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our pages. We confess, therefore, to its generous relief afforded to the poor Hamburgers, "burnt out from over the way;" we acknowledge, also that it danced very charitably in behalf of the Poles, and may lay claim to gratitude for its Report on the health of the poor; which if it be not the parent of some little good, the most moral people of Europe must be utterly incorrigible. We laud it, too, for its wooden pavements; and its new light at Charing Cross is a set-off against its new light among the Mormonites. Some praise, moreover, is due for sweeping from the face of the earth one or two accomplished rascals, and for stripping the mask off the face of certain of their executors; but then it has left so many of the like unscathed in life and fame, that the balance is more against than for it, in that particular. After all, however (and we do not immediately recollect any other good it has done), this is but Falstaff's poor ha'penny worth of bread, set against the intolerable suck of wickedness which remains to be emptied at its door. Yes, one other good deed, on reflection, deserves commemoration: the summer was not quite so severe as that tempestuous season usually is; there was consequently a more than average crop of mignionette, and the grouse were plenty in the mountains, which was a source of great contentment to the manufacturers out of work, and to the payers of poor-rates. The growth of corn also was abundant; but whether that is to be considered a good or an ill, depends very much on the point of view from which the matter is regarded. Farmers complain of low prices, and swear against their oldest friends for betraying their interests at the very moment when the harvest was coming to their assistance; and the gentlemen who have failed in Mark-lane have abandoned the faith of Socrates, and no longer worship the clouds as deities. Be this however as it may, before 1842 can take credit for its fine weather, there is but too heavy a discount to be abstracted for its tempests, disasters at sea, and for the long list of lives lost in consequence, to say nothing of the promising Light for All Nations
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
We should be very sorry to be the attorney's clerk charged with making out an indictment against 1842, reciting all its misdeeds; and we would not recommend it as an easy subject for an inchoate poet to turn into rhyme; the Iliad for length would be a fool to it, and the Odyssey for adventure. Let us, however, pick out a few of its choice doings, by way of an ex pede Herculem sample, and just to let posterity have an idea what nations can go through and survive. Not to speak of individual calamities inflicted by this homicide year, has it not -prominent in public woe-the earthquake at Hayti to answer for? and the burning of Hamburg? and the wholesale railroad slaughter at Versailles? Then at home, had we not a second Troy lighted up in the cotton-warehouses in Liverpool, with the rekindling of the incendiary madness throughout the agricultural districts? These, and many other events of the like dismal character, may be attributed by some to 1842, rather as misfortunes than as faults; but whatever happens in time is the offspring of time; and the sins of the father we know are visited on their children.
In a certain sense, it is true, that time may be considered only as a mere looker-on at the events it brings forth, that earthquakes may come in one year as well as another, and that Vulcan has more to do with fires than Chronos. While, on the other hand, the criminal actions which cause social calamities, are the deeds of men with which time is only accidentally connected. But if there be any thing substantial in these plausibilities, and 1842 is to be acquitted on any such sophistry, what becomes of those established formularies, sad times, shocking times, wicked times, hard times, radical times, atheistical times, &c. &c. &c.? If it be true that nothing can be done in this world without time, time must be at least an accessory to all the evil which men cominit, and must bear its share of the blame: and moreover, if religion points forward to eternity for an existence without sin, may we not fairly conclude that crime lives with time, and will only perish with it.
Of all the doings with which an English year is chargeable, its sessions of Parliament may be taken as among the most pregnant; and we, for our own parts, always breathe with increased freedom, when we see the Queen returning from a prorogation. Malice has then done its worst for that year: no more taxes, no more bunglings in finance or in jurisprudence, no more impertinent interferences with trade, no more strangling attempts at national education, no more onslaughts on muffin-bells and children's hoops, no more attacks on the religious' liberty of the sabbath, no more explanatory acts to make legal confusion worse confounded, no more paternal legislation to prevent every thing in the world, and to regulate every thing besides. All the senatorial designs against mankind are thenceforward averted against the hares and pheasants; and grouse are brought down instead of institutions. We know not whether among time's parliamentary misdeeds, we should enumerate the diabolical infliction of long speeches; because it is a man's own fault out of parliament, if he knows any thing about them: but then, to preserve this blessed ignorance, it would be necessary to forego society, and live in some dark hole, like a rat, to escape the endless after-dinner discussions to which they give rise. The bare fact, also, of the newspapers filling day after day their eternal columns with this drug, shows that some natural fatality exists, which compels mankind to wade through them, and to repay the expenses of reporting. Decidedly, the prorogation of parliament is a great annual easement in this particular; and, though county-meetings and after-dinner speechifications do in a minor degree reproduce the evil, yet upon the whole, these exhibitions are so eminently absurd, that they are far less tedious, as well as less frequent, than the great parliamentary nuisance.
But, as touching parliamentary grievances, there is the less necessity for arraigning 1842, inasmuch as all the world seems agreed to condemn it. If the income tax, per se, be taken into consideration, that deed alone places 1842 in the very first class of parliamentary delinquency. Where shall we find a man to speak a word in its favour, unless it be its ex officio advocates, who can do no less? Every man of property is hit till he squeals again; and as for the poor devils under 1501. per annum, it will cost them more to secure their exemption, than to pay the tax and have done with it. Then again there is the tariff, quæstio vexata
et vexans; the sum of individual opinions on that subject is that it will ruin every body and relieve nobody; it will deprive monopoly of its protections, and pull down prices without any body being the richer for it. Now this is a manifest absurdity; nor can we explain why such things should be said, if it was not that the proposers of the measure had first declared, that all things would be rendered by it cheap in the market, without the producers making a sacrifice. One thing only is clear, and that is, that every body is discontented with the measure; so that Whig, Tory, and Radical, all alike fall upon 1842, for producing the monster.
After all, however, that can be said against 1842 in its legislative capacity (including even its wonderful inquisition into parliamentary corruption and its plenary confessions of delinquency), its sins of omission are greater than its sins of commission. Bad acts of parliament may be repealed, and the worst are perhaps necessary steps to future amendments; but what can be said of a passive contemplation of approaching calamities, a wilful neglect of obvious duties? Oh! 1842, 1842! how will you ever justify these your backslidings?
This consideration, by a natural concatenation, brings us to the terrible misdeeds of 1842 in the commercial department, the bankruptcy of manufacturers, the famine among their workmen, the strikes, the riotings, the trials of delinquents, and the judges' charges, more portentous still. This is, however, a theme by far too sore to touch upon in our light pages; and, moreover, although 1842 must bear the blame, the evil is not all of its doing; much of it having been long prepared, and being inherited from its predecessors, with other drawbacks and incumbrances, by the unfortunate deceased.
Turning, for a moment, from the tragedy to the farce of life, from the crimes of 1842 to its faults, which are so much more reprehensible, this year has much to answer for in its stupendous theology, its quarrels about candlesticks and surplices, and its coquettings with the forbidden thing-popery. It has discovered that the Reformers were all in the wrong, that the scarlet clothing of the Babylonian was not so very scarlet, but only a beautiful pink; that the old man of Rome is but a misplaced Archbishop of Canterbury, and that papistry itself is perfectly innoxious, except in the person of a papist. Per contra, 1842 in Scotland has taken up the non-intrusionists, and set the friends of establishment there to ogling prelacy, as an asylum-harbour. Meantime her majesty's lieges are blown up and down by every wind of doctrine, till no one knows what he is to hold fast by; but places his whole faith in the eternal condemnation of his neighbour, and his whole religious works, in thwarting and mortifying all those who do not dream as he does.
We know not whether on the article of "shocking and barbarous murders" 1842 has more to answer for than its predecessors, but it was singularly active in putting into practice new ways of getting rid of a superfluous population, in the medical line. Among these, we have room only to mention its revival of the Dutch cruelties at Amboyna, its drenching people till they burst with cold water, and setting them with their feet in the like, for the purpose of curing them of-all their diseases. This, 1842 may perhaps say, is at least as merciful a means
of homicide as salt and brandy, as St. John Long's back scarifications, or as any other of the mystifications enumerated in the last Quarterly; but we cannot say that it is a whit more wise; and then what a thing it is to set about a monomania for suicide by means so perfectly at the disposition of all mankind.
We must, however, accept as some justification for this deed with a hard name, that if it throws cold water measureless on the lieges, the measure (if measure that can be called which is so entirely without measure), may be designed principally to neutralize the worse activity of divers politicians and theologers, whose aim is to plunge all mankind in hot water. We do not, however, observe, that the old proverb applies in this instance, and that the world
S' è all'acqua calda, anco alla fresca fuge.
As for the legal improprieties of 1842, we have hinted already at some of the more prominent; but we are bound, in common humanity, again and again to denounce its crotchet of solitary imprisonment, and the countenance it gives to starvation, as what Bentham would have called the matter of punishment. It is pleasanter, however, to dwell on its comical doings. To laugh at its eulogies from the bench on the valuable services of pimps and procureurs, to follow it into the policeoffices, and hear it hallooing and whooping after the triumphal car of an acquitted prostitute, and watching with breathless expectation the dénouement of the Bristol hoax.
But perhaps the most hopeless aspect of 1842 is that which shows him as an author. It should seem that the cacoëthes scribendi was stronger upon him than on any of his predecessors; and that the multitude of his literary sins was a terrible aggravation of their individual atrocity. The worst of the matter is that such sins are purely voluntary; for where was the necessity of such a deluge of nonsense and humbug? To enter upon individual cases were needless, and therefore cruel. Let those who have published several successful books, under the direction of 1842, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; for if such there be, the cause for their boasting is not great. It will assuredly not be for the originality of their lucubrations, for Mercury has superseded Apollo in the inspiration of the inditers of good matter. One justification of 1842, can be offered on the score of literary offences, and that is the execution he has done on his own misbegotten offspring: cutting them off, one after the other, as fast as they appeared; eating them up after the most approved fashion of his great ancestor Chronos; and (what's more) with infinitely greater alacrity. Six months have sufficed for bolting his most promising romances; and six weeks was too long a tenure for his ordinary staple. One other symptom of repentance may be noted in his repudiation of the Jack Sheppard school, which he has made over to our natural enemies the French, who have not left a crime that disgraces humanity unsung or unsaid, and whose stomachs bear without nausea, horrors that no other nation on the earth could withstand. Something too, perhaps, might be said for 1842 as a literary character, on the score of the new copyright bill, if it were not that the amendment comes a day after the fair, having provided a legal right just at the time when the finest poem is like the violet, sweet but not perma
Jun.-VOL, LXVII. NO. CCLXV.
nent," and when no printed prose has the slightest chance of retaining a durable value, except it be a perpetual almanack.
As a dramatist, 1842 stands pretty much on a line with its immediate predecessors. His legitimate revivals in which Shakspeare rides triumphant, on the shoulders of the scene-painter (meritorious as they are), still rank higher, principally because they are perpetrated in more daring defiance of experience. The bankruptcy of foregone efforts in a similar direction are magnanimously disregarded; and the vestigia nulla retrorsum of that cavern of despair, the treasury of a national theatre, frightens not even those who cast their own money, instead of other people's, Curtius-like, into the gulf.
But our paper is out, before we are well warmed on our subject; and if, like the devil, we could stretch it with our teeth, Cartwright himself would fail to supply the necessary instruments of extension, before it reached the point where all could be contained. To conclude, however, in something like better humour, we must credit 1842 for its successes in the East. By the redemption of our prisoners from Affghanistan, we shall in one instance, at least, quote a fair Sale; which will be rare news for the Manchester manufacturers, to say nothing of the great moral lesson we have taught the rascally enemy who fell in the several actions. But it is the Chinese peace which is the true feather in the cap of 1842. It is not, there, all praise, and no pudding 21,000,000 of dollars, may be so many dolours to the enemy; but to us they are a tangible good, provided a sixpence-worth ever find its way into our pockets. Cheap T, however, it is to be hoped will not prove itself x, an unknown quantity; and though it will be well if the Chinese fireworkers send us over lots of good crackers, it must not the less be hoped that the same may not be said of the manufacturers of Nankin saucers and cotton goods.
The opium question, we are told, is left untouched by the treaty, and the sacred right of smuggling is yet to be dealt with. In the mean time, if the emperor's officers succeed in excluding the drug, as it exists in nature, there will be no difficulty of passing it in a state of intense activity, in the shape of the novels of A, B, and C, the sermons of D, E, F, and G, the comedies of H, I, K, and the proceedings of the British Association-all which may be had for waste paper and introduced as the wrappers round any articles of legitimate import with which we may favour our new friends. In the mean time let us look forward with hope for the arrival in England of those two famous mandarins, Sing-small and Chin-long, as ambassadors for placing their country within the lines of civilization, and establishing with us the relations of national amity-that is to say, protocols and tariffs. With such glorious prospects in store for our readers, we take our leave of 1842, and in bellman's language ejaculate, "A happy new year to you all my good masters and mistresses, and a speedy repeal of the income tax."