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experienced in this very number My own grey hairs ! I grateful hail
Strength is it to the weary soul,
Balm to the aching heart. “Believe me, sincerely yours, The sunny locks of youth will fail
“ W. JERDAN.” When joys unnumbered start, I never met with but one speci
But ye are certain as the wings
That plume Death's certain dart. men of Jerdan's poetical powers,
en I therefore hail ye, as above and that was the following contri- Thought's sore-vexed throne ye wave; bution to a periodical of which I Throw gentle shade upon the false was the editor, and the MS. of And the tyrannous brave; which has turned up among some
Bid care's dull tide and passion's flood
No longer roll or rave; old letters :
But loves and fears, and griefs and ON MY GREY HAIRS.
tears, Ten years agone, ye monitors,
All centre in the grave. How I abhorred your hue,
Jerdan once sent me a tale, which And pluck'd ye singly from your hold,
he had written expresslyfor my work, As if I'd conquer you ; And so I did, like knight of old,
and was an exceedingly original Who hundreds overthrew,
and clever one; but the subject did And fancied immortality
not appear to me to be at all suited More sure the more he slew.
to the kind of publication, and, These years are fled, I greet ye now, therefore, much to my annoyance, The dearest guests to me;
I felt compelled to decline it. He Why should the stem live when the boughs
did not like it, but it did not in the Fall wither'd from the tree ? When keen affliction's piercing blast
slightest degree alter the terms on Has nipt the foliage free,
which we had been hitherto. I And when the storm hath torn the hopes may, perhaps, have been wrong in Of blossomings to be ?
attributing to the editor the disI greet ye now, ye clustering come
favour with which any literary And tell me of the past, Of drear misfortune's saddening clime,
adventure of mine was latterly With bitterness o'er-cast,
received in the Gazette, which disOf friends--oh! friends, who shunned that favour was visited not only on a time,
book, but even of contributions to As Fate were on the blast,
other volumes—the “ Keepsake," Of worldlings, iinked unto the world,
for instance; for it happened that As 'twould for ever last. Of pleasures whose fresh springing wealth,
I had incurred the displeasure, Bode an eternal round;
in a parallel case, of one who had Of jocund health, wherein no space great influence in the Gazette, and For lapse or wreck were found ;
contributed largely to its columns, Those pleasures now all viewless, spent
and who, after having written to Like an unearthly sound,
me half-a-dozen letters, wound up That health to pain and sorrow bent Which craves the silent mound.
the appeal by reminding me of the Of these ye speak, and I, grey hairs,
writer's influence in it, and of that Rejoice in what is o’er ;
influence never having been exerRejoice, because what has been felt
cised but in my favour. And it Again can touch no more ;
may be that to that individual But more rejoice, because ye point
I owed the change in the tone of To that untroubled shore, Where thinly shed on my cold brow
the Gazette with regard to my We'll rest, though oceans roar.
The question, what is ephemeral many. If a faculty of silence could literature ? is more easily answered but fall upon our race and last a at the present day than the ques. century, the literature of the tion, what is not?
Victorian age might have a chance It is fortunate for modern of being appreciated. As things authors that they have not time to are, no one can grapple with it, think, else they surely must look for each new year is more prolific with regret to the days when to be than the last, and calls more loudly an author at all was to be distin- for attention to its wares. guished throughout a greater or Nearly everyone can write, and less cirele, while to be in the eminent men are becoming so comsinallest degree above mediocrity mon, that the sharp peak of emi. was to have a place in the gallery nence itself, from being so con
stantly added to, is gradually Who reads Beattie's poetry? subsiding into an almost undistin. Are there not a score of guishable mound. living poets that surpass Aken- When we hear of myriads of side ? And yet these and such individuals starving in China, we as these representatives of a past cannot summon the ready flow of century take their place in the sympathy for all of them, that sacred museum of eminent British would be evoked for one case that poets (or at least the biographical happened in our own village. If books tell us so); while the better we are much bothered about the men of the present are jostling one details of maintenance or boarding another vainly in the entrance, and out of pauper children, we do not will never get in, because they are greet with a proper and sufficiently too large a mob. It is pleasant respectful sympathy the news that from a general point of view to Mrs. Pauper has just presented the realise how much the literary world with twins. From the variety standard must have risen ; but to of the demands made upon our the men of great power who now sympathies, now that the whole obscure one another, and are world telegraphs us its troubles mutually effaced, the wish may come every morning, we insensibly grow that they had our simple-minded a trifle callous. Our hearts have forefathers and foremothers for too much to do, and it is well for their audience, instead of being us if we do not contract them, and relegated to the hasty glance of the isolate ourselves even from the cry Over-busy man of the present. Or of our neighbours. instead of the very remote chance So in literature is it with the of the appreciation of that ineffable average intellect. It is overburbeing, Posterity, who must favour dened by the calls made upon its some representative of each epoch, attention. Finding it impossible but becomes confused if offered too to read, to mark, to learn, and far
less to inwardly digest, more than glances of all, and to embody in a thin little stream of the ever- itself the words, Let there be flowing cornucopia of brain pro- Light. duce, a large number of persons The traditions of culture and have taken refuge in a kind of the cosmopolitanism of modern pseudo-literature, which requires life tend to destroy idiosyncrasy, the serious exercise of no faculty and he will be a strong genius inwhatever, but is made to be glanced deed who shall now rise head and at and thrown aside. Superficial shoulders above the eminent readers are so common, that writers thinkers of a hemisphere, and who put a few years of thought make himself a distinct and lasting into a little book would often be place above the magnificent ephewilling to exchange the ruck of mera of our time. skimmers for a single individual That all the current literature who would really care to read. And of the day is more or less ephemeto find such an ideal individual--as, ral we are bound to allow, unless a for instance, a shepherd, intellec. new race should arise, so contually gifted, remote from men, stituted as never to write, but and possessed of but two or three ready to arrange existing matter books-might be difficult.
and distribute it amongits members · The amount of valuable work for conscientious reading, in periods that floats past the reading public, not too vast for individual study. gaining almost as little notice as a There are certain descriptions of procession of pauper children, is written matter which are necesprodigious. Half a century ago sarily ephemeral, such as the daily the scythe of a few conspicuous budgets of the newspapers, which critics would sweep through the only attain permanence through springing shoots, and the flowers the ordering and compressing hand that were allowed to be worth pre- of the historian. Criticism also is serving were offered to the public a mere passer-by. Who, except an with some empressement. Now they occasional curiosity-monger, would are thrown upon the general stream refer to the Edinburgh of something and float idly past, for criticism is over sixty years ago ?-in order to undone. There are so many critical learn that the publication of Cole. organs, that they counteract one ridge's Christabel was “one of the another: every literary venture is most notable pieces of impertisure of receiving at least faint nence of which the press has lately praise somewhere, which laudation been guilty ; and one of the boldest can be judiciously multiplied by experiments that has yet been advertisement.
made on the patience or underA new crop of eager writers ever standing of the public. .. The springs spontaneous, and defies the thing now before us is utterly critics; where the few notable destitute of value. It exhibits scythes once mowed down the from beginning to end not a ray of struggling ranks, the hosts of little genius.” Here the poet has at spuds are now impotent even to least outlived the critic. root out weeds. Multitude is in- About the literature of which deed the despair of criticism ; for magazines are composed, there are not only is there the chaos huge curiously opposite views. Mr. and inordinable of literary efforts, Ruskin, writing four months ago but also the equal chaos of in the columns of the periodical in criticism itself, within which stands which this gossiping sketch no conspicuous beacon to win the appears, was comparing the limitations, both as to quantity and tentionally ephemeral, or rather range, of the old monthly publica. lunarian; the latter may contain as tions, the meekness of the contri. much of the eternal quality as any butors, and the complacency of the monograph spread out by wide public, with “ the celestial state of margins and bound in thick authorship by whose courses we boards. have now the felicity of being It is the convenience of publicadazzled and directed." He told us tion in a magazine that enables it how “it was enough for the editor to obtain articles of this kind. The of the Friendship's Offering' if author finds that his paper (which, he could gather for his Christmas of course, to discerning eyes, is the bouquet a little pastoral story, only paper in the number) goes suppose, by Miss Mitford, a before all the leading reviewers dramatic sketch by the Rev. George without his taking the trouble to Croly, a few sonnets or impromptu order copies to be sent. There is stanzas to music by the gentlest no delay such as is found in separate lovers and maidens of his acquaint publication when it is not the ance, and a legend of the Apen- season, or the publisher's printers nines or romance of the Pyrenees have their hands full. The author's by some adventurous traveller who name is kept before the public, had penetrated into the recesses of which seems to be a necessity in their mountains, and would modify this jostling age, when quantity is the traditions of the country to the feature in literature, and to introduce a plate by Clarkson the writer who will not push himStanfield or J. D. Harding.” self there comes the danger of being Whereas now, in Mr. Ruskin's lost in the vast competitive crowd. opinion, the leading lunarians err If the essay should have extended in the entirely opposite direction; itself beyond the limits of a they are but too full of politics, lunarian article, it can be offered speculative philosophy, and re- to the public in monthly parts; for sponsibility.
the constituency of the more digThis kind of heavy matter should nified periodicals is one rather of not surely be all ephemeral; and continuous subscribers than of yet we find one of the leading occasional buyers. If the essay be critical weeklies remarking, à propos short, the expense of its production of an article by a moderately well. in book form would be considerable; known author, “it seems strange while, if it were brought out as a that a writer possessed of such pamphlet, it would rarely repay the great gifts-possessed, at least, of cost of advertisement, and would an incisiveness of phrase that puts usually remain unnoticed by the him beyond the reach of rivalry- reviewers, who have a prejudice should be content to go on for ever against pamphlets. Finally, it is writing articles for the magazines.” ensured a certain public at once, This sort of comment seems to be which is no small advantage ; an endeavour to keep out of the and is brought before that public magazines the very kind of matter in a regular and inoffensive manthat a high literary journal ought ner, and not by bawling at the to wish to keep in them. There iscorner of the streets. a difference to be noted, by the The advantages of the writer in way, between writing articles for such a case are substantial; his the magazines and writing articles grievances are fanciful, such as the which are published in the maga. reproaches which the superior zines. The former may be in- critic heaps upon him for including
his treatise under the head of frivolity, and yet do not care to “ articles for the magazines,” a take upon themselves the monthly class of literature regarded as burden of the heavier reviews, ephemeral and worthless. If his while they like to catch scintillaarticle be really solid, inferior tions from modern thought, in criticism will pass him by with the order to learn from its lurid and snarl that the general public will clouded lights what position at be unable to understand him,- least it holds within its own fog. and, of course, magazines are made Such a design is not the same as for the general public.
following a middle course between Magazines have of late years the ponderous and the superficial; mostly divided themselves into it is rather to include both-to two classes, the one comprising alternate, not to mingle, the grave much heavier matter than the and gay, severe philosophy and periodicals of half a century ago, the pleasant effervescence. other manifesting a much lighter But this kind of coquetry with and more frivolous character than both the profound and the playful, the ancient monthlies. Some of the on account of its placing matter of more solid magazines, which call permanent value by the side of themselves reviews, contain so mere ephemera, is disliked by the much heavy matter that they must conventional mind, which is be far above the range of the nothing if not rigidly classificasimple family circle of Mr. tory ; and the reader whose aim Ruskin's memory, whatever may is to be well-informed complains be the relation which they hold to of articles which he would be inthe modern public, which devours, clined to seek out, being made or appears to devour, them month hard to find amongst fugitive by month.
productions, and consequently The lighter magazines vie with likely to be lost sight of altogether. each other which shall meet the One of the trade journals, conwishes of the largest public, and scious of the unwieldy bulk of produce the most ephemeral modern literature, was complaining matter, pleasant for a very idle twelve months ago that there was hour. This class of literature no index of literature: “No one forms one with the undistinguish- can read all the journals and able romances of the circulating magazines published, many of library.
which contain articles that persons There is a difficulty felt in minds interested in the subject would give of a certain character in the appre- any reasonable sum to see.” And ciation of that kind of periodical an instance was given of a valuable which designs, after the manner of paper being almost wasted in those of Shakespeare's plays that obscurity through its appearance alternate jests with tragedy, to in a magazine where one would mingle with its solid contents never dream of looking for such something light wherewith to re- an article. One American journal lieve the mind, and so to afford is a trifle in advance of us, and within one cover matter for a few does in fact publish a more or less hours of thought, and an oppor. complete index of such a kind. tunity of relaxation therefrom. Coleridge in his Lay - Sermon Such miscellanies, when their ex- made an attempt in his own tremes are not too marked, satisfy erratic way at ordering the chaos ; a very worthy and natural class of he chose to determine to whom persons, who object to extreme his books ought to go. “Not