Page images


[ocr errors]


worse ; he searched for a Mentor His wife—who afterwards reto brace his resolutions—for a conciled herself by a pot of her tonic. There is something touch

marmalade remarked ing and not ridiculous in his caustically that she had seen early perseverance to propitiate many a bear led by a man, but the oracle. He will take no re- never before a man led by a buff. He calls on him in the bear. The bore as martyr is Temple. He waylays him at surely a rara avis.

Two conone o'clock in the morning. siderations must also be borne This is no Silenus approaching in mind. One, that Boswell was Socrates. As he himself re- hypochondriacal – a touch of marks of Goldsmith: “He had nature that made them kin. sagacity enough to cultivate The other, that he rejoiced in a assiduously the acquaintance of faculty in which Johnson was Johnson, and his faculties were deficient-an extreme patience gradually enlarged. ..." It -perhaps inherited from that was idleness in painful earnest, Dutch ancestress of whom he sympathy eager for support. was so proud. The microscopic It is true, again, that Boswell finish of his detail was not ob“blustered about the dignity of tained during the 276 days only a born gentleman.” But what of actual association without does the Doctor observe on this immense effort. “The stretch very subject : “To be sure, sir, of mind,” he naïvely asserts, if you were only to dine once, “and prompt assiduity by which and it were never to be known so many conversations were prewhere you dined, you would served, I myself, at some dischoose rather to dine with the tance of time, contemplate with first man for genius, but to gain wonder.” A man inspired with most respect you should dine one idea is usually either a with the first duke in England.” genius or a madman. Boswell It is true, further, that Boswell was certainly no madman; we was a bore: “I wonder, sir, that are persuaded that he was you have not more pleasure in genius. If we except Spence, writing than in not writing.” Boswell was the first who subJohnson : “Sir, you may won

stituted the oratio recta for the der.” But for this grande curio- obliqua—who made a drama of sité he would never have been a diary. This practice aftersnubbed, nor we enlightened. wards became common. HazAt any rate, Johnson gave him litt interspersed it in his “Cona handsome testimonial on their versations with Northcote”; Scotch journey for “acuteness," Medwin employed it in those gaiety of conversation, and civil- with Byron; Trelawny in those ity of manners. And Boswell, with Shelley. As individualbe it remembered, served his ity, fostered by English freedom bustling apprenticeship against and sociability, multiplied, these the wishes of the family he so diaries increased.

Their name much revered. His old Whig is now legion. “ D-me, sir, father regarded Johnson as a they breed,” as the old Duke of dangerous Tory “ Dominie.' Cumberland remarked of the VOL. CLXV.NO. DCCCCXCIX.


a a


[ocr errors]

papers. The consequence has and inhabitants somewhat savbeen a vast number of second- age, rather treacherous and hand platitudes and ineptitudes. highly inflamed by politics. “ Un sot a toujours un plus sot Fine fellows, though, good qui l'admire."

material for a nation. Out of The diaries that enthral — chaos God made a world, and that present great actors off the out of high passions comes a stage, and commanders at ease people.” And out of high pas-have been comparatively few. sions came Byron. If only he One such diary was destroyed had oftener transcended the do—Byron's. But portions of his main of the merely passionate! journals embalmed in The Swiss diary—a fragment Moore's Life, and agree so

-contains an episode of charclosely with the spirit of his acteristic scorn about the Enletters that some mention of glish lady who exclaimed of them must here be made. No Mont Blanc, “Did you ever see one in perusing them can fail anything more rural ?”—“as if to be struck with their pre- it was Highgate or Hampton or dominant, even violent, sin- Brompton or Haye's!" while cerity. Byron's writing was his earliest diary of all shows a mainly a vent for his impetu- specimen of quite “Don Juan' ous feelings.

In all his com- calibre : " Went to bed and positions, public as well as slept dreamlessly, but not reprivate, a sense of lurid smoke freshingly: awoke and up an from the flame of passion is hour before being called, but manifest; they are the craters dawdled three hours in dressing. of his heart. His emphasis and When one subtracts from life directness of expression, the infancy (which is vegetation), shrewd common-sense imputed sleep, eating and swilling – to him by Disraeli, his vivid in- buttoning and unbuttoning tuitions of men, things, and how much remains of down scenery, his moody sense of right existence ?—the summer doom-originally implanted by of a dormouse.' the Calvinist superstitions of But the most methodical his nurse, and apparent in his diary of any, one beginning very scepticism—his thirst for while Byron was a boy and action, his untamable genius lasting till 1867, is that of for rebellion, his proud intensity Henry Crabb Robinson—a man in collision with the filmed whose elevation of spirit, alerthollowness of fashionable life, ness of mind, and volatile salt all these forces are welded to- companioned him with the most gether, not in chaos, as might various intellects of his prohave been supposed, but in a tracted life. The intimate of weird creative harmony. Let the Clarksons and Mrs Barus cull one example from his bauld, the comrade of Hazlitt, Ravenna diary : “Hear the car- the friend and correspondent of riage-order pistols and great- Goethe and his court, of Tieck coat as usual—necessary articles and Schelling, the acquaintance -weather cold—carriage open of Schiller and Madame de

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Staël, the cherished associate of diary. Of Wordsworth’s depth the whole Lake school of poets, and difficulty of expression, of he had seen Shelley and Mrs Coleridge's eloquent mysticism, Siddons, travelled with Southey of Lamb's "antic disposition," to Paris and Wordsworth to of Goethe's clear-cut serenity, Italy, conversed with Coleridge, his pages are among the most supped and walked often with authentic exponents. But they Charles Lamb, watched the are also dedicated to the goodrhapsodies of Blake, breakfasted ness of smaller men. Above all with Rogers, chatted with Syd- things Robinson possessed the ney Smith and Lady Blessing- “many - travelled heart.” ton (at whose house he met the patient sympathy with loftiyoung Disraeli), discoursed with

ness of mind is evinced by his Bunsen, and vied with “Con- late correspondence with Lady versation ” Sharpe; a philoso- Byron.

To him Wordsworth pher and unitarian, a philan- addressed the lines beginning thropiston principle, almost with “Companion, by whose the first foreign correspondent buoyant spirit cheered.” With of the Times, and, later, a some faculty of imagination, practising barrister,

sprung however, he lacked fancy and from a lower middle-class that feeling for the

the picturesque. has now nearly evaporated—a Venice, in Wordsworth's own class with temperament as well company, leaves him untouched; as character, with refinement and the whole world is to him as well as determination-he rather a panorama of excellence impressed his virtues on the than a landscape of light and most illustrious. He seldom shade. soars, but he never grovels; he Space presses, and we must rarely startles, but he never glance at two recent diaries, not intrudes. The want of “liber- omitting the familiar Greville ality” in his boyish education by the way. But first a glimpse was atoned for by the must be given of two diaries in checked originality of his char- the form of letters which have acter and by his visits to been, we think, too little in Germany in her golden age. public prominence. We allude There, besides being a deep to the correspondence of Felix student, he opened the gates of Mendelssohn, and of Charles cultivated aristocracy and aris- Dickens. Of the former it may tocratic culture. He was told well be said that they are how, at the outset, he had only “words without songs. The to assert that he was “English same pure feeling and exalted to be treated as a “nobleman.” ideals, affectionate humility, His chief interest throughout conscientious aspiration, and the journal is for “characters.' pathetic playfulness that per“ The half-literary conversations vade the music are the qualities of half-learned people, the com- of the Letters. We must remonplaces of politics and reli- luctantly be content with two gious dispute, are to me intoler- examples: “So I am said to able.” This is the canon of his have become a saint! If this


[ocr errors]

is intended to convey what I private! But we would fain conceive to be the meaning of dwell on a softer phase. “When the word, and what your ex- I came in from seeing poor,

dear pressions lead me to think you Watson's grave, Mrs Watson also understand by it, then I asked me to go up into the can only say that, alas ! I am gallery, which I had last seen not so, though every day of my in the days of our merry play. life I strive with greater earnest- We went up and walked into ness according to my ability the very part he made and was more and more to resemble this so fond of, and she looked out character. If people, however, of one window and I looked out understand by the word "saint of another, and for the life of a ‘Pietist,' one of those who lay me I could not decide in my their hands on their laps and own heart whether I should expect Providence to do their console or distress her by going work for them, talk of the in- and taking her hand and saying compatibility of the heavenly something

of what was naturally calling with the earthly, and in my mind. So I said nothing are incapable of loving with and came out again.” their whole hearts any human “I am going,” remarks Grebeing or anything on earth, ville, in his matter-of-fact way, then, God be praised ! such an “if not too lazy, to note down one I am not, and hope never to the everyday nothings of my become.' And the second is life, and see what it looks like." like unto it: “I well know that The “everyday nothings” comfor thorough self-cultivation the prise some of the most serious whole of a man's life is required, events in English history. Greand often does not suffice." ville's prosaic nonchalance be

Dickens throughout the whole longs to the Whigs of George range of his writings Travels the Fourth and Worst. His for the great firm of Human diary is rich in green - room Interest Brothers.” His un- gossip of politics and society; approached spirits and sense of but his jottings are dusty with humour, his rollicking self-con- Whig exclusiveness and official fidence and lovable humanity, red-tape. As we read them, we distinguish his letters also. discern a wooden man of the “Lord, what a blessed thing it world, frivolous upon caste-comis,” he ejaculates in one of them, pulsion, self- complacent even “to read a man who can write!” while he deplores the unintelThe Salon-satellites must have lectuality of his routine, a prebeen shocked at his first im- cise, prudent, punctilious failure, pression of George Sand as of abounding in cautious insight “the Queen's monthly nurse." but bare of generous impulse. How good, too, is that descrip- There is nothing spontaneous tion of the Paris drama on about him.

about him. One of the newsEnglish life, whose villain was papers has undiscriminatingly “Meester Corn'ill"; and of Lon- termed Mr George Russell “a don in the dead season, with modern Greville. his tailor playing the piano in serve as a popular label, but as


That may

a cap it will not fit. Mr Russell
is, on the contrary, a witty en-
thusiast, a rare modern com-
bination. Under the Georgian
rhetoric of his style, the occa-
sional bitterness of his innuendo,
his digressive airiness, burns an
ardour for losing causes, a zeal
for high standards, a glow of
loyalty and friendship. An
after-dinner fanatic, at once
fervent and humorous, he is
the antipodes of Greville, who
is dry and unreciprocal. Gre-
ville was never a brilliant talker.
Mr Russell is the last of the
old conversationalists. Greville
misses the literary touch. Mr
Russell is essentially a man of
Greville is most dis-
creet. Mr Russell is perhaps
sometimes defective in this re-
gard; but his satire of con-
temporaries is the sort that

partee.” Royalties and Princedoms compose the entremets, and Lord Beaconsfield, the savoury—a relish, as we shall point out, overseasoned. "Flatterers " and "Bores," "Epitaphs" and "Advertisements," stand for ices and liqueurs, topped by the dessert of "Parodies," "Children," and the like; and, last not least-the roses of the repast-"An old PhotographBook." "Links with the Past" are by no means conventional. There is old-world Lady Robert Seymour, who "used the potticary" whenever she sent for the doctor; there is the Earl of Bathurst, whose private school reserved a bench for the little sons of peers; there is ancient "Polly Arnold" of Harrow, who had sold "cribs" to Byron. And there is Mr Russell's father, page at George IV.'s coronation, who discussed the 'Bride of Lammermoor' with Scott before its authorship was divulged. We may be allowed in this connection to pay our own tribute to the memory of Lord Charles James Fox Russell, whose very names perpetuate history, and whose kindness, enthusiasm, and simplicity we remember and revere. We miss Mrs Norton in the gallery; perhaps this omission may be remedied hereafter. The "Pièces de Résistance" chapters afford a genuine contribution to solid history. First-rate, worthy of Thackeray or of Disraeli, is the figure of that Marquis of Abercorn who always went out shooting in his blue ribbon, and required his housemaids to wear white kid gloves when they made his bed, and his wife to use the family

"just the medium hit, And heals with morals what it hurts with wit."

Mr Russell, like Lord Gran-
ville, is "un radical qui aime la
bonne société." His 'Recollec-
tions' group reflections round
personalities and subjects-dis-
tinct but not ordered in rota-
tion, scarcely even in sequence.
The menu is inviting. The hors
d'œuvres of "Links with the
Past" precede the pièces de ré-
sistance of "Religion and Moral-
ity," "Social Equalisation and
Amelioration," "The Evangeli-
Influence," and Politics.
Here as with a sorbet the ban-
quet simulates a close, to re-
commence with the rélevés of
"Oratory and Conversation."
The chaudfroid of "Clergymen"
is followed by the gibier of
"Titles" and the salad of "Re-

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »