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not improved till very lately, will rather admire that it should | and we do hereby exhort all whose happy genius has forced be done even now. If a minister of the crown were to de- knowledge upon them, without any trouble on their partsclare that he did not care twopence for all the science in the whether they square the circle, remove the sun, or discover country, he would be no more than the faithful representa- the Logos of St. John to be a central molecule of the unitive of three out of every four educated men, and a much verse,* causing light, heat, attraction, &c., by its vibrationslarger majority of the uneducated. And whose fault is it we exhort them all to work vigorously, until every man of that the majority cannot answer the question, "What is attainments acquired in the usual way is forced to subscribe the use of science ?" or even cordially reply in the affirma- part of his time to a knowledge-rate, to be levied upon the tive as to whether there is any or no. Those who should learned, for the intellectual support of those whose poverty enable them to answer that question are very laudably en- might otherwise drive them into insurrection against truth. gaged, writing for the “ Transactions." They may stand To return to the really scientific part of the community : at the helm, but unless they show and explain the rudder, we admire their labours, we respect their characters, and they must not be surprised if the sailors make their lands- if any one should feel hurt by our remarks, we wish we men passengers believe that the bowsprit steers the ship. knew what terms would best remove the impression : but
This brings us to the second public mode of punishment we must remind them that they draw largely upon us (the for the sins of omission of the scientific world. They have public) for reputation and consideration; we ask that they no refuge in the opinion of the many against any pretender would endeavour to give us some insight into their busiwho shall question their discoveries, ridicule their characters, ness, that we may not be taken in by forgeries. or even deny their sincerity. Let any man (the grosser his It is not that men of science in general, or learned soignorance the fitter he is) undertake the discussion of any cieties, in the slightest degree maintain any anti-diffusion question, the more difficult the better-for it must be ob- principles-it is not that, taken altogether, they do less than served that in such cases confidence in the result is exactly as many other individuals with no pretensions beyond the proportional to the complexity of the subject—let him write results of a common liberal education-it is that they ought a sufficiently unintelligible book, taking care to sprinkle to do a great deal more, and particularly in laying open the plenty about the authority of Newton, and combinations of first approaches to knowledge. The elementary parts of ignorant philosophers to mislead the world,- let him attack every subject are those which require from a writer the some individuals by name, and challenge discussion with greatest knowledge of the higher parts; and some efforts to earnestness (N.B. He must be particular about this, for it make the former accessible are due from all who have exis his strong point]—and he shall never lack followers. The tended the latter. We are happy to say that there are some absurdity of his ignorance, and his incapacity to learn, from who begin to do this; and we might quote more than one not knowing the nature of the experimental truths he talks remark, which induces us to suspect that the necessity of about, will render every man who knows the subject per-| enabling the world to judge between the real and the counfectly indifferent about him. Let him be ready to construe terfeit, was present to their minds when they wrote. indifference into persecution, and he shall strut for the re. The policy of labouring to inform the public, ought to be mainder of his days, the Galileo of a country town, a noble even more clearly visible to scientific men as members of soexample of conscious merit suffering under &c. &c. To cieties than as individuals. There is hardly anything more crown the whole, when shall he pass the pastry-cook's or unwieldy to resist an attack than a learned association. It the reading-room without being pointed out to distinguished has no specific defender, and must, therefore, trust entirely foreigners (if it be market-day) as the man who wrote a to the hazard of having some one + among its members book about the signs of the zodiac, which all the philoso- who will take up its cause. There is in many minds some phers in London could not answer ?"
feeling of gratification at the errors, real or supposed, of To be serious, there are such pretenders, and the public illustrious bodies; and an individual who fastens himself to is to a certain extent justified by the negligence of men of a society, for the purpose of attack, generally has the symscience in at least suspending its judgment. If the philo- pathies of a great many with him at the outset. How much sophers are not in combination to mislead the world, there one person may do, when the society has taken no pains to has been at least but very small evidence of any desire on make the public cognizant of its proceedings, will be obvitheir parts to lead it right. Between two sentences written ous to any one who reads Sir John Hill's animadversions on in an unknown language, no one can decide ; and how is the “ Philosophical Transactions." These, at the end of the the world to say whether the unknown words of our Galileo, last century, contained more than a due proportion of or those of Laplace, are most worthy of being counted papers on medicine and natural history-sciences which had
not then, to say the least, profited by the maxims of Bacon But the really hard part of the case (and here the com- to the extent which they have since done. Such papers munity which tolerates is not without blame) is that those accordingly contained many misstatements or exaggerations who do most conspicuously come forward for public instruction, of fact, mixed up with useful matter. The Society was not are precisely those who are marked for annoyance. To be greatly in fault, for it was very difficult to know where to sure it may be said that the obscurity of the offender saves him begin' rejecting communications merely because they were from general disapprobation, and we hope (on second thoughts extraordinary, and moreover the body was not answerable we believe) we are right in supposing that no such proceeding for the truth of the assertions, it being understood, in every as the one we now name would be tolerated, in any work of such institution, that the general utility is all which it guasufficient notoriety to provoke the consideration of whether rantees, leaving the authors responsible for the truth of the it were tolerable or not. We could mention an instance in details, when they are matters of observation or experiwhich a man, whose very name is among the proudest asso
ment. Sir John Hill, above mentioned, made a careful colciations of English science, and whose character, public and lection of absurdities, and by exaggerating them in some private, would justify to the letter an extent of eulogy which instances, carefully excluding all mention of more credible is usually reserved for the monumental inscription, and who matter, and dressing up the whole in a very rich and pecumoreover is well known to the public at large for the success liar vein of humorous sarcasm, he produced his “ Review of his attempts at popular illustration, has been attacked in of the Works of the Royal Society," which no one can read foul terms, and stands charged with intentional dishonesty. without having on his mind some of the feeling, with regard It seems he refused to consider, and recommend to the con- to that body, which successful ridicule always leaves. Now, sideration of others, the book-dreams of an unfortunate in- had the Royal Society taken care to put the public in posdividual, who, having nothing to do, refused the employment session of such general information as was (to all but men for that case made and provided, of settling the nation, and of science) locked up in their
“ Transactions "-had it preferred to settle the universe. We will abstain from any been a diffusion as well as an extension society—in the further exposure, nor should we have thought this comment first place, errors might have been corrected from time to necessary, had the misguided speculator confined himself to the stars and planets, and not attempted to vilify the moral
* We can assure our readers that this is a literal truth. We character of men who are equally beyond his reach. We have waited for years to edge it in somewhere, for it is far too good would never allude to ignorance alone in any definite personal form; but let ignorance, united with contempt for the rights We certainly do not think the University has come off ill, having
* For example, the University of Cambridge and Mr. Beverley. of others, be assured that Dunciad treatment is prescribed its favour the masterly, and from all we know of Cambridge, cora for the case, and that we keep a little medicine always by rect, vindication of Professor Sedgwick: but we may ask, would it us. But while we dislike the offender, we admire and en- not be wise in the friends of the University to make the public more courage the offence, so far as it consists in mere pretension; I acquainted with the real system at Cambridge?
to be lost.
time, and writers rendered more cautious of taking matters only feebly seen through the smoky vapours of our horizon, of fact upon trust; in the second place, any ill-natured affords to our antipodes the splendid prospect of constellatendency to dwell upon errors only would have produced no tions different from ours, and excelling them in brilliancy effect upon a community, which had good direct reason to and richness. The vivid beauty of the southern cross has know that the balance was much in favour of the Society. been sung by poets, and celebrated by the pen of the most
If it be answered that it is very difficult for a body which accomplished of civilized travellers, and the shadowy lustre has a great deal to do in its ordinary business, to spread of the Magellanic clouds has supplied imagery for the dim abroad as well as to collect, we reply that we admit the and doubtful mythology of the most barbarous nations upon difficulty ; nor do we call upon them to adopt this new line, earth. But it is the task of the astronomer to open up under penalty of censure if they refuse. It is the incon- | these treasures of the southern sky, and display to mankind venience to themselves, and the depreciation to which their their secret and intimate relations. Apart, however, from pursuits are exposed by the incapacity of the public to speculative considerations, a perfect knowledge of the astrojudge between them and any pretenders who may oppose nomy of the southern hemisphere is becoming daily an them, that we point out as proper grounds for a new mode object of greater practical interest, now that civilization and of exertion. If they reply that they are willing to bear the intercourse are rapidly spreading through these distant inconvenience, we have no answer left, but to thank them regions--that our own colonies are rising into importance for the good they really do, to request that they will never and that the vast countries of South America are gradually complain of our making a mistake between Newton and assuming a station in the list of nations corresponding with some Mr. Know-nothing, who shows, in a book which we their extent and natural advantages. It is no longer poscan no more understand than he can the Principia, that he sible to remain content with the limited and inaccurate is the greater man of the two; and finally, to express a knowledge we have hitherto possessed of southern stars, now charitable hope that their nuisances may multiply five that we have a new geography to create, and latitudes and hundred-fold, until, in sheer vexation, they have a will to longitudes without end to determine by their aid." abate them—and then we shrewdly suspect they will find a We may add to our brief account, that many of the ab
stracts of particular papers are given in a very full shape, We do not mean the preceding remarks to apply to any and are sufficiently simple to interest the general reader. comments which may have been made on what we may call For instance, the account of the mural circle by Mr. Sheepthe domestic affairs of societies. Of these, every man who shanks (vol. ii. p. 91) and Sir J. Herschel's description of knows the world is a competent judge; nor do we know of Biela's comet (vol. ii. p. 117). anything which should distinguish scientific bodies from The volumes published by the Royal Society embrace, of others, as to such matters. We proceed to the description course, a wider range and greater extent of subjects. We of the works which stand at the head of this article.
regret that they do not contain anything connected with the In the year 1827, the advantage of quick circulation of bistory or proceedings of the Society ; but this may, at any astronomical observations induced the Astronomical Society time, be remedied by another volume, for which, we should to begin publishing monthly notices, giving such abstracts conceive, they must have ample materials. But we are of their proceedings as might be serviceable to the members very well pleased with what does appear, which is, abstracts in general, few of whom might be supposed either capable of all the papers read from 1800 to 1830, specifying the or desirous of reading the more detailed investigations in distinct results of each, omitting entirely mathematical prothe quarto Memoirs of the Society. The Royal and Geolo- cesses, and referring to the volume of the “Transactions gical * Societies have since adopted the same plan; and we in which each is printed. It would require a greater range have before us two volumes from each of the first Societies. of knowledge than we can claim, to give a fair analysis of We take them in the order of publication.
the manner in which the whole is executed; but the test to The details of astronomical observations, the directions which the work can be easily submitted will establish its how to proceed with regard to coming phenomena, and merit. On reading over various abstracts, and trying to descriptions of instruments or processes, cannot be expected judge whether we had obtained as distinct a notion of the to possess much general interest; but the annual reports object and results of each paper as could be given in so of the Society, and the addresses of the various presidents short a space, we often found our previous expectations exon the delivery of medals, ought to have their attractions ceeded, and very rarely disappointed. We give an instance, for the whole of the educated world. The former contain a taken from a chance opening of the second volume, p. 192. sketch of what has been done for astronomy during the “On the Condensation of Gases into Liquids. By Mr. past year, together with short notices of eminent individuals Faraday, &c. Communicated by Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., who have died during that time. Thus we find some ac- P.R.S.' Read April 10, 1823. (Phil. Trans., 1823, p. 189.) count of Bode, Fraunhofer, Piazzi, Laplace, Wollaston, Fal- “ The gases which the author has succeeded in condenslows, Foster, Pons, Grégoire, Groombridge, Zach, and ing into the liquid form, are the sulphurous acid, sulOriani. The latter contain valuable specific accounts of phuretted hydrogen, carbonic acid, euchlorine, nitrous oxide, the grounds upon which every medal was awarded; and cyanogen, ammonia, muriatic acid, and chlorine. The usually give a sketch of the history of discovery with process by which they were condensed consisted in liberegard to the point in question. Among them, the addresses rating them from certain of their compounds in small glass of Sir J. Herschel hold the most conspicuous place; and we tubes, hermetically sealed and bent, so that when required, have no hesitation in saying they are the most beautiful the end might answer the purpose of a receiver, and be octhings of their kind, both in respect to style, imagery, and casionally immersed in ice or freezing mixtures. They matter. In recommending them to our readers as a source generally appear as exceedingly limpid, colourless, and of rational delight, we extract a passage (vol. i. p. 57) mobile fluids, and assume the gascous form with various which has now become somewhat curious, when viewed in degrees of rapidity and violence upon the removal of the connexion with the author's interesting voyage to the Cape pressure by which they had been previously restrained. of Good Hope, for the purpose of observing the southern “In this paper Mr. Faraday details the particular method hemisphere.
to which he resorted for obtaining each of these liquid “ Nothing can be more interesting in the eyes of an bodies, and describes such of the characters as his experiEuropean astronomer, especially to those whose field of ments have hitherto enabled him to determine. research, like our own, is limited by a considerable northern Liquid sulphurous acid appears to exert a pressure of latitude, than the southern hemisphere, where a new heaven, about 2 atmospheres at 45°. The pressure of the vapour of as well as a new earth, is offered to his speculations, and sulphuretted hydrogen was equal to about 13 atmospheres where the distance, the novelty, and the grandeur of the at 32°, that of carbonic acid to 40 atmospheres at 45°, of scenes thus laid open to human inquiry, lend a character nitrous oxide 48 atmospheres at 50°, of cyanogen between almost romantic to their pursuit.
3 and 4 atmospheres at 45°, of muriatic acid 28 atmospheres "A celestial surface, equal to a fourth part of the whole at 32°. area of the heavens, wbich is here for ever concealed from “ The author's attempts to obtain hydrogen, oxygen, our sight, or whose extreme borders, at least, if visible, are fluoric, fluosilicic, and phosphuretted hydrogen gases in the
form of liquids, have hitherto been without success." * We are not aware that any have been yet published by this
On looking through the volumes we do not find any very useful and thriving Society; and we regret that we can make falling off in the manner of stating the results; and consino more than a bare mention of them. We hope, however, some dering that these abstracts, when drawn up, were not inday to supply this defect.
tended for publication, but were simply entered on the
journals of the Society, we must say that they are honour- “ 'Tis from high life high characters are drawn," able evidence of good philosophical precision in its internal by studying the attitudes of their fashionable heroes and management, so far as the scientific department is con- heroines " below stairs." Had the “Literary Gazette" and cerned. The utility of such a work, accompanied, as this its prodigies been the only parties concerned, all this would is, by a good index, must be obvious to all who know the have been fair enough-they acted on the reciprocity system. trouble of hunting facts through a series of quarto trans- The “Gazette," which would have been a minnow among actions. For the manner in which all three societies have the Tritons, was a Triton among the minnows; and the prepared their valuable information in a form accessible to minnows jostling each other in their own streamlets, bright all who read, they deserve the thanks, and for the spirit in with periodical praise, fancied themselves which they have courted investigation into their methods of
“ Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.” philosophizing, the respect, of the public.
To the public they looked like Tritons and Leviathans, through the great magnifier of the “ Literary Gazette ;
just as a bloodless and boneless animalcule shows as some THE LITERARY NEWSPAPERS.
powerful beast through Mr. Carpenter's microscope. The
magnifier was indeed sometimes cloudy; and the minute The practice of publishing at short and regular intervals an thing was dimly seen " through a fog of pun and quibble account of proceedings in literature and science originated and affected smartness. But still there was something with the Germans. Literary newspapers had been for some which to the uninitiated looked "very like a whale." time current among that people when the English were still
In its pursuit of immortał writers among “the small deer" confined to Reviews published quarterly or monthly, and to of the day, as the “ Literary Gazette" could not find them monthly Magazines.
ready made, it ventured on the doubtful task of prophesying In the beginning of the year 1817, a period when publish- that they would be made, and undertook the care of fostering was carried on with great activity in this country, the ing and maturing them. A great foundling hospital was “ Literary Gazette," the first newspaper devoted to litera-established for the “enfans trouvées" of polite literature; ture in England, made its appearance. The projectors of and here they were to be nursed, and fed, and clothed, and the “ Literary Gazette not only saw the inefficiency or indeed educated, at the public charge. Capacious as may incompleteness of the reviews and magazines as guides for be the House of Fame, we doubt whether it will ultimately the selection of books, but they also felt the important finan- contain all these small immortals without an enlargement of cial objection, with regard to the many, as to the price of the premises. The second faculty of the Vates seems those periodical works. They therefore at once determined indeed to have had peculiar charms in the eyes of the “ Liteto produce a cheaper article than any till then in the market, rary Gazette," and has certainly been used by it as a tool and published the “Gazette” in weekly numbers, stamped suited to a variety of work. Except on very particular ocat 1s., and afterwards unstamped at 8d. each. It is re- casions, it would have been rather too bold even for the markable that the very persons who are now most clamorous “Gazette" to assure the public that the poem or the roagainst the system of diffusion and cheap works, and who mance of the last foundling was quite equal to anything of call out upon the people and the representatives of the people Milton's or Scott's; but the “Gazette" could prophesy from to put down all innovation on the antient and revered laws the evidence before it-from the extraordinary talent and of publishing, were themselves amongst the most daring promise displayed,—that at some future day its little Benjainnovators. When Cave established his “ Gentleman's min would be a ruler in Israel. Magazine" the Folio empire of the Lintots and Osbornes, It was the same with artists as with writers,- for the the great legitimates of the day, received a perilous blow; “ Gazette" prophesied for both, and in much the same but when Criticism descended from her throne,
Years succeed years, however, as rapidly for “ And on the wings of mighty winds !
poets, painters, and critics, as for people of less pretension, Came flying all abroad,"
and we are already, as far as regards most of the soothsay
ings of the “ Literary Gazette," on the safe side of prophesy, in the shape of weekly sheets, it was easy to predict that the and can judge of it after
the event. And what has been the Quurto dynasty would soon glide into the transition state. event? The legion of giants who came out of the sea at the The people would, it is quite certain, grow tired, as old call of the magician, have gone very quietly each into a Osborne has quaintly said, of “ the ox roasted whole at little box, where the seal of Solomon will keep them locked Bartholemew fair," and look for the savoury cutlets of a size up for a thousand years of perfect oblivion. adapted to each man's appetite. The “ Literary Gazette"
The close sympathy and connexion existing between the was at the head of the cutlet révolution ; but it did not un
Literary Gazette" and the small wits about town soon derstand its own position. For seventeen years it has only produced a coterie, or exclusive club, the members of which seen the great body of the people through the medium of were allowed to write in the journal that praised them, and opulent booksellers, and of coteries of the professors of what sometimes to take the business of self-praise into their own the French call “ La Littérature facile," or, as Pope said hands. The coterie are indissolubly bound together by a before the French, of “the mob of gentlemen who write genial freemasonry, and have their countersign and their with ease." The first quality essential to the proper conduct of such a who, if he had not been born three centuries too early, would
Shibboleth. The process is described by Master Slender, work was strict impartiality; but the shares of the “Ga- have had a " zette" were mainly held by extensive publishers of the books her in white and cry mum-she cries budget.".
Literary Gazette " of his own: “I come to
The of the day, who were not likely to have the magnanimity to worshipful brotherhood, secure in their alliance offensive permit one portion of their property to be fairly dealt with and defensive, can make the welkin ring again with their in another portion of their property. This was an evil, trumpetings :however, which public opinion would greatly countervail ; and upon the whole, we think, the besetting sin of the “ They are the only knowing men of Europe, “ Gazette" has not been in that direction. Praise, indeed,
Great general schulars, excellent physicians, and that of a tolerably hyperbolical character, has been
Most admired statesmen, professed favourites, bestowed upon most of the works published by its pro
And cabinet counsellors to the greatest princes, · prietors ; but this was no exception to the general tone of the
The only languaged men of all the world.” paper. The “Gazette,'' moreover, became a great advertising The code of the coterie is short and simple:—that British medium for publishers; and thus the pay and the praise literature was scarcely born, and certainly could not go slid very easily into commercial channels. But the all- alone, until the days of Mr. Colburn's Novels, the “ Literary benevolent liberality of puff which, if the "Literary Gazette" Gazette," and the Annuals ; that useful information for the were historical authority, would plate over the last seventeen people is not literature ; that industry and learning imply years of English literature (in many respects the brazen age of necessity. a total want of originality; that a diligent of letters) with the most brilliant gold-leaf, has proceeded search after all-published and unpublished authorities, and from a perfectly different source than the tact of the trade. a building up of opinions upon such carefully laid founda
From its very commencement the Literary Gazette" tions, are compilation and plagiary ; that the “Royal Society identified itself with the small fry of literature, and gave of Literature " ought to be maintained as a public conservaitself up to the pleasant illusion of finding prodigies of tory for men of genius," to be selected out of the foundlings genius in young ladies gifted with a precocious facility of of the “ Literary Gazette;" that any author who shall prerhyming, and in young gentlemen who reversed the principle sume to read “Herodotus " except in Mr. Beloe's so-called
translation, shall be deemed to be “ an obscure literary | liament to prohibit the reduction of literary prices and the drudge;" that the Society for the Diffusion of Useful shameful sale of cheap publications. * Knowledge is a great monopoly, because it makes books The merit of first trying the experiment of cheap prices cheap; and that the two Universities and the Stationers' could not, indeed, be claimed by the “ Athenæum;' but Company are, as Dr. Gregory has well declared, the three there is virtue in following a good example, and some sense eyes of England. This is the true faith of the “ Literary shown in adopting a novel view of political economy as reGazette" coterie, which except a man believe faithfully, &c. garded the press, which, with its productions, is as much The unbelievers, we grieve to say, are put under ban and subjected to the laws of demand and supply as any other anathema in a way that even Slop would have shrunk from branch of trade. -especially so if the unbelievers belong to the penny When, however, at a later period, the “ Athenæum," heresy. Upon this point the coterie will accept no compro- after having profited by the example afforded by the Society mise. They are as intolerant as the grammarian who said for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge-after having asked, to another grammarian, “God confound you for your theory it is said, the Society for the use of its name, and been told of impersonal verbs."
that the use of the name and active superintendence (which There have been times when the public have questioned in this case could not be given) were inseparable-after the infallibility of this a little senate of letters ; and have having "chalked the walls " in such a manner as to make even doubted the purity of its Cato, the “ Literary Gazette." many of the public believe it was published under the superByron, a despiser of most established authorities, rentured intendence of this body-when, we say, after all this the to describe the coterie as
“ Athenæum " turned with abuse upon the Society because
it saw fit to publish a periodical work cheaper still than " fellows
the “ Athenæum,-we could only congratulate the “ AtheIn foolscap uniform, turned up with ink,
næum” upon its diligent study of the philosophy of PanSo very clever, anxions, fine, and jealous,
gloss, and conclude with him, that as legs were made for One knows not what to say to them or think,
stockings and not stockings for legs, so the public were Unless to puff them with a pair of bellows."
made for “ Athenæums" and “Literary Gazettes," and not
Literary Gazettes" and “Athenæums" for the public. This was wicked; but it was more wicked to hint of any | The “ Athenæum," acting under the real impulse of that critic " that he had the money.” Sometimes the unhappy madness which King Canute only feigned, says to cheappurchasers of books, comparing them with the articles that ness, thus far shalt ihou go, and no farther. The pioneers recommended them to their notice, have been led to suspect in the march of cheapness draw nice distinctions. Eightthat the golden opinions of a journal may be bought with pence per week is orthodox; four-pence per week is within more substantial gold. This is altogether a mistake. The the pale of toleration ; but a penny per week is damnable critics have followed the march of the constitution. The
heresy :courtly touch of influence has succeeded to the rough hug of bribery. Under Sir Robert Walpole, it is said, the corrupt
“ That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is foul blasphemy." members of the House of Commons made a direct bargain and sale of their votes for cash in hand; but titles and rib- We hope that the “ Penny Magazine" will not, in any bons, the smiles of the court, and the bows of the minister, distant day, look down upon a farthing magazine, and conwere gradually substituted for the guineas. Corruption still dole with the penny aristocracy upon the degradation of lilived and devoured-it only changed its aliment. In the terature. same manner, if we are to place any faith in literary his- We are quite ready to acknowledge that the “ Athetory, the critics of former times occasionally sold a compli- næum" is conducted with more fairness and talent than ment and bought a coat. But now the dinner and the rout its rival, the “ Literary Gazette." Its partialities are less -the upper place at “ good men's feasts,"—the “ greet- glaring - its foundlings less numerous. In spite, howings in the market-places from those who register their ever, of these comparative merits, and the additional advannames in the “ Court Guide, "—and above all the nod of tage of occasionally containing contributions from two or recognition from the coroneted carriage, such things are three writers of originality and spirit, the “ Athenæum" baits irresistible to certain appetites, and the gratitude of has failings of principle which ought not to exist with the a good-natured man knows no stint. The old “ solid pud- endeavour after a large sale. Honesty is “ the one thing ding" was, however, we think, a better arrangement for needful" for those who build upon the support of the many. the critic, and not a bit more degrading to the dignity of The coteries may club a misrepresentation, and they may letters.
have their official organ for its production, but it will not The success of the “ Gazette"—a success which grew out succeed with the plain, straightforward sense of the English of the general craving for information which deprived lite people. When the “ Athenæum " more than hinted that rature of its old, exclusive character-naturally excited a volume of Criminal Trials, published with the name of competition. The “Literary Chronicle," the “ Weekly Re- a barrister well known to the world and his profession for view," the "Athenæum," the “ Edinburgh Literary Jour- integrity and learning, contained those disgraceful records nal," and several other papers devoted to letters and the which are incentives to the worst passions, the insult was to Fine Arts, presented themselves to the public. The “ Athe- the public and not to the writer ; he had only to say, “ The næum," which has passed through many hands, is the only critic has not opened my booklet the public judge between one of these that survives. All the rest perished prema- us." The book at once, in spite of the critic, became an turely, because they could not secure the patronage of the authority upon the progress of our constitutional law—the great publishing houses, and did not take up a proper po- most important history, and the materials for history. Did sition to command that of the body of the people, who were the critic ever apologize for his crime?
“ The Tenth don't hungering for solid intellectual food, but knew not where to apologize." The public, however, will not bear such outobtain it. Even the “ Athenæum," which, for some time, rages with impunity. We hope that mistakes of this sort had eschewed puffing, and had been conducted on honest are exceptions to the general course of the Athenæum." principles, after having in vain attempted to ally itself with In truth, we believe that the errors of both papers, proceed some potent bookseller, was in the last stage of decline, when rather from the morbid craving after novelty, and the haste it was bought by its present proprietors and confided to the of the critic to produce the sheet nursing of its present editor. And what was the first great
“ Where new-boru nonsense first is taught to cry,” cure resorted to by these gentlemen to restore its declining health and to give it a strength it had not hitherto pos- | than from any deliberate wickedness. The great object sessed? It was, to reduce its price from 8d. to 4d. and thus of the “ Athenæum," as it is that of the “Gazette," is to bring it more within the means of the people. When this secure to itself the first notice of all new books, and a continual measure was announced, the editor of the “Literary Gazette" succession of variety—the quality is a minor consideration. cried out degradation, innovation, sacrilege! The small It may be necessary to inform the uninitiated that it has coterie who felt that they could not live except by large long been the usage for booksellers to present to these and prices from the few, went about the town denouncing the other journals, gratuitously, and generally some time before * Athenæum" as a foul traitor that had set a precedent for the day of publication, a copy of every new work they are debasing literature, and starving men of genius." We about to bring out. Now it is barely possible that such a copy, almost wonder they did not take the step recommended in by accident or design, may be sent to the “Gazette" before the the “ New Monthly Magazine," and petition king and par- Athenæum," and reviewed in the former work first; and
that then the “ Athenæum," inflamed with rage by the | any one claiming the title from the school show any symdisrespect that has been shown to it, may borrow Jove's paihy with the people, or make any effort to elevate their thunders for the nonce, and do the said book to death in tastes and intellectual condition. The “man of genius" its columns. In the same “ Drawcansir fashion" may the must limit the reading of books of any “ mark or likelihood" “ Literary Gazette" treat the recreant work that has found as Henry VIII. tried to limit the circulation of the Bible. its way to the desk of the reviewer and been distilled into The books of taste may be read, as the Bible might be read, the review of the “ Atheneum " before being submitted to the by an officer of state, or a noble lady or gentlewoman in high award of the rival paper. The worst consequence of this her garden ; but the vulgar,-have they not the “ Newgate craving for variety in each of these bloodhounds of “genius" | Calendar ?" The “man of genius," moreover, must sepais that most of the critiques are done in a hasty, slovenly, rate himself from the people by proving that he is, in no inexact manner. The editors seem to think that on every Sa- sense of the word, a working man. He is no producer, but turday the “literary lower empire" is drawing to an end; they shall he not establish his right to be a consumer, by knowing hear the barbarian at the gates. “ What in heaven's name those ean you do with those lieaps of new books ?" said a friend to
• Whose bonds are current for commodity ?”a celebrated Northern critic—“ Why, I judge of them as I do of a ham,” was the reply; " I stick a bodkin through The weekly critics and their allies have given an entirely them and smell it !" The joke of the dining-room is re- new sense to what was once an almost sacred denomination, peated as a grave precept by the footmen in the kitchen. They have made it a by-word and a scorn.
For the proper conduct of a work which shall treat of all The “ compiler"—the “ literary drudge"-is of course all branches of literature, science, and art, as these journals that the “man of genius" is not. But he is something profess to do, a rather numerous association of competent more. He is a man of education and experience, who individuals, and a nice division of labour, are indispensable. having no faith in knowledge and taste by intuition, The man who can write on belles lettres may not be a pro- has endeavoured to obtain them by careful study. He is found historian—the historian may be neither a mathema- one that collects facts, that systematizes facts, that builds tician nor a natural philosopher, the best critic on the fine his assertions upon facts, and will assert nothing without arts may be but an indifferent geographer—and even the facts. The “literary drudge,"—or, as he has been elegantly author of a “first-rate" novel may be totally ignorant of described by a monthly critic of tastes and habits congenial metaphysics. It thus sometimes happens that the servant to the weekly, " the obscure literary drudge, who has not a of all-work of the literary papers converts, in his haste, a single idea in his head save what he filches from the British syllogism into a joke, and a joke into a syllogism ; appre- Museum,"— believes, with D'Alembert, that a man ought to hends that what he cannot understand is not understandable; be sufficiently cautious what he speaks, but very cautious explains the obscure in the way of the translator of Cibber, what he writes; and believing thus, he is not likely to miswho turned “ Love's Last Shift" into “ La Dernière Che- take asseverations for truths, and afterwards to eat his facts mise de l'Amour;" and classifies his titles like the catalogue with a choke-pear of “dates" into the bargain. He is one, maker, who put Edgeworth's.“ Irish Bulls" amongst his therefore, that despises the “we-perfectly-well remember works of " Natural History." He is not as honest as the school of writers, whose remembrances are, in most cases, poor Abbé de Marolles, who, whenever he came to a stum- the dozy creations of their own muddy brains,--the daybling-block in the works which he undertook to translate, dreams of ignorant presumption, frankly said, “ I have not translated this passage, because
“ Looking through all things with its half-shut eyes," — it is very difficult, and in truth I could never understand it." What Johnson, in his odd mixture of truth and prejudice, too happy in its own power of neutralizing the malignant by said of the Frenchman, may be applied to the indivisible the stupid, to hesitate one instant about authorities. He is master-minds of these literary papers :
one, however, that does not answer the “ criticism " All sciences a weekly critic knows;
we perfectly-well-remember " school with abuse ;-he is of Alexander's opinion, that it is better to fight Darius than
to revile him. Henry Fitzsermon, an Irish Jesuit of another But we refrain. They have a wearisome pilgrimage to age, was such a lover of controversy, that he said he felt perform on earth, amidst smiles and frowns, solicitations like a bear tied to a stake, and wanted somebody to bait and threatenings-the uncut copy ofthe expectant publisher, him. The drudge will not indulge the Jesuit. The drudge and the cut direct of the disappointed patron. No wonder has his own work to do. The landmarks of his course that they make their pilgrimage as easy as they can, and are few, and he is not deceived by false lights. He is one “ take the liberty to boil their peas." They are the advanced that does not believe in the Colburn æra of the creation guard of the army of letters, and they carry small baggage on of literature ;– he is one that prefers Byron to L. E. L., their march. A little grammar and rhetoric, (sometimes very Burns to Allan Cunningham, and Hamlet to the Hunchlittle,)—a few sounding commonplaces of praise or blame-a back; – he is one that cannot be tempted by all the puff for their friends and a sneer for all the rest of the world reviews and puffs employed in "working" a fashionable La determination to uphold the principle, that as mankind novel entirely to resign the pursuit of useful information, were once divided into Greeks and barbarians, so there are or to forget that for the hours of his leisure there are only now two classes,--the clicque and the condemned,—the such works as those of Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, believers and the unbelievers,-St. John Long and the Use and Scott. Instead of doing the “ littérature facile" of ful Knowledge Society,—“the wrong" Montgomery and the weekly gazettes, and monthly magazines and annuals, the * Penny Magazine."
literary drudge' is one that devotes himself to the more And all this is for the impartial love of what the “ Li- serious and somewhat more laborious task of conveying terary Gazette" and the “ Athenæum" call “men of lessons of sound morality to the people-of collecting and genius.". What ale was to Boniface, the “men of genius" condensing useful knowledge for them, and presenting it to are to their critics. They eat the “man of genius," and them (as knowledge has hitherto been but too rarely prethey drink “the man of genius," and they serve up the sented) in the attractive garb of simplicity. His business “man of genius" to their customers, as Pelops was served up is to convert the crude ores of learning into the fine gold of to the gods, limb by limb. The “man of genius" suits the knowledge. The “men of genius" of our critics, when they calibre of those who usher his commodity into the market. take, as they sometimes attempt, to petty labours of utility, The critic himself is a “man of genius," for
do with the old stores of learning as the daughters of Pelias Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat."
did with their father's body—they boil the bones in a caul
dron, and the world finds that the spirit even of the old man of genius," by the critic's showing, is one that man is gone ;-the“ drudges" put a new life into the body of can produce a piece of rhyme of a certain length, without the old man, as the enchantress did, who gave her father's betraying a symptom of ever having drunk of the collected rigid limbs pliancy—“his feeble step strength and steadifounts of human knowledge. He is one that can make, at ness—his pale and inexpressive features beauty and animatwenty-four hours notice, a five-act play, with a coup de tion." One Swift, however, has described the two classes; théatre or a striking position in each act. He is one that --and the description is still fresh and appropriate after a can generate a three volume novel, out of an alliance of the century and a quarter. But Swift, perhaps, was not a dandyism of the drawing-room with the second-hand vulgarity of the servants' hall. To be useful is decidedly, ac
man of genius," and was prejudiced in favour of the
drudges : cording to this school, not to be a “man of genius ;" nor musť “ Upon the highest corner of a large window there dwelt
And bid him