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the course of a hundred years as a snuff-box, for it then became a sentry-box; but surely it is a more marvellous transmutation to metamorphose a fraud into a law at the end of a hundred years, and then to convert the poor man who is simply obeying that law, into a criminal. True it is, and we may candidly make the admission, that judicial authorities differ as to the construction of this law, for when custom was once urged in favour of some abuse, Chief Justice Sir Thomas Audley replied,
“The usage hath been for thieves to rob at Shooter's-hill; is it therefore lawful ?"
Whether this question followed out to its obvious deductions, would entitle the poor to reclaim that portion of the tithes which was originally intended for their support, it would be difficult to decide ; for the alienation is above a hundred years old, and there is an immense difference, as we have already stated, between Custoins' frauds and the frauds of custom. Yet the latter, nevertheless, may be infinitely more culpable than the former.
Ye noble peers, titled dames, and game-preserving squires, who never return from a continental excursion without a little retail smuggling, on your cleverness in which ye pique yourselves with a smirking complacency; no wonder that you are scandalized and indignant at the competition of these wholesale smugglers by the waterside; for secreting a French veil or scarf, and even cheating your friends at cards, have the sanction of gentility and May Fair, whereas similar practices at Wapping are gross and vulgar frauds, that ought to be exposed, and punished with all the rigour of the law. And ye, too, electioneering jobbers and intimidators ! who denounce these smuggling shopkeepers, and yet hesitate not to tempt your own tradesmen to dishonesty, by threatening to withdraw your custom if they will not vote at your dictation, even against their consciences;—allow me to apprize ye, whether ye be Whigs or Tories, that these abuses of custom are infinitely more heinous than any of the Customs' abuses. And ye, too, corn and sugar monopolizers! who have been enriched at the expense of every other class, and yet rail against the poor rogues accused of a much narrower and more venial smuggling, do me the favour, your worships! to perpend the following quotation from Shakspeare :
“See how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief! Hark in thine ear; change places, and handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?”
Be it remembered that we are now addressing the aristocracy of society, who ought to be literally the bettermost, or rather the best class; who, having money in their pockets, are removed from the ordinary sources of temptation; to whom it ought to be as great a luxury to have clean hands in a figurative and moral, as in a personal sense; who talk of the humbler orders as their inferiors, although, if honesty were the standard of rank, they might find it difficult to establish their own superiority. If they have not been able to keep their hands from picking and stealing in the ways we have indicated, without a motive for their pilfering, what would those hands have done with a motive ? Might not many a poor knave have been an honest man had he been born rich? Might not many an honest rich man have turned out a
knave had he been born poor? Let this probability, with its widely ramifying consequences, be ever present to our minds, for it may teach us distrust of ourselves, forbearance towards others.
Some there are who flatter themselves that they have deserted their sins because their sins have deserted them—who, having practised the frauds of custom till they have lost their appetite for them, imagine that they may safely and warrantably inveigh against the Customs' frauds. Their consciences become scrupulous as they lose their taste for transgressing. Such parties are respectfully invited to peruse the following anecdote.
A French Abbé, calling one afternoon upon a bishop, was invited to stay and dine.
“My lord,” replied the conscientious man, with a very demure and scandalized look, “ I have already had a good breakfast, a substantial luncheon, and a capital dinner; and besides—I beg leave to remind your lordship of what you seem to have completely forgotten that this is a Fast day!"
Merry is a matin bell,
But a sigh would better tell
Love is here, but let it go :
'Tis a thing that 'scapeth woe ;
Bitter tears and struggles vain :
Paler lips,-she doth not speak!
SONG FOR THE NEW YEAR.
All hail Forty-Four! may'st thou smilingly pour
Let the hectoring Czar threaten conquest and war,
As for Louis Philippe, if the peace he won't keep,
If the Yankees should try to give battle—they fly,
Russ, Yankee, and Gaul, if they beard us we'll maul,
Let not rivals expect that the breakers of sect,
The man who would part them, and introduce faction.
Ye topers profess'd who retain your wine zest,
THE LATE MRS. BULWER LYTTON. This lady, whose name, we regret to say, appears in the obituary of the month, was the relict of General Bulwer, of Heydon Hall, Norfolk, and daughter and heiress of Richard Warburton Lytton of Knebworth, Herts. Nearer interests are associated with her name, as the mother of the recently appointed Ambassador to Madrid, and of Sir Edward, who now succeeds to the ancient mansion and estates of his maternal ancestors. Many may remember the picture he has drawn of that venerable old place and its verdant accessories, as well as of the thoughtful and dreamy holidays of his boyhood passed in its green sanctuaries, when fame twinkled through his dim visions like a distant star. His allusions, however, to Knebworth, plainly show that the place is endeared to him a hundred times more as the residence of his mother-the spot where her days were spent in the exercise of charity alike extensive and concealed. Among recent proofs of her munificence, should be mentioned the gift of a thousand guineas, in aid of the Propagation of the Gospel, and her erection and endowment of an almshouse for widows. Sir Edward Bulwer has paid homage to the generosity of her spirit, while he acknowledged his obligations to those literary accomplishments which practically exhibited themselves in verses circulated only among friends—to that purity of taste and feeling, which, shown as well as in her readings as in her own compositions, so early influenced his mind. The passage we chiefly refer to, is in the fervent and beautiful dedication of his works to his mother, prefixed to the late edition of “Rienzi." There he says, “ From your graceful and accomplished taste I early learned that affection for literature which has exercised so large an influence over the pursuits of my life; and you who were my first guide, were my earliest critic. ... those easy lessons, far more than the harsher rudiments learned subsequently in schools, that taught me to admire and to imitate.” The fruits, with a thousand memories of unspeakable affection," he presents to her; and adds, “ Happy, while I borrowed from your taste, could I have found it not more difficult to imitate your virtues—your spirit of active and extended benevolence, your cheerful piety, your considerate justice, your kindly charity, and all the qualities that brighten a nature more free from the thought of self than any it has ever been my lot to meet with.” The excellence of the mother, and the gratitude of the son, could not have been more touchingly expressed. Now and hereafter, possibly, no line of his glowing page will be to him so happy a remembrance as this graceful record.
We gather from the same dedicatory page, that Mrs. Bulwer Lytton was a widow early in life. Her father, the descendant of the Lyttons of former centuries, was a distinguished scholar, the profoundest Hebraist of his time. Parr esteemed him above Porson for learning. But he lived in his closet, and neglected his estate. Action was reserved for his daughter. Her eldest son having inherited his father's property, Heydon Hall, Norfolk, she devoted her energies to the restoration of Knebworth, and for years resisted all temptations of society, mastering, single-handed, business of the utmost complexity. When she had perfectly succeeded, she still refused to gratify any expensive taste that women ordinarily love to cultivate, that she might be munificent to others; and perhaps those who know her best while living, could yet form no accurate estimate either of the largeness or the discriminateness of her bounty.
LITERATURE OF THE MONTH.
very clever and amusing historical romance of “the Days of Charles II.,” will, if merit still regulates such matters, immediately take a high place in public favour. “ Whitefriars," is in fact, the most stirring and spirited fiction we have had for many a day. Its author has evidently endeavoured to discover the means by which his great predecessor, Scott, attained certain ends--the general mode of his conception, and the method he employed in working it out in each case respectively; and has then set himself to “ go and do likewise.” And we have no hesitation in saying that, to a certain extent—and that a very creditable one-he has succeeded. It is true he has given us no scenes that may be compared for a moment with the great ones of his unrivalled master in the modern art of writing fictions that are truer to history than history itself; indeed he has abstained from even attempting any such hopeless rivalry. But in so abstaining, he has avoided the necessity which Scott himself constantly laboured under, of writing a vast deal that was infinitely below himself, in order that he might, by contrast, give due prominence and effect to his great achievements in the way of single scenes. Scott is not seldom unreadably dull, for a score of pages together-advisedly dull and flat, with a view to the brilliant effects that are presently to be worked out-to be partly worked out of this very dulness and platitude.
The writer of “ Whitefriars," on the contrary, having no overweening notion of his own pretensions, does his best at all times. He seems very properly to think that, as a new writer (for such we have no doubt he will prove, when he thinks proper to cast off his anonyme) he cannot afford to be dull till he has achieved, by means of a permanent popularity, the privilege of being so when he pleases. At all events, he is never dull in the course of this his coup d'essai in the art of historical romancewriting. The only question is (for his critics at least--for his non-critical readers will make none on the point)—whether he is not rather too lively and full of movement—whether he has not over-crowded his pages with plots, incidents, and movement of every sort and description, that the pregnant period which he has chosen offered and pressed upon his acceptance. The plot of a novel should be built (like a stage-coach, when there were any) to carry a certain reasonable number, both inside and out—both in that compartment of it which is essential to its existence as a vehicle for arriving safely and conveniently at a certain pre-arranged point; and in-or rather on—that which is only adapted to the accommodation of short passengers, to be picked up at one stage, and dropped at the next. But “ Whitefriars" is such a congeries of plots-plot within plot, and wheel within wheel—that they sometimes clog and interfere with each other; it includes such a busy crowd of characters, and such a perpetual whirl and torrent of incident and
Whitefriars; or, the Days of Charles II. An Historical Romance. 3 vols.