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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.