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we should have had occasion to min- port originally respectable and congle so much censure where there is stantly increasing. As politicians, ample room for praise and admiration. we see this with pleasure, since, withThe length at which we have treated out being sworn to either party, our the nature and conduct of a work feelings incline most strongly to the which has so strongly influenced the cause espoused by the Quarterly crimodern taste in criticism, will enable tics, even if we were not seduced by the us to dispatch rapidly what we have superior eloquence which, upon party to offer upon periodical publications subjects, they have almost uniformly of the same nature.
displayed. As moderate men, we re
joice in an opportunity of hearing both But lo! to fierce encounter in mid air
sides of a political question ably staNew wizards rise.
ted and supported, by persons whose The determined party-spirit exhi- powers and opportunities of informabited in the Edinburgh Journal has tion are so far beyond those by whom already excited a formidable antago- such points are usually disputed in nist in the Quarterly Review, con- periodical publications. Butas friends ducted upon nearly the same plan, to the general cause of literature, we and avowedly, supporting opposite cannot but deprecate the tendency on opinions in politics. The rapid and both sides to involve its interest in extensive circulation of this journal, the tumultuous and partial discussions when opposed to a redoubted oppo- to which politics uniformly give ocnent already in possession of the casion. It gives us no pleasure to field, with no less than ten or twelve see either party prepare his whitethousand subscribers, seems to justify wash to be used whenever the other the censure we have ventured to at- shall have applied his blacking-ball. tach to the narrow, partial, and ex. These obvious partialities, by which clusive principles upon which the the author's political creed is made Edinburgh Review has been con- the gage of his literary proficiency, ducted. For, although the Quarterly we censure alike in both cases ; or, it Review has exhibited many articles we impute more blame to the Edinof great beauty and talent, it will burgh Journal, it is because it led the hardly be said that it could, in its way to the introduction of so unjust very nonage, have made a stand against and mischievous a criterion of judgethe Edinburgh work, had the latter ment. added to its extensive reputation for As to other particulars, the plan eloquence, acuteness, wit, and talent, and conduct of the Quarterly Rethe yet higher praise of moderation view has been closely formed upon and impartiality. The opening, how- that of the Edinburgh; so that, in ever, has been afforded, and the enemy taking a view of the principles of mohas availed himself of it. The ge- dern periodical criticism, what has neral sense and feeling of a great pro. been said of the one will be found portion of the country has at once to apply pretty nearly to the other. enabled a rival publication, under the They are both conducted by persons numerous disadvantages with which of high literary distinction, and supesuch must always struggle during its rior to all bookselling influence; and infancy, to place itself in opposition to the very party-spirit, of which wę these giants of criticism with a sup. complain so heavily, is undoubtedle
the means in both cases of próčuring of course, and having no more actual voluntary contributions from persons meaning in her court than the legal high in situation as in talent, who, in fiction in a writ of latitat. On anthese bustling times, could scarcely other principle an attempt was made, have been enlisted out of mere regard and very creditably supported, to exto literature. The Quarterly Re- tend the period of the publication view has on some occasions appeared adopted by the Edinburgh reviewers to lose sight of politics while treat- from a quarterly to an annual period. ing of abstract points of literature ; But the advantages which attended but on others it has been as violent the departure from the monthly plan and acrimonious as the critics of the were not found equally to accompany North. We will leave them, there- a further prolongation of the term, foré, to arrange
their pretensions to and, after some time allowed for the public favour, being pretty certain experiment, the Annual Review rethat it will be finally determined by turned to the old system, and, if the shew of hands in favour of their mistake not, is now published monthrespective politics.
ly. It was a moderate and sensible The establishment of these two work, under the conduct of a most works, as the Gog and Magog of criti. respectable publisher ; but, from the cism, had greatly thrown into the shade taste which the public had acquired the ancient and established reviews of for what is pungent and picquant in Great Britain. Even the Monthly this species of writing, it fell short and Critical Journals, long at the of the success which it merited. Vahead of this class, are considerably rious other attempts to establish new shorn of their beams. They partook reviews, upon the principles so suce of the evils which we have already cessfully adopted in Edinburgh, have seen attached to the old regime, and also failed. But one of these was on although different attempts have been a plan só new as to demand separate made to new-model them upon the notice. fashionable plan of discipline, they We allude to the London Review, have not been as yet able to regain a work instituted by the late Richmuch weight with the public. The ard Cumberland, with the professmost obvious feature in their rivals' ed purpose that each piece of criticriticism is its stern, caustic, and un- cism should bear in front the name compromising tone. It seemed also of the party by whom it was compomore easy to imitate the northern sed. There was something generous Aristarchs in this point than in the and spirited in the conception of this extent of their information, or the plan. “ The man,” said the veneralively and forcible arrangement of ble author," who, in this genuine spi. their argument. But severity and rit of criticism, impartially distributes rudeness have now lost their novelty, praise or blame to the works he reand the public, who were at first views, has no more need to hide his disposed to believe that such lan- name than the tradesman has who reguage could never have been employ, cords himself over his shop-door,—for ed without some cause existing to whom has he to fear, or of what to be merit it, now regard violence of ex- ashamed ? Learning has no truer pression as the voi signata of criti. friend, genius no better counsellor, no cism, used in every case as a matter safer guide. Every one must confess that there is a dangerous temptation, individual authors who are the suban unmanly security, an unfair ad- jects of their criticism. The differ: vantage in concealment. Why then ent manner and style of the principal should any man, who seeks not to in- contributors to the Edinburgh Re. jure but to benefit his contemporaries, view, for example, are easily detected, resort to it. There can be no reason and, like the champions of old, who, why he should do that with the best though sheathed in armour, were intentions which evil men are fain to known by their bearings and cogniz. do for the worst of purposes. A ances, they are distinguished far. piece of crape may be a convenient ther in the battle than the groom and mask for a highway, but a man that yeoman who entered into it barefaced; goes upon an honest errand does not so that the usual cant of “ shots from want it, and will disdain to wear it.” ambuscade” and “ arrows discharThis was the language of a veteran ged in the dark," however it may and accomplished author, whom li- be suffered to continue as legitimate terature has now to regret ; and we permissible syllables of dolor in the feel ourselves called upon to pay it mouth of a wounded sufferer, has some attention, as immediately con- no foundation in the actual state of nected with our present subject. things. To what purpose, then, it Upon accurate consideration, how- may be asked, should a mystery be af. ever, we are of opinion the reasoning fected which is so easily seen through, of Mr Cumberland will be found ra- or why should not those who are the ther specious than solid. In the first known authors of critical articles a. place, it must be observed that there dopt MrCumberland's plan, and openis no real concealment in the system ly prefix to them their names ? Our of reviews now generally adopted. answer is founded upon the forms of For, although the author of each in- civilized society, which are always dividual critique may not be known, calculated to avoid personality where there is uniformly an editor who is free discussion is required. It would answerable both to the public and to be scarcely possible to secure a free, the individual, not perhaps for the or at least a peaceable, debate in the soundness of every opinion which may British House of Commons, without be advanced in his journal, but for its adherence to the style of what is callgeneral adherence to the language ed parliamentary language, since maused among decent persons, and the ny things must be distinctly said by fairness and candour which become one statesman of his antagonist, which men of literature. The author, there could not with propriety, or even safefore, who complains of a deficiency ty, be hazarded between man and man in either point, cannot want a party in the common intercourse of life. In who must either be responsible for like manner there is in criticism an the article, or give up the writer's impersonal language, which, though name, that he may answer for him- every one knows it is used by a parself. But, besides the security af- ticular individual, has more weight forded by reference to an avowed and with the public, and gives less just responsible editor, the writers of the offence to the author censured, than leading articles in the reviews of any if the criticism had been declaredly eminence, are in general pretty well written in the first person singular. known both to the public and to the It is in some degree a deception, but
it is one to which we willingly give With the notice of this anomaly in way, as it tends to save the decorum of the reviewing system, we must con. society, and to givethecritican oppor- clude our account of the present state tunity of discharging his duty frankly, of Periodical Criticism in Britain. We without any appearance of personality have it not in our power, nor would upon his part, and without giving the the labour be repaid by any useful party reviewed a strong temptation to result, to report upon the various push criticism into controversy. It re. works now current in this depart. mains also to be noticed how often ment, far less to arrange
their the reviewer may gain a hearing from dence. What we have chiefly atthe public by use of the emphatic tempted in this sketch is to give some pronoun we, which might have been idea of the spirit and principles of denied to the criticisms of an obscure that which is decidedly the foremost individual upon the work of an esta- in the field. Its surprising and unblished literary character. The dif- precedented success has rendered the ficulty, finally, of enlisting individuals Edinburgh Review the mirror in to fight with their visors up, may which the others dress themselves, have hastened the conclusion of Mr 'and from which they endeavour to Cumberland's unsuccessful attempt select and imitate the qualities which to establish a review upon his new recommend that journal to popular plan. Every one has heard of the favour. The tone of criticism, therecelebrated harlequin, who could not fore, at the commencement of the go through his part with spirit un- nineteenth century may be characless when he wore the usual mask, terized as harsh, severe, and affect. although conscious that his identity edly contemptuous, dwelling rather was equally recognized whether he in general and excursive discussion, used it or not; and we cannot help than in that which applies itself to thinking that those critics whose opi- the immediate subject; but requiring, nions are best worth hearing will be from those very circumstances, an. most ready to deliver them under the elevation of talent and extent of in. modest disguise of an anonymous pub- formation unknown, or at least un. lication, although they know that in necessary, to the humble labourer of many cases it is a secret which all the the preceding period. If the art has world knows, and in others, one which been emancipated from the commerany party interested
discover if cial trammels of the bookseller, it has, he pleases. For all these reasons we unfortunately become more deeply are led to conclude that the present involved in the toils of the political system, while no reat objection lies statesman. This last yoke, however, against it, is best fitted to preserve if equally rigorous, is less sordid than harmony in the literary world, and to the former, and the professors of the encourage a free and unrestrained spi. art of criticism have risen in rank rit of discussion, without risk of its and reputation accordingly; nor can degenerating into personal contro- it be denied that these periodical versy, or being trammelled and chilled publications have at present an inteby over formal and timid civility'; one rest and importance altogether unor other of which extremes might, we known in any former part of our liter think, be the consequence of the sys. rary history. tem practised in the London Review.
INFERNO OF ALTISIDORA.
" A uno dellos nuero, flamante y bien enguardernado le dieron un papirotazo, que le
sacaron las tripas, y le espurcieron los hojas.”-Don Quixote, Part II., lib. viii. cap. 70.
“ They tossed up a new book fairly bound, and gave it such a smart stroke, that the
very guts flew out of it, and all the leaves were scattered about.”-MOTTECX' Translation.
TO THE PUBLISHER OF THE EDINBURGH ANNUAL REGISTER.
SIR,—The character of your pre- ing into St Cecilia's Hall the beautisent correspondent is perhaps very ful and too-early-lost Miss B—. little to the purpose of his communi. But, as the learned Partridge pathecation ; but who can resist the temp- tically observes, non sum qualis eram; tation of a favourable opportunity for and now, far from being permitted to speaking of himself, and his own af.. escort the young and the gay through fairs ? I am, then, a bachelor of fifty, that intricate labyrinth, entitled the or, by't lady, some fifty-five years Entrance to the New Theatre Royal, standing, and I can no longer is-. I observe is not without obvious guise from myself, that the scenes, in reluctance that I am selected as a which I formerly played a part of proper beaụ to the General Assemsome gratifying degree of conse- bly. Nor indeed can I disguise to quence, are either much altered, or I myself, that I owe even this humble am become somehow less fitted for distinction to the gravity of my phymy character. Twenty years ago I siognomy and habit, which the diswas a beau garçon of some renown, cerning fair consider as peculiarly escorted Lady Rumpus and Miss calculated to overawe the beadles, by Tibby Dasher to oyster parties, dan- conveying the impression of a Ruling ced with the lovely Lucy J and Elder. My apartments in Argyle's enjoyed the envied distinction of hand. square, those very lodgings where my