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Methodists might well feel that the “ matchless impudence" was not all on their side, and that this Christian priest, had he lived some centuries earlier, would have sympathised a good deal more with Gallio than with St. Paul.
It is a question which I need not here discuss how far Smith could be justified in his ridicule of men who, with all their undeniable absurdity, were at least zealous believers in the creed which he—as is quite manifest-held in all sincerity. But one remark is obvious ; the Edinburgh reviewers justify, to a certain point, the claim put forward by Sydney Smith ; they condemned many crying abuses, and condemned them heartily. They condemned them, as thoroughly sensible men of the world, animated partly by a really generous sentiment, partly by a tacit scepticism as to the value of the protected interests, and above all by the strong conviction that it was quite essential for the middle party, that is, for the bulk of the respectable well-bred classes to throw overboard gross abuses which afforded so many points of attack to thoroughgoing radicals. On the other hand, they were quite indifferent or openly hostile to most of the new forces which stirred men's minds. They patronised political economy because Malthus began by opposing the revolutionary dreams of Godwin and his like. But every one of the great impulses of the time was treated by them in an antagonistic spirit. They savagely ridiculed Coleridge, the great seminal mind of one philosophical school; they fiercely attacked Bentham and James Mill, the great leaders of the antagonist school; they were equally opposed to the Evangelicals who revered Wilberforce, and, in later times, to the religious party, of which Dr. Newman was the great ornament; in poetry they clung, as long as they could, to the safe old principles represented by Crabbe and Rogers; they covered Wordsworth and Coleridge with almost unmixed ridicule, ignored Shelley, and were only tender to Byron and Scott, because Scott and Byron were fashionable idols. The truth is, that it is a mistake to suppose that the eighteenth century ended with the
year 1800. It lasted in the upper currents of opinion till at least 1832. Sydney Smith's theology is that of Paley and the common-sense divines of the previous period. Jeffrey's politics were but slightly in advance of the true old Whigs, who still worshipped according to the tradition of their fathers in Holland House. The ideal of the party was to bring the practice of the country up to the theory whose main outlines had been accepted in the Revolution of 1688; and they studiously shut their eyes to any newer intellectual and social movements.
I do not say this by way of simple condemnation ; for we have daily more reason to acknowledge the immense value of calm, clear, common sense, which sees the absurd side of even the best impulses. But it is necessary to bear the fact in mind when estimating such claims as those put forward by Sydney Smith, The truth seems to be that the Edinburgh Review enormously raised the tone of periodical literature at the time, by opening an arena for perfectly independent discussion. VOL. XXXVIII.-NO. 224.
Its great merit, at starting, was that it was no mere publisher's organ, like its rivals, and that it paid contributors well enough to attract the most rising talent of the day. As the Review progressed, its capacities became more generally understood, and its writers, as they rose to eminence and attracted new allies, put more genuine work into articles certain to obtain a wide circulation and to come with great authority. This implies a long step towards the development of the present system whose merits and defects would deserve a full discussion—the system, according to which much of the most solid and original work of the time first appears in periodicals. The tone of periodicals has been enormously raised, but the effect upon general literature may be more questionable. But the Edinburgh was not in its early years a journalı with a mission, or the organ of an enthusiastic sect. Rather it was the instrument used by a number of very clever young men to put forward the ideas current in the more liberal section of the upper classes, with much occasional vigour and a large infusion of common sense, but also with abundant flippancy and superficiality, and, in a literary sense, without that solidity of workmanship which is essential for enduring vitality.
Short RECKONINGS MAKE LONG FRIENDS.
IT was the 1st of March, and a wild wind
was hurrying shreds of white cloud across the blue. Percival had taken his breakfast in snatches, performing on his bell meanwhile. Emma had not brought his boots, and would not so much as come to be told that he wanted them. At last, despairing, he went out on the landing and shouted his request to her, as she shuffled on some errand below. Turning to go back, he met Miss Lisle, who had just come down the stairs behind him.
They stood for a moment exchanging trivial remarks. To them came a stout, fresh-coloured, peculiarly innocent-looking
old man, who went by with a beaming smile, and a slight bow.
“That's Mr. Fordham,” said Judith ; “I don't think I ever saw him so close before."
“No; one hardly meets him from one week's end to another. He is unusually late this morning."
“He looks a very quiet, steady-really one might take him for rather a nice old man."
Percival stared blankly at her, and then began to laugh. “Well, Miss Lisle, I never heard a reputation blighted so completely by a complimentary sentence before."
Judith blushed a little. “But he isn't very nice, is he?”
"I don't know about nice. I should say he was as steady and barmless an old fellow as ever lived. What do you mean?”
"Well," Judith hesitated. “Of course one has no business to judge any one without really knowing. But his staying out so late at night
"So late at night!" Percival repeated.
"I suppose he has a latch key generally. But one or two nights I Am sure Miss Bryant sat up to let him in. I heard them whispering,