Imatges de pÓgina
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that I have lost the power to please; grown old ; passée, forsooth:

“Perit comarum fulgor, et frontis decus,

Dentesque flavent candidi"!

The Monsters! and to take up with that bedizened brazen-faced foreigner. A pretty dance is she leading 'em, and serve 'em right too. As for that gay Lothario of Netherby, I own I am not so much astonished: but that demure Sir Robert ! whom I had fondly hoped to prove

“a lover of the good old school, Who still become more constant, as they cool.” How often do I call to mind the last kind words he spoke to me, when I taxed him with being about to desert me! Only imagine—My love, I contemplate no alteration,”-and yet within a few months-0, I could tear his eyes out!

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ARISTOCRAT.

I implore you, Madam, to be more calm. Are you not already sufficiently avenged ? His heartless desertion of you has ruined, and justly ruined, his influence and reputation,

"And from a patriot of distinguish'd note,

Has bled and purg'd him to a simple vote.” But, to turn from this ever-painful subject,-how can I assist you ? how aid you to recover those rights of which you have been so shamefully deprived?

PROTECTION.

That, Sir, really I must leave to you, who have thus unsolicited broken in upon my retirement: and if men of the highest standing in the country have so cruelly deceived me, how can I be expected to place confidence in one, who is, after all, as far as I know, nobody-nothing—not even a Deputy-Lieutenant ?

ARISTOCRAT.

No one, Madam, can feel his many disqualifications more acutely than I: but if you knew how happy it would make me to render you the slightest service, I scarcely think you would use me thus disdainfully. Call to mind, Madam, “the Lion and the Mouse”: insignificant as I am, may I not possibly help to nibble the knot in the cord that

binds you ?

PROTECTION.

And then the overweening conceit of writing yourself down, “Aristocrat”: as if your plebeian origin were not easily discernible in

your

air.

ARISTOCRAT.

I assure you, Madam, it is not vanity that prompts me in the selection of my nom de guerre; which I adopt simply as indicating the social and

political bias of my mind. Nor does its unpopularity render it by any means less attractive in my eyes.

PROTECTION.

This is all mighty well, Sir; but why a “ Letter to the Electors of Westminster”? why trouble those gentlemen with the story of my wrongs ?

ARISTOCRAT.

Partly, Madam, because none are in reality more deeply interested in your well-being than they ; and partly, because from my boyhood, those three words, Electors of Westminster, have sounded to me as magically as the blast of a trumpet to Sir Philip Sidney, and as the name of a soldier to Corporal Trim.

PROTECTION.

I, too, entertain a high respect for the Electors of Westminster; and therefore for their sakes, rather than yours, Sir, I am content to hear you out. (Aristocrat bows). I presume, Sir, you are one of those faint-hearted adherents of mine, who regard this cruel “experiment” as a fait accompli ; or, at least as still entitled to a “full and fair trial.”

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ARISTOCRAT.

Pardon me, Madam, this is the cuckoo note of Ignorance and Indolence; of those who do not

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understand the question, and those who wish to blink it. The disturbing influences that have as yet prevented a just appreciation of the merits of this disgraceful “experiment,” have in truth operated more in its favour than against it. More than a fair trial it has already had ; but a full trial it never will have, in the estimation of some, ,

till all those below them shall have been ruined; and till it threatens to overwhelm their selfish selves, who

may have strength sufficient to force Ministers to give way, as they did give way on the 25th Oct. 1847, after lightly regarding all warning from May to September. How many respectable individuals would have been saved from ruin and disgrace, if the celebrated letter of that date had been written on the 25th of September! how many hundreds, if on the 25th of August! But, as our James the First used to say, “Laws are like cobwebs; they catch the little flies while the big ones break through them.” Thus was it with currency; thus will it be with corn: and should the Whigs remain in office eighteen months longer, I promise you the edifying spectacle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer bewailing his being once more “misled”; Lord John “coming down ” to propose a duty upon foreign corn; Sir Robert applauding this exercise of a sound discretion ”; and “ Dickon their master” wandering about Italy again incog., like Pius Æneas, or Pius the Ninth.

PROTECTION.

And is this the course events are likely in your opinion, to take ?

ARISTOCRAT.

Really, Madam, I scarcely venture to predict; so completely are we at sea, “on stormy waters in a little boat,” without rudder or compass: staring at each other in silent dread as to whose lot it

may be next, to be food for his fellow sufferers. To whom have we to look but Lord Stanley ? and he, unfortunately for all of us, is in “another place.”

PROTECTION.

Yes, in Lord Stanley's hands England would be safe : at any rate from the disgrace of being put up to auction, for rival statesmen to bid against each other. In a word, he is an honest politician; with too high a soul to sacrifice, either his Country to his Party, or his Party to his Self.

ARISTOCRAT.

Party-Politics, Madam, I hate: but the vital question of Free Trade, which is shaking this empire to its centre, is, strictly speaking, not a political, but a social question. An ardent Protectionist I am in truth; from my deep sympathy

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