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THE OPIUM-EATER. I confess that my opinion of Mr Jeffrey is altogether different. I am rather disposed to think with Wordsworth, “ that he who feels contempt for any living thing, has faculties that he has never used.” Mr Jeffrey seems to me to be an amiable, ingenious man, without much grasp, and of no originality ;-petulant and fretted in his humours, but kind and cordial where he has a liking -110t surely a bitter enemy, and, I can well believe, an attached friend. His great original error in life lay in his attempting to sway the mind of England : a giant could not do that, nor twenty giants ; no wonder, then, that sige nal discomfiture befel one single dwarf. 'If I might be allowed to use an illustration, after the manner of Mr Tickler, I should say that Mr Jeffrey being ambitious of notice, conceived the scheme of going up in a balloon—that the machine was constructed of the proper material, a light silk, and not untastily ornamented; but that unfortunately there was a deficiency of gas, so that the globus ærostaticus was never sufficiently inflated. The cords, however, were cut, and the enterprizing voyager began to ascend. By and by, getting entangled somehow or other by the foot, there he hung with his head downwards, while the balloon cleared the roofs of the houses, but could make no approximation to the lowest strata of clouds. Finally, Mr Jeffrey got released, and he and his balloon came to the earth almost together, and without any serious hurt to the eronaut, but the vehicle was irremediably injured, and in all probability will never more be able to reach the chimney top.
THE SHEPHERD. Odd's my life! that simile's just unco like Tickler, wi' a greater tinge o' eloquence; for, oh dear me! after all, a weel-educated Southron says things in a tosh and complete manner, that we modern and northern Athenians canna come up to for our lives. There's nae denying that.
THE OPIUM-EATER. With regard to these ludicrous, and, as many persons may not unwarrantably call them, impertinent and insolent expressions of Mr Jeffrey, more especially impertinent and insolent when applied to gentlemen in the same rank of life as his own, and indeed somewhat superior, at least more dignified and authoritative, I should say, that most probably Mr Jeffrey employed them without any very culpable feeling towards the parties, and merely in compliance with the spirit of that vituperative system of contention with our real or supposed opponents, which he did not originate, but which, nevertheless, he, by his popular abilities, and by the favour which the Edinburgh Review found with a great portion of the reading public, helped to make of very general prevalence in the periodical literature of this country. A high-minded, and highfacultied man, could scarcely, I think, have written as Mr Jeffrey has too often done; but I do not wish rashly to assert that he might not, remembering the vulgar virulence of Milton, not truly to his equals or inferiors, for where were they, but to his inferiors indubitably, and without reference to individuals, to all that portion of mankind, or womankind, concerning whom he wrote in a controversial or polemical spirit.
NORTH. Wisely spoken. But Mr Tickler chiefly despises him, as it seems to me, for the hypocritical claim he advances to perfect freedom from this failing, and for the bitterness with which he arraigns that conduct in others of which he is himself more frequently guilty than any other man of eminence in this age.
THE SHEPHERD. Weel, then, Mr Tickler, is party-spirit, think ye, likely to rin, like a great heavy sea, ower domestic intercourse in families, this winter ?
TICKLER. Why, James, I neither know nor care. My friends, for upwards of half a century, have been TORIES ; and what is the sour sulky face of a captious Whig to me, any more than his portrait in a picture-falling from which, I turn in calm contempt, or deep disgust, to the well-pleased countenance of some staunch lover of his country and his King ?
THE SHEPHERD. But isna it a desperate pity to see sae mony clever chields keepit apart just for mere difference o' opinion about the government?
TICKLER. Pray, where are all these “ clever chields ?" Take away about four Whigs, and are not all the rest confounded dull dogs ? I cannot really be too grateful to party-spirit for keeping such gentry in their own circles. I hope, James, you are not going to join the PLUckless?
NORTH. I am more Whiggish than you, Tickler. What can be more amiable than the present zeal of the Whigs in the cause of Spain? They are doing all they can to wipe off the foul stain of their truckling to Buonaparte when he stormed Spain. They are crying shame upon their former selves; and why not believe them to be sincere ?
NORTH. Then, have they not subscribed four thousand, three hundred, sixteen shillings, and eight-pence three farthings, for the Greeks?
Did they not wish us to go to war, like a brave people?
Did they not call Buonaparte the guardian of the liberties of the world ?
NORTH. Are they not for a “substantial reform ?”
NORTH. Would they not fain overlook blasphemy?
THE SHEPHERD. You stopt me a while since, and I cry stop till baith o' you now. I kenna wha's the worst. I hae nae notion oʻsic desperate bitterness in politics. What can Mr Joyous be thinking a' this while Mr Vivian, you haena spoken muckle the nicht, but the little you did say was to the purpose. I dinna like folk ower furthy a' at ance. Besides, you are sadly knocked up, man. That Gretna Green is a sad business.
NORTH. (Laying his gold repeater on the table.) Twelve o'clock. Old Chronos smites clearly, and with a silver sound. My dear Vivian, we keep early hours, and your young bride will be in tears. I understand your silence, and know your thoughts. You are at Barry's Hotel. None better. Allow me to accompany you to the steps. Give me your arm, my good boy.
(Exeunt omnes. North leaning on JOYEUSE and the OPIUM
EATER, Mr AMBROSE bustling before with the blazing branches, and TICKLER arm-in-arm with the SHEPHERD, towering in the rear.)
Lites componere magnos.*
NOTHING in the character and conduct of the literary men of this age has given us more displeasure than their excessive pettishness and irascibility. They are all, almost all, at loggerheads with each other; and all that we can do to pacify them, has hitherto produced, we are sorry to say, little or no effect. Now, gentlemen, we beseech you, once for all, to reflect on what you are about. 'Tis a shameful, an indecent spectacle ; and very awkward things are said of you by the PUBLIC, who is fast losing all patience, and has been overheard threatening capital punishment. What is the meaning of this childishness? This most buirnly procedure of the understanding? Remember you are no longer boys-minors-springals-hobbletehoys--but elderly gentlemen, some of you too fat by far, pot-bellied-others bald or grey-locked, -not a few of you wig-wearers,—and more than one at that time of life when an insurance can no longer be effected upon you ;-in short, that you are a set of silly old fools, quarrelling about straws and feathers, and like pigs snuffing a high wind. Should The Public not better herself, and she is certainly getting very indolent, we purpose taking you, one by one, by the waistband, laying you seriatim over our knee, and after birching your bottoms, letting you off at a scamper, like so many sheep after shearing, or a still more formidable and fatal operation. The Public, gentlemen, is but a sorry disciplinarian; and depend upon it, that, for every one single cut that tender-hearted matron would have inflicted, we shall inflict the devil's dozen, and such a devil's dozen as have not been experienced by human posteriors since the days of the Czar, Governor · Wall, and Dr Busby.'
Gentlemen, the longer we think on your behaviour,your idiotcy appears in a more glaring light. Who the deuce are you, who dare to behave in this manner? Have you not, sirs, generally speaking, and without insisting on any invidious exceptions, enough to eat and drink? Breeches or kilts to wear? Beds to sleep in, all with blankets, and the majority with sheets ? Pray, who gives you all this? Why, The Public, to be sure, you truly ungrateful puppies! and yet there you are quarrelling with your bread and butter, and your shake-downs-making mouths at her, turning up your noses at your benefactress, or pulling the noses of one another, creating constant disturbances in your various small neighbourhoods, in town or country, so that, go where the Public will, she is sure to find herself in a row, wondering, and of her wondering finding no end. “ Where is the Police ?” • Why, indeed, the only quiet literary men of the present day are those of the Fancy, Messieurs de l'Imagination! The Public never sees them quarrelling, except it be a few White-feathers, who, fearing to enter the ring, knock up a street-fight now and then, by way of a pick-pocket concern. The Good-ones are all discharged for their peaceableness and suavity; and John Jackson, John Gulley, Jem Belcher, and Tom Crib, would rather have declined the championship, than used towards their opponents the Billingsgate that is now the daily speech of our leading articles ! The First-raters have been imitated by every " pelting officer ;" and the Muses' Bower is now more uproarious than Randal's lush-crib in Chancery-lane, or Harry Holt's Free-and-Easy Club in What-do-ye-call-it street, in Long-acre.
Our dearly-beloved friend, Charles Lamb, (we would fain call him ELIA; but that, as he himself says, “ would be as good as naming him,") what is this you are doing? Mr Southey, having read your Essays, wished to pay you a compliment, and called them, in the Quarterly, “ a book which wants only a sounder religious feeling, to be as delightful as it is original !" And with this eulogy you are not only dissatisfied, but so irate at the Laureate, that nothing will relieve your bile, but a Letter to the Doctor of seven good pages in “ The London.” Prodigious ! Nothing would content your highness (not serene) of the India-House, but such a sentence as would sell your lucrubations
* If this quotation be anyhow faulty, Mr Hazlitt will please to set it right.
as a puff, and because Taylor and Hessey cannot send this to the newspapers, you wax sour, sulky, and vituperative of your old crony, and twit him with his “ old familiar faces.” This is, our dear Charles, most unreasonable-most unworthy of you; and we know not how to punish you with sufficient severity, now that Hodge of Tortola is no more; but the inflexible Higgins of Nevis still survives, and we must import him to flog you in the market-place.
Are you, or are you not, a friend to the liberty of the press ? of human thought ? feeling? opinion ? Is it, Charles, enormous wickedness in Southey thus to characterize your Essays? If so, what do you think of the invasion of Spain, the murder of the Franks family, Pygmalion's amour with the tailor's daughter, the military execution of the Duc D'Enghein, Palm's death, the Massacre at Scio, Z.'s Letters on the Cockney-School, Don Juan, John Knox, Calvin, Cock-fighting, the French Revolution, the Reduction of the Five per Cents Navy, Godwin's Political Justice, the Tread-Mill, the Crusades, Gas fighting booty, D’Israeli's Quarrels of Authors, Byron's conduct to the Hunts, and the doctrine of the universal depravity of the human race?
Is there a sound religious feeling in your Essays, or is there not? And what is a sound religious feeling? You declare yourself a Unitarian; but, as a set-off to that heterodoxy, you vaunt your bosom-friendship with T. N. T., “ a little tainted with Socinianism,” and “ , a sturdy old Athanasian.” With this vaunting anomaly you make the Laureate blush, till his face tinges Derwent-water with a ruddy lustre as of the setting sun. O Charles, Charles - if we could but “ see ourselves as others see us ! Would that we ourselves could do so! But how would that benefit you ? You are too amiable to wish to see Christopher North humiliated in his own estimation, and startled at the sight of Public Derision, like yourself! Yes—even Cockneys blush for you; and the many clerks of the India-House hang down their heads and are ashamed.
You present THE PUBLIC with a list of your friends. “ W., the light, and warm-as slight-hearted Janus of the London !" Who the devil is he? Let him cover both his faces with a handkerchief. “ H.C.R., unwearied in the offices of a friend;" the correspondent and caricaturist of Wordsworth, the very identical “ W t h,” who “ estated” you in so many “ possessions," and made you proud of your “ rent-roll." "W. A., the last and steadiest of that little knot of whist-players." Ah ! lack-a-day, Charles, what are trumps ? And “ M., the noble-minded kinsman by wedlock” of the same eternal W-th.” Pray, what is his wife's name? and were the banns published in St Pancras Church ?-All this is very vain and very virulent; and you indeed give us portraits of your friends, each in the clare-obscure.
We were in the number of your earliest, sincerest, best, and most powerful friends, Charles; and yet, alas! for the ingratitude of the human heart, you have never so much as fortified yourself with the initials of our formidable name—"C. N. the Editor of Blackwood." Oh, that would have been worth P-r, A- P--, G-n, and “ the rest,” all in a lump; better than the “ Fourand-twenty Fiddlers all in a row." Or had you had the courage and the conscience to print, at full length, “CHRISTOPHER NORTH," why, these sixteen magical letters would have opened every door for you, like Sesame in the Arabian Tales. These four magical syllables, triumphant over the Laureate's “ ugly characters, standing in the very front of his notice, like some bug-bear, to frighten all good Christians from purchasing," would bave been a passport for Elia throughout all the kingdoms of Christianity, and billetted you, a true soldier of the Faith, in any serious family you chose, with morning and evening prayers; a hot, heavy supper every night; a pan of hot-coals ere you were sheeted ; and a good motherly body, with six unmarried daughters, to tap at your bed-room door at day-light, and summon you down stairs from a state of * otium cum dignitate," to one of “ gaiety and innocence,” among damsels with scriptural names, short petticoats, and à zealous attachment to religious establishments.
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