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himself, by plunging into wilder schemes of innovation, and greater ultraism of Reform. Why, even if he was a political adventurer, he would be little more than Chatham, or Burke, or many living names, of which the country may be proud. Suppose him a strolling player out of employment; or a particularly well-dressed man upon the town, who would thank you for an invitation to dinner; or the contributor, who writes the tales of horror in the Ladies' Magazine: or, lastly, suppose him a sucking statesman, attached to that illustrious association - The Council of Ten.” Suppose him, in short, any, or all, of these things; and yet again he asks, what is it to the public? As far as they are concerned, he is a nonentity-a ciphera thing of flesh and blood, that performs the office of a letter-box.
Nothing, therefore, will be told about the Secretary: nor will prudence allow the promulgation of any details relating to some other persons and circumstances connected with the decemvirs of Great Britain. The private operations of the Council must not be disclosed; nor the machinery by which it works, nor the sources on which it depends, nor the ramifications into which it branches. These are subjects, over which, until the fulness of time, the veil of mystery must be not only drawn, but folded.
Having thus given our readers an insight into the characters of the several decemvirs, and such other points as it was necessary for them to know, we must now desire them to carry back their attention to the point at which we had arrived, when we digressed into this narrative. They will recollect, that the social party with whom the Council originated, had dispersed themselves with the resolution of meeting again on an appointed morning, and taking the whole matter into fuller and more deliberate discussion. They will recollect, too, that all this view is retrospective, as far as regards the first nocturnal meeting, which was mentioned at the beginning of our Report. Farther, they have only to suppose the morning arrived, and the members assembled, in conformity to their previous agreement.
PLAN OF THE COUNCIL.
The members assembled: but when they saw each other, could they trace any remains of that confidence and animation which they so lately possessed? They looked for them in vain. Their countenances were blank and chopfallen. Serious and solitary consideration had taught them to form a truer estimate, when they compared their own powers with the vastness and difficulty of the undertaking which was before them. It was one thing, they found, in the glow of patriotism, and the ardour of expansive philanthropy, to project a magnificent plan of universal censorship and superintendance; and quite another, to take the dry and toilsome, but necessary, steps for putting it into resolute and continued execution. They found, not without alarm, that they had been warmed by wine and conversation into hopes, which were at best uncertain ; and which, if realized at all, could be realized only by toil and watching, by painful and perpetual exertion; and that they had been surprised into an enthusiasm, which nothing could possibly sustain, but a probable expectation of success, and a secure consciousness of being useful. Even the Projector had his doubts, his scruples, and his fears: and, in general, they who had been loudest and most sanguine on the previous night, were now most completely lost in anxious suspense, or wavering vacillation : and only broke silence to express their present readiness to give up the whole project, as beyond their strength.
On the contrary, the sober persons of the party, who had entered most slowly into the spirit of the plan, seemed to retain a greater portion of that alacrity to engage in it, which they had ultimately imbibed: as the solid bodies, which require the longest time in being heated, are also most capable of retaining the heat. The Censor alone appeared with a look of calm assurance, and steady cheerfulness. “ It is a wild scheme," said the Soldier, half laughing, and half grave: “we may as well throw it to the winds.” “Why should we trouble ourselves about the world ?” said Urbanus, - it will neither thank us, nor be the better for it.” “Ah," exclaimed the Traveller, “so wrote Moliere a century and a half ago.
“ Et c'est une folie à nulle autre seconde,
De vouloir se mêler de corriger le monde.” " If there was any among us,” answered the Censor, almost with solemnity, “who imagined, that a project of this kind could be struck off at a heat in a few hours of convivial intercourse, or start forth from our brains, like a new divinity, mature from its birth and armed at all points, he was sure to find himself most miserably mistaken. Nor will his error be much less, who now conceives, that such an undertaking can be made a matter of mere amusement. We must either relinquish it at once, or prepare ourselves to pursue it amidst labours, certainly long and unremitted, perhaps inglorious and unrepaid ; to struggle against hidden and unforeseen obstacles; to bear up against sarcasms and calumnies from some, carelessness and indifference from many. We must either relinquish it at once, or fortify ourselves with patient stoicism, and even some degree of self-devotion. The irksomeness and wearisomeness of the task, will be even more likely to disgust us with it, than its difficulties and hazards: for in the latter evils, there is something inspiring and animating ; something that may awaken within us the proud feelings of high courage and inflexible determination : while in the former, there is nothing, but what is distasteful and repulsive; nothing to call forth any of those loftier energies of the soul, of which the possession and the consciousness, are a source of exalted satisfaction. But we must make our decision: we must choose one alternative or the other: it is no project to be trifled with, or taken up at our loose leisure moments, like a game of chance. We must either be in earnest about it ourselves, or leave it to others, who have less regard for their own ease and comfort, with a greater for the public welfare. But such would not be my decision.” “Nor mine"-"nor mine," was now the universal exclamation : for when perseverance in the project was put upon the footing of a regard for the
public welfare, who could shew any disposition to flinch, or any backwardness to persevere ?
“ After all, then,” said the Censor, “ we seem fixed upon proceeding with our enterprise.” “Fixed as fate,” was the reply: for the general tide of feeling was now rapidly flowing into its former channel. “ Yes,” added the Projector, whose eye was once more sparkling with enthusiasm : “ let us immediately form ourselves into an association for the purpose of universal inquiry, regulation, and control. We cannot fail, if we use proper exertion, to become of infinite service to the cause of humanity, to the cause of truth, and to our country.” “And to ourselves, too, I hope,” interrupted the Merchant: “for it would be hard indeed, when we devote our time and labour to the undertaking, if we are to reap neither credit nor profit for our pains." “ Neither credit nor profit! who knows but that there will be a rich harvest of both ?' It is my confident expectation, that we shall acquire as much fame, as would satisfy us all, if each had the ambition of an Alexander: and we shall make rapid fortunes in the bargain. “Softly, my good friend !” interrupted the other, 6 how is that to be done?" Why, of course, our first business will be to establish a press: we must issue a variety of publications, periodical, and occasional, all excellent in their way.” “ There are too many of these things, already,” said the Merchant; “the market is overstocked. “ There are too many—and yet one more is wanted. This has the air of a paradox: but the fact is, that the very multiplicity of these productions, creates an absolute necessity for another, which may overlook and keep a check upon them all. It is now a general question, Who is to review the reviewers? who will criticise the critics ? quis custodiet ipsos custodes ? Some tribunal is required, to which an appeal may be instituted from the decisions, which are too frequently made, not upon sincere and reasonable conviction, but from feelings of party-predilection, or political animosity, with other similar motives, which are utterly disgraceful to the man, who takes upon himself the office of a judge.”
Here the Censor interposed; and after expressing the conformity of his opinion to the last remarks of the Projector, observed that it was high time to put a stop to this desultory conversation, which seemed likely to wander, without definite aim or object, over almost every topic which could be imagined. “We are now,” he continued,
fairly embarked upon the ocean of adventure: we are like men who find themselves on ship-board for a voyage to the East Indies; and who have only to hope for a favourable passage, and agreeable companions. For them, it is no longer the right moment to think of storm, or wreck, or length of way; nor for us to calculate
the possibilities of being tossed about by the waves of controversy, or dashed against the rocks of mischance. In both cases, such reflections are too late. But we must steer by the rule and compass. To drop metaphor, we must introduce something like system into our discourse; and observe a stated order and regularity in our proceedings.”
“ The best plan," said the Projector, “will be to appoint a President. The proposal was approved : and then it was, that the Censor was unanimously chosen. He wished to decline the office: he was not, he said, adapted to its functions. He was happy to engage with the rest in the present undertaking, because it might afford him an opportunity of rendering the remainder of his life not quite useless to the world, without meddling again in its contentions, or taking any share in its intrigues. But at best he was a mere contemplative philosopher; a spectator, and not an actor in the busy scene of human existence. But to these scruples it was answered, that he could not have mentioned any fitter qualifications. He was thus obliged to acquiesce; although there was as much difficulty in making a President of our Censor, as in making a king of Abdalonimus, or a dictator of Cincinnatus, or a prime minister of but no: we recollect no modern instance of a politician, who was really unwilling to be made prime minister.
This gentleman, then, having at length consented to take the chair, assuming that tone of authority which became the dignity and responsibility of his situation,