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authors are and ought to be considered the masters and preceptors of the public, and not vice versâ. That it was so in the days of Orpheus, Linus, and Musæus ; and would be so again, if it were not that writers prove traitors to themselves. That, in particular, in the days of the first of those three great authors just mentioned, audiences appear to have been perfect models of what audiences should be; for though, along with the trees and the rocks and the wild creatures which he drew after him to listen to his strains, some serpents doubtless came to hear his music, it does not appear that any one among them ever lifted up a dissentient voice. They knew what was due to authors in those days. Now every stock and stone turns into a serpent, and has a voice.
That the terms “courteous reader” and “candid auditors,” as having given rise to a false notion in those to whom they were applied, as if they conferred upon them some right, which they cannot have, of exercising their judgments, ought to be utterly banished and exploded.
These are our distinguishing tenets. To keep up the memory of the cause in which we suffered, as the ancients sacrificed a goat, a supposed unhealthy animal, to Æsculapius, on our feast-nights we cut up a goose, an animal typical of the popular voice, to the deities of Candour and Patient Hearing. A zealous member of the society once proposed that we should revive the obsolete luxury of viper-broth; but, the stomachs of some of the company rising at the proposition, we lost the benefit of that highly salutary and antidotal dish.
The privilege of admission to our club is strictly limited to such as have been fairly damned. A piece that has met with ever so little applause, that has but languished its night or two, and then gone out, will never entitle its author to a seat among us. An exception to our usual readiness in conferring this privilege is in the case of a writer, who, having been once condemned, writes again, and becomes candidate for a second martyrdom. Simple damnation we hold to be a merit; but to be twice damned we adjudge infamous. Such a one we utterly reject, and blackball without a hearing :
The common damned shun his society. Hoping that your publication of our regulations may be a means of inviting some more members into our society, I conclude this long letter.
I am, sir, yours,
maonyEAR SIR, I read your account of this C A E unfortunate being, and his forlorn piece Y R of self-history, with that smile of half
KEY B interest which the annals of insignificance excite, till I came to where he says, “I was bound apprentice to Mr. William Bird, an eminent writer, and teacher of languages and mathematics,” &c. ; when I started as one does in the recognition of an old acquaintance in a supposed stranger. This, then, was that Starkey of whom I have heard my sister relate so many pleasing anecdotes; and whom, never having seen, I yet seem almost to remember. For nearly fifty years, she had lost all sight of him ; and, behold! the gentle usher of her youth, grown into an aged beggar, dubbed with an opprobrious title to which he had no pretensions ; an object and a May-game! To what base purposes may we not return! What may not have been the meek creature's sufferings, what his wan
I “Memoirs of the Life of Benjamin Starkey, late of London, but now an inmate of the Freeman's Hospital in Newcastle. Written by himself. With a portrait of the author, and a fac-simile of his handwriting. Printed and sold by William Hall, Great Market, Newcastle.” 1818. 12mo, pp. 14.
derings, before he finally settled down in the comparative comfort of an old hospitaller of the almonry of Newcastle? And is poor Starkey dead ?
I was a scholar of that “eminent writer” that he speaks of; but Starkey had quitted the school about a year before I came to it. Still the odour of his merits had left a fragrancy upon the recollection of the elder pupils. The schoolroom stands where it did, looking into a discoloured, dingy garden in the passage leading from Fetter Lane into Bartlett's Buildings. It is still a school, though the main prop, alas ! has fallen so ingloriously; and bears a Latin inscription over the entrance in the lane, which was unknown in our humbler times. Heaven knows what “languages” were taught in it then! I am sure that neither my sister nor myself brought any out of it but a little of our native English. By “ mathematics,” reader, must be understood “ciphering.” It was, in fact, a humble day-school, at which reading and writing were taught to us boys in the morning ; and the same slender erudition was communicated to the girls, our sisters, &c., in the evening. Now, Starkey presided, under Bird, over both establishments. In my time, Mr. Cook, now or lately a respectable singer and performer at Drury Lane Theatre, and nephew to Mr. Bird, had succeeded to him. I well remember Bird. He was a squat, corpulent, middle-sized man, with something of the gentleman about him, and that peculiar mild tone--especially while he was inflicting punishmentwhich is so much more terrible to children than the angriest looks and gestures. Whippings were not frequent ; but, when they took place, the correction was performed in a private room adjoining, where
we could only hear the plaints, but saw nothing. This heightened the decorum and the solemnity. But the ordinary chastisement was the bastinado, a stroke or two on the palm with that almost obsolete weapon now,-the serule. A ferule was a sort of flat ruler, widened, at the inflicting end, into a shape resembling a pear, but nothing like so sweet, —with a delectable hole in the middle to raise blisters, like a cupping-glass. I have an intense recollection of that disused instrument of torture, and the malignancy, in proportion to the apparent mildness, with which its strokes were applied. The idea of a rod is accompanied with something ludicrous; but by no process can I look back upon this blister-raiser with anything but unmingled horror. To make him look more formidable, --if a pedagogue had need of these heightenings,-Bird wore one of those flowered Indian gowns formerly in use with schoolmasters, the strange figures upon which we used to interpret into hieroglyphics of pain and suffering. But, boyish fears apart, Bird, I believe, was, in the main, a humane and judicious master.
Oh, how I remember our legs wedged into those uncomfortable sloping desks, where we sat elbowing each other; and the injunctions to attain a free hand, unattainable in that position; the first copy I wrote after, with its moral lesson, “ Art improves Nature; "the still earlier pothooks and the hangers, some traces of which I fear may yet be apparent in this manuscript ; the truant looks side-long to the garden, which seemed a mockery of our imprisonment; the prize for best spelling which had almost turned my head, and which, to this day, I cannot reflect upon without a vanity, which I ought to be ashamed of; our little leaden inkstands, not sepa