Imágenes de páginas

victories. Now, blow trumpets! Bang, ye gongs ! and drummers, drub the thundering skins! Generals and chiefs, we go to sacrifice to the gods."

Crowned with flowers, the captains enter the temple, the other Magazines walking modestly behind them. The people huzza ; and, in some instances, kneel and kiss the fringes of the robes of the warriors. The Philosopher puts up his shutters, and retires into his shop, deeply moved. In ancient times, Pliny (apud Smith) relates it was the custom of the Imperator "to paint his whole body a bright red ;" and, also, on ascending the Hill, to have some of the hostile chiefs led aside “ to the adjoining prison, and put to death.” We propose to dispense with both these ceremonies.


In the Essay with which this volume commences, the Cornhill Magazine was likened to a ship sailing forth on her

voyage, and the Captain uttered a very sincere prayer for her prosperity. The dangers of storm and rock, the vast outlay upon ship and cargo, and the certain risk of the venture, gave the chief officer a feeling of no small anxiety ; for who could say from what quarter danger might arise, and how his owner's property might be imperilled ? After a six months' voyage, we with very thankful hearts could acknowledge our good fortune: and taking up the apologue in the Roundabout manner, we composed a triumphal procession in honor of the Magazine, and imagined the Imperator thereof riding in a sublime car to return thanks in the Temple of Victory. Cornhill is accustomed to grandeur and greatness, and has witnessed, every ninth of November, for I don't know how many centuries, a prodigious annual pageant, chariot, progress, and flourish of trumpetry; and being so very near the Mansion House, I am sure the reader will understand how the idea of pageant and procession came naturally to my mind. The imagination easily supplied a gold coach, eight cream-colored horses of your true Pegasus breed, huzzaing multitudes, running footmen, and clanking knights in armor, a chaplain and a sword-bearer with a muff on his head, scowling out of the coach-window, and a Lord Mayor all crimson, fur, gold-chain, and white ribbons, solemnly occupying the place

of state. A playful fancy could have carried the matter farther, could have depicted the feast in the Egyptian Hall, the Ministers, Chief Justices, and right reverend prelates taking their seats round about his lordship, the turtle and other delicious viands, and Mr. Toole behind the central throne, bawling out to the assembled guests and dignitaries : “My lord So-and-so, my Lord What-d'ye-call-'im, my Lord Etcætera, the Lord Mayor pledges you all in a loving-cup.” Then the noble proceedings come to an end ; Lord Simper proposes the ladies; the company rises from the table, and adjourns to coffee and muffins. The carriages of the nobility and guests roll back to the West. The Egyptian Hall, so bright just now, appears in a twilight glimmer, in which waiters are seen ransacking the dessert, and rescuing the spoons. His lordship and the lady Mayoress go into their private apartments. The robes are doffed, the collar and white ribbons are removed. The Mayor becomes a mar, and is pretty surely in a fluster about the speeches which he has just uttered ; remembering too well now, wretched creature, the principal points which he didn't make' when he rose to speak. He goes to bed to headache, to care, to repentance, and, I dare say, to a dose of something which his body-physician has prescribed for him. And there are ever so many men in the city who fancy that man happy!

Now, suppose that all through that gth of November his lordship has had a racking rheumatism, or a toothache, let us say, during all dinner-time-through which he has been obliged to grin and mumble his poor old speeches. Is he enviable ? Would you like to change with his lordship? Suppose that bumper which his golden footman brings him, instead i'fackins of ypocras or canary, contains some abomination of senna ? Away! Remove the golden goblet, insidious cup-bearer! You now begin to perceive the gloomy moral which I am about to draw.

Last month we sang the song of glorification, and rode in the chariot of triumph. It was all very well. It was right to huzza, and be thankful, and cry, Bravo, our side ! and besides, · you know, there was the enjoyment of thinking how pleased Brown and Jones, and Robinson (our dear friends)would be at this announcement of success. But now that the performance is over, my good sir, just step into my private room, and see that it is not all pleasure—this winning of successes. Cast your eye over those newspapers, over those letters. See what the critics

say of your harmless jokes, neat little trim sentences, and pet waggeries! Why, you are no better than an idiot,

you are drivelling; your powers have left you ; this always overrated writer is rapidly sinking to, &c.

This is not pleasant; but neither is this the point. It may be the critic is right, and the author wrong. It may be that the archbishop's sermon is not so fine as some of those discourses twenty years ago which used to delight the faithful in Granada. Or it may be (pleasing thought !) that the critic is a dullard, and does not understand what he is writing about. Everybody who has been to an exhibition has heard visitors discoursing about the pictures before their faces. One says, “ This is very well ;” another says, “ This is stuff and rubbish; another cries, " Bravo! this is a masterpiece ; and each has a right to his opinion. For example, one of the pictures I admired niost at the Royal Academy is by a gentleman on whom I never, to my knowledge, set eyes. This picture is No. 346, “ Moses,” by Mr. S. Solomon. I thought it had a great intention, I thought it finely drawn and composed. It nobly represented, to my mind, the dark children of the Egyptian bondage, and suggested the touching story. My newspaper says: “Two ludicrously ugly women, looking at a dingy baby, do not form a pleasing object ;” and so good-by, Mr. Solomon. Are not most babies served so in life? and doesn't Mr. Robinson consider Mr. Brown's clierub an ugly, squalling little brat? So cheer up, Mr. S. S. It


be the critic who discoursed on your baby is a bad judge of babies. When Pharaoh's kind daughter found the child, and cherished and loved it, and took it home, and found a nurse for it, too, I dare say there were grim, brickdust-colored chamberlains, or some of the tough, old, meagre, yellow princes at court, who never had children themselves, who cried out, Faugh! the horrid little squalling wretch !” and knew he would never come to good ; and said, “ Didn't I tell you so ? ” when he assaulted the Egyptian.

Never mind then, Mr. S. Solomon, I say, because a critic pooh-poohs your work of art-your Moses--your child-your foundling. Why, did not a wiseacre in Blackwood's Magazine lately fall foul of " Tom Jones?" O hypercritic! So, to be sure, did good old Mr. Richardson, who could write novels himself-but you

and I, and Mr. Gibbon, my dear sir, agree in giving our respect, and wonder, and admiration, to the brave old inaster.

In these last words I am supposing the respected reader to be endowed with a sense of humor, which he may or may not possess ; indeed, don't we know many an honest man who can no more comprehend a joke than he can turn a tune. But I

take for granted, my dear sir, that you are brimming over with fun-you mayn't make jokes, but you could if you would you know you could: and in your quiet way you enjoy them extremely. Now many people neither make them, nor understand them when made, nor like them when understood, and are suspicious, testy, and angry with jokers. Have you ever watched an elderly male or female—an elderly “party," so to speak, who begins to find out that some young wag of the company

is chaffing" him? Have you ever tried the sarcastic or Socratic method with a child ? Little simple he or she, in the innocence of the simple heart, plays some silly freak, or makes some absurd remark, which you turn to ridicule. The little creature dimly perceives that you are making fun of him, writhes, blushes, grows uneasy, bursts into tears.--upon my word it is not fair to try the weapon of ridicule upon that innocent young victim. The awful objurgatory practice he is accustomed to. Point out his fault, and lay bare the dire consequences thereof: expose it roundly, and give him a propei, solemn, moral whipping-but do not attempt to castigare ridendo · Do not laugh at him writhing, and cause all the other boys in the school to laugh. Remember your own young days at school, my friend--the tingling cheeks, burning ears, bursting heart, and passion of desperate tears, with which you looked up, after having performed some blunder, whilst the doctor held you to public scorn before the class, and cracked his great clumsy jokes upon you—helpless, and a prisoner! Better the block itself, and the lictors, with their fasces of birch-twigs, than the maddening torture of those jokes !

Now, with respect to jokes-and the present company of course excepted-many people, perhaps most people, are as infants. They have little sense of humor. They don't like jokes. Raillery in writing annoys and offends them. The coarseness apart, I think I have met very, very few women who liked the banter of Swift and Fielding. Their simple, tender natures revolt at laughter. Is the satyr always a wicked brute at heart, and are they rightly shocked at his grin, his leer, his horns, hoofs, and ears? Fi done, le vilain monstre, with his shrieks, and his eapering crooked legs? Let him go and get a pair of well-wadded black silk stockings, and pull them over those horrid shanks; put a large gown and bands over beard and hide ; and pour a dozen of lavender-water into his lawn handkerchief, and cry, and never make a joke again. It shall all be highly distilled poesy, and perfumed sentiment, and gushing eloquence; and the foot sha'n't peep out, and a plague take it. Cover it up with the surplice. Out with your cambric, dear ladies, and let us all whimper together.

Now, then, hand on heart, we declare that it is not the fire of adverse critics which afflicts or frightens the editorial bosom. They may be right; they may be rogues who have a personal spite ; they may be dullards who kick and bray as their nature is to do, and prefer thistles to pineapples; they may be conscientious, acute, deeply learned, delightful judges, who see your joke in a moment, and the profound wisdom lying underneath. Wise or dull, laudatory or otherwise, we put their opinions aside. If they applaud, we are pleased : if they shake their quick pens, and fly off with a hiss, we resign their favors and put on all the fortitude we can muster. I would rather have the lowest man's good word than his bad one, to be sure ; but as for coaxing a compliment, or him into good-humor, or stopping his angry mouth with a good dinner, or accepting his contributions for a certain Magazine, for fear of his barking or snapping elsewhere-allon donc! These shall not be our acts. Bow-wow, Cerberus ! Here shall be no sop for thee, unless—unless Cerberus is an uncommonly good dog, when we shall bear no malice because he flew at us from our neighbor's gate.

What, then, is the main grief you spoke of as annoying you -the toothache in the Lord Mayor's jaw, the thorn in the cushion of the editorial chair ? It is there. Ah! it stings me now as I write. It comes with almost every morning's post. At night I come home, and take my letters up to bed (not daring to open them), and in the morning I find one, two, three thorns on my pillow. Three I extracted yesterday; two I found this morning. They don't sting quite so sharply as they did; but a skin is a skin, and they bite, after all, most wickedly. It is all very fine to advertise on the Magazine, “ Contributions are only to be sent to Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co., and not to the Editor's private residence.” My dear sir, how little you know man- or woman-kind, if you fancy they will take that sort of warning! How am I to know, (though to be sure, I begin to know now,) as I take the letters off the tray, which of those envelopes contains a real bonâ fide letter, and which a thorn ? One of the best invitations this year I mistook for a thorn-letter, and kept it without opening. This is what I called a thorn

letter :

“Camberwell, June 4. "Sik,-May I hope, may I entreat, that you will favor me by perusing the enclosed lines, and that they may be found worthy of insertion in the Cornhill Magasine. We have kouin better days, sir. I have a sick and widowed mother to maintain,

and little brothers

« AnteriorContinuar »