Imágenes de páginas

which she had accidentally taken; some of the last words she uttered were, that this was a blasted world, and she cared not how soon she were out of it!

There will be lost members under any system of society: but if any be lost for want of competent instruction, the fault is in the society more than in the individual,--and to whom shall the guilt be imputed ? When we have stated upon the authority of parliament that there are above 130,000 children in London, who are at this time without the means of education, and that there are from three to four thousand who are let out to beggars, and trained up in dishonesty ;-even this represents only a part of the evil; --if the children are without education, the parents are without religion ;in the metropolis of this enlightened nation the church to which they should belong has provided for them no places of worship; and two-thirds of the lower order of people in London, Sir Thomas Bernard says, live as utterly ignorant of the doctrines and duties of Christianity, and are as errant and unconverted pagans, as if they had existed in the wildest part of Africa. The case is the same in Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, and in all our large towns; the greatest part of the manufacturing populace, of the miners and colliers, are in the same condition, and if they are not universally so, it is more owing to the zeal of the Methodists than to any other cause.

The chancellor of the exchequer has intimated (while this paper was preparing) that another session will not pass over without means being taken for supplying, in some degree, the scandalous want of churches in the metropolis. But it is not in London only that the population has outgrown the establishment. It appears by Mr. Rickman's Tables that the population of England and Wales has nearly doubled in the last hundred years; and the ten years which intervened between the enumeration of 1801 and 1811, show

an in'crease of 1,377,000, being about 13 per cent. Since the Reformation it has never been complained that the clergy were too numerous for the duty which they had to perform their numbers, however, have not increased, while the population has thus doubled upon them; the best mode of rendering what they do more effective, and of enabling them to do more, is by preparing the rising generation--by building up an outer and subsidiary establishment of parochial schools.

The age for enacting Utopias is gone by; but God forbid that we should cease to look on in hope and in faith to the gradual and possible amelioration of society - God forbid that we should cease to pray for it, and to labour for it as we may! We have lived to see the abolition of the Slave Trade, -We have lived to see the discovery of Vaccination, events by which one of the greatest moral, and

one of the greatest physical evils in the world will ultimately be rooted out. The condition of one great and important class of the community (the military and naval class) has been most materially improved : a wiser and humaner discipline is gradually obtaining in both services ; the principle has been introduced of incřease of pay in proportion to length of service, and the man who has served his country one and twenty years is entitled to his discharge, and to a pension of a shilling a day for life. He who enters the service young may thus retire from it at an age when he has years of enjoyment to look on to in the course of nature. A proportionate pension is allotted to those who are discharged after fourteen years, and sickness or infirmity entitles a man to a support after seven. Honorary distinctions have been extended to privates as well as officers. Regimental schools have been established, and munificent institutions founded, for the orphans of the defenders of their coun: try. When these benefits shall be generally understood there will be no difficulty in recruiting the army and navy, desertions will become less frequent, and the necessity of pressing will in time be superseded. Nor will the condition of the peasantry, and the manufacturing populace, be less essentially improved when those measures, which the practical philanthropists have recommended, shall be generally introduced. Let there be a system of parochial schools, connected with the church establishment, where every child may receive the rudiments of necessary knowledge, and be well instructed in his moral and religious duties. Let the temptations to guilt be lessened by a prohibition of those brutal sports which harden the heart, and by an alteration of the Game Laws, which are absurd, pernicious, and abominable. Let us multiply farms instead of throwing many into one. Let the labourer, wherever it is possible, have his grass plot and his garden. Let the inducements of industry be further strengthened by the universal institution of Saving Banks, giving thus to every one the fair prospect and easy means of providing in youth for the increased expenses of manhood. Were these measures adopted the poor rates would dimi. nish, and in no long time disappear; and the asylums, which would still be required for friendless age, and helpless infirmity, might be so regulated as to acquire a religious use and a religious character. They who exert themselves in promoting these objects, and such as these, are the genuine patriots, the true reformers, the real friends of the people.

But if these things were done, says the metaphysical politician, the country would be overstocked; Mr. Malthus's discovery must be remembered, and the new science of population!—The new science of population !--First rate powers display themselves in the same manner in all agesa Alter but the place and time of their

birth, and the Aristotle of Greece would have been the Bacon of England; Æschylus might have been our Shakspeare, Demosthenes have led a House of Commons, and the Hannibal of one time have been the Wellington of another. Great men set their stamp upon the age, -it is otherwise with the small craft, the age sets its stamp upon them. Men of genius work like the sculptor for posterity upon enduring materials; the second and third-ratelings compose works of perishable stuff to the fleeting fashion of the day. The same temper of mind, which in old times spent itself upon scholastic questions, and at a later age in commentaries

upon the Scriptures, has in these days taken the direction of metaphysical or statistic philosophy. Bear witness, Bullion and Corn Laws : Bear witness, the New Science of Population ! and the whole host of productions to which these happy topics have given birth, from the humble magazine essay, up to the bold octavo, and more ambitious quarto. The type of the disease has varied at different times, but the disease remains the same-a colliquative diarrhea of the intellect--arising from its strong appetite and weak digestion.

To legislate upon theories of population would be as absurd as if a physician upon some theory of pneumatics were to set respiration to music, and order all his patients to regulate their breathings by the time. A numerous population is, like the Amreeta cup of Kehama, the greatest of evils or the greatest of blessings, according to the government which wields it. A people properly instructed in their duty, and trained up in habits of industry and hope which induce prudence, can never be too numerous while any portion of their own country remains uncultivated, or any part of the habitable earth uncolonized. To reason against the amelioration of society from such an apprehension is worse than folly. Under the most favourable circumstances which the most ardent enthusiast can contemplate, millenniums must pass away before the earth could be replenished ;-till that time the first commandment which man received from his Creator stands unrepealed,-and if ever that time should come the Creator may then be trusted: meantime it is the truest policy and the highest duty to improve the condition of the poor. The better the people are instructed, the happier and the better they will become; the happier they are, the more they will multiply; the more they multiply, the greater will be the wealth, and strength, and security of the state ; and these maxįms are as certain as the laws of nature and of God.

Art. IX.-The History of Persia, from the most Early Period

to the Present Time : containing an Account of the Religion, Government, Usages, and Character of the Inhabitants of that Kingdom. By Colonel Sir John Malcolm, K.C. B., K. L. S. late Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Persia, &c. 2 vols. 4to. pp.

650–715. ТО 10 write the history of a distant nation is likely to be, in most

instances, a thankless labour, since few men feel so disinterested a love of knowledge as to give up their time and attention to events in which their forefathers had no concern, and which can by no probability prove important either to themselves or their posterity. There have been, indeed, some splendid instances of success in this most difficult branch of authorship; and whoever has sufficient courage to begin the perusal of the History of the Saracens, by Ockley, or the Abyssinian Annals of Bruce, will find his "tedium and trouble overpowered and overpaid by the strong moral painting and dramatic vivacity with which those vigorous writers have been able to diversify and elevate their subject. But such talents fall to the lot of few; and Des Guignes, in his History of the Huns, and the Jesuits in that of China, are appalling examples that they whochoose such themes must generally look for the reward of their researches in the pleasure of research alone; must be content to be praised more than read, and to see their works placed among those which, in every library, are least frequently disturbed from their cobwebs.

But the mighty nation which is the subject of Sir J. Malcolm's toils is not so far removed from the course of European politics and curiosity as to render its history devoid of attraction. As arbiters of all the eastern, and no small portion of the western world, the subverters of Babylon and Egypt, the restorers of Jerusalem, the invaders first, and then the victims of Greece and Macedon, Cyrus and his successors are among our first and most interesting acquaintances, and those from whom we derive our most familiar examples of the instability of human affairs; of the virtues whereby empires are founded, and the weakness which hastens their decay. At a later date, and with a kingdom less extensive, we discover nevertheless the sovereigns of Persia adorned with the yet prouder distinction of having withstood and rivalled Rome in the full tide of her power and fortune. Even the palsying influence of Mohammedanism has not sufficed to render this country insignificant in the politics of the western world. Her situation, more than her strength, rendered her a sort of favourite with Christians so long as the unwieldy power of the Turkish sultans continued to alarm the eastern provinces of Christendom; and at the present day, though with a divided empire, and slowly recovering from a century

[ocr errors]

of unexampled distress and misrule, we have seen the favour of the kings of Teheraun and Caubul courted at an expense and with an anxiety which sufficiently evince their real or supposed importance to the Muscovite protectors of Georgia and the British conquerors of Hindostan. Nor-though the face of the country, and the manners of the people have been often and ably described is the subject of Persia yet exhausted. Chardin, indeed, has introduced us not only to the land itself, but to the houses, the habits, and almost the friendship of its inhabitants; and Sir William Jones has rescued their poetry and literature from those imputations which our ignorance and idleness had previously combined to throw on them. But it is by the history of a nation that the national character is best unfolded ; and much may be expected from an historian who is qualified for his task, not only by access to the records of former times, but by personal observation and inquiry as to the events which have occurred in his own; who has been enabled to compare the accounts of ancient writers with the phenomena actually existing in the country, and who has had sufficient experience both in the wars and politics of the east, to judge, with something of a practical eye, as to those anomalies which are most apt to perplex or mislead the European student. We opened accordingly the present history with expectations highly raised; and in all those points for which Sir J. Malcolm himself is fairly answerable, it is but justice to say that we have not been disappointed. We have seldom met with a work where a greater internal evidence is displayed both of candour and of industry, and we can safely promise abundant instruction and amusement to those who have courage enough to surmount the appalling fables by which the earlier chapters of Persian history are occupied and encumbered.

That history, as delivered to us by native authorities, is divided by Sir J. Malcolm, after the example of Sir W. Jones, into--the fabulous,' including all which precedes Kai-kobad, whom Sir J. Malcolm (we apprehend erroneously) indentifies with the Deïoces of Herodotus ; the poetical, or that part which contains some facts and much fiction,' from the Kaianian dynasty to the accession of Ardisheer Babigan; and the historical, which begins with that monarch, and continues uninterrupted to the present period. Now, as Ardisheer, or Artaxerxes, by whom the Parthian dynasty was expelled, and that of the native Persians restored, was contemporary with Alexander Severus, and ascended the throne A. D. 226m-this is surprisingly late for the commencement of authentic history in a country which, from the very earliest time to which our knowledge of its inhabitants extends, has been in possession of the art of writing, and in a state of civilization far greater than is necessary to induce mankind to preserve the records of their own achievements

« AnteriorContinuar »