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Hannay gives an account of European satire from Horace to Jerrold; and although somewhat slight, as was inevitable from its narrow limits, the work is thoroughly well done. From the polish of the suave old Roman to the wit of the Englishman, whose epigrams are yet ringing in our ears, is a journey which, if accomplished in a little book of two hundred pages, can allow but little loitering on the way. But for his task Mr. Hannay possessed abundant knowledge, and his special liking for his subject is everywhere evident. He lingers over the good things of his heroes; he relates their immortal revenges with the same pride that the members of a regiment which has become historical recalls the battle-fields on which it gathered its renown. He speaks of Erasmus, Dryden, Pope, and Byron, as the art student copying in the galleries speaks of Michael Angelo and De Vinci,—appreciating their excellences, and hoping one day to emulate them. Mr. Hannay was not only qualified to write on the Satirists from taste, enthusiasm, and loving study, but from the possession of a power somewhat akin to their own. He writes clearly, criticises soundly when occasion arises; yet one can see at a glance that the sovereign faculty of his own mind is wit. His thought is continually condensing itself into epigram. And then his wit has a certain something of poetry about it, which makes it all the more delightful; it is continually going about with a flower of fancy in its hand. In "Satire and Satirists," Mr. Hannay—like all very clever young men—is somewhat spendthrift of his means. He is always giving sovereign " tips," so to speak. Some of his pages are as brilliant and dangerous with squib and serpent as a London pavement on Coronation night. He cracks his satirical whip for the mere pleasure he has in hearing it. If .the occasion requires it, he fires off his rockets, and he fires them off frequently when there is no occasion in the least: there is a large stock on hand, and, after all, rockets are a very pretty sight. The following passage on the "Simious Satirists " will illustrate what we mean:—
"The simious satirist is distinguished by a deficiency of natural reverence mainly. His heart is hard, rather; his feelings blunt and dull. He is blind to everything else but the satirical aspect of things; and if 'he is brilliant, it is as a cat's back is when
rubbed in the dark! He has generally no sentiment of respect for form, and will spare nothing. He is born suspicious; and if he hears the world admiring anything, forthwith he concludes that it must be ' humbug.' He has no regard to the heaps of honor gathered round this object by time and the affection of wise men. He cries, 'Down with it!' As his kinsman, when looking at some vase, or curious massive specimen of gold, sees only his own image in it, our satirist sees the ridiculous only in every object, and forgets that the more clearly he sees it, the more he testifies to its brightness. Or, as his kinsman breaks a cocoanut only to get at the milk, lit would destroy everything only to nourish his mean nature. He prides himself on his commonest qualities, as the negroes who rebelled called themselves Marquises of Lemonade. He would tear the blossoms off a rose branch to make it a stick to beat his betters with. He employs his gifts in ignoble objects, as you see in sweetmeat shops sugar shaped into dogs and pigs. He taints his mind with egotism, as if a man should spoil the sight of a telescope by clouding it with his breath. He overrates the value of his quickness and activity, and forgets that, like his kinsman, he owes his triumphant power of swinging in high places to the fact of his prehensile tail."
Mr. Hannay, we have said, is fond of epigram, and it seems to us that in " Satire and Satirists" epigram is used at times somewhat vaingloriously. The epigram does not always arise naturally from the matter in hand; it is rather stuck upon it like a bit of tinsel; and this is perhaps the chief blot on the book. It is too clever, and it is too clever wilfully. This literary ornament, like all others, should be used sparingly. A gentleman gains nothing by covering his fingers with rings, and at any time one sole diamond is worth a dozen inferior stones. Yet it must be said that the writer is often exceedingly happy in his epigram. Take the following, for instance, on Theodore Hook: "They "—his noble patrons—" set him down to the piano, even before he had hod his dinner sometimes, according to one biographer. This was too bad. He was proud, however, of the equivocal distinction he attained, and was inclined to swagger, I understand, among his equals. The plush had eaten into his very soul. Ultimately he ruined his heart, his circumstances, and (what was a still greater loss) his stomach, and so died. The biographer above mentioned observes, that his funeral was ill attended by his great friends. But we need not wonder at that,—a funeral is a wellknown 'bore,' and besides, the most brilliant wag cannot be amusing on the occasion of his own interment." The closing sentence of this extract is perfect, and quite equal to the best thing of any epigrammatist. On the face and surface of it it is amusing. But it is more than that. It is a biography and a moral judgment in a single sentence. It reveals the relation which the wit bore to his patrons far more clearly than whole pages of writing or any amount of moral declamation. And in the book there are many sentences equally memorable.
"Essays from the Quarterly" is, in every way a better and riper book than its predecessor: the writing is always excellent, and if there is less epigram, there is more matter. The subjects of several of these essays lie in a region somewhat remote, not frequently visited by the modern man of letters; and on these subjects Mr. Hannay has written, not on account of their novelty, but because he was already acquainted with them, and had a special affection for them. In these essays there is little trace of " reading up;" he writes from the fulness of knowledge. Certain of the essays contained in the volume—as those on "Table Talk," ou "English Political Satires," on "Electioneering," and on " Horace and the Translators "—are, in the very nature of them, akin to " Satire and Satirists," and may be considered as supplementary to that work. These he has treated everywhere with the old lightness, grace, and knowledge, but— having more space and leisure at command —with greater fulness and elaboration. It would be difficult to find pleasanter reading than these. The town is well worth seeing, and the cicerone knows every turn and winding, and is familiar with the best standpoints. It is a discourse on "good things," by a writer who not only can appreciate them, but who can say them. It is a wit talking about wits. In these essays there is abundance of knowledge and sound sense, but the knowledge and the sense go about in sparkle and epigram.
There are two things which Mr. Hannay specially admires,—genius, wit, scholarship —literary distinction, in fact—and good blood. If you are a wit or a poet, he will take you to his heart; if you are neither wit
nor poet, he will take you to his heart equally enthusiastically if you can prove to him that your great-great-great-grandfather was ruined in the wars of the Roses. His admiration for wit, scholarship, and song he has set forth in " Satire and Satirists," and in certain of his" Essays from the Quarterly;" his admiration for ancient and historical names airs itself in his essays on " British Family Histories" and "The Historic Peerage of England." These essays are quite peculiar in their way. It is not often that the reflected colors of or and gules lie on the popular page. But seldom have genealogical trees greened with the spring, and put forth blossoms of fancy. Genealogy itself has been the favorite pursuit of Dr. Dryasdust. But poetic association can do almost anything. An old china cup may be uninteresting enough in itself; but when one remembers the fair lips that once touched it, the dead scandals that were talked over it, it becomes at once an object of interest. An old Roman coin may be quite useless for the purchase of modern beef or bread; but when you gaze imaginatively on the half-obliterated effigy of the Roman Emperor, the intervening centuries collapse and perish, England becomes green waste and forest; up springs the triumphal arch, the conqueror passes through it with all his captives, you hear the shouts of the populace. And so, to Mr. Hannay, a great name recalls a thousand memories; he sees the chivalric and the wise faces of the men, and the beautiful eyes of the women, that belong to it. An old castle is sacred in his eyes, for noble memories grow upon it as thickly as its shrouding ivies. He sees the modern earl standing, but Agincourt is in the background, and there is always " a pomp of fancied trumpets on the wind." He traces the stems of ancient families, and lingers over the flowers of valor, wit, genius, personal beauty, which generation after generation they put forth, and which brighten yet the air of history. He values a sprig of ivy or a wild flower from a castle wall over which a banner once flapped, more than the wealth of Rothschild. To be embalmed in a ballad is the fame which he covets most. He is fond of crests, and coats of armor, and all the insignia of the herald; but he cares nothing for these in themselves—his affection goes out towards what these symbols represent. He reverences the Bloody Heart, and cares not on what material it may be worked—the standard's silken folds, or the gaberdine of the beggar. He laughs openly at the chivalric device and motto blazing on the coach panels of the successful coal merchant. The past moves him mightily,—he is attracted by the deeds, the wit, the splendor of long ago; and on the past he continually feels that the present is based, and is its natural outcome and result. Instinctively he feels that in history there is sequence and progression; in the face of the son he seeks to discern something of the high features of the father. And it is his belief that the ancient feudal hardihood did not die out on feudal battle-fields, that wit did not expire forever in the poem or the epigram in which it made itself visible, that beauty did not cease finally in wrinkles and gray hairs. He thinks that the virtues of race are the truest heirlooms, descending from father to son, and from mother to daughter, far more certainly than broad lands and castles. He holds that the courage which kept the trenches in the Crimea, and which subdued the Indian mutiny, is directly transmitted from the men who fought at Bosworth and Marston Moor, and that the beauty which charms us to-day is a reminiscence of the beauty which charmed the Cavaliers. Thus, by perpetuation of valor and beauty, he knits century with century, and generation with generation; thus to his mind does epoch flow out of epoch. And this theory—which doubtless many will be inclined to dispute—Mr. Hannay supports by numerous instances :—
"Few writers in our day have a word of decent civility for the family of Stewart. It would be curious to trace its hereditary character in the chief line; our present purpose is only to remark on the greatness attained by some men who descended maternally from it. We need scarcely say that the mother of William of Orange was a Stewart princess. The mother of Cromwell was, as we believe, of one branch of the family. So was the mother of the admirable Crichton; and of the famous soldier Alexander Leslie, first Earl of Leven. Chatham was nearly and directly from the royal stem, through his grandmother—a descendant of the Regent Murray. Fox's mother, Lady Lennox, was immediately descended from Charles II. Byron had the blood in his veins. How interesting to see eminent families sharing in this kind of way in a great
THIBD SERIES. LIVING AOE. 942
man's renown! The gifted Shaftesbury's mother was a Manners; Algernon Sidney's a Percy; and his famous kinsman, Philip's, a Dudley; the poet Beaumont's a Pierrepont. The mother of Marshall Stair was a Dumlas; and the brilliant Peterborough was the son of one of the brilliant Carys. The Ruthvcns and Carnegies gave mothers to Montrose and Dundee. The Villierses gave a mother to Chatham ; the Granvilles to Pitt; the Douglases of Strathhenry to Adam Smith. Nelson inherited the blood of the Sucklings and Walpoles; Collingwood that of the Greys
'and Plantagenets. From the Hampdens
! came the mother of Waller, and also Mary Arden (of that ancient Warwickshire fam
, ily), the mother of Shakspeare. The literary
I talent runs through female lines like other qualities: Swift's mother was a Herrick, and
j his grandmother a Dryden. Donne, derived through his mother, from Sir Thomas More; and Cowper in the same way from the Donnes. Thomson had the Hume blood in his veins. A daughter of Becaria produced
i Manzoni. The late Bishop Coplestone evidently got his playfulness from the Gays, as Chesterfield his wit from Lord Halifax. The relationship between Fielding and "Lady Mary " is well known. Sometimes, when a notable man comes from a family never before heard of, it happens that he just comes after a marriage with a better one: Thus the mother of Seldon was of the Knightly Bakers of Kent; Camdens, of the ancient Curwins of Workington, and Watts of the
i old stock of Muirhead. . . . Philosophers, like Bacon, Hume, and Berkeley; poets, like Spenser, Cowper, Shelley, and Scott; novelists, like Fielding and Smollett; historians, like Gibbon; seamen, like Collingwood, Howe, Jervis, Vanes, St. Johns, Raleighs,
, George Herberts, and many other men of the ancient gentry, amply vindicate the pretensions of old families to the honor of producing the best men that England has ever seen."
Holding the theory that families can only' rise to distinction through superiority of some kind,—that, having arisen, they intermarry with families on their own social level, who have also arisen through superiority of some kind,—consequently that the offspring of such marriages have a double chance of possessing an unusual share of brain or of general power, and that the virtue of race thus built up is perpetuated in the descendants, and is continually making itself visible in them. Mr. Hannay is in politics inevitably a Conservative. A nation must be ruled by its best men, and the best men must be sought in the old houses. If a
man wishes to enter into public affairs, the through superiority of one kind or another, best letter of introduction he can bring with i that superiority is not transmitted perpetuhim is his ancient descent. We know what j ally. Even when a family which has been his family has been in the past; and as he I potent does not actually die out, the superiinherits the virtues and the traditions of his ority which it once possessed, and by virtue race, we can form some idea of how he will of which it arose, seems at times to die out. turn out. His good conduct is guaranteed [ There were historical families which have by a hundred ancestors. Holding these doc-j disappeared entirely from history, just as trines, Mr. Hannay naturally detests democ- there were stars known to the ancient astronomers which are not now visible in our heavens; certain families, too, seem to lose, after a generation or so, their ancient pith and force, and to lose themselves as a stream loses itself in a morass. Mr. Hannay hints consider that a cheap government is neces-i that, as Cromwell had a dash of the Stewart sarily the best, and he expects nothing but I blood in his veins, the Stewart blood should disorder from an extension of the franchise.' have the credit of his greatness ; but CromHe thus expresses himself in the essay on well's son, Richard, had the Stewart blood "The Historic Peerage: " — " This—' the j also, and he let the reins of government slip great difference between the vulgar and the from his grasp through weakness and ineptinoble seed'—was an article of faith among tude. Then, admitting the theory of genthe gentlemen of the kingdom. They held eral force in a race, you never can tell what the old Greek doctrine, that 'nobility is I shape that general force will take in a de
racy, looks upon universal suffrage with no favorable eye, is quite the reverse of an adherent of Mr. Bright's, and does not think that America has solved the problem of how a nation can be best governed. He does not
virtue of race,' and believed that those who possessed it were naturally superior to other men. Their portraits—calm, stately, brave, and wise faces—justify their creed to the eye; and the men they produced—the Sydneys, Raleighs, Bacons—justify it to the un
scendant. Every now and again, in a historical line, an alien character seems to blossom out, as the spiritual, saintly face of Edward IV. gleams among the strong-willed and masterful Tudors. Mr. Hannay tells us that many men of the "ancient gentry"
derstanding. By and by there will be a j amply vindicate the pretensions of old fambearing again for this side of affairs in Eu- j ilies to the honor of " producing the best rope, after the total failure of the revolution- men that England has ever seen." The
ary party to produce governing intellects has had a still wider scope to show itself in." So, argues Mr. Hannay, the old houses
phrase "ancient gentry" is a, misleading one. How ancient? Mr. Hannay does not limit the ancient gentry to the descendants
possessed calmness, dignity, bravery, wis- j of the men who came over with the Condom; they were leaders, they were states- queror. In every generation certain famimcn; and when we wish these qualities to j lies rise out of the people into the position bear on the work of government, we cannot of gentry; and if the theory is correct, that do better than seek for them in the persons j a family only rises into eminent station of their descendants. There is at least one through general superiority, and that that chance more that the governing intellect superiority is to some extent perpetuated,
will be found there than in other regions. The quarter of the wood iu which you gath
the governing intellect is as likely to be found in the descendant of the gentleman of
ered strawberries six summers ago, is the I one century's standing as in the descendant likeliest place to find strawberries when they j of the gentleman of ten. And, in point of
are again wanted.
This view of the virtue of race, and its transmission in the blood from father to son,
fact, it is as readily found. Within the last seventy years the Buonapartes have become occupants of thrones, the Peel family rose
is rather indicated than formally argued out into eminence quite lately, the Gladstone in these essays. Of course many objections ' family yet more recently. But, putting cavil
will be taken to it; and as a theory, it cannot be accepted in toto. Its truth ends when its chapter of instances ends. Grant that a family rises above the level of mankind
aside, Mr. Hannay's view of blood contains much truth, and is essentially poetic besides. He looks back with reverence and affection on the generations of dead Englishmen and Englishwomen. The eyes of the Countess of Salisbury haunt him. He cannot forget Sidney's chivalric face ; he enjoys the wit of Charles II. quite as much as did any of his courtiers. He walks back into history, and he is greeted by wit and song, and beautiful women and fine manners, and splendid furniture and array. The old time, with its color and high spirits, lives again for him; again the feast is spread in the feudal cas
themselves bravely on the foemen's pikes; and from this intercourse with these worthies he has gained much, for into his own writings he has imported the grace, the polish, and the wit for which they are so remarkable.
Readers of Primer's Magazine have, for the last six or seven years, been familiar with critical and descriptive papers to which the signature of " Shirley " was appended—
tie; again the feudal banners unroll them- papers which, considered as literature, rose selves on the breeze; again, on the battle- considerably above the average contents of field, old war-cries are shouted. And, in a j a periodical which has always been distincountry like England, so full of the past, not guished for literary excellence. Having only in its political constitution and in its j read these papers with singular pleasure as unparalleled literature, but in objects which they appeared month by month, we are appeal directly to the eye—in mighty castle glad to see them collected in a volume, ruins, where nobles lived who mated once! which, if it gets its deserts, will find a place with kings; cathedrals in which the sound in many a private as well as in many a cirof chanting is heard no more; Westmin- j culating library. Shirley is a pleasantly va
ster Abbey with its dead; the world's first sailor and soldier beneath the dome of St.
grant writer; his thought gads and wanders around his subject like the wild convolvulus,
Paul's; dwellings of nobles, sequestered in j taking color and fragrance with it wherever oak woods, which for two hundred autumns! it goes. If, for the most part, he avoids now have shed their acorns; princely col-! profound subjects, never attempts exhaus
leges, endowed by liberal and pious men of old; guns and banners captured in every
tive treatment, he is always eminently readable, charming his reader with an unusual
quarter of the globe—this reverence and grace of presentment and the light of pleasaffection for the remarkable families who , ant fancies. He has a laudable horror of have headed its efforts in every direction is , dulness; he is a bookish man, well read in most natural and befitting. English history the poets and prose writers—a little too inwas not built up by knaves and scoundrels,' dolently inclined, perhaps, to quote the and men hungry for wealth and advance- poets—tasteful, acute, picturesque; nnd the ment, but mainly by good and noble men essays now republished are the mere play
and women. The virtues had more to do with it than the vices. Mr. Hannay loves . his land, but it is with a love
"Far brought From out the storied past."
And although his readers may not go all the
and recreation of his mind. He takes up his pen from the same motive, and with the same enjoyment, that he puts his foot in the stirrup and rides into the country—down the quiet lane scented with white and red dog-roses, out to the headland which gazes
way with him in his theories of descent, yet upon the azure world of the Atlantic, up to it may be said that even in these theories ' the red ruin of the hill patched with ivies. there is a great proportion of truth, and a j In these papers there is no plodding, no burside of the truth which has perhaps not been den or heat of the day; he infects the reader sufficiently dwelt upon of late. We need to with his own freshness of feeling; everybe reminded at times that worth is older j thing is light, airy, graceful. He yachts
than the steam engine, that the present is moored upon the past, and that a great deal of what we are proudest of is drawn directly from our ancestors. Mr. Hannay has lived in close intellectual companionship with great Englishmen—the nobles, the wits, the cavaliers who could turn a stanza on the pleasures of the wine cup and the beauty of woman, as well as, ou battle mornings, fling
over the shining seas of criticism and speculation. He is fond of out-door life, of bare and level sands through which the slow stream stagnates to the main, of worn and fantastic northern rocks around which seabirds wheel and clamor, and on which the big billow smites itself into a column of foam. The sea-tide he is never tired of painting; yet we feel that at the sea-side he