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4. Mr. Yorke (continued)
A Yorkshire gentleman he was, par excellence, in every point; about fifty-five
years old, but looking at first sight still older, for his hair was silver white. His
forehead was broad, not high; his face fresh and hale; the harshness of the north
was seen in his features, as it was heard in his voice; every trait was thoroughly
English - not a Norman line anywhere; it was an inelegant, unclassic,
unaristoctatic mould of visage. Fine people would perhaps have called it vulgar;
sensible people would have termed it characteristic; shrewd people would have
delighted in it for the pith, sagacity, intelligence, the rude yet real originality
marked in every lineament, latent in every furrow. But it was an indocile, a
scornful, and a sarcastic face - the face of a man difficult to lead, and impossible
to drive. His stature was rather tall, and he was well made and wiry, and had a
stately integrity of port; there was not a suspicion of the clown about him
I did not find it easy to sketch Mr. Yorke's person, but it is more difficult to
indicate his mind. If you expect to be treated to a Perfection, reader, or even to a
benevolent, philanthropic old gentleman in him, you are mistaken. He has
spoken with some sense and with some good feeling to Mr. Moore, but you are
not thence to conclude that he always spoke and thought justly and kindly.
Mr. Yorke, in the first place, was without the organ of veneration - a great want,
and which throws a man wrong on every point where veneration is required.
Secondly, he was without the organ of Comparison - a deficiency which strips a
man of sympathy; and thirdly, he had too little of the organs of Benevolence and
Ideality, which took the glory and softness from his nature, and for him
diminished those divine qualities throughout the universe.
The want of veneration made him intolerant to those above him - kings and
nobles and priests, dynasties and parliaments and establishments, with all their
doings, most of their enactments, their forms, their rights, their claims, were to
him an abomination, all rubbish; he found no use or pleasure in them, and
believed it would be clear gain, and no damage to the world, if its high places
were razed, and their occupants crushed in the fall. The want of veneration, too,
made him dead at heart to the electric delight of admiring what is admirable; it
dried up a thousand pure sources of enjoyment; it withered a thousand vivid
pleasures. He was not irreligious, though a member of no sect; but his religion
could not be that of one who knows how to venerate. He believed in God and
heaven; but his God and heaven were those of a man in whom awe, imagination,
and tenderness lack.
The weakness of his powers of comparison made him inconsistent; while he
professed some excellent general doctrines of mutual toleration and forbearance,
he cherished towards certain classes a bigoted antipathy. He spoke of 'parsons'
and all who belonged to parsons, of 'lords' and the appendages of lords, with a
harshness, sometimes an insolence, as unjust as it was insufferable. He could
not place himself in the position of those he vituperated; he could not compare
their errors with their temptations, their defects with their disadvantages; he could