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night's lodging on a cabin floor wrapped in their blankets; which, by the by, are the only robes used by the profession here.
'I have an anecdote of a judge with whom I am well acquainted, and therefore I believe it. I give it you as an instance of intrepidity, as well as of that ferocious violence which occurs but too frequently; by no means, however, as a specimen of the judicial character. A few years ago, before he was advanced to his present diguity, the foreman of a grand jury insulted him outrageously, out of court, of course. The man had a large knife in his hand, such as hunters always carry about them, and well know the use of; but the enraged barrister, with a handwhip, or cow-hide as they are called, laid on so keenly that he actually cut his jacket to ribbons in defiance of the knife; and when the beaten and bleeding juryman made his piteous case known to his brethren, they fined him a dozen of wine for his cowardice.
Another anecdote. A notorious offender had escaped from confinement, and, mounted on a capital horse, paraded the town where the judge resided, with a brace of loaded pistols, calling at the stores and grog-shops, and declaring he would shoot any man who should attempt to molest him. The judge hearing of it, loaded a pistol, walked deliberately up to the man to apprehend him, and on his making show of resistance shot him immediately. The ball entered the breast and came out behind, but did not prove mortal. He fell, was reconducted to gaol, escaped a second time, and was drowned in crossing the Ohio.'— pp. 60-62.
These are really the only amusing passages that we could find in the whole volume. Its chief characteristic is dullness-this we did not expect from Mr. Morris Birkbeck; but he appears already to have exhausted his common-place book, and we have therefore little more than the most wearisome and uninteresting repetitions of the price of building log huts, fencing, cropping, &c., and of anticipations', on a grand scale, of what his estate may be worth, fourteen years hence-interlarded with a copious sprinkling of vituperation against the rents, the taxes, and the villainous aristocracy' of England, whose downfall he gaily announces. The 'dreadful crisis,' he assures us, is at hand.' p. 28. And, in generously giving some parliamentary news to a friend, only eighteen months after that friend must have learned it on the spot, he rises in his pretensions,
' veluti fanaticus, œstro Percussus, Bellona, tuo, divinat'!
and exclaims- I hear of a loan too, for the interest of which you must have new taxes!'
While the delighted prophet is thus viewing, in ecstatic vision, poor England involved in clouds, and abandoned to hopeless misery and despair, that elastic country is basking in the broad sunshine of peace and prosperity. Her soil, at this moment, is covered with the richest blessings of heaven; the busy hum of industry is
heard in all her streets; every port is crowded; and ocean groans under the fleets that are posting towards her with every wind that blows. England, in short, wants nothing but thankfulness; nothing but a due sense of the mercies which are heaped upon her with an unsparing hand.
Sunk, however, and ruined as she is, in Mr. Birkbeck's opinion, he frankly acknowledges he would have been well satisfied to remain in her if he had owned the estate which he only rented-rented too from one of the villainous aristocrats.' It seems, however, by his own confession, that as long as he held it for about a third of its value, he imitated his landlord, and lived as if it had been actually his own; and when he at length discovered his mistake, he grew angry, railed against the government and its institutions, and quitted the country. In what manner this imitator of a gentleman farmer lived while things went on smoothly, is pretty broadly glanced at in one of his letters.
Here,' (in the back-settlements,) I shall be employed in enlarging the circle of our enjoyments; there,' (in Sussex,) 'I was contracting it daily. My family had already made several downward movements; we had learnt to dispense with the comfort of a carriage; we mounted our horses instead this was no bad exchange; but the cause of our making the exchange was irksome. From horseback my daughters cheerfully enough betook themselves to their feet: no great harm in that, only it was by compulsion. So we went down step by step.'-p. 28.
Had this man submitted, during his long course of prosperity, to a thousandth part of the privations which are now forced upon him, it is apparent, from his own statement, that he might have realized a sufficient sum to purchase the estate which he cultivated; but vanity first indulged to excess, and then mortified, joined to a want of principle, destroyed all his advantages, drove him from society, and settled him down' in the pestilential swamps of the Wabash; whence he looks at England (like another great anticipator') with jealous leer malign, and seeks some alleviation of his ulcerated feelings, in attempting to seduce her capitalists to follow his steps, and partake in his wretchedness.
Doctor Johnson, in his strong language, has somewhere said, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The patriotism of Morris Birkbeck, we will do him the justice to believe, is not exactly that which is meant by the Doctor:-in fact, we know not well what it is; for he seems to disclaim the feeling, as well as the word in every sense of it with which we are acquainted.
Our friend Cobbett,' he says, 'declaims about patriotism in sounding phrases, but I adhere to the maxim "ubi libertas ibi patria." What is country? the soil? Of this I was only an occupant. The government? I abhorred its deeds and its principles. The church? I did not believe
SETON HALL UNIVERSITY
in its doctrines, and had no reverence for the clergy. The army? No. The law? We have the same law here, with some omissions and some improvements. The people? Yes; but not the fund-holders, nor the soi-disant House of Commons; not the consumers, nor the creators of taxes.'-pp. 28, 29.
Mr. Birkbeck bears hard upon our friend Cobbett.' The object of both is the same, namely, money; the commodities only in which they deal are different. Friend Cobbett' has nothing but patriotism to sell, and he therefore sets it off, as Mr. Birkbeck truly says, in sounding phrases.' Friend Morris has land to dispose of, and he naturally does the same. But both are equally sincere, equally disinterested, and-to sum up all in a wordequally to be trusted. We feel an honest pleasure in rescuing Mr. Cobbett from the invidious attack of this reformed Quaker. On the whole, detesting, as we most cordially do, all the principles avowed by Mr. Birkbeck, moral and political, (religious, as we have seen, he has none,) we are ready to give him the credit of having written an entertaining little volume of Notes,' in which we are presented with an interesting and in some measure a faithful picture of the country through which he travelled, and the people with whom he had any intercourse. His 'Letters from Illinois' are of a different character: there is nothing in them that can excite the least degree of interest, except, perhaps, in those unfortunate persons whom he may succeed in seducing from the land of their fathers, in order to dispose of that property, which, with all its cheapness, is evidently a dead weight upon his hands.
One word more and we have done. Whatever New America' may have gained by the name of Birkbeck having ceased to be found in the list of the citizens of Old England, the latter has no reason to regret the loss. Many more of the same stamp may well be spared to wage war with the bears and red Indians of the 'back-woods' of America. For us-bad as England is represented, by such as, for reasons to which we have more than once alluded, may find it inconvenient to remain in it, we would rather possess a little cottage, with a few roods of land, perched on the skirts of a smiling common, mantled with the golden furze and the purple heath, than as many thousand acres of the pine barrens' and 'savannahs of either New or Old America-well contented to exclaim with the poet,
'England, with all thy faults, we love thee still-
Where English minds and manners may be found,
ART. III.—1. A Treatise upon the Poor Laws. By T. P Courtenay, Esq. Svo.
2. Remarks on a Course of Education designed to prepare the Youthful Mind for a Career of Honour, Patriotism, and Philanthropy. By Thomas Myers, A. M. of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, &c.
3. A Summary View of the Report and Evidence relative to the Poor Laws, published by order of the House of Commons, with Observations and Suggestions. By S. W. Nicoll.
4. A Letter to the Common Council and Livery of the City of London on the Abuses existing in Newgate, &c. By the Hon. H. G. Bennet, M. P.
THE ruin of this kingdom has been predicted by shallow states
men and malcontents rather more frequently than the destruction of the world has been announced by crazy prophets. Yet, because such predictions have proved only the presumptuousness and folly, or the malevolence and madness of those by whom they were uttered, it would be wretchedly illogical to conclude that the world will hold on its regular course through all eternity, or that the fortune of the country will always bear it triumphantly through all difficulties. The doctrine of climacterical years is justly accounted among the obsolete errors of medicine, yet there are seasons of life wherein the probabilities of disease and death are greater than at others, and so it is in the constitution of society. It cannot, indeed, be foreknown, as in the human constitution, when such seasons are to be expected, but they may be well discovered by a judicious observer when they come; and he must have observed little, and reflected less, who does not perceive that this is one of those critical seasons—perhaps a more momentous one than that in which the restoration of letters and the invention of printing, the reformation in religion and the discovery of India and America, gave a new impulse to mankind, and affected them more or less throughout the globe. Whether the crisis shall be for evil or for good depends, under Providence, mainly upon ourselves. It must be for great good or for great evil. Let us inquire what may be done to assist the benignant indications, and counteract those of an opposite cha
In the progress of that great question, which is at this time before parliament, it may reasonably be hoped that some radical improvement will be effected in the poor laws, and in the condition of that class for whose benefit they were designed, but to whose deterioration they have unquestionably tended. The evil which these laws have produced increased slowly during the seventeenth and the greater part of the eighteenth century, because it had much to over
come in the habits and character of the English peasantry. There are feelings which for a while survive the institutions from which they have grown: the dependence which the feudal system created was of this kind. Long after the lord had ceased to require the service of his vassals in war, and to estimate his power by the number of men whom he could bring into the field either for or against his sovereign, the bond between them continued unbroken. They who were born upon his lands looked to him as their natural protector; the castle or the manor-house was open to them upon festival days, and from thence they were supplied in sickness with homely medicines, and that good diet, which, as old Tusser says, 'with wisdom, best comforteth man.' To look elsewhere for assistance and relief would have been equally painful to the one party and injurious to the other. The old man had no sense of degradation in accepting the bounty of those for whom he had faithfully laboured in his youth and strength; there was no humiliation inflicted or intended; it was part of the payment of his services, a debt of kindness and good-will, cheerfully paid and gratefully received. As the metropolis grew more attractive, the Lady Bountifuls and the Sir Roger de Coverlys became extinct: men mingled more with the world, and women attended more regularly at Vanity Fair. The peasantry, however, were still attached to the soil, and took root where they were born. The beneficial effects of this were that they grew up with a sense of family pride; the son did not wish to leave behind him a worse remembrance than his father; a good name was part of his inheritance, and, in case of unavoidable misfortune, it assured bim relief; for charity is as much the characteristic of civilized man, as cruelty is of the savage. It is not necessary to look back beyond the memory of man for this state of things as very generally existing throughout the country. A labourer would not, without extreme reluctance, apply for parochial aid, and nothing but extreme necessity could induce him to enter a poor-house. They who were reconciled to the inevitable lot of poverty shrunk from the disgrace of pauperism, and many are the instances wherein money which could ill be spared from the scanty provision of old age has been laid aside, that there might be something to defray the expenses of a decent funeral without coming upon the parish, even after death-such used to be the character of the stationary poor.
Some price is paid for every improvement in society, and every stage in our progress brings with it its concomitant evils: if the good do but predominate it is all we can expect in this imperfect world, and all that we ought to desire, for this is not our abiding-place. In the middle rank of life, which is assuredly the happiest, (and which in this country and at this time is beyond all doubt the most favourable situation in which man has ever been placed for the cul