Chapter 19 The Description of a Person Discontented with the Presen_overnment, and Apprehensive of the Loss of Our Liberties.
THE house where we were to be entertained lying at a small distance from th_illage, our inviter observed that as the coach was not ready, he woul_onduct us on foot, and we soon arrived at one of the most magnificen_ansions I had seen in that part of the country. The apartment into which w_ere shown was perfectly elegant and modern; he went to give orders fo_upper, while the player, with a wink, observed that we were perfectly i_uck. Our entertainer soon returned, an elegant supper was brought in, two o_hree ladies in easy dishabille were introduced, and the conversation bega_ith some sprightliness. Politics, however, were the subject on which ou_ntertainer chiefly expatiated; for he asserted that liberty was at once hi_oast and his terror. After the cloth was removed, he asked me if I had see_he last Monitor, to which replying in the negative, "What! nor the Auditor, _uppose?" cried he.-"Neither, sir," returned I."That's strange, very strange,"
replied my entertainer. "Now, I read all the politics that come out. Th_aily, the Public, the Ledger, the Chronicle, the London Evening, th_hitehall Evening, the seventeen magazines, and the two reviews; and thoug_hey hate each other, I love them all. Liberty, sir, liberty is the Briton'_oast, and by all my coal-mines in Cornwall, I reverence its guardians."-"The_t is to be hoped," cried I, "you reverence the king."-"Yes," returned m_ntertainer, "when he does what we would have him; but if he goes on, as h_as done of late, I'll never trouble myself more with his matters. I sa_othing. I think only. I could have directed some things better. I don't thin_here has been a sufficient number of advisers: he should advise with ever_erson willing to give him advice, and then we should have things done i_nother guess manner."
"I wish," cried I, "that such intruding advisers were fixed in the pillory. I_hould be the duty of honest men to assist the weaker side of ou_onstitution, that sacred power that has for some years been every da_eclining, and losing its due share of influence in the state. But thes_gnorants still continue the same cry of liberty, and if they had any weight,
basely throw it into the subsiding scale."
"How," cried one of the ladies, "do I live to see one so base, so sordid, a_o be an enemy to liberty, and a defender of tyrants? Liberty, that sacre_ift of Heaven, that glorious privilege of Britons!"
"Can it be possible," cried our entertainer, "that there should be any foun_t present advocates for slavery? Any who are for meanly giving up th_rivileges of Britons? Can any, sir, be so abject?"
"No, sir," replied I, "I am for liberty, that attribute of God! Gloriou_iberty! that theme of modern declamation. I would have all men kings. I woul_e a king myself. We have all naturally an equal right to the throne; we ar_ll originally equal. This is my opinion, and was once the opinion of a set o_onest men who were called Levellers. They tried to erect themselves into _ommunity, where all should be equally free. But, alas! it would never answer;
for there were some among them stronger, and some more cunning than others,
and these became masters of the rest; for as sure as your groom rides you_orses, because he is a cunninger animal than they, so surely will the anima_hat is cunninger or stronger than he, sit upon his shoulders in turn. Since,
then, it is entailed upon humanity to submit, and some are born to command an_thers to obey, the question is, as there must be tyrants, whether it i_etter to have them in the same house with us, or in the same village, o_till farther off, in the metropolis. Now, sir, for my own part, as _aturally hate the face of a tyrant, the farther off he is removed from me,
the better pleased am I. The generality of mankind are also of my way o_hinking, and have unanimously created one king, whose election at onc_iminishes the number of tyrants, and puts tyranny at the greatest distanc_rom the greatest number of people. Now, the great who were tyrants themselve_efore the election of one tyrant, are naturally averse to a power raised ove_hem, and whose weight must ever lean heaviest on the subordinate orders. I_s the interest of the great, therefore, to diminish kingly power as much a_ossible; because whatever they take from that is naturally restored t_hemselves; and all they have to do in the state is to undermine the singl_yrant, by which they resume their primeval authority. Now the state may be s_ircumstanced, or its laws may be so disposed, or its men of opulence s_inded, as all to conspire in carrying on this business of underminin_onarchy. For, in the first place, if the circumstances of our state be suc_s to favor the accumulation of wealth, and make the opulent still more rich,
this will increase their ambition. An accumulation of wealth, however, mus_ecessarily be the consequence when, as at present, more riches flow in fro_xternal commerce than arise from internal industry; for external commerce ca_nly be managed to advantage by the rich, and they have also at the same tim_ll the emoluments arising from internal industry; so that the rich, with us,
have two sources of wealth, whereas the poor have but one. For this reason,
wealth in all commercial states is found to accumulate, and all such hav_itherto in time become aristocratical.
"Again, the very laws also of this country may contribute to the accumulatio_f wealth, as when by their means the natural ties that bind the rich and poo_ogether are broken, and it is ordained that the rich shall only marry wit_he rich; or when the learned are held unqualified to serve their country a_ounsellors merely from a defect of opulence, and wealth is thus made th_bject of a wise man's ambition; by these means, I say, and such means a_hese, riches will accumulate. Now the possessor of accumulated wealth, whe_urnished with the necessaries and pleasures of life, has no other method t_mploy the superfluity of his fortune but in purchasing power. That is,
differently speaking, in making dependents, by purchasing the liberty of th_eedy or the venal, of men who are willing to bear the mortification o_ontiguous tyranny for bread. Thus each very opulent man generally gather_ound him a circle of the poorest of the people: and the polity, abounding i_ccumulated wealth, may be compared to a Cartesian system, each orb with _ortex of its own. Those, however, who are willing to move in a great man'_ortex are only such as must be slaves-the rabble of mankind, whose souls an_hose education are adapted to servitude, and who know nothing of libert_xcept the name.
"But there must still be a large number of people without the sphere of th_pulent man's influence; namely, that order of men which subsists between th_ery rich and the very rabble; those men who are possessed of too larg_ortunes to submit to the neighboring man in power, and yet are too poor t_et up for tyranny themselves. In this middle order of mankind are generall_o be found all the arts, wisdom, and virtues of society. This order alone i_nown to be the true preserver of freedom, and may be called THE PEOPLE. No_t may happen that this middle order of mankind may lose all its influence i_ state and its voice be in a manner drowned in that of the rabble; for if th_ortune sufficient for qualifying a person at present to give his voice i_tate affairs, be ten times less than was judged sufficient upon forming th_onstitution, it is evident that great numbers of the rabble will thus b_ntroduced into the political system, and they ever moving in the vortex o_he great, will follow where greatness shall direct. In such a state,
therefore, all that the middle order has left, is to preserve the prerogativ_nd privileges of the one principal governor with the most sacre_ircumspection. For he divides the power of the rich, and calls off the grea_rom falling with tenfold weight on the middle order placed beneath them. Th_iddle order may be compared to a town of which the opulent are forming th_iege, and to which the governor from without is hastening the relief. Whil_he besiegers are in dread of an enemy over them, it is but natural to offe_he townsmen the most specious terms; to flatter them with sounds, and amus_hem with privileges; but if they once defeat the governor from behind, th_alls of the town will be but a small defence to its inhabitants. What the_ay then expect, may be seen by turning our eyes to Holland, Genoa, or Venice,
where the laws govern the poor, and the rich govern the laws. I am, then, for,
and would die for, monarchy, sacred monarchy; for if there be any thing sacre_mongst men, it must be the anointed sovereign of his people, and ever_iminution of his power, in war or in peace, is an infringement upon the rea_iberties of the subject. The sounds of liberty, patriotism, and Britons, hav_lready done much; it is to be hoped that the true sons of freedom wil_revent their ever doing more. I have known many of those pretended champion_or liberty in my time, yet I do not remember one that was not in his hear_nd in his family a tyrant."
My warmth I found had lengthened this harangue beyond the rules of goo_reeding; but the impatience of my entertainer, who often strove to interrup_t, could be restrained no longer. "What!" cried he, "then I have been al_his while entertaining a Jesuit in parson's clothes; but by all the coal-
mines of Cornwall, out he shall pack, if my name be Wilkinson." I now found _ad gone too far, and asked pardon for the warmth with which I had spoken.
"Pardon!" returned he in a fury; "I think such principles demand ten thousan_ardons. What, give up liberty, property, and, as the Gazetteer says, lie dow_o be saddled with wooden shoes! Sir, I insist upon your marching out of thi_ouse immediately, to prevent worse consequences. Sir, I insist upon it." _as going to repeat my remonstrances, but just then we heard a footman's ra_t the door, and the two ladies cried out: "As sure as death there is ou_aster and mistress come home." It seems my entertainer was all this whil_nly the butler, who, in his master's absence, had a mind to cut a figure, an_e for a while the gentleman himself; and, to say the truth, he talke_olitics as well as most country-gentlemen do. But nothing could now exceed m_onfusion upon seeing the gentleman and his lady enter; nor was their surpris_t finding such company and good cheer less than ours. "Gentlemen," cried th_eal master of the house to me and my companion, "my wife and I are your mos_umble servants; but I protest this is so unexpected a favor that we almos_ink under the obligation." However unexpected our company might be to them,
theirs, I am sure was still more so to us, and I was struck dumb with th_pprehensions of my own absurdity, when whom should I next see enter the roo_ut my dear Miss Arabella Wilmot, who was formerly designed to be married t_y son George; but whose match was broken off as already related. As soon a_he saw me, she flew to my arms with the utmost joy. "My dear, sir," crie_he, "to what happy accident is it that we owe so unexpected a visit? I a_ure my uncle and aunt will be in raptures when they find they have the goo_octor Primrose for their guest." Upon hearing my name, the old gentleman an_ady very politely stepped up, and welcomed me with most cordial hospitality.
Nor could they forbear smiling upon being informed of the nature of my presen_isit; but the unfortunate butler, whom they at first seemed disposed to tur_way, was at my intercession forgiven.
Mr. Arnold and his lady, to whom the house belonged, now insisted upon havin_he pleasure of my stay for some days, and as their niece, my charming pupil,
whose mind in some measure had been formed under my own instructions, joine_n their entreaties, I complied. That night I was shown to a magnificen_hamber, and the next morning early Miss Wilmot desired to walk with me in th_arden, which was decorated in the modern manner. After some time spent i_ointing out the beauties of the place, she inquired with seeming unconcer_hen last I had heard from my son George. "Alas! madam," cried I, "he has no_een nearly three years absent, without ever writing to his friends or me.
Where he is I know not: perhaps I shall never see him or happiness more. No,
my dear madam, we shall never more see such pleasing hours as were once spen_y our fireside at Wakefield. My little family are now dispersing very fast,
and poverty has brought not only want but infamy upon us." The good-nature_irl let fall a tear at this account; but as I saw her possessed of too muc_ensibility, I forbore a more minute detail of our sufferings. It was,
however, some consolation to me to find that time had made no alteration i_er affections, and that she had rejected several offers that had been mad_er since our leaving her part of the country. She led me round all th_xtensive improvements of the place, pointing to the several walks and arbors,
and at the same time catching from every object a hint for some new questio_elative to my son.
In this manner we spent the forenoon, till the bell summoned us to dinner,
where we found the manager of the strolling company that I mentioned before,
who was come to dispose of tickets for "The Fair Penitent," which was to b_cted that evening, the part of Horatio by a young gentleman who had neve_ppeared on any stage. He seemed to be very warm in-the praise of the ne_erformer, and averred that he never saw any who bid so fair for excellence.
Acting, he observed, was not learned in a day; "but this gentleman." continue_e, "seems born to tread the stage. His voice, his figure, and attitudes ar_ll admirable. We caught him up accidentally in our journey down." Thi_ccount, in some measure, excited our curiosity, and, at the entreaty of th_adies, I was prevailed upon to accompany them to the playhouse, which was n_ther than a barn. As the company with which I went was incontestably th_hief of the place, we were received with the greatest respect, and placed i_he front seat of the theatre, where we sat for some time with no smal_mpatience to see Horatia make his appearance. The new performer advanced a_ast; and let parents think of my sensations by their own, when I found it wa_y unfortunate son. He was going to begin, when, turning his eyes upon th_udience, he perceived Miss Wilmot and me, and stood at once speechless an_mmovable.
The actors behind the scene, who ascribed this pause to his natural timidity,
attempted to encourage him; but instead of going on, he burst into a flood o_ears, and retired off the stage. I don't know what were my feelings on thi_ccasion, for they succeeded with too much rapidity for description; but I wa_oon awakened from this disagreeable revery by Miss Wilmot, who, pale and wit_ trembling voice, desired me to conduct her back to her uncle's. When we go_ome, Mr. Arnold, who was as yet a stranger to our extraordinary behavior,
being informed that the new performer was my son, sent his coach and a_nvitation for him; and as he persisted in his refusal to appear again upo_he stage, the players put another in his place, and we soon had him with us.
Mr. Arnold gave him the kindest reception, and I received him with my usua_ransport; for I could never counterfeit false resentment. Miss Wilmot'_eception was mixed with seeming neglect, and yet I could perceive she acted _tudied part. The tumult in her mind seemed not yet abated; she said twent_iddy things that looked like joy, and then laughed loud at her own want o_eaning. At intervals she would take a sly peep at the glass, as if happy i_he consciousness of irresistible beauty, and often would ask question_ithout giving any manner of attention to the answers.