Page images
[ocr errors]

All this is very absurd, and it is deeply to be deplored that a man of Mr. Irving's powers and good intentions, should preach and publish ita But it is infinitely worse that he should have the hardihood, after telling us, in the outset, that this is a discovery of his own, that it is a casting of light upon a subject hitherto dark and untreated,” to attempt at last to impose it as a thing taught and sanctioned by the Bible. Our readers will scarcely believe that Mr. Irving has found authority for all this preparative purgatorial process which the soul is to undergo after death, in

the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the promise to the penitent thief on the cross, the entrancing of St. Paul, the visions of St. John, and the constant allusions in the New Testament to the judgment and coming of Christ, as immediately at hånd."

The necessity of bringing this article to an immediate close, in consequence of the length to which it has run, prevents our noticing several other parts of the work to which we had intended to advert. We cannot conclude, however, without a word or two on Mr. Irving's style, which, in common with most of his readers, we consider as superlatively, and in many places, ridiculously, unnatural and affected. There is scarcely a single sentence in the volume simply and naturally expressed. He would do well, if he means to appear again as an author, to take the same pains to get rid of bis style, which it must bave cost him to acquire it. Frequently have we been ready to exclaim, as we toiled through his heavy sentences, what labaur has been bestowed in fabricating this cumbrous and unnatural mass.

We had intended to animadvert on the self-sufficiency and arrogance which Mr. Irving betrays in too many parts of his work; and also on his attack on a certain class of the established clergy. But on the first of these subjects, we feel disposed, on further consideration, to exercise lenity. Considering the infirinity of human nature, it is not surprising, that our Author's success as a preacher should have the effect of making him forget himself. And, in this respect, we confidently look for amendment. On the other point it appears to us, on mature reflection, that the merits of the party attacked must be very questionable indeed, if that attack can injure tbem. Their religious sentiments and their character are before the public. The judicioas part of that public will decide for themselves.


NENT LITERARY CHARACTERS. To Thomas Campbell, Esq. Editor of the New Monthly Magazine.

Dear Tom,-It is now about twenty years since you and I turned into Johnny Dowie's, to wash the dust out of our throats with a pint of Gile's ale, if I remember right, though perhaps it might have been with a crown bowl of punch. You were then a young man of high reputation

deservedly high, for you had published the Pleasures of Hope. Your fancied schemes of future life were brilliant ; and no wonder. Scott had scarcely appeared in our literature ; Byron was a boy at Harrow; Wordsworth a butt of derision to the shallow creatures who exercised the art critical in those days ; Coleridge was dreaming as at present ; Southey had not published his great poems, and was under a sort of cloud ; Darwin was gradually getting voted a bore of the first magnitude ; this Magazine was among the things uncreated---nay, I may say, unhoped for or unconceived ; and, positively, you were alone, the rising star of our poetical world. We freely discussed your prospects. Though at that date Time had not thinned my flowing hair, as he has done since, and be hanged to him, nor bent me in his iron hand, as be has vainly attempted to do, still I was so much your senior as to entitle me to give advice even to a man of your surprising talents. Like St. Paul at the feet of Gamaliel, the docter of laws, you listened to the voice of my instructions, while in social conversation we sluiced over our ivories the ever-to-be-honoured extract of Sir John Barley-corn. With a mild suavity, I pointed out a path of glory to you ; and the bearing of your intelligent eye, and the heartfelt pressure which you occasionalty gave my hand, showed that you appreciated my intentions.

We have never met since. You went to London, and I fixed permanently in Southside. You dwelt in the throng and bustle of men, amid the intercourse of wits and sages, in the noise and tumult of civilization -I, in the silent hills, in the heart of the glories of nature, in the company of the simple and unrefined. But think not that I was an incurious spectator of your progress. I rejoiced in the estimation in which you were held. I shall never be ashamed of the national feeling which makes us Scotchmen proud of one another's success throughout the world, and ready to promote it. It is a higher feather in our cap than the grand name of the nation of gentlemen," or "the modern Athens," or " the dwellers under the pillars of the Parthenon." You did not, • indeed, do as much as I expected; but what you did was of the first order. I forgave the un-nationality of the spirit which directed your choice of such subjects for your elegant muse as “ Gertrude of Wyoming,” and the “ Exile of Erin," because I knew you were a Whig, and compelled, er-officio, to chant the praises of rebellion, successful or unsuccessful, “ all over the world, particularly when, as in the Irish case, it is marked with unmitigated ferocity of murder and conflagration. I forgave it, I say, for the sake of the Mariners of England,"

the Battle of the Baltic," and "Our Countrymen in Flanders. would be absurd were I at this time of day to compliment you on “ Lochiel,” and “ O'Connor's Child,” when every body has them by heart. I own I did not like to see you at task-work for the booksellers; but I remembered that those who lived to please, should please to live. Above all, I did not approve of your new connexion with Colburn's Magazine.

There is something nasty and plagiary in the very name ; and, little as I value Sir Pythagoras,* Í sympathized with his indignation against this

[* The nickname of Sir Richard Philips, who cats no meat. 0.0.}

robbery of his title. I was sorry, besides, to see you put yourself at the head of such capons as cackle for that periodical—making yourself Bashaw of a band of Balaamites, Commander-in-Chief of a Company of crestless Cockatoos. (There, by the by, is a fine specimen of apt alliteration's artful aid.) But that is your look-out, not mine; I hope you find your

account in it. It is concerning a passage in your Magazine for September that I am now addressing you. Let

me again revert to the last evening I had the pleasure of meeting you at Johnny Dowie's. You may remember we had been sitting in one of the tiniest of the tiny cribs of that celebrated man, who is now gathered to his fathers, employed as I have already mentioned. Why do I dwell on such trifles ? Simply because I never have thought of that evening without pleasure. On leaving the house, the morning sun was illuminating the lofty tenements of the old town. “Good night,” said I, “ Thomas, or rather, good morning. God bless you through life, and make you an honour to the land of your birth. You are, I perceive, Thomas, a Whig—endeavour, notwithstanding, to be an honest man. Be, if possible a gentleman. I know that it is a hard task I am imposing; but do, Thomas, Whig as you are, try to be a gentleman throughout life.” To do you justice, you have kept to my advice, and are, I am happy to say, a gentleman in all members absolute, “in entrails, heart, and head, liver and reins.” On you Whiggery has not wrought all its usual effect. There are some constitutions which resist the most mortal poisons; and as I know that there have been bibbers of laudanum, and swallowers of corrosive sublimate, so I can admit that in soñe rare instances I have heard of Whigs being gentlemen, and am happy to say, for old acquaintance’ sake, that you are one of that infinitisimally small body. If I did not think you were, I should not waste this pretty sheet of foolscap upon you.

Such a tribute, however, I cannot pay to your employers. Some of them are merely asses; but others bave not even that excuse. ask you, Mr. Thomes Campbell

, why you permit Mr. William Hazlitt, the modern Pygmalion, to fill your pages with gross, scurrilous, and lowlived abuse of people, whoin such a man should not be permitted to name. Jeffrey, we all know, he called “ the Prince of Critics, and the King of Men;" and Agamemnon the Second was so tickled by the compliment, so bamboozled by the blarney, that, without further inquiry, he let him loose in the Edinburgh Review, in an article which, I flatter myself, I utterly demolished in my last letter to North.* But I do not remember that you have been daubed over by the dirty butter of his applause, so that you cannot make even that miserable apology. Were I speaking merely as a Magaziner, as a friend to my dear friend Christopher, I should rejoice in your infatuation, in the injury inflicted on a rival establishment; but both Kit and I are above that feeling. You may it would please us more to hear of what would redound to your honour and advantage, than what could lower you, or any thing with which you

Let me

be sure

* (Christopher North, the nominal editor of Blackwood's Magazine.0.0]

have thought proper to connect yourself, in the estimation of the public, That Hazlitt's being even suspected of writing in your pay must do this, is too clear, too axiomatic, for me to say a word on the subject. But that you should hire him to vent personal abuse on men of genius, is going too far; and, as a friend, I must shortly expostulate with you on the subject.

You have, no doubt, heard people sometimes complain of what it pleases them to call the scurrilities of Kit's Magazine. You have seen Jeffrey, afraid to say it, keep binting at the accusation. You have read the lamentations of this very Hazlitt about it; and if you take up the Liberal, which of course you do professionally, you will hear the vermin yelping to the same tune. Now, all the fraternity know that they are lying. We might be as scurrilous as a Billingsgate basketwoman, or as legal Brougham, the moral chimney-sweeper," (as Byron calls him,) had we been Whigs, without exciting reprehension, or, had we been stupid Tories, without being clamoured against. But Tories we are, and, still worse, clever Tories; and, worst of all, Tories employed' in demolishing Whiggery. Hinc 'illæ lacryma-hence the squeaking of the base creatures crouching under us. Any lie that could tend to annoy us, was a fair weapon; and the best they could think of, was this charge of personal scurrility. We beg leave to deny it; but suppose it for a moment true, will you, Mr. Thomas, have the goodness to find any thing in our pages which can, in personality, compare with this character of Mr. Fuseli, which you have printed, Mr. Thomas, and which you have paid for. The vermin who wrote it, has, it appears, suffered some slight from that great man, and accordingly we are told, that

“ His (Fuseli's) ideas are gnarled, hard. and distorted like--HIS FEATURES ; his theories, stalking and straddle-legged like-HIS GAIT; his projects, aspiring and gigantic like-HIS GESTURES ; his performance, uncouth and dwarfish like-HIS PERSON. His pictures are also like him. self, wITH EYE BALLS OF STONE STUCK IN RIMS OF TIN, AND MUSCLES TWISTED TOGETHER LIKE ROPES OR WIRES."-New Monthly Magazine, No. XXXIII. p. 214.

Yes, Mr. Campbell, that is the language you have used towards Mr. Fuseli. I say you have used, for the fellow who wrote it is below even copterapt. Fuseli would be degraded if he horse-whipped him; he might order his footman to kick him, perhaps, but he would in that case owe an apology to the flunky for employing him in such dirty work. I say it is to you he is to look for redress for this brutal attack, which is about the vilest thing I have seen for a long time, even among the vile nesses of Whiggery. What, sir! do you think, that because Mr. Fuseli is a great painter, you are to take indecent liberties with bis person? Do you think yourself entitled to abuse the outward configuration given him by his Creator, which neither you nor he could alter? Do you think it just and gentlemanlike criticism on his works to fling ribald jests on his features, his gait, his gestures, his person, his eye-balls, and his muscles? If you do, Mr. Campbell, you are sadly altered for the worse,

pen traced

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Misery, they say, brings a man in contact with strange bed-fellows; sô,
it would appear, does editing. Had any man, three years ago, told me,
that Thomas Campbell, the author of the “ Pleasures of Hope,” of
“ Gertrude,” of “ O'Connor's Child,” of the “ Mariners of England,"
would be guilty of such filth, I am pretty sure the answer would be to
pull him by the nose. What the motive of the fellow, whose
the words, was, I, of course, cannot tell--perhaps Fuseli discharged
him from the situation of colour-grinder, a post to which he might as-
pire through vanity; but, that you, Mr. Campbell, should, in cold blood,
have sent such a piece of offal to the press, does both astonish and
grieve me. I hope we shall bave an ample apology to Fuseli in your
next number; if we have not, I shall only conclude, that he despises the
quarter from which the attack has come—and just think of that! Fuseli
the painter, despising Campbell the poet!

You may, perhaps, remember what an outery was raised here, in Edinburgh, I mean, against llogg's incomparable jeu-d'esprit, the Chaldee MS. Even yet the things about the Scotsman keep carping at it. There was some cant mixed up with the cry, such as "insult ofiered to scriptural language,” “ parody on Ezekiel," &c.; but that, you know, was not the real ground of offence. It was complained that it was personal, and reflected on bodily defect or misfortune. A long time after it was published, this complaint was renewed with all the bitterness of envious hate, by an infatuated editor of a Magazine, in that brutal series of attacks on us which produced such lamentable results.

Now, if a verse or two of this Manuscript did transgress in this sort, much may be said in its excuse, for the people who gathered about Constable's periodical, were so utterly obscure, poor gazetteers, and other . such third-rate Grub-street folk, that there was no way of describing them without alluding to their appearance. They had done nothing by which they could be known---they were merely good-for-nothing hacks, who had banded themselves together to put down, in obedience to their employers' tradesmen-like views, a rival magazine. How then could Hogg avoid describing their persons, if he thought fit to mention them at all? The Chaldee was, moreover, meant for any thing rather than for malignity, and, as the Shepherd says in his Life, all that was looked for was a retort courteous” or uncourteous, of the same kind. It was, in fact, a mere local joke; and if it be read or relished beyond Newington or Stockbridge, it is only on account of its internal humour and merit, just as we now read, with all the freshness of the original fun-Dean Swift's papers on Partridge, Curl, Norris, and fifty others, of whom we know little, and care less. But take the very worst verses of it, and compare them with this attack on the person of a man of fervid and original genius, a foreigner too, who has doiniciled among us, and you will be ashamed of yourself if you ever condescended to join in the clamour of your Whig associates against the scurrilities of this 'Magazine.

We were also most roundly rated because Z. or Ochlenschlaeger, or some other of our friends, eracked a joke on this scribe of yours, Hazlitt, for being "pimpled." None of us knows any thing of his person

« PreviousContinue »