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Mary Anne. What nothing, not even a sign from heaven? Old Ashford. Why this is a sign from heaven against it. Mary Anne. Well, but if there were to be such a thing? Old Ashford. Why then it would be a sort of duty to attend to it. Mignionette. How beautiful! how the drops glisten in the sun! What a shower of brilliants!
Mary Anne. Now, then, be our friend; one more invocation,
What time the ark on Ararat did rest,
With gentle airs, the tired dove sought its nest,
Thou art a universal hope in heaven!
The human heart, with deepest anguish torn,
Looks upon thee, and charms from out its sorrow
The gentle child gazes at thee, and deems
And shades its deep blue eyes with tiny hand,
And when the spring-time brings the gentle rain,
He thinks upon the promise at thy birth,
And, blessing thee, works on till evening pale--
Come to us, lovely one! We look for thee
I do invoke thee by a mightier power;
Child of the sun, thy parent bids thee here-
All. It comes! it comes!
Mary Anne. If all the children in the world were but as dutiful! Mignionette. And so the greater part of them would be, if they were, like it, warmed to come by kindness.
Mary Anne. Now, my dear sir, what say you to to-morrow? Old Ashford. Why, having heaven in your favour, I must not be against.
(Poet first, and then)
We never again will fear the rain,
However the wind may blow;
And we'll see the bow drawn on the morrow's morn,
And trust in our own RAIN-BOW.
ORIGINAL LETTER FROM THE LATE CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HAZLITT, ON THE BIRTH OF HIS SON.
I CANNOT help accompanying my sister's congratulations to Sarah with some of my own to you, on this happy occasion of a man child's being born.
Delighted fancy already sees him some future rich alderman or opulent merchant; painting, perhaps, a little in his leisure hours for amusement, like the late H. Bunbury, Esquire.
Pray, are the Winterslow estates entailed? I am afraid lest the young dog, when he grows up, should cut down the woods, and leave no groves for widows to take their lonesome solace in. The Wem estate, of course, can only devolve on him in case of your brother leaving no male issue.
Well, my blessing and heaven's be upon him, and make him like his father, with something a better temper, and a smoother head of hair; and then all the men and women must love him.
Martin and the bard-boys join in congratulations. Love to Sarah. Sorry we are not within caudle-shot.
NOTES ON THE NEWSPAPERS.
Lord John Russell's Objection to the Ballot. My objection is, that secret voting gives the electors irresponsible power.' We should have broadly affirmed that only a Whig lord could have made this fact an objection, had we not heard it before from the mouth of Thomas Murphy, of Marylebone, at the Political Union. But then there was this difference in the argument, that Mr. Murphy maintained that the people were not yet enfranchised, while Lord John contends that they are, at least so far as is expedient. He has adopted the objection, therefore, stripped of the only assumption that prevented its being the strongest of all recommendations. Mr. Murphy would have the electors responsible to the non-electors, because he thinks the latter have an equal right to the suffrage. Wanting that, he would preserve some influence over its exercise as the next best thing. But Lord John is not for the extension of the suffrage. He thinks the non-electors have not the right nor the qualification. Mr. Murphy pleads for responsibility to what he regards as a competent tribunal; Lord John, for responsibility to a tribunal which he regards as incompetent. Both overlook the fact, that the responsibility is in proportion to the power of annoyance or of reward, and that this power resides chiefly, not in the non-electors, but in the rich electors, in their various capacities of landlords, masters, customers, &c. &c., besides the direct influence of their money. To this class alone does the responsibility really refer. And if, as to this class, the poorer voters are not to be 'irresponsible,' there is an end of all that freedom and purity of election which his lordship so loudly praises. This notion of responsibility is transferred from trusts which have no
analogy with the franchise. To whom can a nation be responsible? To say that electors should be responsible in the choice of representatives is equivalent to saying that the nation is not represented. If there were first an election of electors by universal suffrage, the objection would have some sense in it; but even then only against the secondary, and not the primary exercise of the suffrage.
The whole of Lord John's speech is admirably dissected in the Examiner' of the 25th of January. Having mentioned that paper, we take the opportunity of disclaiming a very forced construction of our praise, and well-merited praise we deem it, of the Cheltenham Free Press,' last month, as if it implied any sympathy with, or approval of, an attack therein made upon the doubtful integrity' of the Examiner.' We believe the terms were used unwarily, as they certainly were unjustifiably; for where shall we find the purest integrity as well as the highest ability of journalism if not in the Examiner?' In fact, we should have thought the expression of our opinion superfluous, if not impertinent, had it not been called for by this misconstruction.
The Birmingham Town Hall, and the Nomination Meeting therein. -The Birmingham Town Hall is a noble edifice-look at it from any of the five lines of approach, when you will, Seen under a very clear sky, it is silent glory and beauty; under the bright light of the moonbut more so when the clear moon is now dark'd, now flashed out again suddenly, by the rapidly-scudding black storm-clouds,-it is, of all the buildings I remember in this kingdom, the most thought-suggestive. And, probably, much of this power is ascribable to those very matters of objection, which tastes, that I must consider superior to mine, have taken to its site and neighbourhood. I like it for standing near those humble brick dwelling-houses. Knowing and feeling, as I do, the purpose and spirit which urged its erection, it looks to me like their magnificent, not insolently condescending, friend-not their haughty lord. Had its site been more elevated ground, and its whole more isolated, I think it would not have possessed that look of the kindly grand, that countenance of the benevolently beautiful, which, to my sense at least, it now possesses. The projection beyond the street line in the south front, which a skilful and scientific architect pointed out to me as a great defect, I like; this must be my bad taste. It steps out with a generous and complacent bravery, as if it would say, I belong to you all, and will protect and befriend you all. I am here with you; come to me all as fellows and friends: not as an insolent blusterer, with one leg thrust out, like a bully, because he happens to be a strong and big fellow, as who should say, Keep off, you rabble, you vagabonds! or come on if you dare, and I'll smash you! I believe there is not any building in England that can exhibit such a glorious range of columns. Afar off they attract, near they fascinate the gaze. Get into an angle with the eastern line of them, and they become countless, calling up a fancy of there are thousands more,' only your vision is too weak to trace and follow the line. Stand at a distance, and look to the roof; the sky and it are associated; they are mighty and graceful dwellers together. The fabric is a splendid poem.
It has, besides, recommendations to the practical man,' par excellence. Had Government done the town the honour of patronizing the
building, contrivance would have been successful in making the same thing a subject of taxation to the amount of about a hundred thousand pounds. The men of Birmingham know how these matters are managed well enough; and so, by escaping from the aid of royal, ministerial, and aristocratic patronage, they saved their fellow-townsmen some seventy thousand pounds.
But the imposing grandeur and gratifying beauty vanishes when you have entered the building. The poetry is gone. Imposing effect is utterly sacrificed to the sheerest utility, i. e. the anti-utilitarian's utility. Yet do I opine that even more utility might have been maintained if attention to poetical effect had not been so entirely superseded. Those galleries appear like hasty excrescences-a defect which, certainly, is diminished when they are occupied by some eight hundred or a thousand persons but then they have a look of unsafeness, capable and strong as a close inspection convinces us they are. There is about them a character of heavy fragility; it is ponderousness resting on filagree. The coup-d'œil, perhaps, would have been much more satisfactory and grand, if, instead of the ugly excrescences and projections, which now constitute the galleries, gradations of seats had risen directly from the floor, exactly at the lines from which the front seats of the galleries are perpendicular with the base. Such a construction would not only have given a reality, but, what is almost equally necessary, also an appearance of satisfactory strength and stability, besides an increase of accommodation, as to number, of sitters, for all seek to avoid the spaces under the galleries. Ingress and egress, too, would have been no less, perhaps more, easy than at present; though, in respect of egress from the ground-floor, I know no public building for popular assemblages that surpasses the alarm on the nomination day tried the case thoroughly. Good people of Birmingham, let all strangers see the inside of your noble building, (that building of which you justly may be proud,) when it is crammed full of your fellow-townsmen on some great and stirring occasion. Get up a Wellington farce; and while he scoffs at you, you may despise him and a squadron of dragoons at his back. Let the spaces which allow of two thousand people to arrange unruffled their gala-dresses, to stretch out legs and take good elbow-room, be quintuply packed, showing a sea of faces and heads as closely piled and wedged as if they have been rammed together by paviers' rods, just as they were crowded, and crammed, and rammed, and wedged on Wednesday, January 7, 1835, and the eye will sweep over a spectacle which is equalled by nothing but old Niagara-a spectacle at once awful, sublime, and heart-throbbing. Then all excrescence, all incongruity, littleness, and disappointed expectation are swept away.
On that day there were ten or perhaps twelve thousand people packed together. The seats being removed, left the great floor clear; and every avenue, aisle, and accessible window-place was filled with bodies crushed up into the smallest dimensions; thousands of arms were literally wedged to the sides by the pressure. The organ-loft, from which my view is taken, was occupied by the committees and friends, who were admitted by ticket. From this station the eye ran over the whole plain and mountains of hats and faces; up from which rose, on every occasion of circumstantial or verbal appeal to their approving senses, cheers that would have made silent the loudest thunder; rattling, and ringing,
and reverberating with such passionate sublimity, that one actually, for a moment, felt a dread that the roof and walls would split under that mighty burst of voices; while hats and arms shook and shivered like the crossed and splintering billows of the sea in a black night, when opposite and furiously sharp blasts are battling o'er its surface. And, look there I am supposing the reader has eyes-imagination would scarcely have helped me to the conception of such a scene and effect, if I had not witnessed them de facto. There were many dashings, rushings of those who were outside the building, in bodies of some hundreds at once, attempting to force themselves into that solid mass; they seemed to drive into the compact body a huge inky billow-it swept on as if an ocean from without had made a tremendous SEND of its waters into the land-locked haven, which it caused to heave, and sway, and swell as though it would burst every barrier, and overwhelm all in its course. Another send-and another-and then I had the similitude of a dark pine forest, swinging its clinging and intertwisted branches, at one instant with one motion, as the rattling tempest rolled over them, unfeared and unscathing. I have seen many strange and stirring things in my time, but that is, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary.
There was one thing which absolutely appalled for a moment, till repetition in some degree accustomed me to it. I have frequently heard 'groans,' as they are called, from offended popular assembliesbut the hooting,' as it is termed, (though there is no t in the sound,) on this day, is altogether different-it is a fierce howling wind. Perhaps the immense number of throats, belonging all to one mind-and the sounds being confined within walls-contributed much to its peculiar and truly formidable character. Of all the sounds I ever heard, except the sighing in chorus of a swarm of alligators, at midnight, in a vast swamp, (which I once had the felicity to hear, quite innocent of all suspicion that such charming neighbours were within a few yards of me,) this hooing is the most strange and thrilling. My remembering ears are familiar with the hissing of the oriental Typhon, and the dense growl, flattening into a piercing scream, of the West India hurricane: this hooing, from ten or twelve thousand mouths at once, combines the fearful quality of either-it is as indescribably strange, as it is indescribably effective-it splits into millions of minute vibrations. My hat, as I held it in my hand, had a tremulous motion from the concussive sweep, and the fur shivered like breeze-blown grass in a meadow.
Let not the reader conclude that there was any bad feeling, any spite or malevolence in all this. I know the enemies of popular rights will gladly, if they can, by all that twisting, imputation, and gullery is able to effect, fix a stain on the character of that assemblage, and quote its conduct as an argument to prove the mischief of extending elective privilege to the mass: but I take the liberty of hinting, that had the same strength been in their hands, it would not have been used with such noble-ay-such DIGNIFIED moderation: broken heads and fractured limbs, by the hundred; riot, destruction, and drunkenness, from one end of Birmingham to the other, would have signalized their triumph. In this instance the utmost fierceness was the mirth of strength (not its insolence) enjoying the defeat of arrogant weakness. And it was amusing enough to read the palpable affectation of indifference--and of deafness to all these assailing sounds-the glaring pretence-the trying