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gising highly the talents, wit, and learning, of its editor, Captain Shandon. It was his maxim never to lose the support of a newspaper man, and in the course of that evening, he went round and saluted every literary gentleman present with a privy compliment specially addressed to him; informing this one how great an impression had been made in Downing Street by his last article, and telling that one how profoundly his good friend, the Duke of So and So, had been struck by the ability of the late numbers.
The evening came to a close, and in spite of all the precautions to the contrary, poor Shandon reeled in his walk, and went home to his new lodgings, with his faithful wife by his side, and the cabman on his box jeering at him. Wenham had a chariot of his own, which he put at Popjoy's seat; and the timid Miss Bunion seeing Mr. Wagg, who was her neighbour, about to depart, insisted upon a seat in his carriage, much to that gentleman's discomfiture.
Pen and Warrington walked home together in the moonlight. "And now," Warrington said, "that you have seen the men of letters, tell me, was I far wrong in saying that there are thousands of people in this town, who don't write books, who are, to the full, as clever and intellectual as people who do?"
Pen was forced to confess that the literary personages with whom he had become acquainted had not said much, in the course of the night's conversation, that was worthy to be remembered or quoted. In fact, not one word about literature had been said during the whole course of the night-and it may be whispered to those uninitiated people who are anxious to know the habits and make the acquaintance of men of letters, that there are no race of people who talk about books, or, perhaps, who read books, so little as literary men.
THE PALL MALL GAZETTE. CONSIDERABLE success at first attended the new journal. It was generally stated,
that an influential political party sup ported the paper; and great names were cited amongst the contributors to its columns. Was there any foundation for these rumours? We are not at liberty to say whether they were well or ill founded; but this much we may divulge, that an article upon foreign policy, which was generally attributed to a noble Lord, whose connexion with the Foreign Office is very well known, was in reality composed by Captain Shandon, in the parlour of the Bear and Staff publichouse near Whitehall Stairs, whither the printer's boy had tracked him, and where a literary ally of his, Mr. Bludyer, had a temporary residence; and that a series of papers on finance questions, which were universally supposed to be written by a great Statesman of the House of Commons, were in reality composed by Mr. George Warrington of the Upper Temple.
That there may have been some dealings between the "Pall-Mall Gazette" and this influential party, is very possi ble. Percy Popjoy, (whose father, Lord Falconet, was a member of the party) might be seen not unfrequently ascending the stairs to Warrington's chambers; and some information appeared in the paper which gave it a character, and could only be got from very peculiar sources. Several poems, feeble in thought, but loud and vigorous in expression, appeared in the "Pall-Mall Gazette," with the signature of "P. P."; and it must be owned that his novel was praised in the new journal in a very outrageous manner.
In the political department of the pa. per Mr. Pen did not take any share; but he was a most active literary contributor. The "Pall-Mall Gazette" had its offices, as we have heard, in Catharine Street, in the Strand, and hither Pen often came with his manuscripts in his pocket, and with a great deal of bustle and pleasure; such as a man feels at the outset of his literary career, when to see himself in print is still a novel sensation, and he yet pleases himself to think that his writings are creating some noise in the world.
Here it was that Mr. Jack Finucane, the sub-editor, compiled with paste and
scissors the journal of which he was supervisor. With an eagle eye he scanned all the paragraphs of all the newspapers which had anything to do with the world of fashion over which he presided. He didn't let a death or a dinner-party of the aristocracy pass without having the event recorded in the columns of his journal; and from the most recondite provincial prints, and distant Scotch and Irish newspapers, he fished out astonishing paragraphs and intelligence regarding the upper classes of society. It was a grand, nay, a touching sight, for a philosopher, to see Jack Finucane, Esquire, with a plate of meat from the cookshop, and a glass of porter from the public-house, for his meal, recounting the feasts of the great, as if he had been present at them; and in tattered trowsers and dingy shirt sleeves, cheerfully describing and arranging the most brilliant fetes of the world of fashion. The incongruity of Finucane's avocation, and his manners and appearance, amused his new friend Pen. Since he left his own native village, where his rank probably was not very lofty, Jack had seldom seen any society but such as used the parlour of the taverns which he frequented, whereas from his writing you would have supposed that he dined with ambassadors, and that his common lounge was the bow-window of White's. Errors of description, it is true, occasionally slipped from his pen; but the "Ballinafed Sentinel," of which he was own correspondent, suffered by these, not the
Pall-Mall Gazette," in which Jack was not permitted to write much, his London chiefs thinking that the scissors and the paste were better wielded by him than the pen.
Pen took a great deal of pains with the writing of his reviews, and having a pretty fair share of desultory reading, acquired in the early years of his life, an eager fancy and a keen sense of fun, his articles pleased his chief and the public, and he was proud to think that he deserved the money which he earned. We may be sure that the "Pall-Mall Gazette" was taken in regularly at Fairoaks, and read with delight by the two ladies there. It was received at Clavering Park, too, where we know there
was a young lady of great literary tastes; and old Doctor Portman himself, to whom the widow sent her paper after she had got her son's articles by heart, signified his approval of Pen's productions, saying that the lad had spirit, taste, and fancy, and wrote, if not like a scholar, at any rate like a gentleman.
And what was the astonishment and delight of our friend Major Pendennis, on walking into one of his clubs, the Regent, where Wenham, Lord Falconet, and some other gentlemen of good reputation and fashion were assembled, to hear them one day talking over a number of the "Pall-Mall Gazette," and of an article which appeared in its columns, making some bitter fun of a book recently published by the wife of a celebrated member of the opposition party. The book in question was a Book of Travels in Spain and Italy, by the Countess of Muff borough, in which it was difficult to say which was the most wonderful, the French or the English, in which languages her ladyship wrote indifferently, and upon the blunders of which the critic pounced with delighted mischief. The critic was no other than Pen: he jumped and danced round about his subject with the greatest jocularity and high spirits: he showed up the noble lady's faults with admirable mock gravity and decorum. There was not a word in the article which was not polite and gentleman-like; and the unfortunate subject of the criticism was scarified and laughed at during the operation. Wenham's bilious countenance was puckered up with malign pleasure as he read the critique. Lady Muff borough had not asked him to her parties during the last year. Lord Falconet giggled and laughed with all his heart: Lord Muff borough and he had been rivals ever since they began life; and these complimented Major Pendennis, who until now had scarcely paid any attention to some hints which his Fairoaks correspondence threw out of "dear Arthur's constant and severe literary occupations, which I fear may undermine the poor boy's health," and had thought any notice of Mr. Pen and his newspaper connexions quite below his dignity as a Major and a gentle
But when the oracular Wenham praised the boy's production; when Lord Falconet, who had had the news from Percy Popjoy, approved of the genius of young Pen; when the great Lord Steyne himself, to whom the Major referred the article, laughed and sniggered over it, swore it was capital, and that the Muff borough would writhe under it, like a whale under a harpoon, the Major, as in duty bound, began to admire his nephew very much, said, "By gad, the young rascal had some stuff in him, and would do something: he had always said he would do something;" and with a hand quite tremulous with pleasure, the old gentleman_sate down to write to the widow at Fairoaks all that the great folks had said in praise of Pen; and he wrote to the young rascal, too, asking when he would come and eat a chop with his old uncle, and saying that he was commissioned to take him to dinner at Gaunt House, for Lord Steyne liked anybody who could entertain him, whether by his folly, wit, or by his dullness, by his oddity, affectation, good spirits, or any other quality. Pen Aung his letter across the table to Warrington; perhaps he was disappointed that the other did not seem to be much affected by it.
The courage of young critics is prodigious: they clamber up to the judgment seat, and with scarce a hesitation, give their opinion upon works the most intricate or profound. Had Macaulay's History or Herschel's Astronomy been put before Pen at this period, he would have looked through the volumes, meditated his opinion over a cigar, and signified his august approval of either author, as if the critic had been their born superior and indulgent master and patron. By the help of the Biographie Universelle or the British Museum, he would be able to take a rapid resume of a historical period, and allude to names, dates, and facts, in such a masterly, easy way, as to astonish his mamma at home, who wondered where her boy could have acquired such a prodigious store of reading, and himself, too, when he came to read over his articles two or three months after they had been composed, and when he had forgotten the subject and the
books which he had consulted. At that period of his life Mr. Pen owns, that he would not have hesitated at twenty-four hours' notice, to pass an opinion upon the greatest scholars, or to give a judgment upon the Encyclopædia. Luckily he had Warrington to laugh at him and keep down his impertinence by a constant and wholesome ridicule, or he might have become conceited beyond all sufferance; for Shandon liked the dash and flippancy of his young aid-de-camp, and was, indeed, better pleased with Pen's light and brilliant flashes, than with the heavier metal which his elder coadjutor brought to bear.
But though he might justly be blamed on the score of impertinence and a certain prematurity of judgment, Mr. Pen was a perfectly honest critic; a great deal too candid for Mr. Bungay's purposes, indeed, who grumbled sadly at his impartiality. Pen and his chief, the Captain, had a dispute upon this subject one day. "In the name of common sense, Mr. Pendennis," Shandon asked,
what have you been doing-praising one of Mr. Bacon's books? Bungay has been with me in a fury this morning, at seeing a laudatory article upon one of the works of the odious firm over the way.
Pen's eyes opened with wide aston ishment. "Do you mean to say," he asked, "that we are to praise no books that Bacon publishes; or that, if the books are good, we are to say they are bad?"
cause the prospectus was rather declamatory and poetical, and the giant was painted upon the show-board rather larger than the original who was inside the caravan, we need not be too scrupulous about this trifling inaccuracy, but might do our part of the show, without loss of character or remorse of conscience. We are the fiddlers, and play our tunes only; you are the showman.
"And leader of the van, "" said Shandon. "Well, I am glad that your science gave you leave to play for us.
"Yes, but," said Pen, with a fine sense of the dignity of his position, "we are all party men in England, and I will stick to my party like a Briton. I will be as good-natured as you like to our own side; he is a fool who quarrels with his own nest; and I will hit the enemy as hard as you like-but with fair play, Captain, if you please. One can't tell all the truth, I suppose; but one can tell nothing but the truth and I would rather starve, by Jove, and never earn another penny by my pen" (this redoubted instrument had now been in use for some six weeks, and Pen spoke of it with vast enthusiasm and respect) "than strike an opponent an unfair blow, or, if called upon to place him, rank him below his honest desert."
"Well, Mr. Pendennis, when we want Bacon smashed, we must get some other hammer to do it," Shandon said, with fatal good-nature; and very likely thought within himself, "a few years hence perhaps the young gentleman won't be so squeamish.' The veteran Condottiere himself was no longer so scrupulous. He had fought and killed on so many a side for many a year past, that remorse had long left him. "Gad," said he, "you've a tender conscience, Mr. Pendennis. It's the luxury of all novices, and I may have had one once myself; but that sort of bloom wears off with the rubbing of the world, and I'm not going to the trouble myself of putting on an artificial complexion, like our pious friend Wenham, or our model of virtue, Wagg."
"I don't know whether some people's hypocrisy is not better, Captain, than other's cynicism."
"It's more profitable, at any rate," said the Captain, biting his nails. "That Wenham is as dull a quack as ever quacked: and you see the carriage in which he drove to dinner. 'Faith it'll be a long time before Mrs. Shandon I will take a drive in her own chariot. God help her, poor thing!" And Pen went away from his chief, after their little dispute and colloquy, pointing his own moral to the Captain's tale, and thinking to himself "Behold this man, stored with genius, wit, learning, and a hundred good natural gifts: see how he has wrecked them by paltering with his honesty, and forgetting to respect himself. Wilt thou remember thyself, O Pen! thou art conceited enough! Wilt thou sell thy honour for a bottle? No, by Heaven's grace, we will be honest, whatever befals, and our mouths shall only speak the truth when they
A punishment, or, at least, a trial, was in store for Mr. Pen. In the very next Number of the "Pall-Mall Gazette,' Warrington read out, with roars of laughter, an article which by no means amused Arthur Pendennis, who was himself at work with a criticism for the next week's Number of the same journal; and in which the "Spring Annual" was ferociously maltreated by some unknown writer. The person of all most cruelly mauled was Pen himself. His verses had not appeared with his own name in the "Spring Annual," but under an assumed signature. As he had refused to review the book, Shandon had handed it over to Mr. Bludyer, with directions to that author to dispose of it. And he had done so effectually. Mr. Bludyer, who was man of very considerable talent, and of a race which, I believe, is quite extinct in the press of our time, had a certain notoriety in his profession, and reputation for savage humour. He smashed and trampled down the poor spring flowers with no more mercy than a bull would have on a parterre ; and having cut up the volume to his heart's content, went and sold it at a bookstall, and purchased a pint of brandy with the proceeds of the volume.
WHERE PEN APPEARS IN TOWN AND COUNTRY.
LET us be allowed to pass over a few months of the history of Mr. Arthur Pendennis's lifetime, during the which, many events may have occurred which were more interesting and exciting to himself, than they would be likely to prove to the reader of his present memoirs. We left him, in his last chapter, regularly entered upon his business as a professional writer, or literary hack, as Mr. Warrington chooses to style himself and his friend; and we know how the life of any hack, legal or literary, in a curacy, or in a marching regiment, or at a merchant's desk, is dull of routine, and tedious of description. One day's labour resembles another much too closely. A literary man has often to work for his bread against time, or against his will, or in spite of his health, or of his indolence, or of his repugnance to the subject on which he is called to exert himself, just like any other daily toiler. When you want to make money by Pegasus (as he must, perhaps, who has no other saleable property), farewell poetry and ærial flights: Pegasus only rises now like Mr. Green's balloon, at periods advertised before-hand, and when the spectator's money has been paid. Pegasus trots in harness, over the stony pavement, and pulls a cart or a cab behind him. Often Pegasus does his work with panting sides and trembling knees, and not seldom gets a cut of the whip from his driver.
Do not let us, however, be too prodigal of our pity upon Pegasus. There is no reason why this animal should be exempt from labour, or illness, or decay, any more than any of the other creatures of God's world. If he gets the whip, Pegasus very often deserves it, and I for one am quite ready to protest with my friend, George Warrington, against the doctrine which some poetical sympathisers are inclined to put forward, viz., that men of letters, and what is called genius, are to be exempt from the prose duties of this daily, bread-wanting, tax-paying life, and are not to be made to work and pay like their neighbours.
Well then, the "Pall-Mall Gazette' being duly established, and Arthur Pendennis's merits recognised as a flippant, witty, and amusing critic, he worked away hard every week, preparing reviews of such works as came into his department, and writing his reviews with flippancy certainly, but with honesty, and to the best of his power. It might be that a historian of three-score, who had spent a quarter of a century in composing a work of which our you gentleman disposed in the course of a couple of days' reading at the British Museum, was not altogether fairly treated by such a facile critic; or that a poet who had been elaborating sublime sonnets and odes until he thought them fit for the public and for fame, was annoyed by two or three dozen pert lines in Mr. Pen's review, in which the poet's claims were settled by the critic, as if the latter were my lord on the bench, and the author a miserable little suitor trembling before him. The actors at the theatres complained of him wofully, too, and very likely he was too hard upon them. But there was not much harm done after all. It is different now, as we know; but there were so few great historians, or great poets, or great actors, in Pen's time, that scarce any at all came up for judgment before his critical desk. Those who got a little whipping, got what in the main was good for them; not that the judge was any better or wiser than the persons whom he sentenced, or, indeed, ever fancied himself so. Pen had a strong sense of humour and justice, and had not therefore an overweening respect for his own works; besides, he had his friend Warrington at his elbowa terrible critic if the young man was disposed to be conceited, and more savage over Pen than ever he was to those whom he tried at his literary assize.
By these critical labours, and by occasional contributions to leading articles of the journal, when, without wounding his paper, this eminent publicist could conscientiously speak his mind, Mr. Arthur Pendennis gained the sum of four pounds four shillings weekly, and with no small pains and labour. Likewise he furnished Magazines and Re