The Notebook of an English Opium-Eater
by Thomas de Quincey
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Schlosser makes the astounding assertion, that a compliment of Boileau to Addison, and a pure compliment of ceremony upon Addison's early Latin verses, was (credite posteri!) the making of Addison in England. Understand, Schlosser, that Addison's Latin verses were never heard of by England, until long after his English prose had fixed the public attention upon him; his Latin reputation was a slight reaction from his English reputation: and, secondly, understand that Boileau had at no time any such authority in England as to make anybody's reputation; he had first of all to make his own. A sure proof of this is, that Boileau's name was first published to London, by Prior's burlesque of what the Frenchman had called an ode. This gasconading ode celebrated the passage of the Rhine in 1672, and the capture of that famous fortress called Skink ('le fameux fort de'), by Louis XIV., known to London at the time of Prior's parody by the name of 'Louis Baboon.' [8] That was not likely to recommend Master Boileau to any of the allies against the said Baboon, had it ever been heard of out of France. Nor was it likely to make him popular in England, that his name was first mentioned amongst shouts of laughter and mockery. It is another argument of the slight notoriety possessed by Boileau in England—that no attempt was ever made to translate even his satires, epistles, or 'Lutrin,' except by booksellers' hacks; and that no such version ever took the slightest root amongst ourselves, from Addison's day to this very summer of 1847. Boileau was essentially, and in two senses, viz., both as to mind and as to influence, un homme borne.

Addison's 'Blenheim' is poor enough; one might think it a translation from some German original of those times. Gottsched's aunt, or Bodmer's wet- nurse, might have written it; but still no fibs even as to 'Blenheim.' His 'enemies' did not say this thing against 'Blenheim' 'aloud,' nor his friends that thing against it 'softly.' And why? Because at that time (1704-5) he had made no particular enemies, nor any particular friends; unless by friends you mean his Whig patrons, and by enemies his tailor and co.

As to 'Cato,' Schlosser, as usual, wanders in the shadow of ancient night. The English 'people,' it seems, so 'extravagantly applauded' this wretched drama, that you might suppose them to have 'altogether changed their nature,' and to have forgotten Shakspeare. That man must have forgotten Shakspeare, indeed, and from ramollissement of the brain, who could admire 'Cato.' 'But,' says Schlosser, 'it was only a 'fashion;' and the English soon repented.' The English could not repent of a crime which they had never committed. Cato was not popular for a moment, nor tolerated for a moment, upon any literary ground, or as a work of art. It was an apple of temptation and strife thrown by the goddess of faction between two infuriated parties. 'Cato,' coming from a man without Parliamentary connections, would have dropped lifeless to the ground. The Whigs have always affected a special love and favor for popular counsels: they have never ceased to give themselves the best of characters as regards public freedom. The Tories, as contradistinguished to the Jacobites, knowing that without their aid, the Revolution could not have been carried, most justly contended that the national liberties had been at least as much indebted to themselves. When, therefore, the Whigs put forth their man Cato to mouth speeches about liberty, as exclusively their pet, and about patriotism and all that sort of thing, saying insultingly to the Tories, 'How do you like that? Does that sting?' 'Sting, indeed!' replied the Tories; 'not at all; it's quite refreshing to us, that the Whigs have not utterly disowned such sentiments, which, by their public acts, we really thought they had.' And, accordingly, as the popular anecdote tells us, a Tory leader, Lord Bolingbroke, sent for Booth who performed Cato, and presented him (populo spectante) with fifty guineas 'for defending so well the cause of the people against a perpetual dictator.' In which words, observe, Lord Bolingbroke at once asserted the cause of his own party, and launched a sarcasm against a great individual opponent, viz., Marlborough. Now, Mr. Schlosser, I have mended your harness: all right ahead; so drive on once more.

But, oh Castor and Pollux, whither—in what direction is it, that the man is driving us? Positively, Schlosser, you must stop and let me get out. I'll go no further with such a drunken coachman. Many another absurd thing I was going to have noticed, such as his utter perversion of what Mandeville said about Addison (viz., by suppressing one word, and misapprehending all the rest). Such, again, as his point-blank misstatement of Addison's infirmity in his official character, which was not that 'he could not prepare despatches in a good style,' but diametrically the opposite case—that he insisted too much on style, to the serious retardation of public business. But all these things are as nothing to what Schlosser says elsewhere. He actually describes Addison, on the whole, as a 'dull prosaist,' and the patron of pedantry! Addison, the man of all that ever lived most hostile even to what was good in pedantry, to its tendencies towards the profound in erudition and the non- popular; Addison, the champion of all that is easy, natural, superficial, a pedant and a master of pedantry! Get down, Schlosser, this moment; or let me get out.

Pope, by far the most important writer, English or Continental, of his own age, is treated with more extensive ignorance by Mr. Schlosser than any other, and (excepting Addison) with more ambitious injustice. A false abstract is given, or a false impression, of any one amongst his brilliant works, that is noticed at all; and a false sneer, a sneer irrelevant to the case, at any work dismissed by name as unworthy of notice. The three works, selected as the gems of Pope's collection, are the 'Essay on Criticism,' the 'Rape of the Lock,' and the 'Essay on Man.' On the first, which (with Dr. Johnson's leave) is the feeblest and least interesting of Pope's writings, being substantially a mere versification, like a metrical multiplication-table, of common-places the most mouldy with which criticism has baited its rat-traps; since nothing is said worth answering, it is sufficient to answer nothing. The 'Rape of the Lock' is treated with the same delicate sensibility that we might have looked for in Brennus, if consulted on the picturesque, or in Attila the Hun, if adjured to decide aesthetically, between two rival cameos. Attila is said (though no doubt falsely) to have described himself as not properly a man so much as the Divine wrath incarnate. This would be fine in a melodrama, with Bengal lights burning on the stage. But, if ever he said such a naughty thing, he forgot to tell us what it was that had made him angry; by what title did he come into alliance with the Divine wrath, which was not likely to consult a savage? And why did his wrath hurry, by forced marches, to the Adriatic? Now so much do people differ in opinion, that, to us, who look at him through a telescope from an eminence, fourteen centuries distant, he takes the shape rather of a Mahratta trooper, painfully gathering chout, or a cateran levying black-mail, or a decent tax-gatherer with an inkhorn at his button-hole, and supported by a select party of constabulary friends. The very natural instinct which Attila always showed for following the trail of the wealthiest footsteps, seems to argue a most commercial coolness in the dispensation of his wrath. Mr. Schlosser burns with the wrath of Attila against all aristocracies, and especially that of England. He governs his fury, also, with an Attila discretion in many cases; but not here. Imagine this Hun coming down, sword in hand, upon Pope and his Rosicrucian light troops, levying chout upon Sir Plume, and fluttering the dove-cot of the Sylphs. Pope's 'duty it was,' says this demoniac, to 'scourge the follies of good society,' and also 'to break with the aristocracy.' No, surely? something short of a total rupture would have satisfied the claims of duty? Possibly; but it would not have satisfied Schlosser. And Pope's guilt consists in having made his poem an idol or succession of pictures representing the gayer aspects of society as it really was, and supported by a comic interest of the mock-heroic derived from a playful machinery, instead of converting it into a bloody satire. Pope, however, did not shrink from such assaults on the aristocracy, if these made any part of his duties. Such assaults he made twice at least too often for his own peace, and perhaps for his credit at this day. It is useless, however, to talk of the poem as a work of art, with one who sees none of its exquisite graces, and can imagine his countryman Zacharia equal to a competition with Pope. But this it may be right to add, that the 'Rape of the Lock' was not borrowed from the 'Lutrin' of Boileau. That was impossible. Neither was it suggested by the 'Lutrin.' The story in Herodotus of the wars between cranes and pigmies, or the Batrachomyomachia (so absurdly ascribed to Homer) might have suggested the idea more naturally. Both these, there is proof that Pope had read: there is none that he had read the 'Lutrin,' nor did he read French with ease to himself. The 'Lutrin,' meantime, is as much below the 'Rape of the Lock' in brilliancy of treatment, as it is dissimilar in plan or the quality of its pictures.

The 'Essay on Man' is a more thorny subject. When a man finds himself attacked and defended from all quarters, and on all varieties of principle, he is bewildered. Friends are as dangerous as enemies. He must not defy a bristling enemy, if he cares for repose; he must not disown a zealous defender, though making concessions on his own behalf not agreeable to himself; he must not explain away ugly phrases in one direction, or perhaps he is recanting the very words of his 'guide, philosopher, and friend,' who cannot safely be taxed with having first led him into temptation; he must not explain them away in another direction, or he runs full tilt into the wrath of mother Church—who will soon bring him to his senses by penance. Long lents, and no lampreys allowed, would soon cauterize the proud flesh of heretical ethics. Pope did wisely, situated as he was, in a decorous nation, and closely connected, upon principles of fidelity under political suffering, with the Roman Catholics, to say little in his own defence. That defence, and any reversionary cudgelling which it might entail upon the Quixote undertaker, he left—meekly but also slyly, humbly but cunningly—to those whom he professed to regard as greater philosophers than himself. All parties found their account in the affair. Pope slept in peace; several pugnacious gentlemen up and down Europe expectorated much fiery wrath in dusting each other's jackets; and Warburton, the attorney, finally earned his bishoprick in the service of whitewashing a writer, who was aghast at finding himself first trampled on as a deist, and then exalted as a defender of the faith. Meantime, Mr. Schlosser mistakes Pope's courtesy, when he supposes his acknowledgments to Lord Bolingbroke sincere in their whole extent.

Of Pope's 'Homer' Schlosser think fit to say, amongst other evil things, which it really does deserve (though hardly in comparison with the German 'Homer' of the ear-splitting Voss), 'that Pope pocketed the subscription of the "Odyssey," and left the work to be done by his understrappers.' Don't tell fibs, Schlosser. Never do that any more. True it is, and disgraceful enough, that Pope (like modern contractors for a railway or a loan) let off to sub-contractors several portions of the undertaking. He was perhaps not illiberal in the terms of his contracts. At least I know of people now-a-days (much better artists) that would execute such contracts, and enter into any penalties for keeping time at thirty per cent. less. But navies and billbrokers, that are in excess now, then were scarce. Still the affair, though not mercenary, was illiberal in a higher sense of art; and no anecdote shows more pointedly Pope's sense of the mechanic fashion, in which his own previous share of the Homeric labor had been executed. It was disgraceful enough, and needs no exaggeration. Let it, therefore, be reported truly: Pope personally translated one-half of the 'Odyssey'—a dozen books he turned out of his own oven: and, if you add the Batrachomyomachia, his dozen was a baker's dozen. The journeyman did the other twelve; were regularly paid; regularly turned off when the job was out of hand; and never once had to 'strike for wages.' How much beer was allowed, I cannot say. This is the truth of the matter. So no more fibbing, Schlosser, if you please.

But there remains behind all these labors of Pope, the 'Dunciad,' which is by far his greatest. I shall not, within the narrow bounds assigned to me, enter upon a theme so exacting; for, in this instance, I should have to fight not against Schlosser only, but against Dr. Johnson, who has thoroughly misrepresented the nature of the 'Dunciad,' and, consequently, could not measure its merits. Neither he, nor Schlosser, in fact, ever read more than a few passages of this admirable poem. But the villany is too great for a brief exposure. One thing only I will notice of Schlosser's misrepresentations. He asserts (not when directly speaking of Pope, but afterwards, under the head of Voltaire) that the French author's trivial and random Temple de Gout 'shows the superiority in this species of poetry to have been greatly on the side of the Frenchman.' Let's hear a reason, though but a Schlosser reason, for this opinion: know, then, all men whom it concerns, that 'the Englishman's satire only hit such people as would never have been known without his mention of them, whilst Voltaire selected those who were still called great, and their respective schools.' Pope's men, it seems, never had been famous—Voltaire's might cease to be so, but as yet they had not ceased; as yet they commanded interest. Now mark how I will put three bullets into that plank, riddle it so that the leak shall not be stopped by all the old hats in Heidelberg, and Schlosser will have to swim for his life. First, he is forgetting that, by his own previous confession, Voltaire, not less than Pope, had 'immortalized a great many insignificant persons;' consequently, had it been any fault to do so, each alike was caught in that fault; and insignificant as the people might be, if they could be 'immortalized,' then we have Schlosser himself confessing to the possibility that poetic splendor should create a secondary interest where originally there had been none. Secondly, the question of merit does not arise from the object of the archer, but from the style of his archery. Not the choice of victims, but the execution done is what counts. Even for continued failures it would plead advantageously, much more for continued and brilliant successes, that Pope fired at an object offering no sufficient breadth of mark. Thirdly, it is the grossest of blunders to say that Pope's objects of satire were obscure by comparison with Voltaire's. True, the Frenchman's example of a scholar, viz., the French Salmasius, was most accomplished. But so was the Englishman's scholar, viz., the English Bentley. Each was absolutely without a rival in his own day. But the day of Bentley was the very day of Pope. Pope's man had not even faded; whereas the day of Salmasius, as respected Voltaire had gone by for more than half a century. As to Dacier, 'which Dacier, Bezonian?' The husband was a passable scholar—but madame was a poor sneaking fellow, fit only for the usher of a boarding- school. All this, however, argues Schlosser's two-fold ignorance—first, of English authors; second, of the 'Dunciad;'—else he would have known that even Dennis, mad John Dennis, was a much cleverer man than most of those alluded to by Voltaire. Cibber, though slightly a coxcomb, was born a brilliant man. Aaron Hill was so lustrous, that even Pope's venom fell off spontaneously, like rain from the plumage of a pheasant, leaving him to 'mount far upwards with the swans of Thanes'—and, finally, let it not be forgotten, that Samuel Clarke Burnet, of the Charterhouse, and Sir Isaac Newton, did not wholly escape tasting the knout; if that rather impeaches the equity, and sometimes the judgment of Pope, at least it contributes to show the groundlessness of Schlosser's objection—that the population of the Dunciad, the characters that filled its stage, were inconsiderable.


It is, or it would be, if Mr. Schlosser were himself more interesting, luxurious to pursue his ignorance as to facts, and the craziness of his judgment as to the valuation of minds, throughout his comparison of Burke with Fox. The force of antithesis brings out into a feeble life of meaning, what, in its own insulation, had been languishing mortally into nonsense. The darkness of his 'Burke' becomes visible darkness under the glimmering that steals upon it from the desperate commonplaces of this 'Fox.' Fox is painted exactly as he would have been painted fifty years ago by any pet subaltern of the Whig club, enjoying free pasture in Devonshire House. The practised reader knows well what is coming. Fox is 'formed after the model of the ancients'—Fox is 'simple'—Fox is 'natural'—Fox is 'chaste'—Fox is 'forcible;' why yes, in a sense, Fox is even 'forcible:' but then, to feel that he was so, you must have heard him; whereas, for forty years he has been silent. We of 1847, that can only read him, hearing Fox described as forcible, are disposed to recollect Shakspeare's Mr. Feeble amongst Falstaff's recruits, who also is described as forcible, viz., as the 'most forcible Feeble.' And, perhaps, a better description could not be devised for Fox himself—so feeble was he in matter, so forcible in manner; so powerful for instant effect, so impotent for posterity. In the Pythian fury of his gestures—in his screaming voice—in his directness of purpose, Fox would now remind you of some demon steam-engine on a railroad, some Fire-king or Salmoneus, that had counterfeited, because he could not steal, Jove's thunderbolts; hissing, bubbling, snorting, fuming; demoniac gas, you think—gas from Acheron must feed that dreadful system of convulsions. But pump out the imaginary gas, and, behold! it is ditch-water. Fox, as Mr. Schlosser rightly thinks, was all of a piece—simple in his manners, simple in his style, simple in his thoughts. No waters in him turbid with new crystalizations; everywhere the eye can see to the bottom. No music in him dark with Cassandra meanings. Fox, indeed, disturb decent gentlemen by 'allusions to all the sciences, from the integral calculus and metaphysics to navigation!' Fox would have seen you hanged first. Burke, on the other hand, did all that, and other wickedness besides, which fills an 8vo page in Schlosser; and Schlosser crowns his enormities by charging him, the said Burke (p. 99), with 'wearisome tediousness.' Among my own acquaintances are several old women, who think on this point precisely as Schlosser thinks; and they go further, for they even charge Burke with 'tedious wearisomeness.' Oh, sorrowful woe, and also woeful sorrow, when an Edmund Burke arises, like a cheeta or hunting leopard coupled in a tiger-chase with a German poodle. To think, in a merciful spirit, of the jungle—barely to contemplate, in a temper of humanity, the incomprehensible cane-thickets, dark and bristly, into which that bloody cheeta will drag that unoffending poodle!

But surely the least philosophic of readers, who hates philosophy 'as toad or asp,' must yet be aware, that, where new growths are not germinating, it is no sort of praise to be free from the throes of growth. Where expansion is hopeless, it is little glory to have escaped distortion. Nor is it any blame that the rich fermentation of grapes should disturb the transparency of their golden fluids. Fox had nothing new to tell us, nor did he hold a position amongst men that required or would even have allowed him to tell anything new. He was helmsman to a party; what he had to do, though seeming to give orders, was simply to repeat their orders—'Port your helm,' said the party; 'Port it is,' replied the helmsman.—But Burke was no steersman; he was the Orpheus that sailed with the Argonauts; he was their seer, seeing more in his visions than he always understood himself; he was their watcher through the hours of night; he was their astrological interpreter. Who complains of a prophet for being a little darker of speech than a post-office directory? or of him that reads the stars for being sometimes perplexed?

But, even as to facts, Schlosser is always blundering. Post-office directories would be of no use to him; nor link-boys; nor blazing tar-barrels. He wanders in a fog such as sits upon the banks of Cocytus. He fancies that Burke, in his lifetime, was popular. Of course, it is so natural to be popular by means of 'wearisome tediousness,' that Schlosser, above all people, should credit such a tale. Burke has been dead just fifty years, come next autumn. I remember the time from this accident—that my own nearest relative stepped on a day of October, 1797, into that same suite of rooms at Bath (North Parade) from which, six hours before, the great man had been carried out to die at Beaconsfield. It is, therefore, you see, fifty years. Now, ever since then, his collective works have been growing in bulk by the incorporation of juvenile essays (such as his 'European Settlements,' his 'Essay on the Sublime,' on 'Lord Bolingbroke,' &c.) or (as more recently) by the posthumous publication of his MSS; [9] and yet, ever since then, in spite of growing age and growing bulk, are more in demand. At this time, half a century after his last sigh, Burke is popular; a thing, let me tell you, Schlosser, which never happened before to a writer steeped to his lips in personal politics. What a tilth of intellectual lava must that man have interfused amongst the refuse and scoria of such mouldering party rubbish, to force up a new verdure and laughing harvests, annually increasing for new generations! Popular he is now, but popular he was not in his own generation. And how could Schlosser have the face to say that he was? Did he never hear the notorious anecdote, that at one period Burke obtained the sobriquet of 'dinner-bell?' And why? Not as one who invited men to a banquet by his gorgeous eloquence, but as one that gave a signal to shoals in the House of Commons, for seeking refuge in a literal dinner from the oppression of his philosophy. This was, perhaps, in part a scoff of his opponents. Yet there must have been some foundation for the scoff, since, at an earlier stage of Burke's career, Goldsmith had independently said, that this great orator

————'went on refining, And thought of convincing, whilst they thought of dining.'

I blame neither party. It ought not to be expected of any popular body that it should be patient of abstractions amongst the intensities of party-strife, and the immediate necessities of voting. No deliberative body would less have tolerated such philosophic exorbitations from public business than the agora of Athens, or the Roman senate. So far the error was in Burke, not in the House of Commons. Yet, also, on the other side, it must be remembered, that an intellect of Burke's combining power and enormous compass, could not, from necessity of nature, abstain from such speculations. For a man to reach a remote posterity, it is sometimes necessary that he should throw his voice over to them in a vast arch—it must sweep a parabola—which, therefore, rises high above the heads of those next to him, and is heard by the bystanders but indistinctly, like bees swarming in the upper air before they settle on the spot fit for hiving.

See, therefore, the immeasurableness of misconception. Of all public men, that stand confessedly in the first rank as to splendor of intellect, Burke was the least popular at the time when our blind friend Schlosser assumes him to have run off with the lion's share of popularity. Fox, on the other hand, as the leader of opposition, was at that time a household term of love or reproach, from one end of the island to the other. To the very children playing in the streets, Pitt and Fox, throughout Burke's generation, were pretty nearly as broad distinctions, and as much a war- cry, as English and French, Roman and Punic. Now, however, all this is altered. As regards the relations between the two Whigs whom Schlosser so steadfastly delighteth to misrepresent,

'Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer'

for that intellectual potentate, Edmund Burke, the man whose true mode of power has never yet been truly investigated; whilst Charles Fox is known only as an echo is known, and for any real effect of intellect upon this generation, for anything but the 'whistling of a name,' the Fox of 1780-1807 sleeps where the carols of the larks are sleeping, that gladdened the spring-tides of those years—sleeps with the roses that glorified the beauty of their summers. [10]


Schlosser talks of Junius, who is to him, as to many people, more than entirely the enigma of an enigma, Hermes Trismegistus, or the mediaeval Prester John. Not only are most people unable to solve the enigma, but they have no idea of what it is that they are to solve. I have to inform Schlosser that there are three separate questions about Junius, of which he has evidently no distinct knowledge, and cannot, therefore, have many chances to spare for settling them. The three questions are these:—A. Who was Junius? B. What was it that armed Junius with a power so unaccountable at this day over the public mind? C. Why, having actually exercised this power, and gained under his masque far more than he ever hoped to gain, did this Junius not come forward in his own person, when all the legal danger had long passed away, to claim a distinction that for him (among the vainest of men) must have been more precious than his heart's blood? The two questions, B and C, I have examined in past times, and I will not here repeat my explanations further than to say, with respect to the last, that the reason for the author not claiming his own property was this, because he dared not; because it would have been infamy for him to avow himself as Junius; because it would have revealed a crime and published a crime in his own earlier life, for which many a man is transported in our days, and for less than which many a man has been in past days hanged, broken on the wheel, burned, gibbeted, or impaled. To say that he watched and listened at his master's key-holes, is nothing. It was not key-holes only that he made free with, but keys; he tampered with his master's seals; he committed larcenies; not, like a brave man, risking his life on the highway, but petty larcenies—larcenies in a dwelling-house—larcenies under the opportunities of a confidential situation—crimes which formerly, in the days of Junius, our bloody code never pardoned in villains of low degree. Junius was in the situation of Lord Byron's Lara, or, because Lara is a plagiarism, of Harriet Lee's Kraitzrer. But this man, because he had money, friends, and talents, instead of going to prison, took himself off for a jaunt to the continent. From the continent, in full security and in possession of the otium cum dignitate, he negotiated with the government, whom he had alarmed by publishing the secrets which he had stolen. He succeeded. He sold himself to great advantage. Bought and sold he was; and of course it is understood that, if you buy a knave, and expressly in consideration of his knaveries, you secretly undertake not to hang him. 'Honor bright!' Lord Barrington might certainly have indicted Junius at the Old Bailey, and had a reason for wishing to do so; but George III., who was a party to the negotiation, and all his ministers, would have said, with fits of laughter—'Oh, come now, my lord, you must not do that. For, since we have bargained for a price to send him out as a member of council to Bengal, you see clearly that we could not possibly hang him before we had fulfilled our bargain. Then it is true we might hang him after he comes back. But, since the man (being a clever man) has a fair chance in the interim of rising to be Governor-General, we put it to your candor, Lord Barrington, whether it would be for the public service to hang his excellency?' In fact, he might probably have been Governor-General, had his bad temper not overmastered him. Had he not quarrelled so viciously with Mr. Hastings, it is ten to one that he might, by playing his cards well, have succeeded him. As it was, after enjoying an enormous salary, he returned to England—not Governor-General, certainly, but still in no fear of being hanged. Instead of hanging him, on second thoughts, Government gave him a red ribbon. He represented a borough in Parliament. He was an authority upon Indian affairs. He was caressed by the Whig party. He sat at good men's tables. He gave for toasts—Joseph Surface sentiments at dinner parties— 'The man that betrays' [something or other]—'the man that sneaks into' [other men's portfolios, perhaps]—'is'—ay, what is he? Why he is, perhaps, a Knight of the Bath, has a sumptuous mansion in St. James's Square, dies full of years and honor, has a pompous funeral, and fears only some such epitaph as this—'Here lies, in a red ribbon, the man who built a great prosperity on the basis of a great knavery.' I complain heavily of Mr. Taylor, the very able unmasker of Junius, for blinking the whole questions B and C. He it is that has settled the question A, so that it will never be re-opened by a man of sense. A man who doubts, after really reading Mr. Taylor's work, is not only a blockhead, but an irreclaimable blockhead. It is true that several men, among them Lord Brougham, whom Schlosser (though hating him, and kicking him) cites, still profess scepticism. But the reason is evident: they have not read the book, they have only heard of it. They are unacquainted with the strongest arguments, and even with the nature of the evidence. [11] Lord Brougham, indeed, is generally reputed to have reviewed Mr. Taylor's book. That may be: it is probable enough: what I am denying is not at all that Lord Brougham reviewed Mr. Taylor, but that Lord Brougham read Mr. Taylor. And there is not much wonder in that, when we see professed writers on the subject—bulky writers—writers of Answers and Refutations, dispensing with the whole of Mr. Taylor's book, single paragraphs of which would have forced them to cancel their own. The possibility of scepticism, after really reading Mr. Taylor's book, would be the strongest exemplification upon record of Sancho's proverbial reproach, that a man 'wanted better bread than was made of wheat—' would be the old case renewed from the scholastic grumblers 'that some men do not know when they are answered.' They have got their quietus, and they still continue to 'maunder' on with objections long since disposed of. In fact, it is not too strong a thing to say—and Chief Justice Dallas did say something like it—that if Mr. Taylor is not right, if Sir Philip Francis is not Junius, then was no man ever yet hanged on sufficient evidence. Even confession is no absolute proof. Even confessing to a crime, the man may be mad. Well, but at least seeing is believing: if the court sees a man commit an assault, will not that suffice? Not at all: ocular delusions on the largest scale are common. What's a court? Lawyers have no better eyes than other people. Their physics are often out of repair, and whole cities have been known to see things that could have no existence. Now, all other evidence is held to be short of this blank seeing or blank confessing. But I am not at all sure of that. Circumstantial evidence, that multiplies indefinitely its points of internexus with known admitted facts, is more impressive than direct testimony. If you detect a fellow with a large sheet of lead that by many (to wit seventy) salient angles, that by tedious (to wit thirty) reentrant angles, fits into and owns its sisterly relationship to all that is left of the lead upon your roof—this tight fit will weigh more with a jury than even if my lord chief justice should jump into the witness-box, swearing that, with judicial eyes, he saw the vagabond cutting the lead whilst he himself sat at breakfast; or even than if the vagabond should protest before this honorable court that he did cut the lead, in order that he (the said vagabond) might have hot rolls and coffee as well as my lord, the witness. If Mr. Taylor's body of evidence does not hold water, then is there no evidence extant upon any question, judicial or not judicial, that will.

But I blame Mr. Taylor heavily for throwing away the whole argument applicable to B and C; not as any debt that rested particularly upon him to public justice; but as a debt to the integrity of his own book. That book is now a fragment; admirable as regards A; but (by omitting B and C) not sweeping the whole area of the problem. There yet remains, therefore, the dissatisfaction which is always likely to arise— not from the smallest allegatio falsi, but from the large suppressio veri. B, which, on any other solution than the one I have proposed, is perfectly unintelligible, now becomes plain enough. To imagine a heavy, coarse, hard-working government, seriously affected by such a bauble as they would consider performances on the tight rope of style, is mere midsummer madness. 'Hold your absurd tongue,' would any of the ministers have said to a friend descanting on Junius as a powerful artist of style— 'do you dream, dotard, that this baby's rattle is the thing that keeps us from sleeping? Our eyes are fixed on something else: that fellow, whoever he is, knows what he ought not to know; he has had his hand in some of our pockets: he's a good locksmith, is that Junius; and before he reaches Tyburn, who knows what amount of mischief he may do to self and partners?' The rumor that ministers were themselves alarmed (which was the naked truth) travelled downwards; but the why did not travel; and the innumerable blockheads of lower circles, not understanding the real cause of fear, sought a false one in the supposed thunderbolts of the rhetoric. Opera-house thunderbolts they were: and strange it is, that grave men should fancy newspapers, teeming (as they have always done) with Publicolas, with Catos, with Algernon Sidneys, able by such trivial small shot to gain a moment's attention from the potentates of Downing Street. Those who have despatches to write, councils to attend, and votes of the Commons to manage, think little of Junius Brutus. A Junius Brutus, that dares not sign by his own honest name, is presumably skulking from his creditors. A Timoleon, who hints at assassination in a newspaper, one may take it for granted, is a manufacturer of begging letters. And it is a conceivable case that a twenty pound note, enclosed to Timoleon's address, through the newspaper office, might go far to soothe that great patriot's feelings, and even to turn aside his avenging dagger. These sort of people were not the sort to frighten a British Ministry. One laughs at the probable conversation between an old hunting squire coming up to comfort the First Lord of the Treasury, on the rumor that he was panic-struck. 'What, surely, my dear old friend, you're not afraid of Timoleon?' First Lord.—'Yes, I am.' C. Gent.—'What, afraid of an anonymous fellow in the papers?' F. L.—'Yes, dreadfully.' C. Gent.—'Why, I always understood that these people were a sort of shams—living in Grub Street—or where was it that Pope used to tell us they lived? Surely you're not afraid of Timoleon, because some people think he's a patriot?' F. L.—'No, not at all; but I am afraid because some people think he's a housebreaker!' In that character only could Timoleon become formidable to a Cabinet Minister; and in some such character must our friend, Junius Brutus, have made himself alarming to Government. From the moment that B is properly explained, it throws light upon C. The Government was alarmed—not at such moonshine as patriotism, or at a soap-bubble of rhetoric—but because treachery was lurking amongst their own households: and, if the thing went on, the consequences might be appalling. But this domestic treachery, which accounts for B, accounts at the same time for C. The very same treachery that frightened its objects at the time by the consequences it might breed, would frighten its author afterwards from claiming its literary honors by the remembrances it might awaken. The mysterious disclosures of official secrets, which had once roused so much consternation within a limited circle, and (like the French affair of the diamond necklace) had sunk into neglect only when all clue seemed lost for perfectly unravelling its would revive in all its interest when a discovery came before the public, viz., a claim on the part of Francis to have written the famous letters, which must at the same time point a strong light upon the true origin of the treacherous disclosures. Some astonishment had always existed as to Francis—how he rose so suddenly into rank and station: some astonishment always existed as to Junius, how he should so suddenly have fallen asleep as a writer in the journals. The coincidence of this sudden and unaccountable silence with the sudden and unaccountable Indian appointment of Francis; the extraordinary familiarity of Junius, which had not altogether escaped notice, with the secrets of one particular office, viz., the War Office; the sudden recollection, sure to flash upon all who remembered Francis, if again he should become revived into suspicion, that he had held a situation of trust in that particular War Office; all these little recollections would begin to take up their places in a connected story: this and that, laid together, would become clear as day-light; and to the keen eyes of still surviving enemies—Horne Tooke, 'little Chamier,' Ellis, the Fitzroy, Russell, and Murray houses—the whole progress and catastrophe of the scoundrelism, the perfidy and the profits of the perfidy, would soon become as intelligible as any tale of midnight burglary from without, in concert with a wicked butler within, that was ever sifted by judge and jury at the Old Bailey, or critically reviewed by Mr. John Ketch at Tyburn.

Francis was the man. Francis was the wicked butler within, whom Pharaoh ought to have hanged, but whom he clothed in royal apparel, and mounted upon a horse that carried him to a curule chair of honor. So far his burglary prospered. But, as generally happens in such cases, this prosperous crime subsequently avenged itself. By a just retribution, the success of Junius, in two senses so monstrously exaggerated—exaggerated by a romantic over-estimate of its intellectual power through an error of the public, not admitted to the secret—and equally exaggerated as to its political power by the government in the hush-money for its future suppression, became the heaviest curse of the successful criminal. This criminal thirsted for literary distinction above all other distinction, with a childish eagerness, as for the amrecta cup of immortality. And, behold! there the brilliant bauble lay, glittering in the sands of a solitude, unclaimed by any man; disputed with him (if he chose to claim it) by nobody; and yet for his life he durst not touch it. He stood—he knew that he stood—in the situation of a murderer who has dropt an inestimable jewel upon the murdered body in the death-struggle with his victim. The jewel is his! Nobody will deny it. He may have it for asking. But to ask is his death-warrant. 'Oh yes!' would be the answer, 'here's your jewel, wrapt up safely in tissue paper. But here's another lot that goes along with it—no bidder can take them apart—viz. a halter, also wrapt up in tissue paper.' Francis, in relation to Junius, was in that exact predicament. 'You are Junius? You are that famous man who has been missing since 1772? And you can prove it? God bless me! sir; what a long time you've been sleeping: every body's gone to bed. Well, then, you are an exceedingly clever fellow, that have had the luck to be thought ten times more clever than really you were. And also, you are the greatest scoundrel that at this hour rests in Europe unhanged!'—Francis died, and made no sign. Peace of mind he had parted with for a peacock's feather, which feather, living or dying, he durst not mount in the plumage of his cap.


[1] Even Pope, with all his natural and reasonable interest in aristocratic society, could not shut his eyes to the fact that a jest in his mouth became twice a jest in a lord's. But still he failed to perceive what I am here contending for, that if the jest happened to miss fire, through the misfortune of bursting its barrel, the consequences would be far worse for the lord than the commoner. There is, you see, a blind sort of compensation.

[2] Mr. Schlosser, who speaks English, who has read rather too much English for any good that he has turned it to, and who ought to have a keen eye for the English version of his own book, after so much reading and study of it, has, however, overlooked several manifest errors. I do not mean to tax Mr. Davison with, general inaccuracy. On the contrary, he seems wary, and in most cases successful as a dealer with the peculiarities of the German. But several cases of error I detect without needing the original: they tell their own story. And one of these I here notice, not only for its own importance, but out of love to Schlosser, and by way of nailing his guarantee to the counter—not altogether as a bad shilling, but as a light one. At p. 5 of vol. 2, in a foot-note, which is speaking of Kant, we read of his attempt to introduce the notion of negative greatness into Philosophy. Negative greatness! What strange bird may that be? Is it the ornithorynchus paradoxus? Mr. Schlosser was not wide awake there. The reference is evidently to Kant's essay upon the advantages of introducing into philosophy the algebraic idea of negative quantities. It is one of Kant's grandest gleams into hidden truth. Were it only for the merits of this most masterly essay in reconstituting the algebraic meaning of a negative quantity [so generally misunderstood as a negation of quantity, and which even Sir Isaac Newton misconstrued as regarded its metaphysics], great would have been the service rendered to logic by Kant. But there is a greater. From this little brochure I am satisfied was derived originally the German regeneration of the Dynamic philosophy, its expansion through the idea of polarity, indifference, &c. Oh, Mr. Schlosser, you had not gepruft p. 5 of vol. 2. You skipped the notes.

[3] 'Little nurse:'—the word Glumdalclitch, in Brobdingnagian, absolutely means little nurse, and nothing else. It may seem odd that the captain should call any nurse of Brobdingnag, however kind to him, by such an epithet as little; and the reader may fancy that Sherwood forest had put it into his head, where Robin Hood always called his right hand man 'Little John,' not although, but expressly because John stood seven feet high in his stockings. But the truth is—that Glumdalclitch was little; and literally so; she was only nine years old, and (says the captain) 'little of her age,' being barely forty feet high. She had time to grow certainly, but as she had so much to do before she could overtake other women, it is probable that she would turn out what, in Westmoreland, they call a, little stiffenger—very little, if at all, higher than a common English church steeple.

[4.] 'Activity,'—It is some sign of this, as well as of the more thoroughly English taste in literature which distinguished Steele, that hardly twice throughout the 'Spectator' is Shakspeare quoted or alluded to by Addison. Even these quotations he had from the theatre, or the breath of popular talk. Generally, if you see a line from Shakspeare, it is safe to bet largely that the paper is Steele's; sometimes, indeed, of casual contributors; but, almost to a certainty, not a paper of Addison's. Another mark of Steele's superiority in vigor of intellect is, that much oftener in him than in other contributors strong thoughts came forward; harsh and disproportioned, perhaps, to the case, and never harmoniously developed with the genial grace of Addison, but original, and pregnant with promise and suggestion.

[5] 'Letters of Joseph Mede,' published more than twenty years ago by Sir Henry Ellis.

[6] It is an idea of many people, and erroneously sanctioned by Wordsworth, that Lord Somers gave a powerful lift to the 'Paradise Lost.' He was a subscriber to the sixth edition, the first that had plates; but this was some years before the Revolution of 1688, and when he was simply Mr. Somers, a barrister, with no effectual power of patronage.

[7] 'Milton, Mr. John:'—Dr. Johnson expressed his wrath, in an amusing way, at some bookseller's hack who, when employed to make an index, introduced Milton's name among the M's, under the civil title of— 'Milton, Mr. John.'

[8] 'Louis Baboon:'—As people read nothing in these days that is more than forty-eight hours old, I am daily admonished that allusions the most obvious to anything in the rear of our own time, needs explanation. Louis Baboon is Swift's jesting name for Louis Bourbon, i.e., Louis XIV.

[9] 'Of his MSS.:'—And, if all that I have heard be true, much has somebody to answer for, that so little has been yet published. The two executors of Burke were Dr. Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, a well-known M. P. in forgotten days, and Windham, a man too like Burke in elasticity of mind ever to be spoken of in connection with forgotten things. Which of them was to blame, I know not. But Mr. R. Sharpe, M. P., twenty-five years ago, well known as River Sharpe, from the [Greek: aperantologia] of his conversation, used to say, that one or both of the executors had offered him (the river) a huge travelling trunk, perhaps an Imperial or a Salisbury boot (equal to the wardrobe of a family), filled with Burke's MSS., on the simple condition of editing them with proper annotations. An Oxford man, and also the celebrated Mr. Christian Curwen, then member for Cumberland, made, in my hearing, the same report. The Oxford man, in particular, being questioned as to the probable amount of MS., deposed, that he could not speak upon oath to the cubical contents; but this he could say, that, having stripped up his coat sleeve, he had endeavored, by such poor machinery as nature had allowed him, to take the soundings of the trunk, but apparently there were none; with his middle finger he could find no bottom; for it was stopped by a dense stratum of MS.; below which, you know, other strata might lie ad infinitum. For anything proved to the contrary, the trunk might be bottomless.

[10] A man in Fox's situation is sure, whilst living, to draw after him trains of sycophants; and it is the evil necessity of newspapers the most independent, that they must swell the mob of sycophants. The public compels them to exaggerate the true proportions of such people as we see every hour in our own day. Those who, for the moment, modify, or may modify the national condition, become preposterous idols in the eyes of the gaping public; but with the sad necessity of being too utterly trodden under foot after they are shelved, unless they live in men's memory by something better than speeches in Parliament. Having the usual fate, Fox was complimented, whilst living, on his knowledge of Homeric Greek, which was a jest: he knew neither more nor less of Homer, than, fortunately, most English gentlemen of his rank; quite enough that is to read the 'Iliad' with unaffected pleasure, far too little to revise the text of any three lines, without making himself ridiculous. The excessive slenderness of his general literature, English and French, may be seen in the letters published by his Secretary, Trotter. But his fragment of a History, published by Lord Holland, at two guineas, and currently sold for two shillings (not two pence, or else I have been defrauded of 1s. 10d.), most of all proclaims the tenuity of his knowledge. He looks upon Malcolm Laing as a huge oracle; and, having read even less than Hume, a thing not very easy, with great naivete, cannot guess where Hume picked up his facts.

[11] Even in Dr. Francis's Translation of Select Speeches from Demosthenes, which Lord Brougham naturally used a little in his own labors on that theme, there may be traced several peculiarities of diction that startle us in Junius. Sir P. had them from his father. And Lord Brougham ought not to have overlooked them. The same thing may be seen in the notes to Dr. Francis's translation of Horace. These points, though not independently of much importance, become far more so in combination with others. The reply made to me once by a publisher of some eminence upon this question, was the best fitted to lower Mr. Taylor's investigation with a stranger to the long history of the dispute. 'I feel,' he said, 'the impregnability of the case made out by Mr. Taylor. But the misfortune is, that I have seen so many previous impregnable cases made out for other claimants.' Ay, that would be unfortunate. But the misfortune for this repartee was, that I, for whose use it was intended, not being in the predicament of a stranger to the dispute, having seen every page of the pleadings, knew all (except Mr. Taylor's) to be false in their statements; after which their arguments signified nothing.


Every thing in our days is new. Roads, for instance, which, being formerly 'of the earth earthy,' and therefore perishable, are now iron, and next door to being immortal; tragedies, which are so entirely new, that neither we nor our fathers, through eighteen hundred and ninety odd years, gone by, since Caesar did our little island the honor to sit upon its skirts, have ever seen the like to this 'Antigone;' and, finally, even more new are readers, who, being once an obedient race of men, most humble and deferential in the presence of a Greek scholar, are now become intractably mutinous; keep their hats on whilst he is addressing them; and listen to him or not, as he seems to talk sense or nonsense. Some there are, however, who look upon all these new things as being intensely old. Yet, surely the railroads are new? No; not at all. Talus, the iron man in Spenser, who continually ran round the island of Crete, administering gentle warning and correction to offenders, by flooring them with an iron flail, was a very ancient personage in Greek fable; and the received opinion is, that he must have been a Cretan railroad, called The Great Circular Coast-Line, that carried my lords the judges on their circuits of jail-delivery. The 'Antigone,' again, that wears the freshness of morning dew, and is so fresh and dewy in the beautiful person of Miss Faucit, had really begun to look faded on the Athenian stage, and even 'of a certain age,' about the death of Pericles, whose meridian year was the year 444 before Christ. Lastly, these modern readers, that are so obstinately rebellious to the once Papal authority of Greek, they—No; on consideration, they are new. Antiquity produced many monsters, but none like them.

The truth is, that this vast multiplication of readers, within the last twenty-five years, has changed the prevailing character of readers. The minority has become the overwhelming majority: the quantity has disturbed the quality. Formerly, out of every five readers, at least four were, in some degree, classical scholars: or, if that would be saying too much, if two of the four had 'small Latin and less Greek,' they were generally connected with those who had more, or at the worst, who had much reverence for Latin, and more reverence for Greek. If they did not all share in the services of the temple, all, at least, shared in the superstition. But, now-a-days, the readers come chiefly from a class of busy people who care very little for ancestral crazes. Latin they have heard of, and some of them know it as a good sort of industrious language, that even, in modern times, has turned out many useful books, astronomical, medical, philosophical, and (as Mrs. Malaprop observes) diabolical; but, as to Greek, they think of it as of an ancient mummy: you spend an infinity of time in unswathing it from its old dusty wrappers, and, when you have come to the end, what do you find for your pains? A woman's face, or a baby's, that certainly is not the better for being three thousand years old; and perhaps a few ears of wheat, stolen from Pharaoh's granary; which wheat, when sown [1] in Norfolk or Mid-Lothian, reaped, thrashed, ground, baked, and hunted through all sorts of tortures, yields a breakfast roll that (as a Scottish baker observed to me) is 'not just that bad.' Certainly not: not exactly 'that bad;' not worse than the worst of our own; but still, much fitter for Pharaoh's breakfast-table than for ours.

I, for my own part, stand upon an isthmus, connecting me, at one terminus, with the rebels against Greek, and, at the other, with those against whom they are in rebellion. On the one hand, it seems shocking to me, who am steeped to the lips in antique prejudices, that Greek, in unlimited quantities, should not secure a limited privilege of talking nonsense. Is all reverence extinct for old, and ivy-mantled, and worm-eaten things? Surely, if your own grandmother lectures on morals, which perhaps now and then she does, she will command that reverence from you, by means of her grandmotherhood, which by means of her ethics she might not. To be a good Grecian, is now to be a faded potentate; a sort of phantom Mogul, sitting at Delhi, with an English sepoy bestriding his shoulders. Matched against the master of ologies, in our days, the most accomplished of Grecians is becoming what the 'master of sentences' had become long since, in competition with the political economist. Yet, be assured, reader, that all the 'ologies' hitherto christened oology, ichthyology, ornithology, conchology, palaeodontology, &c., do not furnish such mines of labor as does the Greek language when thoroughly searched. The 'Mithridates' of Adelung, improved by the commentaries of Vater and of subsequent authors, numbers up about four thousand languages and jargons on our polyglot earth; not including the chuckling of poultry, nor caterwauling, nor barking, howling, braying, lowing, nor other respectable and ancient dialects, that perhaps have their elegant and their vulgar varieties, as well as prouder forms of communication. But my impression is, that the Greek, taken by itself, this one exquisite language, considered as a quarry of intellectual labor, has more work in it, is more truly a piece de resistance, than all the remaining three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, with caterwauling thrown into the bargain. So far I side with the Grecian, and think that he ought to be honored with a little genuflexion. Yet, on the other hand, the finest sound on this earth, and which rises like an orchestra above all the uproars of earth, and the Babels of earthly languages, is truth—absolute truth; and the hatefulest is conscious falsehood. Now, there is falsehood, nay (which seems strange), even sycophancy, in the old undistinguishing homage to all that is called classical. Yet why should men be sycophants in cases where they must be disinterested? Sycophancy grows out of fear, or out of mercenary self-interest. But what can there exist of either pointing to an old Greek poet? Cannot a man give his free opinion upon Homer, without fearing to be waylaid by his ghost? But it is not that which startles him from publishing the secret demur which his heart prompts, upon hearing false praises of a Greek poet, or praises which, if not false, are extravagant. What he fears, is the scorn of his contemporaries. Let once a party have formed itself considerable enough to protect a man from the charge of presumption in throwing off the yoke of servile allegiance to all that is called classical,—let it be a party ever so small numerically, and the rebels will soon be many. What a man fears is, to affront the whole storm of indignation, real and affected, in his own solitary person. 'Goth!' 'Vandal!' he hears from every side. Break that storm by dividing it, and he will face its anger. 'Let me be a Goth,' he mutters to himself, 'but let me not dishonor myself by affecting an enthusiasm which my heart rejects!'

Ever since the restoration of letters there has been a cabal, an academic interest, a factious league amongst universities, and learned bodies, and individual scholars, for exalting as something superterrestrial, and quite unapproachable by moderns, the monuments of Greek literature. France, in the time of Louis XIV., England, in the latter part of that time; in fact, each country as it grew polished at some cost of strength, carried this craze to a dangerous excess—dangerous as all things false are dangerous, and depressing to the aspirations of genius. Boileau, for instance, and Addison, though neither [2] of them accomplished in scholarship, nor either of them extensively read in any department of the classic literature, speak every where of the classics as having notoriously, and by the general confession of polished nations, carried the functions of poetry and eloquence to that sort of faultless beauty which probably does really exist in the Greek sculpture. There are few things perfect in this world of frailty. Even lightning is sometimes a failure: Niagara has horrible faults; and Mont Blanc might be improved by a century of chiselling from judicious artists. Such are the works of blind elements, which (poor things!) cannot improve by experience. As to man who does, the sculpture of the Greeks in their marbles and sometimes in their gems, seems the only act of his workmanship which has hit the bull's eye in the target at which we are all aiming. Not so, with permission from Messrs. Boileau and Addison, the Greek literature. The faults in this are often conspicuous; nor are they likely to be hidden for the coming century, as they have been for the three last. The idolatry will be shaken: as idols, some of the classic models are destined to totter: and I foresee, without gifts of prophecy, that many laborers will soon be in this field—many idoloclasts, who will expose the signs of disease, which zealots had interpreted as power; and of weakness, which is not the less real because scholars had fancied it health, nor the less injurious to the total effect because it was inevitable under the accidents of the Grecian position.

Meantime, I repeat, that to disparage any thing whatever, or to turn the eye upon blemishes, is no part of my present purpose. Nor could it be: since the one sole section of the Greek literature, as to which I profess myself an enthusiast, happens to be the tragic drama; and here, only, I myself am liable to be challenged as an idolater. As regards the Antigone in particular, so profoundly do I feel the impassioned beauty of her situation in connection with her character, that long ago, in a work of my own (yet unpublished), having occasion (by way of overture introducing one of the sections) to cite before the reader's eye the chief pomps of the Grecian theatre, after invoking 'the magnificent witch' Medea, I call up Antigone to this shadowy stage by the apostrophe, Holy heathen, daughter of God, before God was known, [3] flower from Paradise after Paradise was closed; that quitting all things for which flesh languishes, safety and honor, a palace and a home, didst make thyself a houseless pariah, lest the poor pariah king, thy outcast father, should want a hand to lead him in his darkness, or a voice to whisper comfort in his misery; angel, that badst depart for ever the glories of thy own bridal day, lest he that had shared thy nursery in childhood, should want the honors of a funeral; idolatrous, yet Christian Lady, that in the spirit of martyrdom trodst alone the yawning billows of the grave, flying from earthly hopes, lest everlasting despair should settle upon the grave of thy brother,' &c. In fact, though all the groupings, and what I would call permanent attitudes of the Grecian stage, are majestic, there is none that, to my mind, towers into such affecting grandeur, as this final revelation, through Antigone herself, and through her own dreadful death, of the tremendous wo that destiny had suspended over her house. If therefore my business had been chiefly with the individual drama, I should have found little room for any sentiment but that of profound admiration. But my present business is different: it concerns the Greek drama generally, and the attempt to revive it; and its object is to elucidate, rather than to praise or to blame. To explain this better, I will describe two things:—1st, The sort of audience that I suppose myself to be addressing; and, 2dly, As growing out of that, the particular quality of the explanations which I wish to make.

1st, As to the audience: in order to excuse the tone (which occasionally I may be obliged to assume) of one speaking as from a station of knowledge, to others having no knowledge, I beg it to be understood, that I take that station deliberately, on no conceit of superiority to my readers, but as a companion adapting my services to the wants of those who need them. I am not addressing those already familiar with the Greek drama, but those who frankly confess, and (according to their conjectural appreciation of it) who regret their non-familiarity with that drama. It is a thing well known to publishers, through remarkable results, and is now showing itself on a scale continually widening, that a new literary public has arisen, very different from any which existed at the beginning of this century. The aristocracy of the land have always been, in a moderate degree, literary; less, however, in connection with the current literature, than with literature generally—past as well as present. And this is a tendency naturally favored and strengthened in them, by the fine collections of books, carried forward through successive generations, which are so often found as a sort of hereditary foundation in the country mansions of our nobility. But a class of readers, prodigiously more extensive, has formed itself within the commercial orders of our great cities and manufacturing districts. These orders range through a large scale. The highest classes amongst them were always literary. But the interest of literature has now swept downwards through a vast compass of descents: and this large body, though the busiest in the nation, yet, by having under their undisturbed command such leisure time as they have at all under their command, are eventually able to read more than those even who seem to have nothing else but leisure. In justice, however, to the nobility of our land, it should be remembered, that their stations in society, and their wealth, their territorial duties, and their various public duties in London, as at court, at public meetings, in parliament, &c., bring crowded claims upon their time; whilst even sacrifices of time to the graceful courtesies of life, are in reference to their stations, a sort of secondary duties. These allowances made, it still remains true that the busier classes are the main reading classes; whilst from their immense numbers, they are becoming effectually the body that will more and more impress upon the moving literature its main impulse and direction. One other feature of difference there is amongst this commercial class of readers: amongst the aristocracy all are thoroughly educated, excepting those who go at an early age into the army; of the commercial body, none receive an elaborate, and what is meant by a liberal education, except those standing by their connections in the richest classes. Thus it happens that, amongst those who have not inherited but achieved their stations, many men of fine and powerful understandings, accomplished in manners, and admirably informed, not having had the benefits when young of a regular classical education, find (upon any accident bringing up such subjects) a deficiency which they do not find on other subjects. They are too honorable to undervalue advantages, which they feel to be considerable, simply because they were denied to themselves. They regret their loss. And yet it seems hardly worth while, on a simple prospect of contingencies that may never be realized, to undertake an entirely new course of study for redressing this loss. But they would be glad to avail themselves of any useful information not exacting study. These are the persons, this is the class, to which I address my remarks on the 'Antigone;' and out of their particular situation, suggesting upon all elevated subjects a corresponding tone of liberal curiosity, will arise the particular nature and direction of these remarks.

Accordingly, I presume, secondly, that this curiosity will take the following course:—these persons will naturally wish to know, at starting, what there is differentially interesting in a Grecian tragedy, as contrasted with one of Shakspeare's or of Schiller's: in what respect, and by what agencies, a Greek tragedy affects us, or is meant to affect us, otherwise than as they do; and how far the Antigone of Sophocles was judiciously chosen as the particular medium for conveying to British minds a first impression, and a representative impression, of Greek tragedy. So far, in relation to the ends proposed, and the means selected. Finally, these persons will be curious to know the issue of such an experiment. Let the purposes and the means have been bad or good, what was the actual success? And not merely success, in the sense of the momentary acceptance by half a dozen audiences, whom the mere decencies of justice must have compelled to acknowledge the manager's trouble and expense on their behalf; but what was the degree of satisfaction felt by students of the Athenian [4] tragedy, in relation to their long-cherished ideal? Did the representation succeed in realizing, for a moment, the awful pageant of the Athenian stage? Did Tragedy, in Milton's immortal expression,

———come sweeping by In sceptred pall?

Or was the whole, though successful in relation to the thing attempted, a failure in relation to what ought to have been attempted? Such are the questions to be answered.

* * * * *

The first elementary idea of a Greek tragedy, is to be sought in a serious Italian opera. The Greek dialogue is represented by the recitative, and the tumultuous lyrical parts assigned chiefly, though not exclusively, to the chorus on the Greek stage, are represented by the impassioned airs, duos, trios, choruses, &c. on the Italian. And there, at the very outset, occurs a question which lies at the threshold of a Fine Art,—that is of any Fine Art: for had the views of Addison upon the Italian opera had the least foundation in truth, there could have been no room or opening for any mode of imitation except such as belongs to a mechanic art.

The reason for at all connecting Addison with this case is, that he chiefly was the person occupied in assailing the Italian opera; and this hostility arose, probably, in his want of sensibility to good (that is, to Italian) music. But whatever might be his motive for the hostility, the single argument by which he supported it was this,—that a hero ought not to sing upon the stage, because no hero known to history ever summoned a garrison in a song, or changed a battery in a semichorus. In this argument lies an ignorance of the very first principle concern in every Fine Art. In all alike, more or less directly, the object is to reproduce in mind some great effect, through the agency of idem in alio. The idem, the same impression, is to be restored; but in alio, in a different material,—by means of some different instrument. For instance, on the Roman stage there was an art, now entirely lost, of narrating, and, in part of dramatically representing an impassioned tale, by means of dancing, of musical accompaniment in the orchestra, and of elaborate pantomime in the performer. Saltavit Hypermnestram, he danced (that is, he represented by dancing and pantomime the story of) Hypermnestra. Now, suppose a man to object, that young ladies, when saving their youthful husbands at midnight from assassination, could not be capable of waltzing or quadrilling, how wide is this of the whole problem! This is still seeking for the mechanic imitation, some imitation founded in the very fact; whereas the object is to seek the imitation in the sameness of the impression drawn from a different, or even from an impossible fact. If a man, taking a hint from the Roman 'Saltatio' (saltavit Andromachen), should say that he would 'whistle Waterloo,' that is, by whistling connected with pantomime, would express the passion and the changes of Waterloo, it would be monstrous to refuse him his postulate on the pretence that 'people did not whistle at Waterloo.' Precisely so: neither are most people made of marble, but of a material as different as can well be imagined, viz. of elastic flesh, with warm blood coursing along its tubes; and yet, for all that, a sculptor will draw tears from you, by exhibiting, in pure statuary marble, on a sepulchral monument, two young children with their little heads on a pillow, sleeping in each other's arms; whereas, if he had presented them in wax-work, which yet is far more like to flesh, you would have felt little more pathos in the scene than if they had been shown baked in gilt gingerbread. He has expressed the idem, the identical thing expressed in the real children; the sleep that masks death, the rest, the peace, the purity, the innocence; but in alio, in a substance the most different; rigid, non-elastic, and as unlike to flesh, if tried by touch, or eye, or by experience of life, as can well be imagined. So of the whistling. It is the very worst objection in the world to say, that the strife of Waterloo did not reveal itself through whistling: undoubtedly it did not; but that is the very ground of the man's art. He will reproduce the fury and the movement as to the only point which concerns you, viz. the effect, upon your own sympathies, through a language that seems without any relation to it: he will set before you what was at Waterloo through that which was not at Waterloo. Whereas any direct factual imitation, resting upon painted figures drest up in regimentals, and worked by watchwork through the whole movements of the battle, would have been no art whatsoever in the sense of a Fine Art, but a base mechanic mimicry.

This principle of the idem in alio, so widely diffused through all the higher revelations of art, it is peculiarly requisite to bear in mind when looking at Grecian tragedy, because no form of human composition employs it in so much complexity. How confounding it would have been to Addison, if somebody had told him, that, substantially, he had himself committed the offence (as he fancied it) which he charged so bitterly upon the Italian opera; and that, if the opera had gone farther upon that road than himself, the Greek tragedy, which he presumed to be so prodigiously exalted beyond modern approaches, had gone farther even than the opera. Addison himself, when writing a tragedy, made this violation (as he would have said) of nature, made this concession (as I should say) to a higher nature, that he compelled his characters to talk in metre. It is true this metre was the common iambic, which (as Aristotle remarks) is the most natural and spontaneous of all metres; and, for a sufficient reason, in all languages. Certainly; but Aristotle never meant to say that it was natural for a gentleman in a passion to talk threescore and ten iambics consecutively: a chance line might escape him once and away; as we know that Tacitus opened one of his works by a regular dactylic hexameter in full curl, without ever discovering it to his dying day (a fact which is clear from his never having corrected it); and this being a very artificial metre, a fortiori Tacitus might have slipped into a simple iambic. But that was an accident, whilst Addison had deliberately and uniformly made his characters talk in verse. According to the common and false meaning [which was his own meaning] of the word nature, he had as undeniably violated the principle of the natural, by this metrical dialogue, as the Italian opera by musical dialogue. If it is hard and trying for men to sing their emotions, not less so it must be to deliver them in verse.

But, if this were shocking, how much more shocking would it have seemed to Addison, had he been introduced to parts which really exist in the Grecian drama? Even Sophocles, who, of the three tragic poets surviving from the wrecks of the Athenian stage, is reputed the supreme artist [5] if not the most impassioned poet, with what horror he would have overwhelmed Addison, when read by the light of those principles which he had himself so scornfully applied to the opera! In the very monsoon of his raving misery, from calamities as sudden as they were irredeemable, a king is introduced, not only conversing, but conversing in metre; not only in metre, but in the most elaborate of choral metres; not only under the torture of these lyric difficulties, but also chanting; not only chanting, but also in all probability dancing. What do you think of that, Mr. Addison?

There is, in fact, a scale of graduated ascents in these artifices for unrealizing the effects of dramatic situations:

1. We may see, even in novels and prose comedies, a keen attention paid to the inspiriting and dressing of the dialogue: it is meant to be life- like, but still it is a little raised, pointed, colored, and idealized.

2. In comedy of a higher and more poetic cast, we find the dialogue metrical.

3. In comedy or in tragedy alike, which is meant to be still further removed from ordinary life, we find the dialogue fettered not only by metre, but by rhyme. We need not go to Dryden, and others, of our own middle stage, or to the French stage for this: even in Shakspeare, as for example, in parts of Romeo and Juliet (and for no capricious purpose), we may see effects sought from the use of rhyme. There is another illustration of the idealizing effect to be obtained from a particular treatment of the dialogue, seen in the Hamlet of Shakspeare. In that drama there arises a necessity for exhibiting a play within a play. This interior drama is to be further removed from the spectator than the principal drama; it is a deep below a deep; and, to produce that effect, the poet relies chiefly upon the stiffening the dialogue, and removing it still farther, than the general dialogue of the including or outside drama, from the standard of ordinary life.

4. We find, superadded to these artifices for idealizing the situations, even music of an intermitting character, sometimes less, sometimes more impassioned—recitatives, airs, choruses. Here we have reached the Italian opera.

5. And, finally, besides all these resources of art, we find dancing introduced; but dancing of a solemn, mystical, and symbolic character. Here, at last, we have reached the Greek tragedy. Probably the best exemplification of a Grecian tragedy that ever will be given to a modern reader is found in the Samson Agonistes of Milton. Now, in the choral or lyric parts of this fine drama, Samson not only talks, 1st, metrically ( as he does every where, and in the most level parts of the scenic business), but, 2d, in very intricate metres, and, 3d, occasionally in rhymed metres (though the rhymes are too sparingly and too capriciously scattered by Milton), and, 4th, singing or chanting these metres (for, as the chorus sang, it was impossible that he could be allowed to talk in his ordinary voice, else he would have put them out, and ruined the music). Finally, 5th, I am satisfied that Milton meant him to dance. The office of the chorus was imperfectly defined upon the Greek stage. They are generally understood to be the moralizers of the scene. But this is liable to exceptions. Some of them have been known to do very bad things on the stage, and to come within a trifle of felony: as to misprision of felony, if there is such a crime, a Greek chorus thinks nothing of it. But that is no business of mine. What I was going to say is, that, as the chorus sometimes intermingles too much in the action, so the actors sometimes intermingle in the business of the chorus. Now, when you are at Rome, you must do as they do at Rome. And that the actor, who mixed with the chorus, was compelled to sing, is a clear case; for his part in the choral ode is always in the nature of an echo, or answer, or like an antiphony in cathedral services. But nothing could be more absurd than that one of these antiphonies should be sung, and another said. That he was also compelled to dance, I am satisfied. The chorus only sometimes moralized, but it always danced: and any actor, mingling with the chorus, must dance also. A little incident occurs to my remembrance, from the Moscow expedition of 1812, which may here be used as an illustration: One day King Murat, flourishing his plumage as usual, made a gesture of invitation to some squadrons of cavalry that they should charge the enemy: upon which the cavalry advanced, but maliciously contrived to envelope the king of dandies, before he had time to execute his ordinary manoeuvre of riding off to the left and becoming a spectator of their prowess. The cavalry resolved that his majesty should for once ride down at their head to the melee, and taste what fighting was like; and he, finding that the thing must be, though horribly vexed, made a merit of his necessity, and afterwards pretended that he liked it very much. Sometimes, in the darkness, in default of other misanthropic visions, the wickedness of this cavalry, their mechancete, causes me to laugh immoderately. Now I conceive that any interloper into the Greek chorus must have danced when they danced, or he would have been swept away by their impetus: nolens volens, he must have rode along with the orchestral charge, he must have rode on the crest of the choral billows, or he would have been rode down by their impassioned sweep. Samson, and Oedipus, and others, must have danced, if they sang; and they certainly did sing, by notoriously intermingling in the choral business.[6]

'But now,' says the plain English reader, 'what was the object of all these elaborate devices? And how came it that the English tragedy, which surely is as good as the Greek,' (and at this point a devil of defiance whispers to him, like the quarrelsome servant of the Capulets or the Montagus, 'say better,') 'that the English tragedy contented itself with fewer of these artful resources than the Athenian?' I reply, that the object of all these things was—to unrealize the scene. The English drama, by its metrical dress, and by other arts more disguised, unrealized itself, liberated itself from the oppression of life in its ordinary standards, up to a certain height. Why it did not rise still higher, and why the Grecian did, I will endeavor to explain. It was not that the English tragedy was less impassioned; on the contrary, it was far more so; the Greek being awful rather than impassioned; but the passion of each is in a different key. It is not again that the Greek drama sought a lower object than the English: it sought a different object. It is not imparity, but disparity, that divides the two magnificent theatres.

Suffer me, reader, at this point, to borrow from my-self, and do not betray me to the authorities that rule in this journal, if you happen to know [which is not likely] that I am taking an idea from a paper which years ago I wrote for an eminent literary journal. As I have no copy of that paper before me, it is impossible that I should save myself any labor of writing. The words at any rate I must invent afresh: and, as to the idea, you never can be such a churlish man as, by insisting on a new one, in effect to insist upon my writing a false one. In the following paragraph, therefore, I give the substance of a thought suggested by myself some years ago.

That kind of feeling, which broods over the Grecian tragedy, and to court which feeling the tragic poets of Greece naturally spread all their canvas, was more nearly allied to the atmosphere of death than that of life. This expresses rudely the character of awe and religious horror investing the Greek theatre. But to my own feeling the different principle of passion which governs the Grecian conception of tragedy, as compared with the English, is best conveyed by saying that the Grecian is a breathing from the world of sculpture, the English a breathing from the world of painting. What we read in sculpture is not absolutely death, but still less is it the fulness of life. We read there the abstraction of a life that reposes, the sublimity of a life that aspires, the solemnity of a life that is thrown to an infinite distance. This last is the feature of sculpture which seems most characteristic: the form which presides in the most commanding groups, 'is not dead but sleepeth:' true, but it is the sleep of a life sequestrated, solemn, liberated from the bonds of space and time, and (as to both alike) thrown (I repeat the words) to a distance which is infinite. It affects us profoundly, but not by agitation. Now, on the other hand, the breathing life—life kindling, trembling, palpitating—that life which speaks to us in painting, this is also the life that speaks to us in English tragedy. Into an English tragedy even festivals of joy may enter; marriages, and baptisms, or commemorations of national trophies: which, or any thing like which, is incompatible with the very being of the Greek. In that tragedy what uniformity of gloom; in the English what light alternating with depths of darkness! The Greek, how mournful; the English, how tumultuous! Even the catastrophes how different! In the Greek we see a breathless waiting for a doom that cannot be evaded; a waiting, as it were, for the last shock of an earthquake, or the inexorable rising of a deluge: in the English it is like a midnight of shipwreck, from which up to the last and till the final ruin comes, there still survives the sort of hope that clings to human energies.

Connected with this original awfulness of the Greek tragedy, and possibly in part its cause, or at least lending strength to its cause, we may next remark the grand dimensions of the ancient theatres. Every citizen had a right to accommodation. There at once was a pledge of grandeur. Out of this original standard grew the magnificence of many a future amphitheatre, circus, hippodrome. Had the original theatre been merely a speculation of private interest, then, exactly as demand arose, a corresponding supply would have provided for it through its ordinary vulgar channels; and this supply would have taken place through rival theatres. But the crushing exaction of 'room for every citizen,' put an end to that process of subdivision. Drury Lane, as I read (or think that I read) thirty years ago, allowed sitting room for three thousand eight hundred people. Multiply that by ten; imagine thirty-eight thousand instead of thirty-eight hundred, and then you have an idea of the Athenian theatre. [7]

Next, out of that grandeur in the architectural proportions arose, as by necessity, other grandeurs. You are aware of the cothurnus, or buskin, which raised the actor's heel by two and a half inches; and you think that this must have caused a deformity in the general figure as incommensurate to this height. Not at all. The flowing dress of Greece healed all that.

But, besides the cothurnus, you have heard of the mask. So far as it was fitted to swell the intonations of the voice, you are of opinion that this mask would be a happy contrivance; for what, you say, could a common human voice avail against the vast radiation from the actor's centre of more than three myriads? If, indeed (like the Homeric Stentor), an actor spoke in point of loudness, (Greek Text), as much as other fifty, then he might become audible to the assembled Athenians without aid. But this being impossible, art must be invoked; and well if the mask, together with contrivances of another class, could

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