« ForrigeFortsæt »
bamboos behind the place where we stood. Having reloaded, we cut into something like a buffalo track, leading towards th spot where we imagined the elephants to be; but were soon overtaken by a native, who endeavoured by signs to persuade us to turn back and follow him. Tolerably sure of the position of our game, and not dreaming of any accident having occurred, we were pushing on, when another native came after us, and in broken English said, One gentleman plenty sick.' The close jungle and suffocating heat naturally suggesting itself to us as the cause of his malady, we handed to the messenger a specific in the shape of a brandy-flask, and were about to proceed on our path, notwithstanding the deprecative shakes of his head and unintelligible sounds intended for English, his stock of which seemed to have been exhausted in the announcement above quoted. At this time the noise of elephants near us induced silence, and we distinctly heard Colonel L-calling to us that H-- had been seized by an elephant: on this we hastened to the spot, and found H. perfectly collected, but bearing evident marks of his recent encounter. That one of his arms and one collar-bone were broken, we soon ascertained; but we were afraid, from marks which showed that he had been rolled over on the ground, that he might have received more serious injuries. From what I heard at the time, and on my return here a few weeks afterwards, I believe that Colonel Land H― each fired both barrels at elephants advancing on them. After the discharge, as the one at which H-- fired rushed forwards, he turned to receive his spare gun; but the native who held it had fled. H then endeavoured to escape, but fell; and the animal coming up, knelt down, and with his head attempted to crush him against the ground, and in doing so rolled him over. In perfect ignorance of the perilous situation of his friend, Colonel L, observing the elephant apparently butting against the ground, concluded it was a wounded one, and went up for the purpose of giving a finishing shot. On seeing him quite near, the animal suddenly raised itself and rushed into the jungle; while, to the utter astonishment of Colonel L-, H-- got up from apparently the very spot which the elephant had just quitted. Had Colonel L-- been a few seconds later in running up, Hwould probably have been sacrificed; or had Colonel L-fired and killed the elephant, it must have fallen upon and crushed H, who in every way had a narrow escape.
The active and energetic Modeliar soon caused a temporary litter to be prepared by some of his followers, while others cut down such bamboos as might obstruct its carriage through the path this done, we soon reached the road, and afterwards met the Modeliar's palanquin, into which we transferred our disabled friend, and proceeded towards Hangwellé; our dinner unfortunately lying in the opposite direction. On reaching Hangwellé, we found a boat ready, in which without loss of time we embarked; and the stream that, in the height of our spirits, and when flushed with anticipated sport, had defied our utmost exertions to proceed on our upward voyage, now bore us swiftly along, baffled, discomfited, and dinnerless. We reached the bridge of boats at midnight; and in an hour after, H——was in the fort of Colombo, attended by the medical men, who ascertained that the only very severe injuries he had received were those we had already remarked.
"After placing our disabled friend in the hands of the surgeon, I accompanied Colonel L to his house on the Galle road, and there we bethought us how eighteen hours of fatigue and fasting might best be repaired. As a preliminary to something more substantial, a glass of liqueur was proposed; and seeing it both rich and clear, I willingly consented to make it a bumper. Had I been able to control my feelings for a few seconds after swallowing it, my kind host would also have taken as a cordial what my premature exclamation enabled him to shun as an odious drug: fine cold-drawn castor oil' was found printed on the label!
"H-recovered rapidly from the effects of his accident; but it was a warning which, combined with our most unwelcome fast and signal failure in elephant-shooting, was a sufficient reason for my commencing to acquire more minute information regarding the interior arrangement of an elephant's head, before I should again run the risk of facing a herd at close quarters. The Colombo Medical Museum afforded me the opportunity of examining the skeletons and sections of the skulls of these animals; by which I at once perceived that the real information I had picked up on this subject was very limited, the instructions I had received extremely incorrect, and that my conclusions were proportionably erroneous. I found that the brain of an elephant occupies but a small space, perhaps not more than one-eighth part of the head, the bones of which were very thin and particularly light. The fore part of the
head, in front of the brain, for a thickness of eight inches, is formed of cells separated by thin plates of bone: this, with the muscles necessary to move their trunks and support their enormous heads, is a satisfactory explanation why those persons who have attempted to shoot elephants without being close to their game have invariably proved unsuccessful. Having been made aware of this fact, our want of success was owing, not to firing at too great a distance, but to our ignorance of the small size and peculiar position of the brain of an elephant."
The following is a fair counterpart to some of the adventures of our Cockney sportsmen :
"In our morning ride we met a young sportsman with a European complexion and abundance of big guns: he informed us of his success the day before in killing two wild buffaloes; complained of being interrupted by a native, whom he could not understand, and had abruptly dismissed; and ended his frank communication by stating, what I already guessed, that he had but lately joined his regiment at Trinkomalee. Two miles farther on we overtook a native, who soon made known to us, by most obsequious gestures and a grievous clamour, that he was on his way to the district judge, to claim compensation for the loss of two buffaloes which had been shot by the gentleman we had so lately passed. He said his claims and remonstrances had been unheeded by the European gentleman (who probably did not understand a word he said), and that his other buffaloes were in imminent danger (most likely some had already bitten the dust)."
A gallant colonel found a "pocket-pistol" of signal service in an adventure with a bear.
"The Ceylon bear, although of small size, is fierce, and much dreaded by the natives; some of whom I have known terribly disfigured, when they were fortunate enough to escape with life from the strong arms and sharp teeth of these animals. The encounter of an active and gallant officer, Colonel H-, with two bears in the Mágampattoo, is a story well known in Ceylon. He had embarked in a native boat, which was driven far past Hambantotte, the post at which he intended to land: having got on shore, although without attendants, and at a considerable distance from any inhabited place, he determined on attempting to reach a resting house before night-fall. In this determination he proceeded, carrying a small portmanteau and a bottle of brandy; the last article a gift most fortunately pressed upon him by the friend from whose house he started. While proceeding with all possible expedition, it became dusk, and Colonel H-found the path beset with elephants; by them he was chased, but escaped by throwing away his portmanteau. Much exhausted by his exertions, he had proceeded but a short way, when, by the indistinct light, he perceived two bears occupying the path, and advancing upon him. As soon as the animals came within reach, Colonel H- struck the foremost bruin so severe a blow, that the bottle was broken on the animal's head, and the brandy dashed over its countenance: on this the bear made a precipitate retreat, followed by his unanointed companion, and Colonel H—— arrived in safety at the rest-house of Yallé."
"There are several different ways of catching elephants in Ceylon; but that requiring least preparation and most dexterity is noosing them in an open forest. For this purpose, having ascertained the position of one, the hunters steal up against the wind, carrying their atmaddoos (strong ropes made of bullock's hide, with a noose at one end). Having got close to the animal's flank, they watch an opportunity, either when he starts off or attempts to turn round, of slipping the noose under a hind foot, at the same time taking a turn round a tree with the other end of the rope. Checked and tripped, the animal stumbles; and, before recovering, additional hide-ropes are fixed to his other legs, which are afterwards entangled by cords made from the keetul (sugar-palm) tree, and twisted from one foot to another, in the form of a figure of eight. The elephant is then fixed to the nearest tree, and a shed erected over him, unless tame ones can be procured to escort him to the stable.
"Another method by which elephants are caught, with less danger to the people but greater injury to the animal, is by laying a large noose of gasmaddoo (a thicker kind of hide rope) in a path, covering it slightly with earth, and fixing the other end to a shady tree, in which a man is concealed, who holds a leading-rope attached to the noose. The elephants being driven towards the snare, if any of them put a foot within the noose, it is raised around his leg by the man who is on watch: by the animal's exertions to escape, the noose is tightened; and the hunters coming up, the capture is completed. Elephants caught in this
way so often overstrained themselves before the hunters came up, that I discontinued catching with gasmaddoos.
"In the maritime provinces, it was the practice to catch elephants in very large kraals; and a multitude of people driven to these hunts were placed in a semicircular chain, sometimes embracing a great extent of country, until, gradually advancing as the elephants removed, the extremities of the line of assailants were brought round so as to reach the enclosure. By noise during the day and fires at night, the encompassed animals were gradually pressed forward towards the fence; then, unable to proceed except by the passage left on purpose, they rushed into the toils, and the entrance was immediately secured before the enraged cap tives had time to discover their dilemma. From the great kraal the elephants were forced or enticed into a narrow funnel-shaped passage, in which, being unable to turn, they were easily secured, and, as they came out, were attached to two tame elephants to be conducted to the stables."
EARLY LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL. In our 64th Number we inserted an article on the study of Astronomy, which commenced with a brief notice of the life of the late Sir William Herschel, father of the present Sir John Herschel, the Astronomer. It was there stated that Sir William was the second son of a musician at Hanover, and that his early life was spent in connexion with the musical profession, "though few correct particulars respecting it are known." It then goes on to state, that he began to turn his attention to Astronomy while he was resident at Bath, as organist of the Octagon Chapel, &c.
Previously to this, it appears that he had been organist at Halifax in Yorkshire, and that he was brought into notice at Doncaster in that county and perhaps it would not be uninteresting to our readers if we were to insert the following particulars, which we believe are only partially known, of a portion of his early life, and of the manner in which the astronomer who discovered the Georgium Sidus was brought from a state of humble obscurity to a situation which paved the way to his future greatness.
The gentleman who was the means of this change in his circumstances was Edward Miller, Doctor of Music, at that time organist of the parish church of Doncaster, and who afterwards wrote and published a History of that town and the neighbourhood, in quarto. The Doctor, in a note in the said History, gives an interesting account of the manner in which Herschel was introduced into respectable society; and we think that we cannot do better than tell the story in his own words.
Speaking of the manner in which the gentry of Doncaster and the neighbourhood wisely spent their evenings at that time (which was about the commencement of the present century), the Doctor describes the weekly concerts given by Mr. Copley at Nether Hall, in which Sir Bryan Cooke, of Wheatley Hall, near Doncaster, grandfather of the present Sir Wm. B. Cooke, Bart., took part, along with other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. He then says, "On the arrival of Mr. Herschel in Doncaster, Sir Bryan Cooke, of course, resigned the first violin to him." The note above alluded to refers to this part of the text, and is as follows::
"It will ever be a gratifying reflection to me, that I was the first person by whose means this extraordinary genius was drawn from a state of obscurity. About the year 1760, as I was dining with the officers of the Durham Militia at Pontefract, one of them informed me that they had a young German in their band as a performer on the hautboy, who had only been a few months in this country, and yet spoke English almost as well as a native; that, exclusive of the hautboy, he was an excellent performer on the violin, and if I chose to repair to another room, he should entertain me with a solo. I did so, and Mr. Herschel executed a solo of Giardini's in a manner that surprised me. Afterwards I took an opportunity to have a little private conversation with him, and requested to know if he had engaged himself to the Durham Militia for any long period? He answered, 'No, only from month to month." Leave them, then,' said I, and come and live with I am a single man, and think we shall be happy together; doubtless your merit will soon entitle you to a more eligible situation.' He consented to my request, and came to Doncaster. It
is true, at that time my humble mansion consisted but of two rooms. However, poor as I was, my cottage contained a small library of well-chosen books; and it must appear singular, that a young German who had been so short a time in England should understand even the peculiarities of our language so well as to adopt Dean Swift for his favourite author. I took an opportunity of introducing him at Mr. Copley's concert; and he presently began in Untwisting all the chains that tie The hidden soul of harmony.'
For never before had we heard the concertos of Corelli, Geminiani, and Avison, or the overtures of Handel, performed more chastely, or more according to the original intention of the composers, than I soon lost my companion-his fame was preby Mr. Herschel. sently spread abroad-he had the offer of scholars, and was solicited to lead the public concerts both at Wakefield and Halifax."
So far, to the credit of the worthy doctor, himself a composer of no mean talent, and who must have been highly gratified at the result of his disinterested and noble generosity, we have introduced Herschel into public life. But the account states further,
"About this time a new organ for the parish church of Halifax was built by Snetzler; which was opened with an oratorio by the late well-known Joah Bates. Mr. Herschel and six others were candidates for the organist's place. They drew lots how they were to perform in rotation. My friend Herschel drew the third lotthe second performer was Mr. Wainwright, afterwards Dr. Wainwright, of Manchester, whose finger was so rapid, that old Snetzler, the organ-builder, ran about the church, exclaiming Te tevel, te tevel, he run over te key like one cat; he vil not give my piphes room for to spheak.' During Mr. Wainwright's performance, I was standing in the middle aisle with Herschel. What chance,' said I, have you to follow this man?" He replied, I don't know; I am sure fingers will not do.' On which he ascended the organ-loft, and produced from the organ so uncommon a fulness-such a volume of slow solemn harmony, that I could by no means account for the effect. After this short extempore effusion, he finished with the old hundredth psalm tune, which he played better than his opponent. Ay, ay,' cried old Snetzler, ‘tish is very goot indeet; I vil luf tish man, for he gives my piphes room for to spheak!' Having afterwards asked Mr. Herschel by what means, in the beginning of his performance, he produced so uncommon an effect, he replied, 'I told you fingers would not do;' and producing two pieces of lead from his waistcoat-pocket, 'One of these,' said he, 'I placed on the lowest key of the organ, and the other upon the octave above: thus, by accommodating the harmony, I produced the effect of four hands instead of two. ever, as my leading the concert on the violin is their principal object, they will give me the place in preference to a better performer on the organ; but I shall not stay long here, for I have the offer of a superior situation at Bath,-which offer I shall accept.'
Here, then, the future Astronomer Royal is traced to Bath, the place at which we first introduced him to the notice of our readers. More of the history of this great man, we believe, is scarcely known. It appears, however, that he came to England in 1759, a date which perfectly agrees with the time stated by Dr. Miller. It seems that he did not turn his attention entirely to Astronomy until the year 1770, eleven years after his arrival in this country. He then made a large reflecting telescope. About 1779, this self-taught astronomer commenced a regular review of the heavens, with a seven-feet reflector; and in 1781 it was that he discovered the Georgium Sidus, now called Uranus, and which for some time was frequently known by the name of Herschel, in compliment to its discoverer.
The main features of Herschel's life are alluded to in our former Number; and we need now only add, that his character and standing were so high in the scientific world, that the University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D., and the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., on behalf of his royal father, bestowed on him the high distinction of the Hanoverian and Guelphic distinction of Knighthood. Sir William Herschel died on the 23rd of August, 1822, at the age of 83.
THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT.
THE sittings of the house of lords have of late years fallen into a degree of irregularity which stands greatly in need of some remedy. After the first week or fortnight of the session very few lords attend, and the debates are few and "long between." In consequence of this paucity of attendance, many bills sent up from the commons are postponed until after Easter, and towards June and July the business to be got through becomes so very oppressive that their lordships are obliged to throw out many bills merely from want of time to give them sufficient consideration. It is obvious that the machinery of the two houses is not well adjusted in this respect.
The peers claim to be entitled from ancient prescription to vote by proxy on all occasions, except when the house sits in committee. A peer, for instance, who chooses to remain in the country or abroad, writes to the prime minister, or any other friend of his a member of that house, empowering such minister or friend to use his vote in any way deemed by either most expedient. It certainly does not appear reasonable that a noble lord residing, say at Naples or Rome, should have the power to vote at Westminster upon a question of which he was at the time of voting most probably altogether ignorant. It happens sometimes that a member of a deliberative assembly, after hearing the arguments on both sides of a subject, changes the opinions which he had entertained upon it before the discussion presented him with the opportunity of making himself acquainted with all its details. From any change of this kind, a proxy precludes the party who gives it. Indeed, there is no reason for excluding proxies from being counted upon divisions in committees, which does not apply with equal force to this species of voting in "the house" itself.
The general routine of a public bill through parliament before it becomes law is so well known that it seems almost superfluous to describe it. The purport of the bill having been fully or partially explained, the member who proposes it asks leave of the house to bring it in, if it is first to be introduced in the house of commons. In the house of lords no such permission is required, a peer having the right to lay his bill upon the table at once, and demand for it a first reading, which is almost never refused. The bill being read a first time, is printed, and a day is fixed upon for the second reading. At this stage it is discussed chiefly as to its principle; and if there be any material differences of opinion concerning it, the question whether it is to proceed farther is decided. If resisted, a motion is made by one of its opponents that it should be read a second time on that day six months; and should this motion be carried, the bill is thrown out. Should there be no opposition, or the motion against the bill fail, it is next referred to a committee of the whole house; its details are gone through, and alterations and amendments are proposed, and according to the views of the majority accepted or rejected. A member chosen for the purpose at the commencement of each new parliament presides as chairman on such occasion. He sits at the table in the centre of the house, and exercises all the duties which in "the house" devolve upon the Speaker. If, however, upon any material point of order, his decision be considered erroneous, it is referred to the Speaker.
The whole of the details of the bill having been arranged, the report of the committee is brought up. Upon the motion that the report be received, a fresh debate may take place. If unopposed, the next step is to order that the bill be engrossed and read a third time on a fixed day. The bill in its amended form is then engrossed upon sheets of parchment, which are folded in the form of a roll. Upon the motion that the bill be read a third time, it is competent to any member to move again that it be read a third time that day six months, or that further alterations be introduced into it. If these alterations be approved of, they are added in the way of "riders on the bill; being so called because the new clauses are engrossed on separate slips of parchment, and
stitched to the original roll at the places where they ought to come in. If the bill be read a third time, the final question is, that this bill “do now pass ;" a question upon which very rarely indeed a division takes place.
The bill, if approved by both houses of parliament, is presented in the house of lords to the sovereign for his assent, which is signified by him personally or by commissioners named for the purpose. His assent is expressed by the words "Le Roi le veut," -"The king wills it so to be." His dissent is conveyed in these words-"Le Roi s'avisera,"-"The king will advise upon it." The prerogative of rejection by the crown is now very seldom resorted to.
In the case of a private bill, a similar course is observed, except that the committee is a select one, which sits in a separate chamber. To a bill of this kind the royal assent is expressed in the words-" Soit fait comme il est désiré,”—“Be it as it is desired." The general bill of supply is carried at the close of the session from the house of commons to the house of lords by the Speaker : the royal assent to this bill is given in a different form by the words "Le Roi remercie ses loyal subjects, accepte leur bénévolence, et aussi le veut,”— The king thanks his loyal subjects, accepts their benevolence, and wills it so to be."
In ordinary cases a bill passed through the house of commons is committed to the custody of a member named for that purpose, who, attended by other members, carries it to the bar of the house of lords, and delivers it to the lord chancellor, who comes down from the woolsack to receive it. A bill passed in the first instance in the house of lords is carried to the house of commons by two masters in chancery, unless upon occasions of great importance, when that office is performed by two judges. All messages from the upper to the lower house are conveyed by masters in chancery; those from the lower to the upper house, by members of the former. Should disagreements take place between the two houses, the points of variance are discussed in a conference between delegates from each house. At this conference the commoners are uncovered, the lords wear their hats. Formerly also the peers (before the Painted Chamber, where such meetings were held, was burned down) claimed the right of standing upon a floor elevated by one step above that upon which the commoners stood. I know not whether this privilege be still adhered to. These old customs appear almost ludicrous; nevertheless they are symbols which mark the superior dignity always assumed by the lords over the commons, and as such are entitled to consideration.
When, at the end of a session, one looks at the long catalogue of measures proposed at its commencement, one wonders at the little that has been realised out of all that had been promised. This remark is especially applicable to the proceedings of parliament for the last three or four years, during which many bills that have occupied months in the house of commons have been thrown out, I may say, in bundles in the house of lords, from a want of sufficient time for consideration. Besides the reason already given for this occurrence, it must be acknowledged, I think, that the machinery of parliament, as it is now constituted, is scarcely equal to the management of the constantly-increasing business of this empire and its vast dependencies.
It would be a very great convenience, I submit, that every bill not absolutely necessary to be dealt with immediately, should be printed and widely circulated at least one session before it is brought forward for discussion in parliament. It would be well also to consider whether much of our private legislation might not be devolved, in the first instance, on assemblies of delegates in the localities interested; bills passed in those assemblies, however, not to have the force of law without the assent of a joint committee selected by ballot from both houses. Some such arrangement as this would save a great deal of time, and protect members from the severe fatigue which attendance upon private committees frequently imposes upon them. It often happens that members who are scrupulous in the discharge of their duties, are called upon to give to them no less than ten or twelve hours out of the four-andtwenty. A heavy day's work in a private committee, and then
six or eight hours' attendance in the house, are, if often repeated, sufficient to break down the strongest health. It is understood that the lives of individuals who are addicted to parliamentary functions are shorter, upon the average, than those of the generality of our population.
If the private business could be divided between local delegates and a joint committee of the two houses in the way I have mentioned, then there could be no good reason why the house of commons might not meet, as the chamber of deputies does in Paris, at one o'clock P.M., instead of five o'clock, and continue until seven in the evening. This would give the ministers all the morning and the evening (after seven) for the despatch of state affairs. On Wednesdays but little business is transacted in the house of commons, and on Saturdays it seldom meets. These two days of the session the ministers have entirely to themselves, besides the recesses of Easter and Whitsuntide, and the whole of that part of the year intervening between the prorogation and the new session. Undoubtedly this alteration in the sittings of the house might not be perfectly convenient to professional and commercial members; but the amount of that inconvenience, even after making full allowance for it, is not sufficient to weigh down all the other advantages which such an arrangement would produce. The length of a day's debate being limited, might compel loquacious members to reduce their speeches in number and measure. The hours would be much more conducive to the health of the Speaker, clerks, the great mass of the members, and the reporters-a most valuable body of literary men, whose general habits would be much improved by a reform of this kind.
As to the house of lords, they seldom sit above an hour or two on Mondays; on Wednesdays and Saturdays not at all, generally speaking. The present arrangement is perhaps the only one that house could adopt, as the mornings are usually devoted to appeals, and other judicial business.
Another most important part of our "state machinery,"-one of which everybody feels the influence, but which it would be very difficult to describe,-is public opinion. What is public opinion? This is a question upon which two political parties can almost never agree. One party represents its view to be the popular one. Should this be conceded, which is seldom the case, the other still contends that it has upon its side all the "good sense" and real weight of the country, and that the sentiments of the sound thinking portion of the community alone are the true elements of "public opinion." All sides are agreed that " publie opinion" is and ought to be the guide of ministerial and parliamentary measures; but their organs in the press so vehemently contend for their separate principles, that a common reader who peruses the journals of the antagonists is often sadly puzzled to decide who is right and who is wrong.
The debates in parliament are now so voluminous, that no reader can get through them unless he can devote to that purpose three hours a-day. This is a labour which very few persons will willingly perform; they, therefore, content themselves with the summary which they find at the head of the leading articles. These summaries are usually framed in the tone, and interspersed with brief commentaries advocating the political principles, of the journal. They are followed by more elaborate articles on "the same side;" and the result is, that nine readers out of ten, being but imperfectly informed as to the facts and arguments connected with both sides of a question, usually adopt, to save themselves further trouble, the sentiments of the journal which they are most accustomed to peruse. The journals which enjoy the most extensive circulation have, therefore, a prima facie title to assert that they are the true sources of "public opinion."
And it must be admitted that this is a title which it is extremely difficult to overthrow, if we are to define public opinion to be the opinion of a great majority of the reading members of the community. There are, however, other things to be taken into consideration before we can accept this definition as the just one. We must, in the first place, look at the character of the publications which claim for themselves the titles of the "leading journals" of
the country. If their arguments be founded in truth-if those arguments be temperately and logically conducted-if the writers be manifestly free from strong political bias, and have in view, not the exaltation of one party or the depression of another, but the real welfare of the empire,-then their identification with a decided majority of the enlightened classes of the community entitles them to say that they are the authentic oracles of "public opinion."
But if, on the contrary, we plainly see at the commencement of a discussion upon any particular topic that assertions not consistent with truth are made,-if suppressions be resorted to-if the quality of candour be absent, and its place be filled up with mere declamation;-if this course of loudness and violence be pursued day after day, without any intervals of sober thought, quiet retrospection, calm investigation of the arguments and facts adduced on the other side, we must conclude that the sources of opinion contained in journals of that description are, to say the least of them, liable to great suspicion, if not altogether apocryphal. Burke has remarked, that a man who utters through the press what he knows to be a lie, and repeats that lie every day for a month or two, will eventually believe it to be a truth. The habit he acquires, during any continued period, of contemplating his original invention, begets a faith in it which sooner or later shapes it out as an unquestionable fact. Moreover, if his journal have any circulation and influence, his primary fiction comes back upon his view in so many various forms from other publications which either copy it or argue upon it without suspecting its real character, that he becomes himself the victim of credulity as much as any of those whom he has gathered in his train. This is the kind of process that generally takes place when fanaticism, either political or religious, supplants in men's minds the faculty of reason. It is clear that from such a poisoned fountain as this truth cannot flow, and that although a majority of voices be in favour of the journal that presents it, their votes do not constitute it "public opinion." It is assertion-it is dogmatism-it is clamour—anything but opinion—that is, if we take opinion to be at all connected with sanity of judgment.
Besides the character of the journals which assume to be the true representatives of public opinion, we must also consider the classes of persons by whom these journals are patronised. This, however, is a matter of fact, involving a sort of general census of the population which cannot be easily made. From the arguments that are used, and the feelings and jealousies and interests appealed to, we can, however, form a pretty fair conjecture upon this point; and if we find that the majority assumed to exist, and to coincide with the journals on whose side that majority is ranged, does really embrace a large proportion of persons of property, information, and influence, we are constrained to acknowledge that they have with them that moral power known by the designation of public opinion-a power undoubtedly irresistible in this country.
Proofs of its many victories over all sorts of resistance abound in our annals. A very recent instance of it occurs in the establishment of the universal penny-postage. This was an innovation combated at its original stages by the post-office authorities, the government, and the houses of parliament. through its early stages of discussion, it was opposed also by a portion of the press, and certain mercantile interests which, it was said, ought to be held inviolable. Even at the last hour the measure was not acceptable to the house of lords; nevertheless it is now the law of the land, having triumphed over all obstacles. And the reason that it did triumph is, that it carried with it a most decided majority of the thinking and discreet members of the community. The mistake of its opponents was, that they treated it as a mere fiscal question; whereas it involves considerations of the highest moral value, and moreover leads to results which eventually will show themselves in a great augmentation of the revenue, although that increase may not be looked for under the head of the "post-office."
True public opinion is, I apprehend, not difficult, after all, to be detected, amid the various sentiments put forth with reference to any question of importance. It is curious to trace its progress
from very small beginnings to an immeasurable extent. The surface of the smooth sea disturbed by the fall of a stone, and presenting a succession of circles in consequence, which every moment widen until at length they embrace a vast area, exhibits a just resemblance of the progress of what really may be called sound public opinion in this country. It is seldom that any measure of rational and useful reform is proposed amongst us in vain. The circle which at the commencement embraces its advocates may be small; but if it be really a good measure, that circle will every year grow larger, until at length it comprehends the whole country. Propositions of a chimerical tendency are speedily put down, especially if their advocates attempt to enforce them by mere brute strength: the laws have only to raise their calm and majestic voice if treason be abroad, and to summon around them all the energies of our social system whenever it becomes necessary to repel movements amongst the people of a character unsanctioned by the constitution.
At the same time, it is clearly to be understood that the people of this country possess a legal right of resistance against the violences of power. That right they exercise, when it is necessary, through the administration and free course of justice in the courts of law, through petitions to the crown and parliament for redress of grievances, through appeals by frequent meetings and the eloquence of the press to public opinion, and lastly, by the use of arms. It is to this right of resistance we owe the Great Charter, and the confirmations of it afterwards when monarchical usurpations endeavoured to rescind it. From the same right, lawfully put in force, resulted the abdication of the throne by James II., and the establishment upon it of the family now reigning over us. That great safeguard is expressly consecrated in the bill of rights. It is, however, a safeguard to be resorted to only in extreme cases. It is the acropolis to which we need not fly until all the outward bulwarks are demolished. De Lolme justly remarks, that "the power of the people is not when they strike, but when they keep in awe: it is when they can overthrow everything, they need never to move; and Manlius included all in four words, when he said to the people of Rome- Ostendite bellum, pacem habebitis ; """Show them war, and you will have peace."
CHINESE TESTIMONALS OF GRATITUDE. IN No. 69, we gave an account of the Ophthalmic Institution and Hospital at Macao and Canton, originally established by T. R. Colledge, Esq., and carried on by Dr. Parker and others. We here add some additional particulars, taken from the Report of the "Medical Missionary Society in China," together with one or two "testimonials of gratitude" from some of the Chinese benefited by the gratuitous labours of these benevolent
We may commence with the Ophthalmic Institution at Macao: "Its founder, T. R. Colledge, Esq., was appointed surgeon to the British Factory in China in 1826, and the succeeding year commenced administering to the infirmities of such indigent natives as sought his assistance. All sorts of distempers now came under his investigation. But soon discovering that no native practitioner could treat diseases of the eyes, which prevail to so great an extent among the labouring classes of Chinese, he determined to devote his skill more particularly to this branch of his profession. In the year 1828, he rented apartments at Macao, for the reception of such patients as required operations for the recovery of their sight. This institution became the topic of conversation throughout the province, and praises and thanks were heaped upon its proprietor by the friends and families of those who had received benefit, as well as by the individuals themselves who had felt his healing hand,' as may be seen by the translation of a few of the many Chinese letters expressive of gratitude, which were addressed to Mr. C., and which are annexed to this work.
"One of those letters I will here particularly notice: I allude to that from Tsae Ye, expressing his gratitude for curing his broken arm; and would state that the accident was caused by a horse, rode by a captain of the Honourable Company's Service, which was somewhat uncontrollable. The Chinese was met in a narrow path, near Macao, and the horse rushed upon him and tumbled
him over, and unfortunately broke his arm ere there was time to retreat, or stop the horse. Mr. Colledge happening to arrive at the spot soon after the accident occurred, was recognised by the crowd of Chinese that had assembled around the unfortunate man, and kindly taking him under his charge, restored his arm to health. Had this not been done, there is no doubt the Chinese officers, as is their usual practice, would have given the captain much trouble, and put him to considerable expense; and, could they have seized his person, would have brought him to trial; but all trouble was prevented by thus taking charge of the man."
The following is the letter alluded to :
"Note of thanks from Tsae Ye, for the cure of his arm, to the English nation's surgeon, Colledge.
"I, Tsae Ye, of Mongha (village), on the 7th of the 9th moon, when going to the village, met on the way a ship captain, riding about for amusement. We encountered each other in a narrow part of the road, where there was no room to turn off, and avoid one another. Hence I was kicked and trodden down by the horse, and my arm broken. Deeply grateful am I to the English nation's great doctor for taking me home to his worthy abode, and applying cures; so that, in about a month, I was perfectly healed. Ye is, indeed, deeply imbued with your profound benevolence. In truth it is as though we had unexpectedly found a divine spirit, giving life to the world. On earth there is none to match you. Ye, sleeping and waking, thinks of you. In this life, in the present world, he has no power to recompense you; but in the coming life he will serve you as a horse or a dog.
"To the English nation's great doctor,
"TSAE YE, with his whole family imbued by your favour, bows his head, and pays respects."
The incident recorded in the following shows the influence of Mr. Colledge's labours :
"The vigilance and steadiness of the proprietor, in enforcing the rules he had laid down for the institution, and keeping subordination among the inmates, together with his scientific and proinfirmary from any event of an alarming nature. Yet, in course fessional attentions to the sick, had for a long period saved the of time, an aged Chinese, who had been admitted, while conversing with Mr. Colledge, suddenly fell and expired. This circumstance was most unexpected and alarming, owing to the prejudices of the Chinese and the severity of their laws. However, Mr. Colledge, with great presence of mind, immediately locked the door of the room where the deceased lay, and, taking the key with him, sent and informed the tsotang (a Chinese magistrate) of the circumstance; this officer received the information with good feeling, the death, evinced no desire either to extort money or make and having satisfied himself concerning the circumstances of
founder of the infirmary had obtained over the mind of the Chinese, who had come to a knowledge of his benevolent exertions, softening, and, in fact, almost subduing, their spirit of revenge towards foreigners."
"I have selected the above anecdote to exhibit the influence the
Some of the letters from the Chinese are very characteristic, both generally and individually. Two individuals approach "respectfully to take leave:".
"We ants, having been long abroad, wish now to return to our familes. We are grateful, medical officer, for the grace you of our eyes, and granting us food and provisions, without our have displayed in giving us benefits, perfectly curing the diseases spending a particle of money. It is, indeed, what may be called expansive benevolence. Your fame will spread over the four seas favours, but can merely express our good wishes in vulgar lanto men of all ages. We have now no ability to repay you with
*This is in accordance with the Chinese custom of designating one's self by some humble term."