Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

scan

which the power of Napoleon menaced Such grievances were serious indeed, British freedom, our Roman Catholic but the social condition of the people fellow-citizens were denied the privi- involved even graver peril. The crimleges of equal citizenship. When Great inal code was steeped in barbarism. Britain, in the crisis of the struggle, The law recognized two hundred and could not afford to sacrifice a single twenty-three offences punishable by man, a Roman Catholic might not hold death. In the year 1810, at one time, a commission in our army or our navy. fifty-eight persons were lying in prison While Ireland was seething with dis- uuder a capital sentence. In a single content, the Roman Catholic could not year more than one hundred thousand sit in either House of Parliament. persons were committed to gaol. The The same tyranny pursued him in the criminal administration was as ordinary details of life, and as Grattan dalous as the criminal law. Convicted declared in a famous sentence, “the felons and men, women, and children, law stood at his cradle, it stood by his awaiting trial, were crowded together bridal-bed, and it stood at his coffin.” in the wards. Money would buy any Such a policy was as repugnant to the indulgence; vice reigned supreme. instincts of common sense, as to the Such a system, as Sydney Smith principles of religious toleration, and pointed out, maintained at the public so long as the conflict lasted Sydney expense a school in every county " for Smith took his share of the fighting the encouragement of vice, and for proBut in this instance, his most impor- viding a proper succession of housetant contribution to the controversy breakers, profligates, and thieves:'' appeared in a series of letters, and not He urged that the various classes of in the pages of the review. Peter prisoners should be properly discrimiPlymley's “ Letters to my Brother nated ; that matrous should be apAbraham, who lives in the Country,” pointed to take charge of the women; put the case for the relief of Roman that untried prisoners should not be Catholics in the simplest form. They ironed, and that they should not be set showed that such disabilities as the law to the treadmill ; in short, that an acthen imposed were ineffectual as well cused person should be treated as innoas iniquitous. The Roman Catholic, it cent till his guilt was proved ; that the was alleged, was essentially disloyal, gaol should be made a house of correcand paid no regard to oaths of alle- tion and not a centre of corruption. giance and similar pledges. The retort He also pleaded that persons charged was obvious. It was only the man with felony should be allowed to emwhose respect for an oath would not ploy counsel in their behalf, and that suffer him to take it lightly that the an unfortunate creature whose very

life existing test excluded from positions was at stake, should not be denied a of authority and trust; the man who privilege conceded to those brought to was ready to forswear himself escaped trial on some trivial charge. scot-free. Even a. vicar, who from He did not stop short here. It was Jong residence upon his living had be. obvious to any clear-sighted observer come “ a kind of holy vegetable,” that crime was artificially fostered by could hardly fail to appreciate the force the game-laws, and he attempted to of the argument. But it was not with remove some of the incitements to evil his pen alone that Smith entered the doing. To make a clean sweep of field. At more than one clerical meet- those laws, and to abolish property in ing in Yorkshire, he faced a hostile game, was not in his mind. He would audience of his brother clergy -ou one have been content with much less than occasion with his own curate among this. He desired to put an end to them - and almost unsupported pleaded some of the worst anomalies of the his case before an assembly of violent system as it then existed ; to remove partisans, only to find himself outvoted the restrictions which made it criminal at the time and suspected afterwards. to buy or to sell game, which prevented

[ocr errors]

a man from shooting on his own land, the majesty of death. There is neither unless he possessed a certain property voice nor motion. But another man qualification ; to put down the man- comes, stretches himself upon the lifetraps and spring-guns which could not less form ; breathes into it the fire of discriminate between the poacher and passion and the fervor of faith ; and upoffending people. All he asked for the heart begins to stir, the eyes was that a man should have “an abso- brighten, the color returns ; the truth lute property on the game upon his that was dead lives and moves once land, with full power to kill, to permit more. This was the power that Sydothers to kill, and to sell," and that ney Smith possessed. He was not one game, “ as an article of food, should of those who discover truth. His part be made accessible to all classes, with was to make truth vital and effective. out infringing the laws.” But even this change, he foresaw, would go far towards emptying half the gaols in the kingdom, and would at the same time

From The Leisure Hour. help to make the law respected and

HAPPY QUOTATIONS IN PARLIAMENT. obeyed.

To quote what has been said or writThese were but portions of his work. ten by others is a matter of common There are others, some affecting a usage. The aptness or patness of such class, others the nation at large, which quotation is at once appreciated aud must pass unnoticed. He was one of approved, not only by critics but by the first to take up the cause of the every intelligent hearer or reader. In wretched “climbing boys,” the chim- the pulpit the citation of a striking or Dey-sweepers, who were treated with appropriate text is always felt to be inhuman cruelty, and were not unfre-" telling,” and something of a similar quently suffocated or roasted in the feeling occurs when in speech or book flues which they were set to climb. we meet with a familiar quotation. As an advocate of Parliamentary Re- The subject is too large and wide for form, if not in the first rank of leaders, general treatment, so let us confine he was one of those who stood uext to our attention to examples of happy them, helping to shape public opinion quotation in the Houses of Parliament. and to restrain popular excitement These may be divided into two sorts, within the bounds of moderation. His popular and classical. Of popular quofamous speech at Taunton added a new tations the most obvious and common figure to our national gallery, and are proverbial sayings, or homely prov“Dame Partington, trundling her mop erbs. These are occasionally heard in and vigorously pushing away at the the House of Commons from speakers Atlantic,” never fails to recur with of “the thin-edge-of-the-wedge” style each new crisis in our political affairs. of reasoning, but homely proverbs do

There is, no doubt, a certain measure not tell much in argument or in eloof truth in the criticism that Sydney quence. We may hear that “balf a Smith, though remarkable for force and loaf is better than no bread," or that freshness, is rarely original and never 6 more laste is less speed,” but too profound in his thought. He does not much of this uttering of wise saws seek after novelties ; he gives us no would make any man as ridiculous as discoveries, no speculations. He deals Sancho Panza himself. What is said in the main with truths familiar to us may be very true, but is felt to be out and to those for whom he wrote. But of place in the speeches of the House. there is an infinite difference between Very different is the case with clasthe ways in which men approach truth. sical quotations. On one occasion Dr. In the presence of some, it remains Johnson met Mr. Wilkes at dinner, still and cold. It is full of majesty and when the subject of quotation came loveliness ; but the loveliness is the up. Wilkes said he thought quoting loveliness of repose, and the majesty is I was rather pedantic. “No, sir," was

Johuson's immediate reply. “No, sir, quantity, vectigal. Lord North, who it is a good thing ; there is a commu- seemed asleep, had heard the blunder, nity of mind in it. Classical quotation and in loud, clear voice merely said is the parole of literary meu all over vectigal. Thaukivg the noble lord for the world.” It is true that the literary the correction, Burke said it gave character of the Houses of Parliament him the opportunity of repeating the has changed greatly from the days of maxim, the enforcing of which was so JO son, and the great debates of the much needed Magnum vectigal est times of Walpole and Pulteney, Fox parsimonia. and Pitt, or even since Mr. Gladstone Sometimes a quotation has been first entered into public life. In our made occasion of a wager, as when a own days classical quotation has sadly member gave notice that he should fallen, and the high classical culture of charge Sir Robert Walpole with corscholars and gentlemen, so far from ruption. Walpole listened with dig. being a recommendatiou for success in nity, and said that he would be present the House, would be a hindrance rather when the charge was brought, for he than otherwise. The memory of old was not conscious of any crime detimes is still fresh, however, and the serving censure. He put his hand on reader of history and biography finds his breast, and said, Nil conscire sibi, delight in records and anecdotes such nullo pallescere culpæ. Pulteney imas seldom are seen in the modern mediately rose, and remarked that newspaper reports of Parliamentary Walpole's defence would prove as weak proceedings. Let us recall a few ex- as his quotation was inaccurate, for amples, not in order, but as they occur Horace had written nulla pallescere to memory.

culpa. Walpole defended his quotaLord North, an easy-going man of tion, and Pulteney offered a wager of a the world, used often to sit in the guinea that he was right. The dispute House asleep, or appearing to sleep. was referred to Nicholas Hardinge, On one occasion, when Colonel Barré clerk of the House, a distinguished brought forward a motion on the pavy, scholar, who decided that Walpole was Lord North said to a friend at his side, wrong. The guinea was thrown 10 “We are going to have a long, tedious Pulteney, who caught it, and holding it speech, from the very beginning, not up, said it was the only honest money omitting Drake and the Spanish Ar- that had come from the Treasury for mada. Let me sleep, and waken me many years ! This guinea was deposwhen he comes near our own times." ited in the British Musevm, accomHis friend at length gave him a nudge. panied by a full description of the " Where are we?said North. “At incident in the handwriting of Pultethe battle of La Hogue, my lord.” ney. There is a recent order of the “Oh, my friend, you have woke me a trustees of the museum that a selection century too soon,” was the reply, and of coins from the Medal Rooms should he turned off again. But Lord North be exhibited to the public in open had once a more effective awakening. cases. Let us hope that this guinea, A speaker, in describing the state of lost by Walpole for a false quotation, the navy, said that “in the midst of may be exhibited to the world. It will these perils, the noble lord is asleep. show to the young the use of knowing Even Palinurus nodded at the helm !Latin, and of quoting it accurately, as The loud cheers and laughter caused was said in Mr. Pulteney's m manuscript. by the bappy quotation from Pope's Coming down to later times, for we "Dunciad” roused Lord North from have space only for a few examples. bis slumber,

No one ever excelled Lord Derby in Mr. Burke was declaiming once on happy quotations. In his well-known the reckless extravagance of the min- poem, " The New Timon,” Lord Lytistry, and quoted the saying, Magnum ton, with his admirable sketches of men vectigal est parsimonia, making a false land events in the House, while he calls

blow;

crown

Stanley the “ Rupert of Debate” of annoying speeches against Sir Rob“frank, haughty, rash," says :- ert Peel, the sharpest hit was that in Nor gout nor toil his freshness can destroy, which he threw back the reference to And time still leaves all Eton in the boy. preferring an open foe to a candid Was there ever a more effective quo

friend. Peel had quoted the lines : tation than when Mr. Stanley, in his Give me the avowed, erect, and manly foe, denouncing the government for its Firm I can meet, perhaps can turn the dependence on O'Connell and bis tail, But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath quoted, amidst the cheers of the House,

can send, nearly twenty lines of Shakespeare ?

Save me, O save me, from a candid friend. But shall it be, that you, – that set the

The liues were by Canning, and with Upon the head of this forgetful man ;

bitter sarcasm D’Israeli, a few nights And, for his sake, wear the detested blot afterwards, after a eulogy of the deOf murd'rous subornation, – shall it be parted statesman, spoke of Peel's That you a world of curses undergo ; “ ready memory and bis courageous Being the agents, or base second means, conscience” iu thus recalling the words The cords, the ladder, or the hangman of one whom he had once loved but rather?

afterwards betrayed :O'Connell sat abashed, and his side of Save me, O save me, from a candid friend. the House silent, while Stanley con

Sir Robert Peel, on one occasion ristinued to quote, amidst redoubled

ing to speak, saw Lord Palmerston cheers, till he came to the end :

asleep, and pointing across to him, in And shall it in more shame, be further one moment roused the laughter of spoken,

the House by quoting the well-known That you are fool'd, discarded, and shook

line from Horace : off By him, for whom these shames ye under- Hanc veniam damus petimusque vicissim. went ?

Mr. D’Israeli did not always keep to Some of O'Connell's own quotations quotation, but preferred using phrases were happy, as when he ridiculed the which themselves became familiar as smallness of Lord Stanley's personal proverbs, and were more telling in his followers :

speeches. Such were the hits against Then down thy hill, romantic Ashbourne, the opposing occupants of the Treasury glides

bench as “ a range of exhausted volcaThe Derby dilly, carrying six insides. noes,” or his describing their measures Much laughter also

as "plundering and blundering," while arose when

their policy was O'Connell described three

a policy of confiscapotable

tion." members of the House by making a parody of the famous epigram :

A quotation, if incomplete or sepa

rated from the context, may be turned Three colonels, in three distant counties against the quoter. An instance of born,

this was when Canning, in a defence Lincoln, Armagh, and Sligo did adorn, The first in matchless impudence surpassed, fore the Reform Bill, urged that the

of the “ rotten boroughs" in days beThe next in bigotry — in both the last ; The force of Nature could no further go,

system of nomination borouglis beTo beard the third, she shaved the other longed to the British Constitution, and two.

had This was rather a personal attack, Grown with its growth and strengthened and was amusing only from the read

with its strength. iness and appropriateness of the Sir Francis Burdett, in his reply, parody.

took up the quotation, and said that D’Israeli's

quotations were the honorable gentleman had forgotten bumerous and effective. In his series to quote the first line of the distich :

[ocr errors]

own

The young disease, which must subdue at Certaiuly a happy reply to the quotalength,

tion. Grows with our growth and strengthens with our strength.

Our space is exhausted, and with Canning admitted the correction, and these few specimens we must leave the acknowledged that the retort was a subject of happy quotatious in Parliahappy and just one.

meut. There are in our day many volAnother correction of a quotation is umes of classical extracts, and books of of older date. The attorney-general“ familiar quotations,” by aid of which in Lord North's time spoke against speakers and writers may quote, with what he called “ dangerous innova- very little knowledge of the originals. tions,” saying it was better to endure It may also be remarked that, though the ills of which we kuow the extent, ancient quotations are now seldom than fly to others that we know not of. heard, there are occasions when a pasWedderburn rose instantly and began sage from our own English classics may his speech by continuing Hamlet's be effectively used. We have heard soliloquy :

lines and sentences, verba et roces, from

Gray and Goldsmith, Cowper and And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of Byrou, Wordsworth and Tennyson, thought ;

quoted and applauded as much as the And enterprises of great pith and moment, older words of Virgil, Milton, and With this regard, their currents turn awry, Shakespeare which delighted our foreAnd lose the name of action.

fathers in former times.

J. M.

A VEGETABLE Python. – Woe betide | ing out side branches which flow into and the forest giant when he falls into the amalgamate with each other until the clutches of the clusia or fig. Its seeds whole tree trunk is bound in a series of being provided with a pulp, which is very irregular living hoops. The strangler is pleasant to the taste of a great number of now ready for its deadly work. The forest birds, are carried from tree to tree and giant, like all exogens, must have room to deposited on the branches. Here it germi- increase in girth, and here he is bound by nates, the leafy stem rising upward and the cords which are stronger than iron bands. roots flowing, as it were, down the trunk Like an athlete, he tries to expand and until they reach the soil. At first these burst his fetters, and if they were rigid he aërial roots are soft and delicate, with ap- might succeed. ... The bark bulges beparently no more power for evil than so tween every interlacing — bulges out, and many small streams of pitch, which they even tries to overlap; but the monster has resemble in their slowly flowing motion taken every precaution against this by downward. Here and there they branch, making its bands very numerous and wide. especially if an obstruction is met with, .. As the tree becomes weaker its leaves when the stream either changes its course begin to fall, and this gives more room for or divides to right and left. Meanwhile its foe. Soon the strangler expands itself leafy branches have been developed, which into a great bush almost as large as the push themselves through the canopy above mass of branches and foliage it has effaced. and get into the light, where their growth . . If we look carefully around us we see is enormously accelerated. As this takes examples of entire obliteration - a clusia, place the roots have generally reached the or fig, standing on its reticulated hollow ground and begun to draw sustenance from pillar, with only a heap of brown humus at below to strengthen the whole plant. its base to show what has become of the Then comes a wonderful development. trunk which once stood up in all its maj. The hitherto soft aërial roots begin to esty on that spot. harden and spread wider and wider, throw

James Rodway, in the “Guiana Forest."

« AnteriorContinuar »