« PreviousContinue »
“ Then be it mine to bow. beneath the rod,
And there are those whose hearts are gentle, those,
Let gentle Mercy weep the Sufforer's doom,
He rests amid the dust that gave him birth,
“Stranger ! here lie the crumbling limbs of one “ Whom Death cut off, ere Glory had hegun; “O! if on thee the gifts of Heav'n be shed,
Weep, 'mid the mansions of the silent dead; “ If Beauty's glow, and Talent's fire be thine, “ Snatch the bright gems from mad Ambition's shrine ;
“ Lest thou, like him, cut off from joyous blooni,
May Pity's tear o'er him, the Mourner, flow,
ON THE IDLENESS OF AUTHORS.
Non sat idoneus
This, gentle reader, being the sum of Mr. Bouverie's accusation against me, I have religiously determined to sit down and begin writing immediately, though my brain be as dry as a lemon-chip, and my fancy as barren as a senior wrangler's. I am afraid, however, my dear Public, that I am not writing this essay to amuse or instruct you, but merely to fill up a certain number of pages in the Ninth Number of the Miscellany, and therefore I think I may as well endeavour to vindicate myself from the charge of idleness which has been alleged against me, by my much-esteemed and respected friend at the head of our undertaking. I must acknowledge that I have begun three several articles, and burnt them ; that night after night I have spoiled a new pen by dipping it in the ink, and a clean sheet of paper by scrawling figures of all sizes and sorts upon it, one more hideous put off
than the other, to encourage myself to begin, and that all this has been in vain. I have yawned and bitten my lips ; I have pulled off my neckcloth, coat, and waistcoat'; but I have
labours day after day, and am now commencing an article when it ought to have been ready for the press : but I deny that I put it off for the gratification of my own laziness, but my respect for that worthy and enlightened part of the community, who are in favour of Catholic Emancipation, and who buy, and, I hope, read, the Eton Miscellany, is so great, that I could not bear to dedicate any but my brightest moments to an attempt at their amusement.
On the first day, therefore, shortly after tea, I descended to my narrow dwelling with a full intention of writing unmercifully. Having lounged about in the luxury of solitude for some time, I determined upon writing poetry, but not feeling mad enough for that very excellent intention, resolved to read Lord Byron. Accordingly, I began at “ Childe Harold,” and forgot every thing about the Miscellany, till I came to the end of “Manfred;" it was then nearly ten o'clock, and although the enthusiasm which I had desired and read for, so long and so earnestly, was certainly kindled, yet it was kindled to such a degree, that I could not bear a line of my own; so I seized the poker, and walked about the room, brandishing it with such enthusiasm, that I did nearly as much damage to the walls as the trunk-maker in the upper gallery, in the “Spectator;" and spouted the “Siege of Corinth," till I went to bed. Was this idleness? No! I gained from it a good deal of useful knowledge, which I will impart to my readers, namely,
never to read Lord Byron instantly before they wish to poetize; and a great deal of pleasure, which I intend to keep to myself.
Tuesday.--I began to think that my fits of stupidity were, like the appearance of the Miscellany, periodical, and that they always came just when they should not, which is, I hope, very unlike that excellent publication. Read the “Spectator,” and was beginning to write, when my new Sporting Magazine arrived. Struggled manfully on gainst time and inclination, when I recollected that I wanted to see whether they had reported the St. Leger correctly. So I despatched my article, and read the Sporting Magazine, returned to the Miscellany, read my composition over, did not think it good enough, particularly as I recollected that it would be an ungrateful return to be négligent because the public was indulgent, so I gave it emendaturis ignibus. Was this Idleness? No! it was respect.
Wednesday.-Read the “Etonian” for a hint, and grew very angry at finding it so much better than the Miscellany; determined to write furiously, that I might surpass Gog. As it was to be a great undertaking, I considered long and deeply for a suitable subject, till at last it suddenly struck me that I should not be able. Was this Idleness? No! it was emulation.
Thursday.- Felt rather dull ; gymnasticized for half an hour; found I was not in a humour for writing : so I took up the Miscellany, and endeavoured to console myself by reading my own productions--fell asleep; was this Idleness ! No! it was accident.
Friday, Mr. Bouverie, I was engaged, deeply engaged. - I am sorry, very sorry, Mr. Bouverie, but I have bolted my door ; I am reading hard, very hard. I am deaf to the voice of an Editor ; I am reading Walter Scott's new novel.
Saturday.--I am at last writing this plain narrative under every disadvantage, with a bad fire and a vacant coal-box, with a great noise around me, and a fourth-form boy doing his verses. I am writing, my dear Public, with the melancholy consciousness that the stupidity which has clung to me like a night-mare, ever since I finished the “ Victim," seems to possess the monotonous regularity of a ticking clock, and to threaten the awful durability of a trade-wind. Pity me, my dear Public, I feel as dull as a prize ox, or a prize poem, if indeed the latter ever has any feeling at all; and yet when, in defiance of all these horrors, I continue to write an essay, which I am afraid, if the Miscellany is able to stand the test of time, will only immortalize me as an ass, I am stigmatized as being idle. I appeal to you, will listen to, or rather read my defence; whether I have been so or not; and as it is contrary to the rules of justice to condemn a man unheard, I should certainly recommend you to acquit me at once. If I may judge from my own feelings, although among the faults which I have the misfortune to possess, I must confess that I am not in the least deficient in vanity, yet I sincerely pity the reader of this, conceiving, by a very palpable syllogism, that what has been written with many yawns, will not be perused without many more:
But I must just go and see what
if indeed you