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If I were to talk seriously, I would set before you, if I could without offence, the cowardice, nay the selfishness of the rule you set up. But truth is, you are so little capable of it, that seriously to combat it would be ludicrous. Your virtue at least does not stand in need of flight to preserve itself; and if your refinement does, I would ask whether you have a right to indulge it, when the times, by your own account, ought not to permit inaction ?
Here, I own, I am impolitic; for we are on different sides, though neither of us a Drawcausir, and I should do better to let your disgust withdraw you wholly from the field. At the same time, do suppose
that I am so root and branch, as to go all the lengths of those whom you call the honest Reformers, though you think they ought to be hanged. My philosophy and my politics are, in truth, only those of my friends the Ministers. I advocate Reform, and consult the spirit of the times, as they do; that is, I foster that spirit, so long as it will keep me in, and my enemies out. But to alter the Constitution beyond that—far, O, far from me be such dangerous, such doting doctrine.
In good faith, what you say about the inconvenience of calms, and the necessity for a storm now and then, to keep things from stagnating, is perfectly just. The Tories, with very little interval,
ruled us for fifty years. Right or wrong, do you think this could be borne ? We were in all the danger of the calm you talk of producing typhus, and poverty of blood; when, luckily for us, this wholesome agitating Reform broke out, made us spread our sails, and enjoy the brisk and salutary breeze. But think not, having got hold of the helm, and driven the former crew under hatches, that we wish to continue a storm we cannot manage. No: port is now the word, and having got over the danger of stagnation, we think a little return to calm will not be amiss.
I thank you for starting the above metaphor ; but as it is a rule in criticism, not to push metaphor too far, I will take my leave of it, and of this part of the subject altogether.
Whatever our politics, let me intreat you to continue to write to me. Your sensibility to character and all the incidents of life, both ludicrous and grave, make you at least an interesting correspondent; and I will allow for all your prejudices. Perhaps you may convert me to some of them; but recollect, I am too staunch a partizan to act with you, whatever I may think. In this I am only like a certain Scotch member, who, being asked reproachfully, why he so often went to the Treasury, replied, “ I go for what I can geet, but I naver gie em a vot.”
Adieu. You have sometimes called me Titus Pomponius; and, as far as wishing to keep well with all parties, I refuse not the character. Is it on this account that I am so much, yours,
Fitxwalter to Strickland.
Oldacre Hall. I TOLD you I would write again when I knew better what to write, and whither I was going. I know not that I can even now say more, than that I am in Yorkshire, though not in my own house. At that house I was once happy, and hoped still to be so, as far as good will to my neighbours, the protection of my dependants, and the relief of the
poor, were concerned. My reward was ample and very sweet, for it consisted in the blessings of those about me. But, though my wishes, and the helps to those who want help, continue the same, the reward is withdrawn.
But why do I care for this, when I mean henceforward, as I told you, to do nothing but amuse myself, by looking at the world, watching, (perhaps laughing at it) but not influenced, by its vents. Always, however, provided I am not robbed, murdered, or imprisoned, in my progress.
I am with my friend Oldacre, who, not having, like me, adopted the nil admirari, is often upon tenter-hooks, from occurrences among his people. But he has, as you know, more verjuice in his composition than I. My “ milk of human kindness," however, has been rather soured of late-as, you will tell me, my letters prove. Yet I believe that our moral treasons have done their worst, and that, without being, like Duncan, in my grave, I may yet sleep well, under the philosophy I have chosen;
“ Nor steel, nor poison, Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch me farther.” Were you, however, to fail me as my relations and tenants have, I would not answer for the nil admirari.
I told you I would write again when I knew more what to write. The copy of the letter I send, is almost supplementary to what I wrote you three days ago; and as I know how curious you are in original characters, I wish to give you the amusement of it.
Perhaps I have a spice of malicious pleasure at bottom, in thinking how it will kindle your noble reform spleen against the writer ; but whom I must desire you not to affront—for he is one of the worthy, though, in your opinion, not one of the enlightened.
The letter is from my good host here, to his