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First Impressions of England and its People
Chapter XIX


Harrow-on-the-Hill. — Descent through the Formations from the Tertiary to the Coal Measures. — Journey of a Hundred and Twenty Miles Northwards identical, geologically, with a journey of a Mile and a Quarter Downwards. — English very unlike Scottish Landscape in its Geologic Framework. — Birmingham Fair. — Credulity of the Rural English; striking Contrast which they furnish, in this Respect, to their Countrymen of the Knowing Type. — The English Grades of Intellectual Character of Immense Range ; more in Extremes than those of the Scotch. — Front Rank of British Intellect in which there stands no Scotchman; probable Cause. —A Class of English, on the other Hand, greatly lower than the Scotch ; naturally less Curious ; acquire, in Consequence, less of the Developing Pabulum. — The main Cause of the Difference to be found, however, in the very dissimilar Religious Character of the two Countries. — The Scot naturally less independent than the Englishman ; strengthened, however, where his Character most needs Strength, by his Religion. — The Independence of the Englishman subjected at the present Time to two distinct Adverse Influences, — the Modern Poor Law and the Tenant-at-will System. —Walsall. —Liverpool. — Sort of Lodging-houses in which one is sure to meet many Dissenters.

On the fifth morning I quitted London on my way north, without having once seen the sun shine on the city or its environs. But the weather at length cleared up; and as the train passed Harrow-on-the-Hill, the picturesque buildings on the acclivity, as they looked out in the sunshine, nest-like, from amid their woods just touched with yellow, made a picture not unworthy of those classic recollections with which the place is so peculiarly associated.

The railway, though its sides are getting fast covered over with grass and debris, still furnishes a tolerably adequate section of the geology of this part of England. We pass, at an early stage of our journey, through the London Clay, and then see rising from under it the Chalk, — the first representative of an entirely different state of things from that which obtained in the Tertiary, and the latest written record of that Secondary dynasty at whose terminal line, if we except one or two doubtful shells, on which it is scarce safe to decide, all that had previously existed ceased to exist forever. The lower members of the Cretaceous group are formed of materials of too yielding a nature to be indicated in the section; but the Oolite, on which they rest, is well marked; and we see its strata rising from beneath, as we pass on to lower and yet lower depths, till at length we reach the Lias, its base, and then enter on the Upper New Red Sandstone. Deeper and yet deeper strata emerge; and at the commencement of the Lower New Red we reach another great terminal line, where the Secondary dynasty ends, and the Palaeozoic begins. We still pass downwards ; encounter at Walsall a misplaced patch of Silurian, — a page transferred from the earlier leaves of the volume, and stuck into a middle chapter; and then enter on the Coal Measures, — the extremest depth to which we penetrate, in regular sequence, on this line. Our journey northwards from London to Wolverhampton has been also a journey downwards along the geologic scale; but while we have travelled northwards along the surface about a hundred and twenty miles, we have travelled downwards into the earth’s crust not more than a mile and a quarter. Our descent has been exceedingly slow, for the strata have lain at very low angles. And hence the flat character of the country, so essentially different from that of Scotland. The few hills which we pass, — if hills they may be termed, — mere flat ridges, that stretch, rib-like, athwart the landscape, — are, in most cases, but harder beds of rock, intercalated with the softer ones, and that, relieved by the denuding agencies, stand up in bolder prominence over the general level. Not an eruptive rock appears in the entire line on to Walsall. How very different the framework of Scottish landscape, as exhibited in the section laid bare by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway! There, almost every few hundred yards in the line brings the traveller to a trap-rock, against which he finds the strata tilted at every possible angle of elevation. Here the beds go up, there they go down; in this eminence they are elevated, saddle-like, on the back of some vast eruptive mass; in yonder hill, overflown by it. The country around exists as a tumultuous sea, raised into tempest of old by the fiery ground-swell from below; while on the skirts of the prospect there stand up eminences of loftier altitude, characteristically marked in profile by their terrace-like precipices, that rise over each other step by step, — their trap-stair of trappean rock, — for to this scenic peculiarity the volcanic rocks owe their generic name.

I found Birmingham amid the bustle of its annual fair, and much bent on gayety and sight-seeing. There were double rows of booths along the streets, a full half-mile in length, — gingerbread booths, and carraway and barley-sugar booths, and nut and apple booths, and booths rich in halfpenny dolls and penny trumpets, and booths not particularly rich in anything that seemed to have been run up on speculation. There were shows, too, of every possible variety of attraction, — shows of fat boys, and large ladies, and little men, and great serpents and wise ponies; and shows of British disaster in India, and of British successes in China; madcap-minded merry-andrews, who lived on their wits, nor wished for more ; agile tumblers, glittering in tinsel; swings, revolvers, and roundabouts; and old original Punch, in all his glory. But what formed by far *Trap-stairs,* Scotice, a stair of one flight. The best part of the exhibition were the round, ruddy, unthinking faces of the country-bred English, that had poured into town, to stare, wonder, purchase, and be happy. It was worth while paying one’s penny for a sight of the fat boys and the little men, just to see the eager avidity with which they were seen, and the total want of suspicion with which all that was told regarding them was received. The countrywoman who, on seeing a negro for the first time, deemed him the painted monster of a show, and remarked that “mony was the way tried to wyle awa’ the penny,” betrayed her country not less by her suspicion than by her tongue. An Englishwoman of the true rural type would have fallen into the opposite mistake, of deeming some painted monster a reality. Judging, however, from what the Birmingham fair exhibited, I am inclined to hold that the preponderance of enjoyment lies on the more credulous side. I never yet encountered a better-pleased people: the very spirit of the fair seemed embodied in the exclamation of a pretty little girl from the country, whom I saw clap her hands as she turned the corner of a street where the prospect first burst upon her, and shriek out, in a paroxysm of delight, “O, what lots of — lots of shows!” And yet, certainly, the English character does lie very much in extremes. Among the unthinking, unsuspicious, blue-eyed, fair-complexioned, honest Saxons that crowded the streets, I could here and there detect, in gangs and pairs, some of the most disagreeably smart-looking men I almost ever saw, — men light of finger and sharp of wit, — full of all manner of contrivance, and devoid of all sort of moral principle.

Nothing in the English character so strikingly impressed me as its immense extent of range across the intellectual scale. It resembles those musical instruments of great compass, such as the pianoforte and the harpsichord, that sweep over the entire gamut, from the lowest note to the highest; whereas the intellectual character of the Scotch, like instruments of a narrower range, such as the harp and the violin, lies more in the middle of the scale. By at least one degree it does not rise so high; by several degrees it does not sink so low. There is an order of English mind to which Scotland has not attained : our first men stand in the second rank, not a foot-breadth behind the foremost of England’s second-rank men; but there is a front rank of British intellect in which there stands no Scotchman. Like that class of the mighty men of David, to which Abishai and Benaiah belonged, — great captains, who went down into pits in the time of snow and s}ew lions, or “who lifted up the spear against three hundred men at once, and prevailed,” — they attain not, with all their greatness, to the might of the first class. Scotland has produced no Shakspeare; — Burns and Sir Walter Scott united would fall short of the stature of the giant of Avon. Of Milton we have not even a representative. A Scotch poet has been injudiciously named as not greatly inferior; but I shall not do wrong to the memory of an ingenious young man, cut off just as he had mastered his powers, by naming him again in a connection so perilous. He at least was guiltless of the comparison; and it would be cruel to involve him in the ridicule which it is suited to excite. Bacon is as exclusively unique as Milton, and as exclusively English; and though the grandfather of Newton was a Scotchman, we have certainly no Scotch Sir Isaac. I question, indeed, whether any Scotchman attains to the powers of Locke: there is as much solid thinking in the “Essay on the Human Understanding,” greatly as it has become the fashion of the age to depreciate it, and notwithstanding its fundamental error, as in the works of all our Scotch metaphysicians put together. It is, however, a curious fact, and worthy, certainly, of careful examination, as bearing on the question of development purely through the force of circumstances, that all the very great men of England — all its first-class men — belong to ages during which the grinding persecutions of the Stuarts repressed Scottish energy, and crushed the opening mind of the country; and that no sooner was the weight removed, like a pavement-slab from over a flower-bed, than straightway Scottish intellect sprung up, and attained to the utmost height to which English intellect was rising at the time. The English philosophers and literati of the eighteenth century were of a greatly lower stature than the Miltons and Shakspeares, Bacons and Newtons, of the two previous centuries : they were second-class men, — the tallest, however, of their age anywhere; and among these the men of Scotland take no subordinate place. Though absent from the competition in the previous century, through the operation of causes palpable in the history of the time, we find them quite up to the mark of the age in which they appear. No English philosopher for the last hundred and fifty years produced a greater revolution in human affairs than Adam Smith, or exerted a more powerful influence on opinion than David Hume, or did more to change the face of the mechanical world than James Watt. The “History of England” produced by a Scotchman is still emphatically the “English History;” nor, with all its defects, is it likely to be soon superseded. Robertson, if inferior in the untaught felicities of narration to his illustrious countryman, is at least inferior to none of his English contemporaries. The prose fictions of Smollett have kept their ground quite as well as those of Fielding, and better than those of Richardson. Nor does England during the century exhibit higher manifestations of the poetic spirit than those exhibited by Thomson and by Bums. To use a homely but expressive Scoticism, Scotland seems to have lost her bairn-time of the giants; but in the after bairn-time of merely tall men, her children were quite as tall as any of their contemporaries.

Be this as it may, however, it is unquestionable that England has produced an order of intellect to which Scotland has not attained; and it does strike as at least curious, in connection with the fact that the English, notwithstanding, should as a people stand on a lower intellectual level than the Scotch. I have had better opportunities of knowing the common people of Scotland than most men ; I have lived among them for the greater part of my life, and I belong to them; and when in England, I made it my business to see as much as possible of the common English people. I conversed with them south and north, and found them extremely ready — for, as I have already had occasion to remark, they are much franker than the Scotch — to exhibit themselves unbidden. And I have no hesitation in affirming, that their minds lie much more profoundly asleep than those of the common people of Scotland. We have no class north of the Tweed that corresponds with the class of ruddy, round-faced, vacant English, so abundant in the rural districts, and whose very physiognomy, derived during the course of centuries from untaught ancestors, indicates intellect yet unawakened. The reflective habits of the Scottish people have set their stamp on the national countenance. What strikes the Scotch traveller in this unawakened class of the English, is their want of curiosity regarding the unexciting and the unexaggerated, — things so much on the ordinary level as to be neither prodigies nor shows. Let him travel into the rural districts of the Scotch Highlands, and he will find the inquisitive element all in a state of ferment regarding himself. He finds every Highlander he meets adroit of fence, in planting upon him as many queries as can possibly be thrust in, and in warding off every query directed against himself. The wayside colloquy resolves itself into a sort of sword-and-buckler match : and he must be tolerably cunning in thrusting and warding who proves an overmatch for the Highlander.

One of the most amusing sketches of this sort of sword-and-buckler play which I have anywhere seen may be found in Macculloch’s “Travels in the Western and Northern Highlands.” Were I desirous to get up a counter sketch equally characteristic of the incurious communicative turn of the English, I would choose as my subject a conversation — if conversation that could be called in which the speaking was all on the one side— into which I entered with an Englishman near Stourbridge. He gave me first his own history, and then his father and mother’s history, with occasional episodes illustrative of the condition and prospects of his three aunts and his two uncles, and wound up the whole by a detail of certain love passages in the biography of his brother, who was pledged to a solid Scotchwoman, but who had resolved not to get married until his sweetheart and himself, who were both in service, should have saved a little more money. And all that the narrator knew of me, in turn, or wished to know, was simply that I was a Scot, and a good listener. Macculloch’s sketch, however, of the inquisitive Highlander, would have decidedly the advantage over any sketch of mine of the incurious Englishman : his dialogue is smart, compact, and amusing, though perhaps a little dashed with caricature ; whereas the Englishman’s narratives were long, prosy, and dull. The scene of the dialogue furnished by the traveller is laid in Glen Ledmack, where he meets a snuffy-looking native cutting grass with a pocket-knife, and asks,— “How far is it to Killin?” — “It’s a fine day.” — “Ay, it’s a fine day for your hay.” — “Ah! there’s no muckle hay; this is an unco cauld glen.” — “I suppose this is the road to Killin?” (trying him on another tack.) — “That’s an unco fat beast o’ yours.” — “Yes ; she is much too fat; she is just from grass.” — “Ah! it’s a mere, I see; it’s a gude beast to gang, I’se war-ran’ you.” — “Yes, yes; it’s a very good pony.” —“I selled just sic another at Doune fair, five years by-past: I warran’ ye she’s a Highland-bred beast?” — “I don’t know, I bought her in Edinburgh.” — “A-weel, a-weel, mony sic like gangs to the Edinburgh market frae the Highlands.” — “Very likely; she seems to have Highland blood in her.”— “Ay, ay : would you be selling her?” — “No, I don’t want to sell a less marked degree, we find the same characteristic caution and curiosity. In the sort of commerce of mutual information carried on, the stranger, unless he exercise very great caution her; do you want to buy her?” — “Na! I was nae thinking o’ that: has she had na a foal?” — “Not that I know of.” — “I had a gude colt out of ours when I selled her. Ye ’re na ganging to Doune the year?” — “No, I am going to Killin, and want to know how far it is.” —“Ay, ye’ll be gaing to the sacraments there the morn?” — “No, I don’t belong to your kirk.” — “Ye’ll be an Episcopalian, then?” — “Or a Roman Catholic.” — “Na, na; ye’re nae Roman.” — “And so it is twelve miles to Killin?” (putting a leading question.) — “Na; it’s nae just that.” — “It’s ten, then, I suppose?” — “Ye'll be for cattle, then, for the Falkirk tryst   — “No ; I know nothing about cattle.” — “I thocht ye’d ha’e been just ane o’ thae English drovers. Ye have nae siccan hills as this in your country?” — “No, not so high.” — “But ye ’ll ha’e bonny farms?” — “Yes, yes; very good lands.” — “Ye ’ll nae ha’e better farms than my Lord’s at Dunira?” — “No, no; Lord Melville has very fine farms.”—“Now, there’s a bonny bit land; there’s nae three days in the year there’s nae meat for beasts on it; and it’s to let. Ye ’ll be for a farm hereawa?” — “No ; I am just looking at the country.” — “And ye have nae business?” — “No.” — “Weel, that’s the easiest way.” — “And this is the road to Killin?” — “Will ye tak’ some nuts? ” (producing a handful he had just gathered.) — “No; I cannot crack them.” — “I suppose your teeth failing. Ha’e ye ony snuff?” — “Yes, yes ; here is a pinch for you.” — “Na, na; I’m unco heavy on the pipe, ye see ; but I like a hair o’ snuff; just a hair,” (touching the snuff with the end of his little finger, apparently to prolong time, and save the answer about the road a little longer, as he seemed to fear there were no more questions to ask. The snuff, however, came just in time to allow him to recall his ideas, which the nuts were near dispersing.) “And ye ’ll be from the low country?” — “Yes; you may know I am an Englishman by my tongue.” — “Na; our ain gentry speaks high English the now.” — “Well, well, I am an Englishman, at any rate.” — “And ye ’ll be staying in London?” — “Yes, yes.” — “I was ance at Smithfield mysei’ wi’ some beasts: it’s an unco place, London. And what’s your name? asking your pardon.” The name was given. “There’s a hantel o’ that name i’ the north. Yere father ’ll maybe be a Highlander?” — “Yes; that is the reason why I like the Highlanders.” — “Well (nearly thrown out), it’s a bonny country now, indeed, is in danger of being the loser. For it is the character of the common Scotch people, in this kind of barter, to take as much and give as little as they can. Not such, however, the character of the common English. I found I could get from them as much information of a personal nature as I pleased, and on the cheapest possible terms. The Englishman seems rather gratified than otherwise to have an opportunity of speaking about himself. He tells you what he is, and what he is doing, and what he intends doing, — gives a full account of his prospects in general, —and adds short notices of the condition and character of his relatives. As for you, the inquirer, you may, if you please, be communicative about yourself and your concerns, and the Englishman will listen for a little; but the information is not particularly wanted, — he has no curiosity to know anything about you. And this striking difference which obtains between the two peoples seem a fundamental one. The common Scot is naturally a more inquisitive, more curious being, than the common Englishman: he a^ks many more questions, and accumulates much larger hoards of fact. In circumstances equally unfavorable, he acquires, in consequence, more of the developing pabulum; just as it is the nature of some seeds but it’s sair cauld here in the winter.” —“And so it is six miles to Killin?”— “Ay, they ca’ it sax.” — “Scotch miles, I suppose?” — “Ay, ay ; auld miles.” — “That is about twelve English?” — “Na, it ’ll no be abune ten short miles” — (here we got on so fast, that I be gan to think I should be dismissed at last), — “but I never seed them measured. And ye ’ll ha’e left your family at Comrie?” — “No; I am alone.” — “They ’ll be in the south, maybe?” — “No; I have no family.” — “And are ye no married?” — “No.” — “I’m thinking it’s time?” — “So am I.” — “Weel, weel, ye’ll ha’e the less fash.” — “Yes, much less than in finding the way to Killin.” — “O, ay, ye ’ll excuse me; but we countra folk speers muckle questions.” — “Pretty well, I think.” — “Weel, weel, ye ’ll find it saft a bit in the hill; but ye maun had wast, and it’s nae abune ten mile. A gude day.”

But the broader foundations of the existing difference seem, to lie rather in moral than in natural causes. They are to be found, I am strongly of opinion, in the very dissimilar religious history of the two countries. Religion, in its character as a serious intellectual exercise, was never brought down to the common English mind, in the way in which it once pervaded, and to a certain extent still saturates, the common mind of Scotland. Nor is the peculiar form of religion best known in England so well suited as that of the Scotch to awaken the popular intellect. Liturgies and ceremonies may constitute the vehicles of a sincere devotion; but they have no tendency to exercise the thinking faculties; their tendency bears rather the other way, — they constitute the ready-made channels, through which abstract, unideal sentiment flows without effort. The Arminianism, too, so common in the English Church, and so largely developed in at least one of the more influential and numerous bodies of English Dissenters, is a greatly less awakening system of doctrine than the Calvinism of Scotland. It does not lead the earnest mind into those abstruse recesses of thought to which the peculiar Calvinistic doctrines form so inevitable a vestibule. The' man who deems himself free is content simply to believe that he is so; while he who regards himself as bound is sure to institute a narrow scrutiny into the nature of the chain that binds him; and hence it is that Calvinism proves the best possible of all schoolmasters for teaching a religious people to think. I found no such peasant metaphysicians in England as those I have so often met in my own country, — men who, under the influence of earnest belief, had wrought their way, all unassisted by the philosopher, into some of the abstrusest questions of the schools. And yet, were I asked to illustrate by example the grand principle of the intellectual development of Scotland, it would be to the history of one of the self-taught geniuses of England, — John Bunyan, the inimitable Shakspeare of theological literature, — that I would refer. Had the tinker of Elstow continued to be throughout life what he was in his early youth, — a profane, irreligious man, — he would have lived and died an obscure and illiterate one. It was the wild turmoil of his religious convictions that awakened his mental faculties. Had his convictions slept, the whole mind would have slept with them, and he would have remained intellectually what the great bulk of the common English still are; but, as the case happened, the tremendous blows dealt by revealed truth at the door of his conscience aroused the whole inner man; and the deep slumber of the faculties, reasoning and imaginative, was broken forever.

In at least one respect, however, religion — if we view it in a purely secular aspect, and with exclusive reference to its effects on the present scene of things — was more essentially necessary to the Scotch as a nation than to their English neighbors. The Scottish character seems by no means so favorably constituted for working out the problem of civil liberty as that of the English. It possesses in a much less degree that innate spirit of independence which, in asserting a proper position for itself, sets consequences of a civil and economic cast at defiance. In the courage that meets an enemy face to face in the field, — that triumphs over the sense of danger and the fear of death, — that, when the worst comes to the worst, never estimates the antagonist strength, but stands firm and collected, however great the odds mustered against it, — no people in the world excel the Scotch. But in the political courage manifested in the subordinate species of warfare that has to be maintained, not with enemies that assail from without, but with class interests that encroach from within, they stand by no means so high: they are calculating, cautious, timid. The man ready in the one sort of quarrel to lay down his life, is not at all prepared in the other to sacrifice his means of living. And these striking traits of the national character are broadly written in the history of the country. In perhaps no other instance was so poor and so limited a district maintained intact against such formidable enemies for so many hundred years. The story so significantly told by the two Roman walls is that of all the after history of Scotland, down to the union of the two crowns. But, on the other hand, Scotland has produced no true patriots, who were patriots only, — none, at least, whose object it was to elevate the mass of the people, and give to them the standing, in relation to the privileged classes, which it is their right to occupy. Fletcher of Saltoun, though, from the Grecian cast of his political notions, an apparent exception, was, notwithstanding, but a mere enthusiastic Scot of the common national type, who, while he would have made good the claims of his country against the world, would, as shown by his scheme of domestic slavery, have subjected one half his countrymen to the unrestrained despotism of the other half. It was religion alone that strengthened the character of the Scotch where it most needed strength, and enabled them to struggle against their native monarchs and the aristocracy of the country, backed by all the power of the State, for more than a hundred years. Save for the influence over them of the Unseen and the Eternal, the Englishman, in his struggle with Charles the First, would have found them useless allies, Leslie would never have crossed the Borders at the head of a determined army; and the Parliament of England would have shared, in this century, the fate of the contemporary States-General of France. The devout Knox is the true representative of those real patriots of Scotland who have toiled and suffered to elevate the character and standing of her common people; and in the late Disruption may be seen how much and how readily her better men can sacrifice for principle’s sake, when they deem their religion concerned. But apart from religions considerations, the Scotch affect a cheap and frugal patriotism, that achieves little and costs nothing.

In the common English, on the contrary, there is much of that natural independence which the Scotchman wants; and village Hampdens — men quite as ready to do battle in behalf of their civil rights with the lord of the manor as the Scot with a foreign enemy—are comparatively common characters. Nor is it merely in the history, institutions and literature, of the country, — in its great Charter, — its Petition of Right, — its Habeas Corpus Act, — its trial by jury, — in the story of its Hampdens, Russells, and Sidneys, or in the political writings of its Miltons, Harringtons, and Lockes, — that we recognize the embodiment of this great national trait. One may see it scarce less significantly stamped, in the course of a brief morning’s walk, on the face of the fields. There are in Scotland few of the pleasant styles and sequestered pathways open to the public, which form in England one of the most pleasing features of the agricultural provinces. The Scotch people, in those rural districts in which land is of most value, find themselves shut out of their country. Their patriotism may expatiate as it best can on the dusty public road, for to the road they have still a claim ; but the pleasant hedgerows, the woods, and fields, and running streams, are all barred against them; and so generally is this the case, that if they could by and by +ell that the Scotch had taken Scotland, just as their fathers used to tell in joke, as a piece of intelligence, that “the Dutch had taken Holland,” it would be no joke at all, but, en the contrary, a piece of most significant news, almost too good to be true. From encroachments of this character the independent spirit of the English people has preserved them. The right of old pathways has been jealously maintained. An Englishman would peril his livelihood, any day, in behalf of a style that had existed in the times of his grandfather. And hence England, in its richest districts, with all its quiet pathways and pleasant green lanes, has been kept open to the English.

There are, however, at least two causes in operation at the present time, that are militating against this independent spirit. One of these is the Whig poor-law; the other, the tenant-at-will system, now become so general in England. Under the old poor-law, the English laborer in the rural districts indulged in a surly, and by no means either amiable or laudable, independence. The man who, when set aside frorn labor, or who, when employment could not be procured, could compel from his parish an allowance for his support, unclogged by the horrors of the modem workhouse, occupied essentially different ground from the man who, in similar circumstances, can but compel admission into a frightful prison. The exposures of journals such as the “ Times ” have been less successful in producing an influential reaction against the Union Bastiles, than in inspiring the poor with a thorough dread of them. A modern workhouse in the vista forms but a dreary prospect; and the independence of the English agricultural laborer is sinking under the frequent survey of it which his circumstances compel. Nor has the very general introduction of the tenant-at-will system been less influential in lowering the higher-toned and more manly independency of spirit of a better class of the English people. One of the provisions of the Reform Bill has had the effect of sinking the tenantry of England into a state of vassalage and political subserviency without precedent in the country since the people acquired standing-room within the pale of the constitution. It has been well remarked by Paley, that the more direct consequences of political innovation are often the least important, and that it is from the silent and unobserved operation of causes set at work for different purposes, that the greatest revolutions take their rise. In illustration of the remark, he adduces that provision in the Mutiny Act, introduced with but little perception of its vast importance, which, by making the standing army dependent on an annual grant of Parliament, has rendered the king’s dissent to a law which has received the sanction of both houses too perilous a step to be advised, and has thus altered the whole framework and quality of the British constitution. He adduces, further, the arrangement, at first as inadequately estimated, which, by conferring on the crown the nomination to all employments in the public service, has well-nigh restored to the monarch, by the amount of patronage which it bestows, the power which the provision in the Mutiny Act had taken away. And thus the illustrations of the philosopher run on,—all of a kind suited to show that “in politics the most important and permanent effects have, for the most part, been incidental and unforeseen.” It is questionable, however, whether there be any of the adduced instances more striking than that furnished by this indirect consequence of the Reform Bill on the tenantry of England. The provision which conferred a vote on the tenant-at-will abrogated leases, and made the tiller of the soil a vassal. The farmer who precariously holds his farm from year to year cannot, of course, be expected to sink so much capital in the soil, in the hope of a distant and uncertain return, as the lessee, certain of possession for a specified number of seasons; but some capital he must sink in it. It is impossible, according to the modern system, or, indeed, any system of husbandry, that all the capital committed to the earth in winter and spring should be resumed in the following summer and autumn. A considerable overplus must inevitably remain to be gathered up in future seasons; and this overplus, in the case of the tenant-at-will, is virtually converted into a deposit lodged in the hands of the landlord, to secure the depositor’s political subserviency and vassalage. Let him but once manifest a will and mind of his own, and vote in accordance with his convictions, contrary to the will of the landlord, and straightway the deposit, converted into a penalty, is forfeited for the offence.

I spent a few fine days in revisiting the Silurian deposits of Dudley, and in again walking over the grounds of Hagley and the Leasowes. I visited also the Silurian patch at Walsall, which, more than one-half surrounded by the New Red Sandstone, forms the advanced guard, or picket, of this system in England towards the east. It presents, however, over the entire tract of some six or eight square miles which it occupies, a flat, soil-covered surface, on which the geologist may walk for hours without catching a glimpse of the rock underneath ; and it is only from the stone brought to the surface at sinkings made for lime, and wrought after the manner of coalpits, that he arrives at a knowledge of the deposits below. I picked up beside the mouth of a pit near the town of Walsall at least two very characteristic fossils of the system, — the Atrypa Affinis and the Catenipora Escharoides ;and saw that, notwithstanding the proximity of the Coal Measures, the rock, though mineralogically identical wfith the Carboniferous Limestone, cannot be regarded as belonging to that formation, which, with the Old Red Sandstone, is wholly wanting in the Dudley coal-field. The coal here rests on the Upper Silurian, just as the Lias of Cromartyshire rests on the Lower Old Red, or the Wealden of Moray on the Cornstone. On my way north, I quitted the train at Nantwich,to see the salt-works which have been carried on in that town for many years; but I found them merely editions in miniature of the works at Droitwich. 1 would fain also have visited the salt-mines of Cheshire, so famous for their beauty. They lay off my road, however; and, somewhat in haste to get home, I did what I afterwards regretted — quitted England without seeing them. Before nightfall, after leaving Nantwich, I got on to Liverpool, and passed the night in a respectable temperance coffee-house,— one of the lodging-houses of that middle grade in which, in England, the traveller is sure to meet with a great many Dissenters, and the Dissenter with a great many of his brethren; and in which both, in consequence, are apt to regard the cause of Dissent as rather stronger in the country than it actually is. But the consideration of this somewhat curious subject I shall defer till the next, — my concluding chapter.


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