« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
WHERE sleeps the breeze? In vain, my brow I bare
and malicious eyes,
New England! what lovelier theme could I choose ?
My soul, like a summer bird, homewardly wings
dreams. I know where the flag-root is found by the brook, I know where the swallow has built in her nook. The wayfarer pauses, the road-side along, For the sweet briar's breath, and the wood-robin's song, Or wearily, gives, in the shadow of trees, His lips to the brook, and his brow to the breeze. 'T time for the lilac's reet clusters to blow; The apple trees all are in blossom I know : The farmer's wife spreads her white webs on the green; The children, with buttercups laden are seen; Through trees, in the distance, the village church gleamsI hear the bells chiming-alas,--but in dreams.
The clear voice of Freedom rings cheerily out,
Every person familiar with the English | and is a part of the humorous catastrophe. language in its most elegant and classic He looks out upon human nature from the forms, acquainted with the writings of Gold- level of his own life, the level of the midsmith. In the harmony of his style, and dle class. Aristocracy is the heaven above the delicate, antithetical turn of his pe- him; and however independent he may riods, he is the equal of Bolingbroke and have been in his proper spirit, there is the superior of Johnson. In the instinc- nothing in him of that haughty individualtive choice of the most harmonious words, ity, which raises the man of genius in his a faculty more than any other the gift of na secret thoughts and aspirations to a level ture, and so purely instinctive as scarcely to with great lords and dignitaries. We do be improved even by cultivation, Goldsmith not wish to call attention to this peculiaristands without a rival among English wri- ty as a defect; had Goldsmith possessed ters, and is comparable in this respect, it, he might have become an aspiring poliamong modern writers only with Voltaire. tician or a discontented placeman, and his
It is perhaps to these qualities, and to a writings have discovered none of that simvein of humor perfectly humane, free from plicity and modesty which is their peculiar the slightest tinge of bitterness or sarcasm, charm. If we except Dickens, Thackethat he owes his extensive popularity as a ray, and very few others of less note, the novelist and essayist; for we are unable, popular writers of our time partake so conscientiously, though our admiration of strongly of the republican spirit of the age, him be excessive, to attribute to this de- which desperately aspires to make the inlightful author any of the grander quali- dividual, in his proper self, the equal, and ties of pathos, sublimity, or knowledge of if possible the superior of kings; their the human heart, which characterise the writings tend to vex and disturb while writings of Shakspeare, or even, among they rouse and aggravate our self-esteem; writers of our own times, of Walter Scott. lords and ladies have ceased to be the heNot a single attribute of greatness can roes of fiction, and in their place we have with justice be conceded to him, unless it the aspiring children of genius, rising by be necessary to include among those attri the force of nature, and the revolutionary butes, a perfect honesty, simplicity and fortune of the time, to become the leaders kindliness of nature. Of pride of char- and idols of the people. acter, in the heroic sense ; of a philosoph The heroes of Carlyle are commoners ical patriotism, the result of meditation, or of low degree; the characters of Bulwer, of that haughty superiority to the weak- it were a shame to call them heroes, are nesses and accidents of nature and fortune, persons of doubtful reputation who achieve which so elevates us in the writings of Mil- fortune and fashion, through evil report, by ton, and combined with less genius, in dint of pure scorn; even Goethe took his those even of Dr. Johnson, we find noth Wilhelm Meister from among the Bouring, either in the verse or prose of this truly geoisie. In a word, novels of high life, pastoral writer. If we compare him with properly speaking, are no longer written; Tasso, we find him deficient in the gentle
cannot include among such, manly, or rather chivalrous sentiment, of fictions like those of D'Israeli, whose evithe author of Jerusalem Delivered. dent design is to set forth the vices and compare him with Virgil, we find his pa- weaknesses of hereditary nobility, contrasted thos comparatively domestic and vulgar. with that untitled nobility of character and If with Irving or Addison, his humor ap- intellect. Literature has gone over to the pears less tempered and controlled by cul- people, and has shown itself the inveterate tivated pride. He mingles with the scenes foe of aristocracy. and characters which himself describes, And with justice ; since it is with action
and personal achievement that the novelist the class, and we are not acquainted with must deal, and not with names and cere a single writer of great eminence and popumonies.
Wherever the active working larity, who has had the courage or the power spirit of ambition is to be found, bringing out to draw his leading characters from the upthe passions to their liveliest play, there per classes of society, except with the intentoo, the novelist must find his heroes and tion of drawing them down from their arishis characters.
tocratic height to the level of common huIndependently, however, of the above manity. In the essays and reviews of Cardescribed peculiarity, the literature of the lyle, aristocracy, whether of church or present day is distinguished from that of state, is set at nought, and all distinctions, the epoch of Goldsmith and his cotempo- save those of genius and virtue, treated raries by a characteristic, which also dis- either with subtle irony or undisguised tinguishes it from that of all other ages, contempt. namely, by its political character. Novels, So completely has this sympathy with plays, and poems, are at present written natural, nnassisted humanity possessed for the purpose of inculcating certain the writers of this time, we may, political ideas, and not merely, as for on a careful review of the body of our merly, to elevate the sentiments and refine modern letters, pronounce the whole of it the social feelings. A novel of Gold- to be democratic and revolutionary. Litesmith or of Fielding inculcates frankness, rature has gone over to the people; it has generosity and courage : a novel of Wal- gone over to the stronger side; for, notter Scott excites our admiration for these withstanding the unfavorable turn which qualities in others, and inspires respect for events have taken the present year, we are the magnanimous traits of nobility and still under the necessity of believing that chivalry. Prior to the days of Lord By- the people, as distinguished from the arisron and of Bulwer, if a character of the tocracy, are actually the stronger side. middle or lower class was introduced, it We were remarking also, that the wriwas in strict subordination to his superiors ; ters of our day were distinguished from and the virtues dealt out to the inferior their predecessors of the last century members of society, were of a kind to ex- by a perpetual effort to inculcate cercite affection and pity, and never to stim- tain political ideas. To make this ulate the pride or pique the ambition of the clearer, let us endeavor to remember the reader. With the modern school of nov- impression produced upon our minds by elists this order is reversed, and in viola- the novels of Richardson, of Fielding, of tion of the most ancient and settled preju- Smollett, and of those who immediately dices, we find, in Bulwer, the highwayman preceded and succeeded them. On rising carried up into the sphere of fashion and from the perusal of any one of these, we heroism ; in D’Israeli, the Hebrew, for- do not find ourselves infected with that pemerly the scorn of civilization, elevated to culiar melancholy and discontent which a the very pinnacle of power, pathos and poem of Byron, a pirate romance of Coopsentiment. In Eugene Sue and George er, or a novel of George Sand, leaves with Sand, and a host of French novelists and We think only how excellent the virdramatists, if a character of worth or in- tues, and how happy the fortunes of the terest is taken from the upper class, it is hero or the heroine ; how elegant the manonly to save appearances. With these ners, how worthy of imitation ; we rise, too, writers, it seems necessary first to have with a feeling of deference for the forms become an outcast, miserable, friendless and and the usages of the good old time. degraded, to become fitted for the admira- With these writers, as with those of Queen tion and respect of all mankind: even Elizabeth's day, the established ranks of Cooper, the American novelist, has taken society and the forms of government were his heroes from among the hunters and ab- things as necessary and as unquestioned as origines ; and in some of his inferior no the very laws of nature. Nobility and vels, from among the buccaneers and pi- gentry were not so much the reward of virrates of the last century. “The Robbers” tue, as a condition proper to the order of of Schiller, if not absolutely the first in the universe, and as stable and enduring as this class of writings, is, at least, a type of the flow of rivers, and the forms of conti
nents: a king, a nobleman, a priest, were of Feudalism; for although Scott, like all things of God's making; men had no the great artists was a lover of the past, hand in their creation; and thus it hap- we are obliged to allow him the merit of pened that fiction was limited of necessity understanding, if he did not love, the to the play of character, the consequences harsh and powerful traits of republiof virtue and vice, within the sphere given canism. them by the fixed conditions of society. Power in every shape, grace and beauty The satellite performed the duties and in all conditions, are the objects of genumoved in the orbit of a satellite, and if it ine art; and although the great artist may rose to the dignity of a planet, it was by be inclined, by the necessity of art itself, the virtue of obedience, and the favor of a to a study and a veneration of antiquity, master; and most part too, to give a warn he will always, as a creator and a producer ing by its fall against the vice of that —as the precursor of new forms and new swelling ambition which transcends its conditions of society, be himself, and in order.
himself, a freeman ; in a certain sense a Turn now to Byron, Bulwer, and D’Is- republican, subject to no laws, but those of raeli, and we find men in whom appears not nature and of divinity. the punishment, but the triumph of pride. In noticing this characteristic of the laWith these writers there is but one virtue, test writers of fiction, that their works are and that virtue is ASSURANCE.
made the vehicle of certain political, and If we seek now the transition point by sometimes of religious ideas, we do not which we may pass easily from the old to mean to speak to their disparagement, or the new order of fiction, we find it easily to place them in unfavorable contrast with in Walter Scott; for in this writer, as in their predecessors: we can see no reason Goethe, whose Gotz of Berlichingen soems why the powerful idea of individual freeto have been the model of the Waverly dom, or of that pride which tramples unnovels, we find an almost perfect apprecia- der foot the formal distinctions of rank tion both of the old and the new, the rev and riches, should not become as powerful olutionary and the chivalrous, or rather an idea, as powerful a means of giving feudal sentiment.
unity and body (character) to a work of The characters of Cromwell and Bal- art, and as capable, in the variety of its four of Burleigh, as Scott has painted development, of fixing the attention and them, with a more perfect appreciation of rousing the spirit of a reader, as that social the republican spirit than is to be found in honor and youthful generosity which forms any French or German novelist, stand forth the moral staple and vivifying principle in harsh, but almost perfect presentations of the novels of Fielding and Smollet. Nor the modern spirit, as contrasted with that are the characters of our modern novels of feudal society; while in the Pirate of the only characters in fiction in whom this the same writer, that peculiar union of trait of freedom and pride of spirit is made aristocratic and democratic qualities of the means of elevating imagination, and which our modern novelists make so much exciting the sympathy of the reader. use, is clearly but somewhat timidly rep- What but this same is the moral stuff out resented. The power of this writer seems
of which the Prometheus of Æschylus is to have lain, not so much in his sympathy made ? What but this in the Satan of with the olden time, as in his artistic ap- Milton, and the Antigone of Sophocles, the preciation of humanity in every shape, Orestes and the Iphigenia of Goethe, unwhether old or new. Whether any other der different forms, and with different caauthor has equalled him in this respect, is tastrophes in all, joined now with virtues, at least doubtful. Not even in Shaks now with vices, sometimes tempered with peare do we find an equal variety and humility and sympathy, sometimes harsh, breadth of appreciation. It would be cruel, isolated, and rebellious ? Yet, in all, doing great injustice to the artistic genius one and the same, and imparting to the of Scott, to suppose that his Cromwell, his reader in all a feeling, a secret conviction Pirate, his Balfour of Burleigh, and his of the dignity and liberty of the individual ; godly host of Covenanters, were taken of man in his objective and separate indimerely as foils to set off the better genius viduality, setting at defiance the opposition