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by the greater part of the nation. To oppose these we had to oppose men whom we had long, and whom we still, venerated; we had to oppose both the Ministry and the Opposition, a united Parliament, a united Press, and, to a very great extent, public opinion. We had no party in the field to head and support us. Personal profit and honour seemed to lie entirely on the side of change, and there appeared to be much to lose in fidelity and consistency. Nothing but the commands of conscience could have engaged us in such a contest. We had but one course before us as honest men, and this we took, regardless of consequences; we looked neither to the right hand nor the left, but stood forward to defend the principles and laws under which our country had become free, great, and happy, without inquiring the names, description, and numbers of their enemies. We knew the hearts of our countrymen ; we thought that our motives could not be suspected; we felt assured that every one would see that we were drawing upon ourselves the displeasure of all who could administer to our personal interest and ambition, and would therefore bear with us if they thought us in error, on the score of oùr integrity. We have not been mistaken. A regularly and greatly increasing circulation attests that our conduct has lost us no friends, and that we have had credit given us for honesty, if not for wisdom.
be that the Ministry is right, and that all these changes are wise and necessary, but we cannot discover it. The more accurately we examine, the more firmly we are convinced of the truth of our own opinions. Time has brought no refutation to us, whatever it may have done to those from whom we differ; in so far as experiment has gone, we may point to it in triumph in confirmation of our principles and predictions. If at the last we be proved to be in error, we shall at least have the consolation of knowing that we have not erred from apostacy; that we have not erred in broaching new doctrines and schemes, and supporting innovation and subversion; that we have not erred in company with the infidel and revolutionist, with the enemies of God and man. We shall have the consolation of knowing that we have erred in following the parents of England's greatness; in defending that under which we liave become the first of nations, and in protecting the fairest fabric that ever was raised under the face of heaven to dispense freedom and happiness to our species. Our error will bring us no infamy, and it will sit lightly on our ashes when we shall be no more.
We will persevere in our present path ; we will follow no party one. We revere many of the Ministers, we ever shall revere them, and whenever we can do it conscientiously we will support them. We will, however, oppose them firmly whenever duty may command us. We venture to hope that such of our readers as may not always think with us, will bear with us on the score of that latitude of opinion which is the Englishman's birth-right, and that they will pardon our errors in consideration of our intentions.
If we have good reason to congratulate ourselves on our political career, so can we look back with at least equal pleasure on our achievements in criticism and literature.
Before we appeared, the art of criticism was indeed a truly miserable concern. The critic looked upon the poet as his prey. The two were always at daggers-drawing. The insolence of reviewers had reached its acme, and absolutely stunk in the nostrils of the Public. Yet still there was a power in the rancid breath to taint, if not to wither. Men of genius were insulted by tenth-rate scribblers, without head or heart; and all conversational criticism was pitched on the same key with that of the wretched reviews. We put an end to this in six months. A warm, enthusiastic, imaginative, and, at the same time, philosophical spirit, breathed through every article. Authors felt that they were understood and appreciated, and readers were delighted to have their own uncorrupted feelings authorized and sanctioned. In another year the whole periodical criticism of Britain underwent a revolution. Principles were laid down and applied to passages from our great living poets. People were encouraged to indulge their emotions, that they might be brought to know their nature. That long icy chill was shook off their fancies and imaginations, and here, too, in Criticism as in Politics, they began to feel, think, and speak, like free men. The authority of the Pragmatic Faction was annihilated, and no ZanyZoilus in the Blue and Yellow could any longer outcrow the reading Public. A long, prosing leading article in the Edinburgh, abusing Wordsworth, looked ineffably silly beside one splendid panegyrical paragraph in Maga on the Great Laker; the evaporated sodawater of wishy-washy witlings would not go down after the still or sparkling Champaigne of old George Buchanan. A deposed Critic-king is a most deplorable subject. His temples are most absurd without their crown, and having lost his sceptre, he is forced to hide his hands in his breeches pocket. So fared it with many an anointed head. Their thunder would no longer sour even small beer. Sneers saluted them as they skulked along, and the merest versifiers mustered up courage and trod upon their kibes. Periodicals that, a few years ago, with fear of change perplexed monarchs, have since been known to apologize to boarding-school misses. This universal dethronement we accomplished, and there is once more a Republic of Letters.
The world has acknowleged that the appearance of our Magazine was indeed an era in the history of criticism. For some months, indeed, here too we were assailed by the most frantic falsehoods. Dunces whom we had most mercifully knocked on the head, or rather killed in a moment by scientifically putting the wellsharpened point of our pen into their spinal marrow, were buried by their friends with all the pomp of martyrs. Their blood, it was said, would lie heavy on our heads—ay, heavy as their works on our shelves. And the Sanctum, within No. 17, Prince's Street, it was prophesied, would be haunted by their ghosts. The few spectres that ventured thither, ODoherty tumbled neck and heels into the Balaam-Box, where they were laid as effectually as in the Red Sea. At such enormities as these the public could not but simper, and the names of the slain were soon wiped as effectually from the memories of all mankind, as chalk-writings on the walls of houses by the sponges of the police. “Mention the names of the gentlemen whom you blame us for having murdered," and the answer uniformly was, “ Their names, Christopher ?- Why, we have forgotten their names.” “Hold your tongue, then; for a murder, without the Christian and surname of the defunct, is not worth mentioning before ears polite.” But our humanity in all this was most exemplary—for our murders were all metaphorical—and we had merely driven a number of our fellow-creatures from the folly, shame, and exposure of a life of literary prostitution, into the necessity of gaining an honest livelihood in compting-houses, upon wharfs, and in agriculture.
There was another class of writers, (we mention no names,) who bad long been prodigiously overrated by themselves and their party. Merit they had, and we allowed it; but not one of them all was a Phænix or a Phenomenon of any sort, and we took the liberty of speaking of them as if they were mere men, of various sizes, some with wigs and some without wigs, and all comprehended within the Bills of Mortality. This, too, gave offence, as it was meant to do. A man hates to be undeified—to be reduced to the ranks of humanity. These persons were bitter against us, but it would not do. They felt it henceforth to be up-hill work, and accepted their proper level as we laid it down. Nay, by and by, they absolutely grew into contributors, (rejected ones of course,)
and inundated the Blue-Parlour with articles that could have lighted all the cigars in Edinburgh. What has become of most of these distinguished literary characters now, we have sometimes puzzled ourselves in conjecturing; but we would fain hope that they have died in the course of nature of a good old age.
But the living literature of England, thank God, is of a glorious spirit. Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, and others, are men to stand undiminished-undwindled, by the side of the giants of the olden time. They too had, one and all of them, been insulted equally by the abuse and by the panegyric of pigmies. Praise was absolutely doled out to these illustrious writers, with the most stately eleemosynary airs, by critics in the last stage of mental famine and starvation. The prating coxcombs did not bend their little insignificant knees before the image which they pretended and presumed to idolize, but they strutted up in self-worship, with an old stump of a pen behind their ears, and laid their small articles of oblation on the shrine-articles that never could be made to take fire, but evaporated in a stink of smoke most offensive to Apollo. Then, like savages, they grew angry with their gods, if their invocations were not heard, and positively abused the very objects of their former idolatry; forgetting, however, that, in their cases, they could not pull down what they had not set up, and that nature guarded the sons and daughters of genius. True it is, that the worst and basest passions alternately tore the hearts of critics in their abject superstitions; and that their works are a perfect chaos of unshaped thought and feeling, presenting a wonderful and melancholy contrast with those ordered creations that had provoked their spleen, their envy, or their admiration. Out of the hands, or rather the paws, of such worthless worshippers, we took the office of Priest to the Muses. We hailed the sunrise of genius with very different strains. We inspired men with that spirit in which alone genius can be known, felt, or seen. We attended the car of its triumphs, to clear the way, and to swell the hymn. Without enthusiasm-without something of the same transport that seizes on the poet's soul—what signify the imperfect sympathies of the critic? The due expression of delight awaked in sincere hearts by the glories of genius must be eloquent. That delight does not speak in short, measured, precise, analytical sentences, nor yet in the long-winded ambulatory parade of paragraphs circuitously approaching, against all nature and all art, to a catastrophical climax. But thoughts that breathe, and words that burn, break from the critic's lips who is worthy of his bard; and his prose panegyric is, in body and in soul-itself a poem,
It is thus we have ever spoken, and ever will speak, of the Magnates of Parnassus. Yet should any one—even of them—be led astray, not “ by the light from heaven,” but by the coruscations of his own clouded and tempestuous genius, it is well known how we have ever stood affected towards the glorious but dangerous delinquent. Remember how we bearded Byron in his Den-ay, at a time when all the puny whipsters stood aloof trembling, and feared to breathe a whisper, lest the Childe should grasp them in his ire, flog, flay, and anatomize. WE ALONE met him hand to hand, and, in the Open Ring of Europe, challenged the mighty wrestler to try a fall. Much was said of our presumption, and more, as usual, of our personality—that weary watchword of the weak and wicked—and the trembling cowards cried, “ Shame, shame, to abuse Byron!" But Byron thought otherwise. He knew that his match was before him; and although Byron feared no man's face, yet we know he respected our bearing on that occasion.
Nor let it be said that, either on this or any other occasion, the moral Satyrists in this Magazine ever wished to remain unknown. How, indeed, could they wish for what they well knew was impossible? All the world has all along known the names of the gentlemen who have uttered our winged words. Nor did it ever, for one single moment, enter into the head of any one of them to wish-not to scorn concealment. To gentlemen, too, they at all times acted like gentlemen ; but was it ever dreamt by the wildest visionary that they were to consider as such the scum of the earth ? but knew who was my slanderer," was at one time the ludicrous skraigh of the convicted Cockney. Why did he not ask? and what would he have got by asking? Shame and confusion of face-unanswerable argument and cruel chastisement. For before one word would have been deigned to the sinner, he must have caten-and the bitter roll is yet ready for him-all the lies he had told for the last twenty years, and must either have choked or been kicked—no pleasing alternative. But why thus bastinado the Specimens—they are but stuffed skins.
But there is yet another class of writers, of our conduct respecting whom, permit us to say a very few words. We mean youthful aspirants after literary fame. Let them show either taste, or feeling, or genius-much or little-and have they not all found us their friends? They are overlooked by the world—What is that to us? If they have any lustre, they are soon discerned by us, be they glowworms or stars, and their place pointed out in heaven or on earth. Perhaps they are so very unfashionable, that their volumes never get farther than the servants' hall. What is that to us, if the vo
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