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COUNCIL OF TEN.
LOREDANO. We have decided.
The Ten in Council.-LORD BYRON.
MEETING OF THE COUNCIL.
JUNE 17, 1822. A MEETING of the Ten was summoned for the night on which the present report is dated, for the purpose of taking into consideration their past success, their existing situation, and their future measures. The members were all assembled, with the exception of the Squire; who had settled his affairs in London, and returned to his estate, urged both by his own inclinations and the advice of his friends. We shall publish the deliberations of the rest almost to the letter, and offer no other apology for a rather unusual mixture of conversation and narrative.
PRESIDENT. Well, gentlemen, what think you of our prospects? Are your spirits raised or depressed? your hopes brightened or obscured?
PROJECTOR. My hopes, most worthy President, are changed into a certain assurance. But to judge by the load of letters and communications which are lying upon the table, we shall soon have employment enough for a junto of fifty ; or rather, we ought to have established an Athenian council of five hundred, instead of a Venetian Council of Ten.
PRESIDENT. My good Projector, you must not judge by appearances. These communications are far from being either all useful, or all commendatory.
The Secretary was then directed by the President to read certain letters, which had been set apart for that purpose. The first was from a gentleman who affixed no signature, and could not, therefore, he answered by any private intimation. The following motto, however, was placed at the head of his communication:
Tu, quid ego et populus mecum desideret, audi. He recounted a long list of grievances, abuses, monopolies, and peculations, which, he said, must either be rectified or abolished, and called loudly upon the Council for their active interference. When the letter had been heard, it was ordered, that the writer should be thanked for his remarks through the medium of this report, and informed, that in due time strict attention should be paid to the subjects which he proposed for consideration; that many of them had been already marked out for close and searching inquiry; and that he should never have to complain of want of energy or diligence on the part of the decemvirs of Great Britain.
The next communication was from a person who signed himself “a Methodist," complaining of the tenor of certain observations in our First Number, and in particular the extracts from an Old Song.
Ordered, that this writer be assured, that we considered the matter and manner of his epistle creditable both to his head and heart; that, if it could possibly be avoided, we would never alarm tender consciences, or shock pious feelings; but that, at the same time, we were more and more convinced, by every day's experience, that we could not do a greater service to religion, than by exposing the fanaticism and imposture which usurp its name, and disguise themselves under its form.
The third was a Tale about a young lady and a ghost. The scene was laid in Hungary. There was so much grave business upon our hands, that we could not afford time to hear this epitome of a romance.
Ordered, that this correspondent should be recommended to send his communication to a Magazine.
Next came a precious piece of Scandal from the West end of the town, which we know to be wilfully and absolutely false.
Ordered, to be left for the writer, with the word forged stamped upon it in large letters, as if it were a counterfeit bank-note, and by way of intimation of the destiny which he deserved.
Here followed something still worse, for it was neither more nor less than a Parody in verse upon the Litany of the Church. The following is one stanza out of twenty, which we put forth for the purpose of preventing the whole composition from being published through another channel.
From Wooler's trash and Cobbett's lies,
Good Lord deliver us ! Ordered, that it should be immediately burnt, and the author requested to drop his correspondence with us for the future.
PRESIDENT. There seems to exist some strange misconception as to our design. Our declaration, one might have imagined, was sufficiently intelligible; but here we have things sent us, utterly destitute of all practical utility, irrelevant to our plan, and at variance with our avowed intentions. Is it supposed, that, as young beginners, we shall be grateful for any communications which can swell the number of our pages, or be afraid to risk giving offence by refusing them insertion? If so, we would tell these correspondents, that we stand in no need of their assistance, and that they will save us much trouble by withholding their effusions.
SOLDIER. I think, Mr. President, you mentioned some vituperative communications ; let us hear a few of them for our edification or our amusement.
PRESIDENT. Here is one, as a sample, which attacks us at all points; asserting, that our object is to establish a system of espion.
nage; to meddle with the affairs of government; and almost charges us with a conspiracy against the realm, and its most sacred authorities. Now, if we are to bear the name of spies, we will be spies for the benefit of the nation; and if we are accused of conspiracy, our conspiracy shall be against abuses and corruptions.
THE PRESIDENT. Why, here is a writer who complains that we have no definite object in view. If we undertake, says this worthy, to subvert the existing Administration, or to destroy the last remnant of Whig-influence, or to cry up or cry down any particular set of men, he might perhaps be induced to afford us his co-operation. But, he adds, we are completely at sea, and hardly know to what port we are directing our course.
THE PROJECTOR. That man has no soul. To him all noble aims, all patriotic intentions, must be incomprehensible. His ambition never rose higher than to supplant a rival, or to promote the ends of a party. We should degrade ourselves by giving him any other answer.
THE PRESIDENT. I have a letter in my hand, which requires deeper attention; as it comes from a man, from whom we might have expected much, and on whom many of us had relied as an able and steady coadjutor. Our undertaking has already exhibited some of our supposed friends in their true colours. We have received a few disappointments among the encouragements and aids which we have experienced :-and this is one of the most grievous.
THE PROJECTOR. I have a shrewd suspicion who is the writer :-let us hear what he says.
THE PRESIDENT. Hé repeats the old thread-bare story of difficulty and dangers ; enumerates the various risks to which we shall be exposed; recommends wariness and discretion : inquires into the number of our allies, and the strength of our
l'esources; and hopes, forsooth, that we shall obtain a complete triumph, or secure a timely retreat.
He is unwilling to appear disinclined to the cause; but has evi. dently no anxiety to promote it. He proves himself the kind of man who will put nothing to the hazard for the sake of a friend ; yet supports him just so far, that if that friend rises in the world, he may take credit to himself for having never deserted him. In short, he is hanging back, and means to wait until he sees whether we prosper ; forgetful that he, who delays his help until it ceases to be wanted, must expect to have his tardy advances rejected with disdain. If we succeed, he will congratulate both us and himself on the realization of his fondest anticipations ; if we sink, he will assume a patronizing air of consolation and condolence ; and remind us how he hinted at caution, and if he had not perceived us too obstinately bent upon our project, would unquestionably have dissuaded us from the adventurous attempt. These are not the men we want; I regret, that we ever consulted or applied to him.
THE SOLDIER. A cream-livered scoundrel !-he deserves to be shot at the least. Let us return his letter with contempt and defiance.
THE PRESIDENT. That we cannot do. It is much too guarded. As far as the terms go, it is all kindness and consideration for our safety. There is no single phraze or expression, to which it is possible to object.
THE SOLDIER. So much the worse-it is cool deliberate treachery under a very flimsy disguise.
THE TRAVELLER. This letter resembles the one written to Hotspur, which I once recited at school “ with immense applause" as they say in the play-bills, and have never since forgotten. Part of which is exactly applicable to the present occasion. “ The purpose you undertake is dangerous ;"_Why, that's certain ; 'tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink : but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck the flower, safety.'
6. The purpose you