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Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ?” Neither do these wretched persons find any satisfaction or consciousness of their

power, but in being a plague and a torment to themselves and

every one else as long as they can. sort of woman is a character more rare than any of these, but it is equally durable. Look at the head of Hogarth's Idle Apprentice in the boat, holding up his fingers as horns at Cuckold's Point, and ask what penitentiary, what prisondiscipline, would change the form of his forehead, “ villainous low,” or the conceptions lurking within it? Nothing :—no mother's fearful warnings,—nor the formidable precautions of that wiser and more loving mother, his country! That fellow is still to be met with somewhere in our time. Is he a spy, a jack-ketch, or an underling of office? In truth, almost all the cha. racters in Hogarth are of the class of incorrigibles ; so that I often wonder what has become of some of them. Have the worst of them been cleared out, like the breed of noxious animals? Or have they been swept away, like locusts, in the whirlwind of the French Revolution ? Or has Mr. Bentham put them into his Panopticon ; from which they have come out, so that nobody knows them, like the chimneysweeper boy at Sadler's Wells, that was thrown into a cauldron and came out a little dapper vo



lunteer? I will not deny that some of them may, like Chaucer's characters, have been modernised a little ; but I think I could re-translate a few of them into their mother-tongue, the original honest black-letter. We may refine, we may disguise, we may equivocate, we may compound for our vices, without getting rid of them; as we change our liquors, but do not leave off drinking. We may, in this respect, look forward to a decent and moderate, rather than a thorough and radical reform. Or (without going deep into the political question) I conceive we may improve the mechanism, if not the texture of society ; that is, we may improve the physical circumstances of individuals and their general relations to the state, though the internal character, like the grain in wood, or the sap in trees, that still rises, bend them how

you will, may remain nearly the same. The clay that the potter uses may be of the same quality, coarse or fine in itself, though he may mould it into vessels of very different shape or beauty. Who shall alter the stamina of national character by any systematic process? Who shall make the French respectable, or the English amiable? Yet the Author of THE YEAR 2500 * has done it! Suppose public spirit to become the general principle of action in the community - how would it shew itself? Would it not then become the fashion, like loyalty, and have its

* Mercier.

apes and parrots, like loyalty? The man of principle would no longer be distinguished from the crowd, the servum pecus imitatorum. There is a cant of democracy as well as of aristocracy; and we have seen both triumphant in our day. The Jacobin of 1794 was the Anti-Jacobin of 1814. The loudest chaunters of the Pæans of liberty were the loudest applauders of the restored doctrine of divine right. They drifted with the stream, they sailed before the breeze in either case. The politician was changed; the man was the same, the very same!-Butenough of this.

I do not know any moral to be deduced from this view of the subject but one, namely, that we should mind our own business, cultivate our good qualities, if we have any, and irritate ourselves less about the absurdities of other people, which neither we nor they can help. I grant there is something in what I have said, which might be made to glance towards the doctrines of original sin, grace, election, reprobation, or the Gnostic principle that acts did not determine the virtue or vice of the character; and in

: those doctrines, so far as they are deducible from what I have said, I agree — but always with a salvo.

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Second Series. VOL. II.


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