ties put together so higgledy piggledy, that however excellent each is in its kind, the union is an abortion,-a worse than nothing-but the anagrams of intellect, as Donne would say. The world, too, has treated us similarly; with the most patriotic feelings, our countries have laughed at us; with the most philanthropic pens, we have become the buts and bye words of criticism; and with the warmest hearts, we never had a friend. He despised poetry-so do I; he despised booklearning-1 know nothing about it; he did not care for the great-the great do not care for me. What further traits of resemblance would you have? -his breeches hung about his heels.

The author of a mighty fine review of Childe Harold compares the author, my friend's friend, to Rousseau, and ekes out the similarity in poetic prose. I have no fault to find with the Review, it being buon camarado of mine, but they might have made out a better comparison. It was L. H. first suggested to me my resemblance to the author of Eloisa; it is one of those obligations I can never forget. He said, at the same time, that he himself was like Tasso, and added, in his waggery, he would prove that bard a Cockney. This is neither wit nor good sense in my friend, who, finding he cannot shake off the title, wishes to convert it into a crown-it won't do, the brave public' will have it a fool's cap.

As for me, I care not; they will have me Cockney-they're welcome; they will have me pimpled in soul and in body-they're welcome; I know what they will not have me-but no matter; I wander from my themeinyself, but I cannot help it. The thoughts of what I have suffered from envenomed pens come thick upon me; but posterity will do me justice, and there will yet be "sweet sad tears" shed over the tombs of me and of my tribe. Nevertheless, let me not give up the ghost before my time-1 am worth two dead men yet; nor let it be here on record that I could be moved by my hard-hearted and hard-headed persecutors. But "what is writ is writ"it goes to my heart to blot one quarter of a page. My thoughts walk forth upon the street, like malefactors on the drop, with their irons knocked off. They come unshackled, unquestioned, unconcocted; and if I have uttered heaps of folly in iny day, I trust there was some leaven-good or bad, which

I care not-to save it from being utterly insipid.

There have been few great authors who took from the beginning to writing as a profession-it is too appalling-I doubt if it would require half so much courage to lead a forlorn hope. They are, for the most part, men, against whom all other avenues were shut,-who have been pushed from their stools,

"And being for all other trades unfit, Only t' avoid being idle, set up wit." And this not for lack of capacity, but for want of will; none of them could give a reason for being what they are— I could not, I know, for one. Yet mine was a natural course. It is an easy transition from the pencil to the pen, only the handling of the first must be the result of long practice, and unwearied assiduity. The latter goes more glibly, and is the engine of greater power. We long to grasp it, as if it were Jove's thunderbolt, and "hot and heavy" we find it. The study of the arts, too, is a terrible provocative to criticism-to canting and unmeaning criticism. I must confess, I tremble to think what literature is likely to suffer from the encroachments of that superficial and conceited tribe. I was myself one of them, and may own it, though they be to me the first 'aneath the sun.' They leap to taste, without laying any foundation of knowledge with their eyes stuck into the subject matter of their work; their notions of things are too apt to resemble those of the" fly upon the wellproportioned dome;" their overstrained idea of the all-importance of their art, may be a very useful feeling to themselves, and to their own exertions, but, to the world, it is pedantry and impudence. There are other things besides painting, and of this truth they do not seem enough aware. There are exceptions, however I am one, H— another. And I take this opportunity of

[ocr errors]

weighing a little into the opposite scale, since I perceive they hold up their heads more than ordinary, (especially the Cockney artists) on the strength of my former essays. I have heard a dauber speak of me, yes, he writes about the art,' in much the same tone as if he were recommending Milton to a divine for having treated of the Deity. They shall no more such essays, nor shall they again lay such flattering unction to their souls. I must needs be an honest man, for

I speak hard always of what I love best;-it is upon points nearest our own hearts that we are most apt to feel spleen. Downright foes never come within arm's length of one,one cannot get a blow at them; and we must tall foul of our friends, were it but for practice sake, to keep our pugnacity in tune. People, with whom I have been in habits of intimacy, have complained that I make free with their names, borrow my best things from their conversation, and afterwards abuse them. It is all very likely ; but why do they talk so much? If they throw their knowledge into one's hands, how can we help making use of it? Let them enter their tongues at Stationer's Hall, if they would preserve the copy-right of speech, nor be bringing their action of trover to regain what they have carelessly squandered.

Talking of subjects-I have been often accused of a fondness for paradox. I am not ashamed of the predilection. Truth, in my mind, is a bull, and the only way to seize it is by the horns. This bold method of attack the startled reader calls paradox. He had rather spend hours in hunting it into a corner, with but a poor chance of noosing it after all, and is envious of him that has the courage to grasp it at once. I like the Irish for this, they blunder upon truth so heartily, and knock it out of circumstances, as if these were made of flint, and their heads of iron. I blunder on it myself often, but the worst of this method is, that one is so apt to mistake common-place for a new discovery. We light upon it so suddenly, that there is no time to examine its features, and thus often send forth an old worn-out maxim as a spic and span-new precept. But 'tis the same thing,-half the world won't recognize it, and the other half won't take the trouble of exposing it. All the didactic prosing of the age-prosing, be it in verse or not, is but the his crambe repetita-the old sirloin done up into kickshaws and fritters. Gravity and sense are out of tunethe stock is exhausted to the knowing-the only vein unworked is humour. Waggery is always original; and there is more genuine inspiration in comic humour, than in the mightymouthed sublime. Madame de Stael, that eloquent writer,-whom I know but in translstion by the bye-has anticipated these observations of nine in her Essay on Fiction:-"Nature and thought are inexhaustible in producing sentiment and meditation; but in humour or pleasantry, there is a certain felicity of expression, or perception, of which it is impossible to calculate the return. Every idea which excites laughter may be considered as a discovery; but this opens no track to the future adventurer. To this eccentric power there lies no path,of this poignant pleasure there is no perennial source. That it exists, we are persuaded, since we see it constantly renewed; but we are as little able to explain the course as to direct the means. The gift of pleasantry more truly partakes of inspiration than the most exalted enthusiasm." The world are beginning to be of the same opinion, they are finding out this truth more and more every day. Natural humour, lightness of heart, and

He that writes much, must necessarily write a great deal of bad, and a great deal of borrowed. The gentleman author, that takes up the pen, once in three months, to fabricate a pet essay for his favourite miscellany or review, may keep up his character as a tasteful and fastidious penman. But let him be like me, scribbling from one end of the year to the other-obliged to it, at all hours and in all humours-and let's see what a mixture will be his warp and woof?—Let him, in an evil moment, be compelled to "set himself doggedly about it," as Johnson says, and he'll be glad to prop himself up with the gossip of his acquaintances, and the amusing peculiarities of his friends. Let him stick in his working clothes, hammering away all weathers, like Lord Castlereagh in the House, and he'll have little time for display and got up speeches. He'll soon learn to despise which word comes foremost, and which comes fittest, and, in the way of diction, he'll soon cry out with Inyself" all's grist that comes to the mill." Grammarians and verbal critics may cry out against us for corrupting the language-they may collate, and talk with Mr Blair of purity, propriety, and precision; but we own no such rules to our craft;-with us, words

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

brio, it begins to think the best philosophy, and it is right. Doubtless this is the great cause of the popularity of that confounded Northern Magazine, which seems to have taken out a patent for laughing at all the world. Like the spear of Achilles, however, its point can convey pleasure as well as pain-a balm as well as a wound. It is a wicked wag, yet one cannot help laughing with it at times, even against one's-self. I shall never forget the look of L. H. when he read himself described in it, as a turkey-cock coquetting with the hostile number newly come out. There was more good nature in the article than he had met any where for a long time, and he grinned with a quantum of glee that would have suffocated a monkey. I would that Heaven had endowed me with more of the risible faculty, or more of the serious; that I had been decidedly one or the other, instead of being of that mongrel humour, which deals out philosophy with flippant air, and cracks jests with coffin visage. I can't enrol myself under any banner; and cannot, for the life of me, be either serious or merry. I've tried both; but my gravity was doggedness, and my mirth most uncouth gambolling. So I must e'en remain as I am,-up or down, as stimuli make or leave me. It is a sorry look-out, though, to be dependent on these, to owe every bright thought to "mine host," or mine apothecary. I am not an admirer of " the sober berry's juice;" it generates more wind than ideas. Johnson's favourite beverage is better, but it is not that I worship. "Tell me what company you keep," says the adage; a more pertinent query would be, "Tell me what liquor you drink." I would undertake to tell any character upon this data. There is a manifest" compromise between wine and water" in Mr Octavius Gilchrist; 'tis easy to discover sour beer in Mr Gifford's pen; and brisk toddy in North's -equally easy in mine, to descry the dizziness of spirit, or the washiness of water, whichever at the time be the reigning potion.

This hurried sketch will not see the light till I am no more. Twill be found among my papers, affixed to my Memoirs, and my executors will give it to the world with pomp. Then will I, uncoated, unbreeched, and uncravatted, look down from the empyreal on the scatteration of my foes. A life

of drudgery-of "hubble, bubble, toil, and trouble"-will be repaid with ages of fame; and, enthroned between Addison and Bacon, my spirit shall wield the sceptre of Cockney philosophy.Yet let me not be discontented; I am not all forsaken. From Winterston to Hampstead my name is known-at least, with respect. I am in Kiterature the lord-mayor of the city-the Wood of Parnassus (what an idea!). The apprentices of Cockaigne point at me, as towards the highest grade of their ambition. I am the prefect of all city critical gazettes; and L. H. for all his huffing and strutting, is but my deputy-my proconsul.-Said I not well, Bully Rock? I blew into his nostrils all the genius he possesses, and introduced him to the honourable fraternity of washerwomen and the roundtable; since which auspicious day, he lacked never a beef-steak, or a clean shirt. But of him, and of all my acquaintances, I have left valuable memorials throughout my writings. This observation, and that anecdote, have always come pat into my sentences; so that, with my mixture of gossip and philosophy, I shall be the halfBoswell, half-Johnson, of my age.— Not that I deign to compare myself with the first in dignity, or with the last in "that fine tact, that airy intuitive faculty," that purchases at halfprice ready-made wisdom. As to my politics, it would be a difficult matter to say what they were. I know not myself; so that we will treat them as a country schoolmaster gets over a hard word, "It's Greek, Bill, read on."As to my temper, it is of the genus ir. ritabile prosaicorum (if that be goo Latin.) I am very willing to give, bu little able to return a blow. I weep under the lash, and, in truth, am to innocent for the world. After attack ing private character and public vir tue, endeavouring to sap all princi ples of religion and government,-ut tering whatever slander or blasphem caprice suggested, or malice spurred me to,-yet am I surprised, and una ble to discover, how or why any on can be angry with me. I own, it is puzzle to me to find out how I hav made enemies. Yet, such is the world that I am belaboured on all sides ;friends and foes alike fall foul of me

and often am I tempted to cry out in the language of that book I hav neglected, There is no peace for me but in the grave.”




Counsel for the Prosecution.
Gentlemen of the Jury, this cause here
Depends not on the truth of witnesses,
As was the case some hundred years ago,
Before the days of Justice Tickletobius ;
But upon statute 4th of George the Fourth.-
Compare this villain's head with what you know
Of bumps, that all agree denote a thief;
And if there's a righteous skull-cap in the box,
(And I must not suppose it otherwise,)

I have no fear but you'll give verdict, "Guilty."
Counsel for the Prisoner.

Look at that bump, my Lord, upon his head;
Pray feel its brother, on the other side;
And say if, in the range of possibilities,
This poor man here could either rob or steal,
And bear such striking marks of rigid virtue.
Ye Gentlemen of Jury, feel your heads,
And if there is a knob upon your skulls
(Unless mayhap the rudiments of horns,)
That bears more honest seeming, then will I
Give up this much-wrong'd man to punishment.

As almost every individual in this ancient city who can read has lately had an opportunity of judging of the nfallibility of the doctrine which measures the powers of our minds by the Dumps upon our skulls, from the accurate examination of the head of the infortunate individual who lately forFeited his life to the laws of his counry, by one so eminently qualified to form an accurate opinion on the subect, I trust I shall be pardoned for dedicating a few pages to a theme which I have been compelled to hear llustrated in every company.

There seems now little doubt, from the learned publications of our own countrymen, that every prevalent bent of mind or brain (for brain without mind is a very useless article indeed) developes itself by a corresponding increase of the bony case which is supposed to contain the thinking ap

[ocr errors]

Justiciary Records for the year 1996. paratus, and that an examination of the head of any one by those in the secret, is sure to detect the prevailing character of the individual, from the external swellings or bumps upon his skull. This is the system of those renowned discoverers Drs Gall and Spurzheim, and of their illustrators in this country; and any one who takes the trouble to examine it by the test of experiment, will soon find that this hypothesis of human action is admirably calculated for the subsequent improvement of our species. My chief objection to it is, that it does not go far enough, and that in the thirtythree great divisions in the map of the osseous covering of the centre of nervous energy, room has not been found for thirty-three divisions more. For instance, we know that there are dull, and very stupid, and even insane people in the world; yet there is no organ


Cranioscopy means the inspection of the cranium, and Craniology, a discourse on the cranium. Phrenology is derived from the Greek noun évaç, mind, or rather haps from geviris, mentis delirium; the same root from which our common English word phrensy takes its rise, and which signifies, according to Dr Johnson, on the authority of Milton, madness, frantickness. The Scottish writers on this subject, with the characteristic good sense of their countrymen, prefer the appropriate term phrenology the less significant terms employed by the cranial philosophers of the south, or the fathers of skull science on the Continent. Phrenitis, in the nosological systems of Sauvages and Cullen, I need scarcely remark, is a cognate word.



of stupidity, or bump of dulness,-no so well known to medical men from rise or depression to designate the sane the intolerable headachs which arise from the insane,--the crack-brained from repletion and indigestion, also theorist from the cool investigator. well deserves the notice of some great Now, that there must, in some skulls man, capable of working up the idea at least, be tremendous bumps of folly into a system. The facts which have and gullibility, (gullibilitiveness, I be- come under my own notice, have long lieve, should be the word,) the writ- impressed me with the belief, that ings of Spurzheim and his followers there is more mind in the belly than afford abundant and most melancholy most people are aware of. There is no proof. saying what effect even diet may have on the production of genius; and it would be premature, in the present state of our knowledge on this point, to offer any conjectures as to the share which breakfast, dinner, and supper may have had in the elicitation of works, hitherto attributed to the head alone.

Another very profound theory of human action and human motive, has been lately propounded by the celebrated Dr Edward Clyster; and though the system of the Doctor has been prevented from being sufficiently known by the mean jealousies and envy of professional rivalship, and the prevailing celebrity of phrenology, it certainly deserves to be made better known. The Doctor's theory is, that the prevailing mental character of the individual may be traced with equal certainty on another extremity of the human body; and that in point of practical experiment, more instances can be cited in favour of his hypothesis, than that of Drs Gall and Spurzheim. From the Doctor's repeated examination of the bottoms of nearly eight hundred boys, while usher of the Grammar School of Kittlehearty, and from facts communicated to him by the four masters of the High School of Gutterborough, he concludes with confidence, that the indications of the hemispheres of the one termination, are at least of equal importance with the indications of the other. He mentions with an air of triumph the results of the application of the birch (taws, Scotticé,) to this part, and the well known effects of the operation in stimulating the intellectual powers, as matter of everyday observation, and as affording reason to believe that the bottom is more intimately connected with the mind than preceding investigators have supposed.+

The intimate connection which subsists between the stomach and the brain,

Without entering into the merits of these rival hypotheses, or of the more probable one of Lavater, that the prevailing habits of thought give a characteristic tone to the whole physiognomy, I may be permitted to state, that the production of genius is a much more philosophical subject of inquiry than the indications of it, or the want of them in a person already formed, and where the utmost that can be expected from the knowledge is, some minute regulations for checking or improving what can only be checked o improved to a very limited extent These indications, then, of the hither. to barren theory of Drs Gall, Spurz heim, and Company, I now purpos to turn to some practical account.

It is a well-known fact, that the hu man cranium may be moulded, in earl infancy, into any conceivable shape from the elastic nature of the bones o which it is formed. Every medic practitioner, from Hippocrates and Cel sus down to Abraham Posset the ap thecary, is aware of this fact; and it equally well ascertained, that severa tribes of savages take their distinctiv mark from the form of the skull. is fashionable among one tribe, for in stance, to wear their brain in a ca shaped like a sugar-loaf, while othe

+ Dr Spurzheim, from the circumstance of Sterne being represented in all his po traits with his head leaning on his hand, and his finger on a particular place of 1 forehead, concludes that the organ of wit must occupy that identical spot; and Dr Clyst from the late Dr Webster, the founder of that excellent institution, the Widows' Fu of the Scottish Clergy, having his hands in his breeches-pockets when he brought fo ward the measure in the General Assembly, and always one hand in that position wh he spoke on the subject, considers it as demonstrated, that the organ of Benevolen and Philanthropy must be confined to that neighbourhood. So nearly balanced are t two theories.

« ElőzőTovább »