CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL
CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.
No. 435. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, MAY 1, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2d.
The maxim, that men may safely be left to seek their own interest, and are sure to find it, appears to require some slight qualification, for nothing can be more certain, than that men are often the better of things which have been forced upon them. Those who advocate the idea in its rigour, forget that there are such things as ignorance and prejudice in the world, and that most men only become or continue actively industrious under the pressure of necessity. The vast advantages derived from railway communication afford a ready instance of people being benefited against their will. At the bare proposal to run a line through their lands, many proprietors were thrown into a frenzy of antagonism; and whole towns petitioned that they might not be contaminated with the odious thing. In spite of remonstrances, and at a vast cost, railways were made; and we should like to know where opponents are now to be found. Demented land-proprietors are come to their senses; and even recalcitrant Oxford is glad of a line to itself.
Cases of this kind suggest the curious consideration, that many remarkable benefits now experienced were never sought for or contemplated by the persons enjoying them, but came from another quarter, and were at first only grudgingly submitted to. A singular example happens to call our attention. There is a distillery in the west of Scotland, where it has been found convenient to establish a dairy upon a large scale, for the purpose of consuming the refuse of the grain. Seven hundred cows are kept there; and a profitable market is found for their milk in the city of Glasgow. That the refuse of the cow-houses might be applied to a profitable purpose, a large farm was added to the concern, though of such land as an amateur agriculturist would never have selected for his experiments. Thus there was a complete system of economy at this distillery: a dairy to convert the draff into milk, and a farm to insure that the soil from the cows might be used upon the spot. But, as is so generally seen in this country, the liquid part of the refuse from the cow-houses was neglected. It was allowed to run into a neighbouring canal; and the proprietors would have been contented to see it so disposed of for ever, if that could have been permitted. It was found, however, to be a nuisance, the very fishes being poisoned by it. The proprietors of the canal threatened an action for the protection of their property, and the conductors of the dairy were forced to bethink them of some plan by which they should be enabled to dispose of the noxious matter without injury to their neighbours. They could at first hit upon no other than that of carting away the liquid to the fields, and there spreading it out as manure. No doubt, they expected some benefit from this procedure; and, had they expected much, they might never have given the canal company any trouble. But the fact is, they expected so little benefit, that they would never have willingly taken the trouble of employing their carts for any such purpose. To their surprise, the benefit was such as to make their lean land superior in productiveness to any in the country. They were speedily encouraged to make arrangements at some expense for allowing the manure in a diluted form to flow by a regular system of irrigation over their fields. The original production has thus been increased fourfold. The company, finding no other manure necessary, now dispose of the solid kind arising from the dairy, among the neighbouring farmers who still follow the old arrangements in the management of their cows. The sum of L.600 is thus yearly gained by the company, being not much less than the rent of the farm. If to this we add the value of the extra produce arising from the land, we shall have some idea of the advantage derived by this company from having been put under a little compulsion.
An instance, perhaps even more striking, was supplied a few years ago by certain chemical works which vented fumes noxious to a whole neighbourhood. Being prosecuted for the nuisance, the proprietors were forced to make flues of great length, through which the fumes might be conducted to a considerable distance. The consequence was surprising. A new kind of deposit was formed in the interior of the flues, and from this a large profit was derived. The sweeping of a chimney would sometimes produce several thousand pounds. At the same time, nothing can be more certain than that this material, but for the threat of prosecution, would have been allowed to continue poisoning the neighbourhood, and, consequently, not yielding one penny to the proprietors of the works.
It has pleased Providence to order that from all the forms of organic life there shall arise a refuse which is offensive to our senses, and injurious to health, but calculated, under certain circumstances, to prove highly beneficial to us. The offensiveness and noxiousness look very much like a direct command from the Author of Nature, to do that which shall turn the refuse to a good account—namely, to bury it in the earth. Yet, from sloth and negligence, it is often allowed to cumber the surface, and there do its evil work instead. An important principle is thus instanced—the essential identity of Nuisance and Waste. Nearly all the physical annoyances we are subjected to, and nearly all the influences that are operating actively for our hurt, are simply the exponents of some chemical solecism, which we are, through ignorance or indifference, committing or permitting. There is here a double evil—a positive and a negative. When the Londoner groans at the smokiness of his streets, and the particles of soot he finds spread over his shirt, his toilet-table, and every nice article of furniture he possesses, he has the additional vexation of knowing, that the smoke and soot should have been serving a useful purpose as fuel. When he passes by a railway over the tops of the houses in some mean suburb, and looks down with horror and disgust on the pools and heaps of filth which are allowed to encumber the yards, courts, and narrow streets of these localities, to the destruction of the health of the inhabitants, he has a second consideration before him, that all these matters ought to be in the care of some easy-acting system, by which, removed to the fields, they should be helping to create the means of life, instead of death. We never can look upon a great factory chimney pouring forth its thick column of smoke, without a twin grief—for the disgust it creates, and the good that is lost by it. Properly, that volatile fuel should be doing duty in the furnace, and effecting a saving to the manufacturer, instead of rendering him and his concerns a nuisance to all within five miles.
Troublesome as these nuisances are, there is such an inaptitude to new plans, that they might go on for ever, if an interference should not come in from some external quarter. It matters little whence the interference comes, so that the end be effected. We cannot, however, view the proceedings of a Board of Health in ordering cleanly arrangements, or those of a municipal council putting down factory smoke, without great interest, for we think we there see part, and an important one too, of the great battle of Civilisation against Barbarism. And this interest is deepened when we observe the benefits which Barbarism usually derives from its own defeats. The factory-owner, for instance, will find that, in applying an apparatus by which smoke may be prevented, he will not merely be sparing his neighbours a great annoyance, but economising fuel to an extent which must more than repay the outlay. By repressing nuisance, he will be in the same measure repressing waste. Were there, in like manner, a general measure for enforcing the removal of refuse from the neighbourhood of human habitations, the rate-payers would in due time see blessed effects from the compulsion to which they had been subjected. Their groans would be succeeded by gladness, and they would thank the legislators who had slighted their remonstrances. When the cholera approached in 1849, our British Board of Health ordered a general cleaning out of stables, and a daily persistence in the practice. It was complained of as a great hardship; but the Board ascertained that owners of valuable race-horses cause their stables to be thoroughly cleaned daily, as a practice necessary for the health of the animals; the Board, therefore, very properly insisted on forcing this benefit upon the proprietors of horses generally. Can we doubt that a similar policy might be followed with the like good consequences at all times, and with regard to the habitations of men as well as horses?
It would thus appear, that men may really be allowed a too undisturbed repose in their views and maxims, and, if always left to seek their own interests, would often fail to find the way. If, indeed, it were true that men are sure to find out their own interest, no country should be behind another in any of the processes or arts necessary for the sustenance and comfort of the people; whereas we know the contrary to be the case. If it were true, there should be no class in our own country willing to sit down with the dubious benefits of monopoly, instead of pushing on for the certain results of enlightened competition. It could only be true at the expense of the old proverb, that necessity is the mother of invention; for do we not every day see men submitting idly and languidly to evils which can just be borne? whereas, if these were a little greater, and therefore insupportable, they would at once be remedied. An impulse ab extra seems in a vast number of instances to be necessary, to promote the good of both nations and individuals. Now, whether this shall come in the ordinary course of things, and be recognised as necessity, or from an enlightened power having a certain end, generally beneficial, in view, does not appear to be of much consequence, provided only we can be tolerably well assured against the abuses to which all power is liable. It may be well worthy of consideration, whether, in this country, we have not carried the principle of Laissez faire, or leave us alone, a little too far in certain matters, where some gentle coercion would have been more likely to benefit all concerned.
 The idea of this article, and the above facts, are derived from a valuable memoir just published by the Board of Health, with reference to the practical application of sewage water and town manures to agricultural production.
 We understand that this has been the case with factory-owners at Manchester who have applied the smoke-preventing apparatus. The saving from such an apparatus in the office where this sheet is printed, appears to be about 5 per cent.; an ample equivalent for the outlay.
MONSIEUR JEROME AND THE RUSSIAN PRINCESS.
On arriving at Blois, I went to the Hotel de la Tete Noire—a massive, respectable-looking building, situated on the quay nearly opposite a bridge that crosses the river to the suburb of St Etienne. The comfort of the rooms, and the excellence of the dinners that succeeded one another day by day, induced me to stay longer than I had intended, and rendered me spectator and part-actor in an adventure not uncommon in French-land. My apartment was numbered 48—by the way, who ever saw No. 1 in a hotel, or upon a watch?—and next door—that is, at No. 49—dwelt a very dignified-looking gentleman, always addressed as M. Jerome. I often take occasion to say, that I pique myself on being something of a physiognomist; and as I have been several times right in my judgment of character and position from inspection of the countenance, the occasions in which I have been mistaken may be set down as exceptions. M. Jerome at once interested me; and as I was idly in search of health, and had taken care to have nothing whatever to do but to kill time, the observation of this gentleman's appearance and manners naturally formed a chief part of my occupation.
I began by ascertaining exactly the colour of his eyes and hair—nearly black; the shape of his nose—straight, and rather too long; and would have been glad to examine the form of his mouth, but a huge moustache hanging over his lips in the French military style—see the portrait of General Cavaignac—prevented me from ascertaining the precise contour of what one of my old philosophers calls the Port Esquiline of Derision. M. Jerome was, upon the whole, a handsome man, with a romantically bilious complexion; and the expression of his large dark eyes was really profound and striking. His costume was always fashionable, without being showy; and there was nothing to object to but a diamond ring, somewhat too ostentatiously displayed on the little finger, which, in all his manual operations, at dinner or elsewhere, always cocked up with an impertinent 'look-at-me air,' that I did not like. When, indeed, this dandy walked slowly out of the dining-room to the door-step, and lighted his cigar, the said little finger became positively obnoxious; and I used to think whether it were possible that that human being had been created purposely as a scaffolding whereon to exhibit a flashing little stone, set in twenty shillings worth of gold.
M. Jerome, though not, strictly speaking, a silent man, was sufficiently reserved at table. The early courses were by him always allowed to pass without any further remark than what politeness requires—as: 'Shall I send you some more of this blanquette?' or, 'With pleasure, sir;' and so forth. When dessert-time approached, however, he generally began to unbend, to take part in the general conversation, and throw in here and there a piquant anecdote. He did this with so much grace, that had it not been for the diamond ring, I should have been disposed to consider him as a man of large experience in the best society. The other people who generally attended at table—travellers, commercial and otherwise, with one or two smart folks from the town, on the look-out for Parisian gossip, to retail to the less adventurous members of their circle—were all delighted with M. Jerome: it was M. Jerome here, and M. Jerome there; and if M. Jerome happened to dine out, every one seemed to feel uneasy, and look upon him as guilty of a great dereliction of duty. They could almost as well have done without their demi-tasse.
Although I am an inquisitive, I am not a very impertinent man. I like to pry into other people's affairs only in so far as I can do so without hurting their feelings, or putting my own self-love in danger of a check. If, therefore, I gave the reins to my curiosity, and devoted myself to studying the more apparent movements of this M. Jerome, I shrank from putting any direct questions to the garcon, who might probably at once have given me a very prosaic account of him. On one occasion, I threw in casually a remark, to the effect that the gentleman at No. 49 seemed a great favourite with the fair sex; but the only reply was a smile, and an acknowledgment that, in general, people of fascinating exterior—here the garcon glanced at the mirror he was dusting—were great favourites with the fairer portion of the creation. 'We Frenchmen,' it was added, 'know the way to the female heart better than most men.' The waiter had paused with his duster in his hand. I felt that he was going to give me his Art of Love; and opportunely remembering that I had a letter to put into the post, I escaped the infliction for the time.
I had, indeed, observed that if the public generally admitted the valuable qualities of M. Jerome as a companion, his reputation was based principally on the approval of the ladies. All these excellent judges agreed that he was a nice, quiet, agreeable person; and 'so handsome!' At least the seven members of an English family, who had come to visit Chambord, and lingered at the hotel a week—five of them were daughters—all expressed this opinion of M. Jerome; and even a supercilious French lady, with a particle attached to her name, admitted that he was 'very well.'
One day, a new face appeared at table to interest me; and as the mysterious gentleman and his diamond ring had puzzled me for a fortnight, during which I had made no progress towards ascertaining his real position and character, I was not sorry to have my attention a little diverted by a mysterious lady. Madame de Mourairef—a Russian name, thought I—was a very agreeable person to look at; much more so to me than M. Jerome. She was not much past twenty years of age; small, slight, elegant in shape, if not completely so in manners; and with one of those charming little faces which you can analyse into ugliness, but which in their synthesis, to speak as moderns should, are admirable, adorable, fascinating. I should have thought that such a minois could belong only to Paris—the city, by the way, of ugly women, whom art makes charming. However, there it was above the shoulders, high of course—swan-necked women are only found in England—above the shoulders of a Russian marchioness, princess, czarina, or what you will, who called for her cigarettes after dinner, was attended by a little soubrette, named Penelope, and looked for all the world as if she had just been whirled off the boards of the Opera Comique.
I at first believed that this was a mere mascarade; but when a letter in a formidable envelope, with the seal of the Russian embassy, arrived, and was exhibited in the absence of the lady herself, to every one of the lodgers, in proof of the aristocratic character of the customer of the Tete Noire, I began to doubt my own perspicacity, and to imagine that I had now a far more interesting object of study than M. Jerome and his diamond ring. Madame de Mourairef was an exceedingly affable person; and the English family aforesaid, whom I have reason to believe were Cockney tradesfolks, pronounced her to be very high-bred—without a fault, indeed, if it had not been for that horrid habit of smoking, which, as they judiciously observed, however, was a peculiar characteristic of the Russians. I am afraid, they would have set her down as a vulgar wretch, had they not been forewarned that she was aristocratic. The French lady seemed to look upon the foreign one as an intruder, and scarcely deigned to turn her eyes in that direction. Probably this was because she was so charming, and monopolised so much of the attention of us gentlemen.
'They no sooner looked than they loved,' says Rosalind. This was not, perhaps, quite the case with M. Jerome and the Russian princess, who took care to let it be known that she was a widow; but in a very few days what is called 'a secret sympathy' evidently sprang into existence. The former, of course, made the first advances. His diplomatic and seductive arts were not, however, put to a great test, for in three days the lady manifestly felt uneasy until he presented himself at dinner; and in a week, I met them walking arm in arm on the bridge. It was easy to see that he was on his good behaviour; and from some fragments of conversations I overheard between them when they met in the passage opposite my door, I learned that he was 'doing the melancholy dodge,' as in the vernacular we would express it; and had many harrowing revelations to make as to the manner in which his heart had been trifled with by unfeeling beauties.
'There is a tide in the affairs of an hotel:' I am in a mood for quoting from my favourite authors; and whereas we had at one time sat down nearly twenty to table, we suddenly found ourselves to be only three—M. Jerome, the princess, and myself. A kind of intimacy was the natural result. We made ourselves mutually agreeable; and I was not at all surprised, when one evening Madame de Mourairef invited us two gentlemen to take tea with her in her little sitting-room. Both accepted joyfully; and though I am persuaded that M. Jerome would have preferred a tete-a-tete, he accepted my companionship with tolerable grace. We strolled together, indeed, on the quay for half an hour. It was raining slightly, and I had a cough; but I have too good an opinion of human nature to imagine that my new acquaintance kept me out by his fascinating conversation, in order to make me catch a desperate cold, that would send me wheezing to bed.
The tea was served, as I suppose it is served in Russia, very weak, with a plentiful admixture of milk and accompaniment of biscuits glaces. Madame de Mourairef did the honours in an inexpressibly graceful manner; and I observed that there was a delightful intimacy between her and her maid Penelope, that quite upset my ideas of northern serfdom. I think they even once exchanged a wink, but of this I am not sure. There is nothing like experience to expand one's ideas, and I made up my mind to re-examine the whole of my notions of Muscovite vassalage. M. Jerome seemed less struck by these circumstances than myself—being probably too much absorbed in contemplation of our hostess—but even he could not avoid exclaiming, 'that if that were the way in which serfs were treated, he should like to be a serf—of such a mistress!'
'You Frenchmen are so gallant!' was the reply.
A little while afterwards, somebody proposed a game of whist. There was an objection to 'dead-man,' and Penelope, with a semi-oriental salaam, offered to 'take a hand.' Madame de Mourairef was graciously pleased to order her to do so. We shuffled, cut, and played; and when midnight came, and it was necessary to retire, I felt almost afraid to examine into my own heart, lest I might find that the soubrette appeared to me at least as high-bred as the mistress.
We spent some delightful evenings in this manner, and perhaps still more delightful days, for by degrees we became inseparable, and all our walks and drives were made in common. The garcon often looked maliciously at me, even offered once or twice to develop his Art of Love; but I did not choose to be interrupted in my physiognomical studies, and gave him no opportunity.
A picnic was proposed, and agreed upon. We intended at first to go to Chambord; but there was danger of a crowd; and a valley on the road to Vendome was pitched upon. A caleche took us to the place, and set us down in a delightful meadow, enamelled with flowers, as all meadows are in poetry. A few great trees, forming almost a grove, shaded a slope near the banks of a sluggish stream that crept along between an avenue of poplars. Here the cloth was laid at once for breakfast; and whilst M. Jerome and the princess strolled away to talk of blighted hopes, Russia, serfdom, wedlock, and the conflagration of the Kremlin, Penelope made the necessary preparation; and I, in my character of a fidgety old gentleman, first advised and then assisted her. I am afraid the young damsel had designs upon my heart, for she put several questions to me on the state of vassalage in England; and when I developed succinctly the principles and advantages of our free constitution, and said some eloquent things that formed a French edition of 'Britons never shall be slaves,' she became quite enthusiastic; her cheeks flushed, her eyes brightened; and with a sort of Thervigne-de-Mericourt gesture, she cried: 'Vive la Republique!' This was scarcely the natural product of what I had said; but so lively a little creature, in her dainty lace-cap and flying pink ribbons, neat silk caraco, plaid-patterned gown, with pagoda sleeves, as she called them, and milk-white manchettes—her bottines from the Rue Vivienne, and her face from Paradise—could reconcile many a harder heart than mine to greater incongruities. Our arrangements being made, therefore, I sat down on a camp-stool, whilst Penelope reclined on the grass; and I endeavoured to explain to her the great advantages of a moderate constitutional government, with checks, balances, and so forth. Although she yawned, I am sure it was not from ennui, but in order to shew me her pretty pearly teeth.
M. Jerome and the princess came streaming back over the meadow—even affected to scold me for having remained behind. They were evidently on the best possible terms, and I took great satisfaction in contemplating their happiness. Either my perspicacity was at fault, however, or both had some secret cause of uneasiness that pressed upon their minds as the day advanced. Had they been only betrayed into a declaration and a plighting of their troth in a hurry? Did they already repent? Did Madame de Mourairef regret the barbarous splendour of her native land? Did M. Jerome begin to mourn over the delights of bachelorship? These were the questions I put to myself without being able to invent any satisfactory answer. The day passed, however, pleasantly enough; and the caleche came in due time to take us back to Blois.
Next morning, M. Jerome entered my room with a graceful bow, to announce his departure for Paris, whither it was necessary for him to go to obtain the necessary papers for his marriage, and Madame de Mourairef, he added, accompanied him. I uttered the necessary congratulations, and gave my address in Paris, that he might call upon me as soon as he was settled in the hotel he proposed to take.
'I take two persons with me,' he said, smiling; 'but one of them leaves her heart behind, I am afraid.'
This alluded to Penelope; but I was determined not to understand. I went to say adieu to Madame de Mourairef, who seemed rather excited and anxious. Penelope almost succeeded in wringing forth a tear; but I did not think it was decreed that at my age I should really make love to a Russian serf, however charming. So off they went to the railway station, leaving me in a very dull, stupid, melancholy mood.
'What a fortunate man M. Jerome is!' said the garcon, as he came into my room a few minutes afterwards.
'Yes,' I replied; 'Madame de Mourairef seems in every way worthy of him.'
'I should think so,' quoth he. 'It is not every waiter, however fascinating, that falls in with a Russian princess.'
'Waiter! M. Jerome!'
'Of course,' replied my informant. 'You seem surprised; but M. Jerome is really a waiter at the Cafe ——, on the Boulevard des Italiens; came down for his health. We were comrades once, and I promised to keep the secret, for he thought it extremely probable that he might meet a wealthy English lady here, who might fall in love with him—your countrywomen are so eccentric. He has found a Russian princess, which is better. I suppose we must now call him Monseigneur?'
Although, like the rest of my species, disposed to laugh at the misfortunes of my fellow-creatures, I confess that I pitied Madame de Mourairef; for I felt persuaded that M. Jerome had passed himself off as a very distinguished personage. However, there was no remedy, and I had no right to interfere in the matter. The lady, indeed, had been in an unpardonable hurry to be won, and must take the consequences.
In the afternoon, there was a great bustle in the hotel, and half-a-dozen voices were heard doing the work of fifty. I went out into the passage, and caught the first fragments of an explanation that soon became complete. M. Alphonse, courier to M. de Mourairef, had arrived, and was indignantly maintaining that Sophie and Penelope, the two waiting-maids of the princess, had arrived at the Tete Noire, to take a suite of rooms for their mistress; whilst the landlord and his coadjutors, slow to comprehend, averred that the great lady had herself been there, and departed. The truth at length came out—that these two smart Parisian lasses, having a fortnight before them, had determined to give up their places, and play the mascarade which I have described. When M. and Madame de Mourairef, two respectable, middle-aged people, arrived, they were dismally made acquainted with the sacrilege that had been committed; but as no debts had been contracted in their name, and their letters came in a parcel by the post from Orleans, they laughed heartily at the joke, and enjoyed the idea that Sophie had been taken in.
The following winter, I went into a cafe newly established in the Rue Poissoniere, and was agreeably surprised to see Sophie, the pseudo-princess, sitting behind the counter in magnificent toilette, receiving the bows and the money of the customers as they passed before her, whilst M. Jerome—exactly in appearance as before, except that prosperity had begun to round him—was leaning against a pillar in rather a melodramatic attitude, a white napkin gracefully depending from his hand. They started on seeing me, and were a little confused, but soon laughed over their adventure; called Penelope to take her turn at the counter—the little serf whispered to me as she passed, that I was 'a traitor, a barbarian,' and insisted on treating me to my coffee and my petit verre, free, gratis, for nothing.
MEMOIRS OF LORD JEFFREY.
In the crisis of the French Revolution, British society was paralysed with conservative alarms, and all tendency to liberal opinions, or even to an advocacy of the most simple and needful reforms, was met with a ruthless intolerance. In Scotland, there was not a public meeting for five-and-twenty years. In that night of unreflecting Toryism, a small band of men, chiefly connected with the law in Edinburgh, stood out in a profession of Whiggism, to the forfeiture of all chance of government patronage, and even of much of the confidence and esteem of society. Three or four young barristers were particularly prominent, all men of uncommon talents. The chief was Francis Jeffrey, who died in 1850, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, after having passed through a most brilliant career as a practising lawyer and judge, and one still more brilliant, as the conductor, for twenty-seven years, of the celebrated Edinburgh Review. Another was Henry Cockburn, who has now become the biographer of his great associate. It was verily a remarkable knot of men in many respects, but we think in none more than a heroic probity towards their principles, which were, after all, of no extravagant character, as was testified by their being permitted to triumph harmlessly in 1831-2. These men anticipated by forty years changes which were ultimately patronised by the great majority of the nation. They all throve professionally, but purely by the force of their talents and high character. As there was not any precisely equivalent group of men at any other bar in the United Kingdom, we think Scotland is entitled to take some credit to herself for her Jeffreys, her Cranstons, her Murrays, and her Cockburns: at least, she will not soon forget their names.
Lord Jeffrey—his judicial designation in advanced life—was of respectable, but not exalted parentage. After a careful education at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Oxford, he entered at the bar in 1793, when not yet much more than twenty years of age. His father, being himself a Tory, desired the young lawyer to be so too, seeing that it would be favourable to his prospects; but he could not yield in this point to paternal counsel. The consequence was, that this able man practised for ten years without gaining more than L. 100 per annum. All this time, he cultivated his mind diligently, and was silently training himself for that literary career which he subsequently entered upon. His talents were at that time known only to a few intimates: there were peculiarities about him, which prevented him from being generally appreciated up to his deserts. His figure, to begin with, was almost ludicrously small. Then, in his anxiety to get rid of the Scottish accent, he had contracted an elocution intended to be English, but which struck every one as most affected and offensive. His manners were marked by levity, and his conversation to many seemed flippant. His literary musings also acted unfavourably on the solicitors, the leading patrons of young counsellors. Reduced by dearth of business almost to despair, he had at one time serious thoughts of flinging himself upon the London press for a subsistence. The first smile of fortune beamed upon him in 1802, when the Edinburgh Review was started—a work of which he quickly assumed the management. That it brought him income and literary renown, we gather from Lord Cockburn's pages; but we do not readily find it explained how. While more declaredly a literary man than ever, he now advanced rapidly at the bar, and quickly became a man of wealth and professional dignity. We suspect that, after all that is said of the effect of literary pursuits on business prospects, the one success was a consequence in great measure of the other.
The value of this work rests, in our opinion, on the illustration which it presents of the possibility of a man of sound though unpopular opinions passing through life, not merely without suffering greatly from the wrath of society, but in the enjoyment of some of its highest honours. After reading this book, one could almost suppose it to be a delusion that the world judges hardly of any man's speculative opinions, while his life remains pure, and his heart manifestly is alive to all the social charities. The heroic consistency of Jeffrey is the more remarkable, when it now appears that he was a gentle and rather timid man, keenly alive to the sympathies of friends and neighbours—indeed, of womanish character altogether. As is well known, his time arrived at last, when, on the coming of the Whigs into power in 1830, he was raised to the dignified situation of Lord Advocate for Scotland, and was called upon to take the lead, officially, in making those political changes which he had all along advocated. It is curious, however, and somewhat startling, to learn how little gratification he professed to feel in what appeared so great a triumph. While his rivals looked with envy on his exaltation, and mobs deemed it little enough that he should be entirely at their beck in requital for the support they gave him, Mr Jeffrey was sighing for the quiet of private life, groaning at his banishment from a happy country-home, and not a little disturbed by the troubled aspect of public affairs. Mr Macaulay has somewhere remarked on the general mistake as to the 'sweets of office.' We are assured by Lord Cockburn, that Jeffrey would have avoided the advocateship if he could. He accepted it only from a feeling of duty to his party. He writes to a female relation of the 'good reason I have for being sincerely sick and sorry at an elevation for which so many people are envying, and thinking me the luckiest and most elevated of mortals for having attained.' And this subject is still further illustrated by an account he gives of the conduct of honest Lord Althorpe during the short interval in May 1832, when the Whigs were out. 'Lord Althorpe,' he says, 'has gone through all this with his characteristic cheerfulness and courage. The day after the resignation, he spent in a great sale-garden, choosing and buying flowers, and came home with five great packages in his carriage, devoting the evening to studying where they should be planted in his garden at Althorpe, and writing directions and drawing plans for their arrangement. And when they came to summon him to a council on the Duke's giving in, he was found in a closet with a groom, busy oiling the locks of his fowlingpieces, and lamenting the decay into which they had fallen during his ministry.'
In some respects, the book will create surprise, particularly as to the private life and character of the great Aristarch. While the Edinburgh Review was in progress under the care of Mr Jeffrey, it was a most unrelenting tribunal for literary culprits, as well as a determined assertor of its own political maxims. The common idea regarding its chief conductor represented him as a man of extraordinary sharpness, alternating between epigrammatic flippancy and democratic rigour. Gentle and refined feeling would certainly never have been attributed to him. It will now be found that he was at all times of his life a man of genial spirit towards the entire circle of his fellow-creatures—that his leading tastes were for poetry and the beautiful in external nature, particularly fine scenery—that he revelled in the home affections, and was continually saying the softest and kindest things to all about him—a lamb, in short, while thought a lion. The local circle in which he lived was somewhat limited and exclusive, partly, perhaps, in consequence of having been early shut in upon itself by its dissent from the mass of society on most public questions; but in this circle Jeffrey was adored by men, women, and children alike, on account of his extreme kindliness of disposition. He was almost, to a ridiculous degree, dependent on the love of his friends; and the terms in which he addresses some of them, particularly ladies, sound odd in this commonsense world. Thus, the wife of one of his friends is, 'My sweet, gentle, and long-suffering Sophia.' He pours out his very heart to his correspondents, and with an effect which would reconcile to him the most irascible author he ever scarified. Thus, to his daughter, who had just left him with her husband:—'I happened to go up stairs, and passing into our room, saw the door open of that little one where you used to sleep, and the very bed waiting there for you, so silent and desolate, that all the love, and the miss of you, which fell so sadly on my heart the first night of your desertion, came back upon it so heavily and darkly, that I was obliged to shut myself in, and cry over the recollection, as if all the interval had been annihilated, and that loss and sorrow were still fresh and unsubdued before me; and though the fit went off before long, I feel still that I must vent my heart by telling you of it, and therefore sit down now to write all this to you, and get rid of my feelings, that would otherwise be more likely to haunt my vigils of the night.' Thus, on the death of a sister in his early days:—'A very heavy blow upon us all, and much more so on me than I had believed possible. The habit of seeing her almost every day, and of living together intimately since our infancy, had wound so many threads of affection round my heart, that when they were burst at once, the shock was almost overwhelming. Then, the unequalled gentleness of her disposition, the unaffected worth of her affections, and miraculous simplicity of character and manners, which made her always appear as pure and innocent as an infant, took so firm, though gentle a hold on the heart of every one who approached her, that even those who have been comparatively strangers to her worth, have been greatly affected by her loss.... During the whole of her illness, she looked beautiful; and when I gazed upon her the moment after she had breathed her last, as she lay still, still, and calm, with her bright eyes half closed, and her red lips half open, I thought I had never seen a countenance so lovely. A statuary might have taken her for a model. Poor, dear love! I kissed her cold lips, and pressed her cold, wan, lifeless hand, and would willingly at that moment have put off my own life too, and followed her. When I came here, the sun was rising, and the birds were singing gaily, as I sobbed along the empty streets.'
The sensibility of Jeffrey to all fine expression that comes to us through the medium of literature was intense, most so in his latter days, when his whole character seems to have undergone a mellowing process. While pining under his greatness as Lord Advocate, and an authority in parliament (1833), he says: 'If it were not for my love of beautiful nature and poetry, my heart would have died within me long ago. I never felt before what immeasurable benefactors these same poets are to their kind, and how large a measure, both of actual happiness and prevention of misery, they have imparted to the race. I would willingly give up half my fortune, and some little fragments of health and bodily enjoyment that yet remain to me, rather than that Shakspeare should not have lived before me.' Who that had only read his lively, acute articles in the formal Review, could have believed him to be so deeply sympathetic with an unfortunate poet, as he shews in the following fine passage in one of his letters (1837)? 'In the last week, I have read all Burns's Life and Works—not without many tears, for the life especially. What touches me most, is the pitiable poverty in which that gifted being (and his noble-minded father) passed his early days—the painful frugality to which their innocence was doomed, and the thought how small a share of the useless luxuries in which we (such comparatively poor creatures) indulge, would have sufficed to shed joy and cheerfulness in their dwellings, and perhaps to have saved that glorious spirit from the trials and temptations under which he fell so prematurely. Oh! my dear Empson, there must be something terribly wrong in the present arrangements of the universe, when those things can happen, and be thought natural. I could lie down in the dirt, and cry and grovel there, I think, for a century, to save such a soul as Burns from the suffering, and the contamination, and the degradation, which these same arrangements imposed upon him; and I fancy that, if I could but have known him, in my present state of wealth and influence, I might have saved, and reclaimed, and preserved him, even to the present day. He would not have been so old as my brother-judge, Lord Glenlee, or Lord Lynedoch, or a dozen others that one meets daily in society. And what a creature, not only in genius, but in nobleness of character, potentially at least, if right models had been put gently before him!'
The narrative of Lord Cockburn occupies only one volume, the other being filled with a selection from Lord Jeffrey's letters. It is a brief chronicle of the subject; many will feel it to be unsatisfactorily slight. The author seems to have been afraid of becoming tedious. It is, however, a manly and faithful narration, with the rare merit of going little, if at all, beyond bounds in its appreciation of the hero or his associates, or the importance of the circumstances in which he moved. The sketches of some of Jeffrey's contemporaries, as John Clerk, Sir Harry Moncreiff, and Henry Erskine, are vigorous pieces of painting, which will suggest to many a desire that the author should favour the public with a wider view of the men and things of Scotland in the age just past. With a natural partiality as a friend and as a biographer, he seems to us to set too high an estimate on Jeffrey when he ranks him as one of a quartett, including Dugald Stewart, Sir Walter Scott, and Dr Chalmers, 'each of whom in literature, philosophy, or policy, caused great changes,' and 'left upon his age the impression of the mind that produced them.' Few of his countrymen would claim this rank for either Jeffrey or Stewart. Jeffrey, no doubt, raised a department of our literature from a low to a high level; he was a Great Voice in his day. But he produced nothing which can permanently affect us; he gave no great turn to the sentiments or opinions of mankind. His only original effort of any mark, is his exposition of the association theory of beauty, which rests on a simple mistake of what is pleasing for what is beautiful, and is already nothing. We suspect that no man with his degree of timidity will ever be very great, either as a philosopher or as a man of deeds. He was a brilliant writer—the most brilliant, and, with one exception, the most versatile in his age; but to this we would limit his panegyric, apart from the glory of his long and consistent career as a politician, which we think can scarcely be overestimated.
So many of the most remarkable passages of the work have been already hackneyed through the medium of the newspapers, that we feel somewhat at a loss to present any which may have a chance of being new to our readers. So early as his twentieth year, we find Mr Jeffrey thus sensibly expressing himself on an important subject:—
'There is nothing in the world I detest so much as companions and acquaintances, as they are called. Where intimacy has gone so far as to banish reserve, to disclose character, and to communicate the reality of serious opinions, the connection may be the source of much pleasure—it may ripen into friendship, or subside into esteem. But to know half a hundred fellows just so far as to speak, and walk, and lounge with them; to be acquainted with a multitude of people, for all of whom together you do not care one farthing; in whose company you speak without any meaning, and laugh without any enjoyment; whom you leave without any regret, and rejoin without any satisfaction; from whom you learn nothing, and in whom you love nothing—to have such a set for your society, is worse than to live in absolute solitude; and is a thousand times more pernicious to the faculties of social enjoyment, by circulating in its channels a stream so insipid.'
At the peace of Amiens, Jeffrey wrote thus to his friend Morehead, 7th October 1801: 'It is the only public event in my recollection that has given me any lively sensation of pleasure, and I have rejoiced at it as heartily as it is possible for a private man, and one whose own condition is not immediately affected by it, to do. How many parents and children, and sisters and brothers, would that news make happy? How many pairs of bright eyes would weep over that gazette, and wet its brown pages with tears of gratitude and rapture? How many weary wretches will it deliver from camps and hospitals, and restore once more to the comforts of a peaceful and industrious life? What are victories to rejoice at, compared with an event like this? Your bonfires and illuminations are dimmed with blood and with tears, and battle is in itself a great evil, and a subject of general grief and lamentation. The victors are only the least unfortunate, and suffering and death have, in general, brought us no nearer to tranquillity and happiness.' It may be well thus to bring the value of a peace before the public mind. Let those who only know of war from history, reflect how great must be the evils of a state the cessation of which gives such a feeling of relief.
Here is a curious passage about the society of Liverpool in 1813, and his love of his native country. We must receive the statement respecting the Quakers with something more than doubt, at least as to the extent to which it is true:—'I have been dining out every day for this last week with Unitarians, and Whigs, and Americans, and brokers, and bankers, and small fanciers of pictures and paints, and the Quaker aristocracy, and the fashionable vulgar, of the place. But I do not like Liverpool much better, and could not live here with any comfort. Indeed, I believe I could not live anywhere out of Scotland. All my recollections are Scottish, and consequently all my imaginations; and though I thank God that I have as few fixed opinions as any man of my standing, yet all the elements out of which they are made have a certain national cast also. In short, I will not live anywhere else if I can help it; nor die either; and all old Esky's eloquence would have been thrown away in an attempt to persuade me that banishment furth the kingdom might be patiently endured. I take more to Roscoe, however: he is thoroughly good-hearted, and has a sincere, though foolish concern for the country. I have also found out a Highland woman with much of the mountain accent, and sometimes get a little girl to talk to. But with all these resources, and the aid of the Botanical Garden, the time passes rather heavily; and I am in some danger of dying of ennui, with the apparent symptoms of extreme vivacity. Did you ever hear that most of the Quakers die of stupidity—actually and literally? I was assured of the fact the other day by a very intelligent physician, who practised twenty years among them, and informs me that few of the richer sort live to be fifty, but die of a sort of atrophy, their cold blood just stagnating by degrees among their flabby fat. They eat too much, he says; take little exercise; and, above all, have no nervous excitement. The affection is known in this part of the country by the name of the Quaker's disease, and more than one-half of them go out so. I think this curious, though not worth coming to Liverpool to hear, or writing from Liverpool, &c.'
He was at this time about to sail for America, in order to marry a lady of that country. In a letter to Morehead, he recalls his old-fashioned country residence of Hatton, in West Lothian, and Mr Morehead's family now resident there. Tuckey was a nickname for one of Mr Morehead's daughters; Margaret was another. Till the last, he had pet names for all his own descendants and relatives, having no doubt felt how much they contribute to the promotion of family affection. 'I am almost ashamed of the degree of sorrow I feel at leaving all the early and long-prized objects of my affection; and though I am persuaded I do right in the step which I am taking, I cannot help wishing that it had not been quite so wide and laborious a one. You cannot think how beautiful Hatton appears at this moment in my imagination, nor with what strong emotion I fancy I hear Tuckey telling a story on my knee, and see Margaret poring upon her French before me. It is in your family that my taste for domestic society and domestic enjoyments has been nurtured and preserved. Such a child as Tuckey I shall never see again in this world. Heaven bless her, and she will be a blessing both to her mother and to you.' After touching upon a volume of poems which Mr Morehead had published—'If I were you, however, I would live more with Tuckey, and be satisfied with my gardening and pruning—with my preaching—a good deal of walking and comfortable talking. What more has life? and how full of vexation are all ambitious fancies and perplexing pursuits! Well, God bless you! Perhaps I shall not have an opportunity to inculcate my innocent epicurism upon you for a long time again. It will do you no harm.'
It will be a new fact to most of the admirers of Jeffrey, that he had in early life devoted himself to the writing of poetry. Of what he wrote between 1791 and 1796, the greater part has disappeared from his repositories. 'But,' says his biographer, 'enough survives to attest his industry, and to enable us to appreciate his powers. There are some loose leaves and fragments of small poems, mostly on the usual subjects of love and scenery, and in the form of odes, sonnets, elegies, &c.; all serious, none personal or satirical. And besides these slight things, there is a completed poem on Dreaming, in blank verse, about 1800 lines long. The first page is dated Edinburgh, May 4, 1791, the last Edinburgh, 25th June 1791; from which I presume that we are to hold it to have been all written in these fifty-three days—a fact which accounts for the absence of high poetry, though there be a number of poetical conceptions and flowing sentences. Then there is a translation into blank verse of the third book of the Argonauticon of Apollonius Rhodius. The other books are lost, but he translated the whole poem, extending to about 6000 lines.... And I may mention here, though it happens to be in prose, that of two plays, one, a tragedy, survives. It has no title, but is complete in all its other parts.... He was fond of parodying the Odes of Horace, with applications to modern incidents and people, and did it very successfully. The Otium Divos was long remembered. Notwithstanding this perseverance, and a decided poetical ambition, he was never without misgivings as to his success. I have been informed, that he once went so far as to leave a poem with a bookseller, to be published, and fled to the country; and that, finding some obstacle had occurred, he returned, recovered the manuscript, rejoicing that he had been saved, and never renewed so perilous an experiment.
'There may be some who would like to see these compositions, or specimens of them, both on their own account, and that the friends of the many poets his criticism has offended might have an opportunity of retaliation, and of shewing, by the critic's own productions, how little, in their opinion, he was worthy to sit in judgment on others. But I cannot indulge them. Since Jeffrey, though fond of playing with verses privately, never delivered himself up to the public as the author of any, I cannot think that it would be right in any one else to exhibit him in this capacity. I may acknowledge, however, that, so far as I can judge, the publication of such of his poetical attempts as remain, though it might shew his industry and ambition, would not give him the poetical wreath, and of course would not raise his reputation. Not that there are not tons of worse verse published, and bought, and even read, every year, but that their publication would not elevate Jeffrey. His poetry is less poetical than his prose. Viewed as mere literary practice, it is rather respectable. It evinces a general acquaintance, and a strong sympathy, with moral emotion, great command of language, correct taste, and a copious possession of the poetical commonplaces, both of words and of sentiment. But all this may be without good poetry.'
Having given little of Lord Cockburn in our extracts, we shall conclude with a passage of his narration which stands out distinctly, and has a historical value. It refers to Edinburgh in the second decade of the present century, but takes in a few names of deceased celebrities:—'The society of Edinburgh was not that of a provincial town, and cannot be judged of by any such standard. It was metropolitan. Trade or manufactures have, fortunately, never marked this city for their own; but it is honoured by the presence of a college famous throughout the world, and from which the world has been supplied with many of the distinguished men who have shone in it. It is the seat of the supreme courts of justice, and of the annual convocation of the Church, formerly no small matter; and of almost all the government offices and influence. At the period I am referring to, this combination of quiet with aristocracy made it the resort, to a far greater extent than it is now, of the families of the gentry, who used to leave their country residences and enjoy the gaiety and the fashion which their presence tended to promote. Many of the curious characters and habits of the receding age—the last purely Scotch age that Scotland was destined to see—still lingered among us. Several were then to be met with who had seen the Pretender, with his court and his wild followers, in the Palace of Holyrood. Almost the whole official state, as settled at the Union, survived; and all graced the capital, unconscious of the economical scythe which has since mowed it down. All our nobility had not then fled. A few had sense not to feel degraded by being happy at home. The Old Town was not quite deserted. Many of our principal people still dignified its picturesque recesses and historical mansions, and were dignified by them. The closing of the continent sent many excellent English families and youths among us, for education and for pleasure. The war brightened us with uniforms, and strangers, and shows.
'Over all this, there was diffused the influence of a greater number of persons attached to literature and science, some as their calling, and some for pleasure, than could be found, in proportion to the population, in any other city in the empire. Within a few years, including the period I am speaking of, the College contained Principal Robertson, Joseph Black, his successor Hope, the second Munro, James Gregory, John Robison, John Playfair, and Dugald Stewart; none of them confined monastically to their books, but all—except Robison, who was in bad health—partaking of the enjoyments of the world. Episcopacy gave us the Rev. Archibald Alison; and in Blair, Henry, John Home, Sir Harry Moncreiff, and others, Presbytery made an excellent contribution, the more to be admired that it came from a church which eschews rank, and boasts of poverty. The law, to which Edinburgh has always been so largely indebted, sent its copious supplies; who, instead of disturbing good company by professional matter—an offence with which the lawyers of every place are charged—were remarkably free of this vulgarity; and being trained to take difference of opinion easily, and to conduct discussions with forbearance, were, without undue obtrusion, the most cheerful people that were to be met with. Lords Monboddo, Hailes, Glenlee, Meadowbank, and Woodhouselee, all literary judges, and Robert Blair, Henry Erskine, and Henry Mackenzie, senior, were at the earlier end of this file; Scott and Jeffrey at the later—but including a variety of valuable persons between these extremities. Sir William Forbes, Sir James Hall, and Mr Clerk of Eldin, represented a class of country gentlemen cultivating learning on its account. And there were several, who, like the founder of the Huttonian theory, selected this city for their residence solely from the consideration in which science and letters were here held, and the facilities, or rather the temptations, presented for their prosecution. Philosophy had become indigenous in the place, and all classes, even in their gayest hours, were proud of the presence of its cultivators. Thus learning was improved by society, and society by learning. And unless when party-spirit interfered—which, at one time, however, it did frequently and bitterly—perfect harmony, and, indeed, lively cordiality, prevailed.
'And all this was still a Scotch scene. The whole country had not begun to be absorbed in the ocean of London. There were still little great places—places with attractions quite sufficient to retain men of talent or learning in their comfortable and respectable provincial positions, and which were dignified by the tastes and institutions which learning and talent naturally rear. The operation of the commercial principle which tempts all superiority to try its fortune in the greatest accessible market, is perhaps irresistible; but anything is surely to be lamented which annihilates local intellect, and degrades the provincial spheres which intellect and its consequences can alone adorn. According to the modern rate of travelling, the capitals of Scotland and of England were then about 2400 miles asunder. Edinburgh was still more distant in its style and habits. It had then its own independent tastes, and ideas, and pursuits. Enough of the generation that was retiring survived to cast an antiquarian air over the city, and the generation that was advancing was still a Scotch production. Its character may be estimated by the names I have mentioned, and by the fact, that the genius of Scott and of Jeffrey had made it the seat at once of the most popular poetry and the most brilliant criticism that then existed. This city has advantages, including its being the capital of Scotland, its old reputation, and its external beauties, which have enabled it, in a certain degree, to resist the centralising tendency, and have hitherto always supplied it with a succession of eminent men. But now that London is at our door, how precarious is our hold of them, and how many have we lost!'
We would just add one remark which occurs to us after reviewing the career of this eminent patriot and writer, and it may be of service to young men now entering upon the various paths of ambition. It is the fortune of many to be led by whim, prejudice, and other reasons, into certain tracks of opinion, which, as they do not lead to the public good, so neither do they conduce to any ultimate benefit for those treading them. How striking the contrast between the retrospect of a literary man, who has spent, perhaps, brilliant abilities in supporting every bad cause and every condemned error of his time, and necessarily found all barren at last, and the reflections of one like Francis Jeffrey, who, having embraced just views at first, continued temperately to advocate them until he saw them adopted as necessary for the good of his country, and had the glory of being almost universally thanked for his share in bringing about their triumph! Let young literary men particularly take this duly to heart, for it may save them from many a bitter pang in their latter days.
 'Lord Eskgrove, a judge, who consoled a friend he was obliged to banish, by assuring him that there really were places in the world, such as England, for example, where a man, though out of Scotland, might live with some little comfort.'
THE MOONLIGHT RIDE.
A number of years ago, a gentleman in Clydesdale offered me a situation as head-groom, which I accepted. He had one horse which was kept in a stable by himself, and was, without exception, the ugliest and most savage animal of his kind I had ever seen. There was not a single point of a strong or a fast horse about him. He was as black as charcoal; he was named Satan, and richly did he deserve the name. He would fly at you, like a dog, with his teeth; attempt to beat you down with his fore-feet; and strike round a corner at you with his hind ones. He had beaten off all the rough-riders, grooms, and jockeys in that part of the country.
After being in the place for a few days, I was asked by the gentleman, if I thought I could make anything of Satan. I replied, that if he beat me, he would be the only horse which had ever done so; but still I considered him to be by far the most savage I had ever seen. 'Try him to-morrow at one o'clock,' said he, as he turned to go away: 'I will have a few friends with me to see how you succeed.'
I determined, however, to try him that night, and without any witness to see whether I succeeded or not. My room was over the stables, and as the moon did not rise till eleven o'clock, I threw myself upon the bedclothes, and, contrary to my intention, fell asleep. When I awoke, it was twelve, the moon was shining brightly, and rendering everything as visible as if it were day.
I went down to the stable with a bridle prepared for the purpose, and a heavily-loaded whip in my hand. I knew that it would be impossible to saddle him; and, indeed, I should be safer on his bare back, in the event of his throwing himself down. I opened the stable-door gently, and there he was prone on his side, his legs and neck stretched out, as I have often seen horses lying after sore fatigue. I clapped my knee upon his head, loosed the collar that bound him, slipped the bit into his mouth, buckled the throat-band, raised him to his feet, backed him out, and leaped upon his back before he had time to get his eyes right opened. But open them now he did, and that with a vengeance; he pawed, and struck the walls with his fore-feet, till the fire flashed from the stones; and then he reared till he fell right back upon the pavement. I was prepared for this, and slipped off him as he went down, and then leaped on him again as he rose. I had not as yet touched him with whip, bridle, or spur; but now I gave him the curb and the spurs at the same instant. He gave one mad bound, and then went off at a rate that completely eclipsed the speed of the fleetest horse I had ever ridden. He could not trot, but his gallop was unapproachable, and consisted in a succession of leaps, performed with a precision, velocity, and strength, absolutely bewildering.
He fairly overturned all my preconceived notions of a fast horse. On he thundered, till we came under the shadow of a fir-wood, and then, whether out of mischief or dread of the darkness, he halted instantaneously, his fore-feet so close together that you might have put them into a bucket. Owing to the depression of his shoulders—for he had no more withers than an ass—the way that he jerked down his head, and the suddenness of the stop, a monkey, although he had been holding on with his teeth, must have been unseated. For me, I was pitched a long way over his head, but alighted upon a spot so soft and mossy, that it looked as if some kind hand had purposely prepared it for me. Had I been in the slightest degree stunned, or unable to regain my feet, that instant he would have torn me to pieces with his teeth, and beaten my mangled body into the earth with his hoofs. But I at once sprang to my feet, and faced him. I could have escaped by leaping into the wood; but my blood was up, my brain clear, and my heart gave not one extra pulsation. There he stood upon his hind-legs nearly upright, beating the air with his fore-feet, his mouth open, his upper lip curled, his under one drawn down, his large white teeth glancing like ivory in the moonlight. As soon as he saw me upon my feet, he gave a yell such as I had never heard from a horse before, save once, and which I believe is never elicited from that animal, except when under the domination of frantic rage or fear.
This unearthly cry roused every living thing within hearing. An army of rooks, startled from their encampment in the wood, circled and wheeled between us and the moon, shading her light, and filling the midnight air with their discordant screams. This attracted the attention of Satan, and, bringing his fore-feet to the ground, he pricked up his ears, and listened. I sprang forward, seized him by the mane, and vaulted upon his back. As I stooped forward to gather up the reins, which were dangling from his head, he caught me by the cuff of the jacket—luckily it was but the cuff!—and tore it up to the shoulder. Instantly he seized me again; but this time he succeeded rather better, having a small portion of the skin and flesh of my thigh between his teeth. The intense pain occasioned by the bite, or rather bruise, of a horse's mouth, can only be properly judged of by those who have felt it. I was the madder of the two now; and of all animals, an enraged man is the most dangerous and the most fearless. I gave him a blow between the ears with the end of the whip; and he went down at once, stunned and senseless, with his legs doubled up under him, and his nose buried in the ground. I drew his fore-legs from under him, that he might rise the more readily, and then lashed him into life. He turned his head slowly round, and looked at me, and then I saw that the savage glare of his eye was nearly quenched, and that, if I could follow up the advantage I had gained, I should ultimately be the conqueror. I now assisted him to rise, mounted him, and struck at once with whip and spur. He gave a few bounds forward, a stagger or two, and then fell heavily upon his side. I was nearly under him; however, I did save my distance, although that was all. I now began to feel sorry for him; his wonderful speed had won my respect; and as I was far from being naturally cruel, whip or spur I never used except in cases of necessity: so I thought I would allow him to lie for a few minutes, if he did not incline to get up of himself. However, as I had no faith in the creature, I sat down upon him, and watched him intently. He lay motionless, with his eyes shut; and had it not been for the firm and fast beat of his heart, I should have considered him dying from the effects of the blow; but the strong pulsation told me that there was plenty of life in him; and I suspected that he was lying quiet, meditating mischief. I was right. Every muscle began presently to quiver with suppressed rage. He opened his eyes, and gave me a look, in which fear and fury were strangely blended. I am not without superstition, and for an instant I quailed under that look, as the thought struck me, that the black, unshapely brute before me might actually be the spirit indicated by his name. With a muttered growl at my folly, I threw the idea from me—leaped up—seized the reins—with a lash and a cry made him spring to his feet—mounted him as he rose, and struck the spurs into his sides. He reared and wheeled; but finding that he could not get rid of me, and being unable to stand the torture of the spurs, which I used freely (it was no time for mercy!) he gave two or three plunges, and then bounded away at that dreadful leaping gallop—that pace which seemed peculiarly his own. I tried to moderate his speed with the bridle; but found, to my surprise, that I had no command over him. I knew at once that something was wrong, as, with the bit I had in his mouth, I ought to have had the power to have broken his jawbone. I stooped forward to ascertain the cause; the loose curb dangling at the side of his head gave a satisfactory explanation.
He had it all his own way now; he was fairly off with me; and all I could do was to bear his head as well up as I could, to prevent him from stumbling. However, as it would have been bad policy to let him know how much he was master, I gave him an occasional touch with the spur, as if wishing him to accelerate his pace; and when he made an extra bound, I patted him on the neck, as if pleased with his performance.
A watery cloud was passing over the face of the moon, which rendered everything dim and indistinct, as we tore away down a grassy slope; the view terminating in a grove of tall trees, situated upon a rising-ground. Beyond the dark outline of the trees, I saw nothing.
As we neared the grove, Satan slackened his speed; this I thought he did with a view to crush me against the trunks of the trees. To prevent him from having time to do this, I struck him with the spurs, and away again he went like fury. As he burst through the trees, I flung my head forward upon his neck, to prevent myself from being swept off by the lower branches. In doing this, the spurs accidentally came in contact with his sides. He gave one tremendous leap forward—the ground sank under his feet—the horse was thrown over his own head—I was jerked into the air—and, amid an avalanche of earth and stones, we were hurled down a perpendicular bank into the brown, swollen waters of the Clyde.
Owing to a bend in the river, the force of the current was directed against this particular spot, and had undermined it; and although strong enough to bear a man or a horse, under ordinary circumstances, yet down at once it thundered under the desperate leap of Satan. However, it did not signify, as nothing could have prevented us from surging into the water at the next bound.
A large quantity of rain had fallen in the upper part of the shire; and, in consequence, the river was full from bank to brae. I was nearly a stranger to the place; indeed, so much so, that I had supposed we were running from the river. This, combined with the suddenness of the shock, and the appearance of a turbid, rapid river—sweeping down trees, brushwood, branches, hay, corn, and straw before it, with resistless force—was so foreign to my idea of the calm, peaceful Clyde, that when I rose to the surface, I was quite bewildered, and had very serious doubts as to my own identity.
I was roused from this state of bewilderment by the snorting and splashing of the horse: he was making a bold attempt to scale the perpendicular bank. Had I been thrown into the body of the stream, I should have been swept away, and the animal must have perished; but in all heavy rapid runs of water, salt or fresh, there is what is termed an eddy stream, running close inshore, in a contrary direction to the main body of the water. I have seen Highlanders in their boats catching fish in the eddy stream of the Gulf of Corrievrekin, within a short distance of the main tide, which, had it but got the slightest hold on their boat, would have swept them with fearful velocity into the jaws of the roaring gulf. I was caught by this eddy, which kept me stationary, and enabled me, by a few strokes, to reach the horse's side. To cross the river, or to land here, was alike impossible; so I took the reins in my right hand, wheeled the horse from the bank, and dashed at once with him into the strength of the current. Away we went, Satan and I, in capital spirits both; not a doubt of our effecting a safe landing ever crossing my mind. And the horse evinced his certainty upon that subject, by snatching a bite out of a heap of hay that floated at his side, and eating it as composedly as if he had been in the stable.
We soon swept round the high bank that had caused our misfortune, and came to a level part of the country, which was flooded far up into the fields. I then struck strongly out in a slanting direction for the shore, and soon had the satisfaction of finding myself once more upon the green turf. Satan shook himself, pricked up his ears, and gave a low neigh. I then stroked him, and spoke kindly to him. He returned the caress by licking my hand. Poor fellow! he had contracted a friendship for me in the water—a friendship which terminated only with his life; and which was rendered the more valuable, by his never extending it to another living thing.
THE GOLD-FEVER IN AUSTRALIA.
The discovery of gold in the new continent has thrown the country into a state which well merits examination. The same circumstance in California was no interruption to progress of any kind. It merely peopled a desert, and opened a trade where there was none before; while in Australia it finds an established form of civilisation, and a commerce flowing in recognised channels. It is an interesting task, therefore, to trace the nature of the influence exercised in the latter country over old pursuits by the new direction of industry; and it is with some curiosity we open a mercantile circular, dated Sydney, 1st November 1851. This, we admit, is a somewhat forbidding document to mere literary readers; but we shall divest its contents of their technical form, and endeavour, by their aid, to arrive at some general idea of the real state and prospects of the colony.
Up to the middle of last May, the colonial heart beat high with hope. Trade was good; the pastoral interests were flourishing; the country properties, as a matter of course, were improving; and the introduction of the alpaca, the extended culture of the vine, and the growth of cotton, appeared to present new and rich sources of wealth. At that moment came the discovery of the Gold Fields; and a shock was communicated to the whole industrial system, which to some people seemed to threaten almost annihilation. The idea was, that gold-digging would swallow up all other pursuits, and the flocks perish in the wilderness from the want of shepherds. Nor was this altogether without foundation; for the stockholders have actually been considerable sufferers: all the industrial projects mentioned have been stopped short; and the gold-diggings still continue to attract to themselves, as if by a spell, the labour of the country. The panic, however, has now subsided. It is seen that the result is not so bad as was anticipated, and hopes are entertained that the evil will go no further. A stream of population, it is thought, will be directed to Australia from abroad, and the labour not demanded by gold may suffice for other pursuits. Up to the date of the circular, the value of gold shipped for England from New South Wales had been L. 217,000, and it was supposed that about L. 130,000 more remained at Sydney and in the hands of the miners: 10,000 persons were actually engaged in mining, and 5000 more concerned otherwise in the business; and as the result of the exertions of that multitude, the amount of gold fixed arbitrarily for exportation during the next twelve months, is L. 2,000,000.
But, on the other hand, in the Sydney district alone, the trade in wool has already fallen off to the extent of several thousand bales—a deficiency, however, not as yet attributed to the diminished number of the sheep. It is supposed that the high rates of labour will operate chiefly in disinclining the farmers to extend their operations; and if this at the same time affords them leisure and motive to attend better to the state of their clips, it will ultimately have an effect rather beneficial than otherwise. Australian wool has hitherto been attainable by foreigners only in the English market; but it is a favourable symptom that two cargoes left Sydney last year direct for Hamburg. To shew the falling off in trade during the gold year, it may be mentioned that the exports of wool in the two previous years were about 52,000 bales; and in 1850-1, about 48,000. There was likewise a deficiency of about 6000 casks of tallow, and 3000 hides.
It is interesting to notice, that preserved meats are sent from New South Wales to the neighbouring colonies and to England in considerable quantities. Timber for shipbuilding is rising in estimation in the English market. Australian wines are said to be fully equal to Rhenish; and a Vineyard Association has been formed for the purpose of improvement. Wool, however, is at present the great staple; and the Circular seems to derive some consolation from the idea, that if the crop should continue deficient, prices in England will probably be maintained. 'To anticipate the future prices for our staples,' it says, 'in a market open to so many influences as that of Great Britain, is almost impossible; but it may be well to point out the causes which are likely to affect their value—we allude more especially to wool. We have stated that the production thereof, in New South Wales, is likely to be checked by the attraction of the gold-diggings; and still further, by the gradual abandonment of indifferent or limited runs, which formerly supported a large number of sheep, but which will not pay to work at present prices of wool and labour. Therefore, if we bear in mind that Australia has furnished half of the entire quantity of the wools imported into Great Britain, and that the English buyers have hitherto been purchasing in anticipation of a large annual increase from hence, which for the present, at anyrate, will not be forthcoming, we think we need be under no apprehension of lower prices than the present.'
It will be remarked, that this somewhat unfavourable report is made at the end of the first six months of the gold-fever. That kind of gold-seeking, however, which unsettles the habits of a population, and represses the other pursuits of industry, is not likely to endure very long in any country. It must give way in time to scientific mining, which is as legitimate a business as any other, and which, by the wealth it circulates, will tempt men into new avenues of industry, and recruit, to any extent that may be desirable, the supply of labour. Hitherto that supply has come in inadequate quantities, or from polluted sources; but we have now precisely what the colony wanted—a stream of voluntary emigration, which, in the process of time, when skilled labour only can be employed, will flood the diggings, and its superfluous portions find their level in the other employments afforded by the country. That this will take place without the inconvenience of a transition period, is not to be expected; but, upon the whole, we look upon the present depression of the legitimate trade of the colony as merely a temporary evil, arising out of circumstances that are destined to work well for its eventual prosperity.
The same process, it should be observed, has already been gone through in California. The lawless adventurers who rushed to the gold-fields from all parts of the world subsided gradually into order from mere motives of self-preservation; and as the precious metal disappeared from the surface, multitudes were driven by necessity or policy into employments more remunerative than digging. The large mining population—the producers of gold—became the consumers of goods; markets of all kinds were opened for their supply; emporia of trade rose along the coast; and a country that so recently was almost a desert, now promises to become one of the great marts of the commerce of the world. If this has been the case in California, the process will be much easier in Australia, where the rudiments of various businesses already exist, and where the staple articles of produce are such as can hardly be pushed to a superfluous extent.
The true calamity, however, under which the fixed colonists, the producers of the staples, suppose themselves to suffer, is the change occasioned in the price of labour by the golden prospects of the diggings. On this question there is always considered to be two antagonistical interests—that of the employers, and that of the employed; the former contending for the minimum, and the latter for the maximum rate. But this is a fallacy. The interest of the two is identical; and for these obvious reasons, that if wages be too high, the capitalist must cease to produce and to employ; and if too low, the working population must sink to the position of unskilled labourers at home, and eventually bring about that very state of society from which emigration is sought as an escape. In supposing their interests to be antagonistical, the one party reasons as badly as the other; but, somehow, there always attaches to the bad reasoning of the employed a stigma of criminality, from which that of the other is free. This is unjust enough in England, but in Australia it is ridiculous. A capitalist goes out, provided with a sum so small as to be altogether useless at home as a means of permanent support, but which, in the colony, he expects, with proper management, to place him for the rest of his life in a position of almost fabulous prosperity. These cheering views, however, he confines to his own class. The measure of his happiness will not be full unless he can find cheap labour, as well as magnificent returns. For this desideratum he will make any sacrifice. He will take your paupers, your felons—your rattlesnakes; anything in the shape of a drudge, who will toil for mere subsistence, and without one of the social compensations which render toil in England almost endurable.
We are never sorry to hear of the high price of labour in countries where the employers live in ease and independence; and we join heartily in the counsel to the higher class of working-men in this country given by Mr Burton in his Emigrants Manual—'never to confound a large labour-market with good sources of employment.' It does not appear to us to be one of the least of the benefits that will accrue after convalescence from the gold-fever in Australia, the higher value the employed will set upon their labour. We cannot reason from the English standard, which has not been deliberately fixed, but forced upon us by competition, excessive population, public burdens, and the necessities of social position. In a new country, however, where all these circumstances are absent, and whither employers and employed resort alike for the purpose of bettering their condition, we should like to see traditions cast aside, and the fabric of society erected on a new basis.