Imatges de pÓgina

servants, and the insolence of the lower classes. How scandalous, how impious of the French and Germans, and Italians, not to bow the knee to every golden calf that is worshipped in England! If, instead of their stars at the India house, and thou. sands in the consols, these maltreated tourists were to be measured by their real worth, they would be safe from all imputation of hauteur towards their inferiors, for they might travel over the whole world without being able to find any.


“Redeem'd from tapers and defrauded pies." PoPE. I was sitting by my fire-side in a dozing, dreaming, Lethean sort of half consciousness, with just thought enough to enable me to enjoy my thoughtlessness, a mood of mind in which I indulge with a particular complacency, when my servant abruptly entered to inform me that a porter had called for my contribution to the New Monthly.

66 The New Monthly !" I exclaimed, with an indignant surprise

-" I sent it a fortnight ago.” “True, sir, but that was for last month's.” Impossible! What is today ?” “The tenth.” “Well, then, it is now too late--and when he called last it was too early ; I will not be postered : I am determined to let my head lie fallow a little ; desire him to call again this day three months."

Really, I continued, stirring the sleepy fire, as if determined to make it share my annoyance-really there is no satisfying this monstrous maw of the Monthly Minotaur, (I love alliteration); I thought he was to demand but twelve sacrifices in the year, but his months spring up like mushrooms; one might as well live in the planet Jupiter, where there are, or ought to be, a hundred and forty-four in the year. Besides, I am exhausted, used up; my head

is a vacuum, my brains, with the pia-mater and piadura, cerebrum and cerebellum, have been seized by the press-gang, conveyed to Conduit street, and poured into the printer's founts, those literary pitchers of the Belides. What! twelve crops in succession, and no respite allowed for manuring the mental soil, and putting my head in heart, (pardon the catachresis, ye agrestic readers !)-Va, via ! editorial reproaches, I give ye to the winds--fallow shalt thou lie, my over-ploughed pate, till

darnel, hemlock, and rank fumitory," do choke thy furrows.

Authors are said to be like flambeaux, which consume themselves in giving light to others; if so, I must have been a monstrous illuminator, for never was an intellect more effectually burnt out. Not that

my faculties are extinct, but that I cannot find new materials for their exercise.

Like Saturn, I have devoured all my own children (of the brain); what I have not written others have; I am worse off, by all the subsequent authors, than the writer who complained that Shakspeare had taken all his good things. I am at a greater loss for subjects than an ex-king, and

“Never subject long'd to be a king,

As I do long and wish to find a subject:" but it is in vain ; every thing is stale, hackneyed, threadbare. There is nothing in heaven, or earth, or the waters under the earth, into which our pens have not dipped. Mind and matter have been equally ferreted, analyzed, turned inside out. Alexanders in literature, we have conquered the old world, and want a new one sadly.

And, whereas before,” said Jack Cade, upraiding Lord Treasurer Say, “our forefathers had no other book but the score and tally, thou hast caused. printing to be ; and contrary to the king, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill, &c."

What would this legitimate enemy to innovation say now, were he to sit down upon London stone, and hear a list of our new publications read to him? I see it clearly--a crisis is approaching; there must be some great convulsion in the world of Ephemerides ; this prodigious multiplication of Magazines and Periodicals can never endure, for how can their myriad and insatiable maws be replenished without generating a literary famine in the land ? Already are the signs of this impending calamity but too apparent : the horrors of drought and dearth are ready to hurst upon our heads : we are beginning to be driven to the cannibal repast of the shipwrecked Don Juan. The reviewing moiety fall ravenously upon

the other half of the literary crew, tearing to pieces, cutting up, gnawing, devouring, and digesting every thing that comes within the reach of their fangs. We essayists, like modest Gouls, contented ourselves at first with fastening on the dead bodies of our predecessors, cooking them up and disguising them in every possible way, putting the hind part before, and dragging them into our dens backwards, as Cacus did his herds, to conceal the robbery. But this resource being exhausted, we have begun to cut Abyssinian collops from the living subject, and every scribbling John Bull carves plagiaristic steaks from his neighbour. Even this market of live food threatening to fail, in the extremity of our distress we turn pelicans, tearing open our own bosoms to supply flesh and blood to the ravenous brood of the public. Nay, we even join in their repast. Autophagi that we are ! in the voracity of our egotism, we find a perpetual feast in our own heart and head. There is hardly a single essayist that has not stuck his pen into his own person, and dished it up before the public with all its accidents, accompaniments, and collaterals. Their birth, parentage, and education, life, character, and behaviour, have been already laid upon the table ; nothing is

wanting but their last dying speech and confession, and that cannot be much longer delayed. What is to be the end of all this? When the present race of writers have been squeezed, and peeled, and cut open, and eviscerated, and hung up on our bookshelves to dry, like so many shotten herrings at a fisherman's hut, how is the race to be renewed, and who is to satisfy the public with its myriad mouths gasping upwards in the hungry air, and roaring for food ? It' is an awful question. I pause for a reply.

Editors and booksellers have committed a great mistake : paying for our contributions by the sheet instead of their intrinsic weight, they have offered a premium for adulterating the commodity of which they are the purchasers. Dilution and dilatation are tempting processes, when there is no standard gauge or measure. Beating out our guineas into gold leaf, and spreading them over as much surface as possible, we care not for the thinness and poorness of the article, provided it sparkles enough to have a faint appearance of gold. High prices have certainly brought great talents into the field of periodical competition, but eminence is always the precursor of corruption ; an indiscriminate patronage must in the end degrade, rather than exalt, literature ; for he who can get paid for glass beads and trinkets, will not take much pains to search for diamonds. South, when queen Anne objected to the shortness of one of his sermons, replied, that he should have made it shorter if he had had more time. All our time is employed in elongation and diffusion. We are money spinners, and support ourselves by a thread of marvellous tenuity. For my own part, I can conscientiously declare, that no one would be more terse, pointed, brief, and apothegmatical than myself-if I could afford it. My poverty and not my will, consents : poverty be it understood, not of the pate, but of the purse. Mo,



destly speaking, I consider myself to be a good Dr. Donne spoilt, and spoilt too, by encouragement !! Like overwatered cauliflowers, instead of forming a compact, productive head, we shoot out all our strength into as many leaves as we can.

Insurmountable as it is, the difficulty of finding subjects is not the only one ; the manner in which we should treat them is equally embarrassing. There are but a limited number of styles, and they are all engrossed by masters of the respective arts. Some I am too wise to attempt, for I would not fall into the error of the French Atall, “ qui gatoit l'esprit qu'il avoit, en voulant avoir ce qu'il n'avoit pas. The acute, close, and metaphysical-Mr. Tabletalk has it all to himself; the polished, elaborate, and euphonous-Geoffrey Crayon, Esq. has deservedly obtained full possession of the public ear; the light, smart, and sparkling-Grimm's Ghost rises with twenty trenchant quiddets in his head, and pushes me from my stool : and so I might continue through all the letters of the alphabet, every one of which is the hieroglyphic of some peculiar excellence. Voltaire says—" ideas are like beards: children have none ; we acquire them as we advance in life ;” but what is the use of possessing them, if the space, for their development has been usurped by previous occupants ? The literary table is fullthere is no room for me, and all the guests, without exception, (confound their dexterity ! seem incomparably expert at the carving -of their respective dishes.

It is really shameful that there should be so much good writing abroad! In the most obscure publications one encounters prose and verse that would have established a first-rate reputation fifty years ago. At that happy period it was easy to be a Triton among the minnows; now-a-days one actually runs a risk of being a minnow among the Tritons. This comes of universal education. What an awful responsibility attaches to Lancaster and

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