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uge and uprightness he refused all that he dictated, hardly re-read his favor, accepting nothing but time, set writing, and readily fell into a pasty and to work on the very day, wrote untiring. emphatic style,-a style very common iv, in four years paid seventy thousand in the present times, and which we read pounds, exhausted his brain so as to day after day in prospectuses and news become paralytic, and to perish in the papers. What is worse, he is terribly attempt. Neither in his conduct nor long and diffuse ; his conversations and his literature did his feudal tastes suc- descriptions are interminable ; he is cced, and his manorial splendor was determined, at all events, to fill three as fragile as his Gothic imaginations. volumes. But he has given to Scot He had relied on imitation, and we live land a citizenship of literature-I mean by truth only; his glory is to be found to the whole of Scotland : scenery, elsewhere ; there was something solid monuments, houses, cottages, characin his mind as well as in his writings. ters of every age and condition, from Beneath the lover of the middle age we the baron to the fisherman, from the find, first the “pawky” Scotchman, an advocate to the beggar, from the lady attentive observer, whose sharpness to the fishwife. When we mention became more intense by his familiarity merely his name they crowd forward; with law; a good-natured man, easy who does not see them coming from and cheerful, as beseems the national every niche of memory?. The Baron character, so different from the English. of Bradwardine, Dominie Sampson, One of his walking companions (Short- Meg Merrilies, the antiquary, Edie reed) said : Eh me, sic an endless Ochiltree, Jeanie Deans and her father, fund o'humour and drollery as he had -innkeepers, shopkeepers, old wives, wi' him! Never ten yards but we were an entire people. What Scotch features either laughing or roaring and singing. are absent ? Saving, patient, “cannie,” Wherever we stopped, how brawlie he and of course “pawky; " the poverty suited himsel to everybody! He aye of the soil and the difficulty of existence did as the lave did ; never made him- has compelled them to be so ; this is sel the great man, or took ony airs in the specialty of the race. The same the company." Grown older and tenacity which they introduced into graver, he was none the less amiable, everyday affairs they have introduced the most agreeable of hosts, so that one into mental concerns,-studious readers of his guests, a farmer, I think, said to and perusers of antiquities and conhis wife, when home, after having been troversies, poets also; legends spring at Abbotsford, “ Aisie, my woman, I'm up readily in a romantic land, amidst ready for my bed . I wish I could time-honored wars and brigandism. In sleep. for a towmont, for there's only a land thus prepared, and in this ae thing in this warld worth living for, gloomy clime, Presbyterianism sunk its and that's the Abbotsford hunt!" + sharp roots. Such was the real and
In addition to a mind of this kind, he modern world, lit up by the far-setting had all-discerning eyes, an all-retentive sun of chivalry, as Sir Walter Scott memory, a ceaseless studiousness which found it; like a painter who, passing comprehended the whole of Scotland, from great show-pictures, finds interest and all classes of people ; and we see and beauty in the ordinary houses of a his true talent arise, so agreeable, so paltry provincial town, or in a farm abundant and so easy, made up of sun ounded by beds of beetroots and minute observation and gentle raillery, turnips. A continuous archness throws recalling at once Teniers and Addison. its smile over these interior and genre Doubtless he wrote badly, at times in pictures, so local and minute, and the worst possible manner : 1 it is clear which, like the Flemish, indicate the
rise of well-to-do citizens. Most of * Lockhart's Life, i. ch. vii. 369. Ibid. vi. ch. xlix. 252.
these good folk are comic. Cur author See the opening of Ivanhoe: “Such being makes fun of them, brings out their our chief scene, the date of our story refers to little deceits, parsimony, fooler.es, vul. a period towards the end of the reign of Richard I., when his return from his long captivity meantime subjected to every species of subor. hal become an event rather wished than hoped dinate oppression.” It is impossible to write for by his despairing subjects, who were in the I in a heavier style.
garity, and the hundred thousand ridic- to lie here.""* This was almost his ulous habits people always contract in last word. By this fundamental honesty a narrow sphere of life. A barber, in and this broad humanity, he was the The Antiquary, moves heaven and earth Homer of modern citizen life. Around about his wigs ; if the French Revolu- and after him, the novel of manners, tion taker root everywhere, it was be- separated from the historical romance, cause the magistrates gave up this has produced a whole literature, and ornament. He cries out in a lamenta- preserved the character which he stampble v.jice : “ Haud a care, haud a care, ed upon it. Miss Austen, Miss Bronte, Monk barn3l God's sake, haud a care! Mrs. Gaskell, George Eliot, Bulwer ..-Sir Arthur's drowned lready, and "hach Dicker and many other #2 ye fa' over the cleugh too, there will paint, especially or entirely in his style te bit ae wig left in the parish, and contemporary life, as it is, unembellish that's the minister's,” * Mark how the ed, in all ranks, often amongst the peo author s niles, and without malice : the ple, more frequently still amongst the barber's candid selfishness is the effect middle class. And the causes which made of tne man's calling, and does not repel the historical novel come to naught,
Walter Scott is never bitter ; he in Scott and others, made the novel of loves men from the bottom of his heart, manners, by the same authors, succeed. excuses or tolerates them ; does not These men were too minute copyists chastise vices, but unmasks them, and and too decided moralists, incapable of that not rudely. His greatest pleasure the great divinations and the wide symis to pursue at length, not indeed a vice, pathies which unlock the door of hisbut a hobby ; the mania for odds and tory; their imagination was too literal, ends in an antiquary, the archæological and their judgment too unwavering. It vanity of the Baron of Bradwardine, the is precisely by these faculties that they aristocratic drivel of the Dowager created a new species of novel, which Lady Bellenden,-that is, the amusing multiplies to this day in thousands of exaggeration of an allowable taste; and offshoots, with such abundance, that this without anger, because, on the men of talent in this branch of litera. whole, these ridiculous people are ture may be counted by hundreds, and estimable, and even generous. Even that we can only compare them, for in rogues like Dirk Hatteraick, in cut their original and national spirit, to the throats like Bothwell, he allows some great age of Dutch painting. Realistic goodness. In no one, not even in and moral, these are their two features. Major Dalgetty, a professional mur. They are far removed from the great derer, a result of the thirty years' war, imagination which creates and transis the odious unveiled by the ridiculous forms, as it appeared in the RenaisIn this critical refinement and this sance or in the seventeenth century, in benevolent philosophy, he resembles the heroic or noble ages. They renounce Addison.
free invention ; they narrow themselves He resembles him again by the purity to scrupulous exactness; they paint and endurance of his moral principles, with infinite detail costumes and places, His amanuonsis, Mr. Laidlaw, told him altering nothing; they mark little shades that he was doing great ged by his of language; they are not disgusted sitiactive and noble tales, and that by vulgarities or platitudes, Their young people would no longer wish to information is authentic and precise. ook in the literary rubbish of the cir- In short, they write like citizens for cllating libraries. When Walter Scott fellow-citizens, that is, for well-ordered heard this, his eyes filled with tears : people, members of a profession, whose ** On his deathbed he said to his son. imagination does not soar high and in-law : ‘Lockhart, I may have but a sees things through a magnifying glass, mninute to speak to you. My dear, be unable to relish any thing in the way of a good man-be virtuous, be religious a picture except interiors and make-be a good man. Nothing else will believes. Ask a cook which picture give you any comfort when you come she prefers in the Museum, and she wili
Sir Walter Scott's Works, 48 volan, 1829; point to a kitchen, in which the stew The Antiquary, ch. vää.
* Lockhart's Life, s. 217.
pans are so well painted that a man is pantheistic, and mystic, wrote in Fargo Cempted to put soup and bread in them. the epic of the age and the history of Yet beyond this inclination, which is the human mind. Need I say that in now European, Englishmen have a Schiller, Heine, Beethoven, Victor special craving, which with them is Hugo, Lamartine, and de Musset; the national an: dates from the preceding poet, in his individual person, always century, they desire that the novel, like speaks the words of the universal man? all other things, should contribute to The characters which they have created their great work,-the amelioration of from Faust to Ruy Blas, only served man and society. They ask from it the them to exhibit some grand metaphys. glorification of virtue, and the chastise-ical and social idea ; and twenty times ment of vice. They send it into all the this too great idea, bursting its narrow corners of civil society, and all the envelope, broke out beyond all human events of private history, in search of likelihood and all poetic form, to dis examples and expedients, to learn play itself to the eyes of the spectators thence the means of remedying abuses, Such was the domination of the philossuccoring, miseries, avoiding tempta- ophical spirit that, after doing violence tions. They make of it an instrument to literature, or rendering it rigid, it of inquiry, education, and morality. imposed on music humanitarian ideas, A singular work, which has not its inflicted on painting symbolical designs, equal in all history, because in all his- penetrated current speech, and marred tory there has been no society like it, style by an overflow of abstractions and and which-of moderate attraction for formulas, from which all our efforts lovers of the beautiful, admirable to now fail to liberate us. As an overlovers of the useful-offers, in the strong child, which at its birth injures countless variety of its painting, and its mother, so it has contorted the noble the invariable stability of its spirit, the forms which had endeavored to contain picture of the only democracy which it, and dragged literature through an knows how to restrain, govern, and agony of struggles and sufferings. reform itself.
This philosophical spirit was not
born in England, and from Germany to V.
England the passage was very long, Side by side with this development For a considerable time it appeared tnere was another, and with history dangerous or ridiculous. One of the philosophy entered into literature, in reviews stated even, that Germany was order to widen and modify it. It was a large country peopled by hussars and manifest throughout, on the threshold classical scholars ; that if folks go as in the centre. On the threshold it there, they will see at Heidelberg a had planted ästhetics : every poet, be very large tun, and could feast on excoming theoretic, defined before pro cellent Rhine wine and Westphalian Aucing the beautiful, laid down princi- ham, but that their authors were very ples in his preface, and originated only heavy and awkward, and that a senti. after a preconceived system. But the mental German resembles a tall and ascendency of metaphysics was much stout butcher crying over a killed calf. more visible yet in the middle of the If at length German literature found work than on its threshold ; for not entrance, first by the attraction of er: only did it prescribe the form of poetry, travagant dramas and fantastic ballads, but it furnished it with its elements. then by the sympathy of the two nations, What is man, and what has he come which, allied against French policy and into the world to do? What is this civilization, acknowledged their cousin. far-off greatness to which he aspires ? ship in speech, religion, and blood, Is there a haven which he may reach, German metaphysics did not enter, and a hidden hand to conduct him unable to overturn the barrier which a thither? These are the questions which positive mind and a national religion poets, transformed into thinkers, agreed opposed to it. It tried to pass, with to agitate ; and Goethe, here as else. Coleridge for instance, a philosophical where the father and promoter of all theologian and dreamy poet, w'lo toiled lofty modern ideas, at once skeptical, | 10 widen conventional dogma, and
who, at the close of his life, having te- | ancholy calm, so suited to nourish come a sort of oracle, endeavored, in moral life. There is nothing which the pale of the Church, to unfold and does not recall him to his duty and ad. unveil before a few faithful disciples monish him of his origin. Near or far the Christianity of the future. It did like a great mountain in a landscape, not ma'se head; the English mind was his philosophy will appear behind all too positive, the theologians too en his ideas and images. If he is restless, slaved. It was constrained to trans- impassioned, sick with scruples, it wiii form itself and become Anglican, or to appear to him amidst storm and lightdeform itself and become revolution- ning, as it did to the genuine Puritans, ary; and to produce a Wordsworth, a to Cowper, Pascal, Carlyle. It will Byron, a Shelley, instead of a Schiller appear to him in a grayish kind of fog, and Goethe.
imposing and calm, if he enjoys, like The first, Wordsworth, a new Cow- Wordsworth, a calm mind and a quiet yer, with less talent and more ideas life. Wordsworth was a wise and than the other, was essentially a man happy man, a thinker and a dreamer, of inner feelings, that is, engrossed by who read and walked. He was from the concerns of the soul. Such, men the first in tolerably easy circumstances, ask what they have come to do in this and had a small fortune. Happily world, and why life has been given to married, amidst the favors of govern. them; if they are right or wrong, and ment and the respect of the public, he if the secret movements of their heart lived peacefully on the margin of a are conformable to the supreme law, beautiful lake, in ht of noble mounwithout taking into account the visible tains, in the pleasant retirement of an causes of their conduct. Such, for elegant house, amidst the admiration men of this kind, is the master concep- and attentions of distinguished and tion which renders them serious, medi- chosen friends, engrossed by contemtative, and as a rule gloomy.* They plations which no storm came to dislive with eyes turned inwards, not to tract, and by poetry which was pro mark and classify their ideas, like duced without any hindrance. In this physiologists, but as moralists, to ap- deep calm he listens to his own prove or blame their feelings. Thus thoughts; the peace was so great, understood, life becomes a grave busi- within him and around him, that he ness, of uncertain issue, on which we could perceive the imperceptible. “To must incessantly and scrupulously re. me, the meanest flower that blows, flect. Thus understood, the world can give Thoughts that do often lie too changes its aspect; it is no longer a deep for tears." He saw a grandeur, machine of wheels, working into each a beauty, a teaching in the trivial other, as the philosopher says, nor a events which weave the woof of our splendid blooming plant, as the artist most commonplace days. He needed feels, it is the work of a moral being, not, for the sake of emotion, either displayed as a spectacle to moral splendid sights or unusual actions. beings.
The dazzling glare of lamps, the pomp Figure such a man facing life and the of the theatre, would have shocked world; he sees them, and takes part in him ; his eyes were too delicate, acit, apparently like any one else ; but customed to quiet and uniform tints. how different is he in reality! His He was a poet of the twilight. Moral Greit thought pursues him; and when existence in commonplace existence, ne beholds a tree, it is to meditate on such was his object--the object of his human destiny. He finds or lends choice. His paintings are cameos with sense to the least objects: a soldier a gray ground, which have a meaning; narching to the sound of the drum designedly he suppresses all which makes him reflect on heroic sacrifice, might please the senses, in order to the support of societies; a train of speak solely to the heart. clouds lying heavily on the verge of a Out of this character sprang a theory, gloony 'sky, endues him with that mel. --his theory of art, altogether spiritual
The Jansenists, the Puritans, and the istic, which, after repelling classical Methodists are the extremes of this class. habits, ended by rallying Protestan sympathies, and won for him as many love this poetry. Meanwhile the web partisans as it had raised enemies." of imperceptible threads by which Since the only important thing is moral Wordsworth endeavors to find ta life, let us devote ourselves solely to gether all sentiments and embrace all nourishing it. The reader must be nature, breaks in my fingers; it is too moved, genuinely, with profit to his fragile'; it is a woof of woven spidersoul; the rest is indifferent: let us, wed, spun by a metaphysical imag; then, show him objects moving in them ination, and te: ring as soon as a hand selves, without dreaming of clothing of flesh and blood tries to touch it. them in a beautiful style. Let us strip Half of his pieces are childish, almost ourselves of conventional language and foolish ; * dull events described in ati poetic diction. Let us neglect noble dull style, one platitude after another, words, scholastic and courtly epithets, and that on principle. All the poets and all the pomp of factitious splendor, in the world would not reconcile us to which the classical writers thought so much tedium. Certainly a cat play. themselves bound to assume, and justi- ing with three dry leaves may furnisi fied in imposing. In poetry, as else- a philosophical reflection, and figure where, the grand question is, not orna- forth a wise man sporting with the fall. ment, but truth. Let us leave show, en leaves of life; but eighty lines on and seek effect. Let us speak in a such a subject make us yawn-much bare style, as like as possible to prose, worse, smile. At this rate we will find to ordinary conversation, even to rustic a lesson in an old tooth-brush, which conversation, and let us choose our still continues in use. Doubtless, also, subjects at hand, in humble life. Let the ways of Providence are not to be us take for our characters an idiot boy, fathomed, and a selfish and brutal a shivering old peasant woman, a hawk artisan like Peter Bell may be convert er, a servant stopping in the street. Ited by the beautiful conduct of an ass is the truth of sentiment, not the dig- full of fidelity and unselfishness; but nity of the folks, which makes the this sentimental prettiness quickly beauty of a subject; it is the truth of grows insipid, and the style, by its facsentiment, not dignity of the words, titious simplicity, renders it still more which makes the beauty of poetry insipid. We are not overpleased to see What matters that it is a villager who a grave man seriously imitate the lanweeps, if these tears enable me to see guage of nurses, and we murmur to ourthe maternal sentiment? What mat- selves that, with so many emotions, he ters that my verse is a line of rhymed must wet so many handkerchiefs. We prose, if this line displays a noble emo- will acknowledge, if you like, that your tion? Men read that they may carry sentiments are interesting; yet there away emotion, not phrases; they come is no need to trot them all out before to us to look for moral culture, not us. pretty ways of speaking. And there- We imagine we hear him say: "Yesupon Wordsworth, classifying his terday I read Walton's Complete An. poems according to the different facul- gler; let us write a sonnet about it ties of men and the different ages of On Easter Sunday I was in a valley in life, undertakes to lead us through all Westmoreland ; another sonnet. Two compartments and degrees of inner days ago I put too many, questicns to education, to the convictions and sen. my little boy and caused him to tell a timents which he has himself attained. lie; a poem. I am going to travel on
All this is very well, but on condition the Continent and through Scotland; that the reader is in Wordsworth's poems about all the incidents, monuposition; that is, essentially a philo- ments, adventures of the journey.”. sophical moralist, and an excessively You must consider your emotions sensitive man. When I shall have very precious, that you put them all emptied my head of all worldly under glass! There are only three or thoughts, and looked up at the clouds four events in each of our lives worthy for ten years to refine my soul, I shall of being related ; our powerful sensá
• See the preface of his second edition of * Peter Bell; The White Doc; The Kitten Lwical Ballads.
land Falling Leancs, etc.