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Editor * * * * * Ay, Lord Mahon is a very accomplished nobleman in spite of his politics, and ought to make a figure one of these days ; indeed I hope one great benefit of the Reform will be that men like Lord Mahon and Lord Porchester (who, by the way, made a most eloquent first speech on the second reading of the bill,) will be brought more in contact with the people, and that thus prejudices on both sides may be rubbed off ;-that the people may perceive the aristocracy are not altogether the ignorant, sordid, presumptuous set of fellows they are taught to believe them, and that men of the real genius and acquirements of Lord Porchester, or Lord Mahon, may discover how readily an enlightened people can distinguish the gold from the tinsel, and appreciate those talents which at present
possessors fancy can only be thoroughly understood by noble patrons, and the worthy burgesses of Wootton Bassett :-men like these ought not to fear the people ; let them leave that apprehension to fools! What is this ---Songs of Almack's by F. W. N. Bayley. Surely that is not the Bayly, the author of Isabel; surely he is not encouraging that low desire to pry into the frivolities, and celebrate, not dissect, the vices of great people.
Editor + + + + No, let the public beware of counterfeits, for such are abroad. This is another Bayley. All who carry the Thyrsus, says the Greek proverb, are not inspired by Bacchus ; and it is not enough to bear the name of Bayly in order to win the inspiration of the poet; and Haynes Bayly is a true-a rare poet.
Editor * * * es Of the pure English mould. His simplicity is honest and deep. Who now living ever equals it? his love? his pathos ? his hearty, genuine tide of human affections ;-recollect these, and say where is the song-writer, save Burns alone, that is greater. Moore is assuredly more dazzling-more inventive—more eloquent; but does he, even he, bring the tears into your eyes as often as Bayly? that is the test of true genius in the ballad ! How great must be the merit of the poet whom it is superfluous to quote. Everyone knows our Bayly by heart. “ Isabel,”.« Oh no, we never mention her,” “ The Neglected Child," — let them once touch the heart, and the heart keeps them there for ever. They are for every rank in life—the highest, the lowest ; they cling to every chord—the finest, the rudest; the harp in your drawing-room, the hurdy-gurdy beneath your windows. And why? because they are nature. In an age like this, when poets are so many and so great, it shows what elements a man has in him who becomes popular even to surfeit. I consider that man utterly vitiated by the bombast and glitter of the new schools who attempts to decry Baylythe true Bayly, who tells you that he only writes about butterflies that he is merely pretty—that he is a frivolous songster. To all this the deep heart of the living world gives the lie. Řail as you please, but can you rail his lines out of your memory?
Editor + + + + + Enough of praise. We have here a work and an author that require very different mention.
Editor Curb thy brave spirit for awhile, brother; we lack time for thy purpose at present. But severity keeps better than praise. And now one word to our correspondents in general. Here we have a whole chest full of excellent papers, that if we reject, we shall reject with great pain. But they are not enough to the day! The world is awake and up: We must not lie a-bed, dreaming of old saws and mouldering fancies. In the lighter criticism we are willing to give a wide range. Letters, like the Laws in the Greek chorus, never grow old ;—the interest that clings to literary men never departs.
“ In them the God is great: nor fears
Potter's SOPHOCLES. But on graver matters our friends must not be wise in the wisdom of an hundred years ago. They must grapple with the time:-existing errors, living abuses—these are our enemies—strike them in the face! Again: to those literary communications that are merely frivolous, that mistake loose writing for light reading-sketches without meaning, and essays without point, we shall be more sturdy than the negative gentleman in Lord Normanby's novel. An object, and a purpose, we have in all things:
“ The bee proffers honey, but bears a sting ;-”. to heighten, while we place on a proper basis, the moral standard of our countrymen,—that is the true object of a periodical work, to which Letters, Criticism, Politics, Manners are the ministers and aliment. It was for this that our first great predecessors, who, even in Anne's time-times like our own for fiery excitement and party controversybrought Wisdom to the domestic circle and private hearth; to the solitary morning and the social eve ;-it was for this that they wrote, and it was this that they effected. We, too, will be animated with the same zeal--a zeal that shall attract to our page the abilities of those who share the same sentiments. A bold front to the foes of truth, and a warm hand for her friends ; a quick eye to all that passes around us; a door open to genius in every grade; an honest enthusiasm to warm, and a lofty end to guide us—these, please Heaven, while I, at least, have an influence in this work, shall become our attributes and distinction. Here, then, on a new field, we pitch our camp, and give our flag to the winds :-be that flag the rallying point to all who think in our principles and will assist in our cause.
THE ANNUALS FOR 1832. NEBUCHADNEZZAR's idol, whose head was of gold, and whose feet were of clay, is the exact image of our literature. The table before us exhibits at this moment a curious contrast. Twopenny tracts, and penny newspapers, whose appearance, at least, is wretched, are lying side by side with tomes clad in shining apparel, and combining every species of literary luxury. Annuals are the apotheosis of pocket-books. Some philosopher says, that to do a subject justice, we ought to look at its past, present, and future. The past of the Annuals is greatly in their favour. What an improvement are they on their poor little predecessors, with their Vauxhall poetry, six silly songs, and some sillier riddles; a view, perhaps, of Charing Cross, something like Dick Tinto's lion, under which it was necessary to write the name; and four stiff figures of fashions, below, if possible, the medium of the Royal Lady's Magazine. Annuals are now the receptacles for our lighter literature. On the same principle with the Family and the National, they might be called the Imaginative Library; for it. is in their pages all the shorter works of imagination find place. They are a monopoly of miscellanies. Our young writers seem yet to be scarcely aware that the Annuals have entirely destroyed the demand for single volumes of poetry or tales, and all that we want of graceful relaxation or light amusement, is to be found in their more attractive and varied successors. This, too, may account for their containing so much that ill deserves such glittering abodes: the vanity of composition will find a loop-hole for display. We decidedly think that their general influence is adverse to a high order of poetry. They have three faults; first, they administer too much to the vanity of small successes ; secondly, they give too great facilities to a public appearance-there is safety in many other multitudes besides those of physicians; and thirdly, they make poetry too much an object of barter. The poet who has said within his soul, “What shall I get?" has taken one great and irrevocable step back from real greatness. We shall mention two facts in support of our hypothesis, (for we are ready to confess it is no more): first, the demand for, and the tone of, imaginative literature has decreased since the appearance of the Annuals; and next, the facilities of publication afforded by their pages has yet produced no extraordinary effort. No young and unknown writer has risen into fame through their pages. Writers already established have, in many instances, well supported their reputation ; but all the debutants have been second rate. So much for their influence on literature, Now for their influence on art.
No one can deny that the numbers of exquisite engravings dispersed through the kingdom by the various Annuals will do wonders in exciting and refining the taste for art. The eye requires to be cultivated as much as the ear. The discovery of engraving is like that of printing, it extends ad infinitum the productions of the artist. If only taken in one point of view, the effect is immense: we mean the demand created for pictures in order to engrave them. We are thus familiarised with the finest productions. But the influence which elevates taste deteriorates art. Too great a supply is needed of merely pretty and secondrate pictures, to give proper encouragement to first-rate works. Enthusiasm is too little nourished in the present day. Every man is, more or less, a man of business; and the artist who finds a ready mart for (we must repeat our words) merely pretty and second-rate pictures, will be very little likely to devote years to the ideal of excellence. With regard to the engravings themselves : haste and demand are inimical to a process which, purely mechanical, requires both time and labour. An engraver has now eight or ten engravings to complete in a year where he formerly had but one. The perfection of high finish is, in the generality, impossible: hence the scale of excellence becomes lower. Another remark is, that of great pictures, the copies are engraved, often by inferior artists : hence some inevitable loss of beauty. The conclusion which forces itself upon the judgment is, that the Annuals elevate taste, but deteriorate art.
The truth is, they are moulded to the fashion of the time—a time especially
engrossing and self-seeking. We think too much of the present, and too little of the future. That generous onlooking to “days unborn, which once haunted noble minds, “like a passion,” is daily being merged more and more into a calculation of actual advantage; and fame degenerates into vanity. We forget how much we owe to posterity; for we were once posterity ourselves. Had our ancestors not had “ a farther looking hope," which took the reward for granted of futurity, how much of glory and beauty would vanish from our earth!
But it were too much to visit the besetting sin of their generation on these “ lilies of the field which toil not;" though it must be confessed they do spin,witness the “ lengthened yarn” of their numbers. Three years before any of them appeared, Messrs. Rodwell and Martin and Mr. T. Boosey proposed trying how far one would be likely to find favour with a British public. The expenses were calculated at a thousand pounds; and it was thought no chance existed of a sale likely to repay the speculation. Ackermann, however, ventured, and how his attempt was rewarded is best proved by his horde of imitators ; for imitation is one of the peculiarities of the day. Whatever succeeds, something or other resembling it is immediately produced. We doubt the advantage of this eager rivalry. It is as possible to have too many, as too much; and a commercial people, like ourselves, must know the disadvantages of an overstocked market. We have said, that 1000l. was, at first, thought too great a risk ; but it is now well known that the sum expended upon getting up” these volumes averages about 3000l. each ; and to the lovers of utility and labour it may be sufficient to state, that employment is thus given to upwards of two thousand persons during the greater part of the year. The sum from each individual is trifling; but the capital thus disseminated is large and beneficial.
But now to particularise, amid “this bright array.” We shall begin with the eldest :
ACKERMANN's “ FORGET ME Nor." The worst of Martin's frontispiece is, that till we look at it closely, it seems just like the one of last year; the same length of sweeping columns, the same innumerable crowd. Take it singly, it is a glorious conception : take it with its predecessors, it participates too much in the pleasures of memory: The same remark may be made on the poem which accompanies it. We could swear we had read it before. Croly (his name is not given, but it is impossible to mistake his “purple pomp of poetry") indulges too much in similarity of phraseology. His style is not as varied as his talents : of their variety this volume bears ample proof. “ The Beauty lessoned into Love," is a delightful extravagance, and tells the history of Lawrence's exquisite “Mariana.” A dark handkerchief is bound amid yet darker hair, which it almost conceals; and the face is thus left to the attraction of its own sweet outline and feature. « The Stage-struck Hero" is very clever; and “ The Sorrows of the Play-mad Tailor" are told as Hood only can tell :
“ the sad mistake Of him who tried at once to make
Both Romeo and Coates." There is a tale by Galt, as much beneath his genius as his tales usually are, when he affects metaphysics. A good and wonderful Christmas tale is told by Mary Howitt. The rest of the book is filled on the same principle with Catalani's husband's idea of filling up an opera.-"My wife and a few puppets.” The majority of the book is filled by Croly; and the ingenuity of his various illustrations, together with our being able to identify them, is proof of our estimate respecting his variety of talent and mannerism of style. He has thrown away some clever verses on Richter's “ Uncle Toby and the Widow.” My Uncle is coarse and fat, and the Widow is coarse and ugly. We like least his verses affixed to the very sweet picture of “ Juan and Haidee," our favourite next to the thunderstorm. But where on earth does he find his companions, Messrs. Nicholas Michell, R. F. Houseman, G. L. Swift, Captains E. Parry and Calder, Campbell, and Leontine? We do verily believe Mr. Ackermann keeps his contributors, as
the genius of old did his wife, in a glass-case, and lets them out once a-year for an airing
“FRIENDSHIP'S OFFERING." The fair lady in the frontispiece being still in existence, we shall make no remark on the portrait, excepting that it is sweetly engraved. “ The Fairy of the Lake" is a beautiful female figure poised upon a cloud, gazing on her mirrored shadow,
Drooping her beauty o'er the watery clearness,
Wooing her own fair image into nearness. The luxuriant hair has a singular richness of effect; but the left arm is bent too stifly. We do not like the next picture, which represents
When, where yon beech-tree broke the summer
Wrapt in rich dreams of light, young Milton lay.' The landscape is pretty, which is more than we can say for the lady. It were a pity to break the poet's dream for such a reality. The interesting story of “ The Orphan,” by Mrs. Norton, gives name to a print of what would rather seem two lovely sisters. “ Expectation" resembles Parris's “ Bridesmaid,” even to imitation. Dressed after the old English fashion, that most picturesque of costumes; fruit and wine on a table at her side, a lady is seated at an open casement, with a watch in her hand,
* Telling too true a tale of the slow hours." “ The Greek Mother” is also gazing from a window, keeping no “gentle watching," but with the fixed look of terrible observation. The attitude of the two children is admirable. The boy is clasped convulsively, but he is looking out eagerly on the scene below; while the girl is gazing up at her mother, as if that told all she wanted to know. It is a most effective group. We do not admire either “ Myrrhina” or “Myrto," yet the general effect of the print is good, more than we can say of the story which illustrates it. Two rich architectural landscapes are all that remain for praise. As for “ The Prediction,” it has the usual fate of prophecies--we could have dispensed with it.
As to the literary contents, none of the poetry aspires to a higher praise than that of prettiness; and even that is saying much more of it than it deserves. Mary Howitt's “ Dismal Story” is such an adventure as Ruth might have had, had she crossed the sea with her soldier-husband : Wordsworth's touching ballad has evidently here been the inspiration. We ought to mention, however, a very graceful introduction by T. Haynes Bayly. The prose stories are some of them excellent. “ The Temptation of the Capuchins,” by Derwent Conway, is a clever piece of diablerie ; " The Incognita of Munich,” as romantic a love-story as any young lady could desire, while « The Adventures of a Queen Anne's Sixpence" embodies some lively and original satire. Of Mr. Banim's two stories, “ The Substitute” is by far the best, and full of French life and nature :-by-the-by, Sir Walter Scott's Conachar has made cowards quite fashionable. "The Churchyard Watch” begins well, but the end is extravagant. Charles Tayler's essay on “ Green Grass” is haunted with the beauty of flowers; we must say of the volume, all in all, that there are few friends but what may think themselves well off in receiving such an offering.
« THE AMULET." This work is obviously out of the pale of our criticism.* The Editor states, that "he has endeavoured to fill his volume with a larger proportion of articles of permanent interest and value than heretofore.” How he has succeeded, the public must decide; to win whose favour “ The Amulet” has now served a seven years' apprenticeship. The names of Lawrence, Pickersgill, Stanfield, Haydon, are among the artists; and those of Dr. Walsh, Mrs. Hemans, the Author of “ Darnley," Miss Landon, Miss Mitford, Barry Cornwall, Allan Cunningham,
* The Editor of the Amulet being also one of the Editors of the New Monthly Magazine.
Nov.-- VOL. XXXII. NO. CXXXI.