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AN ARISTOCRATIC LUNCHEON.
may call that poor, silent, pale-faced, uncomfortablelooking, self-immolated young man in the corner, a guest, who looks very like a criminal taking his meals before execution), a youth and a man of forty. Everybody votes the former absent, and nobody can have too much of the latter. The youth is a clergyman's son, tutor to Lord Birmingham's son and heir; he took honours at Cambridge, and means to fight hard in the world by and by. He has gentle blood in his veins, but not a sixpence in his pocket; part of his salary goes home to his family, and as much of his good breeding and learning as the patient will take is transferred to the son and heir. The scholar is good enough to stand in loco parentis to his pupil; but his honours, his erudition, and his cultivation buy for him at the table the simple rank of an upper servant. You know the style of the place, and are not surprised to see the youth, after a moderate and silent repast, retreat, ghost-like and unnoticed, from the fine apartment. Well, the aristocracy have a duty to perform; they must sustain their order and respect themselves. You hear a horse-laugh. It is from the gentleman of forty. You never met him before, but you saw somebody very like him as you once passed through Smithfield-market. It is the renowned Snobson; ten years ago he served behind a counter (many a better man has done it). Speculation and something else have made him a man of millions, but nothing more. Vulgarity is enthroned in his heart and is exuberant on his tongue. My lord's butler is a king to him—an emperor-a pope. The humblest occupant of plush is a hero at his side. You feel it when he talks, moves, eats, or drinks ;
your flesh creeps in his company; you suspect that the groom of the chambers would think the individual out of his place in the steward's room. You are satisfied that if you could scrape off all the gold that encases that carcase, you would find nothing but the muddiest of mud huts. You have the keenest possible perception of all this ; yet Lady Birmingham, who treats her son's tutor as though he were a learned pig, and nothing higher in the animal chain, is absorbed in visible admiration. It is the same with all the ladies; and as for the gentlemen—including the Duke—they are as proud of their acquaintance as they are innocent of his vulgarity and complaisant to his grossness. You know well enough what it all means. The thing is made of money. But then you remember again that the aristocracy have a duty to perform, must sustain their order and respect themselves, and, for the life of you, you cannot conceive how the personal respect is consistent with the degrading adulation.
Illustrations abound. They occur to us all. We pay our highest respect to money, and desiring to be respected, we strain after the possession of that for which we know we shall be admired, courted, and esteemed, though we lack every virtue in the calendar. We see folks-no doubt charming people in their way-endowed with every quality of Adam before he transgressed, neglected because they are poor, and we hate poverty for the cruel penalty it inflicts. Hence the universal treading upon one another's heels, the pulling at the skirts of those above us, the shocks received from the struggling gentry immediately behind us; hence the banishment of all simplicity
MONEY-WORSHIP, A NATIONAL SIN.
from our lives; the shame that attaches to the condition of life to which it has pleased God to call us, and the difficulties that surround the station into which we ridiculously call ourselves. Hence domestic miseries, heartrending bankruptcies, gentlewomen left by insolvent fathers to boast in humble servitude of better days, ingenuous youths thrown upon the world to contend with it in the spirit of bitter foes ; hence, too, the starvation that glares upon us from the holes and corners of the world, holes in which men, women, and children labour for a crust through the long hours of day and night, that some prosperous, sleek, and “universally respected” tradesman may minister to an inhuman love of cheapness, and fatten upon the flesh and blood of his obscure and helpless fellowcreatures.
Enough! Money-worship, let us not deny it, is a national sin, and he deserves well of society who makes it the subject of his written thoughts, whether he speak in prose or verse. One phase of the passion prominently presented itself in the recent history of railway speculation, and we recommended writers of fiction, whose office it is to catch folly as it flies, not to let the opportunity slip unused. The author of one of the two novels now before us—the Golden Calf-tells us in his preface that when our hint came under his observation
“He had already written at least half of the present volumes upon a plan very similar to the one" laid down by ourselves,“ but comprehending other objects which certain events that had recently come before the public with a painful prominence had suggested to him. He desired to show not only the pernicious
influence on society of the great speculators, but the almost equally injurious influence of the great squanderers."
It would afford us real pleasure to say that the success of the endeavour is equal to its aim. The Golden Calf is a meagre sketch by a feeble hand. It takes an inventory of a house, but does not communi. cate the spirit that pervades it;-the mechanical broker, not the instructed artist, is at work throughout. In the recommendations given in these columns last September, we unhesitatingly affirmed that an author, provided he winnowed his facts well and discharged his self-appointed task in a spirit of conscientiousness and integrity, might deal boldly with names, and be utterly fearless of consequences. And bold enough the author of the Golden Calf is in all conscience. Not only have we Mr. Hudson, Mr. Delafield, and the Duke of Buckingham brought upon the stage, but also the Marquis of Londonderry, old Mr. Coutts, Miss Burdett Coutts, and other individuals, whom there is no more reason to disturb and summon, than there is to drag the author's own father before the public for the unnecessary purpose of making a bow. Yet, though we have a great array of public characters, we learn no more concerning them than we have hitherto gathered from the wellknown records of their lives. The dull level of narrative is never broken by the pungency of satire; personality is never redeemed by brilliancy or force of expression. We have no insight into the souls of individuals whom we do not care to transfer from actual life to the pages of the novelist unless it be to see the springs of action hidden from our gaze in the
SIR EDWARD GRAHAM, AND THE GOLDEN CALF, 45 broad daylight of the world. The lover of scandal will be grievously disappointed who looks for “revelations” in the Golden Calf. The accomplished and instructed novel-reader will find his appetite pall upon insipidity.
Sir Edward Graham, the second novel, is in one respect the very antithesis of the Golden Calf. The object of the latter seems to be a simple clustering together of a few unworthies of the present generation. The intention is declared in the preface. The preface of Sir Edward Graham protests against its being imagined for a moment that the authoress had any man or woman in her eye in the prosecution of her labours. Nobody will suspect Miss Sinclair of the unkind intention. Her ladies and gentlemen are all strangers, and so we wish them to continue. Before Miss Sinclair proceeds to the main purpose of her work, she fills many pages with edifying remarks upon the degenerate tendency of our age, which prefers highly-seasoned and piquant dishes to the rigid and unadulterated fare suited to the palates of rational and enlightened beings; and then, by way of illustration to her lecture, she writes as thrilling, as melodramatic, and as unnatural a story as ever issued from the Minerva press or delighted hall-porters in Grosvenor-square. There is power in her work, such as we do not find in the companion novel above referred to. The lady has skill in dialogue, and can use a delicate pencil in the development of character, but Sir Edward Graham is certainly as admirable an instance of the vice in order to counteract which the book was expressly written as it is possible to place in the hands of the young.