I was reminded, in hearing all three, of men similarly engaged in our country, W.H. Charming and Theodore Parker. None of them compare in the symmetrical arrangement of extempore discourse, or in pure eloquence and communication of spiritual beauty, with Charming, nor in fulness and sustained flow with Parker, but, in power of practical and homely adaptation of their thought to common wants, they are superior to the former, and all have more variety, finer perceptions, and are more powerful in single passages, than Parker.
And now my pen has run to 1st October, and still I have such notabilities as fell to my lot to observe while in London, and these that are thronging upon me here in Paris to record for you. I am sadly in arrears, but ’t is comfort to think that such meats as I have to serve up are as good cold as hot. At any rate, it is just impossible to do any better, and I shall comfort myself, as often before, with the triplet which I heard in childhood from a sage (if only sages wear wigs!):—
“As said the great Prince Fernando,
What can a man do,
More than he can do?”
RECOLLECTIONS OF LONDON.—THE ENGLISH GENTLEMAN.—LONDON
OF SEASON.—LUXURY AND MISERY.—A DIFFICULT PROBLEM.—TERRORS
OF POVERTY.—JOANNA BAILLIE AND MADAME ROLAND.—HAMPSTEAD.—MISS
BERRY.—FEMALE ARTISTS.—MARGARET GILLIES.—THE PEOPLE’S
JOURNAL.—THE TIMES.—THE HOWITTS.—SOUTH WOOD SMITH.—HOUSES FOR THE
POOR.—SKELETON OF JEREMY BENTHAM.—COOPER THE POET.—THOM.
Paris, December, 1846.
I sit down here in Paris to narrate some recollections of London. The distance in space and time is not great, yet I seem in wholly a different world. Here in the region of wax-lights, mirrors, bright wood fires, shrugs, vivacious ejaculations, wreathed smiles, and adroit courtesies, it is hard to remember John Bull, with his coal-smoke, hands in pockets, except when extended for ungracious demand of the perpetual half-crown, or to pay for the all but perpetual mug of beer. John, seen on that side, is certainly the most churlish of clowns, and the most clownish of churls. But then there are so many other sides! When a gentleman, he is so truly the gentleman, when a man, so truly the man of honor! His graces, when he has any, grow up from his inmost heart.
Not that he is free from humbug; on the contrary, he is prone to the most solemn humbug, generally of the philanthrophic or otherwise moral kind. But he is always awkward beneath the mask, and can never impose upon anybody—but himself. Nature meant him to be noble, generous, sincere, and has furnished him with no faculties to make himself agreeable in any other way or mode of being. ’Tis not so with your Frenchman, who can cheat you pleasantly, and move with grace in the devious and slippery path. You would be almost sorry to see him quite disinterested and straightforward, so much of agreeable talent and naughty wit would thus lie hid for want of use. But John, O John, we must admire, esteem, or be disgusted with thee.