Изображения страниц

Stands Hawthornden - engraved by Finden from Harding-that the "tribe of Ben" may feast their eyes on a sight of the place where their father was decoyed, cozened, and betrayed. It is but a sorry affair-without either beauty or grandeur. But, in nature, the place is fair, and seems a fit habitation for gentle spirits delighting in


But Barry must not be let off with this mild rebuke-for his offence has not yet been mentioned-and he must strip to receive the knout. His main accusation against Drummond is FALSE. This "Notorious Conversa tion"-(the "Heads" of it) was set down in the year 1619-and first given to the world in 1711, upwards of sixty years after Drummond had been laid in his grave!

Where can Barry Cornwall have been living, during the last twenty years, not to have heard a whisper of all the many discussions respecting Ben's visit to Hawthornden, that ever and anon kept rising and falling before the eyes and ears of the literary public, since the appearance of Gifford's edition in 1816? In the Second Volume of Maga, the question was for a while set at rest; and Drummond's character released from the gravamen of the charge so incessantly insisted on by that truculent critic. Thomas Campbell, in an article in Brewster's Encyclopædia, showed its foolish injustice; Sir Walter Scott followed in the Border Antiquities, and his vindication is reprinted in the 7th volume of his Prose Works; David Laing, with his usual accuracy and acumen, set the affair over again in its true light, in a paper printed in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; and in almost every literary journal in Britain has it been stated that the Heads of a Conversation did not see the light till more than half a century after Drummond had been gathered to his fathers. "Where ha'e you been a' day, my boy Barry?"

But perhaps he was led wrong by Gifford. Not at all; he shut his eyes, and blindfold stumbled into the exploded blunder. Gifford knew that the Heads were first published in the folio of 1711; but such was his inveterate hatred, that he would not plainly say so, and at times he writes as if he desired to avert his eyes from the fact.

"Such," says he, "are the remarks of Jonson on his contemporaries— set down in malice, abridged without judgment, and published without shame;" and Barry supposes that to mean," published without shame" by Drummond. Did this blindest of biographers never see these words of Gifford," At any rate, he seems to think that there is nothing unusual or improper in framing a libellous attack on the character and reputation of a friend, keeping it carefully in store for thirty years, and finally bequeathing it, fairly engrossed, to the caprice or cupidity of an executor." It never was fairly engrossed-nor bequeathed; nor was it published from cupiditythat is a childish charge; and now in the year 1838, "with visage all inflamed," steps forth, crow-quill in hand, Mr Forcible Feeble, and lets dribble from it snib, in wishy-washy, an anathema couched in the form of a sickly falsehood.

It used to be said, and believed, that Ben Jonson made a journey on foot to Scotland, solely to visit Drummond in his own house at Hawthornden. The notion is too absurd, and has long been discarded by the most credulous. There is no positive evidence of his having been at Hawthornden at all— though nobody doubts he was-and tradition has consecrated the scene"When Jonson sat in Drummond's classic shade."

According to Gifford (and, of course, B. c.), Ben passed the chief part of April, 1619, at Hawthornden. Barry says, with infantile simplicity," he set out on foot, it seems, for that country, in the summer of 1618; passed some months with Mr Stuart and other friends in the north, and finally arrived at the house of Mr William Drummond, the poet of Hawthornden, in April, 1619." "In the north" does not here mean the north of Scotland, but merely "that country;" for towards the end of September, Taylor the Water Poet, saw Jonson, who was then living, he says, with a Mr Stuart in Leith. So seven months afterwards "he finally arrived at Hawthornden," distant about two hours' smart walk from that ancient port!

Jonson left Leith on his return to London, on the 25th of January, 16 9 -as we are informed in a transcript, by Sir Robert Sibbald, of Drummond's own MS. notes of his conversations

with Ben, discovered by the indefatigable David Laing, and inserted by him (1831) in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The story of the Poet's three weeks' stay at Hawthornden in April falls to the ground. Gifford, so far as we can see, had no other reason for fixing on April, but this-Ben writes to Drummond from London on the 10th of May, 1619, mentioning his safe arrival, and his having had a gracious interview with the King—and Gifford, allowing him between a fortnight and three weeks for a walk of four hundred miles (not bad work for a man nearly fifty years of age, and twenty stone weight), confidently affirms that he passed the greater part of April at Hawthornden. But no where have we been able to find any ground for the mistaken assertion that he went there in the beginning, and left it towards the end of April. We have seen from Sibbald's Transcript, that he left Leith on the 25th of January-in the same shoes in which he had arrived there probably in September, 1618-that he had purchased the said shoes on his way down, at Darnton-which we believe is near Berwick-that they had excoriated his feet sadly-and that he purposed to drop them at Darnton-on his way up-and provide himself there with a new pair. They had probably seen some service on his many tramps over Scotland. Loch Lomond, we know, he visited; and can there be any doubt that he walked into the heart of the Highlands? What a book his "Discoveries" would have been! That fatal fire

destroyed a glorious wreath about to be woven round the head of Scotland.

Taylor, the Water Poet, left London, on his penniless pilgrimage, on the 14th July, 1618, and, it was said by some witty rogues, in imitation and ridicule of Ben Jonson, who, therefore, must have left London before that date -say about the end of June-and we find him again in London early in May of the following year. His excursion to and fro, and through Scotland, occupied about ten months; and as it appears he was three months on his journey from Leith to Londonprobably he was three months on his journey from London to Leith. In what town of any size in Britain would he, the most eminent man of genius of his age, not have been welcomed? In what house or hall would he not have been an honoured guest? In the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, we know from himself, as well as from the grateful Taylor, that he was in the midst of the best society; and many a jovial night must his presence have illumined in the city or suburban dwellings of our nobility and gentry, besides the "low-roofed house" of Hawthornden. No doubt he and Drummond met many a time and oft; for who more fit to converse with the illustrious English poet than his brother bard-a man who had seen something of the world too, an accomplished scholar, and a devoted loyalist? There is no reason for believing that Drummond's notes were all notes of conversations at Hawthornden.


SINCE the Manchester demonstration, it is apparent to every body that this great question is rapidly drawing to a crisis. In this most practical of countries, when any question is once transferred from the arena of books, pamphlets, controversy, in short, conducted by the press,-to the official arena of public institutions, "chambers of commerce," authentic committees of any denomination, sanctioned by the presence of great leading tradesmen, we all know that such a question must very soon agitate the great council of the nation; agitate the landed aristocracy; agitate the thinking classes universally; and (in a sense peculiar to this corn question) agitate that class to frenzy, amongst whom "Give us this day our daily bread" is the litany ascending for ever to heaven. Well it will be for us, and no thanks to some sections of the press, if this latter class do not pursue the discussion sword in hand. For they have been instructed, nay provoked to do so, in express words. And they are indirectly provoked to such a course by two separate artifices of journals far too discreet to commit themselves by any open exhortations to violence. But in what other result can popular fury find a natural out-break, when abused daily by the representation, that upon this question depends the comfort of their lives-that the Corn Laws are the gates which shut them out from plenty-and abused equally by the representations, that one large class of their superiors is naturally, by position, and by malignity of feeling, their deadly enemy? We, of this British land, are familiar with the violence of partisanship; we are familiar with its excesses; and it is one sign of the health and soundness belonging to those ancient institutions, which some are so bent upon overthrowing, that the public safety can bear such party violences without a tremor reaching its deep foundation. But there are limits to all things; or, if it were otherwise, and the vis vitae were too profoundly lodged in our frame of polity to be affected by local storms and by transitory frenzies, even in that case it is shocking to witness a journal of ancient authority amongst ourselves

a journal to which, not Whigs only, but, from old remembrances of half a century, we Tories acknowledge a sentiment of brotherly kindness-the old familiar Morning Chronicle of London-no longer attacking things, and parties, and doctrines, but persons essential to the composition of our community: not persons only, but an entire order of persons: and this order not in the usual tone of party violence, which recognises a worth in the man while it assaults him in some public capacity; but flying at the throats, as it were, of the country gentlemen in a body, and solemnly assuring its readers, that one and all are so possessed by selfishness, and even by malignity to the lower classes, that they would rather witness the extinction of the British manufacturing superiority, or (if it must be) of the British manufactures, than abate any thing of their own pretensions. As a matter of common sense, putting candour out of the question, why should the landed aristocracy be more selfish than other orders? Or how is it possible that any one order in a state should essentially differ from the rest, among which they grow up, are educated, marry, and associate? Or, in mere consistency, what coherency is there between the assurances that our own landed interest will not suffer by the extinction of the Corn Laws, and these imputations of a merely selfish resistance to that extinction? This dilemma is obvious. Either the landlords see or they do not see the necessity of the changes which are demanded? If they do not, what becomes of their selfishness? Not being convinced of the benefits to result, they must be doing their bounden duty in resisting them. On the other hand, if they do -besides that in such a case they have credit granted to them for a clearsightedness which elsewhere their enemies are denying them-the conclusion must be, not that they are selfish, but insane. The prosperity of manufacturing industry is, upon any theory, the conditio sine quâ non of prosperity to the agricultural body. In the case, therefore, supposed, that the landlords are aware of a peremptory necessity in the manufacturing interest for a

change in the Corn Laws, it is not selfishness, it is not "malignity" (comprehensible or incomprehensible) in that class towards the lowest class which could stand between them and their own inalienable interest. So that upon either horn of the dilemma-seeing or not seeing the soundness of the revolution demanded-the landlords could find no principle of action, one way or other, in selfishness. Selfish ness, in fact, could operate only upon the case of a divided interest: whereas all parties have sense enough to admit, that the interest of land and manufactures are bound up together. Or, if they were not, it would be the clear right of the landlords, and no selfishness at all, to prefer their own order. But the case is imaginary.

One other monstrous paralogism, let me notice, in this Manchester Chamber of Commerce, subsequent to the public meeting: they have hired a public room, and are making other arrangements for an exposure to the public eye of continental wares corresponding to our own staple manufactures, labelled with the prices here and on the Continent. Well, what is the inference which the spectator is to draw? This-that our empire, our supremacy as manufacturers is shaken. Be it so. I enter not upon the question of fact or of degree; let the point be conceded. What then? The main question, the total question, remains untouched. viz. Under the operation of what CAUSE has this change been accomplished? The Chamber will answer, That the cause lies in the different prices of bread ;-but that is the very question at issue. Did ever man hear of such à petitio principii? Wages are but one element of price-bread is but one element of wages.

On this subject I shall remark briefly, that it is not true, as the ordinary calculation runs, that one-half, or nearly one-half of the working-man's expenditure goes in bread; potatoes, more and more in each successive year, are usurping upon bread: as an average, one-fifth part would be nearer to the truth. Then, again, bread could not, on an average of years, be had 50 per cent cheaper, as is assumed; but 20 per cent, or 25 per cent at most, all expenses allowed for. Thirdly and finally,

7, wages cannot be assumed as, on an average, making more than 1-4th of price. The result of which three

considerations is, that the difference on manufactured goods generally might, perhaps, at most turn out 1-5th of 1-5th of 1-4th on the present price; total about 1-100th part of the existing price: and this, observe, on the supposition, that the total difference went to the benefit of the consumer, and not, as in fact it would, to the benefit of profits. However, allow even his own extravagant calculations to the enemy. Then, because bread, according to him, will sink one-half, and because bread he affirms to be onehalf the outlay of the workman, and because wages constitute (suppose him to say) one-third of the price generally, this would amount to one-half of one-half of one-third, or-but remember, by a most extravagant assumption as the basis-to 1-12th discount upon the present prices.

Hence that is to say, by this last argument-it appears, that, conceding the very largest postulates, the enemy has made 1-12th-or a fraction more than 8 per cent is the total amount of difference which this enormous change in the policy of the country can effect in our manufactures.

Suppose, for example, upon 100 shillings, a sum of 33 goes on wages, 15 on profits, and 52 on raw material, (including the wear and tear of machinery). The loaf sinks from a shilling to sixpence (though the most impudent of the enemy hardly goes so far). The workman, he affirms, has hitherto spent 16s. 6d. on bread, he now spends 8s. 3d.; so far the 100 shillings sink to 91s. 9d. Upon this sum 15 per cent will amount to about eighteenpence less than before, that is, to 13s. 6d. Total discount upon 100 shillings, 9s. 9d.


Yet, again, consider that this presumes the total saving to be allowed to the purchaser. But, if that be how is the workman benefited? Or, if that be not so, and the total saving (which, for many reasons, is impossible) should go to the workman, then how is the manufacturer benefited?

In the first case, what motive has the working class-now under such excitement-to stir in the matter? In the second case, what motive has the Chamber of Commerce to stir? If the whole 9s. 9d. be given to the workman, how would the manufacturing interest be aided? The Continent cares nothing about the particular distribution

of the 100 shillings. The Continent must have the 9s. 9d. for its own continental benefit, or else farewell to the supposed improvement of English


This, we fancy, will prove an ugly dilemma to answer; and thus far the argument applies to the immediate results of the change proposed.

But now for the principal argument contemplated, which applies to the final results of the change.

This argument requires a preliminary explanation for the majority of readers, in order to show its nerve and pressure, how you stand affected to the doctrine of Rent. Many persons think the doctrine of Rent baseless, some upon one plea, some upon another. For the present purpose, it is immaterial whether that doctrine be true or false, notwithstanding our argument is built upon it. For we offer it as an argumentum ad hominem-as an argument irresistible by a particular class of men, viz. the class who maintain the modern doctrine of Rent; and that class it is to a man, (the Colonel excepted) and, generally speaking, no other, who lead the agitation against the Corn Laws. Now if these men are answered, so much at least is gained, and practically all that is wanted, "the engineers hoist upon their own petard."

Let us say, then-with the modern economists-that the law of Rent is a fine illustration of that providential arrangement so well illustrated by Paley, under which compensations are applied to excesses in any direction, so as ultimately to restore the equilibrium. The expenditure of man's daily life lies in two great divisions-in manufactured articles and in raw products. Corn, coals, wood, for example, are entirely raw products ;-other articles equally raw in their earliest form, as grapes, sugar, cotton, flax, hides, undergo processes of art so complex, that very often these processes utterly obscure the original cost of the material. These two orders of products, into which human expenditure divides itself, are pursuing constantly an opposite and counteracting course, as to cost. Manufactures are always growing cheaper and why? Because, these, depending upon human agencies, in which the lights of experience and of discovery are for ever at work to improve, it is impossible that the mo

Who has

tion should be retrograde. ever heard of a progress from good machinery to worse? On the other hand, as to all raw products, the opposite course prevails; these are always growing dearer and why? Partly, because land and mines, &c., are limited; partly, because, from the very beginning (unless where extreme remoteness from towns, &c., disturbs this order) men select for cultivation the best lands, &c., first. Here, therefore, the natural movement is from good to worse.

Suppose, then, the best land taken up, and that this produces a quantity of wheat [X] for one shilling. The population expanding, it becomes necessary to fall back upon a lower quality of land [No. 2], which, to produce X, must go to the expence of fifteenpence. Another expansion of population calls into action No. 3, which produces the same X for eighteenpence. And so on.


basis is sufficient to reason upon. It will strike every man, as one result from this scale of descents, that the worst quality of land (No. 3) must give the price for the whole. X is the same quantity and the same quality of grain in every case; only it costs an increasing sum to produce it as the quality of land decreases. Now, in a market, the same quantity and quality, at the same time, must always command the same price. It is quite impossible for No. 3 to plead that No. 2 grows at a less cost; X, however produced, will obtain the same price; and the price of eighteenpence, as the cost of the worst land, will be the price for the whole. By the suppo sition, fifteenpence was sufficient to reimburse No. 2; and twelvepence was sufficient to reimburse No. 1. What then becomes of the extra threepence on No. 2? What becomes of the extra sixpence on No. 1? Answer, that is rent.

Now, it is evident that this scale of degradations could not take place in manufacturing industry; because here, beginning from the worst, the scale travels upwards; and, when No. 2 is discovered, No. 3 is laid aside; and so on. In land, or in mines, or fisheries, this course is impossible, for the simple reason that land and mines are limited in quantity, while machinery may be multiplied ad infinitum.

The next consequence which a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »