« PreviousContinue »
and its reasoning, is certainly the most able that has appeared this year-this eventful year-it is justly said " that it is impossible that so vast a change can be made in one part of the Government, without adapting the others to it. It is impossible that a government of the form of our's can be carried on by admitting the feelings that are abroad into one of the legislative assemblies, if we exclude them from the other. Every one must see, that when we create a House of Commons in the likeness of the people, it becomes necessary, for the well-conducting of the State, to connect it with the House of Lords, by making patricians of those who have the people's feelings."
"It was the Ministers' duty, before their plan was brought forward, to have weighed well the difficulties they would have to encounter, and the means with which they were prepared to overcome those difficulties. Then was the moment to have been cold and prudent-it was the moment of reflection. Now is the hour to be resolute and bold-action has succeeded deliberation. If the measure were violent when it was proposed, the manner in which it has been received renders it no longer violent now. If many prudent and sensible Reformers differ as to what it might originally have been, most men of any sense and prudence whatsoever are agreed that now, it ought to be carried."
My Lord, the individual who now approaches you, is one who has by a zealous and independent advocacy of that great Measure to which you will owe your future glory or disgrace-purchased the right thus boldly to address you. In this crisis, those are not the true friends, either of Minister or People, who stand mute and obsequious, neither warmed by the chances that may ruin one, or the rumours that agitate--or the convulsions that menace-the other. This long, this unseasonable parley with the foe, alarms your friends-it would seem, too, not to augur a full and clear perception of the sources of your power-the time is gliding by when some half-adozen noble votes are worth so pertinacious a wooing. The Presscrippled and fettered as it has been by imposts and monopolies-has yet sufficed to open new mines of Power, has made Talent what a more vulgar Nobility once was, and supplanted Party by the People. One able writer, my Lord, with the ink of truth in his pen, can shake your Ministry more perilously than the anger of twenty foolish Lords. The Peers you may gain at your will, but the Press can crush you the instant the People speak through its voice. The elephant that now carries you on its back, will trample on you if its guide give the signal. Your Peers you may influence, and buy, and threaten, and
overpower-but the Press, which your poor Lordlings affect to despise, is a power that you can only command by courage, and firmness, and good desert. This is not the time to wait for the tide to turn back. This is not the time to prefer to safe and certain Allies a few dangerous and equivocal Apostates-we know that you have the power in your hands-but at the moment when we most look for its excrcise-we see only its inactivity.
"Seize the hour
Ere it slips from you.
Time long enough for wisdom, though too short,
The purpose ripe, the issue ascertained,
Dost thou begin to play the "Laggard" now?"
There was a certain Giant-nursery tales may not be unseasonable at a time when coaxing is become policy-there was a certain Giant who possessed a pair of seven-league boots, but while they were on his legs, and while he was just on the very spot where his puny prey had taken refuge, he thought fit to indulge in a most unseasonable fit of slumber-thereat Hop-o'my-thumb, the Londonderry of the day, fell to work at once-slipped off the seven-league boots-possessed himself of the wealth of their owner, and left the Giant to tumble from the rock on which he had seated himself, and wake to curse the singular disposition which should have chosen so unfortunate a time and place for going to sleep. My Lord, in these nursery fables there is a great deal of useful morality.
ASMODEUS AT LARGE, NO. III.
The Reform Bill the only hacknied subject to be considered newsMoonlight-Asmodeus and myself on our way to the Witches— Beauty of a river by night-Recollections-The Devil's account of the Opera and opinion of Mr. Monck Mason's management-Managers in general--A dreary heath-The mystic light-The Devil's description of fire-The impiety of attributing the Cholera to God-The old Abbey described-The Witches' meeting-The disturbance-Peace restored-Flirtation with a Witch-Kosem Kesamim—My account of the state of things in England.
Incomparable Cervantes! no one ever managed like thee the difficult art of breaking off!-witness that marvellous-Pish! Who would quote Cervantes, unless, peradventure, he wanted to swell up a book with passages which a man who has a soul bigger than a sixpence, ought to have learnt by heart! O! Cervantes, was I thinking of thee when I broke off, with so abrupt a sublimity, in the very midst of the great Burns' Dinner, with the Devil at my elbow!
"Well! and what was the cause of the interruption?" My dear Sir, that is not worth inquiring about; these matters, like King Lear, are "old now." Let us talk of something else. God knows that, in the threehundred-and-thirty-three third-readings of the Reform Bill that have been, and probably will be, before my Lord Grey thinks fit to make up his own or the King's mind, we shall have old matter enough for discussion-I hate riding a hack subject for ever. My God! what a thing it is to look back upon!-this dawdling Bill, this type and incarnation of the arch serpent Delay! Why, we ought by this time to have laid the axe to the Irish monopolies of sanctity-to have floated our flag over the Taxes on Knowledge to have cried avaunt to that ghastly leper "the Punishment of Death"-to have Out on us! here we are, cap in hand, cringing and capering, and muffling the thunders of a Great People's voice, to suit the humours of some half-a-score mushroom noblemen, with bought pedigrees, mortgaged properties, and three-penn'orth of understanding as common stock! Patience, patience! and shuffle the cards-meanwhile I'll go and take a ride with the Devil.
Hurrah! hurrah!-the moon is up and the stars are out, and swift, thin, grey, sweep the clouds above us, like Boroughmongers trying to put out the eternal light with a little vapouring.
Asmodeus, we are going to see the Witches."
Certainly but how comes it, my friend, that you have any romance left in you? There's the World calls you ambitious; and yet, instead of knitting rope-ladders to Power, you are riding out with me and your imagination to sup with the Witches."
"All in good time, Master Asmodeus. Youth yet rushes through my veins, especially when on horseback, finding something new, or making love. There is time enough for a man, who is yet pretty fairly on the right side of thirty (and who has not been idle on
the whole) to enjoy himself a little longer, and to frolic while 'tis May. The evil day must come at last. But, Asmodeus, hark you!-the occasion makes the man, and we wait the occasion; it is not yet ripe the times must bring it; and then he who has aught in him, should wager all he has done for one bold attempt at what he can do. Hurrah! hurrah! how the hedges run off from us, and the prodigal moon showers her jewels over the greedy waters like a rich English Lord on a Goddess of the Ballet. A river by night, with a shagged bank, and the stars at play with the ripple, is the finest thing in the world! Heigho! some (how many!) years ago it was along such a river as that below us, Asmodeus, that I used to glide my boat to those walls which held the merriest eyes and the rosiest lips that ever gave welcome to a lover! But revenons à nos moutons! And what's the news? Have you been to the Theatres since I last saw you, looking for snares, and at Robert,' your relative?"
"No: but I went to a big house the other night, where I heard some wretched sounds. I asked what they were-I was told Music! I saw some over-dressed-looking nobodies. I asked who they were, and was told a most fashionable audience!' I inquired the name of the building, and was told 'the Opera. I asked the cause of its being so bad, and was told the cause was not of an importance quite proportioned to the effects, and its name was-Monck Mason!"
"Ha! ha! ha!—that is pithy and true, Don Diavolo."
"You flatter me. What is this cause of operatic deterioration— this Monck Mason?"
"One of that class of men in England prone to ruin themselves, and call it a speculation. They are styled Managers; they procure patents from Government to forbid sense being allowed at other theatres than their own; and they then deliberately set themselves down to squander away their fortunes upon nonsense! The Managers of the two great English Theatres are the best specimens of this genus of Managerial Monomaniacs."
"Have you been to this Opera House yourself?" asked Asmodeus, yawning at the very name.
"I!-why you are aware that my hunt is for Novelty, and Heaven knows the Opera now is the last place where to look for any thing new!"
Thus chatting, Asmodeus and myself soon got over the ground; and we came at last to a wide and dreary heath. Spreading far, dark, and motionless beyond, as a girdle that surrounded the whole desolate expanse, was a gloomy chain of fir and larch; and as we now swept rapidly on, the hoarse roar of the sea smote, with its deep tone of majesty and power, upon our ears. Presently, from the extreme quarter of this continuous wood, there shot up a train of pale light, and contrasted the depth of shadow against which it shone. The Devil rubbed his hands-"The jolly girls !" quoth he; "I would we were with them!"
"Does yonder light burn, then, from the place of meeting?"
"Ay," returned the Devil," in a strange tone; "for know you that FIRE is not that mute and simple element for which ye take it: it is a life, and it is a spirit; and when ye see it rise, and flicker, and dart to-and-fro with a sportful malice, it is not dumb and senseless-your
brute agent and minister-but it singeth to its own burning heart,
"Pish! indeed, Signor Don Devil-you have been so fine for the last five minutes, that I fancied you were going to let me into some of the deeper secrets of Hades; and really they would be well worthy the trouble of learning, especially as I never intend to be an eyewitness of their accuracy. Do you know, Asmodeus, that nothing pleases me so much as those old stories, in which the Devil, your great master, comes to bargain with a gentleman or lady, and gets cheated in the attempt; for instance, in the tale of The Smith of Avoca.' Any truth in these legends, Eh?"
By the horse-shoe, yes! The Devil is often cheated, when men take some little trouble to do it. It is the lazy alone that he effectually secures."
Asmodeus paused; and presently, as if thinking of something else, broke into his usual low, short laugh.
"And what now, Asmodeus?-are you making epigrams for the 'Figaro ?""
"No! I was thinking how nicely my master got off in the matter of the Cholera."
"What do you mean?"
Why, I thought you Christians believed that there were two principles-that of Good, which is God-that of Evil, which is the Devil. For light-and air-for love-for peace-for all that is happy here -and more than happy hereafter, you are to thank God; and war, and crime, and misery,-sin upon earth, and punishment in hell-these are the Devil's doings. Well, a fearful pestilence enters your country, and you insist upon attributing this blessing to God Almighty!