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has had some experience in these mat- which is likely to be taking with the ters, and has been occasionally ad- public, it must please the million. mitted behind the scenes, to say When the late Lord Kaimes was something of the ingredients and asked the best method to study some cookery of one part of the dishes particular subject, he replied, write served up to the public. Whatever a pamphlet about it.” And this is any considerable portion of mankind the way with our author. He ranis disposed to set a value on, is al- sacks his brains in the first place, ways worth our observation. The for images and illustrations; for by appetite of the public is manifestly a singular inversion of the old mevery nice, and its stomach very thod of writing, his illustrations suga squeamish. It is not very fond of gest the ideas, and not the ideas illusthe substantials; and is disposed to trations. This, it must be admitted, reject whatever is difficult of di- is a much more compendious and exgestion. Hence it is, that the deep peditious way of writing. There is thinkers and laborious writers of the no necessity that there should be any last century are obliged to yield to connexion or congruity between the the light, smart, and sketchy writers opinions. The law of succession is of the present. Hence it is, that shamefully disregarded, and cach semany of the most popular authors are cond does not, as in the old gradation, men of no very disciplined education, stand heir to the first. The more or cultivated minds. One of the cle- disjoined, remote, and multifarious verest and most various minded scho- they are, the more comprehensive lars of the day lately promised a dis- must be the intellect which createssertation on the ideal of a magazine, and I may add too—that understands but I am not aware that he pro- them. if the leading opinions are ceeded farther than the ideal of an manifestly absurd and paradoxical, inkstand. I was anxious to see what so much the better, as their defence his ingenuity could devise as the affords a wider scope for ingenuity, tò xalov of any thing which springs Cicero recommends sucking orators out of, and is addressed to a tribunal to “ flesh their maiden swords” in so fluctuating and despotic as public the defence of paradoxes, and there caprice. The general run of contri- is no disgrace in following the counbutors seems, however, to be in the sels of Cicero. The management of least danger of suffering from any similes and metaphors is one of the modifications in the character of ma- most intricate departments of the art. gazines; inasmuch, as having no In this respect my friend X. is imfixed and certain colours of their own, mensely clever. To be sure, his fithey imbibe, like the cameleon, the gures sometimes drag one way and hues of their domiciles. Of the me- his thoughts another, like a couple of chanical part of their operations the ill paired hounds, but generally his reader may not be displeased to hear articles are a simile-chase in little. something; although it is like raising No sooner does he start one, than he the curtain and showing that what makes game of it ;-opening in full resembled gold is tinsel and frippery. cry-pursuing over hill and dale Such, therefore, as have upon this through clear and obscure—morals subject, “ a vision of their own," I and metaphysics-bush and quagadmonish, as Rousseau does the mire the panting reader toiling after young ladies, to skip the rest of this him in vain, till coming in at the article, should it chance that any death, he finds himself, like Fitzhave proceeded thus far. Those of james, separated from all who set whose style and manner I am about out with him, and alone in a desert to speak, are the tip top magazine country. But the chase is ended, writers par métier, and “ for the law and the article done. Thus an idea of writ and the liberty they are your is like a cloud-a camel--an eleonly men.
phant-an ousel, and at last-very I have already mentioned the diffi- like a whale. This, I take it, is the culty of setting out;-let us suppose summit of cleverness; not only bethe pons asinorum passed, and the cause it proves a command of images, subject chosen. It need not be one on but also because it enables a man to which the writer has ever read or re- write without sense or meaning. My flected. Oh, no! it must be one friend X. therefore passes for the first
magazine writer of the day—his com- ple sadness shows itself especially in parisons are so wonderful, and his our ruralities. The meanest leaflet metaphors (as Swift has it) such as
among the smoke-tinged denizens of one never met-afore. Next to the city bowpots, is pregnant
with simile is the quotation. But this is a thoughts that lie too deep for tears.” science by itself, on which some in- In order to do the sentimental well, genious person has composed a large one should have—but let a great coyolume, by the aid of which, and an ryphæus in this line describe the reindex, the most unfurnished head is quisites, “ he should have an indeable to cope with the most learned. structible love of flowers, odours, The Dictionary of Quotations, how- dews and clear waters; of soft airs, ever, is a very wicked book, as the winds, bright skies, and woodland soinfidelity of its interpretations often litudes, with moonlight bowers." betrays the confidence reposed in These tearful tributes are copiously them. The beauty of this essential paid likewise, when wandering in part of fine writing consists mainly that“ atmosphere of melancholy senin quoting from the older English timent” which breathes over scenes poets, and a few of those of our day consecrated by the memories of past who are pretty generally unread. events, or when bending over the Shakspeare, however, is the great monuments of departed grandeur. storehouse of quotation ; not for his Then is it that the tide of sorrowing sentiment, or imagery, or delineation reflection wells forth--that the heart of character or poetry; but for some aches with the agony of grief, and quaint phrase, some obsolete and the eye dims with the tear of sensifantastic expression, or some ludi- bility! There is another style, not crous combination of words. An ar- quite so much cherished by the genticle gemmed off with bits in this tle sex, but very much admired by way is “ like a frosty night studded incipient orators. It is infinitely with stars"-or it reminds ove of more elevated and elaborate, and Indian hangings,-a dark ground, possibly somewhat à souffle. I will spotted with bits of yellow foil, flung cite a specimen from a famous maon without order, measure or object, gazine contributor, which is in my except to dazzle and spangle. For opinion very grand. “ But oh! there my own part, I detest this trade of never will be a time with bigotrywork, and never quote, except to she has no head, and cannot thinkshow the deformity as a warning she has no heart, and cannot feelto others, as the Spartans taught when she moves, it is in wrath-when their children sobriety by making she pauses, it is amid ruin—her praytheir slaves drunk.
ers are curses—her god is a demonIn the affair of style, a great deal her communion is death-her venof genius is occasionally shown. It geance is eternity-her decalogue is is no easy matter to suit the shifting written in the blood of her victims; tastes of readers, and hit the public, and if she stoops for a moment from as it were, between wind and water. her infernal flight, it is upon some At present, the melancholy manner kindred rock to whet her vultureis in vogue. A tender shade of sor- fang for keener rapine, and replume
must be flung over all our her wing for more sanguinary desothoughts, and even the pleasures of lation. Addison never wrote any life are uninteresting, unless we can thing half so fine as this. Some may squeeze out of them some mournful think that the sarcastic observation reflection, or dress them up in que- of Madame du Deffand on the style rulous exaggeration. The ladies are of Monsieur Thomas might be apparticularly partial to this weeping plied to it, “prick it, and it hursts;" philosophy, which two or three vo- – I think differently; and although lumes of lacrymose essays have made it is rather too papilionaceous and still more fashionable. Not a scrib- gorgeous at first, after a little famibler sits down to whine out an arti- liarity, “ the ear becomes more Irish cle without asking with Master Ste- and less nice.” There is yet another phen for “a stool to be melancholy style, which though more limited in its upon;" and as he dips his pen in circulation, is still pretty often beink,sighs out“præcipe lug ubrescantus, fore the public. It may be called Melpomene !" But this tone of sim- the confectionary style of writing.
It is full of“ precious and golden re- to fling into it a certain number of collections," - voluptuous abstrac- pages of Johnson, or any other vocations," and “ dimvisitations," – bulary, and they come out complete“ stately remembrances,"_" intensely formed into the shape of an article. and genial dallyings, “ delicate It may be said, that this is not an crispnesses,” and“ jagged venerable- original invention, but an imitation nesses;”-it finds “ a sense of deep of the famous block-machine at and mysterious antiquity in every Portsmouth, which instantly converts thing,”—and “every thing is imbued a rude piece of wood into a perfect with sympathy and imagination;"- block. Be this as it may, if the in short, it is one of the greatest in principle be not new, the application ventions, in the way of fine writing, is ingenious and original. I am fearthat modern times can boast of. It ful, however, that here, as in all ensures a never failing variety, inas- cases where manual labour is to be much as recognising no necessary superseded by machinery—a great connexion between words and things, number of hands will be flung out of and no relations between words them- employ, by enabling publishers to maselves, the consequence is, that one nufacture their own stuffs. A liteepithet is as fit and becoming as an- rary Ludditism may be apprehended other, and whether we say venerable therefore among the Magazine wrijaggedness, or jagged venerableness, it ters. There remain two or three is equally intelligible and correct. other classes which deserve to be Whoever understands arithmetic, held up to notice and admiration, but has only to apply the rules of permu- I must temper my inclination to tation and combination to Johnson's show the lions to the patience of the Dictionary, and he may generate an spectators; and, indeed, whatever infinite variety of the most original specific differences exist among the and striking phrases. The sentin various orders, still the generic chaments which are conveyed in this racter is uniform. I shall pass over style are precisely such as might the decent heaviness of one, and the be expected, and the union forms incompetent flippancy of anotherwhat the author of the Antient Mari- the simpering innocence which “hath ner calls «
a sweet jargoning." A no offence in it,” and that dark masingle extract is as imperfect in the lignity which, for the worthless reway of sample as the brick is of the nownof a sarcasm, stabs a fellow palace; but I cannot forbear citing creature to the heart, leaving to one of the miraculous and boundless Swift the enumeration of their comexcellences of this mode of composi- mon properties. tion, in the following description of The trivial turns, the borrow'd wit, a tragedy :-"A tragedy is a fore- The similies that nothing fit ; boding indication of destiny, a noble The cant which every fool repeats, piece of high passion, sweetened, yet Town jests and coffee-house conceits. not broken, by rich fancy, and ter- Descriptions tedious, flat, and dry, minating in an awful catastrophe,
And introduced--the Lord knows why. ennobled by imagination's purest and Some of these artists are very inmost elemental inajesties.” This sort defatigable readers. Nothing is left of writing bears evidently the stamp unexamined, and nothing is rejected and impress of the writer's mind. as unworthy of perusal. Every thing
Formerly, matter, precision, and is fish which comes into their net. perspicuity, were reckoned among the Their purpose is not to amass knowrequisites of good writing—but all ledge, or arrive at truth, but to glean that has been abolished as useless and from the toils of others all that may impertinent, and a great deal of la- spare them the expense of thought. bour, vexation, study, observation, They in this resemble those birds and reflection, have been thereby whose furtive nature leads them to spared. “ Thinking is now an idle pilfer from the nests of others the waste of thought, and nought is materials for their own. It may be every thing.” I have heard, that a doubted, whether these predatory patent has been, or is about to be, incursions into strange dominions taken out for an automaton writer, are strictly justifiable, notwithstandthe principle of which is, that after ing that piracy and thest were being wound up it is only necessary held not unbecomiug by the Greeks,
provided they were exercised craf- contemptuous scorn, in my mind, tily and quietly; and that Sir with very little reverence for true Thomas More-a very conscientious genius. judge-lays it down as a justifiable The ancient sophists, who methocause of war, if those who have ter- dized their quackery with surpassing ritory to spare will not yield it up ingenuity into the form and repute to those who are manifestly in of a regular science, constructed the want. On this principle, a maga- skeletons of speeches and argumentazinist looks upon a library as his ions, which by shifting head and domain, and the works of all who have tail-pieces might be adapted to preceded him as his fair property; every subject. In the same way sets and he extracts from them, some- of magazine articles might be manutimes with gentle disclaimings and factured for every month in the year, sometimes with awful rapacity, the with blank titles. A little generaliornaments as well as the materials; zation, from the practice of the more the sentiment as well as the imagery; distinguished writers, would "pluck whatever can illustrate a position, or out the heart of their mystery," and round a sentence, whatever may form a rare and curious treatise with “point a moral, or adorn a tale.” “ the Art of Hashing-up”. for its
Scarcely any one is so unfortunate title, and “ the oldest things the as not to have his ambition gratified, newest kind of ways” for its motto. in being regarded as a wonderful My own ambition does not aspire to man of parts, by some dozens of be a legislator in the art, but my admiring imitators. Trinculo was a scrinia are at the command of any god to Caliban, and the young pe- one who is desirous of achieving riodical has always some great ex- any fame of this sort. From the exemplar, some sacred idol, before whom treme facility with which practised he bends in adoration, on whose altar hands perform these task-works, and he devotes the primitiæ of his enter- the pence and praise which pursue prize, in the glare of whose fame his this triumph, it is not surprising that buds of promise open out into fra- the tribe has increased so immensely, grance, and whose virtues he copies that its population, as a Malthusian with a Chinese fidelity of imitation ; might say, begins to press hardly and so he becomes, in process of upon the means of subsistence. Every years, himself “a Triton of the min- one is ambitious of enrolling his name nows." Thus, naturalists say, that in the glorious catalogue - every every flea is covered with a race of one has a feverish thirst to be one of smaller fleas; and there is no scrib- the thousand bubbles that float along ler so mean, that he has not some the stream of popularity, which glitmeaner one in his suite, and so on, ter and swell until they burst in their down to an infinite littleness. One own inflation. What a sad misamusing result of this is the con- employment is this, after all, of those spiracy to laud each other. The divine capabilities for good and useitch for scribbling is not greater than ful, and often great and splendid acthe itch for praise. Mr. A. scratches tions, with which we are endowed. Mr. B., and Mr. B. tickles Mr. C., Eager for what?---to live upon the who in his turn soothes the irritation tongue and be the talk; to be of Messrs. A. and B., and so on, pointed at as a distinguished contrithrough all the letters of the alpha- butor to the .; or as the writer bet. Here is no Turkish jealousy, of that singularly clever articleno hesitating dislike, no sneering “ April Musings; "--or, as (and this eulogy; it is the willing homage of is the summit of fame) the suspected congenial intellects to genuine de- editor of the Swift, who unsert. I am quite delighted with this derstood these matters, and estiuniversal epainetism, it is so affec- mated them rightly, has wittily riditionate and brotherly; it evinces, by 'culed the month's toil about an arthe frank recognition of rival merit, ticle, which is at last read over a the entire absence of that invidious dish of tea, and then flung aside for feeling which has been charged upon ever,by comparing it to the month literary men, from Petrarch's age to of care and labour expended in fat
These reciprocal scratchings tening a chicken, which is devoured some persons affect to regard with a in a moment. A moment's attention is all that is spared to the article, and of the highest talent are not always then it
unclouded and happy—what must be Goes to be never heard of more,
those of impudent pretenders? The Goes where the chicken went before.
pursuit of literary glory is often a mesancholy enterprize.
What numbers Among these throngs, who are se- perish in the struggle! Days of unduced by the glare of notoriety, we remitted and uncertain toil-nights sometimes meet with one gifted with of sleeplessness-envy and wantnobler qualities, and destined to a wasting anxiety and defeated hope kinder and more enduring recom- the spunging house and the jailpense. Such an one is sure at last to these are some of the realities which emerge from the equivocal reputa- are concealed beneath the fair and tion, which attends on the labours goodly outside which allures the I have been considering, and win for young enthusiast. Our excessive adhimself a station and a name which miration of genius, and its bright and become the property of his country. wonderful creations, is greatly miTo discourage his exertions by ridi- tigated, when we learn the hard cule would be inhuman. It is never conditions to which it is subjected. proper but when applied to such as, And even of those who have escaped utterly unfitted to instructor de- the shoals and rocks which so thickly light by their acquirements and ta- beset the voyage of literature, and lents, rush boldly into the lists, and whose years are crowned with affluimportunately exact that praise ence and honour-how many do we which is only due to the loftiest ex- see like Potemkin in his old age ertions of genius and imagination. playing with his jewels and the insigIn vain,-a few years of experience, nia of his various orders, and then and all these false presentments and bursting into tears when he found, blear illusions melt away before the at last, and too late, that they were sad realities of truth. The fortunes only baubles.
THE DOWNFAL OF DALZELI..
The night is dark and late,
By the oppressor's gate.
A tongue in every stone ;
Since thou art dead and gone;
And songs of triumph swell;
I heard the green earth say,
Since thou art past away:
The martyrs' dying moans;
From their foundation-stones;
The deathshot and the yell
For thy downfal, Dalzell.