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Title: An Author's Mind - The Complete Prose Works of Tupper, Volume 5 (of 6)
Author: Tupper, Martin Farquhar, 1810-1889
Language: English
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"En un mot, mes amis, je n'ai entrepris de vous contenter tous en
général; ainsi, une et autres en particulier; et par spécial,




The writer of this strange book (a particular friend of mine) came to me
a few mornings ago with a very happy face and a very blotty manuscript.
"Congratulate me," he began, "on having dispersed an armada of
head-aches hitherto invincible, on having exorcised my brain of its
legionary spectres, and brushed away the swarming thoughts that used to
persecute my solitude; I can now lie down as calmly as the lamb, and
rise as gayly as the lark; instead of a writhing Laocoon, my just-found
Harlequin's wand has changed me into infant Hercules brandishing his
strangled snakes; I have mowed, for the nonce, the docks, mallows,
hogweed, and wild-parsley of my rank field, and its smooth green carpet
looks like a rich meadow; I am free, happy, well at ease: argal, an thou
lovest me, congratulate."

Wider and wider still stared out my wonder, to hear my usually sober
friend so voluble in words and so profuse of images: I saw at once it
was a set speech, prepared for an impromptu occasion; nevertheless, as
he was clearly in an enviable state of disenthraldom from
thoughtfulness, I graciously accorded him a sympathetic smile. And then
this more than Gregorian cure for the head-ache! here was an anodyne
infinitely precious to one so brain-feverish as I: had all this pleasure
and comfort arisen from such common-place remedials as a dear young
lover's courtesy or a deceased old miser's codicil, I should long ago
have heard all about it; for, between ourselves, my friend was never
known to keep a secret. There was evidently more than this in the
discovery; and when my curiosity, provoked by his laughing silence, was
naturally enough exhibiting itself in a "What on earth----?" he broke
out with the abruptness of an Abernethy, "Read my book."

Well, I did read it; and, in candid disparagement, as amicably bound,
can readily believe what I was told afterwards, that, to except a very
small portion of older material, it had been at chance intervals rapidly
thrown off in a couple of months, (the old current-quill style,) chiefly
with the view of relieving a too prolific brain: it appeared to me a
mere idle overflowing of the brimful mind; an honest, indeed, but often
useless exposure of multifarious fancies--some good, some bad, and not a
few indifferent; an incautious uncalled-for confession of a thousand
thoughts, little worth the printing, if the very writing were not indeed
superfluous. Nevertheless, with all its faults, I thought the book a
novelty, and liked it not the less for its off-hand fashion; it had
something of the free, fresh, frank air of an old-school squire at
Christmas-tide, suggestive as his misletoe, cheerful as his face, and
careless as his hospitality. Knowing then that my friend had been more
than once an author--indeed, he tells us so himself--and perceiving,
from innumerable symptoms, that he meditated putting also this before
the world, I thought kindly to anticipate his wishes by proposing its
publication: but I was rather curtly answered with a "Did I suppose
these gnats were intended to be shrined in amber? these mere minnows to
be treated with the high consideration due only to potted char and white
bait? these fleeting thoughts fixed in stone before that Gorgon-head,
the public? these ephemeral fancies dropped into the true elixir of
immortality, printer's-ink? these----" I stopped him, for this other
mighty mouthful of images betrayed the hypocrite--"Yes, I did." An
involuntary smile assured me he did too, and the cause proceeded thus:
first, a promise not to burn the book; then a Bentley to the rescue,
with accessory considerations; and then, the due administration of a
little wholesome flattery: by this time we had obtained permission,
after modest reluctance pretty well enacted, to transform the deformity
of manuscript into the well-proportioned elegance of print. But, this
much gained, our author would not yield to any argument we could urge
upon the next point, viz: leave to produce the volume, duly fathered
with his name. "Not he indeed; he loved quiet too well; he might, it was
true, secretly like the bantling, but cared not to acknowledge it before
a populous reading-world, every individual whereof esteems himself and
herself competent to criticize!" Mr. Publisher, deeply disinterested, of
course, bristled up at the notion of any thing anonymous; and the only
alternative remaining was the stale expedient of an editor; that editor,
in brief, to be none other than myself, a very palpable-obscure: and let
this excuse my name upon the title-page.

Now, as editor, I have had to do--what seems, by the way, to be regarded
by collective wisdom as the best thing possible--nothing: my author
would not suffer the change of a syllable, for all his seeming
carelessness about the THING, as he called it; so, I had no
more for my part than humbly to act the Helot, and try to set decently
upon the public tables a genuine mess of Spartan porridge.

M. F. T.

_Albury, Guildford._





In these days of universal knowledge, schoolmaster and scholars all
abroad together, quotation is voted pedantry, and to interpret is
accounted an impertinence; yet will I boldly proclaim, as a mere fact,
clear to the perceptions of all it may concern, "This book deserves
richly of the Sosii." And that for the best of reasons: it is not only a
book, but a book full of books; not merely a new book, but a
little-library of new books; thirty books in one, a very harvest of
epitomized authorship, the cream of a whole fairy dairy of quiescent
post-octavos. It is not--O, mark ye this, my Sosii, (and by the way,
gentle ladies, these were worshipful booksellers of old, the Murrays and
the Bentleys of imperial Rome,)--it is not the dull concreted elongation
of one isolated hackneyed idea--supposing in every work there _be one_,
a charitable hypothesis--wire-drawn, and coaxed, and hammered through
three regulation volumes; but the scarcely-more-than-hinted abstractions
of some forty thousand flitting notions--hasty, yet meditative Hamlets;
none of those lengthy, drawling emblems of Laertes--driven in flocks to
the net of the fowler, and penned with difficult compression within
these modest limits. So "goe forth, littel boke," and make thyself a
friend among those good husbandmen, who tend the trees of knowledge, and
bring their fruit to the world's market.

Now, reader, one little preliminary parley with you about myself: here
beginneth the trouble of authorship, but it is a trouble causing ease;
ease from thoughts--thoughts--thoughts, which never cease to make one's
head ache till they are fixed on paper; ease from dreams by night and
reveries by day, (thronging up in crowds behind, like Deucalion's
children, or a serried host in front, like Jason's instant army,)
harassing the brain, and struggling for birth, a separate existence, a
definite life; ease, in a cessation of that continuous internal hum of
aërial forget-me-nots, clamouring to be recorded. O, happy unimaginable
vacancy of mind, to whistle as you walk for want of thought! O, mental
holiday, now as impossible to me, as to take a true school-boy's
interest in rounders and prisoner's base! An author's mind--and remember
always, friend, I write in character, so judge not as egotistic vanity
merely the well playing of my _rôle_--such a mind is not a sheet of
smooth wax, but a magic stone indented with fluttering inscriptions; no
empty tenement, but a barn stored to bursting: it is a painful pressure,
constraining to write for comfort's sake; an appetite craving to be
satisfied, as well as a power to be exerted; an impetus that longs to
get away, rather than a dormant dynamic: thrice have I (let me confess
it) poured forth the alleviating volume as an author, a real
author--real, because for very peace of mind, involuntarily; but still
the vessel fills; still the indigenous crop springs up, choking a better
harvest, seeds of foreign growth; still those Lernæan necks sprout
again, claiming with many mouths to explain, amuse, suggest, and
controvert--to publish invention, and proscribe error. Truly, it were
enviable to be less apprehensive, less retentive; to be fitted with a
colander-mind, like that penal cask which forty-nine Danaïdes might not
keep from leaking; to be, sometimes at least, suffered for a holiday to
ramble brainless in the paradise of fools. Memory, imagination, zeal,
perceptions of men and things, equally with rank and riches, have often
cost their full price, as many mad have known; they take too much out of
a man--fret, wear, worry him; to be irritable, is the conditional tax
laid of old upon an author's intellect; the crowd of internal imagery
makes him hasty, quick, nervous as a haunted hunted man: minds of
coarser web heed not how small a thorn rends one of so delicate a
texture; they cannot estimate the wish that a duller sword were in a
tougher scabbard; the river, not content with channel and restraining
banks, overflows perpetually; the extortionate exacting armies of the
Ideal and the Causal persecute MY spirit, and I would make a
patriot stand at once to vanquish the invaders of my peace: I write
these things only to be quit of them, and not to let the crowd increase;
I have conceived a plan to destroy them all, as Jehu and Elijah with the
priests of Baal; I feel Malthusian among my mental nurselings; a dire
resolve has filled me to effect a premature destruction of the literary
populace superfoetating in my brain--plays, novels, essays, tales,
homilies, and rhythmicals; for ethics and poetics, politics and
rhetorics, will I display no more mercy than sundry commentators of
maltreated Aristotle: I will exhibit them in their state chaotic; I will
addle the eggs, and the chicken shall not chirp; I will reveal, and
secrets shall not waste me; I will write, and thoughts shall not batten
on me.

The world is too full of books, and I yearn not causelessly to add more
than this involuntary unit: bottles, bottles--invariable bottles--was
the one idea of a most clever Head at Nieder-Selters; books,
books--accumulating books--press upon my conscience in this literary
London: despairing auctioneers hate the sound, ruined publishers dread
it, surfeited readers grumble at it, and the very cheese-monger begins
to be an epicure as to which grand work is next to be demolished.
Friendships and loves tremble at the daily recurrence of "Have you read
this?" and "Mind you buy that;" wise men shun a blue-belle, sure that
she will recommend a book; and the yet wiser treat themselves to
solitary confinement, that they may not have to meet the last new batch
of authors, and be obliged to purchase, if not to peruse, their
never-ending books. I fear to increase the plague, to be convicted an
abettor of great evils, though by the measure of a little one. I am
infected, and I know it: but for science-sake I break the quarantine,
and in my magnanimity would be victimized unknown, consigning to a
speedy grave this useless offspring, together with its too productive
parent, and saving of a race so hopeless little else than their
prëdetermined names--in fact, their title-pages.

But is that indeed little? Speak, authors with piles of ready-written
copy, is not the theme (so often carried out beyond, or beside, or even
against its original purpose) less perplexing than the after-thought
thesis? Bear witness, readers, bit by a mysterious advertisement in the
'_Morning Post_,' are names, indeed, not matters of much weight? Press
forward, Sosii aforesaid, and answer me truly, is not a title-page the
better part of many books? Cheap promises of stale pleasure, false hopes
of dull interest, imprimaturs of deceived fancy, lying visions of the
future unfulfilled, title-pages still do good service to the cause

And, to commence, let me elucidate mine own--I mean the first, the head
and front of this offending phalanx--mine own, _par excellence_, '_An
Authors Mind_:' such in sooth it shall be found, for richer or poorer,
for better or for worse; not of selfish, but of common application; not
so much individually of mine own, as generically of authors; a medley
of crudities; an undigested mass, as any in the maw of Polypheme; a
fermenting hotchpotch of half-formed things, illustrative, among other
matters, of the Lucretian theory, those close-cohering atoms; a farrago
of thoughts, and systems of thoughts, in most admired disorder, which
would symbolize the Copernican astronomy, with its necessary clash of
whirling orbs, about as well as the intangible chaos of Berkeleyan

So much then on the moment for the monosyllable "Mind;"--whereof
followeth, indeed, all the more hereafter; but--"An author's?"--what
author's? You would see my patent of such rank, my commission to wear
such honourable uniform. Pr'ythee be content with simple assurance that
it is so; consider the charm of unsatisfied curiosity, and pry not; let
me sit unseen, a spectator; for this once I would go _in domino_.
Heretofore, "credit me, fair Discretion, your Affability" hath achieved
glory, and might Solomonize on its vanity at least as well as poor
discomfited, discovered Sir Piercie Shafton: heretofore, I have stood
forth in good causes, with helm unbarred, and due proclamation of name,
style, and title, an avowed author; and might sermonize thus upon
success, that a little censure loseth more friends than much praise
winneth enemies. So now, with visor down, and a white shield, as a young
knight-candidate unknown, it pleases my leisure to take my pastime in
the tourney: and so long as in truthful prowess I bear me gallantly and
gently, who is he that hath a right to unlatch my helmet, or where is
the herald that may challenge my rank? Nevertheless, inquisitive,
consider the mysteries that lie in the Turkish-looking _sobriquet_ of
"Mufti;" its vowels and its consonants are full of strict intention I
never saw cause why the most charming of essayists hid himself in
"Elia," but he may for all that have had pregnant reasons; even so, (but
that slender wit could read my riddle,) you shall perhaps find fault
with my Mussulman agnomen; still you and I equally participate in this
shallow secret, and within so brief a word is concealed the key to
unlock the casket that tempts your curiosity: however, the less said of
so diaphanous a mystery, the better.

And let me remark this of the mode anonymous; a mode, indeed, to
purposes of shame, and slander, and falsity of all kinds too often
prostituted for the present, bear with it; sometimes it is well to go
disguised, and the voice of one unseen lacks not eager listeners; we
address your judgment, unbiased by the prejudice or sanction of a name:
we put forth, lightly and negligently, those lesser matters which
opportunity hath not yet matured; we escape the nervous pains, the
literary perils of the hardier acknowledged. Only of this one thing be
sure; we--(no, I; why should unregal, unhierarchal I affect
pluralities?)--I hope to keep inviolate, as much when masked as when
avowed, the laws of truth, charity, sincerity, and honour; and,
although, among my many booklets, the grave and the gay will be found in
near approximation, I trust--will it offend any to tell them that I
pray?--to do no ill service at any time to the cause of that true
religion which resents not the neighbourhood of innocent cheerfulness. I
show you, friend, my honest mind.

I by itself, I; odious mono-literal; thinnest, feeblest, most
insignificant of letters, I dread your egotistic influence as my bane;
they will not suffer you, nor bear with a book so speckled with your
presence. Still, world, hear me; mercifully spare a poor grammarian the
penance of perpetual third persons; let an individual tender conscience
escape censure for using the true singular in preference to that
imposing lie, the plural. Suffer a humble unit to speak of himself as I,
and, once for all, let me permissively disclaim intentional self-conceit
in the needful usage of isolated I-ship.

These few preliminaries being settled, though I fear little to the
satisfaction of either party concerned, let us proceed--further to
preliminarize; for you will find, even to the end, as you may have found
out already from the beginning, that your white knight is mounted rather
on an ambling preambling palfrey, than on any determinate charger;
curveting and prancing, and rambling and scrambling at his own unmanaged
will: scorning the bit and bridle, too hot to bear the spur, careless of
listing laws, and wishing rather playfully to show his paces, than to
tilt against a foe.

An author's mind, _quà_ author, is essentially a gossip; an oral,
ocular, imaginative, common-place book: a _pot pourri_ mixed from the
_hortus siccus_ of education, and the greener garden of internal thought
that springs in fresh verdure about the heart's own fountain; a compound
of many metals flowing from the mental crucible as one--perchance a base
alloy, perchance new, and precious, and beautiful as the fine brass of
Corinth; an accidental meeting in the same small chamber of many
spiritual essences that combine, as by magnetism into some strange and
novel substance; a mixture of appropriations, made lawfully a man's own
by labour spent upon the raw material; corn-clad Egypt rescued from a
burnt Africa by the richness of a swelling Nile--the black forest of
pines changed into a laughing vineyard by skill, enterprise, and
culture--the mechanism of Frankenstein's man of clay, energized at
length by the spark Promethean.

And now, reader, do you begin to comprehend me, and my title? '_An
Author's Mind_' is first in the field, and, as with root and fruit, must
take precedence of its booklets; bear then, if you will, with this
desultory anatomization of itself yet a little longer, and then in good
time and moderate space you will come to the rudiments--bones, so to
speak--of its many members, the frame-work on which its nerves and
muscles hang, the names of its unborn children, the title-pages of its
own unprinted books.

Philosophers and fools, separately or together, as the case may be--for
folly and philosophy not seldom form one Janus-head, and Minerva's bird
seems sometimes not ill-fitted with the face of Momus--these and their
thousand intermediates have tried in all ages to define that quaint
enigma, Man: and I wot not that any pundit of literature hath better
succeeded than the nameless, fameless man--or woman, was it?--or haply
some innocent shrewd child--who whilom did enunciate that MAN IS A
WRITING ANIMAL: true as arithmetic, clear as the sunbeam, rational
as Euclid, a discerning, just, exclusive definition. That he is "capable
of laughter," is well enough even for thy deathless fame, O Stagyrite!
but equally (so Buffon testifies) are apes and monkeys, horses and
hyenas; whether perforce of tickling or sympathy, or native notions of
the humorous, we will not stop to contend. That he actually is "an
animal whose best wisdom is laughter," hath but little reason in it,
Democrite, seeing there are such obvious anomalies among men as suicidal
jesters and cachinating idiots; nevertheless, my punster of Abdera, thy
whimsical fancy, surviving the wreck of dynasties, and too light to sink
in the billows of oblivion, is now become the popular thought, the
fashionable dress of heretofore moping wisdom: crow, an thou wilt, jolly
old chanticleer, but remember thee thou crowest on a dunghill; man is
not a mere merry-andrew. Neither is he exclusively "a weeping animal,"
lugubrious Heraclite, no better definer than thy laughter-loving foe:
that man weeps, or ought to weep, the world within him and the world
without him indeed bear testimony: but is he the only mourner in this
valley of grief, this travailing creation? No, no; they walk lengthily
in black procession: yet is this present writing not the fit season for
enlarging upon sorrows; we must not now mourn and be desolate as a poor
bird grieving for its pilfered young--is Macduff's lamentable cry for
his lost little ones, "All--what, all?" more piteous?--we must now
indulge in despondent fears, like yonder hard-run stag, with terror in
his eye, and true tears coursing down his melancholy face: we must not
now mourn over cruelty and ingratitude, like that poor old worn-out
horse, crying--positively crying, and looking imploringly for merciful
rest into man's iron face; we must not scream like the wounded hare, nor
beat against our cage like the wild bird prisoned from its freedom.
Moreover, Heraclite, even in thine own day thou mightest well have heard
of the classic wailings of Philomel for Atys, or of consumptive Canens,
that shadow of a voice, for her metamorphosed Pie, and have known that
very crocodiles have tears: pass on, thy desolate definition hath not
served for man.

With flippant tongue a mercantile cosmopolite, stable in statistics and
learned in the leger, here interposes an erudite suggestion: "Man is a
calculating animal." Surely, so he is, unless he be a spendthrift; but
he still shares his quality with others; for the squirrel hoards his
nuts, the aunt lays in her barley-corns, the moon knoweth her seasons,
and the sun his going down: moreover, Chinese slates, multiplying
rulers, and, as their aggregated wisdom, Babbage's machine, will stoutly
contest so mechanical a fancy. Savoury steams, and those too smelling
strongly of truth, assault the nostrils, as a Vitellite--what a name of
hungry omen for the imperial devourer!--plausibly insinuates man to be
"a cooking animal." Who can gainsay it? and wherewithal, but with
domesticated monkeys, does he share this happy attribute? It is true,
the butcher-bird spits his prey on a thorn, the slow epicurean boa
glazes his mashed antelope, the king of vultures quietly waits for a
gamey taste and the rapid roasting of the tropics: but all this care,
all this caloric, cannot be accounted culinary, and without a question,
the kitchen _is_ a sphere where the lord of creation reigns supreme:
still, thou best of practical philosophers, caterer for daily
dinners--man--MAN, I say, is not altogether a compact of edible
commons, a Falstaff pudding-bag robbed of his seasoning wit, a mere
congeries of food and pickles; moreover, honest Gingel of "fair" fame
hath (or used to have, "in my warm youth, when George the Third was
king,") automatons, [pray, observe, Sosii, I am not pedant or wiseacre
enough to indite _automata_; we conquering Britons stole that word among
many others from poor dead Greece, who couldn't want it; having made it
ours in the singular, why be bashful about the plural! So also of
memorandums, omnibuses, [you remember Farren's _omni_BI!]
necropolises, gymnasiums, eukeirogeneions, and other unlegacied
property of dear departed Rome and Greece. All this, as you see,
is clearly parenthetical;] well, then, Gingel has automatons, that will
serve you up all kinds of delicate viands, pleasant meats, and
choice cates by clock-work, to say nothing of Jones' patent
all-in-a-moment-any-thing-whatsoever cooking apparatus: no mine
Apiciite, Heliogabalite, Sardanapalite, Seftonite, Udite, thou of
extravagant ancestry and indifferent digestion; little, indeed, as you
may credit me, man is not all stomach, nor altogether formed alone for
feeding. Remember Æsop's parable, the belly and the members; and, above
them all, do not overlook the head.

What think you then of "a featherless biped?" gravely suggests a rusty
Plinyite. Absolute sir, and most obsolete Roman, doubtless you never had
the luck to set eyes upon a turkey at Christmas; the poor bare _bipes
implumis_, a forked creature, waiting to be forked supererogatively; ay,
and _risibilis_ to boot, if ever all concomitants of the hearty old
festival were properly provocative of decent mirth. Thus then return we
to our muttons, and time enough, quotha: literary pundit, (whose is the
notable saying?) thy definition is bomb-proof, thy fancy unscaleable,
thy thought too deep for undermining; that notion is at the head of the
poll, a candidate approved of Truth's most open borough; for, in spite
of secretary-birds with pens stuck clerk-like behind their ears (as
useless an emblem of sinecure office as gold keys, silver, and
coronation armour)--in spite of whole flights of geese, capable enough
of saving capitols, but impotent to wield one of their own
all-conquering quills--in spite, also, (keen-eyed categorists, be to my
faults in ratiocination a little blind, for very cheerfulness,) in
spite, I say, of copying presses, manifold inditers, and automaton

Wearily enough, you will think, have we disposed of this one definition:
but recollect, and take me for a son of leisure, an amateur tourist of
Parnassus, an idling gatherer of way-side flowers in the vale of
Thessaly, a careless, unbusied, "contemplative man," recreating himself
by gentle craft on the banks of much-poached Helicon; and if you, my
casual friend, be neither like-minded in fancy nor like-fitted in
leisure, courteously consider that we may not travel well together: at
this station let us stop, freely forgiving each other for mutual
misliking; to your books, to your business, to your fowling, to your
feasting, to your mummery, to your nunnery--go: my track lays away from
the highroad, in and out between yonder hills, among thickets, mossy
rocks, green hollows, high fern, and the tangled hair of hiding
river-gods; I meet not pedlers and bagsmen, but stumble upon fawns just
dropped, and do not scare their doting mothers; I quench not my noonday
thirst with fiery drams from a brazen tap, but, lying over the cold
brook, drink to its musical Naiades; I walk no dusty roads of a
working-day world, but flit upon the pleasant places of one made up of

A truce to this truancy, and method be my maxim: let us for a moment
link our reasonings, and solder one stray rivet; man being a writing
animal, there still remains the question, what is writing? Ah, there's
the rub: a very comfortable definition would it be, if every pen-holder
and pen-wiper could truly claim that kingship of the universe--that
imagery of his Maker--that mystical, marvellous, immortal, intellectual,
abstraction, manhood: but, what then is WRITING? Ye tons of
invoices, groaning shelves of incalculable legers, parchment abhorrences
of rare Charles Lamb, we think not now of you; dreary piles of
unhealthy-looking law-books, hypochondriacal heaps of medical
experiences, plodding folios of industrious polemics, slow elaborations
of learned dullness, we spare your native dust; letters unnumbered, in
all stages of cacography, both physical and metaphysical, alack! most of
you must slip through the meshes of our definition yet unwove; poor
deciduous leaves of the forest, that, at your best, serve only--it is
yet a good purpose--to dress the common soil of human kindness, without
attaining to the praise of wreaths and chaplets ever hanging in the
Muses' temple; flowers withered on the stalk, whose blooming beauty no
lover's hand has dropped upon the sacred waters of Siloa, like the
Hindoo's garland on her Ganges; prolix, vain, ephemeral letters
(especially enveloped penny-posters)--and sparing only some few redolent
of truth, wisdom, and affection--your bulky majority of flippant trash,
staid advices, dunnings, hoaxings, lyings, and slanderings, degrade you
to a lower rank than that we take on us to designate as "writing."

And what, O what--"how poor is he that hath not patience!"--shall we
predicate of the average viscera of circulating libraries?--abominable
viscera!--isn't that the word, my young Hippocrates?--A parley--a
parley! and the terms of truce are these: If this present pastime of
mine (for pastime it is, so spurn not at its logic,) be mercifully
looked on by you, lady novelists and male dittoes--yet truly there are
giants in your ranks, as Scott, and Ward, and Hugo, and Le Sage,
towering above ten thousand pigmies--if I be spared your censures
well-deserved, interchangeably as toward your authorships will I
exercise the charitable wisdom of silence: a white flag or a white
feather is my best alternative in soothing or avoiding so terrible a
host; and verily, to speak kinder of those whose wit, and genius, and
graphic powers have so smoothed this old world's wrinkled face of care,
many brilliant, many clever, many well-intended caterers to public
amusement, throng your ill-ordered ranks: still, there are numbered to
your shame as followers of the fool's-cap standard, the huge corrupting
mass of depraved moralists, meagre trash-inditers, treacherous
scandal-mongers, men about town who immortalize their shame, and the
dull, pernicious school of feather-brained Romancists: and take this
sentence for a true one, a _verum-dictum_. But enough, there are others,
and those not few, even far less veniable; ye priers into family
secrets--fawning, false guests at the great man's open house, eagerly
jotting down with paricidal pen the unguarded conversation of the
hospitable board--shame on your treason, on its wages, and its fame! ye
countless gatherers and disposers of other men's stuff; chiels amang us
takin' notes, an' faith, to prent 'em too, perpetually, without
mitigation or remorse; ye men of paste and scissors, who so often
falsely, feebly, faithlessly, and tastelessly are patching into a
Harlequin whole the _disjecta membra_ of some great hacked-up
reputation; can such as ye are tell me what it is to write? Writing is
the concreted fruit of thinking, the original expression of new
combinations of idea, the fresh chemical product of educational
compounds long simmering in the mind, the possession of a sixth sense,
distinguishing intelligence, and proclaiming it to the four winds;
writing is not labour, but ease; not care, but happiness; not the petty
pilferings of poverty, but the large overflowings of mental affluence;
it begs not on the highway, but gives great largess, like a king; it
preys not on a neighbour's wealth, but enriches him; it may light,
indeed, a lamp, at another's candle, but pays him back with brilliancy;
it may borrow fire from the common stock, but uses it for genial warmth
and noble hospitality.

Remember well, good critic, (for verily bad there be,) my purposes in
this odd volume--this queer, unsophisticate, uncultivated book: to empty
my mind, to clear my brain of cobwebs, to lift off my head a porters's
load of fancy articles; and as in a bottle of bad champaign, the first
glass, leaping out hurryskurry, at a railroad pace boiling a gallop,
carries off with it bits of cork and morsels of rosin, even such is the
first ebullition of my thoughts: take them for what they are worth, and
blame no one but your discontented self that they are no better. Do you
suppose, keen sir, that I am not quite self-conscious of their
shallowness, utter contempt of subordination and selection, their empty
reasoning and pellucid vanity?--There I have saved you the labour of a
sentence, and present you with a killing verdict for myself. After a
little, perhaps, your patience may find me otherwise; of clearer flow,
but flatter flavour: these desultorinesses must first of all be
immolated, for in their Ariel state they vex me, but I bind them down
like slaving Calibans, by the magic of a pen; and glad shall I be to
victimize my monsters, eager to dissipate my musquito-like tormentors;
yea, I would "take up arms against a sea"--["Arms against a sea?"
dearest Shakspeare, would that Theobald, or Johnson's stock-butt, "the
Oxford Editor," had indeed interpolated that unconscionable image! It
has been sapiently remarked by some hornet of criticism, that
"Shakspeare was a clever man;" but cleverer far must that champion
stand forth who wars with any prospect of success upon seas; perhaps
Xerxes might have thought of it--or your Astley's brigand, who
rushes sword in hand on an ocean of green baize. Who shall cure me of
parentheses?]--well, "a sea of troubles, [thoughts trouble us more than
things--I sin again; close it;] and by opposing, end them;" that is, by
setting forth these troublous thoughts opposite, in stately black and
white, I clip their wings, and make them peck among my poultry, and not
swarm about my heaven. But soon must I be more continuous; turn over to
my future title-pages, and spare your objurgation; a little more of this
medley while the fit lasts, and afterward a staid course of better
accustomed messes; a few further variations on this lawless theme of
authorship, and then to try simpler tunes; briefly, and yet to be
grandiloquent, as a last round of this giddy climax, after noisy
clashing Chaos there shall roll out, "perfect, smooth, and round," green
young worldlets, moving in quiet harmony, and moulded with systematic

As an author, meanwhile, let man be most specifically characterized: a
real author, voluntary in his motives, but involuntary as regards his
acts authorial; full of matter, prolific of images and arguments,
teeming, bursting, with something, much, too much, to say, and well
witting how to say it: none of your poor devils compulsory from
poverty--Plutus help them!--whose penury of pocket is (pardon me) too
often equitably balanced by their emptiness of head; and far less one of
the lady's-maid school, who will glory in describing a dish of cutlets
at Calais, or an ill-trimmed bonnet, or the contents of an old maid's
reticule, or of a young gentleman's portmanteau, or those rare occasions
for sentimentality, moonlight, twilight, arbours, and cascades, in the
moderate space of an hour by Shrewsbury clock: but a man who has it
weightily upon his mind to explain himself and others, to insist,
refute, enjoin: a man--frown not, fair helpmates; the controversial pen,
as the controversial sword, be ours; we will leave your flower-beds and
sweeter human nurseries, despotism over cooks and Penelobean penance
upon carpet-work; nay, a trip to Margate prettily described, easy
lessons and gentle hymns in behalf of those dear prattlers, and for the
more coerulean sort, "lyrics to the Lost one," or stanzas on a sickly
geranium, miserably perishing in the mephitic atmosphere of routs--these
we masculine tyrants, we Dionysii of literature, ill-naturedly have
accounted your prerogatives of authorship. But who then are Sévigné and
Somerville, Edgeworth and De Staël, Barbauld and Benger, and Aikin, and
Jameson, Hemans, Landon, and a thousand more, not less learned, less
accomplished, nor less useful? Forgive, great names, my half-repeated
slander: riding with the self-conceited _cortège_ of male critics, my
boasted loyalty was well-nigh guilty of _lèze majesté_: but I repudiate
the thought; my verdict shall have no reproach in it, as my championship
no fear: how much has man to learn from woman! teach us still to look on
humanity in love, on nature in thankfulness, on death without fear, on
heaven without presumption; fairest, forgive those foolish and ungallant
calumnies of my ruder sex, who boast themselves your teachers--making
yet this wise use of the slander: never be so bold in authorship, as to
hazard the loss of your sweet, retiring, modest, amiable, natural
dependence: never stand out as champions on the arena of strife, but if
you will, strew it with posies for the king of the tournament; it ill
becomes you to be wrestlers, though a Lycurgus allowed it, and Atalanta,
another Eve, was tripped up by an apple in the foot-race. So digressing,
return we to our author; to wit, a man, _homo_--a human, as they say in
the west--with news of actual value to communicate, and powers of pen
competent to do so graphically, honestly, kindly, boldly.

Much as we may emulate Homer's wordy braggadocios in boasting ourselves
far better than our fathers, still, great was the wisdom of our
ancestors: and that time-tried wisdom has given us three things that
make a man; he must build a house, have a child, write a book: and of
this triad of needfuls, who perceives not the superior and innate
majesty of the last requisite?--"Build a house?" I humbly conceive, and
steal my notion from the same ancestral source, that, in nine cases out
of ten, fools build houses for wise men to live in; besides, if houses
be made a test of supreme manhood, your modern wholesale runner-up of
lath and plaster tenements, warranted to stand seven years--provided
quadrilles be excluded, and no larger flock of guests _than six_ be
permitted to settle on one spot--such a jackal for surgeons, such a
reprobate provider for accident-wards as this, would be among our
heroes, a prize-man, the flower of the species. "Children" too?--very
happy, beautiful, heart-gladdening creations--God bless them all, and
scatter those who love them not!--but still for a proof of more than
average humanity, somewhat common, somewhat overwhelming: rabbits beat
us here, with all our fecundity, so offensive to Martineau and Malthus.
But as to "books"--common enough, too, smirks gentle reader: pardon,
courteous sir, most rare--at least in my sense; I speak not of flat
current shillings, but the bold medallions of ancient Syracuse; I heed
not the dull thousands of minted gold and silver, but the choice
coin-sculptures of Larissa and Tarentum. There do indeed flow hourly,
from an ever-welling press, rivers of words; there are indeed shoaling
us up on all sides a throng of well-bound volumes--novels, histories,
poems, plays, memoirs, and so forth--to all appearance, books: but if by
"books" be intended originality of matter, independent arguments, water
turned wine, by the miracle of right-thinking, and not a mere
re-decantering of dregs from other vessels--these many masqueraded
forms, these multiplied images of little-varied likenesses, these
Protean herds, will not stay to be counted, nor abide judgment, nor
brook scrutiny, but will merge and melt by thousands into the one, or
the two, real, original, sterling books. We live in a monopolylogue of
authorship: an idea goes forth to the world's market-place well dressed
from the wardrobe of some master-mind; it greets the public with a
captivating air, and straightway becomes the rage; it seems epidemical;
it comes out simultaneously as a piece of political economy, a
cookery-book, a tragedy, a farce, a novel, a religious experience, an
abstract _ism_, or a concrete _ology_; till the poor worn-out,
dissipated shadow of a thought looks so feeble, thin, fashionably
affected and fashionably infected, that its honest, bluff old father,
for very shame, disowns it. Thus has it come to pass, that one or two
minds, in this golden age of scribbling, have, to speak radically, been
the true originators of a million volumes, which haply shall have sprung
from the seed of some singular book, or of books counted in the dual.

Indignant authors, be not merciless on my candour: I confess too much
whereof I hold you guilty; I am one of yourselves, and I question not
that few of you can beat me in a certain sort of--I will say,
unintended, plagiarism; you are thieves--patience--I thieve from
thieves; Diogenes cannot see me any more than you; you copy phrases, I
am perpetually and unconsciously filching thoughts; my entomological
netted-scissors, wherewith I catch those small fowl on the wing, are
always within reach; you will never find me without well-tenanted
pill-boxes in my pocket, and perhaps a buzzing captive or two stuck in
spinning thraldom on my castor; you are petty larceners, I profess the
like _métier_ of intellectual abstractor; you pilfer among a crowd of
volumes, manuscripts, rare editions, conflicting commentators, and your
success depends upon rëusage of the old materials; whereas I sit alone
and bookless in my dining-parlour, thinking over bygone fancies,
rëconsidering exploded notions, appropriating all I find of lumber in
the warehouse of my memory, and, if need be, without scruple, quietly
digesting, as my special provender, the thoughts of others, originated
ages ago.

Is it necessary to remind you--dropping this lightsome vein for a
precious moment--that I am penning away my "crudites," off-hand, at the
top of my speed? that my set intention is, if possible, to jot down
instanter my heavy brainful, and feel for once light headed?--I stick to
my title, '_An Author's Mind_,' and that with a laudable scorn of
concealment, and an honest purpose not to pretend it better or wiser
than it is; then let no one blame me on the score of my fashion of
speech, or my sarcasms mingled with charity; for consistency with me
were inconsistent.

Neither let me, poor innocent, be accused of giving license to what a
palled public and dyspeptical reviewers will call for the thousandth
time a _cacoethes_; word of cabalistic look, unknown to Dr. Dilworth.
Truly, my masters, though disciple I be of venerable Martinus the
Scribbler; though, for aught I know, himself in progress of
transmigration; still, I submit, my cornucopia is not crammed with
leaves and chopped straw; and if, in utter carelessness, the fruit is
poured out pell-mell after this desultory fashion, yet, I wot, it _is_
fruit, though whether ripe or crude, or rotten, my husbandry takes
little thought: the mixture serves for my cider-press, and, fermentation
over, the product will be clarified. Judge me too, am I not consecutive?
I've shown man to be a writing animal; and writing, what it is and is
not; and meanwhile have been routing recreatively at pen's point whims,
and fancies, and ideas, and images, pulled in manfully by head and
shoulders: and now--after an episode, quite relevant and quite
Herodotean, concerning the consequences of a bit of successful
authorship on a man's scheme of life, to illustrate yet more the
"author's mind"--I shall proceed to tell all men how many books I might,
could, should, or would have written, but for reiterated and legitimated
_buts_, and how near of kin I must esteem myself to the illustrious J.
of nursery rhymes, being, as he is or was, "Mister Joe Jenkins, who
played on the fiddle, and began twenty tunes, but left off in the
middle." Moreover, no one can be ignorant of the close consanguinity
recognised in every age and every dictionary between I and J. But now
for the episode:

If ever a toy were symbolical of life, that toy was a kaleidoscope: the
showy bits of tinsel, coloured glass, silk, beads, and feathers, with
here and there perchance a stray piece of iridescent ore or a pin, each,
in its turn of ideal multiplication, filling successively the field of
vision; the trifling touch that will disenchant the fairest patterns;
the slightest change, as in chemical arithmetic, that will make the
whole mixture a poison or a cordial. A man is vexed, the nerve of his
equanimity thrillingly touched at the tender elbow, and forthwith his
whole wholesome body writhes in pain; while, to speak morally, those
useful reminders of life's frailty, the habitual side-thorns--spurs of
diligence, incentives to better things--are exaggerated into sixfold
spears, and terribly stop the way, like long-lanced Achæans: a careless
fit succeeds to one of spleen, and vanity well spangled, pretty baubles,
stars and trinkets and trifles, fill their cycle, to magnetize with
folly that rolling world the brain: another twist, and love is lord
paramount, a paltry bit of glass, casually rose-coloured, shedding its
warm blush over all the reflective powers: suddenly an overcast, for
that marplot, Disappointment, has obtruded a most vexatiously reiterated
morsel of lamp-black: again Hope's little bit of blue paint makes azure
rainbows all about the firmament of man's own inner world; and at last
an atom of gold-dust specks all the glasses with its lurid yellow, and
haply leaves the old miser to his master-passion. So, ever changing day
by day, every man's life is but a kaleidoscope. Stay; this simile is
somewhat of the longest, but the whim is upon me, and I must have my
way; the fit possesses me to try a sonnet, and I shall look far for a
fairer thesis; he that hates verse--and the Muses now-a-days are too
old-maidish to look many lovers--may skip it, and no harm done; but one
or two may like this stave on


  I saw a child with a kaleidoscope,
    Turning at will the tesselated field;
    And straight my mental eye became unseal'd,
  I learnt of life, and read its horoscope:
    Behold, how fitfully the patterns change!
  The scene is azure now with hues of Hope;
    Now sobered gray by Disappointment strange;
  With Love's own roses blushing, warm and bright;
    Black with Hate's heat, or white with Envy's cold;
  Made glorious by Religion's purple light;
    Or sicklied o'er with yellow lust of Gold;
  So, good or evil coming, peace or strife,
    Zeal when in youth, and Avarice when old,
  In changeful, chanceful phases passeth life.

It is well I was not stopped before my lawful fourteenth rhyme by yonder
prosaic gentleman, humbly listening in front, who asks, with somewhat of
malicious triumph, whereto does all this lead?--Categorically, sir,
[there is no argument in the world equal to a word of six syllables,]
categorically, sir, to this: of all life's turns and twists, few things
produce more change to the daring _debutant_ than successful authorship;
it is as if, applying our simile, a fragment of printed bookishness
among those kaleidoscopic morsels, having worked its way into the field
of vision, had there got stereotyped by a photogenic process: in fact,
it fixes on it a prëdestinated "author's mind."

An author's mind! what a subject for the lights and shadows of
metaphysical portraiture! what a panorama of images! what a whirling
scene of ever-changing incidents! what a store-house for thoughts! what
a land of marvels! what untrodden heights, what unexplored depths of an
ever-undiscovered country! That strange world hath a structure and a
furniture all its own; its chalcedonic rocks are painted with rare
creatures floating in their liquid-seeming hardness; forms of other
spheres lie buried in its lias cliffs; seeds of unknown plants, relics
of unlimnèd reptiles, fragments of an old creation, the ruins of a
fanciful cosmogony, lie hid until the day of their requiral beneath its
fertile soil: and then its lawless botany; flowers of glorious hue hung
upon the trees of its forests; luscious fruits flung liberally among the
mosses of its banks; air-plants sailing in its atmosphere; unanchored
water-lilies dancing in its bright cascades; and this, too, a world, an
inner secret world, peopled with unthought images, specimens of a
peculiar creation; outlandish forms are started from its thickets, the
dragon and the cherub are numbered with its winged inhabitants, and
herds of uncouth shape pasture on its meadows. Who can sound its seas,
deep calling unto deep? who can stand upon the hill-tops, height
beckoning unto height? who can track its labyrinths? who can map its
caverns? A limitless essence, an unfailing spring, an evergreen
fruit-tree, a riddle unsolved, a quaint museum, a hot-bed of inventions,
an over-mantling tankard, a whimsical motley, a bursting volcano, a
full, independent, generous--a poor, fettered, jealous, Anomaly,
such--bear witness--is an author's mind. O, theme of many topics! chaos
of ill-sorted fancies! Let us come now to the jealousies, the real or
imaginary wrongs of authorship: hereafter treat we this at lengthier;
"for the time present"--I quote the facetious Lord Coke, when writing on
that highly exhilerating topic, the common-law--"hereof let this little
taste suffice." Is it not a wrong to be taken for a mere book-merchant,
a mercenary purveyor of learning and invention, of religion and
philosophy, of instruction, or even of amusements, for the sole
consideration of value received, as one would use a stalking-horse for
getting near a stag? this, too, when ten to one some cormorant on the
tree of knowledge, some staid-looking publisher in decent mourning, is
complacently pocketing the profits, and modestly charging you with loss?
and this, moreover and more poignantly, when the flame of responsibility
on some high subject is blazing at your heart, and the young Elihu, even
if he would, cannot keep silence? Is it not a wrong to find pearls
unprized, because many a modern, like his Celtic progenitors, (for I
must not say like swine,) would sooner crush an acorn? to know your
estimation among men ebbs and flows according to the accident of
success, rather than the quality of merit? to be despised as an animal
who must necessarily be living on his wits in some purlieu, answering to
that antiquated reproach, a Grub-street attic; or suspected among
gentler company in this most mercantile age for a pickpocket, a pauper,
a _chevalier d'industrie_? And then those hounds upon the bleeding
flanks of many a hunted author, those open-mouthed inexorable critics,
(I allude to the Pariah class, not to the higher caste brethren,) how
suddenly they rend one, and fear not! Only for others do I speak, and in
no degree on account of having felt their fangs, as many have done, my
betters; gentle and kind, as domesticated spaniels, have reviewers in
general been to your humble confessor, and for such courtesies is he
their debtor. But who can be ignorant how frequently some hapless writer
is impaled alive on the stake of ridicule, that a flagging magazine may
be served up with _sauce piquante_, and pander to the world for its
waning popularity by the malice of a pungent article? who, while as a
rule he may honour the bench of critics for patience, talent, and
impartiality, is not conusant of those exceptions, not seldom of
occurence, where obvious rancour has caused the unkindly condemnation;
where personal inveteracy aims from behind the Ajax shield of anonymous
reviewing, and shoots, like a cowardly Teucer, the foe fair-exposed
whom he dares not fight with?--But, as will be seen hereafter, I
trespass on a title-page, and here will add no more than this: Is it not
a wrong of double edge, that while the world makes no excuse for the
writhing writer, on the reasonable ground that after all he may be
innocent of what his critics blame him for, the same good-natured world,
on almost every occasion of magazine applause, believes either that the
author has written for himself the favourable notice, or that pecuniary
bribes have made the honest editor his tool? Verily, my public, thou art
not generous here; ay, and thou art grievously deceived, as well as
sordid: for by careless praise, causeless censure, credit given for
corrupt bribery, and no allowance made for unamiable criticisms, poor
maltreated authors speak to many wrongs: and of them more anon.

What moreover shall we say of chilling friendships, near estrangements,
heartless lovers loitering behind, shy acquaintance dropping off?
Verily, there is a mighty sifting: you have dared to stand alone, have
expounded your mind in imperishable print, have manifested wit enough to
outface folly, sufficient moral courage to condemn vice, and more than
is needful of good wisdom to shame the oracles of worldliness: and so
some dread you, some hate, and many shun: the little selfish asterisks
in that small sky fly from your constellatory glories: you are
independent, a satellite of none: you have dared to think, write, print,
in all ways contrary to many; and if wise men and good be loud in their
applause, you arrive at the dignity of manifold hatreds; but if those
and their inferiors condemn, you sink into the bathos of multiplied
contempts. Of other wrongs somewhen and where, hereafter; meanwhile, a
better prospect glows on the kaleidoscopic field--a flattering accession
of new and ardent friends: "Sir," said an old priest to a young author,
"you have made a soft pillow for your head when it comes to be as white
as mine is;" a pretty saying of sweet charity, and such sink deep: as
for the younger and the warmer, being mostly of the softer sex, some
will profess admiring sensations that border not a little on idolatries;
others, gayer, will appear in the dress of careless, unskillful
admiration; not a few, both men and women, go indeed weakly along with
the current stream of popularity, but, to say truth, look happiest when
they find some stinging notice that may mortify the new bold candidate
for glory; while, last and best, a fewer, a very much fewer, do
handsomely the liberal part of friends, commending where they can,
objecting where they must, sincere in sorrow for a fault, rejoicing
without envy for a virtue.

Many like phenomena has authorship: a certain class of otherwise
humanized and well-intentioned people begin to regard your scribe as a
monster--not a so-called "lion" to be sought, but some strange creature
to be dreaded: Perdition! what if he should be cogitating a novel or a
play, and means to make free with our characters? what if that libellous
cöpartnership of Saunders and Ottley is permitted to display our faults
and foibles, flimsily disguised, before a mocking world? Disappointed
maidens that hover on the verge of forty, and can sympathize with
Jephtha's daughter in her lonely mournings, causelessly begin to fear
that a mischievous author may appropriate their portraits; venerable
bachelors, who have striven to earn some little local notoriety by the
diligent use of an odd phrase, a quaint garment, or an eccentric fling
in the peripatetic, dread a satirist's powers of retributive burlesque;
table orators suddenly grow dumb, for they suspect such a caitiff
intends cold-blooded plagiarisms from their eloquence; the twinkling
stars of humble village spheres shun him for an ominous comet, whose
very trail robs them of light, or as paling glow-worms hide away before
some prying lantern; and all who have in one way or another prided
themselves on some harmless peculiarity, avoid his penetrating glance as
the eye of a basilisk. Then, again, those casual encounters of witlings
in the world authorial, so anticipated by a hostess, so
looked-forward-to by guests! In most cases, how forlorn they be! how
dull; constrained, suspicious! like rival traders, with pockets
instinctively buttoned up, and glaring each upon the other with most
uncommunicative aspects; not brothers at a banquet, but combatants and
wrestlers, watching for solecisms in the other's talk, or toiling to
drag in some laboured witticism of their own, after the classical
precedent of Hercules and Cerberus: those feasts of reason, how vapid!
those flows of soul, how icily congealing! those Attic nights, how dim
and dismal! Once more; and, remember me, I speak in a personated
character of the general, and not experimentally; so, flinging self
aside, let me speak what I have seen: grant that the world-without crown
a man with bays, and lead him to his Theban home with tokens of
rejoicing; is the victor there set on high, chapleted, and honoured as
Nemean heroes should be or does he not rather droop instantly again into
the obscure unit among a level mass, only the less welcome for having
stood up, a Saul or a Musæus, with his head above his fellows? Verily,
no man is a proph--Enough, enough! for ours is a prerogative, a glorious
calling, and the crown of barren leaves is costlier than his of Rabbah;
enough, enough! sing we the praises, count we well the pleasures of
fervent, overflowing authorship. There, in perfect shape before the
eyes--there, well born in beauty--there perpetually (so your fondness
hopes) to live--slumbers in her best white robe the mind's own fairest
daughter; the Minerva has sprung in panoply from that parental aching
head, and stands in her immortal independence; an Eve, his own heart's
fruit, welcomes delighted Adam. You have made something, some good work,
bodily; your communion has commenced with those of times to come; your
mind has produced a witness to its individuality; there is a tablet
sacred to its memory standing among men for ever.

A thinker is seldom great in conversation, and the glib talkers who have
silenced such a one frequently in clamorous argument, founder in his
deep thoughts, blundering, like Stephanos and Trinculos--(let Caliban be
swamped;) such generous revenge is sweet: a writer often unexplained,
because speaking little, and that little foolishly mayhap, and lightly
for the holiday's sake of an unthoughful rest, finds his opportunities
in printing, and gives the self-expounding that he needs; such
heart-emptyings yield heart-ease: an author, who has done his good work
well--for such a one alone we speak--while, privately, he scarce could
have refreshed mankind by petty driblets--in the perpetuity, publicity,
and universal acceptation of his high and honourable calling, does good
by wholesale, irrigates countries, and gladdens largely the large heart
of human society. And are not these unbounded pleasures, spreading over
life, and comforting the struggles of a death-bed? Yes: rising as
Ezekiel's river from ankle to knee, from knee to girdle, from girdle to
the overflowing flood--far beyond those lowest joys, which many wise
have trampled under foot, of praise, and triumph, and profit--the
authorship of good, that has made men better; that has consoled sorrow,
advanced knowledge, humbled arrogance, and blest humanity; that has sent
the guilty to his prayers, and has gladdened the Christian in his
praises--the authorship of good, that has shown God in his loveliness,
and man in his dependence; that has aided the cause of charity, and
shamed the face of sin--this high beneficence, this boundless
good-doing, hath indeed a rich recompense, a glorious reward!

But we must speed on, and sear these hydra-necks, or we shall have as
many heads to our discourse, and as puzzling, as any treatise of the
Puritan divinity. Let us hasten to be practical; let us not so long
forget the promised title-pages; let it at length satisfy to show, more
than theoretically, how authorship stirs up the mind to daily-teeming
projects, and then casts out its half-made progeny; how scraps of paper
come to be covered with the cabala of half-written thoughts,
thenceforward doomed to suffer the dispersion-fate of Sibylline leaves;
how stores of mingled information gravitate into something of order,
each seed herding with its fellows; and how every atom of mixed metal,
educationally held in solution by the mind, is sought out by a keen
precipitating test, gregariously building up in time its own true

Hereabouts, therefore, and hereafter, in as frank a fashion as
heretofore, artlessly, too, and, but for crowding fancies, briefly shall
follow a full and free confession of the embryo circulating library now
in the book-case of my brain; only premising, for the last of all last
times, that while I know it to be morally impossible that all should be
pleased herewith, I feel it to be intellectually improbable that any one
mind should equally be satisfied with each of the many parts of a
performance so various, inconsistent, and unusual; premising, also, that
wherein I may have stumbled upon other people's titles, it is
unwittingly and unwillingly; for the age breeds books so quickly, that a
man must read harder than I do to peruse their very names; and premising
this much farther, that I profess to be a sort of dog in the manger,
neither using up my materials myself, nor letting any one else do so;
and that, whether I shall happen or not, at any time future to amplify
and perfect any of these matters, I still proclaim to all bookmakers and
booksellers, STEAL NOT; for so surely as I catch any one thus
behaving--and truly, my masters, the temptation is but small--I will
stick a "_Sic vos, non vobis,_" on his brazen forehead.

Wait! there remaineth yet a moment in which to say out the remnant of my
mind, "an author's mind," its last parting speech, its dying utterances
before extreme unction. I owe all the world apologies; I would pray a
catholic forgiveness. Authors and reviewers, critics, and the
undiscriminating many, fair women, honest men, I cry your pardons
universally! I do confess the learning of my mind to lie, strangely and
Pisa-like, inveterately as at Welsh Caérphilli, out of the perpendicular
of truth; it is my disposition to make the most of all things, for good
or for evil; I write, speak, and think, as if I were but an unhallowed
special pleader; I colour highly, and my outlines are too strong; I am
guilty on all sides of unintentional misstatements, consequent on the
powerful gusts of feeling that burst upon my irritable breast; my heart
is no smooth Dead Sea, but the still vexed Bermoothes: therefore I would
print my penitence; I would publish my confessions; I would not hide my
humbleness; and it pleases me to pour out in sonnet-form my


  --For I have sinn'd; oh! grievously and often;
    Exaggerated ill, and good denied;
  Blacken'd the shadows only born to soften;
    And Truth's own light unkindly misapplied:
  Alas! for charities unloved, uncherish'd,
    When some stern judgment, haply erring wide,
  Hath sent my fancy forth, to dream and tell
    Other men's deeds all evil! Oh, my heart!
  Renew once more thy generous youth, half perish'd;
    Be wiser, kindlier, better than thou art!
  And first, in fitting meekness, offer well
    All earnest, candid prayers, to be forgiven
  For worldly, harsh, unjust, unlovable
    Thoughts and suspicions against man and Heaven!

Friends all, let this be my best amendment: bear with the candour,
homely though it may be, of your author's mind; and suffer its further
revelations of unborn manuscript with charitable listening; for they
would come forth in real order of time, the first having priority, and
not the best, ungarnished, unweeded, uncared-for, humbly, and without
any further flourish of trumpets.

       *       *       *       *       *

Serjeant Ion--I beg his pardon, Talfourd--somewhere gives it as his
opinion, that most people, in any way troubled with a mind, have at some
time or other meditated a tragedy. Truly, too, it _is_ a fine vehicle
for poetical solemnities, a stout-built vessel for an author's graver
thoughts; and the bare possibility of seeing one's own heart-stirring
creation visually set before a crowded theatre, the preclusive echoes
of anticipated thundering applause, the expected grilling silence
attendant on a pet scene or sentiment, all the tangible, accessories of
painting and music, clever acting and effective situation, and beyond
and beside these the certain glories of the property-wardrobe, make most
young minds press forward to the little-likely prize of successful
tragedy. That at one weak period I was bitten, my honesty would scorn to
deny; but fortunately for my peace of mind, "Melpomene looked upon me
with an aspect of little favour," and sturdy truth-telling Tacitus made
me at last but lightly regardful of my subject. Moreover, my Pegasus was
visited with a very abrupt pull-up from other causes; it has been my
fatality more than once or twice, as you will ere long see, to drop upon
other people's topics--for who can find any thing new under the
sun?--and I had already been mentally delivered of divers fag-ends of
speeches, stinging dialogues, and choice tit-bits of scenes, (all of
which I will mercifully spare you,) when a chance peep into Johnson's
'_Lives of the Poets_' showed me mine own fine subject as the work of
some long-forgotten bard! This moral earthquake demolished in a moment
my goodly aërial fabric; the fair plot burst like a meteor; and an
after-recollection of a certain French tragedy-queen, Agrippina, showed
me that the ground was still further preoccupied. But it is high time to
tell the destined name of my abortive play; in four letters, then,




And now, in pity to an afflicted parent, hear for a while his
offspring's Roscian capabilities. First of all, however, (and you know
how I rejoice in all things preliminary,) let me clear my road by
explanations: we must pioneer away a titular objection, "in seven
scenes," and an assumed merit, in the term "classical." I abhor
scene-shifters; at least, their province lies more among pantomimes,
farces, and comedies, than in the region of the solemn tragic muse; her
incidents should rather partake of the sculpture-like dignity of
_tableaux_. My unfashionable taste approves not of a serious story being
cut up into a vast number of separate and shuffled sections; and the
whistle and sliding panels detract still more from the completeness of
illusion: I incline as much as is possible to the Classic unities of
time, place, and circumstances, wishing, moreover, every act to be a
scene, and every scene an act; with a comfortable green curtain, that
cool resting-place for the haggard eye, to be the grass-like drop,
mildly alternating with splendid crime and miserable innocence: away
with those gaudy intermediates, and, still worse, some intruded ballet;
bring back Garrick's baize, and crush the dynasty of head-aches.

But onward: let me further extenuate the term, seven scenes; the
utterance seven "acts" would sound horrific, full of extremities of
weariness; but my meaning actually is none other than seven acts of one
scene each: for the number seven, there always have been decent reasons,
and ours may best appear as we proceed, less than a brief seven seeming
insufficient, and more, superfluous; again, so mystical a number has a
staid propriety, and a due double climax of rise and fall. Now, as to
our adjective "classical:" Why not, in heroic drama, have something
a-kin to the old Greek chorus, with its running comment upon motives and
moralities, somewhat as the mighty-master has set forth in his truly
patriotic '_Henry the Fifth?_'--However, taking other grounds, the
epithet is justified, both by the subject and the proposed unmodern
method of its treatment: but of all this enough, for, on second
thoughts, perhaps we may do without the chorus.

It is obvious that no historical play can strictly preserve the true
unity of time; cause and effect move slower in the actual machinery of
life, than the space of some three hours can allow for: we must
unavoidably clump them closer; and so long as a circumstance might as
well have happened at one time as at another, I consider that the poet
is justified in crowding prior events as near as he may please towards
the goal of their catastrophe. If then any slight inaccuracy as to dates
arrests your critical ken, believe that it is not ignorantly careless,
but learnedly needful. One other objection, and I have done. No man is
an utter inexcusable, irremediable villain; there is a spot of light,
however hidden, somewhere; and, notwithstanding the historian's picture,
it may charitably be doubted whether we have made due allowance for his
most reasonable prejudice even in Nero's case. Human nature has produced
many monsters; but, amongst a thousand crimes, there has proverbially
lingered in each some one seedling of a virtue; and when we consider the
corruption of manners in old Rome, the idolatrous flatteries hemming in
the prince, the universal lie that hid all things from his better
perceptions, we can fancy some slight extenuation for his mad career.
Not that it ever was my aim, in modern fashion, to excuse villany, or to
gild the brass brow of vice; and verily, I have not spared my odious
hero; nevertheless, in selecting so unamiable a subject, (or rather
emperor,) I wished not to conceal that even in the worst of men there is
a soil for hope and charity; and that if despotism has high
prerogatives, its wealth and state are desperate temptations, whose
dangers mightily predominate, and whose necessary influences, if quite
unbiased, tend to utter misery.

Now to introduce our _dramatis personæ_, with their "cast,"--for better
effect--rather unreasonably presumed. _Nero_--(Macready, who would
impersonate him grandly, and who, moreover, whether complimented or not
by the likeness, wears a head the very counterpart of Nero's, as every
Numismatist will vouch,)--a naturally noble spirit, warped by sensuality
and pride into a very tyrant; liberal in gifts, yet selfish in passion;
not incapable of a higher sort of love, yet liable to sudden changes,
and at times tempestuously cruel. _Nattalis_--(say Vandenhoff,)--his
favourite and evil genius, originally a Persian slave, and still wearing
the Eastern costume: a sort of Iago, spiriting up the willing Nero to
all varieties of wickedness, getting him deified, and otherwise
mystifying the poor besotted prince with all kinds of pleasure and
glory, to subserve certain selfish ends of rapine, power, and
licentiousness, and to avenge, perhaps, the misfortunes of his own
country on the chief of her destroyers. _Marcus Manlius_--(who better
than Charles Kean?--supposing these artistic combinations not to be
quite impossible,)--a fine young soldier, of course loving the heroine,
captain of Nero's body-guard, chivalrous, honourable, noble, and
faithful to his bad master amid conflicting trials. _Publius
Dentatus_--(any _bould_ speaker; besides, it would be rather too much to
engage all the actors yet awhile;)--a worthy old Roman, father of the
heroine. _Galba_, the chief mover in the catastrophe, as also the opener
of its causes, an intriguing and fierce, but well-intentioned patriot,
who ultimately becomes the next emperor. With _Curtius_ a tribune,
senators, conspirators, soldiers, priests, flamens, &c. And so, after
the ungallant fashion of theatrical play-wrights, as to a class inferior
to the very &c. of masculines--(of less intention withal than one of
those &cs. of crabbed Littleton, like an old shoe fricasséed into
savourings of all things by its inimitable Coke,)--come we to the
women-kind. _Agrippina_, (one of the school of Siddons,) empress-mother,
a strong-minded, Lady-Macbeth sort of woman, and the only person in the
world who can awe her amiable son. _Lucia,_ (_you_ cannot be spared
here, clever Helen Faucit)--the heroine, secretly a Christian affianced
to Manlius; a character of martyr's daring and woman's love. _Rufa_, a
haggard old sibyl, with both private and public reasons for detesting
Nero and Nattalis: and all the fitting female attendants to conclude the

Each scene, in which each act will be included, should be pictorially,
so to speak, a _tableau_ in the commencement, and a _tableau_ of
situation in the end. Let us draw up upon scene _the first_.
Back-ground, Rome burning; in front, ruins of fine Tuscan villa, still
smoking; and a terminal altar in the garden. Plebs. running to and fro,
full of conventional little speeches, with goods, parents, penates, and
other lumber, rescued from the flames; till a tribune, (hight Curtius,)
in a somewhat incendiary oration concerning poor men's calamities, and
against the powers that be, sends them to the capital with a procession
of flamines Diales and vestals, dirging solemnly a Roman hymn [some "_Ad
Capitolium, Ad Jovis solium_," and so forth] to good music. At the
end of the train come in Publius and Lucia, to whom from opposite
hurriedly walks Galba, full of talk of omens, direful doings, patriotism,
and old Rome's ruin. To these let there be added--to speak
mathematically--open-hearted Manlius; and let there follow certain
disceptatious converse about Nero, Manlius excusing him, extenuating his
vices by his temptations, giving military anecdotes of his earlier
virtues, and in fact striving to make the most of him, a very gentle
monster: Galba throwing in, sarcastically, blacker shadows. After
disputation, the father and lovers walk off, leaving Galba alone for a
moment's soliloquy; and, from behind the terminal altar, unseen Sibyl
hails him Cæsar; he, astonished at the airy voice so coincident with his
own feelings, thinks it ideal, chides his babbling thoughts, and so
forth: then enter to him suddenly chance-met noble citizens, burnt out
of house and home, who declaim furiously against Nero. Sibyl, still
unseen from behind the altar, again hails Galba as future Cæsar; who, no
longer doubting his ears, and all present taking the omen, they conspire
at the altar with drawn swords, and as the Sibyl suddenly
presides--_tableau_--and down drops the soft green baize. This first
act, you perceive, is stirring, introductory of many characters; and the
picture of the seven-hilled city, seen in a transparent blaze, might
give the followers of Stanfield a triumph.

_Second_: The senate scene, producing another monstrous crime of Nero's,
also inaccurately dated. In the full august assembly, Nero discovered
enthroned, not unmajestic in deportment, yet effeminately chapleted, and
holding a lyre: suppose him just returned from Elis, a pancratist, the
world's acknowledged champion. Nattalis, ever foremost in flatteries,
after praising the prince's exploits in Greece, avows that, like Paris
in Troy, and Alexander at Persepolis, Nero _had_ gloriously fired Rome;
he found it wood, and wished to leave it marble; (so, the catafalque at
the Invalides of the twice-buried Corsican;) in destroying, as well as
blessing, he had asserted his divinity; any after due allusions to
Phoenixes, and fire-kingships, and _coups-de-soliel_ falling from the
same Apollo so great upon the guitar, Nattalis moves that Nero should be
worshipped, and calls on the priest of Jupiter to set a good example.
None dare refuse, and the senate bend before him; whereupon enter, in
clerical procession, augurs, and diviners, men at arms with pole-axes,
and coronaled white bulls, paraded before sacrifice: all this pandering
to present love of splendour and picturesque effect. In the midst of
these classical preparations, enters, with a bevy of attendants, the
haughty queen-like Agrippina, whom Nero, having sent for to complete his
triumph, commands to bend too; but she stoutly refusing, and taking him
fiercely to task, objurgating likewise Rome's degenerate
gray-beards--great bustle--senate broken up hurriedly--and she, with a
"_feri ventrem_," dragged off to be killed by her son's order. Nero
alone with Nattalis by imperial command; his momentary compunction
nullified by the wily Iago, who turns off the subject smoothly to a new
object of desire: Publius was the only senator not in his place, and
Publius has a daughter, the fairest in Rome, Lucia--had not the emperor
noticed her among Agrippina's women? Nero, charmed with any scheme of
novelty that may change remorseful thoughts, is induced, nothing loth,
to attempt the subtle abduction of the heroine; a body-guard, headed as
always by Manlius, ready in the vestibule to escort him, and exit.
Nattalis, alone for a minute, betrays his own selfish schemes concerning
Lucia, who had refused him before, and alludes to his secret reasons for
urging on the maddened Nero to the worst excesses.

_Third scene_ (or part, or _act_, if it must be so), expounds, in
fitting contrast to the foregoing, the tender loves of Lucia and
Manlius; a gentle home-scene, a villa and its terraced gardens: also, as
Lucia is a Christian, we have, poetically, and not puritanically, an
insight into her scruples of conscience as to the heathenism of her
lover: and also into _his_ consistent nobility of character, not willing
to surrender the religion of his fathers unconvinced. To them rushes in
Publius, who has been warned by friend Galba of the near approach of
Nattalis and a guard, to seize Lucia for disreputable Nero: no possible
escape, and all urge Lucia to imitate Virginia, Lucretia, and others of
like Dian fame, by cowardly self-murder; she is high-principled, and
won't: then they--the father and lover--request leave to kill her;
conflicting passions and considerable stage effect; Lucia, who with calm
courage derides the dastard sacrifice, standing unharmed between those
loving thirsty swords: in a grand speech, she makes her quiet departure
a test of Manlius' love, and her ultimate deliverance to be a proof to
him that her God is the true God, the God who guards the innocent.
Manlius, struck with her martyr-like constancy, professes that if indeed
she is saved out of this great trouble, he will embrace her faith,
renounce his own, and so break down the of wealth and rank, are alike
thrown away upon Publius; at last, the prince promises; and when
Publius, after a burst of earnest eloquence, proclaims the new pleasure
to consist in _showing mercy_, Nero's utter wrath, his hurricane of
hate, revoking that hasty promise, and hurrying away old Publius to die
at the same stake with his daughter.

_Seventh_: the catastrophe scene lies in the Coliseum amphitheatre; (I
mean the older one, anterior to Vespasian's:) bloody games pictured
behind, and those "human torches" at fiery intervals. Nero, enthroned in
side front, surrounded by a brilliant court, amongst whom are some of
the conspirators: at other side Publius and Lucia, tied at one stake in
white robes, back to back, to die before Nero's eyes, Manlius and
soldiers guarding them: he, Manlius, having nobly resolved to test
miraculous assistance to the last, but now tremblingly believing the
chance of a Providence interfering, since Lucia's escape from Nero at
the golden house. Just as the emperor, after a sarcastic speech,
characteristically interlarded with courtier conversation, is commanding
the fagot to be lighted, and Lucia's constant faith has bade Manlius _do
it_--a rush of Nattalis with attendant conspirators and Rufa the Sibyl,
up to Nero; Nattalis strikes him, but the sword breaks short off on the
hidden armour; Nero's majestic rising for a moment, asserting himself
Cæsar still, the inviolable majesty;--suddenly stopped by a centripetal
rush of the conspirators; who kill him, (after he has vainly attempted
in despair to kill himself,) and Galba sits on the throne, while Nero,
unpitied and unhelped, gasps out in the middle his dying speech.
Meanwhile, at the other side, Manlius has killed Nattalis for his
treachery, cut the bonds of Publius and Lucia, and all ends in moral
justice for the triumph of good, and the defeat of evil; Manlius and
Lucia, hand in hand, Publius with white head and upraised hands blessing
them, Nero, a mangled corpse, Nattalis in his dying agonies persecuted
by the vindictive Rufa, and Galba hailed as Cæsar by the assembled
Romans. So, upon a magnificent _tableau_, slowly falls the lawny

Patient reader, what think you of my long-winded tragedy? No quibbling
about Nero having really died in a drain, four years after the murder of
Aggrippina; no learned disquisitions, if you please, as to his innocence
of Rome's fire, a counterpart to our slander on the Papacy in the matter
of London's; spare me, I pray you, learned pundit, your suspicions about
Galba's too probable _alibi_ in Spain. Tell me rather this: do I falsify
history in any thing more important than mere accidental anachronisms
and anatopisms? do I make an untrue delineation of character, blackening
the good, or white-washing the wicked? Do I not, by introducing Nero's
three greatest crimes so near upon his assassination, merely accelerate
the interval between causes and effect? And is not tragic dignity
justified in varnishing, with other compost than the dregs of Rome, the
exit of the last true Cæsar of the Augustan family? For all the rest,
good manager, provide me actors, and I am even now uncertain--such is my
weakness--whether this skeleton might not at some time be clad with
flesh and skin, and a decent Roman toga. I fear it will yet haunt me as
a '_Midsummer Night's Dream_,' destroying my quiet with involuntary
shreds and patches of long-metred blank; the notion is still vivacious,
albeit scotched: Alexandrine though the synopsis appear, it must not be
thrown on the highroad as a dead snake; nay, let me cherish it yet on my
hearth, and not hurl it away like a _bonum waviatum_; a little more
boiling up of Roman messes in my brain, and my tragedy might flow forth
spontaneously as lava. What if this book be, after all, a sort of
pilot-balloon, to show my huge Nassau the way the wind blows--a feeler
as to which and which may please? Whether or not this be so, I will
still confess on, emptying my brain of booklets, and, if by happy
possibility I can keep my secret, shall hear unsuspected, friend, _your_

       *       *       *       *       *

I must rather hope, than expect, that my next bit of possible authorship
is not like the last, a subject forestalled. Scribbling as I find myself
for very listlessness in a dull country-house, there's not a publisher's
index within thirty miles; so, for lack of evidence to the contrary, I
may legitimately, for at least a brief period of self-delusion, imagine
the intoxicating field my own. And yet so fertile, important,
interesting a subject, cannot have been quite overlooked by the corps of
professed literary labourer's: the very title-page would insure five
thousand readers (especially with a Brunswicker death's-head and
marrow-bones added underneath).



standing alone in single blackiness: Opium, a magnificent theme,
warranted to fill a huge octavo: and certain, from sheer variety of
information, to lead into the captivity of admiring criticism minds of
every calibre. Its natural history, with due details of all manner of
poppies, their indigenous habitats, botanical characters, ratios of
increase, and the like; its human history, discovery as a drug; how,
when, where, and by whom cultivated; dissertations as to the possibility
of Chaldean, Pharaonic, Grecian, or Roman opium eating, with most
erudite extracts out of all sorts of scribes, from Sanchoniathon down to
Juvenal, on these topics; its medicinal uses, properties, accidents, and
abuses; as to whether it might not be used homoeopathically or in
infinitesimal doses, to infuse a love of the pleasures of imagination
into clodpoles, lawyers' clerks, and country cousins; its intellectual
possibilities of usefulness, stimulating the brain; its moral ditto,
allaying irritability; together with a dreadful detail of its evils in
excess, idiotizing, immoralizing, ruining soul and body. Plenty of stout
unquestionable statistics, from all crannies of the globe, to
corroborate all the above to the extreme satisfaction of practical men,
with causes and consequences of its insane local popularity. All this,
moreover, at present, with especial reference to China and the East;
added to the moral bearings of the Opium-war, and our national
responsibilities relative to that unlucky traffic. The metaphysical
question stated and answered, whether or not prohibition of any thing
does not lead to its desire; showing the increasing appetency of those
sottish Serics for the forbidden vice, and illustrating Gay's fable of
the foolish young cock, who ne'er had been in that condition, but for
his mother's prohibition: moreover, how is it, that so captivating a
form of intoxication is so little rife among our drunken journeymen?
queries, however, as to this; and whether or not the humbug of
teetotalism (a modern speculation, got up by and for the benefit of
grocers and sugar-planters on the one side, schismatics and conspiring
demagogues on the other,) has already substituted opium-eating,
drinking, or smoking, for the wholesomer toddies, among factory folk and
the finest pisantry. Millions of anecdotes regarding Eastern Rajahs,
Western Locofocos, Southern Moors, and North-country Muscovites, as to
the drug in its abuses: strange cures (if any) of strange ailments of
mind or body by its prudent use: how to wean men and nations from those
deleterious chewings and smokings; with true and particular accounts of
such splendid self-conquests as Coleridge and De Quincey, and--shall I
add another, a living name?--have attained to. Then, again, what a field
for poetical vagaries, and madnesses of imagination, would be afforded
by the subject of opium-dreams! Now, strictly speaking, in order to
hallucinate honestly, your opium-writer ought to have had some
practical knowledge of opium-eating: then could he descant with the
authority of experience--yea, though he write himself thereby down an
ass--on its effects upon mind and body; then could he tell of luxuries
and torments in true Frenchified detail; then could he expound its pains
and pleasures with all the eloquence of personal conviction. But, as to
such real risk of poisoning myself, and of making I wot not how actual a
mooncalf, of my present sound mind and body, I herein would reasonably
demur: and, if I wanted dreams, would tax my fancy, and not my
apothecary's bill. Dreams? I need not whiff opium, nor toss off laudanum
negus, to imagine myself--a young Titan, sucking fiery milk from the
paps of a volcano; a despot so limitless and magnificent, as to spurn
such a petty realm as the Solar System, with Cassiopeia, Boötes, and his
dog, to boot; an intellect, so ravished, that it feels all flame, or a
mass of matter so inert, that it lies for ages in the silent depths of
ocean, a lump of primeval metal: Madness, with the red-hot iron hissing
in his brain: Murder, with the blood-hound ghost, over land, over sea,
through crowds, deserts, woods, and happy fields, ever tracking silently
in horrid calmness; the oppression of indefinite Guilt, with that Holy
Eye still watching; the consciousness of instant danger, the sense of
excruciating pain, the intolerable tyranny of vague wild fear, without
will or power to escape: spurring for very life on a horse of marble:
flying upward to meet the quick-falling skies--O, that universal
crash!--greeted in a new-entered world with the execrations of the
assembled dead--that hollow, far-echoing, malicious laughter--that
hurricane-sound of clattering skulls; to be pent up, stifling like a
toad, in a limestone rock for centuries; to be haunted, hunted, hooted;
to eat off one's own head with its cruel madly crunching under-jaw;
to--but enough of horrors: and as to delights, all that Delacroix
suggests of perfume, and Mahomet of Houris, and Gunter of cookery, and
the German opera of music: all Camilla-like running unexertive, all that
sea unicorns can effect in swift swimming, or storm-caught condors in
things aërial; all the rapid travellings of Puck from star to star,
system to system, all things beauteous, exhilarating, ecstatic--ages of
all these things, warranted to last. Now, multiply all these several
alls by forty-nine, and the product will serve for as exaggerated a
statement as possible of opium pandering to pleasure; yes, by
forty-nine, by seven times seven at the least, that we be not accused of
extenuating so fatal an excitement; for it is competent to conceive
one's self expanded into any unlimited number of bodies, seven sevens
being the algebraic _n_, and if so, into their huge undefined
aggregate; a giant's pains are throes indeed, a giant's pleasures indeed
flood over. But, we may do harm to morality and truth, by falsely making
much of a faint, fleeting, paltry, excitation. The brain waltzing
intoxicated, the heart panting as in youth's earliest affection, the
mind broad, and deep, and calm, a Pacific in the sunshine, the body
lapped in downy rest, with every nerve ministering to its comfort; what
more can one, merely and professedly of this world of sensualism--an
opium-eater for instance--conceive of bliss? Such imaginative flights as
these, with its pungent final interrogatory, suggestive to man's
selfishness of joys as yet untried, might tempt to tamper with the dear
delight; whereas the plain statement of the most that opium could
minister to happiness, as contrasted with those false vain views of it,
remind me of Tennyson's poetical '_Timbuctoo_,' gorgeous as a new
Jerusalem in Apocalyptic glories, and the mean filth-obstructed kraals
dotted on an arid plain, to which, for very truthfulness, his soaring
fancy drops plumbdown, as the shot eagle in '_Der Freischutz_.'

Let this then serve as a meagre sketch of my defunct treatise on opium:
think not that I love the subject, curious and fertile though it be;
perhaps, philosophically regarded, it is not a better one than _gin_;
but ears polite endure not the plebeian monosyllable, unless indeed with
a rëduplicated _n_, as Mr. Lane _will_ have it our whilom genie should
be spelt: accordingly, I magnanimously give up the whole idea, and am
liberal enough, in this my dying determination, to sign a codicil,
bequeathing opium to my executors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Novelism is a field so filled with copy-holders, so populously tenanted
in common, that it requires no light investigation to find a site
unoccupied, and a hero or heroine waiting to be hired. Nevertheless, I
seem to myself to have lighted on a rich and little-cultivated corner;
imagining that the subject is a good one, because still untouched,
founded on facts, and with amplifiable variations that border on the
probable. He that lionizes Stratford-on-Avon, will remember in one of
the Shakspearian museums of that classic town, the pictured trance of


as it was limned in death-seeming life. He will be shown the tombs of
her ancient family in Stratford church, and the door of that fatal
vault; he will hear something of her noble birth--her fine
character--her fascinating beauty--her short, innocent, eventful
life--her horrible death. Consider, too, the age and locality in which
she lived, Elizabethan, Shakspeare's; the great contemporary characters
that might be casually introduced; the mysterious suicide, in that dim
dreadful pool at the end of the terraced walk among the cropped yews, of
her poor only sister, Margaret; equalled only in the miserable interest
by that of Charlotte herself. And then for a plot: some darkly hinted
parricide of years agone, in the generation but one preceding, has dropt
its curse upon the now guiltless, but, by the law of Providence,
still-not-acquitted family; a parricide consequent on passionate love,
differing religions, and the Montague-and-Capulet-school of hating
feudal fathers--Theodore Clopton having been a Catholic, Alice Beauvoir
a Protestant; an introductory recountal of old Beauvoir's withering
curse on the Clopton family for Theodore's abduction of his daughter,
followed by the tragic event of the father and son, Cloptons', mutual
hatred, and the former found in his own park with the broken point of
his son's sword in him, the latter flying the realm: the curse has slept
for a generation; and now two fair daughters are all that remain to the
high-bred Sir Clement and his desponding lady, on whom the Beauvoir
descendant, a bitterest enemy, takes care to remind them the hovering
curse must burst. This Rowland Beauvoir is the villain of the story,
whose sole aim it is, after the fulfilment of his own libertine wishes,
to see the curse accomplished: and Charlotte's love for a certain young
Saville, whom Beauvoir hates as his handsome rival in court patronage,
as well as her pointed refusal of himself, gives new and present life to
his ancestral grudge. The lovers are espoused, and to make Sir Clement's
joy the greater, Saville has interest sufficient to meet the old
knight's humour of keeping up the ancient family name, by getting it
added to his own; so that the Beauvoir hatred and parricidal curse seem
likely to be frustrated. But--the first hindrance to their union is poor
sister Margaret's secret and infatuated love for that scheming villain
Rowland, her then too probable seduction, melancholic madness, and
suicide: successively upon this follow the last illnesses and deaths of
the heart-broken old people, whom Rowland's dreadful ubiquity terrifies
in their very chamber of disease; and as the too likely consequence of
such accumulated sorrows on a creature of exquisite sensibility,
Charlotte, the only remaining heiress of that ancient lineage,
gradually, and with all the semblance of death, falls into her terrible
trance. Rowland, who, through his intimacy with Margaret, knows all the
secret passages and sliding panels of the old mansion, and who thereby
gets mysterious admission whenever he pleases, comes into that silent
chamber, and finds Saville mourning over his dead-seeming bride: she,
all the while, though unable to move, in an agony of self-consciousness;
and at last, when Rowland in fiendish triumph pronounces the curse
complete, to the extreme horror of both, by an effort of tortured mind
over apparently inanimate matter, rolls her glazed eyes, and gives an
involuntary groan: having thus to all appearance confirmed the curse,
she lies more marble-white, more corpse-like, more entranced than ever.
Then, after long lingering, draws on the horrible catastrophe: a
catastrophe, alas! as far at least as regards the heroine, _quite true_.
Fully aware of all that is going on--the preparations for burial, the
misery of her lover, the gratified malice of her foe--she is placed in
the coffin: the rites proceed, her heart-stricken espoused takes his
last long leave, she is carried to the grave, locked in the family vault
under Stratford church, and there left alone, fearfully buried alive!
And then, after a day or two, how shrieks and groans are heard in the
church-yard by truant school-boys, and are placed to the account of the
curse: how, at last, her despairing lover demands to have the vault
opened; and the wretch Rowland--partly from curiosity, partly from
malice--determined to be there to see. As they and some church-followers
come near the door of the vault, they hear knockings, and desperate
plunges within; Saville swoons away, the crowd falls back in terror, and
the hardened Rowland alone dares unlock the door. Instantly, in her
shroud, mad, starved, with the flesh gnawed from her own fair shoulders,
rushes out the maniac Charlotte: in phrensied half-reason she has seized
Rowland by the throat, with the strength of insanity has strangled him,
and then falls dead upon the steps of the vault! Of Saville--who, as
having swooned, is spared all this scene of horror, and who leaves the
country for ever--little or nothing is more said: and Clopton Hall
remains a ruin, tenanted by ghosts and bats.

P.S. If thought fit, after the fashion of Parisian charcoal-burners in
ill-ventilated bed-rooms, Charlotte may have recorded her experiences in
the vault, by writing with a rusty nail on the coffin-plates.

Now, the gist of this Victor-Hugo tale of terror is its general truth: a
true end of a truly-named family, in its own neighbourhood, and long
since extinct: the house, now rëbuilt and rëstyled--the vault--the
picture of that poor unfortunate, (how unsearchable in real life often
are the ways of Providence! how frequently the innocent suffer for the
guilty!)--the gloomy well--and something extant of the story--remains
still, and are known to some at Stratford. To do the thing graphically,
one should go there, and gain materials on the spot: and nothing could
be easier than to mix with them fifteenth-and-sixteenth-century
costumes, modes of thought, and historical allusions; accessories of the
humorous, if the age demands it, might relieve the pathetic; Charlotte's
own innocence and piety might be made to soften her hard fate, with the
assurance of a better life; Saville might become a wisely-resigned
recluse; and while the sins of the fathers are not gently, though
justly, visited on the children, the villain of the story meets his full

Behold, then, hungry novel-monger, what grist is here for the mill!
Behold, Sosii, what capabilities of orders from every library in the
kingdom!--As doomed ones, and denounced ones, and undying ones, and
unseen ones, seem to be such taking titles, what think you of the
_Buried-alive-one_!--is it not new, thrilling, terrible? Who is he that
would pander to the popular taste for details of dreadful, cruel,
criminal, and useless abominations? "Should such a one as I?" In
emptying my head of the notion, I have ministered too much already: but
the sample of henbane is poured out, an offering to the infernal manes,
and poisons no longer the current of my thoughts. Thy ghost, poor
beautiful Charlotte! shall not be disturbed by me; thy misfortunes sleep
with thee. Nevertheless, this tale about a more amiable Charlotte than
Werter's, so naturally also falling into the orthodox three-volume
measure, is capable of being fabricated into something of deep,
romantic, tragical interest; such a character, in such circumstances, in
such an age, and such a place: I commend it to those of the Anglo-Gallic
school, who love the domestically horrible, and delight in unsunned
sorrows: but, I throw not any one topic away as a waif, for the casual
passer-by to pick up on the highway. Shadows, indeed, are flung upon the
waters, but Phulax still holds the substance with tenacious teeth.

Stop awhile, my dog and shadow, and generously drop the world a morsel;
be not quite so bold when no one thinks of robbing you, and spare your
gasconade: the expediency of a sample has been cleverly suggested, and
WE _ego et canis meus_, royal in munificence, do graciously
accede. Will this serve the purpose, my ever-pensive public? At any
rate, with some aid of intellect in readers, it is happily an extract
which explains itself--the death of poor infatuated Margaret: we will
suppose preliminaries, and hazard the abrupt.

       *       *       *       *       *

"That bitter speech shot home; it had sped like an arrow to her brain:
it had flown to her heart like the breath of pestilence: for Rowland to
be rough, uncourteous, unkind, might cause indeed many a pang; but such
conduct had long become a habit, and woman's charitable soul excused
moroseness in him, whom she loved more than life itself, more than
honour. But now, when the dread laugh of a seemingly more righteous
world was daily, hourly, to be feared against her--when the cold finger
of scorn was preparing to be pointed at her fading beauty, and her
altered form--now, when indulgence is most due, and cruelty has a sting
more scorpion than ever--to be taunted with that once-kind tongue with
having rightfully inherited _a curse_--to be told, in a sort of fiendish
triumph, that some ancient family grudge, forsooth, against her father's
fame, certainly as much as the selfish motives of a libertine professed,
had warped the will of Rowland to her ruin--to know, to hear, yea, from
his own lips, that the oft-repented crime of her warm and credulous
youth--of her too free, unsuspicious affection--had calmly been
contrived by the heart she clung to for her first, her only love--here
was misery, here was madness!

"Rowland, at the approach of footsteps, had hastily slunk away behind
the accustomed panel, and alone in the chamber was left poor Margaret:
his last sneering speech, the mockery of his sarcastic pity, were still
haunting her ear with echoes full of wretchedness; and she had uttered
one faint cry, and sunk swooning on a couch, when her sister entered.

"Charlotte, gentle Charlotte, had nothing of the hardness of a heroine;
her mind, as her most fair body, was delicate, nervous, spiritualized;
but the instinct of imperious duty ever gave her strength in the day of
trial. Long with an elder sister's eye had she watched and feared for
Margaret; she had palliated natural levity by evident warmth of
disposition, and excused follies of the judgment by kindness of the
heart. Charlotte was no child; in any other case, she had been keener of
perception; but in that of a young, generous, and most loving sister,
suspicion had been felt as a wickedness, and had long been lulled
asleep: now, however, it awaked in all its terrors; and, as Margaret lay
fainting, the sorrowful condition of one soon to be a mother who never
was a wife, was only too apparent. She touched her, sprinkled water on
her pale face, and, as the fixed eyes opened suddenly, Charlotte started
at their strange wild glare: they glittered with a freezing brilliancy,
and stared around with the vacuity of an image. Could Margaret be mad?
She bit her tender lips with sullen rage, and a gnashing desperation;
her cheek was cold, white, and clammy as the cheek of a corpse; her
hair, still woven with the strings of pearl she often wore, hung down
loose and dishevelled, except that on her flushing brow the crisp curls
stood on end, as a nest of snakes. And now a sudden thought seemed to
strike the brain; her eyes were set in a steady horror; slowly, with
dread determination, as if inspired by some fearful being, other than
herself, uprose Margaret; and, while her frightened sister, shuddering,
fell back, she glided, still gazing on vacancy, to the door: so, like a
ghost through the dark corridor, down those old familiar stairs, and
away through the Armory-hall; Charlotte now more calmly following, for
her father's library, where his use was to study late, opened out of it,
and surely the conscience-stricken Margaret was going in her penitence
to him. But, see! she has silently passed by; her hand is on the lock of
the hall-door; with one last look of despairing recklessness behind her,
as taking an eternal leave of that awe-struck sister, the door turns
upon its hinge, and she, still with slow solemnity, goes out. Whither,
oh God!--whither? The night is black as pitch, rainy, tempestuous; the
old knight's guests at Clopton Hall have gladly and right wisely
preferred even such questionable accommodation as the blue chamber, the
dreary white apartment looking on the moat--nay, the haunted room of the
parricide himself--to encountering the dangers and darkness of a
night-return so desperate; but Margaret, in her gayest evening attire,
near upon so foul a midnight in November, stalks like a spectre down the
splashy steps. Charlotte follows, calls, runs to her--but cannot rescue
from some settled purpose, horribly suggested, that gentle fearful
creature, now so changed. Suddenly in the dark she has lost her. Which
way did the maniac turn?--whither in that desolate gloom shall Charlotte
fly to find her? Guided by the taper still twinkling in her father's
study, she rushes back in terror to the hall; and then--Help,
help!--torches, torches! The household is roused, dull lanterns glance
among the shrubberies; pine-lights, ill-shielded from wind and rain by
cap or cloak, are seen dotting the park in every direction, and dance
about through the darkness, like sportive wild-fires: Sir Clement in
moody calmness looks prepared for any thing the worst, like a man who
anticipates evil long-deserved; the broken-hearted mother is on her
knees at the cold door-steps, striving to pierce the gloom with her
eyes, and ejaculating distracted prayers: and so the live-long
night--that night of doubt, and dread, and dreariness--through bitter
hours of confusion and dismay, they sought poor Margaret--and found her

"But, with morning's light came the awful certainty. At the end of a
terraced walk, mournfully shaded by high-cropped yews, stood an arbour,
and behind it, half-hidden among rank weeds, was an old half-forgotten
fountain; there, on many a sultry summer night, had Rowland met with
Margaret, and there had she resolved in terrible remorse to perish. With
the seeming fore-thought of reason, and the resolution of a phrensied
fortitude, she had bound a quantity of matted weeds about her face, and
twisted her hands in her fettering garments, that the shallow pool might
not in cruel kindness fail to drown her; she lay scarcely half immersed
in those waters of death; a few lazy tench floating sluggishly about,
appeared to be curiously inspecting their ghastly, uninvited guest; and
the fragments of an enamelled miniature, with some torn letters in the
hand-writing of Rowland Beauvoir, were found scattered on the
overflowing margin of the pool."

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, unkindly whelp, if your bone has no pickings better than this, not
a cur shall envy you the sorry banquet. Yet, had my genius been better
educated in the science of French cookery, this might have been served
up with higher seasoning as a savoury _ragout_: but you get it in
simplicity, scarce grilled; and in sooth, good world, it is easier to
sneer at a novel than to imagine one; and far more self-complacency may
be gained by manfully affecting to despise the novelist, than by adding
to his honours in the compliment of humble imitation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Things supernatural have every where and every when exercised mortal
curiosity. Fear and credulity support the arms of superstition, fierce
as city griffins, rampant as the lion and the unicorn; and forasmuch as
no creature, Nelson not excepted, can truly boast of having never known
fear, and no man also--from polite Voltaire, shrewd Hume, Leviathan
Hobbes, and erudite Gibbon, down to the most stultified
Van-Diemanite--can honestly swear himself free from the influence of
some sort of faith, for thus much the marvellous and the terrible meet
with universal popularity. Now, one or two curious matters connected
with those "more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of
in your philosophy," which have even occurred to mine own self,
(whereof, to gratify you, shall be a little more anon), have heretofore
induced me to touch upon sundry interesting points, which, like pikemen
round their chief, throng about the topic of


A book, so simply titled, with haply underneath a gigantic note of
admiration between two humble queries ?!? would positively, my worthy
publisher, make your worship's fortune. For it should concern ghosts,
dreams, omens, coincidences, good-and-bad luck, warnings, and true
vaticinations: no childish collection, however, of unsupported trumpery,
but authenticated cases staidly evidenced, and circumstantially
detailed; no Mother Goose-cap's tales, no Dick the Ploughman's dreams,
no stories from the '_Terrific Register_,' nor fancies of hysterical
females in Adult asylums; even Merlin witch-finders, and Taliesins
should be excluded: and, in lieu of all such common-places, I should
propose an anecdotic treatise in the manner scientifical. Macnish's
'_Philosophy of Sleep_,' Scott's '_Demonology_,' treatises on
Apparitions, and many a rare black-letter alchemical pamphlet, might
lend us here their aid; the British Museum is full of well-attested
ghost-stories, and there are very few old ladies unable to add to the
supply: then, this ghost department might be climaxed by the author's
own experience; forasmuch as he is ready to avouch that a person's fetch
was heard by many, and seen by some, in an old country-house, a hundred
miles away from the place of death, at the instant of its happening.

As to omens, aforesaid witness deposes that the sceptre, ball, and cross
were struck by lightning out of King John's hand, in the Schools
quadrangle at Oxford, immediately on the accession of William the
Reformer; and all the world is cognusant that York Minster, the Royal
Exchange, and the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire near about
the commencement of open hostility, among ruling powers, to our church,
commerce, and constitution; and I myself can tell a tale of no less than
eight remarkable warnings happening one day to a poor friend, who died
on the next, which none could be expected to believe unless I delivered
it on oath as having been an eye-witness to the facts. Dreams
also--strange, vague, mysterious word; there is a gloomy look in it, a
dreary intonation that makes the very flesh creep: the records of public
justice will show many a murder revealed by them, as instance the Red
Barn; more than one poor client, in the clutch of a "respectable"
attorney, has been helped to his rights by their influence; from
Agamemnon and Pilate, down to Napoleon, the oppressors of mankind have
in those had kindly warning. Dreams--how many millions false and
foolish, for the one proving to be true!--but that one, how clear,
determinate, and lasting, as ministered by far other agency than
imagination taking its sport while reason slumbers! Who has not tales to
tell of dreams? A warning not to go on board such and such a ship--which
founders; a strange unlikely scene fixed upon the mind, concerning
friends and circumstances miles away, exactly in the manner and at the
time of its occurrence; the fore-shown coming of an unexpected guest;
the pourtrayed visage of a secret enemy: these, and others like these,
many can attest, and I not least. And of other marvels, though here left
unconsidered, yet might much be said: truths so strange, that the pages
of romance would not trench on such extravagance; combinations so
unlikely, that thrice twelve cast successively by proper dice, were but
probability to those. Thus, in authorial fashion, has the marvellous
dwelt upon my mind; and thus would I suggest a hand-book thereof to
catering booksellers and the insatiable public.

       *       *       *       *       *

Against bears in a stage-coach, pointers in a drawing-room, lap dogs in
a _vis-à-vis_, and monkeys in a lady's boudoir, my love of comfort and
propriety enters strong protest; an emancipated parrot attracts my
sympathy far less than bright-eyed children feeding their testy pet, for
I dread the cannibal temptation of those soft fair fingers, when brought
into collision with Polly's hook and eye; gigantic Newfoundlanders
dragging their perpetual chains, larks and linnets trilling the faint
song of liberty behind their prison bars, cold green snakes stewing in a
school-boy's pocket, and dormice nestling in a lady's glove, summon my
antipathies; a cargo of five hundred pigs, with whom I had once the
honour of sailing from Cork to London, were far from pleasant as
_compagnons de voyage_; neither can I sleep with kittens in the room.
Nevertheless, no one can profess truer compassion, truer friendship (if
you will) for the animal creation: often have I walked on in weariness,
rather than increase the strain upon the Rosinantes of an omnibus; and
my greatest school scrape was occasioned by thrashing the favoured scion
of a noble house for cruelty to a cat. Such and such-like--for we learn
from Æsop (Fable eighty-eight, to wit) that trumpeters deserve to be
unpopular--is my physical zeal in the cause of poor dumb brutes: nor is
my regard for them the less in matters metaphysical. Bishop Butler, we
may all of us remember, in 'THE _Analogy_' argues that the
objector against a man's immortality must show good cause why that
which exists, should ever cease to exist; and, until that good cause be
shown, the weight of probability is in favour of continual being. Now,
for my part, I wish to be informed why this probability should not be
extended to that innocent maltreated class, whom God's mercy made with
equal skill, and sustains with equal care, as in the case of man,
and--dare we add?--of angels. Doth He not feed the ravens? Do the young
lions not gather what He giveth? Doth a sparrow fall to the ground
without Our Father? and is not the unsinning multitude of Nineveh's
young children climaxed with "much cattle?" It is true, there may be
mighty difference between "the spirit of a man that goeth upward, and
the spirit of a beast that goeth downward in the earth:" but mark this,
there _is_ a spirit in the beast; and as man's eternal heaven may lie in
some superior sphere, so that temporarily designed for the lower animals
may be seen in the renovated earth. It is also true, that St. Paul,
arguing for the temporal livelihood of Christian ministers from the type
of "not muzzling the ox that treadeth out the corn," asks, "Doth God
care for oxen?"--or, in effect, doth He legislate (I speak soberly,
though the sublime treads on the ridiculous,) for a stable?--and the
implication is, "To thy dutiful husbandry, O man! such lesser cares are
left." Sorry, righteously sorry, would it make any good man's heart to
think that the Creator had ceased to care for the meanest of his
creatures: in a certain sense

  "He sees with equal eye, as God of all,
  A hero perish, or a sparrow fall;"

and, assured that carelessness in a just Creator of his poor dependent
creatures must be impossible, I submit that, critically speaking, some
laudable variation might be made in that text by the simple
consideration that [Greek: melei] is not so strictly rendered "care for"
as [Greek: kedetai]. Scripture, then, so far from militating against the
possible truth, that animals have souls, would seem, by a side-long
glance, to countenance the doctrine: and now let us for a passing moment
turn and see what aid is given to us by moral philosophy.

No case can be conceived more hard or more unjust than that of a
sentient creature (on the hypothesis of its having no soul, no
conscience, necessarily quite innocent), thrown into a world of cruelty
and tyranny, without the chance of compensation for sufferings
undeserved. Neither can any good government be so partial, as (limiting
the whole existence of animals to an hour, a day, a year,) to allow one
of a litter to be pampered with continual luxuries, and another to be
tortured for all its little life by blows, famine, disease--and in its
lingering death by the scientific scalpels of a critical Majendie or a
cold-blooded Spallanzani. Remember, that in the so-called parallel case
of partialities among men--the this-world's choice of a Jacob, the
this-world's rejection of an Esau--the answer is obvious: there are two
scales to the balance, there is yet another world. Far be it from us to
think that all things are not then to be cleared up; that the innocent
little ones of Kedar and the exterminated Canaanites will not then be
heard one by one, and no longer be mingled up indiscriminately in an
overwhelming national judgment; that the pleas of evil education and
example, of hereditary taint and common usage, will be then thrown aside
as vain excuse; and that eventual justice will not with facility explain
every riddle in the moral government of God. But in the case of soulless
extinguished animals, there is, there can be no compensation, no
explanation; whether in pain or pleasure, they have lived and they have
died forgotten by their Maker, and left to the casual kindness or
cruelty of, towards them at least, irresponsible masters. How different
the view opened to us by the possibility of soul being apportioned in
various measure among the lower animals: there is a clue given "to
justify the ways of God to"--brutes: we need not then consider, with a
certain French abbé, that they are fallen angels, doing penance for
their sins; we need not, with old Pythagoras and latter Brahmins,
account them stationed lodges, homes of transmigration for the spirits
of men in process of being purged from their offences: we need not
regard them as Avatars of Vishnu, or incarnations of Apis, visible
deities craving the idolatries of India and Egypt. The truth commends
itself by mere simplicity: nakedness betrays its Eve-like innocence of
guile or error: those living creatures whom we call brutes and beasts,
have, in their degree, the breath of God within them, as well as His
handiwork upon them. And, candid theologian, tell me why--in that
Millenium so long looked-for, when, after a fiery purgation, this earth
shall have its sabbath, and when those who for a time were "caught up
into the air," descending again with their Lord and his ten thousand
saints, shall bodily dwell with others risen in the flesh for that happy
season on this renovated globe--tell me why there should not be some
tithe of the animal creation made to rise again to minister in pleasure,
as they once ministered in pain? And for the rest, the other nine, what
hinders them from tenanting a thousand happy fields in other of the
large domains of space? What hinders those poor dumb slaves from
enjoying some emancipate existence--we need not perhaps accord them
more of immortality than justice, demands for compensation--for a
definite time, a millennium let us think, in scores of those million
orbs that twinkle in the galaxy?

  Space stretches wide enough for every grain
  Of the broad sands that curb our swelling seas,
  Each separate in its sphere, to stand apart
  As far as sun from sun.

Shall I then say what hinders?--the littleness of man's mind, refusing
possibility of room for those countless quadrillions; and the
selfishness of his pride, scorning the more generous savage, whose
doctrine (certainly too lax in liberality) raises the beast to a level
with mankind, and

  "Who thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
  His faithful dog shall bear him company."

Truly, the Creator's justice, and mercy, and the majesty of his kingdom,
give hope of after-life to all creation: Saint Antony of Padua did waste
time in homilizing birds, beasts, and fishes; but may they not find
blessings, though ignorant of priests?--And now, suffer me, in my
current fashion, to glance at a few other considerations affecting this
topic. It will be admitted, I suppose, that the lower animals possess,
in their degree, similar cerebral or at least nervous mechanism with
ourselves; in their degree, I say; for a zoöphyte and a caterpillar have
brains, though not in the head; and to this day Waterton does not know
whether he shot a man or a monkey, so closely is his nondescript linked
with either hand to the grovelling Australian and the erect orang
outang. Brutes are nerved as we are, and uncivilized man possesses
instincts like them: all we can with any show of reason deny them is
moral sense, and in our arbitrary refusal of this, and our summary
disposal of what we are pleased to term instinct, we take credit to
ourselves for exclusive participation in that immaterial essence which
is called Soul. But is it, in candour, true that brutes have no moral
sense? Obviously, since moral sense is a growing thing, and ascending in
the scale of being, and since man is its chief receptacle on earth, we
ought to be able to take the best instances of animal morals from those
creatures which have come most within the influence of human example; as
pets of every kind, but mainly dogs. Does not a puppy, that has stolen a
sweet morsel from some butcher's stall, fly, though none pursue him? Is
a fox-hound not conscience-stricken for his harry of the sheep-fold? and
who will deny some sense of duty, and no little strength of affection,
in a shepherd's dog? Have not Cowper's now historic hares displayed an
educated and unnatural confidence; and many a gray parrot, though
limited in speech, said many a witty thing?--Again, read some common
collection of canine anecdotes: What essential difference is there
between the affectionate watch kept by man over his brother's bed of
sickness, and that which has been known of more than one poor cur, whose
solicitude has extended even to dying on his master's grave? The
soldier's faithful poodle licks his wounds upon the stormy battle-field;
and Landseer's colley-dog tears up the turf, and howls the shepherd's
requiem. What real distinction can we make between a high sense of duty
in the captain who is the last to leave his sinking ship, and that in
the watchful terrier, whom neither tempting morsels nor menaced blows
can induce to desert the ploughman's smock committed to his care? Once
more: Who does not recognise individuality of character in animals? A
dog, or a horse, or a tame deer, or, in fact, any domesticated creature,
will act throughout life, in a certain course of disposition, at least
as consistently as most masters: it will also have its whims and ways,
likings and dislikings, habits, fears, joys, and sorrows; and, verily,
in patience, courage, gratitude, and obedience, will put its monarch to
the blush.

But upon this theme--meagre as the sketch may be, fanciful,
illogical--my cursory notions have too long detained you. I had intended
barely to have introduced a black-looking Greek composite, serving for
name to an unwritten essay which we will imagine in existence as



And my thoughts have run on thus far so little conclusively (I humbly
admit to you), that we will, to save trouble, leave the riddle as
unsolved as ever, and gain no better advantage than thus having loosely
adverted to another fancy of your author's mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not yet is my mind a simple freeman, a private, unincumbered, individual
self-possessor: its slaves are not yet all manumitted; I lack not
subjects; I am no lord of depopulated regions; albeit my aim is indeed
akin to that of old Rufus, and Goldsmith's tyrannical Squire of Auburn;
I wish to clear my hunting-grounds, to make a solitude, and call it
peace. Slowly, but still surely, am I working out that will. Meanwhile,
however, there is no need to advertise for heroes; they are only too
rife, clinging like bats to the curtains of my chambers of imagery, or
with attendant satellites hanging in bunches, as swarming bees about
their monarch, to the rafters of my brain. Selection is the hardest
difficulty; here is the labour, here the toil; because for just
selection there should be good reasons. Now, amongst other my
multitudinous authorial projects, this perhaps is not the worst; namely,
by a series of dissimilar novels, psychological rather than religious,
and for interest's sake laid in diverse ages and countries, to
illustrate separately the most rampant errors of the Papacy. For
example, say that Lewis's '_Monk_' is a strong delineation of the evils
consequent on constrained and unchosen celibacy; though its colouring be
meretricious, though its details offend the moralities of nature, still
it is a book replete to thoughtful minds with terrible teaching--be not
high-minded, but fear. In like manner, guilty thoughts dropped upon
innocent young hearts in that foul corner,


might make a stirring tale, or haply a series of them: the cowled
hypocrite suggesting crime to those whose answer is all innocence; his
schemes of ambition, or avarice, or lust, slowly elaborated by the
fiend-like purposes to which he puts his ill-used knowledge of the human
heart; his sacrilegious violation of the holy grievings made by mistaken
penitence. History should bring its collateral assistance: the Medicean
Queens, Venice, bloody Spain, hard-visaged monks calmly directing the
engines of torture, the poison of anonymous calumny, and dread secrets
more dreadfully betrayed, could furnish much of truthful precedent. The
bad obstructions placed between the sinner and his God by selfish
priestcraft; the souls that would return again, like Noah's weary dove,
enticed by ravens to forsake the ark, mate with them, and feed on their
banquet of corruption; the social, religious, philosophic, and eternal
harms brought out in full detail; the progress of this world's misery in
the lives of the confessing, and of studious crime in the heart of the
absolver: a scene laid among the high Alps, and the sunny plains they
topple over; the time, that of some murderous Simon de Montfort; the
actors, Waldensian saints, and demon inquisitors; the prominent
characters, a plausible intriguing friar, (as of old a monk of Cluni,)
whose ambition is the popedom, and whose conscience has no scruple
about means, bloody, bad, vindictive, atheistic; and then his victims, a
youth that he trains from infancy to the sole end of poisoning, subtly
and slowly, all who stand in his path; a girl who loves this youth, and
who, flying from the foul friar in the day of temptation, betakes her to
the mountains, and ultimately saves her lover from his terrible
destination in guilt, by hiding him in her own haven of refuge, the
persecuted little church; and with these materials to work upon, I need
hardly detail to you an intricate plot and an obvious _dénouement_.

This class of theme, it is probable, has exercised the talents of many;
but as the evils of confessing to deceitful man, and of blind trust in
his deleterious advice, have not specifically met my eye, the subject is
new to me, and may be so to others. Still, I stay not now further to
enlarge upon it; I must press on; and will not cruelly encourage the
birth of thoughts brought forth only to be destroyed, like father
Saturn's babes--the anthropophagite.

A good reason for selection at last presents itself. Sundry collateral
ancestors of mine [every body from Cain downwards must have had
ancestors; so no quibbling, please, nor quarrelling about so exploded an
absurdity as family-pride,] were lucky enough in days lang syne to
appropriate to themselves, amongst other matters, a respectable
allowance of forfeited monastic territory; and I know it by this token:
that in yonder venerable chest of archives and muniments, rest in their
own dust of ages, duly and clearly assorted, all those abbey deeds from
the times of Henry Beauclerc. Here's a fine unlooked-for opportunity of
making dull ancestral spots classic ground, famous among men; here's a
chance of immortalizing the crumbling ruins of an obscure, but
interesting, abbey-church; here's a fair field for dragging in all that
one knows or does not know, all that parchments can prove, or fancy can
invent, of redoubtable or reprobate progenitors, and investing the place
of their possessions with a glory beyond heraldry. Much is on my mind of
the desperate evils consequent on the Romish rule of idol-worship: and
why not lay my scene on the wild banks of the Swale, among the bleak,
rough moors that stand round Richmond, and the gullies that run between
the Yorkshire hills? Why not talk about those names of gentle blood,
familiar to the ear as household words, Uvedale and Scrope, Vavasour and
Ratcliffe? Why not press into the service of instructive novelism truths
stranger than fiction, among characters more marked, and names of higher
note, than the whole hot-pressed family of the Fitzes?

All this might be accomplished, were it worth the worry, in


And now for a story of idolatry. It seems an absurdity, an insanity; it
is one--both. But think it out. Is it quite impossible, quite
incredible? Let me sketch the outline of so strange infatuation. Our
prior was once a good man--an easy, kind, and amiable: he takes the cowl
in early youth, partly because he is the younger son of an unfighting
family, and must, partly because he is melancholy, and will. And
wherefore melancholy? There was brought up with him, from the very
nursery, a fair girl, the weeping orphan of a neighbouring squire, who
had buckled on his harness, and fallen in the wars: they loved, of
course, and the deeper, because secretly and without permission: they
were too young to marry, and indeed had thought little of the matter;
still, substance and shadow, body and soul, were scarcely more needful
to each other, or more united. But--a hacking cough--a hectic cheek--a
wasting frame, were to blue-eyed Mary the remorseless harbingers of
death, and Eustace, standing on her early grave, was in heart a widower:
henceforth he had no aim in life; the cloister was--so thought he, as
many do--his best refuge, to dream upon the past, to soothe his present
sorrows, and earn for a future world the pleasures lost in this. Time,
the best anodyne short of what Eustace could not buy at
Rome--true-healing godliness--alleviates his grief, and makes him less
sad, but not wiser; years pass, the desire of prëeminence in his own
small world has hitherto furnished incentives to existence, and he find
himself a prior too soon; for he has nothing more to live for. Yes:
there is an object; the turmoil of small ambition with its petty cares
is past, and the now motiveless man lingers in yearning thought on the
only white spot in his gloomy journey, the green oasis of his desert
life, that dream of early love. He has long loved the fair, quiet image
of our Lady of Marrick, unwittingly, for another Mary's sake;
half-oblivious of the past in scheming for the present, he has knelt at
midnight before that figure of the Virgin-mother, and knew not why he
trembled; he thought it the ecstacy of devotion, the warm-gushing flood
of calmness, which prayer confers upon care confessed. But now, he sees
it, he knows it; there is, indeed, good cause: how miraculously the
white marble face grows into resemblance with _hers!_ the same sainted
look of delicate unearthly beauty, the same white cheek, so still and
unruffled even by a smile, the same turn of heavenly triumph on the lip,
the same wild compassion in the eye! Great God--he loves again!--that
staid, grave, melancholy man, loves with more than youthful fondness;
the image is now dearer than the most sacred; there is a halo round it,
like light from heaven: he adores its placid, eternal, changeless
aspect; if it could move, the charm would half dissolve; he loves it--as
an image! And then how rapturously joins he with the wondering choir of
more stagnant worshippers, while they yield to this substantial form,
this stone-transmigration of his love, this tangible, unpassionate,
abiding, present deity, the holy hymns of praise, due only to the unseen
God! How gladly he sings her titles, ascribing all excellence to her!
How tenderly falls he at her feet, with eyes lighted as in youth! How
earnestly he prays to his fixed image--_to_ it, not _through_ it, for
his heart is _there_! How zealously he longs for her honour, her worship
among men--hers, the presiding idol of that Gothic pile, the hallowed
Lady, the goddess-queen of Marrick! Stop--can he do nothing for her, can
he venture nothing in her service? Other shrines are rich, other images
decked in gold and jewels; there is yet an object for his useless life,
there are yet ends to be attained, ends--that can justify the means. He
longs for wealth, he plots for it, he dares for it: he plans lying
miracles, and thousands flock to the shrine; he waylays dying men, and,
by threatened dread of torments of the damned, extortionizes conscience
into unjust riches for himself; he accuses the innocent, and reaps the
fine; he connives at the guilty, and fingers the bribe. So wealth flows
in, and the altar of his idol is hung with cloth of gold, her diadem is
alight with gems, costly offerings deck her temple, bending crowds kneel
to her divinity. Is he not happy? Is he not content? Oh, no: an
insatiate demon has possessed him; with more than Pygmalion's insanity,
he loves that image; he dreams, he thinks of that one unchanging form.
The marvelling brotherhood, credulous witnesses of such deep devotion,
hold him for a saint; and Rome, at the wish of the world, sends him, as
to a living St. Eustatius, the patent of canonization: they praise him,
honour him, pray to him; but he contemptuously (and they take it for
humility) spurns a gift which speaks of any other heaven than the
presence of that one fair, beautiful, beloved statue. A thought fills
him, and that with joy: he has heard of sacrifices in old time,
immolations, offerings up of self, as the highest act of a devout
worshipper; he cares not for earth nor for heaven; and one night, in his
enthusiastic vigils, the phrensy of idolatry arms that old man's own
weak hand against himself, and he falls at the statue's feet,
self-murdered, _its_ martyr.

Here were scope for psychology; here were subtle unwindings of motive,
trackings of reason, intricate anatomizations of the heart. All ages,
before these last in which we live, have been worshippers, even to
excess, of "unknown gods," "too superstitious:" we, upon whom the ends
of the world are fallen, may be thought to be beyond a danger into which
the wisest of old time were entrapped: we scarcely allow that the
Brahmin may, notwithstanding, be a learned man and a shrewd, when we see
him fall before his monster; we have not wits to understand how the
Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman dynasties could be so besotted.
For this superior illumination of mind, let us thank not ourselves, but
the Light of the world; and, warned by the history of ages, let us
beware how we place created things to mediate between us and the most
High; let us be shy of symbolic emblems--of pictures, images,
observances--lest they grow into forms that engross the mind, and fill
it with a swarm of substantial idols.

Now, this tale of the '_Prior of Marrick_' would, but for the present
premature abortion, have seen daylight in the form of an
auto-biography--the catastrophe, of course, being added by some
brother-monk, who winds up all with his moral: and to get at this
auto-biographical sketch--a thing of fragments and wild soliloquies,
incidentally laying bare the heart's disease, and the poisonous
breathings of idolatrous influence--I could easily, and after the true
novelist fashion, fabricate a scheme, somewhat as follows: Let me go
gayly to the Moors by rail, coach, or cart, say for a sportsman's
pastime, a truant vicar's week, or an audit-clerk's holiday: I drop upon
the ruined abbey, now indeed with scarcely a vestige of its former
beauty remaining, but still used as a burial-place; being a bit of an
antiquary, I rout up the sexton, (sexton, cobbler, and general
huckster,) resolved to lionize the old desecrated precinct: I find the
sexton a character, a humourist; he, cobbler-like, looks inquisitively
at my caoutchouc shooting-shoes, and hints that he too is an artist in
the water-proof line; then follows question as how, and rejoinder as
thus. Our sexton has got a name among his neighbours for his capital
double-leather brogues, warranted to carry you dry-shod through a river;
and, warmed by my brandy-flask and _bonhomie_, considering me moreover
little likely to set up a rival shop, cunningly communicates his secret:
he puts parchment between the leathers--Parchment, my good man? where
can you get your parchment hereabouts? I spoke innocently, for I thought
only of ticketing some grouse for my friends southward: but the question
staggered my sexton so sensibly, that I came to the uncharitable
conclusion--he had stolen it. And then follows confession: how, among
the rubbish in a vault, he had found a small oak chest--broke it
open--no coins, no trinkets, "no nothing,"--except parchment; a lot of
leaves tidily written, and--warranted to keep out the wet. A few
shillings and a tankard make the treasure mine, I promising as extra to
send a huge bundle of ancient indentures in place of the precious
manuscript. Thus, in the way of Mackenzie's '_Man of Feeling_,' we
become fragmentary where we fear to be tedious; and so, in a good
historic epoch, among the wars of the Roses, surrounded by friars and
nuns, outlaws and border-riders, chivalrous knights and sturdy bowyers,
consign I to the oblivescent firm of Capulet and Co. my happily
destroyed '_Prior of Marrick_.'

       *       *       *       *       *

A crank boat needs ballast; and of happy fortune is it for a disposition
towards natural levity, when educational gravity has helped to steady
it. Upon the vivacious, let the reflective supervene: to the gay, suffer
in its season the addition of the serious. Amongst other wholesome
topics of of meditation--for wholesome it is to the healthy spirit,
although of some little danger to the presumptuous and inflated--the
study of the sure word of Prophecy has more than once excited the
writing propensity of your author's mind. On most matters it has been my
fate, rather from habits of incurable revery than from any want of
opportunities, to think more than to read; and therefore it is, with
very due diffidence, that as far as others and their judgments are
concerned, I can ever hope to claim originality or novelty. To my own
conscience, however, these things are reversed; for contemplation has
produced that as new to my own mind, which may be old to others deeper
read, and has thought those ideas original, which are only so to its own
fancy. Very little, then, must such as I reasonably hope to add on
Prophetical Interpretation; the Universal Wisdom of two millenaries
cannot be expected to gain any thing from the passing thought of a
hodiernal unit: if any fancies in my brain are really new, and hitherto
unbroached upon the subject, it can scarcely be doubted but that they
are false; so very little reliance do principles of catholicity allow to
be placed upon "private interpretations."

With thus much of apology to those alike who will find, and those who
will not find, any thing of novelty in my notions, I still do not
withhold them. By here a little and there a little, is the general mind
instructed: it would be better for the world if every mighty tome really
contributed its grain.

The prophecies of Holy Writ appear to me to have one great peculiarity,
distinguishing them from all other prophecies, if any, real or
pretended; and that peculiarity I deferentially conceive to be this:
that, whereas all human prophecies profess to have but one fulfilment,
the divine have avowedly many true fulfilments. The former may indeed
light upon some one coincidence, and may exult in the accident as a
proof of truth; the latter bounds as it were (like George Herbert's
sabbaths) from one to another, and another, through some forty
centuries, equally fulfilled in each case, but still looking forward
with hope to some grander catastrophe: it is not that they are loosely
suited, like the Delphic oracles, to whatever may turn up, but that
they, by a felicitous adaptation, sit closely into each era which the
Architect of Ages has arranged. Pythonic divination may be likened to a
loose bag, which would hold and involve with equal ease almost any
circumstance; biblical prophecy to an exact mould, into which alone,
though not all similar in perfection, its own true casts will fit: or
again, in another view of the matter, accept this similitude: let the
All-seeing Eye be the centre of many concentric circles, beholding
equally in perspective the circumference of each, and for accordance
with human periods of time measuring off segments by converging radii:
separately marked on each segment of the wheel within wheel, in the way
of actual fulfilment, as well as type and antitype, will appear its
satisfied word of prophecy, shining onward yet as it becomes more and
more final, until time is melted in eternity. Thus, it is perhaps not
impossible that every interpretation of wise and pious men may alike be
right, and hold together; for different minds travel on the different
peripheries. So our Lord (to take a familiar instance) speaks of his
second advent in terms equally applicable to the destruction of one
city, of the accumulated hosts at Armageddon, and of this material
earth: Antiochus and Antichrist occur prospectively within the same pair
of radii at differing distances; and, in like manner and varying
degrees, may, for aught we can tell, such incarnations of the evil
principle as papal Rome, or revolutionary Europe, or infidel
Cosmopolitism; or, again, such heads of parties, such indexes of the
general mind, as a Cæsar, an Attila, a Cromwell, a Napoleon, a--whoever
be the next. So also of hours, days, years, eras; all may and do cöexist
in harmonious and mutual relations. Good men, those who combine prayer
with study, need not fear necessary difference of result, from holding
different views; the grand error is too loosely generalizing; a little
circle suits our finite ken; we cannot, as yet, mentally span the
universe. These crude and cursory remarks may serve to introduce a
likely-looking idea to which my thoughts have given entertainment, and
which, with others of a similar sort, were once to have come forth in an
essay-form, headed


moreover, for aught that has come across my reading, to be additionally
styled '_A New Interpretation, for these Latter Days_.' Without desiring
to do other than quite confirm the literal view, as having related
primarily to those local churches of old times, geographically in Asia
Minor; without attempting to dispute that they may have an individual
reference to varieties of personal character, and probably of different
Christian sects; I imagine that we may discover, in the Apocalyptic
prospect of these seven churches, an historical view of Christianity,
from the earliest ages to the last: beginning as it did, purely, warmly,
and laboriously, with the apostolic emblematic Ephesus, and to end with
the "shall He find faith on earth" of lukewarm Laodicea: thus Smyrna
would symbolize the state of the church under Diocletian, the
"tribulation ten days:" Pergamus, perhaps the Byzantine age, "where
Satan's seat is" the Balaam and Balak of empire and priesthood;
Thyatira, the avowed commencement of the Papacy, "Jezebel," &c.; Sardis,
the dreary void of the dark ages, the "ready to die;" Philadelphia, the
rise of Protestantism, "an open door, a little strength;" and Laodicea,
(the riches of civilization choking the plant of Christianity,) its
decline, and, but for the Founder's second coming, its fall; if, indeed,
this were possible.

The elucidation of these several hints might show some striking
confirmations of the notion; which, as every thing else in this book,
would humbly claim your indulgence, reader, for my sketches must be
rapid, and their descriptions brief. Concurrently, however, with this,
(which I know not whether any prophetic scholiasts have mentioned or
not,) there may be deduced a still further interpretation, equally, as
far as I am concerned, underived from the lucubrations of others. This
other interpretation involves a typical view of the general
characteristics of Christendom's seven true churches, as they are to be
found standing at the coming of their Lord; the Asiatic seven may be
assimilated, in their religious peculiarities, with the national
Protestant churches of modern Europe: what order should be preserved in
this assimilation, unless indeed it be that of eldership, it might be
difficult to decide; but, excluding those communities which idol-worship
has unchurched, and leaving out of view such anomalies as America
presents, having no national religion, we shall find seven true churches
now existing, between which and the Asiatics many curious parallels
might be run: the seven are, those of England, Scotland, Holland,
Prussia, perhaps Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany. Without professing to
be quite confident as to the list, the idea remains the same: it is but
a light hint on a weighty subject, demanding more investigation than my
slender powers can at present compass. It is merely thrown out as
undigested matter; a crude notion let it rest: if ever I aspire to the
dignity and dogmatism of a theological teacher, it must be after more
and deeper inquiry of the Newtons, Faber, Frere, Croly, Keith, and other
learned interpreters, than it is possible or proper to make in a hurry:
volumes have been, and volumes might be again, written for and against
any prophecy unfulfilled; it is dangerous to teach speculations; for, if
found false, they tend to bring holy truths into disrepute. Let me then
put upon the shelf, as a humble layman should, my hitherto
unaccomplished prophetical treatise; and receive its mention for little
more than my true revelation of another phase of authorship.

       *       *       *       *       *

And many like attempts have been hazarded by me in the mode theological;
though, from some cause or other, they have mostly fallen abortive. Were
mention here made of the more completed efforts of your author's mind,
in this walk of literature, or of others, it might too evidently lay
bare the mystery of my mask; a piece of secret information intended not
as yet to be bestowed. But this book--purporting to be the medley of my
mind, the _bonâ fide_ emptying of its multifarious fancies--must of
necessity, if honest, pourtray all the wanings and waxings of an
ever-changing lunar disposition: so, haply you shall turn from a play to
a sermon, from a novel to a moral treatise, from a satire or an epigram
to a religious essay. Such and so inconsistent is authorial man. Here
then, in somewhat of order, should have followed lengthily various other
writings of serious import, half-fashioned, and from conflicting reasons
left--perhaps for ever--half-finished. But considering the crude and
apparently careless nature of this present book, and taking into account
the solemn and responsible manner in which such high topics ought
invariably to be treated, I have struck out, without remorse or mercy,
all except a mere mention of the subjects alluded to. The contiguity of
lighter matter demands this sacrifice; not that I am one of those who
deem a cheerful face and a prayerful heart incongruous: there is danger
in a man, however religious, when his brow lowers, and his cheek is
stern; so did Cromwell murder Charles; so did Mary (though bigoted,
sincere,) consign Cranmer to the flames and Jane to the scaffold:
innocence and mirth are near of kin, and the tear of penitence is no
stranger to the laughter-loving eye. But I ramble as usual. Let it
suffice to say, that in accordance with common prejudices, I suffer my
mind to be shorn of its consecrated rays; for albeit my moral censor has
spared the prophetical ideas, and one or two other serious sobrieties,
on the ground that, although they are mere hints, they are at all events
hints of good, still more experimental and more hazardous pieces of
biblical criticism have been not unwisely immolated. The full cause of
this will appear in the mere title of the first of these half-attempted
essays, viz:


whereof my predication shall be simply and strictly _nil_.

The next piece of serious study, as yet little more than a root in my
mind, was to have fructified in the form of


or domestic readings in Scripture for daily use in family worship, with
an easy, sensible, useful sort of commentary; a book calculated
expressly for the understandings, wants, vices, temptations, and
peculiarities of household servants, and quite opposed to the usual
plans of injuriously raising doubts to lay them, of insisting upon
obsolete Judaisms, of strict theological controversy, of enlarging to
satiety on the meaning of passages too obvious to require explanation,
and ingeniously slurring over those which really need it; indeed, of
pursuing the courses generally adopted by the mass of commentators.

A further notion extended to


whereof are many written: their principal peculiarities consist in being
each of a quarter-hour length, as little as possible regarding Jews and
their didactic histories, and, as much as might be, crowding ideas, and
images, and out-of-the-way knowledge of all sorts, into the good service
of illustrating Gospel truths.

Another religious essay has been relinquished, although to a great
degree effected, from the apprehension that it may suggest matter
fanciful or false: also, in part, from the material being perhaps of too
slender a character to insist upon. Its name stood thus,


being an attempt to vindicate the wisdom of Holy Writ in matters of
natural science; for example, cosmogony, geology, the probable centre of
the earth, the vitality and circulation of the blood, hints of magnetism
and electricity, a solar system, a plurality of worlds, the earth's
shape, inclined axis, situation in space, and connection with other
spheres, the separate existence of disembodied life, the laws of optics,
much of recondite natural history:--all these can be easily proved to be
alluded to in detached, or ingeniously compared, passages of the Hebrew
Scriptures. It is very likely, however, that Huntington has anticipated
some of this, although I have never met with his writings; and a great
deal more of it is mentioned in notes and sermons which many have read
or heard. Until, therefore, I become surer of neither invading the
provinces of others, nor of detracting from their wisdom, let those
ill-written fancies still lie dormant in my desk.

A fifth tractate on things theological, still in the egg state, was to
have been indued with the rather startling appellation of


especially as contrasted with practical atheism, which, truth to tell,
is the contradictory sort of religion most universally professed among
the moderns: working out the idea, that any-how it is better to have
many objects of veneration than none, and that, although idol-worship is
a dreadful sin, still it is not so utterly hopeless as actual
ungodliness. That, among the heathens, temporal judgment ever vindicated
the true Divinity; whereas the consummation of the more modern
unworshiping world will be an eternal one: so, by the difference in
punishments comparing that of their criminalities. Showing also that,
however corrupted afterwards by impure rites and fatuous iniquities,
heathenism was, in its most ancient form, little more than the
hieroglyphic dress of truth: this exemplified by Moses and the brazen
serpent, by interpretations of Grecian mythology, shown, after the
manner of perhaps too ingenious Lord Bacon, to be consistent with
philosophy and religion; by the way, in which Egyptian priests satisfied
so good and shrewd, though credulous, a mind as that of Herodotus; by
Hesiod's '_Theogony_;' by the practical testimony of the whole educated
world in earliest times to the deep meaning involved in idolatrous
rites; by the mysteries of Eleusis in particular; by the characters of
all most enlightened heathens--as Cicero, Socrates, and
Plato--(half-convinced of the Godhead's unity, and still afraid to
disavow His plurality,) contrasted with those of the school of Pyrrho,
and Lucretius, and the later Epicureans. The possibility of early
allusions to the Trinity, as "Let us make man," _etc._, having led to
the idea of more than one God; and if so, in some sort, its veniality.

All the above might be applied with some force, and, if so, with no
little value, to modern false semblances of religion, and non-religion;
to Roman Catholicism, with its images, its services in an unknown
tongue, its symbols, its adoption of heathen festivals, its actual
placing of many Gods in the throne of One; to Mammonism, as practically
a religion as if the golden calf of Babylon were standard at Cornhill;
to Voluptatism--if I may fabricate a name for pleasure-hunters,
following still, with Corybantic fury, the orgic revels of Osiris or
Astarte: in brief, to all the shades of human heresy, on this side or on
that of the golden mean, the worship of one true God, as revealed to us
in His three mysterious characters.

But, query? Has not all this, and the very title, for any thing I know,
been done already by another, by a wiser? and, if so, by whom?--Speak,
some friend: it is the misfortune of mere thinkers (and this present
amygdaloid mass, this breccia book, exemplifies it well) to stumble
frequently upon fancies too good not to have been long ago appropriated
by others like-minded. A read, or heard, hint may be the unerring clue,
and we vainly imagine some old labyrinth to be our new discovery:
education renders up the master-key, and we come to regard ancient
treasuries as wealth of our own amassing, from which we deem it our
right to filch as recklessly as he from the mint of Croesus, who so
filled his pockets--ay, his mouth--that we read he [Greek: hebebusto].
Who, in this age of literature, can be fully condemned, or heartily
acquitted of plagiarism? An age--and none so little in advance or in
arrear of it as I--of easy writing and discursive reading, of ideas
unpatented, and books that have outlived copy-right. But this has
detained us long enough: for the present, my brain is quit of its
heathenish exculpations: let us pass on; many regiments are yet to be
reviewed; their uniforms [_Hibernicè_] are various, but their flag is

A last serious subject--(they grow tedious)--is a fair field for
ingenious explanation and Oriental poetry,


(of course "similes" is an English word: the author of a recent '_Essay
on Magna Charta_' has been _learned_ enough to write it "similæ," for
which original piece of Latinity let him be congratulated; I safely
follow Johnson, who would have roared like a lion at "similia;" and,
though Shakspeare does write it "similies," it may stoutly be contended
that this is of mixed metal, and that Matthew Prior's "similes" is the
purer sample: all the above being a praiseworthy parenthesis.)

The similes of Scripture, then, were to have been demonstrated apt and
happy: for there is indeed both majesty, and loveliness, and propriety,
and strict resemblance in them. "As a rolling thing before the
whirlwind,"--"as when a standard-bearer fainteth"--"as the rushing of
mighty waters,"--"as gleaning grapes when the vintage is done,"--"as a
dream,"--"as the morning dew,"--"as"--but the whole book is a garden of
similitudes; they are "like the sand upon the sea-shore for multitude."
It is, however, too true, that often-times the baldness of translation
deprives poetry, Eastern especially, of its fervour, its glow, its gush,
and blush of beauty: to quote Aristotle's example, it too frequently
converts the rosy-fingered Morn into the red-fisted; and so the poetry
of dawning-day, with its dew-dropped flowers, its healthy refreshment,
its "rosy-fingers" drawing aside the star-spangled curtain of night,
falls at once into the low notion of a foggy morning, and is suggestive
only of red-fisted Abigails struggling continuously with the deposits of
a London atmosphere. In like manner, (for all this has not been an
episode beside the purpose,) many a roughly rendered similitude of
Scripture might be advantageously vindicated; local diversities and
Orientalisms might be explained in such a treatise: for example, in the
'_Canticles_,' the "beloved among the sons," is compared with an
apple-tree among the trees of the wood:" now, amongst us, an apple-tree
is stunted and unsightly, and always degenerates in a wood; whereas the
Eastern apple-tree, probably one of the citron class, (to be more
correct,) may be a magnificent monarch of the forest. "Camphire," to a
Western mind, is not suggestive of the sweetest perfume, and perhaps
the word may be amended into the marginal "cypress," or cedar, or some
other: as "a bottle in the smoke," loses its propriety for an image,
until shown to be a wine-skin. "Who is this that cometh out of the
wilderness, like pillars of smoke?"--probably intending the
swiftly-rushing columns of _sand_ flying on the wings of the whirlwind.
"Thine eyes are like the fish-pools in Heshbon," might well be softened
into fountains--tearful, calm, resplendent, and rejoicing; and in
showing the poetic fitness of comparing the bride to a landscape, it
might clearly be set out how emblematic of Jewish millennial prosperity
and of Christian universality, that bride was; while comparisons of a
like un-European imagery might be taken from other Eastern poets, who
will not scruple to compare that rare beauty, a straight Grecian nose,
with a tower, and admire above all things the Cleopatra-coloured hair
which they call purple, and we auburn. Very much might be done in this
vein of literature, but it must be by a man at once an Oriental scholar
and a natural poet: the idioms of ancient and modern times should be
more considered, and something of apologetic explanation offered to an
English ear for phrases such as "the mountains skipping like rams," "the
horse swallowing the ground with fierceness," and represented as being
afraid as a grasshopper." A thousand like instances could be displayed
with little searching; let the above be taken as they are meant, for
good, and as of zeal for showing the best of books to the best
advantage: but it will appear that this essay trenches on the former one
so slenderly hinted at, as '_The Wisdom of Revision_,' therefore has
been stated too much at length already. Let it then rest on the shelf
till a better season. For this time, good reader, I, following up the
object of self-relieving, thank you for your patience, and will turn to
other themes of a more sublunary aspect.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most natural and indigenous productions of a true author's
mind, is, by common consent, an epic poem: verily, a wearisome,
unnecessary, unfashionable bit of writing. Nevertheless, let my candour
humbly acknowledge that, for the larger canticle of two mortal days, I
was brooding over, and diligently brewing up, a right happy, capital,
and noble-minded thesis, no other than


Alas, for the epidemy to which, few can doubt, ideas are subject! Alas,
for the conflict of prolific geniuses, wherewith the world's quiet is
disturbed! not impossibly, this very book now in progress of inditing
will come to be classed as a "Patch-work," an "Olla Podrida," a "Book
without a name," or some other such like _rechauffée_ publication;
whereas I protest its idea to be exclusively mine own, and conceived
long before its seeming congeners saw the light in definite
advertisements--at least to my beholding. And similarly went it with my
poor epic: scarcely had a general plan suggested itself to my musings,
and divers particular morsels thereof assumed "their unpremeditative
lay;" scarcely had I jotted down a staid synopsis, and a goodly array of
metrical specimens; when some intrusive newspaper displayed to me in
black and white a good-natured notice of somebody else's '_Home, an
Epic_.' So, as in the case of '_Nero_,' and haply of other subjects, had
it come to pass, that my high-mettled racer had made another false
start; that my just-discovered island, so gladly to have been
self-appropriated, was found to have, sticking on one corner of it, the
flag of another king; that the havoc of my brain, subsiding calmly into
the pendulum regularities of metre, was much ado about nothing; and all
those pretty fancies were the catalogued property of another. Such a
subject, too! intrinsically worthy of a niche in the temple of Fame,
besides Hope, Memory, and Imagination, _if_ only one could manage it
well enough to be named in the same breath with Campbell, Rogers, and
Akenside. Well, it was a mental mortification; for I am full of moral
land-marks, and would not (poetically speaking) for the world move
rooted termini into other people's grounds. Whether the field has been
well or ill preoccupied I wot not, having neither seen the poem nor
heard its maker's name: therefore shall my charity hope well of it, and
mourn over the unmerited oblivion which generally greets modern
poetry--yea, upon its very natal-day. Nevertheless, as an upright man
will never wish barefacedly to steal from others, so does he determine
at all times to claim independently his own: to be robbed, and not
resent it (I speak foolishly), is the next mean thing after pilfering
itself; and rash will be thy daring, O literary larcener! (can such
things be?) if thou art found unpermissively appropriating even such
sorry spoil as these poor seedlings of still possible volumes.

Prose and verse are allowed to have some disguising differences, at
least in termination; and as we must not--so hints the public
taste--spoil honest prose, bad as it may be, with too much intermixture
of worse verse, it will be prudent in me to be sparing of my specimens.
Yet, who will endure so _staccato_ a page of jerking sentences as a
confirmed synopsis?--"Well, any thing rather than poetry," says the
world; so, for better or worse, I will jot down prosaically a few of my
all but impromptu imaginings on Home.

After some general propositions, it would be proper to indulge the
orthodoxy of invocation; not to Muses, however, but to the subject
itself; for now-a-days, in lieu of definite deities, our worship has
regard to theories, doctrines, and other abstract idolisms: and
thereafter should follow at length an historical retrospect of domestic
life, from the savage to the transition states of hunters and warriors;
Nimrods and New Zealanders; Actæons and Avanese, Attilas, Roderics, and
all the Ercles' vein or that of mad Cambyses, Hindoos and Fuegians,
Greece, Egypt, Etruria, and Troy, in those old days when funds and taxes
were not invented, but people had to fight for their dinner, and be
their own police: so in a due course of circumconsideration to more
modern conditions, from ourselves as central civilization, to Cochin
China, and extreme Mexico, to Archangel and Polynesia.

Divers national peculiarities of the _physique_ of homes; as, Tartars'
tents, Esquimaux snow-pits, Caffre kraals, Steppe huts, South-sea
palm-thatch, tree-villages, caves, log-cabins, and so forth. Then, a
wide view of the homes of higher society, first Continental, afterwards
British through all the different phases of comfort to be found in
heath-hovels, cottages, ornées, villas, parsonage-houses, squirealities,
seats, town mansions, and royal palaces. Thus, with a contrastive peep
or two about the feverish neighbourhood of a factory, up this musty
alley, and down that winding lane, we should have considered briefly all
the external accidents of home. The miserable condition of the homeless,
whether rich or poor; an oak with its tap-root broken, a house on
wheels, a boat without a compass, and all that sort of thing: together
with due declamation about soldiers spending twenty years in India,
shipwrecked Robinson Crusoes far from native Hull, cadets going out
hopelessly forever, emigrants, convicts, missionaries, and all other
absentees, voluntary or involuntary. Tirades upon abject poverty, wanton
affluence, poor laws, mendicancy, and Ireland; not omitting some
thrilling cases of barbaric destitution.

Now come we lawfully to descant upon matters more mental and
sentimental--the _metaphysique_ of the subject--the pleasures and pains
of Home. As thus, most cursorily: the nursery, with its dear innocent
joys; the school-boy, holiday feelings and scholastic cruelties; the
desk-abhorring clerk; the over-worked milliner; the starving family of
factory children, and of agricultural labourers, and of workers in coal
mines and iron furnaces, with earnest exhortations to the rich to pour
their horns of plenty on the poor. England, once a safer and a happier
land, under the law of charity: now fast verging into a despotic
centralized system, kept together by bayonets and constables' staves.
Home a refuge for all; for queens and princes from their cumbrous state,
as well as for clowns from their hedging and ditching. The home of love,
and its thousand blessings, founded on mutual confidence, religion,
open-heartedness, communion of interest, absence of selfishness, and so
on: the honoured father, due subordination, and results; the loving
wife, obedient children, and cheerful servants. Absolute, though most
kind, monarchy the best government for a home; with digressions about
Austria and China, and such laudable paternal rule; and _contra_, bitter
castigation of republican misrule, its evils and their results, for
which see Old Athens and New York, and certain spots half-way between

The pains of home: most various indeed, caused by all sorts of opposite
harms--too much constraint or too little, open bad example or impossible
good example, omissions and commissions, duty relaxed by indulgence, and
duty tightened into tyranny; but mainly and generally attributable to
the non-assertion or other abuse of parental authority. The spoiled
child, and his progress of indulgence, unchecked passions, dissipation,
crime, and ruin. Interested interlopers, as former friends, relatives,
flatterers, and busy parasites, undermining that bond of confidence
without which home falls to pieces; the gloomy spirit of reserve,
discouraging every thing like generous open-heartedness; menial
influences lowering their subject to their own base level; discords,
religious, political, and social; the harmful consequence of
over-expenditure to ape the hobbies or grandeur of the wealthier;
foolish education beyond one's sphere, as the baker's daughter taking
lessons in Italian, and opera-stricken butcher's-boys strumming the
guitar; immoral tendencies, gambling, drinking, and other dissipations;
and the aggregate of discomforts, of every sort and kind; with cures for
all these evils; and to end finally by a grand climax of supplication,
invocation, imprecation, resignation, and beatification, in the regular
crash of a stout-expiring overture.

It's all very well, objects reader, and very easy to consider this done;
but the difficulty is--not so much to do it, answers writer, as to
escape the bother of prolixity by proving how much has been done, and
how speedily all might be even completed, had poor poesy in these
ticketing times only a fair field and no disfavour; for there is at hand
good grist, ready ground, baked and caked, and waiting for its eaters.
But in this age of prose-devouring and verse-despising, hardy indeed
should I be, if I adventured to bore the poor, much-abused,
uncomplaining public with hundreds of lines out of a dormant epic; the
very phrase is a lullaby; it's as catching as a yawn; well will it be
for me if my thread-bare domino conceals me, for whose better fame could
brook the scandal of having fathered or fostered so slumbering an
embryo?--Let then a few shreds and patches suffice--a brick or two for
the house: and verily I know they will, be they never so scanty; for
what man of education does not now entertain a just abhorrence of the
Muses, the nine antiquated maiden aunts destined for ever to be
pensioned on that money-making nice young man, Mammon's great
heir-at-law, Prose Prose, Esq.?

With humblest fear, then, and infinite apology, behold, in all sober
seriousness, what the labour of such a file as I am might betimes work
into a respectable commencement; I don't pretend it _is_ one; but
_valeat quantum_, take it as it stands, unweeded, unpruned, uncared-for,

  Home, happy word, dear England's ancient boast,
  Thou strongest castle on her sea-girt coast,
  Thou full fair name for comfort, love, and rest,
  Haven of refuge found and peace possest,
  Oasis in the desert, star of light
  Spangling the dreary dark of this world's night,
  All-hallowed spot of angel-trodden ground
  Where Jacob's ladder plants its lowest round,
  Imperial realm amid the slavish world,
  Where Freedom's banner ever floats unfurl'd,
  Fair island of the blest, earth's richest wealth,
  Her plague-struck body's little all of health,
  Home, gentle name, I woo thee to my song,
  To thee my praise, to thee my prayers belong:
  Inspire me with thy beauty, bid me teem
  With gracious musings worthy of my theme:
  Spirit of Love, the soul of Home thou art,
  Fan with divinest thoughts my kindling heart;
  Spirit of Power, in pray'rs thine aid I ask,
  Uphold me, bless me to my holy task;
  Spirit of Truth, guide thou my wayward wing;
  Love, Power, and Truth, be with me while I sing.

_V'la_: my consolation is that somewhere may be read, in hot-pressed
print, too, many worse poeticals than these, which, however, nine
readers out of ten will have had the worldly wisdom to skip; and the
tenth is soon satiated: yet a tithe is something, at least so think the
modern Levites; so, then, on second thoughts, a victim who is so good a
listener must not be let off quite so cheaply. However, to vary a little
this melancholy musing, and to gild the compulsory pill, Reserve shall
be served up sonnet-wise. (P. S. I love the sonnet, maligned as it is
both by ill-attempting friend and semi-sneering foe: of course, in our
epic, Reserve ambles not about in this uncertain rhyme, but duly stalks
abroad in the uniform dress; iambically still, though extricated from
those involutions, time out of mind the requisite of sonnets.) Stand
forth to be chastised, unpopular


  Thou chilling, freezing fiend, Love's mortal bane,
    Lethargic poison of the moral sense,
  Killing those high-soul'd children of the brain,
    Warm Enterprise and noble Confidence,
    Fly from the threshold, traitor--get thee hence!
  Without thee, we are open, cheerful, kind;
  Mistrusting none but self, injurious self,
    Of and to others wishing only good;
  With thee, suspicions crowd the gloomy mind,
    Suggesting all the world a viperous brood
  That acts a base bad part in hope of pelf:
    Virtue stands shamed, Truth mute misunderstood,
  Honour unhonoured, Courage lacking nerve,
  Beneath thy dull domestic curse, Reserve.

Without professing much tendency to the uxorious, all may blamelessly
confess that they see exceeding beauty in a good wife; and we need never
apologize for the unexpected company of ladies: at off-hand then let
this one sit for her portrait. Enduring listener, will the following
serve our purpose in striving worthily to apostrophize


  Behold, how fair of eye, and mild of mien,
  Walks forth of marriage yonder gentle queen:
  What chaste sobriety whene'er she speaks,
  What glad content sits smiling on her cheeks,
  What plans of goodness in that bosom glow,
  What prudent care is throned upon her brow,
  What tender truth in all she does or says,
  What pleasantness and peace in all her ways!
  For ever blooming on that cheerful face
  Home's best affections grow divine in grace;
  Her eyes are ray'd with love, serene and bright;
  Charity wreathes her lips with smiles of light;
  Her kindly voice hath music in its notes;
  And heav'n's own atmosphere around her floats!

Thus, wife-like, for better or worse, is the above _portrait charmant_
consigned to the dingy digits of an unidistinguishing printer's-devil;
so doth Cæsar's dust come to stop a bung-hole. One morsel more, about
children, blessed children, and for this bout I shall have tilted
sufficiently in the Muses' court; or, if it must be so said, unhandsome
critic, stilted to satiety in false heroics: stay--not false; judge me,
my heart. Suppose then an imaginary parent thus to speak about his


  Oh ye, my beauteous nest of snow-white doves,
  What wealth could price for me your guileless loves?
  My earthly cherubim, my precious pearls,
  My pretty flock of loving little girls,
  My stores of happiness with least alloy,
  My treasuries of hope and trembling joy!
  Yon toothless darling, nestled soft and warm
  On a young yearning mother's cradling arm;
  The soft angelic smiles of natural grace
  Tinting with love that other little face;
  And the sweet budding of this sinless mind
  In winning ways, that round my heart-strings wind,
  Dear winning ways--dear nameless winning ways,
  That send me joyous to my God in praise.

Enough! not heartlessly, but to shame the heartlessness of YOUR
_ennui_, let me veil those holiest affections; yes, even at the risk of
leaving nominatives widowed of their faithful verbs, will I, until
required, epicise no more. Let these mauled bits be intimations of what
a little care might have made a little better. Gladly will I keep all
the remainder in a state quiescent, even to doubling Horace's wholesome
prescription of nine years: for it is impossible but that your fervent
poet, in the heat of inspiration, (credit me, lack-wits, there is such a
thing,) should blurt out many an unpalatable bit of advice, rebuke, or
virtuous indignation against homes in general, for the which sundry
conscience-stricken particulars might uncharitably arraign him. But
divers other notions are crowding into the retina of my mind's-eye: I
must leave my epic as you see it, and bid farewell, a long farewell, to
'_Home_.' Still shall my egotism have to appear for many weary pages a
most impartial and universal friend to the world of bibliopolists; I
cater multifariously for all varieties of the literary profession:
booksellers at least must own me as their friend, though the lucky purse
of Fortunatus saves me from being impaled upon the point of poor
Goldsmith's epigram, and I leave to [----] the questionable praise of
being their hack. For Bentley and Hatchard, alike with Rivington and
Frazer, for Colburn and Nisbet, as well as Knight, Tilt, Tyas, Moxon,
and Murray, I seem to be gratuitously pouring out in equal measure my
versatile meditations; at this sign all customers may be suited; only,
shop-lifters will be visited with the utmost rigour of that obnoxious
monosyllable.--Well, poor Epic, good night to you, and my benison on
those who love you.

       *       *       *       *       *

To any one, much in the habit of thoughtful revery, how very
unsatisfactory those notions look in writing. He can't half unravel the
chaotic cobwebs of his mind; as he plods along penning it, a thousand
fancies flit about him too intangibly for fixed words, and his
ever-teeming hot imagination cannot away with the slow process of
concreted composition. For me, I must write impromptu, or not at all;
none of your conventional impromptus, toils of half-a-day, as little
instantaneous as sundry patent lights; no working-up of laborious
epigrams, sedulously sharpened antitheses, or scintillative trifles,
diligently filed and polished; but the positive impromptu of longing to
be an adept at shorthand-writing, by way of catching as they fly those
swift-winged thoughts; not quick enough by half; most of those bright
colours unfixed; most of those fair semi-notions unrecorded. To say
nothing of reasons of time, there being other things to do, and reasons
of space, there being other things to write. And thus, good friend,
affectionately believe the best of these crude intimations of things
intellectual, which the husbandry of good diligence, and the golden
shower of Danæ's enamoured, and the smiles of the Sun of encouragement
might heretofore have ripened into authorship; nay, more, perhaps may
still: believe, generously, that if I could coil off quietly, like
unwrapped cocoons, all these epics, tragics, theologies, pathetics,
analytics, and didactics, they would show in fairer forms, and
better-defined proportions: believe, also, truly, that I could, if I
would, and that I would, if the game were worth its candle.

But, sooth to say, the over-gorged public may well regard that
small-tomed author with most favourable eye, who condenses himself
within the narrowest limits; a _diable boiteux_, not the huge spirit of
the Hartz; concentrated meat-lozenges, not _soup maigre_; pocket-pistols
of literature, not lumbering parks of its artillery. Verily, there is a
mightier mass of typography than of readers; and the reading world, from
very brevity of life, must rush, at a Bedouin pace, over the illimitable
plains of newspaper publication, while the pyramids of dusty folio are
left to stand in solitary proud neglect. The cursory railroad spirit is
abroad: we abhor that old painful ploughing through axle-deep ruts: the
friend who will skate with us, is welcomer than he who holds us freezing
by the button; and the teacher, who suggestively bounds in his balloon
on the tops of a chain of arguments, is more popular in lecturing than
he of the old school, who must duteously and laboriously struggle up and
down those airy promontories.

I love an avenue, though, like Lord Ashburton's magnificent mile of
yew-trees, it may lead to nothing, and therefore have not expunged this
unnecessary preface: rather, will I bluntly come upon a next subject,
another work in my unseen circulating library,



Cordially may this theme be commended to the more illuminating
booksellers: well would it be greeted by the picture-loving public. It
might come out from time to time as a periodical, in a classical
wrapper: might be decorated with the sages' physiognomies, copied from
antique gems, with the fancied passage in each one's life that provoked
the saying, and with specific illustrations of the exemplifying story.
There should be a brilliant preface, introducing the seven sages to each
other and the reader, after the ensample of Plutarch, and exhausting all
the antiquarianism, all the memoirism, and all the varia-lectionism of
the subject. The different tales should be of different countries and
ages of the world, to insure variety, and give an easier exit to
_ennui_. As thus: Solon's "Know thyself" might be fitted to an Eastern
favourite raised suddenly to power, or a poor and honest Glasgow weaver
all upon a day served as heir to a Scotch barony, when he forthwith
falls into fashionable vices. Chilo's "Note the end of life" might
concern the merriment of the drunkard's career, and its end--delirium
tremens, or spontaneous combustion: better, perhaps, as less vulgarian,
the grandeur and assassination of some Milanese ducal tyrant. The
"Watch your opportunity" of Pittacus could be shown in the fortunes of
some Whittington of trade, some Washington of peace, or some Napoleon of
war. Bias's uncharitable bias, believing the worst of the world, might
seem to some a truism, to others a falsehood, according as their fellows
have served them well or ill; but a brief history of some hypocrite's
life, some misanthrope's experience, or some Arabian Stylobatist's
resolve to be perched above this black earth on a column like a stork,
might help to prove that "the majority are wicked." As for Periander's
aphorism, that "to industry all things are possible," pyramid-building
old Egypt, or the Druids of Stonehenge, or Scottish proverbial
perseverance in Australian sheep rearing and Canadian timber clearing,
will carry the point by acclamation. Cleobulus, praising "moderation in
all things," would glorify a moral warning of universal application, as
to pleasures, riches, and rank; or especially perhaps as preferring true
temperance before its modern tee-total false pretences; or lauding some
Richard Cromwell's choice of a quiet country life, before the turbulent
honours of a proffered Protectorate; while Thales, with his all but old
English proverb of "more haste, less speed," would apply admirably to
Sultan Mahmoud's ruinous reforms; or to the actual injury gulled Britain
has done to the condition of negroes in general by a vastly too
precipitate abolition of the slave-trade: a vile evil, indeed, but a
cancer of too long creeping to be cured in a day, a rottenness too
deeply seated in the frame-work of the world to be extirpated by such
caustic surgery as fire and sword; or to be quacked into health by
patent gold-salve.

Seven such tales, shrewdly setting out their several aims, and
illustrative of good moral maxims which wise heathens live by, would (I
trow and trust) be somewhat better, more original--ay, and more
entertaining, too--than the common run of magazine adventures. It may
not here be fair to particularize further than in the way of avowing my
unmitigated contempt for the exploits of highwaymen, swindlers, men
about town, and ladies of the _pavé_. I protest against gilding crimes,
and palliating follies. Serve the public tables with better food, good
Pandarus. Those commentators on the Newgate calendar, those
bringers-into-fashion of the mysteries of vice, must not be quite
acquitted of the evils they have caused: brilliancy of dialogue, and
graphic power of delineation, are only weapons in a madman's hand, if
the moral be corrupting and profane. To cheerful, hearty,
care-dispelling humour, to such merry faces as Pickwick and
Co.--inimitable Pickwick--hail, all hail! but triumphs of burglary, and
escapes of murderers, aroint ye!

Why then should I throw this cargo overboard?--Friend, my ship is too
full; _if_ I could only do one thing at a time, and could finish it
within the limits of its originating fit, these things all might be less
abortive. But I doubt if my glorification of Greek aphorisms ever
reaches any higher apotheosis than the airy castles sketchily built

       *       *       *       *       *

Similar in idea with these last tales, but essentially more sacred as to
character, would be an illustrative elucidation of the seven last
sayings of our Blessed Lord, when dying in the crucifixion. The Romish
Church, in some of her imposing ceremonies, has caused the sayings to be
exhibited on seven banners, which are occasionally carried before the
holy cross: from this I probably derived the idea of detaching these
sentences from the frame-work of their contexts, and regarding them in
some sort as aphorisms. For a name, not to be tautologous, should be
proposed a Græco-Anglicism,



The addition of "hagia" might be rather too Attic for English ears; and
I know not whether "the Sacred Heptalogia" would not also be too
mystical. This series of tales is capable of like illustration with the
last, except in the matter of portraits, unless indeed some eminent
fathers of the church, or some authenticated enamels, gems, or coins,
(if any,) displaying our Lord's likeness, served the purpose; and of
course the character of the stories should not be much in dissonance
with the sacredness of the text. The first might well enforce
forgiveness of enemies, especially if their hatred springs from
misapprehension. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do:"
many a true story of religious persecution, as of Inquisitorial
torture, exacted by sincere bigotry, and endured by equally sincere
conviction, would illustrate the prayer, and the scene might be laid
among Waldensian saints and the friars of Madrid. The second tale might
enlarge upon a promised Paradise, the assurance of pardon, and the
efficacy of repentance: the certainty of hope and life being
co-extensive, so that it might still be said of the seeming worst, the
brigand and the blasphemer, "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise;"
a story to check presumption, while it encourages the humility of
pentitent hope; the details of a prodigal's career and his return, say
a falsely philosophizing German student, or the excesses of some not
ungenerous outburst of youthful wantonness; haply, a fair and passionate
Neapolitan. The third might well regard filial piety: "Behold thy
son--behold thy mother:" illustrated perhaps by a slave scene in
Morocco, or the last adieus between a Maccabæan mother, and her noble
children rushing on duteous death; or the dangers of a son, during the
Reign of Terror, protecting his proscribed parents; or allusive to the
case of many razed and fired homes in the Irish rebellion. The fourth,
necessarily a tale of overwhelming calamity ultimately triumphant, "My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"--the confidence of _my_ God
still, even in His recognised judgments trusted in as merciful: the
history of many an unrecorded Job; a parent bereaved of his fair dear
children; an aged merchant beggared by the roguery of others, and his
very name blamelessly dishonoured; the extremity of a martyr's
sufferings; or some hunted soul's temptation. The fifth, "I thirst;"
which might be commented on, either morally only, as referring to a
thirst after religion, virtue, and knowledge--or physically also, in
some story of well-endured miseries at sea on a wrecking craft; or of
Christian resignation even to the horrible death of drought among the
torrid sands of Africa; or some noble act, like that of Sir Philip
Sidney on the battle-field, or David's libation of that desired draught
from the well of Bethlehem. I need not remark that all these sayings
might primarily be applied to their Good Utterer, if it seemed more
advisable to shape the publication into seven sermons: but this, it will
at once be perceived, is not the present object; the word "sermons" has
to most men a repulsive sound, and a tale, similar in disguised motive,
may win, where an orderly discourse might unhappily repel: a teacher's
best influences are the indirect: like the conquering troops at
Culloden, his charge will be oblique; his weapon will strike the
unguarded flank, and not the opposing target. The sixth, "It is
finished;" perhaps, not only as a fact on the true, the necessary value
of the Christian scheme of redemption being so completed; but, more
generally, to display the evils and dangers of leaving mental,
spiritual, or even worldly good designs unfinished: a tale of natural
procrastination conquered, difficulties overcome, prejudices broken
down, and gigantic good effected: a Russian Peter, a literary Johnson, a
missionary Neff, a Wesley, or a Henry Martyn. The seventh, descanting
upon noble patience, and agonies vanquished by faith, the death and
glorious expectance of a martyr, the end of one of Fox's heroes;
"Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." Of necessity in these
Christian tales there would be more of sameness than in those heathen;
because it would be improper and impolitic, with such theses, to enter
much into the lower human passions and the common events of life. But my
intentions of further proceeding in this matter have, as at present,
very sensibly subsided; for many wise and many good might reasonably
object to making those holy last dying words mere pegs to hang moral
tales upon. The idea might please one little sect, and anger half the
world; I care not to behold it accomplished, and question my own
capabilities; only, as it has been an authorial project heretofore
conceived by me, suffer it to boast this brief existence.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is scandalously reported of some folks that they are not musical, a
calumny that has been whispered of myself: and, though against my own
convictions, (who will confess he "has not music in his soul?") I partly
acquiesce; that is to say--for, of such a charge, self-defence claims to
explain a little--although I _am_ charmed with all manner of music,
still for choice I prefer a German chorus to an Italian solo, and an
English glee to a French jig. Accordingly the operatic world have every
reason to despise my taste: especially if I add that Welsh songs, and
Scotch and Irish national melodies--[where are our English
gone?]--rejoice my heart beyond Mozart and Rossini. And now this next
little notion is scarcely of substance sufficient to assume the garb of
authorship: it is little more than a passing whim, but I choose for the
very notion's sake to make it better known. Except in a very few
instances--as Haydn's '_Seasons_,' e.g.--Oratorios, from some
conventional idea of Lent, we may suppose, seem obligated to concern
matters sacred. Of course, every body is aware of the prayerful meaning
of the name; but we know also that a madrigal has long ago put off its
monkish robe of a hymn to the Virgin, and worn the more laic habit of a
love song. Now, it is a fact, that very many good men who delight in
Handel's melody, and of course cannot object to psalms and anthems,
entertain conscientious objections to hearing the Bible set to music in
a concert-room; and sure may we all be, that, unless the whole thing be
regarded as a religious service, (in a mixed gay company who think of
sound more than sense, not very easy,) the warbling of sacred phrases,
and variations on the summoning trumpet, and imitated angelic praise,
and the unfelt expressions of musical repentance, and unfearing
despondency of guilt in recitative, are any thing but congenial to a
mind properly attuned. I hope I am neither prudish, nor squeamish, nor
splenetic, but speak only what many feel, and few care to express. Now,
the cure in future for all this would be very simple: Why not have some
lay oratorios? Protestants have appropriated the madrigal, and listen,
delighted with its melody, without the needless offence of seeming to
countenance idolatry; why should they not have solemn music, new or
ancient as may be adapted, administering to their patriotism, or their
tragic interests, or historic recollections, without grating against
their feelings of religious veneration?--To be specific, let me suggest
a subject, and show, for the benefit of any Pindar of this day, its
musical capabilities: we are, or ought to be as Englishmen, all stirred
at the name of


and he would minister as well to the harmonies of an oratorio as Abel,
or Jephtha, Moses, or St. Paul--nay, as the Messiah, or the last dread
Judgment. Remember, our Alfred was a proficient himself, and spied the
Danish forces in the character of a harper. What scope were here for
gentle airs, and stirring Saxon songs! He harangues his patriot band,
and a manly Phillips would personify with admirable taste the truly
royal bard: he leaves Athel-switha his wife, and a fair flock of
children in sanctuary, while he rushes to the battle-field: the
churchmen might receive their queenly charge with music: the Danes riot
in their unguarded camp with drinking-snatches, and old-country-staves:
a storm might occur, with elemental crash: the succeeding silence of
nature, and distant coming on of the patriot troops at midnight; their
war-songs and marches nearer and nearer; the invaders surprised in their
camp and in their cups; the hurlyburly of the fight--a hail-stone chorus
of arrows, a clash of thousand swords, trumpets, drums, and clattering
horse-hoofs; a silent interval, to introduce a single combat between
Alfred and Hubba the Dane, with Homeric challenges, tenor and bass; the
routed foe, in clamorous and discordant staccato; the conquerors
pressing on in steady overwhelming concord; how are the mighty
fallen--and praise to the God of battles!

Most briefly, then, thus: there is religion enough to keep it solemn,
without being so experimental as to intrude upon personal prejudice. The
notion is too slight, and too slenderly worked out, even for admission
here, if I were not still, my shrewd and mindful reader, sedulously
endeavouring to get rid of all my brain-oppressing fancies: and this,
happening to come uppermost as I write, finds itself caught, to my
comfort. It is commended, if worth any thing, to the musical proficient:
for I might as well think of adding a note to the gamut as of trying to
compose an oratorio.

       *       *       *       *       *

The authorial mind is infinitely versatile: books and book-making are
indeed its special privilege, forte, and distinguishing peculiarity; but
still its thoughts and regards are ever cast towards originality of
idea, though unwritten and unprinted, in all the multitudinous
departments of science and of art. Thus, mechanical invention, chemical
discovery, music as above, painting as elsewhere, sculpture as below,
give it exercise continually. The authorial mind never is at rest, but
always to be seen mounted and careering on one hobby-horse or other out
of its untiring stud. If the coin of some rude Parthian, or the
fragments of some old Ephesian frieze, serve not as a scope for its
present ingenuities, it will break out in a new method of grafting
raspberries on a rosebush, in the comfortable cut of a pilot-coat, or
the safest machinery for a steamer. _Ne sutor ultra crepidam_ is a rule
of moderation it repudiates; incessant energy provokes unabated
meddling, and its intuitive qualities of penetration, adaptation, and
concentration, are only hindered by the accidents of life from carrying
any one thing out to the point at least of respectable attainment. Look
at Michael Angelo; poet, painter, sculptor, architect, and author: and
if indeed we are not told of Milton having modeled, or Horace having
built up other monuments than his own imperishable fame, still nothing
but manual habit and the world's encouragement were wanting to perfect,
in the concrete, the conceptions of those plastic minds. Who will deny
that Hogarth was a novelist and play-wright, if not indeed a
heart-rending tragedian? Who will refuse to those nameless monastic
architects who planned and fashioned the fretted towers of Gloucester,
the stern solidity of Durham, the fairy steeple of Strasburg, or the
delicate pinnacles of Milan, the praise due to them of being genuine
poets of the immortal Epic? Phidas and Praxiteles, Canova and
Thorswaldsen, are in this view real authors, as undoubtedly as Homer or
Dante, Sallust or Racine; and to rise highest in this argument, the
heavens and the earth are but mighty scrolls of an Omniscient Author,
fairly written in a universal tongue of grandeur and beauty, of skill,
poetry, philosophy, and love.

But let me not seem to prove too much, and so leap over my horse instead
of vaulting into the saddle: though authorship may claim thus
extensively every master-mind, from the Adorable Former of all things
down to the humblest potter at his wheel fashioning the difficult
ellipse; still, in human parlance, must we limit it to common
acceptations, and think of little more than scribe, in the name of
author. Nevertheless, let such seeds of thought as here are carelessly
flung out, nurtured in the good soil of charity, and not unkindly forced
into foolish accusations of my own conceit, whereas their meaning is
general, (as if forsooth selfishly dibbled in with vain particularity,
and not liberally broadcast that he may run that reads,)--let such crude
considerations excuse my own weak and uninjurious invasion of the
provinces of other men. The wisdom for social purposes of infinitesimal
division of labour, may be proved good by working well; but its lowering
influences on the individual mind cannot be doubted: that an intelligent
man should for a life-time be doomed to watch a valve, or twist
pin-heads, or wind cotton, or lacquer coffin-nails, cannot be improving;
and while I grant great evil in my desultory excesses, still I may make
some use of that argument in the converse, and plead that it is good to
exercise the mind on all things. Thus, in my assumed métier of
authorship, let notions be extenuated that popularly concern it little,
and yield admittance to any thought that may lead to that Athenian
desideratum, "some new thing."

While the echoes of the name of Alfred still linger on the mind, and our
patriotism looks back with gratitude on his thousand virtues unsullied
by a fault, (at least that History, seldom so indulgent, has
recorded,)--while we reflect that in him were combined the wise king,
the victorious general, the enlightened scholar, the humble Christian,
the learned author, the excellent father, the admirable MAN in
all public and private relations, in domestic alike with social duties,
I cannot help wishing that forgetful England had raised some
architectural trophy, as a worthy testimonial of Alfred the noble and
the good. Whether Oxford, his pet child--or Westminster Hall, as mindful
of the code he gave us--or Greenwich, as the evening resting-place of
those sons of thunder whom the genius of Alfred first raised up to man
our wooden walls--should be the site of some great national memorial,
might admit of question; but there can be none that something of the
kind has been owing now near upon a thousand years, and that it will
well become us to claim boastingly for England so true, so glorious a
hero. With a view to expedite this object, and strictly to bear upon the
topic in author-fashion, it has come into my thought how much we want a


my little reading knows of none, beyond what dictionaries have gathered
from popular history and vague tradition, rather than manuscripts of old
time, and Asser, the original biographer. Of this last work, written
originally in Saxon, and since translated into Latin, I submit that a
popular English version is imperatively called for; a translation from a
translation being never advisable, (compare Smollett's Anglo-Gallified
dilution of '_Don Quixote_,') the primary source should be again
consulted; and seeing that profound ignorance of the ancient Saxon
coupled with, as now, total indifference about its acquisition, place me
in the list of incapables, I leave the good suggestion to be used by
pundits of the Camden or Roxburghe or other book-learned society. If it
may have been already done by some neglected scribe, bring it to the
light, and let us see the bright example set to all future ages by that
early Crichton; if never yet accomplished, my zeal is over-paid should
the hint be ever acted on; and if, which is still possible, an English
version of the life of Alfred should be positively rife and common among
the reading public, your humble ignoramus has nothing for it but to pray
pardon of its author for not having known him, and to walk softly with
the world for writing so much before he reads.

But this is an accessory--an episode; I plead for a statue to King
Alfred: and--(now for another episode; is there _no_ cure for these
desperate parentheses?)--_apropos_ of statues, let me, in the simple
untaught light of nature, suggest a word or two with regard to some
recent under-takings. Notwithstanding classical precedents, whereof more
presently, it does seem ridiculous to common sense, to set a man like a
scavenger-bird at Calcutta, or a stork at Athens, or a sonorous Muezzin,
or a sun-dried Simeon Stylites, on the top of a column a hundred feet
high: sculpture imitates life, and who would not shudder at such an
unguarded elevation? sculpture imitates life, and who can recognise a
countenance so much among the clouds? Again for the precedents: I
presume that Pompey's pillar, (which, indeed, perhaps never had any
thing on its summit except some Egyptian emblem, as the cap and throne
of higher and lower Egypt, or a key of the Nile as likely as any thing,)
is the most notable, if not the first, of solitary columns: now,
Pompey, or, as some prefer, Diocletian, and others Alexander Severus,
had that fine pillar ferried over from the quarries of Lycian Xanthus;
at least, this is a good idea, seeing that near that place still lie
three or four other columns of like gigantic dimensions, unfinished, and
believed to have been intended to support the triglyph of some new
temple. Pompey's idea was to fix the pillar up as a sea-mark, for either
entering the harbour of Alexandria, or to denote shallows, anchorage, or
the like; but apart from this actual utility, and apart also from its
acknowledged ornament as a sentinel on that flat strand, I take it to be
an architectural absurdity to erect a regular-made column with little or
nothing to support: an obelisk now, or a naval trophy, or a tower
decorated with shields, or a huge stele or cippus, or a globe, or a
pyramid, or a Waltham-cross sort of edifice, (of course all these
supporting nothing on their apices,) in fact, _any thing but_ a
Corinthian or Tuscan, or other regular pillar, seems to be permissable;
but for base, shaft, and capital to have nothing to do but lift a
telescopic man from earth's maternal surface, does look not a little
unreasonable; and therefore as much out of taste, as for the marble arch
at Buckingham Palace to spend its energies in supporting a flag-staff.

The magnificent column of Trajan is exempted from this hasty bit of
criticism, (as also of course is its modern counterpart, Napoleon's,)
because it is, both from decoration and proportions, out of the
recognised orders of architecture; it partakes rather of the character
of a triumphal tower, than of one among many pillars separated chiefly
from the rest; the man is a superlative accessory, a climax to his
positive exploits; he does not stand a-top, as if dropt from a balloon,
but like a gallant climber treading on his conquests: and, as to
Phocas's column at Rome, I shall only say, that it illustrates my
meaning, except in so far as an immense base to the super-imposed
statuere deems it from the jockey imputation of carrying too light a
weight. Now, with respect to the Nelson memorial, your meddlesome scribe
had an unexhibited notion of his own. Mehemet Ali is understood to have
given certain two obelisks respectively to the French and English
nations: the Parisians appropriated theirs, and have set it up,
thorn-like, in their midst, perhaps as an emblem of what African
conquest has been in the heartside of France; but we English, less
imaginative, and therefore less antiquarian, have permitted our _petit
cadeau_ to lie among its ruins of Luxor or Karnac, unclaimed and

Nelson of the Nile might have had this consecrated to his honour: and
if, as is probable, it be of insufficient elevation, I should have
proposed a high flight of steps and a base, screened all round by
shallow Egyptian entrances, with an Etruscan sarcophagus just within the
principal one, (Egypt and Etruria were cousins germane,) and an
alto-relievo of Nelson dying, but victorious, recumbent on the lid: the
globe and wings, emblems alike of Nelson's rapidity, his universal fame,
and his now-emaciated spirit, might be sculptured over each entrance; a
sphinx, or a Prudhoe lion, being allusive to England as well as Egypt,
should sit guardiant at each corner of the steps; and the three
remaining doorways would be represented closed, and carved externally
with some allegorical personations of Nelson's career, of the Nile,
Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. This, then, had it been strictly in my
métier, (a happy métier mine of literary leisure,) should have been my
limnèd outline for the Nelson testimonial: the real interesting antique
needle, rising from the midst of its solid Egyptian architecture, and
pointing to the skies; not a steeple, however, but merely the obelisk
raised upon a heavy base, only hollowed far enough to admit of an
interior alto-relievo.

It is probable that the exhibition of designs, which an _alibi_
prevented me from seeing, included several obelisks; but the
peculiarities I should have insisted on, would have been first to make
good use of the real thing, the rarely carved old Egypt's porphyry; and,
next, to have had our hero's likeness within reasonable distance of the

But to return from this other desperate digression: Alfred, the great
and wise, deserves his Saxon cross; or let him lie enshrined in a grove
of florid Gothic pinnacles, a fretted roof on clustered columns
reverently keeping off the rain; or, best of all, let him stand majestic
in his own-time costume, colossal bronze on a cube of granite, and so
put to shame the elegancies of a Windsor uniform, and the absurdity of
sticking heroes, as at St. George's, Bloomsbury, and elsewhere, on the
summit of a steeple. So, friend, let all this tirade serve to introduce
a most unlikely and chaotic treatise on


       *       *       *       *       *

Politics are a sore temptation to any writer, and of dalliance with a
Delilah so seductive it is futile to declare that I am innocent. My
principles positively are known to myself; which is a measure of
self-knowledge, in these any-thing-arian days, of that cabinet
coin-climax the "8th degree of rarity;" and that those choice
principles may not be concealed from so kind an eye as yours, friend
reader, hear me profess myself honestly--if you approve, or
shamelessly--if you _will_ so think it--"a rabid Tory!" At least, by
such a nomenclature sundry veracious journals, daily leaders of the
public opinion, would call me, were such a groundling as I prominent
enough to attract their indignation; and, from all that can be gathered
from their condemnatory clauses against others like minded, I have no
little reason to be proud of the title. For, on collation of such
clauses with their causes, I find, and therefore take (under correction
always) the rabid Tory to be--a temperate lover of order, whom his
mother has taught to "fear God," his father to "honour the king," and
his pastor to "meddle not with them who are given to change." A rabid
Tory, in matters of national expenditure, remembers to have heard an old
unexploded proverb, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth, and
there is that withholdeth what is due, but it tendeth to poverty;" and
he is by no means sure that a certain mismanaged nation is not
immolating her prosperity to what actuaries would call economical
principles. A rabid Tory is bigoted enough to entertain a ridiculous
fear of that generation abstraction, Catholic Rome, whom further he is
sufficiently vulgar-minded to consider as a lady of easy virtue arrayed
in the colours of a cardinal: he thinks one Luther to be somewhat more
than a renegade monk; and is childish enough to venerate, when a man,
the same Liturgy which his grandmother had taught him when a boy. For
other matters, the higher born, the better bred, the more classically
educated, and the more extensively possessed of moneys and lands our
honest-spoken Tory may be, ten to one the more is he afflicted with this
rabbies: and his mad propensities become positively criminal, when, as a
magistrate or a captain of dragoons, he thinks himself bound in
honourable duty to quell the enthusiasm of some disinterested patriots,
whose innocent wishes rise no higher than to subvert the existing order
of things, to secure for themselves a reasonable share of parks,
palaces, and pocket-money, and (as the very justifiable means for so
happy an end) manfully to sacrifice in the temple of Freedom the rogues
who would object to being robbed, and the tyrants who would be bloody
enough to fight for life and liberty.

A rabid Tory--you see it is a pet name of mine--feels no little contempt
for a squeezable character; and he is well assured, from history as well
as on his own conviction, that the noble army of martyrs lived and died
upon his principles: whereas the retrograde regiment of cowards, whom
the wisdom of providing for personal safety has in battle induced to run
away, _relictis non bene parmulis_--the clamorous cohort of bullies,
whom the necessities of impending castigation have sensibly induced to
eat their words--the volunteer company of light-heeled swindlers, whom
nature instructs that they must live, and honesty has neglected to
inform how--every one, in short, whose grand maxim (_quocunque modo
rem_) is temporizing expediency, and with whom the cogent argument "you
shall" has more force than the silly conscience-whisper of "you
ought,"--contributes to swell the band which the professor of Toryism,
the abstracted follower of principles and not of men, has the honour of
beholding in the angle of his diagram, inscribed "contradictory." Not
that your true Tory believes so ill of _all_ his adversaries; there are
some few geese among the cranes; an Abdiel here and there, who has long
felt irksome in the host, but for false shame is there still; sundry
men, having ambitious or illuminated wives, and too amiable, or too
prudent, to attempt a breach of peace at home; some thronging the
opposite benches, because their fathers and grandfathers topographically
occupied those same seats--a decent reason, supposing similarity of
places and names, to insure similarity of principles and practice; and
some--I dislike them not for honesty--confessing and upholding the
republican extremes, upon a belief that all short of these are but an
unsatisfactory part of a great and glorious experiment. Now, the rabid
Tory prefers an open foe to a false friend; but your go-between, your
midway sneak, your shuttlecock, your perjured miser who will swear to
any thing for an extra per centage--all these are his detestation: and
although he will readily acknowledge some good and some wise in the
adversary's ranks, still he recognises that tri-coloured banner as the
one under which all naturally fight, who are poor in both worlds--- with
neither money nor religion. Thus much of my reasonable rabies.

One may hate principles without hating men; and for this sentiment we
have the Highest Example. Things are either right or wrong; if right,
do; if wrong, forbear: nothing can be absolutely indifferent, and to do
a little actual evil in order to compass great hypothetical good, is
false morality, and, therefore bad government. Why should not honesty
and plain-dealing be as inviolable publicly as privately? Why be guilty
of such mean self-stultification as to say one thing and do another? It
is criminal in rulers to give a helping hand to the evil which they deem
unavoidable; let them, in preference, cease to rule, and imitate the
noble threat of that king for half a century whose conscience bade him
abdicate rather than do wrong.

But to come abruptly on a title-page: often-times, in reading
deleterious leading articles in wrong-sided newspapers, have I longed to
set before the world of faction


which indeed has already been half-done, if decently begun be
synonymous. With this view has my author's mind heretofore thought over
many scriptural texts, characters, doctrines, and usages; yet, let me
freely confess the upshot of those efforts to be little satisfactory:
for I fear much, that though there be grounds enough to go upon for one
who is already fixed in right political principle, [orthodoxy being, as
is common among arguers, _my_ doxy,] there may not be sufficient so to
reason from as to convince the thousands, ready and willing to gainsay
them: and Locke's utter annihilation of poor ridiculous well-intentioned
Filmer, makes one wary, of taking up and defending a position so little
tenable, as, for instance, Adam's primary grant for the foundation of
absolute monarchy, or of attempting to nullify natural freedom by the
dubious succession of patriarchal power. At the same time, (competency
for so great a task being conceded--no small supposition, by the way,)
much remains to be done in this field of discourse; as, the fearful
example made of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, for conduct very analogous
with numberless instances of modern Liberalism; the rights of rulers, as
well as of the governed; of kings, as well as people; the connexion
subsisting now, as through all former ages, between church and
state--well indeed and deeply argued out already by such great minds as
Coleridge and Gladstone, but perhaps, for general usefulness, requiring
a more brief and popular discourse; the question of passive obedience;
the true though unfashionable doctrine of man's general depravity
invalidating the consignment of power to the masses; and so forth. There
are, however, if Scripture is to be held a constitutional guide, some
examples to a certain extent contrary to the argument: as, elective
monarchy in the case of Saul; non-legitimate succession in families even
where election is omitted, as in the case of Solomon; and, honestly to
say it, many other difficulties of a like nature. In fact, upon the
whole, this distinction might be drawn; that although the Bible at large
favours what we may, for shortness' sake, term Conservative politics,
still it would not be easy to deduce from its page as code of rules, so
necessarily of a social, temporary, and accidental nature: The principle
is given, but little of the practice; the seed of true and undefiled
religion produces among other good fruit what we will call Conservatism,
but we must be very microscopic to detect that fruit in the seed: of
this admission let my _Liberal_ adversary make--as indeed he will--the
most; but let him remember that truth has always been most economically
distributed. It is a material too costly to be broadcast before swine;
and in slender evidence lurks more of moral test, than in stout
arguments and open miracles. At any rate, as unfitted for the task, I
leave it. For any thing mine un-book-learned ignorance can tell, the
very title may be as old as Christianity itself; it is a good name, and
a fair field.

This manual was commenced in the form of familiar letters to a radical
acquaintance, whom I had resolved to convert triumphantly; but John
Locke disarmed me, without, however, having gained a convert: he made me
drop my weapon as Prospero with Ferdinand; but the fault lay with
Ferdinand, for want of equal power in the magic art.

       *       *       *       *       *

"MEASURES, NOT MEN" is, as we have hinted already, the
ground-work of a true Tory's political creed; and measures themselves
only in so far as they expound and are consistent with principles. A man
may fail; the stoutest partisan become a renegado; and the pet measure
of a doughtiest champion may after all prove traitorous, unwise,
unworthy: but principle is eternally an unerring guide, a master to
whose words it is safe to swear, a leader whose flag is never lowered in
compromise, nor sullied by defeat. Defalcations of the generally
upright, derelictions of duty by the usually noble-minded, shake not
that man's faith which is founded on principle: for the cowardice, or
rashness, or dishonesty of some individual captain, he may feel shame,
but never for the _cause_ in which such hold commissions; he may often
find much fault with _soi-disant_ Tories, but never with the 'ism they
profess. We over-step their follies; we disclaim their corruptions; we
date above their faults; we wash our hands of their abuses. An
abstracted student in his chamber, building up his faith from the
foundations, and trying every stone of the edifice, takes little heed of
who is for him, and who against him, so Conscience is the architect, and
the Master of the house looks on approving. A man's mind is but one
whole; be it palace or hovel, feudal stronghold or Italian villa, it is
all of a piece: a duly subordinated spirit bears no superstructure of
the Radical, and the friable soil of discontented Liberalism, is too
sandy a foundation for ponderous fanes of the religious.

I rejoice in being accounted one of those unheroic, and therefore more
useful, members of society, who profess to be by no means ambitious of
reigning. A plain country gentleman, with a mind (thank Heaven!) well at
ease, and things generally, both external and internal, being in his
case consentaneous with happiness, would appear to have reached the acme
of human felicity; and no one but a fool cares, in any world, to
exemplify the dog's preference for the shadow. Unenvious, therefore, of
royalty, and fully crediting that _never-quoted_ sentiment of
Shakspeare's "Uneasy," &c., my motto, within the legitimate limits of
right reason, and in common with that of some ridiculed philosopher of
Roundhead times, is the prudent saying, "Whoever's king, I'll be
subject!"--ay, and for the masculine I place the epicene. While,
however, in sober practice of right subordination, and under existing
circumstances of just rule, we gladly would amplify the maxim, (as in
courtesy, gallantry, loyalty, and honest kind feeling strongly bound,)
still in mere speculation, and irrespectively of things as they are, our
abstract musings tended to approve the original word in its unextended
gender. Every one of Edmund Burke's school would honour the ensign of
Divine vice-regency wherever he found it; but, apart from this
uninquisitive respect, he will claim to be reasonably patriotic,
patriotically rational; habit encourages to practice one thing, but
theory may induce to think another. Now, little credence as so
unenlightened so illiberal an integer as I give to an equalization in
the rights of man, certainly on many accounts my blindness gives less to
the rights of women with man, and very far less to those rights over
man: it might be inconvenient to be specific as to reason; but the
working of an ultra-republican scheme, in which females should ballot as
well as males, would briefly illustrate my meaning. Barbarism makes
gentle woman our slave; right civilization raises her into a loving
helpmate; but what kind of wisdom exalts her into mastery?

Readily, however, shall sleep in dull suppression sundry comments on a
certain Rhenish law, whereof my author's mind had at one time studiously
cogitated a grave and wholesome homily. For our censor of the press, one
strait-laced Mr. Better Judgment, has, "with his abhorred shears,"
clipped off the more eloquent and spirited portion of a trenchant
argument concerning--the revealed doctrine of a superior sex, the social
evils of female domination, church-headships considered as to type and
antitype, improper influences, necessary hindrances, anomalous example,
feminine infirmities, and an infinitude more such various objections
springing out of this fertile subject. Thereafter might have come the
historical view, evils and perils, for the majority of instances,
following in the wake of such mastery. However, to leave these
questionable matters quiescent, the principles of passive obedience
mildly interpose, forbidding to stir the waters of commotion, although
with healing objects, for the sake of an abstract theory; there is
ill-meant change enough afloat, without any call for well-intentioned
meddlers to launch more. So, judicious after-thought resolves rather to
strengthen too-much-weakened authority, in these ungovernable times,
than attempt to prove its weaknesses inherent; to look obstinately at
the golden side only of the double-wielded shield: instead of picking
away at a soft stone in constitutional foundations, our feeble wish
magnanimously prefers to prop it and plaster it, flinging away that
injurious pick-axe. The title of this once-considered lucubration is far
too suggestive to carping minds of more than the much that it means, to
be without objection: nevertheless, I did begin, and therefore, always
under shelter of a domino, and protesting against any who would move my
mask, I confess to


it was a mere speculative argument; a flock of fancies now roaming
unregarded in some cloudy limbo. Let them fly into oblivion--"black,
white, and gray, with all their trumpery."

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding these present hostile argumentations, politics are to me
what they doubtless are to many others, subjects and disquisitions
little short of hateful; perpetual mulligatawney; curried capsicums; a
very heating, unsatisfactory, unwholesome sort of food. How many
pleasant dinner-parties have been abruptly broken up by the introduction
of this dish! How many white waistcoats unblanched by projectile
wine-glasses on account of this impetuous theme! How many little-civil
wars produced from the pips of this apple of contention! Yes, I hate it;
and for this cause, good readers, (who may chance to have been used
scurvily, some six pages back, in respect of your opinions, honest as
my own, though fixed in full hostility--and so, courteously be entreated
for your pardons,) for this cause of hate, I beseech you to regard me as
sacrificing my present inclination to my future quiet. We have heard of
women marrying men they may detest, in order to get rid of them: even
with such an object is here indited the last I ever intend to say about
politics. The shadows of notions fixed upon this page will cease to
haunt my brain; and let no one doubt but that after relief from these
pent-up humours, I shall walk forth less intolerant, less unamiable,
less indignant than as heretofore. But, meanwhile, suffer with all
brevity that I say out this small say, and deliver my patriotic
conscience; for many a head-ache has obfuscated your author's mind in
consequence of other abortive bits of political common-place. Every
successive measure of small triumphant Whiggery, every piece of what my
view of the case would designate non-government or mis-government, has
pinched, vexed, bruised, and stung my fervent country's love day by day,
session after session. Like thousands of others, I have been a greyhound
in the leash, a bolt in the bow, longing to take my turn on the arena:
eager as any Shrovetide 'prentice for a fling at negligence, peculation
and injustice, and other the long black catalogue of British injuries.
Socialism, Chartism, Ribandism; Spain, Canada, China; freed criminals,
and imprisoned poverty; penny wisdom, and pound folly; the universal
centralizing system, corrupting all generous individualities: patriotism
ridiculed, and questionable loyalty patted on the back; vice in full
patronage, and virtue out of countenance; Protestantism discouraged,
Popery taken by the hand; Dissent of _any_ kind preferred to sober
Orthodoxy; and, fitting climax, all this done under pretences of perfect
wisdom, and most exquisite devotion to the crown and the
constitution:--these things have made me too often sympathize in Colonel
Crockett's humour, tiger-like, with a dash of the alligator. Accordingly
let me not deny having once attempted a bitter diatribe, in petto,



a production of the pamphlet class, and, like its confraternity,
destined at longest to the life ephemeral. But, to say truth, I found
all that sort of thing done so much better, spicier, cleverer, in
numberless newspaper articles, than my lack of the particular knowledge
requisite, and my little practice in controversy, could have managed,
that I wisely drew in my horns, sheathed my toasting-iron, and decided
upon not proceeding political pamphleteer, till, on awaking some fine
morning, I find myself returned to parliament for an immaculate

Patient reader, of whatever creed, do not hate me for my politics, nor
despise the foolish candour of confession. Henceforth, I will not
trouble you, but abjure the subject; except, indeed, my sturdy friend
"the Squire," soon to be introduced to you, insists upon his
after-dinner topic: but we will cut him short; for, in fact, nothing can
be more provoking, tedious, useless, and causative of ill-blood, than
this perpetual intermeddling of private ignoramuses, like him and me,
with matters they do not understand, nor can possibly ameliorate.

       *       *       *       *       *

A poet is born a poet, as all the world is well aware; and your
thorough-paced lawyer is not less born a lawyer; while the junction of
these two most militant incompatibles clearly bears out the hackneyed
quotation as above, with the final misfit, that is, "_non fit_." Your
poetaster at the bar is that grotesque ideal, which Flaccus thought so
funny that his friends _must_ laugh; (although really, Romans, it _is_
possible to contemplate a sort of sphinx figure, "a human head to a
horse's neck," and so on, varied plumes and all, without much chance of
a guffaw;) and yonder sickly-looking clerk, perched upon his high stool,
penning "stanzas while he should engross," is the lugubrious caricature
of Apollo on his Pegassus, with Helicon for inkstand.

It may be nothing extraordinary that, jostled in so wide a theatre as
ours of the world, chance-comers should not, at once or at all,
comfortably find their proper places; but that wise-looking chaperons,
having with prospective caution duly taken a box, should by malice
prepense thrust all the big people in front, and all the little folks
behind, is rather hard upon the latter, and not a little foolish in
itself. Even so in life: who does not wish a thousand times he could
help some people to change places? Look at this long fellow, fit for
Frederick of Prussia's regiment of giants: his parents and guardians
have bent him double, broken his spirit, and spoiled his paces, by
cramming him, a giraffe in the stable, between that frigate's gun-decks
as a middy: while yonder martial little bantam, by dint of exaggerated
heels, and exalted bear-skin, peeps about among his grenadiers, much as
Brutus and Cassius did with their collossal Cæsar. So also of minds:
look at brilliant Burns, the exciseman; and quaintly versatile Lamb, the
common city clerk: Look at--had you only patience, you should have
examples by the gross; but, to make a shorter tale of it, (I presume
this shows the etymology of cur-tail,) just think over the pack of your
acquaintance, and see if you could not shuffle those kings, queens--yes,
and knaves too--more to your satisfaction, and their own advantage: at
least, so most folks imagine, silly meddlers as they are; for, after
all, what with human versatility, and the fact of a probationary state,
and the influence of habit, and the drudging example set by others,
things work so kindly as they are, that, notwithstanding misfits, the
wiser few must be of Pope's mind, "whatever is, is right;"--ay, that it

A year or two ago--if your author is little better than one of the
foolish now, what in charity must he have been then?--I took it upon me
to indite an innocent, stingless satire, whereof for samples take the
following. Skip them one and all; you will, if you are wise, for they
bear the ban of rhyme, are peevish, dull, ill-reasoned; but if you are
not wise, (and, strange to say, malicious people tell me there are many
such,) you may wish to see in print a metred inconclusive grumble. Take
it, then, if you will, as I do, merely for a change; at any rate, your
manciple has furnished this buttery of yours with ample choice of
viands; and omnivoracious as man may be--gormandizing, with gusto, fat
moths in Australia, cockchafers at Florence, frogs in France, and snails
in Switzerland, equally as all less objectionable meats, drinks, fruits,
roots, composites, and simples--still, in reason, no one can be expected
or expect himself to like every thing: have charity, for what suits not
one man's taste may please the palate of another; so hear me
complacently turn


and give heed to certain confessions, extorted under the _peine forte et
dure_ of a whilom state legal. Yet, when I come to consider of this,
(_mihi cogitanti_, as school themes invariably commenced,) it strikes my
memory that all confessions, short of the last dying one, are weak and
foolish impertinence; whether Jean Jacques or Mr. Adams thought so, or
caused others to think so, are separate topics beside the question: for
myself, I will spare you a satire dotted with as many I's as an Argus
pheasant; and, without exacting upon good-nature by troublesome
contributions, will hazard a few couplets concerning Blackstone's
cast-off mistress, the Law. One word more though: undoubting of thine
amiability, friend that hast walked with me hitherto in peace, I will be
tame as a purring cat, and sheathe my talons; therefore are you still
unteased by divers sly speeches and sarcastic hints, of and concerning
innumerable black sheep that crowd about a woolsack; especially of
certain "highly respectables," whom the omnipotence of parliament (no
less power presumably being competent) commands to be accounted
"gentlemen." Should then my meagre sketches seem but little spiteful,
accord me credit for tolerance at the expense of wit, (yea, in mine own
garbled satire, hear it Juvenal!) and view them kindly in the same light
as you would sundry emasculated extracts from a discreet Family
Shakspeare. Indignation ever speaks in short sharp queries; and it is
well for the printer's pocket that the self-experience hereof was
considered inadmissible, for a new fount of notes of interrogation must
have been procured: as it is, we are sailing quietly on the Didactic
Ocean, and have, I fear, been engaged some time upon topics actionable
on a charge of _scandalum magnatum_. Hereof then just a little sample:
let us call it '_A Judgment in the Rolls Court_;' or in any other; I
care not.

  Precedent's slave, this mountebank decides
  As great Authority, not Reason, guides.
  "'Tis not for him, degenerate wight, to say
  Faults can be mended at this time of day,
  For Coke himself declared--no matter what--
  Can Justice suffer what Lord Coke would not?
  And if 1 Siderfin, p. 10, you scan,
  Lord Hoax has fixed the rule, that learned man:
  I cannot, dare not, if I would, be just,
  My hands are tied, and follow Hoax I must;
  That _very_ learned Lord could not be wrong.
  Besides, in fact, it has been settled long,
  For the great case of Hitchcock versus Bundy
  Decided--(Cro. Eliz. per Justice Grundy),
  That [black was white];--and so, what can I say?
  Landmarks are things must not be moved away:
  I cannot put the clock of Wisdom back,
  And solemnly pronounce that black _is_ black.
  Though plaintiff has the right, I grant it clear,
  I must be ruled by Hoax and Hitchcock here:
  Equity follows, does not mend the laws:
  Therefore declare, defendant gains the cause."

Then, as virtuously bound, Indignation interrogates sundry
ejaculations; or, if you like it better, ejaculates sundry
interrogations: as thus, take a brace:

  If right and reason both combine in one,
  Why, in God's name, should justice not be done?
  If law be not a lie, and judgments jokes,
  Why not _be just_, and cut adrift Lord Hoax?

After a vast deal more in this vein of literature--for you perceive my
present purpose is dissection in part of this ancient rhyme--we arrive
at a magnanimous--

  No! Right shall have his own, put off no longer
  By rule of Former, or by whim of Stronger;
  Nor, because Jack goes tumbling down the hill,
  Shall precedent create a tumbling Jill.
  Public opinion soon shall change the scene,
  And wash the Law's Augæan stable clean;
  Sweep out the Temple, drive the sellers thence,
  And lead, in novel triumph, Common Sense.

Verily, this is of the dullest, but it is brief: endure it, and pray you
consider the deadliness of the topic, and the barbarous cruelty
wherewith courtesy has clipped the wings of my poor spite. Let us turn
to other title-pages; assuring all the world that no specific mountebank
has been here intended, and that nothing more is meant than a nerveless
blow against legal cant, quainter than Quarles's, and against that
well-known species of Equity, which must have been so titled from like
antiquated reasons with those that induced Numa and his company to call
a dark grove, lucus.

       *       *       *       *       *

How many foes, in this utilitarian era, has that very unwarrantable
vice, called Poetry! All who despise love and love-making, all who
prefer billiards to meditation, all who value hard cash above mental
riches, feel privileged to hate it; while really, typographers, the
illegible diamond print in which you generally set it up, whether in
book, or newspaper, or handbill, or magazine, induces many an
indifferent peruser to skip the poem for the sake of his eye-sight. I
presume that the monosyllable, rhyme, comprehends pretty nearly all that
the world at large intends by poetry; and, in the same manner as certain
critics have sneered at Livy--no, it was Tacitus--for commencing his
work with a bad hexameter, so many a reader will now-a-days condemn a
whole book, because it is somewhere found guilty of harbouring a
distich. But poetry, friend World, means far other than rhyme; its
etymology would yield "creation," or "fabrication," of sense as well as
sound, and of melody for the eye as well as melody for the ear. So did
[_epoiese_] Milton; and so did not---- Well, I myself, if you will. Yet,
in fact, there are fifty other kinds of poetries, beside the poetry of
words: as the poetry of life--affection, honour, and hope, and
generosity; the poetry of beauty--never mind what features decorate the
Dulcinea, for this species of poetry is felt and seen almost only in
first love; the poetry of motion, as first-rates majestically sailing,
furiously scudding waves, bending corn-fields, and, briefly, all things
moveable but railway-trains; the poetry of rest, as pyramids, a tropical
calm, an arctic winter, and generally all things quiescent but a
slumbering alderman; the poetry of music, heard oftener in a country
milkmaid's evening song, than in many a concert-room; the poetry of
elegance, more natural to weeping willows, unbroken colts, flames,
swans, ivy-clad arches, greyhounds, yea, to young donkeys, than to those
_pirouette_-ing and _very_ active _danseuses_ of the opera; the poetry
of nature, as mountains, waterfalls, storms, summer evenings, and all
manner of landscapes, except Holland and Siberia; the poetry of art,
acqueducts, minarets, Raphael's colouring, and Poussin's intricate
designs; the poetry of ugliness, well seen in monkeys and Skye terriers;
and the poetry of awkwardness, whereof the brightest example is Mr.
trans-Atlantic Rice. And, verily, many other poetries there be, as of
impudence (for which consult the experience of swindlers); of prose,
(for which see Addison); of energy, of sleep, of battle and of peace:
for it is an easy-seeming artfulness, the most fascinating manner of
doing as of saying, complication simplified, and every thing effected to
its bravest advantage. Poetry wants a champion in these days, who will
save her from her friends: O, namby-pamby "lovers of the Nine!" your
innumerous dull lyrics--ay, and mine--your unnatural heroics--I too have
sinned thus--your up-hill sonnets--that labour of folly have I known as
well--in brief, your misnamed poetry, hath done grievous damage to the
cause you toil for. Yet I would avow thus much, for I believe it: as an
average, we have beaten our ancestors; seldom can we take up a paper or
a periodical which does not show us verses worthy of great names; the
age is full of highly respectable, if not superlative poetry; and truly
may we consider that the very abundance of good versification has
lowered the price of poets, and therefore, in this marketing world, has
robbed them of proper estimation. Doubtless, there have been mighty men
of song higher in rank, as earlier in time, than any now who dare to try
a chirrup: but there are also many of our anonymous minstrels, with whom
the greater number of the so-called old English poets could not with
advantage to the ancients justly be compared. Look at '_Johnson's
Lives_.' Who can read the book, and the specimens it glorifies, without
rejoicing in his prose, and thoroughly despising their poetry?--With a
few brilliant exceptions, of course, (for ill-used Milton, Pope--and
shall we in the same sentence put Dryden?--are there,) a more wretched
set of halfpenny-a-liners never stormed mob-trodden Parnassus. The
poetry of Queen Anne's time and thereabouts, I judge to have been at the
lowest bathos of badness; all satyrs, and swains, fulsome flattery of
titles, and foolish adoration of painted shepherdesses: poor weak
hobbling lines, eked out by 'eds and expletives, often terminated by
false rhymes, and made lamer by triplets and dreary Alexandrines;
ill-selected subjects, laboured, indelicate, or impossible similes,
passions frigid as Diana, wit's weapons dull as lead. Yet these (many
exceptions doubtless there were, and many redeeming _morceaux_ even in
the worst, charitable reader, but as of the rule we speak not falsely),
these are the poets of England, the men our great grandfathers delighted
to honour, the feared, the praised, the pensioned, and those whom we
their children still denominate--the poets! Praise, praise your stars,
ye lucky imps of Fame! who could tolerate you now-a-days?--You lived in
golden times, when Dorset, Harley, Bolingbroke, Halifax, and Company,
gave away places of a thousand a-year, as but justly due to any man who
could pen a roaring song, fabricate a fulsome sonnet, or bewail in
meagre elegiacs the still-resisting virtue of some persecuted Stella!
Happy fellows, easy conquisitors of wealth and fame, autocrats of
coffee-houses, feted and favoured by town-bred dames! In those good old
times for the fashionable Nine, an epic was sure to lead to a
Ministry-of-State, and even an epigram produced its pension: to be a
poet, or reputed so, was to be--eligible for all things; and the
fortunate possessor of a rhyming dictionary might have governed Europe
with his metrical protocols. But these halcyon times are of the
past--and so, verily, are their heroes. Farewell, a long farewell,
children of oblivion! farewell, Spratt, Smith, Duke, Hughes, King,
Pomfret, Phillips, and Blackmore: ye who, in that day of very small
things, just rose, as your Leviathan biographer so often testifies, "to
a degree of merit above mediocrity:" ye who--but (Candor and good
Charity, I thank you for the hint,) limited indeed is my knowledge of
your writings, ye long-departed poets, whom I thus am base enough to
pilfer of your bays; and therefore, if any man among you penned aught of
equal praise with "_My Mind to me a Kingdom is_," or "_No Glory I covet,
no Riches I want_," humbly do I cry that good man's pardon. Believe that
I have only seen the château of your fame, but never the rock on which
it rested; and therefore candidly consider, if I might not with reason
have accounted it a castle in the air?

Now, after this wholesale species of poetical massacre, this rifling of
old Etruscan tombs of their honourable spoil, a very pleasant ninny
would that poetaster stand forth, whose inanely conceited daring
exhibited specimens from his own mint, as medals in fit contrast with
those slandered "things of base alloy." No, as with politics, so with
poetry; in public I abjure and do renounce the minx: and although
privately my author's mind is so silly as to doat right lovingly on such
an ancient mistress, and has wasted much time and paper in her praise or
service, still that mind is sufficiently self-possessed in worldly
prudence, as to set seemingly little store on the worth of an
acquaintance so little in the fashion. Therefore I disown and disclaim


ill-fated offspring of a foolish father; miscellaneous collection of
occasionals and fugitives, longer or shorter, as the army of Bombastes.
Poetical as in verity I must confess to have been, (using the word
"poetical" as most men use it, and the words "have been" in the sense of
Troy's existence,) there must have lingered in me, even at that
hallucinating period, some little remnant of prosaic wisdom; for it is
now long since that I consigned to the most voracious of elements all
the more love-sick rhythmicals, and all the more hateful satiricals.
Now, I will maintain that act of incremation to be one of true heroism,
nearly equal to the judgment of Brutus; nor less is it matter of
righteous boasting to have immolated (warned by Charles Lamb's ghost)
divers albuminous preparations, which to have to do, were, Clio knows,
little pleasure, and to have done, we all know, as little praise. Such
light follies are like skeins of cotton, or adjectives, or babies, unfit
to stand alone; haply, well enough, times and things considered, but
totally unworthy to be dragged out of their contexts into the
imperishability of print; it is to take flies out of treacle, and embalm
them in clear amber. As to sonnets, what real author's mind will not,
if honest, confess to the almost daily recurrence of that symptom of his
disease? With mine, at least, they have increased, and are increasing;
yea, more--as a certain statesman suggested of Ireland's multitudinous
_pisantry_, or as tavern patriots declare of the power of the
crown--they ought to be diminished. Nevertheless, resolutely do I hope
that some of these at least are little worthy of the days of good Queen

In matters of the sacred muse, lengthily as others have I trespassed
heretofore; the most protracted _fytte_, however, made a respectable
inroad on a new metrical version of the '_Psalms_,' attempting at any
rate closer accuracy from the Hebrew than Brady's, and juster rhymes
than Sternhold's: but this has since been better done by another bard.
On the whole budget of exploded poeticals is now legibly inscribed "to
be kept till called for," a period rather more indefinite than the
promise of a spendthrift's payment. Let them rest in peace, those
unfortunate poetics!

There are also in the bundle, if I rightly do remember me, sundry
metricals of the humorous sort, which may be considered as really
_waste-failures_ as any tainted hams that ever were yclept Westphalias.
For of all dreary and lugubrious perpetrations in print, nothing can be
more desolate than laboured witticism. A pun is a momentary spark dropt
upon the tinder-box of social intercourse; and to detach such a sentence
from its producing circumstances, is about as efficacious a method of
producing laughter, as the scintillatory flint and steel struck upon wet
grass would be of generating light. Few things are less digestible than
abortive efforts at the humorous; the stream of conversation instantly
freezes up; the disconcerted punster wears the look of his well-known
kinsman, the detected pickpocket; and a scribe, so mercilessly suicidal
as regards his better fame, deserves, when a plain blunt jury comes to
sit upon the body, to be found in mystical Latin, _felo de se_, or in
plain English "a fellow deceased."

"There shall come in the last days, scoffers;" those same last days in
which "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." It
is true that these phrases (quoted with the deepest reverence, though
found in lighter company) are forcibly taken from their context; but
still, the judgment of many wise among us will agree that they present a
remarkable coincidence: in this view of the case, and it is a most
serious one, the concurrent notoriety of humour having just arisen like
a phoenix from its ashes, of railroads and steamboats having partially
annihilated space, and of the strides which education, if not intellect,
has made upon the highroad of human improvement, assumes an importance
greater than the things themselves deserve. To a truly philosophic ken,
there is no such thing as a trifle; the ridiculous is but skin-deep,
papillæ on the surface of society; cut a little deeper, you will find
the veins and arteries of wisdom. Therefore will a sober man not deride
the notion that comic almanacs, comic Latin grammars, comic hand-books
of sciences and arts, and the great prevalence of comicality in popular
views taken of life and of death, of incident and of character, of evil
and of good, are, in reality, signs of the times. These straws, so thick
upon the wind, and so injuriously mote-like to the visual organs, are
flying forward before a storm. As symptoms of changing nationality, and
of a disposition to make fun of all things ancient and honourable, and
wise, and mighty, and religious, they serve to evidence a state of the
universal mind degenerated and diseased. Still, let us not be too
severe; and, as to individual confessions, let not me play the
hypocrite. Like every thing else, good in its good use, and evil only in
abuse of its excesses, humour is capable of filling, and has filled, no
lightly-estimable part in the comedy of temporal happiness. What a good
thing it is to raise an innocent and cheerful laugh; to inoculate
moroseness with hearty merriment; to hunt away misbelieving care, if not
with better prayers, at the lowest with a pack of yelping cachinations;
to make pain forget his head-ache by the anodyne of mirth! Truly, humour
has its laudable and kindly uses: it is the mind's play-time after
office-drudgery--an easy recreation from thought, anxiety, or study.
Only when it usurps, or foolishly attempts to usurp, the office of more
than a temporary alleviation; when it affects to set up as an atheistic
panacea; when it professes to walk as an abiding companion, lighting you
on your way with injurious gleams (as that dreadful figure in Dante, who
lanterns his path by the glaring eyes of his own truncated head); and
when it ceases to become merely the casual scintillation, the flitting
_ignus fatuus_ of a summer evening--then only is wit to be condemned.
Often, for mine own poor part in this most mirthful age, have I had



but take no thought of preserving their echoes, or of shrining them in
the eternal basalt of print, like to the oft-repeated cries of Lurley's
hunted in-dweller. The humorous infection caught also me, as a thing
inevitable; but the case, I wot, proved an unfavourable one: and who
dare enter the arena of contention with these mighty men of Momus, these
acknowledged sages of laughter, (pardon me for omitting some fifty
more,) so familiar to the tickled ear, as Boz, and Sam Slick, Ingoldsby,
and Peter Plymley, Titmarsh, Hood, Hook; not to mention--(but that
artists are authors)--laughter-loving Leech, Pickwickian Phiz, and
inimitable Cruikshank? Nevertheless, let a tender conscience penitently
ask, is it quite an innocent matter to lend a hand in rendering the age
more careless than perchance, but for such ministrations, it would cease
to be? Is it quite wise in a writer, by following in that wake, to be
reputed at once to help in doing harm, and help to do harm to his own
reputation? There are professors enough in this quadrangle of the
college of amusement, popular and extant in flourishing obesity, without
so dull a volunteer as Mr. Self intruding his humours on the world: and
surely the far-echoing voices of a couple of cannons, thundering their
mirth throughout Europe from the jolly quarters of St. Paul's, may well
frighten into silence a poor solitary pop-gun, which, as the frog with
the bull, might burst in an attempt at competition, or, like Bottom's
Numidian lion, could imitate the mighty roar only as gently as your

       *       *       *       *       *

Grapho-mania, or the love of scribbling, is clearly the great
distinguishing characteristic of an author's mind; pen and ink are to
it, what bread and butter are to its lodging-house the body: observe, we
do not hazard a remark so false as that the one produces the
other--their relations are far from being mutual; but we only suggest
that the mind, as well as the body, hobbles like a three-legged
OEdipus, resting on its proper staff of life. And what can be more
provocative of scribbling than travel? How eagerly we hasten to describe
unheard-of adventures, how anxiously record exaggerated marvels! to
prove some printed hand-book _quite wrong_ in the number of steps up a
round-tower: or to crush, as a wicked vender of execrable wines, the
once fair fame of some over-charging inn-keeper! Then, again, how
pleasant to immortalize the holiday, and read in after-years the story
of that happy trip langsyne; how pleasant to gladden the kind eyes of
friends, that must stay at home, with those wonder-telling journals, and
to taste the dulcet joys of those first essays at authorship. A great
charm is there in jotting down the day's tour, and in describing the
mountains and museums, the lakes and lazzaroni, the dishes and disasters
that have made it memorable: moreover, for fixing scenery on the mental
retina, as well as for comparison of notes as to an _alibi_, for duly
remembering things heard and seen, as well as for being humbled in
having (as a matter inevitable) left unseen just the best lion of the
whole tour, journals are a most praiseworthy pastime, and usually rank
among the earliest efforts of an embryo author's mind.

It is a thing of commonest course, that, in this age of inveterate
locomotion, your present humble friend, now talking in this candid
fashion with your readership, has been every where, seen every thing,
and done his touristic devoirs like every body else about him: also, as
a like circumstance of etymological triviality, that he has severally,
and from time to time, recorded for self-amusement and the edification
of others all such matters as holiday-making school-boys and
boarding-misses, and government-clerks in their swift-speeding vacation,
and elderly gentlemen vainly striving to enjoy their first fretful
continental trip, usually think proper to descant upon. Of such
manuscripts the world is clearly full; no catacomb of mummies more
fertile of papyri; no traveller so poor but he has by him a packet of
precious notes, whereon he sets much store: every tourist thinks he can
reasonably emulate clever Basil Hall, in his eloquent fragments of
voyages and travels; and I, for my part, a truth-teller to my own
detriment, am ashamed to confess the existence of


which of olden time my _cacoethes_ produced as regularly as recurred the
summer solstice. Unlike that of Livy's, I am satisfied that this poor
Decade be irrevocably lost; but, for dear recollection's sake of days
gone by, intend it at least to be spared from malicious incremation.
Records of roamings in romantic youth, witnesses of wayward way-side
wanderings, gayly with alliterative titles might your contents, _à la
Roscoe_, be set forth. But--what conceivable news can be told at this
time of day about the trampled Continent, and the crowded British isles?
Had my luck led me to Lapland or Formosa, to Mexico or Timbuctoo, to the
top of Egyptian pyramids or the bottom of Polish salt-mines, my
authorship would long since have publicly declared, in common with many
a monkey, that it had "seen the world." As things are, to Bruce,
Buckingham, Belzoni, and that glorious anomaly, the blind brave Holman,
let us leave the harvest of praise, worthy to be reaped as their own by
modern travellers.

       *       *       *       *       *

More, yet more, most exemplary of listeners; and a web or webs of very
various texture. Let any man tell truths of himself, and seem to be
consistent, if he can. From grave to gay, from simple to severe, is the
line most expressive of such foolish versatility as mine; _varium et
mutabile semper_, to one thing constant never. I have heard, or read,
among the experiences of a popular preacher, that one of his most
vexatious petty temptations, was the rise of humorous notions in his
mind the moment he stepped into the pulpit; and it is well known that
many a comic actor has been afflicted with the blackest melancholy while
supporting right facetiously his best, because most ludicrous character.
Let such thoughts then as these, of the frailties incident to man, serve
to excuse the present juxtaposition of fancies in themselves
diametrically opposite.

It is proper to preamble somewhat of apology before announcing the next
presumptuous tractate; presumptuous, because affecting to advise some
thousands of men whose office alike and average character are sacred,
and just, and excellent. Why then intrude such unrequired counsel? Read
the next five pages, and take your answer. Zealously inflamed for the
cause of truth, if not also charitably wroth against sundry lukewarm
cumber-earth incumbents, and certainly more in love with the
Church-of-England prayer-book than with her no-ways-extenuated evils of
omission or commission, I wrote, not long since, [and truly, not long
since, for few things in this book can boast of higher antiquity than a
most modern existence, some things being the birth of an hour, some of a
day, a week, or a month; and not more than one or two above a twelve
month's age.--Alas, for Horace's forgotten counsels!--alas, for Pope's
and Boileau's reiterated prescription of revisal for--_morbleu et
parbleu_--nine years!] I wrote then a good cantle of an essay addressed
to the clergy on some matters of judicious amelioration, which we will
call, if you please--and if the word hints be not objectionable--


Now, as to the unclerical authorship of this, it is wise that it be done
out of métier. Laymen are more likely to gain attention in these
matters, from the very fact of their influence being an indirect one,
speaking as they do rather from the social arm-chair, the high-stool of
the counting-house, or the benches of whilom St. Stephen's, than _ex
cathedrâ_ as of office and of duty.

It would be a fair exemplification of the stolid prowess of a Quixote
tilting against, yea, stouter foes than wind-mills, were I to have
commenced with an attack upon external church architecture: this topic
let us leave to the fraternity of builders; only asking by what rule of
taste an obelisk-like spire, is so often stuck upon the roof of a
Grecian temple, and by what rule of convenience gigantic columns so
commonly and resolutely sentinel the narrowest of exits and entrances.
Let us be more commonly contented, as well we may, with our grand,
appropriate, and impressive indigenous kind of architecture--Gothic,
Norman, and Saxon: the temple of Ephesus was not suitable to be fitted
up with galleries, nor was the Parthenon meant to be surmounted by a
steeple. But all this is useless gossip.

Similarly Quixotic would be any tirade against pews, those pet
strongholds of snug exclusive selfishness; bad in principle, as
perpetually separating within wooden walls members of the same
communion; unwholesome in practice, confining in those antre-like
parallelograms the close-pent air; unsightly in appearance, as any one
will testify, whose soul is exalted above the iron beauties of a plain
conventicle; expensive in their original formation, their fittings and
repairs; and, when finished, occupying perhaps one-fourth of the area of
a church already ten times too small for its neighbouring population.
Fixed benches, or a strong muster of chairs, or such modes of
congregational accommodation as public meeting-rooms and ordinary
lecture-rooms present, seems to me more consistent and more convenient.
But all this again is vain talking--a very empty expenditure of words;
we must be satisfied with churches as they are; and, after all, let me
readily admit that steeples are imposing in the distance, and of use as
belfries; (probably of like intent were the strange columnar towers of
Ireland;) and with regard to pews, let me confess that practice finds
perfect what theory condemns as wrong, so--let these things pass.

Nevertheless, let me begin upon the threshold with the extortionate and
abominable race of pew-women, beadles, clerks, vergers, bell-ringers,
and other fee-hungry ravens hovering around and about almost every
hallowed precinct: pray you, reform all that, and copy railroad
companies in forbidding those begrudged gratuities to mendicant and
ever-grumbling menials. Next, give more sublunary heed, we beseech you,
to the comforts or discomforts incidental to doors, windows, stoves,
paint, dust, dirt, and general ventilation; consider the cold, fevers,
lumbagos, rheums, life-long aches, and fatal pains too often caught
helplessly and needlessly by the devout worshipper in a town or country
church. Look to your organist, that he wot something of the value of
time and the mysteries of tune; or, if a country parson, drill cleverly
that insubordinate phalanx of _soi-disant_ musicians, a rustic
orchestra; and exclude from the latter, at all mortal hazards, the
huntsman's horn, the volunteer fiddle, and the shrill squeaking of the
wry-necked pipe. Much is being now done for congregational psalmody; but
when will country folks give up their murderous execution of the
fugue-full anthem, and when will London congregations understand that
the singing-psalms are not set apart exclusively for charity-children?
When shall Bishop Kenn's '_Awake my soul_,' cease to be our noonday
exhortation; and a literal invocation for sweet sleep to close our
eye-lids no longer be the ill-considered prelude to an afternoon
discourse? Take some trouble to improve and educate, or get rid of, if
possible, your generally vulgar, illiterate, ill-conditioned clerk;
insist upon his v's and h's: let him shut up his shoe-stall; and raise
in the scale of society one of the leaders of its worship: as, at
present, these stagnant, recreant, ignorant clerks are sad
stumbling-blocks; no help to the congregation, and a nuisance to its
minister. In reading--suffer this foolishness, my masters--fight against
the too frequent style of dogged, dormant, dull formality; we take you
for earnest living guides to our devotion, not mere dead organs of an
oft-repeated service; quicken us by your manner; a psalm so spoken is
better than the sermon. In more fitting places has your author long ago
delivered his mind concerning matters of a character more directly
sacred than shall here find room; as, the sacrament with its holy
mysteries, and the many things amendable in ordinary preachments; but
for these my unseasonable Wisdom shrouds itself in Silence: therefore,
to do away with details, and apply a general rule, above all things, and
in all things, strive by judicious acquiescence with human wants, and
likings, and failings too, if conscientiously you can, as well as by
spirited and true devotion, to break down the sluggish mounds of needful
uniformity, and to build up round the church a rampart of good sense:
and so, Heaven bless your labours! A word more: if it be possible, take
no fees at a baptism, and let it not be thought, by either rich or poor,
that an entrance into Christ's fold must be paid for; no, nor at a
burial; but let the service for the Christian dead be accorded freely,
without money and without price. To a wedding, the same ideas are not
perhaps so closely applicable; therefore we will generously suffer that
you keep your customs there; but on the introduction of a little one to
the bosom of the church, or restoring the body of a saint to Him who
made it of the dust, nothing can be more repulsive to right religious
feelings than to be bothered by a fee-seeking clerk, thrusting in your
face an itching palm: to the poor, these things are more than a mere
annoyance; they amount to a hardship and a hindrance; for such demands
at such seasons are often nothing less than a bitter extortion upon the
self-denial of conscientious duty.

More might be added; but enough, too much has been alluded to. Nothing
would strengthen the bulwarks of our Zion more than such easy reforms as
these: recent happy revivals in our church would thus be more
solidified; and where, as now, many have been lulled to slumber, many
grieved, many become disgusted or Dissenters, our sons and our daughters
would grow up as the polished corners of the temple, and crowds would
throng the courts of our holy and beautiful House.

Suffer thus far, clerical and lay, these crude hints: in all things have
I studied brevity, throughout this little bookful; therefore are you
spared a perusal of my reasons, and so be indulgent for their absence. I
"touch your ears" but lightly; be you for charity, as in old Rome, my
favourable witnesses.

       *       *       *       *       *

My before-mentioned Censor of the press had a very considerable mind to
dock all mention of the following intended _brochure_. But I answered,
Really, Mr. Judgment, (better or worse, as occasion may register your
Agnomen,) you must not weigh trifles in gold-assaying scales; be not so
particular as to the polish of a thumb-nail; endure a little incoherent
pastime; count not the several stems of hay, straw, stubble--but suffer
them to be pitch-forked _en masse_, and unconsidered: it is their
privilege, in common with that of certain others--lightnesses that froth
upon the surface of society. Moreover, let me remind your worship's
classicality that no one of mortals is sapient at all times. Item, that
if friend Flaccus be not a calumniator, even the rigid virtue of the
antiquer Cato delighted in so stimulant a vanity as wine hot. So give
the colt his head, and let it go: remembering always that this same
colt, as straying without a responsible rider, is indeed liable to be
impounded by any who can catch him; but still, if he be found to have
done great damage to his master's character, or to a neighbour's fences,
the estray shall rather be abandoned than acknowledged. Let then this
unequal work, this ill-assorted bundle of dry book-plants, this
undirected parcel of literary stuff, be accounted much in the same
situation as that of the wanton caitiff-colt, so likely to bait a-pound,
and afterwards to be sold for payment of expenses, in true bailiff-sense
of justice. And let thus much serve as discursive prolegomena to a
notion, scarcely worth recording, but for the wonder, that no professed
writer (at least to my small knowledge) has entered on so common-sense a
field. Paris, I remember, some years ago was inundated with copies of a
treatise on the important art of tying the cravat; every shop-window
displayed the mystic diagrams, and every stiff neck proclaimed its
popularity. This was my yesterday's-conceived precedent for entertaining
the bright hope of illuminating London on the subject of shaving:



should have been my taking title; and perchance the learned treatise
might have been characteristically illustrated with steel cuts. Shaving
is a wider topic than most people think for; it is a species of insanity
that has afflicted man in all ages, deprived him of nature's best
adornment in every country under heaven. So contradictorily too; as
thus: the Spanish friar shaves all but a rim round his head, which rim
alone sundry North American aborigines determine to extirpate; John
Chinaman nourishes exclusively a long cue, just on that same inch of
crown-land which the P.P. sedulously keeps as bare as his palm: all the
Orientals shave the head, and cherish the beard; all the Occidentals
immolate the beard, and leave the honours of the head untouched. Then,
again, the strange successive fashions in this same unnatural, unneedful
depilation; look at the vagaries of young France: not to descend also to
savage men, and their clumsy shell-scrapings; and to devote but little
time to the voluminous topic of wigs, male and female, cavalier and
caxon, Marlborough and monstrous maccaroni--from the plaited
Absalom-looking periwig of a Pharaoh in the British Museum, to
Truefitt's last patent self-adjuster. Of all these follies, and their
root a razor, might we show the manifest absurdity: we might argue upon
Eastern stupidity as caused by thickness of the skull, such thickness
being the substitute for thatchy hair suggested by kind ill-used Nature
as the hot brain's best protection: we might reason upon the average
sheepishness of this peaceful West, as due to having shorn the lion of
his mane, Phoebus of his glory, man of his majestic beard. Then the
martyrdom it is to many! who stoically, day after day, persist in
scratching to the quick their irritable chins, and after all to little
better end than the diligent earning of tooth-aches, ear-aches, colds,
sore throats, and unbecoming blank faces. Habit, it is true, makes us
deem that a comfort, and our better halves (or those we would fain have
so) think that a beauty, which our forerunners of old time would have
held a plague, a disgrace, a deformity, a mortification: prisoned
paupers in the Union think it an insufferable hardship to go bearded,
and King David's ambassadors would have given their right eyes _not_ to
have been shaved; so much are we the slaves of custom: Sheffield also,
it is equally true, is a town that humane men would not wish to ruin; by
razors they of Sheffield live, and shaving is their substance. But, as
in the case of the smoother and softer sex, we are convinced that the
wand of fashion would presently convert their heterodox anti-barbal
prejudices: so, in the case of harder-ware Sheffield, while we hope to
live to see razors regarded as antiquarian rarities, (even as a
watchman's rattle, or the many-caped coats of the semi-extinct class
_Welleria coachmanensis_ are now some time become,) still we desire all
possible multiplication to the tribe of trimming scissors. Like Ireland,
we shout for long-denied justice; give us our beards. That reasonable
indulgence shall never be abused; our Catholic emancipation of moustache
and imperial, whisker and the rest, shall not be a pretence for lion's
manes, or the fringe of goats and monkeys: we would not so far follow
unsophisticated nature as to relapse into barbarous wild men; but
diligently squaring, pointing, combing, and perfuming those natural
manly decorations, after the most approved modes of Raleigh, Walsingham,
and Shakspeare, and heroical Edward the Black Prince, and venerable
apostolic Bede, we will encroach little further than to discard our
comfortless starched collars and strangling stocks, to adopt once more
in lieu thereof open necks and vandyke borders.

Of course, (here, priest-like, we take our ell,) there must follow upon
this a grand and glorious revolution in male attire. This present
close-fitting, undignified set of habiliments, which no chisel dare
imitate--this cumbersome, unbecoming garb--might, should, ought to be,
and would be, superseded by slashed gay jerkins, and picturesque nether
garments: cap and feather throwing into shade the modern hat, ugliest
of all imaginable head-dresses; and in lieu of the smock-frock
Macintosh, or coarse-featured bear-skin, Ciceronian mantles flowing from
the shoulders, or lighter capes of the elegant olden-time Venitian. By
way of distinguishing the now confused classes of society, my radical
reform in dress would go to recommend that nobles and gentry wear their
own heraldic colours and livery buttons; and humbler domesticated
creatures walk, as modest gentlefolks do now, in what sundry have
presumed to call "Mufti." To be briefer; in dress, if nothing more, let
us sensibly retrograde to the days of good Queen Bess: I will not say,
copy a Sir Piercie Shafton, who boasts of having "danced the salvage man
at the mummery of Clerkenwell, in a suit of flesh-coloured silk, trimmed
with fur;" neither, under these dingy skies, would I care to walk abroad
with Sir Philip Sidney in satin boots, or with Oliver Goldsmith in a
peach-coloured doublet: but still, for very comfort's sake, let us break
our bonds of cloth and buckram, and, in so far as adornment is
concerned, let us exchange this staid funeral monotony for the gallant
garb of our ancestors, the brave costumes of our Edwards and the bluff
King Hal.

Behold, too scornful friend, how my Tory rabies reaches to the wardrobe.
The modern dress of illuminated Europe has, in my humble opinion, gone
far to weaken the old empire of the Porte, to denationalize Egypt, to
degenerate the Jews, to mammonize once generous Greece, and carry
republican equality into the great prairies of America: it is the
undistinguishing, humiliating, unchivalrous livery of our cold
cosmopolites. But enough of this: pews and spires are to my Quixotism
not more unextinguishable foes, than coats, cravats, waistcoats, and

And now an honest word at parting, about such trivialities of
authorship. Why should a poor shepherd of the Landes for ever wear his
stilts? Or a tragic actor, like some mortified La Trapist, never be
allowed to laugh? Or Mr. Green be denied any other carriage than the
wicker car of his balloon? Even so, dear reader, pr'ythee suffer a
serious sort of author sometimes to take off his wig and spectacles, and
condescend to think of such minor matters as the toilet and its
still-recurring duties. And, if you _should_ find out the veritable name
of your weak confessing scribe, think not the less kindly of his graver
volumes; this one is his pastime, his holiday laugh, his purposely
truant, lawless, desultory recreance: impute not folly to the face of
cheerfulness; be charitable to such mixtures of alternate gayety and
soberness as in thine own mind, if thou searchest, thou shall find; let
me laugh with those that laugh, as well as sympathize with weepers; and
cavil not at those inconsistencies, which of a verity are man's right

       *       *       *       *       *

Ideas lie round about us, thick as daisies in a summer meadow. For my
own part, I know not what a walk, or a talk, or a peep into a book may
lead me to. Brunel hit upon the notion of a tunnel-shield, from the
casual sight of a certain water-beetle, to whom the God of Nature had
given a protecting buckler for its head. Newton found out gravitation,
by reasoning on the fall of an apple from the tree. Almost every
invention has been the suggestion of an accident. Even so, to descend
from great things to small, did a solitary stroll in most-English
Devonshire hint to me the next fair topic. It was while wandering about
the Pyrenean neighbourhood of Linton and Ly'mouth not many months ago,
that my reveries became concentrated for divers hallucinating hours on a
very pretty book, with a very pretty title. And here let me remark
episodically, that I pride myself on titles; what compositors call
"monkeyfying the title-page" is known to be a talent of itself, and one
moreover to which in these days of advertisements and superficialities
many a meagre book has owed its popular acceptance. The titles of
generations back seemed not to have been regarded honest, if they did
not exhibit on their face a true and particular table of contents;
whereas in these sad times, (with many, not with me,) mystery is a good
rule, but falsehood is a better. Again, those honest-speaking authors of
the past scrupled not to designate their writings as '_A Most Erudite
Treatise_' on so-and-so, or a '_A Right Ingenious Handling of the
Mysteries_' of such-and-such, whereas modern hypocrisy aims at
under-rating its own pet work; and more than one book has been ruined in
the market, for having been carelessly titled by the definite THE; as
if, forsooth, it were the world's arbiter of that one topic,
self-constituted pundit of, e.g., title-pages. And this word brings me
back: consider the truly English music of this one:



a fine old country gentleman, pleasantly located, affluent,
noble-minded, wise, and patriotic. This was to have been shown forth, in
wish at least, as somewhat akin to, or congenerous with '_The Doctor_,
&c.,'--that rambling wonder of strange and multifarious reading: or
'_The Rectory of Valehead_,' or '_Vicar of Wakefield_,' or '_The Family
Robinson Crusoe_,' still unwrecked; or many another hearty, cheerful or
pathetic tale of home, sweet home: and yet as to design and execution
strictly original and unplagiaristic. The first chapters (simple healthy
writing, redolent of green pastures, and linchened rocks, and dew-dropt
mountains,) might introduce localities; the beautiful home itself, an
Elizabethan mansion, with its park, lake, hill and valley scenery; a
peep at the blue mile-off sea, brawling brooks, oak-woods,
conservatories, rookery, and all such pleasant adjuncts of that most
fortunate of pleasure-hunters, a country squire, with a princely
rent-roll. Then should be detailed, circumstantially, the lord of the
beautiful home, a picture of the hospitable virtues; the wife of the
beautiful home, a portraiture of happy domesticity, admirable also as a
mother, a nurse, a neighbour, and the poor's best friend: children must
abound, of course, or the home is a heaven uninhabited; and shrewd hints
might hereabouts be dropped as to the judicious or injudicious in
matters educational: servants, too, both old and young, with discussions
on their modern treatment, and on that better class of bygones, whom
kindness made not familiar, and the right assertion of authority
provoked not into insolence; whose interest for the dear old family was
never merged in their own, and whose honesty was as unsuspected as that
of young master himself, or sweet little mistress Alice.

After all this, might we descant upon the squire's characteristics. Take
him as a politician: liberal, that is to say, (for his frown is on me at
a phrase so doubtful,) generous, tolerant, kind, and manly; but none of
your low-bred slanderers of that noble name, so generally tyrants at
home and cowardly abroad--mean agitating fellows, the scum of disgorging
society, raised by turbulence and recklessness from the bottom to the
surface: oh no, none of these; but, for all his just liberality, an
honest, honourable, loyal, church-going, uncompromising Tory: with a
detail of his reasons, notions, and practices thereabouts, inclusive of
his conduct at elections, his wholesome influence over an otherwise
unguided or ill-guided tenantry, and as concerning other miscalled
corruptions: his open argumentation of the representative doctrine, that
it ought to stop short as soon as ever the religion, the learning, and
the wealth of a country are fairly represented; that in fact the poor
man thinks little of his vote, unless indeed in worse cases looking for
a bribe; and that the principle is pushed into ruinous absurdities when
the destitution, the crime, and the ignorance of a nation demand their
proper representatives; that, almost as a consequence of human average
depravity, the greater the franchise's extension, the worse in all ways
become those who impersonate the enfranchised; and so, after due
condemnation of Whiggery, to stultify Chartism, and that demoralizing
lie, the ballot. Then as to the squire's religion; and certain
confabulations with his parson, his household, his harvest-home
tenantry, and local preachers of dissent and schism; his creed,
practice, and favourable samples of daily life. Moreover, our squire
should have somewhat to tell of personal history and adventures; a youth
of poor dependence on a miser uncle; a storm-tost early manhood,
consequent on his high uncompromising principles; then the miser's
death, without the base injustice of that cruel will, which an
eleventh-hour penitence destroyed: the squire comes to his property,
marries his one old flame, effects reformations, attains popularity,
happiness, and other due prosperities. Anecdotes of particular passages,
as in affliction or in joy; his son lamed for life, or his house half
burnt down, his attack by highwaymen, or election for parliament. The
squire's general confidence in man, sympathy with frailties, and success
in regenerating long-lost characters. His discourse on field sports,
displaying the amiable intellectuality of a Gilbert White as opposed to
the blood-thirsty Nimrodism and Ramrodism of a mad Mytton. A marriage; a
funeral; a disputed legacy of some eccentric relative; with its
agreeable concomitants of heartless selfish strife, rebuked by the
squire's noble example: the conventicle gently put down by dint of
gradual desertions, and church-going as tenderly extended; vestry
demagogues and parochial incendiaries chastised by our squire; and
divers other adventures, conversations, situations, and conditions,
illustrative of that grand character, a fine old English gentleman, all
of the olden time.

Altogether, if well managed, a book like this would be calculated to do
substantial good in these days of no principle or bad principle. A
captivating example well applied--witness the uses of biography--is
infectious among the well-inclined and well-informed. But--but--but--I
fancy there may exist, and do exist already, admirable books of just
this character. I have heard of, but not seen, '_The Portrait of a
Christian Gentleman_,' and another '_of a Churchman_:' doubtless, these,
combined with a sort of Mr. Dovedale in that clever impossible
'_Floreston_,' or an equally unnatural and charming Sir Charles
Grandison, with a dash of scenery and a sprinkle of anecdote, would
make up, far better than I could fabricate, the fair fine character that
once I thought to sketch. Moreover, to a plain gentleman, living in the
country, of perfectly identical ideas with those of the squire on all
imaginable topics, gifted too (we will not say with quite his princely
rent-roll, but at any rate) with sundry like advantages in the way of
decent affluence, pleasant scenery, an old house, a good wife, and fair
children--with plenty of similar adventures and circumstantials--and the
necessary proportion of highwaymen, radicals, rascals, and schismatics
dotted all about his neighbourhood, the idea would seem, to say the
least, somewhat egotistic. But why may not humble individualities be
generalized in grander shapes? why not glorify the picture of a cottage
with colouring of Turner's most imaginative palette? An author, like an
artist, seldom does his work well unless he has nature before him:
exalted and idealized, the Roman beggar goes forth a Jupiter, and
country wenches help a Howard to his Naiads. Nevertheless, let the
Squire and his train pass us by, indefinite as Banquo's progeny: let his
beautiful home be sublimely indistinct; even such are Martin's ætherial
cities: the thought shall rest unfructified at present--a mummied, vital
seed. The review is over, and the Squire's troop of yeomanry not
required: so let them wait till next year's muster.

       *       *       *       *       *

Few novelties are more called for, in this halcyon age of authorship,
this summer season for the Sosii, this every-day-a-birth-day for some
five-and-twenty books, than the establishment of a recognised literary
tribunal, some judgment-hall of master spirits, from whose calm,
unhurried, unbiased verdict, there should be no appeal. Far, very far be
it from me to arraign modern reviewers either of partialities or
incapacity; indeed, it is probable that few men of high talent,
character, and station, have not, at some time or other, temporarily at
least contributed to swell their ranks: moreover, from one they have
treated so magnanimously, they shall not get the wages of ingratitude;
they have been kind to my dear book-children, and I--_don't be so
curious_--thank them for their courtesy with all a father's feeling
toward the liberal friends of his sons and daughters. Speaking
generally, (for, not to flatter any class of men, truly there are rogues
in all,) I am bold to call them candid, honest, clever men; quite
superior, as a body, to every thing like bribery and corruption, and,
with human limitations, little influenced by motives, either of
prejudice or favour. For indefatigable industry, unexampled patience,
and powers of mind very far above what are commonly attributed to them,
I, for my humble judgment, would give our periodical journalists their
honourable due: I am playing no Aberdeenshire game of mutual scratching;
I am too hardened now in the ways of print to be much more than
indifferent as to common praise or censure; that honey-moon is over with
me, when a laudatory article in some kindly magazine sent a thrill from
eye to heart, from heart to shoe-sole understanding: I no longer feel
rancorous with inveterate wrath against a poor editor whose faint
praise, impotent to d---, has yet abundant force to induce a hearty
return of the compliment: like some case-hardened rock, so little while
ago but soft young coral, the surges may lash me, but leave no mark; the
sun may shine, but cannot melt me. Argal, as the clown says, is my
verdict honest: and further now to prove it so, shall come the

With all my gratitude and right good feeling to our diurnal and
hebdomadal amusers and instructors, I cannot but consider that gazette
and newspaper reviewers are insufficient and unsatisfactory judges of
literature, if not indeed sometimes erring guides to the public taste;
the main cause of this consisting in the essential rapidity of their
composition. There is not--from the multiplicity of business to be got
through, there cannot be--adequate time allowed for any thing like
justice to the claims of each author. Periodicals that appear at longer
intervals are in all reason more or less excepted from this objection;
but by the daily and weekly majority, the labours of a life-time are
cursorily glanced at, hastily judged from some isolated passage,
summarily found laudable or guilty; and this weak opinion, strongly
enough expressed as some compensation in solid superstructure for the
sandiness of its foundations, is circulated by thousands over all
corners of the habitable world. To say that the public (those so-called
reviewers of reviews, but wiser to be looked on only as perusers,)
balance all such false verdicts, might indeed be true in the long run,
but unfortunately it is not: for first, no run at all, far less a long
one, is permitted to the persecuted production; and next, it is
notorious, that people think very much as they are told to think. Now, I
have already stated at too much length that I have no personalities to
complain of, no self-interests to serve: for the past I have been well
entreated; and for the future, supposing such an unlikelihood as more
hypothetical books, I am hard, bold, sanguine, stoical; while, as for
the present, though I refuse not my gauntlet to any man, my visor shall
be raised by none. But I enter the list for others, my kinsmen in
composing. Authors, to speak it generally, are an ill-used race, because
judged hastily, often superciliously, for evil or for good. It is
impossible for the poor public, (who, besides having to earn daily
bread, have to wade through all the daily papers,) from mere lack of
hours in the day, to entertain any opinions of their own about a book or
books: the money to buy them is one objection, the time to read them
another; to say less of the capacity, the patience, and the will.
Without question, they are guided by their teachers; and the grand fault
of these is, their everlasting hurry.

At another necessary failing of reviewers I would only delicately hint.
The royal We is very imposing; for example, the king of magazines, No.
134, (need I name it?) informs us, p. 373, "We happen to have now in
wear a good long coat of imperial gray," &c.; and some fifteen lines
lower down, "We are now mending our pen with a small knife," and so
forth: now all this grandiloquence serves to conceal the individual; and
to reduce my other great objection to a single letter, let us only
recollect that this powerful, this despotic We, is, being interpreted,
nothing but an I by itself, a simple scribe, a single and plebeian
number one. A mere unit, an anonymous, irresponsible unit, dissects in a
quarter of an hour the grand result of some ten years; and this
momentary influence on one man's mind, (perhaps wearied, or piqued, or
biased, or haply unskilled in the point at issue, but at all events
inevitably in a hurry to jump at a conclusion,) this light accidental
impression is sounded forth to the ends of the earth, and leads public
opinion in a verdict of thunder. And as for yon impertinent
parenthesis--or pertinent, as some will say--give me grace thus blandly
to suggest a possibility. The mighty editorial We, upon whose
authoritative tones the world's opinion will probably be pivoted--whose
pen by casual ridicule or as casual admiration makes or mars the fortune
of some pains-taking literary labourer--whose dictum carelessly
dispenses local honour or disgrace, and has before now by sharp
sarcasms, speaking daggers though using none, even killed more than one
over-sensitive Keats--this monarchic We is but a frail mortal, liable at
least to "some of the imperfections of our common nature, gentlemen,"
as, for example, to be morose, impatient, splenetic, and the more if
over-worked. Neither should I waive in this place, in this my rostrum of
blunt, plain speech, the many censurable cases, unhappily too well
authenticated, where personal enmity has envenomed the reviewing pen
against a writer, and stabs in the dark have wounded good men's fame.
Neither, again, those other instances where reviewers, not being
omniscient, (yet is their knowledge most various and brilliant,) having
been from want of specific information incompetent to judge of the
matters in question, have striven to shroud their ignorance of the
greater topic in clamorous attacks of its minor incidents; burrowing
into a mound if they cannot force a breach through the rampart; and
mystifying things so cleverly with doubts, that we cannot see the
blessed sun himself for very fog.

Now really, good folk, all this should be amended: would that the
WE were actually plural; would that we had a well-selected
bench of literary judges; would that some higher sort of Stationers'
Hall or Athenæum were erected into an acknowledged tribunal of an
author's merits or demerits; would that, to wish the very least, the
wholesome practice of a well-considered imprimatur were revived! Let
famous men, whose reputation is firm-fixed--our Wordsworths, Hallams,
Campbells, Crolys, Wilsons, Bulwers, and the like--decide in the case of
at least all who desire such decision. I suppose, as no one in these
selfish times will take trouble without pay, that either the judges
should be numbered among state pensioners, or that each work so
calmly examined must produce its regular fee: but these are
after-considerations; and be sure no writer will grudge a guinea for
calm, unbought, unsuspected justice bestowed upon his brain-child. Let
all those members of the tribunal, deciding by ballot, (here in an
assembly where all are good, great, and honest, I shrink not from that
word of evil omen,) judge, as far as possible, together and not
separately, of all kinds of literature: I would not have poets
sentencing all the poetry, historians all the history, novelists all the
novels, and theologists all the works upon religion; for humanity is at
the best infirm, and motives little searchable; but let all judge
equally in a sort of open court. The machinery might be difficult, and I
cannot show its workings in so slight an essay; but surely it is a
strange thing in civilization, and a stranger when we consider what
literature does for us, blessing our world or banning it--it is a wonder
and a shame that books of whatever tendency are so cast forth upon the
waters to sink or swim at hazard. I acknowledge, friend, your present
muttering, Utopian! Arcadian! Formosan! to be not ill-founded: the
sketch is a hasty one; but though it may have somewhat in common with
the vagaries of Sir Thomas More, Sir Philip Sidney, and that king in
impudence, George Psalmanazar, still I stand upon this ground, that many
an ill-used author wants protection, and that society, for its own sake
as well as his, ought to supply a court for literary reputation. Some
poor man the other day, and in a reputable journal too, had five
new-born tragedies strangled and mangled in as many lines: we need not
suppose him a Shakspeare, but he might have been one for aught of
evidence given to the contrary; at any rate, five at once, five mortal
tragedies, (so puppy-fashion born and drowned,) must, however carelessly
executed, have been the offspring of no common mind. Again, how often is
not a laborious historiographer, particularly if of contrary politics,
dismissed with immediate contempt, because, perchance, in his three full
volumes, he has admitted two false dates, or haply mistakes the
christened name of some Spanish admiral! Once more, how continually are
not critical judgments falsified by the very extracts on which they
rest! how often the pet passage of one review is the stock butt of
another! Here you will say is cure and malady together, like viper's fat
and fang: I trow not; mainly because not one man in a thousand takes the
trouble to judge for himself. But it is needless to enumerate such
instances; every man's conscience or his memory will supply examples
wholesale: therefore, maltreated authors, bear witness to your own
wrongs: jealously regarded by a struggling brotherhood, cruelly baited
by self-constituted critics, the rejected of publishers, the victimized
by booksellers, the garbled in statement, misinterpreted in meaning,
suspected of friends, persecuted by foes--"O that mine enemy would write
a book!" It is to put a neck into a noose, to lie quietly in the grove
of Dr. Guillot's humane prescription: or, if not quite so tragical as
this, it is at least to sit voluntarily in the stocks with Sir Hudibras,
and dare the world's contempt; while fashionable--or unfashionable
idiots, who are scarcely capable of a grammatical answer to a dinner
invitation, (those formidably confounded he's and him's!)--think
themselves privileged to join some inane laugh against a clever, but not
yet famous, author, because, forsooth, one character in his novel may be
an old acquaintance, or one epithet in a long poem may be weak,
indelicate, tasteless, or foolish, or one philosophical fact in an essay
is misstated, or one statistical conclusion seems to be exaggerated. It
is perfectly paltry to behold stupid fellows, whose intellects against
your most ordinary scribe vary from a rush-light to a "long four," as
compared with a roasting, roaring kitchen-fire, affecting contemptuously
to look down upon some unjustly neglected or mercilessly castigated
labourer in the brick-fields of literature, for not being--can he help
it?--a first-rate author, or because one reviewer in seven thinks he
might have done his subject better justice. Take my word for it--if
indeed I can be a fair witness--the man who has written a book, is above
the unwriting average, and, as such, should be ranked mentally above
them: no light research, and tact, and industry, and head-and-hand
labour, are sufficient for a volume; even certain stolid performances in
print do not shake my judgment; for arrant blockheads as sundry authors
undoubtedly are, the average (mark, not all men, but the average)
unwriting man is an author's intellectual inferior. All men, however
well capable, have not perchance the appetite, nor the industry, nor the
opportunity to fabricate a volume; nor, supposing these requisites, the
moral courage (for moral courage, if not physical, must form part of an
author's mind,) to publish the lucubration: but "I magnify mine office"
above the unnumbered host of unwriting, uninformed, loose, unlettered
gentry, who (as full of leisure as a cabbage, and as overflowing with
redundant impudence as any Radical mob,) mainly tend to form by their
masses the average penless animal-man, who could not hold a candle to
any the most mediocre of the Marsyas-used authors of haply this week's
journals. Spare them, victorious Apollos, spare! if libels that diminish
wealth be punishable, is there no moral guilt in those legalized libels
that do their utmost to destroy a character for wisdom, wit, learning,
industry, and invention?--Critical flayer, try thou to write a book;
learn experimentally how difficult, yet relieving; how nervous, yet
gladdening; how ungracious, yet very sweet; how worldly-foolish, yet
most wise; how conversant with scorn, yet how noble and ennobling an
attribute of man, is--authorship.

All this rhetoric, impatient friend--and be a friend still, whether
writer, reviewer, or unauthorial--serves at my most expeditious pace,
opposing notions considered, to introduce what is (till to-morrow, or
perhaps the next coming minute, but at any rate for this flitting
instant of time,) my last notion of possible, but not probable,
authorship: a rhodomontade oration, rather than an essay, after my own
desultory and yet determinate fashion, to have been entituled--so is it
spelled by act of parliament, and therefore let us in charity hope
rightly--to have been entituled then,



and (the present being the next minute whereof I spake above) there has
just hopped into my mind another taking title, which I generously
present to any smarting scribe who may meditate a prose version of
'_English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_'--_videlicet_,


       *       *       *       *       *

At length then have I liberty to yawn--a freedom whereof doubtless my
readers have long been liverymen: I have written myself and my inkstand
dry as Rosamond's pond; my brain is relieved, recreated, emptied; I go
no longer heavily, as one that mourneth; and with gleeful face can I
assure you that your author's mind is once again as light as his heart:
but when crowding fancies come thick upon it, they bow it, and break it,
and weary it, as clouds of pigeons settling gregariously on a
trans-Atlantic forest; and when those thronging thoughts are comfortably
fixed on paper, one feels, as an apple-tree may be supposed to feel, all
the difference between the heavy down-dragging crop of autumn and the
winged aërial blossom of sweet spring-tide. An involuntary author, just
eased for the time of ever-exacting and accumulating notions, can
sympathize with holiday-making Atlas, chuckling over a chance so lucky
as the transfer of his pack to Hercules; and can comprehend the relief
it must have been to that foolish sage in Rasselas, when assured that he
no longer was afflicted with the care of governing a galaxy of worlds.

Some people are born to talk, with an incessant tongue illustrating
perpetuity of motion in the much-abused mouth; some to indite solid
continuous prose, with a labour-loving pen ever tenanting the hand; but
I clearly was born a zoölogical anomaly, _with a pen in my mouth_, a
sort of serpent-tongue. Heaven give it wisdom, and put away its poison!

Such being my character from birth, a paper-gossip, a writer from the
cradle, I ought not demurely to apologize for nature's handicraft, nor
excuse this light affliction of chattering in print.--Who asks you to
read it?--Neither let me cast reflections on your temper or your
intellect by too humble exculpation of this book of many themes; or must
I then regard you as those sullen children in the market-place, whom
piping cannot please, and sorrow cannot soften?

And now, friend, I've done. Require not, however shrewd your guess, my
acknowledgment of this brain-child; forgive all unintended harms; supply
what is lacking in my charities; politically, socially, authorially,
think that I bigotize in theoretic fun, but am incarnate Tolerance for
practical earnest. And so, giving your character fairer credit than if I
feared you as one of those captious cautious people who make a man
offender for an ill-considered word; commending to the cordial warmth of
Humanity my unhatched score and more of book-eggs, to perfect which I
need an Eccaleobion of literature; and scorning, as heartily as any
Sioux chief, to prolong palaver, when I have nothing more to say; suffer
me thus courteously to take of you my leave. And forasmuch as Lord
Chesterfield recommends an exit to be heralded by a pungent speech, let
me steal from quaint old Norris the last word wherewith I trouble you:
"These are my thoughts; I might have spun them out into a greater
length, but that I think a little plot of ground, thick-sown, is better
than a great field, which for the most part of it lieth fallow."



It will be quite in keeping with your author's mind, and consistently
characteristic of his desultory indoles--(not indolence, pray you, good
Anglican, albeit thereunto akin,)--if after having thus formally taken
his _congé_ with the help of a Petronius so redoubtable as Chesterfield,
he just steps back again to induce you to have another last ramble. Now,
the wherefore of this might sentimentally be veiled, were I but little
honest, in professed attachment for my amiable reader, as though with
Romeo I cried, "Parting in such sweet sorrow, that I could say farewell
till it be morrow;" or it might be extenuated cacoethically, as though a
new crop of fancies were sprung up already, an after-math rank and wild,
before the gladdening shower of commendation has yet freshened-up my
brown hay-field: or it might be disguised falsely, as if a parcel of
precious MSS. had been lost by penny-postage, or stolen in the purlieus
of Shoe-lane; but, instead of all these unworthy subterfuges, the truth
shall be told plainly; we are yet too short by a sheet (so hints our
publishing Procrustes) of the marketable volume. Accordingly, whether or
not in this booklet your readership has already found seed sufficient
for cyclopædias, I am free to admit that the expectant butter-man at
least has not his legitimate post-octavo allowance of three hundred
pages; and to fill this aching void as cleverly and quickly as I can, is
my first object in so rapid a return. That honesty is the best policy,
deny who dare?

Still it is competent for me to confess worthier objects, (although, in
point of their arising, they were secondary,) as further illustrative of
my '_Author's Mind_' shown in other specimens; for example, a
linsey-woolsey tapestry of many colours shall be hung upon the end of
this arcade; the last few trees in this poor avenue shall bear the
flowers of poetry as well as the fruit of prose; my swan (O, dub it not
a goose!) would, like a _prima-donna_, go off this theatre of fancy,
singing. And again, suffer me, good friend, to think your charity still
willing to be pleased: many weary pages back, I offered you to part with
me in peace, if you felt small sympathies with a rambler so whimsical
and lawless; surely, having walked together kindly until now, we shall
not quarrel at the last.

Empty, however--empty, and rejoicing in its unthoughtful emptiness--have
I boasted this my head but a page or two ago; and that boast, for all
the critic's sneer, that no one will deny it, shall not be taken from me
by renewal of determined meditations; now that my house is swept and
garnished, I would not beckon back those old inhabitants. Neither let me
heed so lightly of your intellect, as to hope to satisfy its reading
with the scanty harvest of a _soil effete_; this license of writing up
to measure shall not show me sterile, any more than that emancipation
shall, by indulgence of thought, be disenchanted. And now to solve the
problem: not to think, for my mind is in a regimen of truancy; not to
fail in pleasing, if it be possible, the great world's implacable
palate, therefore to eschew dilution of good liquor; and yet to render
up in fair array the fitting tale of pages: well, if I may not
metaphysically draw upon internal resources, I can at least externally
and physically resort to yonder--desk; (drawer would have savoured of
the Punic, which Scipio and I blot out with equal hate;) for therein lie
_perdus_ divers poeticals I fain would see in print; yea, start not at
"poeticals," carp not at the threatening sound, for verily, even as
carp--so called from _carpere_, to catch if you can, and the Saxon capp,
to cavil, because when caught they don't pay for mastication--even as
carp, a muddy fish, difficult to hook, and provocate of hostile
criticism, conceals its lack of savour in the flavour of port-wine--even
so shall strong prose-sauce be served up with my poor dozen of sonnets:
and ye who would uncharitably breathe that they taste stronger of
Lethe's mud than of Helicon's sweet water, treat me to a better dish, or
carp not at my fishing.

Imagination, as I need not tell psychologists by this time, is my
tyrant; I cannot sleep, nor sit out a sermon, nor remember yesterday,
nor read in peace, (how calm in blessed quiet people seem to read!)
without the distraction of a thousand fancies: I hold this an infirmity,
not an accomplishment; a thing to be conquered, not to be coveted: and
still I love it, suffering those chains of gossamer to wind about me,
that seductive honey-jar yet again to trap me, like some poor insect;
thus then my foolish idolatry heretofore hath hailed


  My fond first love, sweet mistress of my mind,
    Thy beautiful sublimity hath long
    Charm'd mine affections, and entranced my song,
  Thou spirit-queen, that sit'st enthroned, enshrined
  Within this suppliant heart; by day and night
    My brain is full of thee: ages of dreams,
  Thoughts of a thousand worlds in visions bright,
    Fear's dim terrific train, Guilt's midnight schemes,
  Strange peeping eyes, soft smiling fairy faces,
    Dark consciousness of fallen angels nigh,
  Sad converse with the dead, or headlong races
    Down the straight cliffs, or clinging on a shelf
    Of brittle shale, or hunted thro' the sky!--
  O, God of mind, I shudder at myself!

Now, friend reader, you have accustomed yourself to think that every
thing in rhyme, _i. e._, poetry, as you somewhat scornfully call it,
must be false: and I am sorry to be obliged to grant you that a leaning
towards plain matter-of-fact, is no wise characteristic of metrical
enthusiasts. But believe me for a truth-teller; that sonnet (did you
read it?) hints at some fearful verities; and that you may further
apprehend this sweet ideal mistress of your author's mind, suffer me to
introduce to your acquaintance


  Dread Monarch-maid, I see thee now before me,
    Searching my soul with those mysterious eyes,
  Spell-bound I stand, thy presence stealing o'er me,
    While all unnerved my trembling spirit dies:
    Oh, what a world of untold wonder lies
  Within thy silent lips! how rare a light
    Of conquer'd joys and ecstasies repress'd
    Beneath thy dimpled cheek shines half-confess'd!
  In what luxuriant masses, glossy bright,
    Those raven locks fall shadowing thy fair breast!
  And, lo! that bursting brow, with gorgeous wings,
    And vague young forms of beauty coyly hiding
    In thy crisp curls, like cherubs there abiding--
  Charmer, to thee my heart enamour'd springs.

Such, then, and of me so well beloved, is that abstracted Platonism. But
verily the fear of imagination would far outbalance any love of it, if
crime had peopled for a man that viewless world with spectres, and the
Medusa-head of Justice were shaking her snakes in his face. And, by way
of a parergon observation, how terrible, most terrible, to the guilty
soul must be the solitary silent system now so popular among those cold
legislative schemers, who have ground the poor man to starvation, and
would hunt the criminal to madness! How false is that political
philosophy which seeks to reform character by leaving conscience caged
up in loneliness for months, to gnaw into its diseased self, rather than
surrounding it with the wholesome counsels of better living minds. It is
not often good for man to be alone: and yet in its true season,
(parsimoniously used, not prodigally abused,) solitude does fair
service, rendering also to the comparatively innocent mind precious
pleasures: religion prësupposed, and a judgment strong enough of muscle
to rein-in the coursers of Imagination's car, I judge it good advice to
prescribe for most men an occasional course of


  Therefore delight thy soul in solitude,
    Feeding on peace; if solitude it be
  To feel that million creatures, fair and good,
    With gracious influences circle thee;
    To hear the mind's own music; and to see
  God's glorious world with eyes of gratitude,
      Unwatch'd by vain intruders. Let me shrink
    From crowds, and prying faces, and the noise
    Of men and merchandise; far nobler joys
  Than chill Society's false hand hath given,
      Attend me when I'm left alone to think.
    To think--alone?--Ah, no, not quite alone;
  Save me from that--cast out from earth and heaven,
    A friendless, Godless, isolated ONE!

But of these higher metaphysicals, these fancy-bred extravagations,
perhaps somewhat too much: you will dub me dreamer, if not proser--or
rather, poet, as the more modern reproach. Let us then, by way of
clearing our mind at once of these hallucinations, go forth quickly into
the fresh green fields, and expatiate with glad hearts on these
full-blown glories of


  Warm summer! Yes, the very word is warm;
    The hum of bees is in it, and the sight
    Of sunny fountains glancing silver light,
  And the rejoicing world, and every charm
  Of happy nature in her hour of love,
    Fruits, flowers, and flies, in rainbow-glory bright:
  The smile of God glows graciously above,
  And genial earth is grateful; day by day
    Old faces come again with blossoms gay,
  Gemming in gladness meadow, garden, grove:
  Haste with thy harvest, then, my softened heart,
    Awake thy better hopes of better days,
    Bring in thy fruits and flowers of thanks and praise,
  And in creation's pæan take thy part.

How different in sterner beauty was the landscape not long since! The
energies of universal life prisoned up in temporary obstruction; every
black hedge-row tufted with woolly snow, like some Egyptian mother
mourning for her children; shrubs and plants fettered up in glittering
chains, motionless as those stone-struck feasters before the head of
Gorgon; and the dark-green fir-trees swathed in heavy curtains of
iridescent whiteness. Contrast is ever pleasurable; therefore we need
scarcely apologize for an ice in the dog-days--I mean for this present
unseasonable introduction of dead


  As some fair statue, white and hard and cold,
    Smiling in marble, rigid, yet at rest,
  Or like some gentle child of beauteous mould,
    Whose placid face and softly swelling breast
    Are fixed in death, and on them bear imprest
  His magic seal of peace--so, frozen, lies
    The loveliness of nature: every tree
  Stands hung with lace against the clear blue skies;
    The hills are giant waves of glistering snow;
  Rare and northern fowl, now strangely tame to see,
    With ruffling plumage cluster on the bough,
  And tempt the murderous gun; mouse-like, the wren
    Hides in the new-cut hedge; and all things now
  Fear starving Winter more than cruel men.

Ay, "cruel men:" that truest epithet for monarch-man must be the tangent
from which my Pegasus shall strike his hoof for the next flight. Who
does not writhe while reading details of cruelty, and who would not
rejoice to find even there somewhat of


  Scholar of Reason, Grace, and Providence,
    Restrain thy bursting and indignant tears;
    With tenderest might unerring Wisdom steers
  Through those mad seas the bark of Innocence.
  Doth thy heart burn for vengeance on the deed--
    Some barbarous deed wrought out by cruelty
  On woman, or on famish'd childhood's need,
  Yea, on these fond dumb dogs--doth thy heart bleed
    For pity, child of sensibility?
  Those tears are gracious, and thy wrath most right
    Yet patience, patience; there is comfort still;
  The Judge is just; a world of love and light
    Remains to counterpoise the load of ill,
    And the poor victim's cup with angel's food to fill.

For, as my Psycotherion has long ago informed you, I hope there is some
sort of heaven yet in reserve for the brute creation: if otherwise, in
respect of costermongers' donkeys, Kamskatdales' gaunt starved dogs, the
Guacho's horse, spurred deep with three-inch rowels, the angler's worm,
Strasburgh geese, and poor footsore curs harnessed to ill-balanced
trucks--for all these and many more I, for one, sadly stand in need of
consolation. Meanwhile, let us change the subject. After a dose of cruel
cogitations, and this corrupting converse with Phalaris and Domitian,
what better sweetener of thoughts than an "olive-branch" in the waters
of Marah? Spend a moment in the nursery; it is happily fashionable now,
as well as pleasurable, to sport awhile with Nature's prettiest
playthings; the praises of children are always at the tip of my--pen,
that is, tongue, you remember, and often have I told the world, in all
the pride of print, of my fond infantile predilections: then let this
little Chanson be added to the rest; we will call it


  A song of gratitude and cheerful prayer
    Still shall go forth my pretty babes to greet,
  As on life's firmament, serenely fair,
    Their little stars arise, with aspects sweet
  Of mild successive radiance: that small pair,
    Ellen and Mary, having gone before
  In this affection's welcome, the dear debt
  Here shall be paid to gentle Margaret:
    Be thou indeed a pearl--in pureness, more
  Than beauty, praise, or price; full be thy cup,
    Mantling with grace, and truth with mercy met,
    With warm and generous charities flowing o'er;
  And when the Great King makes his jewels up,
    Shine forth, child-angel, in His coronet!

And while hovering about this fairy-land of sweet-home scenery, and
confessing thankfully to these domestic affections, your author knows
one heart at least that will be gladdened, one face that will be
brightened by the following


  Mother, dear mother, no unmeaning rhyme,
    No mere ingenious compliment of words,
  My heart pours forth at this auspicious time:
    I know a simple honest prayer affords
    More music on affection's thrilling cords,
  More joy, than can be measured or express'd
    In song most sweet, or eloquence sublime.
  Mother, I bless thee! God doth bless thee too!
  In these thy children's children thou _art_ blest,
    With dear old pleasures springing up anew:
  And blessings wait upon thee still, my mother!
    Blessings to come, this many a happy year;
  For, losing thee, where could we find another
    So kind, so true, so tender, and--so dear?

Is it an impertinence--I speak etymologically--to have dropped that
sonnet here?--Be it as you will, my Zoilus; let me stand convicted of
honesty and love: I ask no higher praise in this than to have pleased my

       *       *       *       *       *

Penman as I am, have been, and shall be, innumerable letters have grown
beneath my goose-quill. Who cannot say the same indeed? For in these
patriotic days, for mere country's love and post-office prosperity,
every body writes to every body about every thing, or, as oftener
happens, about nothing. Nevertheless, I wish some kind pundit would
invent a corrosive ink, warranted to consume a letter within a week
after it had been read and answered: then should we have fewer of those
ephemeral documents treasured up in pigeon-holes, and docketed
correspondence for possible publication. Not Byron, nor Lamb, nor West,
nor Gray, with all their epistolary charms, avail to persuade my
prejudice that it is honest to publish a private letter: if written with
that view, the author is a hypocrite in his friendships; if not so, the
decent veil of privacy is torn from social life, confidence is rebuked,
betrayed, destroyed; and the suspicion of eaves-droppings and casual
scribblings to be posthumously printed, makes silence truly wisdom, and
grim reserve a virtue. This public appetite for secret information, and,
if possible, for hinted scandal--this unhallowed spirit of outward
curiosity trespassing upon the sacred precincts of a man's own
circle--is to the real author's mind a thing to be feared, if he is
weak--to be circumspectly watched, if he is wise. Such is the present
hunger for this kind of reading, that it would be diffidence, not
presumption, in the merest school-boy to dread the future publication of
his holiday letters; who knows--I may jump scathless from the Monument,
or in these Popish times become excommunicated by special bull, or fly
round the world in a balloon, or attain to the authorship of forty
volumes, or be half-smothered by a valet-de-place, or get indicted for
inveterate Toryism, or any how, I may--notwithstanding all present
obscurities that intervene--wake one of these fine mornings, and find
myself famous: and what then? The odds at Tattersall's would be twelve
to one that sundry busy-bodies, booksellers or otherwise, would scrape
together with malice prepense, and keep _câchet_ for future print, a
multitude of careless scrawls that should have been burnt within an hour
of the reading. Now, is not this a thing to be exclaimed against? And,
utterly improbable on the ground of any merit in themselves as I should
judge their publication (but for certain stolidities of the same sort,
that often-times have wearied me in print), I choose to let my author's
mind here enter its eternal protest against any such treachery regarding


  Tear, scatter, burn, destroy--but keep them not;
    I hate, I dread those living witnesses
  Of varying self, of good or ill forgot,
    Of altered hopes, and withered kindnesses.
    Oh! call not up those shadows of the dead,
  Those visions of the past, that idly blot
    The present with regret for blessings fled:
    This hand that wrote, this ever-teeming head,
  This flickering heart is full of chance and change;
    I would not have you watch my weaknesses,
  Nor how my foolish likings roam and range,
    Nor how the mushroom friendships of a day
    Hastened in hot-bed ripeness to decay,
  Nor how to mine own self I grow so strange.

So anathema to editors, maranatha to publishers of all such hypothetical

       *       *       *       *       *

Every one can comprehend something of an author's ease, when he sees his
manuscript in print: it is safe; no longer a treasure uninsurable, no
longer a locked-up care: it is emancipated, glorified, incapable of real
extermination; it has reached a changeless condition; the chrysalis of
illegible cacography has burst its bonds, and flies living through the
world on the wings of those true Dædali, Faust, and Gutenberg: the
transition-state is passed: henceforth for his brain-child set free from
that nervous slumber, its parent calmly can expect the oblivion of no
more than a death-like sleep, if he be not indeed buoyed up with certain
hope of immortality. "'Tis pleasant sure to see one's self in print," is
the adequate cause for ninety books out of a hundred; and, though zeal
might be the ostentatious stalking-horse, my candour shall give no
better excuse for the fourteen lines that follow; they require but this
preface: a most venerable chapel of old time, picturesque and full of
interest, is dropping to decay, within a mile of me; where it is, and
whose the fault, are askings improper to be answered: nevertheless, I
cast upon the waters this meagre morsel of


  Shame on thee, Christian, cold and covetous one!
    The laws (I praise them not for this) declare
    That ancient, loved, deserted house of prayer
  As money's worth a layman landlord's own.
    Then use it as thine own; thy mansion there
  Beneath the shadow of this ruinous church
    Stands new and decorate; thine every shed
  And barn is neat and proper; I might search
    Thy comfortable farms, and well despair
    Of finding dangerous ruin overhead,
  And damp unwholesome mildew on the walls:
    Arouse thy better self: restore it; see,
  Through thy neglect the holy fabric falls!
    Fear, lest that crushing guilt should fall on thee.

I fear much, poor book, this finale of jingling singing will jar upon
the public ear; all men must shrink from a lengthy snake with a rattle
in its tail: and this ballast a-stern of over-ponderous poetry may
chance to swamp so frail a skiff. But I have promised a dozen sonnets in
this after-thought Appendix; yea, and I will keep that promise at all
mortal hazards, even to the superadded unit proverbial of dispensing
Fornarinas. Ten have been told off fairly, and now we come upon the gay
court-cards. After so much of villanous political ferment, society
returns at length to its every-day routine, heedful of other oratory
than harangues from the hustings, and glad of other reading than
figurative party-speeches. Yet am I bold to recur, just for a thought or
two, to my whilom patriotic hopes and fears: fears indeed came first
upon me, but hopes finally out-voted them: briefly, then, begin upon the
worst, and endure, with what patience you possess, this creaky stave of


  Chill'd is the patriot's hope, the poet's prayer:
    Alas for England, and her tarnish'd crown,
    Her sun of ancient glory going down,
  Her foes triumphant in her friends' despair:
  What wonder should the billows overwhelm
    A bark so mann'd by Comus and his crew,
  "Youth at the prow, and pleasure at the helm?"
  Yet, no!--we will not fear; the loathing realm
    At length has burst its chains; a motley few,
    The pseudo-saint, the boasting infidel,
  The demagogue, and courtier, hand in hand
    No more besiege our Zion's citadel:
  But high in hope comes on this nobler band
  For God, the sovereign, and our father-land.

That last card, you may remember, must reckon as the knave; and
therefore is consistently regarding an ominous trisyllable, which rhymes
to "knavish tricks" in the national anthem; our suit now leads us in
regular succession to the queen, a topic (it were Milesian to say a
subject) whereon now, as heretofore, my loyalty shall never be found
lacking. In old Rome's better antiquity, a slave was commissioned to
whisper counsel in the ear of triumphant generals or emperors; and, in
old England's less enlightened youth, a baubled fool was privileged to
blurt out verities, which bearded wisdom dared not hint at. Now, I boast
myself free, a citizen of no mean city--my commission signed by duty--my
counsel guarantied by truth: and if, O still intruding Zoilus, the
liberality of your nature provokes you to class me truly in the family
of fools, let your antiquarian ignorance of those licensed Gothamites
blush at its abortive malice; the arrow of your sarcasm bounds from my
target blunted; pick up again the harmless reed: for, not to insist upon
the prevalence of knaves, and their moral postponement to mere
lack-wits, let me tell you that wise men, and good men, and shrewd men,
were those ancient baubled fools: therefore would I gladly be thought of
their fraternity.

But our twelfth sonnet is waiting, save the mark! Stay: there ought to
intervene a solemn pause; for your author's mind, on the spur of the
occasion, pours forth an unpremeditated song of free-spoken,
uncompromising, patriotic counsel; let its fervency atone for its

  Bold in my freedom, yet with homage meek,
    As duty prompts and loyalty commands,
  To thee, O, queen of empires! would I speak.
    Behold, the most high God hath giv'n to thee
    Kingdoms and glories, might and majesty,
    Setting thee ruler over many lands;
  Him first to serve, O monarch, wisely seek:
  And many people, nations, languages,
    Have laid their welfare in thy sovereign hands;
  Them next to bless, to prosper and to please,
  Nobly forget thyself, and thine own ease:
    Rebuke ill-counsel; rally round thy state
    The scattered good, and true, and wise, and great:
  So Heav'n upon thee shed sweet influences!

And now for my Raffaellesque disguise of a vulgar baker's twelve, the
largess muffin of Mistress Fornarina: thirteen cards to a suit, and
thirteen to the dozen, are proverbially the correct thing; but, as in
regular succession I have come upon the king card, I am free to
confess--(pen, why will you repeat again such a foolish, stale
Joe-Millerism?)--the subject a dilemma. Natheless, my good nature shall
give a royal chance to criticism most malign: whether candour
acknowledge it or not, doubtless the author's mind reigns dominant in
the author's book; and, notwithstanding the self-silence of blind
Mæonides, (a right notable exception,) it holds good as a rule that the
majority of original writings, directly or indirectly, concern a man's
own self; his whims and his crotchets, his knowledge and his ignorance,
wisdom and folly, experiences and suspicions, therein find a place
prepared for them. Scott's life naturally produced his earlier novels;
in the '_Corsair_,' the '_Childe_,' and the '_Don_,' no one can mistake
the hero-author; Southey's works, Shelley's, and Wordsworth's, are full
of adventure, feeling, and fancy, personal to the writers, at least
equally with the sonnets of Petrarch or of Shakspeare. And as with
instances illustrious as those, so with all humbler followers, the
skiffs, pinnaces, and heavy barges in the wake of those gallant ships:
an author's library, and his friends, his hobbies and amusements,
business and pleasure, fears and wishes, accidents of life, and
qualities of soul, all mingle in his writings with a harmonizing
individuality; nay, the very countenance and hand-writing, alike with
choice of subject and style and method of their treatment, illustrate,
in one word, the author's mind. These things being so, what hinders it
from occupying, as in honesty it does, the king's place in this pack of
sonnets? Nevertheless, forasmuch as by such occupancy an ill-tempered
sarcasm might charge it with conceit; know then that my humbler meaning
here is to put it lowest and last, even in the place of wooden-spoon;
for this also (being mindful of the twelve apostle-spoons from old time
antecedent) is a legitimate thirteener: and so, while in extricating my
muse from the folly of serenading a non-existent king, I have candidly
avowed the general selfishness of printing, believe that, in this
avowal, I take the lowest seat, so well befitting one of whom it may
ungraciously be asked, Where do fools buy their logic?

List, then, oh list! while generically, not individually I claim for


  Temple of truths most eloquently spoken,
    Shrine of sweet thoughts veiled round with words of power,
      The '_Author's Mind_,' in all its hallowed riches,
    Stands a cathedral: full of precious things;
  Tastefully built in harmonies unbroken,
    Cloister, and aisle, dark crypt, and aëry tower:
      Long-treasured relics in the fretted niches,
      And secret stores, and heap'd-up offerings,
    Art's noblest gems, with every fruit and flower,
      Paintings and sculpture, choice imaginings,
    Its plenitude of wealth and praise betoken:
      An ever-burning lamp portrays the soul;
    Deep music all around enchantment flings;
      And God's great Presence consecrates the whole.

Now at length, in all verity, I have said out my say: nor publisher nor
printer shall get more copy from me: neither, indeed, would it before
have been the case, for all that Damastic argument, were it not that
many beginnings--and you remember my proverbial preliminarizing--should,
for mere antithesis' sake, be endowed with a counterpoise of many
endings. So, in this second parting, let me humbly suggest to gentle
reader these: that nothing is at once more plebeian and unphilosophical
than--censure, in a world where nothing can be perfect, and where apathy
is held to be good-breeding; _item_, (I am quoting Scott,) that "it is
much more easy to destroy than to build, to criticise than to compose;"
_item_, (Sir Walter again, _ipsissima verba_, in a letter to Miss
Seward,) that there are certain literary "gentlemen who appear to be a
sort of tinkers, who, unable to _make_ pots and pans, set up for
_menders_ of them, and often make two holes in patching one;" _item_,
that in such possible cases as "exercise" for "exorcise," "repeat" for
"repent," "depreciate" for "deprecate," and the like, an indifferent
scribe is always at the mercy of compositors; and lastly, that if it is,
by very far, easier to read a book than to write one, it is also, by at
least as much, worthier of a noble mind to give credit for good
intentions, rather than for bad, or indifferent, or none at all, even
where hyper-criticism may appear to prove that the effort itself has
been a failure.

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