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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
LETTER то THE EDITOR.
Suam quisque homo rem meminit.
THERE are many people who like to be taken unprepared in their pleasures, and who think with the poet, that
"Grata superveniet quæ non sperabitur hora. Unquestionably a capital prize in the lottery, a good fat legacy from an unthought-of relation, or the discovery (Пapà dóžav kaì iλπída, like snow in the dog-days) of a valuable mine on some miserable half-dozen acres of barren land, are agreeable episodes in our transit through the long epic of the best of all possible worlds.
De gustibus, however, non est dis--, and I humbly beseech the admirers of "an agreeable surprise," not to denounce me, either to the Society for the Suppression of Vice as a wicked, or to the Constitu tional Society as a disloyal writer, if I profess myself, in opposition to their orthodoxy, an admirer of recurrent pleasures. Darwin and the modern physiologists have shown, that those vital movements which are associated in circles, and are renewed at regular intervals, are performed with the greatest facility and precision; and if any sceptic presume to doubt their authority, (for, what indeed is the authority of a physical fact, when opposed to metaphysical theory?) I appeal to the Christmas pudding and minced-pie of the school-boy, and to the rent-day of the landlord, while I defy the deepest calculator upon 'Change to prove that the dividends are, in the least, less acceptable for their half-yearly repetitions. Who is there that has not experienced the disagreeable effects which are felt through the whole constitution, when, the circle of recurring actions coming round, and the appetite being wound up by the arrival of the customary dinner-hour, some unlucky despiser of times and of seasons chooses to keep the whole party waiting, by his non-appearance? Now the sharpness of this disappointment is an indisputable measure of the intensity of the pleasure so delayed. But if you have still any hesitation in assigning the palm of superiority to the recurrent, over the occasional pleasures, ask the lawyers whether they do not derive an exquisite delight from the circle of terms and returns, and whether sessions and circuits are not sources of content, increasing in vivacity in proportion as their successive repetitions produce a greater certainty and force in the circulation of fees.
Agreeably to this principle we find, that the older we grow, the more tenaciously we hold by stated festivities, keeping birth-days and wedding-days with a more superstitious reverence, notwithstanding that each return brings us a move nearer to age, ugliness, and death, and therefore might be expected to excite far other feelings than those of merriment and rejoicing. It is scarcely necessary, in confirmation of my theory, to remark on the pleasures which are derived from the natural succession of the seasons, with all the delights of Michaelmas goose, house-lamb, pigeons, and 'sparagus, the July venison-feast, the oysters of St. James's-day, and the annual marrow-pudding of my
VOL. VII. NO. XXV.
Lord Mayor's dinner. For my own part, I honestly confess myself alive to the just complaints and pathetic regrets of that unfortunate lady, who, when inhumanly called upon by Death at that season of the year when good living abounds (Death has no gallantry in his dealings with the ladies, as the old ballad shows,) exclaimed with horror and indignation "What, now? die now? when mackarel and green peas are just coming into the market."
By this time, I suppose, Mr. Editor, you are tempted to exclaim, "Quorsum hæc tam putida?" but do not be in a hurry, my answer is at hand, "Ad te inquam;" for I am now coming to my "argumentum ad hominem." It is in literature, more especially, that I am attached to periodical pleasures, insomuch that I doubt whether my morning's tea and toast would digest without the "peptic persuader" of a newspaper: and I verily believe, that half the fascination of Sir W. Scott's novels is derived from their near approach to periodical appearances. The weekly literary journals have added essentially to my "stock of innocent amusement:" the reviews and magazines are as necessary to my being as my food; but THE Magazine, the NEW MONTHLY MAZINE, is the merum sal which gives condiment to life, and preserves the stagnating pool of existence from duckweed and putrescence.
Indeed, indeed I do not flatter you, Mr. Editor, when I assert, that the neomenia of your journal is an important epoch in my family; and the moment when, the fire stirred, the red curtains drawn, the tea-urn smoking, and the Argand lamp gently raised-I put the paperknife into the foldings of the first sheet of a new number, is a moment of breathless expectation and delight to every member of the fire-side. Here, however, I must pause to censure a bad habit in which you indulge, of anticipating the amusement of the month, by a regular program (that is a nice new word I have just imported from France, to supply the hacknied common-place of a "bill of the play")-a regular program, I say, in the second page of your coloured cover. This would be the ruin of my peace of mind, did I not possess the requisite force of character to avert my eyes, and hurry on-O noctes cœnæque deum!-to the monthly list of new publications. A plague of such foretastes, of paradise, say I; let me begin at the beginning, and like the sailor, who, when seated in a conjuror's booth, was blown into a cabbage-garden by an unlucky explosion of gunpowder, exclaim, as I read on from article to article,-"What the devil will the fellow do next?"-For nothing annoys me half so much as being asked to consult the livre des postes of your " modo Thebis modo ponit Athenis" contributors.
Having thus ventured to "hint a fault, and hesitate dislike," by way of aigre doux, I must notice a point in which I hold your management highly praiseworthy. You do not often balk a growing interest by abruptly concluding with that reference" to the coming-on of time," "(To be continued in our next.)"
This practice I hold to be a most disingenuous mode of treating a "gentle reader." For if it be a merit to begin with the beginning in writing (as I have already said it is in reading), surely it is not less commendable to end with the end. It is a rule which stage-managers strongly impress upon manufacturers of tragedy and dovetailers of melodram, to "lay it on thick in the fourth act," that is, to work the plot to such a pitch of intricacy, that, at the falling of the curtain, the audience may curse the fiddlers, and sit upon thorns till the actors come on
again. So also it is a point of policy in the editor of a magazine, when he breaks up a long article, to choose that precise paragraph at which the reader will not reply to his To be continued" Who cares?"-or "No more of that, Hal, if thou lovest me," but shall be agonized with impatience for the rest, and call upon the gods to annihilate both time and space, and to drive the moon through her lunation, as if she was one of the Melton hunt, or a member of the four-in-hand.
These cases, however, are not by any means parallel; for what would an audience say, if, at the end of a fourth act, a gentleman, dressed in a full suit of black with a cocked hat under his arm, should step forward with a supplicating "Ladies and gentlemen," and dismiss the house with a reference for the rest of the play, like a justice's mittimus, to the end of "one calendar month?" Wits, you know, on the other hand, have short memories, and the preceding number of a magazine is not always within reach to refresh our recollections; so that "Continued from our last" is often little better than an invitation to skip the article. Therefore once more, Mr. Editor, I thank you, for myself and the public, for abstaining as much as possible from this provoking practice of your rival contemporaries.
There is something in the very essence of a Magazine peculiarly congenial to my disposition, which from the cradle was discursive and miscellaneous. I never could believe that the human mind was formed to be tied down for ever to one subject; nay, not even to be trusted with an entire pursuit, but to be confined like a pin-maker's journeyman either to heads or points;-I ever thought the
Æthereum sensum atque aurai simplicis ignem
was created to expatiate at large through the wide fields of nature and of science,
From grave to gay, from lively to severe,
and, in short, to embrace the "omne cognoscibile;" to which nothing is more conducive than the reading your Magazine. Magazines hold that just medium between occupation and amusement, study and dissipation, which redeems the labour of learning, and avoids the reproach of idleness; and really, Mr. Editor, I must say you have as agreeable a variety, and as charming a list of contributors, as a reader could wish. What a funny fellow is "Peter Pindarics!" How agreeable the "Campaigning Cornet!" "Lips and Kissing" set one's mouth watering. "Grimm's Ghost," like all his family, grim or ghost, is truly delectable. I say nothing of your own contributions, to save your modesty a blush; but Don Leucadio was delicious-though, between you and me, is he not a bit of a Radical, or a Carbonaro, or some such thing? His dislike of Inquisitions makes him suspected of being suspicious. I hope he is gone to Spain for more news of his interesting curate. I wish also your "Silent River" would murmur once more: he flows with so sweet and melancholy a movement, that all your readers must cry out "That strain again."
"Select Company" is a most choice article; the "Reflections on a Plum-pudding" are very relishing; the "Bachelor's Thermometer" was well graduated; the "Land of Promise," a land of performance; and your "One-handed Flute-player," quite an ambidexter. Cætera quid referem!-where all excel, it is useless to particularize; but there is one of your correspondents for whose signature I always look with
a singular earnestness-for I am never disappointed, when I find M. at the end of an article. I hope I am not alone in my partiality for that writer; for whether he favours us with verse or prose I am equally prepared to admire his wit, and to venerate the deep thought which that wit involves. With this lively interest in your Magazine and its "jolly crew," you may naturally suppose I am all ears whenever the subject is started; and I heartily wish the space which I propose to occupy with the present article, would allow me to mention the half of what I have heard.
First, Sir, you are to know that the New Monthly Magazine is conducted with a vast deal of spirit, very lively and wittily written, butas dull as an oyster; devilish clever, but-d-d stupid; full of variety, with-too much sameness; in most extensive circulation, but-does not sell. (G-d help Mr. Colburn, then, "Thinks I to myself," for he must soon be ruined.) Mr. Campbell's Lectures are the only things worth reading in the book; but what is Greek literature to us? There's nothing amusing but Grimm's Ghost, except Peter Pindarics and the Irish Bar. Doblado's Letters are highly interesting by the air of verity they possess, though--they are evidently fictitious, and not a word of them true. The great merit of the publication is, that it does not meddle with politics; but-it is too decidedly a Tory work, the editor is a reputed Whig, and half the contributors downright Radicals. The public rejoice that the editor is no saint, but they would like the publication much better if it were a shade more "Serious." One gentleman asks for a series of geological essays, one wishes for a paper on the millennium, and another would be delighted to know the meaning of the hieroglyphics on the tomb in the British Museum. There is "a constant reader" who thinks it does not "look like a magazine," for want of double columns; and two maiden ladies, with whom I sometimes drink tea, would think much better of the publication if it were stitched in a blue cover.
These, Sir, are some of the lights I have collected concerning your Magazine, and the manner in which it is conducted; and I doubt not that your good sense and discrimination will enable you to profit by the information I thus afford. I rely with confidence on your candour in appreciating the industry with which I have gleaned, and the simplicity with which I have communicated these fruits of my research. So with a parting "Floreat æternum" I take my leave, subscribing myself your admirer and friend, M.
SKETCH OF THE POLITICAL CAREER OF SIMON BOLIVAR, President of the Republic of Colombia.
SIMON BOLIVAR, commander-in-chief of the Independent forces of Venezuela, and president of the Colombian republic, is descended from a family of distinction at Caracas, where he was born about the year 1785. He was one of the few natives of the Spanish colonics who were formerly permitted to visit Europe. After finishing his studies at Madrid, he went to France, and, during his stay at Paris, rendered himself an acceptable guest in its social circles by the amenity of his manners and his other personal recommendations; in the midst, however, of all its distractions, his strong and ardent imagination anticipated the task which the future fortunes of his country might im