August 24th, 2009

Part I. — Hope.


WE hardly feel certain that we are justified in giving the following little story to the public as an Editor’s Tale, because at the time to which it refers, and during the circumstances with which it deals, no editorial power was, in fact, within our grasp. As the reader will perceive, the ambition and the hopes, and something of a promise of the privileges, were there; but the absolute chair was not mounted for us. The great We was not, in truth, ours to use. And, indeed, the interval between the thing we then so cordially desired, and the thing as it has since come to exist, was one of so many years, that there can be no right on our part to connect the two periods. We shall, therefore, tell our story, as might any ordinary individual, in the first person singular, and speak of such sparks of editorship as did fly up around us as having created but a dim coruscation, and as having teen quite insufficient to justify the delicious plural.

It is now just thirty years ago since we determined to establish the “Panjandrum” Magazine. The “we” here spoken of is not an editorial we, but a small set of human beings who shall be personally introduced to the reader. The name was intended to be delightfully meaningless, but we all thought that it was euphonious, graphic, also,—and sententious, even though it conveyed no definite idea. That question of a name had occupied us a good deal, and had almost split us into parties. I,— for I will now speak of myself as I,—I had wished to call it by the name of a very respectable young publisher who was then commencing business, and by whom we intended that the trade part of our enterprise should be undertaken. ” Colburn’s” was an old affair in those days, and I doubt whether ” Bentley’s ” was not already in existence. ” Blackwood’s ” and ” Eraser’s ” were at the top of the tree, and, as I think, the ” Metropolitan ” was the only magazine then in much vogue not called by the name of this or that enterprising publisher. But some of our colleagues would not hear of this, and were ambitious of a title that should describe our future energies and excellences. I think we should have been called the ” Pandrastic,” but that the one lady who joined our party absolutely declined the name. At one moment we had almost carried ” Panurge.” The ” Man’s” Magazine was thought of, not as opposed to womanhood, but as intended to trump the “Gentleman’s.” But a hint was given to us that we might seem to imply that our periodical was not adapted for the perusal of females. We meant the word ” man ” in the great generic sense;—but the somewhat obtuse outside world would not have so taken it. ” The H. B. P.” was for a time in the ascendant, and was favoured by the lady, who drew for us a most delightful little circle containing the letters illustrated;—what would now be called a monogram, only that the letters were legible. The fact that nobody would comprehend that ” H. B. P.” intended to express the general opinion of the shareholders that ” Honesty is the Best Policy,” was felt to be a recommendation rather than otherwise. I think it was the enterprising young publisher who objected to the initials,—not, I am sure, from any aversion to the spirit of the legend. Many other names were tried, and I shall never forget the look which went round our circle when one young and gallant, but too indiscreet reformer, suggested that were it not for offence, whence offence should not come, the “Purge” was the very name for us;—from all which it will be understood that it was our purpose to put right many things that were wrong. The matter held us in discussion for some months, and then we agreed to call the great future lever of the age,—the ” Panjandrum.”

When, a new magazine is about to be established in these days, the first question raised will probably be one of capital. A very considerable sum of money, running far into four figures,—if not going beyond it,—has to be mentioned, and made familiar to the ambitious promoters of the enterprise. It was not so with us. Nor was it the case that our young friend the publisher agreed to find the money, leaving it to us to find the wit. I think we selected our young friend chiefly because, at that time, he had no great business to speak of, and could devote his time to the interests of the ” Panjandrum.” As for ourselves we were all poor ; and in the way of capital a set of human beings more absurdly inefficient for any purposes of trade could not have been brought together. We found that for a sum of money which we hoped that we might scrape together among us, we could procure paper and print for a couple of thousand copies of our first number;—and, after that, we were to obtain credit for the second number by the reputation of the first. Literary advertising, such as is now common to us, was then unknown. The cost of sticking up ” The Panjandrum ” at railway stations and on the tops of the omnibuses, certainly would not be incurred. Of railway stations there were but few in the country, and even omnibuses were in their infancy. A few modest announcements in the weekly periodicals of the day were thought to be sufficient; and, indeed, there pervaded us all an assurance that the coming of the ” Panjandrum ” would be known to all men, even before it had come. I doubt whether our desire was not concealment rather than publicity. We measured the importance of the ” Panjandrum” by its significance to ourselves, and by the amount of heart which we intended to throw into it. Ladies and gentlemen who get up magazines in the present day are wiser. It is not heart that is wanted, but very big letters on very big boards, and plenty of them.

We were all heart. It must be admitted now that we did not bestow upon the matter of literary excellence quite so much attention as that branch of the subject deserves. We were to write and edit our magazine and have it published, not because we were good at writing or editing, but because we had ideas which we wished to promulgate. Or it might be the case with some of us that we only thought that we had ideas. But there was certainly present to us all a great wish to do some good. That, and a not altogether unwholesome appetite for a reputation which should not be personal, were our great motives. I do not think that we dreamed of making fortunes; though no doubt there might be present to the mind of each of us an idea that an opening to the profession of literature might be obtained through the pages of the ” Panjandrum.” In that matter of reputation we were quite agreed that fame was to be sought, not for ourselves, nor for this or that name, but for the “Panjandrum.” No man or woman was to declare himself to be the author of this or that article;—nor indeed was any man or woman to declare himself to be connected with the magazine. The only name to be known to a curious public was that of the young publisher. All intercourse between the writers and the printers was to be through him. If contributions should come from the outside world,—as come they would,— they were to be addressed to the Editor of the ” Panjandrum,” at the publisher’s establishment. It was within the scope of our plan to use any contribution that might please us altogether; but the contents of the magazine were, as a rule, to come from ourselves. A magazine then, as now, was expected to extend itself through something over a hundred and twenty pages; but we had no fear as to our capacity for producing the required amount. We feared rather that we might jostle each other in our requirements for space.

We were six, and young as I was then, I was to be the editor. But to the functions of the editor was to be attached very little editorial responsibility. What should and what should not appear in each monthly number was to be settled in conclave. Upon one point, however, we were fully agreed,—that no personal jealousy should ever arise among us so as to cause quarrel or even embarrassment. As I had already written some few slight papers for the press, it was considered probable that I might be able to correct proofs, and do the fitting and dovetailing. ily editing was not to go beyond that. If by reason of parity of numbers in voting there should arise a difficulty, the lady was to have a double vote. Anything more noble, more chivalrous, more trusting, or, I may add, more philanthropic than our scheme never was invented; and for the persons, I will say that they were noble, chivalrous, trusting, and philanthropic ;—only they were so young!

Place aux dames. We will speak of the lady first,— more especially as our meetings were held at her house. I fear that I may, at the very outset of our enterprise, turn the hearts of my readers against her by saying that Mrs. St. Quinten was separated from her husband. I must, however, beg them to believe that this separation had been occasioned by no moral fault or odious misconduct on her part. I will confess that I did at that time believe that Mr. St. Quinten was an ogre, and that I have since learned to think that he simply laboured under a strong and, perhaps, monomaniacal objection to literary pursuits. As Mrs. St. Quinten was devoted to them, harmony was impossible, and the marriage was unfortunate. She was young, being perhaps about thirty ; but I think that she was the eldest among us. She was goodlooking, with an ample brow, and bright eyes, and large clever mouth; but no woman living was ever further removed from any propensity to flirtation. There resided with her a certain Miss Collins, an elderly, silent lady, who was present at all our meetings, and who was considered to be pledged to secrecy. Once a week we met and drank tea at Mrs. St. Quinten’s house. It may be as well to explain that Mrs. St. Quinten really had an available income, which was a condition of life unlike that of her colleagues,—unless as regarded one, who was a fellow of an Oxford college. She could certainly afford to give us tea and muffins once a week;—but, in spite of our general impecuniosity, the expense of commencing the magazine was to be borne equally by us all. I can assure the reader, with reference to more than one of the members, that they occasionally dined on bread and cheese, abstaining from meat and pudding with the view of collecting the sum necessary for the great day.

The idea had originated, I think, between Mrs. St. Quinten and Churchill Smith. Churchill Smith was a man with whom, I must own, I never felt that perfect sympathy which bound me to the others. Perhaps among us all he was the most gifted. Such at least was the opinion of Mrs. St. Quinten and, perhaps, of himself. He was a cousin of the lady’s, and had made himself particularly objectionable to the husband by instigating his. relative to write philosophical essays. It was his own speciality to be an unbeliever and a German scholar; and we gave him credit for being so deep in both arts that no man could go deeper. It had, however, been decided among us very early in our arrangements,—and so decided, not without great chance of absolute disruption, —that his infidelity was not to bias the magazine. He was to take the line of deep thinking, German poetry, and unintelligible speculation generally. He used to talk of Comte, whose name I had never heard till it fell from his lips, and was prepared to prove that Coleridge was very shallow. He was generally dirty, unshorn, and, as I thought, disagreeable. He called Mrs. St. Quinten, Lydia, because of his cousinship, and no one knew how or where he lived. I believe him to have been a most unselfish, abstemious man,—one able to control all appetites of the flesh. I think that I have since heard that he perished in a Russian prison.

My dearest friend among the number was Patrick Began, a young Irish barrister, who intended to shine at the English Bar. I think the world would have used him better had his name been John Tomkins. The history of bis career shows very plainly that the undoubted brilliance of his intellect, and his irrepressible personal humour and good-humour have been always unfairly weighted by those Irish names. What attorney, with any serious matter in hand, would willingly go to a barrister who called himself Pat Regan ? And then, too, there always remained with him just a hint of a brogue,—and his nose was flat in the middle! I do not believe that all the Irishmen with flattened noses have had the bone of the feature broken by a crushing blow in a street row; and yet they certainly look as though that peculiar appearance had been the result of a fight with sticks. Pat has told me a score of times that he was born so, and I believe him. He had a most happy knack of writing verses, which I used to think quite equal to Mr. Barham’s, and he could rival the droll Latinity of Father Prout who was coming out at that time with his “Dulcis Julia Callage,” and the like. Pat’s father was an attorney at Cork; but not prospering, I think, for poor Pat was always short of money. He had, however, paid the fees, and was entitled to appear in wig and gown wherever common-law barristers do congregate. He is Attorney-General at one of the Turtle Islands this moment, with a salary of £400 a year. I hear from him occasionally, and the other day he sent me ” Captain Crosbie is my name,” done into endecasyllabics. I doubt, however, whether he ever made a penny by writing for the press. I cannot say that Pat was our strongest prop. He sometimes laughed at “Lydia,”—and then I was brought into disgrace, as having introduced him to the company.

Jack Hallam, the next I will name, was also intended for the Bar; but, I think, never was called. Of all the men I have encountered in life he was certainly the most impecunious. Now he is a millionaire. He was one as to whom all who knew him,—friends and foes alike,— were decided that under no circumstances would he ever work, or by any possibility earn a penny. Since then he has applied himself to various branches of commerce, first at New York and then at San Francisco; he has laboured for twenty-four years almost without a holiday, and has shown a capability for sustaining toil which few men have equalled. He had been introduced to our set by Walter Watt, of whom I will speak just now; and certainly, when I remember the brightness of his wit and the flow of his words, and Ms energy when he was earnest, I am bound to acknowledge that in searching for sheer intellect,—for what I may call power,—we did not do wrong to enroll Jack Hallam. He had various crude ideas in his head of what he would do for us,—having a leaning always to the side of bitter mirth. I think he fancied that satire might he his forte. As it is, they say that no man living has a quicker eye to the erection of a block of buildings in a coming city. He made a fortune at Chicago, and is said to have erected Omaha out of his own pocket. I am told that he pays income-tax in the United States on nearly a million dollars per annum. I wonder whether he would lend me five pounds if I asked him ? I never knew a man so free as Jack at borrowing half-a-crown or a clean pocket-handkerchief.

Walter Watt was a fellow of ______ . I believe _____ has fellows who do not take orders. It must have had one such in those days, for nothing could have induced our friend, Walter Watt, to go into the Church. How it come to pass that the dons of a college at Oxford should have made a fellow of so wild a creature was always a mystery to us. I have since been told that at the reward could hardly be refused to a man who had gone out a ” first” in classics and had got the ” Newdegate.” Such had been the career of young Watt. And, though I say that he was wild, his moral conduct was not bad. He simply objected on principle to all authority, and was of opinion that the goods of the world should be in common. I must say of him that in regard to one individual his practice went even beyond his preaching; for Jack Hallam certainly consumed more of the fellowship than did Walter Watt himself. Jack was dark and swarthy. Walter was a fair little man, with long hair falling on the sides of his face, and cut away over his forehead,—as one sees it sometimes cut in a picture. He had round blue eyes, a well-formed nose, and handsome mouth and chin. He was very far gone in his ideas of reform, and was quite in earnest in his hope that by means of the “Panjandrum” something might be done to stay the general wickedness,—or rather ugliness of the world. At that time Carlyle was becoming prominent as a thinker and writer among us, and Watt was never tired of talking to us of the hero of “Sartor Resartus.” He was an excellent and most unselfish man,—whose chief fault was an inclination for the making of speeches, which he had picked up at an Oxford debating society. He now lies buried at Kensal Green. I thought to myself, when I saw another literary friend laid there some eight years since, that the place had become very quickly populated since I and Regan had seen poor Watt placed in his last home, almost amidst a desert.

Of myself, I need only say that at that time I was very young, very green, and very ardent as a politician. The Whigs were still in office; but we, who were young then, and warm in our political convictions, thought that the Whigs were doing nothing for us. It must be remembered that things and ideas have advanced so quickly during the last thirty years, that the conservatism of 1870 goes infinitely further in the cause of general reform than did the radicalism of 1840. I was regarded as a democrat because I was loud against the Corn Laws ; and was accused of infidelity when I spoke against the Irish Church Endowments. I take some pride to myself that I should have seen these evils to be evils even thirty years ago. But to Household Suffrage I doubt whether even my spirit had ascended. If I remember rightly I was great upon annual parliaments; but I know that I was discriminative, and did not accept all the points of the seven-starred charter. I had an idea in those days,—I can confess it now after thirty years,—that I might be able to indite short political essays which should be terse, argumentative, and convincing, and at the same time full of wit and frolic. I never quite succeeded in pleasing even myself in any ‘such composition. At this time I did a little humble work for the______ , but was quite resolved to fly at higher game than that.

As I began with the lady, so I must end with her. I had seen and read sheaves of her MS., and must express my conviction at this day, when all illusions are gone, that she wrote with wonderful ease and with some grace. A hard critic might perhaps say that it was slip-slop; but still it was generally readable. I believe that in the recesses of her privacy, and under the dark and secret guidance of Churchill Smith, she did give way to German poetry and abstruse thought. I heard once that there was a paper of hers on the essence of existence, in which she answered that great question, as to personal entity, or as she put it, “What is it, to be?” The paper never appeared before the Committee, though I remember the question to have been once suggested for discussion. Pat Regan answered it at once,—” A drop of something short,” said he. I thought then that everything was at an end ! Her translation into a rhymed verse of a play of Schiller’s did come before us, and nobody could have behaved better than she did, when she was told that it hardly suited our project. What we expected from Mrs. St. Quinten in the way of literary performance I cannot say that we ourselves had exactly realised, but we knew that she was always ready for work. She gave us tea and muffins, and bore with us when we were loud, and devoted her time to our purposes, and believed in us. She had exquisite tact in saving us from wordy quarrelling, and was never angry herself, except when Pat Regan was too hard upon her. What became of her I never knew. When the days of the ” Panjandrum ” were at an end she vanished from our sight. I always hoped that Mr. St. Quinten reconciled himself to literature, and took her back to his bosom.

While we were only determining that the thing should be, all went smoothly with us. Columns, or the open page, made a little difficulty; but the lady settled it for us in favour of the double column. It is a style of page which certainly has a wiser look about it than the other; and then it has the advantage of being clearly distinguished from the ordinary empty book of the day. The word ” padding,” as belonging to literature, was then unknown; but the idea existed,—and perhaps the thing. We were quite resolved that there should be no padding in the ” Panjandrum.” I think our most ecstatic, enthusiastic, and accordant moments were those in which we resolved that it should be all good, all better than anything else,—all best. We were to struggle after excellence with an energy that should know no relaxing,—and the excellence was not to be that which might produce for us the greatest number of half-crowns, but of the sort which would increase truth in the world, and would teach men to labour hard and bear their burdens nobly, and become gods upon earth. I think our chief feeling was one of impatience in having to wait to find to what heaven death would usher us, who unfortunately had to be human before we could put on divinity. We wanted heaven at once,—and were not deterred though Jack Hallam would borrow ninepence and Pat Regan make his paltry little jokes.

We had worked hard for six months before we began to think of writing, or even of apportioning to each contributor what should be written for the first number. I shall never forget the delight there was in having the young publisher in to tea, and in putting him through his figures, and in feeling that it became us for the moment to condescend to matters of trade. We felt him to be an inferior being; but still it was much for us to have progressed so far towards reality as to have a real publisher come to wait upon us. It was at that time clearly understood that I was to be the editor, and I felt myself justified in taking some little- lead in arranging matters with our energetic young friend. A remark that I made one evening was very mild,—simply some suggestion as to the necessity of having a more than ordinarily well- educated set of printers;—but I was snubbed infinitely by Churchill Smith. ” Mr. X.,” said he, ” can probably tell us more about printing than we can tell him.” I felt so hurt that I was almost tempted to leave the room at once. I knew very well that if I seceded Pat Regan would go with me, and that the whole thing must fall to the ground. Mrs. St. Quinten, however, threw instant oil upon the waters. ” Churchill,” said she, ” let us live and learn. Mr. X., no doubt, knows. Why should we not share his knowledge ?” I smothered my feelings in the public cause, but I was conscious of a wish that Mr. Smith might fall among the Philistines of Cursitor Street, and so of necessity be absent from our meetings. There was an idea among us that he crept out of his hiding- place, and came to our conferences by by-ways; which was confirmed when our hostess proposed that our evening should be changed from Thursday, the day first appointed, to Sunday. We all acceded willingly, led away somewhat, I fear, by an idea that it was the proper thing for advanced spirits such as ours to go to work on that day which by ancient law is appointed for rest.

Mrs. St. Quinten would always open our meeting with a little speech. ” Gentlemen and partners in this enterprise,” she would say, ” the tea is made, and the muffins are ready. Our hearts are bound together in the work. We are all in earnest in the good cause of political reform and social regeneration. Let the spirit of harmony prevail among us. Mr. Hallam, perhaps you’ll take the cover off.” To see Jack Hallam eat muffins was,—I will say ” a caution,” if the use of the slang phrase may be allowed to me for the occasion. It was presumed among us that on these days he had not dined. Indeed, I doubt whether he often did dine,—supper being his favourite meal. I have supped with him more than once, at his invitation,—when to be without coin in my own pocket was no disgrace,—and have wondered at the equanimity with which the vendors of shell-fish have borne my friend’s intimation that he must owe them the little amount due for our evening entertainment. On these occasions his friend “Watt was never with him, for “Walter’s ideas as to the common use of property were theoretical. Jack dashed at once into the more manly course of practice. “When he came to Mrs. St. Quinten’s one evening in my best, —nay, why dally with the truth ?—in my only pair of black dress trousers, which I had lent him ten days before, on the occasion, as I then believed, of a real dinner party, I almost denounced him before his colleagues. I think I should have done so had I not felt that he would in some fashion have so turned the tables on me that I should have been the sufferer. There are men with whom one comes by the worst in any contest, let justice on one’s own side be ever so strong and ever so manifest.

But this is digression. After the little speech, Jack would begin upon the muffins, and Churchill Smith,— always seated at his cousin’s left hand,—would hang his head upon his hand, wearing a look of mingled thought and sorrow on his brow. He never would eat muffins. We fancied that he fed himself with penny hunches of bread as he walked along the streets. As a man he was wild, unsociable, untamable; but, as a philosopher, he had certainly put himself beyond most of those wants to which Jack Hallam and others among us were still subject. ” Lydia,” he once said, when pressed hard to partake of the good things provided, “man cannot live by muffins alone,—no, nor by tea and muffins. That by which he can live is hard to find. I doubt we have not found it yet.”

This, to me, seemed to be rank apostasy,—infidelity to the cause which he was bound to trust as long as he kept his place in that society. How shall you do anything in the world, achieve any success, unless you yourself believe in yourself ? And if there be a partnership either in mind or matter, your partner must be the same to you as yourself. Confidence is so essential to the establishment of a magazine! I felt then, at least, that the ” Panjandrum ” could have no chance without it, and I rebuked Mr. Churchill Smith. “We know what you mean by that,” said I;—” because we don’t talk German metaphysics, you think we ain’t worth our salt.”

” So much worth it,” said he, ” that I trust heartily you may find enough to save you even yet.”

I was about to boil over with wrath; but “Walter Watt was on his legs, making a speech about the salt of the earth, before I had my words ready. Churchill Smith would put up with Walter when he would endure words from no one else. I used to think him mean enough to respect the Oxford fellowship, but I have since fancied that he believed that he had discovered a congenial spirit. In those days I certainly did despise Watt’s fellowship, but in later life I have come to believe that men who get rewards have generally earned them. Watt on this occasion made a speech to which in my passion I hardly attended; but I well remember how, when I was about to rise in my wrath, Mrs. St. Quinten put her hand on my arm, and calmed me. ” If you,” said she, ” to whom we most trust for orderly guidance, are to be the first to throw down the torch of discord, what will become of us ? ”

” I haven’t thrown down any torch,” said I.

” Neither take one up,” said she, pouring out my tea. for me as she spoke.

” As for myself,” said Regan, ” I like metaphysics,— and I like them German. Is there anything so stupid and pig-headed as that insular feeling which makes us think nothing to be good that is not home-grown ?”

” All the same,” said Jack, ” who ever eat a good muffin out of London ? ”

” Mr. Hallam, Mary Jane is bringing up some more,” said our hostess. She was an open-handed woman, and the supply of these delicacies never ran low as long as the ” Panjandrum ” was a possibility.

It was, I think, on this evening that we decided finally for columns and for a dark grey wrapper,—with a portrait of the Panjandrum in the centre; a fancy portrait it must necessarily be ; but we knew that we could trust for that to the fertile pencil of Mrs. St. Quinten. I had come prepared with a specimen cover, as to which I had in truth consulted an artistic friend, and had taken with it no inconsiderable labour. I am sure, looking back over the long interval of years at my feelings on that occasion, —I am sure, I say, that I bore well the alterations and changes which were made in that design until at last nothing remained of it. But what matters a wrapper ? Surely of any printed and published work it is by the interior that you should judge it. It is not that old conjuror’s head that has given its success to ” Blackwood,” nor yet those four agricultural boys that have made the ” Cornhill” what it is.

We had now decided on columns, on the cover, and the colour. We had settled on the number of pages, and had thumbed four or five specimens of paper submitted to us by our worthy publisher. In that matter we had taken his advice, and chosen the cheapest; but still we liked the thumbing of the paper. It was business. Paper was paper then, and bore a high duty. I do not think that the system of illustration had commenced in those days, though a series of portraits was being published by one distinguished contemporary. We readily determined that we would attempt nothing of that kind. There then arose a question as to the insertion of a novel. Novels were not then, as now, held to be absolutely essential for the success of a magazine. There were at that time magazines with novels and magazines without them. The discreet young publisher suggested to us that we were not able to pay for such a story as would do us any credit. I myself, who was greedy for work, with bated breath offered to make an attempt. It was received with but faint thanks, and Walter Watt, rising on his legs, with eyes full of fire and arms extended, denounced novels in the general. It was not for such purpose that he was about to devote to the production of the ” Panjandrum ” any erudition that he might have acquired and all the intellect that God had given him. Let those who wanted novels go for them to the writer who dealt with fiction in the open market. As for him, he at any rate would search for truth. We reminded him of Blumine.* ” Tell your novel in three pages,” said he, ” and tell it as that is told, and I will not object to it.” We were enabled, however, to decide that there should be no novel in the ” Panjandrum.”

Then at length came the meeting at which we were to begin our real work and divide our tasks among us. Hitherto Mr. X. had usually joined us, but a hint had been given to him that on this and a few following meetings we would not trespass on his time. It was quite understood that he, as publisher, was to have nothing to do with the preparation or arrangement of the matter to be published. We were, I think, a little proud of keeping him at a distance when we came to the discussion of that actual essence of our combined intellects which was to be issued to the world under the grotesque name which we had selected. That mind and matter should be kept separated was impressed very strongly upon all of us. » See ” Sartor Resartus.”

Now, we were ” mind,” and Mr. X. was ” matter.” He was matter at any rate in reference to this special work, and, therefore, when we had arrived at that vital point we told him,—I had been commissioned to do so,—that we did not require his attendance just at present. I am bound to say that Mr. X. behaved well to the end, but I do not think that he ever wanned to the ” Panjandrum ” after that. I fancy that he owns two or three periodicals now, and hires his editors quite as easily as he does his butlers,—and with less regard to their characters.

I spent a nervous day in anticipation of that meeting. Pat Regan was with me all day, and threatened dissolution. ” There isn’t a fellow in the world,” said he, ” that I love better than Walter Watt, and I’d go to Jamaica to serve him; “—when the time came, which it did, oh, so soon! he was asked to go no further than Kensal Green;—” but !” and then Pat paused.

” You’re ready to quarrel with him,” said I, ” simply because he won’t laugh at your jokes.”

” There’s a good deal in that,” said Regan; ” and when two men are in a boat together each ought to laugh at the other’s jokes. But the question isn’t as to our laughing. If we can’t make the public laugh sometimes we may as well shut up shop. “Walter is so intensely serious that nothing less austere than lay sermons will suit his conscience.”

” Let him preach his sermon, and do you crack your jokes. Surely we can’t be dull when we have you and Jack Hallam?”

” Jack’ll never write a line,” said Regan; ” he only comes for the muffins. Then think of Churchill Smith, and the sort of stuff he’ll expect to force down our readers’ throats.”

” Smith is sour, but never tedious,” said I. Indeed, I expected great things from Smith, and so I told my friend.

” ‘ Lydia will write,” said Pat. “We used to call her Lydia behind her back. ” And so will Churchill Smith and “Watt. I do not doubt that they have quires written already. But no one will read a word of it. Jack, and you, and I will intend to write, but we shall never do anything.”

This I felt to be most unjust, because, as I have said before, I was already engaged upon the press. My work was not remunerative, but it was regularly done. ” I am afraid of nothing,” said I, ” but distrust. You can move a mountain if you will only believe that you can move it.”

“Just so;—but in order to avoid the confusion consequent on general motion among the mountains, I and other men have been created without that sort of faith.” It was always so with my poor friend, and, consequently, he is now Attorney-General at a Turtle Island. Had he believed as I did,—he and Jack,—I still think that the ” Panjandrum ” might have been a great success. ” Don’t you look so glum,” he went on to say. ” I’ll stick to it, and do my best. I did put Lord Bateman into rhymed Latin verse for you last night.”

Then he repeated to me various stanzas, of which I still remember one;—

“Tuam ilusi, verum /eat, /filiam, sed merum est; Si virgo mihi data fuit, virgo tibi redditur. Venit in ephippio mihi, et concipio Satis est si triga pro rcditu conceditur.”

This cheered me a little, for I thought that Pat was good at these things, and I was especially anxious to take the wind out of the sails of ” Fraser ” and Father Prout. “Bring it with you,” said I to him, giving him great praise. ” It will raise our spirits to know that we have something ready.” He did bring it; but ” Lydia” required to have it all translated to her, word by word. It went off heavily, and was at last objected to by the lady. For the first and last time during our debates Miss Collins ventured to give an opinion on the literary question under discussion. She agreed, she said, with her friend in thinking that Mr. Regan’s Latin poem, should not be used. The translation was certainly as good as the ballad, and I was angry. Miss Collins, at any rate, need not have interfered.

At last the evening came, and we sat round the table, after the tea-cups had been removed, each anxious for his allotted task. Pat had been so far right in his views as to the diligence of three of our colleagues, that they came furnished with piles of manuscript. Walter Watt, who was afflicted with no false shame, boldly placed before him on the table a heap of blotted paper. Churchill Smith held in his hand a roll; but he did not, in fact, unroll it during the evening. He was a man very fond of his own ideas, of his own modes of thinking and manner of life, but not prone to put himself forward. I do not mind owning that I disliked him; but he had a power of self-abnegation which was, to say the least of it, respectable. As I entered the room, my eyes fell on a mass of dishevelled sheets of paper which lay on the sofa behind the chair on which Mrs. St. Quinten always sat, and I knew that these were her contributions. Pat Regan, as I have said, produced his unfortunate translation, and promised with the greatest good-humour to do another when he was told that his last performance did not quite suit Mrs. St. Quinten’s views. Jack had nothing ready ; nor, indeed, was anything ” ready ” ever expected from him. I, however, had my own ideas as to what Jack might do for us. For myself, I confess that I had in my pocket from two to three hundred lines of what I conceived would be a very suitable introduction, in verse, for the first number. It was my duty, I thought, as editor, to provide the magazine with a few initiatory words. I did not, however, produce the rhymes on that evening, having learned to feel that any strong expression of self on the part of one member at that board was not gratifying to the others. I did take some pains in composing those lines, and thought at the time that I had been not unhappy in mixing the useful with the sweet. How many hours shall I say that I devoted to them ? Alas, alas, it matters not now ! Those words which I did love well never met any eye but my own. Though I had them then by heart, they were never sounded in any ear. It was not personal glory that I desired. They were written that the first number of the ” Panjandrum ” might appear becomingly before the public, and the first number of the “Panjandrum” never appeared! I looked at them the other day, thinking whether it might be too late for them to serve another turn. I will never look at them again.

But from the first starting of the conception of the ” Panjandrum ” I had had a great idea, and that idea was discussed at length on the evening of which I am speaking. We must have something that should be sparkling, clever, instructive, amusing, philosophical, remarkable, and new, all at the same time! That such a thing might be achieved in literature I felt convinced. And it must be the work of three or four together. It should be something that should force itself into notice, and compel attention. It should deal with the greatest questions of humanity, and deal with them wisely,—but still should deal with them in a sportive spirit. Philosophy and humour might, I was sure, be combined. Social science might be taught with witty words, and abstract politics made as agreeable as a novel. There had been the ” Corn Law Rhymes,”—and the ” Noctes.” It was, however, essentially necessary that we should be new, and therefore I endeavoured,—vainly endeavoured,—to get those old things out of my head. Fraser’s people had done a great stroke of business by calling their Editor Mr. Torke. If I could get our people to call me Mr. Lancaster, something might come of it. But yet it was so needful that we should be new! The idea had been seething in my brain so constantly that I had hardly eat or slept free from it for the last six weeks. If I could roll Churchill Smith and Jack Hallam into one, throw in a dash of Walter Watt’s fine political eagerness, make use of Regan’s ready poetical facility, and then control it all by my own literary experience, the thing would be done. But it is so hard to blend the elements !

I had spoken often of it to Pat, and he had assented. ” I’ll do anything into rhyme,” he used to say, ” if that’s what you mean.” It was not quite what I meant. One cannot always convey one’s meaning to another; and this difficulty is so infinitely increased when one is not quite clear in one’s own mind! And then Pat, who was the kindest fellow in the world, and who bore with the utmost patience a restless energy which must often have troubled him sorely, tad not really his heart in it as I had. ” If Churchill Smith will send me ever so much of his stuff, I’ll put it into Latin or English verse, just as you please, —and I can’t say more than that.” It was a great offer to make, but it did not exactly reach the point at which I was aiming.

I had spoken to Smith about it also. I knew that if we were to achieve success, we must do so in a great measure by the force of his intellectual energy. I was not seeking pleasure, but success, and was willing therefore to endure the probable discourtesy, or at least want of cordiality, which I might encounter from the man. I must acknowledge that he listened to me with a rapt attention. Attention so rapt is more sometimes than one desires. Could he have helped me with a word or two now and again I should have felt myself to be more comfortable with him. I am inclined to think that two men get on better together in discussing a subject when they each speak a little at random. It creates a confidence, and enables a man to go on to the end. Churchill Smith heard me without a word, and then remarked that he had been too slow quite to catch my idea. Would I explain it again ? I did explain it again,’—though no doubt I

was flustered, and blundered. ” Certainly,” said Churchill Smith, ” if we can all be witty and all wise, and all witty and wise at the same time, and altogether, it will be very fine. But then, you see, I’m never witty, and seldom wise.” The man was so uncongenial that there was no getting anything from him. I did not dare to suggest to him that he should submit the prose exposition of his ideas to the metrical talent of our friend Regan.

As soon as we were assembled I rose upon my legs, saying that I proposed to make a few preliminary observations. It certainly was the case that at this moment Mrs. St. Quinten was rinsing the teapot, and Mary Jane had not yet brought in the muffins. We all know that when men meet together for special dinners, the speeches are not commenced till the meal is over;—and I would have kept my seat till Jack had done his worst with the delicacies, had it not been our practice to discuss our business with our plates and cups and saucers still before us. ” You can’t drink your tea on your legs,” said Jack Hallam. ” I have no such intention,” said I. ” What I have to lay before you will not take a minute.” A suggestion, however, came from another quarter that I should not be so formal; and Mrs. St. Quinten, touching my sleeve, whispered to me a precaution against speech- making. I sat down, and remarked in a manner that I felt to be ludicrously inefficient, that I had been going to propose that the magazine should be opened by a short introductory paper. As the reader knows, I had the introduction then in my pocket. ” Let us dash into the middle of our work at once,” said Walter Watt. ” No one reads introductions,” said Regan;—my own friend, Pat Regan! ” I own I don’t think an introduction would do us any particular service,” said ” Lydia,” turning to me with that smile which was so often used to keep us in good-humour. I can safely assert that it was never vainly used on me. I did not even bring the verses out of my pocket, and thus I escaped at least the tortures of that criticism to which I should have been subjected had I been allowed to read them to the company. ” So be it,” said I. ” Let us then dash into the middle of our work at once. It is only necessary to have a point settled. Then we can progress.”

After that I was silent for awhile, thinking it well to keep myself in the background. But no one seemed to be ready for speech. Walter Watt fingered his manuscript uneasily, and Mrs. St. Quinten made some remark not distinctly audible as to the sheets on the sofa. ” But I must get rid of the tray first,” she said. Churchill Smith sat perfectly still with his roll in his pocket. ” Mrs. St. Quinten and gentlemen,” I said, ” I am happy to tell you that I have had a contribution handed to me which will go far to grace our first number. Our friend Regan has done ‘ Lord Bateman ‘ into Latin verse with a Latinity and a rhythm so excellent that it will go far to make us at any rate equal to anything else in that line.” Then I produced the translated ballad, and the little episode took place which I have already described. Mrs. St. Quinten insisted on understanding it in detail, and it was rejected. ” Then, upon my word, I don’t know what you are to get,” said I. “Latin translations are not indispensable,” said Walter Watt. /”No /doubt we can live without them,” said Pat, with a fine good humour. He bore the disgrace of having his first contribution rejected with admirable patience. There was nothing he could not bear. To this day he bears being Attorney- General at the Turtle Islands.

Something must be done. ” Perhaps,” said I, turning to the lady, ” Mrs. St. Quinten will begin by giving us her ideas as to our first number. She will tell us what she intends to do for us herself.” She was still embarrassed by the tea-things. And I acknowledge that I was led to appeal to her at that moment because it was so. Tf I could succeed in extracting ideas they would be of infinitely more use to us than the reading of manuscript. To get the thing ” licked into shape” must be our first object. As I had on this evening walked up to the sombre street leading into the New Road in which Mrs. St. Quinten lived I had declared to myself a dozen times that to get the thing ” licked into shape ” was the great desideratum. In my own imaginings I had licked it into some shape. I had suggested to myself my own little introductory poem as a commencement, and Pat Regan’s Latin ballad as a pretty finish to the first number. Then there should be some thirty pages of dialogue,—or trialogue,—or hexalogue if necessary, between the different members of our Board, each giving, under an assumed name, his view of what a perfect magazine should be. This I intended to be the beginning of a conversational element which should be maintained in all subsequent numbers, and which would enable us in that light and airy fashion which becomes a magazine to discuss all subjects of politics, philosophy, manners, literature, social science, and even religion if necessary, without inflicting on our readers the dulness of a long unbroken essay. I was very strong about these conversations, and saw my way to a great success,—if I could only get my friends to act in concert with me. Very much depended on the names to be chosen, and I had my doubts whether “Watt and Churchill Smith would consent to this slightly theatrical arrangement. Mrs. St. Quinten had already given in her adhesion, but was doubting whether she would call herself ” Charlotte,”—partly after Charlotte Corday and partly after the lady who cut bread and butter, or ” Mrs. Freeman,”—that name having, as she observed, been used before as a nom de plume,—or ” Sophronie,” after Madame de Sevigne1, who was pleased so to call herself among the learned ladies of Madame de Rambouillet’s bower. I was altogether in favour of Mrs. Freeman, which has the merit of simplicity ;—but that was a minor point. Jack Hallam had chosen his appellation. Somewhere in the Lowlands he had seen over a small shop-door the name of John Neverapenny; and ” John Neverapenny ” he would be. I turned it over on my tongue a score of times, and thought that perhaps it might do. Pat wanted to call himself ” The O’Blazes,” but was at last persuaded to adopt the quieter name of ” Tipperary,” in which county his family had been established since Ireland was,— settled I think he said. For myself I was indifferent. They might give me what title they pleased. I had had my own notion, but that had been rejected. They might call me ” Jones ” or ” Walker,” if they thought proper. But I was very much wedded to the idea, and I still think that had it been stoutly carried out the results would have been happy.

I was the first to acknowledge that the plan was not new. There had been the ” Noctes,” and some imitations even of the “Noctes.” But then, what is new? The ” Noctes” themselves had been imitations from older works. If Socrates and Hippias had not conversed, neither probably would Mr. North and his friends. ” You might as well tell me,” said I, addressing my colleagues, ” that we must invent a new language, find new forms of expression, print our ideas in an unknown type, and impress them on some strange paper. Let our thoughts be new,” said I, ” and then let us select for their manifestation the most convenient form with which experience provides us.” But they didn’t see it. Mrs. St. Quinten liked the romance of being “Sophronie,” and to Jack and Pat there was some fun in the nicknames; but in the real thing for which I was striving they had no actual faith. ” If I could only lick them into shape,” I had said to myself at the last moment, as I was knocking at Mrs. St. Quinten’s door.

Mrs. St. Quinten was nearer, to my way of thinking, in this respect than the others; and therefore I appealed to her while the tea-things were still before her, thinking that I might obtain from her a suggestion in favour of the conversations. The introductory poem and the Latin ballad were gone. For spilt milk what wise man weeps ? My verses had not even left my pocket. Not one there knew that they had been written. And I was determined that not one should know. But my conversations might still live. Ah, if I could only blend the elements ! ” Sophronie,” said I, taking courage, and speaking with a voice from which all sense of shame and fear of failure were intended to be banished; ” Sophronie will tell us what she intends to do for us herself.”

I looked into my friend’s face and saw that she liked it. But she turned to her cousin, Churchill Smith, as though for approval,—and met none. ” “We had better be in earnest,” said Churchill Smith, without moving a muscle of his face or giving the slightest return to the glance which had fallen upon him from his cousin.

“No one can be more thoroughly in earnest than myself,” I replied.

“Let us have no calling of names,” said Churchill Smith. “It is inappropriate, and especially so when a lady is concerned.”

” It has been done scores of times,” I rejoined; ” and that too in the very highest phases of civilisation, and among the most discreet of matrons.”

” It seems to me to be twaddle,” said Walter Watt.

” To my taste it’s abominably vulgar,” said Churchill Smith.

” It has answered very well in other magazines,” said I.

” That’s just the reason we should avoid it,” said Walter Watt.

“I think the thing has been about worn out,” said Pat Regan.

I was now thrown upon my mettle. Rising again upon my legs,—for the tea-things had now been removed,—I poured out my convictions, my hopes, my fears, my ambitions. If we were thus to disagree on every point, how should we ever blend the elements P If we could not forbear with one another, how could we hope to act together upon the age as one great force ? If there was no agreement between us, how could we have the strength of union ? Then I adverted with all the eloquence of which I was master to the great objects to be attained by these imaginary conversations. ” That we may work together, each using his own words,—that is my desire,” I said. And I pointed out to them how willing I was to be the least among them in this contest, to content myself with simply acting as chorus, and pointing to the lessons of wisdom which would fall from out of their mouths. I must say that they listened to me on this occasion with great patience. Churchill Smith sat there, with his great hollow eyes fixed upon me; and it seemed to me, as he looked, that even he was being persuaded. I threw myself into my words, and implored them to allow me on this occasion to put them on the road to success. When I had finished speaking I looked around, and for a moment I thought they were convinced. There was just a whispered word between our Sophronie and her cousin, and then she turned to me and spoke. I was still standing, and I bent down over her to catch the sentence she should pronounce. ” Give it up,” she said.

And I gave it up. With what a pang this was done few of my readers can probably understand. It had been my dream from my youth upwards. I was still young, no doubt, and looking back now I can see how insignificant were the aspirations which were then in question. But there is no period in a man’s life in which it does not seem to him that his ambition is then, at that moment, culminating for him, — till the time comes in which he begins to own to himself that his life is not fit for ambition. I had believed that I might be the means of doing something, and of doing it in this way. Very vague indeed had been my notions ; — most crude my ideas. I can see that now. What it was that my interlocutors were to say to each other I had never clearly known. But I had felt that in this way each might speak his own speech without confusion and with delight to the reader. The elements, I had thought, might be so blent. Then there came that little whisper between Churchill Smith and our Sophronie, and I found that I had failed. ” Give it up,” said she.

” Oh, of course,” I said, as I sat down ; ” only just settle what you mean to do.” For some few minutes I hardly heard what matters were being discussed among them, and, indeed, during the remainder of the evening I took no real share in the conversation. I was too deeply wounded even to listen. I was resolute at first to abandon the whole affair. I had already managed to scrape together the sum of money which had been named as the share necessary for each of us to contribute towards the production of the first number, and that should be altogether at their disposal. As for editing a periodical in the management of which I was not allowed to have the slightest voice, that was manifestly out of the question. Nor could I contribute when every contribution which I suggested was rejected before it was seen. My money I could give them, and that no doubt would be welcome. With these gloomy thoughts my mind was so full that I actually did not hear the words with which Walter Watt and Churchill Smith were discussing the papers proposed for the first number.

There was nothing read that evening. No doubt it was visible to them all that I was, as it were, a blighted spirit among them. They could not but know how hard I had worked, how high had been my hopes, how keen was my disappointment;—and they felt for me. Even Churchill Smith, as he shook hands with me at the door, spoke a word of encouragement. ” Do not expect to do things too quickly,” said he. ” I don’t expect to do anything,” said I. ” We may do something even yet,” said he, ” if we can be humble, and patient, and persevering. We may do something though it be ever so little.” I was humble enough certainly, and knew that I had persevered. As for patience;—well; I would endeavour even to be patient.

But, prior to that, Mrs. St. Quinten had explained to me the programme which had now been settled between the party. We were not to meet again till that day fortnight, and then each of us was to come provided with matter that would fill twenty-one printed pages of the magazine. This, with the title-page, would comprise the whole first number. We might all do as we liked with our own pages,—each within his allotted space,—filling the whole with one essay, or dividing it into two or three short papers. In this way there might be scope for Pat Regan’s verse, or for any little badinage in which Jack 11;; I la in might wish to express himself. And in order to facilitate our work, and for the sake of general accommodation, a page or two might be lent or borrowed. ” Whatever anybody writes then,” I asked, ” must be admitted ?” Mrs. St. Quinten explained to me that this had not been their decision. The whole matter produced was of course to be read,—each contributor’s paper by the contributor himself, and it was to be printed and inserted in the first number, if any three would vote for its insertion. On this occasion the author, of course, would have no vote. The votes were to be handed in, written < on slips of paper, so that there might be no priority in voting,—so that no one should be required to express himself before or after his neighbour. It was very complex, but I made no objection.

As I walked home alone,—for I had no spirits to join Regan and Jack Hallam, who went in search of supper at the Haymarket,—I turned over Smith’s words in my mind, and resolved that I would be humble, patient, and persevering,—so that something might be done, though it were, as he said, ever so little. I would struggle still. Though everything was to be managed in a manner adverse to my own ideas and wishes, I would still struggle. I would still hope that the ” Panjandrum” might become a great fact in the literature of my country.