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ness, subjective dissatisfaction, and life- immorality does not arise from expresweariness which a lower class of artists sions here and there, but from his pervathrow over their work, has for the most ding spirit of scorn and revolt, which part proceeded, as we have seen, from a was not only in the highest sense unpoetdespising of the cominon elements around ical, but unpoetical because it was at them-mediums and materials for crea bottom egotistic, bitter and unjust. The tive power also—in a mad and wrong- lowest elements in Byron become an headed deference to old forms. Through- amalgam under-running all his poetry; ont all such work there is a feverishness and when we say that he was pre-eminand morbid heat-alien wholly to the ently an egotist, and that an egotist can open healthfulness, which, though not sel- never be a great creator, we say the dom coarse, was never degrading by use worst that it is needful to say of him. of sly hints, clever double meanings, or But in our own day Mr. Swinburne imcunning suggestions. In no period of plicitly justifies himself by reference to literary bistory, perhaps, was there more Byron's sins against morality, and we of this falseness than in that of the Medici, are led by a not unnatural association to when a Pulci was il Prima Poeta. A la refer to him before passing on. tent skepticism lay in all art, and classic M r. Swinburne, as we shall see hereforms were enthroned on the caput mor- after, violates each of the three laws laid tuum of Christian faith, which yet the down; but as all his sins trace their roots common crowd, wiser than their teach- more or less directly to a revolt against ers, cluog to and lived by. The most what is admittedly good and earnestly besacred objects of the common faith were lieved, in his own time, we may consistdeemed fit play-balls for the fancy, and ently enough say a few words of him nature was rigorously limited by the or- here. In the measure that the artist exder of the court. Scientific men tell us hibits traces of a conscious reaction that the storm which spends itself wrath- against those moral forms-mediums of fully along our coasts, strewing them restriction for individual caprice or de. with wrecks, may have taken its rise in sire, by which society seeks to develop Indian seas, and, traveling westward, the higher by circumscribing the lower may be traced in its eccentric course. So -he only betrays individual limitation, is it with literary influences like these. and determinately and of set purpose inThe wave of skepticism generated chief- dicates by each new effort certain parly by the ultra-classical devotion of those tialities or tendencies towards special times, when the mediæval excesses con- phases of life and character. But the estinued to exist without any of the me- sence of art, as we have seen, is the susdieval reverence and faith, did not spend pension of such partialities and preferenitself till in the beginning of the nine
though his exceedingly metaphysical modes of teenth century it had thrown up upon
" row up upon conception war against his giving it the fullest efour coast a stormy, wailing Byron. By- fect. ' The last lesson of " Locksley Hall" and Ton busily formed himself upon the Ital. “Mand," if it be admitted that they have any jan writers of the decadence, and he did lesson, is certainly towards renunciation of the ces, that justice may be done to all alike. of pruriency on the reader's part, but Sameness in the characters dealt with, and because of the unnatural and oppressive in the atmosphere with which they are atmosphere into which we are thrown-an surrounded, and that whether the atmosphere as of a laboratory or a dissectcharacters be conventionally good or bad, ing-room. We can continue to live with and whether the atmosphere be healthy one such establishment in a street or in a or unhealthy,—must mean, if it means town; if there were a whole street or a anything, a narrowness of sympathy town of them, it would kill us even to in which lies the essence of injustice. pass through it. And so with books. Its first characteristic is that it cannot There is only one Ophelia in Hamlet ; be impartial. It has scent for only one only one Wife of Bath in the Canterblood, and passes all other tracks that bury Tales. We have a funny hardmay lie in its way. And the of- grained grave-digger beside the one, an fence is, of course, all the worse when Emilie and a nun alongside the other. the proclivity is to morbid moods What saves the genuine artist from falland experiences. The work of such a ing to the low level of Mr. Swinburne is one, so far as it is real, belongs to the his instinctive perception that in life same class as a police report; so far as it nothing stands by itself or exists for itis ideal, he has only produced what Hegel self, and hence he never surrounds his takes such care to condemn-a talse ideal characters with an atmosphere whose which is indulged by the isolated imagina- uniformity unmistakably proves its subtion, and belongs in no sense to humanity. jective root. With such a one each Such were the real pictures—the nature- character carries his own atmosphere pictures of Rousseau ; such too were his with him, moves freely in his own orbit. ideals, those, for instance, which he which is felt to be as foreign to the poet wrought out in “ Pygmalion,” and the himself as to the rest of his characters. “ Fragments d'Iphis.” Productions like Hence the sharp, clear healthy determinthese wholly want that seal of unconscious ateness of each detail in the picture, even and healthy variety wbich is inseparable when traits or actions, in themselves from the work of true genius. They all immoral, are dealt with; and hence the tend to run into mere analysis, and mostly honest plainness with which the true morbid analysis. This, however, belongs artist always treats what in itself is coarse. not to art but to science, and while it We confess we looked forward with may have value as a series of psycho- interest to reading Mr. Swinburne's pamlogical studies, it has none whatever as phlet, and expected an ingenious defence: creation. Mr. Swinburne's “Poems and the reader may imagine our surprise Ballads” fall to be condemned under all when we found Mr. Swinburne still more the forms in which this law will state effectively closing the door against himitself. First, in the morbid self-conscious self, and justifying by implication the ness which pervades them. Secondly verdict which the mass of critics have (which strictly follows from the former), given, though it may not in all cases have in their absolute want of true variety and been based on sound principles. He dramatic freedom of movementthat is, condemns himself more severely than we a movement determined by the inter- could do under the above law in trying change of characters and circumstances to justify himself by precedents. He is so different from each other that the real even more unlucky in his precedents than unity is built out of a non-apparent unity; in his arguments. Byron and Shelley which, however, Mr. Swinburne's poems were poets in spite of their conscious rereverse, their unity being an outward and volt against “ what was best and highest conventional one. Thirdly, by the bold in society,” and not because of it; for and declared attack upon ideas or forms certainly such revolt lowers them in rank which the common sense of the mass as artists, however large the crowds they holds to be ballowed. Neither Professor may bave set agog as agitating quacks Morley's clever special pleading, nor Mr. do. “Queen Mab” is more a pamphlet Swinburne's own rhodomontade, can save than a poem, and Shelley lived to see and these poems from the condemnation of feel this; while much in “Don Juan" the healthy instinct ; and this not because must rank the same.
specially artistic tastes to find fullness of life in unnot live long enough to shake himself free
ion with common men for common ends. But from their subtle influences: the conse- the highest thing Mr. Tennyson has written in quence is that in his highest flights he is this as in other respects is the Northern Farmer," often inost daringly immoral. * And his where the simple naturalness of the picture, in
showing us how, to a character originally
coarse and sensual, mere devotion to honest work *It is perhaps worthy of remark that the first im- has ministered something of nobility, does far pulse derived from those artists who are supreme- more in directing our impulses than the finest by healthy is not towards the production of art: preaching. The question may therefore be raised they do not excite to imitation, in fact. The im- whether we have not in this a test of the highest polse is rather towards activity in the real world: art. Goethe says two things of Shakespere which They give zest to life, and excite a hunger for we think have a bearing here: (1) that the first deeds. Homer, Chaucer, Shakespere, Scott, and glance he cast into the world of Shakespere imGoethe (save, indeed, in the Wertherial stuff pelled him with hasty strides to the real world, to which Goche soon came to see the falseness of, mingle in the flood of destiny that courses through and to renounce) administer what Emerson would it; and (2) that had he read Shakespere before call "healthy shocks towards practical effort." commencing to write dram:is, he felt he should Mr. Tennyson has, perhaps, a glimpse of this, never have made a beginning.
But we may be met by two questions Pope as satirists, to a large degree, must here. The first is this,-“ May not these take place with Byron. productions which you so strongly con- The other question is this,—“Do you demn have the more historic value the not by so rigidly insisting on compliance more individual they are?” We admit with this law of Truth render impossithe pertinence of the question, and will ble all artistic treatment of other peripause for a moment to answer it. Since ods?” We answer, by no means. We no mere personal feelings or tendencies only lay down the conditions under which can exhaust the character of any given alone this can be faithfully accomplished. period, art will only bave historic value Here, as elsewhere, our first duty is to as the desires and habits specially indivi- that which lies nearest us. The artist, dual in their character have been passed even if he would, cannot rise out of the out of view: for in the measure in which atmosphere of his own time; it is the they obtrusively appear, the work as a medium through which he must view the record is personal and false ; in other life of other periods, if he would view it words, is not art at all, but autobiography.* truly. Not that he ought to seek to We have said that the revealing of par- make it teach conscious lessons. Sometiality is a direct confession of limitation. thing higher than that is required of him. Even satire-that form of art which He will never read other periods rightwould seem to owe most to personal re- ly till he has got into complete sympagards--becomes historically valuable in thy with the inmost life of his own.* the very degree individual tendencies have been thrust out of sight. And there Thus all formal imitation of old writers, espeare two reasons for this : (1) when the cially in those portions where they reach nighest satirist only reveals one tendency of his to the white heights of dramatic truth, is exclu
" ded. It may thus be a question whether Pope, in time to condemn another, he is certain to
trying to modernize the “Wife of Bath," was not have had some selfish object to serve, and doing a piece of immoral work, since (1) it was a Dot being disinterested, he falls even necessity of the more refined and cultivati d speech below the level of his time ; and (2) be that where Chaucer plainly spoke to the sense.
C he shou d suggest to the fancy, always the more cause such tendencies conclusively show
dangerous process; and (2) because he could only want of power to deal with the nobler have become moral as he rendered the whole of elements of life-the only ground from Chaucer in the spirit of Chancer; and this he which true satire can be written; for could not do, his sympathies with life being de
. ficient. It may be quite moral to create, what it Goethe has wisely said that the best way
is grossly immoral to imitale. Only Chaucer can to elevate mea is to paint them as though render Chaucer; for his charatters are not seen they were almost what you wished them truly when seen alone, but only in their relation to be. Jean Paul Richter's satire, as to each other. Thus the “Canterbury Pilg im
n which well as that of Cervantes, is true to this 1.8
lies all the mystery and varied movement of a requirement, having historical value world. For criation is vital, all the parts being through its form, universal significance interdependent, as having risen simultaneously in through its spirit. Defoe in parts, and one moment of supremest f cedom; imitation Horace thronghout, belong to the higher separates parts and opposes them to each other.
and its essence is bondage to the letter. Two of class, though they have not so completely Mr. Swinburne's mo-t labored pieces must, we fear, dissolved their individuality in the univer- be proscribed on this gronnd (“Anactoria," and sal, or, in other words, show more of per- “The Two Dreams.") With all the field of classonal prejudice. Lord Byron's “ English
sic and mediaeval literature before him, Mr. Swinsic a
burne has seized on the very portions of Sappho Dards and Scotch Reviewers is an ex. and Boccaccio which are most opposed to the cellent specimen of the individual type, spirit of our time; and he has wrought them out, which, through its intense individuality, not in the temper which ought to govern an arthas lost all value: wbile Boccaccio and ist of to-day, but ratber in that of a vicious old
world pedant. There is an excessive sickliness and morbid heat about them to which we find no
relief in any of the poems accompanying them. Perhaps no work has more historic value than Even admitting that truth to his models required Shakespere's plays. As a reflection of his age it this, we know that such elements did not exhaust is perfect: and yet are we not constantly hearing the humanity of these periods any more than they complaints of the little of the man there is in it? do ours; and therefore truth to our time impeiaThe same thing holds of the dramas of Æschylus tively requires some such relief.
tively requires some such relief. It is on grounds
It is on and Sophocles, and of the novels of Scott. like these that we would justify our decision as to NEW SERIES_Vol. VI., No. 2.
ecomes a whole
And here we see the deep significance Many are the temptations to set aside of the remark of the great German to the claims of this law, and scarcely a the effect that Shakespere had sent all prose-writer of our time has more glarhis Pagans to a Christian school, and ingly violated it than Mr. Charles Reade thus made them higher beings than they has done in his “ Griffith Gaunt.” No historically were, while yet they were author of the present day is entitled to true to nature. He had got the key, and write of the past century as Fielding and the Fate, in relation to which the old Sterne wrote of it. Our relation to it is Greeks saw all things, with him became wholly different from theirs, even supthe Christian Providence, of which that posing theirs was a faithful one; we other was but a darkened symbol. And have new lights to read it by, and superso he read the Greek life more faithfully added light should separate between pure than did the Greeks themselves; for and impure, else it is abused. Mr. Greek life ought to mean more to us than Reade's offence, however, does not lie in it did to those who half-blindly fought the use of plain phrases, of which far too and struggled within it, and all interpre- much has been made, but in the manner tation of it which gives us no glimpse of in which, by defect of true sympathy, he this is first unpoetic and then pedantic bas sought to wed the worst influences of only.
L a past age with the reigning literary evils That artist will therefore err, and pro- of the present. In “Griffith Gaunt" duce false work, who seeks to make the we have all the coarse plain dealing with instruments of his art only an airy bridge doubtful incident and character that to transport him out of the atmosphere marked “ Tom Jones," along with the of his own time that he may the better pretence of attaining dramatic unity by revenge himself upon it. And the rea- that opposing of circumstances to charson is evident. He has never got to the acter, in which Miss Braddon so delights. true root of belief by which the ages, We seriously object to such a union as however seemingly opposed to each oth- this. Mr. Reade has aimed at two er, are yet essentially united, and by things; one of them was more than he which each has significance for each could well accomplish. That he had no Carlyle is undoubtedly right as to the power in developing a story simply, withlaw, though he has himself violated it in out the aid of extraordinary and unnatural his revolt against his own time, when he elements, was proved by Dodd's catalepdeclares that men never with their whole sy in “ Hard Cash ;” that he has not the hearts believed anything which had not power to maintain interest on the lowan element of truth in it; and when, pitched walk of ordinary narrative, like again, he loudly asserts that the poet can Fielding, is abundantly proved by “ Grifonly succeed when he carries with him fith Gaunt.” Let us try to make our the complete belief of those among whom meaning clearer. Fielding's instincts he lives. And if any one wishes to see were far too true for his ever attempting how real genius can thus deal with clas- anything higher than mere chronicles of sic life-can make the old form the me- the life of the period. His novels have dium for what lies so close to the essen- no dramatic value, and no dramatic beartials of belief that it carries with it our ings; in other words, there is in them no full and unwavering consent,--and yet trace of an attempt at reaching that cennever for a moment read into the work tral unity which is the very sun of art. anything conventional or didactic, let him “Tom Jones," and "Joseph Andrews" study Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Wonder are merely series of separate pictures, Book"-one of the most perfect pieces which, taken apart, may have some hisof art in our language, and one which car- toric value as illustrative of the time, but ries with it very deep and serious lessons which taken together have no value at for classomaniacs like Mr. Swinburne. all, because the thread that binds the
together is merely accidental. They are Mr. Swinburne's want of dramatic power, and the not creation properly, but satiric critiassertion that his characters-moving very much
cism; not life itself, but clever reflections on the same plane as they do-are mere masks, under which he portrays, though skilfully, purely pon life. "Tom Jones" or "Joseph subjective tendencies,
Andrews” might be carried on ad infini
tum, because the unity, in which lies the clever and sparkling, but at the same very life of art, is developed by crises and time false and hermaphrodite work of great overwhelming concatenations of art, which, trying to be true to the forms circumstances, such as Fielding felt no of different periods, ends by being nothcall to deal with.* Mr. Reade has eye ing, looked at from the artistic plane. enough to see wherein this art must be
TO BE CONTINU:D. defective in depth and intensity of appeal, and he therefore imports into his clever sparkling narrative some of those
MacMillan's Magazine. very elements by which the falsest wri. ' ters of our time have tried to recover the THE BATTLE OF BURKE'S MINORITY IN awful brooding unity and fascination of
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, tragedy by setting the emotions in op
MARCH 12, 1771. position to the intellect in relation to certain points of morality. In “Griffith In the arena of the House of Commons Gaunt” he recovers urity by making the resistance is rarely exerted to excess. foolish misdoing of Griffith tend directly The preponderance of the majority once to the happiness of all concerned, and to proved, the minority generally accept a deeper union between him and Kate, defeat with docility. The minority, howwhich we supppose is fitly symbolized in ever, are but men; defeat is never pleasthe transference of his blood to her veins ant : temptation occasionally arises, dein her time of weakness. When we lay may procure what argument could not reach the end we feel how flimsy, false, accomplish. This temptation is strongand artificial is the whole thing, and can- est when prorogation- tide approachnot help remembering how different the es: in the dusk of the session, the seaviews of life, ot' nature, and of Providence son of Parliament drawing to a close, given us by Shakespere and Scott, and the loss of a day may involve the loss of even by Æchylus. Mr. Reade's is truly the bill. By utter weariness the majora very maudlin misrepresentation af the ity may be driven to yield that day; and way in which God deals with men. If repeated divisions, upon reiterated mothey commit sin, He visits-them with all tions for adjournment, are the instruthe pains of it, though it is possible ments by which this weariness is prothese may be made mediums for devel- duced. oping the higher nature. And some- Resistance in such a form has no intimes even the innocent suffer. Had tellectual dignity wherewith to commend Cordelia not suffered with her father in itself: it is wholly physical. Consequentbis madness, she would not have claimed ly, this course is rarely adopted against our sympathy as she does, nor been so measures of signal importance, or when lofty a being to sit enthroned for ever in the House is thronged. Whatever be our imaginations; for all her goodness, the result, -of the mode of gaining that she must perish with the “ foolish, fond result the minority have never reason to old man,” the reward of the good, not to feel proud : certainly not while it is in speak of the wicked, not being always an action. A spectacle more singular than additional allowance of cake and pud- seemly is then presented by the House ding. Mr. Reade administers the cake of Commons. Division rapidly succeeds and pudding largely; perhaps in one division : every ten minutes the scanty respect he shows himself no bad work- gathering of members is dispersed into man.
the lobbies; and each proclamation of Mr. Reade bas thus produced a very the dwindling numbers of the assembly
is greeted with louder shouts. Passion - Mr. Thackeray belongs to this school; but he
heats; order in conduct almost disapsaves himself from immorality hy his constant regard to the drawing-room morality of his time, if pears, in debate almost entirely. Speeches nothing higher. And even this was a great deal are soley directed to the encouragement
for one so devoted as he was to Fielding and Smol- of ceaseless obstinacy : are declarations * lett. Mr. Trollope, too, is a follower, though Inckily a less faithful one, never having allowed
that divisions shall continue while there the infloence to disturb a true but by no means
exists a leg to move. To such speeches, deep-rooted relation to the present.
yells, groans, and delirious laughter form