If I, still harping on myself, go that way to freedom, shredding off what is tiresome, cumbrous and a hindrance, one is tempted to think we shall all—so life is in a concatenation—lose what is really vicious in our social coil; and if in our social then in our political coil. For if the essence of a sound private life is that a man should be himself, so a public life for its smooth working depends upon the same sincerity. Read my parable of the particular into society at large. If I am to live so, and gain, are not nations? Are we to hire a great navy, a great army, to secure us in things which we have seen to be tiresome, cumbrous and a hindrance? Are we to exact flag-dippings from nations to our flag? Are we to make washpots of the Maltese, Cypriotes, Hindoos, Egyptians, Hottentots, and who not? If we go bankrupt we shall not be able to do it, and if we are not able to do it we shall stand among people as Britons, not as a British Empire, over against French, Germans, Maltese, Cypriotes, standing as their needs involve, and for what worth their virtue can ensure. So men, being men, nations of men will become families of men:
Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
Two things therefore are clear: men are a family, and the family is to be poor. Almost as clear to me is the coming of the day when we shall slough the ragged skin of empire and become again a small, hardy, fishing and pastoral people. The profiteers will leave us, like rats and their parasites. We shall be able to feed ourselves by our industry. We shall be contented, and as happy as men with inordinate desires and subordinate capacities can ever hope to be. There is no reason to suppose that we need cease to be a nursery of heroes, that our old men will not see visions or our young men dream dreams. Neither vision nor dream will be the worse for having its bottom in truth.
Catnach was a dealer in ballads. His stock line was the murderer’s confession, and his standard price half a crown. I don’t know that there is a Catnach now, or a market for Catnachery, but people collect the old ones. You find them in county anthologies, with one of which “The Kentish Garland, Vol. II., edited by Julia H.L. de Voynes, Hertford: Stephen Austin and Sons, 1882,” I lately spent a pleasant morning in a friend’s