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thousand fine feelings, and leaves in every step the mark of his hoofs upon your heart. Analyze the conversation of a well-bred man who is clear of the besetting sin of hardness; it is a perpetual homage of polite good-nature. He remembers that you are connected with the Church, and he avoids (whatever his opinions may be) the most distant reflections on the Establishment. He knows that you are admired, and he admires you as far as is compatible with good-breeding. He sees that, though young, you are at the head of a great establishment, and he infuses into his manner and conversation that respect which is so pleasing to all who exercise authority. He leaves you in perfect good-humour with yourself, because you perceive how much and how successfully you have been studied.
In the meantime, the gentleman on the other side of you (a highly moral and respectable man) has been crushing little sensibilities, and violating little proprieties, and overlooking little discriminations; and, without violating anything which can be called a rule, or committing what can be denominated a fault, has displeased and dispirited you, from wanting that fine vision which sees little things, and that delicate touch which handles them, and that fine sympathy which this superior moral organization always bestows.
So great an evil in society is hardness, and that want of perception of the minute circumstances which occasion pleasure or pain!
ADVICE TO PARISHIONERS.*
IF you begin stealing a little, you will go on from little to much, and soon become a regular thief; and then you will be hanged, or sent over seas to Botany Bay. And give me leave to tell you, transportation is no joke. Up at five in the morning, dressed in
* Lady Holland, in her sketches of "Life and Conversation at Combe Florey," introduces this with the following prefatory explanation by Sydney Smith himself: "It is lamentable to see how ignorant the poor are. I do not mean of reading and writing, but about the common affairs of life. They are as helpless as children in all difficulties. Nothing would be so useful as some short and cheap book, to instruct them what to do, to whom to go, and to give them a little advice; I mean mere practical advice. I have begun something of this sort for my parishioners; here it is."
a jacket half blue half yellow, chained on to another person like two dogs, a man standing over you with a great stick, weak porridge for breakfast, bread and water for dinner, boiled beans for supper, straw to lie upon; and all this for thirty years; and then you are hanged there by order of the governor, without judge or jury. All this is very disagreeable, and you had far better avoid it by making a solemn resolution to take nothing which does not belong to you.
Never sit in wet clothes. Off with them as soon as you can: no constitution can stand it. Look at Jackson, who lives next door to the blacksmith; he was the strongest man in the parish. Twenty different times I warned him of his folly in wearing wet clothes. He pulled off his hat and smiled, and was very civil, but clearly seemed to think it all old woman's nonsense. He is now, as you see, bent double with rheumatism, is living upon parish allowance, and scarcely able to crawl from pillar to post.
Off with hat when your What does it meet a gentleman. you cost? Gentlemen notice these things, are offended if the civility is not paid, and pleased if it is; and what harm does it do you? When first I came to this parish, Squire Tempest wanted a postilion. John Barton was a good, civil fellow; and in thinking over the names of the village, the Squire thought of Barton, remembered his constant civility, sent for one of his sons, made him postilion, then coachman, then bailiff, and he now holds a farm under the Squire of £500 per annum. Such things are constantly
I will have no swearing. There is pleasure in a pint of ale, but what pleasure is there in an oath? A swearer is a low, vulgar person. Swearing is fit for a tinker or a razor-grinder, not for an honest labourer in my parish.
I must positively forbid all poaching; it is absolute ruin to yourself and your family. In the end you are sure to be detected —a hare in one pocket and a pheasant in the other. How are you to pay ten pounds? You have not tenpence beforehand in the world. Daniel's breeches are unpaid for; you have a hole in your hat, and want a new one; your wife, an excellent woman, is about to lie in-and you are, all of a sudden, called upon by the justice to pay ten pounds. I shall never forget the sight of poor Cranford, hurried to Taunton jail; a wife and three daughters on
their knees to the justice, who was compelled to do his duty, and commit him. The next day, beds, chairs, and clothes, sold, to get the father out of jail. Out of jail he came; but the poor fellow could not bear the sight of his naked cottage, and to see his family inched with hunger. You know how he ended his days. Was there a dry eye in the churchyard when he was buried? It was a lesson to poachers. It is indeed a desperate and foolish trade. Observe, I am not defending the game-laws, but I am advising you, as long as the game-laws exist, to fear them, and to take care that you and your family are not crushed by them. And then, smart, stout young men hate the gamekeeper, and make it a point of courage and spirit to oppose him. Why? The gamekeeper is paid to protect the game, and he would be a very dishonest man if he did not do his duty. What right have you to bear malice against him for this? After all, the game in justice belongs to the land-owners, who feed it; and not to you, who have no land at all, and can feed nothing.
I don't like that red nose, and those blear eyes, and that stupid, downcast look. You are a drunkard. Another pint, and one pint more; a glass of gin and water, rum and milk, cider and pepper, a glass of peppermint, and all the beastly fluids which drunkards down their throats. It is very possible to conquer it, if you will but be resolute. I remember a man in Staffordshire who was drunk every day of his life. Every farthing he earned went to the ale-house. One evening he staggered home, and found at a late hour his wife sitting alone, and drowned in tears. was a man not deficient in natural affections; he appeared to be struck with the wretchedness of the woman, and with some eagerness asked her why she was crying. "I don't like to tell you, James," she said, "but if I must, I must; and truth is, my children have not touched a morsel of anything this blessed day. As for me, never mind me; I must leave you to guess how it has fared with me. But not one morsel of food could I beg or buy for those children that lie on that bed before you; and I am sure, James, it is better for us all we should die, and to my soul I wish we were dead." "Dead!" said James, starting up as if a flash of lightning had darted upon him; "dead, Sally! You and Mary and the two young ones dead? Look ye, my lass, you see what I am now like a brute. I have wasted
the curse of God
is upon mebut -I am drawing near to the pit of destruction there's an end; I feel there's an end. Give me that glass, wife." She gave it him with astonishment and fear. He turned it topsyturvy; and, striking the table with great violence, and flinging himself on his knees, made a most solemn and affecting vow to God of repentance and sobriety. From that moment to the day of his death he drank no fermented liquor, but confined himself entirely to tea and water.* I never saw so sudden and astonishing a change. His looks became healthy, his cottage neat, his children were clad, his wife was happy; and twenty times the poor man and his wife, with tears in their eyes, have told me the story, and blessed the evening of the fourteenth of March, the day of James's restoration, and have shown me the glass he held in his hand when he made the vow of sobriety. It is all nonsense about not being able to work without ale, and gin, and cider, and fermented liquors. Do lions and cart-horses drink ale? It is mere habit. If you have good nourishing food, you can do very well without ale. Nobody works harder than the Yorkshire people, and for years together there are many Yorkshire labourers who never taste ale. I have no objection, you will observe, to a moderate use of ale, or any other liquor you can afford to purchase. My objection is, that you cannot afford it; that every penny you spend at the ale-house comes out of the stomachs of the poor children, and strips off the clothes of the wife.
My dear little Nanny, don't believe a word he says. He merely means to ruin and deceive you. You have a plain answer to give : "When I am axed in the church, and the parson has read the service, and all about it is written down in the book, then I will listen to your nonsense, and not before." Am not I a Justice of the Peace? and have not I had a hundred foolish girls brought before me, who have all come with the same story? "Please, your worship, he is a false man; he promised me marriage over and over again." I confess I have often wished for the power of hanging these rural lovers. But what use is my wishing? All that can be done with the villain is to make him pay half a crown a week, and you are handed over to the poor-house, and to infamy. Will no example teach you? Look to Mary Willet-three years ago the handsomest and best girl in the village, now a slattern in *A fact.-Author's Note.
the poor-house! Look at Harriet Dobson, who trusted in the promises of James Harefield's son, and, after being abandoned by him, went away in despair with a party of soldiers. How can you be such a fool as to surrender your character to the stupid flattery of a ploughboy? If the evening is pleasant, and birds sing, and flowers bloom, is that any reason why you are to forget God's Word, the happiness of your family, and your own character? What is a woman worth without character? A profligate carpenter or a debauched watchmaker may gain business from his skill; but how is a profligate woman to gain her bread? Who will receive her?
But this is enough of my parish advice.
LETTER TO MR. SWING.*
THE wool your coat is made of is spun by machinery, and this machinery makes your coat two or three shillings cheaperperhaps six or seven. Your white hat is made by machinery at half price. The coals you burn are pulled out of the pit by machinery, and are sold to you much cheaper than they could be if they were pulled out by hand. You do not complain of these machines, because they do you good, though they throw many artisans out of work. But what right have you to object to fanning machines, which make bread cheaper to the artisans, and to avail yourselves of other machines which make manufactures cheaper to you?
If all machinery were abolished, everything would be so dear that you would be ten times worse off than you now are. Poor people's cloth would get up to a guinea a yard. Hats could not be sold for less than eighteen shillings. Coals would be three shillings per hundred. It would be quite impossible for a poor man to obtain any comfort.
If you begin to object to machinery in farming, you may as well
*Lady Holland, in Memoir, p. 212, says: "There were at this time so many mischievous publications circulating among the people, and threatening letters so frequently sent to my father and other gentlemen in the neighbourhood, that he thought it right to endeavour to counteract them, and published some cheap letters for circulation among the poor, called 'Letters to Swing,' of which this from the 'Taunton Courier' of Wednesday, Dec. 8th, 1830, has been accidentally preserved."