Page images

Such was the renown and the rights of Bailly to public esteem, that, in calling him to the mayoralty of Paris, the king appeared to wish to give to the nation and its representatives, the most irrefragable guarantee of his adherence to the reforms decreed by the assembly.

* But this homage, which supreme power rendered to talent and virtue, deceived none of those who were acquainted with the poli. tics of courts. To take Bailly from the assembly, to present this first example of fortune to ambitious youth, to cover with the popularity of the mayor, a vast plan of intrigues, and a system of counter-revolution; such were the secret motives of the counsels which swayed the court, and deceived the monarch.

Had he, in fact, the confidence of the court and ministers? The philosopher, by his expressed wishes, his writings, and his immortal presidences, had called reason, truth, and justice, to govern man, and forced the government to recognize the nation's rights.

* To justify Bailly from betraying the cause he had embraced, would be to insult his memory; he might be the tool of an artful court, and the dupe of his own virtues; but he would never be wanting to himself, nor wither the civic laurels with which his brows were crowned. Had he been less simple in his manners, he would have avoided the snare; and the scandal of his execution would not have soiled the cause of liberty.

'All was grand, vast, and sublime, in the conceptions and the discourses of Mirabeau. As a civilian, he was the oracle of reason, the interpreter of nature; as an orator, he armed himself with the thunder of Demosthenes: sometimes, like Cicero, he took possession of all minds and hearts, equally powerful in the art of convincing, as in that of persuading and pleasing. When he ascended the tribune, the intriguer turned pale, and the enemy of his country trembled. What orator appeared more profoundly penetrated with that eternal justice, which alone, in all times, in all places, ought to regulate the fate of nations: that justice which the proudest despots endeavour in vain to stifle, and which even the silence of a people in chains invokes and demands without ceasing. Let us behoid Mirabeau at the fue de Paume, proud of representing the commons, when it was scarcely dared to lisp the name of people,-combating despotism hand to hand: such was Hercules in the cradle, strangling and destroying the serpents of Eurystheus.

• At other times, we have seen him defeat the best-planned intrigues, by one of those terrible expressions, which fell from the tribune like the thunder-bolt from the clouds; fixing, with his eagle eye, the seditious intriguer, stretching towards him an arm which seemed already to reach him, and tear off the mask he wore; and after this sudden tempest, bringing back calm into the assembly, and renewing, without an effort, the thread of a learned and profound discussion.'

The author then goes on, and relates the measure of war to the castle, and peace to the cottage;' which he proves to have been organized at the Palais Royal, by Egalité Orleans, the hero of the faction. 'Orleans,' says he could not flatter himself that he would ever be raised to the throne by the free choice of the people: his detestable reputation left him no other means of ascending it than of intrigue and anarchy. It was opened before him by that horrible way, but his courage was unequal to such a hazardous enterprize. The revolution, plotted by Orleans, was remote as east from west, from that beneficent reform which, according to the plans of wise and virtuous citizens, was hoped to be effected by the mere ascendency of reason and the influence of knowledge;—for, to limit the expenses of the court, reform the vices of administration, and, above all, to abolish tithes, feudal services and privileges; such was, in 1789, the object of the revolution.'

This extract will suffice at once to convey an idea of the author's literary talents, and his profound acquaintance with the history of the events he traces, and the characters of the leading persons of the revolution.

Art IX.-State of Literature and the Fine Arts in Dublin.

[From the New Monthly Magazine.] THERE is no clear evidence existing that letters (with the ex

ception of some theological writings) were cultivated in the city of Dublin prior to the reign of Elizabeth. The reformation was indeed preceded by the dawning of science in some countries of Europe, it was, however, that great event which produced its glorious morning, not only in the countries which embraced its doctrines, but in those which still adhered to the ancient faith. Prior to that era, an university was attempted, more than once, to be founded in the capital; but from the ignorance, the poverty, and the troubles of the times, the attempt always failed. The literature of Dublin then may be deemed coeval with the foundation of Trinity college, and from that time to the present no place in the world has advanced more rapidly in science and the Belles Lettres than the Irish metropolis. Of this there cannot be a more convincing evidence than the many illustrious names which reflect so much honour on their native city, and which, perhaps, no city of the same extent can surpass. Elegant literature and the fine arts require the fostering protection of the sovereign or the gove ernment, and the patronage of the nobility and the opulent to cause them to flourish; without such support they are found rarely to attain any degree of perfection in a provincial capital, and truth compels us to state, that not only have they declined most perceptibly in Dublin since the union, but the very taste and inclination for them are deteriorated.

When Dublin possessed a parliament, it had also a press of its own. Its acts and debates awakened the literature of the law and the university, and party views, and political interests, excited the attention of, and imparted a literary impulse to the public. Elo

quence was not confined within the walls of the parliament-house, it embellished the courts of law, and enlivened the university, whilst the weapons of wit and satire were wielded with effect and dexterity by all parties. Now, the lively tumult is at rest, and all is secret or silent, as in a Turkish divan.

As the copy-right of books was confined to Great Britain, the reprinting of smaller and cheaper editions became a considerable branch of trade in Dublin, and many works respectable for their execution and correctness, thus republished, were exported to America, and to other countries. Whilst the act of union was still pending, application was made by petition to the Irish Parliament to secure to the Irish printers a continuance of that right so advantageous to the Irish press; but by the neglect or mismanagement of those who were to conduct the petition, it was lost, and nothing here was effected.* Meanwhile the English printers availed themselves immediately and effectually of the act of union. Under the plausible pretence of securing to the Irish publisher the benefit of the copy-right, the English act was extended to Ireland, which secured indeed a nominal right, that they well knew would be wholly unavailable in competition with the trade at London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Thus have the Dublin booksellers ceased to be publishers by act of Parliament, and must be content to be the agents of those of London.

Besides the injury the trade has sustained, great numbers who formerly were in the habits of reading are by this act interdicted from doing so, as the books which once, by their comparative cheapness, were within their means of purchasing, cannot be procured. The printing business is therefore confined to devotional and moral tracts, which are paid for by charitable societies for gratuitous distribution—to printing hand-bills and play-bills-to some half dozen newspapers, which are by no means remarkable, and to one or two very middling magazines, which can scarcely maintain an ephemeral existence.

Pue's Occurrences was the first newspaper ever established in Dublin; it commenced in the year 1700, and was so called from the proprietor who conducted it. It maintained itself for more than

half a century.

* While the act of union was in progress, the booksellers of Dublin prepared a petition to parliament to secure their rights, and prayed to be heard by counsel upon the subject. To conduct the petition and defray the expen-e, a subscription was entered into by the booksellers, and some gentlemen eminent at the bar were feed for the purpose. It happened by some accident that the petition was not heard on the night appointed, and it stood over for another. When it was to come on the lawyers were called on, but they refused to attend without a retaining fee. The subscriptions were exhausted, and they actually sat in the parlour of a house in College Green, opposite the parliainent house, while the proprietor went out to collect freshevbscriptions; but before this could be eflected parliament was up, and no subsequent opporiunily occurred till its final dis.


[blocks in formation]

Faulkner's Journal was established by the celebrated bookseller of that name in 1728, and displayed in its composition that honest blundering simplicity so conspicuous in the character of the man. The sheet was remarkable for the paleness of the ink, and the darkness of the paper; and the peculiarities of the style have been happily imitated on several occasions, of which the following is a specimen: 'House of Industry first contrived by Mr. Ben. Houghton, weaver, and several other worthy clergymen, for taking up cripples that lie in the street, folks without legs that stand in corners, and such like vagrants. We have the pleasure to hear, that all ballad-singers, blind-harpers, hackball, and many other nefarious old women, are in there already.' It was afterwards conducted with ability and party spirit. It has recently been re-established on new principles.

Freeman's Journal came out in 1763. It was established by a committee for conducting a free press, and assumed as its emblem and motto, ‘The Wreath or the Rod.' In this first appeared several of the essays afterwards collected and published in ‘Barataria, and which evinced a spirit and energy not inferior to Junius. It afterwards was edited by a person called the “Sham Squire,' and degenerated. It has within some years, however, revived, and regained some of its original spirit.

The Hibernian Journal was established in 1771, and, like the former, conducted by a committee for a free press. The fate of Mills, its first printer, is characteristic of the summary mode of proceeding at that time in Dublin. Some of the numbers of the

Pranceriana' first appeared in that paper, and it became the organ of attack by one party of the college on another. On a dark evening in February a coach drove up to the printer's door in Dame-street, to which he was called out, and while he was talking to those in the inside, he was pushed in by some one behind, and immediately carried to the college pump, which then stood in the middle of the front court, and almost suffocated. A reward was offered by the common council, and a scholar of the house, who was concerned, was admonished by the board. The printer is thus noticed in the admonition, which was the production of the celebrated Dr. Leland: ‘Cum constet scholarium ignotorum cætum injuriam admovisse in typographum quendam famosum nomine Mills, qui nefariis flagitiis nobiliora quæque Collegii membra in chartis suis lacessiverat,' &c.

The Morning Post was also called the Dalkey Gazette. A convivial society some years ago existed in Dublin, who periodically assembled at the island of Dalkey, and elected a king and other officers of state. A column of this paper was always devoted to their proceedings, which were then interesting, as the society comprised a number of respectable citizens. The last monarch was a bookseller of the name of Armitage, who was always called King Stephen.'

The Volunteer Evening Post was established about the year 1780, and its fate displays a lively trait of the temper of those times.

The spirit of opposition to the then government was so strong, that no Irish printer could be found to compose a paragraph in its favour against the popular cause. Government was therefore obliged to send a press and printers from England for this purpose; but it required some management to establish it. It first assumed a popular name, and professed to take a warm part on that side. To increase the deception, the portrait of a volunteer in full uniform was exhibited every night in an illuminated transparency, and a prize medal was proposed and given by the editors for the best poetical composition on the Volunteer Institution, and every thing was practised, and with great success. to complete the deception. At length the secret transpired, and the mob proceeded to take summary vengeance. The editor escaped, but the printer was dragged to the Tenter fields, and tarred and feathered. But the most extraordinary proceeding was that of the counties of Ireland, some of which actually came forward with resolutions, that the paper was established on fallacious principles, and for the wicked purpose of putting down the Volunteer Institution, they therefore conjured their countrymen not to read it. The effect of this prohibition of a literary work was as singular as the cause. It was fatal to the newspaper, no one was found to purchase it, and the editors returned to England after three years' fruitless effort.

The Press was established in the year 1797, and was conducted with an energy and ability too successful at that perilous period. The first conductor had been convicted of a libel on lord Camden, and the celebrated Arthur O'Conner became the avowed editor. The

paper was suppressed by the military a short time previous to the rebellion. The essays and other pieces contained in it were published in one volume, with the imprint of London, under the name of The Beauties of the Press,' and afterwards circulated in Dublin.

The Baratariana appeared in 1770. It was a keen and vigorous attack on the administration of lord Townshend in this country, and conducted with great ability.

The Anthologia Hibernica commenced in the year 1793, and was strictly a national work devoted to the antiquities and literature of Ireland. All the literary men resident in the kingdom contributed to the undertaking, and it was a valuable repository of ingenious essays and learned communications. Political discussion, however, soon superseded every other, and this excellent periodical work expired in two years, as several others had before, in the distractions of the country:

The Union Star. This atrocious composition appeared in the year 1797. It was published at irregular intervals, printed only on one side, and was secretly posted during the night in the most conspicuous parts of the city. It commenced with the motto, Per

« PreviousContinue »