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produced it, at the expense of feeling, morality, and religion : for it not only aims at destroying all the comforts of the present life, by proving that man is destined to misery from his birth, however extensive bis fortune, exalted his rank, or cultivated his intellect, but it tends to deprive him of the only solace that is left for his misfortune, the prospect of a blessed futurity.
We cannot conclude without allotting a few lines to Scbiller, and are concerned we have space for no more. It has been the fashion of late to extol his latter works at the expense of his earlier productions. But we confess ourselves at a loss to discover the difference. All abound in situations of terrific effect, all are filled with profound and philosophical reflections, all are marked with striking defects. Don Carlos is a history rather than a play, and contains the author's opinions upon various subjects of moral and political interest; but the discussions are tedious, the arrangement confused, and the catastrophe pantomimical, yet some of the characters are traced with a masterly hand, and some of the scenes are highly pathetic. Wallenstein was written in imitation of Shakspeare's historical plays, but in comparison with them it is cold and uninteresting. "The tragedy of Mary Stuart, though greatly admired, is disgraced by many unpardonable blemishes. History, in events of such recent occurrence, should be followed with the minutest attention ; but here it is unnecessarily violated, for no better purpose than to produce an interview between the rival queens, in which they abuse each other with all the vulgar scurrility of fishwomen. Mary's confession of Darnley's murder is equally reprehensible, because it is contradicted by facts; and the administration of the sacrament upon a public stage, is an insult to religion and decency.
The noble simplicity of Helvetic manners is admirably painted in William Tell, and the enthusiasm of the nation in favour of liberty represented in colours the most captivating. This piece, which breathes the cordiality of unsophisticated nature, the rustic heroism of men whose courage defied the gigantic power of Austria, and whose religion proceeded from the heart, deserves to have been acted at the national festival, when, after enjoying independence for five hundred years, the Swiss celebrated the birth-day of their freedom. It is, perhaps, the only tragedy in any language that has been improved by omitting the fifth act. The characteristics of the Germans are genius and invention, but they are "extremely deficient in judgment and taste.
The length to which this article has been already extended, precludes us from indulging in such general observations, as the subject would naturally suggest. There are some of M. Schlegel's opinions to which we cannot subscribe, and which want of room VOL. XII. NO. XXIU.
alone has prevented us from combating. The spuriousness of those plays, which are sometimes printed with Shakspeare's minor poems, the Yorkshire Tragedy, Cromwell, &c. has been so satisfactorily demonstrated, that it would be only slaying the slain,' to renew the controversy. Our author very niuch underrates the comic merits of Ben Jonson, and certainly does not do justice to Beaumont and Fletcher, or Massinger. He has, however, the merit of being the first foreigner who speaks of these poets at any length. Such is the exuberance of our dramatic wealth, that we wantonly sacrifice more than other nations possess, in a blind adoration of Shakspeare. Strangers who seldom hear us speak of our minor writers, believe, in general, that our stage was created by this great poet alone, and that his contemporaries, of whose names they are ignorant, were little better than ballad-mongers and buffoons. In conclusion, we consider these Dramatic Lectures, on the whole, to be every way worthy of that individual whom Germany venerates as the second, and whom Europe has classed among the most illustrious of her literary characters.
Art. VII.-1. Proposal for improving the System of Friendly
Societies, &c. By Jerome, Count de Salis. 1814. Reynolds. 2. Essay on improving the Condition of the Poor, &c. By Tho
mas Myers, A. M. 1814. Hatchard. WE
E will candidly confess that it is the subject of these essays
which has attracted our notice, rather than any novelty or importance in the essays themselves. Twelve years have elapsed since the official returns stated the number of persons receiving parochial relief, either regularly or occasionally, in this country to be 1,040,7 16. Since that time we have passed through a period of little leisure for domestic regulation, and seen a state of things by no means calculated to diminish the evil. It is not surprising that the disorder should have increased for which no positive remedy can easily be found, and which has not yet been reached by the preventive check of education. The fact however is too important to be concealed, that of the 1,300,000 persons added to the population since 1801, more than 500,000 have swelled the list of paupers.* Mr. Myers states the result of an actual inquiry made in various unconnected parishes as to the number of the poor receiv. ing relief, and the amount of the poor's rates in the years 1805 and 1812 respectively. This, though conducted in agricultural parishes
Colquhoun on the British Power, &c.
only, proved the number of poor in 1805 to be to that in 1812 nearly as five to six, and the increase in the rates nearly as ten to
The interval which has thus enlarged the number of the dependent class of the community, has also shewn us, by the insubordination of some manufacturing districts, the alarming consequence of those improvident habits, which leave the labouring poor no other resource than the support of the public, upon every recurrence of a scanty harvest, or accidental fluctuation of trade or fashion. Both benevolence and policy therefore coincide in recommending any plan which may be likely to meliorate the condition of so large and important a portion of society. At the same time we certainly cannot give our suffrage either to the cottage or cow system proposed by Mr. Myers, or to legislative interference in the arrangement of assurance or benefit societies, or to any thing, in fact, which we find in the pamphlets before us, considered as a general measure.
It cannot be denied, that the labouring classes in England are placed in very peculiar circumstances by the operation of our poor laws. We are not among those who see in this system nothing but unmixed evil. Undoubtedly any interference of the legislature with the natural channels of population, subsistence, or industry, is in itself a mischief; and only to be admitted for the sake of removing a greater mischief. Yet who will venture to assert that irremediable poverty, together with the helplessness of sickness, infancy, and old age, can be safely left in a large and fully peopled community, to the care of that spontaneous charity on which they must devolve in the absence of all legislative provision ? That they are not thus left; that we do not see in our streets and highways a mass of distress which no Christian can contemplate patiently, is an advantage which we owe to the poor-rate, but sometimes forget to acknowledge. On the other hand, it cannot but be allowed that an habitual conviction of the certainty of parish support, in the failure of other resources, must have an imperceptible effect upon the English labourer. It is no very enlivening prospect certainly; but the evils belonging to it are obscured partly by distance, and partly by the intervening objects, which a sanguine mind never fails to raise in the way of any distant evil : the uncertainty of life, the chance of better fortune, and a thousand improbable contingencies all stand between, and alike serve to keep in the back ground the degree of the evil, and the means to escape it. The result however is, that the inferior classes are habitually far less prudent and thoughtful, than those of many other countries, even where the moral sense is less strong, and the general standard of intelligence considerably lower. To counteract this priuciple, thus steadily though silently affect
ing the minds of the labouring poor, continual pains are required on the part of those who are conversant with them; and every facility should be granted by the legislature to any plan by which they might be encouraged to greater forethought. We will endeavour to show, moreover, that the present period is distinguished by several important points, which afford a reasonable hope of the success of such an endeavour. By the dissemination of education, which forms the prominent feature of the present age, and will transmit, we trust, its portrait to posterity in colours of imperishable lustre, a silent but very important change is gradually effecting in the minds of the labouring class. The difference is not only that of being able to read and write, though even this is no trivial matter : they now receive their first elements of instruction in a mode which exercises their minds and sharpens their faculties so successfully, that a boy who has been educated on the Madras system has an advantage over the scholar of Shenstone or Goldsmith's village teachers, much greater in degree and value, than that scholar enjoyed over his uneducated neighbours. It is not too much to say, that a generation is now growing up more informed, and more zealous of information, with minds of larger discourse, and more capable to look before and after,' than the most sanguine advocate of the perfectibility of human nature would have dared to predict, when that encouraging doctrine was most fashionable. All must think such a crisis important, though for different reasons, according to their different views. Some will be struck with the idea, that knowledge being power, or wealth, or motion, or all together, will greatly increase the weight of the inferior classes, and render it politically desirable that their stake in the country should be increased in proportion. To us the enlarged intelligence of the lower ranks seems only calculated to make them inore useful members of society, as long as the standard of intelligence in the classes above them is raised in an equal degree. But the peculiar importance of this crisis arises, in our opinion, from the favourable circumstance, that the poor are daily becoming more and more able to co-operate in any schemę proposed for their advantage; more likely to listen to any reasonable suggestion; more able to understand, and therefore to relish and follow it. The obstinacy of ignorance is, for a thousand reasons, the greatest of all barriers to improvement: and particularly, because the grand secret in assisting the poor, is to make them agents in assisting themselves ; to supply them with a permanent energy, instead of a temporary stimulus ; just as it is a greater favour to teach a man the use of his own limbs, than to support or carry him. This begins now to be understood. It is acknowledged to be more useful to sell at a cheap rate,
than to give; to bestow occasional relief, than constant support: these and other improvements upon former plans of charity have been adopted, from a growing knowledge of human nature, and of the bad effects produced by regular bounty upon industry. Mr. Myers and many who think with him pay too little attention to this principle. Houses are to be built for the poor, and portions of land provided for them; they are to be supplied with cows, &c. and their occasional losses made up to them by subscription. All this has the merit of benevolent intention, but no other-it involves the fundamental error of turning things out of their natural course and channel ; and the temporary or local good that may be obtained, bears no proportion to the evil of interfering with that great general law, which ordains that every man shall better his own condition by his individual exertions. We do not inean, however, that these plans are always objectionable. Mr. Myers mentions a parish, where the agent to the manorial proprietor (Earl Fitzwilliam) set apart a plot of land contiguous to the village, which he let at a fair rent to the cottagers, in divisions of half an acre each, and which he recommended them to cultivate alternately, one half for potatoes and the other half for wheat. He instances also the parish of · Sutton Benington, in the county of Nottingham, where the labouring poor are accommodated by the rector with six acres of arable, and forty of pasture land; the former is occupied by sixty-two persons as potatoe gardens, the latter furnishes summer and winter keep for sixteen cows.' (p. 25.) These instances we gladly notice, as supplying useful suggestions to benevolent landlords. To afford the poor every practicable facility, is not to oppose, but to co-operate with the broad principle which nature recommends. But to erect cottages, or allot land, in a way of gratuitous charity, and without an existing demand for additional labourers, is an artificial encouragement to population of which the country by no means stands in need. If there are any spots insufficiently supplied with labour, the land proprietor will quickly make up the deficiency by raising cottages, which will be able to pay a rent answerable to the
Wherever the evil exists, the remedy will be immediately found in the operation of private gain : but if a mistaken philanthropy were to pursue the same plan extensively, an appearance might be created at first sight very beautiful to the eye, of white-washed cottages and industrious peasants, but terminating in a perspective far less engaging. What charity would there be in introducing into a district already fully peopled fifty or a hundred additional families of labourers, who could only gain support by turning the former population out of employ, or depressing still lower the rate of wages, already too low to support a numerous family? Let each speculatist first consider KS