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whose government they only had neglect and wretchedness; not they, who can't be called upon to love such an unlovely thing as misery, or to make any other return for neglect but indifference and aversion.
You and I, let us suppose again, are civilized persons. We have been decently educated : and live decently every day, and wear tolerable clothes, and practise cleanliness : and love the arts and graces of life. As we walk down this rank of eightand-thirty female emigrants, let us fancy that we are at Melbourne, and not in London, and that we have come down from our sheep-walks, or clearings, having heard of the arrival of forty honest, well-recommended young women, and having a natural longing to take a wife home to the Bush which of these would you like? If you were an Australian Sultan, to which of these would you throw the handkerchief ? I am afraid not one of them. I fear, in our present mood of mind, we should mount horse and return to the country, preferring a solitude, and to be a bachelor, than to put up with one of these for a companion. There is no girl here to tempt you by her looks : (and, world-wiseacre as you are, it is by these you are principally moved) — there is no pretty, modest, red-cheeked rustic, no neat, trim little grisette, such as what we call a gentleman might cast his eyes upon without too much derogating, and might find favor in the eyes of a man about town. No; it is a homely bevy of women with scarcely any beauty amongst them
their clothes are decent, but not the least picturesque — their faces are pale and care-worn for the most part how, indeed, should it be otherwise, seeing that they have known care and want all their days? there they sit, upon bare benches, with dingy bundles, and great cotton umbrellas and the truth is, you are not a hardy colonist, a feeder of sheep, feller of trees, a hunter of kangaroos — but a London man, and my lord the Sultan's cambric handkerchief is scented with Bond Street perfumery — you put it in your pocket, and couldn't give it to any one of these women.
They are not like you, indeed. They have not your tastes and feelings : your education and refinements. They would not understand a hundred things which seem perfectly simple
They would shock you a hundred times a day by as many deficiencies of politeness, or by outrages upon the Queen's English — by practices entirely harmless, and yet in your eyes actually worse than crimes — they have large hard hands and clumsy feet. The woman you love must have pretty soft fingers that you may hold in yours: must speak her language properly,
and at least when you offer her your heart, must return hers with its l in the right place, as she whispers that it is yours, or you will have none of it. If she
66 O Hedward, I ham so unappy to think I shall never beold you agin,” – though her emotion on leaving you might be perfectly tender and genuine, you would be obliged to laugh. If she said, “ Hedward, my art is yours for hever and hever” (and anybody heard her), she might as well stab you, you couldn't accept the most faithful affection offered in such terms you are a town-bred man, I say, and your handkerchief smells of Bond Street musk and millefleur. A sunburnt settler out of the Bush won't feel any of these exquisite tortures : or understand this kind of laughter: or object to Molly because her hands are coarse and her ankles thick: but he will take her back to his farm, where she will nurse his children, bake his dough, milk his cows, and cook his kangaroo for him.
But between you, an educated Londoner, and that woman, is not the union absurd and impossible? Would it not be unbearable for either? Solitude would be incomparably pleasanter than such a companion. – You might take her with a handsome fortune, perhaps, were you starving; but then it is because you want a house and carriage, let us say (your necessaries of life), and must have them even if you purchase them with your precious person.
You do as much, or your sister does as much, every day. That, however, is not the point: I am not talking about the meanness to which your worship may be possibly obliged to stoop, in order, as you say, “ to keep up your rank in society
only stating that this immense social difference does exist. You don't like to own it: or don't choose to talk about it, and such things had much better not be spoken about at all. I hear your worship say, there must be differences in rank and so forth ! Well! out with it at once : you don't think Molly is your equal
nor indeed is she in the possession of many artificial acquirements. She can't make Latin verses, for example, as you used to do at school; she can't speak French and Italian, as your wife very likely can, &c. - and in so far she is your inferior, and your amiable lady's.
But what I note, what I marvel at, what I acknowledge, what I am ashamed of, what is contrary to Christian morals, manly modesty and honesty, and to the national well-being, is that there should be that immense social distinction between the well-dressed classes (as, if you will permit me, we will call ourselves,) and our brethren and sisters in the fustian jackets and pattens. If you deny it for your part, I say that you are mis
taken, and deceive yourself wofully. I say that you have been educated to it through Gothic ages, and have had it handed down to you from your fathers (not that they were anybody in particular, but respectable, well-clressed progenitors, let us say for a generation or two) — from your well-dressed fathers before you. How long ago is it, that our preachers were teaching the poor - to know their station?” that it was the peculiar boast of Englishmen, that any man, the humblest among us, could, by talent, industry, and good luck, bope to take his place in the aristocracy of his country, and that we pointed with pride to Lord This, who was the grandson of a barber; and to Earl That, whose father was an apothecary? What a multitude of most respectable folks pride themselves on these things still! The gulf is not impassable, because one man in a million swims over it, and we hail him for his strength and success. He has landed on the happy island. He is one of the aristocracy. Let us clap hands and applaud. There's no country like ours for rational freedom.
If you go up and speak to one of these women, as you do, (and very good-naturedly, and you can't help that confounded condescension,) she curtsies and holds down her head meekly, and replies with modesty, as becomes her station, to your honor with the clean shirt and the well-made coat. she should,” what hundreds of thousands of us rich and poor say still. Both believe this to be bounden duty; and that a poor person should naturally bob her head to a rich one physically and morally.
Let us get her last curtsy from her as she stands here upon the English shore. When she gets into the Australian woods her back won't bend except to her labor ; or, if it do, from old habit and the reminiscence of the old country, do you suppose her children will be like that timid creature before you? They will know nothing of that Gothic society, with its ranks and hierarchies, its cumbrous ceremonies, its glittering antique paraphernalia, in which we have been educated ; in which rich and poor still acquiesce, and which multitudes of both still admire : far removed from these old-world traditions, they will be bred up in the midst of plenty, freedom, manly brotherhood. Do you think if your worship’s grandson goes into the Australian woods, or meets the grandchild of one of yonder women by the banks of the Warrawarra, the Australian will take a hat off or bob a curtsy to the new comer? He will hold out his hand, and say, “ Stranger, come into my house and take a shakedown and have a share of our supper.
66 And so - you and I
out of the old country, do you? There was some people were kind to my grandmother there, and sent her out to Melbourne. Times are changed since then - come in and welcome!”
What a confession it is that we have almost all of us been obliged to make! A clever and earnest-minded writer gets a commission from the Morning Chronicle newspaper, and reports upon the state of our poor in London; he goes amongst laboring people and poor of all kinds and brings back what? A picture of human life so wonderful, so awful, so piteous and pathetic, so exciting and terrible, that readers of romances own they never read anything like to it; and that the griefs, struggles, strange adventures here depicted, exceed anything that any of us could imagine. Yes; and these wonders and terrors have been lying by your door and mine ever since we bad a door of our own. We had but to go a hundred yards off and see for ourselves, but we never did. Don't we pay poorrates, and are they not heavy enough in the name of patience? Very true; and we have our own private pensioners, and give away some of our superfluity, very likely. You are not unkind; not ungenerous. But of such wondrous and complicated misery as this you confess you had no idea. No. How should you?
we are of the upper classes; we have had hitherto no community with the poor. We never speak a word to the servant who waits on us for twenty years; we condescend to employ a tradesman, keeping him at a proper distance, mind, of course, at a proper distance
we laugh at his young men, if they dance, jig, and amuse themselves like their betters, and call them counter-jumpers, snobs, and what not? of his workmen we know nothing, how pitilessly they are ground down, how they live and die, here close by us at the backs of our houses ; until some poet like Hood wakes and sings that dreadful “ Song of the Shirt ; some prophet like Carlyle rises up and denounces woe; some clear-sighted, energetic man like the writer of the Chronicle travels into the poor man's country for us, and comes back with his tale of terror and wonder.
Awful, awful poor man's country! The bell rings, and these eight-and-thirty women bid adieu to it, rescued from it (as a few thousands more will be) by some kind people who are interested in their behalf. In two hours more, the steamer lies alongside the ship Culloden, which will bear them to their new home. Here are the berths aft for the unmarried women, the married couples are in the midships, the bachelors in the fore-part of the ship. Above and below decks it swarms and echoes with the bustle of departure. The Emigration Commissioner comes and
calls over their names ; there are old and young, large families, numbers of children already accustomed to the ship, and looking about with amused unconsciousness. One was born but just now on board ; he will not know how to speak English till he is fifteen thousand miles away from home. Some of these kind people whose bounty and benevolence organized the Female Emigration Scheme, are here to give a last word and shake of the hand to their protégées. They hang sadly and gratefully round their patrons. One of them, a clergy man, who has devoted himself to this good work, says a few words to them at parting. It is a solemn minute indeed for those who (with the few thousand who will follow them) are leaving the country and escaping from the question between rich and poor; and what for those who remain ? But, at least, those who go will remember that in their misery here they found gentle hearts to love and pity them, and generous hands to give them succor, and will plant in the new country this grateful tradition of the old. M: heaven's good mercy speed them!
A NIGHT'S PLEASURE.
I. Having made a solemn engagement during the last Midsummer holidays with my young friend Augustus Jones, that we should go to a Christmas Pantomime together, and being accommodated by the obliging proprietors of Covent Garden Theatre with a private box for last Tuesday, I invited not only him, but some other young friends to be present at the entertainment. The two Miss Twiggs, the charming daughters of the Rev. Mr. Twigg, our neighbor ; Miss Minny Twigg, their youngest sister, eight years of age ; and their maternal aunt, Mrs. Captain Flather, as the chaperon of the young ladies, were the four other partakers of this amusement with myself and Mr. Jones.
It was agreed that the ladies, who live in Montpellier Square, Brompton, should take up myself and Master Augustus at the “ Sarcophagus Club,” which is on the way to the theatre, and where we two gentlemen dined on the day appointed. Cox's most roomy fly, the mouldy green one, in which he insists on putting the roaring gray horse, was engaged