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ling merit, would betray the greatest ignorance of the customary use of speech. When we hear the word coupled with the name of any

individual, it would argue a degree of romantic simplicity to imagine that it implies any one quality of head or heart, any one excellence of body or mind, any one good action or praise-worthy, sentiment; but as soon as it is mentioned, it conjures up the ideas of a handsome house with large acres round it, a sumptuous table, a cellar well stocked with excellent wines, splendid furniture, a fashionable equipage, with a long list of elegant contingencies. It is not what a man is, but what he has, that we speak of in the significant use of this term. He may be the poorest creature in the world in himself, but if he is well to do, and can spare some of his superfluities, if he can lend us his purse or his countenance upon occasion, he then “buys golden opinions” of us ;-it is but fit that we should speak well of the bridge that carries us over, and in return for what we can get from him, we embody our servile gratitude, hopes, and fears, in this word respectability. By it we pamper his pride, and feed our own necessities. It must needs be a very honest uncorrupted word that is the gobetween in this disinterested kind of traffic. We do not think of applying this word to a great poet or a great painter, to the man of genius, or the man of virtue, for it is seldom we can spunge upon them. It would be a solecism for any one to pretend to the character who has a shabby coat to his back, who goes without a dinner, or has not a good house over his head. He who has reduced himself in the world by devoting himself to a particular study, or adhering to a particular cause, occasions only a smile of pity or a shrug of contempt at the mention of his name; while he who has raised himself in it by a different course, who has become rich for want of ideas, and powerful from want of principle, is looked up to with silent homage, and passes for a respectable man. “ The learned pate ducks to the golden fool.”. We spurn at virtue and genius in rags ; and lick the dust in the presence of vice and folly in purple. When Otway was left to starve after having produced“ Venice Preserv'd,” there was nothing in the phrenzied action with which he devoured the food that choked him, to provoke the respect of the mob, who would have hooted at him the more for knowing that he was a poet. Spenser, kept waiting for the hundred pounds which Burleigh grudged him “for a song,” might feel the mortification of his situation; but the statesman never felt any diminution of his Sovereign's

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regard in consequence of it. Charles the Second's neglect of his favourite poet Butler did not make him look less gracious in the eyes of his courtiers, or of the wits and critics of the time. Burns's embarrassments, and the temptations to which he was exposed by his situation, degraded him ; but left no stigma on his patrons, who still meet to celebrate his memory, and consult about his monument, in the face of day. To enrich the mind of a country by works of art or science, and leave yourself poor, is not the way for any one to rank as respectable, at least in his life-time:-to oppress, to enslave, to cheat, and plunder it, is a much better way. “ The time gives evidence of it.” But the instances are common.

Respectability means a man's situation and success in life, not his character or conduct. The city merchant never loses his respectability till he becomes a bankrupt. After that, we hear no more of it or him. The Justice of the Peace, and the Parson of the parish, the Lord and the Squire, are allowed, by immemorial usage, to be very respectable people, though no one ever thinks of asking why. They are a sort of fixtures in this way. To take an example from one of them.

The Country Parson may pass his whole time, when he is not employed in the

cure of souls, in flattering his rich neighbours, and leaguing with them to snub his poor ones, in seizing poachers, and encouraging informers; he may be exorbitant in exacting his tithes, harsh to his servants, the dread and bye-word of the village where he resides, and yet all this, though it may be notorious, shall abate nothing of his respectability. It will not hinder his patron from giving him another living to play the petty tyrant in, or prevent him from riding over to the Squire's in his carriage and being well received, or from sitting on the bench of Justices with due decorum and with clerical dignity. The poor Curate, in the mean time, who may be a real comfort to the bodies and minds of his parishioners, will be passed by without notice. Parson Adams, drinking his ale in Sir Thomas Booby's kitchen, makes no very respectable figure; but Sir Thomas himself was right worshipful, and his widow a person of honour !-A few such bistoriographers as Fielding would put an end to the farce of respectability, with several others like it. Peter Pounce, in the same author, was a consummation of this character, translated into the most vulgar English. The character of Captain Blifil, his epitaph, and funeral sermon, are worth tomes of casuistry and patched-up theories of moral sentiments.


Pope somewhere exclaims, in his fine indignant way,

“ What can ennoble sots, or knaves, or cowards ?

Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards." But this is the heraldry of poets, not of the world. In fact, the only way for a poet now-adays to emerge from the obscurity of poverty and genius, is to prostitute his pen, turn literary pimp to some borough-mongering lord, canvass for him at elections, and by this means aspire to the same importance, and be admitted on the same respectable footing with him as his valet, his steward, or his practising attorney. A Jew, a stock-jobber, a war-contractor, a successful monopolist, a Nabob, an India Director, or an African slave-dealer, are all very respectable people in their turn. A Member of Parliament is not only respectable, but honourable ; "all honourable men!” Yet this circumstance, which implies such a world of respect, really means nothing. To say of any one that he is a Member of Parliament, is to say, at the same time, that he is not at all distinguished as such. No body ever thought of telling you, that Mr. Fox or Mr. Pitt were Members of Parliament. Such is the constant difference between names and things!

The most mischievous and offensive use of

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