Have you enjoyed these articles?

A short piece from November 2007 by Mary Jackson

Last year I was taken to task by a reader, who commented thus on Theodore Dalrymple’s article Heart of Darkness:


My comment is not regarding Mr. Dalrymple’s excellent article, but rather your fatuous instruction “If you have enjoyed this article . . .” which is highly inappropriate to the contents of the article. Enjoyed, forsooth! perhaps by a sadist or masochist or Mr.Mailer.


Oh dear. It’s November 2007, my name is Mary Jackson and I am fatuous. I came up with this admittedly rather trite form of words. “Enjoy” is not quite the word for a Dalrymple article.


Then again, what is? I devised this form of words to link all articles to a blog posting for comments, but each New English Review article is different. One article instructs, another delights. Some do both. One moves the reader to pity, another to terror. Some inspire fear, some surprise, some perhaps a fanatical devotion to the Pope. Laughter, or tears, or laughter through tears. Snorts of derision and howls of indignation. One article made a reader cry out: “You are a monster, Mr Derbyshire.” And it wasn’t even one of Derb’s. (Oh, all right then, yes it was.)


So, unless we are to pick a different word for each author and each article, “enjoy” will have to do. I hope that you have enjoyed reading these, and past, articles.


Have you enjoyed reading our blog, The Iconoclast? Did John Derbyshire’s posts infuriate and amuse you in equal measure? Did you learn at least fifty new ideas, fifty new words and fifty new puns a day from Hugh Fitzgerald? Or was it Esmerelda’s gentle humour and original reporting, or her husband’s – and Robert Bové’s – stunning photography? The latter is only a sideline for him – not many websites have an in-house published poet. Or was it Rebecca Bynum’s moving eloquence, on so many subjects from politics and theology to vivid personal recollections? Perhaps it was my fruity double entendres. No? Sorry. I try to keep it buttoned but they will keep popping out.


Have you enjoyed reading New English Review?


Good. Because that’s it. It’s finished. This is the last edition. No more. This motley crew of voices has been silenced. Forever.


But why? What’s happened, you ask. Have we received a fatwa? Has some new hate-speech legislation banned criticism of Islam? Worse still, have we all got writer’s block, and run out of ideas? Or is it some personal tragedy? Has one of us died?


No, it’s nothing like that. The truth is drearily banal. We’ve run out of cash.


Cash? Money? Filthy lucre? But surely New English Review is above that kind of thing. It has minds that can overcome matter, faith – faith in Western civilisation – that can move mountains, fine words that can butter all the parsnips in the world.

Wrong. We’re broke, and we can’t afford the parsnips, let alone the butter. That’s why we must close.


“Handsome men,” said Jane Austen, “Must have something to live on as well as the plain.” And the eloquent, the witty and the knowledgeable must have something to live on as well as the clumsy, the dull and the ignorant. If not a truth universally acknowledged, it is at least a common misconception that a rich vocabulary means that one is rich, that wealth of knowledge equates to wealth in the bank, or that a sense of humour means its owner does not have to deal with the serious business of paying bills. Some of you may remember Hugh Fitzgerald posting this on our – soon to be defunct – blog:

As for those who make money, if they have common sense — some do, and some don’t — they should take as their model not Uncle Scrooge but rather Maecenas or one of the Medici.

By the way, this site — which daily provides such unrivalled mental profit and pleasure to its growing number of free-riding visitors  — is in desperate need of support, and at least one of its contributors needs to replace the ancient wiring in his house, because, quite literally, the lights are going out in the gardens of the West — and in one or two of the houses, as well.

And this:

            my hand is out, by the way, in its perennial Eleemosynary Position #1

How many of you, reading this, took it seriously? And how many of you thought Hugh was making a clever joke, or that if he can afford long words like “eleemosynary” he can’t really be poor? But long words are free; electricians cost money. “The lights are going out in the gardens of the West” is a metaphor, but if Hugh doesn’t get his wiring fixed, he will literally – a much abused word – be sitting in the dark. It’s winter too. Heating bills, which Hugh has mentioned on another occasion, will need to be paid. Our finest, most eloquent and knowledgeable contributor could be shivering in the dark. This is no joke, no metaphor, no well-turned phrase. This is why we’re closing.

Some of you have supported us, and for this we are grateful. But some of you could have – could have kept us alive – and you didn’t. And now it’s too late. As you look out of the window on this cold, grey November day, some of you may be wishing that you could turn the clock back. If only it were August, you say, not November. If it were August, I could click on that Donation button and give a little something. It wouldn’t have to be much, just a little something to keep this site ticking over. How many mediocre books have I bought in the last five months? How many disappointing films have I seen? Why did I upgrade to Windows Vista? It’s no good, and just means I’ve got to upgrade the rest of my software. Did I really need that new digital camera? The old one was just as good, give or take a few features, and the new one will be obsolete in no time at all. These things will pass away, but they are replaceable. New English Review will be gone after this edition, with nothing to take its place except an error message.

How I wish it were August. How I wish.

If you have enjoyed this article, please, please put your money where your mouth is. UK readers in particular – the pound is strong and your money will go further. For crying out loud, click here to donate. To donate through Paypal, click the button to your left. Donate, donate, before it’s too late.

To comment on this article, click here.

If you would like to read other articles by Mary Jackson, click here. 

Mary Jackson contributes regularly to The Iconoclast, our Community Blog. Click here to see all her contributions, on which comments are welcome. 



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