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combined with the manners of the highest; or, more pointedly, by the morals of the gentry, with the manners of the nobility. Manners more noble, or more polished than the manners of the English nobility, I cannot imagine; nor, on the other hand, a morality which is built less upon the mere amiableness of quick sensibilities, or more entirely upon massy substructions of principle and conscience, than the morality of the British middle classes. Books, literature, institutions of police, facts innumerable, within my own experience, and open to all the world, can be brought to bear with a world of evidence upon this subject. I am aware of the anger which I shall rouse in many minds by both doctrines; but I am not disposed to concede any point of what to me appears the truth, either to general misanthropy and cynicism, to political prejudices, or to anti-national feeling. Such notices as have occurred to me on these subjects, within my personal experience, I shall bring forward as they happen to arise. Let them be met and opposed as they shall deserve. Morals are sturdy things, and not so much liable to erroneous valuation. But the fugitive, volatile, imponderable essences which concern the spirit of manners, are really not susceptible of any just or intelligible treatment by mere words and distinctions, unless, in so far as they are assisted and interpreted by continual illustrations from absolute experience. Meantime, the reader will not accuse me of an aristocratic feeling, now that he understands what it is that I admire in the aristocracy, and with what limitation. It is my infirmity, if the reader chooses so to consider it, that I cannot frame an ideal of society, happily constituted, without including, as a foremost element, and possibly in an undue balance, certain refinements in the spirit of manners, which, to many excellent people, hardly exist at all as objects of conscious regard. In the same
spirit, but without acknowledging the least effeminacy, even in the excess to which I carry it, far better, and more cheerfully I could dispense with some part of the downright necessaries of life, than with certain circumstances of elegance and propriety in the daily habits of using them.
With these feelings, and, if the reader chooses, these! infirmities, I was placed in a singularly fortunate position. My father, as I have said, had no brilliant qualities: but the moral integrity which I have attributed to his class, was so peculiarly expressed in him, that in my early life, and for many years after his death, I occasionally met strangers who would say to me, almost in the same form of words, (so essential was their harmony as to the thing,) 'Sir, I knew your father: he was the most upright man I ever met with in my life.' Nobody, that I remember, praised him under the notion of a clever man, or a man of talent. Yet that he was so in some subordinate sense, is probable, both from his success as a man of business, and more unequivocally in other ways. He wrote a book: and though not a book of much pretension in its subject, yet in those days to have written a book at all, was creditable to a man's activity of mind, and to his strength of character, in acting without a precedent. In the execution, this book was really respectable. As to the subject, it was a sketch of a tour in the midland counties of England, in one octavo volume. The plan upon which it was constructed, made it tolerably miscellaneous; for throughout the tour a double purpose was kept before the reader viz. of attention to the Fine Arts, in a general account of the paintings and statues in the principal mansions lying near the line of his route; and, secondly, of attention to the mechanic arts, as displayed in the canals, manufactories, &c. then rising everywhere into activity, and quick
ened into a hastier development, by Arkwright and the Peels, in one direction, and in another, by Brindley, the engineer, under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater. This Duke, by the way, was guided by an accident of life, concurring with his own disposition, and his gloomy sensibility to the wrong, or the indignity he had suffered, into those ascetic habits, which left his income disposable for canals, and for the patronizing of Brindley. He had been jilted and in consequence he became a woman-hater a misogynist as bitter as Euripides. On seeing a woman approaching, he would quarter,' and zig-zag to any extent, rather than face her. Being, by this accident of his life, released from the expenses of a ducal establishment, he was the better able to create that immense wealth which afterwards yielded vast estates to the then Marquis of Stafford, to the Earl of Bridgewater, &c. In its outline and conception, my father's book was exactly what is so much wanted at this time for the whole island, and was some years ago pointed out by the Quarterly Review as a desideratum not easily supplied-viz. a guide to the whole wealth of art, above ground and below, which, in this land of ours, every square mile, crowds upon the notice of strangers. In the style of its execution, and the alternate treatment of the mechanic arts and the fine arts, the work resembles the well-known tours of Arthur Young, which blended rural industry with picture galleries; excepting only, that in my father's I remember no politics, perhaps because it was written before the French Revolution. Partly, perhaps, it might be a cause, and partly an effect, of this attention paid by my father to the galleries of art in the aristocratic mansions; that throughout the principal rooms of his own house, there were scattered a small collection of paintings by old Italian masters. I mention this fact, not as a circumstance of exclusive ele
gance belonging to my father's establishment, but for the very opposite reason, as belonging very generally to my father's class. Many of them possessed collections much finer than his; and I remember that two of the few visits, on which, when a child, I was allowed to accompany my mother, were expressly to see a picture-gallery, belonging to a merchant, not much wealthier than my father. In reality, I cannot say anything more to the honor of this mercantile class than the fact, that, being a wealthy class, and living with a free and liberal expenditure, they applied a very considerable proportion of this expenditure to intellectual pleasures-to pictures, very commonly, as I have mentioned to liberal society — and, in a large measure, to books. Yet, whilst the whole body of the merchants in this place lived in a style which, for its mixed liberality and elegance, resembled that of Venetian merchants, there was very little about themselves or their establishments of external splendor, that is, in any features which met the public eye. According to the manners of their country, the internal economy of their establishments erred by too much profusion. They had too many servants; and those servants were maintained in a style of luxury and comfort, not often matched in the mansions of the nobility. Yet, on the other hand, none of these were kept for show or ostentation; and, accordingly, it was not very common to find servants in livery. The women had their fixed and appropriate duties; but the men acted in mixed capacities. Carriages were not very commonly kept; even where from one to two thousand a year might be spent. There was in this town a good deal of society; somewhat better in an intellectual sense than such as is merely literary; for that is, of all society, the feeblest. From the clergyman, the medical body, and the merchants, was supported a Philosophical Society, who regularly published their transactions.
And some of the members were of a rank in science to correspond with D'Alembert, and others of the leading Parisian wits and literati. Yet so little even here did mere outside splendor and imposing names avail against the palpable evidence of things-against mother-wit and natural robustness of intellect, that the particular physician who chiefly corresponded with the Encyclopedists, spite of his Buffon, his Diderot, his D'Alembert, by whom, in fact, he swore, and whose frothy letters he kept like amulets in his pocket-book, ranked in general esteem as no better than one of the sons of the feeble; and the treason went so far as sometimes to comprehend his correspondthe great men of the Academy-in the same derogatory estimate; and, in reality, their printed letters are evidences enough that no great wrong was done them -being generally vapid, and as much inferior to Gray's letters, recently made popular by Mason's life throughout England, as these again are, in spirit, and naïveté - not to Cowper's only, but to many an unknown woman's in every night of the year little thought of perhaps by her correspondent, and destined pretty certainly to oblivion. One word only I shall add, descriptive of my father's library; because in describing his, I describe those of all his class. It was very extensive; comprehending the whole general literature both of England and Scotland for the preceding generation. It was impossible to name a book in the classes of history, biography, voyages and travels, belles-lettres, or popular divinity, which was wanting. And to these was added a pretty complete body of local tours, (such as Pennant's,) and topography; many of which last, being illustrated extensively with plates, were fixed for ever in the recollections of children. But one thing was noticeable, - all the books were English. There was no affectation either in my father or