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the knights or the barbarians, another costumes and decorations into true from peasants or journalists, not too ones. Architecture built Roman villas critical of incongruities, pretentious in our northern climates, and feudal and satisfied with his motley and badly towers amidst our modern security. sewn cloak, till at last, after many at. Painters travelled to imitate local col. tempts and many rents, he ended by oring and studied to reproduce moral knowing himself, and selecting the coloring. Every man became a tourist dress that fitted him.
and an archæologist; the human mind In this confusion of labors two great quitting its individual sentiments to deas stand out : the first producing adopt all sentiments really felt, and historical poetry, the second philosoph- finally all possible sentiments, found ical; the one especially manifest in its pattern in the great Goethe, who by Southey and Walter Scott, the other in his Tasso, Iphigenia, Divan, his second "Vordsworth and Shelley; both Euro- part of Faust
, became a citizen of ail Lean, and displayed with equal bril nations and a contemporary of all ages, liancy in France by Hugo, Lamartine, seemed to live at pleasure at every and Musset ; with greater brilliancy in point of time and place, and gave an Germany by Goethe, Schiller, Rückert, idea of universal mind. Yet this literaand Heine; both so profound, that ture, as it approached perfection, apnone of their representatives, except proached its limit, and was only devel. Goethe, divined their scope ; and hardoped in order to die. Men did comly now, after more than half a century, prehend at last tha“ attempted resurcan we define their nature, so as to rections are always incomplete, that forecast their results.
every imitation is only an imitation, The first consists in saying, or rather that the modern accent infallibly peneforeboding, that our ideal is not the trates the words which we place in the ideal; it is only one ideal, but there mouths of ancient characters, that are others. The barbarian, the feudal every picture of manners must be inman, the cavalier of the Renaissance, digenous and contemporaneous, and the Mussulman, the Indian, each age that archaic literature is essentially unand each race has conceived its beauty, true. People saw at last that it is in which was a beauty. Let us enjoy it, the writers of the past that we must and for this purpose put ourselves en- seek the portraiture of the past; that tirely in the place of the discoverers; there are no Greek tragedies but the for it will not suffice to depict, as the Greek tragedies; that the concocted previous novelists and dramatists have novel must give place to authentic medone, modern and national manners un moirs, as the fabricated ballad to the der old and foreign names ; let us paint spontaneous; in other words, that his the sentiments of other ages and other torical literature must vanish and beraces with their own features, however come transformed into criticism and different these features may be from our history, that is, into exposition and own, and however unpleasing to our commentary of documents.
Let us show our hero as he How shall we sels: t in this multi was, grotesque or not, with his true tude of travellers and historians, dis. costume and speech : let him be fierce guised as poets? They abound like and superstitious if he was so; let us swarms of insects, hatched on a sum. dash the barbarian with blood, and mer's day amidst a rank vegetation; load the Covenanter with his bundle of they buzz and glitter, and the mind is biblical texts. Then one by one on lost in their sparkle and hum. Which the literary stage men saw the vanished shall I quote? Thomas Moore, the or distant civilizations return; first the gayest and most French of all, a witty middle age and the Renaissance; then railer,* too graceful and recherche, wri. Arabia, Hindostan, and Persia; then ting descriptive odes on the Bermudas he classical age, and the eighteenth sentimental Irish melodies, a poetic century itself; and the historic taste be. Egyptian tale, f a romantic poem on comes so eager, that from literature Persia and India;Lamb, a restoret the contagion spread by other arts. •See The Fudge Family The theatre changed its conventional The Epicurean. Lalla Raodh.
of the old drama; Coleridge, a thinker | where the lotus spreads its arge leaves. and dreamer, a poet and critic, who in where thorny plants raise their many Christabel and the Ancient Mariner re- thousand purple calices around the opened the vein of the supernatural apes and crocodiles which are wor and the fantastic; Campbell, who, hav- shipped as divinities, and crawl in the ing begun with a didactic poem on the thickets. Meantime the dancing-girls Pleasures of Hope, entered the new lay their hands on their heart with school without giving up his noble and deep and delicate emotion, the tenor half-classical style, and wrote American sing that they are ready to die, tyrants and Celtic poems, only slightly Celtic roll forth their deep bass voice, the orand American; in the first rank, Sou- chestra struggles hard, accompanying they, a clever man, who, after several the variations of sentiment with the mistakes in his youth, became the pro- gentle sounds of flutes, the lugubrious fessed defender of aristocracy and clamors of the trombones, the angelic cant, an indefatigable reader, an inex. melodies of the harps ; till at last, haustible writer, crammed with erudi- when the heroine sets her foot on the tion, gifted in imagination, famed like throat of the traitor, it breaks out tri. Victor Hugo for the freshness of his umphantly with its thousand vibrant .nnovations, the combative tone of his voices harmonized into a single strain. prefaces, the splendors of his pictur- | A fine spectacle! we depart mazed, esque curiosity, having spanned the uni- deafened; the senses give way under verse and all history with his poetic this inundation of splendors; but as we shows, and embraced in the endless return home, we ask ourselves what we web of his verse, Joan of Arc, Wat have learnt, felt-whether we have, Tyler, Roderick the Goth, Madoc, in truth, felt any thing. After all
, Thalaba, Kehama, Celtic and Mexican there is little here but decoration and traditions, Arabic and Indian legends, scenery; the sentiments are factitious successively a Catholic, a Mussulman, they are operatic sentiments : the aua Brahmin, but only in verse ; in real- thors are only clever men, libretti-mak. ity, a prudent and respectable Protes-ers, manufacturers of painted canvas ;
The above-mentioned authors they have talent without genius; they have to be taken as examples merely-draw their ideas not from the heart, there are dozens behind ; and I think but from the head. Such is the imthat, of all fine visible or imaginable pression left by Lalla Rookh, Thalaba, sceneries, of all great real or legendary Roderick the last of the Goths, The Curse events, at all times, in the four quar: of Kehama, and the rest of these ters of the world, not one has escaped poems. They are great decorative them. The diorama they show us is machines suited to the fashion. The very brilliant ; unfortunately, we per- mark of genius is the discovery of some ceive that it is manufactured. If we wide unexplored region in human nawould have its fellow picture, let us ture, and this mark fails them; they imagine ourselves at the opera. The prove only much cleverness and kr.owl. decorations are splendid, we see them edge. After all, I prefer to see the coming down from above, that is, from East in Orientals from the East, rather the ceiling, thrice in an act; lofty than in Orientals in England; in VyaGothic cathedrals, whose rose-windows sa or Firdousi, rather than in Souglow in the rays of the setting sun, they * and Moore. These poems may whilst processions wind round the pil. be descriptive or historical; they are lars, and the lights flicker over the less so than the texts, notes, emenda. elaborate
copes and the gold embroid- tions, and justifications which their ery of the priestly vestments ; mosques authors carefully print at the foot of and minarets, moving caravars creep- the page. ing afar over the yellow sand, whose Beyond all general causes which have. lances and canopies, ranged in line, fettered this literature, there is a fringe the immaculate whiteness of the national one: the mind of these men in horizon; Indian paradises, where the heaped roses swarm in myriads, where
* See also The History of the Caliph Vathek
a fantastic but powerfully written tale, by W fountains mingle their piumes of pearls, | Beckford, published first in French in 1984.
not sufficiently flexible, and too moral. torian, and poet, the favuri
e of his age, Their initation is only literal. They read over the whole of Europe, was know past times and distant lands only compared and almost equalled to as antiquaries and travellers. When Shakspeare, had more popularity than they mention a custom, they put their Voltaire, made dressmakers and duchauthorities in a foot-note ; they do not esses weep, and earned about two hunpresent themselves before the public dred thousand pounds. Murray, the without testimonials; they establish by publisher, wrote to him : “I believe I weighty certificates that they have not might swear that I never experienced committed an error in topography or such unmixed pleasure as the reading costume. Moore, like Southey, named of this exquisite work (first series of bis authorities; Sir John Malcolm, Sir Tales of my Landlord) has afforded me. William Ouseley, Mr. Carey, and Lord Holland said, when I asked others, who returned from the East, his opinion : 'Opinion ! we did not one and had lived there, state that his de- of us go to bed last night-nothing scriptions are wonderfully faithful, that slept but my gout.'' In France, they thought that Moore had travelled in fourteen hundred thousand volumes of the East In this respect their minute- these novels were sold, and they conness is ridiculous ; * and their notes, tinue to sell. The author, born in lavished without stint, show that their Edinburgh, was the son of a Writer to matter-of-fact public required to ascer- the Signet, learned in feudal law and tain whether their poetical commodities ecclesiastical history, himself an advo. were genuine produce. But that broad-cate, a sheriff, and always fond of er truth, which lies in penetrating into antiquities, especially national antiqui the feelings of characters, escaped ties; so that by his family, education them; these feelings are too strange by his own instincts, he found the ma. and immoral. When Moore tried to terials for his works and the stimulus translate and recast Anacreon, he was for his talent. His past recollections told that his poetry was fit for “the were impressed on him at the age of stews.” † To write an Indian poem, three, in a farm-house, where he had we must be pantheistical at heart, a been taken to try the effect of bracing little mad, and pretty generally vision-air on his little shrunken leg. He was ary; to write a Greek poem, we must wrapt naked in the warm skin of a be polytheistic at heart, fundamentally sheep just killed, and he crept about in pagan, and a naturalist by profession. this attire, which passed for a specific. This is the reason that Heine spoke so He continued to limp, and became a fitiy of India, and Goethe of Greece. A reader. From his infancy he listened genuine historian is not sure that his to the stories which he afterwards gave own civilization is perfect, and lives as to the public,--that of the battle of gladly out of his country as in it. Culloden, of the cruelties practised on Judge whether Englishmen can succeed the Highlanders, the wars and suffer. in this style. In their eyes, there is ings of the Covenanters. At three he only one rational civilization, which is used to sing out the ballad of Hardytheir own; every other morality is in- kanute so loudly, that he prevented the ferior, every other religion is extrav- village minister, a man gifted with a agant. With such narrowness, how very fine voice, from being heard, and can they reproduce these other morali- even from hearirg himself. As soon as ties and religions ? Sympathy alone he had heard " Border-raid ballad,"
restore extinguished or foreign he knew it by heart. But in other manners, and sympathy here is for things he was indolent, studied by fits bidden. Under this narrow rule, his- and starts, and did not readily learn corical poetry, which itself is hardly dry hard facts; yet for poetry, old iikely to live, languishes as though songs, and ballads, the flow of his suffocated under a leaden cover. genius was precocious, swift, and invin
One of them, 2 novelist, critic, his- cible. The day on which he first See the notes of Southey, worse than those opened, “under a platanus tree,” the of Chateaubriand in the Martyrs.
* Lockhart, Life of Sir Walter Scott, a Edinburgh Review.
vols., ad ed., 1839, i. ch. xxxvii. p. 170
volumes in which Percy had collected | tions and poetry. In truth, he had a the fragments of ancient poetry, he for- feudal mind, and always wished to be got dinner, “notwithstanding the sharp the founder of a distinct branch of an appetite of thirteen," and thenceforth historical family. Literary glory was he overwhelmed with these old rhymes only secondary; his talent was to him not only his school-fellows, but every only as an instrument. He spent the one else who would listen to him. vast sums which his prose and verse After he had become a clerk to his had won, in building a castle in imita. tather, he crammed into his desk all the tion of the ancient knights, "with a tall works of imagination which he could tower at either end, . sundry zigfind. “The whole Jemmy and Jenny zagged gables, · a myriad of inden Lessamy tribe I abhorred," he said, tations and parapets, and machicollated
and it required the art of Burney, or eaves; most fantastic waterspouts ; the feeling of Mackenzie, to fix my at- labelled windows, not a few of them tention upon a domestic tale. But all painted glass ; stones carved with that was adventurous and romantic, heraldries innumerable ; apartments that touched upon knight-errantry, filled with sideboards and carved I devoured.” * Having fallen ill, he chests, adorned with “cuirasses, hel. was kept a long time in bed, forbidden mets, swords of every order, from the to speak, with no other pleasure than claymore and rapier to some German to read the poets, novelists, historians, executioner's swords.” For long years and geographers, illustrating the battle- he held open house there, so to speak, descriptions by setting in line and dis- and did to every stranger the 'honors posing little pebbles, which represented of Scotland,” trying to revive the old the soldiers. Once cured, and able to feudal life, with all its customs and its walk well, he turned his walks to the display ; dispensing liberal and joyous same purpose, and developed a passion hospitality to all comers, above all to for the country, especially the historical relatives, friends, and neighbors; singregions. He said:
ing ballads and sounding pibrochs “But show me an old castle or a field of amidst the clinking of glasses ; holding battle, and I was at home at once, filled it with gay hunting-parties, where the yeomen ts combatants in their proper costume, and and gentlemen rode side by side ; and overwhelmed my hearers by the enthusiasm of my description. In crossing Magus Moor, encouraging lively dances, where the near St. Andrews, the spirit moved me to give lord was not ashamed to give his hand a picture of the assassination of the Archbishop to the miller's daughter. He himself, of St. Andrews to some fellow-travellers with frank of speech, happy, amidst his whom I was accidentally associated, and one of them, though well acquainted with the forty guests, kept up the conversation story,, protested my narrative had frightened with a profusion of stories, lavished away his night's sleep." +
from his vast memory and imagination, Amidst other excursions, in search after conducted his guests over his domain, knowledge, he travelled once every extended at large cost, amidst new year during seven years in the wild dis- plantations whose future shade was to srict of Liddesdale, exploring every
shelter his posterity; and he thought stream and every ruin, sleeping in the with a poet's smile of the distant gen. shepherds' huts, gleaning legends and erations who would acknowledge for ballads. We can judge from this of their ancestor Sir Walter Scott, first his antiquarian tastes and habits. He baronet of Abbotsford.
ead provincial charters, the wretched The Lady of the Lake, Marmion, The middle-age Latin verses, the parish Lord of the Isles, The Fair Maid of registers, even contracts and wills. The Perth, Old Mortality, Ivanhoe, Quentin first tinse he was able to lay his hand Durward, who does not know these on one of the great “old Border war. names by heart? From Walter Scott horns,” he blew it all along his route. we learned history. And yet is this Rusty mail and dirty parchment attract history? All these pictures of a dis. ed him, filled his head with recollec- tant age are false. Costumes, scenery,
* Lockhart's Life of Sir W. Scott ; Auto externals alone are exact; actions biography, i. 62.
speech, sentiments, all the rest is civil
* Ibid. vii. ; Abbotsford in 18o&r
† Ibid i. 72.
ized, embellished, arranged in modern discover, or how dare exhibit, the guise. We might suspect it when look structure of barbarous souls? This ng at the character and life of the structure is too difficult to discover, and author ; for what does he desire, and too little pleasing to show. Every two what do the guests, eager to hear him, centuries, amongst men, the proportion demand? Is he a lover of truth as it of images and ideas, the mainspring of is, foul and fierce; an inquisitive ex- passions, the degree of reflection, the plorer, indifferent to contemporary ap- species of inclinations, change. Who, plause, bent alone on defining the trans- without a long, preliminary training, formations of living nature? By, no now understands and relishes Dante,
He is in history, as he is at Rabelais, and Rubens ? And how, for Abbotsford, bent on arranging points instance, could these great Catholic and of view and Gothic halls. The moon mystical dreams, these vast temerities, will come in well there between the or these impurities of canal art, find towers ; here is a nicely placed breast- entrance into the head of this gentleplate, the ray of light which it throws manly citizen? Walter Scott pauses back is pleasant to see on these old on the threshold of the soul, and in the hangings; suppose we took out the vest bule of history, selects in the Refeudal garments from the wardrobe naissance and the middle age only the and invited the guests to a masquerade ? fit and agreeable, blots out plain spoken The entertainment would be a fine one, words, licentious sensuality, bestial in accordance with their reminiscences ferocity. After all, his characters, to and their aristocratic principles. Eng. whatever age he transports them, are lish lords, fresh from a bitter war his neighbors, “cannie” farmers, vain against French democracy, ought to lairds, gloved gentlemen, young mar. enter zealously into this commemora- riageable ladies, all more or less comtion of their ancestors. Moreover, monplace, that is, steady; by their there are ladies and young girls, and education and character at a great diswe must arrange the show, so as not to tance from the voluptuous fools of the shock their severe morality and their Restoration, or the heroic brutes and delicate feelings, make them weep be- fierce beasts of the middle age. As he comingly; not put on the stage over has the greatest supply of rich cos strong passions, which they would not tumes, and the most inexhaustible understand; on the contrary, select talent for scenic effect, be makes all heroines to resemble them, always his people get on very pleasantly, and touching, but above all correct; young composes tales which, in truth, have gentlemen, Evandale, Morton, Ivanhoe, only the merit of fashion, though that irreproachably brought up, tender and fashion may last a hundred years yet. grave, even slightly melancholic (it is That which he himself acted lasted the latest fashion), and worthy to lead for a shorter time. To sustain his them to the altar. Is there a man more princely hospitality and his feudal magsuited than the author to compose such nificence, he went into partnership a spectacle? He is a good Protestant, with his printers ; lord of the manor a good husband, a good father, very in public and merchant in private, moral, so decided a Tory that he car- he gave them his signature, without ries off as a relic a glass from which keeping a check over the use they made the king has just drunk. In addition, of it.* Bankruptcy followed ; at the he has neither talent nor leisure to age of fifty-five he was ruined, and reach the depths of his characters. He one hundred and seventeen thousand devotes himself to the exterior ; he sees pounds in debt. With admirable courand describes forms and externals much more at length than inward feel
* If Constable's Memorials (3 vols. 1873) ings. Again, he treats his mind like a portion of his work, he perhaps weuld
had been published when M. Taine wrote this coal-mine, serviceable for quick work- seen
reason to alter this opinion, because it is ing, and for the greatest possible gain : clear that, so far from Sir Walter's printer and a volume in a month, sometimes in a publisher ruining him, they, if not ruined by fortnight even, and this volume is worth in the imprudences that led to the disaster.
Sir Walter, were only equal sharers with hin one thousand pounds. How should he | TR.