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care about half-measure men. Hunt, Wooller, Waddington, Thistlewood, Waithman, soon got possession of the tribunes, to the exclusion even of Brougham, who went farther than any of his colleagues to vie with them. But in return for this, the Whigs kept possession of a power which the Radicals 'could not attempt to seize--the Press. Cobbett alone of the Radicals had any mastery over that, and in spite of his unquestionable talents, his personal conduct has made him powerless. He is not to be depended on by any party, and of course was of no use.
We are afraid that our readers will think this a tedious and perhaps disproportioned introduction to our remarks upon our Magazine; but we could not avoid giving a detail of the posture of things with respect to the great parties of the State when we started. Briefly then, in consequence of all the events which we have above glanced at, the Whigs in 1817 had the influential part of the Press to themselves. We do not mean to undervalue that admirable work, the Quarterly Review, or the other periodicals or newspapers existing at that period, on the honourable side of the question ; but we must again repeat, that their spirit was subdued by the surrounding events. The anti-ministerial newspapers far out-numbered the ministerial—the voice of the Edinburgh Review was omnipotent--and if we looked among the monthly publications, we do not remember any that effectually supported our cause. Sir Richard Phillips's Magazine was at the head of all the Magazines, and was a regular deposit for all kinds of reviling, hatred, malice, falsehood, and evidence against all the valuable institutions, and the respectable men in the country. The Examiner was the only readable Sunday paper, and there is no need to designate its contents under any other title than the general one of unmixed infamy.
The Monthly Review, a work, however, not at all to be confounded at any time with the labours of the Hunts, or Peter Finnertys, or Phillipses, or Richards, or such rabble, was the only Review beside the two great quarterly organs of party; and that, although never insultingly or disgustingly opposed to the institutions or prosperity of the country, was yet Socinian in its religious tenets, and Whig decidedly in its politics. Of the Morning Papers in London, the Times, as usual, fell in with the popular cry; and having about that time fallen into its present management, was conducted with the same disregard to truth and decency as it is at present. Perry, or Pirie, or whatever his name was, laboured fiercely away in his vocation in the Chronicle ; and at that time the Opposition leaders contributed to its support. There was no Morning Paper but one, the New Times, on the ministerial side. Of the Evening Papers, the Courier is the only one which we remember, and that, though unquestionably conducted, as it still is, with great talent and knowledge of the world, was frequently borne down by the prevailing clamour got up on so many sides against it. Of the Provincial Papers, it is only waste of time to speak. Yet we may add, that, in the years to which we refer, the great and overbalancing proportion of them was as decidedly Whig as it is now Tory.
In what manner the Whig writers, in this their unquestioned day of triumph, behaved, is now by that party most studiously kept out of sight. To hear them talking at present, one would imagine that they were the meekest people that ever handled a pen. We have occasionally begged leave to jog their slumbering memories. We assert, and without fear of contradiction, that we could produce a bundle of more unfounded and base calumnies from the pages of the Edinburgh Review than could be paralleled in the annals of civilized literature. We have not room, nor is it worth while, to extract any quantity of them; but we refer our readers, curious in slander, to their treatment of Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Dermody, Barnes, Phillpotts, Davison, Copplestone, Falconer, Byron, (till he tamed them,) Hogg, Montgomery, even that poor creature Thelwall, or Thomas Moore, their present companion; and we venture to say, that they will find there has not been a mode of annoyance which could present itself to a spiteful and arrogant mind that has not been resorted to. They will find that in reviewing a literary work, contemptible allusions have been made to a man's habits in private life-to his trade, or his father's trade—to the means by which he rose in society—to his personal appearance-to his poverty—to his family, his mother, or sisters, or wife—to things with which, in short, the public have nothing to do, and which have no connexion with the work reviewed further than they tend to insult its author. They will find one gentleman accused of perjury, another of theft, another of drunkenness, a fourth of pandarism, and so on; and all this arising out of party hatred. We pass by their political attacks on men of public character, such as the Duke of Wellington ; for we are not willing to set too narrow bounds to political controversy, and public men are more or less exposed by their very situation. Even this, however, can be carried too far; as, for instance, the mean wretch that reviewed James Hogg's Jacobite Relics, insinuated a charge of bastardy against George III. ; but such animals are below a man's contempt. Nor shall we be very angry with their attacks on the dead, for the most atrocious that we can recollect was that on Dean Swift. We completely pardon that for had not Swift been dead, and thoroughly dead, it would not have been ventured upon. Woe to the luckless critic, had the unsparing Irishman been allowed one day's revivification, to have gibbetted him to everlasting contempt and derision?
Such being the conduct of the decentest and most powerful of the Whig periodicals, it would be a gratuitous dabbling in the dirt to inquire into the behaviour of the lower orders. Yet it actually amuses us now-a-days, to take up a volume of the Examiner, before we blighted its scribblers for ever, and to revel, as it were, in the flowers of Billingsgate which that impertinent paper produced at the time. There is nothing equal to it in furious personality on all classes, from the King to the poor player. Stories picked up at third hand from the servants with whom its writers associated or the candle-snuffers of the theatres--or the second-rate reporters or the unfortunate women of the oyster-shops—were made matter of grave and insolent accusation against the most illustrious, as well as the most obscure characters. Allusions the most indecent, in the most prurient language, (always the besetting sin of the Cockney school,) nauseate you in every number. But peace be to its ashes ! We should not have disturbed them, were it not necessary for us to give a slight sketch of the composition of the cleverest Whig paper of the day.
But there is no reason for passing by the labours of Mr Thomas Moore. To him we were indebted for that highly respectable and moral poem, The Fudge Family in Paris. We remember talking to a Whig gentleman, when this work was in the full blaze of popularity, and expressing our disapprobation. “I do not wonder at its vexing you,” said he ; " it is a powerful work, which will not soon be forgotten, I assure you." “Forgotten !” said we; “ no, in truth; it shall not be forgotten as long as the Whig party has existence.” Now, when we consider the slanders on men and women—the filthy insinuations, the indecent allusions of that work--and couple them with the manner in which it is past question the information which gave them piquancy was obtained, it is not too much to say, that a book more disgraceful to a writer of high literary reputation does not exist-always with the exception of the Twopenny Post-bag.
In this state of affairs, we thought we saw an opening, and made a trial whether the noisy bullying of the weaker party had altogea ther damped the hearts of the great Tory majority. We saw that it was not to be done by cringing or conciliating, by humbly submitting that there was some defect in the views of Opposition, though ready to admit the high honour, the great integrity, the undoubted talents of every individual member in it. We felt that in the literary part of the warfare the thing would never answer if we were to allow great genius and profound erudition to people who possessed neither, simply because they happened to be engaged in abusing our friends. We saw that we should not even allow the clever men of the opposite party to hedge themselves under their general character, and, under that cover, vent falsehoods and calumnies to injure us. No! We felt convinced that a want of courage was the complaint. We perceived that the quarrel was not to be fought out “ with womanish uplifting of the palm,” with acknowledgments of the great genius, powerful intellect, and honourable intentions of our antagonists. We knew these gentry too well to suspect them, except in few, very few instances, of any great claims to the two former causes of respect
-intimately were we convinced that we might search the party throughout without convicting one among them of any title to the last. We knew also that the Pluckless of our party had been in the habit of adulating our enemies out of innate cowardice-out of a conviction of their own feebleness, and a dread of the superior abilities, such as they were, of the scribes of Whiggery. Far different were our feelings. We were determined to expose hollow pretensions without mercy, and to say in public what the more courageous of our party had always said in private.
We knew our own strength, nor had we overrated it. In our inmost hearts, we despised the ignorance and arrogance of the domineering faction, and we proclaimed war against them in the perfect confidence of speedy success. On the opening of the campaign, the Whigs pretended to hold our raw troops cheap; but a few skirmishes were sufficient to daunt the spirit of their veteran but impotent battalions; and their leaders soon showed, by their altered system of tactics, that they feared a fatal overthrow. Still there was a mighty sound of trumpets—much bravadoing-and even apparent offers of battle. It was hinted abroad by the cowed army, that we did not fight according to the spirit and rules of modern and civilized warfare. Bah! We took their artillery, and
for a few engagements, turned it against themselves; but we had a fine park of our own, and with it, finally, we won all our victories.
One such sounding paragraph as the above may be forgiven in a twenty-page preface. The real meaning of it we take to be this
- that we Tories beat the Whigs in argument all to sticks, and that all the world acknowledged it. The secret of our power lay in these four words, “We wrote like Britons"-we loved, we gloried in our native country. To us all her time-hallowed institutions were most dear-dear the dust from which our feet brought the sound of liberty. We were above all that sneaking and snivelling patriotism, that lives but in disinterring the bones of some old buried abuse. Our national blessings were bright and benignant as the stars in heaven; and we rejoiced-not to count them, for that was impossible-but to gaze on them with gratitude to the Giver! Whenever we beheld a Whig, or a Radical, with a long, sour, vinegar aspect, weeping, ugly as Sin, over the miseries of human life in Great Britain, we fixed him, as by a talisman, in the most ridiculous of all his possible attitudes, and showed him up as a Fool. We brought forth against him shouts, and peals, and guffaws of laughter ; from every corner and every cranny
“ Redoubled and redoubled a wild scene
Why these sardonic wits, who had so ruled the roast for a quarter of a century, that they would have stuck the spit into any one who had dared to say, 66 black was the white of their eye,” were struck all of a heap by our roaring laughter; and then gathering up
their legs, set off in cowardly discomfiture, like so many old women at the shadow of Satan. Wits indeed! WhiG WITS ! We defy you to utter that conjunction of words now in any room or vehicle in Great Britain or Ireland, without every face being graced with a grin. We declared, that the disease of the Whigs was an inveterate and incurable stupidity; and although many people could not bring themselves to believe that such a disease was mortal, they acknowledged their error when they saw the Party lying dead, and found themselves, as subscribers to this Magazine, actually walking in the funeral procession.
Our first Numbers were received with astonishment and indignation. What! the great Jeffrey declared a paltry and shallow critie ! The excellent Brougham a political adventurer without principle !