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examine. But most of these loans were not strictly pawnbroking transaetions ; being beyond the limits set by the pawnbroking Act of Parliament, and being effected under private agreement.
Likewise, how My Uncle, besides the ordinary risks of his calling, occasionally suffers from mistakes, not of his own commission, as in the following case. One Saturday night a clergyman of the Church of England having been dining with a friend (which phrase we use in a perfectly innocent and literal sense), found himself walking home in a heavy rain with no money in his pocket, and no one at his chambers of whom to borrow any when he got home. In this difficulty, he stepped into My Uncle's, and there deposited his great coat. About a month afterwards he called to redeem it; but, on its being produced, most positively denied that that coat was his. Being a gentleman of undoubted respectability, his assurance was readily believed ; some unaccountable mistake was supposed to have arisen at My Uncle's, and he received a full and proper compensation for his loss. Within a short time afterwards, two gentlemen called upon My Uncle, to remind him of the circumstance, to repay
and to inform him that it had since transpired, that the clergyman (then dead) had taken from his friend's house a coat that was not his own, and had never discovered his error.
My Uncle's business is by no means confined to the poorer classes. To support our third proposition concerning him-namely, that he has had greatness thrust upon him—it is only necessary to mention that he is in the ordinary habit of dealing with the upper classes of society. Such transactions are not so numerous as his dealings with the humbler orders, but they involve nearly as much capital. Neither are they so profitable ; because, for every loan
above two guineas, the charge for interest is only three pence per month; and the pressure of pecuniary circumstances does not drive the better class of borrowers to pledge and redeem so frequently as the poorer ; and thus to pay interest upon short terms. My Uncle numbers amongst his more aristocratic customers, barristers, clergymen, baronets, noblemen (he has some peers on his books), editors, wholesale-warehousemen, painters, and musicians. He confesses that the most business is brought to him by the last-mentioned classes except small manufacturers, shop-keepers, and Irish members of Parliament ; who are even better customers. Contrary to popular prejudice, My Uncle flourishes when trade is brisk and times are pros. perous ; for then, people not in a very large way of business, yet giving credit, have most need of ready-money capital.
My Uncle is an active and skilful tradesman, who conducts the details of his business, and keeps his books, on quite a model system. There is a prejudice against him ; and his calling may (as other callings may, incidentally) furnish the reckless and dissipated with means of carrying on their career. But no social system can be framed with an exclusive reference to its dregs; and it is a fair question whether My Uncle be not, to some striving people, a real convenience and an absolute necessity. Those who have plenty of money, abundance of credit, or as much discount as they want, will probably say, No. But they may not be qualified to sit upon the Jury.
There is a popular idea that My Uncle grinds the faces of the
poor. It is indisputable, however, that his business is placed under very stringent restriction; that it requires him to do a great deal for a halfpenny; and that it does not return greater profits than many other trades. It used
to be supposed that My Uncle lent too little on the pledges he received ; but he can have no motive for so doing, as he speculates on the receipt of interest : and the more principal he can safely lend, the more interest he hopes to gain. Moreover, there is individual competition in his business, as in all other businesses.
There is only one Quaker in My Uncle's family. With this last scrap of the history of his race, I present My Uncle to your consideration.
(HEN Bishop Percy published his “Reliques,” in
1765, he found it necessary to make an apology for introducing them to a "polite age.” The century was too artificial, too “ elegant" to be expected to like anything so natural. We now recognise these barbarous remains to be full of the finest and most genuine poetry. “Sweet William and Fair Margaret,” as preserved in its old form by the graceful-minded Bishop, is an infinitely finer production than the “ Margaret's Ghost” founded on it by Mallet which the Bishop so highly eulogises. All this is part of what we may call the Second Revival, which began in the early days of Scott; which has resulted in the increased love for Shakspeare and Spenser; which has reprinted Her
and the essence of which lies in this, that it brought back heart into literature. I often compare this movement of Europe to the return of the Prodigal Son. Europe sickened over its dry husks, and came back to its parent Nature. Let us glance here at the tracks of the wanderings of our native English mind, since the point where the tracks become clearly traceable.
Our old minstrels were undoubtedly a privileged class. They sang at the banquets of the barons, and were indeed
the poets of their age; plucking forth and illustrating the beauty that lay in the acts of their generation. What the old barons did in their fighting, havoc-making livesconceiving it their due occupation—these minstrels endowed with grace and attraction. It was pleasant,
It was pleasant, of course, for a Percy, or a Douglas, to hear the hunting and slaughtering adventures of his grandfather, recounted with the magic of music, made look so bright by the light of poetic fire. The minstrel, with his gifts, was undoubtedly a welcome visitor; and, indeed, the great barons had minstrels of their own in habitual attendance on them. We cannot complain that our ancestors were without musical taste. They had "serenades," for example, in the days when our climate was worse than it is now. I have no doubt they were, what we should call, “coarse," rough, from the very vigour of life they felt. Yet, they had their refinements; they were extremely fond of perfumes, not delicate, ethereal essences, but thick compounds, touching up the sense with a vengeance. Undoubtedly they liked splendour and ornament-witness only their armorial ensigns—and generally must have loved the expression of beauty by their minstrels, who revealed the highest beauty to them, by the chant and the harp. We need only remember how Taillefer came singing up in front of the Norman line, at Hastings; how Blondel sang to the young knights under the walls at Acre; how the condition of the minstrels improved after the times of Richard the First. They remained a distinct body for many ages after the Norman conquest. They were, in fact, the literary exponents of life, as the chroniclers were the preservers of tradition ; they did for the nationality of their countrymen, what the Church did for their religious belief. The church had its singers of the deeds of saints, while the minstrels sang the wars, ad