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or, noisy hilarity, and frank kindness. it; but Smollett has this advantage, Poetry is true, like prose; and if there that, being mediocre, he chalks oci are eaters and boxers, there are also the figures tamely, prosaically, without knights and artists. Cervantes, whom transforming them by the illumination you imitate, and Shakspeare, whom of genius: the joviality of Fielding ana you recall, had this refinement, and the rigor of Richardson are not there they have painted it; in this abundant to light up or ennoble the pictures. Lei harvest, which you have gathered so us observe carefullySmollett's manners: plentifully, you have forgotten the let us listen to the confessions of this Rowers. We tire at last of your fisti- imitator of Le Sage, who reproaches cuffs ar.d tavern bills. You founder too that author with being gay, and jesting readily in cowhouses, among the eccle- with che mishaps of his hero. He says: siastical pigs of Parson Trulliber. We “The disgraces of Gil Blas are, for the would fain see you have more regard most part, such as rather excite mirth for the modesty of your heroines; way. than compassion: he himself laughs at side accidents raise their tuckers too them, and his transitions from distress often, and Fanny, Sophia, Mrs. Hart- to happiness, or at least ease, are so free, play continue pure, yet we cannot sudden that neither the reader has help remembering the assaults which time to pity him, nor himself to be ac have lifted their petticoats. You are quainted with afftiction. This conduct so coarse yourself, that you are insen- prevents that generous indignation sible to what is atrocious. You per- which ought to animate the reader suade Tom Jones falsely, yet for an in. against the sordid and vicious disposi stant, that Mrs. Waters, whom he has tion of the world. I have attempted made his mistress, is his own mother, to represent modest merit struggling and you leave the reader during a long with every difficulty to which a friend. time buried in the shame of this suppo- less orphan is exposed from his own sition. And then you are obliged to want of experience as well as from the become unnatural in order to depict selfishness, envy, malice, and base inlove ; you can give but constrained let difference of mankind.”* We hear no ters; the transports of your Tom longer merely showers of blows, but Jones are only the author's phrases. also knife and sword thrusts, as well For want of, ideas he declaims odes. as pistol shots. In such a world, when You are only aware of the impetuosity a girl goes out she runs the risk of of the senses, the upwelling of the coming back a woman; and when a blood, the effusion of tenderness, but man goes out, he runs the risk of not you are unacquainted with nervous ex. coming back at all. The women bury altation and poetic rapture. Man, their nails in the faces of the men; the such as you conceive him, is a good well-bred gentlemen, like Peregrine buffalo; and perhaps he is the hero Pickle, whip other gentlemen soundly required by a people which gives itself Having deceived a husband, who re the nickname "John Bull."
fuses to demand satisfaction, Peregrine calls his two servants,
“ and ordered VI.
them to duck him in the canal.” | Mis.
represented by a curate, whom he has, At all events this hero is powerful horsewhipped, he gets an innkeeper and formidable; and if at this period“ to rain a shower of blows upon his we collect in our mind the scattered (the parson's) carcase," who also “laid features of the faces which the novel- hold of one of his ears with his teeth, writers have made pass before us, we and bit it unmercifully.”! I could quote will feel ourselves transported into a from memory a score more of outrages half-barbarous world, and to a race begun or completed. Savage insults whose energ; must terrify or revolt all broken jaws, men on the ground beaten our gentleness. Now let us open a with sticks, the churlish sourness o more literal copyist of life: they are conversations, the coarse brutality of doubtless all such, and declare-field
# Preface to Roderick Random. ing amongst them—that if they imagine
Peregrine Pickle ch. Ix. u feature, it is because they have seen 1 Ibid. ch. xxix.
jests, give an idea of a pack of bulls | to the tyranny of a barbarian, who im dogs eager to fight each other, who, posed upon me tasks that I could not when they begin to get lively, still possibly perform, and then punished amuse themselves by tearing away my incapacity with the utmost rigor pieces of Aesh. A Frenchman can and inhumanity. I was often whipped hardly endure the story of Roderick into a swoon, and lashed out of it, durRandom, or rather that of Smollett, ing which miserable intervals I was when he is on board a man-of-war. robbed by my fellow-prisoners of every He is pressed, that is to say, carried thing about me, even to my cap, shoes, off by force, knocked down, attacked and stockings : I was not cnly destitute with "cudgels and drawn cutlasses," of necessaries, but even of fad, so "pinioned like a malefactor," and that my wretchedness was extreme.” rolled on board, covered with blood, One night she tried to hang herself. before the sailors, who laugh at his Two of her fellow-prisoners, who wounds; and one of them, “ seeing my watched her, prevented her. “ In the hair clotted together with blood, as it morning my attempt was published were, into distinct cords, took notice among the prisoners, and punished that my bows were manned with the with thirty stripes, the pain of which, red ropes, instead of my side.”* Rod co-operating with my disappointment erick “desired one of his fellow-cap- and disgrace, bereft me of my senses, tives, who was untettered, to take a and threw me into an ecstasy of madhandkerchief out of his pocket, and ness, during which I tore the flesh from tie it round his head to stop the bleed- my bones with my teeth, and dashed ing; he (the fellow) pulled out my my head against the pavement.”* In handkerchief, 'tis true, but sold it be vain we turn our eyes on the hero of fore my face to a bum-boat woman for the novel, Roderick Random, to repose a quart of gin.” Captain Oakum de- a little after such a spectacle. He is clares he will have no more sick in his sensual and coarse, like Fielding's heship, ordered them to be brought on roes, but not good and jovial as these. the quarter-deck, commanded that Pride and resentment are the two prin. some should receive a round dozen : cipal points in his character. The gen. some spitting blood, others fainting erous wine of Fielding, in Smollett's from weakness, whilst not a few be- hands becomes common brandy. His came delirious; many died, and of the heroes are selfish; they revenge themsixty-one sick, only a dozen remained selves barbarously. Roderick oppresses alive.t To get into this dark, suffo- the faithful Strap, and ends by marrycating hospital, swarming with vermin, ing. him to a prostitute. Peregrine it is necessary to creep under the close Pickle attacks by a most brutal and hammocks, and forcibly separate them cowardly plot the honor of a young with the shoulders, before the doctor girl, whom he wants to marry, and who can reach his patients. Read the story is the sister of his best friend. We of Miss Williams, a wealthy young girl, get to hate his rancorous, concentrated of good family, reduced to become a obstinate character, which is at once prostitute, robbed, hungry, sick, shivo that of an absolute king, accustomed, ering, strolling about the streets in the to please himself at the expense of oth long winter nights, amongst a num- ers' happiness, and that of a boor with ber of naked wretches reduced to rags only the varnish of education.
We and filth, huddled together like swine, should be uneasy at living near him ; in the corner of a dark alley," who de- he is good for nothing but to shock or pend“ upon the addresses of the lowest tyrannize over others. We avoid him class, and are fain to allay the rage of as we would a dangerous beast; the hunger and cold with gin ; degenerate sudden rush of animal passion and into a brutal insensibility, rot and die the force of his firm will are so overupon a dunghill.” She was thrown powering in him, that when he fails he into Bridewell, where, she says, " in the becomes outrageous. He draws his midst of a hellish crew I was subjected sword against an innkeeper; he must • Peregrine Pickle, ch. xxiv.
bleed him, grows mal. Every thing, + lbid. ch. xvi. * Ibid. ch. Xiü.
even to his generosities, is spoilt by eyes are turnod toward the inner man pride; all, even to his gayetics, is They note exactly the individual pecu clouded by harshness. Peregrine's liarities, and stamp them with such a amusements are barbarous, and those precise mark that their personage beof Smollett are after the same style. comes a type, which cannot be forgot. He exaggerates caricature; he thinks ten. They are psychologists. The to amuse us by showing us mouths ga- title of a comedy of old Ben Jonson's ping to the ears, and noses half-a-foot Every Man in his Humor, indicates long; he magnifies a national prejudice how old and national this taste is or a professional trick until t' absorbs amongst them. "Smollett writes a whole the whole character ; he jumbles to- novel, Humphrey Clinker, on this idea. gether the most repulsive oddities, -a There is no action in it; the book is a Lieutenant Lismahago half roasted by collection of letters written during a Red Indians; old jack-tars who pass tour in Scotland and England. Each their life in shouting and travestying of the travellers, after his bent of mind, all sorts of ideas into their nautical jar- judges variously of the same objects. gon; old maids as ugly as monkeys, as A generous, grumbling old gentleman, Aeshless as skeletons, and as sour as who employs his spare time by think. vinegar; eccentric people steeped in ing himself ill, a crabbed old maid in pedantry, hypochondria, misanthropy, search of a husband, a lady's maid, and silence. Far from sketching them simple and vain, who bravely bungles slightly, as Le Sage does in Gil Blas, her spelling; a series of eccentric peo he brings into prominent relief each ple, who one after another bring their disagreeable feature, overloads it with oddities on the scene,--such are the details, without considering whether characters: the pleasure of the reader they are too numerous, without recog. consists in recognizing their humor in nizing that they are excessive, without their style, in foreseeing their follies, feeling that they are odious, without in perceiving the thread which pulls perceiving that they are disgusting. each of their motions, in verifying the The public whom he addresses is on a connection between their ideas and level with his energy and his coarseness; their actions. When we push this and in order to move such nerves, a study of human peculiarities to excess writer cannot strike too hard. *
we will come upon the origin of Sterne's But, at the same time, to civilize this talent. barbarity and to control this violence,
VII. a faculty appears, common to all, authors and public: serious reflection
Let us figure to ourselves a man who intent to observe character. Their goes on a journey, with a pair of mar.
vellously magnifying spectacles on his * In Novels and Novelists, by W. Forsyth, eyes. A hair
on his hand, a speck on a the author says, ch. v. 159; "What is the table-cloth, a fold of a moving garment, character of most of these
books (novels) which will interest him : at this rate he will were to correct follies and regulate morality? Of a great many of them, and especially those not go very far; he will go six steps of Fielding and Smollett, the prevailing fea- in a day, and will not quit his room. tures are grossness and licentiousness. Love So Sterne writes four volumes to degenerates into a mere animal passion. The language of the characters abounds in record the birth of his hero. He per. oaths and gross expressions. The heroines ceives the infinitely little, and describes allow themselves to take part in conversations the imperceptible. A man parts his which no modest woman would have heard hair on one side; this, according to without a blush. And yet these novels were the delight of a bygone generation, and were Sterne, depends or his whole charac greedily devoured by women as well as men. ter, which is of a piece with that of his Are we therefore to conclude that our great father, his mother, b's uncle, and his great-grandmothers
were less chaste and whole ancestry;, it depends on the moral than their female posterity? I answer, pertainly not; but we must inter that they were structure of his brain, which depends inferior to them in delicacy and refinement. on the circumstances of his conception, They were accustomed to hear a spade called a and his birth, and these on the hobbies pade, and words which would shock the more fastidious ear in the reign of Queen Victoria of his parents, the humor of the mo were then in common and daily usę.”—TR. ment, the talk of the preceding hour
the difficulties of the parson, a cut torts it ; with a kick he sends the pile thunib, twenty knots made on a bag; of folios next to him over the history ho Į know not how many things besides has commenced, and dances on the top The six or eight volumes of Tristram of them. He delights in disappointing Shandy are employed in summing us, in sending us astray by interrupthem up; for the smallest and dullest tions and delays. * Gravity displease incident, a snecze, a badly-shaven beard, him, he treats it as a hypocrite: to his drags after it an inextricable network liking folly is better, and he paints of inter-involved causes, which from himself in Yorick. In a well-consti. above, below, right and left, by invisi- tuted mind ideas march one after an ble prolongations and ramifications, other, with uniform motion or accelera sink into the depths of a character and tion; in this odd brain they jump in the remote vistas of events. In about like a rout of masks at a carnival, stead of extracting, like the novel- in troops, each dragging his neighbor writers, the principal root, Sterne, with by the feet, head, coat, amidst the marvellous devices and success, devotes most general and unforeseen hubbub himself to drawing out the tangled All his little lopped phrases are somerskein of numberless threads, which are saults; we pant as we read. The tone sinuously immersed and dispersed, so is never for two minutes the same ; as to suck in from all sides the sap and laughter comes, then the beginning of the life. Slender, intertwined, buried emotion, then scandal, then wonder, as they are, he finds them; he extri- then sensibility, then laughter again. cates them without breaking, brings The mischievous joker pulls and enthem to the light, and there, where we tangles the threads of all our feelings, fancied but a stalk, we see with won- and makes us go hither, thither, in der the underground mass and vegeta- a whimsical manner, like puppets. tion of the multiplied fibres and fibrils, Amongst these various threads there by which the visible plant grows and are two which he pulls more willingly is supported.
than the rest. Like all men who have This is truly a strange talent, made nerves, he is subject to sensibility ; not up of blindness and insight, which re- that he is really kindly and tendersembles those diseases of the retina in hearted; on the contrary, his life is which the over-excited nerve becomes that of an egotist; but on certain days at once dull and penetrating, incapable he must needs weep, and he makes us of seeing what the most ordinary eyes weep with him. He is moved on be. perceive, capable of observing what half of a captive bird, of a poor ass, the most piercing sight misses. In which, accustomed to blows,“ looked fact, Sterne is a sickly and eccentric up pensive," and seemed to say, “Don't humorist, a clergyman and a libertine, thrash me with it (the halter); but if a fiddler and a philosopher, who pre- you will, you may.”+ He will write ferred “whining over à dead ass to a couple of pages on the attitude of relieving a living mother," * selfish in this donkey, and Priam at the feet of act, selfish in word, who in every thing Achilles was not more touching. Tous takes a contrary view of himself and of in a silence, in an oath, in the most others. His book is like a great store trifling domestic action, he hits upon touse of articles of virtu, where curios- exquisite refinements and little hero ities of all ages, kinds, and countries isms, a variety of charming flowers, ļie jumbled in a heap; forms of ex- invisible to everybody else, whick grou communication, medical consultations, in the dust of the driest road. One passages of unknown or imaginary authors, scraps of scholastic erudition, * There is a distinct trace of a spirit similar strings of absurd histories, disserta- to that which is here sketched, ir a select few tions, addresses to the reader. His kins the flying Man, Amory's Life of John
of the English writers. Pultock's Peter Wil pen leads him; he has neither sequence Buncle, and Southey's Doctor, are instances nor plan; nay, when he lights upon of this.' Rabelais is probably their prototype. any thing orderly, he purposely con
+ Sterne's Works, 7. vols., 1783, 3 ; The Life • Byron's Works, ed. Moore, 17 vols. 1832; and Opinions of trigram Shandy, vii.ch Life, iii. 137, note,
day Uncle To'y, the invalided captain, we should wait for days when we are ir
. catches, after “infinite attempts,” a big a peculiar kind of humor, days of buzzing fly, who has cruelly tormented spleen, rain, or when through nervous him all dinner-time; he gets up, crosses irritation we are disgusted with ration: the room on his suffering leg, and ality. In fact his characters are as un. opening the window, cries: “Go, poor reasonable as himself. He sees in devil, get thee gone; why should I hurt man nothing but fancy, and what b: thee? This world surely is wide calls the hobby-horse-Uncle Toby's egocgh to hold bo‘h thee and me." taste for fortifications, Mr. Shandy's This womanish sensibility is too fine to fancy for oratorical tirades and philobe described; we should have to give sophical systems. This hobby-horse, 1 whole story—that of Lefevre, for in according to him, is like a wart, so stance-that the perfume might be small at first that we hardly perceive inhaled; this perfume evaporates as it, and only, when it is in a strong soon as we touch it, and is like the light; but it gradually, increases, be. weak flesting odor of flowers, brought comes covered with hairs, grows red, for one moment into a sick-chamber. and buds out all around : its possessor, Whai still more increases this sad who is pleased with and admires it, sweetness is the contrast of the free nourishes it, until at last it is changed and easy waggeries which, like a hedge into a vast wen, and the whole face of nettles, encircles them on all sides. disappears under the invasion of the Sterne, like all men whose mechanism is parasite excrescence. No one has over-excited, has odd desires. He loves equalled Sterne in the history of these the nude, not from a feeling of the beau- human hypertrophies; he puts down tiful, and in the manner of painters, not the seed, feeds it gradually, makes the from sensuality and frankness like propagating threads creep round about, Fielding, not from a search after pleas- shows the little veins and microscopic ure like Dorat, Boufflers, and all those arteries which inosculate within, counts refined epicures, who at that time were the palpitations of the blood which rhyming and enjoying themselves in passes through them, explains their France. If he goes into dirty places, changes of color and increase of bulk. it is because they are forbidden and Psychological observation attains here not frequented. What he seeks there one of its extreme developments. A is singularity and scandal. The allure far advanced art is necessary to de ment of this forbidden fruit is not the scribe, beyond the confines of regularity fruit, but the prohibition ; for he bites and health, the exception or the degenby preference where the fruit is half eration; and the English novel is comrotten or worm-eaten. That an epi- pleted here by adding to the represent. curcan delights in detailing the pretty ation of form the picture of malformasins of a pretty woman is nothing, tions. wonderful ; but that a novelist takes
VIII. pleasure in watching the bedroom of a musty, fusty old couple, in observing The moment approaches when purithe consequences of the fall of a burn- fied manners will, by purifying the ing chestnut in a pair of breeches,t in novel, give it its final impress and detailing the questions of Mrs. Wad character. Of the two great tendenman on the consequences of wounds in cies manifested by it, native brutality the groin, t can only be explained by and intense reflection, one at last the aberration of a perverted fancy, conquers the other; when literature which finds its amusement in repug- from their blood, or from their proximate or nant ideas, as spoiled palates are distant parentage--the Irish tone. So Huma pleased by the pungent flavor of de- Robertson, Smollett, Scott, Burns, Beattie, cayed cheese ş'Thus, to read Sterne Reid, D. Stewart, and others, have the Scot
tish tone. In the Irish or Celtic tone we find * Sterne's Works, 7. vols., 1783; 3 ; The Life an excess of chivalry, sensuality, expansion and Opinions of Tristram Shordy, 1, ii. ch. in short, a mind leso equally balanced, more
+ Tristram Shindy, 2, iv. ch. xxvii. sympathetic and less practical. The Scotsman 1 Ibid. 3, ix. ch. XX.
on the other hand, is an Englishman, eitzer $ Sterne, Goldsmith, Burke, Sheridan, slightly refined or narrowed, because he bu Moore, have a tone of th :ir own, which comes suffered more and fasted more.