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saving in the main expenditure of the fair sex. “ You will have,” said we,
a cap which now costs four hundred francs for less than fifty. Think of that !”
“ Think of that !” said the countess, casting upon us the darkest expression of indignation that her glowing eyes [and what eyes they were !—but no matter) could let loose, _“ think of that, indeed! Do
think that I should ever wear such rags as are to be bought for fifty francs ?”
There was no arguing the matter: it was useless to say that the fifty-franc article, if the plan had succeeded, (which, however, it did not,) would have been precisely and in every thread the same as that set down at five hundred. The crowd of fine things generated by cheapness, in general, was quite enough to dim the finery of any portion of them in particular.
We are much afraid that we run somewhat loose of our ori. ginal design in these rambling remarks. But it is always easy to come back to the starting-post. Abandoning metaphor and figure of all kinds, we were endeavouring to express our conviction, drawn from experience, that a company of professed wits might be justly suspected to be a dull concern. Every man is on the alert to guard against surprise.
Through all the seven courses laid down,
Each jester looks sour on his brother ;
The buffoon tries the mimic to smother :
Envies him who can yarn a droll story;
Will think your adagio but snory.
This is, we admit at once, and in anticipation of the reader's already expressed opinion, a very poor imitation of the opening song of the Beggar's Opera.
If this melancholy fact of the stupidity of congregated wits be admitted to be true, the question comes irresistibly, thrown in our faces in the very language of the street, “Who are you? Have not you advertised yourselves as wits, and can you escape from the soft-headed impeachment ?" We reply nothing; we stand mute. It will be our time this day twelvemonths to offer to the pensive public a satisfactory replication to that somewhat personal interrogatory. Yet
Having in our minds, and the interior sensoria of our consciences, some portion of modesty yet lingering behind-how small that portion may be is best known to those who have campaigned for a few years upon the press, and thence learned the diffident mildness which naturally adheres to the pursuit of enlightening the public mind, and advancing the march of general intellect; -possessed, we say, of that quantity of retiring bashful
ness, it is undeniable that, like one of the Passions in Collins's Ode; -- we forget which, but we fear it is Fear,-we, after showing forth in the best public instructors as the Wits' Miscellany,
Back recoiled, Scared at the sound ourselves had made. To this resolution we were also led by the fact, that such a title would altogether exclude from our pages contributions of great merit - which, although exhibiting comic faculty, would also deal with the shadows of human life, and sound the deep wells of the heart. We agreed that the work should not be called “The Wits"
any longer. We massacred the title as ruthlessly as ever were massacred its namesakes in Holland: and, agreeing to an emendatio, we now sail under the title of our worthy publisher, which happens to be the same as that of him who is by all viri clarissimi adopted as criticorum longè doctissimus, RICARDUS Bentleius; or, to drop Latin lore-Richard Bentley.
Here then, ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to your special and particular notice
What may be in the Miscellany it is your business to find out. Here lie the goods, warehoused, bonded, ticketed, and labelled, at your service. You have only, with the Genius in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, to cry, “ Fish, fish, do your duty ;" and if they are under-cooked or over-cooked, if the seasoning is too high or the fire too low, if they be burnt on one side and raw on the other, why, gentle readers, it is your business to complain. All we have to say here, is, that we have made our haul in the best fishing-grounds, and, if we were ambitious of pun-making, we might add, that we had well baited our hookscaught some choice souls—flung our lines into right places—and so forth, as might easily be expanded by the students of Mr. Commissioner Dubois's art of punning made easy.
What we propose is simply this :-We do not envy the fame or glory of other monthly publications. Let them all have their room. We do not desire to jostle them in their course to fame or profit, even if it was in our power to do so. revel in the unmastered fun and the soul-touching feeling of Wilson, the humour of Hamilton, the dry jocularity and the ornamented poetry of Moir, the pathos of Warren, the tender sentiment of Caroline Bowles, the eloquence of Croly, and the Tory brilliancy of half a hundred contributors zealous in the cause of Conservatism. Another may shake our sides with the drolleries of Gilbert Gurney and his fellows, poured forth from
the inexhaustible reservoir of the wit of our contributor Theodore Hook,-captivate or agitate us by the Hibernian Tales of Mrs. Hall, -or rouse the gentlest emotions by the fascinating prose or delicious verse of our fairest of collaborateuses Miss Landon. In a third we must admire the polyglot facetiæ of our own Father Prout, and the delicate appreciation of the classical and elegant which pervades the writings of the Greek-thoughted Chapman; while its rough drollery, its bold bearing, its mirth, its learning, its courage, and its caricatures, (when, confined to the harmless and the mirth-provoking, they abstain from invading the sanctuary of private life,) are all deserving of the highest applause, though we should be somewhat sorry to stand in the way of receiving the consequences which they occasionally entail. Elsewhere, what can be better than Marryat, Peter Simple, Jacob Faithful, Midshipman Easy, or whatever other title pleases his ear; a Smollett of the sea revived, equal to the Doctor in wit, and somewhat purged of his grossness. In short, to all our periodical contemporaries we wish every happiness and success, and for those among their contributors whose writings tend to amuse or instruct,—and many among them there are to whom such praise may be justly applied,—we feel the highest honour and respect. We wish that we could catch them all, to illuminate our pages,
without any desire whatever that their rays should be withdrawn from those in which they are at present shining.
Our path is single and distinct. In the first place, we have nothing to do with politics. We are so far Conservatives as to wish that all things which are good and honourable for our native country should be preserved with jealous hand. We are so far Reformers as to desire that every weed which defaces our conservatory should be unsparingly plucked up and cast away. But is it a matter of absolute necessity that people's political opinions should be perpetually obtruded upon public notice? Is there not something more in the world to be talked about than Whig and Tory? We do not quarrel with those who find or make it their vocation to show us annually, or quarterly, or hebdomadally, or diurnally, how we are incontestably saved or ruined ; they have chosen their line of walk, and a pleasant one no doubt it is; but, for our softer feet may it not be permitted to pick out a smoother and a greener promenade,-a path of springy turf and odorous sward, in which no rough pebble will lacerate the ancle, no briery thorn penetrate the wandering sole?
Truce, however, to prefacing. We well know that speechmaking never yet won an election, because something more tangible than speechifying is requisite. So it is with books; and, indeed, so is it with every thing else in the world. We must be judged by our works. We have only one petition to
make, which is put in with all due humility,-it is this, that we are not to be pre-judged by this our first attempt. Nothing is more probable than that many of our readers, and they fairgoing people too, will think this number a matter not at all to be commended; and we, with perfect modesty, suggest, on the other side, the propriety of their suspending their opinion as to our demerits until they see the next. And then - And then! Well !—what then? Why, we do not know: and, as it is generally ruled, that, when a man cannot speak, he is bound to sing, we knock ourselves down for a song.
Our Opening Chaunt.
Come round and hear, my public dear,
Come bear, and judge it gently, The prose so terse, and flowing verse,
Of us, the wits of Bentley.
We offer not intricate plot
To muse upon intently;
Shall stain the page of Bentley.
May wrangle violently :
And women pestilently,
Where Dan may find his rent lie;
Those who would hear attent'ly
Are ask'd to come to Bentley.
The tender song which all day long
Resounds so sentimént’ly,
Will find no place in Bentley.
Nor yet the speech which fain would
teach All nations eloquently ;"Tis quite too grand for us the bland
And modest men of Bentley.
For science deep no line we keep,
We speak it reverently ;-
Untelescoped by Bentley.
Our hunt will be for grace and glee,
Where thickest may the scent lie; At slashing pace begins the chase
Now for the burst of Bentley.