Page images

A variety of causes induce me to This is an imperfect sketch of his form such a wish, but I am princi- work, and to accomplish these ends, pally influenced by the considera, he is secure of the liberal aid of ma. tion that time can scarcely fail of ny most respectable persons in this enlarging and refining the powers city, and New-York. He regrets of a man, while the world is sure to the necessity he is under of concealjudge of his capacities and princi- ing these names, since they would ples at fifty, from what he has writ- furnish the public with irresistible ten at fifteen.

inducements to read, what, when Meanwhile, I deem it reasonable they had read, they would find sufto explain the motives of the present ficiently recommended by its own publication, and must rely for cre- merits. dit on the good nature of my read In an age like this, when the founers. The project is not a mercenary dations of religion and morality have one. Nobody relies for subsistence been so boldly attacked, it seems on its success, nor does the editor necessary in announcing a work of put any thing but his reputation at this nature, to be particularly exstake. At the same time, he can- plicit as to the path which the edinot but be desirous of an ample sub- tor means to pursue. He, therescription, not merely because pecu- fore, avows himself to be, without niary profit is acceptable, but be- equivocation or reserve, the ardent cause this is the best proof which he friend and the willing champion of can receive that his endeavours to the Christian religion. Christian amuse and instruct have not been piety he reveres as the highest unsuccessful.

excellence of human beings, and the Useful information and rational amplest reward he can seek, for amusement being his objects, he will his labour, is the consciousness of not scruple to collect materials from having, in some degree however inall quarters. He will ransack the considerable, contributed to recomnewest foreign publications, and ex- mend the practice of religious dutract from them whatever can serve tics. his purpose. He will not forget that As, in the conduct of this work, a a work, which solicits the attention supreme regard will be paid to the of many readers, must build its claim interests of religion and morality, on the variety as well as copiousness he will scrupulously guard against of its contents.

all that dishonours or impairs that As to domestic publications, be. principle. Every thing that savours sides extracting from them any of indelicacy or licentiousness will thing serviceable to the public, he be rigorously proscribed. His powill give a critical account of them, etical pieces may be dull, but they and in this respect, make his work shall, at least, be free from volupan American Review, in which the tuousness or sensuality, and his history of our native literature shall prose, whether seconded or not by be carefully detailed.

genius and knowledge, shall scrupuHe will pay particular attention lously aim at the promotion of public to the history of passing events. He and private virtue. will carefully compile the news, fo As a politicalannalist, he will spereign and domestic, of the current culate freely on foreign transactions; month, and give, in a concise and but, in his detail of domestic erents, systematic order, that intelligence he will confine himself, as strictly which the common newspaperscom- as possible, to the limits of a mere municate in a vague and indiscrimi- historian. There is nothing for nate way. His work shall likewise which he has a deeper abhorrence be a repository of all those signal in- than the intemperance of party, and cidents in private life, which mark his fundamental rule shall be to exthe character of the age, and excite clude from his pages, all personal the liveliest curiosity.

altercation and abuse. VOL. I....NO. I.


He will conclude by reminding the man, have once been heard for the public that there is not, at present, first time, and must, therefore, have any other monthly publication in once been new to him. America; and that a plan of this The whole mass of good-things kind, if well conducted, cannot fail and good-stories, in current use, of being highly conducive to amuse would make up a very large volume; ment and instruction. There are and the very tritest of these if told many, therefore, it is hoped, who, in a mixed and casual company, when such an herald as this knocks would probably be new to more than at their door, will open it without one person present. Hence the irreluctance, and admit a visitant who resistible temptation to repeat a calls only once a month; who talks good thing, which, when we heard upon every topic; whose company it, was new to us, and hence the may be dismissed or resumed, and awkward situation in which a facewho may be made to prate or to hold tious narrator so often finds himself his tongue, at pleasure; a compa- placed, that of finding the most imnion he will be, possessing one com- pertinent gravity, on occasions panionable property, in the highest where he looked for laughter and degree, that is to say, a desire to applause. please.

When we examine the pretenSept. 1, 1803.

sions of reputed wits, we shall be surprised to find how much of their reputation is founded upon the same

invariable stock of good things. For the American Register. They rarely tell a story which they

have not told a thousand times beEXTRACTS

fore, and as these stories may some. FROM

times be real occurences or original

inventions of their own, they will of A STUDENT'S DIARY. course be new to strangers. We SWIFT'S POLITE CONVERSATION.

must pass some time with them be.

fore we perceive that one day's banI have just been reading “Polite quet is merely a counterpart of that Conversation" by Swift. It is amus- of the day before. ing to observe how many of the em Perhaps, however, it is very selbellishments of modern conversa. dom that the humorist knowingly tion have been employed to the same repeats the same story to the same purpose these hundred years. Many company. Memory, as it grows reof them are probably of as old a date tentive of remote transactions, is as the reign of Egbert, and most of apt to lose its hold of more recent them, at least, as old as that of Eliones. Thus an old man of three zabeth, when, as the comedies and score will frequently repeat to the comic scenes of Shakespeare prove, same man, on the same day, a rela. the colloquial dialect of the English tion of some event that happened was the same as at present.

fifty years before. Every body knows that Swift, in A story, however, is one thing, these dialogues, intended to ridicule and a witticism is another. It is the practice of interlarding dis- the latter which the Dean makes course with hackneyed and estab- the object of his ridicule in these lished witticisms or sarcasms. Most dialogues, and which so often inof these are wretched in themselves, trudes itself into conversation. Evebut some are liable to no other ob- ry one desirous of steering clear of jection than the want of novelty. this folly, ought to read this perAnd yet there are some to whom the formance carefully, for it not only most hackneyed will be new. In teaches us to shun so childish a praca truth, this must necessarily be tice, but tells us what we are to the case with every good-thing. shun. *The tritest saying must, by every


year 1793, we, in this part of Ame..

rica, at least, the present generaTHERE is nothing about which tion, had only heard and read of newspaper writers are more anx- pestilence. Since that period it has ious than to dignify the account of a visited us five years out of ten, and, fire. The plain and direct expres- in our great cities, there is no dosions are so simple and so brief, that mestic event more familiar to us; they are by no means satisfied with none which we anticipate with more them. They must amplify and de- probability, and by which we precorate the disastrous narrative as pare more naturally to regulate our much as possible, and for this end, motions, than this. they deal in circuitous and pompous I often imagine to myself my feelphrases; in affecting epithets and ings on being informed, by some one metaphors. I have often been amu- able to give the information, at the sed at their laborious efforts to be opening, for instance, of the year solemn and eloquent on these occa- 1793, that for the ensuing ten years, sions.

a destructive plague would rage For instance ;...the story to be among us, during five summers, by told is, that, at such time and place, which the city would be, for two or a fire broke out and burnt or de- three months, almost entirely depostroyed such and such buildings. pulated; by which allthe usual func

They disdain so straight a path as tions and employments of life would this, and will ramble very ingeni- be suspended, and a large portion ously thus ...." The citizens were of sixty thousand people, which subdisturbed by the alarm of fire;” or, sist by daily and uninterrupted em(as an Albany editor once had it) the ployment, would be suddenly bereft. peaceful slumbers of the inhabitants of all activity. were broken by vociferated fire !... My notions ofthe evil would doubtIn spite of the exertions of the citi- less have been imperfect and inade. zens, such and such buildings were quate, as, indeed, these notions, 6 swallowed up by the conflagra- with all the benefits of experience, tion:"or, (still more poetically)"be- still are. I should have underrated came victims to the devouring ele- it in some respects, while in other ment;"...or,“ fell a prey to the re- respects, I should equally have overmorseless fury of the flames.” rated it. I should have had but fee

A late newspaper introduces a ble conceptions of the misery which column of such news by this sen- individuals were about to suffer, tence...“ We are sorry to announce while I should probably have comto our readers, the devastation com- puted its influence on population and mitted yesterday by the devouring general prosperity at much too high element of fire.” In the ensuing a rate. I could not have imagined narrative we are told, that the“ rage before-hand the effect of familiarity, of the conflagration was appeased," the power which custom has to at such an hour and that such a part enable us to accommodate ourselves of the town was “snatched from the to inevitable evils, and that vigour grasp of the devouring element.” which one spring of population is

sure to derive from the depression of another.

There is one thing, at least, which my ignorance of human nature would have hindered me from predicting; and that is, the effect which

the introduction of this new disease How powerfully is the imagination has had on the habits and opinions of affected by the frequent and almost physicians. Who would have dreamperiodic returns of this new, strange ed that this order of men would split and unwelcome visitant. 'Till the into hostile factions, which should


wage war against each other with comes; and time, he is now fully of the utmost animosity; that they opinion, instead of clearing up the would arrange themselves in par- darkness, will only involve the matties, the champions of opposite opi- ter in greater obscurity. nions not only as to the mode of Such reasoners as the last, are, curing the malady, but as to the indeed, rarely to be met with. Doubt source to which the malady itself is so painful a state, and a man's is to be traced.

pride and prejudice are so unavoidWhat volumes of acrimonious ably engaged, on one side or the controversy have the last ten years other, as he advances in his inquiry, produced on these subjects? How and we so easily and suddenly dogmatic the assertions, how vio- pass from a state of neutrality, in lent the invectives, which the im- which we only inquire after truth, portation-men and the home-origin- into a state of conviction, when we men have darted at each other. merely search for arguments and How is the pride of human reason facts in favour of one side; that nohumbled, by observing that in this thing is rarer than a physician who enlightened age, with so vigilant a hesitates on this subject. Some men police, with such comprehensive may vary from year to year, and and exact methods of investigating change sides as often as the fever facts, and such diffusing vehicles visits us, but they are ardent and of information and comparison as dogmatic in maintaining what hapnewspapers afford, there should still pens to be their present opinion, be in the community opposite opi- and stigmatize all their opponents nions as to the nature and origin of as fools and villains. a pestilence which has visited our This medicalcontroversy is much principal cities five times in ten to be regretted on many accounts. years? That even its contagious It is not one of the least evils that it nature should not be unanimously tends to shake the confidence of settled? If I go into company, in- mankind in the skill of those, whose deed, and talk with a physician on skill is indebted for the greater part this subject, I shall be told that the of its success to the confidence means of information, on this head, with which the patient is inspired have been so abundant and satisfac- by it. tory, that the question has long ago been settled by all rational people. Every thing, he will go on to tell me, demonstrates the origin of the yellow fever to be foreign, and its appearance among us to be in consequence of importation. I cannot help being biassed by the positive In Europe, Authorship is in assertions of a man of general can some instances a trade: it is a call. dour, of knowledge and experience; ing by which those who pursue it, but what am I to think when I meet seek their daily bread as regularly another man, a physician, of equal as a carpenter or smith pursues the understanding and experience with same end, by means of the adze or the former, whose assertions are the anvil. But authorship, as a mere just as positive, and directly oppo- trade, secins to be held in very litsite ? But still greater is my per- tie estimation. There is no other plexity when I meet a third, who tradesman, to whom the epithet teils me that this question has en- poor is more usually applied. A gaged his attention for many years, poor author is a phrase so often but that the more he collects, inves- employed, that the two words have tigates and compares, the farther is almost coalesced into one. 'The he from an absolute decision, the latter, if used alone, signifies merely more inscrutable the question be- a man who writes and publishes;


but if poor be prefixed, it clearly and the payment of all family exindicates a writer by trade.

penses. The young and happy This trade is the refuge of idle- couple have nothing to do but to ness and poverty. Any thing that give themselves up to the delights gives a permanent revenuc, how- of mutual tenderness, and to fill up ever scanty the sum, or laborious the interval between these joys with the service, is deemed preferable bathing and walking, or with music, to authorship: but when a poor fel- conversation, reading and writing. low has either too little steadiness, He has no other labour on his industry, or reputation, for the post hands than to decide whether the of clerk in a banker's office, or usher coming hours shall be employed at in a school, or curacy in Wales, he the clarionet, the pencil, the book betakes himself, as his last re or the pen. After a good deal of source, to writing paragraphs for a fuctuation, a passion for the pen newspaper, translating new novels seems to have gotten the mastery, or travels from the French or Ger- and a part of every day is regularly man, or spinning Romances from engrossed by an interesting and imhis own brain; and these enable him portant project. Every day is witto live as well as habits of improvi. ness to some progress, and though dence and heedlessness as to all his views continually extend to fueconomical matters, will allow him. turity and immortality, yet the im

While the poor author, that is to mediate pleasures of reasoning, insay, the author by trade, is regard- vention, and acquired knowledge ed with indifference or contempt, are his, and every day is happy in the author, that is, the man who itself, while it brings supreme feli. devotes to composition the leisure city still nearer. secured to him by hereditary affluence, or by a lucrative profession or office, obtains from mankind an higher, and more lasting, and more. genuine reverence, than any other class of mortals. As there is nothing

PENSIONS. I should more fervently deprecate than to be enrolled in the former I HAVE been reading Burke's class, so there is nothing to which I speeches on Economical Reform. more ardiently aspire, than to be Notwithstanding all the eloquence numbered among the latter. To displayed on that occasion, notwithwrite, because the employment is standing the pressure of public exidelightful, or because I have a pas- gencies, and the hard expedients to sion for fame or for usefulness, is which the government has been the summit of terrestrial joys, the driven; who would believe, if there pinnacle of human elevation.

were any possibility of doubting it, There is my friend H..... Can a that four noblemen of overgrown man be situated more happily? His private fortunes, divide between aunt not only secures him and his them eight thousand pounds (forty charming Eleanor from the possi- thousand dollars) per annum, as sability of want, she secures them notlaries; one as master of the foxonly the pleasures and honors of ex- hounds, another as master of the traordinary affluence, but even from buck-hounds, a third as master of the common cares of a master of a the harriers, and a fourth as ranfamily. She is his steward, that is, ger of some park! she manages exclusively the fortune The government, however, exwhich is hereafter to be absolutely, ercises a most laudable economy in as it is now virtually his: she is his other respects. The greatest moral housekeeper, inasmuch as she takes or literary merit, attended with the upon herself the management of greatest poverty, will not tempt the servants, the ordering of provisions, ruling powers to stretch their libe

« PreviousContinue »