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character of the Gentleman's Magazine. He mourns over the sparsity of my classical quotations. He grieves to be reminded month by month that my periodical is not now that same “record of antiquity, architecture, literature, art, poetry, and history” which erst he knew. And he is sad because it is no longer a register of births, deaths, and marriages.
“When,” he says,
we open the gay cover of the modern-looking magazine, filled with sporting, racing, theatrical and dramatic articles, we find the effort to read it under the old title too much, and merely noting that the time-honoured name of SylvanUS URBAN looks strange in its present company, pass on silently."
As I have said, I am in no mood to quarrel with a chance word or two of seeming disparagement. If my youthful friend the modern Guardian has once and again his mauvais quart d'heure, thinking of those phases of the past which can never come back, what must be the feelings of SylvanUS URBAN, with all his recollections of the things which have wholly and irrevocably vanished? “Quantum mutatus !” our friend cries out, in his spasm of retrospective agony; and “ Quantum mutatus !" I echo, mournfully enough.
Break, break, break,
The ghosts of the dead immortals whose names have been written on these pages rise before me. I forget for the moment all my deeply-rooted regard for the things and the people and the work of to-day; and my thoughts run back still farther, to a date only a little earlier than that which was impressed upon the title-page of Vol. I. of the Gentleman's Magazine. It was but eighteen years anterior to my first words when a new publication, famous for all time as the Guardian, appeared in the world of letters. While the mood is upon me, I will ask my friend to sigh with me also for those memorable days when the Guardian was published every morning, now with an essay by Sir Richard Steele, now with a paper by Addison, and sometimes with a pungent letter by Pope, a bright and philosophical contribution by Berkeley, or a stop-gap epistle the workmanship of the hapless Budgell.
But these are only visions and recollections.
This is not 1731, nor 1713. I will not retort upon my critic of 1872 and say that when I bethink myself of Addison and Steele, of Berkeley and Pope, I find the effort to read the modern pages of the Guardian “too much” and “pass on silently." I have learned to read my Guardian and my Spectator, as I find them in this degenerate age, with a good heart, and I try to do my part in the spirit of the hour, following humbly the example set me by the great men of the time of Queen Anne and of the Georgian era, who were wont to put their hand to the labour before them, never stopping in the heat of the day to look back. It is enough for me that neither my many readers nor any considerable number of those who look to a monthly magazine for a few hours' intellectual recreation would care for a continuation of those particular “records of antiquity, architecture, literature, art, poetry, and history” which delighted some earlier generations; nor perhaps are there a dozen men and women to be found who would appreciate a monthly register of births, deaths, and marriages. Some enterprising editors and publishers have made the test. Picking up the garments I laid aside, they vainly attempted to set up shop with them ; but the imposition was detected and punished.
And why should I trouble with frequent quotations from the dead languages the busiest race of readers for whom editor ever catered ? That which, a hundred years ago, was to a select audience a pleasant reminder of a familiar thought, may seem an impertinence under the wholly altered conditions of the reading world. I take up Vol. I. of the Gentleman's Magazine, and I find that its aim was to be a monthly chronicle “ of all the pieces of wit, humour, or intelligence daily offered to the public in newspapers," whereof in the year 1731, as the preface states, “no less than two hundred halfsheets per month are thrown from the press only in London, and about as many are printed elsewhere in the three kingdoms.” That rôle, I think all my friends will agree, is no longer open to me. I turn to Vol. L., and the Gentleman's is very strong in parliamentary debates, biographical memoirs, and antiquarian researches. Never to be forgotten in the history of the House of Commons are those debates as reported by Dr. Johnson in the columns of this periodical; but I must not continue to fill my pages with summaries of speeches. If a great statesman or wit dies to-morrow, his biography will be done tull justice to next morning in a million broad sheets; and archæology has its special organs, with which it does not appear to be my duty to compete. Here, again, is Vol. C., and I look to the preface to see if I may get a hint of the spirit in which this new series should be conducted. A king of Great Britain and Ireland had died in the previous year, and thus was one of my best writers inspired to refer to the event :-“It has been the melancholy duty of the editors to record in these pages the death of George the Fourth, perhaps the most accomplished monarch that ever sat on the throne of these realms, under whose sway the empire acquired the most brilliant glory in war, and experienced perfect tranquillity and happiness in peace." That was, no doubt, a well-considered and diplomatic reference to the principal catastrophe of the year ; but somehow it does not help me, and I am thrown back upon my impulse of four years ago to work wholly according to the spirit of this intensely modern age, which, after all, has its good points, and is well worth studying and working for.
The volume which I close with these remarks I venture to believe fulfils, the promise of my first preface to this new series. The Guardian professes to dislike sporting and theatrical articles, but my young friend should learn that this kind of clerical affectation is not in keeping with these latter days, when a parson may be good and true and popular, and still ride to hounds and go to the play. Even Stiggins himself, wherever he may be, has modified his style, and I am sure the Guardian is overdoing his part when he turns up the whites of his eyes and elevates his hands in pious horror at “Sporting, racing, theatrical, and dramatic articles.” But that is his business; mine is to please and instruct and to go with the times. With modest deference to the wise, and grateful acknowledgment to the true and the generous, I look back upon the work of my contributors during the past six months and feel assured that this last link is not unworthy of those others which reach back in a long unbroken line to the days of Dettingen and Fontenoy. I have seen our Albert Edward Prince of Wales, with his royal mother, on his way to St. Paul's, and the joy bells of thanksgiving carried my memory back to the eve of my first publication, when another Prince of Wales going into the City stopped at the door of the Rose, near Temple Bar, to drink a toast to the success of the war against Spain. The peaceful demonstration of Thanksgiving Day is more to my taste than the warlike jangle of bells and bugles in 1739. I am quite content to be a labourer in the modern field ; my only hope is that my friends of 1872 may be as contented with the result of my work as their forefathers were “when George the Third was King."
America v. England. By John BAKER HOPKINS
X.–Vanburgh and Farquhar