constitutes their happiness. Does not this last sentence sound like a most impudent paradox ? Yet it is true as truth itself. It is true of every part of our being, and of every interest in life. We are miserable because we cannot get rid of our pains, sorrows, cares, and disappointments; and yet the very happiness of our lives, the very delightfulness of our being, consists in the ease which follows pain, in the joy that contrasts with sorrow, in the alleviation of our cares, and in the successes which so brightly and so beautifully alternate with our disappointments. We wish to have no pains, no sorrows, no cares, no disappointments; and what would life be without them ? Even so is it with the wonders that perplex and bewilder the understanding, buffeting the mind different ways-now driving it to doubt, and now fixing it in faith. The ambitious and aspiring genius, which having learned its A, B, C, about ten minutes before the usual time, and having by its own unprompted sagacity discovered that the best way of seeing through a millstone is to look through the hole in the middle of it, thinks itself born to solve all perplexities, and to rise to an empyrean height of intellectual glory, -feels sadly disappointed that any mysteries should remain in nature, and that any knowledge should be above its reach, forgetting that the very use of mind is to grapple with difficulties, and that our knowledge would not be worth a straw were it not for our ignorance. Mind is of no use when it has ceased to wonder, even as life is of no use when its struggles are all over. All the charm and interest of reading consists in wondering what will come next. And as they who have no troubles made for them will be sure to make some for themselves; so they, if there could be any such, who could find no intellectual perplexities in nature, would be desirous of making some intellectual knots for themselves, in order that they might have the pleasure of untying them. In fact, we are so exceedingly fond of wondering, that we would go miles and miles to see anything wonderful—not that we need go far for that matter, seeing that we are surrounded with wonders ; but let that pass—we are never so completely and heartily attracted by anything as by the cry of wonder. All the world ran wondering after the learned pig, forgetting, however, that it was equally wonderful that one pig was not as learned as another. The title of Wonderful Magazine did wonders for a periodical some years ago ;—but it shall be said that of late years we are all grown wiser, and that we do not now run after such trash and trumpery as learned pigs and wonderful magazines : the truth is, that we are as fond of wonders as ever, only as the extraordinary has ceased to excite us from its want of novelty, we are now intent upon universal knowledge of the ordinary, that we may find food for our wonder in that which is common and quotidian. We are all wondering—some at ourselves and some at our neighbours. We are wondering at the march of intellect, but we are also wondering at the heavy baggage of ignorance which hovers and hangs in its rear. We wonder how any one can be content to remain in ignorance; we wonder that people should give themselves so much trouble to acquire knowledge, which knowledge, after all, teaches them little more than their own ignorance- :--as the increase of lights, in a boundless cavern of darkness, only serves the more effectually to show how great that darkness is.
THE MACHINERY OF CRIME IN ENGLAND.
THERE is not, and never has been, a civilized country of modern Europe~nor was there ever a nation amongst the ancients, which had arrived at even a secondary stage of civilization, in which a man, or a body of men, could violate the laws, except by stealth, by cunning contrivances, and by all those expedients and resources which can be created by skilful and experienced criminals, desperate in vice and yet reckless of its consequences.
In all countries, ancient and modern, professional or habitual law-breakers have been obliged to hold their assemblies in private, and to contrive their depredations with the utmost secrecy. They have been driven to an exertion of astonishing ingenuity in manæuvres, in order to avoid suspicion, to elude discovery, to baffle pursuit, to escape conviction, or to propitiate mercy.
In England, however, the case is directly the reverse. Here, although we pride ourselves on our high degree of civilization and pre-eminent humanity; though we boast that our institutions are superior to those of all other nations of the ancient or modern world, a set of individuals, of the vilest of all possible descriptions, will not only make law-breaking their trade, but will openly set the laws at defiance, beard all public functionaries, and outrage the feelings of all society,—and all this with the parade of every species of studied and even expensive publicity. They will advertise that they wish to break the laws, and that they want aiders and abetters. They will set forth in the newspapers that they intend to violate the law, that at certain places, and at certain times, they intend to assemble for that purpose-they will then announce when and where their offence is to be, committed—they will next parade in the press where they are to share their plunder, and when they will repeat their crime.
After an extensive depredation, attended by some horrible murders, an Englishman saw the gang of bandits joyously making purchases and carousing on their plunder in an Italian city, and he expressed his abhorrence of a government and police so corrupt as to tolerate such a system. He was reminded that, in England, the most notorious criminals were not only seen every day and all day long in the metropolis, but that houses were licensed by the magistrates for their accommodation, and they were allowed to be, on a secret understanding with the police. The Englishman hung his head, and said no more.
Were the habit of giving publicity to anticipated crimes in England narrated to a foreigner of any nation, no confidence in the narrator could create belief. The foreigner would say, “Such practices, even such a system, might exist in some half-civilized parts of the world—it might be impossible to prevent such practices, for instance, in the new States of South America, where society is always in a vortex of revolution, where the magistrates are weak, timid, truckling, or corrupt; where jurisprudence is but little understood, or where, as far as it is understood, there is no machinery, and no force of public opinion, to coerce to an obedience of the law; but to say that such publicly-advertised defiances of the magistracy and breaches of the law can take place in a Christian country like England is to outrage the decency of narration. If the foreigner were to say, “ You must surely speak of the violation of some obsolete laws, some laws of the barbarous ages, which now shock
the moral sense and outrage the improved reason of your country-laws of which the violation is a virtue and the observance is an infamy.” Were he to add, “this must be the case, for of all people, ancient or modern, the English are the most superstitious venerators of their ancestors, and they hold it a desecration to repeal laws, of which of all nations they would be the most prone to punish the observance ”_were a foreigner to say this, what would be his surprise were the Englishman to reply, “So far from your doctrine being true, the laws that are thus violated by public advertisement are not Gothic, barbarous laws, that shock the finer feelings and higher moral sense of the present generation. They are, on the contrary, the laws of the present generation, that most especially are approved of by the intellect of the
age; the most consonant to the existing state of society; and that fervidly excite the sympathy of all the religious, reflecting, and honest parts of every grade of social existence from one end of the kingdom to the other." The foreigner would deem this to be impossible, and, above all, (if impossibility be a term of degree or limit,) he would say, that such things, casual, much less habitual, never could have been witnessed in a country like England for very many generations. We do not think that a foreigner's incredulity would be lessened, if he were told that not only are these daring and criminal violations of the law publicly advertised in England, but the criminals, from the most humble to the most atrocious, are the favourites of the magistracy, and are actually licensed and specially protected in their trade.
Let this preliminary now be illustrated by recent facts.
In the last Number of the “New Monthly," we set forth how the public peace was broken, on the largest scale, by the practice of prizefighting-how extensively these brutal and unmanly exhibitions demoralized the lower orders, and to what a degree they laid whole neighbourhoods open to the depredations of the immensely numerous gangs of thieves of every class that invariably get up and attend at every fight. We will now show the enormous folly, not to say the guilt, of our public functionaries, in actually licensing and specially protecting the chief agents of these disturbers of society. We will take five or six special cases, the first relating to the most respected, and, we believe, the most respectable of our prize-fighters. If these facts attach to the most respectable of the class, the public may imagine what are the characters and what the conduct of the less reputable of the pugilists : our object relates, however, not to persons, but to a system, and to society in general,
A man professes in the newspapers that he has no avocation, trade, or labour by which he can subsist, except that of prize-fighting, which is strictly prohibited by law. He accordingly fights eight principal battles, each being advertised for months before they take place, and each being a congregation of thieves, accompanied with every description of robbery. This same man, moreover, is constantly officiating as second, or in some other capacity, at all fights at which he is not an actual combatant. At one place, he and another man second a fellow named Martin, in a prize-fight with one Randal. The two seconds*, Martin, and his backer, a Captain E, a man of fortune, enter the ring in exactly similar costume, all the funds being supplied by the Captain, Shortly after, this unfortunate gentleman is so swindled of his property by" the fancy,” that in a fit of despair he commits suicide. Shortly after the fight, one of the seconds is hanged for a murder, so greatly exceeding in atrocity the usual character of this most atrocious of all human crimes, that it has almost effaced the recollection of previous murders.
* Need we hesitate to name that one of these seconds was Thurtell,
Thus, of the two seconds and the gentleman backer, we have already one suicide and one execution; and what becomes of the other second ? He afterwards seconds Byrne in a fight, in which Byrne is killed, he having just before killed in a prize-fight an unfortunate wretch named, Mackay. Here then we have two murders or manslaughters, one suicide, and one execution. Does this pugilist now fly his vocation, crying, “ My conscience is seared with blood, and I will sin no more ; I will shun the paths of the law-breaker and the shedder of blood ?" One would suppose that he did, for he is immediately taken in favour by the magistrates, and licensed to keep a public-house; and let us see how he uses his means of retracing his steps. Is his house as strictly watched as the police magistrates pretend to watch all public-houses ? On one occasion this landlord fought on his own premises (in his great room) Jem Burn, another prize-fighter; and on another occasion, in this same room, he got up a fight between two prize-fighters named Ready and Dobell. On another occasion, a meeting of the swell mob, black-legs, pugilists, and desperate characters was held at this tavern, upon the subject of a recent fight between Dutch Sam and Ned O'Neil, and the chair was taken by a literary and sporting gentleman, one of the fancy. The room was crowded to excess, when Sampson, a resolute pugilist, accused the landlord of being a thief and swindler, by getting up crosses, and this of Sam's amongst the rest. The landlord would have taken summary vengeance, and he advanced with demonstrations of his design; but the feelings of the company were so much in unison with his accuser, that, Hercules and champion as he was, he was obliged to fly the room. The accusation was then transferred to the chairman; the desperate and incensed company were on the point of assailing him with various weapons; four out of the six candles they extinguished, when a reporter seized the other two, jumped on the table, and held them up out of reach; whilst three or four persons
seized the chairman and bore him out of the room, more dead than alive with terror. Had the intended murder been perpetrated, and it was on the very ace of perpetration, there would have been a stop put to licensing flash-houses and pugilists; for in this country all abuses are disregarded until some such catastrophe awakens the public senses
We will suppose that the magistrates are ignorant of such facts. Two prize-fights in a room crammed with desperate ruffians, habitual breakers of the law, and this at night, must have produced vociferation, riot, outrage, and torrents of abuse and oaths; but still, even the new police, with all their boasted vigilance and omniscience, may have been ignorant of it. When this meeting was ended, and the chairman had been rescued from assassination, the swell mob and thieves left the room,
and assembling round the street-door, gave three cheers, with three vociferations that “ all the by Peelers in London dared not attack them.”
All this was sufficiently alarming to the neighbours and passengers; but still the police, old and new, may have been utterly ignorant of the scenes, or of all things relating to the persons and locality connected with such practices. We do not suspect the police of connivance or
* Cock-fighting and advertised sparring-matches take place in this house, and at night.