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“ Hail, generous Magazine of Wit! you bright
Planet of Learning, dissipate the night
SIR ASTON COKAYNE.
To the Lady Mary Vernon, the Mistress of all Harmony,
the Queen of all Wits, the Brightest of all Belles,
we, the undersigned, send greeting : We, the undersigned, are a knot of young men, of various forms and features,
-of more various talents and inclinations ; agreeing in nothing, save only two essential points—a warm liking for one another, and a very profound devotion for your Ladyship.
Some of us have no occupation. Some of us have no money. Some of us are desperately in love. Some of us are desperately in debt. Many of us are very clever, and wish to convince the Public of the fact.
Several of us have never written a line.
Several of us have written a great many, and wish to write more.
For all these reasons, we intend to write a Book.
We will not compile a lumbering quarto of Travels, to be bound in Russia, and skimmed in the Quarterly, and bought by the country book-clubs ;-nor a biting Political Pamphlet, to be praised by everybody on one side, and abused by everybody on the other, and read by nobody at all ;-nor a Philosophical
Essay, to be marvelled at by the few, and shuddered at by the many, and prosecuted by his Majesty's Attorney-General ;
a little Epic Poem in twenty-four books, to be loved by the milliners, and lauded in the Literary Gazette, and burnt by your Ladyship.
But a Book of some sort we are resolved to write. We will go forth to the world once a quarter, in high spirits and handsome type, and a modest dress of drab, with verse and prose, criticism and witticism, fond love, and loud laughter; every thing that is light, and warm, and fantastic, and beautiful, shall be the offering we will bear; while we will leave the Nation to the care of the Parliament, and the Church to the Bishop of Peterborough. And to this end we will give up to colder lips and duller souls their gross and terrestrial food: we will not interfere with the saddle or the sirloin, the brandy-bottle or the punch-bowl ;-our food shall be of the spicy curry, and the glistening Champagne ;-our inspiration shall be the thanks of pleasant voices, and the smiles of sparkling eyes. We grasp at no renown—we pray for no immortality ; but we trust, that in the voyage it shall be our destiny to run, we shall waken many glowing feelings, and revive many agreeable recollections; we shall make many jokes, and many friends; we shall enliven ourselves and the Public together; and when we meet around some merry hearth to discuss the past and the future, our projects and our success, we shall give a zest to our bottle and our debate by drinking a health to all who read us, and three healths to all who praise.
We have built up our temple, and installed the priests, and made ready the offerings, and we are looking for the goddess of the shrine. The President of our Club, and the Editor of our writings, shall be no compiler of essays-no eater of oysters ; no bald and bearded gentleman, with a cold judgment and a flippant pen, dreaming of pounds, shillings, and pence, and annihilating the young hopes of an author in all the anonymous authority of the plural number. We must have for our tutelar divinity a more amiable and more interesting being, to whose authority we may pay a voluntary submission, to whose eyes we may breathe our vows and scribble our sonnets, beneath whose influence we may forget the tedium and the toil of bookmaking, and scatter over our revel and our press the magic charm of gallantry and romance.
We kneel before your Ladyship's ottoman.
You are beautiful and very kind; a widow and very witty; with a complexion a little flushed, and a nose a little aquiline, and all necessary dignity in your clear high forehead, and all conceivable merriment in your deep blue eye; and you wear white shoes, and diamond necklaces, and dress your long
dark hair à la Grecque ; and you have a light step and a quick speech, and just sufficient embonpoint to recall our young sonnetteers from their dreams of Dryads and of Naiads, and to compel them to muse for a few minutes on something more lovely and less divine. And you paint flowers, and draw caricatures, and you play the harp and l'écarté, and sing delightfully; and you love Handel, and dote upon Shakspeare: and you are twenty-five, and · Mary!'
By all these signs you are manifestly pointed out as the idol before whom we are to prostrate our hearts and our papers. You will not refuse the homage we proffer. Among our gay and buoyant souls the day of chivalry and of enthusiasm shall have another morning : you shall be to us the queen of the joust; in your sight the bold and adventurous are to break their first lance ; your smile is to be the excitement, your hand is to bestow the reward ; a thousand poets shall be your slaves, a thousand quills shall leap from their desks to avenge the look that threatens you with insult. Your image shall animate, and your name shall protect us ; censure shall kneel before you, and criticism shall be dumb in your presence.
We are your ladyship’s very humble servants, MARMADUKE VILLARS, HAMILTON MURRAY, DAVENANT CECIL,
CHARLES PENDRAGON, TRISTRAM MERTON,
LEWIS WILLOUGHBY, IRVINE MONTAGU,
JOHN TELL, GERARD MONTGOMERY, EDMUND BRUCE, HENRY BALDWIN,
REGINALD HOLYOAKE, JOSEPH HALLER,
RICHARD MILLS, PETER ELLIS,
OLIVER MEDLEY, PATERSON AYMER,
PEREGRINE COURTENAY, Eustace HERON,
VYVYAN JOYEUSE, EDWARD HASELFOOT,
MARTIN LOVELL, WILLIAM PAYNE,
MARTIN DANVERS HEAVISIDE, ARCHIBALD FRAZER,
&c. &c. &c.
“ This will never do, Marmaduke,” said her Ladyship.
“ It will do very well, please your Ladyship,” said the foremost of the group.
“ It is some mad prank of my mad brother's contrivance: prythee, Frederic, come hither, and if it is in your nature to be grave for two minutes together, unravel to us this mystery.”
* By your Ladyship’s shoe-tye,” said Frederic, with a mock reverence, and a voice of imperturbable gravity, “it were presumption in me to read Arabic, or to understand wit. Howbeit, if your Ladyship will take your state, and assemble around you your privy council of beauty and fashion, I will
essay, by examination of the culprits, to decypher the hieroglyphic characters."
Lady Mary Vernon entered into the jest right merrily: she was forthwith installed in an elevated seat, and surrounded by all of fair and bright that had collected in her drawing-room on New Year's Eve. “To-night,” she said, -and as she spoke she arranged a thick shawl in folds of royal seeming, and waved an ivory fan, sceptre-like,-" to-night we hold a high court of judicature; our noble brother, Frederic Vernon, shall be constituted our Attorney-General; and our worshipful cousin, Peregrine Courtenay, shall take minutes of our proceedings."
Writing materials were brought; the Attorney-General of the evening placed spectacles upon his nose, and arrayed himself in a wig and gown of most superlatively legal dimensions. Amidst much laughter, and more marvel, he commenced the investigation.
“ Marmaduke Villars, your signature stands the first at the bottom of this incendiary scrawl. As you hope for mercy from the court, state concisely and correctly the object of its inditing."
Marmaduke Villars, a tall handsome man, with an astonishing air of the drawing-room about his carriage and address, performed an easy bow, and began with much nonchalance:
May it please your Ladyship, “ You see before you a group of wits, who were encircling your Ladyship’s dining-table two hours ago, when your Ladyship abdicated the chair in favour of your esteemed brother. Many names we toasted, and Lady Mary Vernon's, as we were in duty bound, most devotedly.
(Her Ladyship bowed condescendingly.) • At last, when, after the manner of Falstaff's prescription, our brains had been invigorated and our judgment cleared, the conversation turned upon literary subjects. The leading poets of our age, and all preceding ages, were successively discussed ;Haller quoted Homer, and Frazer spouted Ossian, and Medley agreed with them both; Heron eulogized Moore, and Cecil deified Wordsworth, and Joyeuse laughed at them all. By degrees our high debate deviated into a consideration of the merits of the Periodical Works of the day, and the style of writing which they introduce or encourage. The British was dubbed · thick, and the Album was declared thin;' Blackwood was held to be scurrilous, and the Liberal was voted Cockney. After much altercation it was pretty well agreed that your Ladyship's servants are likely to do something much better ; and after our old friend Peregrine had said a few words in kind remembrance of his quondam passages with Mr. C. Knight, our first resolution passed unanimously :