« AnteriorContinuar »
Years and unwelcome knowledge bid depart,
Nathless, the generous spirit bursts control,
Back from the past; and bid it once more live.
CLITO-A CHARACTER. Clito's only occupation, during a long life, has been to dine and to sup; he appears born for the sole purpose of digestion : nor is his conversation more varied; he will relate the number of guests at the last civic dinner ; he can inform you, whether the beef was too much done, or the pudding too little, whether the gravy-soup was good, and the turtle excellent: he can tell how many courses there were, and in what order they were served,—if the Champagne was sparkling, and the Burgundy of the best vintage. Nor is his judgment inferior to his memory: never was he exposed to the horrid misfortune of eating a bad ragoût, or drinking indifferent wine. Illustrious in the kitchen, he has carried the science of good eating to its highest pitch of excellence, and acquired a deathless reputation among bons vivants of every description : but alas ! the best and wisest of us are mortal; and Clito already feels that his last repast is nigh, and that he will soon himself be a feast for worms. His consolation is, however, that, active or passive, he shall still be in his element,-still afford, though not partake, of a rich regale.
A VISIT FROM A WIT.
I have been favoured with a visit from a Mr. Sparkish, or some such name, who is obliging enough to tell me, that in his opinion, the Magnet is wofully deficient in wit. “ I have no fault to find," says he, “ with the design and arrangement. The reviews are impartial, rather too much so though, in the case of
friend I like the historical and literary scraps you fill up with; by Jove, sir, they give it a charming variety, and enable such people as me to retail anecdotes and passages from Zoroaster, and Herodotus, and a parcel of old authors, that it would make one nervous to look at. But as for modern, fashionable, magazine, wit, you have just as good pretensions to it as Peter the Hermit had. The fact is, your pages are too learned, too substantial by half, and if you have any thoughts or expectations of increasing the number of your readers, you must turn your back
upon the musty tomes of the ancients, and turn over the new leaves of the moderns, where all is sprightly and sparkling, light and liberal, free and fantastical. In short, you must insert some of my compositions, beginning with a paper which I have in my pocket, and which I have taken the trouble to write expressly for your new and much-admired publication. Here it is: but you must promise me that it shall appear in your very next number," I told him that it came too late, as I had already sent the copy to press. “Oh by Jove, sir,” he rejoined, , you must stop the press.
_" But I have not read the article,” said I. “Very true,” says he, “ I'll read it to you myself.” And without farther ceremony, he drew a manuscript from his pocket, and, as he unfolded it, gave me to understand, that his paper being intentionally somewhat desultory, he should leave the task of prefixing the title, to me, as he could not determine, to the satisfaction of his own mind, which was the leading or predominant topic. “ Having premised thus much," he resumed, “I shall proceed,” which he did as follows;
"Hast thou ever, Gentle Cockney Reader! during the delectable dog-days, after having supped full of horrors,' retired to thy chamber, with the intention of mounting upon the wings of Somnus; and after turning and tossing on thy wearisome couch, hast thou witnessed • a midsummer night's dream,' wherein thou hast been tormented with terrors, ten times more terrible than those that teem in the * Terrific Register,-mayhap even with a team of night-mares,—or with losses of friends or fortune, or with ccidents both sea and land, ---or with punishments for peccadilloes, which
To their deaf pillows will discharge, and for which, in thy sleeping retributions, thou mayest have been rewarded with the investiture of the collar of the order of St. Ketch; hast thou, after this, shaken off dull sloth,' left in disgust thy troubled and troublesome couch, hurried on thy don't-name-'ems, morning gown, and slippers, turned out just as St. Paul's struck four, and turned in to that stately pile,
"What! so soon in the morning?” I asked, “why it is not open."“What does it signify,” says he,
“n'importe, you can make it an hour or two later if you think proper, so long as you leave the turn uninjured.” " But before you go on, Mr. Sparkish, permit me to say, that your
in troduction is not quite so clear as I could wish; for notwithstanding your distinct enunciation, and correct emphasis, I must own that I cannot see the drift of it.”—- “ No!” he exclaimed, a why that's excellent, I did not intend that you should. Where's the use of writing a begiốning that
has an end,,eh! do you take-an end to it. That were like having
honey a sauce to sugar. A little obscurity, sir, at the outset, gives an interest, a something mysterious and romantic, to the whole article. Now it is an invariable rule with me to puzzle my readers at first, with something strange, striking, paradoxical, that they may be induced to read farther for an explanation ; whereas your common-place writers of the old school, make every thing clear at first sight, and as they cost one no trouble for coming to a right understanding, very few people think them worth the trouble of reading at all. Just as it was with my Lady Warmington's soup, in the hard winter. While the poor could have it for nothing, they called it' wash,' turned up their noses, and declared it was not worth risking their pitchers to fetch it; but no sooner was it made scarce, and withheld from those who came without tickets, than the very fumes of it were found to be nourishing, and no application, or waiting, or crowding, was too troublesome, if it brought them entitled to a taste. Apropos, sir, talking about a taste, naturally brings me back to my article. I am afraid you don't relish it, haven't got the right flavour, eh?” Finding there was no retreat, I frankly confessed that I had not. “ Then,” said he, “ I had better pause a while to point out the beauties, which, excuse me, I am a little disappointed that you did not notice as I read them over at first.", “ I need not,” he resumed, say
how much less common the singular thou' is, than the plural 'you:' that may rest; together with the Gentle Cockney Reader;' though, for my own part, I think it particularly pretty.”—“ It is a familiar invocation,” said I. Exactly so," he replied, and went on: “ • During the delectable dog-days:' mark that phrase: every word tells, except the :' I have my doubts whether the beauty would not be heightened, by assuming, for a line or so, the manner of a foreigner; in which case the alliteration might be completed, by substituting de' for 'the;' what's your opinion ?"_“Really,” said I, “ I don't think you can improve it. But as I am no great admirer of alliteration, I should rather not sacrifice purity and sense for it.”—“Oh, dear Mr. Merton,” says he, “ I wonder you should be insensible to so great a beauty, which I must think is (next to a pun) “the soul of wit.' You must know I consider myself rather happy at it, and I reckon thut a singularly felicitous specimen of it, beginning at the word tormented,' &c." I observed, that the letter' t'occurred not less than fifteen times in as many words. “ Ah !” says he, “ I thought you would admit the beauties when they were pointed out to you. But you don't seem cordial in your approbation of alliteration : you should read the dissertation in praise of it, written by Mr. Auditor Benson. I have made it my study, day and night; and, indeed, to it I am indebted for whatever proficiency I may have arrived at in the art. You may find some striking instances of it in the works of Pitt,-Kit Pitt the poet I mean,--who, out of compliment to Mr. Benson, composed those ever-memorable lines on Cardinal Wolsey,
Begot by Butchers, but by Bishops bred,
How high his honour holds his haughty head." I assured Mr. Sparkish, that I had not forgotten them, and begged him to proceed. “The next thing to be noticed,” says he, “ is the new, but classical metaphor of mounting upon the wings of Somnus.' I was sick and tired of the old expression, * fell into the arms of Morpheus,' and in order to avoid it, I referred to Tooke's Pantheon, to see how the
pedigree and relationship of the sleeping deities stood ; and there, to my surprise and joy, I discovered that Somnus, the brother of Death, is the real sleep; and that he is gifted with wings; but that Morpheus is nothing better than the servant of Somnus. So I think you must allow, that my research has been productive of great benefit; that I am right in preferring the master to the servant; mounting on wings, to falling in the arms; in short, that I may lay claim to the merit of originality at least.” I replied, that there could be no doubt of it, and that I considered him quite a unique. “ You're very obliging,” said he, and directly proceeded to what he termed the “grand hit,” namely, the team of night-mares." “ Mark,” says he, “how accommodating that phrase is. First of all, the word team, is a delightful echo of the word teem, which precedes it. Then, being used to creatures of the horse species, it is particularly apt, for you know they do not put any other animals in teams. “ Except mules and asses,” said I. “ That's true enough,” replied he, “ but as it escaped me, I dare say it will escape the generality of readers. Let it stand, if you please. Moreover, there is something native and familiar in the idea : nothing high-flown, like your ancient Pegasuses; and yet it is not quite sleepy, or motionless,” I told him it reminded one of the team in a fly-waggon. “ Oh! by Jove, sir,” he exclaimed, “ it's a fine thought ; but, for fear it should prove too witty, I instantly give a check to it, by the contrast of two or three very serious ideas.
“What can be more pathetic than the losses of friends and fortune ?!” “ Truly, nothing," I answered. “ Or what,” he continued, distressing than accidents both by sea and land ?? or what more just than' punishments for peccadilloes ?»—“Nothing, nothing," I answered, “ But you omit to notice,” says he,“ how I modify the gravity of the thing, by the employment of peccadilloes,' instead of crimes.” –“I see,” said I, “it is much of a piece with the periphrasis by which you disguise the halter ; for such I take to be the meaning by St. Ketch's collar."-" To be sure it is,” he rejoined, “ but don't you see what a fine opportunity I take for having a slap at the orders of knighthood, the privileged orders, and higher classes ? There's a deal of satire in it, as you may suppose from the quotation which presently follows. There again, I have a slap at the church. It's taken from your old-fashioned morning hymn; he !-he!-how ridiculous I make it look.”—“ Really, sir,” I said, “ that piece of wit would have appeared more according to the proper order of things, if it had come before the joke about Jack Ketch ; you might then have made the investiture' å reward for the wit-' ticism.”_" Dear Mr. Editor,” said he, “ I admire the thought; I see you only want to be put in the right way, to shew as pretty a vein as any of us. But I trespass on your valuable time I fear. Let me leave you the manuscript to look over at your leisure. Only promise me not to alter or to omit any thing."-" What!" I exclaimed, with indignation and impatience, " resign my editorial prerogatives of emendation and expurgation! Sir, I would not do it for a series of the wittiest articles that ever were penned.”. “ Then by Jove, sir,” he retorted with great warmth,“ you shall have none of mine. I never will submit to have my better-half-my wit—quacked, and purged, and cut up, ad libitum, by you or any body else.” So saying, he snatched up his hat, left the room, slammed the door, and muttered vengeance as he hastily descended the staircase, which I was told he continued to mutter half way down the street.
Yes, pride of soul shall nerve me now,
To think of thee no more;
That passion sway'd before ! Think'st thou that I will live for thee, spurn
at honour's stern decree,
Fondly, since first we met;
In greeting wild—but yet
Joys I would fain forget ;-
While tearless is the eye;
When Feeling's fount is dry;