« PreviousContinue »
mean those of none to Paris, and Medea to Jason; the first being, in my humble judgment, a most finished example of the pathetic, and the last a specimen of the sublime. With these materials I waited on a bookseller; he lcoked at my epistles in the first place. I acknowledge, upon my mended judgment, that I now think they were extremely bad; but that is more than he could have possibly known at the time, for, without looking at them, he plainly told me they would never pay the price of the paper. I then told him that I had some satirical pieces: his eye brightened up at this intelligence, but the name of Horace, in the title page, had the same effect upon him as physic upon a boy (who has made illness a pretence for idleness,) at school. He shook his head, and told me these works would never produce salt to my meals; but that if I would bring him a satire, highly peppered with abuse of certain great people, he might then, perhaps, have something to say to me. I knew the characters he pointed out to be persons eminently great and good, and expressed my surprise that he should be ignorant of their worth and value. He assured me, this was by no means the case; he knew their merits as well as any man alive.
Good God! is it possible?".
"You are young, Sir: when you have been long enough an author to know your trade, you will learn, that abuse sells much better than eulogium* :-No man pays his money to see a person praised."
* We cannot refrain from observing here, that, misled perhaps, by the impetuous, raw, and injudicious editor, the pub.
I was warm in the defence of the character I had adopted; and, as I always esteemed a literary man as one of the most exalted and dignified beings in the scale of society, I felt my cheek burn with indignation at hearing the sacred functions of genius thus tarnished and reduced. I urged, that to lash general vices, to expose corruption, to tear the mask from the visage of pretended patriotism, and gibbet the sons of rapine and oppression, was indeed a calling worthy the thunder-brandishing hand of the gigantic genius of satire; but that, to attack vice and virtue with undiscriminating rancor, to plant a thorn in the bosom of an honest man, to betray the confidence of families, and ruin the honest efforts of individuals, was to assume a character which, like Nero's, ought to be hunted from the face of the earth while living, and held up to the execration of posterity when no more.
The bookseller gravely shook his head, said he was a perfectly right, and that his own conscience often gave him many twinges when he published a work of the nature I had been describing. He observed, however, that while the world was ill-natured, and wicked enough to encourage this general rage for malice and detraction, a man in business had much difficulty in keeping
lishers of the Annual Review seein to have adopted the illiberal and false opinion of the above bookseller. We entreat them · to remember, for their own sake, that Rien n'est beau que le vrai; that abuse is not criticism; and we venture to predict to them, that the number of the purchasers of their work will decrease in proportion to its accumulating illiberal satires against literary characters deservedly esteemed: for the public is always just and indulgent.
his hands out of this disagreeable branch of his functions.
I assured him, that I would much rather beg my daily bread, from door to door, than put one morsel into my niouth, which was earned by any means so infamous and dishonourable; and that if ever I owed my existence to ways so base and unmanly, I should all the rest of my life look upon a scavenger as my superior, inasmuch as, though he meddled every day with dirty work, his filth was of prejudice to no one but himself.
The profession of a bookseller is one which demands the respect and gratitude of society, and, when all is said and done, the arguments which my new friend had urged were certainly not without their weight. While scandal and detraction are encouraged by the world, it is the fault of the world that we have so many libels pouring upon us from all quarters.
He then asked me if I had any objection to translate. I freely replied that I was driven to the necessity of writing for bread, and that I had no inclination to shun any means of earning my meal by any honest way. He then invited me to dine with him, and I met many men like myself, who had every morning “to provide for the day which was to pass over their heads."
I had a portion of work given me, in which I could
* The editors of this work congratulate themselves in being connected with a respectable bookseller, who is a great enemy to libels, and who thinks with them, that to be useful to the cause of morality, vice should be assaulted without hur. ting personal feelings. If we draw then a faulty character, the reader may rest assured, that it will always be in the spirit of benevolence, and with a love of mankind.
Deither evince my fancy nor exert my imagination. The pay I reaped from labours of this mechanical nature was small; nor could I expect it to be greater. I kept life and soul together with difficulty; but as I never violated my private nor my moral character, I. tugged at the oar, and was contented with my lot. I, however, hailed my release from the drudgery of writing and book-making, as the dawn of returning freedom. A slave of every description is to be pitied, but none more so than the slave to writing for his bread.
HEROISM OR CONJUGAL AFFECTION.
u Are ye not one ? are ye not join'd by Heav'n?
Each interwoven with the other's fate." Rows.
ELIZABETH, countess of Greifenstein, or Grafenstein, says an ancient chronicle, sold all her property and went to the East, to ransom her husband, who was a prisoner among the Saracens. She arrived at Jerusalem, and thence continued her route, accompanied only by a faithful servant. This woman, young, beautiful, and of a delicate frame, crossed the burning deserts of Syria, and arrived, after a dangerous journey, at a castle on the banks of the Euphrates, where her husband groaned in fetters. The lord of his castle was struck with her beauty, and would have made her his mistress; but, faithful to her husband, she resisted every seduction and every threat.
The barbarian was at length touched by her constancy, and promised her husband liberty on certain
conditions. The first task imposed on her, was to procure the deliverance of the Saracen's brother, then a prisoner with a savage people on the other side of ihe Euphrates. Elizabeth did not hesitate an instant; she passes the river, won by her prayers the hearts of the savages, and led back the tyrant's brother to the castle.
She was then commanded to descend a cataract in a slight boat. She enters the boat trembling, thousands of people cover the banks, applauding the courage of this generous woman. The boat, drifting slowly down the river, approaches the precipice, Elizabeth binds her veil over her eyes, places herself on her knees, and thus drifts into the torrent. Beneficent genii bear the boat along; she reaches, unhurt, the banks of the river, and returns to the castle amidst the acclamations of the multitude,
“Go, and free thy husband with thy own hands," said the Saracen, presenting her the keys of the dur geon. She is led towards a court, surrounded with an iron grating, which inclosed hungry lions. Elizabeth opens the gate without fear; the famished animals rush upon her, but suddenly they stop, creep to her, and lick her feet. Faint with apprehension, she rests her arms on one of the lions, while opening the door of the dungeon; she frees her husband from his chains, and leads him forth between a double row of Saracens, who sing her praises.
She again traverses the same deserts, accompanied by her husband; supports his courage, searches roots for his food, and dips her veil into every well she finds to procure him water. They at length reach Jerusa