« PreviousContinue »
simple statement of a person returning from his travels through Scotland, into an assertion that he had finished his education in Scotland-weighty, into "crafty "—the circumstantial account of the giddiness of a youth who transported himself into the Colony of New England, was made governor, quarrelled with the people out of his scruples of conscience, and pettishly returned home, into the pompous statement that his (the same youth's) first appearance in public life was in Colonial affairs, in which he soon became an authority; but that he afterwards turned the greatest enemy of the colonies—with many other equally amusing and malignant translations, of which our readers may judge in the parallel columns.
We confess that we are heartily sick of pursuing these inquiries further: we had purposed to go through the few remaining attempts at character, all of which may be stripped of their false and deceitful colouring; but we have said enough to hold up this Reviewer to universal distrust. We must be allowed, however, to smile at his infelicitous choosing of a Lord Grey, (of whom there were two or three in the days of the "Great Rebellion") for he has hit on a person who was a mere boy when the struggle began, and whom, in the middle of the war, Clarendon describes as "a young man of no eminent parts," not as the Reviewer would falsely have it a man of no eminent parts.'
One more exposure, which is rather curious, and we have done. It has been of late a current rumour that the present Archbishop of York will certainly support the second reading of the Reform Bill. This was sufficient ground for our Reviewer to go upon. Accordingly we were not surprised to meet among his falsehoods the following:
"There happened to be, at that period, in the Archiepiscopal See of York, a man who had made himself popular' with the Reforming party, as 'a supporter of those opinions and those persons which were against the Church itself.' When the infamous Bill of Attainder was introduced, and sent up to the Lords, and that 'the cry resounded against the Bishops' for their supposed hostility to that Bill, the Archbishop of York was the first
not only to abandon his personal duty, but to advise and assist in the passing of that monstrous and fatal measure of injustice."
Now we beg to say that this is untrue, and that the Reviewer must have known it. The person alluded to was not then Archbishop of York, nor did he become so for some time afterwards. He was Bishop of Lincoln: and if the Reviewer would draw a parallel between him and the present Archbishop of York, he must prove the latter to be
"A proud, restless, and overweening spirit, of a very imperious and fiery temper, a man of great pride and vanity, a liar, a passionate and dissolute man, a man of very corrupt nature, who had been imprisoned for perjury and subornation of perjury."—
for all this Clarendon describes the Bishop of Lincoln to have been.
We have finished our task. After this-will any man say that the "Quarterly Review" can be considered an authority with any honest party whatsoever? The slander of the living, the warmth of politics may extenuate; but who, that remembers the sanctity of the dead, can think, without deep indignation and honourable disgust, of one who could thus, to serve a momentary purpose, wilfully garble the pages of History into a deliberate calumny of the Great Actors of the Past? For the reasonings and the arguments of the "Quarterly Review," we have only to say they are worthy of the arts we have exposed. Considered as a Literary and Critical work, general opinion has now ranked it below contempt, and perhaps so wretched a book at the sum of six shillings, as the present number, was never sold before by a respectable publisher. The poor stuff about Mary Collings, and Mrs. Trollope, and Fanny Kemble, and Captain Hall, excites the pity of men of sense. The delusions we have exposed will excite the nausea of men of honour. In these tricks the Libeller ministers to the great cause of advancing Liberty, and "the Knave is our very good friend!"
SIR,-There is that in your style which usually betrays you! Your writings are impressed with a stamp of smallness peculiarly their own-and I do not flatter when you I assert that I know no man living who possesses the same power of incorporating the narrowest sentiments in the meanest language. Thus, whether you are attacking a Ministry or eulogizing a job, you are equally yourself! The same man who was indecent in Adam Blair, and illiterate in Valerius-the same man who, in "Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk," praised the regularity of his own features, and decorated his pages with the caricatures of his friends. It is impossible for you to veil yourself your step betrays you-all other intellectual impressions seem gigantic beside the print of your mind! Nor is this your only peculiarity:-You are remarkable for your disdain of grammar; and, being at the head of a Critical Journal, you kindly bestow upon us, by your own example, a knowledge of all the infinite varieties of bad writing. In opening the present Number of the "Quarterly Review," (p. 391,) at the commencement of the Review of "Zohrab the Hostage," I fancy, Sir, that I detect you in the following phraseology, equally noble and correct: This is the best novel that has appeared for several years past; indeed, out of sight (!) superior
to all the rest of the recent brood." In this sentence, by omitting the words, "it is," before the elegant expression, "out of sight," you have benevolently shown us the beauty of good English by no equivocal example of bad. What "out of sight superior" may mean, is not easily understood! the grace of the expression, perhaps, atones for its being a little unintelligible.
I shall proceed, Sir, to quote a few more of those felicities of language which so aptly illustrate your claims to the dignity of a censor of other men's works. Correct metaphor:
"Flimsy tissues swarming.”
Side by side, with a sentimental gypsy, deeply learned in the minor poets of the Elizabethan age, figures the late Mr. Henry Fauntleroy, scene over the Debtors' Door at Newgate-and all the rest of him!"
Him! Whom? Mr. Henry Fauntleroy! the rest of Mr. Henry Fauntleroy, or of the debtors'-door at Newgate? Sir, I may compliment you on having imitated the language of the showman; but I cannot congratulate you on the success of the buffoonery. An awkward merry-andrew is the most pitiable of spectacles.
"Eternal rhapsodies about the personal feelings, opinions, circumstances, and prospects of such a man as Lord Byron might be borne with even in such a piece as Don Juan; but things LIKE THIS make one sorry for authors of less distinguished rank."
"Things like this!"-things like what?-like Don Juan? -this is the only grammatical construction of your sentence! but no!-you allude to "eternal rhapsodies; " and you the editor of the Quarterly Review-identify the plural rhapsodies" with the singular "this."
"The neighbourhood of a remote encampment, the description of which is among Mr. Morier's happiest passages of that class."
What class?-here you leave us without any clue whatsoever; for you have not in the preceding para
graphs been referring to any class of writing, and we can scarcely suppose that you mean to speak of the " class of a remote encampment," the only visible construction to be put upon your words.
"How few are the novels of this class, laying their scene in the writer's native country, that can stand such a test; and yet which of them, that is not prepared to encounter it, asks our acceptance-(acceptance of what?) -except on the presumption of our gross ignorance; or can expect if we are informed-(informed of what?) -a better verdict than incredulus odi!"
I think you may really defy the ingenuity of the most accomplished penny-a-line man to write a worse piece of composition than that which you here display to our admiration.
"Walking about, for a little, without attendance." "For a little!" Suffer me respectfully to ask in what new school did you learn that expression? Was it in your desire for simplicity that you thus transplanted the language of the chambermaid to the pages of a Critical Journal? or do you think that by resorting to the authorities of the nursery you recur to the first principles of your language? The notion is probable,-for it is worthy, Sir, of yourself.
Accuracy in metaphors
"These incidents, which follow each other with breathless rapidity of effect, bring every interest that has been stirred-to a point (!)—and then every knot is cut at once by the assassination of Aga Mohamed," &c.
In this sentence, Sir, your researches into philosophy appear with that "same breathless rapidity of effect which you have deservedly praised in Mr. Morier; and we learn with a startling celerity, that things which are stirred come to a point, and that having been thus "stirred," and thus converted to "a point," they are as suddenly conjured into knots! So miraculous a power of transformation,-so excellent a trick of verbal necromancy, is more honourable to your ingenuity than your judgment, and is scarcely perhaps consistent with