« AnteriorContinuar »
you ought to be informed that I have lived long at Eton, and that I have edited “The Etonian;" that I am now bidding farewell to the first, and writing the Epilogue of the other. .
I leave Eton at a peculiarly auspicious time. Her Cricket is very good this year! (I wish we could have liad a meeting with Harrow, but Diis aliter visum est), and her Boats are unusually well manned, and there are in her ranks more youths of five-feetten, than I have seen for a long time. She has also just effected the establishment of a Public Library ; which has been so spiritedly supported by our Alumni themselves, and by the Friends of the School, that it is already rising into importance. And, thanks to the exertions of many who have been our Friends, and a few of our Correspondents, she maintains a high ground at the Universities. I am bound for Cambridge myself; but this is nothing at all to concern you, inasmuch as I do not mean to Edite a " Cantab.”
I resign my office too at a propitious moment, before time has quelled the enthusiasm with which it was entered upon, before warmth and impetuosity have yielded to weariness and disgust. My Spirits are still upabated, my Friends are still untired, and you, my Public, are still kind! I might have waited to experience the sinking of the first, the anger of the second, and alas! the fickleness of the third. It is well that I stop in time. .
I have two drawers of my bureau filled, almost to bursting, with divers Manuscripts; I am afraid to open either of them, lest somebody passionate, or somebody stupid, or somebody wearisome, should stare me in the face. Of these compositions, my pages witness against me that I have promised insertion to many, and my conscience witnesses against me that I ought to have given insertion to many more. I don't know what to do with them. I have some thoughts of sending them to my Publisher's in a lump, or bequeathing them as a Legacy to my successors. I believe, however, my better plan may be to put them up to Auction. Amongst the numerous Authors, great and small, good and bad, who are at the present day wasting their pen, ink, paper, and time, in “ doing honour to Eton," I cannot but think that some of my Literary Treasures would fetch a pretty good price. There are all the articles, of which we have at various times given notice; some of which I know our Readers are dying to see. But these form but a trifling part of the heap; I will subjoin a few specimens of my wares, but Catalogues shall, of course, be printed, previous to the Sale.
Several “ Reminiscences ” _very useful for writers who wish to recollect what never occurred.
A few “ Visions,” “ Musings," " Odes," &c. a great bargain
to any young person who wants to be interesting, or unintelligible.
“ Edmund Ironside," an Old English Tale, in the style of “ The Knight and the Knave," very valuable,-in consequence of « The Quarterly's" hint about « Ivanhoe." :: 6. Thoughts on the Coronation,” to be had for a trifle, as the article is a common one, and will not keep. -- A great many “ Classical Tales,” strongly recommended to those Authors who are not learned, and wish to be thought so.
A large bundle of “ Notices to Correspondents," admirably adapted to the use of those who have none.
A Portfolio of Cursory Hints, Remarks, Puns, Introductory Observations, Windings-up, &c. &c. &c. capable of serving any purpose to which the Purchaser likes to put them. :. With such a Repository, it will be evident, that, if the Fates were willing that I should proceed in my undertaking, I should be in no want of support. This, however, is not the decree, of the Destinies; I must go, and like him who
« Oft fitted the halter, oft traversed the cart,
And often took leave, but seemed loth to depart."
I continue to say to you, I am “ going, going, going," while you methinks are waiting with the uplifted hammer, impatient to pronounce me “gone!”
Everybody, who wishes to do any thing worthy of record, is anxious to know what will be said of him after his decease. I am thinking what will be said of me, after my literary death. - I fancy to myself a knot of Ladies, busy with their Loo and Scandal. The Tenth, the last Number of “ The Etonian” is brought upon the carpet, and every one flies at Peregrine in the flirting of a fan. “ So he's gone, is he? Well, it's time he should; he was getting sadly tiresome;"_" and so satirical;”“ and so learned;"_"as for all his Greek, I'm sure it must be very bad, for Lord St. Luke can't construe me a word of it, and he was three years at Oxford ;"_" and that abominable · Certain Age!'”_" and that odious Windsor Ball!' "_" Oh! positively we can never forgive the “Windsor Ball !! I have not bought a copy since!”-Pray be quiet, Ladies; I never meant one of you, -never, on the word of an Editor! Howbeit, if the cap fits you know what I would say, though politeness shall leave it unsaid.
Then I picture to my mind a set of sober critics taking my reputation to pieces, as easily as you would crack a' walnut. “ Peregrine Gourtenay ?-ay! he was a silly, laughing, fellow; he had some spirit ; yes, and a tolerable rhyme now and then ;but he had no sense, no solidity; he was all froth, all evaporation. He was like the wine'we are drinking-he had no body!-“where did you get this wine, Mr. Matthew ?”—and so I am dismissed.
Then I begin to think of what is much more interesting to me. What will be the talk of my schoolfellows ? I fancy that I hear their censures, and their praises not sparingly bestowed! I fancy that I am already taken up with kindness, 'or laid down with a shrug !“ « The Etonian!! oh! the last Number is out, is it? How does it sell? Some of it was good, but I wish they had had less of their balaam, as they call it! and then all the punch was low, horribly low; and all that slang about the Club!-- and that foolish picture on the cover !—and then the puffing, and the puns! For my part, I never saw a grain of wit in it,--and the sense was in a still less proportion In short it was bad, oh! very bad ! but, I don't know how, it certainly did amuse one, too !”; . -
Such are the sounds which haunt my imagination in my leavetaking. And ever and anon, I put my prayer to the Goddess with the brazen trumpet, who proclaims the titles and the exploits of great men. “ Fame, Fame, when I am removed from the scene of my exertions, let me not be quite forgotten! let me be talked of with praise, or let me be talked of with censure; but let me, at all events, be talked of! Whether I be remembered with pardon, or with condemnation, I care little, --so that I be only remembered.”
I wish all manner of success and prosperity to the Members of the Club, my affectionate Coadjutors. Mr. Sterling, I have no doubt, will make an exemplary Vicar, and Mr. Lozell will do, · excellent well, to say his Amen. Mr. Musgrave will be a capital
Whip, unless he breaks his neck in the training; and Sir Francis Wentworth will probably rise to great honours and emoluments, when the Whigs come in. Golightly will die with a jest in his mouth, and a glass in his hand. Bellamy will live with elegance in his manners and love in his eye. · Oakley will be a spiteful critic; and Swinburne an erudite Commentator. As for Gerard, he will go forward on his own path to eminence, destined to shine in a nobler arena than that of a Schoolboy's Periodical, and to enjoy more worthy applauses than those of Peregrine Courtenay.
And I, my dear Public, shall walk. up the Hill of Life as steadily as I can, and as prosperously as I may. For the present I have wiped my pen, and given a Holiday to the Devils; but if, at any future period, I should, in my bounty, give to your inspection a Political Pamphlet, or a Treatise on Law, a Farce or a Tragedy, a Speech or a Sermon, I trust that you will have a respect for the name of Peregrine Courtenay, and be as ready with your Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, as I have always hitherto found you. .. One word more. I have been much solicited to have my own Effigies stuck in the front of my work, done in an Editorial Attitude, with a Writing-desk before me, and a Pen behind my Ear : and I am aware that this is the custom of many Gentlemen whom I might be proud to imitate. Mr. Canning figures in front of “ The Microcosm," and Dr. Peter Morris presents his goodly Physiognomy in the vanguard of “ Peter's Letters." And I know what has often before been remarked, that when the Public sit down to the perusal of a work, it imports them much to be convinced whether the Writer thereof be plump or spare, fair or dark, of an open or a meditative countenance. Would any one feel an interest in the fate of Tom Thumb, who did not see a representation of the Hero courting inspection, and claiming, as it were, in propriâ personâ, the applause to which his exploits entitle him ?. Would any one shudder with horror at the perilous Adventures of Munchausen, who could not count the scars with which they are engraven on the Baron's Physiognomy? In opposition to these weighty, considerations, I have two motivés which forcibly impel me to adopt a contrary line of conduct. In the first place, I am, ás is known to all my acquaintance, most outrageously modest. I have been so from my cradle. Before I ever entered upon a Public capacity, a few copies of a Caricature came down to our Eton Bookseller, one of which contained a figure of a starved Poet. One of my friends carelessly discovered a resemblance between the said starved Poet and your humble Servant, the consequence of which was that your humble Servant bought up, at no inconsiderable expense, all the copies of the said Print, and committed them to the Flames. And now, if I were to see my own features prefixed to my own writings'; if I were to imagine to myself your curiosity, my Public, criticising expression of countenance, as well as expression of thought, and lines of face as well as lines of metre, I could not endure it-I should faint ! yes! I should positively faint!
I have another reason-another very momentous one! I once heard a Lady criticising the “ Lines to " How beautiful were the Criticisms! and how beautiful was the Critic! I would have given the riches of Mexico for such a Review, and such a Reviewer! But to proceed with my story ;-thus were the remarks wound up :-“ Now do, Mr. Courtenay, tell me who is the Author !—what an interesting-looking man he must be!”
From that moment I have been enwrapt in most delightful daydreams. I have constantly said to myself, “ Peregrine, perhaps
at this moment bright eyes are looking on your effusion; and sweet voices are saying, “ What a pretty young man Mr. Courtenay must be!”—And shall I publish my Picture, and give them
the lie ?-Oh, no! I will preserve to them the charity of their · conjectures, and to myself the comfort of their opinion.
And now what rests for me, but to express my gratitude to all, who have assisted me by their advice or their support, and to beg, that if, in discharging my part to the best of my abilities, it has been my misfortune to give offence to any one of them, he will believe that I sinned not intentionally, and forgive me as well as he can ?
I have also to return thanks to many Gentlemen who have honoured me by marks of individual kindness. It would be painful to me to leave this spot without assuring them, that in all places, and under all circumstances, I shall have a lively recollection of the attention they have shown me, and the interest they have expressed in my success. . .
But most of all, I have to speak my feelings to Him, who, at my earnest solicitations, undertook to bear an equal portion of my fatigues and my responsibility,—to Him, who has performed so diligently the labours which he entered upon so reluctantly,--to Him who has been the constant companion of my hopes and fears—my good and ill fortune,-to Him, who, by the assiduity of his own attention, and the Genius of the Contributors whose good offices he secured, has ensured the success of “ The Etonian!”.
I began this Letter in a light and jesting vein, but I find that I cannot keep it up. My departure from Eton and “ The Etonian” is really too serious a business for a jest or a gibe. I have felt my spirits sinking by little and little, until I have become downright melancholy, : I shall make haste, therefore, to come to a conclusion. I have done, and I subscribe myself (for the last time),
My dear Public,