Изображения страниц

are perfectly ch' merical and absurd. the kingdom, which at once becomes While, on the other hand, these facts available in the event of prices rising demonstrate that at least triple the to that level, and renders it alınost amount of subsistence may be extract- impossible, at least when the foreign ed from the soil of the British Islands harbours are open, for them to rise which is at present obtained, and, con- inuch above it. Speculators purchase sequently, triple the vent for our up grain largely on the Continent durmanufactures obtained in the home ing years of plenty, and store them in market from that which is at present the British bonded warehouses, in anafforded, and which even now, in its ticipation of the rise of prices on the comparatively infantine state, takes first unfavourable season. There the off a hundred millions sterling worth ample store lies innocuous to the Briof our manufactures, being double the tish farmer during seasons of pros. amount of our whole foreign exports. perity, when its aid is not required What, therefore, can be so unwise as by the British consumer; but no to run the risk of injuring an interest sooner does the expected period of capable of such prodigious extension, adversity arrive than it issues forth and on which such enormous classes in vast quantities to avert the calaare dependent, which is withal, en- mity, and diffuse the stream of plenty tirely within ourselves, and beyond through every village and hamlet in the reach of foreign jealousy or attack, the realm. Decisive proof was af. for one of far inferior amount, held by forded of this highly important effect an infinitely more precarious tenure, of the Corn Law during the last three and susceptible of a much less con- months, in the commencement of siderable extension ?

which the prices rose to seventy shil. But, almost boundless as is the ca- lings a quarter, from the continued pability of increase in British agricul. rains and bad harvest of last autumn, ture, it cannot be denied that it is but were immediately checked by the necessarily liable to considerable va. overflow of foreign grain from the riations of price, and that the vicissi- bonded stores, and rapidly reduced, tudes of the seasons, incident to a wet first to sixty-six and subsequently to and unpropitious climate, must fre. sixty-two shillings a quarter. quently occasion years of scarcity, and And it is particularly worthy of possibły, at times, bring about long. observation, that this admirable effect continued want, which may border could not possibly have taken place if upon famine if the resources of do- an unrestricted trade in corn had exmestic agriculture alone were to be isted; and that it is the creation of the relied on by the People. It is of Corn Law, and the Corn Law alone. essential importance, therefore, that If a free importation of grain were to some means should exist to provide exist between Great Britain and the against the severe vicissitudes of price Continent, these great bonded reserpeculiarly severe to a dense popula- voirs of grain in the British harbours tion, to which all latitudes, and more would not exist.

Food would be proespecially all northern latitudes, are vided for a large part of our populasubject. It is here that the admirable tion by the foreign, instead of the Briwisdom of the present Corn Law tish cultivators; the temptation of becomes apparent ; and it is by ils sale, at a present profit, would prove operation that a permanent granary is irresistible to the foreign importer ; provided for the subsistence of the and the British warehouses of Dantzic people in periods when the home wheat would be emptied as rapidly supply has, from unfavourable sea- upon the first rise of prices as the sons, proved deficient, and, when but barn-yards of the British coltivators. for its operation, no such resource The home supply being greatly dicould have existed. Under the exist- minished, and the foreign proportioning law, by which the duty on foreign ally augmented, the average supply grain, so heavy as to amount to a pro- would just be about equal to the averhibition when wheat is between fifty age demand, and no reserve store and sixty shillings a quarter, declines would exist in any quarter to supply rapidly, till at seventy-two shillings a the wants of the people in seasons of quarter it becomes merely nominal, a scarcity. But, while a free importacertain reserve of foreign grain is tion of grain could not provide such a provided in the bonded warehouses of reserve store, for the same


that it cannot be provided by the do- Emperors, aware of the danger arismestic growers in the British Islands, ing from the destruction of Italian it is effectually secured by the present agriculture, urder the effects of unCorn Law; which, prohibiting iinpor- restrained foreign imporiat.on, were tation in <rdinary seasons, yet permits careful to provide, at the public ex. any quantity of foreign grain to be pense, vast granaries for the support stored up in our bonded arehouses, of the people in periods of scarcity; and thus permits the surplus produce but great as were the resources at the of the Cintinent, in years of plenty, command of the Imperial government, to be set apart as a reserve store for they often proved inadequate to the the British population in periods of Herculean task of purveying to the scarcity. We are enjoying the full wants of a numerous population. benefit of this wise provision at the That which the power of the Emperpresent moment ; scarcity, perhaps ors strove in vain to effect, the wis. famine, were staring us in the face, dom of the British Legislature has when they were averted by the fund effectually obtained ; the resources of which legislative wisdom had pro- the state are no longer required for vided ; and, while the blind and misled the mighty undertaking, but the cer. manufacturers are clamoring for a tain purveyor, even for five-and-twenty repeal of the Corn Laws, they are in- millions of human beings, is found in debted to those very laws, and to them the enterprising body of merchants alone, for the rescuing of themselves whom the desire of private gain has and their families from want during led into the paths of public good. the next twelvemonths. The Roman

[blocks in formation]

fr was on the afternoon of a sum. “I am very glad to come to you. mer day that Arthur Edmonstone, a But tell me who you are, and what young barrister, left his chambers in you want of me?" the Temple, and walked to the north “I am a farmer's daughter. Your eastern part of London, where exists old schoolsellow, Henry Richards, bea whole region of human life, never came acquainted with me in the coun heard of in fashionable society. He try, and at last he persuaded me to go reached, at last, an obscure and squalid away with him and be privately marstreet, where the doors of most of the ried, for his friends would give him to houses stood half open for the conve- encouragement in such a matter, any nience of the several lodgers. Through more than mine would help me. Ah ! one of these entrances he passed, and sir, that disobedience of mine was the mounted three flights of stairs till he root of all our misery! We came to reached a small closed door, at which London, and he tried to support him. he tapped. A low voice said, “ Come self by writing things to be printed ; in," and he entered the room. It was and so we managed pretty well for small and dim, and was nearly filled some time. But, at last, too much by a pallet-bed, on which lay a wo. confinement and overwork made him man. She was covered with a loose ill, and—I beg pardon, sir, for cryand tattered wrapper, through which ing-he died just before my baby was her wasted figure was plainly to be born. He told me, at the last, that he traced. Her small and pleasing fea- did not know any one who would help tures were flushed with a deep red. me, unless it were my own friends, or She raised her blue eyes as Arthur an old schoolfellow of his; and then entered, and said she was sorry to he wrote your name and direction. It have given him the trouble of coming was three months ago, and I have to see her ; but she added that she was gone on as well as I could, ever since. too unwell to go to him."

But it is a hard thing to live, sir, in

this world, without friends. And I their forgiveness. He found her perwas ill myself, and three days ago my fectly disposed to do so from a feeling baby di :d, and I could not get it bu- of Christian duty, though her own life, ried without help. There's the coffin she believed, would last only a few that I bought with the money you days. But the Bible, she said, had sent me."

become more and more her comfort, Arthur looked, and saw the little and she now wished for nothing but coffin in a dim corner opposite where to do her duty, according to the printhe woman lay. She went on, ciples of the Gospel.

“I asked a neighbour to write to Arthur left her, intending soon to you, for I was still ashamed to send see her again, and returned to his to my friends, and besides, they are chambers. Another dreary picture, too far off. God bless you, sir,—God he thought, from the great funereal bless you—for coming to see me.” gallery of life. For years I have lost

“ Had I not better see about the sight of Richards, and on how melanfuneral ?"

choly a tombstone do I now read his “Oh! would you, sir? I have no epitaph ! On all hands the world money, and if I had, I am too weak shows nothing but disappointment and to go about it myself.”

wretchedness; and it is from the very In half an hour Arthur returned extremity of misery now that we enwith the necessary help, and then fol. deavour to extort some hope for the lowed the little corpse to its last rest- future, fancying that the worst must ing-place. He afterwards went back change to the better, and drawing to the mother, talked to her for a con- alleviation from the enormity of our siderable time about her husband and distress, as a man warms himself for child, provided lier with money, and a moment by kindling, for fuel the advised her, so soon as she should be wreck of his house which has been able, to write to her family and ask for swept away.


That evening a great square in the Two or three people were close to western part of London rattled with her and engaged in conversation with carriages. Many well-known names her, and among them stood Sir Charles went sounding on up the staircase of Harcourt, a rather young and very one of its largest houses. The spa- wealthy baronet, with high pretensions cious rooms were full of people, glit- to taste and refinement. They were tering under the clear light, and there joined in a few minutes by a young was a lively uproar of music, dancing, man, pale, and with dark hair and and conversation. There were, of eyes, and a look of suppressed excitecourse, many beautiful and admired ment, who bowed, blushed, and asked women present, who appeared, for the her to dance with him. She, too, blushmost part, animated and gratified; but ed, though much more slightly, and one, to some eyes the fairest of them assented; and in the course of the next all, sat retired, and evidently wishing quarter of an hour the following diato avoid observation. The simplicity logue passed between them, though ofof her dress and the quiet thoughtful. ten interrupted by the changes of the ness of her countenance were in per- dance, or the nearness of those who were fect accordance with the position she not meant to hear what passed : had chosen. The serene and expres “Miss Lascelles, for you will not let sive character of her beauty was me call you Maria, you seemed much heightened by the mode in which her interested in Sir Charles Harcourt's shining black hair was knotted at the conversation : perhaps you regret that back of the head, and accorded beau. I withdrew you from it ?” tifully with the perfect and full regu “ No indeed; he never interests me larity of her figure and the graceful- much. He was talkirg about pictures, ness of her neck and shoulders. But and he has collected a great deal of there was a look of subdued reflective information on the subject ; but I do earnestness and feeling in the face, not generally approve of his taste, or such as of old would hardly have been at least, it differs very often from mine. assigned to any nymph or goddess. One cannot help rather liking him, for

[ocr errors]

me ?"

he is very good natured and well some evidence of stronger feeling than bred.”

any which your present hasty discosWhy do you not add very rich tent indicates ? I would rather, bow. and fashionable ?"

ever, not ask you this, but beg you to “Because riches and fashion have say no more to me on the subject. I but slight charms for me, as I fancied, must bear my lot as I can, and you Mr Edinonstone, that you must know.” have in yours the inestimable blessing

“Qace, at least, I, too, thought so ; that you can hope to improve it by but as one is deceived in so many other your own exertion." things, why not in that ?"

They were now obliged to separate. “ Now you must feel that you are Miss Lascelles occupied her former unjust, and I need not answer you.” seat, and, when again asked to dance

“Do you consider, Miss Láscelles, by some one else, declined on the plea to what miserable suspense and agi- of fatigue. Arthur looked dissatisfied tation our present position exposes and unhappy, and walked into another

room, out of her sight. But soon "I do not know why you should after she again saw him one of a group complain more than I. Surely my of four or five persons engaged in relation to my uncle and aunt is as eager conversation, of whom he apanxious and unhapy as any thing peared to be the most earnest. She that you have to suffer. All suspense watched the play of his fine and intel will be ended if you will agree to let ligent but restless features, and fancied me inform them of what has passed she could hear the words that accombetween us, and to abide by their de. panied the changes of his countenares. cision. That, you well know, would Had a deaf physiognomist seen bin, at once extinguish every hope. What, he must have at once exclaiined, -That then, can I say? Often and bitterly is one of the most eloquent of men ?" have I repented that I ever let you Image after image, she well knew, by surprise me into an acknowledgment the looks of his companions as well as of my feclings. But, as I went so far his own, were gushing and sparkling astray, I inust now only insist either from him ; and she could almost die that you agree on my confessing the vine the wide and the picturesque views truth, or that you never speak to me of art, and history, and nature, and again but in the language of a friend individual life, which he was suggest- at least, until better times."

ing or illustrating. But in his inter" And can you promise me when vals of silence there was a look of those will come !"

sadness and bewilderment about him, · Surely that must depend upon and he stood at last, apparently, in yourself, or not, at least, on me. If reverie and indecision ; till, with one your industry in your profession raises mournful glance towarde Maria, he your worldly prospecte, it may be pos- passed to the door, as if departing sible that my relations will listen, not, from the house. perhaps, with approbation, but with In the mean-time a lady, who had acquiescence, to our to your wishes." been one of those conversing with

* And if years pass away in the him, came to Miss Lascelles, and said, mean-time, and you continue to fre. “Dear Maria, I do wish you had been quent such scenes as these, and to meet with me. Mr Edmondstone has been daily the rich and the noble, is it not more brilliant than ever. I am sure possible that at the end of those years to-night even you, who admire so fex I may see you the wife of another ?

people, must have admired bim." The lady's cheek now flushed, and "I thought I admired a great many she cast a sudden look at her partner, people. But what was he speaking and then turned slightly away and was of ?". silent. A few moments afterwards she “ Well, perhaps you do. But, at said, “I am wrong to feel indignant least, there are so many things which at your question, when I remember the every body else is delighted with that instances I have seen of faithlessness you do not care for. Quite lately, in man and woman. But I will still you know, there were the Siamese ask you, if you do not think my will. Twins, and the man who played upon ingness to remain in my present pain. his chin, and the Hungarian Count ful and almost unworthy position is to who improvised the neighings and the go for nothing with you? Is it not words of command, and the trumpets

of a regiment of cavalry all at once. ing, or was it, perhaps, the Siamese
I thougnt it was quite acknowledged Twins ?"
you are so fastidious."

* Don't now, Maria,” said the lady; " And which of these exhibitions "I am sure you know what I mean. was it that Mr Edmonstone's conver. But you are so pruvoking." And she sation most reminded you of? Vras proceeded to give an account, in her it the chin-thumping, or the neigh- own way, of what Arthur had said.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]


In the mean-time, although it was holy being. Or I must attempt to still comparatively early in the even- forget her and myself, in the vain dising, Arthur returned to his chamber. play of talents which, as I am placed, When he had shut himself in his small are useless for the true ends of life; and dismal room, the impression of the and must chew my own disgust at the scene which he had left still remained vanity, which, while I speak, makes with him. The lively and graceful me derive pleasure from my own sefigures danced in fragments along the lected words and sparkling fancies, and dim wall, and bright eyes seemed from the wonder that these excite in looking at him out of the backs of the others.” A door, nearly opposite him, books in the dingy bookcase. But it into another room, stood open, and was Maria who came to him the most looking up he saw the faint moonlight vividly, and stayed longest. He gazed fall through the window of this farther at the vacant space, and saw there the space. In this dull light it seemed to simple and classical knot ol glossy him that a figure was standing with black hair, with its one pale flower eyes raised towards the heavens, with which so well became the high smooth tears faintly gleaming on her cheeks, forehead. Now, again, he saw the and her hands crossed meekly and quiet expressive features, in which the plaintively on her bosom. It was still eyes and lips appeared so full of intel. Maria whom he saw; but before a ligent and benignant meaning, which minute had passed the form and feathey disdained to exhibit for the admi- tures melted softly into those of the ration of others. The fully formed dying woman whom he had that mornand thoroughly graceful person, with ing visited. She, too, grew fainter its long neck and slender hands, were anıl fainter, and seemed, as she vanishno less present to him, and he felted, mounting in the moonlight towards again, as he had often done before, the sky. that independently even of beauty, an He turned sadly away, and, looking elegant and deeply cultivated woman, round him, saw on the table a paper in å word, a true lady, sums up and which he did not know of. He opened represents many ages of the world's it, and found a bill for a considerable mental progress.

sum which had been long due to a Yet of what avail, he thought, are tradesman ; a literary undertaking her many lovely and delightful quali- which would have supplied him with ties to me? Had I, indeed, the for- the means of discharging the debt had tune which I want, or the rank which, been for weeks neglected, while he on any other account, I would not dreamt and fretted over his unhappy accept, I might hope to gain the con- fate, and now he knew not whither to sent of her relatives and guardians. turn. In order to divert his thoughts But now what must I look to? Years he took up an old book of Necromanof irksome worthless labour in the cy which he had been consulting, and dreariest of human studies; and then read a few pages full of strange transwhen life has become empty and un- formations and forgotten spells; but joyous, and both our hearts are chilled nothing he now lighted on interested and closed, the remnant of me may, him till he came to the following pagperhaps, be united to all that will then sage. “Of a truth, there be many remain of Maria. O sor the free and potent and secret arts born of the wits passionate life of nature, and poetry, of wise men, more than they have and love ! Meanwhile, I must only thought good to divulgate through the now and then approach her like an world, as doubting of the discretion of evil spirit afraid to draw near to some purblind mortals in exercising such a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »