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whole history, birth, and parentage ; who planned it; who wrote it; who were the editors, conductors, and proprietors. For one man it was too light, for another it was too deep; a third thought us too serious, a fourth not sufficiently in earnest ; a fifth that there was too insignificant an admixture of political matter ; a sixth, that politics ought to be entirely excluded ;-again, one applauded it, because it was lively, another because it was grave; a third, because it was pious; a fourth, because it was not evangelical-in short, our publication bore a close resemblance to the picture, which the ambitious painter exhibited in the market-place for the judgment of all passers-by, and which was covered over in every part with marks both of approval and condemnation. These ten gentlemen, says one objector, do not enter enough into detail upon topics of public interest. They would not, I replied, frighten general readers just at first with statistics and political economy. “ There is no variety of gay, agreeable, amusing compositions,” says another. “ What,” exclaimed I, “ do you view the Council of Ten merely in the light of writers in a Magazine ?” “ Why not ?" answers my opponent,“ is not the publication a Magazine ?” “ Certainly not,” I said ; " at least the authors, whoever they may be, would not have it supposed to be so.” “ Then they make a distinction without a difference; or else wantonly throw away the surest and most efficient methods of providing entertainment and securing profit.” “Yes! I answered, they neglect to excite the feelings, or rivet the attention, by ghost-stories, or fairy-tales, or romantic amours. And in exchange for such sacrifices, what keep they for themselves ? Alas ! nothing but the topics, which effect the highest interests of mankind, public or private ; which bear upon the general welfare, or the happiness of individuals ; nothing, but the daily concerns of man, and the real occurrences and vicissitudes of life.” I went a little farther, and heard a person prophecying, in his wisdom, that our publication would be one of those still-born things, which pass almost at once, without any intermediate stage of existence, from the printer's to the pastry-cook’s. Another was attacking the style, as being too careless and familiar, and not starched or elaborated to the degree, which was required by the erudition of the age. “ The members of the Council of Ten," said I, when he had finished his tirade, “ differ from most writers. It is the chief object of the latter to augment their fame, and shew off their wit and eloquence: they, therefore, dazzle the public mind with the profusion of words and glitter of images. But the latter appear to be mere plain, pains-taking, matter-of-fact persons, who have some foolish crotchet in their head about doing some little good in their generation.” In another part of the town, there was a silly fellow amusing his audience at our expense; and telling them of a melo-drame which was performed a few years ago at Sadlers' Wells, under the name of the Council of Ten, of which Grimaldi was the President.
THE PRESIDENT. I suppose he perceived a resemblance between us. I feel myself much honoured by the compliment.
THE PROJECTOR. I heard another saying, that “ We should have enough to do, if we acted up to our pretensions.”
But the most decisive judgment, which I have heard, continued the Projector, was from an old gentleman, who is the critic and oracle of a small coffee-house, which I occasionally visit. Like most other men, he has acquired his reputation, rather by a prudent reserve, and the art of concealing his deficiencies ; rather by never committing himself in launching into subjects, where he would be at sea without a compass, and never making any grievous exposure of the shallowness and narrowness of his information, than by any positive qualifications, such as shining ability, or profound knowledge. The opinion, too, of his sagacity is increased, because, it is his constant aim to find faults, and pry into little inadvertencies and carelessnesses with microscopic minuteness ; and he strictly and invariably observes the rule of looking at the dark side and never speaking one word in praise of any character, or any composition. Sour, testy, and petulant in his manner; peremptory, authoritative and dogmatic in his expressions ; he has a vehement abhorrence of contradiction; for contradiction is one among the numberless points, in which they, who indulge themselves in the greatest liberties, will allow none at all to their acquaintance. He has been habituated, too, to see all his decisions venerated as verdicts without appeal, in consequence of the slight superiority of intellect, which he really possesses over most of his associates. He therefore dictates rather than talks; and utters a response rather than gives an answer. He is so wrapt up withal in the sense of his own learning and importance, that were it not for his love of hearing himself talk, and his pleasure in observing the reverential acquiescence of his auditors, I really believe his pride would almost prevent him from ever opening his lips.
It was with this “ most potent, grave, and reverend signor,” that I ventured to enter into discourse the other evening, as he happened to be sitting alone at a box in the coffee-room. We began the conversation on the common topics of the day; but I insensibly diverted it to that subject, which was of course uppermost in my thoughts. On going home I threw what had been said on both sides into the following dialogue ; entitling this most consequential personage the Stranger, and keeping for myself my usual travelling name of the Projector. There occurred some short pauses, which I have omitted, during which he sipped his coffee ; shook his head, or nodded' his assent; or assumed his gravest look of silent wisdom.
DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE PROJECTOR AND THE
STRANGER. It is very warm, Sir; the heat is almost too oppressive for talking
PROJECTOR. May I ask, Sir, if you have looked at the thermometer to-day.
STRANGER. At five o'clock, it was as high as seventy-five in the shade.
PROJECTOR. The last accounts, I see, relative to Turkey are entirely pacific : the question of peace or war appears to be decided.
STRANGER. All depends upon circumstances ; much remains as yet undeveloped : there is a deep mystery hanging over the business.
PROJECTOR. You have, probably, particular information and advices by which your own sentiments are guided : although it would be impertinent in me, who have so little the honour of your acquaintance, to request you to communicate them.
STRANGER. Sir, there are such things as private Letters, which are infinitely more deserving of credit, than the lying statements and forged documents in the public journals.
PROJECTOR. Undoubtedly, Sir: and, as it was hinted to me a few days since, that there is no man who receives them more frequently than yourself.
STRANGER. You will please, however, to observe, that I have given you no intimation, that any secret correspondence has reached me, differing from the common accounts: I merely say, that political prophecies are always unsafe, and generally turn out to be absurd: and again, that something more than mere appearances and reports ought to influence
the judgment of every man, who makes politics a part of his daily study.
PROJ ECTOR. Altogether, the season has been a dull one.
STRANGER. A very dull one, Sir. There cannot be much gaiety when there is no money.
Splendid fêtes cannot be given for nothing--although the King gives them - nor brilliant equipages kept for a song.
PROJECTOR. Nor has there been much stirring in the literary world.
STRANGER. Literary world. God help us !-Lord Byron has been writing bad plays; and the author of Waverley is dwindling into a common novelist. But he was always over-rated, and must soon sink into his proper dimensions.
PROJECTOR. It seems a pretty general opinion that most of the periodical papers are falling off in every number.
PROJECTOR. By-the-by, talking of periodical publications, I hear there is a new production of that kind which is making a sensation in town; it is called the Council of Ten.
STRANGER. The what?
STRANGER. A magazine ?
STRANGER. A literary gazette?