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not improved till very lately, will rather admire that it should be done even now. If a minister of the crown were to declare that he did not care twopence for all the science in the country, he would be no more than the faithful representative of three out of every four educated men, and a much larger majority of the uneducated. And whose fault is it that the majority cannot answer the question, "What is the use of science?" or even cordially reply in the affirmative as to whether there is any or no. Those who should enable them to answer that question are very laudably engaged, writing for the "Transactions." They may stand at the helm, but unless they show and explain the rudder, they must not be surprised if the sailors make their landsmen passengers believe that the bowsprit steers the ship.
and we do hereby exhort all whose happy genius has forced knowledge upon them, without any trouble on their partswhether they square the circle, remove the sun, or discover the Logos of St. John to be a central molecule of the universe,* causing light, heat, attraction, &c., by its vibrationswe exhort them all to work vigorously, until every man of attainments acquired in the usual way is forced to subscribe part of his time to a knowledge-rate, to be levied upon the learned, for the intellectual support of those whose poverty might otherwise drive them into insurrection against truth. To return to the really scientific part of the community: we admire their labours, we respect their characters, and if any one should feel hurt by our remarks, we wish we knew what terms would best remove the impression: but we must remind them that they draw largely upon us (the public) for reputation and consideration; we ask that they would endeavour to give us some insight into their business, that we may not be taken in by forgeries.
This brings us to the second public mode of punishment for the sins of omission of the scientific world. They have no refuge in the opinion of the many against any pretender who shall question their discoveries, ridicule their characters, or even deny their sincerity. Let any man (the grosser his ignorance the fitter he is) undertake the discussion of any question, the more difficult the better-for it must be observed that in such cases confidence in the result is exactly proportional to the complexity of the subject-let him write a sufficiently unintelligible book, taking care to sprinkle plenty about the authority of Newton, and combinations of ignorant philosophers to mislead the world,-let him attack some individuals by name, and challenge discussion with earnestness [N.B. He must be particular about this, for it is his strong point]—and he shall never lack followers. The absurdity of his ignorance, and his incapacity to learn, from not knowing the nature of the experimental truths he talks about, will render every man who knows the subject perfectly indifferent about him. Let him be ready to construe indifference into persecution, and he shall strut for the remainder of his days, the Galileo of a country town, a noble example of conscious merit suffering under &c. &c. To crown the whole, when shall he pass the pastry-cook's or the reading-room without being pointed out to distinguished foreigners (if it be market-day) as "the man who wrote a book about the signs of the zodiac, which all the philosophers in London could not answer?"
It is not that men of science in general, or learned societies, in the slightest degree maintain any anti-diffusion principles-it is not that, taken altogether, they do less than as many other individuals with no pretensions beyond the results of a common liberal education-it is that they ought to do a great deal more, and particularly in laying open the first approaches to knowledge. The elementary parts of every subject are those which require from a writer the greatest knowledge of the higher parts; and some efforts to make the former accessible are due from all who have extended the latter. We are happy to say that there are some who begin to do this; and we might quote more than one remark, which induces us to suspect that the necessity of enabling the world to judge between the real and the counterfeit, was present to their minds when they wrote.
The policy of labouring to inform the public, ought to be even more clearly visible to scientific men as members of societies than as individuals. There is hardly anything more unwieldy to resist an attack than a learned association. It has no specific defender, and must, therefore, trust entirely to the hazard of having some one among its members who will take up its cause. There is in many minds some 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 true? not then, to say the least, profited by the maxims of Bacon to the extent which they have since done. Such papers accordingly contained many misstatements or exaggerations of fact, mixed up with useful matter. The Society was not greatly in fault, for it was very difficult to know where to begin rejecting communications merely because they were extraordinary; and moreover the body was not answerable for the truth of the assertions, it being understood, in every such institution, that the general utility is all which it guarantees, leaving the authors responsible for the truth of the details, when they are matters of observation or experiment. Sir John Hill, above mentioned, made a careful collection of absurdities, and by exaggerating them in some instances, carefully excluding all mention of more credible matter, and dressing up the whole in a very rich and peculiar vein of humorous sarcasm, he produced his Review of the Works of the Royal Society," which no one can read without having on his mind some of the feeling, with regard to that body, which successful ridicule always leaves. Now, had the Royal Society taken care to put the public in possession of such general information as was (to all but men of science) locked up in their "Transactions "—had it been a diffusion as well as an extension society-in the first place, errors might have been corrected from time to
But the really hard part of the case (and here the community which tolerates is not without blame) is that those who do most conspicuously come forward for public instruction, are precisely those who are marked for annoyance. To be sure it may be said that the obscurity of the offender saves him from general disapprobation, and we hope (on second thoughts we believe) we are right in supposing that no such proceeding as the one we now name would be tolerated, in any work of sufficient notoriety to provoke the consideration of whether it were tolerable or not. We could mention an instance in which a man, whose very name is among the proudest associations of English science, and whose character, public and private, would justify to the letter an extent of eulogy which is usually reserved for the monumental inscription, and who moreover is well known to the public at large for the success of his attempts at popular illustration, has been attacked in foul terms, and stands charged with intentional dishonesty. It seems he refused to consider, and recommend to the consideration of others, the book-dreams of an unfortunate individual, who, having nothing to do, refused the employment for that case made and provided, of settling the nation, and preferred to settle the universe. We will abstain from any further exposure, nor should we have thought this comment necessary, had the misguided speculator confined himself to the stars and planets, and not attempted to vilify the moral character of men who are equally beyond his reach. We would never allude to ignorance alone in any definite personal form; but let ignorance, united with contempt for the rights of others, be assured that Dunciad treatment is prescribed for the case, and that we keep a little medicine always by us. But while we dislike the offender, we admire and encourage the offence, so far as it consists in mere pretension;
time, and writers rendered more cautious of taking matters of fact upon trust; in the second place, any ill-natured tendency to dwell upon errors only would have produced no effect upon a community, which had good direct reason to know that the balance was much in favour of the Society. If it be answered that it is very difficult for a body which has a great deal to do in its ordinary business, to spread abroad as well as to collect, we reply that we admit the difficulty; nor do we call upon them to adopt this new line, under penalty of censure if they refuse. It is the inconvenience to themselves, and the depreciation to which their pursuits are exposed by the incapacity of the public to judge between them and any pretenders who may oppose them, that we point out as proper grounds for a new mode of exertion. If they reply that they are willing to bear the inconvenience, we have no answer left, but to thank them for the good they really do, to request that they will never complain of our making a mistake between Newton and some Mr. Know-nothing, who shows, in a book which we can no more understand than he can the Principia, that he is the greater man of the two; and finally, to express a charitable hope that their nuisances may multiply five hundred-fold, until, in sheer vexation, they have a will to abate them-and then we shrewdly suspect they will find a
We do not mean the preceding remarks to apply to any comments which may have been made on what we may call the domestic affairs of societies. Of these, every man who knows the world is a competent judge; nor do we know of anything which should distinguish scientific bodies from others, as to such matters. We proceed to the description of the works which stand at the head of this article.
In the year 1827, the advantage of quick circulation of astronomical observations induced the Astronomical Society to begin publishing monthly notices, giving such abstracts of their proceedings as might be serviceable to the members in general, few of whom might be supposed either capable or desirous of reading the more detailed investigations in the quarto Memoirs of the Society. The Royal and Geological Societies have since adopted the same plan; and we have before us two volumes from each of the first Societies. We take them in the order of publication.
The details of astronomical observations, the directions how to proceed with regard to coming phenomena, and descriptions of instruments or processes, cannot be expected to possess much general interest; but the annual reports of the Society, and the addresses of the various presidents on the delivery of medals, ought to have their attractions for the whole of the educated world. The former contain a sketch of what has been done for astronomy during the past year, together with short notices of eminent individuals who have died during that time. Thus we find some account of Bode, Fraunhofer, Piazzi, Laplace, Wollaston, Fallows, Foster, Pons, Grégoire, Groombridge, Zach, and Oriani. The latter contain valuable specific accounts of the grounds upon which every medal was awarded; and usually give a sketch of the history of discovery with regard to the point in question. Among them, the addresses of Sir J. Herschel hold the most conspicuous place; and we have no hesitation in saying they are the most beautiful things of their kind, both in respect to style, imagery, and matter. In recommending them to our readers as a source of rational delight, we extract a passage (vol. i. p. 57) which has now become somewhat curious, when viewed in connexion with the author's interesting voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, for the purpose of observing the southern hemisphere.
"Nothing can be more interesting in the eyes of an European astronomer, especially to those whose field of research, like our own, is limited by a considerable northern latitude, than the southern hemisphere, where a new heaven, as well as a new earth, is offered to his speculations; and where the distance, the novelty, and the grandeur of the scenes thus laid open to human inquiry, lend a character almost romantic to their pursuit.
"A celestial surface, equal to a fourth part of the whole area of the heavens, which is here for ever concealed from our sight, or whose extreme borders, at least, if visible, are
We are not aware that any have been yet published by this very useful and thriving Society; and we regret that we can make no more than a bare mention of them. We hope, however, some day to supply this defect.
only feebly seen through the smoky vapours of our horizon, affords to our antipodes the splendid prospect of constellations different from ours, and excelling them in brilliancy and richness. The vivid beauty of the southern cross has been sung by poets, and celebrated by the pen of the most accomplished of civilized travellers, and the shadowy lustre of the Magellanic clouds has supplied imagery for the dim and doubtful mythology of the most barbarous nations upon earth. But it is the task of the astronomer to open up these treasures of the southern sky, and display to mankind their secret and intimate relations. Apart, however, from speculative considerations, a perfect knowledge of the astronomy of the southern hemisphere is becoming daily an object of greater practical interest, now that civilization and intercourse are rapidly spreading through these distant regions-that our own colonies are rising into importanceand that the vast countries of South America are gradually assuming a station in the list of nations corresponding with their extent and natural advantages. It is no longer possible to remain content with the limited and inaccurate knowledge we have hitherto possessed of southern stars, now that we have a new geography to create, and latitudes and longitudes without end to determine by their aid."
We may add to our brief account, that many of the abstracts of particular papers are given in a very full shape, and are sufficiently simple to interest the general reader. For instance, the account of the mural circle by Mr. Sheepshanks (vol. ii. p. 91) and Sir J. Herschel's description of Biela's comet (vol. ii. p. 117).
The volumes published by the Royal Society embrace, of course, a wider range and greater extent of subjects. We regret that they do not contain anything connected with the history or proceedings of the Society; but this may, at any time, be remedied by another volume, for which, we should conceive, they must have ample materials. But we are very well pleased with what does appear, which is, abstracts of all the papers read from 1800 to 1830, specifying the distinct results of each, omitting entirely mathematical processes, and referring to the volume of the "Transactions" in which each is printed. It would require a greater range of knowledge than we can claim, to give a fair analysis of the manner in which the whole is executed; but the test to which the work can be easily submitted will establish its merit. On reading over various abstracts, and trying to judge whether we had obtained as distinct a notion of the object and results of each paper as could be given in so short a space, we often found our previous expectations exceeded, and very rarely disappointed. We give an instance, taken from a chance opening of the second volume, p. 192. "On the Condensation of Gases into Liquids. By Mr. Faraday, &c. Communicated by Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., P.R.S. Read April 10, 1823. (Phil. Trans., 1823, p. 189.) "The gases which the author has succeeded in condensing into the liquid form, are the sulphurous acid, sulphuretted hydrogen, carbonic acid, euchlorine, nitrous oxide, cyanogen, ammonia, muriatic acid, and chlorine. The process by which they were condensed consisted in liberating them from certain of their compounds in small glass tubes, hermetically sealed and bent, so that when required, the end might answer the purpose of a receiver, and be occasionally immersed in ice or freezing mixtures. They generally appear as exceedingly limpid, colourless, and mobile fluids, and assume the gascous form with various degrees of rapidity and violence upon the removal of the pressure by which they had been previously restrained.
"In this paper Mr. Faraday details the particular method to which he resorted for obtaining each of these liquid bodies, and describes such of the characters as his experiments have hitherto enabled him to determine.
"Liquid sulphurous acid appears to exert a pressure of about 2 atmospheres at 45°. The pressure of the vapour of sulphuretted hydrogen was equal to about 13 atmospheres at 32°, that of carbonic acid to 40 atmospheres at 45°, of nitrous oxide 48 atmospheres at 50°, of cyanogen between 3 and 4 atmospheres at 45°, of muriatic acid 28 atmospheres at 32°.
"The author's attempts to obtain hydrogen, oxygen, fluoric, fluosilicic, and phosphuretted hydrogen gases in the form of liquids, have hitherto been without success.'
On looking through the volumes we do not find any falling off in the manner of stating the results; and considering that these abstracts, when drawn up, were not intended for publication, but were simply entered on the
journals of the Society, we must say that they are honourable evidence of good philosophical precision in its internal management, so far as the scientific department is concerned. The utility of such a work, accompanied, as this is, by a good index, must be obvious to all who know the trouble of hunting facts through a series of quarto transactions. For the manner in which all three societies have prepared their valuable information in a form accessible to all who read, they deserve the thanks, and for the spirit in which they have courted investigation into their methods of philosophizing, the respect, of the public.
THE LITERARY NEWSPAPERS.
THE practice of publishing at short and regular intervals an account of proceedings in literature and science originated with the Germans. Literary newspapers had been for some time current among that people when the English were still confined to Reviews published quarterly or monthly, and to monthly Magazines.
In the beginning of the year 1817, a period when publishing was carried on with great activity in this country, the "Literary Gazette," the first newspaper devoted to literature in England, made its appearance. The projectors of the "Literary Gazette" not only saw the inefficiency or incompleteness of the reviews and magazines as guides for the selection of books, but they also felt the important financial objection, with regard to the many, as to the price of those periodical works. They therefore at once determined to produce a cheaper article than any till then in the market, and published the "Gazette" in weekly numbers, stamped at 18., and afterwards unstamped at 8d. each. It is remarkable that the very persons who are now most clamorous against the system of diffusion and cheap works, and who call out upon the people and the representatives of the people to put down all innovation on the antient and revered laws of publishing, were themselves amongst the most daring innovators. When Cave established his "Gentleman's Magazine" the Folio empire of the Lintots and Osbornes, the great legitimates of the day, received a perilous blow; but when Criticism descended from her throne,
"And on the wings of mighty winds Came flying all abroad,"
in the shape of weekly sheets, it was easy to predict that the Quarto dynasty would soon glide into the transition state. The people would, it is quite certain, grow tired, as old Osborne has quaintly said, of "the ox roasted whole at Bartholemew fair," and look for the savoury cutlets of a size adapted to each man's appetite. The "Literary Gazette' was at the head of the cutlet revolution; but it did not understand its own position. For seventeen years it has only seen the great body of the people through the medium of opulent booksellers, and of coteries of the professors of what the French call" La Littérature facile," or, as Pope said before the French, of "the mob of gentlemen who write
The first quality essential to the proper conduct of such a work was strict impartiality; but the shares of the "Gazette" were mainly held by extensive publishers of the books of the day, who were not likely to have the magnanimity to permit one portion of their property to be fairly dealt with in another portion of their property. This was an evil, however, which public opinion would greatly countervail; and upon the whole, we think, the besetting sin of the "Gazette" has not been in that direction. Praise, indeed, and that of a tolerably hyperbolical character, has been bestowed upon most of the works published by its proprietors; but this was no exception to the general tone of the paper. The "Gazette," moreover, became a great advertising medium for publishers; and thus the pay and the praise slid very easily into commercial channels. But the allbenevolent liberality of puff which, if the "Literary Gazette" were historical authority, would plate over the last seventeen years of English literature (in many respects the brazen age of letters) with the most brilliant gold-leaf, has proceeded from a perfectly different source than the tact of the trade. From its very commencement the "Literary Gazette" identified itself with the small fry of literature, and gave itself up to the pleasant illusion of finding prodigies of genius in young ladies gifted with a precocious facility of rhyming, and in young gentlemen who reversed the principle
"'Tis from high life high characters are drawn," by studying the attitudes of their fashionable heroes and heroines "below stairs." Had the "Literary Gazette" and its prodigies been the only parties concerned, all this would have been fair enough-they acted on the reciprocity system. The "Gazette," which would have been a minnow among the Tritons, was a Triton among the minnows; and the minnows jostling each other in their own streamlets, bright with periodical praise, fancied themselves
"Created hugest that swim the ocean stream."
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 powerful beast through Mr. Carpenter's microscope. The magnifier was indeed sometimes cloudy; and the minute thing was dimly seen" through a fog of pun and quibble and affected smartness. But still there was something which to the uninitiated looked " very like a whale."
In its pursuit of immortal writers among "the small deer" of the day, as the "Literary Gazette" could not find them ready made, it ventured on the doubtful task of prophesying that they would be made, and undertook the care of fostering and maturing them. A great foundling hospital was established for the "enfans trouvées" of polite literature; and here they were to be nursed, and fed, and clothed, and indeed educated, at the public charge. Capacious as may be the House of Fame, we doubt whether it will ultimately contain all these small immortals without an enlargement of the premises. The second faculty of the Vates seems indeed to have had peculiar charms in the eyes of the "Literary Gazette," and has certainly been used by it as a tool suited to a variety of work. Except on very particular occasions, it would have been rather too bold even for the Gazette" to assure the public that the poem or the romance of the last foundling was quite equal to anything of Milton's or Scott's; but the "Gazette" could prophesy from the evidence before it from the extraordinary talent and promise displayed, that at some future day its little Benjamin would be a ruler in Israel.
It was the same with artists as with writers,-for the "Gazette" prophesied for both, and in much the same manner. Years succeed years, however, as rapidly for poets, painters, and critics, as for people of less pretension, and we are already, as far as regards most of the soothsayings of the "Literary Gazette," on the safe side of prophesy, and can judge of it after the event. And what has been the event? The legion of giants who came out of the sea at the call of the magician, have gone very quietly each into a little box, where the seal of Solomon will keep them locked up for a thousand years of perfect oblivion.
The close sympathy and connexion existing between the "Literary Gazette" and the small wits about town soon produced a coterie, or exclusive club, the members of which were allowed to write in the journal that praised them, and sometimes to take the business of self-praise into their own hands. The coterie are indissolubly bound together by a genial freemasonry, and have their countersign and their Shibboleth. The process is described by Master Slender, who, if he had not been born three centuries too early, would have had a "Literary Gazette" of his own: "I come to her in white and cry mum-she cries budget." worshipful brotherhood, secure in their alliance offensive and defensive, can make the welkin ring again with their trumpetings:
"They are the only knowing men of Europe, Great general scholars, excellent physicians, Most admired statesmen, professed favourites, And cabinet counsellors to the greatest princes, The only languaged men of all the world."
The code of the coterie is short and simple:-that British literature was scarcely born, and certainly could not go alone, until the days of Mr. Colburn's Novels, the " Literary Gazette," and the Annuals; that useful information for the people is not literature; that industry and learning imply of necessity a total want of originality; that a diligent search after all-published and unpublished authorities, and a building up of opinions upon such carefully laid foundations, are compilation and plagiary; that the "Royal Society of Literature" ought to be maintained as a public conservatory for "men of genius," to be selected out of the foundlings of the "Literary Gazette;" that any author who shall presume to read "Herodotus" except in Mr. Beloe's so-called
translation, shall be deemed to be "an obscure literary drudge; that the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge is a great monopoly, because it makes books cheap; and that the two Universities and the Stationers' Company are, as Dr. Gregory has well declared, the three eyes of England. This is the true faith of the " Literary Gazette" coterie, which except a man believe faithfully, &c. The unbelievers, we grieve to say, are put under ban and anathema in a way that even Slop would have shrunk from -especially so if the unbelievers belong to the penny heresy.__Upon this point the coterie will accept no compromise. They are as intolerant as the grammarian who said to another grammarian, “God confound you for your theory of impersonal verbs."
There have been times when the public have questioned the infallibility of this "little senate of letters; and have even doubted the purity of its Cato, the "Literary Gazette." Byron, a despiser of most established authorities, ventured to describe the coterie as
In foolscap uniform, turned up with ink,
So very clever, anxions, fine, and jealous,
This was wicked; but it was more wicked to hint of any critic that he had the money." Sometimes the unhappy purchasers of books, comparing them with the articles that recommended them to their notice, have been led to suspect that the golden opinions of a journal may be bought with more substantial gold. This is altogether a mistake. The critics have followed the march of the constitution. The courtly touch of influence has succeeded to the rough hug of bribery. Under Sir Robert Walpole, it is said, the corrupt members of the House of Commons made a direct bargain and sale of their votes for cash in hand; but titles and ribbons, the smiles of the court, and the bows of the minister, were gradually substituted for the guineas. Corruption still lived and devoured-it only changed its aliment. In the same manner, if we are to place any faith in literary history, the critics of former times occasionally sold a compliment and bought a coat. But now the dinner and the rout -the upper place at " good men's feasts," the "greetings in the market-places from those who register their names in the 66 Court Guide, and above all the nod of recognition from the coroneted carriage,—such things are baits irresistible to certain appetites, and the gratitude of a good-natured man knows no stint. The old solid pudding" was, however, we think, a better arrangement for the critic, and not a bit more degrading to the dignity of letters.
The success of the "Gazette "-a success which grew out of the general craving for information which deprived literature of its old, exclusive character-naturally excited competition. The "Literary Chronicle," the "Weekly Review," the "Athenæum," the "Edinburgh Literary Journal," and several other papers devoted to letters and the Fine Arts. presented themselves to the public. The "Athenæum," which has passed through many hands, is the only one of these that survives. All the rest perished prematurely, because they could not secure the patronage of the great publishing houses, and did not take up a proper position to command that of the body of the people, who were hungering for solid intellectual food, but knew not where to obtain it. Even the "Athenæum," which, for some time, had eschewed puffing, and had been conducted on honest principles, after having in vain attempted to ally itself with some potent bookseller, was in the last stage of decline, when it was bought by its present proprietors and confided to the nursing of its present editor. And what was the first great cure resorted to by these gentlemen to restore its declining health and to give it a strength it had not hitherto possessed? It was, to reduce its price from 8d. to 4d. and thus bring it more within the means of the people. When this measure was announced, the editor of the "Literary Gazette" cried out degradation, innovation, sacrilege! The small coterie who felt that they could not live except by large prices from the few, went about the town denouncing the "Athenæum" as a foul traitor that had set a precedent for debasing literature, and starving men of genius." We almost wonder they did not take the step recommended in the "New Monthly Magazine," and petition king and par
liament to prohibit the reduction of literary prices and the shameful sale of cheap publications.
The merit of first trying the experiment of cheap prices could not, indeed, be claimed by the "Athenæum; there is virtue in following a good example, and some sense shown in adopting a novel view of political economy as regarded the press, which, with its productions, is as much subjected to the laws of demand and supply as any other branch of trade.
When, however, at a later period, the "Athenæum," after having profited by the example afforded by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge-after having asked, it is said, the Society for the use of its name, and been told that the use of the name and active superintendence (which in this case could not be given) were inseparable-after having "chalked the walls" in such a manner as to make many of the public believe it was published under the superintendence of this body-when, we say, after all this the "Athenæum" turned with abuse upon the Society because it saw fit to publish a periodical work cheaper still than the "Athenæum,-we could only congratulate the "Athenæum" upon its diligent study of the philosophy of Pangloss, and conclude with him, that as legs were made for stockings and not stockings for legs, so the public were made for "Athenæums" and "Literary Gazettes," and not "Literary Gazettes" and "Athenæums" for the public. The "Athenæum," acting under the real impulse of that madness which King Canute only feigned, says to cheapness,-thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. The pioneers in the march of cheapness draw nice distinctions. Eightpence per week is orthodox; four-pence per week is within the pale of toleration; but a penny per week is damnable heresy :
"That in the captain's but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is foul blasphemy."
We hope that the “ Penny Magazine" will not, in any distant day, look down upon a farthing magazine, and condole with the penny aristocracy upon the degradation of literature.
We are quite ready to acknowledge that the "Athenæum" is conducted with more fairness and talent than its rival, the " Literary Gazette." Its partialities are less glaring-its foundlings less numerous. In spite, however, of these comparative merits, and the additional advantage of occasionally containing contributions from two or three writers of originality and spirit, the " Athenæum has failings of principle which ought not to exist with the endeavour after a large sale. Honesty is "the one thing needful" for those who build upon the support of the many. The coteries may club a misrepresentation, and they may have their official organ for its production, but it will not succeed with the plain, straightforward sense of the English people. When the "Athenæum more than hinted that a volume of Criminal Trials, published with the name of a barrister well known to the world and his profession for integrity and learning, contained those disgraceful records which are incentives to the worst passions, the insult was to the public and not to the writer; he had only to say, The critic has not opened my book-let the public judge between us." The book at once, in spite of the critic, became an authority upon the progress of our constitutional law-the most important history, and the materials for history. Did the critic ever apologize for his crime? The Tenth don't apologize." The public, however, will not bear such outrages with impunity. We hope that mistakes of this sort are exceptions to the general course of the " Athenæum." In truth, we believe that the errors of both papers proceed rather from the morbid craving after novelty, and the haste of the critic to produce the sheet
"Where new-born nonsense first is taught to cry,” than from any deliberate wickedness. The great object of the "Athenæum," as it is that of the "Gazette," is to secure to itself the first notice of all new books, and a continual succession of variety-the quality is a minor consideration. It may be necessary to inform the uninitiated that it has long been the usage for booksellers to present to these and other journals, gratuitously, and generally some time before the day of publication, a copy of every new work they are about to bring out. Now it is barely possible that such a copy, by accident or design, may be sent to the "Gazette" before the Athenæum," and reviewed in the former work first; and
that then the "Athenæum," inflamed with rage by the disrespect that has been shown to it, may borrow Jove's thunders for the nonce, and do the said book to death in its columns. In the same "Drawcansir fashion" may the "Literary Gazette" treat the recreant work that has found its way to the desk of the reviewer and been distilled into the review of the " Athenæum " before being submitted to the high award of the rival paper. The worst consequence of this craving for variety in each of these bloodhounds of "genius" is that most of the critiques are done in a hasty, slovenly, inexact manner. The editors seem to think that on every Saturday the "literary lower empire" is drawing to an end; they hear the barbarian at the gates. "What in heaven's name can you do with those heaps of new books?" said a friend to a celebrated Northern critic-" Why, I judge of them as I do of a ham," was the reply; "I stick a bodkin through them and smell it!" The joke of the dining-room is repeated as a grave precept by the footmen in the kitchen.
For the proper conduct of a work which shall treat of all branches of literature, science, and art, as these journals profess to do, a rather numerous association of competent individuals, and a nice division of labour, are indispensable. The man who can write on belles lettres may not be a profound historian-the historian may be neither a mathematician nor a natural philosopher-the best critic on the fine arts may be but an indifferent geographer-and even the author of a first-rate novel may be totally ignorant of metaphysics. It thus sometimes happens that the servant of all-work of the literary papers converts, in his haste, a syllogism into a joke, and a joke into a syllogism; apprehends that what he cannot understand is not understandable; explains the obscure in the way of the translator of Cibber, who turned "Love's Last Shift" into "La Dernière Chemise de l'Amour;" and classifies his titles like the cataloguemaker, who put Edgeworth's." Irish Bulls" amongst his works of "6 Natural History." He is not as honest as the poor Abbé de Marolles, who, whenever he came to a stumbling-block in the works which he undertook to translate, frankly said, "I have not translated this passage, because it is very difficult, and in truth I could never understand it." What Johnson, in his odd mixture of truth and prejudice, said of the Frenchman, may be applied to the indivisible master-minds of these literary papers :
"All sciences a weekly critic kuows; And bid him
But we refrain. They have a wearisome pilgrimage to perform on earth, amidst smiles and frowns, solicitations and threatenings-the uncut copy of the expectant publisher, and the cut direct of the disappointed patron. No wonder that they make their pilgrimage as easy as they can, and "take the liberty to boil their peas." They are the advanced guard of the army of letters, and they carry small baggage on their march. A little grammar and rhetoric, (sometimes very little,)-a few sounding commonplaces of praise or blame-a puff for their friends and a sneer for all the rest of the world a determination to uphold the principle, that as mankind were once divided into Greeks and barbarians, so there are only now two classes, the clicque and the condemned, the believers and the unbelievers,-St. John Long and the Useful Knowledge Society," the wrong" Montgomery and the "Penny Magazine.'
And all this is for the impartial love of what the "Literary Gazette" and the "Athenæum' call " men of genius." What ale was to Boniface, the "men of genius' are to their critics. They eat the "man of genius," and they drink "the man of genius," and they serve up the "man of genius" to their customers, as Pelops was served up to the gods, limb by limb. The "man of genius" suits the calibre of those who usher his commodity into the market. The critic himself is a "man of genius," for
"Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat."
any one claiming the title from the school show any sympathy with the people, or make any effort to elevate their tastes and intellectual condition. The "man of genius must limit the reading of books of any "mark or likelihood" as Henry VIII. tried to limit the circulation of the Bible. The books of taste may be read, as the Bible might be read, by an officer of state, or a noble lady or gentlewoman in her garden; but the vulgar,-have they not the "Newgate Calendar?" The "man of genius," moreover, must separate himself from the people by proving that he is, in no sense of the word, a working man. He is no producer, but shall he not establish his right to be a consumer, by knowing those
The "man of genius," by the critic's showing, is one that can produce a piece of rhyme of a certain length, without betraying a symptom of ever having drunk of the collected founts of human knowledge. He is one that can make, at twenty-four hours notice, a five-act play, with a coup de théatre or a striking position in each act. He is one that can generate a three volume novel, out of an alliance of the dandyism of the drawing-room with the second-hand vulgarity of the servants' hall. To be useful is decidedly, according to this school, not to be a "man of genius;" nor must
"Whose bonds are current for commodity ?"
The weekly critics and their allies have given an entirely new sense to what was once an almost sacred denomination. They have made it a by-word and a scorn.
The" compiler-the "literary drudge"-is of course all that the "man of genius" is not. But he is something more. He is a man of education and experience, who having no faith in knowledge and taste by intuition, has endeavoured to obtain them by careful study. He is one that collects facts, that systematizes facts, that builds his assertions upon facts, and will assert nothing without facts. The "literary drudge,"-or, as he has been elegantly described by a monthly critic of tastes and habits congenial to the weekly," the obscure literary drudge, who has not a single idea in his head save what he filches from the British Museum,"-believes, with D'Alembert, that a man ought to be sufficiently cautious what he speaks, but very cautious what he writes; and believing thus, he is not likely to mistake asseverations for truths, and afterwards to eat his facts with a choke-pear of "dates" into the bargain. He is one, therefore, that despises the "we-perfectly-well remember" school of writers, whose remembrances are, in most cases, the dozy creations of their own muddy brains,—the daydreams of ignorant presumption,
"Looking through all things with its half-shut eyes,"too happy in its own power of neutralizing the malignant by the stupid, to hesitate one instant about authorities. He is one, however, that does not answer the "criticism" of the "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 age, was such a lover of controversy, that he said he felt like a bear tied to a stake, and wanted somebody to bait him. The drudge will not indulge the Jesuit. The drudge has his own work to do. The landmarks of his course are few, and he is not deceived by false lights. He is one that does not believe in the Colburn æra of the creation of literature;-he is one that prefers Byron to L. E. L., Burns to Allan Cunningham, and Hamlet to the Hunchback; he is one that cannot be tempted by all the reviews and puffs employed in "working" a fashionable novel entirely to resign the pursuit of useful information, or to forget that for the hours of his leisure there are such works as those of Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Scott. Instead of doing the "littérature facile" of weekly gazettes, and monthly magazines and annuals, the literary drudge is one that devotes himself to the more serious and somewhat more laborious task of conveying lessons of sound morality to the people-of collecting and condensing useful knowledge for them, and presenting it to them (as knowledge has hitherto been but too rarely presented) in the attractive garb of simplicity. His business is to convert the crude ores of learning into the fine gold of knowledge. The "men of genius" of our critics, when they take, as they sometimes attempt, to petty labours of utility, do with the old stores of learning as the daughters of Pelias did with their father's body-they boil the bones in a cauldron, and the world finds that the spirit even of the old man is gone ;-the "drudges" put a new life into the body of the old man, as the enchantress did, who gave her father's rigid limbs pliancy-" his feeble step strength and steadiness-his pale and inexpressive features beauty and animation." One Swift, however, has described the two classes; and the description is still fresh and appropriate after a century and a quarter. But Swift, perhaps, was not a "man of genius," and was prejudiced in favour of the "drudges:" "Upon the highest corner of a large window there dwelt