The Notebook of an English Opium-Eater
by Thomas de Quincey
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correct it. Yet if it could, still you think that this mask would bring along with it an overbalancing evil. For the expression, the fluctuating expression, of the features, the play of the muscles, the music of the eye and of the lips,—aids to acting that, in our times, have given immortality to scores, whither would those have vanished? Reader, it mortifies me that all which I said to you upon the peculiar and separate grandeur investing the Greek theatre is forgotten. For, you must consider, that where a theatre is built for receiving upwards of thirty thousand spectators, the curve described by what in modern times you would call the tiers of boxes, must be so vast as to make the ordinary scale of human features almost ridiculous by disproportion. Seat yourself at this day in the amphitheatre at Verona, and judge for yourself. In an amphitheatre, the stage, or properly the arena, occupying, in fact, the place of our modern pit, was much nearer than in a scenic theatre to the surrounding spectators. Allow for this, and placing some adult in a station expressing the distance of the Athenian stage, then judge by his appearance if the delicate pencilling of Grecian features could have told at the Grecian distance. But even if it could, then I say that this circumstantiality would have been hostile to the general tendencies (as already indicated) of the Grecian drama. The sweeping movement of the Attic tragedy ought not to admit of interruption from distinct human features; the expression of an eye, the loveliness of a smile, ought to be lost amongst effects so colossal. The mask aggrandized the features: even so far it acted favorably. Then figure to yourself this mask presenting an idealized face of the noblest Grecian outline, moulded by some skilful artist Phidiaca manu, so as to have the effect of a marble bust; this accorded with the aspiring cothurnus; and the motionless character impressed upon the features, the marble tranquillity, would (I contend) suit the solemn processional character of Athenian tragedy, far better than the most expressive and flexible countenance on its natural scale. 'Yes,' you say, on considering the character of the Greek drama, 'generally it might; in forty-nine cases suppose out of fifty: but what shall be done in the fiftieth, where some dreadful discovery or anagnorisis (i.e. recognition of identity) takes place within the compass of a single line or two; as, for instance, in the Oedipus Tyrannus, at the moment when Oedipus by a final question of his own, extorts his first fatal discovery, viz. that he had been himself unconsciously the murderer of Laius?' True, he has no reason as yet to suspect that Laius was his own father; which discovery, when made further on, will draw with it another still more dreadful, viz. that by this parricide he had opened his road to a throne, and to a marriage with his father's widow, who was also his own natural mother. He does not yet know the worst: and to have killed an arrogant prince, would not in those days have seemed a very deep offence: but then he believes that the pestilence had been sent as a secret vengeance for this assassination, which is thus invested with a mysterious character of horror. Just at this point, Jocasta, his mother and his wife, says, [8] on witnessing the sudden revulsion of feeling in his face, 'I shudder, oh king, when looking on thy countenance.' Now, in what way could this passing spasm of horror be reconciled with the unchanging expression in the marble-looking mask? This, and similar cases to this, must surely be felt to argue a defect in the scenic apparatus. But I say, no: first, Because the general indistinctiveness from distance is a benefit that applies equally to the fugitive changes of the features and to their permanent expression. You need not regret the loss through absence, of an appearance that would equally, though present, have been lost through distance. Secondly, The Greek actor had always the resource, under such difficulties, of averting his face a resource sanctioned in similar cases by the greatest of the Greek painters. Thirdly, The voluminous draperies of the scenic dresses, and generally of the Greek costume, made it an easy thing to muffle the features altogether by a gesture most natural to sudden horror. Fourthly, We must consider that there were no stage lights: but, on the contrary that the general light of day was specially mitigated for that particular part of the theatre; just as various architectural devices were employed to swell the volume of sound. Finally. I repeat my sincere opinion, that the general indistinctness of the expression was, on principles of taste, an advantage, as harmonizing with the stately and sullen monotony of the Greek tragedy. Grandeur in the attitudes, in the gestures, in the groups, in the processions—all this was indispensable: but, on so vast a scale as the mighty cartoons of the Greek stage, an Attic artist as little regarded the details of physiognomy, as a great architect would regard, on the frontispiece of a temple, the miniature enrichments that might be suitable in a drawing-room.

With these views upon the Grecian theatre, and other views that it might oppress the reader to dwell upon in this place, suddenly in December last an opportunity dawned—a golden opportunity, gleaming for a moment amongst thick clouds of impossibility that had gathered through three-and-twenty centuries—for seeing a Grecian tragedy presented on a British stage, and with the nearest approach possible to the beauty of those Athenian pomps which Sophocles, which Phidias, which Pericles created, beautified, promoted. I protest, when seeing the Edinburgh theatre's programme, that a note dated from the Vatican would not have startled me more, though sealed with the seal of the fisherman, and requesting the favor of my company to take coffee with the Pope. Nay, less: for channels there were through which I might have compassed a presentation to his Holiness; but the daughter of Oedipus, the holy Antigone, could I have hoped to see her 'in the flesh?' This tragedy in an English version, [9] and with German music, had first been placed before the eyes and ears of our countrymen at Convent Garden during the winter of 1844—5. It was said to have succeeded. And soon after a report sprang up, from nobody knew where, that Mr. Murray meant to reproduce it in Edinburgh.

What more natural? Connected so nearly with the noblest house of scenic artists that ever shook the hearts of nations, nobler than ever raised undying echoes amidst the mighty walls of Athens, of Rome, of Paris, of London,—himself a man of talents almost unparalleled for versatility,— why should not Mr. Murray, always so liberal in an age so ungrateful to his profession, have sacrificed something to this occasion? He, that sacrifices so much, why not sacrifice to the grandeur of the Antique? I was then in Edinburgh, or in its neighborhood; and one morning, at a casual assembly of some literary friends, present Professor Wilson, Messrs. J. F., C. N., L. C., and others, advocates, scholars, lovers of classical literature, we proposed two resolutions, of which the first was, that the news was too good to be true. That passed nem. con.; and the second resolution was nearly passing, viz. that a judgment would certainly fall upon Mr. Murray, had a second report proved true, viz. that not the Antigone, but a burlesque on the Antigone, was what he meditated to introduce. This turned out false; [l0] the original report was suddenly revived eight or ten months after. Immediately on the heels of the promise the execution followed; and on the last (which I believe was the seventh) representation of the Antigone, I prepared myself to attend.

It had been generally reported as characteristic of myself, that in respect to all coaches, steamboats, railroads, wedding-parties, baptisms, and so forth, there was a fatal necessity of my being a trifle too late. Some malicious fairy, not invited to my own baptism, was supposed to have endowed me with this infirmity. It occurred to me that for once in my life I would show the scandalousness of such a belief by being a trifle too soon, say, three minutes. And no name more lovely for inaugurating such a change, no memory with which I could more willingly connect any reformation, than thine, dear, noble Antigone! Accordingly, because a certain man (whose name is down in my pocket-book for no good) had told me that the doors of the theatre opened at half-past six, whereas, in fact, they opened at seven, there was I, if you please, freezing in the little colonnade of the theatre precisely as it wanted six-and-a-half minutes to seven,—six-and-a-half minutes observe too soon. Upon which this son of absurdity coolly remarked, that, if he had not set me half-an-hour forward, by my own showing, I should have been twenty-three-and-a-half minutes too late. What sophistry! But thus it happened (namely, through the wickedness of this man), that, upon entering the theatre, I found myself like Alexander Selkirk, in a frightful solitude, or like a single family of Arabs gathering at sunset about a solitary coffee-pot in the boundless desert. Was there an echo raised? it was from my own steps. Did any body cough? it was too evidently myself. I was the audience; I was the public. And, if any accident happened to the theatre, such as being burned down, Mr. Murray would certainly lay the blame upon me. My business meantime, as a critic, was—to find out the most malicious seat, i.e. the seat from which all things would take the most unfavorable aspect. I could not suit myself in this respect; however bad a situation might seem, I still fancied some other as promising to be worse. And I was not sorry when an audience, by mustering in strength through all parts of the house, began to divide my responsibility as to burning down the building, and, at the same time, to limit the caprices of my distracted choice. At last, and precisely at half-past seven, the curtain drew up; a thing not strictly correct on a Grecian stage. But in theatres, as in other places, one must forget and forgive. Then the music began, of which in a moment. The overture slipped out at one ear, as it entered the other, which, with submission to Mr. Mendelssohn, is a proof that it must be horribly bad; for, if ever there lived a man that in music can neither forget nor forgive, that man is myself. Whatever is very good never perishes from my remembrance,—that is, sounds in my ears by intervals for ever,—and for whatever is bad, I consign the author, in my wrath, to his own conscience, and to the tortures of his own discords. The most villanous things, however, have one merit; they are transitory as the best things; and that was true of the overture: it perished. Then, suddenly, —oh, heavens! what a revelation of beauty!—forth stepped, walking in brightness, the most faultless of Grecian marbles, Miss Helen Faucit as Antigone. What perfection of Athenian sculpture! the noble figure, the lovely arms, the fluent drapery! What an unveiling of the ideal statuesque! Is it Hebe? is it Aurora? is it a goddess that moves before us? Perfect she is in form; perfect in attitude;

'Beautiful exceedingly, Like a ladie from a far countrie.'

Here was the redeeming jewel of the performance. It flattered one's patriotic feelings, to see this noble young countrywoman realizing so exquisitely, and restoring to our imaginations, the noblest of Grecian girls. We critics, dispersed through the house, in the very teeth of duty and conscience, all at one moment unanimously fell in love with Miss Faucit. We felt in our remorse, and did not pretend to deny, that our duty was—to be savage. But when was the voice of duty listened to in the first uproars of passion? One thing I regretted, viz. that from the indistinctness of my sight for distant faces, I could not accurately discriminate Miss Faucit's features; but I was told by my next neighbor that they were as true to the antique as her figure. Miss Faucit's voice is fine and impassioned, being deep for a female voice; but in this organ lay also the only blemish of her personation. In her last scene, which is injudiciously managed by the Greek poet,—too long by much, and perhaps misconceived in the modern way of understanding it,—her voice grew too husky to execute the cadences of the intonations: yet, even in this scene, her fall to the ground, under the burden of her farewell anguish, was in a high degree sculpturesque through the whole succession of its stages.

Antigone in the written drama, and still more in the personated drama, draws all thoughts so entirely to herself, as to leave little leisure for examining the other parts; and, under such circumstances, the first impulse of a critic's mind is, that he ought to massacre all the rest indiscriminately; it being clearly his duty to presume every thing bad which he is not unwillingly forced to confess good, or concerning which he retains no distinct recollection. But I, after the first glory of Antigone's avatar had subsided, applied myself to consider the general 'setting' of this Theban jewel. Creon, whom the Greek tragic poets take delight in describing as a villain, has very little more to do (until his own turn comes for grieving), than to tell Antigone, by minute-guns, that die she must. 'Well, uncle, don't say that so often,' is the answer which, secretly, the audience whispers to Antigone. Our uncle grows tedious; and one wishes at last that he himself could be 'put up the spout.' Mr. Glover, from the sepulchral depth of his voice, gave effect to the odious Creontic menaces; and, in the final lamentations over the dead body of Haemon, being a man of considerable intellectual power, Mr. Glover drew the part into a prominence which it is the fault of Sophocles to have authorized in that situation; for the closing sympathies of the spectator ought not to be diverted, for a moment, from Antigone.

But the chorus, how did they play their part? Mainly their part must have always depended on the character of the music: even at Athens, that must have been very much the case, and at Edinburgh altogether, because dancing on the Edinburgh stage there was none. How came that about? For the very word, 'orchestral,' suggests to a Greek ear dancing, as the leading element in the choral functions. Was it because dancing with us is never used mystically and symbolically never used in our religious services? Still it would have been possible to invent solemn and intricate dances, that might have appeared abundantly significant, if expounded by impassioned music. But that music of Mendelssohn!—like it I cannot. Say not that Mendelssohn is a great composer. He is so. But here he was voluntarily abandoning the resources of his own genius, and the support of his divine art, in quest of a chimera: that is, in quest of a thing called Greek music, which for us seems far more irrecoverable than the 'Greek fire.' I myself, from an early date, was a student of this subject. I read book after book upon it; and each successive book sank me lower into darkness, until I had so vastly improved in ignorance, that I could myself have written a quarto upon it, which all the world should not have found it possible to understand. It should have taken three men to construe one sentence. I confess, however, to not having yet seen the writings upon this impracticable theme of Colonel Perronet Thompson. To write experimental music for choruses that are to support the else meagre outline of a Greek tragedy, will not do. Let experiments be tried upon worthless subjects; and if this of Mendelssohn's be Greek music, the sooner it takes itself off the better. Sophocles will be delivered from an incubus, and we from an affliction of the auditory nerves.

It strikes me that I see the source of this music. We, that were learning German some thirty years ago, must remember the noise made at that time about Mendelssohn, the Platonic philosopher. And why? Was there any thing particular in 'Der Phaedon,' on the immortality of the soul? Not at all; it left us quite as mortal as it found us; and it has long since been found mortal itself. Its venerable remains are still to be met with in many worm-eaten trunks, pasted on the lids of which I have myself perused a matter of thirty pages, except for a part that had been too closely perused by worms. But the key to all the popularity of the Platonic Mendelssohn, is to be sought in the whimsical nature of German liberality, which, in those days, forced Jews into paying toll at the gates of cities, under the title of 'swine,' but caressed their infidel philosophers. Now, in this category of Jew and infidel, stood the author of 'Phaedon.' He was certainly liable to toll as a hog; but, on the other hand, he was much admired as one who despised the Pentateuch. Now that Mendelssohn, whose learned labors lined our trunks, was the father of this Mendelssohn, whose Greek music afflicts our ears. Naturally, then, it strikes me, that as 'papa' Mendelssohn attended the synagogue to save appearances, the filial Mendelssohn would also attend it. I likewise attended the synagogue now and then at Liverpool, and elsewhere. We all three have been cruising in the same latitudes; and, trusting to my own remembrances, I should pronounce that Mendelssohn has stolen his Greek music from the synagogue. There was, in the first chorus of the 'Antigone,' one sublime ascent (and once repeated) that rang to heaven: it might have entered into the music of Jubal's lyre, or have glorified the timbrel of Miriam. All the rest, tried by the deep standard of my own feeling, that clamors for the impassioned in music, even as the daughter of the horse-leech says, 'Give, give,' is as much without meaning as most of the Hebrew chanting that I heard at the Liverpool synagogue. I advise Mr. Murray, in the event of his ever reviving the 'Antigone,' to make the chorus sing the Hundredth Psalm, rather than Mendelssohn's music; or, which would be better still, to import from Lancashire the Handel chorus- singers.

But then, again, whatever change in the music were made, so as to 'better the condition' of the poor audience, something should really be done to 'better the condition' of the poor chorus. Think of these worthy men, in their white and skyblue liveries, kept standing the whole evening; no seats allowed, no dancing; no tobacco; nothing to console them but Antigone's beauty; and all this in our climate, latitude fifty-five degrees, 30th of December, and Fahrenheit groping about, I don't pretend to know where, but clearly on his road down to the wine cellar. Mr. Murray, I am perfectly sure, is too liberal to have grudged the expense, if he could have found any classic precedent for treating the chorus to a barrel of ale. Ale, he may object, is an unclassical tipple; but perhaps not. Xenophon, the most Attic of prose writers, mentions pointedly in his Anabasis, that the Ten Thousand, when retreating through snowy mountains, and in circumstances very like our General Elphinstone's retreat from Cabul, came upon a considerable stock of bottled ale. To be sure, the poor ignorant man calls it barley wine, [Greek: oitos chrithinos:] but the flavor was found so perfectly classical that not one man of the ten thousand, not even the Attic bee himself, is reported to have left any protest against it, or indeed to have left much of the ale.

But stop: perhaps I am intruding upon other men's space. Speaking, therefore, now finally to the principal question, How far did this memorable experiment succeed? I reply, that, in the sense of realizing all that the joint revivers proposed to realize, it succeeded; and failed only where these revivers had themselves failed to comprehend the magnificent tendencies of Greek tragedy, or where the limitations of our theatres, arising out of our habits and social differences, had made it impossible to succeed. In London, I believe that there are nearly thirty theatres, and many more, if every place of amusement (not bearing the technical name of theatre) were included. All these must be united to compose a building such as that which received the vast audiences, and consequently the vast spectacles, of some ancient cities. And yet, from a great mistake in our London and Edinburgh attempts to imitate the stage of the Greek theatres, little use was made of such advantages as really were at our disposal. The possible depth of the Edinburgh stage was not laid open. Instead of a regal hall in Thebes, I protest I took it for the boudoir of Antigone. It was painted in light colors, an error which was abominable, though possibly meant by the artist (but quite unnecessarily) as a proper ground for relieving the sumptuous dresses of the leading performers. The doors of entrance and exit were most unhappily managed. As to the dresses, those of Creon, of his queen, and of the two loyal sisters, were good: chaste, and yet princely. The dress of the chorus was as bad as bad as could be: a few surplices borrowed from Episcopal chapels, or rather the ornamented albes, &c. from any rich Roman Catholic establishment, would have been more effective. The Coryphaeus himself seemed, to my eyes, no better than a railway laborer, fresh from tunnelling or boring, and wearing a blouse to hide his working dress. These ill- used men ought to 'strike' for better clothes, in case Antigone should again revisit the glimpses of an Edinburgh moon; and at the same time they might mutter a hint about the ale. But the great hindrances to a perfect restoration of a Greek tragedy, lie in peculiarities of our theatres that cannot be removed, because bound up with their purposes. I suppose that Salisbury Plain would seem too vast a theatre: but at least a cathedral would be required in dimensions, York Minster or Cologne. Lamp-light gives to us some advantages which the ancients had not. But much art would be required to train and organize the lights and the masses of superincumbent gloom, that should be such as to allow no calculation of the dimensions overhead. Aboriginal night should brood over the scene, and the sweeping movements of the scenic groups: bodily expression should be given to the obscure feeling of that dark power which moved in ancient tragedy: and we should be made to know why it is that, with the one exception of the Persae, founded on the second Persian invasion, [11] in which Aeschylus, the author, was personally a combatant, and therefore a contemporary, not one of the thirty-four Greek tragedies surviving, but recedes into the dusky shades of the heroic, or even fabulous times.

A failure, therefore, I think the 'Antigone,' in relation to an object that for us is unattainable; but a failure worth more than many ordinary successes. We are all deeply indebted to Mr. Murray's liberality, in two senses; to his liberal interest in the noblest section of ancient literature, and to his liberal disregard of expense. To have seen a Grecian play is a great remembrance. To have seen Miss Helen Faucit's Antigone, were that all, with her bust, [Greek: os agalmatos] [12] and her uplifted arm 'pleading against unjust tribunals,' is worth—what is it worth? Worth the money? How mean a thought! To see Helen, to see Helen of Greece, was the chief prayer of Marlow's Dr. Faustus; the chief gift which he exacted from the fiend. To see Helen of Greece? Dr. Faustus, we have seen her: Mr. Murray is the Mephistopheles that showed her to us. It was cheap at the price of a journey to Siberia, and is the next best thing to having seen Waterloo at sunset on the 18th of June, 1815. [13]


[1] 'When sown;' as it has been repeatedly; a fact which some readers may not be aware of.

[2] Boileau, it is true, translated Longinus. But there goes little Greek to that. It is in dealing with Attic Greek, and Attic poets, that a man can manifest his Grecian skill.

[3] 'Before God was known;'—i.e. known in Greece.

[4] At times, I say pointedly, the Athenian rather than the Grecian tragedy, in order to keep the reader's attention awake to a remark made by Paterculus,—viz. That although Greece coquettishly welcomed homage to herself, as generally concerned in the Greek literature, in reality Athens only had any original share in the drama, or in the oratory of Greece.

[5] 'The supreme artist:'—It is chiefly by comparison with Euripides, that Sophocles is usually crowned with the laurels of art. But there is some danger of doing wrong to the truth in too blindly adhering to these old rulings of critical courts. The judgments would sometimes be reversed, if the pleadings were before us. There were blockheads in those days. Undoubtedly it is past denying that Euripides at times betrays marks of carelessness in the structure of his plots, as if writing too much in a hurry: the original cast of the fable is sometimes not happy, and the evolution or disentangling is too precipitate. It is easy to see that he would have remoulded them in a revised edition, or diaskeue [Greek.] On the other hand, I remember nothing in the Greek drama more worthy of a great artist than parts in his Phoenissae. Neither is he the effeminately tender, or merely pathetic poet that some people imagine. He was able to sweep all the chords of the impassioned spirit. But the whole of this subject is in arrear: it is in fact res integra, almost unbroken ground.

[6] I see a possible screw loose at this point: if you see it, reader, have the goodness to hold your tongue.

[7] 'Athenian Theatre:'—Many corrections remain to be made. Athens, in her bloom, was about as big as Calcutta, which contained, forty years ago, more than half a million of people; or as Naples, which (being long rated at three hundred thousand), is now known to contain at least two hundred thousand more. The well known census of Demetrius Phalereus gave twenty- one thousand citizens. Multiply this by 5, or 4-3/4, and you have their families. Add ten thousand, multiplied by 4-1/2, for the Inquilini. Then add four hundred thousand for the slaves: total, about five hundred and fifty thousand. But upon the fluctuations of the Athenian population there is much room for speculation. And, quaere, was not the population of Athens greater two centuries before Demetrius, in the days of Pericles?

[8] Having no Sophocles at hand, I quote from memory, not pretending therefore to exactness: but the sense is what I state.

[9] Whose version, I do not know. But one unaccountable error was forced on one's notice. Thebes, which, by Milton and by every scholar is made a monosyllable, is here made a dissyllable. But Thebez, the dissyllable, is a Syrian city. It is true that Causabon deduces from a Syriac word meaning a case or enclosure (a theca), the name of Thebes, whether Boeotian or Egyptian. It is probable, therefore, that Thebes the hundred-gated of Upper Egypt, Thebes the seven-gated of Greece, and Thebes of Syria, had all one origin as regards the name. But this matters not; it is the English name that we are concerned with.

[10] 'False:' or rather inaccurate. The burlesque was not on the Antigone, but on the Medea of Euripides; and very amusing.

[11] But in this instance, perhaps, distance of space, combined with the unrivalled grandeur of the war, was felt to equiponderate the distance of time, Susa, the Persian capital, being fourteen hundred miles from Athens.

[12] [Greek: Sterna th'os agalmatos], her bosom as the bosom of a statue; an expression of Euripides, and applied, I think, to Polyxena at the moment of her sacrifice on the tomb of Achilles, as the bride that was being married to him at the moment of his death.

[13] Amongst the questions which occurred to me as requiring an answer, in connection with this revival, was one with regard to the comparative fitness of the Antigone for giving a representative idea of the Greek stage. I am of opinion that it was the worst choice which could have been made; and for the very reason which no doubt governed that choice, viz.— because the austerity of the tragic passion is disfigured by a love episode. Rousseau in his letter to D'Alembert upon his article Geneve, in the French Encyclopedie, asks,—'Qui est-ce qui doute que, sur nos theatres, la meilleure piece de Sophocle ne tombat tout-a-plat?' And his reason (as collected from other passages) is—because an interest derived from the passion of sexual love can rarely be found on the Greek stage, and yet cannot be dispensed with on that of Paris. But why was it so rare on the Greek stage? Not from accident, but because it did not harmonize with the principle of that stage, and its vast overhanging gloom. It is the great infirmity of the French, and connected constitutionally with the gayety of their temperament, that they cannot sympathize with this terrific mode of grandeur. We can. And for us the choice should have been more purely and severely Grecian; whilst the slenderness of the plot in any Greek tragedy, would require a far more effective support from tumultuous movement in the chorus. Even the French are not uniformly insensible to this Grecian grandeur. I remember that Voltaire, amongst many just remarks on the Electra of Sophocles, mixed with others that are not just, bitterly condemns this demand for a love fable on the French stage, and illustrates its extravagance by the French tragedy on the same subject, of Crebillon. He (in default of any more suitable resource) has actually made Electra, whose character on the Greek stage is painfully vindictive, in love with an imaginary son of Aegisthus, her father's murderer. Something should also have been said of Mrs. Leigh Murray's Ismene, which was very effective in supporting and in relieving the magnificent impression of Antigone. I ought also to have added a note on the scenic mask, and the common notion (not authorized, I am satisfied, by the practice in the supreme era of Pericles), that it exhibited a Janus face, the windward side expressing grief or horror, the leeward expressing tranquillity. Believe it not, reader. But on this and other points, it will be better to speak circumstantially, in a separate paper on the Greek drama, as a majestic but very exclusive and almost, if one may say so, bigoted form of the scenic art.


It sounds like the tolling of funeral bells, as the annunciation is made of one death after another amongst those who supported our canopy of empire through the last most memorable generation. The eldest of the Wellesleys is gone: he is gathered to his fathers; and here we have his life circumstantially written.

Who, and of what origin are the Wellesleys? There is an impression current amongst the public, or there was an impression, that the true name of the Wellesley family is Wesley. This is a case very much resembling some of those imagined by the old scholastic logicians, where it was impossible either to deny or to affirm: saying yes, or saying no, equally you told a falsehood. The facts are these: the family was originally English; and in England, at the earliest era, there is no doubt at all that its name was De Welles leigh, which was pronounced in the eldest times just as it is now, viz. as a dissyllable, [2] the first syllable sounding exactly like the cathedral city Wells, in Somersetshire, and the second like lea, (a field lying fallow.) It is plain enough, from various records, that the true historical genesis of the name, was precisely through that composition of words, which here, for the moment, I had imagined merely to illustrate its pronunciation. Lands in the diocese of Bath and Wells lying by the pleasant river Perret, and almost up to the gates of Bristol, constituted the earliest possessions of the De Wellesleighs. They, seven centuries before Assay, and Waterloo, were 'seised' of certain rich leas belonging to Wells. And from these Saxon elements of the name, some have supposed the Wellesleys a Saxon race. They could not possibly have better blood: but still the thing does not follow from the premises. Neither does it follow from the de that they were Norman. The first De Wellesley known to history, the very tip-top man of the pedigree, is Avenant de Wellesleigh. About a hundred years nearer to our own times, viz. in 1239, came Michael de Wellesleigh; of whom the important fact is recorded, that he was the father of Wellerand de Wellesley. And what did young Mr. Wellerand perform in this wicked world, that the proud muse of history should condescend to notice his rather singular name? Reader, he was—'killed:' that is all; and in company with Sir Robert de Percival; which again argues his Somersetshire descent: for the family of Lord Egmont, the head of all Percivals, ever was, and ever will be, in Somersetshire. But how was he killed? The time when, viz. 1303, the place where, are known: but the manner how, is not exactly stated; it was in skirmish with rascally Irish 'kernes,' fellows that (when presented at the font of Christ for baptism) had their right arms covered up from the baptismal waters, in order that, still remaining consecrated to the devil, those arms might inflict a devilish blow. Such a blow, with such an unbaptized arm, the Irish villain struck; and there was an end of Wellerand de Wellesleigh. Strange that history should make an end of a man, before it had made a beginning of him. These, however, are the facts; which, in writing a romance about Sir Wellerand and Sir Percival, I shall have great pleasure in falsifying. But how, says the too curious reader, did the De Wellesleighs find themselves amongst Irish kernes? Had these scamps the presumption to invade Somersetshire? Did they dare to intrude into Wells? Not at all: but the pugnacious De Wellesleys had dared to intrude into Ireland. Some say in the train of Henry II. Some say—but no matter: there they were: and there they stuck like limpets. They soon engrafted themselves into the county of Kildare; from which, by means of a fortunate marriage, they leaped into the county of Meath; and in that county, as if to refute the pretended mutability of human things, they have roosted ever since. There was once a famous copy of verses floating about Europe, which asserted that, whilst other princes were destined to fight for thrones, Austria—the handsome house of Hapsburgh—should obtain them by marriage:

'Pugnabunt alii: tu, felix Austria, nube.'

So of the Wellesleys: Sir Wellerand took quite the wrong way: not cudgelling, but courting, was the correct way for succeeding in Kildare. Two great estates, by two separate marriages, the De Wellesleighs obtained in Kildare; and, by a third marriage in a third generation, they obtained in the county of Meath, Castle Dengan (otherwise Dangan) with lordships as plentiful as blackberries. Castle Dangan came to them in the year of our Lord, 1411, i.e. before Agincourt: and, in Castle Dangan did Field- marshal, the man of Waterloo, draw his first breath, shed his first tears, and perpetrate his earliest trespasses. That is what one might call a pretty long spell for one family: four hundred and thirty-five years has Castle Dangan furnished a nursery for the Wellesley piccaninnies. Amongst the lordships attached to Castle Dangan was Mornington, which more than three centuries afterwards supplied an earldom for the grandfather of Waterloo. Any further memorabilia of the Castle Dangan family are not recorded, except that in 1485 (which sure was the year of Bosworth field?) they began to omit the de and to write themselves Wellesley tout court. From indolence, I presume: for a certain lady Di. le Fl., whom once I knew, a Howard by birth, of the house of Suffolk, told me as her reason for omitting the Le, that it caused her too much additional trouble.

So far the evidence seems in favor of Wellesley and against Wesley. But, on the other hand, during the last three centuries the Wellesleys wrote the name Wesley. They, however, were only the maternal ancestors of the present Wellesleys. Garret Wellesley, the last male heir of the direct line, in the year 1745, left his whole estate to one of the Cowleys, a Staffordshire family who had emigrated to Ireland in Queen Elizabeth's time, but who were, however, descended from the Wellesleys. This Cowley or Colley, taking, in 1745, the name of Wesley, received from George II. the title of Earl Mornington: and Colley's grandson, the Marquess Wellesley of our age, was recorded in the Irish peerage as Wesley, Earl of Mornington; was uniformly so described up to the end of the eighteenth century; and even Arthur of Waterloo, whom most of us Europeans know pretty well, on going to India a little before his brother, was thus introduced by Lord Cornwallis to Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth, the Governor-general), 'Dear sir, I beg leave to introduce to you Colonel Wesley, who is a lieutenant-colonel of my regiment. He is a sensible man, and a good officer.' Posterity, for we are posterity in respect of Lord Cornwallis, have been very much of his opinion. Colonel Wesley really is a sensible man; and the sensible man, soon after his arrival in Bengal, under the instigation of his brother, resumed the old name of Wellesley. In reality, the name of Wesley was merely the abbreviation of indolence, as Chumley for Cholmondeley, Pomfret for Pontefract, Cicester for Cirencester; or, in Scotland, Marchbanks for Majoribanks, Chatorow for the Duke of Hamilton's French title of Chatelherault. I remember myself, in childhood, to have met a niece of John Wesley the Proto-Methodist, who always spoke of the, second Lord Mornington (author of the well-known glees) as a cousin, and as intimately connected with her brother the great foudroyant performer on the organ. Southey, in his Life of John Wesley, tells us that Charles Wesley, the brother of John, and father of the great organist, had the offer from Garret Wellesley of those same estates which eventually were left to Richard Cowley. This argues a recognition of near consanguinity. Why the offer was declined, is not distinctly explained. But if it had been accepted, Southey thinks that then we should have had no storming of Seringapatam, no Waterloo, and no Arminian Methodists. All that is not quite clear. Tippoo was booked for a desperate British vengeance by his own desperate enmity to our name, though no Lord Wellesley had been Governor-General. Napoleon, by the same fury of hatred to us, was booked for the same fate, though the scene of it might not have been Waterloo. And, as to John Wesley, why should he not have made the same schism with the English Church, because his brother Charles had become unexpectedly rich?

The Marquess Wellesley was of the same standing, as to age, or nearly so, as Mr. Pitt; though he outlived Pitt by almost forty years. Born in 1760, three or four months before the accession of George III., he was sent to Eton, at the age of eleven; and from Eton, in his eighteenth year, he was sent to Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated as a nobleman. He then bore the courtesy title of Viscount Wellesley; but in 1781, when he had reached his twenty-first year, he was summoned away from Oxford by the death of his father, the second Earl of Mornington. It is interesting, at this moment, to look back on the family group of children collected at Dangan Castle. The young earl was within a month of his majority: his younger brothers and sisters were, William Wellesley Pole (since dead, under the title of Lord Maryborough), then aged eighteen; Anne, since married to Henry, son of Lord Southampton, aged thirteen; Arthur, aged twelve; Gerald Valerian, now in the church, aged ten; Mary Elizabeth (since Lady Culling Smith), aged nine; Henry, since Lord Cowley, and British ambassador to Spain, France, &c. aged eight. The new Lord Mornington showed his conscientious nature, by assuming his father's debts, and by superintending the education of his brothers. He had distinguished himself at Oxford as a scholar; but he returned thither no more, and took no degree. As Earl of Mornington, he sat in the Irish House of Lords; but not being a British peer, he was able to sit also in the English House of Commons; and of this opening for a more national career, he availed himself at the age of twenty-four. Except that he favored the claims of the Irish Catholics, his policy was pretty uniformly that of Mr. Pitt. He supported that minister throughout the contests on the French Revolution; and a little earlier, on the Regency question. This came forward in 1788, on occasion of the first insanity which attacked George III. The reader, who is likely to have been born since that era, will perhaps not be acquainted with the constitutional question then at issue. It was this: Mr. Fox held that, upon any incapacity arising in the sovereign, the regency would then settle (ipso facto of that incapacity) upon the Prince of Wales; overlooking altogether the case in which there should be no Prince of Wales, and the case in which such a Prince might be as incapable, from youth, of exercising the powers attached to the office, as his father from disease. Mr. Pitt denied that a Prince of Wales simply as such, and apart from any moral fitness which he might possess, had more title to the office of regent than any lamp-lighter or scavenger. It was the province of Parliament exclusively to legislate for the particular case. The practical decision of the question was not called for, from the accident of the king's sudden recovery: but in Ireland, from the independence asserted by the two houses of the British council, the question grew still more complex. The Lord Lieutenant refused to transmit their address, [3] and Lord Mornington supported him powerfully in his refusal.

Ten years after this hot collision of parties, Lord Mornington was appointed Governor-General of India, and now first he entered upon a stage worthy of his powers. I cannot myself agree with Mr. Pearce, that 'the wisdom of his policy is now universally recognized;' because the same false views of our Indian position, which at that time caused his splendid services to be slighted in many quarters, still preponderates. All administrations alike have been intensely ignorant of Indian politics; and for the natural reason, that the business of home politics leaves them no disposable energies for affairs so distant, and with which each man's chance of any durable connection is so exceedingly small. What Lord Mornington did was this: he looked our prospects in the face. Two great enemies were then looming upon the horizon, both ignorant of our real resources, and both deluded by our imperfect use of such resources, as, even in a previous war, we had possessed. One of these enemies was Tippoo, the Sultan of Mysore: him, by the crushing energy of his arrangements, Lord Mornington was able utterly to destroy, and to distribute his dominions with equity and moderation, yet so as to prevent any new coalition arising in that quarter against the British power. There is a portrait of Tippoo, of this very ger, in the second volume of Mr. Pearce's work, which expresses sufficiently the unparalleled ferocity of his nature; and it is guaranteed, by its origin, as authentic. Tippoo, from the personal interest investing him, has more fixed the attention of Europe than a much more formidable enemy: that enemy was the Mahratta confederacy, chiefly existing in the persons of the Peishwah, of Scindia, of Holkar, and the Rajah of Berar. Had these four princes been less profoundly ignorant, had they been less inveterately treacherous, they would have cost us the only dreadful struggle which in India we have stood. As it was, Lord Mornington's government reduced and crippled the Maharattas to such an extent, that in 1817, Lord Hastings found it possible to crush them for ever. Three services of a profounder nature, Lord Wellesley was enabled to do for India; first, to pave the way for the propagation of Christianity,—mighty service, stretching to the clouds, and which, in the hour of death, must have given him consolation; secondly, to enter upon the abolition of such Hindoo superstitions as are most shocking to humanity, particularly the practice of Suttee, and the barbarous exposure of dying persons, or of first-born infants at Sangor on the Ganges; finally, to promote an enlarged system of education, which (if his splendid scheme had been adopted) would have diffused its benefits all over India. It ought also to be mentioned that the expedition by way of the Red Sea against the French in Egypt, was so entirely of his suggestion and his preparation, that, to the great dishonor of Messrs. Pitt and Dundas, whose administration was the worst, as a war administration, thus ever misapplied, or non-applied, the resources of a mighty empire, it languished for eighteen months purely through their neglect.

In 1805, having staid about seven years in India, Lord Mornington was recalled, was created Marquess of Wellesley, was sent, in 1821, as Viceroy to Ireland, where there was little to do; having previously, in 1809, been sent Ambassador to the Spanish Cortes, where there was an affinity to do, but no means of doing it. The last great political act of Lord Wellesley, was the smashing of the Peel ministry in 1834 viz. by the famous resolution (which he personally drew up) for appropriating to general education in Ireland any surplus arising from the revenues of the Irish Church. Full of honors, he retired from public life at the age of seventy- five, and, for seven years more of life, dedicated his time to such literary pursuits as he had found most interesting in early youth.

Mr. Pearce, who is so capable of writing vigorously and sagaciously, has too much allowed himself to rely upon public journals. For example, he reprints the whole of the attorney-general's official information against eleven obscure persons, who, from the gallery of the Dublin theatre, did 'wickedly, riotously, and routously' hiss, groan, insult, and assault (to say nothing of their having caused and procured to be hissed, groaned, &c.) the Marquess Wellesley, Lord-Lieutenant General, and General Governor of Ireland. This document covers more than nine pages; and, after all, omits the only fact of the least consequence, viz., that several missiles were thrown by the rioters into the vice-regal box, and amongst them a quart-bottle, which barely missed his excellency's temples. Considering the impetus acquired by the descent from the gallery, there is little doubt that such a weapon would have killed Lord Wellesley on the spot. In default however, of this weighty fact, the attorney-general favors us with memorializing the very best piece of doggerel that I remember to have read; viz., that upon divers, to wit, three thousand papers, the rioters had wickedly and maliciously written and printed, besides, observe, causing to be written and printed, 'No Popery,' as also the following traitorous couplet—

'The Protestants want Talbot, As the Papists have got all but;'

Meaning 'all but' that which they got some years later by means of the Clare election. Yet if, in some instances like this, Mr. Pearce has too largely drawn upon official papers, which he should rather have abstracted and condensed, on the other hand, his work has a specific value in bringing forward private documents, to which his opportunities have gained him a confidential access. Two portraits of Lord Wellesley, one in middle life, and one in old age, from a sketch by the Comte d'Orsay, are felicitously executed.

Something remains to be said of Lord Wellesley as a literary man; and towards such a judgment Mr. Pearce has contributed some very pleasing materials. As a public speaker, Lord Wellesley had that degree of brilliancy and effectual vigor, which might have been expected in a man of great talents, possessing much native sensibility to the charms of style, but not led by any personal accidents of life into a separate cultivation of oratory, or into any profound investigation of its duties and its powers on the arena of a British senate. There is less call for speaking of Lord Wellesley in this character, where he did not seek for any eminent distinction, than in the more general character of an elegant litterateur, which furnished to him much of his recreation in all stages of his life, and much of his consolation in the last. It is interesting to see this accomplished nobleman, in advanced age, when other resources were one by one decaying, and the lights of life were successively fading into darkness, still cheering his languid hours by the culture of classical literature, and in his eighty-second year drawing solace from those same pursuits which had given grace and distinction to his twentieth.

One or two remarks I will make upon Lord Wellesley's verses—Greek as well as Latin. The Latin lines upon Chantrey's success at Holkham in killing two woodcocks at the first shot, which subsequently he sculptured in marble and presented to Lord Leicester, are perhaps the most felicitous amongst the whole. Masquerading, in Lord Wellesley's verses, as Praxiteles, who could not well be represented with a Manon having a percussion lock, Chantrey is armed with a bow and arrows:

'En! trajecit aves una sagitta duas.'

In the Greek translation of Parthenopaeus, there are as few faults as could reasonably be expected. But, first, one word as to the original Latin poem: to whom does it belong? It is traced first to Lord Grenville, who received it from his tutor (afterwards Bishop of London), who had taken it as an anonymous poem from the 'Censor's book;' and with very little probability, it is doubtfully assigned to 'Lewis of the War Office,' meaning, no doubt, the father of Monk Lewis. By this anxiety in tracing its pedigree, the reader is led to exaggerate the pretensions of the little poem; these are inconsiderable: and there is a conspicuous fault, which it is worth while noticing, because it is one peculiarly besetting those who write modern verses with the help of a gradus, viz. that the Pentameter is often a mere reverberation of the preceding Hexameter. Thus, for instance—

'Parthenios inter saltus non amplius erro, Non repeto Dryadum pascua laeta choris;'

and so of others, where the second line is but a variation of the first. Even Ovid, with all his fertility, and partly in consequence of his fertility, too often commits this fault. Where indeed the thought is effectually varied, so that the second line acts as a musical minor, succeeding to the major, in the first, there may happen to arise a peculiar beauty. But I speak of the ordinary case, where the second is merely the rebound of the first, presenting the same thought in a diluted form. This is the commonest resource of feeble thinking, and is also a standing temptation or snare for feeble thinking. Lord Wellesley, however, is not answerable for these faults in the original, which indeed he notices slightly as 'repetitions;' and his own Greek version is spirited and good. There, are, however, some mistakes. The second line is altogether faulty;

[Greek: Choria Mainaliph pant erateina theph Achnumenos leipon]

does not express the sense intended. Construed correctly, this clause of the sentence would mean—'I, sorrowfully leaving all places gracious to the Maenalian god:' but that is not what Lord Wellesley designed: 'I leaving the woods of Cyllene, and the snowy summits of Pholoe, places that are all of them dear to Pan'—that is what was meant: that is to say, not leaving all places dear to Pan, far from it; but leaving a few places, every one of which is dear to Pan. In the line beginning

[Greek: Kan eth uph aelikias]

where the meaning is—and if as yet, by reason of my immature age, there is a metrical error; and [Greek: aelikia] will not express immaturity of age. I doubt whether in the next line,

[Greek: Maed alkae thalloi gounasin aeitheos]

[Greek: gounasin] could convey the meaning without the preposition [Greek: eth]. And in

[Greek: Spherchomai ou kaleousi theoi.]

I hasten whither the gods summon me—[Greek: ou] is not the right word. It is, however, almost impossible to write Greek verses which shall be liable to no verbal objections; and the fluent movement of these verses sufficiently argues the off-hand ease with which Lord Wellesley must have read Greek, writing it so elegantly and with so little of apparent constraint.

Meantime the most interesting (from its circumstances) of Lord Wellesley's verses, is one to which his own English interpretation of it has done less than justice. It is a Latin epitaph on the daughter (an only child) of Lord and Lady Brougham. She died, and (as was generally known at the time) of an organic affection disturbing the action of the heart, at the early age of eighteen. And the peculiar interest of the case lies in the suppression by this pious daughter (so far as it was possible) of her own bodily anguish, in order to beguile the mental anguish of her parents. The Latin epitaph is this:

'Blanda anima, e cunis heu! longo exercita morbo, Inter maternas heu lachrymasque patris, Quas risu lenire tuo jucunda solebas, Et levis, et proprii vix memor ipsa mali; I, pete calestes, ubi nulla est cura, recessus: Et tibi sit nullo mista dolore quies!'

The English version is this:

'Doom'd to long suffering from earliest years, Amidst your parents' grief and pain alone Cheerful and gay, you smiled to soothe their tears; And in their agonies forgot your own. Go, gentle spirit; and among the blest From grief and pain eternal be thy rest!'

In the Latin, the phrase e cunis does not express from your cradle upwards. The second line is faulty in the opposition of maternas to patris. And in the fourth line levis conveys a false meaning: levis must mean either physically light, i.e. not heavy, which is not the sense, or else tainted with levity, which is still less the sense. What Lord Wellesley wished to say—was light-hearted: this he has not said: but neither is it easy to say it in good Latin.

I complain, however, of the whole as not bringing out Lord Wellesley's own feeling—which feeling is partly expressed in his verses, and partly in his accompanying prose note on Miss Brougham's mournful destiny ('her life was a continual illness') contrasted with her fortitude, her innocent gaiety, and the pious motives with which she supported this gaiety to the last. Not as a direct version, but as filling up the outline of Lord Wellesley, sufficiently indicated by himself, I propose this:—

'Child, that for thirteen years hast fought with pain, Prompted by joy and depth of natural love,— Rest now at God's command: oh! not in vain His angel ofttimes watch'd thee,—oft, above All pangs, that else had dimm'd thy parents' eyes, Saw thy young heart victoriously rise. Rise now for ever, self-forgetting child, Rise to those choirs, where love like thine is blest, From pains of flesh—from filial tears assoil'd, Love which God's hand shall crown with God's own rest.'


[1] Memoirs and Correspondence.

[2] 'As a dissyllable:'—just as the Annesley family, of which Lord Valentia is the present head, do not pronounce their name trisyllabically (as strangers often suppose), but as the two syllables Anns lea, accent on the first.

[3] Which adopted neither view; for by offering the regency of Ireland to the Prince of Wales, they negatived Mr. Fox's view, who held it to be the Prince's by inherent right; and, on the other hand, they still more openly opposed Mr. Pitt.


This conversation is doubly interesting: interesting by its subject, interesting by its interlocutors; for the subject is Milton, whilst the interlocutors are Southey and Landor. If a British gentleman, when taking his pleasure in his well-armed yacht, descries, in some foreign waters, a noble vessel, from the Thames or the Clyde, riding peaceably at anchor—and soon after, two smart-looking clippers, with rakish masts, bearing down upon her in company—he slackens sail: his suspicions are slightly raised; they have not shown their teeth as yet, and perhaps all is right; but there can be no harm in looking a little closer; and, assuredly, if he finds any mischief in the wind against his countryman, he will show his teeth also; and, please the wind, will take up such a position as to rake both of these pirates by turns. The two dialogists are introduced walking out after breakfast, 'each his Milton in his pocket;' and says Southey, 'Let us collect all the graver faults we can lay our hands upon, without a too minute and troublesome research;'—just so; there would be danger in that—help might put off from shore;—'not,' says he, 'in the spirit of Johnson, but in our own.' Johnson we may suppose, is some old ruffian well known upon that coast; and 'faults' may be a flash term for what the Americans call 'notions.' A part of the cargo it clearly is; and one is not surprised to hear Landor, whilst assenting to the general plan of attack, suggesting in a whisper 'that they should abase their eyes in reverence to so great a man, without absolutely closing them;' which I take to mean—that, without trusting entirely to their boarders, or absolutely closing their ports, they should depress their guns and fire down into the hold, in respect of the vessel attacked standing so high out of the water. After such plain speaking, nobody can wonder much at the junior pirate (Landor) muttering, 'It will be difficult for us always to refrain.' Of course it will: refraining was no part of the business, I should fancy, taught by that same buccaneer, Johnson. There is mischief, you see, reader, singing in the air—'miching malhecho'—and it is our business to watch it.

But, before coming to the main attack, I must suffer myself to be detained for a few moments by what Mr. L. premises upon the 'moral' of any great fable, and the relation which it bears, or should bear, to the solution of such a fable. Philosophic criticism is so far improved, that, at this day, few people, who have reflected at all upon such subjects, but are agreed as to one point: viz., that in metaphysical language the moral of an epos or a drama should be immanent, not transient; or, otherwise, that it should be vitally distributed through the whole organization of the tree, not gathered or secreted into a sort of red berry or racemus, pendent at the end of its boughs. This view Mr. Landor himself takes, as a general view; but, strange to say, by some Landorian perverseness, where there occurs a memorable exception to this rule (as in the 'Paradise Lost'), in that case he insists upon the rule in its rigor— the rule, and nothing but the rule. Where, on the contrary, the rule does really and obviously take effect (as in the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey'), there he insists upon an exceptional case. There is a moral, in his opinion, hanging like a tassel of gold bullion from the 'Iliad;'—and what is it? Something so fantastic, that I decline to repeat it. As well might he have said, that the moral of 'Othello' was—'Try Warren's Blacking!' There is no moral, little or big, foul or fair, to the 'Iliad.' Up to the 17th book, the moral might seem dimly to be this—'Gentlemen, keep the peace: you see what comes of quarrelling.' But there this moral ceases; —there is now a break of guage: the narrow guage takes place after this; whilst up to this point, the broad guage—viz., the wrath of Achilles, growing out of his turn-up with Agamemnon—had carried us smoothly along without need to shift our luggage. There is no more quarrelling after Book 17, how then can there be any more moral from quarrelling? If you insist on my telling you what is the moral of the 'Iliad,' I insist upon your telling me what is the moral of a rattlesnake or the moral of a Niagara. I suppose the moral is—that you must get out of their way, if you mean to moralize much longer. The going-up (or anabasis) of the Greeks against Troy, was a fact; and a pretty dense fact; and, by accident, the very first in which all Greece had a common interest. It was a joint-stock concern—a representative expedition—whereas, previously there had been none; for even the Argonautic expedition, which is rather of the darkest, implied no confederation except amongst individuals. How could it? For the Argo is supposed to have measured only twenty-seven tons: how she would have been classed at Lloyd's is hard to say, but certainly not as A 1. There was no state-cabin; everybody, demi-gods and all, pigged in the steerage amongst beans and bacon. Greece was naturally proud of having crossed the herring-pond, small as it was, in search of an entrenched enemy; proud also of having licked him 'into Almighty smash;' this was sufficient; or if an impertinent moralist sought for something more, doubtless the moral must have lain in the booty. A peach is the moral of a peach, and moral enough; but if a man will have something better—a moral within a moral—why, there is the peach-stone, and its kernel, out of which he may make ratafia, which seems to be the ultimate morality that can be extracted from a peach. Mr. Archdeacon Williams, indeed, of the Edinburgh Academy, has published an octavo opinion upon the case, which asserts that the moral of the Trojan war was (to borrow a phrase from children) tit for tat. It was a case of retaliation for crimes against Hellas, committed by Troy in an earlier generation. It may be so; Nemesis knows best. But this moral, if it concerns the total expedition to the Troad, cannot concern the 'Iliad,' which does not take up matters from so early a period, nor go on to the final catastrophe of Ilium.

Now, as to the 'Paradise Lost,' it happens that there is—whether there ought to be or not—a pure golden moral, distinctly announced, separately contemplated, and the very weightiest ever uttered by man or realized by fable. It is a moral rather for the drama of a world than for a human poem. And this moral is made the more prominent and memorable by the grandeur of its annunciation. The jewel is not more splendid in itself than in its setting. Excepting the well-known passage on Athenian oratory in the 'Paradise Regained,' there is none even in Milton where the metrical pomp is made so effectually to aid the pomp of the sentiment. Hearken to the way in which a roll of dactyles is made to settle, like the swell of the advancing tide, into the long thunder of billows breaking for leagues against the shore:

'That to the height of this great argument I may assert eternal Providence.'—

Hear what a motion, what a tumult, is given by the dactylic close to each of the introductory lines! And how massily is the whole locked up into the peace of heaven, as the aerial arch of a viaduct is locked up into tranquil stability by its key-stone, through the deep spondaic close,

'And justify the ways of God to man.'

That is the moral of the Miltonic epos; and as much grander than any other moral formally illustrated by poets, as heaven is higher than earth.

But the most singular moral, which Mr. Landor anywhere discovers, is in his own poem of 'Gebir.' Whether he still adheres to it, does not appear from the present edition. But I remember distinctly, in the original edition, a Preface (now withdrawn) in which he made his acknowledgments to some book read at a Welsh Inn for the outline of the story; and as to the moral, he declared it to be an exposition of that most mysterious offence, Over-Colonization. Much I mused, in my youthful simplicity, upon this criminal novelty. What might it be? Could I, by mistake, have committed it myself? Was it a felony, or a misdemeanor?—liable to transportation, or only to fine and imprisonment? Neither in the Decemviral Tables, nor in the Code of Justinian, nor the maritime Code of Oleron, nor in the Canon Law, nor the Code Napoleon, nor our own Statutes at large, nor in Jeremy Bentham, had I read of such a crime as a possibility. Undoubtedly the vermin, locally called Squatters, [1] both in the wilds of America and Australia, who pre- occupy other men's estates, have latterly illustrated the logical possibility of such an offence; but they were quite unknown at the era of Gebir. Even Dalica, who knew as much wickedness as most people, would have stared at this unheard of villany, and have asked, as eagerly as I did—'What is it now? Let's have a shy at it in Egypt.' I, indeed, knew a case, but Dalica did not, of shocking over-colonization. It was the case, which even yet occurs on out-of-the-way roads, where a man, unjustly big, mounts into the inside of a stage-coach already sufficiently crowded. In streets and squares, where men could give him a wide berth, they had tolerated the injustice of his person; but now, in a chamber so confined, the length and breadth of his wickedness shines revealed to every eye. And if the coach should upset, which it would not be the less likely to do for having him on board, somebody or other (perhaps myself) must lie beneath this monster, like Enceladus under Mount Etna, calling upon Jove to come quickly with a few thunderbolts and destroy both man and mountain, both succubus and incubus, if no other relief offered. Meantime, the only case of over-colonization notorious to all Europe, is that which some German traveller (Riedesel, I think) has reported so eagerly, in ridicule of our supposed English credulity; viz.—the case of the foreign swindler, who advertised that he would get into a quart bottle, filled Drury Lane, pocketed the admission money, and decamped, protesting (in his adieus to the spectators) that' it lacerated his heart to disappoint so many noble islanders; but that on his next visit he would make full reparation by getting into a vinegar cruet.' Now, here certainly was a case of over- colonization, not perpetrated, but meditated. Yet, when one examines this case, the crime consisted by no means in doing it, but in not doing it; by no means in getting into the bottle, but in not getting into it. The foreign contractor would have been probably a very unhappy man, had he fulfilled his contract by over-colonizing the bottle, but he would have been decidedly a more virtuous man. He would have redeemed his pledge; and, if he had even died in the bottle, we should have honored him as a 'vir bonus, cum mala fortuna compositus;' as a man of honor matched in single duel with calamity, and also as the best of conjurers. Over- colonization, therefore, except in the one case of the stage-coach, is apparently no crime; and the offence of King Gebir, in my eyes, remains a mystery to this day.

What next solicits notice is in the nature of a digression: it is a kind of parenthesis on Wordsworth.

'Landor.—When it was a matter of wonder how Keats, who was ignorant of Greek, could have written his "Hyperion," Shelley, whom envy never touched, gave as a reason—"because he was a Greek." Wordsworth, being asked his opinion of the same poem, called it, scoffingly, "a pretty piece of paganism;" yet he himself, in the best verses he ever wrote—and beautiful ones they are—reverts to the powerful influence of the "pagan creed."'

Here are nine lines exactly in the original type. Now, nine tailors are ranked, by great masters of algebra, as = one man; such is the received equation; or, as it is expressed, with more liveliness, in an old English drama, by a man who meets and quarrels with eighteen tailors—'Come, hang it! I'll fight you both.' But, whatever be the algebraic ratio of tailors to men, it is clear that nine Landorian lines are not always equal to the delivery of one accurate truth, or to a successful conflict with three or four signal errors. Firstly—Shelley's reason, if it ever was assigned, is irrelevant as regards any question that must have been intended. It could not have been meant to ask—Why was the 'Hyperion' so Grecian in its spirit? for it is anything but Grecian. We should praise it falsely to call it so; for the feeble, though elegant, mythology of Greece was incapable of breeding anything so deep as the mysterious portents that, in the 'Hyperion,' run before and accompany the passing away of divine immemorial dynasties. Nothing can be more impressive than the picture of Saturn in his palsy of affliction, and of the mighty goddess his grand-daughter, or than the secret signs of coming woe in the palace of Hyperion. These things grew from darker creeds than Greece had ever known since the elder traditions of Prometheus—creeds that sent down their sounding plummets into far deeper wells within the human spirit. What had been meant, by the question proposed to Shelley, was no doubt— How so young a man as Keats, not having had the advantage of a regular classical education, could have been so much at home in the details of the elder mythology? Tooke's 'Pantheon' might have been obtained by favor of any English schoolboy, and Dumoustier's 'Lettres a Emile sur la Mythologie' by favor of very many young ladies; but these, according to my recollection of them, would hardly have sufficed. Spence's 'Polymetis,' however, might have been had by favor of any good library; and the 'Bibliotheca' of Apollodorus, who is the cock of the walk on this subject, might have been read by favor of a Latin translation, supposing Keats really unequal to the easy Greek text. There is no wonder in the case; nor, if there had been, would Shelley's kind remark have solved it. The treatment of the facts must, in any case, have been due to Keats's genius, so as to be the same whether he had studied Greek or not: the facts, apart from the treatment, must in any case have been had from a book. Secondly—Let Mr. Landor rely upon it —that Wordsworth never said the thing ascribed to him here as any formal judgment, or what Scottish law would call deliverance, upon the 'Hyperion.' As to what he might have said incidentally and collaterally; the meaning of words is so entirely affected by their position in a conversation—what followed, what went before—that five words dislocated from their context never would be received as evidence in the Queen's Bench. The court which, of all others, least strictly weighs its rules of evidence, is the female tea-table; yet even that tribunal would require the deponent to strengthen his evidence, if he had only five detached words to produce. Wordsworth is a very proud man as he has good reason to be; and perhaps it was I myself, who once said in print of him—that it is not the correct way of speaking, to say that Wordsworth is as proud as Lucifer; but, inversely, to say of Lucifer that some people have conceived him to be as proud as Wordsworth. But, if proud, Wordsworth is not haughty, is not ostentatious, is not anxious for display, is not arrogant, and, least of all, is he capable of descending to envy. Who or what is it that he should be envious of? Does anybody suppose that Wordsworth would be jealous of Archimedes if he now walked upon earth, or Michael Angelo, or Milton? Nature does not repeat herself. Be assured she will never make a second Wordsworth. Any of us would be jealous of his own duplicate; and, if I had a doppelganger, who went about personating me, copying me, and pirating me, philosopher as I am, I might (if the Court of Chancery would not grant an injunction against him) be so far carried away by jealousy as to attempt the crime of murder upon his carcass; and no great matter as regards HIM. But it would be a sad thing for me to find myself hanged; and for what, I beseech you? for murdering a sham, that was either nobody at all, or oneself repeated once too often. But if you show to Wordsworth a man as great as himself, still that great man will not be much like Wordsworth—the great man will not be Wordsworth's doppelganger. If not impar (as you say) he will be dispar; and why, then, should Wordsworth be jealous of him, unless he is jealous of the sun, and of Abd el Kader, and of Mr. Waghorn—all of whom carry off a great deal of any spare admiration which Europe has to dispose of. But suddenly it strikes me that we are all proud, every man of us; and I daresay with some reason for it, 'be the same more or less.' For I never came to know any man in my whole life intimately, who could not do something or other better than anybody else. The only man amongst us that is thoroughly free from pride, that you may at all seasons rely on as a pattern of humility, is the pickpocket. That man is so admirable in his temper, and so used to pocketing anything whatever which Providence sends in his way, that he will even pocket a kicking, or anything in that line of favors which you are pleased to bestow. The smallest donations are by him thankfully received, provided only that you, whilst half-blind with anger in kicking him round a figure of eight, like a dexterous skater, will but allow him (which is no more than fair) to have a second 'shy' at your pretty Indian pocket-handkerchief, so as to convince you, on cooler reflection, that he does not always miss. Thirdly—Mr. Landor leaves it doubtful what verses those are of Wordsworth's which celebrate the power 'of the Pagan creed;' whether that sonnet in which Wordsworth wishes to exchange for glimpses of human life, then and in those circumstances, 'forlorn,' the sight

'——Of Proteus coming from the sea, And hear old Triton wind his wreathed horn;'

whether this, or the passage on the Greek mythology in 'The Excursion.' Whichever he means, I am the last man to deny that it is beautiful, and especially if he means the latter. But it is no presumption to deny firmly Mr. Landor's assertion, that these are 'the best verses Wordsworth ever wrote.' Bless the man!

'There are a thousand such elsewhere, As worthy of your wonder:'—

Elsewhere, I mean, in Wordsworth's poems. In reality it is impossible that these should be the best; for even if, in the executive part, they were so, which is not the case, the very nature of the thought, of the feeling, and of the relation, which binds it to the general theme, and the nature of that theme itself, forbid the possibility of merits so high. The whole movement of the feeling is fanciful: it neither appeals to what is deepest in human sensibilities, nor is meant to do so. The result, indeed, serves only to show Mr. Landor's slender acquaintance with Wordsworth. And what is worse than being slenderly acquainted, he is erroneously acquainted even with these two short breathings from the Wordsworthian shell. He mistakes the logic. Wordsworth does not celebrate any power at all in Paganism. Old Triton indeed! he's little better, in respect of the terrific, than a mail-coach guard, nor half as good, if you allow the guard his official seat, a coal-black night, lamps blazing back upon his royal scarlet, and his blunderbuss correctly slung. Triton would not stay, I engage, for a second look at the old Portsmouth mail, as once I knew it. But, alas! better things than ever stood on Triton's pins are now as little able to stand up for themselves, or to startle the silent fields in darkness, with the sudden flash of their glory—gone before it had fall come—as Triton is to play the Freyschutz chorus on his humbug of a horn. But the logic of Wordsworth is this—not that the Greek mythology is potent; on the contrary, that it is weaker than cowslip tea, and would not agitate the nerves of a hen sparrow; but that, weak as it is—nay, by means of that very weakness—it does but the better serve to measure the weakness of something which he thinks yet weaker—viz. the death-like torpor of London society in 1808, benumbed by conventional apathy and worldliness—

'Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.'

This seems a digression from Milton, who is properly the subject of this colloquy. But, luckily, it is not one of my sins. Mr. Landor is lord within the house of his own book; he pays all accounts whatever; and readers that have either a bill, or bill of exceptions, to tender against the concern, must draw upon him. To Milton he returns upon a very dangerous topic indeed—viz. the structure of his blank verse. I know of none that is so trying to a wary man's nerves. You might as well tax Mozart with harshness in the divinest passages of 'Don Giovanni,' as Milton with any such offence against metrical science. Be assured, it is yourself that do not read with understanding, not Milton that by possibility can be found deaf to the demands of perfect harmony. You are tempted, after walking round a line threescore times, to exclaim at last— 'Well, if the Fiend himself should rise up before me at this very moment, in this very study of mine, and say that no screw was loose in that line, then would I reply—'Sir, with submission, you are——.' 'What!' suppose the Fiend suddenly to demand in thunder; 'what am I?' 'Horribly wrong,' you wish exceedingly to say; but, recollecting that some people are choleric in argument, you confine yourself to the polite answer-'That, with deference to his better education, you conceive him to lie;'—that's a bad word to drop your voice upon in talking with a fiend, and you hasten to add—'under a slight, a very slight mistake.' Ay, you might venture on that opinion with a fiend. But how if an angel should undertake the case? And angelic was the ear of Milton. Many are the prima facie anomalous lines in Milton; many are the suspicious lines, which in many a book I have seen many a critic peering into, with eyes made up for mischief, yet with a misgiving that all was not quite safe, very much like an old raven looking down a marrow-bone. In fact, such is the metrical skill of the man, and such the perfection of his metrical sensibility, that, on any attempt to take liberties with a passage of his, you feel as when coming, in a forest, upon what seems a dead lion; perhaps he may not be dead, but only sleeping; nay, perhaps he may not be sleeping, but only shamming. And you have a jealousy, as to Milton, even in the most flagrant case of almost palpable error, that, after all, there may be a plot in it. You may be put down with shame by some man reading the line otherwise, reading it with a different emphasis, a different caesura, or perhaps a different suspension of the voice, so as to bring out a new and self-justifying effect. It must be added, that, in reviewing Milton's metre, it is quite necessary to have such books as 'Nare's English Orthoepy' (in a late edition), and others of that class, lying on the table; because the accentuation of Milton's age was, in many words, entirely different from ours. And Mr. Landor is not free from some suspicion of inattention as to this point. Over and above his accentual difference, the practice of our elder dramatists in the resolution of the final tion (which now is uniformly pronounced shon), will be found exceedingly important to the appreciation of a writer's verse. Contribution, which now is necessarily pronounced as a word of four syllables, would then, in verse, have five, being read into con-tri-bu-ce-on. Many readers will recollect another word, which for years brought John Kemble into hot water with the pit of Drury Lane. It was the plural of the word ache. This is generally made a dissyllable by the Elizabethan dramatists; it occurs in the 'Tempest.' Prospero says—

'I'll fill thy bones with aches.'

What follows, which I do not remember literatim, is such metrically as to require two syllables for aches. But how, then, was this to be pronounced? Kemble thought akies would sound ludicrous; aitches therefore he called it: and always the pit howled like a famished menagerie, as they did also when he chose (and he constantly chose) to pronounce beard like bird. Many of these niceties must be known, before a critic can ever allow himself to believe that he is right in obelizing, or in marking with so much as a ? any verse whatever of Milton's. And there are some of these niceties, I am satisfied, not even yet fully investigated.

It is, however, to be borne in mind, after all allowances and provisional reservations have been made that Bentley's hypothesis (injudiciously as it was managed by that great scholar) has really a truth of fact to stand upon. Not only must Milton have composed his three greatest poems, the two 'Paradises, and the 'Samson,' in a state of blindness—but subsequently, in the correction of the proofs, he must have suffered still more from this conflict with darkness and, consequently, from this dependence upon careless readers. This is Bentley's case: as lawyers say: 'My lord, that is my case.' It is possible enough to write correctly in the dark, as I myself often do, when losing or missing my lucifers—which, like some elder lucifers, are always rebelliously straying into place where they can have no business. But it is quite impossible to correct a proof in the dark. At least, if there is such an art, it must be a section of the black art. Bentley gained from Pope that admirable epithet of slashing, ['the ribbalds—from slashing Bentley down to piddling Theobalds,' i.e. Tibbulds as it was pronounced], altogether from his edition of the 'Paradise Lost.' This the doctor founded on his own hypothesis as to the advantage taken of Milton's blindness; and corresponding was the havoc which he made of the text. In fact, on the really just allegation that Milton must have used the services of an amanuensis; and the plausible one that this amanuensis, being often weary of his task, would be likely to neglect punctilious accuracy; and the most improbable allegation that this weary person would also be very conceited, and add much rubbish of his own; Bentley resigned himself luxuriously, without the whisper of a scruple, to his own sense of what was or was not poetic, which sense happened to be that of the adder for music. The deaf adder heareth not though the musician charm ever so wisely. No scholarship, which so far beyond other men Bentley had, could gain him the imaginative sensibility which, in a degree so far beyond average men, he wanted. Consequently, the world never before beheld such a scene of massacre as his 'Paradise Lost' exhibited. He laid himself down to his work of extermination like the brawniest of reapers going in steadily with his sickle, coat stripped off, and shirt sleeves tucked up, to deal with an acre of barley. One duty, and no other, rested upon his conscience; one voice he heard—Slash away, and hew down the rotten growths of this abominable amanuensis. The carnage was like that after a pitched battle. The very finest passages in every book of the poem were marked by italics, as dedicated to fire and slaughter. 'Slashing Dick' went through the whole forest, like a woodman marking with white paint the giant trees that must all come down in a month or so. And one naturally reverts to a passage in the poem itself, where God the Father is supposed to say to his Filial assessor on the heavenly throne, when marking the desolating progress of Sin and Death,—

'See with what havoc these fell dogs advance To ravage this fair world.'

But still this inhuman extravagance of Bentley, in following out his hypothesis, does not exonerate us from bearing in mind so much truth as that hypothesis really must have had, from the pitiable difficulties of the great poet's situation.

My own opinion, therefore, upon the line, for instance, from 'Paradise Regained,' which Mr. Landor appears to have indicated for the reader's amazement, viz.:—

'As well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society,'

is—that it escaped revision from some accident calling off the ear of Milton whilst in the act of having the proof read to him. Mr. Landor silently prints it in italics, without assigning his objection; but, of course that objection must be—that the line has one foot too much. It is an Alexandrine, such as Dryden scattered so profusely, without asking himself why; but which Milton never tolerates except in the choruses of the Samson.

'Not difficult, if thou hearken to me'—

is one of the lines which Mr. Landor thinks that 'no authority will reconcile' to our ears. I think otherwise. The caesura is meant to fall not with the comma after difficult , but after thou; and there is a most effective and grand suspension intended. It is Satan who speaks— Satan in the wilderness; and he marks, as he wishes to mark, the tremendous opposition of attitude between the two parties to the temptation.

'Not difficult if thou——'

there let the reader pause, as if pulling up suddenly four horses in harness, and throwing them on their haunches—not difficult if thou (in some mysterious sense the son of God); and then, as with a burst of thunder, again giving the reins to your quadriga,

'——hearken to me:'

that is, to me, that am the Prince of the Air, and able to perform all my promises for those that hearken to any temptations.

Two lines are cited under the same ban of irreconcilability to our ears, but on a very different plea. The first of these lines is—

'Launcelot, or Pellias, or Pellinore;'

The other

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus.'

The reader will readily suppose that both are objected to as 'roll-calls of proper names.' Now, it is very true that nothing is more offensive to the mind than the practice of mechanically packing into metrical successions, as if packing a portmanteau, names without meaning or significance to the feelings. No man ever carried that atrocity so far as Boileau, a fact of which Mr. Landor is well aware; and slight is the sanction or excuse that can be drawn from him. But it must not be forgotten that Virgil, so scrupulous in finish of composition, committed this fault. I remember a passage ending

'——Noemonaque Prytaninque;'

but, having no Virgil within reach, I cannot at this moment quote it accurately. Homer, with more excuse, however, from the rudeness of his age, is a deadly offender in this way. But the cases from Milton are very different. Milton was incapable of the Homeric or Virgilian blemish. The objection to such rolling musketry of names is, that unless interspersed with epithets, or broken into irregular groups by brief circumstances of parentage, country, or romantic incident, they stand audaciously perking up their heads like lots in a catalogue, arrow-headed palisades, or young larches in a nursery ground, all occupying the same space, all drawn up in line, all mere iterations of each other. But in

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus,'

though certainly not a good line when insulated (better, however, in its connection with the entire succession of which it forms part), the apology is, that the massy weight of the separate characters enables them to stand like granite pillars or pyramids, proud of their self-supporting independency.

Mr. Landor makes one correction by a simple improvement in the punctuation, which has a very fine effect. Rarely has so large a result been distributed through a sentence by so slight a change. It is in the 'Samson.' Samson says, speaking of himself (as elsewhere) with that profound pathos, which to all hearts invests Milton's own situation in the days of his old age, when he was composing that drama—

'Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.'

Thus it is usually printed; that is, without a comma in the latter line; but, says Landor, 'there ought to be commas after eyeless, after Gaza, after mill.' And why? because thus 'the grief of Samson is aggravated at every member of the sentence.' He (like Milton) was—1. blind; 2. in a city of triumphant enemies; 3. working for daily bread; 4. herding with slaves; Samson literally, and Milton with those whom politically he regarded as such.

Mr. Landor is perfectly wrong, I must take the liberty of saying, when he demurs to the line in Paradise Regained:

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