Зображення сторінки
PDF

der that Scotland-his beloved Scot- continued in a state of suspended land-might regain, in some measure, animation ; and if she has since its independence. The act of Union, aroused herself, and started forward by which that independence had in the career of improvement, that been destroyed, he was never weary has not been owing to, but in spite of of execrating. “ Before that fatal the connection with England.' The event," he used to say, “gentlemen curse of their country,” he would ex. of small incomes, but honourable claim, “ will lie heavy on the defamilies, possessed both rank and scendants of those who betrayed her; political consequence, as their fa. and sooner shall the name of Campthers had done before them; their bell be disjoined from the rememinterests were fairly and fully repre. brance of Glenco, and that of the butsented in the Great Council of the cherly Cumberland from the atrocities Nation, to a seat in which, at some that followed the disaster of Culloperiod or other of his life, every den, than the names of these men such person might aspire; the per- be exempted from the maledictions fervidum ingenium Scotorum was of an injured people, and from the not yet corrupted by English gold, retribution of infamy, which they nor broken and oppressed by Eng, have so well earned.” Such being lish influence ; our political and ci- my father's sentiments on politics, it vil rights were nearly entire, be- will hardly excite surprise, that, cause our admirable system of law though a staunch, but not a sour was uninvaded; our countrymen Presbyterian, he should have indul. were respected abroad, because they ged in a sort of romantic and unique were respectable at home, and had Jacobitism peculiar to himself, and not yet learned the advantages of that, with all the honest and blunt servility, because they had hitherto sincerity of his character, he should been strangers to subjection. No have wished well to a cause, which, sooner, however, had the liberties of had it succeeded, might have endanthe country been bartered and hig- gered the religious system to which gled away by a parcel of titled mis- he was attached, without effecting creants, whom the curses, not loud, that alteration in the political state but deep,' of centuries to come, will of his country, for the accomplishnot load with merited infamy, and ment of which, I am satisfied, that whose names will be coupled, in the he would at any time have been pages of history, with the indelible ready to sacrifice his life. stigma, Vendiderunt hi auro patriam, He was spared the pang he must than a death-shade overspread the have received from hearing his son land, and blighted the energies of declare that he disbelieved the reli. the people. In lieu of our ancient gion of his fathers; but it was only to Convention of Estates, the Common- bleed from a deeper, and, if possible, ers of Scotland were graciously al- more envenomed wound. About this lowed to send up to London forty- time, the French Revolution, yet in five representatives, an ominous its earliest stage, had attracted the number!) and the peerage fifteen ; in attention of all Europe, and excited a return for which gracious conces. powerful sympathy with the actors in sions, we received English tax-gather that mighty drama. Levelling priners, and the English law of treason. ciples were spreading in all direcNothing is more common," my father tions like a muir-burn, and every would add," than to hear grave men, thing seemed to prognosticate the apand even grave historians, descant on proach of a death-struggle between the advantages which have resulted the partizans of old ricketty instituto Scotland from this infamous bar- tions, and the myriads who had ter of her independence; but, for my caught the democratical infection, part, I never could find out in what and, with one voice, called for the these advantages consisted, unless assimilation of their government to the circumstance of our being flung that which had been organised in into the greedy maw of a powerful, France. Numerous and widelyjealous, and ambitious neighbour, be ramified combinations were formed, considered as such. For half a cen- for the purpose of giving consistency tury posterior to the Union, Scotland and force to the expression of the pub

lic sentiment; and it is not now mat- the suaviter in modo with the fortiter ter of doubt, that, in many of these in re, I have no doubt that their adassociations, designs of a more da- monitions would have saved me from ring character were broached and dis- the precipice to which I was fast apcussed. A little acquainted with proaching, and that I should not now books, but utterly ignorant of the be inditing these painful reminisworld, and never dreaming that there cences in the land of the stranger. were such offences defined and pu. They raved, bullied, talked of exnishable by the law of Scotland as pulsion sine spe redeundi, abused the lesing-making and sedition, I, in French, and all who had imbibed conjunction with many others of far French principles, as they called greater experience and higher attain. them, and threatened to apprize my ments, suffered myself to be betray. father of the dreadful heresy into ed into very loud and unqualified ap. which bis son had fallen. This was probation of what had been transact- enough. I am descended of a race ed in France, and declaimed with who have never brooked menace and the utmost vehemence and enthusi. intimidation, and I had rather more asm against the inveterate and in- than my own share of this heredicurable abuses of all existing Govern- tary infirmity. So I was content ments, especially that of Britain. to be ruined, that I might not be This naturally drew down on me the dragooned into what was clearly for heavy brows of the Professors, and my good. particularly of the very reverend gen. The curse which attends all adtleman then Principal of St. Mary's ; monition, administered by inferior for no new opinion, good or bad, ever minds, invested with a little brief finds its way within the walls of a authority, is, that it is of kin to tycollege, and the learned luminaries ranny : your admonisher puts on his that haunt its cloisters seldom admit important and serious physiognomy, a dogma till it has stood the test of a delivers himself of his reproof with a century. The remonstrances of these sort of insolent and domineering selfvenerable worshippers of the antique complacency, and inwardly chuckles were, however, of no avail. I ascrib with the conscious superiority which ed the clamour, with which they as he is called upon to exercise, and sailed liberal opinions, to a desire to which he has no objection to impress please the powers that be, and sagely at least as deeply on the mind of the concluded, that, in their hearts, they offender as the substance of his were as sturdy democrats as myself. weighty and imposing lecture : in I did not then know, that the selfish short, you are insulted, in order that have no principle but their selfish- you may be convinced. The inevitness, and that they are never charge- able result is, that you place yourself able with hypocrisy except when they on the defensive, and feel an irrepretend to act in opposition to their pressible desire to return blow for interest.

blow. You may acknowledge the But let me not be guilty of injus- force of reasonable, calm, and prutice, though, from the hands of men, dential expostulation; but you reI have received little else. My con- coil with indignant aversion from the duct had been all along so irreproach- oracular imbecility and impertinence able, and my attainments as a scholar of mere authority, sustained only by were considered so respectable, that the conceit and insolence which it so I am satisfied they not only wished naturally engenders in the lower orme well, but foresaw the abyss into ders of intellect. I shall never forwhich I would plunge myself, by as. get the port and demeanour of the sociating with desperate men, who, pompous blustering bully who then come what would, had nothing to held the respectable office of Princibazard but their ignoble blood, should pal. He had frequently professed the Government be disposed to spill the greatest kindness for me, and had it ; and that their remonstrances more than once taken an opportunity proceeded from personal kindness to to assure me that he would be happy myself, as well as from what they to do me a favour for my father's considered to be their duty. And sake. For this prospective sort of had they only thought fit to combine patronage I was, no doubt, his debtor, VOL. XV.

N (1)

and felt becoming gratitude; but felt deeply the misfortune of having the truth was, that the worthy Prin- incurred his displeasure ; that it was cipal's own credit and influence had a matter of unfeigned regret to me long been on the wane, and that he that I had not been able to adjust had nothing in his power. However, my opinions to his taste ; that, neas I never intended to put his friend- vertheless, I had not been able to ship to the test, and as my family discover what possible right he or connections were such as to secure me any man could have to controul my against the humiliation of being in opinions, which were my own; and any respect obliged to him, I was that it would have been time enough content to have my claims, such as to refuse me a favour when I stooped they were, to his peculiar grace and to ask it. The latter part of this re. favour, liquidated in the currency ply seemed to throw him quite off which he had, for twenty years by- his balance; it was telling him to gone, been in the habit of circulating. his teeth that I despised hiin. His With a perfect knowledge of his face swelled with sudden rage,-his character, which was that of a Tur. eyeballs became fixed in their sockets, kish pasha (of I do not know how - he stared at me for a moment with many tails) on a small scale, and a look of desperate, yet imbecile fewith a profound contempt for every rocity ;--and then the storm burst ! thing about him but his office, I was “Sir, I shall have the pleasure of seesummoned before him.

ing you hanged as a traitor.” “Not On entering his apartment, I if I can help it, Principal.” “Friends found him seated at a writing-desk, of the People, quotha !-friends of somewhat similar to that you oca the devil." " There, Principal, we casionally see in the offices of coun. may claim kindred with you, though try attornies, and surrounded with your connection is of longer standatlases and treatises on ancient and ing." " You are a villain, Sir,-an modern geography, a science which, insolent villain.” “ I should be sorry, if his friends and admirers “ might Principal, under your own roof, to be in aught believed," he was des reply to such language as it deserves; tined to immortalize himself by sys- it can only dishonour him by whom tematizing and illustrating. " Be it is uttered ; but permit me to tell seated, Mr Drummond,” said the you, since you provoke it, that if I great man, in a voice as deep and am a villain, I am not a hoary vil. hollow as if it had been belched from lain,-concealing the most degrading the entrails of Ætna or Vesuvius. I vices under the mask of hypocritibowed, and took my seat as directed. cal sanctity, and thundering forth An awful pause of preparation now damnation against the conduct of succeeded. The mountain was in others, that the eye of public obserlabour, and I calmly awaited the act vation and censure may be turned of parturition. After many throes aside from my own. And, as to inand heavings, the crisis at last came. solence, a man who shows no respect " Mr Drummond, Mr Barclay for the feelings of others, must lay Drummond -I tell you, Sir, you his account with some occasional have forfeited every claim to my fa trespasses on his own." “Leave my vour and patronage,” exclaimed this house, Sir, instantly," roared out this reverend Hercules furens, striking bull of Bashan. I assured him he on the hollow board before him with never in his life issued an order his clenched fist, and looking at me which would meet with more prompt with a pair of eyes like those of a obedience ; so, rising slowly from my hungry wolf. I was prepared for the seat, and making a profound reves encounter, and calmly replied, that I rence, I withdrew,

( To be continued.)

THE INSOLENCE OF OFFICE.

The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes. --Shakespearo.

It is always interesting to contem. only legitimate object of appeals to plate the various subdivisions which the press is the correction of abuses distinguish a highly-cultivated com which are beyond the reach of ormunity. Taking out of consideration dinary punishment, to fix, with scruthose factitious distinctions which pulous precision, the blame upon the are only incidental to civilization in proper individuals. Among the holdsome of its several stages of progreso ers of office, men of independent sion, a society which has emerged property frequently possess the highfrom the depth of barbarism is ne est seats: these are candidates for cessarily divided into two principal renown and the fashionable distincclasses-the possessors, whether, by tions of the day, and in the elation inheritance or otherwise, of sufficient of heart consequent upon gratified property to render them independent ambition, are seldom insolent in the of personal labour; and, secondly, exercise of their exalted functions. that larger portion whose destiny On the other hand, the lowest ranks, is apparently less happy. Of the the individuals of which are, as usual, latter, a small part are generally, in the most numerous, are generally consequence of their connection with plodding for their daily bread, or the first class, enabled, by the force exerting themselves in securing an of a superior education, and other inadequate provision for their famiadvantages, to pursue the more ho lies : they are too humble to be innourable and alluring professions, solent, insolence being the attendant while the remainder are left to grope only of mistaken and low-minded their way through the less-inviting pride ; and are so far from being paths of life. Of such of these last, comprehended in the number of the who are compelled to drudge in the dispensers of official insolence, that lower duties of trade, or of manual they are themselves the chief objects labour, it is not my intention to of the contuinely and oppression of speak in the course of this paper, the guilty persons. The truly guilty which, although commenced with so are the upper, not the highest or the broad a view of the great social fa- lowest, servants of the public;-they inily, has reference to a particular are to be found among the comptrolsubject: my strictures will be chief. lers, the commissioners, the secretaly applicable to a middle set-to the ries of boards, and sometimes the men whose education has been far superior clerks of office. Of course, from despicable, but who have been there are exceptions even among unable to crowd into the learned these ; some few ( sed raræ aves, &c.) professions. These are employed in owe their situations to real merit, various ways, and principally as as and possess minds of too generous a sistants to the more fortunate ranks, character to admit the low and vul. and they may be distinguished as gar feelings which our censure imbeing either the retainers of the plies. But the principal part have public, of large trading or joint-stock made their way to fifteen hundred, companies, or of private individuals. or two or three thousand per an

To this class must, I think, al num, by means, and the usual aid most exclusively attach the stigma of opportune occurrences, in which of the poet as practisers of the inso- personal worth had the least share ; lence of office ; and with most force and the conduct of these self-imto such of the genus who are in pose portant persons towards their lesssession of public employments. It förtunate fellow-labourers is, as far is but just, however, to separate the as they dare, (and there unhappily innocent from the guilty, and, as the exist but fow checks upon the play

of their natural tempers,) almost to their excessive numbers. Anthrouniversally marked by unwarrantable podagricus, a lawyer, was chosen, haughtiness and oppression

and a lucrative post created for his A peep behind the scenes, engros especial provision. It soon aftersed by these inflated demi-gods, wards appeared, that it was no part would lay open to our astonished of this gentleman's system to serve view a system of partiality and op- the public effectually, by attemptpression, of whose existence the pub- ing to re-model an establishment lic is altogether ignorant. But the which he found in a state of peheroes move, unhappily, within the culiar derangement: he owed his shaded precincts of that ambiguous place to the incapacity or laziness of circle into which the public interest the others; and to the same source does not penetrate : the mighty men he continued to look as the one most have their world to themselves-im- fruitful of advantage to himself. The portant, indeed, in their own narrow old clerks were encouraged in their minds, but little known or cared for love of sinecure emoluments,-vaby the rest of the creation. We are cancies, as they occurred, were pretdeterred, therefore, from entering ty generally filled by his relative's into minute details of their conduct and dependents, who, as far as their or concerns; and one or two rapidly- patron's influence extended, engrosssketched specimens of the sort of ed all the most profitable duties, and, being alluded to will, perhaps be in time, formed a very compact phasufficient for our purpose. Not to lanx of growing commissioners, &c., extend our view over a space un- whose insolence towards their comnecessarily wide, one source may panions en bas can only be equalled serve us for each of our drafts : let by the rapidity of their own advanceus select one of the principal of the ment. The influence of Anthropodapublic departments, and, to avoid gricus has lately declined somewhat, being too particular, which is the owing to his inordinate rapacity. Alvice of satire, content ourselves with though in the receipt of near four pointing it out to the reader acquaint- thousand a-year, he some time since ed with official details, as being pre- so far practised upon the easy temcisely the one which is glaringly the pers of his superiors, who were not worst-regulated of the whole.

sufficiently aware of his interested About twenty years ago, the af- proceedings, as to obtain the grant of fairs of this office were, if possible, a very considerable sum of public still worse managed than they are money, upon the impudent plea of a now; persons without any capacity temporary extension of business-an at all had, in the necessary operation act which led to the most vexatious of a corrupt system, intruded into it, inquiries, and which the united elo. insomuch that the ordinary routine of quence of the cabinet failed to palbusiness became at length impeded. liate or support. It is said, that he A complete change of the people was scarcely ever appears in the presence out of the question : the public is of the Premier without soliciting only, on extraordinary occasions, ale some new favour; and that the bore lowed to hire adult or efficient ser- and inconvenience are only avoided vants—they must be taken from the by keeping the door as much as posboarding schools, and, after a service sible closed against him. of ten or twelve years, chance must Plumbeus is one of the fortunate decide whether they are to become retainers of this worthy placeman. useful retainers, or only life-charges Before his patron's advancement, he upon the revenues of their country. acted in the capacity of his underThe only attainable cure for the evil, clerk, which, in the legal line, is therefore, was to introduce an extra synonymous with footboy, &c., and workman, sufficiently experienced in since then he has been united in the business to enable him to undertake holy bands of matrimony with a (as he might in fact easily do the lady of his master's household—not most material duties of twenty or a relation, nor, I believe, as some thirty loungers, whose inefficiency say, his cookmaid. Being gifted was perhaps originally attributable with a tolerable memory, and, from

« НазадПродовжити »