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1849.]

called, from the Julian to the Gregorian year, the latter being used by most European nations. The matter was a good deal debated; but the necessity for some standard of computation being evident, both with a view to history and commerce, it was at last carried. It is most inconvenient to all Russian merchants that the great Autocracy has not sanctioned the change. Here, however, the calendar was put forward eleven days in September; the to-morrow of the 2nd inst. being the 14th.

We skip the next few years as our fathers skipped the eleven days, and now we are in "a time of experiments." All sorts of parties had power. They came like the phantasms on the mirror in the Henriade; they stayed a moment, and departed. The Rockingham ministry, which must be recollected as the nurse of our great Burke, reigned a little, and then resigned its places to Grafton. He, in turn, was pushed aside by Pitt; who was displaced ere long by the extraordinary mixture, the ingredients of which were mainly Bedford and Grafton. With their followers we luckily shall not at this time have to do.

It was in the second year of the reign of these people-viz., in 1769, that Junius, the most extraordinary writer that perhaps ever addressed a community, burst on the world. This Myth-like being set himself to restore Whig principles and to preach liberty; to reform abuses and watch place-holders; and he applied his lash to all members of the government, up to the king. He evidently brought personal hostility, as well as hatred on public grounds, to the task. His secrecy was impenetrable, and his knowledge on private matters far more extensive, while it was also more correct, than that of our indefatigable correspondent, Joseph Ady. His power over the language, too, was gigantic; and every man whose public or private character had holes in it, lived in terror of this undiscoverable genius, who might, in a moment, turn the lightning of his satire on him and show all those flaws. We naturally look with curiosity at this Burke "mighty boar of the forest," as called him, when we go back on the trail of our country to the times in which he broke through the "cobwebs of the law," and And foiled or trampled down the hunters. that curiosity is heightened when we see him stalking, uncontrollable, about the stage of history for his own time-and with unparalleled audacity confronting and rebuking his king-especially as he never dropped his

mask and never claimed reward. His shifts and disguises, too, laid bare now; his identity with so many people proved to demonstration; his mysterious knowledge both of government and private matters-all help to swell our interest in him, and we toil through oceans (or marshes) of note-work and folly to get at his splendid tirades against statesmen and individuals, for the daring, fury, and even ferocity of which his letters stand in English literature without a parallel.

But it is not so with his contemporary, Chesterfield. We have no such curiosity wakened for him. We know his life-while we know nothing of the life of Junius. There is no romance, like a gauze curtain, round the Earl, removing him from our immediate inspection, and making him half sublime, because half obscure. He was a perfect gentleman. He lived and adhered to the Proprieties, as firmly as Addison in Cato to the Unities. He was part, like ourselves, of the "common world," which, according to Schiller and Coleridge, or Coleridge alone, "is all too narrow for the stricken heart of love," though, as we think, full enough of broad sympathies for a living heart. We feel that his flesh and blood were like ours. But it is not so with Junius. There is something cold and fiendish about him.

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He was

He has no humanity-he seems to The delight to punish. Chesterfield, we admit, had no genius; while Junius had. Earl had taste, and tact, and talent; he could admire the beautiful, but we doubt if he had any notion of the sublime. thankful that he was not a poet, neither the He would most probably, if father of one. present, have gathered his cloak round him and galloped to the nearest inn- in the thunderstorm when Burns on horseback composed his "Scots wha hae." But if he had no genius, he had not an evil spirit. The great genius of Junius is undeniable, but it is also undeniable that he did not use it, like Brama, to create and cherish, but, like Seeva, to destroy. The sun that might have shone out bright and genial in the midst of heaven, to comfort and make glad, descended basely to the things of earth, and scorched and blasted all it touched.

We will look for a moment at each of them, and then hurry on. It is now too late in the intellectual existence of the world to run a-muck among authors, especially foreign ones-like the offensive Privy Councillor Schlosser. This crabbed body, who speaks of Dr. Johnson as one "who with

the enemies of all toleration and improve- | ment, strove as madly as a monk against all progress," darts for an instant on Lord Chesterfield, and gets rid of his claim to notice by saying, "his morality is that of a highly-polished sharper." Such expedition in the dispatch of his victims may show well in a German executioner, and command German applause; an English mob, however, would cry "shame." He is of course wrong. Chesterfield had many faults, and so, we doubt not, had the immaculate Schlosser, though he throws so many stones; but we like that man best who states what he thinks right, and not the man who only knows to run against what he thinks wrong. Chesterfield had learned the world, and seen its hollowness and falseness; few could teach that learning to his boy, and so he tried to teach it. He might surely have gone farther, and counselled his son rather how to turn and reform the world, than to profit by its depravity. But what has the Privy Councillor to do with this? Had the Earl published any letters himself, the case would have been different. The most wooden-headed of Germans might have then had some excuse as it is, he has none. Chesterfield did not publish his letters; he never authorized their publication; had he been asked, he probably would have refused permission. It was with him, as with the works of some modern royal authors-a stranger published them. His son's wife, who had never the virtue to declare herself during her husband's life, and probably only did so after his death, on cash accounts, printed them after the old gentleman had left the scene. He was no party to it. He had watched over his son's education with the greatest care. He had supplied him religious tutors, and linguist tutors, tutors en tous genres, and with natural anxiety for a clumsy boy, whose masters were defective in the Graces, he had chosen to write him letters upon Men and Manners, which were afterwards dishonorably (we think) published. Why should a foggy foreigner, ignorant most likely of all these facts, run against that father, and style him "sharper ?"

labors of our difficult German neighbors. They abound in words, and delight in generalities; but being naturally slow and heavy, they become ridiculous-like dancing elephants, when they make a show of briskness. The following is a passage containing, we think, the essence of Chesterfield's writing:

"It may be objected," he says to his son, "that I am now recommending dissimulation to you. I both own and justify it. It has been long said, Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare: I go still farther, and say, that without some dissimulation lation that is false, mean, and criminal; that is the cunning which Lord Bacon calls crooked or left-handed wisdom, and which is never made of use but by those who have not true wisdom. And the same great man says that dissimulation is only to hide our own cards, whereas simulation is to put on in order to look into other people's. Lord Bolingbroke says that simulation is a stiletto, not only an unjust but an unlawful weapon, whereas dissimulation is a shield, as secrecy is armor, and it is no more possible to preserve secrecy in business without some degree of dissimulation than it is to succeed without secrecy."

no business can be carried on at all. It is simu

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form of a book, he would have excised with a more liberal hand than even the present judicious and talented editor. While, however, it would be most unjust to judge him as an ordinary author, we must be suffered to say of his letters as those of a man, that they are not such as should have been written by a Christian man. It was well and praiseworthy in him to engage professors and teachers for his son, but he should have assisted them himself in the matter of religion. It is no excuse for the heathenism of London Even an enemy who might wish that that we pay tithes and rates enough to buy the Earl had written a book, would not instructors for all its inhabitants. It is nehave profited by such an one as this. That cessary to give something more than money. would be as unjust as to judge the brilliant Religion is not like cotton, or indigo, or stock, parliament-man by his parlor sayings, when that can be bought, and sold, and transferhe is in undress, away from his stilts, and red. The father should have spoken often among his children. We sometimes fer- of it, with the other things. His letters vently wish that our literary hackneys would not have been of less value in this rewould spare us their versions of the critic-spect, because of more value in that. But

this, we must remember, was an error of judgment, as regarded his son's education, not of authorship with regard to us. For his own personal religion, we believe it to have been of that genteel sort of which his whole walk and conversation and writing was an example. He never went to a chapel where there was a church, but we do not find him, as the fashion was in his days, openly scoffing at either. There was none of the tomfoolery of atheism about him, though we doubt if there was much belief; neither did he incline to those who, with poor modern Fox, "look to Nature, not the God of Nature," as George Herbert sings it, and who, when they worship, attend the ministry of Dr. Greenfield, in the universal sky-built temple.

On turning to Junius, we come, as said before, to quite a different thing. Chesterfield was always under restraint, though, like our ladies with their chatelaines, he gave his chains an air of grace. Junius acknowledged none. He was a literary Arab-his hand against every one. He assailed whom he pleased, and if his victims turned on him, he either silenced them by invective, or when they answered back too sharply (as Horne Tooke did,) took no notice of his defeat, but set on some one else. His look, however, for the most part, like the look of Lorrinite, "had crippling in it." He rarely spared a foe. His object was the ruin of the coalition government, and almost reversing Portia's recommendation to the Bankruptcy Court in Venice, to do a little right, he did great wrong. He had no notion of justice. The opposition was always criminal. He did not know worth if it did not agree with him—in a word, he was a bigot preaching libertyand a mighty genius degraded to the taskwork fitted only for a hack.

The Dukes of Grafton and Bedford were probably talented men. No doubt they merited as much finger-pointing as most statesmen; more than the majority of us, their judges, would deserve, if we were call ed to fill such seats as they did. But their fame in their own days was little to be wished; they have none now to be envied. What place-holding, or hurrahing through the streets could compensate the Duke of Grafton if he had had his fill of them, when, desiring to be applauded by posterity, he knew that he was handed down by such a pen as this:

"Relinquishing, therefore, all idle views of amendment to your Grace, or of benefit to the

.public, let me be permitted to consider your character and conduct merely as a subject of curious speculation. There is something in both which distinguishes you, not only from all other ministers, but all other men. It is not that you do wrong by design, but that you should never do right by mistake. It is not that your indolence and your activity have been equally misapplied, but that the first principle, or if I may call it the genius, of your life should have carried you through every possible change and contradiction of conduct, without the momentary imputation or color of a virtue; and that the wildest spirit of inconsistency should never have betrayed you into

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a wise or honorable action.

* *

or any trouble

"The character of the reputed ancestors of some men has made it possible for their descendants to be vicious in the extreme, without being degenerate. Those of your Grace (Charles II.) left no distressing examples of virtue even to their legitimate posterity, and you may look back to an illustrious pedigree, in which heraldry has not left a single good quality on record to insult or upbraid you. You have better proof of your descent, my Lord, than * some inheritance of reputation. There are some hereditary strokes of character by which a family may be as clearly distinguished as by the blackest features of the human face. Charles I. lived and died a hypocrite. Charles II. was a hypocrite of another sort, and should have died upon the same scaffold. At the distance of a century, we see their different characters happily revived and blended in your Grace. Sullen and severe without religion, profligate without gaiety, you live, like Charles II., without being an amiable companion, and, for aught I know, may die, as his father did, without the reputation of a martyr."

Or what triumphs in policy could satisfy the Duke of Bedford, when the hand of this fiery pen, outliving them all, could pass him to the eyes of successive generations in such "words that breathe, and thoughts that burn," as these:

"Let us consider you then as arrived at the summit of worldly greatness. Let us suppose that all your plans of avarice and ambition are accomplished, and your most sanguine wishes gratified, in the fear as well as the hatred of the people. Can age itself forget that you are now in the last act of life? Can grey hairs make folly venerable? And is there no period to be reserved for meditation and retirement? For shame, my Lord! let it not be recorded of you that the latest moments of your life were dedicated to the same unworthy pursuits, the same busy agitations in which your youth and manhood were exhausted. Consider that although you cannot disgrace your former life, you are violating the character of age, and exposing the impotent imbecility after you have lost the vigor of the passions.

"Your friends will ask, perhaps, Whither shall this unhappy old man retire? * Whichever way he flies, the hue and cry of the country pur

sues him.

scene.

**

*

It is in vain to shift the You can no more fly from your enemies than from yourself. Persecuted abroad, you look into your own heart for consolation, and find nothing but reproaches and despair. But, my Lord, you may quit the field of business, though not the field of danger; and though you cannot be safe, you may cease to be ridiculous. I fear you have listened too long to the advice of those pernicious friends with whose interests you have sordidly united your own, and for whom you have sacrificed everything that ought to be dear to a man of honor. They are still base enough to encourage the follies of your age, as they once did the vices of your youth. As little acquainted with the rules of decorum as with the laws of morality, they will not suffer you to profit by experience, nor even to consult the propriety of a bad character. Even now, they tell you that life is no more than a dramatic scene, in which the hero should preserve his consistency to the last, and that, as you lived without virtue, you should die without repentance."

While there is nothing that can be excused in such writing as this, there is nothing which can be envied (and this is more to our present purpose) in the position of him at whom it is launched. Better that he had remained a quiet country gentleman, and hunted deer, and not ambition. This observation recalls us to our subject, and to our last observation about politics with reference to fame.

A statesman is never rightly judged. He is at a bar where justice is unknown; before a court from whose decisions it is vain to make appeal. Like a national debt, he is never estimated. During his life, the bench is filled with either friends or enemies; the jury, too vast to pack-in any case, as Hood said, are alike divided, and an honest verdict cannot be obtained. He may have spent himself in public slavery; he may have given up his private happiness, and perhaps public and private virtue, that he may decree laws to nations, or carry his own to the pitch of glory, yet he will always find some entry to the debit side of the account, the world divided, and the finger-pointing part condemnatory. Some approve him for virtues he never practised, and some condemn him for errors he never committed. It is worse if, hungering for fame, he appeals from an ungrateful present to the future. Besides that he cannot hear the verdict of posterity, there is often no verdict to be heard. When he dies, the question of his merits mostly falls sick, and ere long dies too. The world goes on regularly without him; the sun rises, though a king dies; the mill still clatters round, although the miller is chopped up. Few people vex their heads about the

dead; if they remember him at all, it is generally as a poor fellow that after all had some good points; but if he should excite more notice, and friends bray and enemies bray about him, the great world, which is eager about other things, listens to the loudest, or neglects both. New great men rise; the present and the future are the theme of anxiety; the past is left to chance, and the appellant drifts away into history, with eulogium, if a friend writes, and with condemnation, if an enemy.

It is not so with a writer. He can take his own part, and, the braying over, although dead, speak for himself. Chateaubriand made not a little noise at one time in the world of politics, but long before he died the finger-pointing veered away from him; his fame is only got now by his books. A man, however, who would thus live after death, must write upon a general, and not a momentary theme. He must touch humanity, and not its accidents. Politics do not supply an enduring subject. They are so variable, that the most conservative measures may be suddenly yielded, or the most radical and so-called glorious reforms reversed forever-when the writing is tossed by. This makes us reflect for a moment on the constitution of books, and how some of the most promising die young, while others that looked dull and heavy from childhood, reach a green old age, and threaten, like the well-known aunt whose nieces were valetudinarians of fourscore, but hoped for health when they were married on the fortunes she would leave-to live forever.

Satire, read by all, and praised by all on its appearance, is but short-lived. It shoots follies as they fly, but follies, after being shot, die, and are soon forgotten. Who now, of the quoting hundreds, reads Hudibras or Tristam Shandy; and Colman and poor Hook, not to speak of living satiristswhere will they stand in the future history of literature? Not high up, we fear. Fiction, too, that thousands read, but tens of thousands write, has very little life in it. Some innovator is always at work. vantes displaces the knights errant in Spain, and Scott displaces Minerva in England. The transformations are constantly in progress-to the chrysalis, the butterfly, orthe corpse. Poetry, of course, which scans the heavens and earth, and moulds all nature into one great and glorious whole, has longest life of all. It is allied to music, which we know to be eternal. But in prose, a book to live should have a very strong

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backbone and healthy sinews; so that when it is among future generations it may not look old and ricketty. There should be nothing false about it; no stuffing or quilting; no stay-work or crutches. If it hobbles now, it will soon halt. If accidental circumstances keep it on its legs now, when they are removed it will fall flat. If, to alter the figure, it has only waxen show wings, they will melt in the sun-heat of trial, and, like Icarus, it will some day come down from its eminence with a run.

Looking to these letters of Junius and Chesterfield-which we should have said were like each other in one respect-viz., that neither were intended for posterity when written and asking which is worthiest to survive, we cannot hesitate. It is the modern fashion to judge style before sentiment, sound before sense; even our congregations criticise our manner rather than our matter; if we fall into this fashion, therefore, we must allow that for style Chesterfield cannot be compared with Junius. But then, it is his style only which keeps Junius before us. His letters would have been dead long since but for their style. He had no message for humanity, or if he had he did not deliver it; while Chesterfield has brought truths to us, and lessons, that will affect our children. Who cares now if Bedford was a knave or a fool; or if Grafton was a sensualist and a scoundrel; what is Sir William Draper to us, or Bute, or Granby? Junius's letters have done their work, though they did not do his, for he put down his pen in despair, and left the country. The abuses which he attacked are for the most part done away; and as for the Preliminary Essays, windy notes, disputes concerning authorship, (which are only worthy of Coventry-except when a man of genius, like Macaulay, gives additional interest to the life of Hastings by a few conclusive paragraphs on Francis,) private common places to Wilkes and Woodfall-and those other puffings which art has bestowed upon them hitherto these things will get dismissed ere long; the bags will be struck and burst, and the wind let loose into space. Had not the style of this Mysterious Myth been splendid, and his sarcasm unequalled, he would not have reached us at all; had he produced nothing but political fireworks, the sting of his squibs and the report of his crackers would have died away long since, and his volumes would have been deposited in our butter-shops beside those of Wilkes, or in our lumber rooms by those of B-nth-m.

But it is not so with Chesterfield. Disapproving, as we must, of much that he has written, but regretting more what he has not written, we yet see a principle of life in his letters. All those to Dayrolles and about politics, and also those two on his father's death, which have no claim whatever to be preserved, might as well have been omitted, for they will be but little read, and even when read but little relished. But his letters to his son, now that Lord Mahon has revised them, will be more read than ever. They should not, however, be perused by any one whose moral and religious principles are unformed. Their highest merit is, that they contain vivid pictures of life, and to those who look on them with the right light, they show how the world lies in wait to deceive. They do nothing towards the encouragement of men to set their thoughts on things above, but they should prevent men from fixing them on things below. They do not point towards the glories of Eternity, but they tell of the emptiness of Time.

And now a new breeze blows: and we suddenly put up helm. We gladly stretch the sails, and leave the worldly-wise behind; our hearts grow glad in us as we speed on, for this new breeze is fresh, and seems to breathe of heaven. For a little while, though, waves and breakers are about us; we go painfully among them, tossing and perplexed, but we are sure that there is safety near, and so sail on.

Contemporary both with Chesterfield and Junius, yet as different from them as light from twilight, William Cowper lived sixtynine years in the most eventful century the world had seen-without mixing in its excitements. We have hinted at some incidents in the first half of it; to do more, and compress a history of it in a short article, would need powers such as Houdin's, who can roll an orange in his hands till it is smaller than a pea. A paragraph or two will tell enough about the life of this most worthy man to bring it to remembrance; this done, we must close.

His father was one of George the Second's chaplains; his mother descended by four ways from royalty. He lost the latter parent in his sixth year, from which to his eighteenth he passed his time like other boys, in buffeting through various schools, though physically unequal to his boisterous troubles. He, was then apprenticed to law, and became an idler, not, however, a vicious one, as is the modern fashion among law and medical students. In his bitterest moments of self-reproach, we

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