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The power of performance has not been exceeded, -the creation of value. The English have given importance to individuals, a principal end and fruit of every society. Every man is allowed and encouraged to be what he is, and is guarded in the indulgence of his whim. “Magna Charta,” said Rushworth, “is such a fellow that he will have no sovereign.” By this general activity, and by this sacredness of individuals, they have in seven hundred years evolved the principles of freedom. It is the land of patriots, martyrs, sages, and bards; and if the ocean out of which it emerged should wash it away, it will be remembered as an island famous for immortal laws, for the announcements of original right which make the stone tables of liberty.
SPEECH AT MANCHESTER.
A FEW days after my arrival at Manchester, in November 1847, the Manchester Athenæum gave its annual Banquet in the Free Trade Hall. With other guests, I was invited to be present, and to address the company. In looking over recently a newspaper report of my remarks, I incline to reprint it, as fitly expressing the feeling with which I entered England, and which agrees well enough with the more deliberate results of better acquaintance recorded in the foregoing pages. Sir Archibald Alison, the historian, presided, and opened the meeting with a speech. He was followed by Mr. Cobden, Lord Brackley, and others, among whom was Mr. Cruikshank, one of the contributors to “Punch.” Mr. Dickens's letter of apology for his absence was read. Mr. Jerrold, who had been announced, did not appear. On being introduced to the meeting I said,
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen-It is pleasant to me to meet this great and brilliant company, and doubly pleasant to see the faces of so many distinguished persons on this platform. But I have known all these persons already. When I was at home they were as near to me as they are to you. The arguments of the League and its leader are known to all the friends of free trade. The gaieties and genius, the political, the social, the parietal wit of “Punch," go duly every fortnight to every boy and girl in Boston and New York. Sir, when I came to sea, I found the “History of Europe.” 1 on the ship's cabin table, the property of the captain ;-a sort of programme or play-bill to tell the seafaring New Englander what he shall find on his landing here. And as for Dombey, sir, there is no land where paper exists to print on, where it is not found ; no man who can read, that does not read it, and, if he cannot, he finds some charitable pair of eyes that can, and hears it.
But these things are not for me to say ; these compliments, though true, would better come from one who felt and understood these merits more. I am not here to exchange civilities with you, but rather to speak of that which I am sure interests these gentlemen more than their own praises ; of that which is good in holidays and working-days; the same in one century and in another century. That which lures a solitary American in the woods with the wish to see England, is the moral peculiarity of the Saxon race,its commanding sense of right and wrong,—the love and devotion to that,—this is the imperial trait, which arms them with the sceptre of the globe. It is this which lies at the foundation of that aristocratic character, which certainly wanders into strange vagaries, so that its origin is often lost sight of, but which, if it should lose this, would find itself paralysed; and in trade, and in the mechanic's shop, gives that honesty in performance, that thoroughness and solidity of work, which is a national characteristic. This conscience is one element, and the other is that loyal adhesion, that habit of friendship, that homage of man to man, running through all classes,—the electing of worthy persons to a certain fraternity, to acts of kindness and warm and staunch support, from year to year, from youth to age-which is alike lovely and honourable to those who render and those who receive it;—which stands in strong contrast with the superficial attachments of other races, their excessive courtesy and short-lived connection.
1 By Sir A. Alison.
You will think me very pedantic, gentlemen, but, holiday though it be, I have not the smallest interest in any holiday, except as it celebrates real and not pretended joys; and I think it just, in this time of gloom and commercial disaster, of affliction and beggary in these districts, that, on these very accounts I speak of, you should not fail to keep your literary anniversary. I seem to hear you say, that, for all that is come and gone yet, we will not reduce by one chaplet or one oak leaf the braveries of our annual feast. For I must tell you, I was given to understand in my childhood, that the British island from which my forefathers came, was no lotus-garden, no paradise of serene sky, and roses and music and merriment all the year round; no, but a cold, foggy, mournful country, where nothing grew well in the open air but robust men and virtuous women, and these of a wonderful fibre and endurance; that their best parts were slowly revealed ; their virtues did not come out until they quarrelled : they did not strike twelve the first time; good lovers, good haters, and you could know little about them till you had seen them long, and little good of them till you had seen them in action ; that in prosperity they were moody and dumpish, but in adversity they were grand. Is it not true, sir, that the wise ancients did not praise the ship parting with flying colours from the port, but only that brave sailer which came back with torn sheets and battered sides, stript of her banners, but having ridden out the storm? And so, gentlemen, I feel in regard to this aged England, with the possessions, honours and trophies, and also with the infirmities of a thousand years gathering around her, irretrievably committed as she now is to many
old customs which cannot be suddenly changed ; pressed upon by the transitions of trade, and new and all incalculable modes, fabrics, arts, machines, and competing populations, I see her not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark days before ;-indeed, with a kind of instinct that she sees a little better in a cloudy day, and that in storm of battle and calamity she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon. I see her in her old age, not decrepit, but young, and still daring to believe in her power of endurance and expansion. Seeing this, I say, All hail ! mother of nations, mother of heroes, with strength still equal to the time; still wise to entertain and swift to execute the policy which the