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The Duke of Marlborough is repeatedly mentioned; and his character is drawn with great minuteness and force of colouring. His ruling passion, avarice, appears to have had nothing jocular or assumed in it: it was a melancholy reality, an incurable madness. Take the following little specimen.
'In his last decline at Bath, he was playing with Dean Jones at piquet, for sixpence a game: they played a good while, and the Duke left off when winner of one game. Some time after, he desired the Dean to pay him his sixpence: the Dean said he had no silver. The Duke asked him for it over and over; and at last desired that he would change a guinea to pay it him, because he should want it to pay the chair that carried him home. The Dean, after so much pressing, did at last get change; paid the Duke his sixpence; observed him a little after leave the room, and declares, that (after all the bustle that had been made for his sixpence) the Duke actually walked home, to save the little expense a chair would have put him to.P..'
Mr Spence himself gives rather a lively account of Lady Wortley Montague, whom he met at Rome in 1740.
I always desired, he says, to be acquainted with Lady Mary, and could never bring it about, though we were so often together in London soon after we came to this place, her Ladyship came here, and in five days I was well acquainted with her. She was married young, and she told me, with that freedom much travelling gives, that she was never in so great a hurry of thought, as the month before she was married: she scarce slept any one night that month. You know she was one of the most celebrated beauties of her day, and had a vast number of offers; and the thing that kept her awake was who to fix upon. She was determined as to two points from the first, that is, to be married to somebody, and not to be married to the man her father advised her to have. The last night of the month she determined; and in the morning left the husband of her father's choice buying the wedding-ring, and scuttled away to be married to Mr Wortley.
We must conclude with some particulars of Mr Pope's death, which are mostly new, and all very interesting.
• Here am I, like Socrates, distributing my morality among my friends, just as I am dying.-P.' This was said on his sending about some of his Ethic Epistles as presents, about three weeks before we lost him. I replied, I really had that thought several times, when I was last at Twickenham with you; and was apt, now and then, to look upon myself like Phædo. That might be, (said he); but you must not expect me now to say any thing like Socrates."
One of the things that I have always most wondered at is, that there should be any such thing as human vanity.-If I had any, I had enough to mortify it, a few days ago: for I lost my mind for a whole day.-P. This was said on the 10th of May; and the day
he spoke of was the Sunday before, May the 6th. A day or two after, he complained of that odd phenomenon (as he called it) of seeing every thing in the room as through a curtain. On the 14th, he complained of seeing false colours on objects.]-Spence.
The 15th, on Mr Lyttleton's coming in to see him, he said, "Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms!"-[This was just after Dr T. had been telling him, that he was glad to find that he breathed so much easier; that his pulse was very good; and several other encouraging things.-Spence.
He said to me, "What's that?" pointing into the air with a very steady regard; and then looked down on me, and said, with a smile of great pleasure, and with the greatest softness, " 'Twas a vision!"-Spence.'
'I had got the Regent's edition of Longus's Daphnis and Chloe in my hand, to read while he was dozing. They are very innocent loves, like those of Adam and Eve in Milton," (said he): "I wonder how a man of so infected a mind as the Regent could have any taste for such a book."-[It was on this same day that he requested to be brought to the table where we were sitting at dinner; his appearance was such, that we all thought him dying. Mrs Anne Arbuthnot involuntarily exclaimed, "Lord have mercy upon us! This is quite an Egyptian feast. "-Spence.'
A short time before his death, Mr Pope said, "I am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it within me as it were by intuition."-When Mr Hooke asked him, whether he would not die as his father and mother had done; and whether he should not send for a priest?-he said, "I do not suppose that is essential; but it will look right;—and I heartily thank you for putting me in mind of it.
In the morning, after the priest had given him the last sacracraments, he said, "There is nothing meritorious but Virtue and Friendship; and indeed friendship itself is but a part of virtue."
• Mr Pope died on the 30th of May (1744), in the evening; but they did not know the exact time :-for his departure was so easy, that it was imperceptible even to the standers by.
So fails, so languishes, grows dim, and dies
All that this world is proud of. From their spheres
Perish the roses and the flowers of Kings,
Princes and Emperours, and the crowns and palms
So, too, the life of a poet passes like a summer's dream, and leaves behind it nothing but the shadow of a name!
Observations on the Injurious Consequences of the Restrictions upon Foreign Commerce. By a Member of the late Parliament. pp. 87. London, 1820.
N spite of all that has been said and written to the contrary, we have not the shadow of a doubt that high wages are by far the most effectual means that can be devised for promoting industry, and attaching the bulk of the people to the institutions under which they live. The desire to accumulate property, and to rise in the world, is deeply seated in the human breast, and is in fact the source of all the improvements which have ever been made. In countries where the wages of labour are high, a workman, by availing himself of the means within his reach, may not only gain a considerable command over the necessaries and comforts of life, but has it in his power to attain to a state of comparative affluence and independence. In such countries the rights of property will be respected; and for this plain reason, that every individual feels that he derives a direct advantage from their institution, and that without them he could not peaceably enjoy the fruits of his industry. The example of the United States shows the truth of this reasoning. Our Transatlantic brethren have no national religion-they have no societies for the suppression of vice, or the building of churches; nor is their administration supported and strengthened by the colossal establishments of the Old World. But, on the other hand, every citizen of the United States is impressed with the conviction, that honest exertion is sufficient to make him rich, and that intelligence and good conduct may raise him to the highest honours of the State. The real, solid, and palpable advantages which he enjoys, make him turn a deaf ear to the harangues of itinerant demagogues, and the dreams of visionary enthusiasts. Cobbet in Long Island was quite as little attended to as the Laureate in Westmoreland: Nor has the utmost efforts of a press a thousand times as licentious as that of England, and the freest circulation of the theological writings of Paine and Palmer, and myriads more of their caste, been able to give a moment's disturbance to the smallest village in America. We must not, therefore, deceive ourselves, by supposing that the irritation which exists in this country has been occasioned either by the intemperance of the press, or the efforts of a few seditious demagogues. It originates in causes which cannot be so easily controled; nor would it be materially affected by the suppression of every newspaper in the kingdom.
Wherever the wages of labour are so low as merely to afford
a pittance to support a miserable existence, we must not expect that the institutions of society will be either greatly venerated or respected. Nothing, indeed, but the terrors of criminal justice, can ever afford a sufficient guarantee for the obedience of a population pressing against the limits of subsistence, and whose wages cannot provide for their comfortable support. It is idle to expect industry where it does not meet with a suitable reward. And where men are not industrious, and are at the same time pinched by want, we are certain to meet with idleness, dissipation, and crime.
But whatever may be the general effect of low wages, or, which is the same thing, of a comparatively limited command over the necessaries and luxuries of life, on the peace of society, it is plain it must be most perceptible during the period when a transition is making from a higher to a lower rate. A population who have never known better days-who have always been sunk in the abyss of poverty-and who are entire strangers to those comforts and enjoyments which sooth the toils of their brethren in happier circumstances may not be discontented, though it is impossible that they should be either active, enterprising, or industrious. But when a wealthy and flourishing population is suddenly reduced to a state of indigence, they will not manifest such apathy. Great discontent and dissatisfaction have ever accompanied an increased difficulty of living; and it is perhaps not greatly to be lamented, that it should be so: For nothing could prevent a people, who submitted without a struggle to such privations, from sinking below the level of the lower animals.
Now, this is precisely the condition of the manufacturing classes in Great Britain. They have been suddenly reduced from affluence and prosperity to the extreme of poverty and misery. In one of the debates in the late Session of Parliament, it was stated, that the wages of weavers in Glasgow and its vicinity, which, when highest, had averaged about 25s. or 27s. a week, had been reduced in 1816 to 10s.; and in 1819 to the wretched pittance of 5s. 6d. or 6s. They have not since been materially augmented: And the consequence has been, that after exhausting the funds of those friendly societies which had been organized in happier times, and selling their furniture and clothes, the weavers have literally sunk into a state of starvation. The same is the case with the manufacturing classes in Renfrewshire, and throughout England. In Lancashire the weavers are divided
* Mr Bennet's Motion for an Inquiry into the State of the Manufacturing Districts, 9th December 1819.
into different classes; and wages vary from 6s. to 12s. a week for 15 hours' labour a day. They are nearly destitute of fuel and clothes; their bedding consists only of sacks filled with straw and chips; and their food is at once deficient in quantity, and of the coarsest and least nutritive kind.-But the condition of the children is chiefly calculated to excite sympathy and compassion. The necessities of their parents has occasioned their being employed in factories from the tenderest years; and at this moment a very large proportion of the half starved children of the manufacturing districts, are shut up for 12 or 16 hours a day, to the irreparable injury of their health and morals, for a recompense of not more than 2s. or 3s. a week. The distresses of the cloth weavers of Yorkshire, are, if possible, still more severe than those of the cotton weavers of Lancashire: And the combined operation of taxation and the poor's rates, has reduced the smaller proprietors and farmers nearly to the same hopeless condition as the manufacturers. ‡
Perhaps, however, the silk weavers of Coventry and other places, and the frame-work knitters of Nottingham, have sunk the lowest in the scale of degradation. Last May, a petition was presented to the House of Commons by Mr Moore, from the Mayor and Corporation of Coventry, stating that the poor's rates on the landed property in the district contiguous to the town, amounted to 45s. per acre, and to 19s. per pound on the rents of the houses within the town. But, notw-thstanding this enormous assessment, the weavers were in a state of the greatest distress. Many thousands were absolute paupers, and depended entirely for support on the rates. Of those in employment, such as had frames of their own, and who worked 16 hours a day, were only in the receipt of 10s. a week; the second class, whose frames were furnished by the master manufacturers, earned in all about 5s. 6d. ; and the third, or inferior class of workmen, only from 2s. 9d. to 1s. 6d. a week, or from 5 d. to 3d. a day! The petition prayed, that the House would interfere to regulate the rate of wages; but this they wisely declined, though it is difficult to perceive, unless some considerable assistance be administered, how these unfortunate persons can possibly escape falling a sacrifice to famine.
The quantity of broad and narrow cloths milled in Yorkshire in the year 1819-20, was 2,672,102 yards less than the quantity milled in the previous year; which was itself nearly one million of yards short of the quantity milled in 1817. The total decline in the two last years has amounted to nearly ONE FOURTH part of the entire ma nufacture,