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is in a hurry, and addresses "mine host,” in the middle of December, “I want something good and nice," and he is told in reply, “ We can give you the very best—will you have some January chicken?” If the epicure had any knowledge of physiology, or of the phenomena produced by incubation, is it not likely that he would prefer waiting for the January chicken until January came? The hotel keeper might, indeed, say that the article is "fresh" now, and would be “stale” in January when the full period of incubation was completed; but would this be satisfactory?
The ladies are said to be very silly, because they represent themselves as having come into the world more recently than they really did ; but it is natural for them to cling even to the semblance of youth, as long as possible ; since a large proportion of them, if not the majority, have to depend chiefly for the influence they exercise among men, on those charms which are effaced by time. Associating increasing years with the gradual loss of their attractions, after they have attained a certain age, it is not at all to be wondered at that they wish to be considered younger than they are. “I should wish to be a beautiful young lady," says la Bruyère, “from my thirteenth to my twenty-second year, and after that age to become a man.”* This explains the whole affair, and fully justifies the ladies for wishing to be considered younger than they are. But although the ladies have thus good reason to attach much importance to youth and “freshness,” who has ever heard of an honest lady that wished to be delivered of her child a month, a week, or even a day before its time? That some women have such wishes is very true ; but are they the right kind ?-are they such as we wish our wives and daughters to associate with ?
But this comparison may be presented in another form. Every corporeal being that has life, as well as woman, must grow old and die; whereas ideas are supposed to be immortal. Surely they must be puny, not to say worthless, ideas that would die, or even grow stale, in a week or two. Transitory as woman's charms are, they last longer than tbis, even under the most unfavorable circumstances. But in the name of common sense, why is a love story, a murder story, or any other story, anything the better for being dated “January,” than it would be if dated “December ?” What benefit does an historical sketch of the times of Charles I. or Louis XIV. derive from being dated January, more than if it were dated December? Could we not wait another week or two for the information it contains, as patiently as we did the rest of our lives?
* J'ai vu souhaiter d'être fille, et une belle fille, depuis treize ans jusqu' après cet âge de devenir un homme.--Les Caract res do La Bruyere, chap. iii.
But the most absurd and ridiculous attempt of all, is to comment in December on the current events of January. If this is impossible ; if after all, no events can be discussed as current in December, but such as are so, does not the fact of labelling those events “ January,” rather tend to make them “stale” than “fresh ?” This has been illustrated but too ludicrously during the late presidential election, when magazines and weekly papers, purporting to have been published after the result was known to the inhabitants of the most obscure hamlet in the United States could only speak of it as if it were still in the womb of the future.
Supposing the most important occurrences take place to-day, in what magazines could they be even alluded to ? Surely not in a December one, since that was published more than a month ago—about the middle of November. It would be equally impossible to notice them in a January magazine which was published at least a week ago ; so that if a revolution took place this afternoon, at Washington, or Albany, or if an earthquake occurred that destroyed half New York, Boston, or Philadelphia, we might not expect to find one word about it in any earlier magazine than the February number! The most important annual reports, issued in the middle of December, must wait for the same number ; if they were issued on the first day of December, the earliest number in which they could be noticed would be that for January; whereas the reports issued in the middle of January, or earlier, have to wait for the criticism of our monthlies until the March numbers are "ready."
The truth is, that no work worth printing, as an intellectual production, has ever lost any of its value, or “freshness," for being laid aside a few weeks. It is the most valuable that have been so laid aside in all ages. The Homeric poems were but little known until Pisistratus caused them to be collected and transcribed; they were so old at this time—five hundred years before Christ—that no one could tell when they were written. Yet they were not stale in any sense, nor are they to-day, more than two thousand years later! Does the date alter the value of the works of Dante, Shakspeare, or Milton ? if it does, is it not by making the older editions the most valuable ? Paradise Lost had been rejected by several publishers before the author could get any one to give him even £5 for it. More recently Oliver Goldsmith was unable to procure the most ordinary necessaries of life, while his admirable Vicar of Wakefield lay beside him, as if it were waste paper; and it might have lain there for years longer, had Dr. Johnson not gone in person to procure a publisher for it. Gray's Elegy, De Foe's Robinson Crusoe, Corneille's Polyeucte, and many other celebrated works we could mention, were little thought of when “fresh" or“new.” If the productions of the intellect that possess any value, do not, like good wine, improve by time, at least they no more suffer from time than gold does. It is only productions that have but a fictitious value, that degenerate in this way.
We hold, however, that our confrères have a perfect right to issue their journals as far in advance as they choose. If it be their good will and pleasure to label the numbers they issue in January, “March," or even “ August,” we shall have no complaint to make; nor shall we have any fault to find with those kind and obliging critics, who about the same day every month inform their readers so approvingly, that Smith's magazine, for next month, is “now ready.” Even when they do so, after having previously given long extracts from the "advanced sheets," with an intimation that all the gems may be had in extenso, in a few days, we shall not grumble in the least.
All we ask is, that we be allowed equal liberty ourselves. We are not prophets; nor do we care to be "fast"-except when on horseback. We have, therefore, never pretended to issue our journal before the time mentioned on the face of it; nor shall we in the future. In our first prospectus we promised to issue the work in March, June, September, and December, respectively, and accordingly there never has been a number of it issued on any other month, earlier or later.
Some have regarded us as slow on this account. There are those who think us “late,” because we do not issue our September number in August, our December number in November, &c., &c., although not one of our subscribers or patrons has ever reproached us with being one or the other. The reason is, that both are not merely intelligent ; they are persons who think as well as read. Such do not expect journalists, more than other sinners, to perform miracles; they know that if we are slow and late, because we do not pretend to outstrip Time, the editors of the greatest periodicals in the world are slow and late.
Thus, for example, if it be asked which is the ablest and most famous periodical in Europe, the general reply will be “The Edinburgh Review." We cheerfully admit, not only that this is the reputation it has always enjoyed, but that it has eminently deserved it. No periodical anywhere has done more good, yet according to a certain class of our critics, it is “always late," since a number of it has never been published before the month mentioned on the face of it. Sometimes it has been published at the beginning of the month, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes towards the close : nay, there have been occasions when it did not appear until the opening of the following month. Then, indeed, it was admitted to be late, but none pretended that it was a whit the less interesting, or the less valuable on this account.
Incredible though it may appear to the class alluded to, its editors have always claimed the right to delay it a week, two weeks, or three weeks, according as the public interest seemed to warrant them in doing so. Every one acquainted with the history of that celebrated periodical is aware that it has often been delayed two or three weeks for an important debate, a general election, or the ratification of an im
portant treaty, &c. But it is only necessary to glance at the work as printed at home in order to see what little importance its conductors attach to the difference of a few days, or even weeks, in the time of its publication. In each number of several volumes now before us, which have been published at intervals of years, it is announced at the close of the reading matter, that the number for the ensuing quarter will be issued some time during the first month of that quarter; thus at the close of the January number we read, “No. CXXVII. will be published in April ;” at the close of the April number, “ No. CXXVIII. will be published in July," &c., &c.
We mention the “Edinburgh,” however, only as an example; all the other great periodicals of Europe, including those of Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Florence, pursue the same course. There is not a city of any extent in Europe, or America in which the Revue des Deux Mondes, or the Revue Contemporaine has not subscribers, but never does either attempt to outstrip time a single day, for the purpose of increasing its “freshness,” or diminishing its “staleness.”
Art. VIII.-1. Storia degli antiqui popoli italiani. MICALI, Rome. 2. Annales de l'Institut de correspondanee archeologique de Rome. 3. Die Etrusker. K. 0. MULLER, Breslau. 4. Alphabetum veterum Etruscorum. AMADUZZI, Rome. 6. Saggio di lingua etrusca e di altre antiche d' Italia. LANZI,
Rome. 6. On the Antiquities discovered in Etruria. By C. MULLIGAN,
Of all the ancient nations of Italy none appears to have such claims upon our notice as that of the Tuscans. Their celebrity at a time when Rome as yet had no existence, the superiority of their political institutions, their progress in navigation, commerce, and many other arts of civilized life, when the surrounding nations were all enveloped in ignorance and barbarism, are circumstances which even at the