« ForrigeFortsæt »
THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE.
It is falsely charged upon itself by this age, in its character of censor morum, that effeminacy in a practical sense lies either amongst its full-blown faults, or amongst its lurking tendencies. A rich, a polished, a refined age, may, by mere necessity of inference, be presumed to be a luxurious one; and the usual principle, by which moves the whole trivial philosophy which speculates upon the character of a particular age or a particular nation, is first of all to adopt some one central idea of its characteristics, and then without further effort to pursue its integration; that is, having assumed (or, suppose even having demonstrated) the existence of some great influential quality in excess sufficient to overthrow the apparent equilibrium demanded by the common standards of a just national character, the speculator then proceeds, as in a matter of acknowledged right, to push this predominant quality into all its consequences, and all its closest affinities. To give one illustration of such a case, now perhaps beginning to be forgotten: Somewhere about the year 1755, the once celebrated Dr. Brown, after other little
attempts in literature and paradox, took up the conceit that England was ruined at her heart's core by excess of luxury and sensual self-indulgence. He had persuaded himself that the ancient activities and energies of the country were sapped by long habits of indolence, and by a morbid plethora of enjoyment in every class. Courage, and the old fiery spirit of the people, had gone to wreck with the physical qualities which had sustained them. Even the faults of the public mind had given way under its new complexion of character; ambition and civil dissension were extinct. It was questionable whether a good hearty assault and battery, or a respectable knock-down blow, had been dealt by any man in London for one or two generations. The doctor carried his reveries so far, that he even satisfied himself and one or two friends (probably by looking into the parks at hours propitious to his hypothesis) that horses were seldom or ever used for riding; that, in fact, this accomplishment was too boisterous or too perilous for the gentle propensities of modern Britons; and that, by the best accounts, few men of rank or fashion were now seen on horseback. This pleasant collection of dreams did Doctor Brown solemnly propound to the English public, in two octavo volumes, under the title of "An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times ;" and the report of many who lived in those days assures us that for a brief period the book had a prodigious run. In some respects the doctor's conceits might seem too startling and extravagant; but, to balance that, every nation has some pleasure in being heartily abused by one of its own number; and the English