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that there is a dangerous temptation, individual authors who are the suban unmanly security, an unfair ad- jects of their criticism. The differ. vantage in concealment. Why then ent manner and style of the principal should any man, who seeks not to in- contributors to the Edinburgh Rejure but to benefit his contemporaries, view, for example, are easily de tecido resort to it? There can be no reason and, like the champions of old, who, why he should do that with the best though sheathed in armour, were intentions which evil men are fain to known by their bearings and coguia. do for the worst of purposes. A ances, they are distinguished fz. piece of crape may be a convenient ther in the battle than the groom and mask for a highway, but a man that yeoman who entered into it barefaced; goes upon an honest errand does not so that the usual cant of “shots from want it, and will disdain to wear it." ambuscade" and " arrows dischar This was the language of a veteran ged in the dark,” however it may and accomplished author, whom li- be suffered to continue as legitimate terature has now to regret ; and we permissible syllables of dolor in the feel ourselves called upon to pay it mouth of a wounded sufferer
, has some attention, as immediately con no foundation in the actual state of nected with our present subject. things. To what purpose, then, it Upon accurate consideration, how. may be asked, should a mystery be af
. ever, we are of opinion the reasoning fected which is so easily seen through
, of Mr Cumberland will be found ra. or why should not those who are the ther specious than solid. In the first known authors of critical articles :place, it must be observed that there dopt MrCumberland's plan, and openis no real concealment in the system ly prefix to them their names ? Our of reviews now generally adopted. answer is founded upon the forms of For, although the author of each in- civilized society, which are always dividual critique may not be known, calculated to avoid personality where there is uniformly an editor who is free discussion is required. It would answerable both to the public and to be scarcely possible to secure a free
, the individual, not perhaps for the or at least a peaceable, debate in the soundness of every opinion which may British House of Commons, without be advanced in his journal
, but for its adherence to the style of what is callgeneral adherence to the language ed parliamentary language, since maused among decent persons, and the ny things must be distinctly said by fairness and candour which become one statesman of his antagonist
, which men of literature. The author, there. could not with propriety, or even sakefore, who complains of a deficiency ty, be hazarded between man and man in either point, cannot want a party in the common intercourse of life. La who must either be responsible for like manner there is in criticism as the article, or give up the writer's impersonal language, which, though name, that he may answer for him- every one knows it is used by a par: self. But, besides the security af. ticular individual, has more weight forded by reference to an avowed and with the public, and gives less just responsible editor, the writers of the offence to the author censured, than leading articles in the reviews of any if the criticism had been declaredis eminence, are in general pretty well written in the first person singular. known both to the public
and to the It is in some degree a deception, but
it is one to which we willingly give With the notice of this anomaly in way, as it tends to save the decorum of the reviewing system, we must consociety, and to give thecritican oppor- clude our account of the present state tunity of discharging his duty frankly, of Periodical Criticism in Britain. We without any appearance of personality have it not in our power, nor would upon his part, and without giving the the labour be repaid by any useful party reviewed a strong temptation to result, to report upon the various push criticisminto controversy. It re. works now current in this departmains also to be noticed how often ment, far less to
precethe reviewer may gain a hearing from dence. What we have chiefly at. the public by use of the emphatic tempted in this sketch is to give some pronoun we, which might have been idea of the spirit and principles of denied to the criticisms of an obscure that which is decidedly the foremost individual
upon the work of an esta- in the field. Its surprising and unblished literary character. The dif precedented success has rendered the ficulty, finally, of enlisting individuals Edinburgh Review the mirror in to fight with their visors up, may which the others dress themselves,
have hastened the conclusion of Mr and from which they endeavour to to Cumberland's unsuccessful attempt select and imitate the qualities which
to establish a review upon his new recommend that journal to popular plan. Every one has heard of the favour. The tone of criticism, therecelebrated harlequin, who could not fore, at the commencement of the go through his part with spirit un nineteenth century may be charac
less when he wore the usual mask, terized as harsh, severe, and affect. y although conscious that his identity edly contemptuous, dwelling rather
was equally recognized whether he in general and excursive discussion, used it or not ; and we cannot help than in that which applies itself to thinking that those critics whose opi. the immediate subject; but requiring, nions are best worth hearing will be from those very circumstances, an most ready to deliver them under the elevation of talent and extent of inmodest disguise of an anonymous pub- formation unknown, or at least unlication, although they know that in necessary, to the humble labourer of many cases it is a secret which all the the preceding period. If the art has world knows, and in others, one which been emancipated from the commerany party interested may discover if cial trammels of the bookseller, it has he pleases. For all these reasons we unfortunately become more deeply are led to conclude that the present involved in the toils of the political system, while no real objection lies statesman. This last yoke, however, against it, is best fitted to preserve if equally rigorous, is less sordid than harmony in the literary world, and to the former, and the professors of the encourage a free and unrestrained spi- art of criticism have risen in rank rit of discussion, without risk of its and reputation accordingly; nor can degenerating into personal contro. it be denied that these periodical versy, or being trammelled and chilled publications have at present an inteby over formal and timid civility; one rest and importance altogether unor other of which extremes might, we known in any former part of our litethink, be the consequence of the sys- rary history. tem practised in the London Review.
INFERNO OF ALTISIDORA.
“ A uno dellos nuero, flamante y bien enguardernado le dieron un papirotazo, que k
sacaron las tripas, y le espurcieron los hojas.”-Don Quixote, Part II., lib. viii.
" They tossed up a new book fairly bound, and gave it such a smart stroke, that the
very guts flew out of it, and all the leaves were scattered about."-MOTTEUX' Translation,
TO THE PUBLISHER OF THE EDINBURGH ANNUAL REGISTER.
Sir,—The character of your pre- ing into St Cecilia’s Hall the beauti. sent correspondent is perhaps very ful and too-early-lost Miss B-. little to the purpose of his communi. But, as the learned Partridge pathe cation ; but who can resist the temp- tically observes, non sum qualis erat; tation of a favourable opportunity for and now, far from being permitted to speaking of himself and his own af- escort the young and the gay through fairs ? I am, then, a bachelor of fifty, that intricate labyrinth, entitled the or, by'r lady, some fifty-five years Entrance to the New Theatre Royal, standing, and I can no longer dis- I observe it is not without obvious guise from myself, that the scenes, in reluctance that I am selected as a which I formerly played a part of proper beau to the General Assemsome gratifying degree of conse- bly. Nor indeed can I disguise to quence, are either much altered, or I myself, that I owe even this humble am become somehow less fitted for distinction to the gravity of my phy. my character. Twenty years ago I siognomy and habit, which the diswas a beau garçon of some renown, cerning fair consider as peculiarly escorted Lady Rumpus and Miss calculated to overawe the beadles, by Tibby Dasher to oyster parties, dan- conveying the impression of a Ruling ced with the lovely Lucy J, and Elder. My apartments in Argyle's enjoyed the envied distinction of hande square, those very lodgings where my
petits soupers were accounted such know most of these great men in their desirable parties, have now acquired writings or by tradition. Yet now I a certain shabbiness of aspect, and find my opinions in taste and criticism seem to me contracted in their very are almost as much out of fashion as dimensions. Nay, what is worse than mytoupee and my small silver buckles. all this, my annual income, though Every stripling, whom I remember nominally the same, does not produce an urchin at the High School, seems above half the comforts it used to com- to have shot up into an author or repass. Amid these disconcerting cir- viewer, for the purpose of confuting cumstances, one would have thought my sentiments by dogmatical asserthat I might still have derived some tion, or overwhelming my arguments benefit from a smattering of literature, by professional declamation. This is which, having decorated my conver- so melancholy a truth, that I have sation in my better days, might be learned to rank myself in conversasupposed still in some measure to re- tion according to the rule of prececommend me to society. But I know dence settled at processions ; and nenot how it happens, that even in this ver attempt to declare my own opirespect matters seem strangely altered nion till I am sure all the younger to my disadvantage. The time has members of the company have given been, when I could thrust my head their sentiments. But, notwithstandover the threshold of Mr Creech's ing every compromise which I have shop, and mingle in the first literary endeavoured to make with the spirit society which Scotland then afford- of the time, I feel myself daily becoed, and which (no disparagement to ming more and more a solitary and the present men of letters) has hard. isolated being ; and while I cook my ly been equalled since. I was per- little fire and husband my pint of port, sonally known to Adam Smith, to I cannot but be sensible that these Ferguson, to Robertson, to both are the most important occupations the Humes, and to the lively Lord of my waking day: Kaimes. At a later period, my com I was thus whiling away my evenpany was endured by the Man of ing, with a volume of Don Quixote Feeling, and other distinguished mem. open before me, when my attention bers of the Mirror Club. I have was caught by the account which Altalked on prints and pictures with tisidora gives of the amusement of the Johnie M_-n, have shaken my sides devils in the infernal regions. “I with the facetious Captain Grose over got to the gates of hell,” says she, a bottle of old port, and one evening « where I found a round dozen of had the superlative distinction of hear. devils in their breeches and waistcoats, ing the tremendous Dr Johnson grum- playing at tennis with flaming rackble forth wit and wisdom over a ets; they wore fat bands, with scolshrinking band of North British li- loped Flanders lace, and ruffles of the terati ; so that I may say, with the same ; four inches of their wrist bare magnanimous Slender, “ I have seen to make their hands look the longer, in Sackerson loose, and taken him by which they held rackets of fire. But the chain.” These, sir, are preten- what surprised me most was, that, insions to a respectable place in literary stead of tennis-balls, they made use society, and might entitle me to some of books, that were every whit as deference from my juniors, who only light, and stuffed with wind and flocks,
and such kind of trumpery. This length I came in sight of a very large was indeed most strange and wonder- building, with a court-yard in fronts ful; but what amazed me still more, which I conceived to be the TartaI found that, contrary to the custom rus towards which I had been des of gamesters, among whom the win- cending : I saw, however, neither ning party is at least in good humour, Minos nor Æacus, neither Belial and the losers only angry, these hel nor Beelzebub ; and, to speak plainlish tossers of books of both sides did ly, sir, the building itself seemed ranothing but fret, fume, stamp, curse, ther to resemble your own Pandemoand swear most horribly, as if they nium, than either that of Milton, had been all losers. “ That's no won the Erebus of Virgil, or the dread der at all,” quoth Sancho, “ for your abode of Hela. Cerberus was chaindevils, whether they play or no, win ed near the door ; but, as he had got or lose, they can never be contented.” rid of two of his beads, and concenWhen I had proceeded thus far in my trated their ferocity in that which he author, the light began to fail me. I retained, he did not greatly diffinished my last glass of wine, and fer in appearance from an English threw myself back in my easy chair bull.dog: Had it not been for certo digest what I had read. The lu- tain whips, scourges, gorgon-faces dicrous description of Cervantes be- and other fearful decorations of incame insensibly jumbled with my own fernal architecture, which were disreveries on the critical taste and lite- posed on its front by way of archirary talents of my contemporaries, trave, like the fetters and chains in until I sunk into a slumber. The con- front of Newgate—had it not been, sequence was a dream, which I am I say, for these and similar emblems tempted to send you as an introduc- of disappointment, contempt, and tion to some scraps of poetry, that, mortification, and for a reasonable without it, would be hardly intelli- quantity of Aying dragons and hissing gible.
serpents that occasionally flew in or Methought, sir, I was (like many out of the garret windows, I should of my acquaintance) on the high-way rather have taken the place for an to the place of perdition. The road, immense printing-house than for the however, seemed neither broad, nor infernal regions. But what attractAowery, nor easy, In steepness, in- ed my attention chiefly, was the apdeed, and in mephitic fragrance, the parition of a body of fiends, of differplace of my peregrination was no ent stature, size, and ages, who were bad emblem of the descent of Aver- playing at racket with new books, nus; but, both in these and in other exactly in the manner described by respects, it chiefly resembled a de- Cervantes in the passage I have quoserted close in the more ancient part ted, and whose game was carried on of our good city. Having been ac. and contested with most astonishing customed to the difficulties of such
perseverance in the court-yard I have footing in my younger days, I pick- mentioned. The devils, being, I preed my way, under low-browed arches, sume, of real British extraction, down broken steps, and through were not clad in the Spanish costume miscellaneous filth, with a dexterity of laced bands and scolloped sleeves, which no iron-heeled beau of the pre- and they seemed to have transferred sent day could have emulated. At the pride which Altisidora's fiends