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day, about three months before, in Ireland; but by learning, by knowledge of the world, and by pride of heart, I had outgrown a school; and, from these causes as well as my premature gravity, and (I may say it without vanity) premature dignity of mind, I could not easily humble myself to the idea of taking my station amongst ignorant boys, and under a master who had little chance of having half my own learning. I was glad, therefore, to find the evil day deferred at least; and I had private reasons for rejoicing that the final decision was to be made at L-xt-n. Meantime, my route lay through Stamford, to which I found that I could go by a stage-coach on the following day; and of necessity I prepared to make the most of that day in gloomy, noisy, and, at that time, dirty Birmingham.
Be not offended, compatriot of Birmingham, that I salute your natal town with these disparaging epithets. It is not my habit to indulge rash impulses of contempt towards any man or body of men, wheresoever collected, far less towards a race of high-minded and most intelligent citizens, such as Birmingham has exhibited to the admiration of all Europe. But as to the noise and the gloom which I ascribe, those features of your town will illustrate what the Germans mean by a one-sided (ein-seitiger) judgment. There are, I can well believe, thousands to whom Birmingham is another name for domestic peace, and for a reasonable share of sunshine. But in my case, who have passed through Birmingham many hundred times, it always happened to rain, except once; and that once the Shrewsbury mail carried me so rapidly away that I had not time to examine the sunshine, or see whether it might not be some gilt Birmingham counterfeit; for you know, men of Birmingham, that you can counterfeit such is your cleverness
all things in heaven and earth, from
Jove's thunderbolts down to a tailor's bodkin. Therefore,
the gloom is to be charged to my bad luck. Then, as to the noise, never did I sleep at that enormous Hen and Chickens, to which usually my destiny brought me; but I had reason to marvel that the discreet hen did not gather her vagrant flock to roost at less variable hours. Till two or three I was kept waking by those who were retiring; and about three commenced the morning functions of the porter, or of boots,' or of 'under-boots,' who began their rounds to collect their several freights for the Highflyer, or the Tally-ho, or the Bang-up, to all points of the compass, and too often (as must happen in such immense establishments) blundered into my room, with that appalling, Now, Sir, the horses are coming out.' So that rarely indeed have I happened to sleep in Birmingham. But the dirt!—that sticks a little with you, friend of Birmingham. How do I explain away that? Know, then, reader, that at the time I speak of, and in the way I speak of, all England was dirty.
The next day I crossed the country to Stamford, and thence, by a stage of nine miles, to L-xt-n. Here I passed an interval, the happiest of my childish life. I was again in the house of an Irish nobleman; and my position, therefore, as regarded amusement and freedom of choice in disposing of my time, may be supposed to have been pretty much the same with that which I had just quitted in Ireland. In reality, however, it was very different. Lord C-rb-ry was what is commonly and somewhat contemptuously called a fox-hunter. But fox-hunters, as a class, are not the contemptible persons one might suppose from satiric sketches; at least in my own experience. I have found them far otherwise. It is always beneficial to a man's temper, and does not interfere with any intellectual
qualities he may have, to be placed in the way of hard and continual exercise. Nothing so effectually rids a man of bodily irritation, such as arises from sedentary habits; and thus far, nothing is so well fitted to sustain a tone of genial spirits and good temper. As to any bad effects, it is difficult to see in what way the practice of hunting or hard riding should ally itself with one set of habits rather than another, except through the social connections which it promotes. Now, as to the probable quality of these connections, the reader must be shy of taking his present impressions from the ill-natured and false delineations of books. These are generally antiquated, and (where true at all) suited to a past age. The country gentlemen, indeed generally, of this island, are a class most malignantly traduced in books; persons answering to the Squire Westerns, of Fielding, supposing them ever to have existed, are now to be found only in novels. As to Lord C-rb-ry, connected by birth and political influence with the Irish county of Limerick, where he had a family seat, called Carass, he resorted to England, chiefly, I believe, on account of the hunting in Leicestershire and the adjacent counties, and, in part, perhaps, with a view to London. But he was far from being an illiterate man, or without interest in literature. He was that Etonian whom I had alluded to in my interview with George III., as having urged my mother to place me at Eton. Having himself had a full Etonian training, and looking back with pleasure upon the manliness of the sports, and the republican equality established by the system of manners in that great seminary, he never allowed himself to suppose that any rational creature could hesitate in giving a preference to Eton, where the expense could be borne. That sole ground of demur he admitted as consistent with a man's sanity, but no other. And certainly some weight will be
allowed to that, when I mention the following anecdote : Dining with a gentleman about 1823, who had two sons at Eton, and three of a more advanced age, at Cambridge, 1 heard with astonishment that the two Etonians cost him annually as much (or nearly so) as the three cantabs: the boys cost £300 per annum each, the young men about £220.
When, by what test, by what indication, does manhood commence? Physically by one criterion, legally by another, morally by a third, mentally by a fourth, - and all indefinite. Equator, absolute equator, there is none. Between the two spheres of youth and age, perfect and imperfect manhood, as in all analogous cases, there is no strict line of bisection. The change is a large process accomplished within a large and corresponding space; having, perhaps, some central or equatorial line, but lying, like that of our earth, between certain tropics, or limits widely separated. This tropical region may, and generally does, cover a number of years; and, therefore, it is hard to say, even for an assigned case, by any tolerable approximation, at what precise era it would be reasonable to describe the individual as having ceased to be a boy, and as having attained his inauguration as a man. Physically, we know that there is a very large latitude of differences, in the periods of human maturity, not merely between individual and individual, but also between nation and nation; differences so great, that, in some southern regions of Asia, we hear of matrons at the age of twelve. And though, as Mr. Sadler rightly insists, a romance of exaggeration has been built upon the facts, enough remains behind of real marvel, to irritate the curiosity of the physi ologist, as to its efficient, and, perhaps, of the philosopher, as to its final cause. Legally and politically, that is con
ventionally, the differences are even greater on a comparison of nations and eras. In England we have seen senators of mark and authority, nay, even a Prime Minister, the haughtiest, the most despotic, and the most irresponsible of his times, at an age, which, in many states, both ancient and modern, would have operated as a ground of absolute challenge to the candidate for offices the meanest. Intellectually speaking, again, a very large proportion of men never attain maturity. Nonage is their final destiny; and manhood, in this respect, is for them a pure idea. Finally, as regards the moral development, by which I mean the whole system and economy of their love and hatred, of their admirations and contempts, the total organization of their pleasures and their pains, hardly any Vof our species ever attain manhood. It would be unphilosophic to say, that intellects of the highest order were, or could be developed fully, without a corresponding development of the whole nature. But of such intellects there do not appear above two or three in a thousand years. It is a fact, forced upon one by the whole experience of life, that almost all men are children, more or less, in their tastes and admirations. This needs little proof. Society is absolutely held together, under its present constitution, by the baby feelings to which I allude. Were there no admiration for wealth carried to accumulation far beyond what is practically disposable, of honors which are no honors, and of tinsel decorations, the foundations of society, as it is, would actually give way. Oh, man! were it not for thy latent tendencies, were it not for that imperishable grandeur, which exists by way of germ and ultimate possibility in thy nature, hidden as it is, and often all but effaced, how unlimited would be my contempt for thy species; and that misanthropy, which now I fight against when I find it stealing gradually