« ZurückWeiter »
Letters of Timothy Tkkkr, Etq. No. XIII.
in that situation. Croker has also slain Savary in the fashion of a true man: La Balafre himself never hewed down a vagabond more completely.
Give me, therefore, rest for one month. I will not write an article on the Metropolitan Review; I wish it every success, and hail its great and continually increasing circulation, as a proof that the country is in a healthy state. I am told it sells about 12,500, while Jeffrey's stuff certainly cannot pollute the nation to a greater extent than 5000, if so much. We remember, Kit, when affairs were differently arranged in the monde literaire,and I flatter myself, that you, and others, whose names need not to be mentioned, are to be not a little thanked for the amelioration. But though I do not wish to make my usual appearance in Maga this month, I have yet a subject to write to you about, which I am ashamed that you or some other person on our side of the question, more competent or more influential than I am, has not taken up already. I mean the case of Mr Theodore Hook, who, I perceive by the papers, has been arrested for his deficiency at the Mauritius. His case never has fairly been exhibited to the public, for reasons which I shall probably explain as I go on.
Let me make a few prefatory remarks on the conduct of the press. You know—everybody knows—the intensity of my contempt for the people connected with the London newspapers: I make this assertion, of course, with due exceptions. But really I was not prepared for the bloodhound exultation which some of them expressed on this occasion. The same papers which, with blockhead sympathy, lamented over the firm mind, the vigorous determination, the &c. &c. of Jack Thurtell the murderer, a fellow who was no more to be respected on account of any mental accomplishment than the ordinary run of gentlemen of the press, chuckled with joy at the arrest of Mr Hook, who, by the way, never had done anything to avoid that result. Paragraph after paragraph poured from the filthy prints, lie after lie was studiously repeated, and I am informed, that it was even placarded, with every circumstance of insult that could enter the numscull jobbernouls of their conductors. And why was this done? Had Mr Hook's offence
such damning marks of guilt about it as to call for any particular demonstration of pleasure at its punishment? Not it. For even supposing him to be guilty of what these ruffians charge him with, it would be at most a mere sin of office, and certainly, taken at its worst, not pointed out by anything peculiar from the common herd of such affairs. Many a good Whig fortune is ultimately derivable from peculation, but that is never flung into the face of my Lord Holland, or any other of the worthies. But nobody who knows the man or the transaction suspects him of guilt. There must then be something personal in the rancour against Hook: and that is neither more nor less than that he is supposed to be a chief writer in John Bull. This is the real reason whyTie is persecuted by people in office, and abused by scoundrels out of it.
Whether Hook is John Bull or not, I cannot say. He denies it; but in this unbelieving age denials of such things go for nothing. John Wilson Croker was suspected; he too denied it; so did Luttrel; so did Horace Twiss; and perhaps we shall by and by have a flat negative from Joseph Grimaldi, or Joseph Hume. But, admitting the fact, what is the particular sin in conducting the Bull? It abuses its political opponents right and left, but I submit that is no more than what is done by every clever newspaper on every side of the question: I never heard of a Tory who would feel any satisfaction on learning that any unpolitical calamity had befallen James Perry, or William Cobbett. The darling fellows who bawl against it, talk with faces of brass of the peculiar cruelty of its observations defamatory to female reputation. Gentle and chivalrous souls! Is it not enough to make a man's gorge rise to hear such undefecated humbug? Female reputation indeed! John Bull had the courage to oppose the rabid faction which advocated the unfortunate Queen, and to display her, and those who were linked with her, in true colours, to the indignation of the chaste and virtuous. You might as well reprobate the Roman historians for painting Messalina, as the John Bull for exposing Caroline. And who are they who make the charge? The Whigs—the men whose poetical organ is Tom Moore, the author of the
Leittrs of Timothy Tickler, Esq. No. XIII.
Twopenny Postbag, (whose public defalcation, by the way, they never allude to)—and whose most favourite laureate was Wolcot, the author of the Lousiad. From these clever lampooners, for clever they are, in spite of their filth and venom, we could extract hundreds of passages hurtful to female character, slanderous to female reputation, and irritating to female feelings. I pass by the scores of inferior libellers in Whig pay. They indeed to talk of slander! No, no; the real reason of the hatred against Bull is not such nonsense as this. Its true crime is its wit, its keen satire, by which it has prostrated the blackguards of the Whig press, demolished the projected Queen s Court, covered the party everywhere with ridicule, and pufan end to those bloody farces, "public meetings for constitutional purposes." For this, Hook is hated by the gang, and out of the blessed principle of Conciliation, which is doing such sad mischief in matters of infinitely higher moment, sacrificed by those whose most vital interests the publication supposed to be his has served in the highest.
Such has been the extent of misrepresentation on the subject, that I venture to say, not one in a thousand who speak about it, knows exactly how the thing is. The common impression fostered by the pot-house paper is, that Hook robbed the treasury committed to his care of £12,000; that, in fact, he thrust his hand into the chest, abstracted that sum, and put it coolly into his pocket. Nothing can be more directly contrary to the fact. In a few words I shall give you Hook's real case, and then trouble you with some remarks on the business. Here are the facts.
Mr Hook's chief confidential clerk, whose duty it was to make up the Treasury accounts of the Mauritius, made up those of November 1816 with an error of £9000 in them ; notwithstanding which, they were audited, and had been passed correct for two years. In the meantime he delivered over the Treasury to a new governor, and received a certificate, which is published in the parliamentary papers on the subject, from five principal officers of government, attesting its correctness, and giving him, under their hands, a discharge/or the entire balance. Three months after this, the chief clerk who,
two years before, had made the error, reported it himself to government— the error having given, of course, opportunity in the interim, to anybody who was aware of it, to have abstracted the amount in money, at the time of the transfer. An investigation of the affair was ordered; on the second day of which, that confidential clerk destroyed himself, without giving any clue as to the fate of the money. He could not, in fact, stand the investigation. For this, Mr Hook is now in prison.
Nay more, so far is his case from being fairly understood, that almost everybody who thinks of it, supposes that the sum for which he has been arrested, is the amount of the deficiency in his chest—and yet it is no such thing.—The sum for which he is a defendant at the suit of the crown, is made up, besides the amount of the deficiency, of charges under different acts of Parliament, on the ground that he did not make the best bargains for Government in sales of bills, and that he was not sufficiently careful in the issue of specie, which he made against paper, or local arrangements,—and other details which would not be interesting to you, or your readers, and with which I suppose we shall be regaled in due time from his own pen. I allude to them, merely to shew that he has been most studiously misrepresented, and most determinatcly misunderstood.
Why, it may be asked, do I, living here, in this auld-warld neuk, give myself the trouble of defending a man whom I never saw, and whom, in all probability, I never shall see? or what is there in his arrest, which ought to call forth our attention? I shall just tell you. I do not care a fig's end for Hook—but I do care for the intense plucklessness of our party. It makes me perfectly indignant, at times, when I think of the courage with which the Whigs have at all times patronized their men, and the cowardice generally displayed by our Tory chieftains. I shall not go back to Sir R. Walpole, for the management of his Whiggish sovereignty would be too gross and palpable for our times. But look at what they did, when they had last a glimpse of authority. They gave a place to Moore, their lampoon-man— to Hallam, their greatBalaamite—they posted Sidney Smith, their jack-pudding parson—in fact, everybody who could write a libel for them, or who had ever wielded a pen in their cause, no mattter how obtuse and nebless the tool might have been, was rewarded. On the contrary, it appears to be almost a fixed principle with us, that whenever a man does anything for the cause of Toryism, he is to be immediately given up—he is looked upon as a sort of thing of course, and left to battle with his adversaries, not only without the countenance of the great Tory leaders, but under a studious withdrawing of their support. I must say, that they order these things better among the Whigs.*
Let me not be so misunderstood for a moment as to be thought to be praying for patronage. I despise such a thought from the bottom of my soul. We know, North, how little of that kind of thing we, for instance, either looked for or received. Thank Heaven, the general strength of Toryism just now is so great, that we are independent of the smiles or the frowns of any knot of ministerial people, whom we puff or abuse as we please. But I must say, that it is not fair, that because a man has been active, or has been suspected of being active in their behalf, he should be conciliated away —that he should suffer harder treatment than anybody else, out of mere candour and official deference to opponents. Now here is a case, in which a gentleman, whom nobody at all accuses of dishonourable proceedings,— whose affairs admit of equitable arrangement,—who is labouring under difficulties brought on by the negligence of people under him and over him, is treated with a degree of rigour never exerted against one but the most marked criminal. Extents have been issued against his property, which has been twice seized and sold, and against his person, which has been thirteen or fourteen months in confinement in one prison or other. All the little malice of an underling board has been exerted against him, instigated by political enemies, who hate him for his suspected support of ministers; while people
in authority calmly look on, and content themselves with saying, " A very hard case this of Hook's. We wish him out of it; but, you know, it would not look well for us to interfere."— Why ?—The answer is at hand. "Because we should be afraid that, if we did, it would besaid, we did so on account of his supposed connection with John Bull;"—and there is the plucklessness of which I complain, and which is the reason of my writing you this letter.
This sneaking cowardice our ministerial men carry into a thousand departments. As I have often said, it is a sin not visible among the Whigs. Had they a John Bull among them, they would boldly stand by him for his writings in their behalf,—not affect to cut him in his difficulties. I wish we could borrow this leaf out of their book; not that I wish for any undue support for our literary people, but that the mere fact of their being for us should not deprive them of common justice. 1 hope Hook's business will make its appearance before Parliament this approaching session, and, when there, that it will be fairly met by ministers. Among them, there is at least one man who ought to take the courage of speaking up,—I mean George Canning. The editor of the Antijacobin ought not to look on it as a crime unpardonable to be accused (for it comes to that) of writing the John Bull.
Loves, compliments, &c. in all quarters where they are due. Yours, T. Tickler.
P. S.—I hope you are above the silliness of declining to print my letter. There will be, of course, the usual trashery of a fellow-feeling for John Bull,—or, it may be said, that I have written this to oblige Hook,—or, in fact, what the jack-asses about you are always braying about. But never mind that. You know why I have written it; and you know that is what I have been in the habit of saying for a very long time.
• There was a fine story lately in the Morning Chronicle, given on occasion of Lord Erskine's death.—It represented him as leaving the woolsack when Chancellor of England!!! and walking to the bar of the House of Lords!!! on purpose to tell Jemmy Pirie that he (the Chancellor) had that morning given a living in the Church of England!!! to one of his (Jemmy's) worn-out hacks of reporters!!! This anecdote should never be forgotten.
ONCE MOKE IN LONDON.
Landimum cognomento quidera colonise nan insigne!!
rum et commeatuum maxime celebre.
The taking up of old and interrupted local associations, is generally attended, in consequence of the mere lapse of time, and the ordinary effects of that circumstance, with more pain than pleasure; the revival of acquaintance, even with his own country, is to an Englishman rather striking than agreeable, as far as all external circumstances are concerned. The advantages of England do not present themselves in relief, even to ourselves; they all lie below the surface; we are compelled to look for them, to insinuate ourselves anew into them, and to accede, in a variety of ways, at first disagreeable, to the conditions annexed to them. Our society (though we only find it out by comparison) is all stiff, formal, frigid; "se gener," a term so abhorrent to other nations, is inseparable from it: but it is rational and intelligent, although defective in gaiety, and after its own fashion, even polite. One of the very worst forms in which London presents itself, even to a Londoner, is that of the inn, hotel, xenodocheion, khan, or caravansera, to which, (if he have no household gods of his own,) he must repair on his arrival. What then must a Frenchman, or a native of Southern Europe, think of a similar reception ?—The soi-disant coffee-room, stalled off like a stable, with its two or three miserable candles, its sanded floor, its phalanx of empty decanters, and wine glasses full of tooth-picks and wafers, its solitude and its silence! To such a place was I obliged to betake myself, after a first and a long absence, which had cancelled abundance of national prejudices, and impaired the power of accommodating to the habits I was about to resume. The newspapers, those polyglott versions of the infinitely diversified events, accidents, crimes, punishments, and contingencies of an enormous metropolis, for a single day, were the only resource. But their interest was lost to me, and after listening a-while to the ticking of the dial, and making many a fretful glance at the coffee-house system of Naples, Venice, and Paris, I abruptly summoned the chambermaid, and followed her to the cell to which she had destined me for the night. One advan
ed copia negotiatoTacit. Annal. xiv. 3a tage, indeed, there was in this ambitious apartment, that if a fire should take place in the better frequented floors of this immense barrack, " ourselves" and the pigeons would probably be the longest survivors.
"Ultimus ardebit quern tegula sola tuctur A pluvia, mollcs ubi reddunt ova coliuubffi."
The balance between sleep and watching is often very nicely poised. In the present instance, it was quickly turned in favour of the latter, by the novelty of my position, and a swarm of accumulating recollections. At last came the dawn, and with it the consciousness (more luxurious than sleep itself) of going to sleep—the night servants were all snoring, the coach office itself was hush'd, not a hoof was yet heard on the silex below, nor other sound than that of a restless fidgetty horse taking a snatch or two of hay at unseasonable hours, when long before a sparrow thought it worth his while to chirp at the window, a little demon emerged from a neighbouring chimney, and uttered the dolorous cry of his miserable trade! I never curse a chimney sweeper, though a good curser in my own way, however unseasonably he visits me, chiefly, I believe, because he is a child, and of all children the most luckless: "Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb .'"—I betook myself, therefore, to the more innocent employment of musing on other visitings of aerial voices that I had chanced to hear. There was the hymn by the little choristers from the top of Magdalen tower, on the first of May, at four o'clock in the morning—" O mihi praeteritos referet si Jupiterannos!"—One could easily dispense with a night's rest inlthose days!—( You,my very dear Oxford reader, should not neglect to assist for once at this ancient and touching piece of monastic devotion; you may afterwards walk up Heddington hill, and be back in plenty time for chapel, or, what you care more about, for breakfast.) To this succeeded another propitious recollection: namely, my first expergefaction at Farsa (Pharsalia;) there was a tall minaret just above my window: a thin silvery voice awoke me on the the most delightful of autumnal mornings. It was directed toward Mecca, and it spoke of Universal Allah, and of prayer! Unfortunately this last reflection (when a man begins to reflect, there is no knowing where it will end) suggested another—I had begun to think of writing about my travels, and this made all farther expostulations with sleep useless; for, except a bad conscience, nothing is so fatal to that best gift of the gods, as projected or progressive authorship. What would not one sometimes give, during these unwelcome vigils, for a candle and a pencil? In the morning, either the thought is gone, or the curiosa felicitas of expression, in which you had finally embalmed it, cannot be recovered ] That the author, whether of books or mischief, can contrive to sleep at all, is indeed a marvel!" L'auteur de tant de maux connoit done le sommeil?" Gentle reader, read Mots—meopericulo, as Bentley says.
The first morning of one's return ^</i)» w w«6T|<3« yaw, has plenty of occupation—Lodgings to be procured, a matter of very grave consideration, and not always, where so many pugnantia secumpoints are to be reconciled, of very facile accomplishment — per varios casus, tendemus in Latium— quarters at once genteel, quiet, airy, cheerful, sunny, economical; not too near one's tailor, (you have perhaps just stumbled on his last year's bill, with all its array of blue coats no longer in existence:) hie labor, hoc opus est! The night coaches and mails were now trundling in, and the morning ones rattling out; (I like to avail myself of improvements in language.) Those vast cinerary urns, the dust-carts, equipped with bell, basket, and ladder, and huge as the soros of an Egyptian king, were collecting their morning offerings of dust, and ashes, and other penitential exuvice; all sufficient intimations, that, for a man who had his lodgings to seek, it was not quite time to rise.
I hate bells: I hate all bells whatever, except sheep-bells; even muffin-bells find no favour in my sight; and I therefore hold in particular abhorrence that consecrated barbarian, Urbanus VIII., who, not content with the spoliation of the Pantheon ofallthebronzeof Agrippa, as a sort of u&ra-barbarism, caused it to be made into what he calls "sacra tympana." How glad I am, therefore,
that in the order and economy of human affairs, my visit to Rome was postponed till those horrid fellows, the Corybantes, (who used to run about clashing cymbals, and making other hideous noises,) were as dead as Constantine. Indeed, I hate noise of all kinds, where the elements of it can be distinguished; where these are blended into one grand and imposing composition—one magnificent diapason— as in the great streets of London or Naples, one's ear drinks in the harmony of the great wave of sound with a pleasure analogous to that which the eye derives from examining complicated machinery, or even from the sight of multitudes going we know not whither, and coming we care not whence. But, in the small quiet streets and squares, where the vocal and instrumental parts are directed by the very demon of discord; where tracheas of both sexes, and of all calibres, sustain themselves contentiously among bells, bagpipes, ballad-singers, barrelorgans, clarionets, cod-fish, cabbages, and cat's meat—to say nothing of the rumbling of carts, the rattling of coaches, the jingling of hoops, and the barking of curs, which are merely accompaniments—why the man that is not moved by this concord of sweet sounds, is well deserving of the anathema of Shakespeare. How thankfully does one hear the emphatic double knock of the postman at 12 o'clock, which usually disperses these "diversa monstra ferarum" for the day. Where is the book, in these degenerate times, so amusing, or the occupation so interesting, as to suspend the acute sense of them? The Greeks and Persians,you recollect, were so hard at it, as to lose the agrement of the earthquake that happened during the battle of—I forget which—the story is known. See Herodotus. It is, Scottish reader, or Irish, allow me to inform you, that it is of no use to quit yourlodgings, for these Eumenides stick to your flanks as they did to Orestes; omnibus umbra locis adero; dabis, improbe, pcenas;—of no use to pay or persuade creatures alike inexorable and incorruptible. The only palliative that I know is, to read a canto of the Gierusalemme aloud, or a long passage of the yEneid, in your softest and mellowest tone; (this expedient used to compose Burke when he was ruffled.) Above all things, beware of fiddling or fluting in