Images de page

question at which our author has not cared to look. Still, with all our objections, we are glad to hear his bold strong utterances, which never fail to minister some healthful stimulus to thought, and can always find something suggestive even in the views with which we least agree. His mannerisms are the price which we must pay, and which we are content to pay, for such originality as his. We fail, however, to see the end that is gained by some of the quaint phrases in which he loves to indulge. Why, for example, the allied French and German army should be called the “Dauphiness”—what particular advantage there is in always speaking of the supplies of an army as its bakeries or bread basket, and in describing the general guarding them as sitting on his bread basket-why names should at one time be given in their German and at another in their English character-or why a hundred other eccentricities should crowd his pages, it puzzles us to comprehend. These, however, are but slight blemishes on the face of a narrative to which, notwithstanding its many inherent disadvantages, Mr. Carlyle has succeeded in imparting singular brilliancy and grandeur.


My two friends Cecil and Merton came one evening towards the close of the last week in July to take supper with me, and, as every one knows, there is no time in all the day like supper-time for talking. For myself, I do not like, and I cannot talk during breakfast. My senses are not awake, and my thoughts move heavily and slowly. Quick and lively conversation going on around me gives me the same impression that I have when I see people working with hard and unnatural labour. It pains and disturbs me, and I am glad when I escape from it. The conversation of the dinner table, unless the dinner takes place at a time when supper should be approaching, gives me not much greater pleasure, and I have always thought dinner-table conversation rather overrated. It is commonly forced—not much, but just sufficient to make me sensible that it is not so spontaneous as all pleasurable conversation is. It has a certain ease. Breakfast conversation is like a heavy waggon going up a steep hill; dinner conversation is the same waggon going along a good highway ; supper conversation is a four-in-hand mail-coach flying over the country, uphill and down-hill with the same swiftness. I have a theory that persons of certain temperaments enjoy conversation best at certain times of the day. A man of sanguine temperament, I have noticed, is good company for himself and others in early morning. He wakes up every day hopeful and in good spirits, and looks forward to the work before him with more or less confidence of success. What is called the sanguine lymphatic temperament is good at mid-day, and especially after dinner. It combines hope and repose, and its possessor has not, like the too sanguine man, worked himself out before half the day is over. He has probably done and realized sufficient to make him both a little tired and a little contented ; dinner removes the fatigue and increases the contentment. The man of nervous temperament, on the other hand, is not good for very much until the work of the day is done, and his nerves are at rest. Then he can throw himself into the circumstances around him,-make them part, as it were, of himself,—and open his mind and heart to all that comes. He enjoys good company especially with an eager pleasure. I do not think his enjoyment of it is so wholesome as that of others; he is simply more excited with it, and seems, to himself, to relish it better, but there is too little repose in his nature for that quiet feeling of satisfaction which is necessary to the healthiest pleasure.

Neither my friends nor I possess either of the above temperaments unmixed with others, but I think Cecil would be described by common observers as a sanguine man, and Merton as having a good deal of nervous temperament, with something to qualify it, what, it would, at first, be difficult to say. I, if the frank observation of my friends are worth anything, have a predominance of the nervous, also, I hope, qualified, but not in the same way as Merton.

We discoursed, during supper, on a variety of topics,-holidays past and holidays in expectation, I think, more especially. Cecil was a rare and most punctual holiday-keeper, and took his rest every autumn as regularly as he took his sleep every night. “ I can't go on longer," he said, “than eleven months at a time. If I do I run down altogether. I feel the weariness of the body making the mind weary, and I am conscious of losing my hopefulness.” Merton, on the other hand, could go on easily and not seem to suffer,—did not suffer. “A day or two, every now and then,” he said, “is sufficient for me. I keep myself, by that, up to an average mark, and can go on from year to year, working pretty steadily. Of course, 'tis partly a habit. I could not leave my work for a whole month at a time. I have never left

it for more than three days; yes, once it was ten days, but that was when I was married. Never having taken a long holiday, I now do not seem to want it. Besides, I do not go out for pleasure, I go to get health and strength, and if I can get them in three days, why should I take a month?” “ Pray, Merton," said I, “how many holidays of three days do you take in a year ?” “ Perhaps, half-a-dozen," he replied, “never more." “ What, you going to do Sterling ?” said Cecil. “1," I replied, "am going to take one day, and I think that is all, this year, at least. My holiday will be the best of all holidays-change of work." This remark brought up Southey's way of resting in work, and then we talked of the holidays which our legislators were about to take, not forgetting those of their agents. And so the General Election came up.

Cecil. I have been amused beyond anything at the way in which the results of the election are spoken of in class journals. I do not think there was ever a better illustration of the mind making its own facts. I took up the Standard the other day. We all know the figures, of course, and how the Liberal party has an increased majority of about twenty-five members, or fifty votes in a division, yet the Standard had the hardihood to say that the Conservatives have only apparently diminished in numbers, and that their real strength is lessened in no degree. It maintained, too, that the Government will have no more votes at its command in the new than it had in the old Parliament, and that, finally, the Conservative party had not been driven “one inch backward." Now, I can understand a man passing over facts, and endeavouring to make the worse appear the better cause, but this style of writing staggers me. Is it possible that people believe it, and that they are really duped ? Or, is it the brazenness of an impudent dishonesty; giving its cue to smaller men, telling them what to say, and of what size and colour the new political lie is to be? If I thought the last, I should be sorry, for there are honest Conservatives, and I should not like to believe that they would lend themselves to this species of deception.

Merton. You set out with a correct remark, but I do not think you have given the best illustration of it. The way in which the Times has denied the results of the election, argues quite as much dishonesty as is shown by the Standard, It has made its own facts with a vengeance. If you could believe it, Mr. Brand has never had such a number of pliable men under the whip. The people, it says, have rejected the advanced Liberals, and have unmistakeably shown their preference for the most moderate type.

Cecil. Well, I think that is true to some extent, and that some elections could be quoted in proof of this position.

Sterling. Of course ; and if you take some of the elections only, it could be proved that the Tories have a decisive majority, but what of the whole, for I agree with Merton that the dishonesty of the Times is at least equal to that of the Standard ? Let us take the Liberals who have been rejected. Mr. Walter, we will say, comes first, and he is a Whig of the old school, and has given place to a Tory. Then there is Mr. Leatham, but he also has been beaten by a Tory. Sir Charles Douglas is succeeded at Banbury by a Liberal as advanced as himself, although he is not likely to prove so useful a man.

Cecil. Suppose we classify them as we go along, not mixing up sorts. For instance, Mr. Walter and Sir Charles Douglas ought not to be put together. The question I take it is, whether Whig Liberals or advanced Liberals have gained most at the election?

Sterling. Very well, then we will begin again. Walter is a Whig Liberal and has lost his seat, and so has Mr. Bouverie, who was a politician of the same type. Col. White has lost his seat, and he was a whipper-in. Mr. Frederick Peel, Lord Alfred Paget, Viscount Bury, Col. Coke, Mr. Gurdon, Adam Biack, these are all Whig Liberals and specimens of about forty of the same class.

Cecil. Now then, let us see who have succeeded to these. Walter, Bouverie, White, Paget, Bury, Coke, and Gurdon, have been succeeded by Tories. Peel and Black have been succeeded by Radicals. Certainly this is no gain to the Whig Liberal party.

Sterling. Then take the next class. Sir John Trelawny is succeeded by an advanced Liberal ; so is Sir Charles Douglas ; Mr. Leatham is succeeded by a Tory ; Mr. Westhead is succeeded by another advanced Liberal. I do not know where you are to find the new Whig Liberals who have procured seats. Sir Henry Mildmay and Mr. Wingfield Baker were of this class, but they could not get in.

Merton. There is Mr. Cowper for Hertfordshire.

Sterling. True; and he is undoubtedly a Whig, but of an improved type.

Cecil. I thought the Whigs were not improvable ?

Sterling. They are not after they have begun political life. You never see a true Whig make an advance. He inherits all his political creed, and would think it a dishonour to his ancestors to part with a shred of it. But the inheritance comes down improved from generation to generation. Once he has said his catechism at the hustings, or to his Papa, before he ventures into society, and he will never alter a word of it. He gets borne down in course of time, and he acknowledges facts when they are big enough to be acknowledged (not before); but he will die like the old Marquis of Lansdowne, in buff and blue of the regulation pattern. Look at the Dissenting Whigs !

Cecil. Pray remember Merton, who is that way inclined.

Merton. Never mind me; but who do you call the Dissenting Whigs?

Sterling. I suppose Mr. Black would classify himself as such, and so I judge would Mr. Baines, and Mr. Mills, and, I daresay, Sir Morton Peto.

Merton. And what have you to say against them?
Sterling. Nothing, nothing at all.

Merton. No, no. You were just saying, and would have finished it, if Cecil had not interrupted, “Look at the Dissenting Whigs.” Now we are looking at them, and I ask again what have you to say against them? Are they not respectable men?

Sterling. Highly respectable.
Cecil. And have they not done good work in their day?
Sterling. Yes, that I allow.

Cecil. And have therefore earned a title to honour; for what better title could there be than that of having done good work in their day ? May you, and Merton, and I have it, and we ought to be thankful.

Sterling. But they will die in buff and blue notwithstanding, and, for the sake of the sacred cause in which we are all embarked, I am glad that their number has not been added to. I would trust few of them with the settlement of any question of public principle. They would compromise it as sure as we have eaten our supper. Some have more conscientiousness than others, and some a firmer grasp of truth; but a born Whig grabs at a compromise as a dog grabs at a fly. 'Tis bred in the bone.

Cecil. We shall quarrel if we go on at this rate. Now for the advanced Liberals who have been returned.

Sterling. There is Mr. Morley, and he is not a Whig, although his remarks on church property were rather whiggish.

Merton. I read them, and was surprised; but they are not whiggish, I think. He would give the whole of the church property to the Episcopalian Denomination; now, a Whig, if your theory is correct, would have done what they did in 1837 with the Irish Tithes : compromised the matter between the landlords and the Church. I was surprised, however, for a different reason. Mr. Morley is a broad Christian man; what could induce him to

« PrécédentContinuer »