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Then the crown in turn grew stronger,
The red blood poured like rain;
At length they ceased to battle,
At last there rose a murmur
Oh, that claim of earnest millions,
So with Justice for their banner,
Now there's right in merry England
The King, he has his honour,
Is heard no more the stifled cry
A. M. Z.
POUND AND PENNY BRIBERY.
BY PAUL BELL.
London, August, 1847.
"'Tis a far cry to Lochow," says the old Scottish proverb: and betwixt London and Paris lies a channel of Discord, too wild and wide to be easily bridged over. Still it required no acoustic electricity, on a certain day last month, to bring a pistol-shot to my ear, as distinctly as if it had been the first sound of fire-arms which had ever been heard in France;-and as if there were no such things in that land of the Pacific as duels-practising targets -feux de joie-or other explosions of gunpowder, in which is vented the enthusiasm of a People, who are nothing, so runs the boast, if not military.
I mean M. Teste's attempt on himself. A Minister rushing into suicide because he cannot endure the exposure of his having received a bribe, is, indeed, sure to make a sound which shall arrest the attention of all Europe. By aid of my Lame Boy, (who chatters French like a magpie,) I learn that the Paris journals speak of the poor gentleman as having lived beyond his means, in accordance with the present French fashion of the time; which is to furnish splendidly, to dine "succulently," to dress curiously, to ride as the Arabs do; to have coaches and fine clothes, and trinkets, and opera-boxes at the service of every Lady who is neither wife, daughter, mother, nor sister. It is not long since I was looking over a collection of statistical notes on household expenditure in France, calculated to astonish all moderate and old-fashioned souls, who think they have furnished, when their rooms are chaired, tabled, carpeted, and curtained;-with a sofa for the invalid, and a solemn easy throne in the chimney-corner set apart for "Grandfather." So much for looking-glasses !—so much for clocks! (your frivolous people, it may be observed, have always an inordinate fancy for clocks)-so much for candelabra-so much for marble tables-so much for portières; curtains to hang before doors of which no properly built house stands in need-so much for " objects of taste! I forget the average paid for ornaments on the mantle-shelf!-but it seemed enormous, some might say
wicked, to such of us as were brought up on a stuffed gold pheasant, two screw shells, and a pair of card screens warped with heat and yellow with time. One has but to listen to half-a-dozen of the new French novels to learn how much our neighbours think of such things. There's hardly one in which the author does not show that he understands more about a Curiosity Shop than Mr. Dickens' old man of card-playing memory. And-to jump with French audacity to a conclusion about French matters-since this living outrageously must be maintained, if not paid for Ministers must consent to the shame of being bribed, and the tale be wound up, as we have seen, like a chapter of "Monte-Christo "—with a loud and shameful report.
The tale, however, would be of little more serious import to us, than the dashing and brilliant romance I have mentioned (which is nearly as good as if it were true), could we turn its pages with quite clean hands. We are far, I trust humbly-knowing that Pride leads to a downfall,-past such political profligacy as seeks its quietus in suicide. The days of our Brounckers, and of our Bubb Doddingtons, are over. So long ago as Mr. Pitt's reign, our Premier-if we are to trust Lady Hester's sprightly reminiscences —had attained to the virtue of sending back the chest of gold to the City, in the hackney-coach, with the merchants who brought it. With all the rabid acrimony of the Country Party, they have never dared to whisper that Sir Robert sold their corn-fields for a Wood by Hobbima, or a Waterfall by Ruysdael! It is not the gold of the Fever Doctors-nor of the Homœopathists-nor the Hygeists -which has bought out the Health of Towns Bill-nor the rent" of the Hedge Schoolmasters and Poor Scholars of the Verdigris Isle, (as the Emerald gem of the sea in its faminemildew was most fitly styled) that has purchased the assistance for Maynooth, which has made so many Black Gowns, black in the face also, with charitable Protestant choler! Who would dare to imagine, even, that The Duke had been "reduced by the adroit administration of one lump of bronze, into acquiescing that another lump of bronze, more huge and unsightly still, should stare into his drawing-room windows-for the delectation of the dray-men, porter-brewers, and other such cognoscenti as pass Hyde Park Corner?
No positive though we be-every Gaul will swear it-and shopkeepers," moreover, as your Frenchman will equally assert: with a sneer like Sheridan's at those who imagine money was
coined into the world for the futile purpose of paying debts
is long since we have given up cash transactions of this kind, in our high places or even those more primitive operations of barter, by which Mussulmen and Mussulwomen seek to insure the favour of those who can protect or injure them. There is improvement, too, in the world below stairs. Profligacy counts its gains at election time, by hundreds-where of old it was an affair of tens of thousands. Canary birds, Cuckoos, and Cockatoos, are no longer a fortune to the independent Women of Muff borough. Your Scion of the Nobility will think twice ere he will offer his "pony for the privilege of kissing the stubborn voter's last-born hope, "the flabby, dabby, baby,"-who is one day to be made an Exciseman or a Tidewaiter by my Lord's permission. There is a growing taste for Purity among other sanatory improvements. This all honest men will help forward to "the best of their authority," (as an old school-fellow of mine used to put it), seeing that whereas most of the Virtues may become morbid, if pushed too high, and strained too far-Purity cannot. "Rude health" is the worst similitude which can be applied to it: and the race of Lord Eglantines, who were shocked by this, is, happily for British Manhood, becoming rapidly extinct.
But let me ask-if we be increasingly clear of the coarse vice of giving in to Bribery: increasingly disposed to recognise sincerity in our public men, whether it be the sincerity which acts upon changed opinions, or the sincerity which stands fast-are we sufficiently nice in the employment of, in the appeal to, Influence?sufficiently honourable in avoiding all by-ways, all manner of secondary means to turn the tide of affairs. Or, expecting no such impossible perfection as that selfish and vulgar chicanery shall cease in the land, do we sufficiently recognise the Principle that those having power are accountable for its use to others than their personal friends and private correspondents?
The verdict in a recent English trial, jarred on my ears very nearly as harshly as the French pistol-shot. It was proved that a servant in a public journal, was moved by individual displeasure to give more than common publicity to the report of a trial affecting the character of one who had affronted him. Pains was taken to make the "showing-up" complete-in a case which, otherwise, might have been let alone: the case being one of no remarkable importance. But Nokes was resolved to use The Trumpet to blazon abroad the infamy of Styles. Styles, aware of the intent
of Nokes, wrote to the Proprietors, warning them that their Trumpet was about to be converted into an organ of injury. Nokes opened the letter, as was his business but withheld it, at his pleasure, till the Trumpet had blown its blast, and the infamy of Styles was proclaimed. The Proprietors of the Trumpet, honourably indignant at this keeping-back of the truth from them, till vengeance had wrought its work, dismissed Nokes on the spot: as a traitorous servant, not to be trusted. Nokes brought an action against them for wages: which could be only recovered in case he was proved to have been unfairly dismissed. The jury decided in favour of Nokes.
Now, 'tis of little matter whether one mean man or another shall be five hundred pounds richer or poorer. But it is of consequence that Malice shall be authenticated by Law, in using the public press for its private uses. Granted that the letter of propriety was kept; granted, for argument's sake, that Styles was racked not a screw's turn more than he might, otherwise, accidentally have been racked-the suppression of Styles's letter should have been sufficient for the Twelve Wise Men: as showing them secret interest at work, to the mystification of public documents. The theory of every respectable journal is to shame The Devil. Here was Nokes holding the candle to that Personage: dismissed for tampering with the Evil One. Nay, but," said the jury, "it was but a farthing candle which Nokes held! Let the man have his wages!" For, twist and turn the fact how you will-to this, and nothing less or more, did the verdict amount. Had Nokes been really innocent-really victimised by Satanic virtue-he would have had Damages-not Dues!
I know not, however, whether one should be surprised or depressed, at twelve thoughtless men thus falling short of high principle-thus giving the sanction of English Law to the bribery of the English Press,-if one has had any opportunity of observing the ways and means of directing and expressing opinion, sanctioned so universally by those who rule the World-the Men of Genius and of Letters.
What misuse, for instance, have we not seen, of those charming words, Sympathy and Admiration! how few will practically admit that the limits of support before the public should be determined by Truth, not personal partiality! Are we clear-we Men of Letters of demanding that our critics should be eulogists and nothing more? Which of us-when an un