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his own revels, and presented him with a carte blanche as to the dress of the army. Heavens ! what glittering visions! what rose-coloured day-dreams! Need it be added, that from that time they found him the most pliable of princes.” (p. 11-12.)
From this passage the reader will also have collected to whom the name of the heroine (Gulzara) applies, who, after the death of her father Ali, (in consequence of a shock given by the unexpected return to Persia of his divorced wife the Princess Fatima,) assumes the reins of government. In treating of the character and conduct of the Princess and her ministers, the author takes occasion to discuss (and he does so with some skill, though now and then dealing too much in the common-places of party) various political questions of magnitude. The Whigs and Tories are designated by the terms Worsted and Silk factions, and the religious sects are marked out as Seraphics and Indefinables ; it is not necessary to supply a clavis to the allegory, if it may be so called; since none who read the work, and who have at all attended to the progress of events of late years, can be dull enough to require it. We quote the following remarks upon the effect of excessive trade, as a specimen of such parts of the volume as are devoted to topics of a graver nature.
“With respect to commerce and manufacture, some unlucky facts were becoming evident, namely, that commerce has boundaries, beyond which it may cease to be a benefit; and that the monopoly which may be produced by an artificial paralysis of civilized rivalry, however favourable to temporary prosperity, is sure, in the end, to prove injurious—not only to myriads of individuals, by drawing adventure into channels which might suddenly dry up, but to the country at large, by the unnatural widening of a basis of exertion and expense, the rapid contraction of which is always felt to the national core. Nor was this all: to keep up a feverish prosperity, extended hostility was not only advocated upon principles disgraceful to the Persian character, but, in the minds of the very prominent part of the population, the mere contingent connection of commerce with war was converted into a healthy and congenial relationship. The natural retrocession of the tide, and approaching stagnation of the waters, were attributed to the curse of peace; and, in consequence of so curious a mistake, many of these profound discriminators absolutely bawled out for a war with their very best customers, and could only be convinced by experience that they were doing themselves harm. To the same insatiate craving of an over-stimulated appetite, every thing great, magnanimous, and generous, in national morality, in speculation at least, was mercilessly sacrificed. The legitimate struggles of oppressed humanity were to be assisted or retarded upon the principle of exportation; and, while nothing would be more proper than to assist one band of patriots, it was clear that another was composed of rebels, and great enemies to Persian manufacture. What rendered this the more ludicrous was, that it was frequently uttered in the midst of the gravest self-compliment, by the merchants at dinner, where endless goblets of the wine of Shiraz were swallowed, in honour of their social disinterestedness and unspeakable generosity.
“ Of the real value of these overwhelming fits of commercial prosperity, the general complaint throughout Persia, after having preserved Asia and legitimacy by an all-conquering peace, afforded an admirable instance. Her commerce remained unrivalled; but it no longer abounded with opportunities to make fortunes at a stroke, or to transform merchants into princes by a lucky hit. The numerous avenues that were formerly open to slow and cautious industry were pearly filled up; capital alone could operate, and capital had almost learned to despise the acquirement of mere competency and inde, pendence,-it must dazzle, buy half a dozen villages, and build pa. laces. As these capabilities ceased, the whole fabric they had created began to give way: the soil fell in value, its lords were impoverished, and its cultivators ruined. The benefit to the former had been a temporary rent-roll of twice the usual amount, inductive to a proportionate expenditure and taxation; and to the latter, the aceumulation of visionary thousands, which now melted like the snows of Caucasus in spring. Innumerable manufacturers, who had been seduced into the largest scale of exertion, found themselves similarly situated ; their people were discharged by hundreds; and the delusive supply of half the world, clandestinely made away with to support decliving credit, was circulated through Ispahan at a quarter of its prime value: and, but for a seasonable peace with the very people whom the Persians detested for resembling themselves, the mischief would have been still more extensive. Under these appearances the public revenue, like the expenditure of the individual, being founded upon a tumour, began to shrink in its total, and the alarmed financier to study the nature of a general thaw. The very poor really suffered least, and, with certain exceptions, backed into entire pauperism with little concern. The philosophy of this thriv- . ing body of Moslems was owing to the admirable system of drill, which for many years had been enuring them, more or less, to a dependence upon partial relief, so that they gradually rested upon it altogether, with no extraordinary reluctance. Regarded poetically, the stagnant portion of humanity alluded to might be compared to the mud of the Nile after a deluge-supposing the said mud to have been gratuitously deprived, by some Egyptian politicians, of every latent particle of vitality and productiveness.” (p. 129--133.)
This certainly is not very original, but it shews good sense and intelligence; and that the author has not said much that is new, arises perhaps from the great variety of subjects
he has thought fit to touch upon: politics, religion, and the arts and sciences are all cursorily noticed; but one of the best portions of the volume is the ninth chapter, in which he speaks among other things of the poets of Persia: in the subsequent paragraph the characteristics of Mr. Walter Scott are exceedingly well hit off in a few words.
“The most fruitful of then), Said, was famous for his love of a particular period of Persian history, from which be drew all his themes, with a facility that began to be fatiguing to his readers. The elder times of our own country are frequently interesting, and in description exceedingly picturesque; but the modes, manners, and usages; horses, armour, and accoutrement;' satraps, slaves, damsels, and ladies, of the age of the Dariusses, are after all exhaustible, and when exhausted, should be allowed to rest. The mule was a good mule, but it is dead. The great forte of Said was description, particularly of natural beauties, and the peculiarities of a specified locality. He had also the art of painting motion so exactly, that his works formed a kind of camera obscura of battles, crowds, and assemblages. This vivacity of delineation, with occasional bland and beautiful touches of pathos and reflection, made up the merit of Şaid; his greatest defect was repetition and mannerism--he was always promising another, but eternally giving the same.” (p. 143-144.)
The author of Gulzara is not deficient in humour, and We were now and then reminded for a moment of the stile of the very best writer in this kind, in any language: but no such pretensions are made: the work is instructive, entertaining, and now and then satirical, and that is perhaps all that its writer intended.
There is one thing that might have improved the work, not only to present but future readers, viz. if the author had dwelt more upon the separate characters and qualifications of the Ministers of Ali'the Magnificent. This was not only a fair but a happy subject, one on which the author might have successfully employed the powers he possesses of satirical banter and good-natured ridicule. At the same time we allow that his readers would be better able to supply this deficiency than any other.
CRIT. Rev. VOL. IV. Nov. 1816.
Art. X.-Report from the Select Committee of the House
of Communs appointed to Inquire into the Education of the Lower Orders in the Metropolis, with the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee. London, Gale and
Fenner, 1816. 8vo. pp. 608. Never has there at any former period been collected a mass of more copious and useful information on the state of a great metropolis, than that which was supplied by the labours of the Select Committees of Parliament during the last session. The work before us, which has been printed for general circulation, would seem to comprise almost every thing that is important to form the ground of those regulations on which the peace, order, and good government of this populous and magnificent emporium of arts, commerce, and policy, are to be established.
The observations which accompany the Report are few but important. The Committee has discovered, in the progress of its duties, that a very large number of poor children are wholly without the means of instruction, although their parents appear to be generally very desirous of obtaining that advantage for them. The Committee acknowledges the beneficial effects upon all those divisions of the population which, assisted in whole or in part by the various charitable institutions, have enjoyed the advantages of education; and the same Committee expresses its persuasion that the greatest benefit would result to the country, if Parliament were to take proper measures, in concurrence with the prevailing disposition of the community, to supply the deficiency in the means of instruction, and to extend that blessing to the poor of every description:
It was no part of the duty assigned to this Committee to examine the state of education beyond the limits of the metropolis, but having, by the benevolent zeal of some individuals, obtained various communications regarding public instruction elsewhere, it recommends the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission to examine into the management of charitable donations, especially in the larger towns, and generally to inquire into the state of the education of the lower orders.
In the ensuing session the Committee intends to prepare a report of its opinion upon the different objects of inquiry, and it will be received no doubt with the respect that is due to one of the most interesting and valuable documents that can be provided under the auspices of our national representation, as referring to the happiness and tranquil. lity of this mighty city, or as Sir Edward Coke somewhere denominates it, “ Cor Reipublicæ, et epitome tolius regni.”
The facts already ascertained are very important. In a population of 17 or 18,000 in Spitalfields, it was found that about 2000 children are uneducated. (p. 20). In Southwark 4000 families visited had 11,470 children, at between five and fourteen years of age, of which 6020 were without either education or the means of it. In an eastern district, bounded by the Thames, Gracechurch Street, Bishopsgate Street, through Kingsland Road to Stamford Hill, the number of inhabitants is 250,000, of which 30,500 are untaught, and according to a general estimate of Mr. Wm. Allan, treasurer to the British and Foreign School Society, the children in London uneducated amount to 100,000 !
Such is the state of the capital of the most enlightened kingdom of Europe, and what must be the melancholy condition of those of other countries, where the seductions to vice are not less numerous and powerful, and where the ignorance of the people is yet more general? But our business is by practical means to reform our own country, not by theoretical speculations to estimate the mischievous circumstances elsewhere.
Mr. Butterworth, M. P., in his examination before the Committee, was asked as to the effects of the want of education : “ I have observed,” says he, (p. 518) “ that ignorance in general produces vice in its most hideous form, and that idleness, disobedience to the laws, and all kinds of profligacy are its necessary consequences.
He afterwards observes, (p. 519) “ With this ignorance of moral obligation is connected the evil of mendicity, which leads many children to acts of thieving. They are in the habit of gaming with the money which they beg, and when they lose their money they recruit their stock by criminal courses."
A most serious consequence of this want of education is the filth and disease such a degraded condition occasions, and it is not easy to ascertain to what reach this evil is extended in a crouded city. It was remarked by one of the Committee, on the examination of a surgeon in the neighbourhood, that “ Dr. Adams has observed, in his book, that infectious complaints prevail throughout the year in the parish of St. Giles's;" and the fact was confirmed by the gentleman to whom the inquiry was addressed, and who