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INSIGNIFICANCE OF ENGLAND COMPARED WITH ITS INFLUENCE
- BAD SOCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES - EXAGGERATED VIEWS CLASSIFICATION OF THE DEPRESSED AND LOWER CLASSES MENDICANT CLASSES- NEW ERAS AGAIN — DEPENDENCE AND INDEPENDENCE-POPULAR DISCONTENT-CONTENTED MISERY THE ABSORBENT SYSTEM --POWER OF PROPERTY AS A MEANS TO ELEVATION OF SENTIMENT.
It is very
EvEry Englishman must have felt the insignificance of the territory to which he belongs, as compared with the influence it holds, and has in all times held, over the various nations of the globe. marvellous, it is a mystery, that a dot should rule almost a globe. If you look at the actual material position of the British nation, it will dwindle to a mere point; if you trace out the extent of its power and its influence on the map, you will have to follow it, and to note it in every parallel of latitude. But England, in herself, is a type of her more imperial and territorial power;
almost might we suppose a pre-ordaining power and skill had defined her headlands and her cliffs had scooped her harbours and bays-had wonderfully, in so small a space, comprehended the most difficult and yet the most generous soils, the most depressing yet the inost inspiring climate; rich vales for the corn and the herbage, and extensive moors and plains for pasturage; quarries abounding with marbles for genius or luxury, or the ruder stones for the more humble abode ; mines for domestic comfort, or for the civil engineer, and mighty forests for the rearing of oaks for the ships of commerce and of trade. Let any intelligent traveller make the circuit of the land, and how impressed must he be to find the variation in the life of the people ;-walking through Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Devonshire, Somersetshire, he would seem to be amongst a people entirely agricultural—the small towns, quiet villages with the lonely spire, fields sloping down to the wide landscape, plentifully befringed and besprinkled with wood, quiet hedgerow paths, quiet rural scenes, over which peace perpetually broods, while the farms shed over the whole landscape the very spirit of domestic bliss. Staffordshire, Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, present a very different appearance, they seldom exhibit the picture of peace, but everywhere give evidences of power—their skies present a perpetual gloom, their fields a perpetual arid and desert appearance - dense populations gather and cluster in the neighbourhood of tall chimnies; air, water, and steam, are all taken prisoners and enslaved; beneath those populations lie vast mines of coal and iron, in the neighbourhood of rivers, serving as outlets to distant seas, or channelling a way to the spots where the cloth manufacturer may dye his wools. But in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and the east of Yorkshire, the high cliffs are covered with the sheep and the cattle; there, far removed from town or habitation, the shepherd has his lonely mountain shieling ; those wild and terrible scenes of nature seem resolutely to defy cultivation, “the greenness shows man inust be there, but it is the life of pastoral solitude. The life of England, in its variety, is most extraordinary. What an immense stridethe life on the banks of the Thames, and that on the banks of the Tyne- the life of the Quantock woodman of the Cullercoats fisherman — of the Cornish miner-of the Mersey mariner; yet all these varieties, and innumerable others than these, occupy a place in the same small island, and are heirs of the same commonwealth.
The Victorian Commonwealth is the most wonderful picture on the face of the earth, perhaps on no other spot of ground has heaven ever grouped so bright a constellation of its best mercies ; “He hath not done so with any people ;" it is not self-adulation, it is not the outpouring of patriotism, it is the simple statement of a fact; and there is no reason why, for ages hence, as surely as in the ages past, England may not be the workshop of the world, the brain and thinker of the race, the mighty necessity of civilization. Walking through this great commonwealth, one is struck with the prodigious, the inexhaustible stores of wealth. What sight more solemn than London Bridge at night, and those dread forests of shipping ? What thought more solemn than that, on this small spot of land, 20,000,000 of human beings are all sternly engaged in struggling out the battle of life? And however divided into classes by the arbitrary distinction of political science, the true point of vision is that from which they are all regarded as one great commonwealth ; each man in all that mighty company does something to give an individual character to the whole, and the truth is, seldom it comes home with appropriate force to any one of all the wrestlers on that small plain, the interests of one are identical with the interests of all, a sin committed against a member of the social state is a sin against the whole state. This is the condition of a commonwealth, as it is known that the incitement and enkindling of the destructive passions of our nature for the purpose of foreign warfare, in the end bring those passions to play with fearful interest at home; so injustice to our neighbours is suicidal. There cannot long be a large share of happiness where there is not an equal share of happiness—the circulation of prosperity, and justice and happiness through a state, is as necessary as the circulation of the blood to the health of the system ; where this is not, there can be literally and truly no commonwealth ; hence the especial interest attaching to our own social statetrue, it is studded with banks and palaces, with parks, estates, and fields ; its custom-houses, and its stores are crowded with memorials and monuments of wealth ; the resources of England by land and by sea, in the mine and the field, are immense as yet. But is the respect for justice and honesty high among us? Is the respect for property, all property, mine as well as thine; the property of the muscle as well as the five-pound note, high among us ? Is labour received with homage ? Are our notions of law derived