« PreviousContinue »
the district, might, at stated times, muster all this civil force without inconvenience to any, because the districts must of course be so formed by the county magistrates, that every market-town where petty sessions are usually held would form the centre of a district, and the muster-days would only cause a larger resort there. There cannot be much less than 360,000 occupiers of land at present injured by the poor laws; supposing each 1007. of agricultural rental to produce such an occupier; and the honour of being numbered among, the special constables might be granted to other persons recommended by the good opinion of the parish authorities. The short staff of the constable is not a feeble weapon when there is occasion to use it unsparingly; but this would seldom be requisite, the preparation for resistance would prevent the occasion for it; few men, however daring and ill-intentioned, would venture to face those by whom individually they were so well known, that detection and punishment would be inevitable. A printed extract from some competent authority might be placed in the hand of every special constable, together with his staff, that he may be instructed in the powers and duties of his office; and we are convinced that from such an appointment every well-disposed person would derive double influence, in feeling himself called upon to cast off that inattention and apparent yielding to seditious discourses, which arises from acting upon the prudential maxim, that what is every man's business is nobody's; whence mischief in preparation escapes any check, and is enabled to break out into action. Had one such Abdiel stood forward at the commencement of the Ely riots, the gregarious feelings of our nature would not have been excited into mischievous activity; the proposal of a drunkard would have been received with merited disgust, and those lives would have been spared which were necessarily exacted by justice. So slight are the causes, so small the obstacles which regulate human feelings and human conduct!
But the general subject here under contemplation must not be suffered to lengthen this essay in proportion to its own immense importance, and we hasten to conclude with a brief retrospect of the remedial measures which we have ventured to propose in alleviation of the burthen of the poor-rates. The simple principle, that no pauper shall have a right to insist on relief in any other form than as the magistrates, or parish-officers, shall think his conduct and situation deserve, is a corrective of the existing poor laws, which cannot be deemed very violent by the advocates for their continuance under certain modifications.Among those advocates we beg leave to range ourselves. We confess indeed that, considering the unexampled wealth, and the commercial and manufacturing activity of England, (the latter circumstance
VOL. XVIII. NO. XXXVI.
cumstance especially placing the subsistence of a large portion of our population in a state which may be termed, in the language of the insurance offices, doubly hazardous,') we are happy to believe that a judicious modification of the poor laws will be more suitable to the existing state of society, and more easy to establish, than if at present we had to consider of the necessity of originating some such insurance against the changes and chances of mortal life, whereby Christian charity, in the largest sense of the word, might be brought into practice, for the encouragement of industry and good conduct, and the discouragement of idleness and vice.
The measures of precaution, under which all the advantages we have in view may be safely attained, cannot fail to be approved by the well-disposed part of the community; for nothing can be more congenial to the spirit of the British constitution than an armed civil force so large and so imposing, as to supersede the necessity of maintaining a standing army at home; if we look to public economy, nothing is so effectual; or if for a moment we imagine ourselves in the situation of a well-intentioned administration, nothing could be more satisfactory than an absolute exemption from all dread of popular tumult, and the consequent power of doing what is best for the people, without regarding the opinion of the populace.In fine, we may venture to anticipate that this part of the plan will obtain the suffrages of all who are not the open or the secret advocates of mob-government and public anarchy-of all who are sincere friends of that constitution which has been handed down to us by our ancestors, and which is secured to us against all but internal dangers by our insular situation, and the high reputation of the British arms.
ART. II. Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loo-choo* Island; with an Appendix containing Charts and various Hydrographical and Scientific Notices, by Basil Hall, Esq. Captain R. N. F.R.S. L. & E. And a Vocabulary of the Loo-choo language, by H. I. Clifford, Esq. Lieutenant R. N. 4to. London. 1818.
THE objectionable manner in which scientific travellers usually communicate the result of their observations to the world, and which, in our review of the last volume of the Baron de Humboldt's travels, we were disposed to consider as operating to the disadvantage of their labours, is judiciously obviated in the volume before us--we allude to the practice of interweaving the details of science with the general narrative-which, by breaking the thread
*Few places can boast such a variety in the orthography of the name as these islands. It has been written Lequeijo, Lekeyo, Lieou-keiou, Lieu-chieu, Lew-chew, Loo-choo, Doo-choo, and even Riuku.
of the story, necessarily lessens the general interest. Captain Hall appears to be so well aware of this, that he has abstained from the introduction of every subject, (even those of a professional nature,) that could in any way interrupt the progress of the narrative; and has thrown his nautical and meteorological observations into an Appendix, which, with Mr. Clifford's copious vocabulary of the Loochoo language, the charts, &c. will be found of infinite service to those whom chance or design may hereafter throw on this unexplored part of the Yellow Sea.
Though the ground gone over by Captain Hall had been previously occupied, and the main facts and incidents of the voyage already stated in the unpretending volume of Mr. M'Leod, the objects were so new and of a nature so interesting that we wished for something more, especially on certain points, respecting those amiable islanders, with whom no Europeans (with the single exception of Captain Broughton) had before held any intercourse. Captain Hall besides appeared to us to be in possession of many advantages which Mr. McLeod could not be supposed to enjoy. His rank in the service afforded him more frequent opportunities of seeing, and conversing with the higher classes of the people selected to hold communication with the strangers: and his friend, Lieutenant Clifford, who had made very considerable progress in the Loo-choo language, seems, as well as himself, to have minuted down whatever occurred, with a view to future publication.
The style of Captain Hall is more measured and elaborate than that of Mr. M'Leod; it is in fact that of a man accustomed to literary composition, and such as cannot always be expected from a naval officer, whose early life must necessarily be spent in the laborious duties of his profession, while other youths are prosecuting their studies at school. Mr. M'Leod, to use his own expression, is a straight-forward sort of a fellow, who tells his story in just the same plain and homely terms which he would make use of to his mess-mates in the ward-room; and this easy and familiar manner constitutes in fact the charm of the narrative, and has contri buted not a little to the wide circulation of his book. Add to this, that Mr. M'Leod is sometimes excursive, and talks not only of what he has himself observed, but of what he has read, and heard from others; while Captain Hall adheres with rigid inflexibility to his immediate subject-the coast of Corea and the Loochoo islands:-not that we consider this restriction as an advantage, except as it may admit of more ample details: that however which constitutes the principal value of Captain Hall's book is his able delineation of individual character, and the dramatic effect arising out of the action and dialogue with which he has skilfully invested the narrative. Far be it from us to disparage, in the slightU 2
est degree, the highly entertaining work of Mr. M'Leod; our opi nion of it has been already pronounced; and in observing the interest which he has communicated to his account of the Loo-choo people, we may safely add that the whole narrative of the unfortunate loss of the Alceste, and the transactions of the crew on the uninhabited island of Gaspar, could not possibly have been drawn up with greater effect than as they appear in the pages of Mr. M'Leod-but to our present author.
Where there is so much good matter to be found we are not disposed to quarrel with a title-page; but, strictly speaking, the 'voyage" was not one of' discovery,'-though a discovery was accidentally made by the Alceste and Lyra standing over to the coast of Corea, where an archipelago of innumerable islets, occupying a space of not less than two hundred miles from north to south and sixty miles from east to west was found to usurp the place of what had hitherto been laid down on the charts as the main land of Corea. Our navigators having landed on one of these islands, or rather peaks, ascended to its summit, which was estimated at about six hundred feet above the level of the sea, and from which the main land was just discernible in the east. From this point they endeavoured to count the islands lying around them in thick clusters as far as the eye could reach; but differed in their computation, from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and seventy. When it is considered that the point of view was neither very high nor very centrical, some idea may be formed of the multitude of detached masses, chiefly granite, as it would seem, which compose this hitherto unknown archipelago.
The western coast of Corea had never, in fact, been even seen by Europeans, though parts of the interior had been visited by some shipwrecked Dutchmen. It was intended by the Emperor Kanghé that Corea, as well as Northern Tartary, should be included in the able and laborious Survey of the Chinese empire by the Jesuits; but owing to the extreme jealousy of his Corean majesty, and his urgent entreaties that no missionaries might enter his kingdom, the emperor sent in lieu of them a Tartar mandarin, accompanied by a Chinese doctor of the board of mathematics. From their report, Père Regis says, was derived all the information which they were able to obtain respecting the geography of Corea; and which, in fact, differs not essentially from the account given by Hendrick Hamel, who was wrecked in the yacht Sparwer, on the island of Quelpaert, and, with the rest of the crew, detained for thirteen years in different parts of the country. In the French collection of voyages a doubt is thrown on the authenticity of this curious narrative, but without the slightest reason, it having been completely verified by internal as well as external evidence. The Dutchmen were by no means
ill-treated, but were given to understand that it was the custom of the country to detain all strangers and never to suffer them to depart. The governor ordered boiled rice and arrack to be given to them, and was particularly attentive to the sick; 'so that' (observes Hamel) it might be said we were better used by this idolater than we should have been, in the like situation, by Christians.' On their march to the capital the people behaved civilly to them, and every where the upper ranks invited them to their houses; 'the women and children especially (says the narrator) had great curiosity to see us, because it had been rumoured that we were monsters, and that when we drank we were obliged to hold our noses on one side out of the way.'
Hamel's description of the extraordinary measures of precaution taken by the Corean government to prevent all communication between the Chinese ambassador (on his entering the capital) with the Coreans, agrees with that of Père Regis. All the streets between the palace and his hotel were lined with soldiers, who were stationed within ten or twelve feet of each other; and two or three men were always in waiting under the windows of the hotel, whose business it was to watch for and take up the billets that were thrown from thence, and to forward them to the king, that he might continually know what the ambassador was doing.' This extreme caution respecting foreigners will sufficiently explain the conduct of the Corean chief, and his followers, towards our navigators: with every disposition to be kind and friendly, they were obviously under the influence of terror, lest, by permitting any communication with the people on shore, their heads should be endangered. Captain Hall has contrived to give a considerable degree of interest to the character and conduct of the chief of the district bordering on Basil Bay.
'On coming closer, we saw a fine patriarchal figure seated under the umbrella (the symbol of authority); his full white beard covered his breast, and reached below his middle; his robe or mantle, which was of blue silk, and of an immense size, flowed about him in a magnificent style. His sword was suspended from his waist by a small belt, but the insignia of his office appeared to be a slender black rod tipped with silver, about a foot and a half long, with a small leather thong at one end, and a piece of black crape tied to the other: this he held in his hand. His hat exceeded in breadth of brim any thing we had yet met with, being, as we supposed, nearly three feet across.'—p. 14.
Unfortunately, the ships had no other interpreter than a Chinese servant, who could neither write his own language, nor speak that of Corea. The old gentleman seemed to be considerably annoyed at this.
'At length, however, he sat down on his mat, and began talking with great