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WILL you be saved or ruined? asks Tom
Dolorous, who has a theory on the condition
of the country. Tom with a portentous look
carries his hands behind him, and asks Great
Britain which hand she will have; in one
he carries ruin, in the other salvation; both
very much at her service. "Poor mouldy
creature," Tom cries to his country, "there
you go, like the botanist who tells of himself
in the moist valley of Nepaul: a walking
frame for Mucedineae. There's one variety
of mould upon your hat, another on your
shirt, another on your coat, one on your
knapsack, another on your boots (yea, one
upon the upper-leather of your boots and
quite another on the soles); and, if you take
your telescope to get a sight abroad, there's
a new species of mould upon the glass to
hinder you. O, my poor country, suffer me
to clear these growths away!"

Tom's measures of salvation are extremely
mild, and go no farther than the scraping of
the nation's outward man. Now Bob Slash is
quite a different reformer. How sweet are
larks, Bob meditates, and who can turn away
from oysters. Here is a nation with rude
institutions calling itself civilised, but it admits of
vast improvements. Permit me, if you please,
to take in hand this rude hog of the state,
and, after Roman fashion, I will make a Trojan
Pig of it. Casting away its vulgar entrails
I will have it stuffed with thrushes, larks,
beccaficos, oysters, nightingales, and other
pleasant things; I will have it bathed with
wine and unctuous gravy. Bob becomes
enthusiastic in dilating upon the advantages
of his reform. Whereas, Will Perfect says it
is incomplete. It will not do, he says to scrape
the outside of a nation that requires to be
reformed, or to neglect the outside while we
tear out the mistakes which lie within. He
would compare Great Britain to a pippin.
In the first place, we must peel the pippin,
and then we must cut out the core.

But we put no faith in any man who says
we must be saved or ruined. In our humble
opinion that noble animal who (in company
with the small end of a wedge) is so well
known to British audiences, the British Lion,
is a worthy beast, with many faults, but, on
the whole, magnanimous. Let us discuss this
question quietly, and with our feet upon the

Perhaps there is no better guarantee of
peace and progress to this country than the
freedom of the Press. Opinion is King of
England, and Victoria is Queen. Every phase
of opinion speaks through some book or
journal, and is repeated widely in proportion
to the hold it takes upon the public. Government
is the representative of whatever opinions
prevail; if it prove too perverse it falls,
ministers change, without a revolution. Then
too, when every man's tongue is free, we are
accustomed to hear all manner of wild
suggestions. Fresh paint does not soon dazzle
us; we are like children lavishly supplied with
toys, who receive new gifts tranquilly enough.

Is King Opinion an honest ruler? Yes.
For the English people speak unreservedly
their thoughts on public matters, and are open,
though it be with honourable slowness, to
all new convictions. We must add, however,
as a drawback, that the uneducated class
amounts to a distressing number in this
country in proportion to the whole. It forms,
as long as it is ignorant, a source of profit to
designing speculators. Nonsense is put into
the mouths of men who mean no evil, but who
sincerely desire their own improvement. Truth
is murdered, and her dress is worn by knaves
who burlesque sympathy with working-men
for selfish ourposes. The poor man's sincere
advocate, at last, cannot speak truth without
incurring the suspicion of some treasonable
purpose against honesty or common sense.
The very language necessary to be used in
advocating just rights sometimes becomes as
a pure stream befouled by those who have
misused it.

Therefore, in England, the uneducated
classes arrive slowly at the privileges which
they must acquire. They are impeded by
false friends; but, even false friends are
not able to delude them beyond a certain
point. Among us, for example, even the most
ignorant well know that there is no field for
a vulgar revolution against such a monarch
as Opinion makes. Arguments must be used
for barricades, and we must knock our neighbours
on the head with facts; we must fire
newspaper articles instead of cannon-balls,
and use colloquial banter for our small shot.
In all disputes an English citizen has, for his