Page images


All communications intended for this Magazine must be addressed to the Editor of Bentley's Miscellany, to the care of Mr. Bentley, 8, New Burlington-street.

Rejected articles cannot be returned.



WHILE the great question of "Peace or War?" is trembling in the scales, and the Thirty-ninth volume of Bentley's Miscellany is issuing from Beaufort House, a few words as to "what we are all about," at the beginning of the year eighteen hundred and fiftysix, may not be altogether out of place.

Political affairs, if not absolutely at a stand-still, are, at all events, in a somewhat torpid state, hybernating until the season arrives to wake up for fresh mischief. There will be plenty of work for our "Notables"—such as they are-when the time comes for them to open their "most oracular jaws:" damaged reputations to restore, obsolete opinions to recant, all kinds of political tinkering on hand, a great deal of "sound and fury," and the most part of it like the idiot's tale-"signifying nothing."

The wisest amongst the broken-down lot are discreetly silent at present on the subject of their own demerits. Lord John, who must always be doing something, merely lectures, with fatal facility, upon every art and science known, to the inexpressible edification of "Christian young men." Mr. Gladstone, to a certain extent, follows his noble friend's example, discoursing also on "The Unattainable," that is to say, "The Colonies," and choosing for his audience the colonially-disposed Welsh Mormons, hardy lovers of truth like himself. Sir James, with northern prudence, abstains from "patter of any sort, knowing well that all his ingenious eloquence that pure, unsophisticated moral gin-will be required in the approaching conflict with honest, outspoken, brave Sir Charles, and husbanding his strength accordingly. Equally cautious not to commit himself-to anything-"Benjamin the ruler" voiceless sits apart, resisting all temptation; his own constituents, even, can extract from him nothing but what is bucolical.

[ocr errors]

The blatant Gemini, however, there is a yelping couple in every pack, despite the huntsman's lash-in the incontinence of speech still howl on. Mr. Cobden having no listeners, tries to find readers, and rushes into print, proclaiming himself, as usual, the only true prophet; but his wordy, windy letters are unheeded,"the hungry sheep look up and are not fed." But his fellowjourneyman, Mr. Bright, the holder of the Czar's brief-at how large a fee is best known to himself-appeals to the platform as well as to the press. Under the guise of a lecturer to the Me





chanics' Institution of Marsden,-for Bright, too, must lecture, it is "the last infirmity," he finds food for praise in the pilferings of the penny newspapers, in the shut-up literature of Russia and the civilisation of her serfs, and in the filibustering forbearance of the United States! Under the plea of a friendly correspondence with Mr. Crawshay, of Gateshead, he goes out of his way to insult the Prime Minister, whom he-he, Mr. Bright-stigmatises as an impostor," to expose whom "does nothing;" and being taken to task for this language, turns round and querulously asks if his correspondent's note is intended to insult him? Mr. Bright's sensitiveness is the only singular part of this affair. What is to be thought of the meekness and modesty of this "teacher of nations" who writes as follows: "To expose the Minister is nothing, so long as the people are a prey to the delusions which he practises upon them. He is the proper ruler of a nation arrogant and intoxicated, and, so long as the present temper of the public is maintained, they have the Government they most deserve."? "Arrogant and intoxicated!" Has Mr. Bright ever heard of the Pharisee and the Publican? For our own parts we hope that "the present temper of the public" may long be maintained, having no desire to try the effect of a broad-brimmed Administration. Before we have done with Mr. Bright, whom we have most unwittingly approached, we must ask him another question: Has he yet read the eleventh chapter of Macaulay's History?" If not, let him turn to the twenty-fifth page and note the character there drawn of Jack Howe, the Member of Convention for Cirencester at the commencement of the reign of William and Mary. Here is a passage which we specially commend-veluti in speculum-to Mr. Bright's consideration.

Of what the literary world is " about," the key-note has been struck in mentioning the author of the preceding sentence. All are talking of or writing on the recent instalment of fifteen hundred pages towards the payment of the large self-incurred debt by Mr. Macaulay. There are very few who wish he had made that instalment less by a single line, so graphic are his general pictures, so accurate his individual portraiture, so wide the scope of his argument, so comprehensive his grasp of subject; but, on the other hand, there are fewer still, if any, who can hope to be alive when Mr. Macaulay's task is ended. We must not, however, repine, but "take the good the gods provide us," content to foresee the enjoyment of our remote posterity, for Mr. Macaulay is too much of a gentleman to die without fulfilling his promise.

Such implied longevity reminds us of one whom many will miss, less perhaps for cessation of intercourse than for the consciousness that the last link is broken of the chain which united the literature of the present century with that of the past. Samuel Rogers, the Nestor of poets, and something besides, has at last been "Nec domus," what a pretty house was gathered to his fathers.

his," nec placens"-no, he had no wife, his was a morganatic marriage with the Muse," neque harum arborum,"-there were some sweet-scented lilacs and golden laburnums in the garden,none of these things will be the bourne of privileged pilgrims now that their master, whom none could invoke as "Te brevem dominum," is no more. What heir will tinge the pavement with the rich Cæcuban wines from the cellar of Samuel Rogers, who had no wine so old as himself? What guest will now linger at the pleasant breakfast-table, to listen to "the old man eloquent ?" What connoisseur will suspend the play of his knife and fork to gaze upon the well-lit pictures that surrounded the dining-room? Will Christie seize and sell what has long been so freely exhibited? We might put a thousand such questions, all of them regrets for one, who, like the Cerberus of Mrs. Malaprop, was "three gentlemen at once," dear to Apollo, Cytherea, and Plutus, "the Bard, the Beau, the Banker."

But the year which closed yesterday, bids us mourn over many of greater mark than Samuel Rogers. Within the last twelve months what a gap has been made in the memorable roll! The sagacious and indefatigable Truro-the earnest and philosophic Molesworth-the enterprising Parry-the warm-hearted and upright Inglis-the scientific De la Beche-the learned Gaisford the reforming Hume-the harmonious Bishop-the financial Herries-the diplomatic Adair-the poetical Strangford, also a diplomatist, with Ellis and Ponsonby, his fellow-labourers in the lastnamed category-the gifted Lockhart-Miss Ferrier, and Adam Ferguson, connected, too, with Walter Scott-Lord Robertson, the convivial judge-Lord Rutherford, his acute compeer-Miss Mitford, and strong-hearted Currer Bell-Colburn, the godfather to half the novels of the last half-century-Sibthorp, the eccentric -the travelled Buckingham-Park, the sculptor-Gurney, the short-hand writer-O. Smith, the preternatural-the centenarian Routh-Black, of the Morning Chronicle-the life-preserving Captain Manby-Archdeacon Hare-Jessie Lewers, the friend of Burns-the injured Baron de Bode-and a long file besides of titled names, and names distinguished in all the pursuits of life. The War, of course, came in for the lion's share, in sweeping among those already illustrious; or, had Fate permitted, those who would have been so: the gentle-hearted, courteous Raglan, the mirror of modern chivalry-the intrepid Torrens-the amiable Estcourt the untiring Markham-the brave Adams-the gallant Campbell-the honest Boxer, and the unfortunate Christie, are amongst the most prominent of the heroes whom the bullet or the Crimean fever have forcibly taken from us. Death, too, has been busy with great people, in the ranks of our allies, in the field, on the wave, in the cabinet, in the private home: Harispé-BruatMackau-Della Marmora, who fought so well; the painter Isa

bey-the statesman Molé-the poet Micziewitz-the widow of Lavalette-the wife of Emile de Girardin-the brother of Victor Hugo Count Bruhl, the antagonist of Philidor, the King of Chess-Khosrew Pasha, that true type of the old Osmanli-the chivalrous Duke of Genoa-and Adelaide of Sardinia, the earlylost wife of our noble Piedmontese ally.

But we are not writing a necrology. Sufficient for us be the day, with some aspirations for the future!

Great men were living before Agamemnon

And since, exceeding valorous and sage.

We have many great people still distinguishing themselves, almost as much as the valorous Argive, though not, perhaps, altogether in the same line. To do unto others as you would not be done to appears to be a rule of conduct rather too generally followed. If not, why should the effigies of the three peccant Bankers be enshrined at Madame Tussaud's? Why should a Judge's "fancy" play, like lightning, round a bevy of innocent people? Why should the Guards monopolise the game of "heads I win, tails you lose?" Why should Alice Gray be a heroine ? Why should poisoning be the rule of domestic intercourse and not the exception? Why should we, all of us, be doing the identical things against which we are as earnestly warned as Eve was before she ate the apple?

Some good things, however, we are about. We are striving, all of us, to do honour to the foremost woman of her time-to Florence Nightingale-whose acts have shed an imperishable lustre on her name. We are gradually putting our great metropolitan house in order, although, to effect that object in the best way, we have not elected John Arthur Roebuck our Chairmanso hard it is to induce people, the best-intentioned, to go the proper way to work and put the right man in the right place. At last we are building gun-boats of light draught, and plenty of them, and all that remains is to hope that no Austrian interference may prevent them from fulfilling their mission beneath the walls of Cronstadt, creating another "heap of blood-stained ruins," and thoroughly humiliating-the right word to use, pace Lord John Russell-humiliating to the Czar of Muscovy. In the East the gallant Codrington-the worthy son of a worthy sire-is steadily effecting the most beneficial changes in the condition of the large army entrusted to his care: the moral no less than the physical wants of his men claiming his constant care. With discipline firmly established, with mental activity heightened and bodily strength restored, the prospects of the next campaign offer everything that is hopeful, nor have we any fear of the result.

There is another campaign, also, in which we look for laurels bright as any we yet have worn. Our readers are interested in this question, for the battle-field is Bentley's Miscellany for this year, and with the present number we fire the first shot.

« PreviousContinue »