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have proved a very mischievous and diverting affair, But when the party to whom they were submitted,-one of · The Miscreants of the Press,' remember, had run through them, he observed, 'I detest Mr. Canning's politics. Viewing him as a statesman, I think his accession to power disastrous for this country ; but I admire him as a man; nay, feel a degree of personal attachment to him ; so much so, that I cannot make war on his private feelings, or attuck him in his home.' « Pshaw !
you don't know your own interest.' “ A common error, and very possibly mine,' was the young man's reply; 'but I decline the task
u Tush! Think again! Absurd to stand by Canning! He must be driven from the helm. He cannot retain it. And then-'
"Meanwhile, observed his companion, in a decided tone, I return you the letters.'
"Canning, later on his career, was apprized of this intrigue. It annoyed him to an extent which those only who knew his excitable nature would credit. He denounced bitterly the baseness of the whole transaction. But where did it lie? With him who produced the letters and tendered the bribe; or, with the party who rejected it? Methinks the odium of the affair—"
Rap! rap! rap! Come in. The Visiting Justices are in the Gaol, and desire the Chaplain's presence immediately in the Board Room.
PARTY AND THE PRESS.
“When I first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I should render myself fit for it ; and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was that gave the country the rank it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two sources--our constitution and
Both these I have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.”—BURKE, to the Electors of Bristol.
It is a line of conduct, at once unworthy and ungrateful, which Party induces high-minded, and in other respects right-feeling, men to adopt towards the Press. In seasons of emergency, Party avails itself largely of the services of the political writer ; entreats his advocacy of certain views or tenets; profits by his influence; uses him ; and then-abandons him! Those very men who have tasked his energies and abilities to the utmost in vindicating their personal or political character, or placing their home or foreign policy in an attractive light, are the very first-the service rendered-to shun him. They speak of him in a deprecatory tone, “as unfortunately circumstanced in his professional position;" avow, with affected reluctance, their opinion that his “ calling places him out of the pale of good society ;" or, drawing a deep breath, say, with a sigh, that they " can know him in his public capacity only;" and that his claim for consideration “ in private life” cannot be recognised. And yet what portion of the community-what class or body of men so incessantly in requisition for good offices towards their fellows? From whom is so much hourly exacted and expected ?
Is public sympathy to be excited ? “ Try the influence of the
Press.” Is a grievance to be redressed ? « Attack it through the Press." Is the public to be warned against some wily impostor?
“ Unmask him through the Press?" Is public benevolence to be aroused? Appeal to it through the Press ?" Does the magistrate's poor-box want replenishing? Turning himself towards the reporter's box, that worthy official expresses his persuasion that by their means that fact will speedily become public; and a remedy as speedily provided.
And yet this is the class so incessantly employed in conferring public benefits which “in private life cannot be recognised!" Out upon such hypocrisy !
“Oh nothing !" cries some embryo M.P., fresh from Christchurch or Trinity: a proficient in Latin verse ; an ignoramus in English grammar—" nothing so easy as to write a leader ! Any verbiage will suffice. I could write a dozen in an hour.”
Try it. Try it by all means. And when your “ verbiage” is submitted to you in proof be abased and chop-fallen at its feebleness and inanity. Then hasten and implore the Editor, piteously and suppliantly, as the presently Lord did the late Mr. Barnes of the “ Times," under a similar exposé of over-rated abilities, “ to suppress, at any cost or hazard, such a mass of execrable and ineffable absurdity."
Smartness; tact; talent; reading; research ; good taste; and a ready memory, these are all essential requisites, now-a-days, in the political writer. How lightly are they regarded, and how rarely rewarded by Whig or Tory-in power! Who can forget the neglect inflicted on Sir James Macintosh by his political friends when their politics were in the ascendant? What gentlemanly, candid, and courteous treatment, both in the House and out of it, did the independent and benevolent Mr. Walter experience from Sir Robert Peel's Cabinet ? And yet it is notorious that Sir James Macintosh was one of the ablest, most unwavering, honest, and honourable advocates of Whigism, both as a speaker and writer, which that party possessed during its long exclusion from office. Of the Times, it may be asserted confidently that it, and the Standard, conjointly, unmasked and demolished the Melbourne Administration,
And then--out, I say, upon such supercilious hauteur, base ingratitude, and hypocrisy !
MR. (NOW LORD) JEFFREY AND PRINTER WILLISON. “ The Duchess of Placentia is very anti-English ; and, having been dame d'honneur to Maria Louisa, is rather Napoleonic. She and I had a little political controversy; and I ended by saying that I adopted one half of her sentiments, and honoured the other.'"-Diary of the late SIR JAMES MACINTOSH.
MEANWHILE, in my musings, I have strangely forgotten my worshipful masters, and the conference to which I was so peremptorily summoned. They received me with looks portentously solemn.
" Mr. Cleaver,” rumbled the Chairman-it was my old acquaintance Mr.
Hatson Cumberstone-his voice was rougher and deeper, and his visage more severe than ever. “ We have sent for you to acquaint you in person with our desire that you should pay special attention to this man--Wheldrake. We consider him a dangerous character."
“ Dangerous indeed!” sighed, rather than spoke, Sir Henry Potinger.
“ Dangerous !" continued Mr. Cumberstone, with an oratorical wave of his hand; “ dangerous, I say, alike from his calling and his abilities !”
He looked around on his colleagues for their assent to this conclusion: they shook their heads with ominous gravity.
Interpreting this gesture into approval, the chairman resumed with augmented complacency.
“ The medical report of Mr. Lammond is more favourable this morning. That gentleman is stated to be better ; will probably, ere long, be pronounced out of danger; and we shall then in a condition to accept bail.”
“ Such bail,” suggested Mr. Wapshott eagerly, delighted with an opportunity of displaying his legal acumen ; • such bail being responsible ; and in every respect unexceptionable.”
« Precisely so," said a dozy justice in the corner.
“ Meanwhile, Mr. Cleaver, having an eye to Wheldrake's calling and future representations, pay, I request you pay, special attention to him.”
Another wave of the hand, and the interview ended.
I fulfilled my instructions faithfully. I did bestow special attention on “The Newspaper Man.” And was rewarded with many a droll trait of literary life. Among them one of “ Modern Athens” retains á permanent hold on my recollection. In Park Place, at the hospitable board of the late Mr. Archibald Constable, during the high and palmy days of his prosperity, when “ The Waverley Novels,” and “The Edinburgh Review,” were bringing golden returns into his coffers, it was Wheldrake's fortune to meet a party more or less connected with literature-and among them Mr. David Willison the printer. Mr. W. was the father of Mr. Constable's first wife; had contributed materially to his son-in-law's success in life; and was universally reputed a wealthy man. Whether that conclusion was well or ill-founded, a “douce” grave, quiet, plainspoken personage was Davie Willison. And yet the marked sobriety and quietude of his demeanour did not secure him from being wofully badgered whenever he partook of his thriving relative's hospitalities. The joke lay here. Mr. Willison, though the printer of - The Edinburgh Review,” was, to the very last day of his life “ an unconverted character,” he lived and died a rank Tory. Whether from his being the editor and master-spirit of the Review -or from his scathing exposure of the errors of the existing administration-or from his hieroglyphical and almost illegible scrawl; to ninety men out of a hundred it was really such--or from the fatigue and annoyance to which his fastidious taste and frequent change of purpose, as literary chief of the far-famed periodical, exposed the printer-or from a combination of all these sins political and professional-certain it is that if there was upon this earth a living incarnation of the Evil One, he tarried, according to
David Willison's belief, in the slight and feeble tabernacle of Mr. Francis Jeffrey !
There were those among the old man's associates who knew the bitterness of his feelings on this point, and delighted to bring him out "strong" during an after-dinner sederunt.
“He was cleverly and jocosely handled,” said Wheldrake, “ the first evening I met him, both as to his antipathies and his politics, and winced under the jibes of his tormentors. Every epithet that was respectful or laudatory was applied to the character and writings of the caustic reviewer; while the old printer sat by and listened with unwilling ear. At last came his summary of the arch-critic's merits.”
“« Aye!' said he, ‘Mr. Jeffrey is a' that ye have said, and mair! I've kenned him and watched him mony a lang year. He writes,' and he elevated his voice, the Deil's own hand; and he holds the Deil's own principles.' “ A roar of laughter greeted this complimentary effusion.”
“Ah, well! Mr. Willison, cried one of the party, “Mr. Jeffrey will survive your hostility. He's a man marked out for eminence. He'll be returned to Parliament yet; he'll go to the Lower House.
“- To the Lower House, say ye?' cried the old printer. He'll go lower—much lower: I winna say for my part, wħar I think that fractious chiel will eventually gang to.'
“The room echoed with mirth at the old printer's warmth and earnestness.”
“Worthy Mr. Willison! Many a time during the remainder of his life was he slyly asked if he had made up his mind where Mr. Jeffrey would eventually gang to?'"
Mr. Lammond was pronounced “out of danger-materially better -convalescent." Ample bail was then tendered for Wheldrake, accepted, and his immediate release followed. Some weeks intervened, and then he was confidentially and cautiously apprised by a third party, that if he tendered a written apology to Mr. Lammond further proceedings would be abandoned.
“ Mr. Lammond is mistaken in his man,” was Wheldrake's answer.
Another week elapsed, and a further suggestion was thrown out to him that a verbal apology would be deemed sufficient. It was rejected with the remark, " The time for an apology of any description is long since gone by."
Meanwhile he was busy in arranging his defence. Counsel were retained; witnesses were subpænaed ; and day fixed for trial.
Eight-and-forty hours previous to its arrival, the record was withdrawn!
“I have hopes of Lammond now !” said one of his earliest and most intimate friends. “His thrashing has been of infinite service to him. For the first time in his life he has been guilty of an act of palpable discretion !"
It was a glorious result; and cordially did I rejoice at “The Newspaper Man's” triumph.
A GLANCE AT THE DRAMA.
At length we have shaken off the apathy that so long kept us in ice, and have made up our mind to furnish the readers of " The Miscellany” with a brief monthly account of what has been done, or is doing, at our Metropolitan Theatres,-at such of them, at least, as offer entertainments which a rational being may trust himself to see, and venture to confess that he has seen.
In times gone by, the dramatic critic had an easy and a delightful life of it. He had only to recruit his snuff-box, walk or be driven to “ the Garden" Lane," take his accustomed seat in the pit, and record the triumphs of a Kean or a Young, a Liston, a Farren, or a Glover. But now his duties call him hither and thither, up and down all that “piece or parcel of land, situate, lying, and being” within the bills of mortality. “The Garden" yields a weekly rhetorical crop of cheap corn, and “the Lane" is saturated with bribed sweetness, and undulates beneath the pressure of the fantastic toe. As Queen Eleanor sank at Queenhithe and came out at Charing Cross, so Shakspeare went down between Hart and Brydges Street, and has come up again in all parts of the town and suburbs. Shylock claims his pound of Aesh at Whitechapel, Othello's occupation's gone to Norton Falgate, and Richard 's himself again at the New River Head. If a new Garrick is to appear, there is a theatre in Goodman's Fields for him, and a second Siddons may obtain an engagement at Marylebone. The dramatic critic now-adays, to be thoroughly worthy of his vocation, must eschew all unpleasing and intrusive recollections, bid farewell to the haunts of his youth and middle age, and taking Mogg's Map of London resolutely in hand, prepare to go east, west, north, or south, as occasion may call out upon him.
At present, however, we propose to throw merely a general glance of remi. niscence over the proceedings of some of our many theatres, our intent being to be more amongst them for the future, that we may take strict note of their ongoings. Courtesy, or custom, bids us this once give precedence to Old Drury.
DRURY Lane.—Mr. Bunn has long since thrown the legitimate drama overboard ; but whether his vessel sail the better for such a lightening, is another question. Our readers are well aware that he conducts his theatre in the spirit of the old fellow in the song, who tells us
“ My wife shall dance and I will sing," but wbether eternal song and saltation are the wisest means of driving dull care away from the precincts of his treasury, we know not. Balfe and ballet are almost the sole attractions here ; Mr. Balfe is a gentleman of a pretty musical genius, and sagaciously conversant with the works of the modern Italian school, on which he builds himself, and from which he draws his pretensions, so that the encouragement of native talent in his case is obvious. But the Daughter of St. Mark wanted “ more power to her elbow.” She has made no such hit as the Bohemian Girl had succeeded in planting on the ear of the British public, and Robert the Devil has been evoked, and for such a personage, it must be admitted, he does his spiriting gently. That strain being of a higher muod, however, demands a class of artists such as Mr. Bunn has not at his disposal. Meyerbeer, expounded by mediocrity, will not do. Robert the Devil has been done much better within the memory of miss in her teens, but we will make no invidious comparisons ; and the getting up was not such as the bills--those Pintos of the press—had almost led us to expect. Then, of the “many twinkling feet” pervading the boards during the season, none have equalled Carlotta Grisi in “ The Peri ;” and “poetry of motion " not of the highest excellence, will draw no better than doggrel jig or unrhythmetical hornpipe. We are promised Duprez and Eugenie Garcia after Easter.
Covent GardeN.-M. Laurent commenced a brief season of so many nights at Christmas last, was encouraged to venture upon a second, and would fain have tried his fortune with a third, but the Fates, or perhaps the stars, forbade it. The great “ feature” of M. Laurent's management was his production of “ Antigone." The novelty of a Greek play, presented after the Grecian manner, brought the first house, but the fine declamation of Vandenhoff, and the admirable acting of his daughter, insured its success. Nature has been kind to this young lady; she is gifted likewise with excellent abilities, and, rarest of all, with judgment, which has taught her that genius alone can do little more than make a fool of itself. Ac. cordingly, she has studied, if not after high models - for where are they to be found ? yet with a due sense and knowledge that acting is an art, and that, since Shaks.