Obrázky stránek

The girl was dying. Youth and beauty-all

Men love or women boast of was decaying,
And one by one life's finest powers did fall

Before the touch of death, who seem'd delaying,
As tho' he'd not the heart at once to call

The maiden to his home. At last, arraying
Himself in softest guise, he came : she sigh'd

And, smiling as tho' her lover whisper'd, died.' pp. 166, 167.
Diego comes just after her death.
• He saw her where she lay in silent state,

Cold and as white as marble : and her eye,
Whereon such bright and beaming beauty sate,

Was-after the fashion of mortality,
Closed up for ever ; ev'n the smiles which late

None could withstand, were gone; and there did lie
(For he had drawn aside the shrouding veil)

By her a helpless hand, waxen and pale.' pp. 168,
His agony is at first overpowering: But
• At last, a gentle melancholy grew,

And touch'd, like sorrow at its second stage,

with languor, and contriv'd to strew
His hair with silver ere his middle age.

years he liv'd : he liv'd in solitude, And scarcely quitted his ancestral home, Tho' many a friend and many a lady woo'd

Of birth and beauty. He

grew familiar with the bird; the brute Knew well its benefactor, and he'd feed And make acquaintance with the fishes mute,

And, like the Thracian Shepherd as we read,
Drew, with the music of his stringed lute,

Behind him winged things, and many a tread
And tramp of animal : and in his hall
He was a Lord indeed, beloyd by all.
In a high solitary turret where

None were admitted would he muse, when first
The young day broke, perhaps because he there

Had in his early infancy been nurs'd,
Or that he felt more pure the morning air,

Or lov'd to see the great Apollo burst
From out his cloudy bondage, and the night
Hurry away before the conquering light.
But oftener to a gentle lake that lay

Cradled within a forest's bosom, he
Would, shunning kind reproaches, steal away,
And, when the inland breeze was fresh and free,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

There would he loiter all the livelong day,

Tossing upon the waters listlessly.
The swallow dash'd beside him, and the deer
Drank by his boat and eyed him without fear.
It was a soothing place: the summer hours

Pass'd there in quiet beauty, and at night
The moon ran searching thro' the woodbine bowers,

And shook o'er all the leaves her kisses bright,
O'er lemon blossoms and taint myrtle flowers,

And there the west wind often took his flight
When heaven's clear eye was closing, while above
Pale Hesper 'rose, the evening light of love.
He comes more lovely than the Hours: his look

Sheds calm refreshing light, and eyes that burn
With glancing at the sun's so radiant book,

Unto his softer page with pleasure turn:
'Tis like the murmur of some shaded brook,

Or the soft welling of a Naiad's urn,
After the sounding of the vast sea-waves.'

pp. 170-174. We have quoted more of this than we intended, and must now turn us to our sterner work again. We hope, however, that this is not to be our last meeting with Mr Cornwall. We are glad to see a new edition of his Dramatic Scenes advertised. We ought to have noticed that pleasing little volume beforeand should have made a few extracts from it here, if we had not mislaid our copy.--As it is, we can safely recommend it to all who are pleased with what has now been extracted.

Art. IX. 1. Remarks on the Report of the Select Committee

of the House of Commons on the Poor-Laws. By J. H. Mog

GRIDGE, Esq. Bristol, 1818. 2. Observations on the Circumstances which Influence the Condition of the Labouring Classes of Society. By John BARTON,

Esq. London, 1817. 3. Observations on the Rise and Fall of the Manufacturing Sys

tem of Great Britain, 8c. London, 1819.

The industry of a great commercial country, is always lia

ble to temporary embarrassments, from changes in the ordinary channels of trade, and from the varying demand for the products of its manufactures.-But we believe that Great Britain, since the return of peace, affords the only instance of a regorgement being simultaneously felt in every employment in which capital had been invested. The universality of the pre

[ocr errors][merged small]

sent distress forms its distinguishing and characteristic feature. Were it less general, it might be supposed to be in no inconsiderable degree owing to the derangement occasioned by the transition from a state of war to a state of peace. In that case, however, as soon as tranquillity had been restored, an extraordinary stimulus would have been given to those employments which had been unnaturally depressed during the war. The diminished demand for one sort of labour, would have been compensated by the increased demand for another; and, when time had been given for the new investment of the capital thrown out of employment by the cessation of hostilities, every thing would have been adjusted as before. But, after a lapse of five or six years, it cannot truly be affirmed, that any considerable improvement has taken place in any branch of industry. At this moment they are all nearly as much depressed as ever. Pauperisin, instead of being diminished, is rapidly increasing: Nor, without some very decided change in our domestic policy, is there the least reason to expect any material improvement in the condition of the great body of the pecple.

It would, however, be a very great mistake to suppose, that the extraordinary extension of pauperism, and the privations now so generally complained of, have only been rendered manifest since the peace. That event, by depriving us of the monopoly of the commerce of the world, no doubt contributed to lessen the demand for various sorts of British produce, and consequently to aggravate the distresses of the manufacturers. But, whatever may have been the effects of the renewed competition of foreign countries, it cannot be considered either as the primary or main cause of the difficulties in which we are involved. Long previous to the termination of the late contest, an extraordinary increase had taken place in the amount of the sums levied on account of the poor; and the rise in the price of almost every species of commodities, had not been accompanied by a corresponding rise of wages.

The first estimate, which can be depended on, of the sums expended on the poor of England, was framed so late as 1776 ; but several well-informed cotemporary authors state, that, at the commencement of the last century, the rates were supposed to - amount to about a million. In 1776, it was ascertained, from the returns made under the act of that

that the whole sum raised by assessment, and expended on the poor, amounted to 1,720,3161.: And, from similar returns, it was ascertained, that the average expenditure, on account of the poor, for 1783, 1784, and 1785, being the years immediately subsequent to the American war, amounted to 2,167,748l. It is to


be regretted that there is no account of the amount of the Poorrates previous to the commencement of the late war in 1793; but, from the very great extension of commerce, and the universal improvement which had taken place in the interim, we should certainly be warranted in supposing, that it had diminished subsequently to 1785: And hence, provided the estimate of the amount of the rates in 1700 be not extremely incorrect, it may be concluded, that they had about doubled in the first 93 years of the last century. But, during the last twenty-seven years, the former rate of increase has been entirely changed. In 1803, the total sum raised on account of the poor amounted to 5,348,2041., or to two and a half times the sum raised for the same purpose at the close of the American war: And, according to the late Reports of the Committees of the House of Commons on the Poor-Laws, the average expenditure of 1813, 1814 and 1815, amounted to no less than 8,164,4961,--a sum which the Committee states must since have been very greatly increased; and which, we believe, would now be underrated at TEN millions.

It is clear, therefore, since, as the population has increased at a nearly uniform rate since 1760, that this extraordinary increase of pauperism had its origin in, and has been owing infinitely more to the privations occasioned by the war, than to any revulsion which may have attended its close; and that the great and radical causes of the present distress and want of employment, were in full operation previous to 1815.

We should, however, form but a very inaccurate estimate of the increased amount of the sums now expended on the poor, if we measured it solely by the increase of the assessments. Voluntary contributions have increased still more rapidly than the rates. Notwithstanding the heavy burdens to which they have been subjected, the more opulent part of the community have generously contributed very large sums for the support of their less fortunate brethren. We have hitherto been entire strangers to the influence ascribed to a compulsory Poor-rate, of drying up the springs of private charity. Individuals of every rank and station have been equally forward to assist in alleviating the wants of the poor, and in promoting every scheme which could be supposed to have the least tendency to ameliorate their condition.

But, notwithstanding this unprecedented extension of the rates, and notwithstanding every assistance which the humanity and generosity of the higher classes has been able to bestow, the condition of the great bulk of the people-of all who must depend on the wages of labour for suppori-is at thi zmoment decidedly worse than at any former period. The cry for relief has become more loud and general than ever. The palliatives by which it has been attempted to check the progress of

pau, perism, seem only to have added to the violence of the evil. And, in the words of the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons,— Unless some efficacious check be interposed, there is every reason to think that the amount of the assessment will continue, as it has done, to increase ; Till, at a period more or less remote, according to the progress the evil has already made in different places, it shall have absorbed the profits of the property on which the rate may have been assessed ; producing thereby the neglect and ruin of the land, and the waste or removal of other property, to the utter subversion of that happy order of society so long upheld in these kingdoms.

As might have been expected, a variety of conflicting and contradictory statements have been made respecting the causes of this alarming increase of pauperism. We have already stated enough, to show the fallacy of the opinion of those who consider it as principally arising out of the derangement occasioned by the transition from a state of war to a state of peace. Neither are we disposed to agree with the Committee of the House of Commons, and those who contend that it is chiefly, if not entirely, owing to the pernicious operation of the PoorLaws. Not that we mean to deny that the holding out a certain resource to those who have been reduced to a state of

poverty, whether occasioned by misfortune, or by the folly and ill conduct of the individual, must have a powerful tendency to weaken the motives stimulating to industry and economy, and to strengthen those of an opposite character. But, however pernicious the Poor-Laws may be supposed to be and we believe them to have been most pernicious—there is no ground for supposing that they have operated more injuriously during the last twenty-seven years, than in any former period. It is only during the present reign, that friendly or benevolent societies, formed for the express purpose of preserving the members independent, and of avoiding the necessity of having recourse to assessments on the other classes of society, have been introduced. Yet notwithstanding the privations to which the labouring class have been subjected-privations which, from their having been long as well as severely felt, must have tended to impress them with a conviction of the hopelessness of their efforts to preserve their proper place in society-it has been ascertained that, in 1815, the societies referred to included above an eighth part of the whole population of the empire. And we believe we shall rather underrate than overrate their importance, if we estimate, twith Mr Moggridge, the sum now contributed by them in aid

« PředchozíPokračovat »