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things, like him, of course, all the better for his partisanship, and only regret that it has not been more active and laborious. Others, however, suspecting all partisanship of narrowness, and having no respect for the current philanthropy, are, on this.very account, prejudiced against him. Misled probably by the exaggerated form of expression that seems almost inseparable from articles written for a newspaper, both classes appear hardly to have observed a certain intellectual delicacy, a certain ripe literary flavour, so to speak, that, mingling with Mr. Jerrold's disquisitions on social topics, distinguishes them from the cruder declamations of those summary persons who call bishops gluttons; capitalists, thieves; and military men, murderers.
Fully to bring out all that it seems necessary to say respecting Mr. Jerrold's peculiarities as a writer, it may be well to regard him separately for a little in each of those two phases that we have marked as characteristic of him. We shall, therefore, in what follows, consider him first as the man of wit, the comic author; and secondly, as the essayist, the man of higher opinions, the political and philanthropic partisan. We shall select our examples in both cases, chiefly, though not exclusively, from 'The Man made of Money,' the latest and perhaps most complete of his publications.
The immense and increasing number of our comic writers is a curious sign of the times. There appears to be something in the air of London that especially favours this kind of growth. Whether it be that the number of odd actual sights to be seen in London, queer faces, quaint street-groups, amusing incidents, and so on, necessarily beget a comic mode of thinking among the inhabitants, as might be inferred from the circumstance that the best practitioners of London wit are the cabmen, the omnibus-drivers, and such as, like them, combine learned leisure with peculiar facilities for observation; or whether, as to some extent must be the case, the general want of academic or any equivalent education among London youths, relieving, as it does, their minds from any unnecessary acquaintance with the atomic theory, the Greek chorus, surds, the polarization of light, the Lockian and Kantian metaphysics, and other heavy matters of that kind, leaves them permanently merrier and more self-contented creatures, with a freer eye for what is about them, and less care for what is under or over them; certain, at least, it is, that all native London talent, if left to itself, tends to run to wit. To describe Beaks, Peelers, Jews, kitchen areas, garrets in Fleet-street, fat city gentlemen, and young good-hearted rascals who get into scrapes, is the pre-established vocation of the London literary aspirant. In Edinburgh, clever, healthy
boys begin by inventing Pyrometers, writing bold ballads of Scottish History, or reviewing Edwards on Free Will;' what they do in Manchester we hardly know; the precocious London lad, however, concocts jokes, meditates a farce to be produced at one of the theatres, or indites a novel in which the hero, Jack Smith, or Bob Webster, goes through the proper amount of funny experience before he is married. Happy the young author who, like Dickens, is saved from the wretchedness of this element by the real genius that he brings into it. For surely there is in London life a mass of materials for story, or drama, than which the world affords no richer. A hundred times more valuable, too, than any mere load of knowledge, are that kindliness of nature and that keenness of perception, that from out this whirl of voiceless confusion can elicit from time to time, new flashes of Nature's fun, and fish up into light new characters of comic visage. Of the present wits of London not a few do possess these gifts. Need we refer, in such a.connexion, to Punch,' their example and representative. “Punch' is the king of special metropolitan literature. Yes, in his perpetual fun, his frequent pathos, his occasional irreverence, that hook-nosed little monster is the present type and incarnation of young literary London.
Considered in itself, a comic manner of thinking does not require any defence or justification. Does any one demand a reason why we should read Rabelais ? Is there not warrant enough for the existence of Sydney Smith's jokes in the simple fact that Sydney Smith was a joker? If the talent of London tends to run to wit, let it be so. Humour may, indeed, be considered a peculiarity of our part of the planet. Every civilized nation, one might say, is bound by a physiological law, to secrete daily, for health's sake, a certain amount of humorous matter. The amount secreted, the proportion of jest to the other national products, such as corn, wine, flax, poetry, and so on, varies, of course, with the time; in what are called earnest times, and also in dear times, it is liable to fall a little. It varies, also, in different nations. Only in the Semitic parts of the Earth does it seem to fall to zero. A man in the neighbourhood of Nineveh does not understand a joke. "Ah, sir, extremes meet,' said a common-place person to Leigh Hunt, whom he had been boring for half an hour with similar incessant twaddle. Yes, sir, and butcher's meat,' said the provoked poet. Now translate that joke into Syriac, and tell it to a boatman on the Tigris. “Allah akhbar,' he will reply, gazing at you with his great mystic eyes, as serious as if you had informed him of the death of his mother. The Semitic genius is grand,
poetic, fierce; but it is destitute of humour. We know but of one celebrated man of Semitic lineage that loved a jest—the Carthaginian Hannibal. His jest before the battle of Cannæ is, we think, unique. Surveying the Roman army with his officers round him, one of them, named Gisco, wishing to say something, addressed him thus:- What surprises me, o, Hannibal, is the immense number there is of these Romans.' "There is another thing more wonderful still,' said Hannibal,' that has escaped your notice.' "What is that?' asked Gisco. Does it not strike you as odd,' said Hannibal, that there should be so many of them, and not one of them called Gisco ?'
Allowing for this little exception, (and if Hannibal's jest is an example of some extinct Semitic species of jest, we wish we had more of thern,) joking may be pronounced an Indo-Germanic privilege. Each Indo-Germanic nation has its special variety of joke. There are English jokes, French jokes, German jokes, Italian jokes, Spanish jokes, and American jokes; all distinguishable by the cultivated palate; and that each nation shall perpetually secrete new supplies of its own kind of joke, is, as we have already observed, a law of its healthy constitution.
All, then, is good, if only it be done well. Bear down on the Cockney intellect, if you choose, with remorseless scholastic education, with tough Scotch science, with serious views of things; this will not extinguish the tendency towards the comic, it will but widen the scope and improve the quality of the metropolitan joke. Yes, we hesitate not to say it, a man will jest all the better for having studied the atomic theory, will be all the absurder for knowing what surds are, will retain his humour though he has read Kant. No loading of the metropolitan mind with severer matter will prevent jokes from being formed in it. Only, the jokes will be of rarer excellence, and will stand in juster proportion to the rest of our relations with this motley universe.
Acting jointly as a kind of secreting organ of general British humour, our comic writers have yet each some peculiar trick or vein that distinguishes him from the others, and gives him an independent existence. As Port, Rhenish, Champagne, and Tokay, differ in flavour, and have each their votaries; so have the British public their choice of Jerrold, Lever, Thackeray, Dickens, and many more. As difficult, too, as it would be to define to an unpractised person the special flavours of different wines by any other than the sensible old plan of giving him a glass of each, so difficult would it be to describe in words in what consists the peculiar raciness of the Jerroldian as compared with the Dickensian, or of this, again, as compared with the Thackeristic humour. A judicious use of such words as fruity, sweet, tart, sparkling, astringent, might, indeed, convey some vague sense of the thing, but not sufficient for critical purposes. We regret this specially at present, anxious as we are to convey our exact impression of Mr. Jerrold's peculiarities as a comic writer. Were we to say that his humour is less kindly and genial than that of Mr. Dickens, but more tart and hearty than that of Mr. Thackeray, we should probably be near the truth. Mr. Jerrold's comic writing, in fact, is, in some respects, more like a liqueur than a wine; one discerns the alcoholic ingredient of strong personal feeling in it, drugging and firing the true juice of the grape. Hence, probably, it is that one can read less of him at a time than of either Dickens or Thackeray. They, having more of the specially artistic spirit, which finds delight in merely depicting, lure the reader on, page after page, without fatiguing him; he, the moralist too strong in him, soon heats and chafes you with his pungent and bitter sentences.
One thing it may be worth while to remark regarding Mr. Jerrold's manner as a comic writer—the small use he makes of the pun. That this is not because of any inability to use it, every one acquainted with him knows: no man alive can wield that weapon in talk better than he. Neither is it, we pelieve, because of any resolution against it, as too mean for literary use. It is only when the pun usurps undue prominence, and is applied to subjects that should be deemed beyond its range, that it becomes odious. It must, therefore, be from some unconscious change of his mental attitude when he takes his pen in hand, that Mr. Jerrold so seldom puns when he writes. In this respect he seems to be the very reverse of Mr. Gilbert A'Beckett, who is punless, it is said, when he speaks, but down whose pen the puns stream like drops of quicksilver. We are strangely made. One man who cannot chat across a table, will make a fluent speech at a public meeting; another who cannot write a letter, will converse like a Burke, or compose a fine treatise.
Another thing to be remarked respecting Mr. Jerrold's writings is, that they contain fewer perfectly successful comic portraits than those of either Thackeray or Dickens. The Mrs. Major O'Dowd, the Mr. Foker, the Jeames, and the Captain Costigan of Thackeray; the Wellers, Swivellers, Pickwicks, Tootses, &c., of Dickens, are real and distinct personages, known wherever the English language is spoken. They are true comic creations, finished portraits, that remain and speak in the memory.
Mr. Jerrold, however,-always excepting his inimitable Mrs. Caudle, and one or two delineations in the same favourite vein, as, for example, Mrs. Jericho, in the Man of Money, and Miss Tucker, in Time Works Wonders,-has not contributed any such happy sketches to our picture gallery of comic characters. His writings, indeed, abound with all sorts of comic men and women Browns, Snubs, Pigeons, Canditufts, &c., often cleverly hit off, and sufficiently distinct as one reads the scenes in which they figure; but, placed there to serve a purpose, they do not remain with one after that
Even when his characters are labelled, by recurring descriptive phrases put into their mouths,-as in Job Pippins, the man who couldn't help it,' Lord Skindeep, the 'friend of his species,' and such like,—they rapidly evanesce from the memory. Perhaps the nearest approach to a permanent comic delineation, in the Man of Money, is the silly baronet, Sir Arthur Hodmadod, who, the moment he says a thing, becomes uncertain about it. Even here, however, something is wanting to make the character a public favourite. The name, for example, is not happy; and, indeed, it is a corroboration of the very observation we are now making, that Mr. Jerrold is almost uniformly less happy than Mr. Dickens or Mr. Thackeray in the names he selects for his characters. The power of inventing a good name for a character seems, in fact, to be but a variety of the power that conceives the character itself. And where Mr. Jerrold succeeds in the conception, as in Mrs. Caudle, there also the name is good. The truth is, as we have already hinted, that in Mr. Jerrold, the moralist, the satirist, prevails over the artist. His creations are, in most cases, but vehicles for some feeling or opinion; and it is more rarely that, laying aside intention and preference, he rollicks in his own fancies. As in Æsop's fables, the moral comes first, and the fiction is made to order. This very defect, therefore, is but the obverse side of a merit. Consider Mr. Jerrold as a man of thought and feeling working in the element of fiction, and then, giving him all the more credit when he does from time to time contribute an original physiognomy to our national portfolio of comic portraits, you will yet cease to regard this as his proper business, and will be content if his tales are so constructed that each of them, the names and figures vanishing, shall leave its impression as a whole. Viewed in this light, that is as embodiments of special maxims or feelings, some of the little tales that Mr. Jerrold has given to the public, first in periodicals, and afterwards in a collected form, in the two series entitled 'Men of Character,' and Cakes and Ale,' are really fine pieces of writing. The latter series is the superior; many of the tales in it, like some of those in the former, are