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pose. Instead of acting—as the executive of a nation whose mind was glowing with the clear, steady intensity of white heat would be likely to act—in grim silence, with their eyes rivetted on their work, knowing that success or failure in that work involves everything to them that is worth a thought,— self-respect, honor, love; or shame, scorn, and popular hatred,—they are still devoting half their strength to brag and pantomime, to smoke and noise; evidently under the impression that a theatrical show of energy will do not a little to supply the place of the reality ; and, apparently at least, they are not mistaken.
The money flows and the blood flows freely, but the boasts flow more freely still, and appear to pay for all. . . .
It seems to us clear, in spite of the evidence of earnestness which the North gives in pouring out its blood and gold thus freely for the war,—that there is still a spurious element of froth and wind in the character of the Northern movement. . . . True revolutionary energy, such as the South evinces now,—such as France evinced in 1792, such as a great party in England evinced in 1642, must be founded either on an absorbing passion or a profound faith,— such a passion or such a faith as will fuse party differences and personal jealousies into one molten mass of popular purpose; whether selfish or noble, whether bloodthirsty or simply stern, considered in this light, scarcely matters. The South found and finds this passion in the savage resolve to mould and extend their beloved slavery according to their own will, without any check or interference from their Northern neighbors. France found it, at the time of the Great Revolution, first in a paroxysm of democratic rage against her own corrupt aristocracy, then in her atill madder rage against the fore)gner who interfered between her and her prey. The English Puritans found it in the fresh spell which the translated Bible, and especially the Old Testament, cast upon their consciences at the very moment when they had to resist a formal, tyrannical, and hollow-hearted Church and king government. But on the North there is no single overpowering spell of this
kind. They have neither a passion which has identified itself with their inmost nature to gratify, nor a faith which touches their conscience to propagate and proclaim. The idolatry for " the Union " and the Constitution is the nearest approach they have to either; and that is neither a dearly cherished personal passion like the lust of slavery, nor a faith like the Puritan faith that God had condemned their unrighteous government. It is rather a fixed idea which has taken firm root in the national vanity, and which needs even now constant lashing and pricking to keep up to the mark. They go fuming about "like a short-tailed bull in fly time," as Mr. Bigelow says, in order to bring themselves up to the goring and tossing point. They are always wanting a deeper rooting and grounding in the goodness and splendor of their own cause. They die for it, but yet they only half identify themselves with it and are thankful to any one who temporarily deceives them into the notion that it is a consuming passion with them. Big words are welcome, because they give a false bottom of confidence for the moment in a cause for which they find it difficult to entertain savage passion, and still more difficult to cherish religious enthusiasm. All the biggest thoughts they have ever had are associated with the Union. They cannot, and will not give it up, for it is of the essence of their political vanity. Still it does not touch them to the quick as imputations on slavery touch the South, or as the exaction of assent to a detested creed touches a really ardent faith. . . .
There is but one party to whom this charge of half-heartedness does not apply,— the anti-slavery party. They do, in fact, feel much of the indignant faith and passion of righteous zealots. . . . But they are, even now, comparatively few. And as for the welding influence of national fury, it scarcely yet exists amongst the civilians of the North, and we trust, in spite of their wrongs, may long be delayed. The crusade against slavery is probably the only contagious revolutionary force which can ever work the North up to the grim earnestness of the South. . . .
From The Saturday Review.
It is reported of two Anglo-Italian boys, sent over here to be turned into complete Englishmen, and plunged, accordingly, headforemost into the mare magnum of one of our public schools, that, on being asked what they had been taught by their foreign tutors, they replied, singing, dancing, and pretty behavior. In that pretty behavior was included, let us hope, self-possession under difficulties, and that positive quality, whatever it may be called, which is opposite to bashfulness—otherwise, we do not envy them the process of their acclimatization. We trust, however, that the Italian half of their nature was, for the time being, sufficiently in the ascendant to secure them against that odd infirmity, the natural outgrowth of the English half, which forms the subject of the present essay. So exclusively, indeed, is shvness supposed to be a part of the English character, that the substantive Englishman seems inextricably appropriated to the adjective shy, as, in the language of the railway station, a gentleman belongs to his dog. We sometimes talk of a raw Scotchman—never, as far as our experience extends, of a shy one—whilst a shy Frenchman, a shy Irishman, and a shy American, represent, if such a mode of speaking may be allowed, the positive, the comparative, and the superlative degrees, of impossibility. Such being the case, it may not be uninteresting to inquire what shyness is, why it takes rank as a peculiarly English characteristic, and whether it does not carry with it certain compensations which make it doubtful whether we should be gainers on the whole if it could be altogether eliminated from our nature.
Shyness, we should say, might be described as a kind of inverted vanity, or perhaps, less uncharitably, of inverted selfesteem. It is of course modified by the endless variety of circumstances, and shot through by a thousand complicated shades of character; but this always continues, we think, whatever the shift of the pattern, to be the central thread of the woof. The shy man is oppressed by a sense that there is a want of harmony between what he is, and what he appears to be. That reasonable good opinion of one's self, without which it is difficult to be easy and agreeable in soci
ety, which acts without any distinct consciousness on our parts, like insensible perspiration, in maintaining the inward health and equilibrium, is, as it were, chilled and driven in upon the system. And the results which follow are sufficiently analogous to the mischief produced by an eruption which is improperly checked. This, we think, accounts for the odd veins of shyness which often lie hid in minds where no one would expect to find them. Grattan, for instance, was, perhaps, the boldest and bitterest speaker of his time; but, if his health were drunk at a public dinner, he was as incapable of stringing two reasonable sentences together by way of thanks, as the veriest Dundreary candidate who is forced to repose implicit confidence in his hat. The reason was, we think, that in his natural sphere he could trust himself. The inner man and the outer man worked harmoniously together, because he had acquired, by long experience or otherwise, the certainty that when he was called upon to embody an idea, the native growth of his intellect, his powers of execution would not fail him; but this confidence deserted him whenever he was restricted to the arms of courtesy. There he was out of his element, and, being a man of sincere and ardent temper, as soon as he found himself in a false position, he succumbed to shame and confusion of face, and stood up in a state of moral chaos, like Balaam the prophet, with every disposition to curse his fellow-worshippers heartily, yet compelled to bless them altogether. On the other hand, we have always heard that when masquerades were in fashion, the people who kept them alive—who found wit, and sarcasm, and noise, and readiness of repartee —were not the impudent members of society, but persons who, upon common occasions, were notoriously shy and reserved. Upon the former, apparently, the unusjial position in which the-;, were placed operated as a restraint and a clog. To the latter, the mere fact that the usual and conventional state of things which sat upon them, like Sinbad's old man of the sea, was removed for an instant, gave a lightness and elasticity of feeling which urged them on to a thousand follies. Their difficulty always having been to make the inner and the outer man harmonize satisfactorily to themselves, they discovered, to their great delight, that the very essence of thft masquerade was, that, till it was over, the inner man was entirely to be suppressed and forgotten. Under the influence of this discovery, they were like prisoners suddenly liberated, and were ready to dance, and shout, and sing from the mere instinct of unexpected freedom. Following the same line of thought, we find that, where the reciprocal duties of thought and action are regulated from without—where, either by law or conventional necessity, no alternative is left to a man—shyness usually ceases to molest him. Her aspect is terrible only in a region of mist and uncertainty. We feel, it is true, under the shadow of her presence, a nervous dread of the opinion of others, but only so long as that opinion is unexpressed. As soon as it begins to speak in human tones, like the Bodach Glas of Fergus M'lvor, it loses at once its power. Whatever real value it may have is retained; but that value can be weighed and estimated, and if on examination it is found to be entirely worthless, it is entirely disregarded. Accordingly, a man may be shy at an evening party, and yet act in private theatricals, where he knows every one expects him to do certain fixed things, and utter certain pre-arranged words, without the smallest embarrassment. He may hesitate and stammer in asking a young lady to dance, and yet propose a candidate for the county, if public opinion calls upon him to do so, with the most perfect fluency and self-possession. Nay, further—even in cases where the shyness felt arises from some shortcoming, or blunder, or untowardness of behavior, and is, therefore, natural and justifiable—as soon as the penalty dreaded, whatever it be, has been incurred—as soon as the suffering to be undergone has defined and limited itself within certain bounds, the sense of shame is over. We doubt not, for instance, that Miss Edgeworth's bashful young lady, who went, as we are told, to a ball with a black shoe on one foot and a white one on the other—though she suffered agonies till the opinion of the room on the subject had been pronounced—danced, nevertheless, as soon as the laugh against her had exhausted itself, with perfect composure, and went home quite unaffected by the incident. Now, it seems to us, that if we were to
classes where shyness is commonly found, from that of other nations, what we should fix upon would be the habit of suppressing emotion. The first thing, we believe, which astonishes an English boy, on being introduced to Homer, is the abundant tears which are shed by the noblest heroes of the story. Achilles weeps—Menelaus weeps—Ulysses weeps on the smallest provocation; nor does this display of feeling appear to have been thought, by their contemporaries then, or by their fellow-countrymen in after ages, as less suitable to their characters and positions, than to those of Andromache or Cassandra. Such being the case, the fifth form boy, who would feel himself dishonored in his own eyes if he gave way at a tragedy or melodrama, marvels at the readiness with which the Vv;t«u tyOi/ioi i/puuv melt into, what seems to him to be, inexplicable weakness. Nor is this contempt for tears confined to the young. It is apparently taken for granted, as part of the manly character, in society, in business, in literature; and yet those fine lines of Scott's :—
"But woe awaits a country, when
would apparently have been unintelligible to the gallant besiegers of Troy. We suspect, however, that the somewhat scornful astonishment which is aroused in the undeveloped English mind when it is first called upon to sympathize with the blubbering demigods of Ilium, would have been retaliated upon us tenfold, and possibly in a spirit' of sounder wisdom, by those brilliant Achseans, if they could have been introduced to a Sliios instead of a toot avi;p. They could hardly have been made to understand how a full-grown man, unimpeachable in point of bodily stature and mental cultivation, could be prevented from taking his fair share in the business and enjoyments of life, and throttled, as it were, into awkwardness and insignificance, by a timidity in trifles for which he could give no reason, and allege no excuse. This view of weeping m*ay be taken as typical of the English characteras a proof of the value which we set upon the power of suppressing emotion, and of presenting an iron front to sorrows and misfortunes whenever they fall upon us. Moreover, if such an indisputable fact required
take any one point as distinguishing the j further confirmations, we could have them English character, particularly among those ! in crowds. The fiercest murderer extorts a
reluctant sympathy (on week days, at any rate), even from the respectable part of the British public, if he dies game—that is, if he crushes down the thoughts and feelings which naturally belong to his situation. Besides this, there are a thousand popular stories, which derive their whole effect from striking in upon, and harmonizing with, this keynote of our national disposition. If we could suppose that the surgeon of the sinking ship, who replied to his shrieking informant, " Well, that is no business of mine, you had better go and tell the first-lieutenant," did not really care for being drowned—if the imperturbable Briton, in the blazing hotel on the Rhine, who simply cursed the terrified waiter for calling him before the specified hour of nine, did not really care for being burned alive—if the drunken collier, who was roused by masked demons, glimmering through the darkness under phosphoric light, and then told that he was in hell, did not really dread everlasting damnation when he placidly observed, "Indeed, can you tell me whether one Joe Collins is here?" They would represent themselves to our apprehensions, one and all, as insensible brutes, and the humor of the situation vanishes at once. The whole joke consists in the steadiness with which the character, together with its habits, natural and acquired, keeps its ply, however odd and unexpected the combination of circumstances which start up around it may be. And looking at them from that point of view, it may be observed that all such stories, and their name is legion, point in the same direction, namely, to the fact that the suppression of outward emotion is one of the main characteristics of the Englishman. We need not add that Frenchmen, Irishmen, etc., are (and ancient Greeks probably were) formed in this respect, whether for good or evil, of a different clay. The channels through which the current of their inner nature communicates with the external world are freer, wider, and less obstructed. The whole charaoter pours itself easily through them, instead of fretting and chafing against the barriers which keep it imprisoned within. Now, if the ordinary English nature were also an unimpassioned nature, we night be, as indeed many Englishmen are, cold, stiff, and ungcnial, without being shy; but this is by no means universally, or indeed
commonly, the case. And the consequence is, that there is a constant struggle going on between the vehemence of the real temper below and the strength of the icy crust which has been breathed upon it by custom and convention above. This in susceptible minds, particularly if they are full of sympathy, and keenly alive to the influence of others, produces a painful sense of discord and confusion, which, according to the best of our belief, is the fountain-head of English shyness.
Whether that English shyness be altogether an evil, is another matter. It certainly is a morbid form of imaginative sympathy. And if we could have the imaginative sympathy without the disease, we should unquestionably find ourselves in a better plight. Mr. Gladstone, no doubt, would tell us that such was the case in the full and free development of their heroic nature, among his prehistoric Achaean chiefs; and we dare say he is right. But, among ourselves, we think that some degree of shyness is not undesirable or ungraceful in early youth. The lad who is not shy is very apt to be of a self-occupied and ungenial character, careless of the opinion of others only because he is always thinking of himself. His interests, his acquirements, his possessions, his intentions, are ever uppermost in his mind. He is, therefore, not unlikely to build up a wall of self-conceit between himself and his fellow-men, which permanently arrests the growth of his faculties, and tends especially to blunt and dwarf the imagination. This, to practical people who sneer at poetry, may seem no great evil; but we are not speaking of the literary imagination alone. It ought not to escape their notice that the moral use of that great faculty, higher even than the intellectual, is to give its possessor sympathy with, and insight into, all that concerns mankind. Whenever, therefore, we find, as is common enough, parents or guardians imitating the example of Lord Chesterfield, and endeavoring to force ease of manner upon the young, we think them, as the expression itself seems to show, deplorably in error. A stripling who begins by being shy, in that his imagination is perpetually at work, and sensitively alive to every shift and shadow of turning in the temper and demeanor of others, is more likely to acquire a knowledge of men than the self-satisfied young gentleman who, at sixteen, is perfectly "lord of himself" in any society. There are, unquestionably, certain easy and gracious natures, endowed with a nameless charm which no education can give or even take away, who from first to last preserve the simplicity of children, and fascinate, without effort or selfconsciousness, just as a rose-tree blossoms, or a bird flies—of them we are not speaking. Let us praise God for them—but nascuntur, non fiunt. In ordinary cases we believe that perfect good breeding, which implies tact and a kindly perception of men's motives, and wishes, and even weaknesses, is more likely to ripen out of our natural shyness than out of that premature self-possession which is sometimes coveted for the young by their over-anxious friends. We are speaking emphatically of the young; because elderly shyness, even if it be not entirely extirpated from odd holes and corners in the character, must not be allowed, if we may use the colloquialism, to say that its soul is its own. Any one who, after a certain time of life—passed, of course, under ordinary circumstances—permits it at all to domineer over his soul, to fetter his conversation, or embarrass his conduct, must be
the victim of a low-fever type of vanity which indicates weakness, somewhere or other, in the mental constitution. In this respect, however, men of average good sense generally get their education finished for them by society, within a reasonable time. They soon learn that, whether they talk or are silent, whether they stand awkwardly making faces in a corner of the room or sit down like Christians in a chair, whether they wear a white neckcloth or a black one at a dinner party, no perceptible change is produced in the relations of the universe. The sun equally rises and sets—the Derby is decided, and the Parliament dissolved— and, what is more to their purpose, whichever of the alternatives named above they may have chosen, nobody cares. As soon as this last interesting fact is brought home to the consciousness of the sufferer, a favorable crisis supervenes. He slowly takes his natural place, falls gradually into his natural style of conversation, and ends by satisfying himself that, after all, in the ocean of human life, he is as good and as well-rounded a drop as most of the surrounding drops by whose juxtaposition he was of old so grievously embarrassed and oppressed.