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among the Early Britons, before the Roman Invasion. It flourished under the Romans, whose blood, (as Gavazzi once remarked,) mixing with the British, perhaps increased their love of it. It flourished under the Anglo-Saxons, whose brightest flower, the immortal Alfred, laid the foundation of all our noblest institutions. It flourished under the Danes, whose wild freebooters' spirit was tamed down to the enjoyment of true rational liberty, when they mixed with Britons and Anglo-Saxons. And though the Norman invaders threatened for a time to put out its light; yet the Normans had no peace in this realm of England till their despotism was shorn of its most abhorrent features, and a Norman Monarch married a Saxon Princess, re-assembled the Saxon Parliament or Wittenagemot, and swore fealty to the Saxon laws.
This was the last great admixture of races we have had in our isle. There have been minor ones; but none which have tended to deteriorate our blood or spoil our training. England has, for ages been the home of the oppressed, the refuge of the patriot, and the persecuted, driven from less liberal shores ; and such amalgamations, it may well be supposed, did us no harm ; neither decreasing our love of liberty, nor our capacity for sustaining and enjoying it. Liberal institutions, and a comparative absence of that eastern bane of society called caste (which ought to be cast over the walls of creation into infinite space,) have engendered a honourable and healthy ambition Protection, combined with this, has engendered self-dependence—thence has sprung an aptitude and ability for self-government.— These have “grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength :” and thus we stand forth before all the world as the only people who possess liberty without licentiousness, or who, while possessing it, know how duly and truly to appreciate and enjoy it.
In this hasty sketch I have noticed one great cause why liberty, under almost any form of government, can flourish among Anglo-Saxons, while it seems to flourish under no form among Franco-Gauls. I have another, and a still greater cause yet to notice, which I purpose doing in a future paper,
Providence and Improvidence contrasted.
BY THE REV. J. B. OWEN, M.A.
PROVIDENCE and Improvidence cannot perhaps be better contrasted than by exhibiting clearly a picture of each, as they are often to be met with among the working classes of society. We will take then two men as we find them, the drunken and improvident man that builds his house upon “the sand," and the sober and saving man that builds upon “the rock," and let us see how they each meet the trials of that day, when “the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat upon that house” which they respectively build. Let us see how the one falls, and “great is the fall thereof," and how the other “stands, because it is built upon a rock.”
The house of the Improvident man is usually situate in the darkest, dirtiest, dismallest part of the town, beyond the beat of the highway rate, poor rate, paving and lighting rate, sewer rate, or any other rate except the curse-and-quarrel rate, with which the wretched tenants are for ever rating each other. The only thing that bears a hint of any value is the land, every square inch of which is bricked over and vaulted under, close and fætid as a city cemetery; as if the earth had not another acre to spare, and man must be content to occupy as little surface as possible, to leave more room to grow food to feed him. Human beings are stalled in these crammed and crowded bins, the only difference between them and the cattle being the better victualling of the latter. The rain that like a heavenly unction pours fertility upon other quarters, on this spot only multiplies mud, and peninsulates every house and entry with a moat of puddle, exhaling with industrious hostility, the retributive penalties of sanatory neglect, in a continuous malaria generating every type of rheumatic, typhus, and other malignant fevers. The high wind, that like the rough fidelity of an old friend, disturbs but purifies the stagnant atmosphere of every other spot, here serves but to aggravate the local fetors, by the larger circulation of their nuisance,-accumulating the dilapidations in stock by the tottering down of more ruined chimneys, and the forcible ejectment of additional slates and pantiles. The only quiet, and by comparison even reverent phenomenon in the district, is the indigenous smoke engendered in their homes and factories, which perpetually hangs hovering over it, like the filial veil of the Patriach's sons, partially hiding the infirmity and nakedness of its parental landscape.
The very frosts, that like a sharp humoured sarcasm, provoke the interchange of mutual hospitalities among their happier fellowcitizens, seem here to freeze more bitterly than elsewhere, and seal up every cracked door and broken casement, with a stuffing of rags hardly spared from their shivering wearer's limbs waving in the wind as intelligible signals of distress, or stiffening in the cold, as if in predictive intimation of their owner's fate, whom vice, and its matricidal offspring penury, had socially worn to tatters like them. It is among these grim neighbours you are to search for the Improvident man's home, if “home” it may be called ; and if you dare venture after nightfall under a roof, whose ill-chosen foundations may bring down its ruins upon you—on that barren social sand of an improvident drunkard's heart which grows nothing green—that dry sand whose insatiable thirst, every tide leaves dry and thirsty still,—that dull sand that only retains any impression made upon it till the next flood of inundating drink obliterates it—that treacherous sand that has engulphed many a pretty little craft that mistook it for an anchorage-that suicidal sand that must be worthless so long as it lies on the brink of those depths that drown it every day—that wretched sand that is itself a heap of wrecks and fragments lashed by the waves of intemperate fury from its native rocks, and spewed out, as if the sea of life were sick of it, upon a shore of weeds and dreary waste,-on such a sand, the improvident man builds the house that is to be his home, and the home of the wretched squaw his wife, and of his children.
There he is to rear the disastrous duplicates who are to repeat himself to the contamination and misery of another generation. On his model, a characteristic progeny is to be formed, destined like Devil's Nazarites from the womb, to be the plague and pest, the corrupted and corrupters of their future human-kind-at once a burthen and a bane to their contemporaries, like himself; he and they shall be the cryptogamia—the fungi of society, vegetating at its gate-posts, rotting its timbers, betraying its unsoundness, and accelerating its decay. Degenerate, deleterious, abandoned, the wretched character sees no hope of relief but in its own destruction, no refuge but in escape from itself. The devilish charm of drink holds him spell-bound within a fatal circle, drawn with alternate cups and rag's, and he cannot break from its toils-drink is the Delilah that has shorn him of his strength—he cannot “go out and shake himself as at other times, for the Lord hath departed from him." Poor dram-struck wretch-he's cup-crazed-drink has “put out his eyes”-like the blind Samson in the mill. he grinds in the malt-house, and Philistine Lords and loggerheads make game of his prostituted strength ; but my Lords I would have you beware how you trifle with such giant-besotments too long-it's dangerous sport-like the old Israelite, he may pull a house down about your ears, as well as his own! You have suffered this Samson vice to grind on in the moral blindness of its victims, take heed lest it realise on your hands a civil Frankenstein whose monstrous hypostasis shall dog the footsteps of its social progenitor, affiliating on the homicide neglect which quickened it a punitive reaction in the cost of the misery and shame of its hideous subsistence.
The improvident drunkard dies as he lived, without a thought, or care, or one provision for the morrow—the rag upon his back made him a sorry scare-crow to bid others shun the ale-house, but their reversion would'nt pay the Sexton for the hole he dug to bury him. He had been so long and often “ dead drunk,” that Death as if indignant at the repeated simulations of his office, smote the drinker really dead at last! and “the house built upon the sand,” like the earth that “swallowed up Korah and his company," engulphs within its voracious maw, wife, children, and every living inmate that belonged to him! He had swallowed his children piece-meal, as at the banquet of Thyestes before, his ruin realised the filicidal fable of Saturn, in swallowing his whole family in the end. It was his last draught this side Lethe, his next will be the cup filled to the brim, with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
He needed no will, having nothing to devise but an unpaid ale-house score ; but he left to his wife, who never taxed him but with her tears, nor reflected on him but in her prayers, all that shame, penury, and bitter sorrow of a broken heart which is the heritage of a drunkard's widow. To each of his children he bequeathed his dissolute example; and the hereditary disgrace of a debauched ancestor : to any other of his relations who might have it in their power the charges of an unwept degraded burial.
Yet yonder fellow-workman of his, had all the while no higher wages than his own, nor a better choice of neighbourhood to build his house upon, and nearly twice his number of children, but his neighbour was more man than animal-he was a wise, as well as “ a knowing one," and he and his children inhabited the house built upon a rock.
It was harder perhaps to get out the foundations, but then it was all the stronger for it! And what was the kind of “rock” he built upon, but the solid basis of an unassailable Christian character ? An honesty that through fair weather and foul, against wind or wave, sunshine or the dark comes out still “ a rock :"-an industry that in spite of all monotony, of spot or lot, in the discharge of every debt and duty keeps its head above water, like a rock standing where Providence had fixed it—a forethought that takes a high but not haughty view of things beyond it, in its exemplary provisions for the future, like the head-land that is at once a Beacon and Observatory to the horizon that surrounds it-a hospitability that bids the parched hungry way-farer welcome to its simple board, in the image of the Scriptures, “like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land”-a sobriety and firmness that when the tempest roars above its brow, and the waves dash only themselves to pieces at its feet, and wind and tide brawl round like a drunken phrensy, stands lofty and immoveable as the rock in the seas—and a piety whose sacred melody was pitched to no earthly tune, but owes its sweet household harmony, like the sculptured granite of Thebais, to the vocalising light of Heaven, these where the characteristics of the rock on which the homely philosopher and christian built, and it can stand the onslaught of the storm, when like the pulses of creation in her fever, the elements beat never so furiously against it walls !
But let us steal a glimpse at the interior of the dwelling. Ilow happy Mother looks down on the chubby-cherub face of Baby Number Seven, asleep on her knee, so like his father, in all his innocence, playfulness, simplicity, and every thing except the tint of anxiety at odd times, when work was scarce and wages low, and their appetites had rather the start of their provender. There's actually a bit o’lace on baby's cap, for it had been christened that morning, and the old christening cap that had stood as a sort of mute sponsor for all seven of them, looked neat and clean and white as ever, as if it had been bleached over and over again, with its repeated washings in yonder spring water, which flowed as clear as their mother's conscience, soft as her heart and unsullied as her character. The very cradle in which Baby will be beguiled just now, seems to smell sweeter and rock gentler than most other infant equipages. And mark you those six tin cans ranged