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as the United States, where the rate of wages is high, it is probable that it would rather haye a tendency to infuse a spirit of economy into the people, than, by checking the former rate of their increase, and diminishing the supply of labour, to raise its price. But in all old settled, and fully peopled countries, the wages of labour are seldom so high as to permit workmen to economize to any great extent. Nor is this to be at all desired. It is, whatever may be said to the contrary, the great and leading defect in the lower classes, that they submit to privations with too little reluctance. Nothing ought to be more earnestly deprecated, than any change in the sentiments of the great body of the people, which may have the effect of inducing them to lower their opinion as to what is necessary to their comfortable subsistence. “Every such degradation is almost sure to be permanent; inasmuch as wages would always fall in a corresponding ratio.
But there are limits to this fall of wages, and there are consequently limits to the power of the labourers to pay taxes. And whenever these limits have been attained, and it is for the interest of society that they should be easily reached, or that wages should be kept as high and as steady as possible, every succeeding tax on wages, or on the necessaries required for the maintenance of the labourers, will fall entirely on the profits of their employers.
We have thus endeavoured, and we trust not altogether unsuccessfully, to lay before our readers an accurate exposition of the nature, as well of those general principles which Mr Ricardo has been the first to ascertain, as of those which he has adopted from late writers, and combined with the others into one harmonicus, consistent, and beautiful system. It is to Mr Ricardo's own work, however, that such of our readers as wish to acquire a thorough knowledge of the subject, must bave recourse; and although his conciseness of manner, coupled with the complexity and multiplicity of the details which every inquiry of this nature necessarily involves, may sometimes give the appearance of obscurity to his reasoning, it will be found, when rightly examined, to be no less logical and conclusive, than it is profound and important.
ART. III. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Canto the Fourth, By
LORD BYRON. 8vo. pp. 257. London, 1818.
dinary power over the minds of men, it may be truly said,
has existed less in their works than in themselves,-Rousseau and Lord Byron. They have other points of resemblance. Both are distinguished by the most ardent and vivid delineations of intense conception, and by an intense sensibility of passion, rather than of affection. Both, too, by this double power, have held a dominion over the sympathy of their readers, far beyond the range of those ordinary feelings which are usually excited by the mere efforts of genius. The impression of this interest still accompanies the perusal of their writings : But there is another interest of more lasting, and far stronger power, which the one has possessed, and the other now possesses, which lies in the continual embodying of the individual character,—it might almost be said, of the very person of the writer. When we speak or think of Rousseau or Byron, we are not conscious of speaking or thinking of an author. We have a vague but empassioned remembrance of men of surpassing genius, eloquence and power,-of prodigious capacity both of misery and happi
We feel as if we had transiently met such beings in real life, or had known them in the dim and dark communion of a dream. Each of their works presents, in succession, a fresh idea of themselves; and, while the productions of other great men stand out from them, like something they have created, theirs, on the contrary, are images, pictures, busts of their living selves,-clothed, no doubt, at different times in different drapery, and prominent from a different background, -but uniformly impressed with the same form, and mien, and lineaments, and not to be mistaken for the representations of any other of the children of men.
But this view of the subject, though universally felt to be a true one, requires perhaps a little explanation. The personal character of which we have spoken, it should be understood, is not, altogether, that on which the seal of life has been set,--and to which, therefore, moral approval or condemnation is necessarily annexed, as to the language or conduct of actual existence. It is the character, so to speak, which is prior to conduct, and yet open to good and to ill,—the constitution of the being, in body and in soul. Each of those illustrious writers has, in this light, filled his works with expressions of his own character,—has
unveiled to the world the secrets of his own being,—the mysteries of the framing of man. They have gone down into those depths which every man may sound for himself, though not for another; and they have made disclosures to the world of what they beheld and knew there-disclosures that have commanded and enforced a profound and universal sympathy, by proving that all mankind, the troubled and the untroubled, the lofty and the low, the strongest and the frailest, are linked together by the bonds of a common but inserutable nature.
Thus, each of these wayward and richly-gifted spirits has made himself the object of profound interest to the world,--and that too, during periods of society when ample food was everywhere spread abroad for the meditations and passions of men, What love and desire,—what longing and passionate expectation hung upon the voice of Rousseau, the idol of his day!-That spell is broken. We now can regard his works in themselves, in great measure free from all the delusions and illusions that, like the glories of a bright and vapoury atmosphere, were for ever rising up and encircling the image of their wonderful creator. Still is the impression of his works vivid and strong. The charm which cannot pass away is there -- lite breathing in dead words,—the pulses of passion,--the thrilling of the frame, -the sweet pleasure stealing from senses touched with ecstasy into sounds which the tongue frames, and the lips utter with delight. All these still are there the fresh beauty, the undimmed lustre-the immortal bloom and verdure and fragrance of life. These, light and vision-like as they seem, endure as in marble. But that which made the spirits of men, from one end of Europe to the other, turn to the name of Rousseau,-that idolizing enthusiasm which we can now hardly conceive, was the illusion of one generation, and has not survived to another. And what was the spell of that illusion ? Was it merely that bewitching strain of dreaming melancholy which lent to moral declamation the tenderness of romance ? Or that fiery impress of burning sensibility which threw over abstract and subtle disquisitions all the colours of a lover's tale? These undoubtedly-but not these alone. It was that continual impersonation of himself in his writings, by which he was for ever kept brightly present before the eyes of men. There was in him a strange and urisated desire of depicturing himself, throughout all the changes of his being. His wild temper only found ease in trac. ing out, in laying bare to the universal gaze, the very groundwork, the most secret paths, the darkest coverts of one of the most wayward and unimaginable minds ever framed by nature. From the moment that his first literary success had wedded hini to the public, this was his history,--and such his strange, contradictory, divided life. Shy, and shunning the faces of men in his daily walks, yet searching and rending up the inmost recesses of his heart for the inspection of that race which he feared or hated. As a man, turning from the light, as from something unsupportably loathsome, and plunging into the thickest shades. Yet, in that other existence which he held from imagination, living only in the presence of men,-in the full broad glare of the world's eyes—and eagerly, impetuously, passionately, unsparingly seizing on all his own most hidden thoughts his loneliest moods-his most sacred feelings which had been cherished for the seclusion in which they sprung-for their own still deep peace and for their breathings of unbeheld communions, --seizing upon all these, and flinging them out into the open air, that they might feed the curiosity of that eager, idle, frivolous world from which he had fled in misanthropical disgust—that he might array an exhibition to their greedy gaze, -and that he, the morbid and melancholy lover of solitude, might act a conspicuous and applauded part on the crowded theatre of public fame.
It might, on a hasty consideration, seem to us, that such undisguised revelation of feelings and passions, which the becom, ing pride of human nature, jealous of its own dignity, would, in general, desire to hold in unviolated silence, could produce in the public mind only pity, sorrow, or repugnance. But, in the case of men of real genius, like Rousseau or Byron, it is otherwise. Each of us must have been aware in himself of a singular illusion, by which these disclosures, when read with that tender or high interest which attaches to poetry, seem to have something of the nature of private and confidential communications. They are not felt, while we read, as declarations published to the world, -- but almost as secrets whispered to chosen ears. Who is there that feels, for a moment, that the voice which reaches the inmost recesses of his heart is speaking to the careless multitudes around him ? Or, if we do so remember, the words seem to pass by others like air, and to find their way to the hearts for whom they were intended, -kindred and sympathizing spirits, who discern and own that secret language, of which the privacy is not violated, though spoken in hearing of the uninitiated, because it is not understood. There is an unobserved beauty that smiles on us alone; and the more beautiful to os, because we feel as if chosen out from a crowd of lovers. Something analogous to this is felt in the grandest scenes of Nature and of Art. Let a hundred persons look from a hilltop over some transcendent landscape. Each will select from the wide-spread glory at his feet, for his more special love and delight, some different glimpse of sunshine,-or solemn grove, -or embowered spire, or brown-mouldering ruin-or castel lated cloud. During their contemplation, the soul of each man is amidst its own creations, and in the heart of his own solitude ;- nor is the depth of that solitude broken, though it lies open to the sunshine, and before the eyes of unnumbered spectators. It is the same in great and impressive scenes of art, --for example, in a theatre. The tenderest tones of acted tragedy reach our hearts with a feeling as if that inmost soul which they disclose revealed itself to us alone. The audience of a theatre forms a sublime unity to the actor; but each person sees and feels with the same incommunicated intensity, as it all passed only before his own gifted sight. The publicity which is before our eyes is not acknowledged by our minds; and each heart feels itself to be the sole agitated witness of the pageant of mi. sery.
But there are other reasons why we read with complacency writings which, by the most public declaration of most secret feelings, ought, it might seem, to shock and revolt our sympathy. A great poet may address the whole world in the language of intensest passion, concerning objects of which, rather than speak, face to face, with any one human being on earth, he would perish in his misery. For it is in solitude that he utters what is to be wafted by all the winds of heaven. There are, during his inspiration, present with him only the shadows of men. He is not daunted, or perplexed, or disturbed, or repelled by real living breathing features. He can updraw just as much as he chuses of the curtain that hangs between his own solitude and the world of life. He thus pours his soul out, partly to himself alone,-partly to the ideal abstractions, and impersonated images that float round him at his own conjuration, -and partly to human beings like himself, moving in the dark distance of the every-day world. He confesses himself, not be fore men, but before the Spirit of Humanity. And he thus fearlessly lays open his heart,--assured that nature never prompted unto genius that which will not triumphantly force its wide way into the human heart. We can thus easily imagine the poet whom, in real life, the countenances and voices of his fellowmen might silence into shame, or fastidiousness, or timidity, or aversion or disdain,-yet kindling in his solitude into irrepressible passion and enthusiasm towards human nature and all its transitory concerns,—anxiously moulding himself into the object of men's most engrossing and vehement love or aversion, identifying his own existence with all their strongest and profoundest passions,-claiming kindred with them, not in their virtues alone, but in their darkest vices and most fatal errors; yet, in the midst of all this, proudly guarding his own prevailing character, so that it shall not merge in the waves of a common nature, but stand in shape and gesture proudly eminents' contemplated with still-increasing interest by the millions that,