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supply of candidates qualified for professional pursuits, and disqualified (according to the prejudices of society) for inferior employment, must have been very great indeed-greater, probably, than in our own more expansive age. And such evidence as we possess shows that the popular complaints about the overstocking of professions were as common then as now, and that the causes alleged for it the same as now. Other critics before ourselves have remarked that it is singular that Lord Stanhope, when penning this passage, should have neglected a testimony so strong and so contemporary as that of the · Spectator.
* I am very much troubled' (says that authority in 1711), when I reflect upon the three great professions of divinity, law, and physic; how they are each of them overburdened with practitioners, and tilled with multitudes of ingenious gentlemen that starve one another. ... How many men are country curates that might have made themselves aldermen of London by a right improvement of a smaller sum of money than is commonly laid out on a learned education ! ... It is the great advantage of a trading nation that there are very few in it so dull and heavy who may not be placed in stations of life which may give them an opportunity of making their fortunes.' There is perhaps in this passage a touch of Addison's pervading Whiggism, which induced him somewhat to uphold and panegyrise the commercial or ‘monied' class, in opposition to the ' professions,' the strongholds of Toryism. A monied man in those days was a pretty certain recruit for the Liberal party. • Many of them? (says Coxe, ' Life of Walpole ') ‘made the * public credit personal to Godolphin; and, scrupling to ad“vance money upon the credit of the nation, offered it on his * single word.' • Harley has the procuring of five or six * millions on his shoulders,' is the complaint of Swift, and • the Whigs will not lend a groat; which is the only reason of
the fall of stocks ; for they are like Quakers and Puritans, • that will only deal among themselves, while all others deal so • differently with them. If it had not been for this predilection, Addison might probably have admitted that for a man of ordinary ability and small capital the road to the dignity of alderman was scarcely less encumbered by competition, even in his day, than that to a judgeship. But his evidence as to the real or believed overstocking of professions is not the less emphatic.
It may, however, be admitted that competitors for place and emolument, as well as expectant heirs, had one advantage over the same classes among ourselves to which Lord Stanhope does not allude; and that was, the comparative shortlived
ness of the human race. This is really no paradoxical assertion: the singularity is one which deserves more attention than it has received. It is very certain that during this reign population in England diminished; and it is probable at least that for about half a century, including some time before and afterwards, it remained on the whole stationary. And yet, during that period, there were no active causes of depopulation: no civil or foreign wars of any consequence for this purpose, no emigration to speak of; while the series of recurring pestilences ended with the plague of London in 1665. Nor was there depressing poverty; for the progress of wealth and commerce was at the same time
The result was—what Hallam and other careful observers have sufficiently demonstrated that the condition of the bulk of the people was very superior at the end of that period to what it had been at the commencement. The labourer's lot was a poor one under Charles II. ; it was (relatively speaking) one of rude abundance under George II.*
Whatever may have been the cause which thus affected the springs of vitality among us, the fact seems undoubted; but we are only concerned with it here as far as it affected the well-to-do classes, of which Lord Stanhope is here speaking. Now, in these also we imagine that the death-rate, particularly among children, bore an unusually high proportion to that of births and marriages. And it may be suspected that the cause of this anomaly was not unconnected with the state of the medical art and practice. In the first place, the physical conditions of life were unfavourable. As regards sanitary precautions, people had advanced very little beyond their semibarbarous ancestors. Dwellings, streets, water, air, were as neglected as they had ever been. But the counterbalancing advantages which enabled earlier men, of ruder habits, to resist these influences of evil-out-of-door life, abundant exercise, freedom from pressing intellectual care—these had, to a great extent, vanished. Men had become sedentary, town-dwellers, homekeepers, brain-workers, without any systematic attempt at counterbalancing these depressing causes by attention to animal development.
Nothing is more remarkable, in such indications of the habits of our ancestors of this particular time as its literature
Lord Stanhope appears to rate the prosperity of the “handicraftsman and labourer' as one of the characteristics of the age of Anne, but we suspect that he antedates. The change for the better was then beginning only.
affords, than the neglect and even contempt exhibited for outdoor pursuits in general. The only exertion to which numbers of men ever subjected themselves was the unavoidable one of 'riding post’ on journeys; and even that was beginning to go out of fashion, and to be superseded by diligence travelling. The fine gentleman of the then drama and romance, the hero who rules among men and subjugates women, is always a man of the town, and holds rural sports as very low occupations. His foil, the vulgarian, who is brought in to be hectored and deceived, is generally a country put' fresh from his dog-kennel. And, to turn to more serious authorities, it is strange to our notions to find Bishop Burnet classing together the excesses of hunt*ing, gaming, and drinking, which may ruin both soul, body, and estate.'*
Even the picture of schoolboy life which we gather from casual notices is almost always that of mental labour, much confinement and oppressive discipline; the play of the muscular energies of the young was of course not absolutely repressed, but it was not encouraged, still less made as it is now--the special object of attention and source of emulation. Next, it may perhaps be said that the seventeenth century witnessed the culmination of the reign of venerable nonsense in the medical profession. No doubt, in the middle ages there may have been still more of childish superstition at work to divert men's minds from the lessons of nature. But then doctors were few, and the learned, who slew secundum artem, were a caste apart, much dreaded, but comparatively little consulted. The great majority of mankind were left to the ministrations of very simple practitioners. The strong lived through, and even the weak had their chance of escape, from being left alone. But with enlightenment came on the age of pedantry. Harmless in theology and in philosophy, pedantry in human physiology was very murderous indeed. A generation treated according to the notions prevalent in the early Royal Society grew up
In the dissertation on the habits of the different classes in England, which forms the Conclusion of the History of his own Time, where he further observes, with regard to the ‘men of trade and business' whom he considers on the whole the best we have,' that' want of exercise ' is a great prejudice to their health, and a corrupter of their minds, by . raising vapour and melancholy, that fills many with dark thoughts,
rendering religion a burden unto them, and making them even a • burden to themselves; this furnishes prejudices against religion to . those who are but too much disposed to seek for them.' This is almost a parallel to Swift's physiology of religion in the “ Tale of a • Tub.'
at a great disadvantage. The timid patient of our days reads with a shudder (in the Spectator) that blistering, cup‘ping, bleeding, are seldom of use but to the idle and intemperate.' While Meade, the fashionable doctor under Queen Anne, was writing his · Medicina Sacra,' Queen Anne's seventeen children were hurried out of the world one by one at the earliest stage of infancy. One only, the Duke of Gloucester, lived to the age of eleven years, and then died, after four days' illness, ' of malignant fever’-a consummation easy
, to be explained by comparison with what was passing almost simultaneously on the other side of the Channel. When the Faculty of Versailles had dispatched the young Dauphin and Dauphiness (1712), under an attack of scarlet fever, it proceeded to deal with their two children, whom the infection had reached. The eldest, known as Duke of Britanny, aged five years and some months, “well-made, strong, and tall of his
age,' was treated with repeated bleedings as well as drastic remedies, which, say his contemporaries mournfully, 'could not 6 save him.' The second, the Duke of Anjou, two years old, escaped by a singular accident. A duchess about the Court knew of somebody who had been poisoned, and rescued by a powerful antidote. As it was possible the young prince might have been poisoned, they tried the antidote; but it was against rules to administer it together with bleeding; so the infant was spared the lancet, and lived to become Louis XV., attain his grand climacteric, and die of smallpox. Similar instances without end might be quoted from domestic history in our own country; and, on the whole, we believe that is no overbold conjecture that human life, in the classes of which we are speaking, was never at a lower value, barring liability to accidents, than in the most civilised countries of Europe, in the interval which took place after medical tradition had assumed its most scientific garb, and before the modern reaction in favour of common sense began.
As regards competition for employment amongst the working classes, Lord Stanhope seems to be under the strange impression that this unavoidable result of freedom of labour and individualism' was not only less prevalent then than now, but that it actually did not exist.
• It would seem, as far as negative evidence can show it, as if under Queen Anne the handicraftsman and the labourer had no difficulty in obtaining employment without dispute as to the hours of work and the rate of wages. Most grievous is the change in that respect which has since ensued. .. I am not now concerned in tracing out the causes, or seeking to foretell the consequences of those most deplorable scenes;
either of that dire, and not at the time to be repelled, distress which results from want of employments, or of that artificial aid, and, as I may call it, voluntary and self-inflicted misery, produced by the system of strikes. I only desire at this place to record the fact that none of this suffering, none of this crime, can be traced to the reign of Anne. Can it be doubted to which side the scale of greater happiness inclines ?' (P. 571.)
Of course the vast extension of commerce and manufacture has invested these reigning evils of modern society with a far more formidable aspect than they presented heretofore. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that they were unknown. De Foe's homely-wise leaders in Mist's Journal' and other periodicals contain plenty of evidence to the contrary. See his ironical observations (1724) on a strike' among the weavers at Colchester:
• The masters, or the bay makers, are hurtful and injurious to us poor weavers, and therefore we poor weavers will go and do mischief to ourselves. We cannot get enough to feed us, nor enough to support our families, and therefore we will take care to get ourselves into a jail for the better support of our families. . . . Masters and journeymen, like seamen that embark in a ship, must take their lot for calms and storms, good weather and bad, fair and foul. But if they will indeed mob the people that are guilty, they must go over to Portugal and Spain, and tear the clergy to pieces for not wearing more gowns, and the gentry for not wearing out their bays cloaks.' Nor were the darker features of what we call trades’-unionism at all wanting in those innocent days:
* Have the weavers' (1719) ' a license granted them to riot and bully the women' (for wearing foreign calicos) 'wherever they find them ? Are they allowed to throw aqua-fortis upon the ladies' clothes, and into their coaches, nay into their breasts as they go along the streets, by which, we have been told, one gentlewoman has been killed, and another almost frighted to death ?'
We pass, in conclusion, to the literary aspect of the reign of Anne; and, in particular, to that feature through which it has acquired its chief celebrity—the intimate connexion, real or supposed, between its chiefs in politics and fashion and its distinguished men of the press
* It is also deserving of note, how frequent was the intercourse and how familiar the friendship in those days between the leaders of political parties and the men in the front rank of intellectual eminence. Since Queen Anne there has not been found in England the same amount of intimacy between them, or anything like the same amount. If this were only to say that the men who were ministers, or who desired to be so, sought out cr consorted with those persons who they thought could assist them in their objects as negociators, as pamphletcers, or