Obrazy na stronie

looked as if he were about to tista's coat from a bench, covered turn a wheel into eternity. They the small figure, then lifting it in shovelled back the earth rather his arms, carried it out and flung gingerly, avoiding the dead man's it down the deep shaft. face; but, after all, it had to be But under the gum-trees Battista covered the same as the rest. lay still, silent, satisfied. The When they had finished their task years went on, the bottom of the they strolled off towards the camp, shaft filled with water, and the only Termater Bill remaining be- mullock slipped back into it with hind. He went to Battista's hut a heavy splash; the windlass rotted and peered through the half-shut and grew green, and some one stole door: there in the corner the little the bucket and hide rope ; far, blue-and-gold image stared, smil- far below in the valley the sweeting down inscrutable, indifferent. scented wattle burst into tufted Long the man gazed back on it; yellow balls, and the blue mists lay then with sudden determination on Omeo. he entered the hut, and taking Bat


[blocks in formation]

I TAKE to witness this westering credit and a poor wage to pay light to which I look that all the that was a good enough return for grumbling I have ever been guilty the commodity supplied, and to as of was official and for the public much consideration in the world good. With me as with the rest as modest worth should look for, of mankind there have been griefs whenever it cares about the world upon the road, disappointments, at all. I do not know what inhardship as well as error, and tellectual or artistic employment various kinds of wounding and could be called flourishing in those robbery to endure, as well as too dull years from the thirties to the much matter of self-reproach. fifties, unless in the hands of a Yet never as boy or man have I few individuals not all very great. been a grumbler, but only as jour- Mechanical invention and applinalist, and in performance of the ance, of course; but not painting, natural duties of journalism. nor sculpture, nor music, nor literaEven this I can say, that no one ture, nor the stage, and certainly has ever heard me grumble at being not journalism — which, with one so much a journalist, after deter or two exceptions, as in Printingmining to be in that line of life for house Square, seems rather to have only a little while and as a make- fallen back from an already poor shift, — the determination of so estate. I know of a London mornmany young men whose real voca ing paper- rich enough in these tion is poesy and the writing of days, and no doubt as liberal as incomparable essays. And per- wealthy—which even toward the haps it would be ungrateful to re end of that period filled its pages pine at a perversion which carried with leading articles, reviews, and the pervert into so many pleasures other high critical matter, at the and advantages, and even to a place rate of ten shillings per yard-long of power at least equal to half-a- column; and I also know of a great dozen seats in Parliament: at least. writer, already proved and popular, half-a-dozen, and these free of the who jumped at a scale of pay which Whip, independent of the Speaker, could not be offered now to scribes and subject not at all to the gentle with half his reputation : there are men of the front benches. It would none with half his charm, and few be ungrateful, too, because my long with all his fitness. Moreover, spell of journalism began at about till those times journalism was the most fortunate time in the hardly allowed to be respectable, history of what is sometimes called even with writers like Coleridge a "profession,” though it is not and Hazlitt to ennoble its practhat any more than it is Cabinet- tice; and if in the third or fourth ministering, unless when calcula- decades of the century it was less tion chooses to make it so. looked down upon, it was a poorer

It was a fortunate time—I speak trade than ever, I fancy, for any of 1860 or thereabout-for almost but a few writers in one or two every reason that the good journal- newspapers alone. ist should rejoice at. It was a A business so ill paid, so ill time of emergence from small thought of, and so limited in


pportunity, was little likely to Bohemianism was its reproach, ttract young ambition, or to draw and the poverty which, in denying nto it the kind of men who not the means of cultivating the graces ong afterwards strove for a place and refinements of life, provokes in in that cloud-capped Olympus, the some hurt minds an affectation of

Times,' or to share the Byronic despising them. But journalism zlories of the “Saturday Review.' was practised out of Bohemia as And there are signs that when well as within that vanished land. journalism was a new employment, All newspaper proprietors were writing for

newspaper was not as Thackeray's Mr Bungay, thought more respectable than to nor all journalists like Captain edit it. Nor, for intelligible reasons,

Shandon and Jack Finucane. The is that an extinct prejudice yet. author of “Vanity Fair' knew the Amongst writers of the superior world to which those gentlemen sort there are many whose feel belonged very well.

Most unings inform them that, whatever willingly, he had been in it; never the difference in emolument and willingly would he have remained authority, it is better to range at in it for an hour; finding therein large as independent contributors a vast deal that he despised, and than to sit in the editorial chair. despised with a certain hate and a Two generations ago it was a preva- certain fear which, in combination, lent feeling. Scott seems to have formed a very lively and a rather been much disturbed upon hearing worrying sentiment which he did that Lockhart might become editor not get rid of to the end of his life. of a newspaper which there could It certainly checked and hampered be no discredit in writing for; and him when he came to write of the same distinction gleams out young Arthur's excursion

into clearly in the late Lord Blach journalism; and so it is that even ford's story of how he came to in Pendennis' we have but faint write for the Times.' At the age uncertain glimpses of an underof twenty-nine, before he had made world which has never been well choice of a career, he was repeat- described to this day. There are edly pressed by the proprietor of fields of observation which no that journal to take its editorship. satirist less stout than Swift can This he declined to do; but being hope to traverse, pen in hand, then urged to write for the paper, with comfort and composure; and, he almost thinks that he will try feeling this, the Muse of Titmarsh his hand. Not that Frederic allowed a tormentingly inviting Rogers (as he then was) quite theme to repose at the bottom of liked it. However,

his inkpot. True, Bludyer was attached way of doing things fished up, but not as a contemseems to me very feasible. porary specimen.

To avoid unNo one will know anything about pleasantness, Thackeray explained the matter except iny own private that Bludyer was no actual denizen friends, and I can do just as much of Fleet Street, but belonged to an and as little as I please.” No one anterior period. He was to be will know ! This was in 1840, regarded as representing a lingerwhen the newspaper press had ing “monster of the ooze”; though, already made considerable pro- truth to tell, his race was not yet gress in gentility, and a yet more quite extinct. I myself knew a pronounced advance to the auth- very perfect Bludyer years after ority of a Fourth Estate of the 'Pendennis' came out,- his end Realm.

so miserable, from the fairest be

« this


ginning, that one should be a speak of some observations of my Psalmist to describe it. Yet the own in Bohemia—though rather Thackeray picture is a true one touch-and-go, and taken, perhaps, so far as it goes, and true as in a less lively time, foreboding the showing that in the novelist's submergence that was soon to come. earlier day the George Warring- And in answer to the question tons and young Pendennises were whether the hours were not very shouldering with the Shandons late, I should say they were; and and Finucanes, who were soon to if there was not too much drinkknow their place no more. ing, I should reply that there was.

Yet were I to talk of Bohemia, Yet not for everybody, and not it would not be in the respectable but what much of it seemed to and running-down vein. I'd rather exhale at

once in the

breezy choose to make the best of it. I laughter and the battling talk of would say that the manners and a Bohemian night's entertainment. customs of that land were not all For that it was appointed ; and by that they were understood to be in that a bowl of punch or two was the neighbouring country of Clap- (I almost think we might say) ham; where the place to which justified. men most resort for sober reflection As the rough and tumble of (the club smoking-room) is still football is good for the muscles mistaken for a haunt of impro- and the temper, so the rough and priety. I would wedge in the tumble of such encountering talk remark that the Bohemia of

was good for the wits and the Britain was always as unlike the temper : so I thought then, and I Bohemia of some other nations as am not otherwise persuaded now. an English school is different from A dangerous country to tarry in, a French lycée. Where it needs this Bohemia, however, and one excuse, I would


that no careful man would have and customs in our Bohemia were ventured the speculation of taking survivals from a tavern-and-coffee a lad into. But, as I knew it, it house time not very remote was not a land of sojourn. They when no

one blamed them or who were drawn thither made the shrunk from them. For hundreds tour, came forth, threw off the of years the whole nation was more loose

cap of travel, donned the social and less formal than it after- smooth and shining tile of civilisawards became, and in Bohemia old tion, and thenceforth roamed no ways which the pious Dr Johnson

Young men who aftertook pleasure in survived longer wards became palaced artists, or than anywhere else. Further to high scribes and scholars, or grave make the best of it, I should add judges and counsellors of the that the free - and - easy smoking- Queen, resorted there awhile for concerts that are coming into vogue nothing more than a jovial clamour are an acknowledgment that there of wit and clash of word—a laughwas more in this pleasure which ing jail-delivery of thoughts and the good Doctor took with his Gold sentiments which otherwise might smiths, and Reynoldses, and ele never have got release. However, gant Bennet. Langtons, than should Bohemia is now where Atlantis is, be quite abandoned ; and that it is and there let it lie. a pleasure which our fine new The precursor of the newspaperclubs fail to supply on account of writer was the pamphleteer : and the frost there.

I should even he too was held in small esteem




generally. Nevertheless, pamph- 'Morning Chronicle' was then a leteers were sometimes very con- recent event, and remarkable besiderable persons, and, whether cause not many years before it for attack or defence, the power of was still a formidable rival to Mr the pamphlet was well understood Walter's "Thunderer," which jourby Governments far less depend- nal it once over - topped. The ent on popular opinion than these Chronicle's' decease also that we know. When the news remarkable because it never had sheets, taking the bread out of the so brilliant a staff of writers as in mouths of the pamphleteers, made the last year of its existence. a regular business of political Nor were these gentlemen at all criticism, they soon gained an antiquated or in any sense behind influence which forced acknow the times; the proof of which is ledgment even from the loftiest that the busiest of them were scorners of Grub Street. As the among the best of that memorable news-sheets prospered with the little band of writers who, when spread of education, the advance the 'Saturday Review' started, of trade, and the multiplication of took the town by storm. interests and events, this influ- There was a common superstience rose; and to share it and tion among journalists, I rememincrease it became an ambition ber, that the Morning Chronicle' unknown to the earlier promoters was not really dead when it did of Mercuries and Gazettes. The die. Though there is no lack of Grub Street wage moved up; the imagination in Fleet Street there hack and his rider began to drop is little romance, yet here was a into the rear; and, thanks a good fancy which resembled the dedeal to the enterprise and liberal- parted journal with those heroes ity of one or two daily papers, of old who could not die; whose furthered not a little by the recent death was but a sleep; who, at establishment of the Saturday the winding of a horn or the drawReview,' journalism had advanced ing of a sword would come forth to a far higher stage of authority more gloriously alive than ever. and consideration at the time And there really was something in when I found myself one of its that superstition; for, unknown junior captains.

to many if not to all who held it, And yet amidst all this there once a-year the entombed 'Chronwas much sickness, and there icle' stirred into life, was called had been a good deal of mortality by its name and answered to the not long before. One morning call, at the same time declaring journal, since restored to great- the day of the week and the ness, had dropped into a sort of month of the year in which it elegant retirement; another, which reawoke to momentary existence. was heard of in all quarters when So the tale was told to me, but I was a boy, was already on the in the prose of the expounder of road to the land of forgotten myths and the analyst of fairythings; third, after living for tales: as thus. In order to keep many years, I believe, a vigorous a newspaper legally and technilife, had changed its too discredited cally alive, though its publication name for another, under which it to the world had ceased, what

you began a far more fortunate, more might do was to print three or reputable, and more influential four copies of the paper once aThe docease of

A costly expedient if car


the year.

« PoprzedniaDalej »