Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/254
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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
He had not to part from early convictions, but simply to develop his old feelings: to diffuse more widely, as he puts it, the affections which had 'grown up with him from the cradle.' His ready-made republicanism did not clash as yet with his patriotism. Rather the two principles were in harmony. The good old conviction that Britons never would be slaves like the wretched beings who wore wooden shoes and had never heard of trial by jury, was enough to bear him out. It only wanted to be mellowed by a little philosophy and wider humanity. The poor girl towing her heifer was to be raised to the level of the hearty young Cumberland lasses with whom he had danced and flirted. The clumsy story of Vaudracour and Julia, derived, it seems, from Beaupuy's illustrations of the arbitrary tyranny of the French noblesse, could be told without suggesting any English parallel. It is true that Wordsworth had realised in the case of Lord Lowther how difficult it might be to force a great English noble to pay his just debts. But even Lord Lowther could not imprison his dependants by a lettre de cachet or make Cumberland peasants pay crushing taxes and flog the meres at night to silence the frogs. All that was