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of nature, of fate, of society, and even of formal society may frown disapprobation;
, , Divinity itself.
it is all in vain, while the spirit is roused, The introduction of this principle as the and the appetite sharpened, by the reading staple of our current literature, seems to of such authors. us, we repeat it, to be its distinguishing The lower class of these writers, and mark, as its introduction into politics is the who catch their spirit from the few supedistinguishing mark of the century, com- rior intellects, busy themselves with stirpared with those which precede it in the ring up the poor and the ignorant against historical series.
the rich and the powerful. Shops for the It is very possible that many of our read sale of cheap publications supply the masses ers even among the judicious and the of the people with inferior novels; while thoughtful, may be inclined to charge us the theatres give only such dramatic with spirit of generalization too exhibitions, such vaudevilles and melolittle discriminating, when they find us dramas, as impress the poor, the uneducapairing the Antigone of Sophocles with the ted, and the undisciplined, with a feeling Satan of Milton; though their prejudices of self-estimation, set off by a hatred of will perhaps make less difficulty in classing every species of control that does not emathe insolent gentlemen of D’Israeli
, with nate from the will of the individual himhim who led his rebel angels to storm the self. The one great lesson which all read, battlements of Heaven. Perhaps they is, that the spontaneous sentiment, the will not smile at us if we even claim for agreeable impulse of the moment, the dicMilton's Satan, the place of bon ton, the tate of the heart, unassisted by reason, or leadership among the heroes of insolence; by considerations of the general good, is for surely a more magnificent gentleman the great and truly divine law. In these never trod the carpets of Olympus; and productions, we are taught to admire the had his enemy been a Jupiter, instead of a most violent exhibitions of passion, if they Lord of Hosts, according to the Hebrew are sanctioned by a momentary feeling of idea, the threat of Abdiel might have been compassion. Weakness, in itself despicano prophecy, and Satan have been now a ble, is made a merit. successor of Jove.
The lower orders of literary productions, We say that we do not mean to dispar- | in every age, are but exaggerated imitations age the novelists of our time, by comparing of their betters of the same age. Thus the them with the Smollets, Fieldings, and inferior play-writers of Shakspeare's and Richardsons; on the contrary, we Ben Jonson's day, exaggerate the characobliged to admit, with their admirers, that teristics of Shakspeare and Jonson. Inhowever inferior in the style and manner stead of courage, their heroes have only of their works, they exhibit greater knowl- ferocity; the generous faults of youth deedge, a wider reach of thought, a more generate into libertinism ; freedom of conprophetic spirit, if we may be allowed the versation becomes grossness of language; expression, a more reflective and conscious and ladies and gentlemen are made to talk representation of the age in which they like sharpers and kitchen maids. Still live, than any that have gone before them;
before them; more remarkable are the exaggerations of above all, the principle from which they the play-writers of the school of Congreve. write, is itself, no doubt, of greater value with these dramatists the gentleman is and effect in moving the passions and de- absolutely confounded with the roué and termining the moral course of the readers the court sponge: and so, in our day, we over whom they acquire power.
have our Byron, our Carlysle, and our The readers of Byron, D’Israeli, Bulwer, D'Israeli, flashing gleams of the most briland George Sand, are in a manner morally liant virtues through their pages, which shaped by these authors, and whatever of the inferior imitator, imitating coarsely, individual pride, or of discontent with their daubs in colors of blood. own inferior condition, may have existed in Respectable people are probably, in genthem, is developed, strengthened, and made eral, but little aware of the enormous quanmotive in them, by the reading of their tity of pamphlet fiction that is poured from favorite authors. The church may preach the press, and overflows the entire contihumility, the law may thunder obedience, nent. Dozens of novels appear at the be
ginning of the month; and at the end of it one color as the other; that the one will begin already to be forgotten. As far as be only locally and momentarily distinwe have examined them, they have the one guishable from the other; that the catastrotone of sentimentality, and that character- phe of the work will be a justification both istic of the age, the setting at defiance, or of nature and of reason, not separately, but the eluding of moral restraint. Attending together. these and flying side by side with them, go Each passion and faculty, in its natural forth innumerable moral tales ; good stories sphere, is just and perfect; but as human for good children, and that anomaly in nature is a combination of many faculties, literature, religious novels,—à species of and shows the play of many passions, there, writings which endeavor to amuse us while is required a governing power to restrain they scourge us—a mixture of roses and and keep them at their duty. How shall thunder, in which, if the thunder is heard the novelist obtain immortality, if he is the roses are not seen, and if the roses are himself a mass of corrupt desires and unperceived the thunder is not heard. governed passions; or how can he impart
To quarrel with a weak character for to a story the color of experiences of which producing a weak novel,—to be angry with his life, and even his imagination are an immoral author because his works re void ? fect himself, would be an equal injustice Have we then discovered the true secret and folly: while the age is ferocious, cor- of immortality in authorship? the secret rupt, and revolutionary, that is to say, even of a respectable popularity only ? wbile great numbers of men, more or less Such is our conviction. There are living educated, and talented men, are wicked, writers in America whose style of English corrupt, and chaotic in their own lives, no is at times, perhaps, more pure and harcensorship of the press, nor refinement of monious than Addison's; but because they public opinion, can do more than enforce have not the moral element, the power, à certain outward propriety and decency which merely to name, destroys its value in of expression. It were folly, indeed, in a work of art, because they have not that the moralist to run a tilt against wri- secret regulative principle in themselves, ters, because they paint, in lively color in their works, neither they nor their ors, the fooleries and insanities of hu- writings shall ever be respectable, much less man nature, without adding that com immortal. pensation of moral dignity, that glimpse of What quality is it that so charms us in reason which ensures the immortality of the writings of Irving and Addison, of the truly great writer. How can it be oth- Goldsmith and Lamb? Is it merely the erwise with them? The weak hand can- humour of these writers, the smoothness of not lift the heavy weight. Where there is their style, or the subject on which they merely wit, intellect and imagination in write ? Certainly it is not the choice of the man, there will be merely wit, intellect subject which gives them their charm, for and imagination sporting in his work, and we delight most in them when they were not a vestige will appear there of qualities handling the most ridiculous subjects, and which have neither force nor place in him. describing the most contemptible characWhen the etherial blue is taken from the ters. beam of white light, the beam is of a heat The characters described by Goldsmith, ed orange color, glaring and monotonous ; in the Vicar of Wakefield, do not inspire and when the moral tone is absent from the as much respect, though they are drawn as genius of a writer, the color of his work gentlemen and ladies, as some of Dickens' lacks softness and atmosphere—it is 'raw, grotesque delineations. The art of Goldhot, coarse, monotonous.
smith, or rather the moral power of GoldWhen, on the other hand, the warm smith, employing the literary art as its instain of passion is discharged from the strument, sets forth the faults and even the work, and the proper mediocrity of yellow rogueries of his characters, when they have diffused over it, it is both cold and uninvi- any character-for sometimes like the libting. It is unnecessary, after forcing the ertine squire in the Vicar of Wakefield, figure so far, to add that a perfect work of they are mere Whiskerandos, such men of fiction will carry in its effect as well the straw, as every novelist must use—in a
light which moves our mirth and our pity, or ill-judged, than these distinctions which while at the same time it reminds us of attached the idea of degradation to poverty, something better in the man. It was a re- and placed the indigent youth of merit bemark of Goethe's, that there was no fault or low the worthless minion of fortune. foible of human nature which he could not “ It was with the utmost repugnance
that feel compassion for, through his own experi- Godsmith entered college in this capacity. ence, (that perhaps was his meaning, though His shy and sensitive nature was affected not his language,) and in this great and gen- by the inferior station he was to hold erous writer the sign of immortality is legi- among his gay and opulent fellow students, ble in the dignity and compassion with and he became, at times, moody and dewhich he handles his inferior persons, both spondent. A recollection of these early in drama and in story.
misfortunes induced him in after years, We believe we are justified therefore in most strongly to dissuade his brother ascribing the traits of immortality to the Henry, the clergyman, from sending his admirable writers whom we have grouped son to college on the like footing. If together above, observing with what an ex he has ambition,' wrote Goldsmith, strong quisite art they rescue human nature from passions, and an exquisite sensibility of conits meanest weaknesses, and teach us to tempt, do not send him there unless you love and even to respect the person whom have no other trade for him except your they seem at the instant to be describing own.'" in colors of ridicule.
The system of menial scholarship, derived There is nothing remarkable in the early from the ancient monastic institutions, and life of Goldsmith, beyond the incidents perpetuated in the British Universities, was which often follow the career of a good na- early introduced into this country. The tured and thoughtless man of humor and scholar, named in our institutions, a charity talent.
student, or sometimes, though improperly, The anecdotes of his early, life are a beneficiary—a benefit being a very diffamiliar to every reader. In college he ferent thing from a charity studentship, in committed no great faults; his errors were more senses than one-is sometimes rethose of thoughtlessness. His situation at quired to perform the menial service of the the University was severely trying to his college, to ring bells, to make fires, to pride. His father, a poor country clergyman, sweep out recitation rooms, and in various of Pallasmore, in the county of Longford, in ways to make himself useful to the tutor. Ireland, was obliged to enter him as a sizer, He is too frequently looked upon by the or poor scholar, to be taught and boarded less considerate portion of the faculty, in gratuitously, and paying but a very small virtue of his position, as a dependent, as sum for his room. It is expected, in re one whose duty it is to be a spy upon the turn for these advantages, which, in gen- conduct of his fellow students, and, if queseral, prove to be the most serious disad- tioned, an informer against them. He is vantages which the student can encounter, usually a dull, but a diligent scholar, and that while he sustains the dignity of schol- endeavors to make up in industry and aparship, and the manners of a gentleman, plication what he lacks in respectability that he will perform the duties of a menial and credit. He is consequently odious, in
-a situation to be filled successfully and a variety of senses, to his more liberal and honorably by no character under the rank fortunate fellows. His destiny is usually the of a hero or a saint; in neither of which church; and it is sometimes expected of him, we are at liberty to place poor Goldsmith. if he does not become a clergyman, or a mis
“He was obliged,” says Mr. Irving, his sionary, that he will refund the money that biographer, “to sweep part of the courts in has been advanced for his education. He the morning, to carry up dishes from the must be “hopefully pious," which by most kitchen to the fellows' table, and to wait creeds, is a condition, in which the power in the hall, until that body had dined. of God and the Holy Spirit alone can place His very dress marked the inferiority of him; and as an open testimony and proof the poor student to his happier class of this secret relationship with his Creator, mates.
he is expected to give a punctual attend“We can conceive nothing more odious ance upon all the services of the church.
Thus pressed, on all sides, by the hardest was that he sank into despondency, and to conditions which could be invented by the conceal from himself the agonies of his tempter of mankind, in his most subtle and mind, he committed several excesses, and ingenious moods ; required to practice, violated the college rules. However, on simultaneously, the manners of leisure, and the 27th of February, 1749, 0. S., he the duties of servitude; to exercise the graduated a Bachelor of Arts. virtue of a monk, and receive contempt “He was free," says his biographer, instead of veneration for his reward; to be, “from college rule, that emancipation so at the same time, exercising a free and hope- ardently coveted by the thoughtless stuful piety, under the condition that if he dent, and which too generally launches him ceases to do
he has $500 to pay; com amid the cares, the hardships and vicissipelled to associate with, and to be, to all tudes of life.” intents and purposes, on a social level with It is from Mr. Irving, the successful authose below whom he is effectually degra- thor, that we have the above observation ; ded—for notwithstanding liberty and equal what then shall be said of college life ity, there is such a thing as degradation, by the unsuccessful author, struggling is it wonderful, under such trials, that the through a life of unremunerated and unadcharity student turns out either a hero or mired literary labor ? a sneak? A man hardened to the endu “ Edmund Burke was a fellow-student rance and fortitude of martyrdom, or beaten, with Goldsmith at the college : neither the pecked, and maimed, like a quail among statesman nor the poet gave promise of cocks, every grain of spirit and humanity their future celebrity; though Burke cerbeaten out of him, to take refuge hence- tainly surpassed his contemporary in indusforth under the aprons of lady-patron- try and application ; and evinced more disesses ?
position for self-improvement, associating And what need for such a system? | himself with a number of his fellow stuWhy, for the few hundred dollars, saved dents in a debating club, in which they in monkish parsimony, should the generous discussed literary topics, and exercised spirit of the scholar, who, of all men, must themselves in composition.” We have work with a free mind and an untroubled heard it remarked by a gentleman, who spirit, be so broken and trampled on? was a contemporary of our famous defendOr, if the church herself be a cure, and er of the wrong, Johň C. Calhoun, that in the spirit of a true conservatism, we re he evinced in college the traits that have gard the ministry of Christ as the sole attended him through life. It is said of moral
power that is left to us in the repub- | him, that in debate, he was, even then, as lic, as the hope and refuge of an age dark- if too conscious of great abilities, fond of ened by revolutions, why should considera- undertaking the defence of the weaker tions of parsimony, or of a merely mercan- side ; perhaps in morals, as in war, it is a tile character--as, that money should be paid crime to defend an untenable post. in labor,—why should such considerations Goldsmith applied for orders, but was reprevent still higher ones from affecting us, jected, says his biographer, by the Bishop --as, that possibly, since the church is em- of Elfin, because of his whimsical partialibodied in the ministry, if the liberty and ty for gay clothes.
“ He had ever a passpirit of the ministry is broken and made a sion for clothing his sturdy but awkward scorn and a slave before the rich, the influ- little person in gay colors; and on this solence of the church, and her respectability emn occasion, when it was supposed his garb will be thereby diminished.
would be of suitable gravity, he appeared Let the charity scholarship be then uncon- luminously arrayed in scarlet breeches." ditioned and independent: let it not, ever, be He was rejected by the Bishop. attached to the scholar as a liability, but scarlet breeches are said to have been the come to him, like an hereditament, to fundamental objection to his taking orders. which, while he enjoys it, his right is abso- A black suit, and a demure countenance lute.
went against his conscience, perhaps, as an A natural consequence of Goldsmith's inconsistency; for through the whole of poverty, and of the tyranny of his tutor, his career, his honesty and his oddity were which is spoken of by all his biographers, of a piece with each other. It some
times affects one in his writings, as though conversation happened to turn upon his fathe author appeared in a dress of style vorite topics. Fontenelle continued his too gay and social for the subject.
triumph until about twelve o'clock, when After his rejection by the Bishop, he Voltaire appeared at last roused from his took passage for America, and as might reverie; his whole frame seemed animated; be expected, after he had paid his passage, he began his defence with the utmost dethe ship sailed without him.
fiance mixed with spirit, and now and then Then follows the chapter of his travels ; let fall the finest strokes of raillery upon a passage of his life from which he collect- his antagonist; and his harangue lasted ed much of the humorous and moral ex- till three in the morning. I must confess, perience which is transmitted to us in his that, whether from national partiality, or works. After two years spent in roving from the elegant sensibility of his manner, about the continent, subsisting often upon I never was so charmed, nor did I ever recharity, or, to dignify it by a better title, member so absolute a victory as he gained upon the hospitality of such as were ready in this dispute.” to befriend the homeless wanderer, he It has been usual to stigmatize Voltaire landed at Dover, in 1756, without money, as the enemy and reviler of every thing without friends, and without the prospect truly grand and noble; however unfortuof a business.
nate he was in his religious sentiments, it Before passing to his literary life, it is still necessary to defend him against the should be mentioned, however, that his as- charge of insensibility to the sublime and sociates, during the years of his absence, beautiful. were not always mean or insignificant. “After his landing in England we find During a brief sojourn in Paris, he made Goldsmith,” says his biographer, “launchthe acquaintance of Voltaire : “As a com- ed on the great metropolis, or rather driftpanion,” says he, no man ever exceeded ing about its streets, at night, in the Voltaire, when he pleased to lead the con- gloomy month of February, with but a versation, which, however, was not always few half-pence in his pocket.” the case. In company which he either
His next appearance is that of an usher disliked or despised, few could be more re to a school, a situation in which he suffered served than he; but when he was warmed extreme annoyance. Then follows a conin discourse, and got over a hesitating man nection with a periodical review. In this ner, which sometimes he was subject to, it situation he had to write daily from nine was rapture to hear him ; his meagre vi- o'clock until two, and often throughout sage seemed insensibly to gather beauty ; | the day; whether in the vein or not, and every muscle in it had meaning, and his on subjects dictated by his task-master eye beamed with unusual brightness. The however foreign to his taste; he and his
erson who writes this memoir," continues employer, however, very soon quarrelled; he, “ remembers to have seen him in a se- and being now known in the publishing lect company of wits, of both sexes, at world, Goldsmith began to find casual emParis, when the subject happened to turn ployment in various quarters ; among upon English taste and learning. Fonte- others, he wrote occasionally for the Litenelle, (then nearly a hundred years old,) rary Magazine, a periodical conducted by who was of the party, and who, being unac Mr. John Newbury, a good natured genquainted with the language or authors of tleman famous for his children's books ; the country he undertook to condemn, of him Goldsmith says that he was not with a spirit truly vulgar, began to revile only the friend of children but the friend both. Diderot, who liked the English, of all mankind. and knew something of their literary pre Besides his literary job-work, Goldtensions, attempted to vindicate their po- smith now also attempted medical practice etry and learning, but with unequal without success. His experience with abilities. The company quickly perceived booksellers drew from him, in various parts that Fontenelle was superior in the dis- of his works, several severe strictures pute : and they were surprised at the silence upon that class of dealers. In his enquiry which Voltaire had preserved, all the for into the state of polite literature, he says, mer part of the night, particularly as the “ The author, unpatronized by the great,