Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

loud,” howling through the vacant lobbies, and clattering the doors of deserted guard-rooms, appall the imagination, and conjure up the grim spectres of departed tyrants—the Saxon, the Norman, and the Dane ; the stern Edwards and fierce Henries—who stalk from desolation to desolation, through the dreary vacuity and melancholy succession of chill and comfortless chambers. When this tumult subsides, a dead and still more frightful silence would reign in this desert, if every now and then the tacking of hammers did not announce that those constant attendants upon all courts in all ages, jobs, were still alive; for whose sake alone it is that any trace of ancient grandeur is suffered to remain. These palaces are a true emblem of some governments; the inhabitants are decayed, but the governors and magistrates still flourish. They put me in mind of Old Sarum, where the representatives, more in number than the constituents, only serve to inform us that this was once a place of trade, and sounding with “the busy hum of men,” though now you can only trace the streets by the colour of the corn; and its sole manufacture is in members of parliament.

These old establishments were formed also on a third principle, still more adverse to the living economy of the age. They were formed, Sir, on the principle of purveyance and receipt in kind. In former days, when the household was vast, and the supply scanty and precarious, the royal purveyors, sallying forth from under the Gothic portcullis, to purchase provision with power and prerogative instead of money, brought home the plunder of an hundred markets, and all that could be seized from a flying and hiding country, and deposited their spoil in an hundred caverns, with each its keeper. There every commodity, received in its rawest condition, went through all the process which fitted it for use. This inconvenient receipt produced an economy suited only to itself. It multiplied offices beyond all measure; buttery, pantry, and all that rabble of places, which, though profitable to the holders, and expensive to the state, are almost too mean to mention.

All this might be, and I believe was, necessary at first; for it is remarkable that purveyance, after its regulation had been the subject of a long line of statutes (not fewer, I think, than twenty-six) was wholly taken away by the twelfth of Charles the Second; yet, in the next year of the same reign, it was found necessary to revive it by a special act of parliament, for the sake of the king's journeys. This, Sir, is curious, and what would hardly be expected in so reduced a court as that of Charles the Second, and so improved a country as England might then be thought. But so it was. In our time, one well-filled and well-covered stage-coach requires more accommodation than a royal progress; and every district, at an hour's warning, can supply an army.

I do not say, Sir, that all these establishments, whose principle is gone, have been systematically kept up for influence solely; neglect had its share. But this I am sure of, that a consideration of influence has hindered any one from attempting to pull them down. For the purposes of influence, and for those purposes only, are retained half, at least, of the household establishments. No revenue, no, not a royal revenue, can exist under the accumulated charge of ancient establishment, modern luxury, and parliamentary political corruption.

If therefore we aim at regulating this household, the question will be, whether we ought to economize by detail or by principle? The example we have had of the success of an attempt to economize by de tail, and under establishments adverse to the attempt, may tend to de cide this question.

At the beginning of his majesty's reign, Lord Talbot came to the administration of a great department in the household. I believe no man ever entered into his majesty's service, or into the service of any prince, with a more clear integrity, or with more zeal and affection for the interest of his master; and, I must add, with abilities for a still higher service. Economy was then announced as a maxim of the reign. This noble lord, therefore, made several attempts towards a reform. In the year 1777, when the king's civil list debts came last to be paid, he explained very fully the success of his undertaking. He told the House of Lords that he had attempted to reduce the charges of the king's tables, and his kitchen.—The thing, Sir, was not below him. He knew that there is nothing interesting in the concerns of men whom we love and honour that is beneath our attention.—“ Love," says one of our old poets, “esteems no office mean;" and, with still more spirit, “ entire affection scorneth nicer hands.” Frugality, Sir, is founded on the principle that all riches have limits. A royal household, grown enormous even in the meanest departments, may weaken and perhaps destroy all energy in the highest offices of the state. The

gorging a royal kitchen may stint and famish the negotiations of a kingdom. Therefore the object was worthy of his, was worthy of any man's attention.

In consequence of this noble lord's resolution (as he told the other House), he reduced several tables, and put the persons entitled to them upon board wages,

much to their own satisfaction. But unluckily, subsequent duties requiring constant attendance, it was not possible to prevent their being fed where they were employed--and thus this first step towards economy doubled the

expense. There was another disaster far more doleful than this. I shall state it, as the cause of that misfortune lies at the bottom of all our prodi. gality. Lord Talbot attempted to reform the kitchen ; but such, as he well observed, is the consequence of having duty done by one person, whilst another enjoys the emoluments, that he found himself frustrated in all his designs. On that rock his whole adventure split-his whole scheme of economy was dashed to pieces ; his department became more expensive than ever; the civil list debt accumulated—Why? It was truly from a cause which, though perfectly adequate to the effect, one would not have instantly guessed-it was because the turnspit in the king's kitchen was a member of parliament. The king's domestic servants were all undone ; his tradesmen remained unpaid, and became bankrupt–because the turnspit of the king's kitchen was a member of parliament. His majesty's slumbers were interrupted, his pillow was stuffed with thorns, and his peace of mind entirely broken--because the king's turnspit was a member of parliament. The judges were unpaid; the justice of the kingdom bent and gave way; the foreign ministers remained inactive and unprovided; the system of Europe was dissolved; the chain of our alliances was broken; all the wheels of government at home and abroad were stopped-because the king's turnspit was a member of parliament.

146.--EVENING AND NIGHT.

EVENING has formed the subject of one of Collins' most finished poems :

If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, O pensive Eve, to soothe thine ear

Like thy own modest springs,

Thy springs, and dying gales;
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-hair'd sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,

With brede ethereal wove,

O'erhang his wavy bed :
Now air is hush’d, save where the weak-eyed bat,
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,

Or where the beetle winds

His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:

Now teach me, maid composed,

To breathe some soften'd strain,
Whose numbers stealing through thy darkening vale
May not unseemly with its stillness suit;

As musing slow I hail

Thy genial loved return !
For, when thy folding star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp

The fragrant hours and elves

Who slept in buds the day, And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge, And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,

The pensive pleasures sweet,

Prepare thy shadowy car,
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,

Whose walls more awful nod

By thy religious gleams,
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut

That from the mountain's side
Views wilds, and swelling floods,

And hamlets brown, and dim discover'd spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all

Thy dewy fingers draw

The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!

While Summer loves to sport

Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves ;
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,

Affrights thy shrinking train,

And rudely rends thy robes ;
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,

Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name.--COLLINS.

Thomas Warton's poems are less known than those of Collins. The following lines from his · Ode on the Approach of Summer' will show that he possessed one of the characteristics of a real poet; that power of observation which is necessary to produce particular images, instead of vague descriptions :

Oft when thy season, sweetest queen,
Has drest the groves in livery green;
When in each fair and fertile field
Beauty begins her bow'r to build ;
While evening, veil'd in shadows brown,
Puts her matron mantle on,
And mists in spreading steams convey
More fresh the fumes of new-shorn hay;
Then, goddess, guide my pilgrim feet
Contemplation hoar to meet,
As slow he winds in museful mood,
Near the rush'd marge of Cherwell's flood;
Or o'er old Avon's magic edge,
Whence Shakspere cull'd the spiky sedge,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »