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period of profound peace, as is the case with both Denmark and Holland, it becomes evident that they must be in a very unstable condition. After the credit system, therefore, has been fine-drawn to its utmost extent, so that it is found impossible for these nations any longer to levy contributions on Great Britain under the name of loans, but really intended to defray their ordinary current expenditure, the bubble must burst, and English capitalists will of course, as usual, be the chief sufferers by each convulsion.
The internal improvement of Great Britain and her numerous colonies, surely affords a safer and more legitimate field for the employment of British capital, than is to be found in a reliance on the loose sense of national honour of such rickety kingdoms as these.
His Majesty of Denmark appears to be personally popular, and, when in health, is stated to have been in the habit of frequently walking about familiarly among his people. Prince Christian, the next heir to the throne, seems also to be favourably regarded.
The royal family of Denmark is, I believe, among the most ancient of Europe; and its various branches within the kingdom, numbering nearly forty individuals, are considered somewhat more than sufficiently extensive by the people on whose means and industry they are pensioners.
At the Treasury in London, what is technically denominated “ the dead weight” is, I believe, felt as one of the most hopeless items in the chancellor's budget; but at that of Copenhagen I suspect the burthen of living royalty occupies fully as prominent a place in official anxieties.
Whenever, therefore, the establishment of a new kingdom, either in Europe or elsewhere, may require a prince of ancient lineage to honour its people by ascending a throne, certainly no country can better afford to spare one than Denmark. The king has of late years evinced a rather unfortunate taste for military display: I say unfortunate, because, in the first place, his million and a half of subjects cannot well afford to support the costly pageantry of a numerous army, and, in the second place, because it would seem to be a hopeless task to endeavour to convert his short squat sailor-like subjects into a respectable-looking soldiery. If it be legitimate, as I conceive it is, to judge in such a matter from the personal appearance and well-known habits of the people, the defences of this kingdom should certainly be naval. His Majesty of Denmark possessed, and, I believe it may be said, still possesses, absolute authority; for the elective chamber which he some years since created has in reality no power whatever, and merely boasts the privilege of offering its counsel to the Crown, which remains as before the sole source of legislative, as well as of executive, authority. Whether this chamber may have originated in a sincere desire on the part of the king for a real house of representatives, or whether it has merely been organised as a sop to the Cerberus of Liberalism, which was generated by the French Revolution, time will show; but meanwhile it somewhat resembles the kind of parliament that Mehemed Ali proposed to a recent English traveller to establish in Egypt a set of powerless automata, in short, who, if permitted to think at all, are expected merely to echo the sentiments of his majesty's government.
One fruitful source of discontent in Denmark arises out of the circumstance of many of the nobility of Holstein being possessed of the privilege of importing duty free all such articles of foreign production as their domestic establishments may require. As might be supposed, the confusion, ill-will, and smuggling, to which such a state of things gives rise, are very considerable; but hitherto the Government has not been able to succeed either in the purchase or the annulment of this dangerous and much abused privilege. The commercial system of the Danish Government may, from all accounts,
be considered as the extreme reverse of our free trade doctrines, insomuch that it refuses even to profit by the result of its own experience in matters of this nature.
For example, the important article of coffee was, until very recently, so highly taxed, that the quantity consumed by the people of the district of Kiel in particular was, as nearly as may be, entirely supplied by professional smugglers. The clandestine introduction of this article from Hamburg having, however, at length been sufficiently proved to the Government to be both glaring and extensive, the duty has latterly been reduced to a reasonable scale; and during the first year after this change the quantity legally imported was, according to my informant, actually increased fifty-fold. Notwithstanding, however, the favourable result of this first experiment towards liberalising the commerce of the kingdom, no other step of a similar nature has yet been taken; and all the old-established obstacles to commerce are likely, unless some propositions for improvement should emanate from other countries, to remain in full force for many years to come. Denmark would therefore appear to be now in a state peculiarly favourable for the arrangement of a commercial treaty between her and England, she having as yet made no progress in manufacturing industry; and it is to be feared that, should the opportunity of securing by treaty a regular supply of grain from this country in exchange for our manufactures be much longer neglected, Denmark will be compelled in self-defence, either to manufacture for her own consumption, or do what would be equally injurious to our interests become a member of the German Commercial League. A few years since, the permanent supply of the German market with British manufactures might have been readily secured by a reasonable modification of our corn and timber duties; that opportunity has, however, I fear, been lost for ever, and Germany is herself in consequence becoming eminent as a manufacturing country. Whether Denmark, Sweden, and the districts of the North, are to be driven to the adoption of a similar course, is therefore, at this moment, a question that urgently demands serious consideration on the part of the British minister of commerce.
Though Copenhagen possesses the usual proportion of palaces, churches, and public buildings, yet its general effect is by no means elegant : its streets, though spacious, have a deserted aspect, and grass very generally shows itself between the stones of its pavements instead of asphalte.
The change we so suddenly made from the gaiety of Hamburg to the dull monotony of this city was, indeed, too great to be agreeable ; for here there are scarcely any carriages to be seen moving about; and as to the people, whether the fault may lie with nature or themselves, their tailors or their milliners, I shall not presume to decide, but they are certainly entire strangers to the air distingué ; indeed, I would almost say, to ordinary gentility of appearance.
The modern palace of Christiansburg, which is exceedingly extensive, and not wanting in a certain tone of grandeur, contains a very large collection of paintings; but they are not generally such as can afford much pleasure to any visiters who may happen to have a recollection of the galleries of Dresden, Vienna, and Munich, fresh in their memories. Among the works are some good landscapes by Linglebach, and some, either inferior originals or successful imitations, of Ruysdael and Both; likewise many large coarse pictures by Jordaens, as well as two or three by Rubens. In addition to these there are several names of a superior order in the catalogue; but I am disposed to believe, that were the shades of these mighty masters of the art appealed to, they would indignantly disown the works which are thus liberally attributed to them.
Marian ; or, a Young Maid's Fortunes. By Mrs. S. C. Hall, Authoress of
“Lights and Shadows of Irish Life," "Uncle Horace," &c. Three vols.
London: Henry Colburn. 1839. The Czar: a Romance of History. By the Author of "Manuella,” i Antonio
Foscarini,” &c. Three vols. London : Edward Smallwood. 1840. The Monk and the Married Man. By Miss WADDINGTON, Authoress of “ Misre
presentation," “ Janet,” &c. Three vols. London : Saunders & Otley. 1840. On the left-hand side of Ludgate Hill, not many doors beyond the crossing,
“ Where Waithman's fountain, pointing to the sun,
Like a rank bully, still doth spout and run,” the pedestrian, just after he has passed the Old Bailey, will discover a plain, sedate, high-screened front, with an indented glass door, on the side pillars of which are inscribed, in remarkably neat, choice Italian characters, The words “ London Coffee House.” This house, so well known in the annals of civic festivity, so famous for turtle and cold punch, whitebait and brown bread, and so rich in traditions concerning the wealthy merchants of the ancient city whose name it bears, is not less worthy of commemoration as the place where the publishers of London meet at regular periods to transact their business. Here the “ trade,” to use its own phrase, “ subscribes” new books :—that is to say, each publisher submits to the meeting specimens of his forthcoming novelties, with all necessary particulars of terms and modes of publication; and the rest “subscribe" for copies. Here the magnificent bibliopoles of this over-wrought metropolis assemble in solemn conclave over quartos, octavos, and duodecimos : the popularity of our living authors is here reduced to figures, showing that
“ the value of a thing
Is just the money it will bring. Here Mr. Bentley sets up Theodore Hook to auction against Mr. Colburn's Trollope; rival Napoleons contest the field of glory; the Duke of Wellington, with more lives than a cat, looks out for the Prussians from a dozen tinted covers; History puts up cockades, in the shape of embellishments, to attract recruits from her gay rival, the last new novel; and in the course of an hour, or two the nucleus is formed of operations probably as extensive as are carried forward at that great clearing-house of European literature, the annual fair of Leipsic.
If the reader will suppose this conclave in full sitting — the green cloth covered with infinitesimal specimens of modern productions — and, by a slight effort of the imagination, suppose the ghosts of De Foe, Fielding, and Goldsmith to rise suddenly up out of the floor, just as “ Jack Sheppard” is making the round of the table, he will have a tolerably striking melodramatic effect in the Blue Chamber of the Publishers. What these ancient masters of fiction would have said, had such a work been “subscribed ” in their days, is more than we can guess; but we may conjecture that they would have looked “unutterable things.”
At a time when we are sending missionaries among the Hindoos and the South Sea Islands, and the remotest forests of the heathen world - when the Church, convulsed to its centre by the Oxford tracts, the Plymouth
Brethren, and the Manchester Socialists, exhibits an almost superhuman activity in the suppression of false doctrines and demoralizing views of the practical duties of life — when the Prime Minister is baited in the House of Lords for introducing Mr. Owen at the levee, and the Protestantism of his royal highness the Queen's consort is tested by a discussion and a
- when penal inflictions are suspended over the heads of omnibus cads for using their mother tongue too freely, and the morals of the pavé are confided to the rigorous surveillance of the police ; — at such a time one might suppose that England had become sensitive to a fault upon questions of moral culture and social discipline; and that, with all her difficulties, her slaughtered Lascars, her funded debt, her poor-rates, and her pensions, she had arrived at a very enviable state of domestic purity. That at this time the novel of “ Jack Sheppard” should have appeared, is something to wonder at; but that it should have invigorated the bulk of the population with a new life of slang and vice, filled the theatres with Newgate horrors and felonious heroics, and so fascinated the sympathies of the lower orders as to make them fall in love with burglaries and murder, is something that leaves wonder a long way behind.
If any ingenious gentleman were to compose a treatise upon the advantages of shop-lifting, considered as a branch of political economy; or in defence of the right of husbands to beat their wives, for the proper maintenance of family order; or in illustration of the utility of picking pockets, cheating at cards, sacrilege, swindling, cutting and maiming, or obtaining money under false pretences, — he would probably be prosecuted according to law, and sent to the tread-mill. But if, instead of promulgating such doctrines in a serious and declaratory shape, he throws them into the form of a lively and dramatic narrative, full of exciting scenes and extravagant descriptions, rendering them thereby a thousand times more dangerous and attractive, he receives the usual honours that are paid to the popular author of the hour. And this is the morality of England, for which we have so much reason to be grateful to the labours of our Blomfields, our Philpotts, and our Agnews!
We should have little hope of the correction of this monstrous evil, if we relied solely upon the reaction which might be anticipated from its gross immorality alone. Fortunately, it affects the public also as a matter. of taste; and it is to this aspect of the Jack Sheppard mania that we look for the means of bringing the people back to their senses. Of the multitude who are indifferent to the vicious tendencies of such publications, or who, perhaps, like them all the better on that account, there are very few who would not repudiate their vulgarity. The taint of low language, the Billingsgate of the kennel, and the gutter fashions of Saffron Hill and Ratcliffe Highway, are luckily abhorrent to the genteel aspirations of the crowd. Nobody likes to be thought capable of an inelegance; and this sentiment is felt most deeply where it is least understood, for the most intense vulgarity in the worid is that which prides itself upon the horror of being vulgar. Mr. Ainsworth, conscious of all this, has endeavoured to reconcile his readers to the inevitable slang of his hero, by providing him with high connections; but the odour of the stews clings to him notwithstanding, and, with all his fine airs, and his French flourishes about the baronetcy, he can never get rid of the fact that he is the son of a man who was hanged. To be sure, he tries to make hanging a mark of distinction; but it is not so easy to carry the general assent upon the creation of so novel a collar of merit. When the charm of the Trenchard title has lost its influence, the mind reverts to the breeding of Jack, and nothing can save
him from contempt in the long run. Had he, indeed, been born with a knowledge of his spangled kindred, and nursed amongst escutcheons and banners, then his grand birth might have conferred dignity upon “ Nix, my Dolly pals ! fake away!” But the discovery comes at the wrong end; and the consequence is that his “fake away” education reflects indelible dis
his aristocratical friends. He was not one who stooped from fortune's height and became a vagabond from choice, shedding a sort of grace upon disgrace; — he was born and bred a vagabond, and the discovery of his relationship with gentle blood only makes his innate and original degeneracy the more palpable and offensive. Your exquisites of the canaille don't like this sort of contamination they are for an inbred touch of superfine manners; and, as soon as the first splash of romance is over, they will pronounce Jack to be a common coarse-grained thief, with a genius immeasurably below the level of the swell mob. It may be all very well that the fame of the author should survive to future ages, and that
as long as ale is ale,
Jack Sheppard lives in that 'ere gemman's tale ;" but this is not the immortality that will suit the taste of the multitude. They yearn after finer spirits and more approved models of gentility. They may
take delight in the licentious play of criminal desires, and exult in the adventures of prison-breakers and highwaymen; but there must be paste ornaments to set them off, or their influence is as perishable as a galantie show. The soiled and stripped brigand, ferocious, bloody, and brutalised, may work up a passing agony in his audience; but it is only when feathers nod in his bonnet, ribands flash from his knees and shoulders, and he presents a blaze of foil, with the carriage and the picked idioms of a sort of pseudo-gentleman, that he really makes a deep or permanent impression. Now, of all villains, Jack Sheppard has the least pretensions to this picturesque character, either in his actions or his manners; and, being not merely common-place, but despicably vulgar, even in the eyes
of the vulgarest of mankind, there is a chance that the politer instincts of a low taste will.reject him by and by for some more insinuating culprit.
While, however, it must be admitted, to the manifest disgrace of idle and thoughtless readers, that this Old Bailey story has produced a strong
sensation,” and held a lease of notoriety that must have perfectly astonished its author; it is pleasant to observe that it has had no imitators — that it stands utterly alone — and that, whatever evils of another kind it may have produced, it has not inoculated our current literature. This may be partly accounted for by the natural aversion with which subjects of that polluting class are almost universally regarded by all men gifted with the intellectual powers requisite for authorship, and partly by the inadequacy of Mr. Ainsworth's genius to create and sustain a new school. At best, as a work of invention, “Jack Sheppard” is singularly meagre, unnatural, and inartistical. The incidents are always extravagant, frequently improbable, and sometimes impossible; the characters are huge monstrosities, expanded with false stomachs and horned heads, like the ogres and witches in the prelude to a pantomime; and the dialogue is of the precise pattern of a Surrey melodrame, - inflated, hysterical, and ridiculous in its magnitude of bathos. There is nothing to imitate in this, except an unparalleled exuberance of absurdity, which the humblest writer would scarcely be ambitious to emulate. We have somewhere seen the names of Mr. Dickens and Mr. Ainsworth associated, as if they belonged to the same order; but this confusion must bave arisen from ignorance of the writings of the one or the other.