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Title: Stories of Authors, British and American
Author: Chubb, Edwin Watts, 1865-1959
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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   [Illustration: GEOFFREY CHAUCER
   From a portrait in Occleve's Poems in the British Museum]



Stories of Authors

_British and American_

BY
EDWIN WATTS CHUBB
Professor of English Literature
in the Ohio University.


_ILLUSTRATED_


New York
STURGIS & WALTON
COMPANY
1910

_All rights reserved_



Copyright, 1910
BY STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY

Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1910

Reprinted May, 1910



PREFACE


The purpose of this book is to help in making literature and the
makers of literature alive and interesting. Few schools have libraries
including the bound volumes of the magazines of the past quarter of a
century. But what an aid such a collection is to the appreciation of
literature! The dignified and abbreviated history of literature cannot
indulge in such delightful gossip as is found in the freer essay and
fuller biography. To show the excellences of the art and the
lovableness of the artist rather than to hunt for defects is the duty
and the delight of the teacher of literature. This does not mean,
however, that one dare never see the weaker side, the foibles and
eccentricities of the man of genius.

I like Macaulay none the less because his cock-sureness and loquacity
came dangerously near to making him a bore; Dr. Johnson grows in
interest when I learn that he found it a continual and almost hopeless
struggle to become an early riser, that he feared death, and could
drink tea as long as the housekeeper could brew it; that Tennyson was
a slave to tobacco and acted like a yokel when the newly-wedded
Müllers entertained him at breakfast does not detract from my
enjoyment of the exquisite pathos of _Tears, Idle Tears_; that the
marriage of the Brownings was a runaway romance is a whole commentary
of explanation when I read their poems of romantic love; that
Longfellow is said to have declined an invitation to the Adirondacks
because he was told that Emerson was to carry a gun is really far more
delightful, and I may add valuable, information than to know the exact
date of the birth of either. Of knowledge such as this is the kingdom
of literary interest. It is not well to place our literary lights upon
a pedestal so lofty that the radiating warmth and light never reach
our hearts.

While many of the articles may be somewhat gossipy in tone, the
serious phase has not been overlooked. The sketches have been gathered
from many sources. Some have been written by myself, others have been
gathered from magazines and books. I wish to acknowledge the kindness
of _Scribners' Magazine_, of the _Bookman_, and of the _New England
Magazine_ in permitting me to use articles originally appearing in
these respective magazines. To all who have wittingly or unwittingly
made it possible for me to gather my material I wish to acknowledge my
indebtedness. Every article has been written, selected, or adapted
because of some special value. In these pages the reader may find what
Lamb earned during the years of his famous clerkship, or the exciting
details of Shelley's death. How many times have we heard of Sir Philip
Sidney's immortal act of chivalry as he _lay_ on the field at Zutphen!
But definite information has it otherwise. To learn of the prodigious
industry of the youthful Mill, the perseverance of Darwin, the heroic
struggle of Scott, the gentleness of Stevenson, the modesty of
Browning, the lifelong consecration of Motley,--is not the leaven of
inspiration made of knowledge such as this?

I have an unshaken conviction that the highest art of the teacher is
manifested in the awakening of such an interest that the pupil shall
forever after be an eager learner. Am I wrong in hoping that no one,
though with but a meager knowledge of literature, can read these
sketches without a desire to know more of the men and women who are
the glory of England and America? Here is but a taste of a more
sumptuous feast.

    Dreams, books are each a world; and books, we know,
    Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
    Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
    Our pastime and our happiness will grow.

                                     EDWIN WATTS CHUBB.



CONTENTS


ENGLISH WRITERS

CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

      I. The Ancient Tabard Inn                                      1

     II. Sir Philip Sidney at Zutphen                                4

    III. About Shakspere                                             9

     IV. John Milton                                                17

      V. Charles Lamb, the Clerk of the India House                 24

     VI. Dr. Johnson and Charles Lamb                               28

    VII. The Death of Dr. Johnson                                   33

   VIII. Gray Writes the Elegy                                      37

     IX. Cowper as a Letter Writer                                  42

      X. Gibbon and His Visit to Rome                               46

     XI. Burns Falls in Love                                        50

    XII. Burns' First Book of Poems                                 54

   XIII. Samuel Taylor Coleridge in School and College              59

    XIV. Byron as Swimmer and Feaster                               64

     XV. Shelley as a Freshman                                      71

    XVI. The Death of Shelley                                       76

   XVII. The School-days of John Keats                              82

  XVIII. The Heroism of Sir Walter Scott                            88

    XIX. Walter Savage Landor                                       93

     XX. Leigh Hunt's Business Ability                             100

    XXI. De Quincey Runs Away                                      102

   XXII. Macaulay's Childhood                                      108

  XXIII. Macaulay Becomes Famous                                   114

   XXIV. Dickens Writes the Pickwick Papers                        119

    XXV. Charles Dickens as Reader                                 123

   XXVI. On the Death of Dickens                                   126

  XXVII. Ruskin's Childhood                                        130

 XXVIII. The Marriage of the Brownings                             135

   XXIX. Robert Browning                                           140

    XXX. Knight's Reminiscences of Tennyson                        145

   XXXI. Emerson on Carlyle and Tennyson                           150

  XXXII. Literary Recollections of Max Müller                      156

 XXXIII. The Early Education of John Stuart Mill                   162

  XXXIV. Carlyle Goes to the University                            167

   XXXV. Carlyle and His Wife                                      170

  XXXVI. Carlyle as Lecturer                                       175

 XXXVII. Carlyle on Wordsworth and Browning                        180

XXXVIII. The Author of "Jane Eyre"                                 184

  XXXIX. Thackery in America                                       189

     XL. George Eliot Becomes a Writer of Fiction                  194

    XLI. The Author of "Alice in WonderLand"                       200

   XLII. About Darwin                                              203

  XLIII. Anecdotes of Huxley                                       209

   XLIV. Stevenson at Vailima                                      214

    XLV. Kipling in India                                          221


AMERICAN WRITERS

   XLVI. Benjamin Franklin Runs Away                               226

  XLVII. Washington Irving                                         234

 XLVIII. Cooper and "The Spy"                                      242

   XLIX. John Lothrop Motley and Bismarck                          249

      L. The Youth of George Ticknor                               254

     LI. Fitz-Greene Halleck                                       259

    LII. The Author of Thanatopsis                                 262

   LIII. Curtis and Hawthorne at the Brook Farm                    266

    LIV. Hawthorne and the Scarlet Letter                          270

     LV. Max Müller's Recollections of Emerson, Lowell and Holmes  279

    LVI. Howells Calls on Emerson, and Describes Longfellow        284

   LVII. Longfellow, the Universal Poet                            290

  LVIII. Henry David Thoreau                                       297

    LIX. The Last Days of Edgar Allan Poe                          303

     LX. Artemus Ward                                              313

    LXI. Edmund Gosse Visits Whittier                              317

   LXII. Personal Recollections of Whittier                        320

  LXIII. Henry Ward Beecher                                        329

   LXIV. The London "Times" on Lowell                              333

    LXV. The Writing of "America"                                  338

   LXVI. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and her First Story               340

  LXVII. Sidney Lanier                                             344

 LXVIII. The Story of Mark Twain's Debts                           349

   LXIX. Hamlin Garland's Literary Beginning                       358

    LXX. Stephen Crane: A "Wonderful Boy"                          361

   LXXI. Eugene Field                                              364



ILLUSTRATIONS


Geoffrey Chaucer                                        _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

The Old Tabard Inn                                                   2

William Shakspere                                                    8

John Milton                                                         16

Robert Burns                                                        50

Lord Byron                                                          64

Percy Bysshe Shelley                                                70

Charles Dickens                                                    122

Robert Browning                                                    134

Alfred Tennyson                                                    144

Ralph Waldo Emerson                                                150

Thomas Carlyle                                                     175

Benjamin Franklin                                                  226

William Cullen Bryant                                              262

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow                                         290

John Greenleaf Whittier                                            320



STORIES OF AUTHORS



I

THE ANCIENT TABARD INN


The picture we see here is that of an inn whose fame is as widespread
as the love of English poetry, for it is at the Tabard Inn that
Chaucer more than five hundred years ago assembled his nine and twenty
pilgrims who were preparing to visit the tomb of Thomas à Becket at
Canterbury. The witchery of the springtime had stirred the blood of
these Londoners who, perhaps, were enticed from home more by the soft
April showers and the melody of the birds than by their need of
spiritual consolation. This, at least, is the impression we receive as
in imagination we join these immortal pilgrims at the Tabard. Our
guide is

    Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath
      Preluded those melodious bursts that fill
    The spacious times of great Elizabeth
      With sounds that echo still,--

and as he moves among his motley group, let us take a glance at the
Tabard.

The picture we have is that of the typical old English inn. "As late
as 1870 the ruins of the famous Tabard could be found. It was near St.
Saviour in the Borough High Street. Turning from the street into one
of those courtyards which abound in the east of London, the visitor
comes upon the ruins of the once famous inn the very name of which has
been transformed by time. It is now known as the '_Talbot_,' but the
inscription above the doorway contradicts the modern signboard and
proclaims the house to be '_The Ancient Tabard Inn_.' The whole yard
is redolent of dilapidation. Facing the visitor on entering is an
interesting block of old buildings, forming part of the left side, and
the bottom of what once was an ample courtyard. This part of the
building contains not improbably the shell of the corresponding
portion of the original inn. The doors of the first floor all open
into one of the wide balustraded galleries or verandas so common in
the genuine old English hostelry. Until recently the landlord of the
_Talbot_, then a small public-house, and still forming part of the
modern mass of brick building that blocks up the right side and part
of the center of the courtyard, rented the rooms by which this
balustraded gallery was, and still is, surrounded. They were then let
as bedrooms, and kept in good repair; and are supposed to occupy the
site of the very rooms once tenanted by the Canterbury pilgrims; the
gallery probably differing but little in appearance from what it was
when Chaucer frequented it in search of good wine. The landlord
eventually became insolvent; the paltry tavern was shut up, and the
bedrooms were dismantled. In that plight they might be seen some years
ago, may still possibly be seen--empty, dusty, dreary--ranged above
ground-floor premises which do duty as a parcels' conveyance office,
and abutting on a mean, ill-kept yard. Until within the last few
years the coigne of the old balustraded gallery was connected on the
right with the modern brick mass by an ancient wood-work bridge,
coeval at least with the oldest portion of the building as it stands.
But the bridge is gone, and the lust of gold and the pride of life
have so destroyed that spirit of reverence and refined superstitious
love for the venerable which should characterize an advanced
civilization, that it is greatly to be feared the rest of the
structure will soon follow. Yet it was in this courtyard, and before
this very inn, that Chaucer and his nine-and-twenty pilgrims stood in
picturesque confusion in the early dawn of that spring morning, long,
long ago; and agreed for their common amusement on the road each one
of them should tell at least one tale in going to, and another in
returning from Canterbury; the best story teller to be treated to a
supper by his fellow travelers on their return to the Tabard Inn. The
company comprises representatives from all classes of society except
the two extremes; there is neither a prince nor a beggar. The
characters are taken from middle-class life, of which they may be
accepted as fair and truthful types; being described with a vigorous
fidelity which has never been surpassed in the whole range of art.
Every figure stands out from the canvas sharp and clear like pictures
seen through a stereoscope. Not a touch, not a line is wanting; each
trick of speech and peculiarity of feature or of dress, is
photographed with Preraphaelite fidelity."

   [Illustration: THE OLD TABARD INN
   From a drawing by Herbert Railton]



II

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY AT ZUTPHEN


Whenever the name of Sir Philip Sidney is mentioned one involuntarily
thinks of noble generosity and knightly gentleness and self-sacrifice.
And here is the story of the act that forever united his name with the
highest ideals of chivalry:

In August, 1586, Leicester assembled his troops at Arnheim, which he
made his headquarters. After reducing Doesburg, he prepared to besiege
Zutphen, an important town on the Yssel. The garrison was in sore need
of provisions, which Parma, before marching to its relief, determined
to supply. A convoy of corn, meat, and other necessaries, sufficient
to victual the place for three months, was accordingly collected, and
on the twenty-second of September left the Spanish camp. So high was
Parma's estimate of the importance of preserving Zutphen, that the
escort despatched with the convoy numbered twenty-nine hundred foot
and six hundred horse. Leicester was informed of the enemy's movement,
but not of the force which protected it. An ambuscade of five hundred
men, under Sir John Norris, was held sufficient to intercept the
convoy. About fifty young officers volunteered to add their services.
This gallant band was composed of the flower of the English army....
It was indeed "an incredible extravagance to send a handful of such
heroes against such an army," but Leicester can scarcely be blamed for
failing to restrain the impulsive ardor which animated his entire
staff. Sidney's characteristic magnanimity betrayed him that day into
a fatal excess. He had risen at the first sound of the trumpet and
left his tent completely armed, but observing that Sir William Pelham,
an older soldier, had not protected his legs with cuishes, returned
and threw off his own. The morning was cold and densely foggy, as the
little company galloped forth to join their comrades in ambush. Just
as they came up, Sir John Norris had caught the first sounds of the
approaching convoy. Almost at the same moment the fog cleared off and
revealed at what terrible odds the battle was to be fought that day.
Mounted arquebusiers, pikemen and musketeers on foot, Spaniards,
Italians, and even, it is said, Albanians, to the number of
thirty-five hundred, guarded the wagons before and behind. The English
were but five hundred and fifty men. Yet among them all, the historian
has the right of blood to say with confidence, "There was no thought
of retreat." The indomitable national spirit embodied itself in the
war-cry of young Essex: "Follow me, good fellows, for the honor of
England and England's queen!" At the word a hundred horsemen, Sidney
in the midst, with lance in hand and curtel-axe at saddle-bow, spurred
to the charge. The enemy's cavalry broke, but the musketeers in the
rear fired a deadly volley, under cover of which it formed anew. A
second charge re-broke it. In the onset Sidney's horse was killed, but
he remounted and rode forward. Lord Willoughby, after unhorsing and
capturing the Albanian leader, lost his own horse. Attacked on all
sides, he must have fallen and yielded, when Sidney came to the rescue
and struck down his assailants. Individual valor, however, proved
unavailing against the might of numbers. After nearly two hours'
desperate opposition, the convoy still made way. Charge succeeded
charge in the vain effort to prevent its effecting a junction with the
garrison, two thousand of whom were waiting for the right moment to
sally forth. In the last of these onsets, Sir Philip's impetuosity
carried him within musket-shot of the camp. A bullet struck his
unprotected leg, just above the knee, and shattered the bone. He
endeavored to remain on the field, but his horse became unmanageable,
and in agonies of pain and thirst he rode back to the English
quarters, a mile and a half distant. An incident of that ride, as told
in the quaint language of Lord Brooke, retains the immortal charm of
pathos which commands our tears, how often soever repeated:

    In which sad progress, passing along by the rest of the army,
    where his uncle the general was, and being thirsty with excess
    of bleeding, he called for drink, which was presently brought
    him, but as he was putting the bottle to his mouth, he saw a
    poor soldier carried along who had eaten his last at that same
    feast, ghastly, casting up his eyes at the bottle, which Sir
    Philip perceiving, took it from his head before he drank, and
    delivered it to the poor man with these words, "Thy necessity
    is greater than mine." And when he had pledged this poor
    soldier, he was presently carried to Arnheim.

The golden chain of heroic actions, Christian and pagan, may contain
examples of self-denial sublimer and more absolute than this; but in
the blended grace and tenderness of its knightly courtesy, we know not
where to find its parallel.

Leicester met his nephew as he was borne back to the camp, and burst
into a genuine passion of sorrow. Many a rough soldier among those
who, in returning from the failure of their impossible enterprise, now
came up with their comrade, was unmanned for the first time that day.
Sir William Russell, as tender-hearted as he was daring, embraced him
weeping, and kissed his hand amid broken words of admiration and
sympathy. But Sidney needed no consolation. "I would," said Leicester,
in a letter to Sir Thomas Heneage, "you had stood by to hear his most
loyal speeches to her Majesty, his constant mind to the cause, his
loving care over me, and his most resolute determination for death;
not one jot appalled for his blow, which is the most grievous that
ever I saw with such a bullet."

The English surgeons at first gave hopes of his speedy restoration to
health, and the favorable news was sent to England. Lady Sidney, who
had followed him to Flushing some months before, at once hastened to
him, but with no idea of his danger. The nation at large thought him
convalescent. He himself, however, never expected to recover, although
submitting with fortitude to whatever systems of treatment were
proposed. Nothing was left untried that affection could suggest or the
imperfect science of the age effect. His wife tenderly nursed him, and
his two younger brothers were constantly at his side. His quondam foe,
Count Hohenlo, though himself dangerously wounded, sent off his own
physician, Adrian Van den Spiegel, to his aid. After examining the
injuries Adrian pronounced them mortal, and then hastened back to the
Count, whose case was not so desperate. "Away, villain!" cried the
generous soldier in a transport of wrath; "never see my face again
till thou bring better news of that man's recovery, for whose
redemption many such as I were happily lost!"

From the first to the last moment of his suffering Sir Philip's temper
was calm and cheerful. During the three weeks that he lingered at
Arnheim he occupied himself with the thoughts befitting a
death-bed.... On the 17th of October he felt himself dying, and
summoned his friends to say farewell. His latest words were addressed
to his brother Robert: "Love my memory; cherish my friends; their
faith to me may assure you they are honest. But, above all things,
govern your will and affections by the will and word of your Creator;
in me beholding the end of this world with all her vanities." When
powerless to speak, he replied to the entreaty of friends, who desired
some token of his trust in God, by clasping his hands in the attitude
of prayer, and a few moments afterwards had ceased to breathe.

                 --Adapted from the _Edinburgh Review_.

   [Illustration: WILLIAM SHAKSPERE
   From the portrait by Martin Droeshout]



III

ABOUT SHAKSPERE


What would we not give to be able to relate a half-dozen good
anecdotes about Shakspere? It is true there are traditions, the best
known of which is the story that he poached deer in the park of Sir
Thomas Lucy. Men have discussed the pros and cons of this
deer-stealing tradition with a gravity and fulness worthy of a
weightier cause. Suppose he did engage in the exciting sport of
worrying a nobleman who had a game preserve. Does that fact blacken
the youth's character? It is said the students at Oxford were the most
notorious poachers in the kingdom, although expulsion was the penalty.
Dr. Forman relates how a student who afterwards became a bishop was
more given to poaching than to study.

What do we know about the life of Shakspere? We know that he was born
at Stratford-on-Avon in 1564, that he died there in 1616, April 23.
Some years ago I stood in the house which is reputed to be the place
of his birth; over 20,000 pilgrims from all lands each year pay their
shilling for the privilege of going through that house; the town
corporation has purchased the property and controls it; the place has
been photographed until the reading world is familiar with the
picture,--and yet we do not positively know that Shakspere was born in
that house. For Shakspere's father owned two houses at the time of the
son's birth; in which of the two he lived at this time we can but
guess. We suppose he lived in the Henley Street house, for it was the
better of the two houses and the Shakspere family was prospering when
William was born. The house itself has been remodeled. I think it is
Sidney Lee who says that the only thing that remains as it was in
Shakspere's time is the cellar. We do not know the day of Shakspere's
birth. In Holy Trinity Church one may look into the book containing
the baptismal record of the babe, William. He was baptized on April 26
and as children were usually baptized three days after their birth we
infer he was born April 23. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, a
woman eight years his senior; that in early manhood he went to London;
that he became an actor, dramatist, manager of a theater; that in
1597 he bought New Place, the stateliest residence in Stratford; that
he lived in Stratford during the last years of his life as a highly
esteemed and worthy man, and that he died in 1616 and was buried in
Trinity Church. These are the facts in the records of Shakspere's
life. They, however, are not the important facts. The main fact in his
life is his work, the matchless collection of literary masterpieces
that bear the imprint of his genius. It is also well to keep in mind
that our paucity of definite documentary records is not characteristic
of Shakspere alone. We may know little of Shakspere, but we know less
of Marlowe, his most brilliant competitor.

It is because we know so little of fact in the life of Shakspere that
we delight to let fancy paint its charming pictures. We are led into
the old Grammar School which Shakspere in all probability attended.
Tradition points out the desk at which he used to sit. We can infer
what he studied. The name of the Latin grammar then used we can deduce
from his quoting a Latin sentence just as it was misquoted in Lilly's
grammar. Artists have painted from imagination the picture of the boy
Shakspere. Poets have wandered over the Warwickshire region and in
their mind's eye have seen the youthful bard as he walked over the
same picturesque region. In _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ we read

    I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
    Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
    Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
    With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.--

and we see the young Shakspere, keen-eyed, observant, reveling in the
beauty of nature. In _Macbeth_ we read

    This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
    Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
    Unto our gentle senses.--

and we recall that Kenilworth and Warwick Castles are near Stratford
and we see the boyish Shakspere as he walks about these magnificent
testimonies to the might and power of feudal England, or perhaps
mingling with the crowd when Royalty has come to Kenilworth to be
entertained by the lavish Leicester. So, too, when we find in _Much
Ado About Nothing_

    The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
    Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
    And greedily devour the treacherous bait,--

we have a picture before us of the boy standing on the banks of the
placid Avon, enjoying the sports of boyhood and unconsciously
receiving impressions that shall later be reproduced to adorn with
freshest imagery the poetry of the world's greatest genius.

After years of labor the scholars of the world have scraped together
enough definite information to make the Life of Shakspere, as Mr.
Raleigh puts it, "assume the appearance of a scrap-heap of respectable
size." But to us the great fact in the life of Shakspere is that he
has given us his masterpieces. Perhaps it is just as well that we know
so little about the facts in his life. We have all the more time to
study his works. About their quality there is little of disagreement.
Three hundred years ago Ben Jonson wrote

            ... I confess thy writings to be such
    As neither man nor muse can praise too much,--

and the critic of to-day is saying the same thing, only he uses two
volumes instead of two lines to say it. It is true an occasional
voice, like that of Tolstoy's, will be heard in protest, but the
protest and the critic are both likely to be forgotten before the
consensus of three centuries shall be set aside.

Shakspere lives and shall live as long as the human race shall delight
in the study of the human heart, not because of the chastity and
clearness of his diction, not because of the supremacy of his
imagination, nor because of the variety of his melodious verse,--not
even because of the matchless combination of all these charms; but the
Bard of Stratford lives and shall live because his sanity enabled him
to see the "God of things as they are," and his passion penetrated
into the deepest sorrows and rose to the highest aspirations of the
human heart,--and throughout all this sympathizing with goodness and
while despising the depraved yet pitying with a heart of love.

No system-maker or formula-builder can account for Shakspere. Genius
is ever a miracle. However, we can study the environment in which
genius moves and has its being. When we ask ourselves how does it
happen that the plays of Shakspere breathe such a wholesome and
vigorous morality, we are led to two conclusions,--first, that the
England of Shakspere's time was a wholesome and vigorous England;
second, that the man Shakspere was sound to the core.

The close of the sixteenth century is one of the most remarkable
periods in the history of the world. Indeed, so striking is the
intellectual activity of this age that lately an eminent scientist
advanced the hypothesis that some electric influence, some magnetic
current must have let itself loose to work upon the destinies of the
world in the production of great men. For in that period in Italy we
find Tasso, the greatest of modern epic poets; then too lived Galileo
and Kepler, the astronomers; in France we find the philosophic
essayist, Montaigne; in Spain the world-renowned Cervantes, the author
of the immortal Don Quixote; in England both Bacon and Shakspere,
beside a host of other writers, generals, admirals and artists. This
same age is the most flourishing period in Mahometan India; so, too,
in China, in Japan, and even in far away Persia we find an unusual
degree of intellectual activity.

The England of Shakspere! The phrase suggests a train of associations
that kindle the imagination. The age of literature, war, conquest,
adventure, and achievement. The era of Edmund Spenser, "called from
faeryland to struggle 'gainst dark ways;" of Sir Philip Sidney, the
scholar, the courtier, the gentleman; of Sir Walter Raleigh, author,
knight, and explorer; of Bacon, "the wisest, meanest, brightest of
mankind." It is the time when in the _Golden Hind_ Drake is
circumnavigating the globe; when Hawkins is exploring the Indies, and
Frobisher is becoming the hero of the Northwest passage; the age of
marvelous tales told by intrepid explorers and adventurers returning
from America, a land whose fountains renewed youth and whose rivers
flowed over sands of gold. It is the era of English sea-dogs pillaging
Spanish provinces in spite of imperial manifestos,--above all, it is
the age of the Spanish Armada.

To recall what this means it is necessary to remember that Spain was
the great dominating empire of the sixteenth century. Philip II, the
Duke of Alva, the horrors of the Spanish inquisition, condemn Spain's
power in this period. But one midsummer morn all England awoke to the
glorious news that the Invincible Armada lay at the bottom of the sea.
England had triumphed, and now for the first time national life
dreamed of the possibility of leadership in the great game of
world-politics. The atmosphere was electric with new life. In rural
England along lanes flanked with green hedges Englishmen walked with
bosoms swelling with new pride, in bustling London vigorous burghers
strode the city's streets with hearts pulsating with new warmth, and
everywhere the eyes of all Englishmen flashed with new fire.

Could a soul so sensitive as Shakspere's live in such an atmosphere
and not be influenced by it? Listen to him as he pays his beautiful,
patriotic tribute to England's national glory:

    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
    This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
    Dear for her reputation through the world.

And the second cause, we say, is the personality of the man himself.
Shakspere wrote pure and lofty poetry because his was a pure and lofty
nature. I know the disparagers of Shakspere and the advocates of the
Baconian theory make much of the traditional wildness of Shakspere's
youth. The common argument is that a man who is charged with the
poaching of deer in his youth is too bad to write good poetry,
therefore Bacon wrote Shakspere. Was Bacon an angel? By the same
process of reasoning Burns could not have written the Cotter's
Saturday Night. But I deny that Shakspere was profligate, and in
making this denial I need not prove the impeccability of Shakspere.
But his life was essentially pure, his heart good, because the
influence of the life is sane and wholesome.

Not alone the greatest intellect of his time, of all times, but also
the greatest heart, was that possessed by this Warwickshire poet. As a
man thinketh in his heart so he is. As Shakspere was, so he wrote.
This crystalline wholesome water dashing over this rocky cliff did
not have its origin in yonder pool. Pure water does not flow from a
mud-puddle. Here is a man who in twenty years writes in round numbers
forty productions--the task of Hercules. The product of the man
attests the nobility of his soul. No man can labor for twenty years
without putting his stamp upon his work. Shakspere was no bar-room
brawler, no prodigal spender of time and substance in riotous living.
He lived to the mature age of fifty-two and died a well-to-do man. The
prodigals of the world do not retire with a competency. I repeat that
Shakspere was not impeccable; he was no Puritan; but we cannot think
of the creator of Hamlet, Ophelia, Othello, Desdemona, Cordelia,
Portia, Rosalind, Miranda, and Prospero as other than a man of a
contrite spirit and a pure heart. As he surpassed his contemporaries
in breadth and loftiness of intellect, so too he surpassed them in the
reach and vigor of his moral feeling.

We cannot believe that this man who penetrated deeper than others into
the mystery of life missed the meaning of his own life. Let us hear
the conclusion of the whole matter--the power that moves the world is
not brilliancy of intellect; it is purity of heart. Nobility of
character is the essence of powerful personality. Lincoln is greater
than Webster, Washington than Jefferson, not through greater mental
grasp, but because of a purer spiritual essence. The world without
takes its meaning and color from the world within. Shakspere saw a
world of pure passion and wholesome sanity because his world within
was pure and sane.

   [Illustration: JOHN MILTON
   From a miniature by Faithorne, painted in 1667]



IV

JOHN MILTON


In 1623, when Milton was a boy of fifteen, John Heminge and Henry
Condell, "only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow
alive as was our Shakspere," had given to the world the folio edition
of Shakspere's works, very anxious that the said folio might commend
itself to "the most noble and incomparable pair of brethern," William,
Earl of this, and Philip, Earl of that, and exceedingly unconscious
that, next to the production of the works themselves, they were doing
the most important thing done, or likely to be done, in the literary
history of the world. Milton read Shakspere, and in the lines which he
wrote upon him in 1630, there seems to be the due throb of
transcendent admiration....

As Shakspere is the supreme name in this order of poets, the men of
sympathy and of humor, Milton stands first in that other great order
which is too didactic for humor, and of which Schiller is the best
recent representative. He was called the lady of his college not only
for his beautiful face, but because of the vestal purity and austerity
of his virtue. The men of the former class are intuitive, passionate,
impulsive; not steadily conscious of their powers; fitful,
unsystematic. Their love is ecstasy; their errors are the intoxication
of joy; their sorrows are the pangs of death....

Milton, the poet of Puritanism, stands out in bold contrast to these
imperfect characters. From his infancy there was nothing unregulated
in his life. His father, clearly a superior man, of keen
Protestantism, successful in business, well skilled in music, soon
perceived that one of the race of immortals had been born in his
house. He began, apparently with the conscious and delighted assent of
his son, to give the young Apollo such an education as Plato might
have prescribed. An eminently good education it proved to be; only not
so good, with a view to the production of a world-poet, as that which
nature, jealous of the Platos and pedagogues, and apt to tumble them
and their grammatical appurtenances out of the window when she has one
of her miraculous children in hand, had provided for that Stratford
lad who came to London broken in character and probably almost broken
in heart, some forty years earlier, to be a hanger-on of the theaters
and to mount the intellectual throne of the world. No deer-stealing
expeditions late o' nights when the moon silvered the elms of
Charlecote chase; no passionate love affairs and wild boy-marriage.

Milton, carefully grounded in the tongues, went in due course to
Cambridge University, and during those years when the youthful mind is
in its stage of richest recipiency, lived among the kind of men who
haunt seats of learning,--on the whole, the most uninteresting men in
existence, whose very knowledge is a learned ignorance; not bees of
industry, who have hoarded information by experience, but
book-_worms_.... It is important, also, that Milton was never to any
distracting extent in love. If Shakspere had been a distinguished
university man, would he have told us of a catch that could "draw
three souls out of one weaver?" And if the boy of eighteen had not
been in a fine frenzy about Anne Hathaway, could he have known how
Juliet and Romeo, Othello and Desdemona, loved?

... It is a proof of the fiery and inextinguishable nature of Milton's
genius that it triumphed over the artificiality of his training; that
there is the pulse of a true poetical life in his most highly wrought
poems, and that the whole mountain of his learning glows with the
strong internal flame. His inspiration was from within, the
inspiration of a profound enthusiasm for beauty and an impassioned
devotion to virtue. The district in which he lived during much of his
most elaborate self-education is not marked enough to have disturbed,
by strong impressions from without, the development of his genius from
within. Horton lies where the dead flat of southeastern Buckingham
meets the dead flat of southwestern Middlesex. Egham Hill, not quite
so high as Hampstead, and the chalk knoll on which Windsor Castle
fails to be sublime, are the loftiest ground in the immediate
neighborhood. Staines, the Pontes of the Romans, and Runnymede with
its associations, are near the parish church of Horton, in which
Milton worshiped for five or six years, and in which his mother is
buried, has one of the Norman porches common in the district, but is
drearily heavy in its general structure, and forms a notable contrast
to that fine example of the old English church in which, by the
willows of Avon, lie Shakspere's bones. The river Colne breaks itself,
a few miles to the north, into a leash of streams, the most
considerable of which flows by Horton. The abounding watercourses are
veiled with willows, but the tree does not seem to have attracted
Milton's attention. It was reserved for the poet-painter of the _Liber
Studiorum_ to show what depths of homely pathos, and what exquisite
picturesqueness of gnarled and knotted line, could be found in a
pollard willow, and for Tennyson to reveal the poetic expressiveness
of the tree as denoting a solemn and pensive landscape, such as that
amid whose "willowy hills and fields" rose the carol

                    ... mournful, holy,
    Chaunted loudly, chaunted lowly,
    Till her blood was frozen slowly,
    And her eyes were darkened wholly,

of the Lady of Shalott....

Milton's bodily appearance at this time was in brilliant
correspondence with the ideal which imagination might form of a
youthful poet. Perfect in all bodily proportions, an accomplished
fencer, with delicate flowing hair, and beautiful features through
which genius, still half in slumber, shed its mystic glow, he was all
that the imagination of Greece saw in the young Hyperion or Apollo.

... His three daughters, Anne, Deborah, and Mary, were the children of
his first wife. He was twice married after her death in 1653, but had
no more children. So early as 1644 his sight began to fail, and when
his little girls were left motherless, they could be known to him, as
Professor Masson touchingly says, "only as tiny voices of complaint
going about in the darkness." The tiny voices did not move him to love
or pity. His impatient and imperious nature had doubtless undergone
exquisite misery from the moaning discontent of his wife; the
daughters took the mother's part so soon as they were able to
understand her sorrows; and the grave Puritan displeasure with which
Milton regards the mother seems to have been transferred to the
children. His austerity as a Puritan and a pedagogue, and the worse
than old Hebrew meanness of his estimate of women, appear to the
greatest disadvantage in connection with his daughters. Had they been
sons, he would have thrown all his ardor into the enterprise of their
education. The training of boys was one of his enthusiasms; but his
daughters were taught nothing except to read, and were ordered to read
aloud to him in languages of which they did not understand a word.
Naturally they never loved him; his fame, which they were not able to
appreciate, cast on them no ray of comforting light; and they thought
probably in sad and scared bewilderment of the relations between their
unhappy wraith-like mother, and their Titan father. How different the
warm and tender relations between Shakspere and his children! In that
instance it was the daughter, the pet Judith, that was the demure
sweet Puritan, yet with a touch of her father's wit in her, and able
to enjoy all the depth of his smile when he would ask her whether
cakes and ale were to be _quite_ abolished when the reign of the
saints came in.

... To the man himself we turn, for one brief glance before laying
down the pen. In the evil times of the Restoration, in the land of
the Philistines, Agonistes but unconquerable, the Puritan Samson ended
his days. Serene and strong; conscious that the ambition of his youth
had been achieved, he begins the day with the Hebrew Bible, listens
reverently to words in which Moses or David or Isaiah spake of God.
But he attends no church, belongs to no communion, and has no form of
worship in his family; notable circumstances which we may refer, in
part at least, to his blindness, but significant of more than that.
His religion was of the spirit, and did not take kindly to any form.
Though the most Puritan of the Puritan, he had never stopped long in
the ranks of any Puritan party, or given satisfaction to Puritan
ecclesiastics and theologians. In his youth he loved the night; in his
old age he loves the sunlight of early morning as it glimmers on his
sightless eyes. The music which had been his delight since childhood
has still its charm, and he either sings or plays on the organ or
bass-violin every day. In his gray coat, at the door of his house in
Bunhill Fields, he sits on clear afternoons; a proud, ruggedly genial
old man, with sharp satiric touches in his talk, the untunable fiber
in him to the last. Eminent foreigners come to see him; friends
approach reverently, drawn by the splendor of his discourse. It would
range, one can well imagine, in glittering freedom, like "arabesques
of lightning," over all ages and all literatures. He was the prince of
scholars; a memory of superlative power waiting, as submissive
handmaid, on the queenliest imagination. The whole spectacle of
ancient civilization, its cities, its camps, its landscapes, was
before him. There he sat in his gray coat, like a statue cut in
granite. England had made a sordid failure, but he had not failed. His
soul's fellowship was with the great Republicans of Greece and Rome,
and with the Psalmist and Isaiah and Oliver Cromwell.

       --From Peter Bayne in the _Contemporary Review_.



V

CHARLES LAMB, THE CLERK OF THE INDIA HOUSE


The author of the _Essays of Elia_ and _Tales Founded on the Plays of
Shakspere_ worked for the greater part of his life in the employ of
the Honorable East India Company. He received his appointment in 1792,
the year of the birth of Shelley. He had been trained at Christ's
Hospital for a university career; this gave him a good classical
education but not especially good preparation for his new work. Had he
been obliged to pass a civil service examination he would hardly have
received the appointment. Of geography and arithmetic he knew little.
The schoolboy of to-day will be surprised to learn that a boy a
hundred and more years ago might reach the age of fifteen in a good
grammar school of that period and yet not be able to use the
multiplication table. As late as 1823 Lamb writes: "I think I lose a
hundred pounds a year owing solely to my want of neatness in making up
accounts: how I puzzle 'em out at last is the wonder!" There is no
evidence, however, to show that Lamb did not overcome his lack of
preparation. The contrary impression sometimes prevails, due, perhaps,
to his supposed apology for his late arrival by his representation
that he made up for it by a correspondingly early departure. His
industry must have been appreciated, for his salary rose from nothing
to a fair figure.

The modern young man, desirous of earning a good salary at once, will
be surprised at the statement that Lamb worked for nothing at first.
He will be still more surprised to learn that in those days a clerk in
the employ of the great India Company worked three years for nothing.
This period evidently was considered as the apprenticeship. It is true
a gratuity of 30 pounds was given, and by extra work one might earn
small sums. In April, 1795, three years having ended, he received a
salary of 40 pounds a year. The next year it rose to 70. By 1799 it
had advanced to 90, and from then on to 1814 he received an increment
of ten pounds every two years. He also received a gratuity each year.
The gratuity by 1814 had amounted to 80 pounds. After a reorganization
of the company in 1815 Lamb seems to have progressed in salary, for he
then received 480 pounds, and in 1821 it was 700; and at the time of
his retirement it was 730.

On the whole, one can say that Lamb's lot was not a hard one. No
doubt, many of his fellow-authors had reason to envy him his assured
income. His work was hard and not always pleasant, but he knew, with
all his half-pretended grumbling, that it would not be wise to rely on
his pen for a livelihood. He once remonstrated with the poetical
Quaker, Bernard Barton, who proposed to give up a bank-clerkship, in
this wise: "Trust not the public; I bless every star that Providence,
not seeing good to make me independent, has seen it next good to
settle me down on the stable foundation of Leadenhall.... Henceforth
I retract all my fond complaints of mercantile employments; look upon
them as lovers' quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome, dead
timber of a desk that makes me live! a little grumbling is a wholesome
medicine for the spleen; but in my inner heart do I improve and
embrace this our close but unharassing way of life."

That his work was no sinecure can be gathered from this letter of
about 1815: "On Friday I was at office from ten in the morning (two
hours dinner excepted) to eleven at night; last night till nine. My
business and office business in general have increased so; I don't
mean I am there every night, but I must expect a great deal of it. I
never leave till four, and do not keep a holiday now once in ten
times, where I used to keep all red-letter days and some five days
besides, which I used to dub nature's holidays.... I had formerly
little to do.... Hard work and thinking about it taints even the
leisure hours--stains Sunday with workday contemplations."

After thirty-three years of service he was granted by his company a
pension of 450 pounds. On the minutes of the Court of Directors can be
found the following resolution: "that the resignation of Mr. Charles
Lamb, of the accountant-general's office, on account of certified
ill-health be accepted, and it appearing that he has served the
company faithfully for thirty-three years ... he be allowed a pension
of 450 pounds annually."

When the resolution was communicated to him he went home to enjoy one
long holiday of leisure and literary study and authorship. "I am
Retired Leisure.... I have worked task work, and have the rest of the
day to myself." But his day did not last many years. "Lamb was but
fifty when he quitted the service of the company; yet less than ten
years of life were left to him. Not only so, but the happiness he had
expected to find proved more and more elusive. The increasing
frequency of his sister's aberration was a heavy burden for a back
which grew daily less able to bear the strain. The leisure to which he
had looked forward so eagerly was spent in listening to incoherent
babblings, that rambling chat which was to him 'better than the sense
and sanity of this world.' In her lucid intervals they played picquet
together, or talked gravely but firmly of the inevitable separation
looming nearer and nearer. In 1830 Hazlitt died. Four years later that
'great and dear spirit,' Coleridge, passed away after long suffering.
The blow to Lamb was stunning in its severity; and the loss of this
earliest and best-loved friend possibly accelerated his own decease.
Towards the close of the year a fall while walking caused a trifling
wound. No harm was expected to result; but the general feebleness of
his health brought on erysipelas, and upon Saturday, January 3, 1835,
he was borne to his rest in a quiet corner of Edmonton Church-yard,
there to await the coming, twelve years later, of the sister who had
been throughout his life at once his greatest joy and his chiefest
care."



VI

DR. JOHNSON AND CHARLES LAMB


Between Johnson and Lamb there would seem to be little in common. The
ponderous old philosopher, "tearing his meat like a tiger, and
swallowing his tea in oceans," presents a picture very dissimilar to
that of the stammering Lamb whom Coleridge has well called the
"gentle-hearted Lamb." And yet there are many points of similarity.

Perhaps the most striking resemblance is in respect to their
generosity. The unfailing testimony of all their friends is that
neither could restrain the impulse to give. The celebrated De Quincey
is led to characterize Lamb's munificence as _princely_, while
Procter, one of his younger friends, simply says, "he gave away
greatly." On the other hand, the testimony in regard to the generosity
of Johnson is equally strong. He was so open-hearted that he could not
trust himself to go upon the street with much money in his purse.
Neither Lamb nor Johnson believed in the modern methods of attending
to charitable giving through the mediation of boards and committees.
Each violated the commonest precepts of a coldblooded political
economy. If want and suffering were depicted upon the face of the
mendicant, that was enough to call for the open purse. What if the
beggar did look like a thief or drunkard? He might spend the money for
gin or tobacco, but what of that? "Why should they be denied such
sweeteners of their existence?" was Johnson's indulgent plea. This
stern moralist so much enjoyed giving that he doubtless would have
regretted the passing of laws prohibiting the beggar from plying his
vocation in public. So too would the genial Elia, who obeyed his own
precept of "give and ask no questions."

While returning to his lodgings after midnight Johnson would often
drop pennies into the hands of poor children sleeping on the
thresholds and stalls, to furnish them with the means for a breakfast.
This was done at a time when he was living on pennies himself.
"Reader," pleads Elia in his _Praise of Chimney Sweepers_, "if thou
meetest one of these small gentry in thy early rambles, it is good to
give him a penny--it is better to give him a twopence." And then Lamb
describes the choice and fragrant drink, _Saloop_, the delight of the
sweep, a basin of which together with a slice of delicate bread and
butter will cost but a twopence. As we read the description we have no
hesitancy in believing that the "unpennied sweep" frequently became a
pennied sweep after the gentle Elia had passed by.

Goldsmith once remarked that to be miserable was enough to insure the
protection of Johnson. This generous quality of mind filled the house
of Johnson with a queer assortment of pensioners. Had Lamb's home life
permitted, equally full of the needy and homeless would it have been.
In 1796 occurred the terrible tragedy that we may permit Lamb himself
to describe in his letter to Coleridge,--"White, or some of my
friends, or the public papers by this time may have informed you of
the terrible calamities that have fallen on our family. I will only
give you the outlines: My poor, dear, dearest sister, in a fit of
insanity, has been the death of her own mother. I was at hand only
time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She is at present in
a madhouse, from which I fear she must be moved to an hospital.... My
poor father was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him
and my aunt.... God Almighty have us well in his keeping!" Lamb
assumed the tender care of his sister, and his watchfulness and loving
care are more beautiful than the most charming essay he ever wrote.
But this condition at home prevented that generous open-hearted
hospitality so characteristic of Johnson. As it was he contributed to
the support of several. For a long period he gave thirty pounds a year
to his old schoolmistress. Telfourd relates that when Lamb saw the
nurse who had waited on Coleridge during his last illness, he forced
five guineas on her. Equally impulsive was his manner toward Procter,
whom he one time noticed to be in low spirits and imagined the cause
to be lack of money. "My dear boy," said he suddenly turning toward
his friend, "I have a quantity of useless things, I have now in my
desk a--a hundred pounds--that I don't _know_ what to do with. Take
it."

Some years ago when comparing these two men a Mr. Roose wrote in
concluding his paper: "We are all familiar with Johnson's huge,
ungainly form, arrayed in brown suit more or less dilapidated,
singed, bushy wig, black stockings, and mean old shoes. A quaint
little figure, Lamb comes before our vision, in costume uncontemporary
and as queer as himself, consisting of a suit of black cloth (they
both affected dark colors), rusty silk stockings shown from the knees,
thick shoes a mile too large, shirt with a wide, ill-plaited frill,
and tiny white neckcloth tied in a minute bow."

It is pleasant to fancy these two originals being brought into
personal contact. Nor is it hard, for all the tokens to the contrary,
to imagine Elia taking the grand, humane old doctor into his embrace
(a huger armful than his beloved folios), sitting up with him o'
nights, as he did with them, delighting in the humor of his
conversation, which was said by a contemporary to be unequaled except
by the old comedians, in whom Lamb's spirit found diversion; piercing
to heights and depths in his nature which Boswell never revealed to
him; while Johnson, it may safely be inferred, would have loved this
"poor Charles," in whom Carlyle could perceive but so slender a strain
of worth. But had they met at all, it would have been on equal terms.
Goldsmith maintained with difficulty, though he did maintain, his
attitude of independence towards the colossus of his age. Charles
Lamb, without any difficulty and without the show of assertiveness,
would have maintained it better. Lamb, who from earliest manhood
refused to knock under to the threatening intellectual arrogance of
Coleridge; who shook Wordsworth by the nose instead of by the hand
with the greeting, "How d'ye do, old Lake Poet!"--his stammering voice
might have broken with impunity on the doctor's weightiest utterances
with the absurdest quips and twists of speech of which even he was
capable. Yet both were of wayward nature, and had they met might not
have coalesced.

Lamb would have understood Johnson better than Johnson would have
understood the whimsicalities of the witty clerk. At one time while
discussing authors with friends Lamb said,--"There is Dr. Johnson: I
have no curiosity; no strange uncertainty about him."

Johnson's restraint in the use of alcoholic drinks is in contrast with
Lamb's indulgence. But Johnson's intemperate tea-drinking makes him
one with Lamb in his struggle with tobacco. In writing to Coleridge
for advice on smoking, Lamb asks: "What do you think of smoking? I
want your sober _average noon opinion_ of it.... May be the truth is,
that _one_ pipe is wholesome, _two_ pipes toothsome, _three_ pipes
noisome, _four_ pipes fulsome, _five_ pipes quarrelsome; and that's
the _sum_ on't. But that is deciding rather upon rhyme than reason."
And Telfourd tells us that when Parr saw Lamb puffing like some
furious enchanter, he asked how he had acquired the power of smoking
at such a rate. Lamb replied, "I toiled after it, sir, as some men
toil after virtue."



VII

THE DEATH OF DR. JOHNSON


By common consent Boswell's _Life of Johnson_ takes first place as a
biography. Some critics go so far as to say that the excellence of the
biography is to be accounted for by the deficiency in the character of
Boswell; that Boswell was such a blind and whole-souled worshiper of
Johnson that he exposed the faults of his subject with the same zeal
with which he published the virtues. This may be true. Whether true or
not, it is not an altogether bad quality. Many of us think that the
biographies of our modern men of letters would have more vivacity and
lifelikeness were they to contain an occasional glimpse of the hero
when he is not on the parade ground. The biography of Tennyson by his
son, Lord Hallam, would be far more convincing had the son given us
occasional pictures of the poet when he was not at his best. But,
perhaps, it is too much to hope that a reverent and admiring son can
give the world a vital, impartial, and comprehensive life of his
father.

Boswell has given us a full account of Johnson's last days. The gruff
old lexicographer had lived a robust life; he had faced many
temptations, and had not always retired from the conflict victorious.
On the whole, however, he had lived an exemplary life, but like many
another good man he had a dread of dying; he feared he might not meet
the last foe as worthily as a man of his character and reputation
should. But this was a groundless fear. For when the last illness was
upon him, he asked his physician to tell him plainly whether there was
any hope of his recovery. The doctor first asked his patient whether
he could hear the whole truth, whatever it might be. Upon hearing an
affirmative reply, the physician declared that in his opinion nothing
short of a miracle would restore health.

"Then," said Johnson, "I will take no more physic, not even my
opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul unclouded."

A brother of Boswell's wrote the following letter concerning the last
hours of Johnson:

"The Doctor, from the time that he was certain his death was near,
appeared to be perfectly resigned, was seldom or never fretful or out
of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, who gave me this
account, 'Attend, Francis, to the salvation of your soul, which is the
object of greatest importance:' he also explained to him passages in
the Scripture, and seemed to have pleasure in talking upon religious
subjects.

"On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss
Morris, daughter to a particular friend of his, called, and said to
Francis, that she begged to be permitted to see the doctor, that she
might earnestly request him to give her his blessing. Francis went
into the room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message.
The doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, 'God bless you, my
dear!' These were the last words he spoke. His difficulty of breathing
increased till about seven o'clock in the evening, when Mr. Barber and
Mrs. Desmoulins, who were sitting in the room, observed that the noise
he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and found he was
dead."

This account, together with several others given by various friends,
assures us that the death of Johnson was trustful and tranquil. It is
another illustration of that beautiful dispensation of nature which,
as a rule, makes death a mere slipping away, a falling asleep. The
Francis who is mentioned in the letter is the faithful negro servant
whom Johnson so generously provided for in his will. In making his
will the doctor had asked a friend how much of an annuity gentlemen
usually gave to a favorite servant, and was told that in the case of a
nobleman fifty pounds a year was considered an adequate reward for
many years of faithful service:

"Then," said Johnson, "shall I be _nobilissimus_, for I mean to leave
Frank seventy pounds a year, and I desire you to tell him so."

This generosity was too much for the equanimity of Sir John Hawkins,
one of the executors of the will, who, when he found that this negro
servant would receive about fifteen hundred pounds, including an
annuity of seventy pounds a year, grumbled and muttered "a caveat
against ostentatious bounty and favor to negroes." But however much
the Sir Johns may grumble, we cannot think the less of Johnson for his
kindness in remembering a faithful and deserving servant.

Johnson's refusal to take either wine or opiates recalls that in an
age in which the use of alcoholic drinks was very common he was an
uncompromising foe to wine, and that he was, in his latter years, loud
in his praise of water. "As we drove back to Ashbourne," says Boswell,
"Dr. Johnson recommended to me, as he had often done, to drink water
only. 'For,' said he, 'you are then sure not to get drunk; whereas if
you drink wine, you are never sure.'" And this was not the only matter
in which he was in advance of his contemporaries, and of most of ours
too. Johnson liked satisfying food, such as a leg of pork, or veal pie
well stuffed, with plum pie and sugar, and he devoured enormous
quantities of fruit, especially peaches. His inordinate love of tea
has almost passed into a proverb,--he has actually been credited with
twenty-five cups at a sitting, and he would keep Mrs. Thrale brewing
it for him till four o'clock in the morning. The following impromptu,
spoken to Miss Reynolds, points its own moral:

    For hear, alas, the dreadful truth,
      Nor hear it with a frown:
    Thou can'st not make the tea so fast
      As I can gulp it down.



VIII

GRAY WRITES THE ELEGY


Recently I was conversing with a practical man of affairs who had just
returned from his first visit to Europe. Art galleries had proved
tiresome and Westminster Abbey had bored him. But there was one place
that he had determined to see and see it he did.

"What place was that?" I asked.

"Stoke Pogis," was the reply.

Is not this answer indicative of the attitude of thousands who can
never forget the exquisite charm cast over their youth by the
melancholy beauty of the _Elegy in a Country Church-yard_? If fame was
the end of General Wolfe's ambition, he was wise in saying that he
would rather have written the _Elegy_ than be able to take Quebec on
the morrow; for of all English poems the _Elegy_ is the most popular
and widely known; it is the flower of the "literature of melancholy."
The _Elegy_ is the glorification of the obscure; therein lies its
popularity. The most of us are obscure. The _Elegy_ flatters us by
suggesting that we might have swayed the rod of empire or "waked to
ecstasy the living lyre," if we had had the chance,--or, what we think
is more likely the explanation, if we had not had a saner insight into
the values of life than the Miltons and Cromwells.

Stoke Pogis is always associated with the name of Gray. It is a
village, if such it may be called, between London and Windsor Castle.
The church is "on a little level space about four miles north of the
Thames at Eton. From the neighborhood of the church no vestige of
hamlet or village is visible, and the aspect of the place is slightly
artificial, like a rustic church in a park on a stage. The traveler
almost expects to see the grateful peasantry of an opera, cheerfully
habited, make their appearance, dancing on the greensward."

Gray and his mother, the father having died in 1741, went to Stoke
Pogis in 1742. At West End House, a simple farmhouse of two stories,
Gray lived for many years. In the autumn of 1742 was begun the _Elegy
in a Country Church-yard_. The common impression is that the whole
poem was written at Stoke Pogis, but this is not the truth. It is
better to say that it was begun in October or November at Stoke Pogis,
continued seven years later at the same place and at Cambridge, and
finished at Stoke Pogis on June 12th, 1750. It is interesting to note
that in each case an impetus was given to the composition of the poem
by the death of a friend. Several months before the poem was begun in
1742, West, a friend whose death made a very deep impression upon the
sensitive nature of Gray, had passed away; and on October 31 Jonathan
Rogers, an uncle of Gray's, died at Stoke Pogis; and when the poem was
next taken up Gray was mourning the death of his aunt. In commenting
on this subject Mr. Gosse writes,--"He was a man who had a very
slender hold on life himself, who walked habitually in the Valley of
the Shadow of Death, and whose periods of greatest vitality were
those in which bereavement proved to him that, melancholy as he was,
even he had something to lose and to regret."

On the 12th of June, 1750, Gray wrote to his friend, Horace
Walpole,--"Having put an end to a thing whose beginning you have seen
long ago, I immediately send it to you. You will, I hope, look upon it
in the light of a thing with an end to it: a merit that most of my
writings have wanted, and are like to want." Walpole was naturally
delighted with the poem--so delighted, in fact, that he handed it
about from friend to friend and even made manuscript copies of it.
This caused some embarrassment to the poet. In February, 1751, he was
annoyed to find that the publisher of the _Magazine of Magazines_ was
actually printing his _Elegy_ in his periodical. So Gray immediately
wrote to Walpole: "As I am not at all disposed to be either so
indulgent or so correspondent as they desire, I have but one bad way
to escape the honor they would inflict upon me: and therefore am
obliged to desire you would make Dodsley print it immediately (which
may be done in less than a week's time) from your copy, but without my
name, in what form is most convenient for him, but on his best paper
and character; he must correct the press himself, and print it without
any interval between the stanzas, because the sense is in some places
continued without them." On the 16th of February, only five days after
this letter was received, _An Elegy wrote in a Country Church-yard_
appeared as a large quarto pamphlet, anonymous, price sixpence.

From the very first it achieved great popularity. Magazine after
magazine published it without giving the author any compensation.
Gray was soon hit upon as the author. Unfortunately, the success of
the poem gave no increased income to the poet. Dodsley, the publisher,
is said to have made about a thousand pounds from the various poems of
Gray, but Gray had the impractical idea that it was not dignified for
a poet to make money from poetry.

In view of this lack of compensation for his poetic writings, it is
very gratifying to know that during the latter days of his life Gray
enjoyed the emolument arising from his holding the chair of Modern
Literature and Modern Languages at Cambridge. This paid him 400 pounds
a year, and did not require much work, as the office was a sinecure.

One of the biographers points out that this promotion was brought
about inadvertently through the riotous living of Gray's great enemy,
Lord Sandwich. Professor Lawrence Brockett, the incumbent of the chair
of Literature at Cambridge, dined with Lord Sandwich at Hinchinbroke.
He became so drunk that in riding home to Cambridge he fell from his
horse and broke his neck. At once five obscure dons made brisk
application for the vacant place, and Gray, sensitive and lacking the
arts of the politician, did not expect the place. But the author of
the _Elegy_ was no longer to be neglected. He soon received a letter
highly complimenting his work and offering him the professorship. Gray
accepted and was summoned to court to kiss the hand of the monarch,
George III. The king made several complimentary remarks to Gray.
Afterwards when the poet's friends asked Gray to tell them what the
king had said he replied that the room was so hot and he so
embarrassed that he really did not know what the king had said.

    Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
      Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
    He gave to misery--all he had--a tear,
      He gained from Heaven--'twas all he wished--a friend.

    No farther seek his merits to disclose,
      Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,--
    There they alike in trembling hope repose,--
      The bosom of his father and his God.



IX

COWPER AS A LETTER WRITER


William Cowper is well known as a poet, having written one of the most
popular hymns in the English language, and he is also one of the best
of letter writers. It is commonly said that we have lost the gentle
art of writing a good letter. When a man can send a postal card from
Boston to San Francisco for one cent and one from New York to Paris
for two cents, he is not likely to be so choice in his use of language
as when he paid a shilling for the privilege of getting a letter. In
the first letter which is here quoted we find Cowper writing an urgent
invitation to his cousin, Lady Hesketh, to visit him at Olney.

"And now, my dear, let me tell you once more that your kindness in
promising us a visit has charmed us both. I shall see you again. I
shall hear your voice. We shall take walks together. I will show you
my prospects, the hovel, the alcove, the Ouse and its banks,
everything that I have described. Talk not of an inn! Mention it not
for your life! We have never had so many visitors but we could
accommodate them all, though we have received Unwin and his wife, and
his sister, and his son, all at once. My dear, I will not let you
come till the end of May, or beginning of June, because before that
time my greenhouse will not be ready to receive us, and it is the only
pleasant room belonging to us. When the plants go out, we go in. I
line it with mats, and spread the floor with mats; and there you shall
sit with a bed of mignonette at your side, and a hedge of
honeysuckles, roses, and jasmine; and I will make you a bouquet of
myrtle every day. Sooner than the time I mention the country will not
be in complete beauty; and I will tell you what you shall find at your
first entrance. Imprimis, as soon as you have entered the vestibule,
if you cast a look on either side of you, you shall see on the right
hand a box of my making. It is the box in which have been lodged all
my hares, and in which lodges Puss (Cowper's pet hare) at present. But
he, poor fellow, is worn out with age and promises to die before you
can see him. On the right hand stands a cupboard, the work of the same
author; it was once a dove-cage, but I transformed it. Opposite to you
stands a table, which I also made. But a merciless servant having
scrubbed it till it became paralytic, it serves no purpose now but of
ornament, and all my clean shoes stand under it. On the left hand, at
the farther end of this superb vestibule, you will find the door of
the parlor, into which I will conduct you, and where I will introduce
you to Mrs. Unwin, unless we should meet her before, and where we will
be as happy as the day is long. Order yourself, my cousin, to the
_Swan_ at Newport and there you shall find me ready to conduct you to
Olney. My dear, I have told Homer what you say about casks and urns,
and have asked him whether he is sure that it is a cask in which
Jupiter keeps his wine. He swears that it is a cask, and that it will
never be anything better than a cask to eternity. So if the god is
content with it, we must even wonder at his taste, and be so
too.--Adieu! my dearest, dearest cousin,--W.C."

Cowper's letters are not interesting because they treat of the great
men and important affairs of his day. They are interesting because he
lived a quiet life and was able in his own way to paint a picture
treating of the common doings of an apparently unimportant life. Here
is a picture of an election in the country, or rather of the
candidates' methods in the old days:

"We were sitting yesterday after dinner, the two ladies and myself,
very composedly, and without the least apprehension of any such
intrusion, in our snug parlor, one lady knitting, the other netting,
and the gentleman winding worsted, when, to our unspeakable surprise,
a mob appeared before the window, a smart rap was heard at the door,
the boys halloed, and the maid announced Mr. Grenville. Puss was
unfortunately let out of her box, so that the candidate, with all his
good friends at his heels, was refused entrance at the grand entry,
and referred to the back door, as the only possible way of approach.
Candidates are creatures not very susceptible to affronts, and would
rather, I suppose, climb in at a window than be absolutely excluded.
In a minute the yard, the kitchen, and the parlor were filled. Mr.
Grenville, advancing toward me, shook me by the hand with a degree of
cordiality that was extremely seducing. As soon as he and as many more
as could find chairs were seated, he began to open the intent of his
visit. I told him I had no vote, for which he readily gave me credit.
I assured him I had no influence, which he was not equally inclined to
believe, and the less, no doubt, because Mr. Ashburner, the drapier,
addressing himself to me at that moment, informed me that I had a
great deal. Supposing that I could not be possessed of such a treasure
without knowing it, I ventured to confirm my first assertion by saying
that if I had any I was utterly at a loss to imagine where it could
be, or wherein it consisted. Thus ended the conference. Mr. Grenville
squeezed me by the hand again, kissed the ladies, and withdrew. He
kissed likewise the maid in the kitchen, and seemed upon the whole a
most loving, kissing, kind-hearted gentleman."



X

GIBBON AND HIS VISIT TO ROME


In that celebrated literary club founded by Dr. Johnson and Sir Joshua
Reynolds were Burke, Goldsmith, Garrick, Fox, Gibbon, and Sheridan. Of
these Gibbon is not the least distinguished. He is an illustrious
example of what an ordinary personality can accomplish by reason of an
extraordinary devotion to one purpose. Some few men achieve fame by
their brilliant versatility; some, as in the case of Samuel Johnson,
by their commanding personal force; Gibbon has won a permanent place
in literary history by spending his life in doing one thing. That one
thing he did so well that E.A. Freeman, one of the prominent
historians of the nineteenth century, has truthfully said,--"He
remains the one historian of the eighteenth century whom modern
research has neither set aside nor threatened to set aside."

In his memoirs Gibbon reveals himself as a man with little dignity or
heroism. There is a droll story that is apt to suggest itself when one
thinks of Gibbon. At one time, when asking a dignified lady for her
hand in marriage, he fell upon his knees in proper lover-like manner.
Unfortunately Gibbon was so stout that upon her refusal he found
himself in the embarrassing need of calling in a servant to help him
to his feet again. Memories such as these, however, cannot blind us to
the essential worth in the character of the great historian. In the
light of his consecration to a worthy purpose his life is not without
its heroism. To write _The History of the Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_ is a monumental achievement. To bend every energy to the
fulfilling of a high resolve is heroic. From 1764 to 1787 his one aim
in life was to write a scholarly history that should cover the vast
field that he had chosen. He may lack that spiritual insight which
enables one to estimate world movements in the upper regions of
religion, but he did not lack unfaltering devotion to his purpose. So
well did he do his work that his six volumes can be found in the
library of every student of the past. The story is told of a great
German who learned English in order to read Gibbon in the original.

In the following extract from his Autobiography is found his own
explanation of the circumstances under which he conceived his vast
project "amid the ruins of the Capitol," in 1764:

"My temper is not very susceptible of enthusiasm; and the enthusiasm
which I do not feel, I have ever scorned to affect. But, at the
distance of twenty-five years, I can neither forget nor express the
strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and
entered the eternal city. After a sleepless night, I trod, with a
lofty step, the ruins of the Forum; each memorable spot where Romulus
stood, or Tully spoke, or Cæsar fell, was at once present to my eye;
and several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed before I could
descend to a cool and minute investigation. My guide was Mr. Byers, a
Scotch antiquary of experience and taste; but in the daily labor of
eighteen weeks, the powers of attention were sometimes fatigued, till
I was myself qualified, in a last review, to select and study the
capital works of ancient and modern art. Six weeks were borrowed for
my tour of Naples, the most populous of cities, relative to its size,
whose luxurious inhabitants seem to dwell on the confines of paradise
and hell-fire. I was presented to the boy-king by our new envoy, Sir
William Hamilton, who, wisely diverting his correspondence from the
Secretary of State to the Royal Society and British Museum, has
elucidated a country of such inestimable value to the naturalist and
antiquarian. On my return, I fondly embraced, for the last time, the
miracles of Rome.... In my pilgrimage from Rome to Loretto I again
crossed the Apennine; from the coast of the Adriatic I traversed a
fruitful and populous country, which could alone disprove the paradox
of Montesquieu, that modern Italy is a desert....

"The use of foreign travel has been often debated as a general
question; but the conclusion must be finally applied to the character
and circumstances of each individual. With the education of boys,
where or how they may pass over some juvenile years with the least
mischief to themselves or others, I have no concern. But after
supposing the previous and indispensable requisites of age, judgment,
a competent knowledge of men and books, and a freedom from domestic
prejudices, I will briefly describe the qualifications which I deem
most essential to a traveler. He should be endowed with an active,
indefatigable vigor of mind and body, which can seize every mode of
conveyance, and support, with a careless smile, every hardship of the
road, the weather, or the inn. The benefits of foreign travel will
correspond with the degrees of these qualifications; but, in this
sketch, those to whom I am known will not accuse me of framing my own
panegyric. It was at Rome, on the 15th of October, 1764, as I sat
musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare-footed friars
were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of
writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind."



XI

BURNS FALLS IN LOVE


When Robert Burns and his brother were working hard on the Mount
Oliphant farm, Robert fell in love. This experience, alas, in after
years became too frequent an occurrence to occasion much comment, for
the ease with which the poet fell in and out of love was the chief
fault in a faulty life. But when this episode occurred the boy was
still an innocent country lad in his fifteenth year, a lad perhaps
somewhat rude and clownish, at least such is an unfounded tradition.
Out of the monotony of this life of prosaic toil and drudgery, Burns
is lifted by the romance which fortunately he has himself described.

"You know," he says, "our country custom of coupling a man and woman
together as partners in the labors of the harvest. In my fifteenth
summer my partner was a bewitching creature, a year younger than
myself. My scarcity of English denies me the power of doing her
justice in that language, but you know the Scottish idiom. She was a
bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass. In short, she, altogether unwittingly to
herself, initiated me in that delicious passion, which in spite of
acid disappointment, gin-house prudence, and book-worm philosophy,
I hold to be the first of human joys here below! How she caught the
contagion I cannot tell.... Indeed, I did not know myself why I liked
so much to loiter behind with her, when returning in the evening from
our labors; why the tones of her voice made my heartstrings thrill
like an Æolian harp; and especially why my pulse beat such a furious
ratan when I looked and fingered over her little hand, to pick out the
cruel nettle-stings and thistles. Among her love-inspiring qualities,
she sung sweetly; and it was her favorite reel to which I attempted
giving an embodied vehicle in rhyme. I was not so presumptuous as to
imagine that I could make verses like printed ones, composed by men
who read Greek and Latin; but my girl sung a song which was said to be
composed by a country laird's son, on one of his father's maids, with
whom he was in love; and I saw no reason why I might not rhyme as well
as he; for, excepting that he could shear sheep and cast peats, his
father living in the moorlands, he had no more scholar-craft than
myself. Thus with me began love and poetry."

   [Illustration: ROBERT BURNS
   From the portrait by Nasmyth]

The song that was due to this boyish passion is called "Handsome
Nell," and is said to be the first he wrote. It can be found in any
complete edition of the poet's work. In after years he himself calls
it puerile and silly, but, while lacking the exquisite perfection of
Burns' later lyrics, it is far superior to the usual first attempts of
poets. The last two stanzas run thus:

    A gaudy dress and gentle air
      May slightly touch the heart;
    But it's Innocence and Modesty
      That polishes the dart.

    'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
      'Tis this enchants my soul!
    For absolutely in my breast
      She reigns without control.

"I composed it," says Burns, "in a wild enthusiasm of passion, and to
this hour I never recollect it but my heart melts, my blood sallies at
the remembrance."

Poor Burns! How much happier he would have been had all his loves been
as innocent as this first experience! In one of Tennyson's most
vigorous passages in the _Idylls_ we read,

                      ... for indeed I knew
    Of no more subtle master under heaven
    Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
    Not only to keep down the base in man,
    But teach high thoughts, and amiable words
    And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
    And love of truth, and all that makes a man.

Perhaps, if Burns in a later love affair had been successful in his
suit, his life and reputation would not have suffered as they have,
for the most culpable trait in the character of the famous Scotch poet
is the ease with which he abandoned one lover for another. He was
forever falling in love, and there is some evidence to the effect that
he loved two or three at the same time. There is only too much truth
in Burns' own lines,

    Where'er I gaed, where'er I rade,
    A mistress still I had aye.

But perhaps all this would have been different had Ellison Begbie, the
daughter of a small farmer, smiled favorably upon the advances of the
young farmer from Lochlea. She is said to have been a young woman of
great charm and liveliness of mind, though not a beauty. In after
years Burns always spoke of her with the greatest of respect and as
the one woman, of the many upon whom he had lavished his fickle
affection, who most likely would have made a pleasant partner for
life.

His love affair with this young lady took place near the close of his
twenty-second year. Her refusal seems to have had a malign influence
upon the career of our poet. Up to this time his love affairs,
although numerous, were innocent. As his brother Gilbert says, they
were "governed by the strictest rules of virtue and modesty." But
henceforth there is a change in the character of Burns. Shortly after
the fair Ellison had turned a deaf ear to the letters and love-songs
of the importunate wooer, Robert and his brother Gilbert went to
Irvine, hoping that in this flax-dressing center they could increase
their income by dressing the flax raised on their own farm. Here
Burns, always very susceptible to new influences,--he would not be the
poet he is had he not been keenly alive and susceptible,--fell under
the malignant charm of a wild sailor-lad whose habits were loose and
irregular. "He was," says Burns, "the only man I ever knew who was a
greater fool than myself, where woman was the presiding star; but he
spoke of lawless love with levity, which hitherto I had regarded with
horror. _Here his friendship did me a mischief._"



XII

BURNS' FIRST BOOK OF POEMS


Burns was in trouble; he had failed as a farmer, and as a young man he
had wounded the sensibilities of his family. It seemed best to try a
new life in a new land, so he promised a Mr. Douglas to go to Jamaica
and become a bookkeeper on his estate there. But where should he get
the money to pay his passage? There were the poems lying in his
table-drawer--might they not be published and money be raised by the
sale? His friends encouraged him to publish them, and what is more to
the point, they subscribed in advance for a number of the copies. John
Wilson of Kilmarnock was to do the printing. During May, June, and
July of 1786 the printer was doing his work. At the end of July the
volume appeared, and soon the fame of the Ayrshire Plowman was
established. Let us hear Burns himself give his account of the
venture:

"I gave up my part of the farm to my brother, and made what little
preparation was in my power for Jamaica. But, before leaving my native
country forever, I resolved to publish my poems. I weighed my
productions as impartially as was in my power; I thought they had
merit; and it was a delicious idea that I should be called a clever
fellow, even though it should never reach my ears--a poor
negro-driver, or perhaps a victim to that inhospitable clime, and gone
to the world of spirits! I can truly say that _pauvre inconnu_ as I
then was, I had pretty nearly as high an idea of my works as I have at
this moment, when the public has decided in their favor....

"I threw off about six hundred copies, of which I got subscriptions
for about three hundred and fifty. My vanity was highly gratified by
the reception I met with from the public; and besides, I pocketed, all
expenses deducted, nearly twenty pounds. This sum came very
seasonably, as I was thinking of indenting myself, for want of money,
to procure a passage. As soon as I was master of nine guineas, the
price of wafting me to the torrid zone, I took a steerage passage in
the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde, for

    'Hungry ruin had me in the wind.'

"I had been for some days skulking from covert to covert, under all
the terrors of a jail, as some ill-advised people had uncoupled the
merciless pack of the law at my heels. I had taken the last farewell
of my friends; my chest was on the way to Greenock; I had composed the
last song I should ever measure in Caledonia, '_The gloomy night is
gathering fast_,' when a letter from Dr. Blackwood to a friend of mine
overthrew all my schemes, by opening up new prospects to my poetic
ambition."

The success of the first edition of his poems was so pronounced that
Burns soon gave up the idea of going away to Jamaica. Ayrshire was
flattered to discover that within its borders lived a genuine poet.
Robert Heron, a young literary man living in that neighborhood, gives
us an account of the reception of the little book of poems: "Old and
young, high and low, grave and gay, learned or ignorant, were alike
delighted, agitated, transported. I was at that time resident in
Galloway, contiguous to Ayrshire, and I can well remember how even
plowboys and maidservants would have gladly bestowed the wages they
earned most hardly, and which they wanted to purchase necessary
clothing, if they might procure the works of Burns."

When Burns wished a second edition of his poems, he had a very poor
offer from his printer. So he went to Edinburgh to see whether he
could not make a more advantageous bargain in the Scottish capital. He
reached that famous city on the 28th of November, 1786. Here he was
feted and banqueted, admired and criticised. In April, 1787, the
second edition appeared. The volume was a handsome octavo. The
Scottish public had subscribed very liberally, and eventually Burns
received 500 pounds, but Creech, his publisher, was so slow in making
payments that Burns had to wait a long time before he received his
due.

Walter Scott was among the many who met Burns during his stay in
Edinburgh. Scott was but a boy of fifteen, but he never forgot the
glance of approval bestowed upon him by the poet. We are especially
fortunate in having Scott's own account of the incident: "As for
Burns, I may truly say, '_Virgilium vidi tantum_.' I was a lad of
fifteen when he came to Edinburgh. I saw him one day at the late
venerable Professor Adam Fergusson's. Of course we youngsters sat
silent, looked, and listened. The only thing I remember which was
remarkable in Burns' manner, was the effect produced upon him by a
print of Bunbury's, representing a soldier lying dead on the snow, his
dog sitting in misery on one side--on the other his widow, with her
child in her arms. These lines were written beneath:

    Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden's plain,
    Perhaps that parent wept her soldier slain--
    Bent o'er the babe, her eye dissolved in dew,
    The big drops mingling with the milk he drew,
    Gave the sad presage of his future years,
    The child of misery baptized in tears.

"Burns seemed much affected by the print: he actually shed tears. He
asked whose the lines were, and it chanced that nobody but myself
remembered that they occur in a half-forgotten poem of Langhorne's,
called by the unpromising title of _The Justice of Peace_. I whispered
my information to a friend present, who mentioned it to Burns, who
rewarded me with a look and a word, which though of mere civility, I
then received with very great pleasure. His person was strong and
robust; his manner rustic, not clownish; a sort of dignified plainness
and simplicity. His countenance was more massive than it looks in any
of the portraits. I would have taken the poet, had I not known who he
was, for a very sagacious country farmer of the old Scotch school--the
_douce gudeman_ who held his own plow. There was a strong expression
of sense and shrewdness in all his lineaments; the eye alone, I think,
indicated the poetical character and temperament. It was large, and
of a dark cast, which glowed (I say literally, glowed) when he spoke
with feeling or interest. I never saw such another eye in a human
head, though I have seen the most distinguished men of my time."



XIII

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE IN SCHOOL AND COLLEGE


The following affecting narrative, written in Coleridge's person by
the tender-hearted Elia, gives the best view possible of Coleridge's
scanty and suffering commencement of life. At that time, it may be
premised, the dietary of Christ's Hospital was of the lowest:
breakfast consisting of a "quarter of penny loaf, moistened with
attenuated small beer in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched
leathern jack it was poured from," and the weekly rule giving "three
banyan-days to four meat days."

"I was a poor, friendless boy; my parents, and those who should have
cared for me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, whom
they could reckon upon being kind to me in the great city, after a
little forced notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my
first arrival in town, soon grew tired of my holiday visits. They
seemed to them to recur too often, though I thought them few enough.
One after another they all failed me, and I felt myself alone among
six hundred playmates. Oh the cruelty of separating a poor lad from
his early homestead! The yearnings which I used to have towards it in
those unfledged years!... The warm, long days of summer never return
but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting memory of those
_whole days' leave_, when, by some strange arrangement, we were turned
out for the livelong day, upon our own hands, whether we had friends
to go to or none. I remember those bathing excursions to the New River
which Lamb recalls with so much relish, better, I think, than he
can--for he was a home-seeking lad, and did not care much for such
water-parties. How we would sally forth into the fields, and strip
under the first warmth of the sun, and wanton like young dace in the
streams, getting appetites for the noon; which those of us that were
penniless (our scanty morning crust long since exhausted) had not the
means of allaying--while the cattle and the birds and the fishes were
at feed about us, and we had nothing to satisfy our cravings; the very
beauty of the day and the exercise of the pastime, and the sense of
liberty setting a keener edge upon them! How faint and languid,
finally, we would return toward nightfall to our desired morsel, half
rejoicing, half reluctant, that the hours of uneasy liberty had
expired!

"It was worse in the days of winter, to go prowling about the streets
objectless, shivering at cold windows of printshops, to extract a
little amusement; or haply, as a last resort, in the hope of a little
novelty, to pay a fifty-times-repeated visit (where our individual
faces would be as well known to the warden as those of his own
charges) to the lions in the Tower, to whose _levée_, by courtesy
immemorial, we had a prescriptive right of admission."

This melancholy and harsh life was, however, ameliorated by some
curious personal incidents. Once, for example, the solitary boy,
moving along the crowded streets, fancied, in the strange vividness of
his waking dream, that he was Leander swimming across the Hellespont.
His hand "came in contact with a gentleman's pocket" as he pursued
this visionary amusement, and for two or three minutes Coleridge was
in danger of being taken into custody as a pickpocket. On finding out
how matters really stood, however, this stranger--genial, nameless
soul--immediately gave to the strange boy the advantage of a
subscription to a library close by, thus setting him up, as it were,
in life. On another occasion, one of the higher boys, a
"deputy-Grecian," found him seated in a corner reading Virgil. "Are
you studying your lesson?" he asked. "No, I am reading for pleasure,"
said the boy, who was not sufficiently advanced to read Virgil in
school. This introduced him to the favorable notice of the head-master
Bowyer, and made of the elder scholar, Middleton by name, a steady
friend and counselor for years. Yet at this time Coleridge was
considered by the lower-master, under whom he was, "a dull and inept
scholar who could not be made to repeat a single rule of syntax,
although he would give a rule in his own way." The life, however, of
this great school, with all its injudicious liberties and
confinements, must have been anything but a healthy one. Starved and
solitary, careless of play as play, and already full of that consuming
spiritual curiosity which never left him, Coleridge's devotion to the
indiscriminate stores of the circulating library gave the last
aggravation to all the unwholesome particulars of his life. "Conceive
what I must have been at fourteen," he exclaims. "I was in a continual
low fever. My whole being was, with eyes closed to every object of
present sense, to crumple myself up in a sunny corner and read, read,
read; fancy myself on Robinson Crusoe's island finding a mountain of
plum-cake, and eating a room for myself, and then eating it into the
shapes of tables and chairs--hunger, and fancy!" ...

A droll incident occurred about this period of his life, which shows
... his absolute want of ambition. The friendless boy had made
acquaintance with a shoemaker and his wife, who had a shop near the
school, and who were kind to him; and thereupon he conceived the
extraordinary idea of getting himself apprenticed to his friend, whom
he persuaded to go to the head-master to make this wonderful proposal.
"Od's, my life, man, what d'ye mean?" cried the master, with not
unnatural indignation mingling with his amazement; and notwithstanding
Coleridge's support of the application, the shoemaker was turned out
of the place, and the would-be apprentice chosen, "against my will,"
he says, "as one of those destined for the university." The same
irascible yet excellent master flogged the boy severely on hearing
that he boasted of being an infidel....

His next stage in life was not a shoemaker's shop in Newgate Street,
but Jesus College, Cambridge, which he entered in 1791 at the age of
nineteen--the object of many high prophecies and hopes on the part of
his school and schoolfellows, who had unanimously determined that he
was to be great and do them honor. The first thing he did, however,
was alas! too common an incident: he got into debt, though not, it
would appear, for an overwhelming sum, or in any discreditable way. So
long as his friend of Christ's Hospital, Middleton, remained in
Cambridge, Coleridge pursued his studies with a great deal of
regularity and in his first year won the prize for a Greek ode. But
after awhile his industry slackened, and a kind of dreamy
idleness--implying no languor of the soul or common reluctance to
mental work, but rather, it would seem, a disinclination to work in
the usual grooves, and do what was expected of him--took possession of
the young scholar. "He was very studious, but his reading was
desultory and capricious," writes a fellow-student. "He was ready at
any time to shed his mind in conversation, and for the sake of this
his rooms were a constant rendezvous of conversation-loving friends.
What evenings I have spent in these rooms! What little suppers, or
_sizings_, as they were called, have I enjoyed; when Aeschylus and
Plato and Thucydides were pushed aside with a pile of lexicons and the
like, to discuss the pamphlets of the day! Ever and anon a pamphlet
issued from the pen of Burke. There was no need of having the book
before us; Coleridge had read it in the morning and in the evening he
would repeat whole pages _verbatim_."

                 --Adapted from _Blackwood's Magazine_.



XIV

BYRON AS SWIMMER AND FEASTER


In 1858 Trelawney published his _Recollections of the Last Days of
Shelley and Byron_. In many ways this is a remarkable book. It is the
one source of information as to the last days of Shelley; concerning
Byron's, others have furnished material. Trelawney is suspected of
mingling some fiction with his truth, but the general tendency
nowadays is to place confidence in these _Recollections_. He may not
always give us a literal report, but he has likely reproduced the
spirit. He is much more sympathetic in his treatment of Shelley than
he is in his account of Byron. Trelawney himself was a remarkable
character. He lived far into the time of a new generation, dying in
his eighty-ninth year in 1881. Mary Shelley, in a letter to Maria
Gisborne, February, 1822, describes him as "A kind of half-Arab
Englishman.... He is clever: for his moral qualities I am yet in the
dark. He is a strange web which I am endeavoring to unravel."

In the _Recollections_ occurs this interesting account of Byron:

Byron has been accused of drinking deeply. Our universities,
certainly, did turn out more famous drinkers than scholars. In the
good old times, to drink lustily was the characteristic of all
Englishmen, just as tuft-hunting is now. Eternal swilling, and the
rank habits and braggadocio manners which it engendered, came to a
climax in George IV's reign. Since then, excessive drinking has gone
out of fashion, but an elaborate style of gastronomy has come in to
fill the void; so there is not much gained. Byron used to boast of the
quantity of wine he had drunk. He said, "We young Whigs imbibed
claret, and so saved our constitutions: the Tories stuck to port, and
destroyed theirs and their country's."

   [Illustration: LORD BYRON
   From the portrait by T. Phillips]

He bragged, too, of his prowess in riding, boxing, fencing, and even
walking; but to excel in these things feet are as necessary as hands. It
was difficult to avoid smiling at his boasting and self-glorification. In
the water a fin is better than a foot, and in that element he did well;
he was built for floating,--with a flexible body, open chest, broad beam,
and round limbs. If the sea was smooth and warm, he would stay in it for
hours; but as he seldom indulged in this sport, and when he did,
over-exerted himself, he suffered severely; which observing, and knowing
how deeply he would be mortified at being beaten, I had the magnanimity
when contending with him to give in.

He had a misgiving in his mind that I was trifling with him; and one
day as we were on the shore, and the _Bolivar_ at anchor, about three
miles off, he insisted on our trying conclusions; we were to swim to
the yacht, dine in the sea alongside of her, treading water the while,
and then to return to the shore. It was calm and hot, and seeing he
would not be fobbed off, we started. I reached the boat a long time
before he did; ordered the edibles to be ready, and floated until he
arrived. We ate our fare leisurely, from off a grating that floated
alongside, drank a bottle of ale, and I smoked a cigar, which he tried
to extinguish,--as he never smoked. We then put about, and struck off
towards the shore. We had not got a hundred yards on our passage, when
he retched violently, and, as that is often followed by cramp, I urged
him to put his hand on my shoulder that I might tow him back to the
schooner.

"Keep off, you villain, don't touch me. I'll drown ere I give in."

I answered as Iago did to Roderigo:

"'A fig for drowning! drown cats and blind puppies.' I shall go on
board and try the effects of a glass of grog to stay my stomach."

"Come on," he shouted, "I am always better after vomiting."

With difficulty I deluded him back; I went on board, and he sat on the
steps of the accommodation-ladder, with his feet in the water. I
handed him a wineglass of brandy, and screened him from the burning
sun. He was in a sullen mood, but after a time resumed his usual tone.
Nothing could induce him to be landed in the schooner's boat, though I
protested I had had enough of the water.

"You may do as you like," he called out, and plumped in, and we swam
on shore.

He never afterwards alluded to this event, nor to his prowess in
swimming, to me, except in the past tense. He was ill, and kept to his
bed for two days afterwards.

To return to his drinking propensities, after this digression about
his gymnastic prowess: I must say, that of all his vauntings, it was,
luckily for him, the emptiest--that is, after he left England and his
boon companions, as I know nothing of what he did there. From all that
I heard or witnessed of his habits abroad, he was and had been
exceedingly abstemious in eating and drinking. When alone, he drank a
glass or two of small claret or hock, and when utterly exhausted at
night, a single glass of grog; which when I mixed it for him I lowered
to what sailors call "water bewitched," and he never made any remark.
I once, to try him, omitted the alcohol; he then said, "Tre, have you
not forgotten the creature comfort?" I then put in two spoonfuls, and
he was satisfied. This does not look like an habitual toper. His
English acquaintances in Italy were, he said in derision, all
milksops. On the rare occasion of any of his former friends visiting
him, he would urge them to have a carouse with him, but they had grown
wiser. He used to say that little Tommy Moore was the only man he knew
who stuck to the bottle and put him on his mettle, adding, "But he is
a native of the damp isle, where men subsist by suction."

Byron had not damaged his body by strong drinks, but his terror of
getting fat was so great that he reduced his diet to the point of
absolute starvation. He was of that soft, lymphatic temperament which
it is almost impossible to keep within moderate compass, particularly
as in his case his lameness prevented his taking exercise. When he
added to his weight, even standing was painful, so he resolved to keep
down to eleven stone, or shoot himself. He said everything he
swallowed was instantly converted into tallow and deposited on his
ribs.

He was the only human being I ever met with who had sufficient
self-restraint and resolution to resist this proneness to fatten: he
did so, and at Genoa, where he was last weighed, he was ten stone and
nine pounds, and looked much less. This was not from vanity about his
personal appearance, but from a better motive; and as, like Justice
Greedy, he was always hungry, his merit was the greater. Occasionally
he relaxed his vigilance, when he swelled apace.

I remember one of his old friends saying, "Byron, how well you are
looking!" If he had stopped there it had been well, but when he added,
"You are getting fat," Byron's brow reddened, and his eyes
flashed--"Do you call getting fat looking well, as if I were a hog?"
and, turning to me, he muttered, "The beast, I can hardly keep my
hands off him." The man who thus offended him was the husband of the
lady addressed as "Genevra," and the original of his "Zuleika," in the
_Bride of Abydos_. I don't think he had much appetite for his dinner
that day, or for many days, and never forgave the man who, so far from
wishing to offend, intended to pay him a compliment.

Byron said he had tried all sorts of experiments to stay his hunger,
without adding to his bulk. "I swelled," he said, "at one time to
fourteen stone, so I clapped the muzzle to my jaws, and, like the
hibernating animals, consumed my own fat."

He would exist on biscuits and soda-water for days together, then, to
allay the eternal hunger gnawing at his vitals, he would make up a
horrid mess of cold potatoes, rice, fish, or greens, deluged in
vinegar, and gobble it up like a famished dog. On either of these
unsavory dishes, with a biscuit and a glass or two of Rhine wine, he
cared not how sour, he called feasting sumptuously. Upon my observing
he might as well have fresh fish and vegetables, instead of stale, he
laughed and answered:

"I have an advantage over you, I have no palate; one thing is as good
as another to me."

"Nothing," I said, "disagrees with the natural man; he fasts and
gorges, his nerves and brain don't bother him; but if you wish to
live?--

"Who wants to live?" he replied, "not I. The Byrons are a short-lived
race on both sides, father and mother; longevity is hereditary: I am
nearly at the end of my tether. I don't care for death a ----; it is
her sting! I can't bear pain."

His habits and want of exercise damaged him, not drink. It must be
borne in mind, moreover, that his brain was always working at high
pressure. The consequences resulting from his way of life were low or
intermittent fevers; these last had fastened on him in his early
travels in the Levant; and there is this peculiarity in malarial
fevers, that if you have once had them, you are ever afterwards
susceptible to a renewal of their attacks if within their reach, and
Byron was hardly ever out of it. Venice and Ravenna are belted in with
swamps, and fevers are rife in the autumn. By starving his body Byron
kept his brains clear; no man had brighter eyes or a clearer voice;
and his resolute bearing and prompt replies, when excited, gave to
his body an appearance of muscular power that imposed on strangers. I
never doubted, for he was indifferent to life, and prouder than
Lucifer, that if he had drawn his sword in Greece, or elsewhere, he
would have thrown away the scabbard.

   [Illustration: PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
   From a chalk drawing after the original painting by Miss
   Curran]



XV

SHELLEY AS A FRESHMAN


If one were to name ten of the greatest English poets beginning with
Chaucer and ending with Tennyson, the name of Shelley would be
included, although he died before he was thirty years old. Hogg, a
friend of Shelley's, has given us an interesting account of their
meeting when both were freshmen at Oxford.

"At the commencement of Michaelmas Term," writes Hogg, "that is, at
the end of October in the year 1801, I happened one day to sit next a
freshman at dinner; it was his first appearance in hall. His figure
was slight, and his aspect remarkably youthful, even at our table,
where all were very young. He seemed thoughtful and absent. He ate
little and had no acquaintance with any one. I know not how we fell
into conversation, for such familiarity was unusual, and, strange to
say, much reserve prevailed in a society where there could not
possibly be occasion for any." This conversation led into a heated
discussion of the merits of German and Italian literature. When the
time for leaving the dining hall had come, Hogg invited his new
acquaintance over to his rooms. During the transit the thread of the
argument was lost, and while Hogg was lighting the candles Shelley
frankly said that he was not competent to argue the point, as he had
little knowledge of either German or Italian literature. Then Hogg
with equal ingenuousness confessed that he knew but little of Italian
and nothing of German literature.

So the talk went merrily on. Shelley said it made little difference
whether Italian or German literature were the more worthy, for all
literature, what was it but vain trifling? What is the study of
language but the study of words, of phrases, of the names of things?
How much better and wiser to study things themselves!

"I inquired," says Hogg, "a little bewildered, how this was to be
effected. He answered, 'Through the physical sciences, and especially
through chemistry,' and raising his voice, his face flushing as he
spoke, he discoursed, with a degree of animation that far outshone his
zeal in defense of the Germans, of chemistry and chemical analysis."
While this is going on Hogg studies the youthful speaker. What manner
of man is this brilliant guest? "It was a sum of many contradictions.
His figure was slight and fragile, and yet his bones were large and
strong. He was tall, but he stooped so much that he seemed of low
stature. His clothes were expensive and made after the most approved
mode of the day; but they were tumbled, rumpled, unbrushed. His
gestures were abrupt, and sometimes violent, occasionally even
awkward, yet more frequently gentle and graceful. His complexion was
delicate and almost feminine, of the purest red and white; yet he was
tanned and freckled by exposure to the sun, having passed the autumn,
as he said, in shooting. His features, his whole face and
particularly his head, were, in fact, unusually small, yet the last
appeared of a remarkable bulk, for his hair was long and bushy, and in
fits of absence, and in the agonies (if I may use the word) of anxious
thought, he often rubbed it fiercely with his hands, or passed his
fingers quickly through his locks unconsciously, so that it was
singularly wild and rough. In times when it was the mode to imitate
stage-coachmen as closely as possible in costume, and when the hair
was invariably cropped, like that of our soldiers, this eccentricity
was very striking. His features were not symmetrical (the mouth,
perhaps, excepted), yet was the effect of the whole extremely
powerful. They breathed an animation, a fire, an enthusiasm, a vivid
and preternatural intelligence, that I never met with in any other
countenance. Nor was the moral expression less beautiful than the
intellectual, for there was a softness, a delicacy, a gentleness, and
especially (though this will surprise many) that air of profound
religious veneration that characterizes the best works, and chiefly
the frescoes of the great masters of Florence and Rome."

The next day Hogg pays a visit to Shelley's rooms. The furniture was
new and the walls were freshly papered, but everything in the room was
in confusion. "Books, boots, papers, shoes, philosophical instruments,
clothes, pistols, linen, crockery, ammunition, and phials innumerable,
with money, stockings, prints, crucibles, bags, and boxes, were
scattered on the floor in every place, as if the young chemist, in
order to analyze the mystery of creation, had endeavored first to
reconstruct the primeval chaos. The tables, and especially the carpet,
were already stained with large spots of various hues, which
frequently proclaimed the agency of fire. An electrical machine, an
air pump, the galvanic trough, a solar microscope, and large glass
jars were conspicuous amidst the mass of matter. Upon the table by his
side were some books lying open, several letters, a bundle of new
pens, and a bottle of japan ink, that served as an ink-stand, a piece
of deal, lately part of the lid of a box, with many chips, and a
handsome razor that had been used as a knife. There were bottles of
soda-water, sugar, pieces of lemon, and the traces of an effervescent
beverage. Two piles of books supported the tongs, and these upheld a
small glass retort above an argand lamp. I had not been seated many
minutes before the liquor in the vessel boiled over, adding fresh
stains to the table, and rising in fumes with a disagreeable odor.
Shelley snatched the glass quickly, and dashing it in pieces among
ashes under the grate, increased the unpleasant and penetrating
effluvium."

Hogg and Shelley soon became fast friends and met every evening. "I
was enabled," writes Hogg, "to continue my studies in the evening in
consequence of a very remarkable peculiarity. My young and energetic
friend was then overcome by extreme drowsiness, which speedily and
completely vanquished him; he would sleep from two to four hours,
often so soundly that his slumbers resembled a deep lethargy; he lay
occasionally upon the sofa, but more commonly stretched upon the rug
before a large fire, like a cat, and his little round head was
exposed to such fierce heat, that I used to wonder how he was able to
bear it. Sometimes I have interposed some shelter, but rarely with any
permanent effect, for the sleeper usually contrived to turn himself,
and to roll again into the spot where the fire glowed the brightest.
His torpor was generally profound, but he would sometimes discourse
incoherently for a long while in his sleep. At six he would suddenly
compose himself, even in the midst of an animated narrative or of
earnest discussion, and he would lie buried in entire forgetfulness,
in a sweet and mighty oblivion, until ten, when he would suddenly
start up, and rubbing his eyes with great violence, and passing his
fingers swiftly through his long hair, would enter at once into a
vehement argument, or begin to recite verses, either of his own
composition or from the works of others, with a rapidity and an energy
that were often quite painful. During the period of his occultation I
took tea, and read or wrote without interruption. He would sometimes
sleep for a shorter time, for about two hours, postponing for the like
period the commencement of his retreat to the rug, and rising with
tolerable punctuality at ten, and sometimes, though rarely, he was
able entirely to forego the accustomed refreshment."

After supper, which Shelley would take upon awaking at ten, the two
friends would talk and read together until two o'clock.



XVI

THE DEATH OF SHELLEY


In the Protestant cemetery at Rome one can find in an obscure place a
plain stone bearing record of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and these lines
from Shakspere's Tempest:

    Nothing of him that doth fade,
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange.

And this is the story of how Shelley happens to have a memorial in the
Roman cemetery:

Shelley was a revolutionist in religion and politics, and
revolutionists are seldom popular at home. Shelley's lyric poetry is
unsurpassed, but his theories in some respects will never meet with
the approval of common-sense humanity. England proved uncomfortable
and so he left his country to live in other lands. In 1822 we find him
with his family and a Mr. and Mrs. Williams in Casa Magni, a Roman
villa in a cove on the bay of Spezzia. Here the poet and his friends
became very fond of sailing in a boat which had been made for them.
The boat, which they called the Ariel, was twenty-eight feet long and
eight feet broad, and this with the assistance of a lad they learned
to manage fairly well. To Shelley, whose health had been failing, the
out-of-door life gave renewed vigor.

On the eighth of July, Shelley and Williams, accompanied by a
sailor-lad, left the harbor of Leghorn to go home to their wives, from
whom they had been absent for several days. They had gone to Pisa to
welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy, to meet other friends (among the number
was Byron), and to do some business. Neither Shelley, Williams, nor
the lad, was ever seen alive after that day. As we are indebted to
Hogg for the best pen-pictures of the boy Shelley, so we are indebted
to Trelawney for the best description of the closing scene. So we
shall follow Trelawney's account in the main.

Trelawney was in Leghorn and intended to accompany his friends out of
the harbor in a separate boat, but owing to the refusal of the health
officer of the harbor he was not allowed to go. As from his own vessel
he watched the Ariel, containing the small party happy in the thought
that in seven short hours they should be at home with their loved
ones, his Genoese mate turned to him and said: "They are standing too
much in-shore; the current will set them there." "They will soon have
the land-breeze," replied Trelawney. "Maybe," said the mate, "she will
soon have too much breeze; that gaff topsail is foolish in a boat with
no deck and no sailor on board." Then he added as he pointed to the
southwest, "Look at those black lines and dirty rags hanging on them
out of the sky; look at the smoke on the water; the devil is brewing
mischief."

"Although the sun was obscured by mists," Trelawney writes, "it was
oppressively sultry. There was not a breath of air in the harbor. The
heaviness of the atmosphere and an unwonted stillness benumbed my
senses. I went down into the cabin and sank into a slumber. I was
roused up by a noise overhead, and went on deck. The men were getting
up another chain-cable to let go another anchor. There was a general
stir amongst the shipping; shifting berths, getting down yards and
masts, veering out cables, hauling in of hawsers, letting go anchors,
hailing from the ships and quays, boats sculling rapidly to and fro.
It was almost dusk, although only half-past six o'clock. The sea was
of the color and looked as solid and smooth as a sheet of lead, and
covered with an oily scum. Gusts of wind swept over without ruffling
it, and big drops of rain fell on its surface, rebounding, as if they
could not penetrate it. There was a commotion in the air, made up of
many threatening sounds, coming upon us from the sea. Fishing craft
and coasting vessels, under bare poles, rushed by us in shoals,
running foul of the ships in the harbor. As yet the din and hubbub was
that made by men, but their shrill pipings were suddenly silenced by
the crashing voice of a thunder-squall that burst right over our
heads. For some time no other sounds were to be heard than the
thunder, wind, and rain. When the fury of the storm, which did not
last for more than twenty minutes, had abated and the horizon was in
some degree cleared, I looked to sea anxiously, in the hope of
descrying Shelley's boat amongst the many small craft scattered about.
I watched every speck that loomed on the horizon, thinking that they
would have borne up on their return to the port, as all the other
boats that had gone out in the same direction had done."

Then followed a period of painful suspense. Were they safe or had they
gone down? On the third day Trelawney went to Pisa to ascertain
whether any one had heard anything of Shelley. "I told my fears to
Hunt," he writes, "and then went upstairs to Byron. When I told him
his lip quivered, and his voice faltered as he questioned me."

And what of the wives at Casa Magni awaiting the return of their
husbands? Let one of the two tell the story. Mary is the wife of
Shelley, and Jane is Mrs. Williams.

"Yet I thought when he, when my Shelley returns, I shall be happy--he
will comfort me; if my boy be ill, he will restore him and encourage
me.... Thus a week passed. On Monday, 8th, Jane had a letter from
Edward dated Saturday; he said that he waited at Leghorn for Shelley,
who was at Pisa; that Shelley's return was certain; 'but,' he
continued, 'if I should not come by Monday, I will come in a felucca,
and you may expect me on Thursday evening at furthest.'

"This was Monday, the fatal Monday, but with us it was stormy all day,
and we did not at all suppose that they could put to sea. At twelve at
night we had a thunder-storm. Tuesday it rained all day and was
calm--the sky wept on their graves. On Wednesday, the wind was fair
from Leghorn, and in the evening several feluccas arrived thence. One
brought word they had sailed Monday, but we did not believe them.
Thursday was another day of fair wind, and when twelve at night came,
and we did not see the tall sails of the little boat double the
promontory before us, we began to fear, not the truth, but some
illness, some disagreeable news for their detention."

"Jane got so uneasy that she determined to proceed the next day to
Leghorn in a boat to see what was the matter. Friday came and with it
a heavy sea and bad wind. Jane, however, resolved to be rowed to
Leghorn, since no boat could sail, and busied herself in preparation.
I wished her to wait for letters, since Friday was letter-day. She
would not, but the sea detained her; the swell rose so that no boat
would endure out. At twelve at noon our letters came; there was one
from Hunt to Shelley; it said, 'Pray write to tell us how you got
home, for they say that you had bad weather after you sailed on Monday
and we are anxious.' The paper fell from me. I trembled all over. Jane
read it. 'Then it is all over,' she said. 'No, my dear Jane,' I cried,
'it is not all over, but this suspense is dreadful. Come with me--we
will go to Leghorn, we will post, to be swift and learn our fate.'

"We crossed to Lerici ... we posted to Pisa. It must have been fearful
to see us--two poor, wild, aghast creatures, driving (like Matilda)
towards the sea to learn if we were to be forever doomed to misery. I
knew that Hunt was at Pisa, at Lord Byron's house, but I thought that
Lord Byron was at Leghorn. I settled that we should drive to Casa
Lanfranchi, that I should get out and ask the fearful question of
Hunt, 'Do you know anything of Shelley?' On entering Pisa, the idea of
seeing Hunt for the first time for four years under such circumstances
and asking him such a question was so terrific to me that it was with
difficulty that I prevented myself from going into convulsions. My
struggles were dreadful. They knocked at the door and some one called
out, 'Chi e?' It was the Guiccioli's maid. Lord Byron was in Pisa.
Hunt was in bed, so I was to see Lord Byron instead of him. This was a
great relief to me. I staggered upstairs; the Guicciola came to meet
me smiling, while I could hardly say, 'Where is he--Sapete alcuna cosa
di Shelley?' They knew nothing; he had left Pisa on Sunday; on Monday
he had sailed; there had been bad weather Monday afternoon; more they
knew not."



XVII

THE SCHOOL-DAYS OF JOHN KEATS


In the village of Enfield, in Middlesex, ten miles on the North Road
from London, my father, John Clarke, says Charles Cowden Clarke in
_The Gentleman's Magazine_, kept a school. The house had been built by
a West India merchant in the latter end of the seventeenth or
beginning of the eighteenth century. It was of the better character of
the domestic architecture of that period, the whole front being of the
purest red brick, wrought by means of molds into rich designs of
flowers and pomegranates, with heads of cherubim over niches in the
center of the building. The elegance of the design and the perfect
finish of the structure were such as to procure its protection when a
branch railway was brought from the Ware and Cambridge line to
Enfield....

Here it was that John Keats all but commenced, and did complete, his
school education. He was born on the twenty-ninth of October, 1795,
and he was one of the little fellows who had not wholly emerged from
the child's costume upon being placed under my father's care. It will
be readily conceived that it is difficult to recall from the "dark
backward and abysm" of seventy-odd years the general acts of perhaps
the youngest individual in a corporation of between seventy and
eighty youngsters; and very little more of Keats's child-life can I
remember than that he had a brisk, winning face, and was a favorite
with all, particularly my mother....

Keats's father was the principal servant at the Swan and Hoop
stables--a man of so remarkably fine a common-sense, and native
respectability, that I perfectly remember the warm terms in which his
demeanor used to be canvassed by my parents after he had been to visit
his boys. John was the only one resembling him in person and feature,
with brown hair and dark hazel eyes. The father was killed by a fall
from his horse in returning from a visit to the school. This detail may
be deemed requisite when we see in the last memoir of the poet the
statement that "John Keats was born on the twenty-ninth of October,
1795, in the upper rank of the middle class." His two brothers--George,
older, and Thomas, younger than himself--were like the mother, who was
tall, of good figure, with large oval face and sensible deportment. The
last of the family was a sister--Fanny, I think, much younger than
all,--and I hope still living (in 1874)--of whom I remember, when once
walking in the garden with her brothers, my mother speaking of her with
much fondness for her pretty and simple manners....

In the early part of his school-life John gave no extraordinary
indications of intellectual character; but it was remembered of him
afterwards, that there was ever present a determined and steady spirit
in all his undertakings: I never knew it misdirected in his required
pursuit of study. He was a most orderly scholar. The future
ramifications of that noble genius were then closely shut in the seed,
which was greedily drinking in the moisture which made it afterwards
burst forth so kindly into luxuriance and beauty.

My father was in the habit, at each half-year's vacation, of bestowing
prizes upon those pupils who had performed the greatest quantity of
voluntary work; and such was Keats's indefatigable energy for the last
two or three successive half-years of his remaining at school, that,
upon each occasion he took the first prize by a considerable distance.
He was at work before the first school hour began, and that was at
seven o'clock, almost all the intervening times of recreation were so
devoted, and during the afternoon holidays, when all were at play, he
would be in the school--almost the only one--at his Latin or French
translation, and so unconscious and regardless was he of the
consequences of so close and persevering an application that he never
would have taken the necessary exercise had he not been sometimes
driven out for the purpose by one of his masters.

It has just been said that he was a favorite with all. Not the less
beloved was he for having a highly pugnacious spirit, which, when
roused, was one of the most picturesque exhibitions--off the stage--I
ever saw. One of the transports of that marvelous actor, Edmund
Kean--whom, by the way, he idolized--was its nearest resemblance; and
the two were not very dissimilar in face and figure. Upon one
occasion, when an usher, on account of some impertinent behavior, had
boxed his brother Tom's ears, John rushed up, put himself in the
received posture of offense, and, it was said, struck the usher--who
could, so to say, have put him into his pocket. His passion at times
was almost ungovernable, and his brother George, being considerably
the taller and stronger, used frequently to hold him down by main
force, laughing when John was in "one of his moods," and was
endeavoring to beat him. It was all, however, a wisp-of-straw
conflagration, for he had an intensely tender affection for his
brothers and proved it upon the most trying occasions. He was not
merely the "favorite of all," like a pet prize-fighter, for his
terrier courage; but his high-mindedness, his utter unconsciousness of
a mean motive, his placability, his generosity, wrought so general a
feeling in his behalf, that I never heard a word of disapproval from
any one, superior or equal, who had known him.

In the latter part of the time--perhaps eighteen months--that he
remained at school, he occupied the hours during meals in reading.
Thus, his whole time was engrossed. He had a tolerably retentive
memory, and the quantity that he read was surprising. He must in those
last months have exhausted the school library, which consisted
principally of abridgments of all the voyages and travels of any note;
Mavor's collection, also his _Universal History_; Robertson's
histories of Scotland, America, and Charles the Fifth; all Miss
Edgeworth's productions, together with many other works equally well
calculated for youth. The books, however, that were his constantly
recurring sources of attraction were Tooke's _Pantheon_, Lemprière's
_Classical Dictionary_, which he appeared to _learn_, and Spence's
_Polymetis_. This was the store whence he acquired his intimacy with
the Greek mythology; here was he "suckled in that creed outworn;" for
his amount of classical attainment extended no farther than the
_Æneid_, with which epic, indeed, he was so fascinated that before
leaving school he had _voluntarily_ translated in writing a
considerable portion. And yet I remember that at that early
age--mayhap under fourteen--notwithstanding, and through all its
incidental attractiveness, he hazarded the opinion to me (and the
expression riveted my surprise), that there was feebleness in the
structure of the work. He must have gone through all the better
publications in the school library, for he asked me to lend him some
of my books, and, in my "mind's eye" I now see him at supper (we had
our meals in the school-room), sitting back on the form, from the
table, holding the folio volume of Burnet's _History of His Own Time_
between himself and the table, eating his meal from beyond it. This
work, and Leigh Hunt's _Examiner_--which my father took in, and I used
to lend to Keats--no doubt laid the foundation of his love of civil
and religious liberty. He once told me, smiling, that one of his
guardians, being informed what books I had lent him to read, declared
that if he had fifty children he would not send one of them to that
school. Bless his patriot head!

When he left Enfield at fourteen years of age, he was apprenticed to
Mr. Thomas Hammond, a medical man, residing in Church Street,
Edmonton, and exactly two miles from Enfield. This arrangement
evidently gave him satisfaction, and I fear it was the most placid
period of his painful life; for now, with the exception of the duty he
had to perform in the surgery--by no means an onerous one--his whole
leisure hours were employed in indulging his passion for reading and
translating. During his apprenticeship he finished the _Æneid_.

The distance between our residences being so short, I gladly
encouraged his inclination to come over when he could claim a leisure
hour; and in consequence I saw him about five or six times a month on
my own leisure afternoons. He rarely came empty-handed; either he had
a book to read, or brought one to be exchanged. When the weather
permitted, we always sat in an arbor at the end of a spacious garden,
and--in Boswellian dialect--"we had a good talk." ...



XVIII

THE HEROISM OF SIR WALTER SCOTT


When Carlyle wrote and lectured on _Heroes and Hero Worship_, he would
have made no mistake in selecting one of his contemporary countrymen
as a fine example of the man of letters as hero. But it is one of the
characteristics of human nature to see the heroic in the remote in
time and place rather than in the near. Carlyle, had he closely
examined the life of his Scotch neighbor, would have been forced to
acknowledge that no knight battling with chivalric valor in the
fiction of Sir Walter ever displayed more nobility of soul than that
displayed by Walter Scott in his adversity. Critics may find flaws in
Scott's style, but as time reveals more fully the character of the man
they are unable to find fault with the man himself. Some years ago was
published Scott's journal. Parts of this had been published before,
but, owing to the nature of some of the information, much of this had
been suppressed until sixty years after the death of the writer. To
quote from this journal is, perhaps, the best method of giving a
first-hand impression of the real man. He is his own revealer. Scott
called the big book in which he from time to time records for several
years his thoughts his "Gurnal," because his daughter Sophia had once
spelled the word in that way. This book could be closed with a lock
and key. On the title-page was written:

    As I walked by myself,
    I talked to myself,
    And thus myself said to me.
                    (Old Song.)

Scott's poems and novels brought him much revenue. This he spent in
purchasing land. He became a Scotch "laird" owning many acres, and a
most beautiful home, Abbotsford. But unfortunately he formed a bad
business partnership. When the firm through mismanagement and
speculation, in which Scott had no part, went down in ruin, Scott
found to his surprise that he owed a vast sum. In his "Gurnal" of
September 5, 1827, he wrote: "The debts for which I am legally
responsible, though no party to this contraction, amount to £30,000."
But although his legal responsibility was for so great a sum, he felt
that morally he was responsible for a far greater amount. When the
printing house of James Ballantyne & Co., the publishing house of
Constable, and Hunt and Robinson, failed, they failed for upwards of
half a million pounds. Of this enormous total, Scott could be held
morally responsible for one hundred and thirty thousand pounds.

For several weeks after intimations of failure had reached Scott, he
lived in a state of uncertainty. On the 18th of December, 1825, he
wrote a long account in his journal. It was published lately for the
first time, appearing in the _Quarterly Review_. What a revelation of
the man it is!

"Ballantyne called on me this morning. _Venit illa suprema dies._ My
extremity is come. Cadell has received letters from London which all
but positively announce the failure of Hurst and Robinson, so that
Constable and Co. must follow, and I must go with poor James
Ballantyne for company. I suppose it will involve my all.... I have
been rash in anticipating funds to buy lands, but then I made from
£5,000 to £10,000 a year, and land was my temptation. I think nobody
can lose a penny--that is my one comfort. Men will think pride has had
a fall. Let them indulge their own pride in thinking that my fall
makes them higher, or seems so at least. I have the satisfaction to
recollect that my prosperity has been of advantage to many, and that
some at least will forgive my transient wealth on account of the
innocence of my intentions, and my real wish to do good to the poor.
This news will make sad hearts at Darnick, and in the cottages of
Abbotsford, which I do not cherish the least hope of preserving. It
has been my Delilah, and so I have often termed it; and now the
recollection of the extensive woods I planted, and the walks I have
formed, from which strangers must derive both the pleasure and profit,
will excite feelings likely to sober my gayest moments. I have half
resolved never to see the place again. How could I tread my hall with
such a diminished crest? How live a poor indebted man where I was once
the wealthy, and honored? My children are provided [for]; thank God
for that! I was to have gone there in joy and prosperity to receive my
friends. My dogs will wait for me in vain. It is foolish, but the
thoughts of parting from these dumb creatures have moved me more than
any of the painful reflections I have put down. Poor things, I must
get them kind masters; there may be yet those who loving me may love
my dog because it has been mine. I must end this, or I shall lose the
tone of mind with which men should meet distress. I find my dogs' feet
on my knees. I hear them whining and seeking me everywhere--this is
nonsense, but it is what they would do could they know how things are.
Poor Will Laidlaw! Poor Tom Purdie! this will be news to wring your
heart, and many a poor fellow's besides to whom my prosperity was
daily bread."

After touching on some other matters he comes back to
Abbotsford,--"Yet to save Abbotsford I would attempt all that was
possible. My heart clings to the place I have created. There is scarce
a tree on it that does not owe its being to me, and the pain of
leaving it is greater than I can bear."

A Mr. Skene, in whose gardens Scott while in Edinburgh about a month
later took a walk, has left a record of a conversation with Scott. He
wrote immediately after the walk so as to record the conversation.
This is what Scott said: "Do you know I experience a sort of
determined pleasure in confronting the very worst aspect of this
sudden reverse--in standing, as it were, in the breach that has
overthrown my fortunes, and saying, Here I stand, at least, an honest
man. And God knows if I have enemies, this I may at least with truth
say, that I have never wittingly given cause of enmity in the whole
course of my life, for even the burnings of political hate seemed to
find nothing in my nature to feed the flame. I am not conscious of
having borne a grudge towards any man, and at this moment of my
overthrow, so help me God, I wish well and feel kindly to every one.
And if I thought that any of my works contained a sentence hurtful to
any one's feelings, I would burn it."

Scott worked so assiduously that by January, 1828, he had reduced his
debt $200,000. On the 17th of December, 1830, more than the half of
his debt had been paid. On that day his creditors had a meeting during
which the following resolutions were passed:

"That Sir Walter Scott be requested to accept of his furniture, plate,
linen, paintings, library, and curiosities of every description as the
best means the creditors have of expressing their very high sense of
his most honorable conduct, and in grateful acknowledgment for the
unparalleled and most successful exertions he has made, and continues
to make, for them."

That the creditors of Scott would be glad to show their gratitude is
easy to believe when one learns that while Scott was paying pound for
pound the other members of the firm paid their creditors less than
three shillings to the pound. That Scott did his herculean task at
great sacrifice is known. How much of pain and worry he endured is not
so well known. At one time he writes: "After all, I have fagged
through six pages, and made poor Wurmser lay down his sword on the
glacis of Mantua--and my head aches--my eyes ache--my back aches--so
does my breast--and I am sure my heart aches--what can duty want
more?"



XIX

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR


Walter Savage Landor, whose course of life ran from 1775 to 1864, in
his old age confessed, "I never did a single wise thing in the whole
course of my existence, although I have written many which have been
thought so." This is the exaggeration of an old man who has been
impressed by the frailty of human endeavor. Nevertheless, Landor is a
striking illustration of the artistic temperament. He was impractical.
Landor could not make a good fist. Even when angry, a frame of mind in
which he found himself very frequently, he did not clench his fists
without leaving his thumbs in relaxation--a sure sign, it is said, of
the lack of tenacity of purpose and tact in practical dealings. He
would adjust his spectacles on his forehead, and then, forgetting what
he had done, would overturn everything in his wild search for them.
When he started out on a trip he would take the greatest pains to
remember the key of his portmanteau, and then forget to take the
portmanteau; and then on discovering the absence of the portmanteau he
would launch out into the most vehement denunciation of the
carelessness and depravity of the railroad officials, heaping
objurgations upon them, their fathers, and their grandfathers. Then
after he had exhausted his vocabulary of invective and eased his soul,
the humor of the situation would appeal to him and he would begin to
laugh, quietly at first, and then in louder and louder strains until
his merriment seemed more formidable than his wrath.

When Landor says that he never did a wise thing but has written many,
one is led to think of his marriage. No one wrote about marriage more
seriously than Landor, no one entered upon marriage more recklessly.
"Death itself," he once wrote, "to the reflecting mind is less serious
than marriage. The elder plant is cut down that the younger may have
room to nourish; a few tears drop into the loosened soil, and buds and
blossoms spring over it. Death is not even a blow, it is not even a
pulsation; it is a pause. But marriage unrolls the awful lot of
numberless generations." The man who could write thus impressively
about marriage one spring evening at Bath attended a ball. There he
met a beautiful young lady whom he admired. As soon as he set eyes on
her he exclaimed, "By heaven! that's the nicest girl in the room, and
I'll marry her." He married her and was ever after unhappy. "God
forbid," once growled Landor, "that I should do otherwise than declare
that she always _was_ agreeable--to every one but _me_." Landor was
not in the habit of talking about his domestic troubles, but at one
time when he was contrasting other and more agreeable marriages he was
heard to say that he "unfortunately was taken by a pretty face."

Kenyon related to a friend an incident of the Landor honeymoon that is
significant. On one occasion, it seems, the newly married couple were
sitting side by side; Landor was reading some of his own verses to his
bride--and who could read more exquisitely?--when all at once the
lady, releasing herself from his arm, jumped up, saying, "Oh, do stop,
Walter, there's that dear delightful Punch performing in the street. I
must look out of the window." Exit poetry forever.

It would have been difficult for any woman to live amicably with
Landor. In his youth he was suspended from college, and when he was a
very old man he was fined $5,000 for writing a libelous article.
Between these two periods his life was made up of many fits of
passion. His rustication, or suspension from Trinity College,
Cambridge, came about in the following manner: One evening Landor
invited his friends to wine. His gun, powder, and shot were in the
next room, as he had been out hunting in the morning of that day. In a
room opposite to Landor's lived a young man whom Landor disliked. The
two parties exchanged taunts. Finally in a spirit of bravado Landor
took his gun and fired a shot through the closed shutters of the
enemy. Quite naturally this bit of pleasantry was not appreciated by
the owner of the shutters and complaint was lodged. When the
investigation was made the president tried to be as lenient as he
possibly could, but his conciliatory manner was stubbornly met by the
youthful culprit. When rustication was pronounced it was hoped that
Landor would return to the college to honor it and himself by an
earnest devotion to his studies. But he never returned.

When Landor was living in Florence the Italians thought him the
ideally mad Englishman. He lived for a time in the Medici palace, but
his friendly relations with the landlord, a nobleman bearing the
distinguished name of the palace, had an abrupt termination. Landor
imagined that the marquis had unfairly coaxed away his coachman, and
he wrote a letter of complaint. The next day in comes the strutting
marquis with his hat on in the presence of Mrs. Landor and some
visitors. One of the visitors describes the scene: "He had scarcely
advanced three steps from the door, when Landor walked up to him
quickly and knocked his hat off, then took him by the arm and turned
him out. You should have heard Landor's shout of laughter at his own
anger when it was all over; inextinguishable laughter, which none of
us could resist." This reminds one of the story Milnes told to
Emerson, that Landor once became so enraged at his Italian cook that
he picked him up and threw him out of the window, and then exclaimed,
"Good God, I never thought of those violets!"

Quite in strong contrast to the irascible side of his nature was his
tender love for his children, of which he had four, the last born in
1825. In them he took constant delight. In their games _Babbo_, as he
was affectionately termed, was the most gleeful and frolicsome of them
all. When he was separated from them he was in continual anxiety. On
one of his trips he received the first childish letter from his son
Arnold. In his reply the concluding lines reveal the intense affection
of the father:

    I shall never be quite happy until I see you again and put my
    cheek upon your head. Tell my sweet Julia that if I see twenty
    little girls I will not romp with any of them before I romp
    with her, and kiss your two dear brothers for me. You must
    always love them as much as I love you, and you must teach
    them how to be good boys, which I cannot do so well as you
    can. God preserve and bless you, my own Arnold. My heart beats
    as if it would fly to you, my own fierce creature. We shall
    very soon meet.

                                        Love your,
                                                 BABBO.

In literature Landor will be remembered as the author of _Imaginary
Conversations_, composed during his years of retirement at Florence.
In these _Conversations_ we hear the great men and women of the past
who converse as Landor imagined they might have talked. Landor's prose
style is admired, because of its simplicity and classic purity. After
the publication of the first two volumes of this work Landor was
visited as a man of genius by Englishmen and Americans. One day Hogg,
the friend of Shelley, was announced while Hare, a well-known
Englishman, was sitting in the room. Landor said, as he considered the
names of his two visitors, that he felt like La Fontaine with all the
better company of the beasts about him. Hazlitt was one of his
frequent visitors. One of their reported conversations is about
Wordsworth. Upon Landor's saying that he had never seen the famous
Lake poet, Hazlitt asked, "But you have seen a horse, I suppose?" and
on receiving an affirmative answer, continued, "Well, sir, if you have
seen a horse, I mean his head, sir, you may say you have seen
Wordsworth, sir."

Emerson was desirous of seeing Landor. One of the motives that led him
to take his first trip abroad was the desire to see five distinguished
men. These men were Coleridge, Wordsworth, Landor, DeQuincey, and
Carlyle. "On the 15th May," writes Emerson in his _English Traits_,
"I dined with Mr. Landor. I found him noble and courteous, living in
a cloud of pictures at his Villa Gherardesca, a fine house commanding
a beautiful landscape. I had inferred from his books, or magnified
from some anecdotes, an impression of Achillean wrath,--an untamable
petulance. I do not know whether the imputation were just or not, but
certainly on this May day his courtesy veiled that haughty mind and he
was the most patient and gentle of hosts."

Landor used to say somewhat loftily, "I do not remember that
resentment has ever made me commit an injustice." And in this
connection he related to a friend an incident of his early married
life, when he was living at Como, where he had for his next-door
neighbor the Princess of Wales. Landor and his royal neighbor had a
quarrel arising from trespassing by the domestics of the Princess.
"The insolence of her domestics," said Landor, "was only equaled by
the intolerable discourtesy of her Royal Highness when she was
appealed to in the matter."

Some years later when the Milan Commission was carrying on its
"delicate investigation" concerning the character of the Queen, about
whom there had been rumors detrimental to her character, Landor was
asked to give confidential testimony against Queen Caroline. This made
Landor indignant and he replied,--"Her Royal Highness is my enemy; she
has deeply injured me, therefore I can say nothing against her, and I
never will."

It is significant that shortly before this application for testimony
was made, George IV took an opportunity to ask Landor to dinner. "I
declined the honor," said the old lion, "on the plea that I had an
attack of quinsy. I always have quinsy when royal people ask me to
dinner," he added, laughing immoderately.

    Ah, what avails the sceptered race,
      Ah, what the form divine!
    What every virtue, every grace!--
      Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

    Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
      May weep but never see,
    A night of memories and of sighs
      I consecrate to thee.



XX

LEIGH HUNT'S BUSINESS ABILITY


Sir George Murray Smith, leading member of the famous publishing house
of Smith, Elder and Company, was well acquainted with the leading
literary men of England during an active career of sixty years. The
following account of Leigh Hunt is especially entertaining:

"Business was by no means Leigh Hunt's strong point. In this respect,
but not otherwise, he may have suggested Skimpole to Charles Dickens.
On one of my visits I found him trying to puzzle out the abstruse
question of how he should deduct some such sum as thirteen shillings
and ninepence from a sovereign. On another occasion I had to pay him a
sum of money, £100 or £200, and I wrote him a check for the amount.
'Well,' he said, 'what am I to do with this little bit of paper?' I
told him that if he presented it at the bank they would pay him cash
for it, but I added, 'I will save you that trouble.' I sent to the
bank and cashed the check for him. He took the notes away carefully
inclosed in an envelope. Two days afterward Leigh Hunt came in a state
of great agitation to tell me that his wife had burned them. He had
thrown the envelope, with the bank notes inside, carelessly down, and
his wife had flung it into the fire. Leigh Hunt's agitation while on
his way to bring this news had not prevented him from purchasing on
the road a little statuette of Psyche which he carried, without any
paper round it, in his hand. I told him I thought something might be
done in the matter; I sent to the bankers and got the numbers of the
notes, and then in company with Leigh Hunt went off to the Bank of
England. I explained our business, and we were shown into a room where
three old gentlemen were sitting at tables. They kept us waiting some
time, and Leigh Hunt, who had meantime been staring all round the
room, at last got up, walked up to one of the staid officials, and
addressing him said in wondering tones: 'And this is the Bank of
England! And do you sit here all day, and never see the green woods
and the trees and flowers and the charming country?' Then in tones of
remonstrance he demanded, 'Are you contented with such a life?' All
this time he was holding the little naked Psyche in one hand, and with
his long hair and flashing eyes made a surprising figure. I fancy I
can still see the astonished faces of the three officials; they would
have made a most delightful picture. I said, 'Come away, Mr. Hunt,
these gentlemen are very busy.' I succeeded in carrying Leigh Hunt
off, and, after entering into certain formalities, we were told that
the value of the notes would be paid in twelve months. I gave Leigh
Hunt the money at once, and he went away rejoicing."



XXI

DE QUINCEY RUNS AWAY


My father died when I was about seven years old, says the author of
the _Confessions of an Opium-Eater_, and left me to the care of four
guardians. I was sent to various schools, great and small, and was
very early distinguished for my classical attainments, especially for
my knowledge of Greek. At thirteen I wrote Greek with ease, and at
fifteen my command of that language was so great, that I not only
composed Greek verses in lyric meters, but would converse in Greek
fluently, and without embarrassment--an accomplishment which I have
not since met with in any scholar of my times, and which, in my case,
was owing to the practice of daily reading off the newspapers into the
best Greek I could furnish _extempore_; for the necessity of
ransacking my memory and invention for all sorts and combinations of
periphrastic expressions, as equivalents for modern ideas, images,
relations of things, etc., gave me a compass of diction which would
never have been called out by a dull translation of moral essays, etc.
"That boy," said one of my masters, pointing the attention of a
stranger to me, "that boy could harangue an Athenian mob better than
you or I could address an English one." He who honored me with this
eulogy was a scholar, "and a ripe and good one," and of all my tutors,
was the only one whom I loved or reverenced. Unfortunately for me
(and, as I afterwards learned, to this worthy man's great
indignation), I was transferred to the care, first of a blockhead, who
was in a perpetual panic lest I should expose his ignorance; and,
finally, to that of a respectable scholar, at the head of a great
school on an ancient foundation. This man had been appointed to his
situation by ---- College, Oxford, and was a sound, well-built
scholar, but (like most men whom I have known from that college)
coarse, clumsy, and inelegant. A miserable contrast he presented, in
my eyes, to the Etonian brilliancy of my favorite master; and,
besides, he could not disguise from my hourly notice the poverty and
meagerness of his understanding. It is a bad thing for a boy to be,
and know himself, far beyond his tutors, whether in knowledge or power
of mind. This was the case, so far as regarded knowledge at least, not
with myself only, for the two boys who jointly with myself composed
the first form were better Grecians than the head-master, though not
more elegant scholars.... I who had a small patrimonial property, the
income of which was sufficient to support me at college, wished to be
sent thither immediately. I made earnest representations on the
subject to my guardians, but all to no purpose. One, who was more
reasonable, and had more knowledge of the world than the rest, lived
at a distance; two of the other three resigned all their authority
into the hands of the fourth, and this fourth, with whom I had to
negotiate, was a worthy man, in his way, but haughty, obstinate, and
intolerant of all opposition to his will. After a certain number of
letters and personal interviews, I found that I had nothing to hope
for, not even a compromise of the matter, from my guardian:
unconditional submission was what he demanded, and I prepared myself,
therefore, for other measures. Summer was now coming on with hasty
steps, and my seventeenth birthday was fast approaching, after which
day I had sworn within myself that I would no longer be numbered among
schoolboys. Money being what I chiefly wanted, I wrote to a woman of
high rank, who, though young herself, had known me from a child, and
had latterly treated me with great distinction, requesting that she
would "lend" me five guineas. For upward of a week no answer came, and
I was beginning to despond, when at length a servant put into my hands
a double letter, with a coronet on the seal. The letter was kind and
obliging; the fair writer was on the sea-coast, and in that way the
delay had arisen; she inclosed double of what I had asked, and
good-naturedly hinted that if I should _never_ repay her, it would not
absolutely ruin her. Now, then, I was prepared for my scheme: ten
guineas, added to about two that I had remaining from my pocket-money,
seemed to me sufficient for an indefinite length of time, and at that
happy age, if no _definite_ boundary can be assigned to one's power,
the spirit of hope and pleasure makes it virtually infinite.

It is a just remark of Dr. Johnson's (and, what cannot often be said of
his remarks, it is a very feeling one) that we never do anything
consciously for the last time (of things, that is, which we have long
been in the habit of doing) without sadness of heart. This truth I felt
deeply when I came to leave ----, a place which I did not love, and
where I had not been happy. On the evening before I left ---- forever,
I grieved when the ancient and lofty schoolroom resounded with the
evening service, performed for the last time in my hearing; and at
night, when the muster-roll of names was called over, and mine (as
usual) was called first, I stepped forward, and passing the
head-master, who was standing by, I bowed to him, and looked earnestly
in his face, thinking to myself, "He is old and infirm, and in this
world I shall not see him again." I was right; I never _did_ see him
again, nor never shall. He looked at me complacently, smiled
good-naturedly, returned my salutation (or rather my valediction), and
we parted (though he knew it not) forever. I could not reverence him
intellectually, but he had been uniformly kind to me, and had allowed
me many indulgences, and I grieved at the thought of the mortification
I should inflict upon him.

The morning came which was to launch me into the world, and from which
my whole succeeding life has, in many important points, taken its
coloring. I lodged in the head-master's house, and had been allowed,
from my first entrance, the indulgence of a private room, which I used
both as a sleeping-room and as a study. At half after three I rose,
and gazed with deep emotion at the ancient towers of ----, "drest in
earliest light," and beginning to crimson with the radiant luster of a
cloudless July morning. I was firm and immovable in my purpose, but
yet agitated by anticipation of uncertain danger and troubles; and if
I could have foreseen the hurricane, and perfect hail-storm of
affliction, which soon fell upon me, well might I have been agitated.
To this agitation the deep peace of the morning presented an affecting
contrast, and in some degree a medicine. The silence was more profound
than that of midnight, and to me the silence of a summer morning is
more touching than all other silence, because, the light being broad
and strong as that of noonday at other seasons of the year, it seems
to differ from perfect day chiefly because man is not yet abroad, and
thus, the peace of nature, and of the innocent creatures of God, seem
to be secure and deep, only so long as the presence of man, and his
restless and unquiet spirit, are not there to trouble its sanctity.

I dressed myself, took my hat and gloves, and lingered a little in the
room. For the last year and a half this room had been my "pensive
citadel:" here I had read and studied through all the hours of the
night, and, though true it was that, for the latter part of this time,
I, who was framed for love and gentle affections, had lost my gayety
and happiness, during the strife and fever of contention with my
guardian, yet, on the other hand, as a boy so passionately fond of
books, and dedicated to intellectual pursuits, I could not fail to
have enjoyed many happy hours in the midst of general dejection. I
wept as I looked round on the chair, hearth, writing-table, and other
familiar objects, knowing too certainly that I looked upon them for
the last time. While I write this, it is eighteen years ago, and yet,
at this moment, I see distinctly, as if it were yesterday, the
lineaments and expressions of the object on which I fixed my parting
gaze: it was a picture of the lovely ----, which hung over the
mantelpiece, the eyes and mouth of which were so beautiful, and the
whole countenance so radiant with benignity and divine tranquillity,
that I had a thousand times laid down my pen, or my book, to gather
consolation from it, as a devotee from his patron saint. While I was
yet gazing upon it, the deep tones of ---- clock proclaimed that it
was four o'clock. I went up to the picture, kissed it, and then gently
walked out and closed the door forever!



XXII

MACAULAY'S CHILDHOOD


Macaulay is one of the brilliant lights of the first half of the last
century. Trevelyan's _Life and Letters_ of Macaulay gives us an
interesting glimpse of his childhood. When his parents moved from the
heart of London into a less crowded district, Macaulay, baby though he
was, kept the early impressions of the place.

"He remembered," says his biographer, "standing up at the nursery
window by his father's side, looking at a cloud of black smoke pouring
out of a tall chimney. He asked if that was hell: an inquiry that was
received with great displeasure which at the time he could not
understand. The kindly father must have been pained almost against his
own will at finding what feature of his stern creed it was that had
embodied itself in so very material a shape before his little son's
imagination. When in after days, Mrs. Macaulay was questioned as to
how soon she began to detect in the child a promise of the future, she
used to say that his sensibilities and affections were remarkably
developed at an age which to her hearers appeared next to incredible.
He would cry for joy on seeing her after a few hours' absence, and
(till her husband put a stop to it) her power of exciting his feelings
was often made an exhibition to her friends. She did not regard this
precocity as a proof of cleverness, but, like a foolish young mother,
only thought that so tender a nature was marked for early death.

"The new residence was in the High Street of Clapham, a more
commodious part of London than that which they had just left. "It was
a roomy, comfortable dwelling, with a very small garden behind, and in
front a very small one indeed, which has entirely disappeared beneath
a large shop thrown out toward the roadway by the present occupier,
who bears the name of Heywood. Here the boy passed a quiet and most
happy childhood. From the time that he was three years old he read
incessantly, for the most part lying on the rug before the fire, with
his book on the floor, and a piece of bread and butter in his hand. A
very clever woman who then lived in the house as parlor-maid told how
he used to sit in his nankeen frock, perched on the table by her as
she was cleaning the plate, and expounding to her out of a volume as
big as himself. He did not care for toys, but was very fond of taking
his walk, when he would hold forth to his companion, whether nurse or
mother, telling interminable stories, out of his own head, or
repeating what he had been reading in language far above his years.
His memory retained without effort the phraseology of the book which
he had been last engaged on, and he talked, as the maid said, 'quite
printed words,' which produced an effect that appeared formal, and
often, no doubt, exceedingly droll. Mrs. Hannah More was fond of
relating how she called at Mr. Macaulay's, and was met by a fair,
pretty, slight child, with abundance of light hair, about four years
of age, who came to the front door to receive her, and tell her that
his parents were out, but that if she would be good enough to come in
he would bring her a glass of old spirits, a proposition which greatly
startled the old lady, who had never aspired beyond cowslip-wine. When
questioned as to what he knew about old spirits he could only say that
Robinson Crusoe often had some. About this period his father took him
on a visit to Lady Waldegrave at Strawberry Hill, and was much pleased
to exhibit to his old friend the fair, bright boy, dressed in a green
coat with red collar and cuffs, a frill at the throat, and white
trousers. After some time had been spent among the wonders of the
Orford Collection, of which he ever after carried a catalogue in his
head, a servant who was waiting on the company in the great gallery
spilled some hot coffee over his legs. The hostess was all kindness
and compassion, and when, after a while, she asked him how he was
feeling, the little fellow looked up in her face, and replied, 'Thank
you, madam, the agony is abated.'

"But it must not be supposed his quaint manners proceeded from
affectation or conceit, for all testimony declares that a more simple
and natural child never lived, or a more lively and merry one. He had
at his command the resources of the Common; to this day the most
unchanged spot within ten miles of St. Paul's, and which to all
appearance will ere long hold that pleasant pre-eminence within ten
leagues. That delightful wilderness of gorse bushes, and poplar groves
and gravel pits, and ponds great and small, was to little Tom Macaulay
a region of inexhaustible romance and mystery. He explored its
recesses; he composed, and almost believed, its legends; he invented
for its different features a nomenclature which has been faithfully
preserved by two generations of children. A slight ridge intersected
by deep ditches toward the west of the Common, the very existence of
which no one above eight years old would notice, was dignified with
the title of the Alps; while the elevated island, covered with shrubs,
that gives a name to the Mount pond, was regarded with infinite awe,
as being the nearest approach within the circuit of his observation to
a conception of the majesty of Sinai. Indeed, at this period his
infant fancy was much exercised with the threats and terrors of the
Law. He had a little plot of ground at the back of the house, marked
out as his own by a row of oyster shells, which a maid one day threw
away as rubbish. He went straight to the drawing-room, where his
mother was entertaining some visitors, walked into the circle and
said, very solemnly, 'Cursed be Sally; for it is written, cursed be he
that removeth his neighbor's landmark.'

"When still the merest child, he was sent as a day-scholar to Mr.
Greaves, a shrewd Yorkshireman with a turn for science, who had been
brought originally to the neighborhood in order to educate a number of
African youths sent over to imbibe Western civilization at the
fountain-head. The poor fellows had found as much difficulty in
keeping alive at Clapham as Englishmen experience at Sierra Leone;
and, in the end, their tutor set up a school for boys of his own
color, and one time had charge of almost the entire rising generation
of the Common. Mrs. Macaulay explained to Tom that he must learn to
study without the solace of bread-and-butter, to which he replied,
'Yes, Mama, industry shall be my bread and attention my butter.' But,
as a matter of fact, no one ever crept more unwillingly to school.
Each several afternoon he made piteous entreaties to be excused
returning after dinner, and was met by the unvarying formula, 'No,
Tom, if it rains cats and dogs, you shall go.'

"His reluctance to leave home had more than one side to it. Not only
did his heart stay behind, but the regular lessons of the class took
him away from occupations which in his eyes were infinitely more
delightful and important; for these were probably the years of his
greatest literary activity. As an author he never again had more
facility, or anything like so wide a range. In September, 1808, his
mother writes: 'My dear Tom continues to show marks of uncommon
genius. He gets on wonderfully in all branches of his education, and
the extent of his reading, and of the knowledge he derived from it,
are truly astonishing in a boy not yet eight years old. He is at the
same time as playful as a kitten. To give you some idea of the
activity of his mind I will mention a few circumstances that may
interest you and Colin. You will believe that to him we never appear
to regard anything he does as anything more than a schoolboy's
amusement. He took it into his head to write a compendium of universal
history about a year ago, and he really contrived to give a tolerably
connected view of the leading events from the creation to the present
time, filling about a quire of paper. He told me one day that he had
been writing a paper which Henry Daly was to translate into Malabar,
to persuade the people of Travancore to embrace the Christian
religion. On reading it, I found it to contain a very clear idea of
the leading facts and doctrines of that religion, with some strong
arguments for its adoption. He was so fired with reading Scott's _Lay_
and _Marmion_, the former of which he got entirely, and the latter
almost entirely, by heart, merely from his delight in reading them,
that he determined on writing himself a poem in six cantos which he
called _The Battle of Cheviot_.'"



XXIII

MACAULAY BECOMES FAMOUS


In 1848 Macaulay was a famous man. He had served in India and had
written the first part of his _History of England_. In this year after
a lapse of nine years he again keeps a diary. From this diary we quote
extracts showing how he became famous.

"Dec. 4th, 1848.--I have felt to-day somewhat anxious about the fate
of my book. The sale has surpassed expectation: but that proves only
that people have formed a high idea of what they are to have. The
disappointment, if there is disappointment, will be great. All that I
hear is laudatory. But who can trust to praise that is poured into his
own ear? At all events, I have aimed high; I have tried to do
something that may be remembered; I have had the year 2000, or even
3000, often in my mind; I have sacrificed nothing to temporary
fashions of thought and style; and if I fail, my failure will be more
honorable than nine-tenths of the successes that I have witnessed."

"Dec. 12th, 1848.--Longman called. A new edition of three thousand
copies is preparing as fast as they can work. I have reason to be
pleased. Of the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_ two thousand two hundred
and fifty copies were sold in the first year; of _Marmion_ two
thousand copies in the first month; of my book three thousand copies
in ten days. Black says that there has been no such sale since the
days of _Waverley_. The success is in every way complete beyond all
hope and is the more agreeable to me because expectation had been
wound up so high that disappointment was almost inevitable. I think,
though with some misgivings, that the book will live."

"January 11th, 1849.--I am glad to find how well my book continues to
sell. The second edition of three thousand was out of print almost as
soon as it appeared, and one thousand two hundred and fifty of the
third edition are already bespoken. I hope all this will not make me a
coxcomb. I feel no intoxicating effect; but a man may be drunk without
knowing it. If my abilities do not fail me, I shall be a rich man, as
rich, that is to say, as I wish to be. But that I am already, if it
were not for my dear ones. I am content, and should have been so with
less. On the whole, I remember no success so complete, and I remember
all Byron's poems and all Scott's novels."

"Saturday, January 27th.--Longman has written to say that only sixteen
hundred copies are left of the third edition of five thousand, and
that two thousand more copies must be immediately printed, still to be
called the third edition.... Of such a run I had never dreamed. But I
had thought that the book would have a permanent place in our
literature, and I see no reason to alter that opinion."

"February 2d.--Mahon sent me a letter from Arbuthnot, saying that the
Duke of Wellington was enthusiastic in admiration of my book. Though I
am almost callous to praise now, this praise made me happy for two
minutes. A fine old fellow!"

The above selections are from Macaulay's diary, as was said. Now come
several from letters to a Mr. Ellis, to whom Macaulay sent many.

                                           "March 8th, 1849.

    "At last I have attained true glory. As I walked through Fleet
    Street the day before yesterday, I saw a copy of Hume at a
    book-seller's window with the following label: 'Only £2 2s.
    Hume's _History of England_, in eight volumes, highly valuable
    as an introduction to Macaulay.' I laughed so convulsively
    that the other people who were staring at the books took me
    for a poor demented gentleman. Alas for poor David! As for me,
    only one height of renown remains to be attained. I am not yet
    in Madam Tussaud's wax-works. I live, however, in hope of
    seeing one day an advertisement of a new group of figures--Mr.
    Macaulay, in one of his own coats, conversing with Mr. Silk
    Buckingham in Oriental costume, and Mr. Robert Montgomery in
    full canonicals."

                                           "March 9th, 1850.

    "I have seen the hippopotamus, both asleep and awake, and I
    can assure you that, awake or asleep, he is the ugliest of the
    works of God. But you must hear of my triumphs. Thackeray
    swears that he was eye-witness and ear-witness of the proudest
    event of my life. Two damsels were about to pass that doorway
    which we, on Monday, in vain attempted to enter, when I was
    pointed out to them. 'Mr. Macaulay,' cried the lovely pair.
    'Is that Mr. Macaulay? Never mind the hippopotamus.' And
    having paid a shilling to see Behemoth, they left him in the
    very moment at which he was about to display himself to them
    in order to see--but spare my modesty. I can wish for nothing
    more on earth, now that Madam Tussaud, in whose Parthenon I
    once hoped for a place, is dead."

In his diary of June 30th, 1849, we find: "Today my yearly account
with Longman is wound up. I may now say that my book has run the
gauntlet of criticism pretty thoroughly. The most savage and dishonest
assailant has not been able to deny me merit as a writer. All critics
who have the least pretense to impartiality have given me praise which
I may be glad to think that I at all deserve.... I received a note
from Prince Albert. He wants to see me at Buckingham Palace at three
to-morrow. I answered like a courtier; yet what am I to say to him?
For, of course, he wants to consult me about the Cambridge
professorship. How can I be just at once to Stephen and to Kemble?"

"Saturday, July 1st--To the Palace. The Prince, to my extreme
astonishment, offered me the professorship, and very earnestly and
with many flattering expressions, pressed me to accept it. I was
resolute, and gratefully and respectfully declined. I should have
declined, indeed, if only in order to give no ground to anybody to
accuse me of foul play, for I have had difficulty enough in steering
my course so as to deal properly both by Stephen and Kemble, and if I
had marched off with the prize, I could not have been astonished if
both had entertained a very unjust suspicion of me. But, in truth, my
temper is that of the wolf in the fable, I cannot bear the collar, and
I have got rid of much finer and richer collars than this. It would be
strange if, having sacrificed for liberty, a seat in the Cabinet and
twenty-five hundred pounds a year, I should now sacrifice liberty for
a chair at Cambridge and four hundred pounds a year. Besides, I never
could do two things at once. If I lectured well, my _History_ must be
given up, and to give up my _History_ would be to give up much more
than the emoluments of the professorship--if emolument were my chief
object, which it is not now, nor ever was. The prince, when he found
me determined, asked me about the other candidates."



XXIV

DICKENS WRITES THE PICKWICK PAPERS


We are always interested in the beginnings of a successful career, for
humanity with all its selfishness takes a generous pleasure in the
advancement of those who have made an honest fight for fame or wealth.
The first success of Dickens came with the publication of the
_Pickwick Papers_, by the publication of which the publishers, it is
said, made $100,000,--much to their astonishment.

We all know the early career of the famous novelist: How he passed a
boyhood of poverty; how he became a stenographer, a good one, for said
a Mr. Beard, "There never was such a shorthand writer," at the time
Dickens entered the gallery as a Parliament reporter; how he later
became a reporter for the _Morning Chronicle_. In the December number
of the _Old Monthly Magazine_ his first published story saw the light.
This was in 1833, when Dickens was twenty-one. The story first went
under the name of _A Dinner at Poplar Walk_, but it afterwards was
changed to _Mr. Mims and his Cousin_. Then came _Sketches by Boz_ in
1835, and in 1836 _Pickwick_ appeared in serial form, the book coming
out a year later.

An amusing and striking illustration of the widespread interest in
the story of _Pickwick_, if we may call so rambling an account as
_Pickwick_ a story, is related by Carlyle: "An archdeacon with his own
venerable lips repeated to me the other night a strange profane story:
of a solemn clergyman who had been administering ghostly consolation
to a sick person; having finished, satisfactorily as he thought, and
got out of the room, he heard the sick person ejaculate, 'Well, thank
God, _Pickwick_ will be out in ten days any way!'--this is dreadful."

We are always interested in knowing whether the author received
adequate remuneration for his work. Literature is not a commercial
venture. The man who says, "Go to, now I shall make money by my pen!"
is not the one who achieves a masterpiece. Nevertheless we are glad to
know that genius is rewarded. It is more comforting to learn that Pope
received $45,000 for his translations of Homer than that Milton got
$25 for his _Paradise Lost_; that Scott received over $40,000 for
_Woodstock_, a novel written in three months, than that the author of
the _Canterbury Tales_ two years before his death was obliged to
petition the king, "for God's sake and as a work of charity," for the
grant of a hogshead of wine yearly at the port of London.

Did Dickens receive anything for his _Pickwick_? Mr. Chapman, one of
the publishers, told Mr. Forster, the friend and biographer of
Dickens, that there was but a verbal agreement. The publishers were to
pay 15 guineas for each number and as there were twenty numbers it is
not hard to estimate his receipts on such a basis. The publishers,
however, were to add to this compensation according to the sale. Mr.
Chapman thinks that his firm paid about 3,000 pounds for _Pickwick_,
but Mr. Forster thinks the sum was about 2,500 pounds. While this sum
bears but a small proportion to what Dickens would have received had
he made a good bargain with his publishers, it is yet a large sum to
one beginning his literary career, and must have been deeply
appreciated by Dickens, who had been so poor that he was paid 30
pounds in advance for the first two numbers, so that he might "go and
get married."

_Pickwick_ was soon followed by _Oliver Twist_, and then came
_Nicholas Nickleby_, and the long series of successful novels that
brought the author both fame and money. For when Dickens died he had a
fortune of £93,000. Some of this was made in America, where his
"readings" were attended by great crowds. On his second tour to
America, after he had given thirty-seven readings, about one-half the
entire number, he sent home a check for £10,000. Some evenings he took
in $2,000.

One reason why Dickens is a popular novelist is that he understands
the common emotions of humanity. He may be "stagey," be lacking in
plot, given to exaggeration, indulge in cheap pathos, but in spite of
all these defects his abounding vitality, his sympathy with the common
lot, his imagination, are of such transcendent power that his world of
readers adores the name of Dickens. Dickens was a good man. While not
closely following the forms of religion, his life was better than that
of many who follow the letter but break the spirit. As an illustration
of his Christian belief I quote an extract from his letter to his
youngest son, who was about to go to Australia:

                                            September, 1868.

    Never take a mean advantage of any one in any transaction, and
    never be hard upon people who are in your power. Try to do to
    others as you would have them do to you, and do not be
    discouraged if they fail sometimes. It is much better for you
    that they should fail in obeying the greatest rule laid down
    by our Saviour than that you should. I put a New Testament
    among your books for the very same reasons, and with the very
    same hopes, that made me write an easy account of it for you,
    when you were a little child. Because it is the best book that
    ever was, or will be, known in the world; and because it
    teaches you the best lessons by which any human creature, who
    tries to be truthful and faithful to duty, can possibly be
    guided.... You will remember that you have never at home been
    harassed about religious observances, or mere formalities--I
    have always been anxious not to weary my children with such
    things, before they are old enough to have opinions respecting
    them. You will therefore understand the better that I now most
    solemnly impress upon you the truth and beauty of the
    Christian Religion, as it came from Christ Himself, and the
    impossibility of your going far wrong if you humbly but
    heartily respect it.... Never abandon the wholesome practice
    of saying your own private prayers, night and morning. I have
    never abandoned it myself, and I know the comfort of it.

   [Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS]



XXV

CHARLES DICKENS AS READER


My first sight of Dickens, writes Herman Merivale in a gossipy article
in an English magazine, was characteristic enough. I was in the second
or third row of seats with some friends, at one of his readings of
_Oliver Twist_. As Thackeray was a gossip on the platform, so Dickens
was an actor. Like all speakers and actors, he longed for sympathy
somewhere; an unanswering audience kills us, on whichever side the
fault may lie. In the days of my political measles I have harangued a
London audience for an hour and twenty minutes when I have meant to
speak for a quarter of an hour; and in an out-of-the-way Hampshire
district, where I had gone on purpose to address the rurals for a set
hour, I have sate down, covered with confusion, in ten minutes, not
being able to hit on anything that interested them at all. I saw too
plainly, in all their good-natured faces, that they regarded me as the
greatest ass they had ever seen, or as an odd kind of cow gone wrong,
and of no use to the three acres. Dickens's audience that night was
dull, and he became so, too. I was disappointed. His characters were
not lifelike, and his acting was not good, and got worse as he went
on. It was the inevitable law of reaction. His audience bored him, and
he began to bore me, amongst the rest. He was not "in touch" with us,
that is all; and his eyes wandered as hopelessly in search of some
sympathetic eye to catch them, as the gladiators of old, for mercy in
the circus. Then suddenly, at one point of his reading, he had to
introduce the passing character of a nameless individual in a London
crowd, a choleric old gentleman who has only one short sentence to
fire off. This he gave so spontaneously, so inimitably, that the
puppet became an absolute reality in a second. I saw him, crowd,
street, man, temper, and all. For I am, I may say, what is called a
very good audience. I like what I like, and I hate what I hate; and on
one occasion growled at the theater so audibly at what I thought some
very bad acting that I began to hear ominous cries of "Turn him out!"
It was the first night of one of my own plays, Dickens's electric
flash bowled me over so completely and instantly that I broke into a
peal of laughter, and as we sometimes do when hard hit, kept on
laughing internally, which is half tears, and half hiccough, for some
time afterwards. Upon my word, I am laughing now, as I recall it. It
was so funny. The audience of course glared at me with the well-known
look of rebuke. "How _dare_ you express your feelings out loud, and
disturb us!"

But Dickens's eye--I wasn't much more than a boy, and he didn't know
me from Adam--went at once straight for mine. "Here's somebody who
likes me, anyhow," it said. For the next few minutes he read at me, if
ever man did. The sympathetic unit is everything to us. And on my
word the result was that he so warmed to his work that he got the
whole audience in his hand, and dispensed with me. Only once
again--oh, how like him it was!--he fixed me with his eye just towards
the end of the reading, and made a short but perceptible pause. I
wondered what was coming--and soon knew. The choleric old party in the
street had to appear for one passing instant more, and fire off one
more passing sentence. Which he did--with the same results. Good
heavens! what an actor Dickens was.

When that reading ended--with the success which it deserved--never did
that most expressive of all human features, the eye, thank a boy more
expressively. Over all things cultivate sympathy. If antipathy goes
with it, so much the better. If the magnet must attract, it likewise
must repel. Dickens was a magnet of the magnets; but in his case I
must confess, that when a modern specimen tells me he can't laugh at
him, he makes me feel rather as Heine felt when somebody told him that
he--the somebody--was an atheist; frightened.

... Dickens is perhaps best described as to my immense amusement, and
by the most delicious misprint I ever saw, I found myself once
described in the "Visitors' List" in an English paper abroad--"Human
Marvel, and family." It looked like some new kind of acrobat. Of
Charles Dickens's great kindnesses to me in after days, and of some
personal experiences of his stage passion, at the end of his life, I
ventured to gossip with readers of the _Bar_, some months ago, in a
paper called "With the Majority." In one sense, yes; but in
another--in what a minority, Thackeray and he!



XXVI

ON THE DEATH OF DICKENS


When Charles Dickens died the English papers and magazines were filled
with criticisms and appreciations of the great writer. It may be
interesting to glance at a few extracts from these:

From _Fraser's Magazine_.--On the eighth of June, 1870, the busiest
brain and the busiest hand that ever guided pen over paper finished
their appointed work, and that pen was laid aside forever. Words of
its inditing were sure of immediately reaching and being welcomed by a
larger number of men and women than those of any other living
writer--perhaps of any writer who has ever lived.

About six o'clock on that summer evening, having done his day's work
with habitual assiduity, Charles Dickens sat down to dinner with some
members of his family. He had complained of headache, but neither he
nor any one felt the least apprehension. The pain increased, the head
drooped forward, and he never spoke again. Breathing went on for
four-and-twenty hours, and then there was nothing left but ... dismay
and sorrow. When the sad news was made public it fell with the shock
of a personal loss on the hearts of countless millions, to whom the
name of the famous author was like that of an intimate and dear
friend....

Anthony Trollope in _St. Paul's_.--It seems to have been but the other
day that, sitting where I now sit, in the same chair, at the same
table, with the same familiar things around me, I wrote for the
_Cornhill Magazine_ a few lines in remembrance of Thackeray, who had
then been taken from us, and when those lines appeared they were
preceded by others, very full of feeling, from his much older friend,
Charles Dickens. Now I take up my pen again because Charles Dickens
has also gone, and because it is not fit that this publication should
go forth without a word spoken to his honor.

It is singular that two men in age so nearly equal, in career so
nearly allied, friends so old, and rivals so close, should each have
left us so suddenly, without any of that notice, first doubting and
then assured, which illness gives; so that in the case of the one as
of the other, the tidings of death's dealings have struck us a hard
and startling blow, inflicting not only sorrow, but for a while that
positive, physical pain which comes from evil tidings which are
totally unexpected. It was but a week or two since that I was
discussing at the club that vexed question of American copyright with
Mr. Dickens, and while differing from him somewhat, was wondering at
the youthful vitality of the man who seemed to have done his forty
years of work without having a trace of it left upon him to lessen his
energy, or rob his feelings of their freshness. It was but the other
day that he spoke at the Academy dinner, and those who heard him then
heard him at his best; and those who did not hear him, but only read
his words, felt how fortunate it was that there should be such a man
to speak for literature on such an occasion. When he took farewell of
the public as a public reader, a few months since, the public wondered
that a man in the very prime of his capacity should retire from such a
career. But though there was to be an end to his readings, there was
not, therefore, to be an end of his labors. He was to resume, and did
resume, his old work, and when the first number of _Edwin Drood's
Mystery_ was bought up with unprecedented avidity by the lovers of
Dickens's stories, it was feared, probably, by none but one that he
might not live to finish his chronicle. He was a man, as we all
thought, to live to be a hundred. He looked to be full of health, he
walked vigorously, he stood, and spoke, and, above all, he laughed
like a man in the full vigor of his life....

He would attempt nothing--show no interest in anything--which he could
not do, and which he did not understand. But he was not on that
account forced to confine himself to literature. Every one knows how
he read. Most readers of these lines, though they may never have seen
him act,--as I never did,--still know that his acting was excellent.
As an actor he would have been at the top of his profession. And he
had another gift,--had it so wonderfully, that it may almost be said
that he has left no equal behind him. He spoke so well, that a public
dinner became a blessing instead of a curse, if he was in the
chair,--had its compensating twenty minutes of pleasure, even if he
were called upon to propose a toast, or to thank the company for
drinking his health. For myself, I never could tell how far his
speeches were ordinarily prepared:--but I can declare that I have
heard him speak admirably when he has had to do so with no moment of
preparation.

A great man has gone from us--such a one that we may surely say of him
that we shall not look upon his like again. As years roll on, we shall
learn to appreciate his loss. He now rests in the spot consecrated to
the memory of our greatest and noblest; and Englishmen would certainly
not have been contented had he been laid elsewhere.



XXVII

RUSKIN'S CHILDHOOD


We are fortunate in having Ruskin's own account of how he passed his
childhood days. In _Præterita_ we have his autobiography. His
description of his early days runs as follows:

"I am and my father was before me a violent Tory of the old school
(Walter Scott's school, that is to say, and Homer's); I name these two
out of the numberless great Tory writers, because they were my own two
masters. I had Walter Scott's novels and the _Iliad_ (Pope's
translation), for my only reading when I was a child, on weekdays; on
Sunday their effect was tempered by _Robinson Crusoe_ and the
_Pilgrim's Progress_, my mother having it deeply in her heart to make
an evangelical clergyman of me. Fortunately, I had an aunt more
evangelical than her mother, and my aunt gave me cold mutton for
Sunday's dinner, which, as I much preferred it hot, greatly diminished
the influence of the _Pilgrim's Progress_, and the end of the matter
was, that I got all of the imaginative teachings of De Foe and Bunyan,
and yet--am not an evangelical clergyman.

"I had, however, still better teaching than theirs, and that
compulsorily, and every day of the week.

"Walter Scott and Pope's Homer were reading of my own election, but my
mother forced me, by steady daily toil, to learn long chapters of the
Bible by heart, as well as to read it every syllable through, aloud,
hard names and all, from Genesis, to the Apocalypse, about once a
year: and to that discipline--patient, accurate, and resolute--I owe,
not only a knowledge of the book, which I find occasionally
serviceable, but much of my general power of taking pains, and the
best part of my taste in literature. From Walter Scott's novels I
might easily, as I grew older, have fallen to other people's novels;
and Pope might, perhaps, have led me to take Johnson's English, or
Gibbon's, as types of language; but once knowing the 32d of
Deuteronomy, or the 119th Psalm, the 15th of 1st Corinthians, the
Sermon on the Mount, and most of the Apocalypse, every syllable by
heart, and having always a way of thinking with; myself what words
meant, it was not possible for me, even in the foolishest times of
youth, to write entirely superficial or formal English, and the
affectation of trying to write like Hooker or George Herbert was the
most innocent I could have fallen into."

       *       *       *       *       *

"As years went on, and I came to be four or five years old he (the
father) could command a post-chaise and pair for two months in the
summer, by help of which, with my mother and me, he went the round of
his country customers (who liked to see the principal of the house,
his own traveler); so that, at a jog-trot pace, and through the
panoramic opening of the four windows of a post-chaise, made more
panoramic still to me because my seat was a little bracket in front
(for we used to hire the chaise regularly for the two months out of
Long Acre, and so could have it bracketed and pocketed as we liked), I
saw all the highroads, and most of the cross ones, of England and
Wales, and great part of lowland Scotland, as far as Perth, where
every other year we spent the whole summer; and I used to read the
_Abbot_ at Kinross, and the _Monastery_ at Glen Farg, which I used to
confuse with 'Glendearg,' and thought that the White Lady had as
certainly lived by the streamlet in the glen of the Ochlis, as the
Queen of Scots in the island of Loch Leven.

"To my farther benefit, as I grew older, I thus saw nearly all the
noblemen's houses in England, in reverent and healthy delight of
uncovetous admiration,--perceiving, as soon as I could perceive any
political truth at all, that it was probably much happier to live in a
small house, and have Warwick castle to be astonished at, than to live
in Warwick castle and have nothing to be astonished at; but that, at
all events, it would not make Brunswick Square in the least more
pleasantly habitable, to pull Warwick castle down."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Contented, by reason of these occasional glimpses of the rivers of
Paradise, I lived until I was more than four years old in Hunter
Street, Brunswick Square, the greater part of the year; for a few
weeks in the summer breathing country air, by taking lodgings in small
cottages (real cottages, not villas, so-called) either about
Hampstead, or at Dulwich, at 'Mrs. Ridley's,' the last of a row in a
lane which led out into the Dulwich fields on one side, and was itself
full of buttercups in spring, and blackberries in autumn. But my
chief remaining impressions of those days are attached to Hunter
Street. My mother's general principles of first treatment were, to
guard me with steady watchfulness from all avoidable pain or danger,
and, for the rest, to let me amuse myself as I liked, provided I was
neither fretful or troublesome. But the law was, that I should find my
own amusement. No toys of any kind were at first allowed, and the pity
of my Croydon aunt for my monastic poverty in this respect was
boundless. On one of my birthdays, thinking to overcome my mother's
resolution by splendor of temptation, she bought the most radiant
Punch and Judy she could find in the Soho bazaar, as big as a real
Punch and Judy, all dressed in scarlet and gold, and that would dance,
tied to the leg of a chair. I must have been greatly impressed, for I
remember well the look of the two figures, as my aunt herself
exhibited their virtues. My mother was obliged to accept them, but
afterward quietly told me it was not right that I should have them,
and I never saw them again.

"Nor did I painfully wish, what I was never permitted for an instant
to hope, or even imagine, the possession of such things as one saw in
toyshops. I had a bunch of keys to play with, as long as I was capable
only of pleasure in what glittered and jingled, as I grew older I had
a cart and a ball, and when I was five or six years old, two boxes of
well-cut wooden bricks. With these modest, but I still think, entirely
sufficient possessions, and being always summarily whipped if I cried,
did not do as I was bid, or tumbled on the stairs, I soon attained
serene and secure methods of life and motion, and could pass my days
contentedly in tracing the squares and comparing the colors of my
carpet; examining the knots in the wood of the floor or counting the
bricks in the opposite houses; with rapturous intervals of excitement
during the filling of the water-cart, through its leathern pipe, from
the dripping iron post at the pavement edge; or the still more
admirable proceedings of the turncock, when he turned and turned till
a fountain sprang up in the middle of the street. But the carpet, and
what patterns I could find in bed-covers, dresses, or wall papers to
be examined, were my chief resources, and my attention to the
particulars in these was soon so accurate, that when at three and a
half I was taken to have my portrait painted by Mr. Northcote, I had
not been ten minutes alone with him before I asked him why there were
holes in his carpet."

   [Illustration: ROBERT BROWNING
   From the portrait by Field Talfourd]



XXVIII

THE MARRIAGE OF THE BROWNINGS


When Wordsworth heard of the marriage of Robert Browning to Elizabeth
Barrett, he is reported to have said, "So Robert Browning and Miss
Barrett have gone off together. I hope they understand each
other--nobody else would." When Wordsworth said this he was an old man
and like most old men unable to appreciate the new. Compared with the
simplicity of much of Wordsworth's poetry a poem like _A Death in the
Desert_ might seem unintelligible; but surely the same objection
cannot be urged against the poetry of Mrs. Browning.

The marriage of Robert Browning to Miss Barrett is the one dramatic
event in his quiet life. To one who has read his passionate and at
times fiery, unconventional poetry, the runaway, unconventional
marriage is not unaccountable, but altogether consistent. The manner
of it was thus:

In her youth Miss Barrett became an invalid through an injury to her
spine, an accident occurring while she was fixing the saddle of her
riding horse. As she grew older she was confined to her room. To move
from a bed to a sofa seemed a perilous adventure requiring a family
discussion. Her father was a strange unaccountable man, selfish and
obstinate, and passionately jealous of the affection of his children.
In the meantime Miss Barrett had written poetry that attracted the
attention of a kindred spirit. Robert Browning in 1845 wrote to her
saying that he had once nearly met her and that his sensations then
were those of one who had come to the outside of a chapel of marvelous
illumination and found the door barred against him. A little later he
suggested that he would like to call on her. This commonplace and
altogether natural suggestion threw the invalid into a state of
tremulous disapproval. With robust insistence Robert replied, "If my
truest heart's wishes avail, you shall laugh at east winds yet as I
do." Miss Barrett replied, "There is nothing to see in me nor to hear
in me. I never learned to talk as you do in London, although I can
admire that brightness of carved speech in Mr. Kenyon and others. If
my poetry is worth anything to any eye, it is the flower of me. I have
lived most and been most happy in it, and so it has all my colors. The
rest of me is nothing but a root fit for the ground and dark." A reply
such as this would be construed by any gentleman as a challenge. The
substance of Browning's reply was, "I will call at two on Tuesday."

On May 20, 1845, they met. In September, 1846, Miss Barrett walked
quietly out of her father's house, was married in a church, and
afterwards returned to her father's house as though nothing had
happened. Between the marriage and the elopement Robert Browning did
not call at the Barrett house on Wimpole Street. One of his
biographers says that this absence was due to an inability of
Browning to ask the maid at the door for Miss Barrett when there no
longer was a Miss Barrett whom he wished to see.

In passing judgment upon the elopement of this remarkable couple one
must remember that they were no longer giddy and rash youth. Browning
was thirty-four and the romantic Juliet was three years older. Again
it must be remembered that the objecting father was a most
unreasonable and selfish man. The climax of his selfishness was
reached when in opposition to the advice of the physicians Mr. Barrett
refused to allow his daughter to go to Italy. "In the summer of 1846,"
writes Mr. Chesterton, "Elizabeth Barrett was still living under the
great family convention which provided her with nothing but an elegant
deathbed, forbidden to move, forbidden to see proper daylight,
forbidden to see a friend lest the shock should destroy her suddenly.
A year or two later, in Italy, as Mrs. Browning, she was being dragged
up hill in a wine hamper, toiling up the crests of mountains at four
o'clock in the morning, riding for five miles on to what she calls 'an
inaccessible volcanic ground not far from the stars.'"

Miss Mitford, the literary gossip of the period, writes a letter to
Charles Bonar, in which she gives expression to an opinion concerning
Browning's poetry which is not dissimilar to the one we quoted from
Wordsworth. Miss Mitford was an intimate friend of Elizabeth Barrett:

"The great news of the season is the marriage of my beloved friend
Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning. I have seen him once only, many
years ago. He is, I hear from all quarters, a man of immense
attainment and great conversational power. As a poet I think him
overrated.... Those things on which his reputation rests, _Paracelsus_
and _Bells and Pomegranates_, are to me as so many riddles."

In a later letter she writes to the same correspondent: "I at Miss
Barrett's wedding! Ah, dearest Mr. Bonar, it was a runaway match.
Never was I so much astonished. He prevailed on her to meet him at
church with only the two necessary witnesses. They went to Paris.
There they stayed a week. Happening to meet with Mrs. Jameson, she
joined them in their journey to Pisa; and accordingly they traveled by
diligence, by Rhone boat,--anyhow,--to Marseilles, thence took
shipping to Leghorn, and then settled themselves at Pisa for six
months. She says she is very happy. God grant it continue! I felt just
exactly as if I had heard that Dr. Chambers had given her over when I
got the letter announcing her marriage, and found that she was about
to cross to France. I never had an idea of her reaching Pisa alive.
She took her own maid and her (dog) Flush. I saw Mr. Browning once.
Many of his friends and mine, William Harness, John Kenyon, and Henry
Chorley, speak very highly of him. I suppose he is an accomplished
man, and if he makes his angelic wife happy, I shall of course learn
to like him."

The runaway match proved to be a most happy one. This is in disproof
of the common thought that a poet is of so sensitive and irritable a
disposition that no woman should expect a calm life with a poet. But
in this case we have two distinguished poets joining hands. They
lived in great happiness, nor was this peace and harmony purchased at
the price of servitude and humility of the one. Each respected the
other. Their romantic passion was based on a spiritual affinity. The
love letters of the Brownings may have some degree of obscurity, but
it should be said that the obscurity is one of expression, not the
obscurity of misunderstanding in the sense in which some of the
Carlyle letters are obscure. The list of literary men whose marriages
have proved unhappy is not so long and distinguished as is commonly
supposed. Milton, Landor, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, and Ruskin are
conspicuous examples of men who made shipwreck of marriage, but in
contrast shine forth the names of Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and
Shakspere, for there is no evidence against the belief that
Shakspere's marriage was a happy one; then add to these the American
names, Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Holmes, and the
list is still incomplete.

In verse Mrs. Browning has most exquisitely expressed the power of
love to transform the gloom of her sick-room into the wholesome
sunshine of life,--

    I saw in gradual vision through my tears,
    The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
    Those of my own life, who by turn had flung
    A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
    So weeping, how a mystic shape did move
    Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
    And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,
    "Guess now who holds thee?"--"Death!" I said. But, there,
    The silver answer rang. "Not Death, but Love."



XXIX

ROBERT BROWNING


Shortly after Browning's death a young man published his recollections
of the poet in an English magazine. The extracts from that article
will help one to appreciate the kindliness of the great poet.

"My first meeting with Browning came about in this wise. I was sitting
in the studio of a famous sculptor, who, kindly forgetful of my
provincial rawness, was entertaining me with anecdotes of his great
contemporaries; amongst them, Browning. To name him was to undo the
flood-gates of my young enthusiasm. Would my sculptor friend help me
to meet the poet, whose teaching had been my only dogma? 'Oh,' said my
friend, 'that's easy. Write to him--he is the most amiable fellow in
the world--and tell him about yourself, and tell him how much you want
to know him. Say, if you like, that you are a friend of mine.' The
advice seemed simple but useless. I felt that not even the portfolio
of unpublished poems which the imaginative eye might have beheld
palpable under my arm could so fortify my modesty. But my friend
assured me that Browning would not be offended, so, after waiting some
weeks for my crescent courage, I wrote....

"I was taken up to his study and shown in. The first thing that struck
me was that he had built up a barrier of books around his table,
perhaps because he feared a too practical enthusiasm. Huge heaps of
books lay on the floor, the chairs, the table, and at first I thought
the room otherwise unoccupied. But suddenly a dapper little figure
emerged from a huge armchair by the fire, and stepped briskly across
the room. For a moment I was bewildered. The poet's face was familiar
in photographs, but I had somehow imagined him a tall, gaunt man. I
recovered myself to find him standing before me, holding both my hands
and saying, 'Now this is really very kind of you, to come so far just
to see an old man like me.' Then he dragged up a companion chair and
forced me into it, standing for some moments by my side, with his hand
on my shoulder. Then he sat down and said, 'Well, tell me all about
yourself. Have you not brought some of your poems to show me?' Of
course I had not. I wanted to see him and talk of his work. But for a
while he would not let me do so. 'We'll talk about me later, if you
like, though I'm rather tired of the subject,' he said, and proceeded
to question me pretty closely about my aim and work. Then he sat and
thought awhile, then came across to me and said, 'Do you know that I
was nearly fifty before I made any money out of my writings? That's
the truth, and you will understand my reluctance to advise any one to
embark on such a cruel career. But--if you really mean to go in for
it--I would do anything I could to shorten your time of waiting. So
you must just send me some of your work, that I may give you my candid
opinion, if you think it's worth having. And now come and see my
books.'

... "We went down to lunch, and I was introduced to the poet's sister,
who is, I was instantly ready to aver, the most charming little lady
in the world. I don't remember much of the talk at lunch--except that
it turned on Ruskin and his art views, with which latter, it seemed to
me, Browning had not much sympathy. He told me two anecdotes designed
to prove Ruskin's technical inaccuracy; one relating to Michael
Angelo, the other to Browning's own exquisite poem, _Andrea del
Sarto_. 'But never mind,' said Browning, 'he writes like an angel.'

"Lunch was finished, and my host apologized for having to turn me out,
as he was obliged to attend some 'preposterous meeting,' he said. I
was standing in the hall, saying good-by, when suddenly he turned and
ran up-stairs. Presently he returned, bringing with him a copy of his
wife's poems. 'Will you take this as a record of what I hope is only
the first of many meetings?' he said. 'I can't find any of my own in
that muddle upstairs, but I would rather you would have this than any
of mine.' Yes, I took it, as proud as a boy could be who receives such
an honor from his chief idol; prouder than I shall ever be again as I
read the inscription: 'With the best wishes and regards of Robert
Browning.' And I went away after he had made me promise--as though it
were a thing I might be unwilling to do--to let him know when I should
be next in town.

... "I called again at the beautiful house in De Vere Gardens. The
poet had just come in, he told me, from a meeting of the committee
for the memorial to Matthew Arnold, and he was evidently very
depressed by the sad thoughts which had come upon him of his 'dear old
friend, Mat.' 'I have been thinking all the way home,' he said, 'of
his hardships. He told me once, when I asked him why he had written no
poetry lately, that he could not afford to do it; but that, when he
had saved enough, he intended to give up all other work, and go back
to poetry. I wonder if he has gone back to it _now_.' Here Browning's
voice shook, and he was altogether more deeply moved than I had ever
seen him. 'It's very hard, isn't it?' he went on, 'that a useless
fellow like me should have been able to give up all his life to
it--for, as I think I told you, my father helped me to publish my
early books--while a splendid poet like Arnold actually could not
afford to write the poetry we wanted of him.'

... "The last visit I paid to Browning was short enough, but since it
_was_ the last, and was marked by one of the most graceful acts ever
done to me, I may record it as the conclusion of these memories. He
had written inviting me to call soon, but without naming a day or
hour. 'If I should happen to be engaged,' he had said, 'I know that
your kindness will understand and forgive me.' So I called on the
first morning when I was free for an hour. He came across the room
with his accustomed heartiness of voice and hand. 'But, my dear boy,
why did you come to-day? In ten minutes I have an important business
appointment which I _must_ keep.' The ten minutes went all too soon,
and I took my hat to go. He was profuse, but plainly sincere, in his
apologies for turning me out, and made me promise to come again at a
specified hour. I had hardly left the door, when I heard the scurry of
footsteps and his voice calling me. I turned and saw him, hatless, at
the foot of the steps. 'One moment,' he cried; 'I can't let you go
till you tell me again that you are not offended, and I shan't believe
_that_ till you promise once again to come. Now, promise'--holding
both my hands. Of course I promised, wondering how many smaller men
would have shown the same courtesy. For some reason on my part, which
I now forget, that appointment was never kept, and I saw him no more.

"As I stood in Poet's Corner that bitter day of last January, and saw
him put to rest, I could not but think of him as I had seen him last,
with the sunlight on his white hair, and I felt his warm hands, and
heard his kindly voice saying, 'Now, promise!' and I could but think
of that meeting as a tryst not broken, but deferred. And as I thought
again of that life, so rich, so vivid, so complete; of that strong
soul which looked ever forth, and saw promise of clear awaking to
something nobler than the sweetest dream, I knew that here, at least,
was one to whom death could do no wrong."

                 --Adapted from _Littell's Living Age_.

   [Illustration: ALFRED TENNYSON
   From a photograph from life]



XXX

KNIGHT'S REMINISCENCE OF TENNYSON


William Knight, a celebrated Scotch professor and the great expounder
of the life and poetry of Wordsworth, in 1890 spent two days with
Tennyson at Farringford. In an English magazine he has published his
reminiscence of that visit. After relating the feelings of respect and
the reverential sentiment with which he approached the place he says:
"In the avenue leading to the house, the spreading trees just opening
into leaf, with spring flowers around and beneath--yellow cowslips and
blue forget-me-nots--and the song of birds in the branches overhead,
seemed a fitting prelude to all that followed. Shortly after I was
seated in the ante-room, the poet's son appeared, and, as his father
was engaged, he said, 'Come and see my mother.' We went into the
drawing-room, where the old lady was reclining on a couch. Immediately
the lines beginning 'Such age, how beautiful' came into mind. No one
could ever forget his first sight of Lady Tennyson, her graciousness,
and the radiant though fragile beauty of old age. Both her eye and her
voice had an inexpressible charm. She inquired with much interest for
the widow of one of my colleagues at the University, who used formerly
to live in the island, close to Farringford, and whose family were
friends as well as near neighbors. Soon afterwards Tennyson entered,
and almost at once proposed that we should go out of doors. After a
short stroll on the lawn under the cedars, we went into the 'careless
ordered garden,' walked round it, and then sat down in the small
summer-house. It is a quaint rectangular garden, sloping to the west,
where nature and art blend happily,--orchard trees, and old-fashioned
flower-beds, with stately pines around, giving to it a sense of
perfect rest. This garden is truly a 'haunt of ancient peace.' Left
there alone with the bard for some time, I felt that I sat in the
presence of one of the Kings of Men. His aged look impressed me. There
was the keen eagle eye, and, although the glow of youth was gone, the
strength of age was in its place. The lines in his face were like the
furrows in the stem of a wrinkled oak-tree, but his whole bearing
disclosed a latent strength and nobility, a reserve of power, combined
with a most courteous grace of manner. I was also struck by the
negligé air of the man, so different from that of Browning or Arnold
or Lowell....

"We talked much of the sonnet. He thought the best in the language
were Milton's, Shakspere's, and Wordsworth's; after these three those
by his own brother Charles. He said, 'I at least like my brother's
next to those by the "three immortals."' ...

"He had no great liking, he said, for arranging the poets in a
hierarchy. He found so much that surpassed him in different ways in
all the great ones; but he thought that Homer, Æschylus, Sophocles,
Virgil, Dante, Shakspere, and Goethe,--these seven,--were the
greatest of the great, up to the year 1800. They are not all equal in
rank, and even in the work of that heptarchy of genius, there were
trivial things to be found....

"Just at this stage of our talk Mrs. Hallam Tennyson, Mrs. Douglas
Freshfield, and her daughter came up the garden-walk to the
summer-house. Miss Freshfield wore a hat on which was an artificial
flower, a lilac-branch. It at once caught Tennyson's eye. There was a
lilac-tree in bloom close at hand, and he said, 'What is that you are
wearing? It's a flowery lie, it's a speaking mendacity.' He asked how
she could wear such a thing in the month of May! We rose from the
bower, and all went down the garden-walk to see the fig-tree at the
foot of it, and sundry other things at the western entrance-door,
where Miss Kate Greenaway was painting. We returned along a twisting
alley under the rich green foliage of elms and ilexes....

"Listening to the wind in the trees and the sound of running
water--although it was the very tiniest of rillets--led us away from
philosophy, and he talked of Sir Walter Scott, characterizing him as
the greatest novelist of all time. He said, 'What a gift it was that
Scotland gave to the world in him. And your Burns! He is supreme
amongst your poets.' He praised Lockhart's _Life of Scott_, as one of
the finest of biographies; and my happening to mention an anecdote of
Scott from that book led to our spending the greater part of the rest
of our walk in the telling of stories. Tennyson was an admirable
storyteller. He asked me for some good Scotch anecdotes, and I gave
him some, but he was able to cap each of them with a better one of
his own--all of which he told with arch humor and simplicity.

"He then told some anecdotes of a visit to Scotland. After he had left
an inn in the island of Skye, the landlord was asked, 'Did he know who
had been staying in his house? It was the poet Tennyson.' He replied,
'Lor', to think o' that! and sure I thoucht he was a shentleman!' Near
Stirling the same remark was made to the keeper of the hotel where he
had stayed. 'Do you ken who you had wi' you t' other night?' 'Naa, but
he was a pleesant shentleman.' 'It was Tennyson, the poet.' 'An' what
may _he_ be?' 'Oh, he is the writer o' verses such as you see i' the
papers.' 'Noo, to think o' that, jest a pooblic writer, an' I gied him
ma best bedroom!' Of Mrs. Tennyson, however, the landlord remarked,
'Oh, but _she_ was an angel!'

"I have said that the conversational power of Tennyson struck me quite
as much as his poetry had done for forty years. To explain this I must
compare it with that of some of his contemporaries. It was not like
the meteoric flashes and fireworks of Carlyle's talk, which sometimes
dazzled as much as it instructed, and it had not that torrent-rush in
which Carlyle so often indulged. It was far more restrained. It had
neither the continuousness nor the range of Browning's many-sided
conversation, nor did it possess the charm of the ethereal
visionariness of Newman's. It lacked the fullness and consummate sweep
of Mr. Buskin's talk, and it had neither the historic range and
brilliance of Dean Stanley's, nor the fascinating subtlety--the
elevation and the depth combined--of that of the late F.D. Maurice.
_But_ it was clear as crystal, and calm as well as clear. It was terse
and exact, precise and luminous. Not a word was wasted and every
phrase was suggestive. Tennyson did not monopolize conversation. He
wished to know what other people thought, and therefore to hear them
state it, that he might understand their position and ideas. But in
all his talk on great problems, he at once got to their essence,
sounding their depths with ease, or, to change the illustration, he
seized the kernel, and let the shell and fragments alone. There was a
wonderful simplicity allied to his clear vision and his strength. He
was more child-like than the majority of his contemporaries, and along
with this there was--what I have already mentioned--_a great reserve
of power_. His appreciation of other workers belonging to his time was
remarkable. Neither he nor Browning disparaged their contemporaries,
as Carlyle so often did, when he spotted their weaknesses, and put
them in the pillory. From first to last, Tennyson seemed to look
sympathetically on all good works, and he had a special veneration for
the strong silent thinkers and workers.

"Tennyson appreciated the work of Darwin and Spencer far more than
Carlyle did, and many of the ideas and conclusions of modern science
are to be found in his poetry. Nevertheless he knew the limitation of
science, and he held that it was the noble office of poetry,
philosophy, and religion combined to supplement and finally to
transcend it."



XXXI

EMERSON ON CARLYLE AND TENNYSON


On Christmas day, 1832, Emerson sailed out of Boston harbor to pay a
visit to Europe. His health needed a change of work and scene. His
wife had died, he had separated from his congregation, he manifestly
was in need of some recreation, and so his friends had advised him to
take a trip abroad. On the 2d of February he landed at Malta. From
there he traveled through Italy and finally entered England, ready to
make the acquaintance of English celebrities whom he had long admired.

He writes in his journal: "Carlisle in Cumberland, Aug. 26. I am just
arrived in merry Carlisle from Dumfries. A white day in my years. I
found the youth I sought in Scotland, and good and wise and pleasant
he seems to me, and his wife a most accomplished, agreeable woman.
Truth and peace and faith dwell with them and beautify them. I never
saw more amiableness than is in his countenance."

This passage, of course, refers to his visit to Carlyle, to visit whom
Emerson had driven over from Dumfries to Craigenputtock, where Carlyle
had been living for the last five years. In this connection it is
interesting to read what the man visited had to say about his
visitor: "That man," Carlyle said to Lord Houghton, "came to see me. I
don't know what brought him, and we kept him one night, and then he
left us. I saw him go up the hill; I didn't go with him to see him
descend. I preferred to watch him mount and vanish like an angel."

   [Illustration: RALPH WALDO EMERSON
   From a wood engraving of a life photograph]

In writing of this interview, Mr. Cabot, one of the biographers of
Emerson, says: "To Emerson the interview was a happy one, and
gratified the chief wish he had in coming to England, though he did
not find all that he had sought. He had been looking for a master, but
in the deepest matters Carlyle, he found, had nothing to teach him.
'My own feeling,' he says in a letter to Mr. Ireland a few days
afterwards, 'was that I had met with men of far less power who had got
greater insight into religious truth.' But he had come close to the
affectionate nature and the nobility of soul that lay behind the cloud
of whim and dyspepsia, and he kept to that, and for the rest, confined
his expectations thenceforth to what Carlyle had to give. 'The
greatest power of Carlyle,' he afterwards wrote, 'like that of Burke,
seems to me to reside in the form. Neither of them is a poet, born to
announce the will of the god, but each has a splendid rhetoric to
clothe the truth.'"

During this first visit Emerson dined with Lafayette and a hundred
Americans. By the time he made his second visit Emerson was a far more
distinguished man than during his first trip. His second visit was
made in 1847. This time he was a lion among men. He again calls on the
Carlyles. This time the door is opened by Jane.

"They were very little changed (he writes) from their old selves of
fourteen years ago, when I left them at Craigenputtock. 'Well,' said
Carlyle, 'here we are, shoveled together again.' The flood-gates of
his talk are quickly opened and the river is a great and constant
stream. We had large communication that night until nearly one
o'clock, and at breakfast next morning it began again. At noon or
later we went together, Carlyle and I, to Hyde Park and the palaces,
about two miles from here, to the National Gallery, and to the
Strand--Carlyle melting all Westminster and London down into his talk
and laughter as he walked. We came back to dinner at five or later,
then Dr. Carlyle came in and spent the evening, which again was long
by the clock, but had no other measure. Here in this house we
breakfast about nine; Carlyle is very apt, his wife says, to sleep
till ten or eleven, if he has no company. An immense talker he is, and
altogether as extraordinary in his conversation as in his writing--I
think even more so. You will never discover his real vigor and range,
or how much more he might do than he has ever done, without seeing
him. I find my few hours' discourse with him in Scotland, long since,
gave me not enough knowledge of him, and I have now at last been taken
by surprise.... Carlyle and his wife live on beautiful terms. Nothing
could be more engaging than their ways, and in her book-case all his
books are inscribed to her, as they came, from year to year, each with
some significant lines."

In another place he writes:

"I had good talk with Carlyle last night. He says over and over for
years, the same thing. Yet his guiding genius is his moral sense, his
perception of the sole importance of truth and justice, and he too
says that there is properly no religion in England. He is quite
contemptuous about _Kunst_ (art) also, in Germans, or English, or
Americans.... His sneers and scoffs are thrown in every direction. He
breaks every sentence with a scoffing laugh--'windbag,' 'monkey,'
'donkey,' 'bladder;' and let him describe whom he will, it is always
'poor fellow.' I said 'What a fine fellow you are to bespatter the
whole world with this oil of vitriol!' 'No man,' he replied, 'speaks
truth to me.' I said, 'See what a crowd of friends listen to and
admire you.' 'Yes, they come to hear me, and they read what I write;
but not one of them has the smallest intention of doing these
things.'"

While Emerson was in London he was elected to membership in the
Athenæum Club, during his stay in England. Here he had the opportunity
of meeting many famous men. He writes:

"Milnes and other good men are always to be found there. Milnes is the
most good-natured man in England, made of sugar; he is everywhere and
knows everything. He told of Landor that one day, in a towering
passion, he threw his cook out of the window, and then presently
exclaimed, 'Good God, I never thought of those violets!' The last time
he saw Landor he found him expatiating on our custom of eating in
company, which he esteems very barbarous. He eats alone, with
half-closed windows, because the light interferes with the taste. He
has lately heard of some tribe in Crim Tartary who have the practice
of eating alone, and these he extols as much superior to the
English.... Macaulay is the king of diners-out. I do not know when I
have seen such wonderful vivacity. He has the strength of ten men,
immense memory, fun, fire, learning, politics, manners, and pride, and
talks all the time in a steady torrent. You would say he was the best
type of England."

Of Tennyson he writes: "I saw Tennyson, first at the house of Coventry
Patmore, where we dined together. I was contented with him at once. He
is tall and scholastic looking, no dandy, but a great deal of plain
strength about him, and though cultivated, quite unaffected. Quiet,
sluggish sense and thought; refined, as all English are, and
good-humored. There is in him an air of great superiority that is very
satisfactory. He lives with his college set, ... and has the air of
one who is accustomed to be petted and indulged by those he lives
with. Take away Hawthorne's bashfulness, and let him talk easily and
fast, and you would have a pretty good Tennyson. I told him that his
friends and I were persuaded that it was important to his health to
make an instant visit to Paris, and that I was to go on Monday if he
was ready. He was very good-humored, and affected to think that I
should never come back alive from France; it was death to go. But he
had been looking for two years for somebody to go to Italy with, and
was ready to set out at once, if I would go there.... He gave me a
cordial invitation to his lodgings (in Buckingham Palace), where I
promised to visit him before I went away.... I found him at home in
his lodgings, but with him was a clergyman whose name I did not know,
and there was no conversation. He was sure again that he was taking a
final farewell of me, as I was going among the French bullets, but
promised to be in the same lodgings if I should escape alive....
Carlyle thinks him the best man in England to smoke a pipe with, and
used to see him much; had a place in his little garden, on the wall,
where Tennyson's pipe was laid up."



XXXII

LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS OF MAX MUELLER


Another poet whom I knew at Oxford as an undergraduate, and whom I
watched and admired to the end of his life, was Matthew Arnold. He was
beautiful as a young man, strong and manly, yet full of dreams and
schemes. His Olympian manners began even at Oxford; there was no harm
in them, they were natural, not put on. The very sound of his voice
and the wave of his hand were Jovelike.... Sometimes at public
dinners, when he saw himself surrounded by his contemporaries, most of
them judges, bishops, and ministers, he would groan over the drudgery
he had to go through every day of his life in examining dirty
school-boys and school-girls. But he saw the fun of it, and laughed.
What a pity it was that his friends--and he had many--could find no
better place for him. Most of his contemporaries rose to high position
in Church and State, he remained to the end an examiner of elementary
schools. Of course it may be said that like so many of his literary
friends, he might have written novels and thus eked out a living by
potboilers of various kinds. But there was something nobler and
refined in him which restrained his pen from such work. Whatever he
gave to the world was to be perfect, as perfect as he could make it,
and he did not think that he possessed the talent for novels. His
saying that "no Arnold can ever write a novel" is well known, but it
has been splendidly falsified of late by his own niece. Arnold was a
delightful man to argue with, not that he could easily be convinced
that he was wrong, but he never lost his temper, and in the most
patronizing way he would generally end by, "Yes, yes! my good fellow,
you are quite right, but, you see, my view of the matter is different,
and I have little doubt it is the true one!" This went so far that
even the simplest facts failed to produce any impression on him....

Ruskin often came to spend a few days with his old friends, and as
uncompromising and severe as he could be when he wielded his pen, he
was always most charming in conversation. He never, when he was with
his friends, claimed the right of speaking with authority, even on his
own special subjects, as he might well have done. It seemed to be his
pen that made him say bitter things.... He was really the most
tolerant and agreeable man in society. He could discover beauty where
no one else saw it, and make allowance where others saw no excuse. I
remember him as diffident as a young girl, full of questions, and
grateful for any information. Even on art topics I have watched him
listening almost deferentially to others who laid down the law in his
presence. His voice was always most winning, and his language simply
perfect. He was one of the few Englishmen I knew who, instead of
tumbling out their sentences like so many portmanteaus, bags, tugs,
and hat-boxes from an open railway van, seemed to take a real delight
in building up his sentences, even in familiar conversation, so as to
make each deliverance a work of art....

And what a beautiful mind his was, and what lessons of beauty he has
taught us all. At the same time, he could not bear anything
unbeautiful, and anything low or ignoble in men revolted him and made
him thoroughly unhappy. I remember once taking Emerson to lunch with
him, in his rooms in Corpus Christi College. Emerson was an old friend
of his, and in many respects a cognate soul. But some quite
indifferent subject turned up, a heated discussion ensued, and Ruskin
was so upset that he had to quit the room and leave us alone. Emerson
was most unhappy, and did all he could to make peace, but he had to
leave without a reconciliation....

Another though less frequent visitor to Oxford was Tennyson. His first
visit to our house was rather alarming. We lived in a small house in
High Street, nearly opposite Magdalen College, and our establishment
was not calculated to receive sudden guests, particularly a poet
laureate. He stepped in one day during the long vacation, when Oxford
was almost empty. Wishing to show the great man all civility, we asked
him to dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. At that time
almost all the shops were in the market, which closed at one o'clock.
My wife, a young housekeeper, did her best for our unexpected guest.
He was known to be a gourmand, and at dinner he was evidently put out
by finding the sauce with the salmon was not the one he preferred. He
was pleased, however, with the wing of a chicken, and said it was the
only advantage he got from being a poet laureate, that he generally
received the liver-wing of a chicken. The next morning at breakfast,
we had rather plumed ourselves on having been able to get a dish of
cutlets, and were not a little surprised when our guest arrived, to
see him whip off the cover of a hot dish, and to hear the exclamation,
"Mutton chops! the staple of every bad inn in England." However, these
were but minor matters, though not without importance in the eyes of a
young wife to whom Tennyson had been like one of the immortals. He was
full of interest and inquiries about the East, more particularly about
Indian poetry, and I believe it was then that I told him that there
was no rhyme in Sanskrit poetry, and ventured to ask him why there
should be in English. He was not so offended as Samuel Johnson seems
to have been, who would probably have answered my question by "You are
a fool, sir; use your own judgment," while Tennyson made the very
sensible answer that rhyme assisted the memory....

It was generally after dinner ... that Tennyson began to thaw, and to
take a more active part in conversation. People who have not known him
then, have hardly known him at all. During the day he was often very
silent and absorbed in his own thoughts, but in the evening he took an
active part in the conversation of his friends. His pipe was almost
indispensable to him, and I remember one time when I and several
friends were staying at his house, the question of tobacco turned up.
I confessed that for years I had been a perfect slave to tobacco, so
that I could neither read nor write a line without smoking, but that
at last I had rebelled against the slavery, and had entirely given up
tobacco. Some of his friends taunted Tennyson that he could never give
up tobacco. "Anybody can do that," he said, "if he chooses to do it."
When his friends still continued to doubt and to tease him, "Well," he
said, "I shall give up smoking from to-night." The very same evening I
was told that he threw his tobacco and his pipes out of the window of
his bedroom. The next day he was most charming, though somewhat
self-righteous. The second day he became very moody and captious, the
third day no one knew what to do with him. But after a disturbed night
I was told that he got out of bed in the morning, went quietly into
the garden, picked up one of his broken pipes, stuffed it with the
remains of the tobacco scattered about, and then having had a few
puffs, came to breakfast, all right again.

He once very kindly offered to lend me his house in the Isle of Wight.
"But mind," he said, "you will be watched from morning till evening."
This was, in fact, his great grievance, that he could not go out
without being stared at. Once taking a walk with me and my wife on the
downs behind his house, he suddenly started, left us, and ran home,
simply because he had descried two strangers coming towards us.

I was told that he once complained to the queen, and said that he
could no longer stay in the Isle of Wight, on account of the tourists
who came to stare at him. The queen, with a kindly irony, remarked
that she did not suffer much from that grievance, but Tennyson not
seeing what she meant, replied, "No, madam, and if I could clap a
sentinel wherever I liked, I should not be troubled either."

It must be confessed that people were very inconsiderate. Rows of
tourists sat like sparrows on the paling of his garden, waiting for
his appearance. The guides were actually paid by sight-seers,
particularly by those from America, for showing them the great poet.
Nay, they went so far as to dress up a sailor to look like Tennyson,
and the result was that, after their trick had been found out, the
tourists would walk up to Tennyson and ask him, "Now, are you the real
Tennyson?" This, no doubt, was very annoying, and later on Lord
Tennyson was driven to pay a large sum for some useless downs near his
house, simply in order to escape from the attentions of admiring
travelers.



XXXIII

THE EARLY EDUCATION OF JOHN STUART MILL


At an age when most children are playing with a Noah's Ark or a doll,
John Stuart Mill was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek
language. "I have no remembrance of the time when I began to learn
Greek," writes Mill, "I have been told that it was when I was three
years old." Latin was not begun until his eighth year. By that time he
had read in Greek,--Æsop, the Anabasis, the whole of Herodotus, the
Cyropædia, the Memorabilia, parts of Diogenes Laertius, and of Lucian,
Isocrates; also six dialogues of Plato. An equipment like this
suggests the satiric lines of Hudibras:

    Besides, 'tis known he could speak Greek
    As naturally as pigs squeak.

In considering the difficulties that this child--shall we say
babe?--had to overcome one must remember that the aids to learning
Greek were not then what they are now. In 1820 the Greek lexicon was a
ponderous thing, almost as big and heavy as the infant student
himself. Worse than this, the definitions were not in English, but in
Greek and Latin, and as the boy had not yet learned Latin he had to
ask his father for the meaning of every new word. The immense task
placed thus upon the child makes one feel indignant and wish that some
organization for the prevention of cruelty to infants had interfered
with the ambition of the learned father. But we must admire the
patience of the father, however we may question his good sense. "What
he himself was willing to undergo for the sake of my instruction,"
says the son in describing his father's teaching, "may be judged from
the fact, that I went through the whole process of preparing my Greek
lessons in the same room and at the same table at which he was
writing.... I was forced to have recourse to him for the meaning of
every word which I did not know. This incessant interruption, he, one
of the most impatient of men, submitted to, and wrote under that
interruption several volumes of his History and all else that he had
to write during those years."

But this does not tell the whole story. Fearing that the Greek might
be too heavy and concentrated a food for the tender intellect of his
child, the considerate father added a diet of English history and
biography. The boy carefully studied and made notes upon Robertson,
Hume, Gibbon, Watson, Hooke, Langhorne's _Plutarch_, Burnet's _History
of His Own Time_, Millar's _Historical View of the English
Government_, Mosheim's _Ecclesiastical History_. In biography and
travel he read the life of Knox, the histories of the Quakers,
Beaver's _Africa_, Collin's _New South Wales_, Anson's _Voyages_, and
Hawkesworth's _Voyages Round the World_. "Of children's books, any
more than of playthings, I had scarcely any, except an occasional
gift from a relation or acquaintance.... It was no part, however, of
my father's system to exclude books of amusement, though he allowed
them very sparingly. Of such books he possessed at that time next to
none, but he borrowed several for me; those which I remember are the
_Arabian Nights_, Cazotte's _Arabian Tales_, _Don Quixote_, Miss
Edgeworth's _Popular Tales_, and a book of some reputation in its day,
Brooke's _Fool of Quality_."

All this, it is to be remembered, was done by a boy who was not beyond
his eighth year. In his eighth year he began Latin, not only as a
learner but as a teacher. It was his duty to teach the younger
children of the family what he had learned. This practice he does not
recommend. "The teaching, I am sure, is very inefficient as teaching,
and I well know that the relation between teacher and taught is not a
good moral discipline to either." By the time this prodigy of
intellect and industry reached the age of fourteen he had studied the
following formidable list: Virgil, Horace, Phaedrus, Livy, Sallust,
the Metamorphoses, Terence, Cicero, Homer, Thucydides, the Hellenica,
Demosthenes, Æschines, Lysias, Theocritus, Anacreon, Aristotle's
Rhetoric; Euclid, Algebra, the higher mathematics, Joyce's Scientific
Dialogues, and various treatises on Chemistry; and in addition to all
this he had read parts of other Greek and Latin authors, and much of
English poetry and history.

A boy with so heavy a burden of learning is very prone to an equal
amount of self-conceit. But the father tried to overcome this danger
by holding up a very high standard of comparison,--"not what other
people did, but what a man could and ought to do." He succeeded so
well that the boy was not aware that his attainments were
extraordinary. "I neither estimated myself highly nor lowly; I did not
estimate myself at all. If I thought anything about myself, it was
that I was rather backward in my studies, since I always found myself
so, in comparison of what my father expected of me." To this assertion
Mr. Mill very candidly adds: "I assert this with confidence, though it
was not the impression of various persons who saw me in my childhood.
They, as I have since found, thought me greatly and disagreeably
self-conceited; probably because I was disputatious, and did not
scruple to give direct contradictions to things which I heard said."

A boy who is kept at his studies as assiduously as was young Mill has
little time for play or association with other boys. This lack of
contact with companions is a grave defect in the education of Mill. "I
constantly remained long," writes Mill, "and in a less degree have
always remained, inexpert in anything requiring manual dexterity; my
mind, as well as my hands, did its work very lamely when it was
applied, or ought to have been applied, to the practical details
which, as they are the chief interest of life to the majority of men,
are also the things in which whatever mental capacity they have,
chiefly shows itself."

On the whole we feel that the childhood of Mill could hardly have been
a happy one. The joy of physical achievement, the free-hearted
abandonment of the young barbarian at his play, the power to do as
well as to know--these are the birthright of every child. But while we
may pity him for his lack of these joys, we dare not forget that to
have lived the life or done the work of John Stuart Mill is no small
thing. And perhaps this life could not have been lived had his
education been other than it was.



XXXIV

CARLYLE GOES TO THE UNIVERSITY


One of the most tender pictures in the history of English literature
is that of Carlyle as he starts for his University career. Just a boy,
a child not yet fourteen! It is early morning in November at
Ecclefechan--and Edinburgh with its famous University is a hundred
miles away. The father and mother have risen early to get Thomas
ready--not for the cab to take him to the "purple luxury and plush
repose" of the Pullman on the Limited Express. No, Tom is going to
walk,--his only companion a boy two or three years older. These
rugged, poor, and godly parents had long discussed the sending of
Tommy to the great University. James Bell, one of the wise men of the
community, had said: "Educate a boy, and he grows up to despise his
ignorant parents," but they knew that depended on the boy. "Thou hast
not done so; God be thanked," said James Carlyle to his son in after
years.

But let us come back to our picture. In our mind's eye we see the
Scotch lad starting out on his hundred-mile trip in the mist of a
foggy November morning. Almost three-score years after, Carlyle
himself beautifully describes the event: "How strangely vivid, how
remote and wonderful, tinged with the views of far-off love and
sadness, is that journey to me now after fifty-seven years of time! My
mother and father walking with me in the dark frosty November morning
through the village to set us on our way; my dear and loving mother,
her tremulous affection, etc."

That's the picture of an unknown boy going to the University to become
what every pious Scotch mother wants her boy to be--a minister of the
gospel.

Here is another picture, taken about sixty years later. In a somewhat
plainly furnished room in a house on a quiet street in Chelsea, a part
of London, an old man "worn, and tired, and bent, with deep-lined
features, a firm under-jaw, tufted gray hair, and tufted gray and
white beard, and sunken and unutterably sad eyes, is returning from
the fireplace, where with trembling fingers he had been lighting his
long clay pipe, and now he resumes his place at a reading desk." Let
us enter this room with Theodore L. Cuyler, who in his _Recollections
of a Long Life_ tells us: "Thirty years afterwards, in June, 1872, I
felt an irrepressible desire to see the grand old man once more, and I
accordingly addressed him a note, requesting him the favor of a few
minutes' interview.... After we had waited some time, a feeble,
stooping figure, attired in a long blue flannel gown, moved slowly
into the room. His gray hair was unkempt, his blue eyes were still
keen and piercing, and a bright hectic spot of red appeared on each of
his hollow cheeks. His hands were tremulous and his voice deep and
husky. After a few personal inquiries the old man broke out into a
most extraordinary and characteristic harangue on the wretched
degeneracy of these evil days. The prophet Jeremiah was cheerfulness
itself in comparison with him.... Most of his extraordinary harangue
was like an eruption of Vesuvius, but the laugh he occasionally gave
showed that he was talking about as much for his own amusement as for
ours."

Between these two pictures,--the one showing us the boy trudging away
in the mist of the November morning, the other revealing an old man
whose home in Chelsea had become the Mecca of the lovers of English
literature,--what has occurred?

The young boy has finished his studies at the University; has
concluded not to enter the ministry; has studied law; served as tutor;
translated a masterpiece of German into English, and finally dedicated
his powers to becoming a notability in English literature: wrote
_Sartor Resartus_, the _History of the French Revolution_, a _Life of
Cromwell_, a _Life of Frederick the Great_, and has become
world-renowned as one of the great figures of the Nineteenth Century.



XXXV

CARLYLE AND HIS WIFE


In 1826 occurred what Saintsbury calls the most important event in the
life of Carlyle,--his marriage with Jane Welsh, a young woman who
traced her ancestry back to John Knox, the rugged Scotch reformer.
Jane was a keen, active, high-strung, sensitive soul. There has arisen
a formidable mass of literature discussing the relationship between
Thomas and Jane. Were they happy or were they miserable?

Jane Welsh was a Scotch lady whose family was socially superior to
that of Carlyle's. Her father had been a physician, while Carlyle's
was but a rude stone-mason,--and yet a great man. It is said she
married Thomas because she was ambitious and wanted to be the wife of
a famous man, and she had discovered in the unknown Thomas the marks
of genius. In after years she is reported to have said: "I married for
ambition. Carlyle had exceeded all that my wildest hopes ever imagined
for him; _and I am miserable_."

Jeannie had what she had bargained for and yet she was unhappy,--why?

Carlyle was a big-hearted, hard-working, gruff, but kind-hearted
individual. I have not a doubt that he loved his Jeannie. But he took
no pains to show his love in those tender though trivial devotions
that mean so much to the sensitive wife.

During the first few years of their married life, they lived in a
lonely place and had but a scant income. We have a very interesting
picture of their life at Craigenputtock. Thomas could not eat bakers'
bread, so Jeannie baked. The one servant they had was not competent.
It may have been this same servant that was responsible for Thomas'
finding, altogether unexpectedly, of course, a dead mouse at the
bottom of his dish of oatmeal. As to the bread-baking Jean has given
us a very graphic account:

"Further we were very poor, and further and worst, being an only
child, and brought up to 'great prospects,' I was sublimely ignorant
of every branch of useful knowledge, though a capital Latin scholar,
and very fair mathematician! It behooved me in these astonishing
circumstances to learn to sew! Husbands, I was shocked to find, wore
their stockings into holes, and were always losing buttons, and I was
expected 'to look to all that;' also it behooved me to learn to
_cook_! no capable servant choosing to live at such an out-of-the-way
place, and my husband having bad digestion, which complicated my
difficulties dreadfully. The bread, above all, bought at Dumfries,
'soured on his stomach' (Oh heaven!), and it was plainly my duty as a
Christian wife to bake at home. So I sent for Cobbett's _Cottage
Economy_, and fell to work at a loaf of bread. But knowing nothing
about the process of fermentation or the heat of ovens, it came to
pass that my loaf got put into the oven at the time that myself ought
to have been put into bed; and I remained the only person not asleep
in a house in the middle of a desert. One o'clock struck, and then
two, and then three, and still I was sitting there in an immense
solitude, my whole body aching with weariness, my heart aching with a
sense of forlornness and _degradation_. That I who had been so petted
at home, whose comfort had been studied by everybody in the house, and
who had never been required to _do_ anything, but _cultivate my mind_,
should have to pass all those hours of the night in watching _a loaf
of bread_, which mightn't turn out bread after all! Such thoughts
maddened me, till I laid down my head on the table and sobbed aloud.
It was then that somehow the idea of Benvenuto Cellini sitting up all
night watching his Perseus in the furnace came into my head, and
suddenly I asked myself: 'After all, in the sight of the Upper Powers,
what is the mighty difference between a statue of Perseus and a loaf
of bread, so that each be the thing that one's hand has found to do?'
... If he had been a woman living at Craigenputtock, with a dyspeptic
husband, sixteen miles from a baker, and he a bad one, all these same
qualities would have come out more fitly in a _good_ loaf of bread.

"I cannot express what consolation this germ of an idea spread over my
uncongenial life during the years we lived at that savage place, where
my two immediate predecessors had gone _mad_, and the third had taken
to drink."

While enjoying the description which Mrs. Carlyle has painted in such
an entertaining manner, it is well to observe that she does not blame
her husband. She seems to be writing the account while she is silently
laughing at the absurd preparation her life had had for the duties of
the wife of a poor man. But Mr. T.P. O'Connor, who writes in 1895, is
outspoken:

"I do not want to speak disrespectfully of poor Carlyle, but in spirit
it is somewhat hard to keep one's hand off him, as we reconstruct
those scenes in the gaunt house at Craigenputtock. There is a little
detail in one scene which adds a deeper horror. I have said that Mrs.
Carlyle had to scrub the floors, and as she scrubbed them Carlyle
would look on smoking--drawing in from tobacco pleasant
comfortableness and easy dreams--while his poor drudge panted and
sighed over the hard work, which she had never done before. Do you not
feel that you would like to break the pipe in his mouth, and shake him
off the chair, and pitch him on to the floor, to take a share of the
physical burden which his shoulders were so much more able to bear?"

Another anecdote is that at a dinner while Carlyle was monopolizing
the conversation, talking as only he could talk, he, the irritable,
turned upon his wife with "Jeanie, don't breathe so hard!" And still
again, we hear it said that Tennyson once remarked it was well the
Carlyles had married each other for if each had married another there
would have been _four_ instead of _two_ unhappy people. But I think
the truer remark was made when Tennyson said to his son, Hallam: "Mr.
and Mrs. Carlyle on the whole enjoy life together, or else they would
not have chaffed one another so heartily."

The _Century_ of some years ago contained this witty skit from the pen
of Bessie Chandler:

            And I sit here, thinking, thinking,
            How your life was one long winking
    At Thomas' faults and failings, and his undue share of bile!
            Won't you own, dear, just between us,
            That this living with a genius
    Isn't, after all, so pleasant,--is it, Jeannie Welsh Carlyle?

However, with all that may be said to the contrary, I do not think we
dare say that the marriage of Thomas and Jeannie was an unhappy one.
After reading fifteen hundred pages of biography and hundreds of
letters passing to and fro, I am of the belief of Mr. Tennyson, that
on the whole their union was a happy one.

Shortly after Carlyle had been elected Rector of the University of
Edinburgh, Jean died suddenly. While out driving one afternoon by Hyde
Park, she jumped out to pick up her little dog, over whose foot a
carriage had passed. She was never again seen alive. In her carriage
she was found dead with her hands folded on her lap. When Carlyle
heard of it he was away at Scotsbrig. Later in describing his feelings
he wrote: "It had a kind of _stunning_ effect on me. Not for above two
days could I estimate the immeasurable depth of it, or the infinite
sorrow which had peeled my life all bare, and a moment shattered my
poor world to universal ruin." And Froude tells us that in Carlyle's
old age--he lived to be eighty-five--he often broke forth in these
passionate words of Burns:

    Had we never loved sae kindly,
    Had we never loved sae blindly,
    Never met and never parted,
    We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

   [Illustration: THOMAS CARLYLE
   From a photograph from life]



XXXVI

CARLYLE AS LECTURER


In 1834, the year of the death of Coleridge, we find Carlyle, like
many another Scotchman, leaving Scotland to enter the great Babylon,
London. The previous six years he had passed with his wife at
Craigenputtock. He was almost forty years of age. His wife had great
confidence in his ability, which up to this time the world had not
recognized. So she urged him to struggle for influence and power in
the great heart of the modern world. Number 5, Cheyne Row, Chelsea, is
the house they selected. There for the remaining forty-seven years of
his life he worked and loved and stormed. Their neighborhood was one
famous in association with the names of many _literati_. Near by
Smollett wrote _Count Fathom_; in the same locality More had
entertained the great scholar, Erasmus; there too had once lived
Bolingbroke, and earlier, the Count de Grammont; and last but not
least the author of Abou Ben Adhem, Leigh Hunt.

When Emerson once suggested to Carlyle that he come over to America to
lecture, Carlyle took kindly to the idea. He kept it in mind as a
possibility for years, but he never carried it into effect. But he did
lecture in London. His literary work was not bringing him the money
he needed. His friends were struck with his ability. Why should he not
lecture? This, if well managed, would bring him immediate
remuneration. His friends set diligently to work, issued a prospectus,
tickets at a guinea a course, and invited persons of influence to
attend. Spedding wrote this letter to Monckton Milnes:

"I take the opportunity of writing to make you know, if you do not
know already, that Carlyle lectures on German literature next month;
the particulars you will find in the inclosed syllabus, which, if it
should convey as much knowledge to you as it does ignorance to me,
will be edifying. Of course, you will be here to attend the said
lectures, but I want you to come up a little before they begin, that
you may assist in procuring the attendance of others. The list of
subscribers is at present not large, and you are just the man to make
it grow. As it is Carlyle's first essay in this kind, it is important
that there should be a respectable number of hearers. Some name of
decided piety is, I believe, rather wanted. Learning, taste, and
nobility are represented by Hallam, Rogers, and Lord Lansdowne. H.
Taylor has provided a large proportion of family, wit, and beauty, and
I have assisted them to a little Apostlehood. We want your name to
represent the great body of Tories, Roman Catholics, High Churchmen,
metaphysicians, poets, and Savage Landor. Come!"

Carlyle was busy with his _French Revolution_ and so did not make as
careful preparation as he might have made. Yet he was so full of his
subject that if he could overcome the difficulties of public
speaking, he was bound to be interesting. As the day approached both
he and his wife grew nervous. For diversion he drew up a humorous
ending: "Good Christians, it has become entirely impossible for me to
talk to you about German or any literature or terrestrial thing; one
request only I have to make, that you would be kind enough to cover me
under a tub for the next six weeks and to go your ways with all my
blessing." This fortunately he did not need to use. Mrs. Carlyle
worried lest he would be late, but by dint of close attention she felt
she could have him "at the place of execution" at the appointed hour.
How to get him to stop at "four precisely" was another problem. One
humorous suggestion was that a lighted cigar might be laid on the
table before him when the clock struck the hour.

"May the First, 1837," says Professor MacMechan, "was a notable day.
In the afternoon, Carlyle lectured at Almack's, and in the evening
Macready produced young Mr. Browning's _Strafford_, for the first
time, at Covent Garden. Hallam, of the _Middle Ages_,--'a broad, old,
positive man, with laughing eyes,'--was chairman and brought the
lecturer face to face with his first audience, the two hundred holders
of guinea tickets. It was made up of the elements referred to in
Spedding's letter. Learning, taste, nobility, family, wit, and beauty
were all represented in that assembly; 'composed of mere quality and
notabilities,' says Carlyle. It is easy to figure the scene; the men
all clean-shaven, in the clumsy coats, high collars, and enormous
neck-cloths of the period, the ladies, and there were naturally more
ladies than men, following the vagaries of fashion in 'bishop' sleeves
and the 'pretty church-and-state bonnets,' that seemed to Hunt at
times, 'to think through all their ribbons.' We call that kind of
bonnet 'coal-scuttle' now, but Maclise's portrait of Lady Morgan
trying hers on before a glass justifies Hunt's epithet. The lecturer
was the lean, wiry type of Scot, within an inch of six feet. In face,
he was not the bearded, broken-down Carlyle of the Fry photograph, but
the younger Carlyle of the Emerson portrait. Clean-shaven, as was then
the fashion, the determination of the lower jaw lying bare, the thick
black hair brushed carelessly and coming down on the bony, jutting
forehead, violet-blue eyes, deep-set, and alert, the whole face shows
the Scot and the peasant in every line. It was a striking face, the
union of black hair, blue eyes, and, usually, ruddy color on the high
cheek bones, 'as if painted ... at the plow's tail,' Lady Eastlake
remarked, and she was an artist. Harriet Martineau remarks that he was
as 'yellow as a guinea,' but this would be due to some temporary
gastric disturbance. He was very nervous, as was most natural, and
stood with downcast eyes, his fingers picking at the desk before him.

At the beginning his speech was broken, and his throat was dry, drink
as he would; but his desperate determination not to break down carried
him through. The society people were 'very humane' to him, and the
lecturer had a message for them; his matter was new, his manner was
interesting; he knew his subject. The rugged Scottish accent came like
a welcome draught of caller air from the moorlands of Galloway, to
the dwellers in London drawing-rooms, and 'they were not a little
astonished when the wild Annandale voice grew high and earnest.'"

From this first venture which was so successful--he cleared one
hundred and thirty-five guineas after all the expenses had been
paid--Carlyle was induced to give other series in the next few years.
One of the most popular books by Carlyle is _Heroes and Hero Worship_;
this first was given in a course of lectures. When "The Hero as Man of
Letters" was given, Caroline Fox, an ardent admirer of the Scot, was
in attendance. She has left a vivid description of the man: "Carlyle
soon appeared, and looked as if he felt a well-dressed London audience
scarcely the arena for him to figure in as a popular lecturer. He is a
tall, robust-looking man; rugged simplicity and indomitable strength
are in his face, and such a glow of genius in it--not always
smoldering there, but flashing from his beautiful gray eyes, from the
remoteness of their deep setting under that massive brow. His manner
is very quiet, but he speaks as one tremendously convinced of what he
utters, and who had much, very much, in him that was quite
unutterable, quite unfit to be uttered to the uninitiated ear; and
when the Englishman's sense of beauty or truth exhibited itself in
vociferous cheers, he would impatiently, almost contemptuously, wave
his hand, as if that were not the kind of homage which truth demanded.
He began in a rather low and nervous voice, with a broad Scotch
accent, but it soon grew firm, and shrank not abashed from its great
task."



XXXVII

CARLYLE ON WORDSWORTH AND BROWNING


On our first day's journey, wrote Mr. Duffy in the _Contemporary
Review_, the casual mention of Edmund Burke induced me to ask Carlyle
who was the best talker he had met among notable people in London.

He said that when he met Wordsworth first he had been assured that he
talked better than any man in England. It was his habit to talk
whatever was in his mind at the time, with total indifference to the
impression it produced on his hearers. On this occasion he kept
discoursing how far you could get carried out of London on this side
and on that for sixpence. One was disappointed,--perhaps,--but, after
all, this was the only healthy way of talking, to say what is actually
in your mind, and let sane creatures who listen to make what they can
of it. Whether they understood or not, Wordsworth maintained a stern
composure, and went his way, content that the world went quite another
road. When he knew him better, he found that no man gave you so
faithful and vivid a picture of any person or thing which he had seen
with his own eyes.

I inquired if Wordsworth came up to this description he had heard of
him as the best talker in England.

"Well," he replied, "it was true you could get more meaning out of
what Wordsworth had to say than from anybody else. Leigh Hunt would
emit more pretty, pleasant, ingenious flashes in an hour than
Wordsworth in a day. But in the end you would find, if well
considered, that you had been drinking perfumed water in one case, and
in the other you got the sense of a deep, earnest man, who had thought
silently and painfully on many things. There was one exception to your
satisfaction with the man. When he spoke of poetry he harangued about
meters, cadences, rhythms, and so forth, and one could not be at the
pains of listening to him. But on all other subjects he had more sense
in him of a sound and instructive sort than any other literary man in
England."

I suggested that Wordsworth might naturally like to speak of the
instrumental part of his art, and consider what he had to say very
instructive, as by modifying the instrument, he had wrought a
revolution in English poetry. He taught it to speak in unsophisticated
language and of the humbler and more familiar interests of life.

Carlyle said, "No, not so; all he had got to say in that way was like
a few driblets from the great ocean of German speculation on kindred
subjects by Goethe and others. Coleridge, who had been in Germany,
brought it over with him, and they translated Teutonic thought into a
poor, disjointed, whitey-brown sort of English, and that was nearly
all. But Wordsworth, after all, was the man of most practical mind of
any of the persons connected with literature whom he had encountered;
though his pastoral pipings were far from being of the importance his
admirers imagined. He was essentially a cold, hard, silent, practical
man, who, if he had not fallen into poetry, would have done effectual
work of some sort in the world. This was the impression one got of him
as he looked out of his stern blue eyes, superior to men and
circumstances."

I said I had expected to hear of a man of softer mood, more
sympathetic and less taciturn.

Carlyle said, "No, not at all; he was a man quite other than that; a
man of an immense head and great jaws like a crocodile's, cast in a
mold designed for prodigious work."

"I begged him," continued Mr. Duffy, in writing of conversations with
Carlyle, "to tell me something of the author of a serial I had come
across lately, called _Bells and Pomegranates_, printed in painfully
small type, on inferior paper, but in which I took great delight.
There were ballads to make the heart beat fast, and one little
tragedy, _The Blot in the 'Scutcheon_, which, though not over-disposed
to what he called sentimentality, I could not read without tears. The
heroine's excuse for the sin which left a blot in a 'scutcheon
stainless for a thousand years, was, in the circumstances of the case,
as touching a line as I could recall in English poetry:

    I had no mother, and we were so young."

He said Robert Browning had a powerful intellect, and among the men
engaged in literature in England just now was one of the few from whom
it was possible to expect something. He was somewhat uncertain about
his career, and he himself (Carlyle) had perhaps contributed to the
trouble by assuring him that poetry was no longer a field where any
true or worthy success could be won or deserved. If a man had anything
to say entitled to the attention of rational creatures, all mortals
would come to recognize after a little that there was a more effectual
way of saying it than in metrical numbers. Poetry used to be regarded
as the natural, and even the essential language of feeling, but it was
not at all so; there was not a sentiment in the gamut of human passion
which could not be adequately expressed in prose.

Browning's earliest works had been loudly applauded by undiscerning
people, but he was now heartily ashamed of them, and hoped in the end
to do something altogether different from _Sordello_ and _Paracelsus_.
He had strong ambition and great confidence in himself, and was
considering his future course just now. When he first met young
Browning, he was a youth living with his parents, people of
respectable position among the Dissenters, but not wealthy neither,
and the little room in which he kept his books was in that sort of
trim that showed that he was the apple of their eyes. He was about six
and thirty at present, and a little time before had married Miss
Barrett. She had long been confined to a sofa by a spinal disease, and
seemed destined to end there very speedily, but the ending was to be
quite otherwise, as it proved. Browning made his way to her in a
strange manner, and they fell mutually in love. She rose up from her
sick-bed with recovered strength and agility, and was now, it was
understood, tolerably well. They married and were living together in
Italy, like the hero and heroine of a mediæval romance.



XXXVIII

THE AUTHOR OF "JANE EYRE"


Charlotte Brontë was born in Yorkshire in 1816. A generation ago
everybody was reading and talking about _Jane Eyre_, her most popular
novel. The life of the author was not a happy one. She was compelled
to teach for a living, and her position as governess was at times
humiliating to her proud spirit. Her two sisters, whom she tenderly
loved, died young; her brother was no credit to the family, and the
life surrounding the parsonage--she was the daughter of a
clergyman--was not particularly cheery, yet her many trials but
enriched a rare and beautiful character.

While living at the parsonage she would occasionally receive a box of
books from her publisher. The following letter is self-explanatory:

"Do not ask me to mention what books I should like to read. Half the
pleasure of receiving a parcel from Cornhill consists in having its
contents chosen for us. We like to discover, too, by the leaves cut
here and there that the ground has been traveled before us. I took up
Leigh Hunt's book, _The Town_, with the impression that it would be
interesting only to Londoners, and I was surprised, ere I had read
many pages, to find myself enchained by his pleasant, graceful, easy
style, varied knowledge, just views, and kindly spirit. There is
something peculiarly anti-melancholic in Leigh Hunt's writings, and
yet they are never boisterous--they resemble sunshine, being at once
bright and tranquil.

I like Carlyle better and better. His style I do _not_ like, nor do I
always concur in his opinions, nor quite fall in with his
hero-worship; but there is a manly love of truth, an honest
recognition and fearless vindication of intrinsic greatness, of
intellectual and moral worth considered apart from birth, rank, or
wealth, which commands my sincere admiration. Carlyle would never do
for a contributor to the _Quarterly_. I have not read his _French
Revolution_. Carlyle is a great man, but I always wish he would write
plain English. Emerson's _Essays_ I read with much interest and often
with admiration, but they are of mixed gold and clay,--deep,
invigorating truth, dreary and depressing fallacy, seem to me combined
therein.

Scott's _Suggestions on Female Education_ I read with unalloyed
pleasure; it is justly, clearly, and felicitously expressed. The girls
of this generation have great advantages--it seems to me that they
receive much encouragement in the acquisition of knowledge and the
cultivation of their minds. In these days women may be thoughtful and
well read, without being stigmatized as "blues" or pedants.

I have lately been reading _Modern Painters_, and have derived from
the work much genuine pleasure, and I hope, some edification; at any
rate it has made me feel how ignorant I had previously been on the
subjects which it treats. Hitherto I have only had instinct to guide
me in judging of art; I feel now as if I had been walking
blindfold--this book seems to give me eyes. I _do_ wish I had pictures
within reach by which to test the new sense. Who can read these
glowing descriptions of Turner's works without longing to see them!
However eloquent and convincing the language in which another's
opinion is placed before you, you still wish to judge for yourself. I
like this author's style much; there is both energy and beauty in it.
I like himself too, because he is such a hearty admirer. He does not
give half measure of praise or veneration. He eulogizes, he reverences
with his whole soul. One can sympathize with that sort of devout,
serious admiration (for he is no rhapsodist), one can respect it. Yet,
possibly, many people would laugh at it. I am truly obliged to Mr.
Smith for giving me this book, not often having met with one that has
pleased me more.

I congratulate you on the approaching publication of Mr. Ruskin's new
work. If the _Seven Lamps of Architecture_ resemble their predecessor,
_Modern Painters_, they will be no lamps at all, but a new
constellation--seven bright stars, for whose rising the reading world
ought to be anxiously agaze.

I am beginning to read Eckermann's _Goethe_--it promised to be a most
interesting work. Honest, simple, single-minded Eckermann! Great,
powerful, giant-souled, but also profoundly egotistical old Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe! He _was_ a mighty egotist. He thought no more of
swallowing up poor Eckermann's existence in his own, than the whale
thought of swallowing Jonah.

The worst of reading graphic accounts of such men, of seeing graphic
pictures of the scenes, the society in which they moved, is that it
excites a too tormenting longing to look on the reality; but does such
reality now exist? Amidst all the troubled waters of European society,
does such a vast, strong, selfish old leviathan now roll ponderous? I
suppose not.

       *       *       *       *       *

I often wish to say something on the "condition-of-women" question,
but it is one on which so much cant has been talked, that one feels a
sort of reluctance to approach it. I have always been accustomed to
think that the necessity of earning one's living is not, in itself, an
evil; though I feel it may become a heavy evil if health fails, if
employment lacks, if the demand upon our efforts, made by the weakness
of others dependent upon us becomes greater than our strength. Both
sons and daughters should early be inured to habits of independence
and industry.

A governess' lot is frequently, indeed, bitter, but its results are
precious. The mind, feelings, and temper are subjected to a discipline
equally painful and priceless. I have known many who were unhappy as
governesses, but scarcely one who, having undergone the ordeal, was
not ultimately strengthened and improved--made more enduring for her
own afflictions, more considerate for the afflictions of others. The
great curse of a single female life is its dependency; daughters, as
well as sons, should aim at making their way through life. Teachers
may be hard-worked, ill-paid, and despised; but the girl who stays at
home _doing nothing_ is worse off than the worse-paid drudge of a
school; the listlessness of idleness will infallibly degrade her
nature.

Lonely as I am, how should I be if Providence had never given me
courage to adopt a career, perseverance to plead through two long
weary years with publishers till they admitted me? How should I be,
with youth passed, sisters lost, a resident in a moorland parish where
there is not a single resident family? In that case I should have no
world at all. The raven weary of surveying the deluge, and with no ark
to return to, would be my type.

As it is, something like a hope and motive sustain me still. I wish
every woman in England had also a hope and a motive. Alas! I fear
there are many old maids who have neither.

                 --Adapted from _Littell's Living Age_.



XXXIX

THACKERAY IN AMERICA


Thackeray, like many other Englishmen of note, came to America to
lecture in order to make money. He had delivered lectures in London
and in other towns in England on the _English Humorists_. Why not use
his popularity in America as a means of acquiring a little fortune for
the sake of his wife and two girls. "I must and will go," he wrote to
his eldest daughter, "not because I like it, but because it is right I
should secure some money against my death for your mother and you two
girls. And I think, if I have luck, I may secure nearly a third of the
sum that I think I ought to leave behind me by a six months' tour in
the States."

Let us, in order to get a first-hand impression, read from letters
that he wrote from America:

"The passage is nothing, now it is over; I am rather ashamed of gloom
and disquietude about such a trifling journey. I have made scores of
new acquaintances and lighted on my feet as usual. I didn't expect to
like people as I do, but am agreeably disappointed and find many most
pleasant companions, natural and good; natural and well read and well
bred too, and I suppose am none the worse pleased because everybody
has read all my books and praises my lectures (I preach in a
Unitarian Church, and the parson comes to hear me. His name is Mr.
Bellows, it isn't a pretty name), and there are 2,000 people nearly
who come, and the lectures are so well liked that it is probable I
shall do them over again. So really there is a chance of making a
pretty little sum of money for old age, imbecility, and those young
ladies afterwards.... Broadway is miles upon miles long, a rush of
life such as I have never seen; not so full as the Strand, but so
rapid. The houses are always being torn down and built up again, the
railroad cars drive slap into the midst of the city. There are
barricades and scaffoldings banging everywhere. I have not been into a
house, except the fat country one, but something new is being done to
it, and the hammerings are clattering in the passage, or a wall or
steps are down, or the family is going to move. Nobody is quiet here,
nor am I. The rush and restlessness please me, and I like, for a
little, the dash of the stream. I am not received as a god, which I
like too. There is one paper which goes on every morning saying I am a
snob, and I don't say no. Six people were reading it at breakfast this
morning, and the man opposite me this morning popped it under the
table-cloth. But the other papers roar with approbation."

In this letter, of which we have read a fragment, Mr. Thackeray
inclosed a clipping from the New York _Evening Post_. This is what the
newspaper had to say: "The building was crowded.... Every one who saw
Mr. Thackeray last evening for the first time seemed to have had
their impressions of his appearance and manner of speech corrected.
Few expected to see so large a man; he is gigantic; six feet four at
least; few expected to see so old a person; his hair appears to have
kept silvery record over fifty years; and then there was a notion in
the minds of many that there must be something dashing and 'fast' in
his appearance, whereas his costume was perfectly plain; the
expression of his face grave and earnest; his address perfectly
unaffected, and such as we might expect to meet with, in a well-bred
man somewhat advanced in years. His elocution also surprised those who
had derived their impressions from the English journals. His voice is
a superb tenor, and possesses that pathetic tremble which is so
effective in what is called emotive eloquence, while his delivery was
as well suited to the communication he had to make as could well have
been imagined.

"His enunciation is perfect. Every word he uttered might have been
heard in the remotest quarters of the room, yet he scarcely lifted his
voice above a colloquial tone. The most striking feature in his whole
manner was the utter absence of affectation of any kind. He did not
permit himself to appear conscious that he was an object of peculiar
interest in the audience, neither was he guilty of the greater error
of not appearing to care whether they were interested in him or not.
In other words, he inspired his audience with a respect for him, as a
man proportioned to the admiration, which his books have inspired for
him as an author."

From Philadelphia Thackeray writes: "Oh, I am tired of shaking hands
with people, and acting the lion business night after night.
Everybody is introduced and shakes hands. I know thousands of
colonels, professors, editors, and what not, and walk the streets
guiltily, knowing that I don't know 'em, and trembling lest the man
opposite to me is one of my friends of the day before. I believe I am
popular, except at Boston among the newspaper men who fired into me,
but a great favorite with the _monde_ there and elsewhere. Here in
Philadelphia it is all praise and kindness. Do you know there are
500,000 people in Philadelphia? I daresay you had no idea thereof, and
smile at the idea of there being a _monde_ here and at Boston and New
York.... I am writing this with a new gold pen, in such a fine gold
case. An old gentleman gave it to me yesterday, a white-headed old
philosopher and political economist, there's something simple in the
way these kind folks regard a man; they read our books as if we were
Fielding, and so forth. The other night men were talking of Dickens
and Bulwer as if they were equal to Shakespeare, and I was pleased to
find myself pleased at hearing them praised. The prettiest girl in
Philadelphia, poor soul, has read _Vanity Fair_ twelve times. I paid
her a great big compliment yesterday, about her good looks of course,
and she turned round delighted to her friend and said, '_Ai most
tallut_,' that is something like the pronunciation."

In another letter: "Now I have seen three great cities, Boston, New
York, Philadelphia, I think I like them all mighty well. They seem to
me not so civilized as our London, but more so than Manchester and
Liverpool. At Boston is very good literate company indeed; it is like
Edinburgh for that,--a vast amount of toryism and donnishness
everywhere. That of New York the simplest and least pretentious; it
suffices that a man should keep fine house, give parties, and have a
daughter, to get all the world to him."



XL

GEORGE ELIOT BECOMES A WRITER OF FICTION


As one is ready to call Elizabeth Barrett the greatest poetess of the
nineteenth century, so there is little hesitation in pronouncing
George Eliot the foremost of the many women who have written fiction.
The literary critics sometimes dispute her supremacy by urging the
claims of Jane Austen, who is said to have Shaksperean power in the
delineation of character. But the name of Jane Austen is unknown to
the general public. For every reader of _Pride and Prejudice_ there
are a score of readers of _Adam Bede_.

George Eliot is the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans. She took the name of
_George_ because it was the first name of Mr. Lewes, and Eliot "was a
good, mouth-filling, easily pronounced word."

George Eliot was almost thirty-seven years old before she began to
write fiction; in this respect reminding us of Scott, who had first
achieved fame as a poet before he began in his maturity to write
fiction. We are happy in having from the pen of George Eliot herself
the account of how she began to write fiction:

"September, 1856, made a new era in my life, for it was then I began
to write fiction. It had always been a vague dream of mine that some
time or other I might write a novel; and my shadowy conception of what
the novel was to be, varied, of course, from one epoch of my life to
another. But I never went further toward the actual writing of the
novel than an introductory chapter describing a Staffordshire village
and the life of the neighboring farm-houses; and as the years passed
on I lost any hope that I should ever be able to write a novel."

Mr. Lewes encouraged George Eliot by admiring her introductory
chapter. He first read it when they were together in Germany. When
they had returned to England and she was more successful in her essay
writing than he had expected, he continued to urge her to try to write
a story. "He began to say very positively, 'You must try and write a
story,' and when we were at Tenby he urged me to begin at once. I
deferred it, however, after my usual fashion with work that does not
present itself as an absolute duty. But one morning, as I was thinking
what should be the subject of my first story, my thoughts merged
themselves into a dreamy doze, and I imagined myself writing a story,
of which the title was _The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton_.
I was soon wide awake again and told G. (Mr. Lewes). He said 'Oh, what
a capital title!' and from that time I had settled in my mind that
this should be my first story. George used to say, 'It may be a
failure--it may be that you are unable to write fiction. Or, perhaps,
it may be just good enough to warrant your trying again.' Again, 'You
may write a _chef-d'oeuvre_ at once--there's no telling.' But his
prevalent impression was, that though I could hardly write a _poor_
novel, my effort would want the highest quality of fiction--dramatic
presentation. He used to say, 'You have wit, description, and
philosophy--those go a good way towards the production of a novel. It
is worth while for you to try the experiment.'"

When she had finished the first part of _Amos Barton_, Mr. Lewes was
no longer skeptical about her ability to write dialogue. The next
question was whether she had the power of pathos. This was to be
determined by the way in which the death of Milly was to be treated.
"One night G. went to town on purpose to leave me a quiet evening for
writing it. I wrote the chapter from the news brought by the shepherd
to Mrs. Hackit, to the moment when Amos is dragged from the bedside,
and I read it to G. when he came home. We both cried over it, and then
he came up to me and kissed me, saying, 'I think your pathos is better
than your fun.'"

The first part of _Amos Barton_ appeared in the January number of
_Blackwood_. The publisher paid the author fifty guineas. Afterwards,
when the series of stories dealing with clerical life was published in
book form, she was paid £120; later, when the publishing firm decided
to issue a thousand copies instead of seven hundred and fifty, £60 was
added to the original sum. George Eliot expressed herself as sensitive
to the merits of checks for fifty guineas, but the success of her
later writings was so pronounced that a check for fifty guineas would
have made little impression, except a feeling of disdain.

_Amos Barton_ was followed by _Mr. Gilfil's Love Story_, and _Janet's
Repentance_. The three comprise _Scenes from Clerical Life_. The
stories are based upon events which happened in the early life of the
writer when she lived in Warwickshire. The village of Milby is really
Nuneaton. When the villagers and country people read the _Scenes from
Clerical Life_ there was great excitement. Who could this _George
Eliot_ be? Some one who had lived among them and heard all the gossip
of the neighborhood. But they could not recall any man with enough
literary ability to do what had been done. Finally they did remember
that a man, Liggins by name, had written poetry. The poetry was rather
weak stuff, but perhaps his strength lay in fiction. Liggins was
flattered by the suspicions of his neighbors. His own doubt was
gradually changed to belief. Yes, he was the author of this new
fiction, because every one said he was. The voice of the people is the
voice of God. He was invited to write for a theological magazine.
Finally George Eliot was obliged to reveal her identity when the
public was about to subscribe a sum of money for the pseudo-literary
Liggins who was so fastidious as to refuse money for the product of
his genius. Here ends the career of Liggins, the liar.

One reason the villagers had for believing one of their own number was
the author was based on the conversations in the _Scenes from Clerical
Life_. Not only were they true to life, but they were conversations
that had actually taken place. How did George Eliot hear them? Had she
loitered in the public room of the village tavern? Mr. C.S. Olcott
writes in the _Outlook_,--"The real conversations which were so
cleverly reported were actually heard by Robert Evans, the father of
George Eliot, who doubtless often visited the Bull in company with his
neighbors. He repeated them to his wife, not realizing that the little
daughter who listened so attentively was gifted with a marvelous
memory, or that she possessed a genius that could transform a simple
tale into a novel of dramatic power. Mary Ann Evans had moved to
Coventry sixteen years before, and was therefore scarcely known in
Nuneaton at the time the stories appeared. She then had no literary
fame, and was no more likely to be thought of in this connection than
any one of a hundred other school-girls."

In her journal she records on October 22, 1857,--"Began my new novel,
_Adam Bede_." For it her publishers offered her £800 for the copyright
for four years; later they added £400, and still later Blackwoods,
finding a ready sale for their numerous editions, proposed to pay £800
above the original price. And for the appearance of _Romola_ in the
_Cornhill Magazine_, Mr. George Smith offered £10,000, but £7000 was
accepted. For _Middlemarch_, which appeared in separate publication,
that is, independent of a magazine, she received a still larger
amount. Middlemarch is considered by many critics her best work. It
was very popular from the first. In a letter to John Blackwood,
November, 1873, George Eliot writes,--"I had a letter from Mr.
Bancroft (the American ambassador at Berlin) the other day, in which
he says that everybody in Berlin reads _Middlemarch_. He had to buy
two copies for his house, and he found the rector of the university, a
stupendous mathematician, occupied with it in the solid part of the
day."

The public may prefer _Adam Bede_ or _Middlemarch_ but it is reported
that George Eliot herself preferred _Silas Marner_. This is the report
of Justin McCarthy, who was a frequent visitor on Sunday afternoons at
the Priory, the home of George Eliot, where many distinguished
visitors, such as Herbert Spencer, Tyndall, and Huxley, loved to
gather. "There is a legend," writes Mr. McCarthy, "that George Eliot
never liked to talk about her novels. I can only say that she started
the subject with me one day. It was, to be sure, about a picture some
painter had sent her, representing a scene in _Silas Marner_, and she
called my attention to it, and said that of all her novels _Silas
Marner_ was her favorite. I ventured to disagree with her, and to say
that the _Mill on the Floss_ was my favorite. She entered into the
discussion quite genially, just as if she were talking of the works of
some stranger, which I think is the very perfection of the manner
authors ought to adopt in talking about their books."



XLI

THE AUTHOR OF "ALICE IN WONDERLAND"


It is said that when Victoria, late queen of England, had read _Alice
in Wonderland_ she was so pleased that she asked for more of the
author's books. They brought her a treatise on logarithms by the Rev.
C.L. Dodgson. Lewis Carroll and the Rev. C.L. Dodgson were one and the
same person, although they were two dissimilar characters. The one was
a popular author of nonsense that delighted children by the hundreds
of thousands and the other was a scholarly mathematician.

C.L. Dodgson came of good Northern-England stock. His father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather were clergymen--a contradiction,
says his biographer, Mr. Collingwood, of the scandalous theory that
three generations of parsons end in a fool. As a boy he kept all sorts
of odd and unlikely pets. From Rugby he entered Oxford. In 1856 he was
made college lecturer in mathematics, a position which he filled for a
quarter of a century. That he had thoughts of lighter material than
mathematics is evidenced by a short poem that appeared about this time
in a college paper called _College Rhymes_. Two of the stanzas run
like this:

    She has the bear's ethereal grace
      The bland hyena's laugh,
    The footsteps of the elephant,
      The neck of the giraffe;

    I love her still, believe me,
      Though my heart its passion hides,
    She is all my fancy painted her,
      But oh! how much besides.

The year 1862 saw the beginning of the world-famous _Alice_. He told
the story to Dean Liddell's three daughters. "Alice," the second of
the three (now Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves) thus tells the story:

"I believe the beginning of _Alice_ was told one summer afternoon when
the sun was so burning that we had landed in the meadows down the
river, deserting the boat to take refuge in the only bit of shade to
be found, and which was under a new-made hay-rick. Here from all three
came the old petition of 'Tell us a story,' and so began the ever
delightful tale. Sometimes to tease us--and perhaps being really
tired--Mr. Dodgson would stop suddenly and say, 'And that's all till
next time.' 'Oh! but it is next time,' would be the exclamation from
all three; and after some persuasion the story would start afresh.
Another day perhaps the story would begin in the boat, and Mr.
Dodgson, in the midst of telling a thrilling adventure, would pretend
to fall fast asleep, to our great dismay." ...

"Many of Lewis Carroll's friendships with children began in a railway
carriage. Once when he was traveling, a lady, whose little daughter
had been reading _Alice_, startled him by exclaiming: 'Isn't it sad
about poor Mr. Lewis Carroll? He's gone mad, you know.... I have it
on the best authority.'"

Lewis Carroll, or rather Mr. Dodgson, did not wish his acquaintances
to speak of him as the author of _Alice_. In his every-day work he
wanted to be known as the serious mathematician. He was conservative
in his ideas and did not look with favor upon the movement to
overthrow Euclid. In 1870 he published a book entitled _Euclid and his
Modern Rivals_. The London _Spectator_ speaks of this as probably the
most humorous contribution ever devoted to the subject of mathematics.
In an academical discussion held at Oxford he once published three
rules to be followed in debate. This is one of the three: "Let it be
granted that any one may speak at any length on a subject at any
distance from that subject."



XLII

ABOUT DARWIN


When a prominent literary journal at the close of the last century
asked a number of distinguished Americans and Englishmen to name the
ten most influential books of the century, it was interesting to note
that Darwin's _Origin of Species_ received more frequent mention than
any other book. Five years after Charles Darwin had been buried (he
was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey in 1882), his son published the
_Life and Letters of Darwin_, which included an autobiographical
chapter. From this work we can gather enough to show some aspects of
this remarkable man.

Men of genius are often in childhood very imaginative. It is sometimes
pretty difficult to distinguish between playful imagination and lying.
Let us give Darwin the benefit of the doubt in this instance:

"One little event during this year (1817) has fixed itself very firmly
in my mind, and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having
been afterwards sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing that
apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of
plants! I told another little boy (I believe it was Leighton, who
afterwards became a well-known lichenologist and botanist), that I
could produce variously colored polyanthuses and primroses by watering
them with certain colored fluids, which was of course a monstrous
fable, and had never been tried by me."

Darwin's school experiences were not always profitable. He says:

"I had many friends, and got together a good collection of old verses,
which by patching together, sometimes aided by other boys, I could
work into any subject. Much attention was paid to learning by heart
the lessons of the previous day. This I could effect with great
facility, learning forty or fifty lines of Virgil or Homer whilst I
was in morning chapel. But this exercise was utterly useless, for
every verse was forgotten in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and
with the exception of versification, generally worked conscientiously
at my classics, not using cribs. The sole pleasure I ever received
from such studies, was from some of the odes of Horace, which I
admired greatly."

Of his years at Cambridge he writes:

"During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted,
as far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at
Edinburgh and at school. I attempted mathematics, and even went,
during the summer of 1828, with a private tutor (a very dull man) to
Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me
chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the very early
steps in algebra. This impatience was very foolish, and in after years
I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to
understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics,
for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.... In order to pass
the B.A. examination, it was also necessary to get up Paley's
_Evidences of Christianity_, and his _Moral Philosophy_. This was done
in a thorough manner, and I am convinced that I could have written out
the whole of the _Evidences_ with perfect correctness, but not of
course in the clear language of Paley. The logic of this book and, as
I may add, of his _Natural Theology_, gave me as much delight as did
Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn
any part by rote, was the only part of the academical course which, as
I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the
education of my mind. I did not at that time trouble myself about
Paley's premises, and taking these on trust I was charmed and
convinced by the long line of argumentation."

One of the great opportunities of Darwin's life came to him when, some
time after he had finished his course at Cambridge, he was offered a
place as naturalist on the _Beagle_, a ship sent by the English
government on a survey. At first Darwin thought he could not go
because his father was opposed to the plan. Finally the father said he
would consent if any man of common sense should advise his son to go.
This common sense man "was found in the person of his uncle, a Josiah
Wedgwood, who advised the father to permit his son to go. The voyage
has been described by Darwin, and thousands have been interested and
profited by the reading. Some of the letters that he wrote to his
friends during his trip are also very interesting. Here is one he
sent to his cousin, Fox:

"My mind has been, since leaving England, in a perfect _hurricane_ of
delight and astonishment, and to this hour scarcely a minute has
passed in idleness.... Geology carries the day; it is like the
pleasure of gambling. Speculating, on first arrival, what the rocks
may be, I often mentally cry out, three to one tertiary against
primitive; but the latter has hitherto won all the bets.... My life,
when at sea, is so quiet, that to a person who can employ himself,
nothing can be pleasanter; the beauty of the sky and brilliancy of the
ocean together make a picture. But when on shore, and wandering in the
sublime forests, surrounded by views more gorgeous than Claude ever
imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but those who have experienced
it can understand. If it is to be done, it must be by studying
Humboldt. At our ancient snug breakfasts, at Cambridge, I little
thought that the wide Atlantic would ever separate us; but it is a
rare privilege that with the body, the feelings and memory are not
divided. On the contrary, the pleasantest scenes of my life, many of
which have been at Cambridge, rise from the contrast of the present
the more vividly in my imagination."

From Valparaiso, after he had been two years on the voyage, he writes
to a friend:

"That this voyage must come to a conclusion my reason tells me,
otherwise I see no end to it. It is impossible not bitterly to regret
the friends and other sources of pleasure one leaves behind in
England; in place of it there is much solid enjoyment, some present,
but more in anticipation, when the ideas gained during the voyage can
be compared with fresh ones. I find in Geology a never-failing
interest, as it has been remarked, it creates the same grand ideas
respecting the world which astronomy does for the universe. We have
seen much fine scenery; that of the tropics in its glory and
luxuriance exceeds even the language of Humboldt to describe. A
Persian writer could alone do justice to it, and if he succeeded he
would in England be called the 'Grandfather of all liars.'"

No one can read the life of Darwin without feeling great respect for
his perseverance. His faithful devotion to his work can teach us all a
useful lesson. Says his son:

"No one except my mother, knows the full amount of suffering he
endured, or the full amount of his wonderful patience. For all the
latter years of his life she never left him for a night, and her days
were so planned that all his resting hours might be shared with her.
She shielded him from every possible annoyance, and omitted nothing
that might save him trouble, or prevent his becoming overtired, or
that might alleviate the many discomforts of his ill-health. I
hesitate to speak thus freely of a thing so sacred as the life-long
devotion which prompted this constant and tender care. But it is, I
repeat, a principal feature of his life, that for nearly forty years
he never knew one day of the health of ordinary men, and that thus his
life was one long struggle against the weariness and strain of
sickness. And this cannot be told without speaking of the one
condition which enabled him to bear the strain and fight out the
struggle to the end."

That Darwin himself appreciated the goodness of his wife can be seen
from the following tribute which has appeared in _More Letters of
Charles Darwin_. It does not appear in the _Autobiography_ because
Mrs. Darwin was living at the time of its publication. Where in all
literature can a more tender and beautiful appreciation be found?--

"You all know your mother, and what a good mother she has been to all
of you. She has been my greatest blessing, and I can declare that in
my whole life I have never heard her utter one word I would rather
have been unsaid. She has never failed in kindest sympathy towards me,
and has borne with the utmost patience my frequent complaints of
ill-health and discomfort. I do not believe she has ever missed an
opportunity of doing a kind action to any one near her. I marvel at my
good fortune that she, so infinitely my superior in every single moral
quality, consented to be my wife. She has been my wise adviser and
cheerful comforter throughout life, which without her would have been
during a very long period a miserable one from ill-health. She has
earned the love of every soul near her."



XLIII

ANECDOTES OF HUXLEY


Huxley was more than one of the greatest scientists of the last
century; he was a man of literary ability. By his popular lectures and
clear expositions he probably did more than any other man of the
century to popularize the many and important discoveries of the
scientific world. At first there was much opposition to him, owing to
a lack of information on the part of the public as to the import of
the doctrine of evolution. Ex-President Gilman of Johns Hopkins
University tells what a storm of protest was raised in America when
Huxley was invited to deliver the opening address at the founding of
the new university. Huxley is not even now regarded as an orthodox
man, but much of the former prejudice has given way.

John Fiske, who in so many ways can be regarded as the American
Huxley, has published a magazine article giving his impressions of
Huxley. In this article he gives two versions of a famous Huxley
anecdote. Here is one:

"It was at the meeting of the British Association at Oxford in 1860,
soon after the publication of Darwin's epoch-making book, and while
people in general were wagging their heads at it, that the subject
came up before a hostile and fashionable audience. Samuel Wilberforce,
the plausible and self-complacent Bishop of Oxford, commonly known as
'Soapy Sam,' launched out in a rash speech, conspicuous for its
ignorant mis-statements, and highly seasoned with appeals to the
prejudices of the audience, upon whose lack of intelligence the
speaker relied. Near him sat Huxley, already known as a man of
science, and known to look favorably upon Darwinism, but more or less
youthful withal, only five-and-thirty, so that the bishop anticipated
sport in badgering him. At the close of his speech he suddenly turned
upon Huxley and begged to be informed if the learned gentleman was
really willing to be regarded as the descendant of a monkey. Eager
self-confidence had blinded the bishop to the tactical blunder in thus
inviting a retort. Huxley was instantly upon his feet with a speech
demolishing the bishop's card house of mistakes; and at the close he
observed that since a question of personal preferences had been very
improperly brought into a discussion of a scientific theory, he felt
free to confess that if the alternatives were descent, on the one hand
from a respectable monkey, or on the other from a bishop of the
English church who would stoop to such misrepresentations and sophisms
as the audience had lately listened to, he would declare in favor of
the monkey!... It is curious to read that in the ensuing buzz of
excitement a lady fainted, and had to be carried from the room; but
the audience were in general quite alive to the bishop's blunder in
manners and tactics, and, with the genuine English love of fair play,
they loudly applauded Huxley. From that time forth it was recognized
that he was not the sort of man to be browbeaten. As for Bishop
Wilberforce, he carried with him from the affray no bitterness, but
was always afterwards most courteous to his castigator."

Huxley was a great reader of history, poetry, metaphysics, and
fiction, but this is not what made him a great scientist. Original men
make books, they do not need to read them. Yet Huxley loved to read.
He even in his old age studied Greek to read Aristotle and the New
Testament in the original. But Huxley loved things even more than
books. He had little respect for mere bookish knowledge. "A rash
clergyman once, without further equipment in natural science than
desultory reading, attacked the Darwinian theory in some sundry
magazine articles, in which he made himself uncommonly merry at
Huxley's expense. This was intended to draw the great man's fire, and
as the batteries remained silent the author proceeded to write to
Huxley, calling his attention to the articles, and at the same time,
with mock modesty, asking advice as to the further study of these deep
questions. Huxley's answer was brief and to the point: 'Take a
cockroach and dissect it.'"

Huxley was fond of children and their ways. His son, Leonard, tells us
that Julian, the grandchild of Huxley was a child made up of a
combination of cherub and pickle. Huxley had been in his garden
watering with a hose. The little four-year-old was with him. Huxley
came in and said: "I like that chap! I like the way he looks you
straight in the face and disobeys you. I told him not to go on the
wet grass again. He just looked up boldly straight at me, as much as
to say, 'What do _you_ mean by ordering me about?' and deliberately
walked on to the grass." In the spring the approval was not so
decided. "I like that chap; he looks you straight in the face. But
there's a falling off in one respect since last August--he now does
what he is told."

When Julian, the grandchild, was learning to read and write, he became
interested in _Water-Babies_, a story that has delighted so many
children. In it he found a reference to his grandfather as one who
knew much about water-babies. So he wrote to his grandfather:

    Dear Grandpater, have you seen a water baby? Did you put it in
    a bottle? Did it wonder if it could get out? Can I see it some
    day?
                                  Your loving
                                               JULIAN.

This is the answer to the letter:

                                             March 24, 1892.
    MY DEAR JULIAN:

    I never could make out about that water-baby. I have seen
    babies in water and babies in bottles; but the baby in the
    water was not in the bottle and the baby in the bottle was not
    in the water.
                             Ever your loving
                                           GRANDPATER.

Huxley was also fond of cats and dogs and pets of all kind. His son
tells us that once he found his father in an uncomfortable seat, while
the cat had the best chair. He defended himself by saying that he
could not turn the beast away. In 1893 a man, who was writing on the
_Pets of Celebrities_, wrote to him for information concerning his
personal likings. Huxley sent him this letter:

    A long series of cats has reigned over my household for the
    last forty years or thereabouts; but I am sorry to say that I
    have no pictorial or other record of their physical and moral
    excellencies.

    The present occupant of the throne is a large young gray
    tabby, Oliver by name. Not that in any sense he is a
    protector, for I doubt whether he has the heart to kill a
    mouse. However, I saw him catch and eat the first butterfly of
    the season, and trust that the germ of courage thus manifest
    may develop, with age, into efficient mousing.

    As to sagacity, I should say that his judgment respecting the
    warmest place and the softest cushion in the room is
    infallible, his punctuality at meal-time is admirable, and his
    pertinacity in jumping on people's shoulders till they give
    him some of the best of what is going indicates great
    firmness.



XLIV

STEVENSON AT VAILIMA


Robert Louis Stevenson, the writer of _Treasure Island_ and many other
exciting romances, was an exile from home during the last few years of
his life. The state of his health demanded a sunny clime and so he was
forced to live in Samoa, a group of islands in the South Pacific.
About three miles behind Apia, on a slight plateau seven hundred feet
above the level of the sea, he cleared the forest and made a house. "I
have chosen the land to be my land, the people to be my people, to
live and die with," said Stevenson in his speech to the Samoan chiefs.
Mr. Lloyd Osbourne, his step-son, thus describes their abode:

"Unbroken forest covered Vailima when first we saw it; not the forest
of the temperate zone with its varied glades and open spaces, but the
thick tangle of the tropics, dense, dark, and cold in even the hottest
day, where one must walk cutlass in hand to slash the lianas and the
red-edged stinging leaves of a certain tree that continually bar one's
path. The murmur of streams and cascades fell sometimes upon our ears
as we wandered in the deep shade, and mingled with the cooing of wild
doves and the mysterious, haunting sound of a native woodpecker at
work. Our Chinaman, who was with us on our first survey, busied
himself with taking samples of the soil, and grew almost incoherent
with the richness of what he called the 'dirty.' We, for our part,
were no less enchanted with what we saw, and could realize, as we
forced our way through the thickets and skirted the deep ravines, what
a noble labor lay before our axes, what exquisite views and glorious
gardens could be carved out of the broken mountain side and the sullen
forest."

As Stevenson was afraid that villas might be made to intervene between
him and the sea, he bought much land that his view might be forever
unobstructed. He entered into the work of clearing the forest with
vigorous delight. For months he lived in pioneer confusion. Gangs of
native workmen worked from morning to night.

"The new house was built," says Mr. Osbourne; "I arrived from England
with the furniture, the library, and other effects of our old home;
the phase of hard work and short commons passed gradually away, and a
form of hollow comfort dawned upon us. I say hollow comfort, for
though we began to accumulate cows, horses, and the general apparatus
of civilized life, the question of service became a vexing one. An
expensive German cooked our meals and quarreled with the white
house-maid; the white overseer said 'that manual labor was the one
thing that never agreed with him,' and that it was an unwholesome
thing for a man to be awakened in the early morning, 'for one ought to
wake up natural-like,' he explained. The white carter 'couldn't bear
with niggers,' and though he did his work well and faithfully, he
helped to demoralize the place and loosen discipline. Everything was
at sixes and sevens, when, on the occasion of Mrs. Stevenson's going
to Fiji for a few months' rest, my sister and I took charge of
affairs. The expensive German was bidden to depart; Mr. Stevenson
discharged the carter; the white overseer (who was tied to us by
contract) was bought off in cold coin, to sleep out his 'natural
sleep' under a kindlier star and to engage himself (presumably) in
intellectual labors elsewhere. There are two sides to 'white
slavery'--that cherished expression of the labor agitator--and with
the departure of our tyrants we began again to raise our diminished
heads. My sister and I threw ourselves into the kitchen, and took up
the labor of cooking with zeal and determination; the domestic
boundaries proved too narrow for our new-found energies, and we
overflowed into the province of entertainment, with decorated menus,
silver plate and finger-bowls! The aristocracy of Apia was pressed to
lunch with us, to commend our independence and to eat our biscuits. It
was a French Revolution in miniature; we danced the carmagnole in the
kitchen and were prepared to conquer the Samoan social world. One
morning, before the ardor and zest of it all had time to be dulled by
custom, I happened to discover a young and very handsome Samoan on our
back veranda. He was quite a dandified youngster, with a red flower
behind his ear and his hair limed in the latest fashion. I liked his
open, attractive face and his unembarrassed manner, and inquired what
propitious fate had brought him to sit upon our ice-chest and radiate
good nature on our back porch. It seemed that Simele, the overseer,
owed him two Chile dollars, and that he was here, bland, friendly, but
insistent, to collect the debt in person. That Simele would not be
back for hours in no way daunted him, and he seemed prepared to swing
his brown legs and show his white teeth for a whole eternity.

"'Chief,' I said, a sudden thought striking me, 'you are he that I
have been looking for so long. You are going to stay in Vailima and be
our cook!'

"'But I don't know how to cook,' he replied.

"'That is no matter,' I said. 'Two months ago I was as you; to-day I
am a splendid cook. I will teach you my skill.'

"'But I don't want to learn,' he said, and brought back the
conversation to Chile dollars.

"'There is no good making excuses,' I said. 'This is a psychological
moment in the history of Vailima. You are the Man of Destiny.'

"'But I haven't my box,' he expostulated.

"'I will send for it,' I returned. 'I would not lose you for twenty
boxes. If you need clothes, why there stands my own chest; flowers
grow in profusion and the oil-bottle rests never empty beside my
humble bed; and in the hot hours of the afternoon there is the
beautifulest pool where one can bathe and wash one's lovely hair.
Moreover, so generous are the regulations of Tusitala's (Stevenson's)
government that his children receive weekly large sums of money, and
they are allowed on Sundays to call their friends to this elegant
house and entertain them with salt beef and biscuit.'

"Thus was Taalolo introduced into the Vailima kitchen, never to leave
it for four years save when the war-drum called him to the front with
a six-shooter and a 'death-tooth'--the Samoan war-cutlass or
head-knife. He became in time not only an admirable chef, but the
nucleus of the whole native establishment and the loyalest of our
whole Samoan family. His coming was the turning-point in the history
of the house. We had achieved independence of our white masters, and
their discontented white faces had disappeared one by one. Honest
brown ones now took their places and we gained more than good servants
by the change."

The following incident illustrates the high regard in which Stevenson
was held by the native Samoans. When Mataafa, a claimant for the
throne of Upolo, was imprisoned by the European powers, Stevenson
visited him in prison and gave him tobacco and other gifts to cheer
the disconsolate chief. He also visited other prisoners who had sided
in the affairs of Mataafa. When they were released they wished to show
their gratitude in some tangible way. So they built a fine wide road
to the home of the famous writer, a work which they disliked but which
their love for Stevenson enabled them to accomplish. They called it
"The Road of the Loving-Heart." Once when his favorite body-servant,
Sosimo, had anticipated some of his master's wants and Stevenson had
complimented him with, "Great is the wisdom!" "Nay," replied Sosimo
with truer insight, "Great is the Love!"

Stevenson's manner of life at Vailima was somewhat like this: At six
o'clock or earlier he arose and began the day's work. By dawn the
rest of the household were up, and at about eight his wife's daughter
began to take his dictation, working from then until noon. The
afternoons were usually spent in some form of recreation--riding was a
favorite pastime. He was fond of strolling through the tropical
forest, and of taking part in any of the numerous outdoor sports.
However, when he was in the height of literary inspiration, he stayed
at his desk all day long.

On Sunday evening the household was always called together for
prayers; a chapter was read from the Samoan Bible, Samoan hymns were
sung and one of Stevenson's own beautiful prayers, one usually written
for the occasion, was read, concluding with the Lord's Prayer in the
tongue of the natives. In the dominant note of these prayers, the call
for courage and cheerfulness, one can hear the cry of the dying
Stevenson's need: "The day returns and brings us the petty round of
irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the man, help us to
perform them with laughter and kind faces, let cheerfulness abound
with industry.... Give us health, food, bright weather, and light
hearts.... As the sun lightens the world, so let our loving-kindness
make bright the house of our habitation."

Stevenson died as he wished--in the midst of his work. After a day
spent in writing his _Weir of Hermiston_, a day full of life and
gayety, he suddenly fainted and died a short time afterwards. In the
prayer offered the evening before had been this sentence,--"When the
day returns, return to us our sun and comforter, and call us up with
morning faces and with morning hearts, eager to be happy, if
happiness shall be our portion--and if the day be marked for sorrow,
strong to endure it."

On the following morning a group of powerful Samoans bore the coffin
upon their shoulders to the summit of Mount Vaea, where it was the
wish of Mr. Stevenson that he should rest. One of the inscriptions
upon the tomb is his own noble _Requiem_:

    Under the wide and starry sky
    Dig the grave and let me lie;
    Glad did I live and gladly die,
      And I laid me down with a will.

    This be the verse you grave for me:
    Here he lies where he longed to be;
    Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
      And the hunter home from the hill.



XLV

KIPLING IN INDIA


In four lines of oft-quoted poetry Pope has declared that with words
the same rule holds that applies to fashion,--"Alike fantastic if too
new or old." Fashion changes, not only the fashions of millinery but
of literature also. When the world is tired of the brilliant wit of
Byron, it turns in relief to the contemplative verse of Wordsworth;
when Longfellow and Tennyson have had their artistic day and a
thousand imitators have produced romantic poetry, because

    Most can raise the flowers now
    For all have got the seed,--

then this same world turns with delight to the robust poetry of
Kipling. He has brought a new dish to the banquet of life, or at least
a new flavor has been given to the old.

Kipling is a man's poet, robust and virile. As a preface to one of his
stories he wrote:

    Go stalk the red deer o'er the heather,
    Ride, follow the fox, if you can!
    But for pleasure and profit together
    Allow me the hunting of man;--

and this joy in the hunting of man is what has made Kipling so
acceptable to men. Kipling has the defects of his virtues. There is a
certain brutality in his point of view. His beautiful _Recessional_ is
not the greater part of Kipling. His voice "is still for war." His
critics charge him with "Jingoism." One of the most brilliant parodies
of recent times is Watson's

    Best by remembering God, say some,
      We keep our high imperial lot--
    Fortune, I think, has mainly come
      When we forgot, when we forgot!

The greater influence of Kipling, both in his prose and poetry, is
contrary to the humanitarian spirit of the age. Le Gallienne has
said,--"As a writer Mr. Kipling is a delight; as an influence a
danger."

Mr. Kipling sprang into public notice because he had genius and
because he had a new world to reveal to a jaded public. Mr. E. Kay
Robinson was a friend and associate of Kipling when both were in the
land of mysteries, India. Mr. Robinson went to India in 1884 and soon
began to write verses over the signature of "K.R." Kipling was writing
ballads under the initials "R.K." The similarity of the signatures
attracted Kipling and he wrote to Robinson. They were afterwards
associated in newspaper work and became close friends. Robinson has
written about Kipling in India:

"My first sight of Kipling was at an uninteresting stage, when he was
a short, square, dark youth, who unfortunately wore spectacles instead
of eyeglasses and had an unlucky eye for color in the selection of his
clothes. He had a weakness apparently for brown cloth with just that
suggestion of ruddiness or purple in it which makes some browns so
curiously conspicuous. The charm of his manner, however, made you
forget what he looked like in half a minute....

"Among Kipling's early journalistic experiences was his involuntary
assumption 'for this occasion only' of the rôle of the fighting
editor. He was essentially a man of peace, and would always prefer
making an angry man laugh to fighting with him; but one day there
called at the office a very furious photographer. What the paper may
have said about him or his photographs has been forgotten, but never
will those who witnessed it forget the rough-and-tumble all over the
floor in which he and Kipling indulged. The libel, or whatever it was,
which had infuriated the photographer was not Kipling's work, but the
quarrel was forced upon him, and although he was handicapped by his
spectacles and smaller stature he made a very fine draw of it, and
then the photographer--who, it may be remarked, was very drunk--was
ejected. And Kipling wiped his glasses and buttoned his collar.

"That trick of wiping his spectacles is one which Kipling indulged
more frequently than any man I have ever met, for the simple reason
that he was always laughing; and when you laugh till you nearly cry
your spectacles get misty. Kipling, shaking all over with laughter,
and wiping his spectacles at the same time with his handkerchief, is
the picture which always comes to mind as most characteristic of him
in the old days."

With regard to Kipling's minute and exact knowledge of details Mr.
Robinson has this to say:

"To learn to write as soldiers think, he spent long hours loafing with
the genuine article. He watched them at work and at play and at prayer
from the points of view of all his confidants--the combatant officer,
the doctor, the chaplain, the drill sergeant, and the private himself.
With the navy, with every branch of sport, and with natural history,
he has never wearied in seeking to learn all that man may learn at
first-hand, or the very best second-hand, at any rate.... But most
wonderful was his insight into the strangely mixed manners of life and
thought of the natives of India. He knew them all through their
horizontal divisions of rank and their vertical sections of caste;
their ramifications of race and blood; their antagonisms and blendings
of creed; their hereditary strains of calling or handicraft. Show him
a native, and he would tell you his rank, caste, race, origin,
habitat, creed, and calling. He would speak to the man in his own
fashion, using familiar, homely figures, which brightened the other's
surprised eyes with recognition of brotherhood and opened a straight
way into his confidence. In two minutes the man--perhaps a wild hawk
from the Afghan hills--would be pouring out into the ear of this
sahib, with heaven-sent knowledge and sympathy, the weird tale of the
blood feud and litigation, the border fray, and the usurer's iniquity,
which had driven him so far afield as Lahore from Bajaur. To Kipling
even the most suspected and suspicious of classes, the religious
mendicants, would open their mouths freely.

"By the road thick with the dust of camels and thousands of cattle and
goats, which winds from Lahore Fort to the River Ravi, there are
walled caravanserais the distant smell of which more than suffices for
most of the Europeans who pass, but sitting with the travelers in the
reeking inside Kipling heard weird tales and gathered much knowledge.
Under a spreading peepul tree overhanging a well by the same road
squatted daily a ring of almost naked fakirs, smeared with ashes, who
scowled at the European driving by; but for Kipling there was, when he
wished it, an opening in the squatting circle and much to be learned
from the unsavory talkers. That is how Kipling's finished
word-pictures take the lifelike aspect of instantaneous photographs."



XLVI

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN RUNS AWAY


Benjamin Franklin had so many strong qualities, was eminent in so many
lines of endeavor, that we do not always include him among the
literary men of America. However, his _Autobiography_ is a
masterpiece. In sincerity and simplicity it is unsurpassed. This is
all the more remarkable because it was written at a time when ornate
writing was the fashion. A man's style is the outgrowth of his nature,
and it is a striking comment upon the robust quality of Franklin's
mind that his style has the simplicity of the Bible, or _Pilgrim's
Progress_.

The following account, taken from his _Autobiography_, begins just
after he has landed in New York, a boy of seventeen who has run away
from home because he felt that his brother was not treating him
fairly:

My inclinations for the sea were by this time worn out, or I might now
have gratified them. But, having a trade, and supposing myself a
pretty good workman, I offered my service to the printer in the place,
old Mr. William Bradford, who had been the first printer in
Pennsylvania, but removed from thence upon the quarrel of George
Keith. He could give me no employment, having little to do and help
enough already; but, says he, "My son at Philadelphia has lately lost
his principal hand, Aquilla Rose, by death; if you go thither I
believe he may employ you." Philadelphia was a hundred miles farther;
I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things
to follow me round by sea.

   [Illustration: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
   From a portrait by Duplessis]

In crossing the bay we met with a squall that tore our rotten sails to
pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill, and drove us upon Long
Island. In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell
overboard. When he was sinking, I reached through the water to his
shock pate, and drew him up so that we got him in again. His ducking
sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his
pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It proved to be
my old favorite author, Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, in Dutch,
finely printed on good paper, with copper cuts, a dress better than I
had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it
has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose
it has been more generally than any other book, except, perhaps, the
Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of who mixed narration
and dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who in
the most interesting parts finds himself, as it were, brought into the
company and present at the discourse. Defoe in his _Crusoe_, his _Moll
Flanders_, _Religious Courtship_, _Family Instructor_, and other
pieces, has imitated it with success, and Richardson has done the same
in his _Pamela_, etc.

When we drew near the island we found it was at a place where there
could be no landing, there being a great surf on the stony beach. So
we dropped anchor, and swung round toward the shore. Some people came
down to the water edge and hallooed to us, as we did to them; but the
wind was so high and the surf so loud that we could not hear so as to
understand each other. There were canoes on the shore, and we made
signs, and hallooed that they should fetch us, but they either did not
understand us or thought it impracticable, so they went away, and
night coming on, we had no remedy but to wait till the wind should
abate. In the meantime, the boatman and I concluded to sleep if we
could, and so crowded into the scuttle with the Dutchman, who was
still wet, and the spray beating over the head of our boat leaked
through to us, so that we were almost as wet as he. In this manner we
lay all night, with very little rest; but the wind abating the next
day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before night, having been thirty
hours on the water, without victuals, or any drink but a bottle of
filthy rum, the water we sailed on being salt.

In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went in to bed; but,
having read somewhere that cold water, drunk plentifully, was good for
a fever, I followed the prescription, sweat plentifully most of the
night, my fever left me, and in the morning, crossing the ferry, I
proceeded on my journey on foot, having fifty miles to Burlington,
where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of
the way to Philadelphia.

It rained very hard all the day. I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon
a good deal tired, so I stopped at a poor inn, where I stayed all
night, beginning now to wish that I had never left home. I cut so
miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked me, I
was suspected to be some runaway servant and in danger of being taken
up on that suspicion. However, I proceeded the next day, and got in
the evening to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burlington, kept
by one Dr. Brown. He entered into conversation with me while I took
some refreshment, and finding I had read a little, became very
sociable and friendly. Our acquaintance continued as long as he lived.
He had been, I imagine, an itinerant doctor, for there was no town in
England, or country in Europe, of which he could not give a very
particular account. He had some letters, and was ingenious, but much
of an unbeliever, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to
travesty the Bible in doggerel verse, as Cotton had done Virgil. By
this means he set many of the facts in a very ridiculous light, and
might have hurt weak minds if his work had been published; but it
never was.

At his house I lay that night, and the next morning reached
Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats
were gone a little before my coming, and no other expected to go
before Tuesday, this being Saturday; wherefore I returned to an old
woman in the town of whom I had bought gingerbread to eat on the
water, and asked her advice. She invited me to lodge at her house till
a passage by water should offer; and, being tired with my foot
traveling, I accepted the invitation. She, understanding I was a
printer, would have had me stay at that town and follow my business,
being ignorant of the stock necessary to begin with. She was very
hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox cheek with great good will,
accepting only of a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed
till Tuesday should come. However, walking in the evening by the side
of the river, a boat came by, which I found was going toward
Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as
there was no wind, we rowed all the way, and about midnight, not
having yet seen the city, some of the company were confident we must
have passed it, and would row no farther. The others knew not where we
were, so we put toward the shore, got into a creek, and landed near an
old fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, the night being
cold, in October, and there we remained till daylight. Then one of the
company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little above
Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got out of the creek, and
arrived there about eight or nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and
landed at the Market Street wharf.

I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and
shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your
mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since
made there. I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come
round by sea. I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuffed out
with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul, nor where to look for
lodging. I was fatigued with traveling, rowing, and want of rest; I
was very hungry, and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch
dollar and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people
of the boat for my passage, who at first refused it, on account of my
rowing; but I insisted on their taking it, a man being sometimes more
generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty,
perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.

Then I walked up the street, gazing about, till near the market house
I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and,
inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he
directed me to, in Second Street, and asked for biscuit, intending
such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in
Philadelphia. Then I asked for a threepenny loaf, and was told they
had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money
and the greater cheapness, nor the names of his bread, I bade him give
me threepenny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great
puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having
no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and
eating the other. Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth
Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father; when
she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly
did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went
down Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the
way, and, coming round, found myself again on Market Street wharf,
near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river
water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a
woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and
were waiting to go farther.

Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had
many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I
joined them, and was thereby led into the great meetinghouse of the
Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking
round awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor
and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and
continued so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to
rouse me. This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in,
in Philadelphia.

Walking down again toward the river, and looking in the faces of
people, I met a young Quaker man, whose countenance I liked, and,
accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get
lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three Mariners. "Here,"
says he, "is one place that entertains strangers, but it is not a
reputable house; if thee wilt walk with me I'll show thee a better."
He brought me to the Crooked Billet, in Water Street. Here I got a
dinner, and while I was eating it several sly questions were asked me,
as it seemed to be suspected from my youth and appearance that I might
be some runaway.

After dinner my sleepiness returned, and, being shown to a bed, I lay
down without undressing and slept till six in the evening, was called
to supper, went to bed again very early, and slept soundly till next
morning. Then I made myself as tidy as I could, and went to Andrew
Bradford the printer's. I found in the shop the old man, his father,
whom I had seen in New York, and who, traveling on horseback, had got
to Philadelphia before me. He introduced me to his son, who received
me civilly, and gave me a breakfast, but told me he did not at present
want a hand, being lately supplied with one; but there was another
printer in town, lately set up, one Keimer, who, perhaps, might employ
me; if not, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would
give me a little work to do now and then till fuller business should
offer.



XLVII

WASHINGTON IRVING


Washington Irving may be called the father of American literature. It
is true he is not the first writer who flourished on American soil,
but in point of accomplishment he is the first literary man to impress
himself upon the readers of the two continents. And what a sweet,
beautiful soul he is! The only rival he has is Franklin, and Franklin
is not a literary man, though he produced a literary masterpiece in
his _Autobiography_. The test of a great piece of literature is, In a
hundred years can it be bought in a new edition for ten cents? The New
Testament can be bought for ten cents, so can the _Autobiography_, and
the _Sketch Book_. These emerge from the sea of mediocrity of early
American life. They abide while the works of the Michael Wigglesworths
and Anne Bradstreets can be found only in the collections of the
fortunate book-lover.

The early settlers believed in the virtue of large families. It is
well, for otherwise Franklin and Irving would have been lost to
American life. Franklin was the youngest son in a family of seventeen
children, there were two girls younger (Benjamin was the eighth child
of the second wife), and Irving was the eighth son and last child in
a family of eleven children. It is not hard to account for Irving's
first name. Nowadays when you meet a boy named Dewey or Garfield it is
not difficult to guess the boy's age. Irving was born in 1783; the air
was laden with the praises of the great American leader. "Washington's
work is ended," said the mother, "and the child shall be named after
him." Several years after this when Washington, as President, was in
New York, Lizzie, the Scotch servant of the Irving family, followed
the great man into a shop and said, "Please, your honor, here's a
bairn was named after you." Washington placed his hand on the lad's
head and gave him a fatherly blessing.

Like Lowell and Bryant, Irving was first devoted to the law, but his
devotion was not of the quality that consumes. He soon strayed into
pleasanter paths. In January, 1807, appeared the first number of
_Salmagundi_, a humorous periodical which caused a great deal of
curiosity as to the authors, whose witty articles appeared
anonymously. Two years later came the droll _History of New York by
Diedrich Knickerbocker_, a book in which according to Scott were to be
seen traces of the wit of Swift. Scott said that he used to read it
aloud to his wife and guests until "our sides were absolutely sore
with laughing."

Before this work had appeared, Irving lost in three consecutive years
three persons who would have rejoiced the most in his success,--his
father, "the tenderest and best of sisters, a woman of whom a brother
might be proud," and his sweetheart, Matilda Hoffman. She was a rare
and beautiful maiden who had kindled in the heart of Irving a passion
which survived her death until he himself passed away an old man. When
he died his friends found her miniature and a lock of fair hair,
together with the part of a manuscript written for a lady who had
asked Irving why he had never married. Describing Miss Hoffman he
says:

"The more I saw her, the more I had reason to admire her. Her mind
seemed to unfold itself leaf by leaf, and every time to discover new
sweetness. Nobody knew her so well as I, for she was generally
silent.... Never did I meet with more intuitive rectitude of mind,
more delicacy, more exquisite propriety in word, thought, and action
than in this young creature. Her brilliant little sister used to say
that 'people began by admiring her, but ended by loving Matilda.' For
my part I idolized her." Irving then continues by giving a long
account of his efforts to succeed in his literary and legal work with
a view of earning a place in life so as to enable him to marry. "In
the midst of this struggle and anxiety she fell into a consumption. I
cannot tell you what I suffered.... I saw her fade rapidly away,
beautiful, and more beautiful, and more angelic to the very last. I
was often by her bedside, and when her mind wandered she would talk to
me with a sweet, natural, and affecting eloquence that was
overpowering. I saw more of the beauty of her mind in that delirious
state than I ever had before.... I was by her when she died, and was
the last she ever looked upon.... She was but seventeen."

So poignant was the grief of Irving that for thirty years after her
death he did not like any one to mention her name to him. One day he
was visiting her father when one of her nieces, taking some music from
a drawer, brought with it a piece of embroidery. "Washington," said
Mr. Hoffman, "this was poor Matilda's work." The effect was
instantaneous. The light-hearted conversationalist of a moment before
became silent and soon left the house. When in _Bracebridge Hall_ he
writes,--"I have loved as I never again shall love in this world--I
have been loved as I shall never again be loved,"--is he not thinking
of the fair Matilda? And in a note-book we find,--"She died in the
beauty of her youth, and in my memory she will ever be young and
beautiful."

In May, 1815, Irving went abroad for the second time. His purpose was
to stay a few months; he remained seventeen years. The first sight
that greeted the newly arrived American in Liverpool was the
mail-coach bringing the news of the battle of Waterloo. Irving's
sympathies were with Napoleon. "In spite of all his misdeeds he is a
noble fellow, and I am confident will eclipse in the eyes of posterity
all the crowned wiseacres that have crushed him by their overwhelming
confederacy." In the year 1818 the Irving brothers went into
bankruptcy. Washington's interest in the business was that of a
younger brother who had little responsibility. But of late years he
had been much harassed by the accumulating troubles. With the end of
the business anxieties he turns to literature with a whole-souled
devotion. His home friends tried to secure for him the position of
Secretary of the Legation in London; his brother William wrote that
Commodore Decatur was keeping open for his acceptance the office of
Chief Clerk in the Navy Department; but Irving turned the offers
aside. Irving is usually imaged as a sunshiny, genial, easy-going
gentleman into whose blood little of the iron of firmness had been
infused. The fact that he not only refused these offers but also
rejected offers from Scott and Murray shows that he had will enough to
keep to the bent of his genius at a time when he needed money and
influence. Murray offered him a salary of £1000 a year to be the
editor of a periodical.

The first number of the _Sketch Book_ appeared in May, 1819, and
consisted mainly in point of merit of two papers, _The Wife_ and _Rip
Van Winkle_. The series was finished in 1820. The work was highly
successful in America, and Irving was deeply moved by the cordial
expressions of praise that reached him. His manly nature is revealed
in a letter to a friend in which he says,--"I hope you will not
attribute all this sensibility to the kind reception I have met to an
author's vanity. I am sure it proceeds from very different sources.
Vanity could not bring the tears into my eyes as they have been
brought by the kindness of my countrymen. I have felt cast down,
blighted, and broken-spirited, and these sudden rays of sunshine
agitate me more than they revive me. I hope--I hope I may yet do
something more worthy of the appreciation lavished on me."

Irving had not intended to publish the _Sketch Book_ in England, but
owing to reprints by others he was obliged to take the matter in his
own hands. Murray refused to undertake the work. Then Irving became
his own publisher. But the work sold so well that Murray bought the
copyright for two hundred pounds.

In 1826 we find Irving in Spain. To the American reader the name of
Spain is forever associated with that of Irving, for _The Alhambra_,
_The Conquest of Granada_, and _The Life of Columbus_ are the rich
evidences of his absorption of the spirit of Spain. The _Life of
Columbus_ was written with great care. Irving wanted to produce
something that would do credit to the scholarship of his loved
America. Murray paid about fifteen thousand dollars for the English
copyright. For the _Conquest of Granada_ he received ten thousand
dollars, and for _The Alhambra_ a Mr. Bentley paid five thousand.

While Irving was in Madrid one of his most welcome visitors was
Longfellow, then a young man of twenty, fresh from college. Writing to
his father Longfellow says,--"Mr. Rich's family is very agreeable, and
Washington Irving always makes one there in the evening. This is
altogether delightful, for he is one of those men who put you at ease
with them in a moment. He makes no ceremony whatever with one, and of
course is a very fine man in society, all mirth and good humor. He has
a most beautiful countenance, and a very intellectual one, but he has
some halting and hesitating in his conversation, and says very
pleasant, agreeable things in a husky, weak, peculiar voice. He has a
dark complexion, dark hair, whiskers already a little gray. This is a
very offhand portrait of so illustrious a man."

It is interesting to compare this sketch with one that Longfellow drew
from memory many years later,--"I had the pleasure of meeting Mr.
Irving in Spain, and found the author, whom I had loved, repeated in
the man. The same playful humor, the same touches of sentiment, the
same poetic atmosphere; and what I admired still more, the entire
absence of all literary jealousy, of all that mean avarice of fame
which counts what is given to another as so much taken from one's
self.... Passing his house at the early hour of six one summer
morning, I saw his study window already wide open. On my mentioning it
to him afterwards he said, 'Yes, I am always at work by six.' Since
then I have often remembered that sunny morning and that open window,
so suggestive of his sunny temperament and his open heart, and equally
so of his patient and persistent toil."

Irving's career is usually looked upon as ideal. In many ways it was
singularly blessed. Friends, influence, fame, and wealth were his.
When an American publisher undertook the issuing of a new edition of
Irving's works in 1848, there was much uncertainty as to the success
of the venture, but the author received eighty-eight thousand dollars
from 1848 to 1859. He also had the satisfaction of working to the
last, although the last year was one of suffering. "I am rather
fatigued, my dear, by my night's rest," he replied to the anxious
inquiry of a niece. He had been hard at work upon his _Life of
Washington_, and he sometimes feared he might have overtaxed his
brain. "I do not fear death," he said, "but I would like to go down
with all sails set."

This modest prayer was granted. To the day of his death he was able to
receive visitors, talk intelligently, read for his own pleasure, and
take short drives. The day before he died he attended church, and on
coming home he remarked that he must "get a dispensation to allow
whist on Sunday evenings," because he dreaded the long, lonely nights.
On Monday he went to bed, and as he turned to arrange the pillows he
gave a slight exclamation and instantly expired.

By his mother's side they laid him, in a cemetery overlooking the
Hudson and the valley of Sleepy Hollow, a region made forever famous
by the genial pen of Irving. "I could not but remember his last words
to me," writes a friend who made a pilgrimage to the spot on the day
of the funeral, "when his book was finished and his health was
failing: 'I am getting ready to go. I am shutting up my doors and
windows.' And I could not but feel that they were all open now, and
bright with the light of eternal morning."



XLVIII

COOPER AND "THE SPY"


James Fenimore Cooper is one of the most interesting characters in the
history of American authorship. Irving, Longfellow, Whittier, Lowell,
Holmes, and Hawthorne early in life showed their literary bent, and
lived academic and peaceful careers. They were also popular. Cooper
was thirty years old before he thought of writing, and his life was
embittered by the consciousness that he was the target of the most
bitter criticism, both at home and abroad. Yet not one of the
distinguished authors I have named is more widely known to-day than
Cooper. Matthew Arnold has said somewhere that an author's place in
the future is to be determined by his contemporaneous ranking in
foreign lands. If that is true the names of Mark Twain, Cooper, Walt
Whitman, and Poe will rank high in the annals of posterity, for their
European fame is said to be the most general of any of the American
writers.

There is an appealing fascination about the boyhood days of Cooper.
When James was a babe of fourteen months his father moved to the
headwaters of the Susquehanna. The family consisted of fifteen
persons; James, the future novelist, was the eleventh of twelve
children. Their home was in the midst of the forest. Near by was the
charming lake, Otsego. The father owned several thousand acres, and
was, probably, the most prominent man in that sparsely-settled region.
What boy would want a finer opportunity to indulge all the wild
propensities that lurk in the untamed heart of every healthy
youngster? To roam in the untracked forest, to sail the lake, to hunt,
to fish, to dream of the great unknown world lying just beyond the
sun-tipped trees,--what can the schools give in exchange for this? Is
it surprising that the wholesomeness of the forest and the charm and
freshness of God's out-of-doors found their way into the man's novels,
when so many delightful boyhood experiences must have found their way
into the boy's heart?

As I said, Cooper was thirty years old before he began to write. He
had studied under an Episcopal rector, and was intending to enter the
junior class at Yale; the rector died and Cooper entered the second
term of the freshman class; for some frolic in which he was engaged he
was dismissed; he then entered the navy, where he gathered valuable
experience which he worked afterwards into literature; he married;
resigned, and lived the quiet life of a country gentleman. One day he
threw down an English novel he had been reading and said to his wife,
"I believe I could write a better story myself." Now this is a feeling
that many of us have had, but few of us are put to the test. Cooper's
wife fortunately told him to make the trial. He did so, and
_Precaution_ was the result. This was published in 1820. As a novel
it is a failure; as a literary document it is highly interesting.
_Precaution_ is a story of English life. Why should Cooper write of
American life when all Americans seemed to consider American life dull
and prosaic? Politically we were free; intellectually we were slaves.
The English lark sang in American poetry and English lords talked in
American novels. It was not until 1837 that Emerson gave that famous
address, _The American Scholar_, an event which Lowell calls "without
any former parallel in our literary annals," and which Holmes declared
to be "our intellectual Declaration of Independence."

_Precaution_ has been called a failure, but it was not so much of a
failure that Cooper's friends discouraged him from trying again. No,
it was a first attempt and gave promise of something better. Why not
write about American scenes and events? The very neighborhood in which
he lived had been the scene of many stirring adventures during the
Revolutionary conflict. "Years before, while at the residence of John
Jay, his host had given him, one summer afternoon, the account of a
spy that had been in his service during the war. The coolness,
shrewdness, fearlessness, but above all the unselfish patriotism of
the man had profoundly impressed the Revolutionary leader who had
employed him. The story made an equally deep impression upon Cooper at
the time. He now resolved to take it as the foundation of the tale he
had been persuaded to write."

Near the close of 1821 _The Spy_ appeared. In March of the following
year a third edition was on the market. The work soon appeared in
England, published by Miller, the same publisher that had first
ventured to bring Irving's _Sketch Book_ before the English public. In
England the book was at once successful. This meant much to the
American estimate of the author's ability, for American critics were
afraid to praise a work that had not yet been applauded by England. In
this same year, 1822, a French translation appeared. In France the
work was enthusiastically received. This was the first of many
translations into many European languages. Its influence in teaching
patriotism cannot be estimated, nor can its value as an effective
retort to the sneer "Who reads an American book?" ever be overlooked.

About the early life of Cooper there are unfortunately but few
anecdotes. One reason for this lack of _personalia_ about a man who
had a most vigorous personality is due to his dying request. He
enjoined upon his family that they permit no authorized biography to
appear. Because of this we have lost much that would be valuable in
estimating the character of Cooper. There is a story that when he was
a young man he engaged in a foot-race for a prize of a basket of
fruit. "While Cooper and his competitor were preparing to start, a
little girl stood by full of eagerness for the exciting event. Cooper
quickly turned and picked her up in his arms. 'I'll carry her and beat
you!' he exclaimed, and away they went, Cooper with his laughing
burden, the other runner untrammeled. It is almost needless to add
that Cooper won the race, else why should the story have been
preserved?" One cannot help speculating about the size of the girl and
the speed of the rival runner, if this story is true.

A more satisfying story is that told of Cooper's meeting with Scott.
In 1826 Cooper went to Europe. With a family of ten persons he moved
about for seven years. Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, and
England were visited. When in Paris the two romancers met.

"Est ce Monsieur Cooper que j'ai l'honneur de voir?"

"Monsieur je m'appelle Cooper."

"Eh bien, donc, je suis Walter Scott."

After a minute or two of French Sir Walter suddenly recollected
himself and said: "Well, here have I been _parley vooing_ to you in a
way to surprise you, no doubt, but these Frenchmen have got my tongue
so set to their lingo that I have half forgotten my own language."

I have said that Cooper was not popular. This is not putting it strong
enough. He was more than unpopular; he was hated by his neighbors, and
slandered by the press at home and abroad. This lamentable condition
of affairs was not due to any despicable qualities in the man, for
Cooper was a kind father, an affectionate husband, a good citizen, and
an honest, truth-loving man. These seem admirable qualities. Of few of
us can much higher praise be spoken. Why then did the citizens of
Cooper's home village hold a mass meeting and pass resolutions to the
effect that Cooper had rendered "himself odious to a greater portion
of the citizens of this community," and why should _Fraser's
Magazine_, three thousand miles away, call Cooper "a liar, a bilious
braggart, a full jackass, an insect, a grub, and a reptile"?

The cause is not far to seek. Cooper was the most disputatious man in
the history of American literature. Cooper used to tell the story of
the man who in an argument was met with: "Why it is as plain as that
two and two make four." "But I deny that too," was the retort, "for
two and two make twenty two." Cooper was himself that sort of a man.
He always had a quarrel on his hands. The more pugnacious a man is,
the more militant he will find society. He instituted libel suits
against the most prominent editors in the country, among them Horace
Greeley and Thurlow Weed. And what is more to the point,--he won his
cases. But this did not make him any more popular with the press. When
we remember that Billingsgate was an important part of the literary
equipment of the critic of Cooper's time, we need not be surprised
that Cooper's pugnacity evoked such sweet disinterestedness as Park
Benjamin indulged in when he called Cooper "a superlative dolt, and a
common mark of scorn and contempt of every well-informed American."

In addition to this denunciation of Cooper as a man, there have in
recent years arisen severe criticisms on Cooper as a writer. "There
are nineteen rules," writes Mark Twain, "governing literary art in the
domain of romantic fiction--some say twenty-two. In _Deerslayer_
Cooper violated eighteen of them." And then Mark Twain gives us the
detailed specifications. It is very cleverly put, this criticism of
Mark Twain's. But the astounding fact remains that the one rule Cooper
did not violate seems to secure him a place in the Pantheon of
authors. Along with Poe, and Whitman, and Mark himself, Cooper is
found in various editions on the shelves of the bookdealers and in the
libraries of the book-lovers from the Thames to the Volga. If Cooper
had observed only one or two more of the rules of literary art, where
would he stand? One is reminded of the Dutchman who was told that this
clock would run eight days without winding. "Ach, Himmel, what would
she do if she was woundt?"

The one literary sin that Cooper does not commit is dulness. He is
interesting. Of course there are some of Cooper's works that no one
cares to read now. But he is to be judged by his best, not by his
worst. Balzac is something of a novelist himself, and has a right to
be heard. "If Cooper," says Balzac in a passage quoted by every writer
who touches upon Cooper, "had succeeded in the painting of character
to the same extent that he did in the painting of the phenomena of
nature, he would have uttered the last word of our art." This is no
mean praise. Cooper is read because he is interesting. He shall
continue to be read for another reason. He is wholesome and vigorous.
The air we breathe is the air of the pine forest and the salt sea.
Youth is forever attracted by the mystery and adventure of primitive
life. As America becomes more and more densely settled the imagination
will turn back to the early times when the bear and the deer, the
settler and Indian were tracking the trail through the forest and
along the shore. For this reason Cooper is likely to remain an abiding
force in American literature.



XLIX

JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY AND BISMARCK


John Lothrop Motley, the American historian, a writer who in his _The
Rise of the Dutch Republic_ produced a history as fascinating as a
romance and a work that was immediately in Europe translated into
three different languages, was, after graduation from Harvard, a
student at Goettingen. Here he studied German so well that in after
years he was asked by the emperor of Austria whether he were not a
German. Here too he became acquainted with Bismarck.

That they were great friends is evident from letters by Bismarck
himself. "I never pass by old Logier's House, in the
Friedrichstrasse--wrote Bismarck in 1863--without looking up at the
windows that used to be ornamented by a pair of red slippers sustained
on the wall by the feet of a gentleman sitting in the Yankee way, his
head below and out of sight. I then gratify my memory with remembrance
of 'good old colony times when we were roguish chaps.'" And here is
another part of a letter which illustrates that even dignitaries like
to unbend and become like boys again. This letter was written by the
minister of foreign affairs to the minister of the United States at the
court of Vienna:

                                      Berlin, May 23d, 1864.

    Jack my Dear,-- ... what do you do that you never write a line
    to me? I am working from morn to night like a nigger, and you
    have nothing to do at all--you might as well tip me a line as
    well as looking at your feet tilted against the wall of God
    knows what a dreary color. I cannot entertain a regular
    correspondence; it happens to me that during five days I do
    not find a quarter of an hour for a walk; but you, lazy old
    chap, what keeps you from thinking of your old friends? When
    just going to bed in this moment my eye met with yours on your
    portrait, and I curtailed the sweet restorer, sleep, in order
    to remind you of Auld Lang Syne. Why do you never come to
    Berlin? It is not a quarter of an American's holiday from
    Vienna, and my wife and me should be so happy to see you once
    more in this sullen life. When can you come, and when will
    you? I swear that I will make out the time to look with you on
    old Logier's quarters, ... and at Gerolt's, where they once
    would not allow you to put your slender legs upon a chair. Let
    politics be hanged and come to see me. I promise that the
    Union Jack shall wave over our house, and conversation and the
    best old hock shall pour damnation upon the rebels. Do not
    forget old friends, neither their wives, as mine wishes nearly
    as ardently as myself to see you, or at least to see as
    quickly as possible a word of your handwriting.

    Sei gut und komm oder schreibe.
                                             Dein,
                                                V. BISMARCK.

In a letter to Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1878, Bismarck in answer to an
inquiry tells how the two became friends.

"I met Motley at Goettingen in 1832, I am not sure if at the beginning
of the Easter term or Michaelmas term. He kept company with German
students, though more addicted to study than we members of the
fighting clubs. Although not having mastered yet the German language
he exercised a marked attraction by a conversation sparkling with wit,
humor, and originality. In autumn of 1833, having both of us emigrated
from Goettingen to Berlin for the prosecution of our studies, we
became fellow lodgers in the house No. 161 Friedrichstrasse. There we
lived in the closest intimacy, sharing meals and outdoor exercise.
Motley by that time had arrived at talking fluently: he occupied
himself not only in translating Goethe's poem, _Faust_, but tried his
hand even in composing German verses. Enthusiastic admirer of
Shakspere, Byron, Goethe, he used to spice his conversation abundantly
with quotations from these his favorite authors. A pertinacious
arguer, so much so that sometimes he watched my awakening in order to
continue a discussion on some topic of science, poetry, or practical
life cut short by the chime of the small hours, he never lost his mild
and amiable temper.... The most striking feature of his handsome and
delicate appearance was uncommonly large and beautiful eyes. He never
entered a drawing-room without exciting the curiosity and sympathy of
the ladies."

While the sheets of Motley's history were passing through the press in
1856, he paid a visit to Bismarck at Frankfort:

"When I called," says Motley, "Bismarck was at dinner, so I left my
card, and said I would come back in half an hour. As soon as my card
had been carried to him (as I learned afterwards) he sent a servant
after me to the hotel, but I had gone another way. When I came back I
was received with open arms. I can't express to you how cordially he
received me. If I had been his brother, instead of an old friend, he
could not have shown more warmth and affectionate delight in seeing
me. I find I like him better even than I thought I did, and you know
how high an opinion I always expressed of his talents and
disposition. He is a man of very noble character, and of very great
powers of mind. The prominent place which he now occupies as a
statesman sought _him_. He did not seek it or any other office. The
stand which he took in the Assembly from conviction, on the occasion
of the outbreak of 1848, marked him at once to all parties as one of
the leading characters of Prussia....

"In the summer of 1851, he told me that the minister, Manteuffel,
asked him one day abruptly, if he would accept the post of ambassador
at Frankfort, to which (although the proposition was as unexpected a
one to him as if I should hear by the next mail that I had been chosen
governor of Massachusetts) he answered after a moment's deliberation,
yes, without another word. The king, the same day, sent for him, and
asked him if he would accept the place, to which he made the same
brief answer, 'Ja.' His majesty expressed a little surprise that he
made no inquiries or conditions, when Bismarck replied that anything
which the king felt strong enough to propose to him, he felt strong
enough to accept. I only write these details that you may have an idea
of the man. Strict integrity and courage of character, a high sense of
honor, a firm religious belief, united with remarkable talents, make
up necessarily a combination which cannot be found any day in any
court; and I have no doubt that he is destined to be prime minister,
unless his obstinate truthfulness, which is apt to be a
stumbling-block for politicians, stands in his way....

"Well, he accepted the post and wrote to his wife next day, who was
preparing for a summer's residence in a small house they had taken on
the sea-coast, that he could not come because he was already
established in Frankfort as minister. The result, he said, was three
days of tears on her part. He had previously been leading the life of
a plain country squire with a moderate income, had never held any
position in the government or in diplomacy, and had hardly ever been
to court."



L

THE YOUTH OF GEORGE TICKNOR


George Ticknor was born in 1791. His father, he says, fitted him for
college. He never went to a regular school. President Wheelock,
Professor Woodward, and others connected with Dartmouth College, who
were in the habit of making his father's house their home in the long
winter vacations, took much notice of him; and the professor, after
examining him in Cicero _Orations_ and the Greek Testament, gave him a
certificate of admission before he was ten years old. "Of course," he
adds, "I knew very little, and the whole thing was a form, perhaps a
farce. There was no thought of my going to college then, and I did not
go till I was fourteen, but I was twice examined at the college (where
I went with my father and mother every summer) for advanced standing,
and was finally admitted as a junior, and went to reside there from
Commencement, August, 1805." He learned very little at college. "The
instructors generally were not as good teachers as my father had been,
and I knew it." He consequently took no great interest in study,
although he liked reading Horace, and had mathematics enough to enjoy
calculating the great eclipse of 1806, and making a projection of it
which turned out nearly right. To supply the deficiency in classical
acquirements with which he left college, he was placed under Dr. John
Gardiner, of Trinity Church, who was reputed a good scholar, having
been bred in the mother country under Dr. Parr.

"I prepared at home what he prescribed, and the rest of my time
occupied myself according to my tastes. I read with him parts of Livy,
the _Annals_ of Tacitus, the whole of Juvenal and Persius, the
_Satires_ of Horace, and portions of other Latin classics which I do
not remember. I wrote Latin prose and verse. In Greek I read some
books of the _Odyssey_, I don't remember how many; the _Alcestis_; and
two or three other plays of Euripides; the _Prometheus Vinctus_ of
Æschylus; portions of Herodotus, and parts of Thucydides,--of which
last I only remember how I was tormented by the account of the plague
at Athens. This was the work of between two and three years."

After a year's experience in law, he decides to give up his profession
and goes to Europe in order to study at Goettingen. On reaching
Liverpool his first introduction is to Roscoe, and then on his way to
London he stops at Hatton to visit Dr. Parr, who astonished him not a
little by observing, "Sir, I would not think I had done my duty if I
went to bed any night without praying for the success of Napoleon
Bonaparte."

In London Mr. Ticknor formed a friendship with Lord Byron; two men
more unlike in every respect can hardly be conceived of, and it is
amusing to think of Byron impressing his visitor as being "simple and
unaffected," or of his speaking "of his early follies with
sincerity," and of his own works "with modesty." It is amusing, too,
to hear that as Lady Byron is going out for a drive, "Lord Byron's
manner to her was affectionate; he followed her to the door, and shook
hands with her, as if he were not to see her for a month." The
following curious anecdote shows that Byron was no less unpatriotic in
his views than Dr. Parr himself. Mr. Ticknor is calling upon him, and
Byron is praising Scott as the first man of his time, and saying of
Gifford that no one could have a better disposition, when,--

"Sir James Bland Burgess, who had something to do in negotiating Jay's
Treaty, came suddenly into the room, and said abruptly, 'My lord, my
lord, a great battle has been fought in the Low Countries, and
Bonaparte is entirely defeated.' 'But is it true?' said Lord Byron, 'is
it true?' 'Yes, my lord, it is certainly true; and an aid-de-camp
arrived in town last night, he has been in Downing Street this morning,
and I have just seen him as he was going to Lady Wellington's. He says
he thinks Bonaparte is in full retreat towards Paris.' After a moment's
pause, Lord Byron replied, 'I am sorry for it;' and then, after another
slight pause, he added, 'I didn't know but I might live to see Lord
Castlereagh's head on a pole. But I suppose I sha'n't now.' And this
was the first impression produced on his imperious nature by the news
of the battle of Waterloo."

But Byron is not Mr. Ticknor's only London friend, for we read of a
breakfast with Sir Humphry Davy, a "genuine bookseller's dinner" with
Murray, and a visit to the author of _Gertrude of Wyoming_.

Goettingen, however, is the object of his journey, and at Goettingen
he remains for the next year and a half. If he does not learn to scorn
the delights of society, he has at least the resolution to live the
laborious days of the earnest student. He studies five languages, and
works twelve hours in the twenty-four. Greek, German, theology, and
natural history seem chiefly to claim his attention, but he is also
busy with French, Italian, and Latin, and manages at the same time to
keep up his English reading. He is much amused with the German
professors, and describes them with no little humor. There is
Michaelis, who asks one of his scholars for some silver shoe-buckles,
in lieu of a fee. There is Schultze, who "looks as if he had fasted
six months on Greek prosody and the Pindaric meters." There is
Blumenbach, who has a sharp discussion at a dinner-table, and next day
sends down three huge quartos all marked to show his authorities and
justify his statements.

Here is another interesting anecdote given in Ticknor's _Memoirs_:

"When I was in Goettingen, in 1816, I saw Wolf, the most distinguished
Greek scholar of the time. He could also lecture extemporaneously in
Latin. He was curious about this country, and questioned me about our
scholars and the amount of our scholarship. I told him what I
could,--amongst other things, of a fashionable, dashing preacher of
New York having told me that he took great pleasure in reading the
choruses of Æschylus, and that he read them without a dictionary! I
was walking with Wolf at the time, and, on hearing this, he stopped,
squared round, and said, 'He told you that, did he?' 'Yes,' I
answered. 'Very well; the next time you hear him say it, do you tell
him he lies, and that I say so.'"

During a six weeks' vacation there is a pleasant tour through Germany,
and at Weimar Mr. Ticknor makes the acquaintance of Goethe, who talked
about Byron, and "his great knowledge of human nature."

And now in the November of 1816, there comes an intimation that
Harvard College wishes to recall Mr. Ticknor to his old home, and give
him the professorship of French and Spanish literature. It was a
matter of difficulty for him to make a final decision, and a year
passes before he determined to accept the charge, and a year and a
half more before he enters upon its duties.

Meanwhile he leaves Goettingen, visits Paris, Geneva, and Rome, and
then goes on to Spain.... When in Spain, Mr. Ticknor is busy learning
Spanish and collecting Spanish books, and here he lays the groundwork
for that special literary distinction for which he is now so widely
known.--Adapted from the _Athenaeum_ and _Quarterly Review_.



LI

FITZ-GREENE HALLECK


Fitz-Greene Halleck died at a ripe old age in 1867. On the evening of
February 2d, 1869, Bryant delivered an address on the life and
writings of Halleck. The address was given before the New York
Historical Society and was printed the next day in the _New York
Evening Post_. Here is an interesting extract from the address:

"When I look back upon Halleck's literary life I cannot help thinking
that if his death had happened forty years earlier, his life would
have been regarded as a bright morning prematurely overcast. Yet
Halleck's literary career may be said to have ended then. All that
will hand down his name to future years had already been produced. Who
shall say to what cause his subsequent literary inaction was owing? It
was not the decline of his powers; his brilliant conversation showed
that it was not. Was it, then, indifference to fame? Was it because he
had put an humble estimate on what he had written, and therefore
resolved to write no more? Was it because he feared lest what he might
write would be unworthy of the reputation he had been so fortunate to
acquire?

"I have my own way of accounting for his literary silence in the
latter half of his life. One of the resemblances which he bore to
Horace consisted in the length of time for which he kept his poems by
him that he might give them the last and happiest touches. He had a
tenacious verbal memory, and having composed his poems without
committing them to paper, he revised them in the same manner,
murmuring them to himself in his solitary moments, recovering the
enthusiasm with which they were first received, and in this state
heightening the beauty of the thought or of the expression. I remember
that once in crossing Washington Park I saw Halleck before me and
quickened my pace to overtake him. As I drew near I heard him crooning
to himself what seemed to be lines of verse, and as he threw back his
hands in walking I perceived that they quivered with the feeling of
the passage he was reciting. I instantly checked my pace and fell
back, out of reverence for the mood of inspiration which seemed to be
upon him, and fearful lest I should intercept the birth of a poem
destined to be the delight of thousands of readers.

"In this way I suppose Halleck to have attained the gracefulness of
his diction, and the airy melody of his numbers. In this way I believe
he wrought up his verses to that transparent clearness of expression
which causes the thought to be seen through them without any
interposing dimness, so that the thought and the phrase seem one, and
the thought enters the mind like a beam of light. I suppose that
Halleck's time being taken up by the tasks of his vocation, he
naturally lost by degrees the habit of composing in this manner, and
that he found it so necessary to the perfection of what he wrote that
he adopted no other in its place.

"Whatever was the reason that Halleck ceased so early to write, let us
congratulate ourselves that he wrote at all. Great authors often
overlay and almost smother their own fame by the voluminousness of
their writings. So great is their multitude, and so rich is the
literature of our language, that for frequent readings we are obliged
to content ourselves with mere selections from the works of best and
most beloved of our poets, even those who have not written much. It is
only a few of their works that dwell and live in the general mind.
Gray, for example, wrote little, and of that little one short poem,
his _Elegy_, can be fairly said to survive in the public admiration,
and that poem I have sometimes heard called the most popular in our
language."



LII

THE AUTHOR OF THANATOPSIS


Thanatopsis may be said to be the most remarkable poem written by an
American youth. "The unfailing wonder of it is," writes an American
critic in a magazine article, "that a boy of seventeen could have
written it; not merely that he could have made verse of such
structural beauty and dignity, but that the thoughts of which it is
compacted could have been a boy's thoughts. The poem seems to have
been written while he was at his father's house in Cummington, in the
summer of 1811, before he had definitely begun the study of law. Fond
as he had been of showing his earlier effusions to his father and
others, the consciousness of having done something different and
greater must have come upon him at this time, for it was only by
accident, six years after the writing of _Thanatopsis_, that his
father chanced to find it and the poem now called _An Inscription Upon
the Entrance to a Wood_, among some papers in a desk the boy had used
while at home. Dr. Bryant read them with amazement and delight,
hurried at once to the house of a neighbor, a lady of whose sympathy
he felt sure, thrust them into her hands, and, with the tears running
down his cheeks, said, 'Read them; they are Cullen's.'

   [Illustration: WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
   From a photograph from life]

"Now it had happened only a short time before, that Dr. Bryant had
been asked in Boston to urge his son to contribute to the newly
established _North American Review_, and had written him a letter on
the editor's behalf. Here was the opportunity of a proud father.
Without telling his son of his discovery or his purpose, he left the
poems one day, together with some translations from _Horace_ by the
same hand, at the office of _The North American_. The little package
was addressed to his editorial friend, Mr. Willard Phillips, of whom
tradition tells us that as soon as he read the poems he betook himself
in hot haste to Cambridge to display his treasures to his associates,
Richard H. Dana and Edward T. Channing. 'Ah, Phillips,' said Dana,
when he had heard the poems read, 'you have been imposed upon. No one
on this side of the Atlantic is capable of writing such verse.' But
Phillips, believing Dr. Bryant to be responsible for it, declared that
he knew the writer, and that Dana could see him at once if he would go
to the State House in Boston. Accordingly the young men posted into
town, and Dana, unconvinced after looking long and carefully at Dr.
Bryant in his seat in the Senate, said, 'It is a good head, but I do
not see _Thanatopsis_ in it.'"

Bryant is never thought of as a humorist, and his poetry is devoid of
playfulness. But in this letter to his mother, in which he announces
his marriage with Frances Fairchild, we have evidence that Bryant had
a strong sense of humor.

    DEAR MOTHER: I hasten to send you the melancholy intelligence
    of what has lately happened to me.

    Early on the evening of the eleventh day of the present month
    I was at a neighboring house in this village. Several people
    of both sexes were assembled in one of the apartments, and
    three or four others, with myself, were in another. At last
    came in a little elderly gentleman, pale, thin, with a solemn
    countenance, pleuritic voice, hooked nose, and hollow eyes. It
    was not long before we were summoned to attend in the
    apartment where he and the rest of the company were gathered.
    We went in and took our seats; the little elderly gentleman
    with the hooked nose prayed, and we all stood up. When he had
    finished most of us sat down. The gentleman with the hooked
    nose then muttered certain cabalistic expressions, which I was
    too much frightened to remember, but I recollect that at the
    conclusion I was given to understand that I was married to a
    young lady by the name of Frances Fairchild, whom I perceived
    standing by my side, and I hope in the course of few months to
    have the pleasure of introducing to you as your daughter-in-law,
    which is a matter of some interest to the poor girl, who has
    neither father or mother in the world.

Next to _Thanatopsis_ the most widely-known and admired of Bryant's
work is _To a Waterfowl_. There are two very interesting stories
pertaining to this much quoted poem, one relating to the origin of the
poem, the other recording its effect on two fastidious young
Englishmen, Hartley Coleridge and Matthew Arnold.

Bryant was a young man with no assurance as to what the future might
have in store for him. He was journeying over the hills to Plainfield
to see whether there might possibly be an opening for a young lawyer.
It was the 15th of December, 1816, and we can imagine that the gloom
of the gathering twilight helped to deepen the youth's despondency.
But before the glimmering light of evening had given place entirely to
the dark of night, the sky was transfigured with the bright rays of
the setting sun. The New England sky was flooded for a moment with
seas of chrysolite and opal. While young Bryant stopped to enjoy the
brilliant scene, a solitary bird made its way across the sky. He
watched it until it was lost in the distant horizon, and then went on
with new courage as he thought the thoughts so beautifully expressed
in the poem which he wrote after he reached the house where he was to
stay for the night.

The incident in regard to Matthew Arnold is related by Godwin in a
letter to Bigelow:

"Once when the late Matthew Arnold, with his family, was visiting the
ever-hospitable country home of Mr. Charles Butler, I happened to
spend an evening there. In the course of it Mr. Arnold took up a
volume of Mr. Bryant's poems from the table and turning to me said,
'This is the American poet, _facile princeps_'; and after a pause, he
continued: 'When I first heard of him, Hartley Coleridge (we were both
lads then) came into my father's house one afternoon considerably
excited and exclaimed, 'Matt, do you want to hear the best short poem
in the English language?' 'Faith, Hartley, I do,' was my reply. He
then read a poem _To a Waterfowl_ in his best manner. And he was a
good reader. As soon as he had done he asked, 'What do you think of
that?' 'I am not sure but you are right, Hartley, is it your
father's?' was my reply. 'No,' he rejoined, 'father has written
nothing like that.' Some days after he might be heard muttering to
himself,

    The desert and illimitable air,
    Lone wandering but not lost."



LIII

CURTIS AND HAWTHORNE AT THE BROOK FARM


The social experiment known as the Brook Farm enterprise is one of the
most interesting episodes in American literature. Mrs. Ora G. Sedgwick
is one of the many writers who have written about the place and its
inhabitants. She went there in June, 1841, and lived for some time at
the Hive, the principal community edifice. She was then but a girl of
sixteen, but the impressions on her youthful mind were strong enough
to enable her recently to describe her life there. As to Curtis she
has this to say:

"The arrival of George William Curtis, then a youth of eighteen, and
his brother Burrill, two years his senior, was a noteworthy event in
the annals of Brook Farm, at least in the estimation of the younger
members. I shall never forget the flutter of excitement caused by Mr.
Ripley's announcing their expected coming in these words: 'Now we're
going to have two young Greek gods among us.' ... On a bright morning
in May, 1842, soon after Mr. Ripley's announcement, as I was coming
down from the Eyrie to the Hive, I saw Charles A. Dana with two
strange young men approaching my 'magic gate' from the direction of
the Hive. Arriving at the gate before me, Mr. Dana threw it open with
the flourish peculiar to his manner, and stood holding it back. His
companions stood beside him, and all three waited for me to pass
through. I saw at a glance that these must be 'the two young Greek
gods.' They stood disclosed, not like Virgil's Venus, by their step,
but by their beauty and bearing. Burrill Curtis was at that time the
more beautiful. He had a Greek face, of great purity of expression,
and curling hair. George too was very handsome--not so remarkably as
in later life, but already with a man's virile expression.

"About George William Curtis there was a peculiar personal elegance
and an air of great deference in listening to one whom he admired or
looked up to. There was a certain remoteness (at times almost
amounting to indifference) about him, but he was always courteous. His
friends were all older than himself, and he appeared much older in
manners and conversation than he was in years; more like a man of
twenty-five than a youth of eighteen."

Mrs. Sedgwick also gives us a charming glimpse at the great American
novelist, Hawthorne:

"I do not recollect Hawthorne's talking much at the table. Indeed, he
was a very taciturn man. One day, tired of seeing him sitting
immovable on the sofa in the hall, as I was learning some verses to
recite at the evening class for recitation formed by Charles A. Dana,
I daringly took my book, pushed it into his hands, and said, 'Will you
hear my poetry, Mr. Hawthorne?' He gave me a sidelong glance from his
very shy eyes, took the book, and most kindly heard me. After that he
was on the sofa every week to hear me recite.

"One evening he was alone in the hall, sitting on a chair at the
farther end, when my room mate, Ellen Slade, and myself were going
upstairs. She whispered to me, 'Let's throw the sofa pillows at Mr.
Hawthorne.' Reaching over the bannisters, we each took a cushion and
threw it. Quick as a flash he put out his hand, seized a broom that
was hanging near him, warded off our cushions, and threw them back
with sure aim. As fast as we could throw them at him he returned them
with effect, hitting us every time, while we could hit only the broom.
He must have been very quick in his movements. Through it all not a
word was spoken. We laughed and laughed, and his eyes shone and
twinkled like stars. Wonderful eyes they were, and when anything witty
was said I always looked quickly at Mr. Hawthorne; for his dark eyes
lighted up as if flames were suddenly kindled behind them, and then
the smile came down to his lips and over his grave face.

"My memories of Mr. Hawthorne are among the pleasantest of my Brook
Farm recollections. His manners to children were charming and kind. I
saw him one day walking, as was his custom, with his hands behind his
back, head bent forward, the two little Bancrofts and other children
following him with pleased faces, and stooping every now and then with
broad smiles, after which they would rise and run on again behind him.
Puzzled at these maneuvers, I watched closely, and found that
although he hardly moved a muscle except to walk, yet from time to
time he dropped a penny, for which the children scrambled."



LIV

HAWTHORNE AND THE SCARLET LETTER


On June 8, 1849, Hawthorne walked out of the Salem Custom House--a man
without a job. Taylor's Whig administration had come in, so our
Democratic friend, Mr. Hawthorne, walked out. The job he left was not
in our modern eyes a very lucrative one, it was worth $1,200 a year
and Hawthorne had had it for three years. But he went out "mad," for
he knew he had not meddled in politics and he thought that as an
author--even if he was the "most obscure man of letters in
America"--he was entitled to some consideration.

And then there were the wife and children! As he walked home to tell
them the doleful news, he was much depressed by thoughts of them. He
had paid his old debts; but he had saved nothing. He seemed to lack
money, friends, and influence. He had written to a friend in
Boston,--"I shall not stand upon my dignity; that must take care of
itself.... Do not think anything too humble to be mentioned to me. The
intelligence has just reached me, and Sophia has not yet heard it. She
will bear it like a woman,--that is to say better than a man." What a
noble tribute to woman's fortitude! Hawthorne's belief in the
sustaining love of his wife reminds us of a tradition which says that
he never read a letter from his wife without first washing his hands.
To him the act was sacred, and like a priest of old before handling
the symbols of love he performed the rites of purification.

His son tells us how the wife met the news with which he greeted her
on his arrival at home, "that he had left his head behind." She
exclaimed, "Oh, then you can write your book!" And when he with the
prudence of a practical man wanted to know where the bread and rice
were to come from while he was writing the book, she like all good
wives--of olden times, at least--brought forth a "pile of gold" which
she had saved from the household weekly expenses. When the pile of
gold had been subjected to mathematical accuracy it dwindled to $150,
but it was enough to tide over immediate wants.

It was in the early winter that James T. Fields, the publisher who
plays such a prominent part in the early history of American
literature, descended upon the quiet Salem household like the
"godmother in a fairy story." Fields has told the story of his visit:
"I found him alone in a chamber over the sitting-room of the dwelling;
and as the day was cold, he was hovering near a stove. We fell into
talk about his future prospects, and he was, as I feared I should find
him, in a very desponding mood. 'Now,' said I, 'is the time for you to
publish, for I know during these years in Salem you must have got
something ready for the press.' 'Nonsense,' said he, 'what heart had I
to write anything, when my publishers have been so many years trying
to sell a small edition of the _Twice-told Tales_.' I still pressed
upon him the good chances he would have now with something new. 'Who
would risk publishing a book for me, the most unpopular writer in
America?' 'I would,' said I, 'and would start with an edition of 2,000
copies of anything you would write.' 'What madness!' he exclaimed.
'Your friendship for me gets the better of your judgment.' 'No, no!'
he continued, 'I have no money to indemnify a publisher's losses on my
account.' I looked at my watch, and found that the train would be soon
starting for Boston, and I knew that there was not much time to lose
in trying to discover what had been his literary work during these
last few years in Salem. I remember that I pressed him to reveal to me
what he had been writing. He shook his head and gave me to understand
that he had produced nothing. At that moment I caught sight of a
bureau or set of drawers near where we were sitting; and immediately
it occurred to me that hidden in that article of furniture was a story
or stories by the author of _Twice-told Tales_; and I became so
positive of it that I charged him vehemently with the fact. He seemed
surprised, I thought, but shook his head again; and I rose to take my
leave, begging him not to come into the cold entry, saying I would
come back and see him again in a few days. I was hurrying down the
stairs when he called after me from the chamber, asking me to stop a
moment. Then quickly stepping into the entry with a roll of MS. in his
hands, he said: 'How in heaven's name did you know this thing was
there? As you found me out, take what was written, and tell me, after
you get home and have time to read it, if it is good for anything. It
is either very good or very bad--I don't know which!' On my way to
Boston I read the germ of _The Scarlet Letter_."

Hawthorne's original plan was to write a number of stories, of which
this particular one was to be the longest. He was going to call his
book of tales, _Old-Time Legends: together with Sketches, Experimental
and Ideal_,--a title which Woodberry calls "ghostly with the
transcendental nonage of his genius." Fields urged that the tale be
made longer and fuller and that it be published by itself. So the
original plan was changed, as was also the title. This was wise, for
the cumbersome original title would have killed any book, but the
present title is nothing short of a stroke of genius.

About this time Hawthorne's friends, under the leading of Hillard,
sent a kind letter and a considerable sum of money. Hawthorne
replied,--"I read your letter in the vestibule of the Post Office; and
it drew--what my troubles never have--the water to my eyes; so that I
was glad of the sharply-cold west wind that blew into them as I came
homeward, and gave them an excuse for being red and bleared." After
saying it was sweet to be remembered, but bitter to need their aid, he
concludes,--"The money, dear Hillard, will smooth my path for a long
time to come. The only way in which a man can retain his self-respect,
while availing himself of the generosity of his friends, is by making
it an incitement to his utmost exertion, so that he may not need their
help again. I shall look upon it so--nor will shun any drudgery that
my hand shall find to do, if thereby I may win bread."

Four days after this letter was written, on February 3, 1850, he
finished _The Scarlet Letter_. He writes to a friend saying he read
the last scene to his wife, or rather tried to read it, "for my voice
swelled and heaved, as if I were tossed up and down on an ocean as it
subsides after a storm." Mrs. Hawthorne told a friend that her husband
seemed depressed all during that winter. "There was a knot in his
forehead all the time," said his wife. One day he told her he had a
story that he wished to read to her. He read part of the work one
evening. The next evening he continued. His wife followed the story
with intense interest. Her excitement arose until when he was reading
near the end of the book, where Arthur and Hester and the child meet
in the forest, Mrs. Hawthorne sank from her low stool to the floor and
said she could endure no more. Hawthorne stopped and said in
wonder,--"Do you really feel it so much? Then there must be something
in it."

Mrs. Hawthorne relates that on the day after the MS. was delivered to
Fields, this publisher returned and when admitted to the house caught
up her boy in his arms and said,--"You splendid little fellow, do you
know what a father you have?" Then he ran upstairs to talk to
Hawthorne, calling to her as he went that he had sat up all night to
read the story. Soon her husband came down and walked about the room
with a new light in his eyes.

Early in April the book was issued in an edition of 5,000 copies; this
was soon exhausted, and Hawthorne was well started on that career of
literary fame which led Mr. Hamilton W. Mabie, a hundred years after
the birth of Hawthorne, to call him "the foremost literary artist of
America."

_The Scarlet Letter_, as Hawthorne himself tells us, is a story of
"human frailty and sorrow." It is the story of one who has brooded
long and faithfully upon the problem of evil. In it we read that man
is the master of his fate. The great difference between ancient and
modern literature is this: the old dramatists seem to believe that
somewhere there is a power above and beyond the control of man, a
blind, unreasoning force that seems to play with man as the football
of chance. Whatever may be done by man will prove unavailing if Fate
or Destiny has decreed otherwise. Out of such a philosophy of life
comes the story of OEdipus. The modern conception is that expressed by
Shakspere:

    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Still later Henley in his one great poem has expressed the thought
with vigor,--

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods there be
    For my unconquerable soul!

With unfaltering aim Hawthorne shows that each character works out its
own destiny. That man is helpless, the sport of gods, the football of
Fate, is disproved by the patient transformation in the character of
Hester.

Some one has well characterized _The Scarlet Letter_ as "a drama of
the spirit." It is a story such as only one who had brooded deeply on
the problem of evil could write. Hawthorne was a "solitary brooder
upon life." Every one who knew him testified to this impression. When
William Dean Howells, a young man from Ohio, knocked at the door of
the Wayside Cottage, a letter of introduction in his hand, and a
feeling of hero-worship in his heart, he was ushered into the presence
of the great romancer, who advanced "carrying his head with a heavy
forward droop" and with pondering pace. His look was "somber and
brooding--the look of a man who had dealt faithfully and therefore
sorrowfully with that problem of evil which forever attracted and
forever evaded Hawthorne."

Hawthorne impressed all who met him with his reserve and shyness. Many
stories are told to illustrate this quality. Hawthorne was once a
visitor at a club where a number of literary men had gathered. The
taciturnity of Hawthorne was more impressive than the loquacity of the
witty Holmes. After Hawthorne had left Emerson said, "Hawthorne rides
his dark horse well." George William Curtis relates this anecdote:

"...I recall the silent and preternatural vigor with which, on one
occasion, he wielded his paddle to counteract the bad rowing of a
friend who conscientiously considered it his duty to do something and
not let Hawthorne work alone, but who with every stroke neutralized
all Hawthorne's efforts. I suppose he would have struggled until he
fell senseless rather than to ask his friend to desist. His principle
seemed to be, if a man cannot understand without talking to him, it
is quite useless to talk, because it is immaterial whether such a man
understands or not."

Hawthorne's father was a man of the sea, a man of few words, and it is
sometimes said that the romancer inherited his shy and reserved
disposition from his father. But his mother was not behind the father
in reserve. After her husband's death she shut herself up in
Hindoo-like seclusion and lived the life of a hermit for more than
forty years.

Hawthorne gives us an interesting account of his boyhood in an
autobiographical note to his friend Stoddard. "When I was eight or
nine years old, my mother, with her three children, took up her
residence on the banks of the Sebago Lake, in Maine, where the family
owned a large tract of land; and here I ran quite wild ... fishing all
day long, or shooting with an old fowling-piece; but reading a good
deal too, on the rainy days, especially in _Shakspere_ and _The
Pilgrim's Progress_."

More pertinent as to his habits of loneliness is the following account
of how he lived for nine or ten years after his graduation from
Bowdoin. "I had always," he writes, "a natural tendency (it appears to
have been on the paternal side) toward seclusion; and this I now
indulged to the utmost, so that, for months together, I scarcely held
human intercourse outside of my own family, seldom going out except at
twilight, or only to take the nearest way to the most convenient
solitude, which was oftenest the seashore.... Having spent so much of
my boyhood and youth from my native place, I had very few
acquaintances in Salem, and during the nine or ten years that I spent
there, in this solitary way, I doubt whether so much as twenty people
in the town were aware of my existence."

Such was the solitariness of the youthful Hawthorne. Is it surprising
that in the fiction of the mature man there should be a pervading
sense of remoteness, of silences that fascinate, of mysteries that
charm?



LV

MAX MÜLLER'S RECOLLECTIONS OF EMERSON, LOWELL, AND HOLMES


Living at Oxford, writes Max Müller, I have had the good fortune of
receiving visits from Emerson, Dr. Wendell Holmes, and Lowell, to
speak of the brightest stars only. Each of them stayed at our house
for several days, so that I could take them in at leisure, while
others had to be taken at one gulp, often between one train and the
next. Oxford has a great attraction for all Americans, and it is a
pleasure to see how completely they feel at home in the memories of
the place. The days when Emerson, Wendell Holmes, and Lowell were
staying with us, the breakfasts and luncheons, the teas and dinners,
and the delightful walks through college halls, chapels and gardens
are possessions forever....

I do not wonder that philosophers by profession had nothing to say to
his (Emerson's) essays because they did not seem to advance their
favorite inquiries beyond the point they had reached before. But there
were many people, particularly in America, to whom these rhapsodies
did more good than any learned disquisitions or carefully arranged
sermons. There is in them what attracts us so much in the ancients,
freshness, directness, self-confidence, unswerving loyalty to truth,
as far as they could see it. He had no one to fear, no one to please.
Socrates or Plato, if suddenly brought to life in America, might have
spoken like Emerson, and the effect produced by Emerson was certainly
like that produced by Socrates in olden times.

What Emerson's personal charm must have been in earlier life we can
only conjecture from the rapturous praises bestowed on him by his
friends, even during his lifetime.... And his influence was not
confined to the American mind. I have watched it growing in England. I
can still remember the time when even experienced judges spoke of his
essays as mere declamations, as poetical rhapsodies, as poor
imitations of Carlyle. Then gradually one man after another found
something in Emerson which was not to be found in Carlyle,
particularly his loving heart, his tolerant spirit, his comprehensive
sympathy with all that was or was meant to be good and true, even
though to his own mind it was neither the one nor the other....

Another eminent American who often honored my quiet home at Oxford was
James Russell Lowell, for a long time United States minister in
England. He was a professor and at the same time a politician and a
man of the world. Few essays are so brimful of interesting facts and
original reflections as his essays entitled _Among my Books_.

Lowell's conversation was inexhaustible, his information astonishing.
Pleasant as he was, even as an antagonist, he would occasionally lose
his temper and use very emphatic language. I was once sitting next to
him when I heard him stagger his neighbor, a young lady, by bursting
out with, "But, madam, I do not accept your major premise!" Poor
thing, she evidently was not accustomed to such language, and not
acquainted with that terrible term. She collapsed, evidently quite at
a loss as to what gift on her part Mr. Lowell declined to accept.

Sometimes even the most harmless remark about America would call forth
very sharp replies from him. Everybody knows that the salaries paid by
America to her diplomatic staff are insufficient, and no one knew it
better than he himself. But when the remark was made in his presence
that the United States treated their diplomatic representatives
stingily, he fired up, and discoursed most eloquently on the
advantages of high thoughts and humble living....

I lost the pleasure of shaking hands with Longfellow during his stay
in England. Though I have been more of a fixture at Oxford than most
professors, I was away during the vacation when he paid his visit to
our university, and thus lost seeing a poet to whom I felt strongly
attracted, not only by the general spirit of his poetry, which was
steeped in German thought, but as the translator of several of my
father's poems.

I was more fortunate with Dr. Wendell Holmes. His arrival in England
had been proclaimed beforehand, and one naturally remained at home in
order to be allowed to receive him. His hundred days in England were
one uninterrupted triumphal progress. When he arrived at Liverpool he
found about three hundred invitations waiting for him. Though he was
accompanied by a most active and efficient daughter, he had at once to
engage a secretary to answer this deluge of letters. And though he
was past eighty, he never spared himself, and was always ready to see
and to be seen. He was not only an old, but a ripe and mellow man.
There was no subject on which one could touch which was not familiar
to the autocrat of the breakfast table. His thoughts and his words
were ready, and one felt that it was not for the first time that the
subject had been carefully thought out and talked out by him. That he
should have been able to stand all the fatigue of the journey and the
constant claims on his ready wit seemed to me marvelous. I had the
pleasure of showing him the old buildings of Oxford. He seemed to know
them all, and had something to ask and say about every one. When we
came to Magdalen College, he wanted to see and to measure the elms. He
was very proud of some elms in America, and he had actually brought
some string with which he had measured the largest tree he knew in his
own country. He proceeded to measure one of our finest elms in
Magdalen College, and when he found that it was larger than his
American giant, he stood before it admiring it, without a single word
of envy or disappointment.

I had, however, a great fright while he was staying at our house. He
had evidently done too much, and after our first dinner party he had
feverish shivering fits, and the doctor whom I sent for declared at
once that he must keep perfectly quiet in bed, and attend no more
parties of any kind. This was a great disappointment to myself and to
a great many of my friends. But at his time of life the doctor's
warning could not be disregarded, and I had, at all events, the
satisfaction of sending him off to Cambridge safe and sound. I had
him several days quite to myself, and there were few subjects which we
did not discuss. We mostly agreed, but even where we did not, it was a
real pleasure to differ from him. We discussed the greatest and the
smallest questions, and on every one he had some wise and telling
remarks to pour out. I remember one conversation while we were sitting
at an old wainscoted room at All Souls', ornamented with the arms of
former fellows. It had been at first the library of the college, then
one of the fellows' rooms, and lastly a lecture room. We were deep in
the old question of the true relation between the divine and human in
man, and here again, as on all other questions, everything seemed to
be clear and evident to his mind. Perhaps I ought not to repeat what
he said to me when we parted: "I have had much talk with people in
England; with you I have had a real conversation." We understood each
other and wondered how it was that men so often misunderstood one
another. I told him that it was the badness of our language, he
thought it was the badness of our tempers. Perhaps we were both right.
With him again good-by was good-by for life, and at such moments one
wonders indeed how kindred souls became separated, and one feels
startled and repelled at the thought that, such as they were on earth,
they can never meet again. And yet there is continuity in the world,
there is no flaw, no break anywhere, and what has been will surely be
again, though how it will be we cannot know, and if only we trust in
the wisdom that pervades the whole universe, we need not know.



LVI

HOWELLS CALLS ON EMERSON, AND DESCRIBES LONGFELLOW


In 1860 William Dean Howells, now one of the foremost literary
influences in the English-speaking world, was a young man writing for
the _Ohio State Journal_ of Columbus. Several of his poems had been
kindly received and published by the _Atlantic Monthly_, so that the
young lady from New England who screamed with surprise at seeing the
_Atlantic_ on a western table and cried, "Why, have you got the
_Atlantic Monthly out here_?" could be met with, "There are several
contributors to the _Atlantic_ in Columbus." The several were Howells
and J.J. Piatt. But to be an accepted contributor to the _Atlantic_
was not enough. Howells must see the literary celebrities of New
England. Emerson and Bayard Taylor he had seen and heard in Columbus,
but Longfellow, Hawthorne, Lowell, Holmes, and Whittier were the
literary saints at whose shrine he wished to burn the sacred incense
of his adoring soul.

From Hawthorne he received a card introducing him to Emerson. Emerson
was then about sixty, although nothing about him suggested an old man.
After some conversation on general topics, Emerson began to talk of
Hawthorne, praising Hawthorne's fine personal qualities. "But his
last book," he added, reflectively, "is mere mush." This criticism
related to the _Marble Faun_. Of course, such a comment shocked
Howells, whose sense of literary values was much keener than
Emerson's. "Emerson had, in fact," writes Howells, "a defective sense
as to specific pieces of literature; he praised extravagantly, and in
the wrong place, especially among the new things, and he failed to see
the worth of much that was fine and precious beside the line of his
fancy."

Then Emerson made some inquiry about a Michigan young man who had been
sending some of his poetry to Emerson. Howells was embarrassed to be
obliged to say that he knew nothing of the Michigan poet. Later
Emerson asked whether he had become acquainted with the poems of Mr.
William Henry Channing. Howells replied that he knew them only through
the criticism of Poe.

"Whose criticisms?" asked Emerson.

"Poe's," replied Howells.

"Oh," Emerson cried after a thoughtful moment, "you mean _the jingle
man_!"

This was a moment of confusion and embarrassment for Howells. Had the
vituperative pen of Poe ever thrown off more stinging criticism than
that? "_The jingle man!_"

Emerson turned the conversation to Howells himself and asked him what
he had written for the _Atlantic_. Howells replied, and Emerson took
down the bound volumes and carefully affixed Howells' initials to the
poems. "He followed me to the door, still speaking of poetry, and as
he took a kindly enough leave of me, he said one might very well give
a pleasant hour to it now and then." This was a shock to Howells. "A
pleasant hour!" Howells was intending to consecrate all time and
eternity to it, and here is the Sage of Concord coolly speaking of
poetry as though it were some trifling diversion, like billiards or
whist.

Later in life when Howells resided in Cambridge he had abundant
opportunity to become acquainted with Longfellow, whom in _Literary
Friends and Acquaintance_ he calls the "White Mr. Longfellow."

"He was the most perfectly modest man I ever saw, ever imagined, but
he had a gentle dignity which I do not believe any one, the coarsest,
the obtusest, could trespass upon. In the years when I began to know
him, his long hair and the beautiful beard which mixed with it were of
iron-gray, which I saw blanch to a perfect silver, while that pearly
tone of his complexion, which Appleton so admired, lost itself in the
wanness of age and pain. When he walked, he had a kind of spring in
his gait, as if now and again a buoyant thought lifted him from the
ground. It was fine to meet him coming down a Cambridge street; you
felt that the encounter made you a part of literary history, and set
you apart with him for the moment from the poor and mean. When he
appeared in Harvard Square, he beatified if not beautified the ugliest
and vulgarest looking spot on the planet outside of New York. You
could meet him sometimes at the market, if you were of the same
provision-man as he, for Longfellow remained as constant to his
tradespeople as to any other friends. He rather liked to bring his
proofs back to the printer himself, and we often found ourselves
together at the University Press, where _The Atlantic Monthly_ used to
be printed. But outside of his own house Longfellow seemed to want a
fit atmosphere, and I love best to think of him in his study, where he
wrought at his lovely art with a serenity expressed in his smooth,
regular, and scrupulously perfect handwriting. It was quite vertical,
and rounded, with a slope neither to the right nor left, and at the
time I knew him first, he was fond of using a soft pencil on printing
paper, though commonly he wrote with a quill. Each letter was distinct
in shape, and between the verses was always the exact space of half an
inch. I have a good many of his poems written in this fashion, but
whether they were the first drafts or not I cannot say; very likely
not. Towards the last he no longer sent the poems to the magazines in
his own hand, but they were always signed in autograph.

"I once asked him if he were not a great deal interrupted, and he
said, with a faint sigh, Not more than was good for him, he fancied;
if it were not for the interruptions, he might overwork. He was not a
friend to stated exercise, I believe, nor fond of walking, as Lowell
was; he had not, indeed, the childish associations of the younger poet
with the Cambridge neighborhoods; and I never saw him walking for
pleasure except on the east veranda of his house, though I was told he
loved walking in his youth. In this and in some other things
Longfellow was more European than American, more Latin than Saxon. He
once said quaintly that one got a great deal of exercise in putting on
and off one's overcoat and overshoes....

"He was patient, as I said of all things, and gentle beyond all mere
gentlemanliness. But it would have been a great mistake to mistake his
mildness for softness. It was most manly and firm, and of course, it
was braced with the New England conscience he was born to. If he did
not find it well to assert himself, he was prompt in behalf of his
friends, and one of the fine things told of him was his resenting some
things said of Sumner at a dinner in Boston during the old pro-slavery
times; he said to the gentlemen present that Sumner was his friend,
and he must leave their company if they continued to assail him.

"But he spoke almost as rarely of his friends as of himself. He liked
the large, impersonal topics which could be dealt with, on their human
side, and involved characters rather than individuals. This was rather
strange in Cambridge, where we were apt to take our instances from our
environments. It was not the only thing he was strange in there; he
was not to that manner born; he lacked the final intimacies which can
come only of birth and lifelong association, and which make the men of
the Boston breed seem exclusive when they least feel so; he was
Longfellow to the friends who were James, and Charles, and Wendell to
one another. He and Hawthorne were classmates at college, but I never
heard him mention Hawthorne; I never heard him mention Whittier or
Emerson. I think his reticence about his contemporaries was largely
due to his reluctance from criticism: he was the finest artist of
them all, and if he praised he must have praised with the reservations
of an honest man. Of younger writers he was willing enough to speak.
No new contributor made his mark in the magazine unnoted by him, and
sometimes I showed him verse in manuscript which gave me peculiar
pleasure. I remember his liking for the first piece that Mr. Maurice
Thompson sent me, and how he tasted the fresh flavor of it and inhaled
its wild new fragrance."



LVII

LONGFELLOW, THE UNIVERSAL POET


We have passed the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Longfellow,
and he still remains the favorite American poet. Not that Longfellow
is one of the great world poets; Longfellow himself would have been
offended with that eulogistic extravagance which would place him among
the few immortals. He is not a Homer, nor a Dante, nor a Shakspere.
No, he is not even a Wordsworth in philosophic insight into nature,
nor a Shelley in power to snatch the soul into the starry empyrean,
nor a Tennyson in variety and passion, nor a Milton in grandeur of
poetic expression. He is--only Longfellow. But that means he has his
own peculiar charm. It is idle to detract from the fame of one man
because he is not some one else. Roast beef may be more nutritious
than strawberries, but that is no criticism upon the flavor of the
strawberry. Longfellow is not Milton, but then neither is Milton
Longfellow:

    If I cannot carry forests on my back
    Neither can you crack a nut.

Of late years the critics have been finding fault with Longfellow.
They have said that really Longfellow is no poet. Frederic Harrison
calls Evangeline "goody, goody dribble!" and Quiller-Couch in his
anthology gives three pages to Longfellow and seven to Wilfred Scawen
Blunt--but who is Blunt? When I was in Berlin I found in a German
history of English and American Literature one-half a page devoted to
Longfellow and ten pages to Poe. Perhaps some of this criticism is but
the natural reaction following the extreme praise that ensued after
the death of Longfellow in 1882.

   [Illustration: HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
   From a wood engraving of a life photograph]

But Longfellow is surviving all derogatory criticism. He is still the
poet with the universal appeal. It is altogether probable that he is
more widely read to-day than any other American poet. Even foreigners
still express their affection for this poet of the domestic
affections. In 1907 Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the English Ambassador
to the United States, made an address in which he made graceful
acknowledgement of his debt to this American poet:

"I owe much of the pleasure of my life to American writers of every
shade of thought.... But I owe to one American writer much more than
pleasure. Tastes differ and fashions change, and I am told that the
poetry of Longfellow is not read as it used to be. Men in my own
country have asked me whether the rivers of Damascus were not better
than all the waters of Israel, whether Shakspere, and Milton, and
Shelley, and Keats were not enough for me, that I need go to
Longfellow. And Americans have seemed surprised that I did not speak
rather of Lowell and Bryant and others. Far be it from me to say a
word against any of them. I have loved them all from my youth up,
every one of them in his own way, and Shakspere as the master and
compendium of them all. No one, I suppose, would place Longfellow as a
poet quite on the same level with some of them. But the fact remains
that, for one reason or another, perhaps in part from early
associations, Longfellow has always spoken to my heart. Many a time,
in lands far away from the land he loved so well, I have sought for
sympathy in happiness and in sorrow--

    Not from the grand old masters,
      Not from the bards sublime,
    Whose distant footsteps echo
      Through the corridors of time--

but from that pure and gentle and untroubled spirit."

Professor E.A. Grosvenor, of Amherst, years ago published an article
on Longfellow that was widely copied. It is an interesting account of
a conversation in 1879 on board the Messageries steamer _Donai_, bound
from Constantinople to Marseilles. On board many nationalities were
represented. The story is a fine illustration of the wide-spread
popularity of the American poet.

"One evening, as we were quitting the Straits of Bonifacio, some one
remarked at dinner that, though Victor Hugo was born in Paris, the
earliest impressions of his life were received in Corsica, close to
which we were passing. Ten or twelve of us lingered after the meal was
finished to talk of the great French poet. One of the party spoke of
him as embodying, more than any other writer, the humanistic
tendencies of the nineteenth century and as the exponent of what is
best in humanity.

"We had been talking in French, when the Russian lady exclaimed in
English to the gentleman who had last spoken, 'How can you, an
American, give to him the place that is occupied by your own
Longfellow? Longfellow is the universal poet. He is better known, too,
among foreigners than any one except their own poets! Then she
commenced repeating in rich, mellow tones:

    I stood on the bridge at midnight,
      As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose over the city
      Behind the dark church tower.

I recall how her voice trembled over the words:

    And the burden laid upon me
      Seemed greater than I could bear.

and how it swelled out in the concluding lines:

    As the symbol of love in Heaven,
      And its wavering image here.

It was dramatic and never to be forgotten. Then she added, 'I long to
visit Boston that I may stand on the Bridge.'

"In the company was an English captain returning from the Zulu war. He
was the son of that member of Parliament' who had been the chief
supporter of the claimant in the famous Tichborne case, and who had
poured out his money like water in behalf of the man whom he
considered cruelly wronged. The captain was a typical British soldier,
with every characteristic of his class. Joining our steamer at Genoa,
he had so far talked only of the Zulus and, with bitter indignation,
of the manner in which the Prince Imperial had been deserted by
British soldiers to be slain by savages. As soon as the Russian lady
had concluded he said: 'I can give you something better than that,'
and began in a voice like a trumpet:

    Tell me not in mournful numbers
      Life is but an empty dream.

His recitation of the entire poem was marked by the common English
upheaval and down-letting of the voice in each line; but it was
evident that he loved what he was repeating.

"Then a tall, lank, gray-haired Scotchman, who knew no French, who had
hardly mingled with the other passengers, and who seemed always
communing with himself, suddenly commenced:

    There is no flock, however watched and tended,
      But one dead lamb is there.

He repeated only a few stanzas, but could apparently have given the
whole poem, had he wished.

"For myself, I know that my contribution was _My Lost Youth_,
beginning

    Often I think of the beautiful town,
      That is seated by the sea;
    Often in thought go up and down
    The pleasant streets of that dear old town
      And my youth comes back to me.

Never did the distance from an early home seem so great to one, New
England born, as in that strange company, gathered from many lands,
each with words upon the lip which the American had first heard in
childhood.

"A handsome, olive-cheeked young man, a Greek from Manchester,
educated and living in England, said, 'How do you like this?' Then he
began to sing:

      Stars of the summer night,
        Far in yon azure deeps,
    Hide, hide your golden light!
            She sleeps!
          My lady sleeps!
              Sleeps!

So he rendered the whole of that exquisite serenade--dear to American
college students--with a freedom and a fire which hinted that he had
sung it at least once before on some more appropriate occasion.
Perhaps to some dark-eyed maiden of that elegant Greek colony of
Manchester it had come as a revelation, and perhaps she had first
heard it sung in front of her father's mansion and had looked down,
appreciative but unseen, from above.

"The captain of the _Donai_ was not her regular commander, but an
officer of the national French navy, who was in charge only for a few
voyages. A thorough Frenchman, no one would have accused him of
knowing a word of any tongue, save his own. Versatile, overflowing
with wit and _bons mots_, it must have wearied him to be silent so
long. To our astonishment, in accents so Gallic that one discerned
with difficulty that he was attempting English, he intoned:

    Zee seds of neet fair valeeng fast,
    Ven t'rough an Alpeen veelage past
    A yout, who bore meed snow and eece
    A bannair veed dees strange deveece
                Excelsiorr!

"'_Eh, voila_,' he exclaimed with satisfaction, '_J'ai appris cela a
l'école. C'est tout l'anglais que je sais._'

"'_Mais, commandant_,' said the Russian lady, '_ce n'est pas l'anglais
du tout ce que vous venez de dire là._'

"'_Ah, oui, madame, ça vient de votre Longfellow._'

"None of the other passengers contributed, but already six
nationalities had spoken--Scotch, Russian, Greek, French, English, and
American. As we arose from the table and went up on deck to watch the
lights glimmering in Napoleon's birthplace, Ajaccio, the Russian lady
said: 'Do you suppose there is any other poet of any country, living
or dead, from whom so many of us could have quoted? Not one. Not even
Shakspere or Victor Hugo or Homer.'"



LVIII

HENRY DAVID THOREAU


During his lifetime Thoreau published but two books,--_Walden_, and
the _Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers_,--and these had but
limited sale while the author was living. Over seven hundred copies of
the _Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers_ were returned, to
Thoreau by his publisher. Thoreau must have had a helpful sense of
humor, for after lugging the burden upstairs he complacently
remarks,--"I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over
seven hundred of which I wrote myself." In recent times a costly
edition of all Thoreau's writings has been published. He is one of the
rare spirits whose fame increases with the years. But of all his
voluminous writings _Walden_, so it seems to me, is the most readable,
the freshest, the most stimulating. Higginson says that it is,
perhaps, the only book yet written in America that can bear an annual
reading.

_Walden_ is a record of Thoreau's sojourn for about two years in the
woods by Walden Pond. He went about two miles from his mother's door,
built a little house or hut, and there lived, reading his favorite
books, philosophizing, studying nature, and to a great extent
avoiding society. Some people have condemned him as selfish, others
have defended him. His best defense is his work. If anything so fresh
and readable as _Walden_ be the result, we might be willing to deny
ourselves the society of some of our urban friends, without charging
them with selfishness. Thoreau is sometimes called a "wild man"; in a
sense, he is untamed. He himself confessed,--"There is in my nature,
methinks, a singular yearning toward all wildness." Yet he was a true
lover of men. He hated slavery and went to jail rather than pay his
taxes, because he disbelieved in supporting a government that upheld
slavery. When his friend, the philosophic Emerson, peered into the
prison cell and said,--"Henry, why are you here?" the quick retort
was,--"Why are you not here?"

It must be remembered that Thoreau lived in a time of social
experiment. Hawthorne had thrown in his lot for a brief time with the
Brook Farm idealists. Why should not Thoreau make an experiment of his
own? Why not live the simple life before Wagner wrote about it? He was
tired of the conventionalities of society, of the incessant
interruptions to steady thought. Society is naught but a conspiracy to
compel imitation. "The head monkey of Paris puts on a traveler's cap,
and all the monkeys in America do the same." So Thoreau moves out into
the woods by the side of Walden Pond. Before he can live there he must
build his house:

"Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the
woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house,
and began to cut down some tall arrowy pines, still in their youth,
for timber. It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it
is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an
interest in your enterprise. The owner of the axe as he released his
hold on it, said that it was the apple of his eye; but I returned it
sharper than I received it."

His house, when finished, was ten feet wide and fifteen long. The
exact cost was twenty-eight dollars, twelve and one-half cents. In
_Walden_ he gives an itemized account of the cost. And then he adds,
with a twinkle of his eye, I think,--"I intend to build me a house
which will surpass any on the main street in Concord in grandeur and
luxury, as soon as it pleases me as much and will cost me no more than
my present one."

Thoreau also finds some satisfaction that his house cost him less than
the year's rent of a college room at Harvard; for there the mere rent
of a student's room, "which is only a little larger than my own, is
thirty dollars each year, though the corporation had the advantage of
building thirty-two side by side and under one roof."

In this book he gives a very interesting account of what his food cost
him during the eight months from July 4 to March 1. Here is his list:

  Rice                                $1.73-½
  Molasses                             1.73
  Rye meal                             1.04-¾
  Indian meal                           .99-¾
  Pork                                  .22
  Flour                                 .88
  Sugar                                 .80
  Lard                                  .65
  Apples                                .25
  Dried apple                           .22
  Sweet potatoes                        .10
  One pumpkin                           .06
  One watermelon                        .02
  Salt                                  .03

"Yes," says he, "I did eat $8.74, all told; but I should not thus
unblushingly publish my guilt, if I did not know that most of my
readers were equally guilty with myself, and that their deeds would
look no better in print." In this connection one may call to mind a
reported saying of Mrs. Emerson's to the effect that Henry never got
very far away from the sound of the dinner horn. It is not hard to
imagine that the hospitable Emerson often invited the kindred-spirited
Thoreau into his house for a warm and abundant dinner. Another writer
recently has advanced also this thought: Thoreau was not so much of a
selfish hermit as it might appear. He went into the woods to make his
house or hut a station on the underground railroad. If this be true, a
new and different light is thrown upon Thoreau's conduct.

Thoreau was a great lover of nature and the things of nature loved
him. Dr. Channing gives us this glimpse of the man:

"Thoreau named all the birds without a gun, a weapon he never used in
mature years. He neither killed nor imprisoned any animal, unless
driven by acute needs. He brought home a flying squirrel, to study its
mode of flight, but quickly carried it back to the wood. He possessed
true instincts of topography, and could conceal choice things in the
bush and find them again.... If Thoreau needed a box in his walk, he
would strip a piece of birch bark off the tree, fold it, when cut
straightly, together, and put his tender lichen or brittle creature
therein."

Emerson supplements this picture with the following account of a visit
he once made to Walden:

"The naturalist waded into the pool for the water plants, and his
strong legs were no insignificant part of his armor. On this day he
looked for the menyanthes and detected it across the wide pool; and,
on examination of the floret, declared that it had been in flower five
days. He drew out of his breast-pocket a diary, and read the names of
all the plants that should bloom that day, whereof he kept account as
a banker does when his notes are due.... He could pace rods more
accurately than another man could measure them with rod and chain. He
could find his way in the woods at night better by his feet than by
his eyes. He knew every track in the snow and on the ground, and what
creature had taken the path in the snow before him."

Thoreau could write the most beautiful descriptions when he was so
inclined. Here is an exquisite description of a snowstorm.

"Did you ever admire the steady, silent, windless fall of the snow, in
some lead-colored sky, silent save the little ticking of the flakes as
they touched the twigs? It is chased silver, molded over the pines and
oak leaves. Soft shades hang like curtains along the closely-draped
wood-paths. Frozen apples become little cider-vats. The old crooked
apple-trees, frozen stiff in the pale, shivering sunlight, that
appears to be dying of consumption, gleam forth like the heroes of one
of Dante's cold hells; we would mind any change in the mercury of the
dream. The snow crunches under the feet; the chopper's axe rings
funereally through the tragic air. At early morn the frost on
button-bushes and willows was silvery and every stem and minutest twig
and filamentary weed came up a silver thing, while the cottage smoke
rose salmon-colored into that oblique day. At the base of ditches were
shooting crystals, like the blades of an ivory-handled penknife, the
rosettes and favors fretted of silver on the flat ice. The little
cascades in the brook were ornamented with transparent shields, and
long candelabrums and spermaceti-colored fools'-caps and plated
jellies and white globes, with the black water whirling along
transparently underneath. The sun comes out, and all at a glance,
rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds start into intense life on
the angles of the snow crystals."



LIX

THE LAST DAYS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE


There has been great difference of opinion concerning the genius of
Poe. His life also has been the subject of much controversy. By some
Poe is painted as a fiend incarnate, by others as a man more sinned
against than sinning. When Howells visited Emerson he was surprised to
hear the Concord Sage refer to Poe as the "jingle man," but then
Emerson himself had been treated rather contemptuously by Poe, and
that, together with Emerson's lack of appreciation of melody, may
account for the "jingle man" expression.

It is not strange that Poe has been the subject of bitter criticism.
He himself was bitter and unjust in his criticisms of others. He once
wrote: "Bryant is not _all_ a fool. Mr. Willis is not _quite_ an ass.
Mr. Longfellow _will_ steal, but, perhaps, he cannot help it." The man
who will write like that must expect similar vituperation in return.
To have friends, a man must be friendly. Poe was lacking in those warm
human sympathies that attract our fellow-men. The human touch lacking
in his art is also lacking in his life. "Except the wife who idolized
him," writes Mr. Woodberry in his excellent Life of Poe, "and the
mother who cared for him, no one touched his heart in the years of his
manhood, and at no time was love so strong in him as to rule his life;
as he was self-indulgent, he was self-absorbed, and outside of his
family no kind act, no noble affection, no generous sacrifice is
recorded of him."

In _Scribner's Magazine_, 1878, Mrs. Susan T. Weiss in writing of the
_Last Days of Edgar Allan Poe_, one of the most accurate accounts of
this period of the poet's life, gives us a more pleasing impression.
We quote the following extracts:

It was a day or two after his arrival that Poe, accompanied by his
sister, called on us.... The remembrance of that first meeting with
the poet is still as vividly impressed upon my mind as though it had
been but yesterday. A shy and dreamy girl, scarcely more than a child,
I had all my life taken an interest in those strange stories and poems
of Edgar Poe; and now, with my old childish impression of their author
scarcely worn off, I regarded the meeting with an eager, yet shrinking
anticipation. As I entered the parlor, Poe was seated near the window,
quietly conversing. His attitude was easy and graceful, with one arm
lightly resting on the back of his chair. His dark curling hair was
thrown back from his broad forehead--a style in which he habitually
wore it. At sight of him, the impression produced upon me was of a
refined, highbred, and chivalrous gentleman. I use this word
"chivalrous" as exactly descriptive of something in his whole
_personnel_, distinct from either polish or high-breeding, and which,
though instantly apparent, was yet an effect too subtle to be
described. He rose on my entrance, and, other visitors being present,
stood with one hand on the back of his chair, awaiting my greeting. So
dignified was his manner, so reserved his expression, that I
experienced an involuntary recoil, until I turned to him and saw his
eyes suddenly brighten as I offered my hand; a barrier seemed to melt
between us, and I felt that we were no longer strangers....

While upon this subject, I venture, though with great hesitation, to
say a word in relation to Poe's own marriage with his cousin, Virginia
Clemm. I am aware that there exists with the public but one view of
this union, and that so lovely and touching in itself, that to mar the
picture with even a shadow inspires almost a feeling of remorse. Yet
since in the biography of a distinguished man of genius truth is above
all things desirable, and since in this instance the facts do not
redound to the discredit of any party concerned, I may be allowed to
state what I have been assured is truth.

Poets are proverbial for uncongenial marriages, and to this Poe can
scarcely be classed as an exception. From the time when as a youth of
nineteen he became a tutor to his sweet and gentle little cousin of
six years old, he loved her with the protective tenderness of an elder
brother. As years passed he became the subject of successive fancies
or passions for various charming women; but she gradually budding into
early womanhood experienced but one attachment--an absorbing devotion
to her handsome, talented, and fascinating cousin. So intense was this
passion that her health and spirits became seriously affected, and
her mother, aroused to painful solicitude, spoke to Edgar about it.
This was just as he was preparing to leave her house, which had been
for some years his home, and enter the world of business. The idea of
this separation was insupportable to Virginia. The result was that
Poe, at that time a young man of twenty-eight, married his little,
penniless, and delicate child-cousin of fourteen or fifteen, and thus
unselfishly secured her own and her mother's happiness. In his wife he
had ever the most tender and devoted of companions; but it was his own
declaration that he ever missed in her a certain intellectual and
spiritual sympathy necessary to perfect happiness in such an union....
He was never a deliberately unkind husband, and toward the close of
Mrs. Poe's life he was assiduous in his tender care and attention. Yet
his own declaration to an intimate friend of his youth was that his
marriage "had not been a congenial one;" and I repeatedly heard the
match ascribed to Mrs. Clemm, by those who were well acquainted with
the family and the circumstances. In thus alluding to a subject so
delicate, I have not lightly done so, or unadvisedly made a statement
which seems refuted by the testimony of so many who have written of
the "passionate idolatry" with which the poet regarded his wife. I
have heard the subject often and freely discussed by Poe's most
intimate friends, including his sisters, and upon this authority I
speak. Lovely in person, sweet and gentle in disposition, his young
wife deserved, doubtless, all the love that it was in his nature to
bestow. Of his unvarying filial affection for Mrs. Clemm, and of her
almost angelic devotion to himself and his interests, there can be no
question.

Once in discussing _The Raven_, Poe observed that he had never heard
it correctly delivered by even the best readers--that is, not as he
desired that it should be read. That evening, a number of visitors
being present, he was requested to recite the poem, and complied. His
impressive delivery held the company spell-bound, but in the midst of
it, I, happening to glance toward the open window above the level roof
of the greenhouse, beheld a group of sable faces the whites of whose
eyes shone in strong relief against the surrounding darkness. These
were a number of our family servants, who having heard much talk about
"Mr. Poe, the poet," and having but an imperfect idea of what a poet
was, had requested permission of my brother to witness the recital. As
the speaker became more impassioned and excited, more conspicuous grew
the circle of white eyes, until when at length he turned suddenly
toward the window, and, extending his arm, cried, with awful
vehemence, "Get thee back into the tempest, and the night's Plutonian
shore!" there was a sudden disappearance of the sable visages, a
scuttling of feet, and the gallery audience was gone. Ludicrous as was
the incident, the final touch was given when at that moment Miss Poe,
who was an extraordinary character in her way, sleepily entered the
room, and with a dull and drowsy deliberation seated herself on her
brother's knee. He had subsided from his excitement into a gloomy
despair, and now, fixing his eyes upon his sister, he concluded:

    And the raven never flitting, still is sitting, _still_ is sitting,
    On the pallid bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door;
    And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming--

The effect was irresistible; and as the final "nevermore" was solemnly
uttered the half-suppressed titter of two very young persons in a
corner was responded to by a general laugh. Poe remarked quietly that
on his next delivery of a public lecture "he would take Rose along, to
act the part of the raven, in which she seemed born to excel." ...

It is with feelings of deep sadness, even after the lapse of so many
years, that I approach the close of these reminiscences.

Poe one day told me that it was necessary that he should go to New
York. He must make certain preparations for establishing his magazine,
the _Stylus_, but he should in less than two weeks return to Richmond,
where he proposed henceforth to reside. He looked forward to this
arrangement with great pleasure. "I mean to turn over a new leaf; I
shall begin to lead a new life," he said, confidently. He had often
spoken to me of his books,--"few, but _recherché_,"--and he now
proposed to send certain of these by express, for my perusal. "You
must annotate them extensively," he said. "A book wherein the minds of
the author and the reader are thus brought in contact is to me a
hundredfold increased in interest. It is like flint and steel." One of
the books which he desired me to read was Mrs. Browning's poems, and
another one of Hawthorne's works. I remember his saying of the latter
that he was "indisputably the best prose writer in America;" that
"Irving and the rest were mere commonplace beside him;" and that
"there was more inspiration of true genius in Hawthorne's prose than
in all Longfellow's poetry." This may serve to give an idea of his own
opinion of what constitutes genius, though some of Longfellow's poems
he pronounced "perfect of their kind."

The evening of the day previous to that appointed for his departure
from Richmond, Poe spent at my mother's. He declined to enter the
parlors, where a number of visitors were assembled, saying he
preferred the more quiet sitting-room; and here I had a long and
almost uninterrupted conversation with him. He spoke of his future,
seeming to anticipate it with an eager delight, like that of youth. He
declared that the last few weeks in the society of his old and new
friends had been the happiest that he had known for many years, and
that when he again left New York he should there leave behind all the
trouble and vexation of his past life....

In speaking of his own writings Poe expressed his conviction that he
had written his best poems, but that in prose he might yet surpass
what he had already accomplished....

He was the last of the party to leave the house. We were standing on
the portico, and after going a few steps he paused, turned, and again
lifted his hat, in a last adieu. At the moment, a brilliant meteor
appeared in the sky directly over his head, and vanished in the east.
We commented laughingly upon the incident; but I remembered it sadly
afterward.

That night he spent at Duncan's lodge; and as his friend said, sat
late at his window, meditatively smoking, and seemingly disinclined
for conversation. On the following morning he went into the city,
accompanied by his friends Dr. Gibbon Carter and Dr. Mackenzie. The
day was passed with them and others of his intimate friends. Late in
the evening he entered the office of Dr. John Carter, and spent an
hour in looking over the day's papers; then taking Dr. Carter's cane
he went out, remarking that he would step across to Saddler's (a
fashionable restaurant) and get supper. From the circumstance of his
taking the cane, leaving his own in its place, it is probable that he
had intended to return; but at the restaurant he met with some
acquaintances who detained him until late, and then accompanied him to
the Baltimore boat. According to their account he was quite sober and
cheerful to the last, remarking, as he took leave of them, that he
would soon be in Richmond again.

... Three days after, a friend came to me with the day's issue of the
_Richmond Dispatch_. Without a word she pointed to a particular
paragraph, where I read,--"Death of Edgar A. Poe, in Baltimore."

Poe had made himself popular in Richmond, people had become interested
in him, and his death cast a universal gloom over the city. His old
friends, and even those more recently formed, and whom he had
strangely attached to himself, deeply regretted him. Mr. Sully came to
consult with me about a picture of _The Raven_ which he intended to
make; and in the course of the conversation expressed himself in
regard to his lost friend with a warmth of feeling and appreciation
not usual to him. The two had been schoolmates; and the artist said:
"Poe was one of the most warm-hearted and generous of men. In his
youth and prosperity, when admired and looked up to by all his
companions, he invariably stood by me and took my part. I was a dull
boy at learning, and Edgar never grudged time or pains in assisting
me." In further speaking, he said, with a decision and earnestness
which impressed me, "It was Mr. Allan's cruelty in casting him upon
the world, a beggar, which ruined Poe. Some who had envied him took
advantage of his change of fortune to slight and insult him. He was
sensitive and proud, and felt the change keenly. It was this which
embittered him. By nature no person was less inclined to reserve or
bitterness, and as a boy he was frank and generous to a fault." In
speaking of his poems, Mr. Sully remarked: "He has an eye for
dramatic, but not for scenic or artistic effect. Except in _The
Raven_, I can nowhere in his poems find a subject for a picture."

In closing these reminiscences, I may be allowed to make a few remarks
founded upon my actual personal knowledge of Poe, in at least the
phase of character in which he appeared to me. What he may have been
to his ordinary associates, or to the world at large, I do not know;
and in the picture presented to us by Dr. Griswold,--half maniac, half
demon,--I confess, I cannot recognize a trait of the gentle, grateful,
warm-hearted man whom I saw amid his friends,--his careworn face all
aglow with generous feeling in the kindness and appreciation to which
he was so little accustomed. His faults were sufficiently apparent;
but for these a more than ordinary allowance should be made, in
consideration of the unfavorable influences surrounding him from his
very birth. He was ever the sport of an adverse fortune. Born in
penury, reared in affluence, treated at one time with pernicious
indulgence and then literally turned into the streets, a beggar and an
outcast, deserted by those who had formerly courted him, maliciously
calumniated, smarting always under a sense of wrong and
injustice,--what wonder that his bright, warm, and naturally generous
and genial nature should have become embittered? What wonder that his
keenly sensitive and susceptible poetic temperament should have become
jarred, out of tune, and into harsh discord with himself and mankind?
Let the just and the generous pause before they judge; and upon their
lips the breath of condemnation will soften into a sigh of sympathy
and regret.



LX

ARTEMUS WARD


Poor Artemus! says Haweis in his lecture on the American humorist, I
shall not see his like again, as he appeared for a few short weeks
before an English audience at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly.

Sometimes, as to looks, profoundly dejected, at others shy or
reproachful; nervously anxious to please (apparently), yet with a
certain twinkle at the back of his eye which convinced you of his
perfect _sang froid_, and one thing always--full, unescapably full, of
fun....

When Artemus arrived here in 1866 he was a dying man.

I can see him now, as he came on the narrow platform in front of his
inferior panorama, and stole a glance at the densely packed room and
then at his panorama.

His tall, gaunt, though slender figure, his curly light hair and large
aquiline nose, which always reminded me of a macaw; his thin face
flushed with consumption, his little cough, which seemed to shake him
to pieces, and which he said "was wearing him out," at which we all
laughed irresistibly, and then felt ashamed of ourselves, as well we
might; but he himself seemed to enjoy his cough. It was all part of
that odd, topsy-turvy mind in which everything appeared most natural
upside down!

On first entering he would seem profoundly unconscious that anything
was expected of him, but after looking at the audience, then at his
own clothes, and then apologetically at his panorama, he began to
explain its merits.

The fact is Artemus intended having the finest scenes that could be
painted, but he gave that up on account of the expense, and then
determined to get the worst as the next best thing for his purpose.

When anything very bad came up he would pause and gaze admiringly at
the canvas, and then look round a little reproachfully at the company.

"This picture," he would say, "is a great work of art; it is an oil
painting done in petroleum. It is by the Old Masters. It was the last
thing they did before dying. They did this, and then they expired. I
wish you were nearer to it so you could see it better. I wish I could
take it to your residences and let you see it by daylight. Some of the
greatest artists in London come here every morning before daylight
with lanterns to look at it. They say they never saw anything like it
before, and they hope they never shall again!"

Certain curious brown splotches appearing in the foreground, Artemus
pointed gravely to them, and said:

"These are intended for horses; I know they are, because the artist
told me so. After two years, he came to me one morning and said, 'Mr.
Ward, I cannot conceal it from you any longer; they are horses.'"

Apropos of nothing he observed:

"I really don't care for money; I only travel around to show my
clothes."

This was a favorite joke of his. He would look with a piteous
expression of discomfort and almost misery at his black trousers and
swallowtail coat, a costume in which he said he was always most
wretched.

"These clothes I have on," he continued, "were a great success in
America." And then quite irrelevantly and rather hastily, "How often
do large fortunes ruin young men! I should like to be ruined, but I
can get on very well as I am!"

So the lecture dribbled on with little fragments of impertinent
biography, mere pegs for slender witticisms like this:

"When quite a child I used to draw on wood. I drew a small cartload of
raw material over a wooden bridge, the people of the village noticed
me, I drew their attention, they said I had a future before me; up to
that time I had an idea it was behind me."

Or this:

"I became a man. I have always been mixed up with art. I have an uncle
who takes photographs, and I have a servant who takes anything he can
set his hands on."

With one more example from his life among the Mormons, which, perhaps,
though brief, includes a greater variety of wit and humor than any
single passage I could select, I must conclude my memorial glimpses of
this incomparable and lamented humorist.

"I regret to say that efforts were made to make a Mormon of me while I
was in Utah.

"It was leap year when I was there, and seventeen young widows--the
wives of a deceased Mormon (he died by request)--offered me their
hearts and hands. I called upon them one day, and taking their soft,
white hands in mine--which made eighteen hands altogether--I found
them in tears. And I said 'Why is this thus?--what is the reason of
this thusness?'

"They hove a sigh--seventeen sighs of different size. They said--

"'Oh, soon thou wilt be gonested away!'

"I told them that when I got ready to leave a place I usually
wentested. They said--'Doth not like us?'

"I said, 'I doth, I doth!' I also said, 'I hope your intentions are
honorable, as I am a lone child and my parents are far, far away!'

"They then said, 'Wilt not marry us?'

"I said, 'Oh no, it cannot was.'

"Again they asked me to marry them, and again I declined. When they
cried--

"'Oh, cruel man: this is too much--oh, too much!'

"I told them it was on account of the muchness that I declined."



LXI

EDMUND GOSSE VISITS WHITTIER


In December of 1884, Mr. Edmund Gosse, one of the most distinguished
of English critics, visited Whittier at a house called Oak Knoll, in
Massachusetts, where he was then staying with friends. We quote brief
extracts from a report of that visit as published in _Good Words_, an
English magazine:

"Doubtless in leafy season Oak Knoll may have its charms, but it was
distinctly sinister that December morning. We rang, and after a long
pause the front door opened slightly, and a very unprepossessing dog
emerged, and shut the door (if I may say so) behind him. We were face
to face with this animal, which presented none of the features
identified in one's mind with the idea of Mr. Whittier. It sniffed
unpleasantly, but we spoke to it most blandly and it became assured
that we were not tramps. The dog sat down, and looked at us; we had
nowhere to sit down, but we looked at the dog. Then, after many
blandishments, but feeling very uncomfortable, I ventured to hold the
dog in conversation while I rang again. After another pause the door
was slightly opened, and a voice of no agreeable timbre asked what we
wanted. We explained, across the dog, that we had come by appointment
to see Mr. Whittier. The door was closed a second time, and, if our
carriage had still been waiting, we should certainly have driven back
to Danvers. But at length a hard-featured woman grudgingly admitted
us, and showed us, growling as she did it, into a parlor.

"Our troubles were then over, for Mr. Whittier, himself appeared, with
all that report had ever told of a gentle sweetness and dignified
cordial courtesy. He was then seventy-seven years old, and, although
he spoke of age and feebleness, he showed few signs of either; he was,
in fact, to live eight years more. Perhaps because the room was low,
he seemed surprisingly tall; he must, in fact, have been a little less
than six feet high. The peculiarity of his face rested in the
extraordinary large and luminous black eyes, set in black eyebrows,
and fringed with thick black eye-lashes curiously curved inward....

"His generosity to those much younger and less gifted than himself is
well known, and I shall not dwell on the good-natured things which he
proceeded to say to his English visitor. He made no profession, at any
time, of being a critic, and his formula was that such and such verse
or prose had given him pleasure--'I am grateful to thee for all that
enjoyment' was his charming way of being kind.... He spoke with great
emotion of Emerson--'the noblest human being I have known,' and of
Longfellow, 'perhaps the sweetest. But you will see Holmes,' he added.
I said that it was my great privilege to be seeing Dr. Holmes every
day, and that the night before he had sent all sorts of affectionate
messages by me to Mr. Whittier. The latter expressed great curiosity
to see Holmes's short _Life of Emerson_ which, in fact, was published
five or six days later.... Mr. Whittier greatly surprised me by
confessing that he was quite color-blind. He exemplified his condition
by saying that if I came to Amesbury I should be scandalized by one of
his carpets. It appeared that he was never permitted, by the guardian
goddess of his hearth, to go 'shopping' for himself, but that once,
being in Boston, and needing a carpet, he had ventured to go to a
store and buy what he thought to be a very nice, quiet article,
precisely suited to adorn a Quaker home. When it arrived at Amesbury
there was a universal shout of horror, for what had struck Mr.
Whittier as a particularly soft combination of browns and grays
proved, to normal eyes, to be a loud pattern of bright red roses on a
field of the crudest cabbage-green."



LXII

PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF WHITTIER


In the _New England Magazine_ Charlotte Forten Grimke writes
entertainingly of Whittier. From this article we are permitted to
quote the following extracts:

"And so it happened that, one lovely summer day, my friend and I found
ourselves on the train, rapidly whirling eastward, through the
pleasant old town of Newburyport, across the 'shining Merrimac,' on
our way to the poet's home in Amesbury. Arriving at the station, we
found Mr. Whittier awaiting us, and a walk of a few minutes brought us
to his house on Friend Street. Amesbury, a busy manufacturing town,
pleasantly situated on the Merrimac, impressed me at first as hardly
retired enough for a poet's home; for fresh in my recollection were
Longfellow's historic house, guarded by stately poplars, standing back
from the quiet Cambridge street, and Lowell's old mansion, completely
buried in its noble elms; and each of these had quite realized my
ideal of the home of a poet. But the little house looked very quiet
and homelike; and when we entered it and received the warm welcome of
the poet's sister, we felt, as all felt who entered that hospitable
door, the very spirit of peace descending upon us. The house was
then white (it was afterwards painted a pale yellow), with green
blinds, and a little vine-wreathed piazza on one side, upon which
opened the glass door of 'the garden room,' the poet's favorite
sitting-room and study. The windows of this room looked out upon a
pleasant, old-fashioned garden. The walls on both sides of the
fireplace were covered with books. The other walls were hung with
pictures, among which we noticed 'The Barefoot Boy,' a painting of Mr.
Whittier's birthplace in Haverhill, a copy of that lovely picture,
'The Motherless,' under which were written some exquisite lines by
Mrs. Stowe, and a beautiful little sea-view, painted by a friend of
the poet. Vases of fresh, bright flowers stood upon the mantelpiece.
After we had rested we went into the little parlor, where hung the
portrait of the loved and cherished mother, who some years before had
passed away to the 'Better Land.' Hers was one of those sweet, aged
faces which one often sees among the Friends,--full of repose,
breathing a benediction upon all around. There were other pictures and
books, and upon a table in the corner stood Rogers' 'Wounded Scout.'

   [Illustration: JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
   From a photograph]

"At the head of the staircase hung a great cluster of pansies, purple
and white and gold. Mr. Whittier called our attention to their
wonderful resemblance to human faces,--a resemblance which we so often
see in pansies, and which was brought out with really startling
distinctness in this picture.

"In the cool, pleasant chamber assigned to us, pervaded by an air of
Quaker serenity and purity, was a large painting of the poet in his
youth. This was the realization of my girlish dreams. There were the
clustering curls, the brilliant dark eyes, the firm, resolute mouth.
He looked like a youthful Bayard, 'without fear and without reproach,'
ready to throw himself unflinchingly into the most stirring scenes of
the battle of life.

"We were at once greatly interested in Miss Whittier, and impressed by
the simplicity and kindness of her manner. We saw the soul's beauty
shining in her soft, dark eyes, and in the smile which, like her
brother's, was very winning, and we felt it in the music, of her
gentle voice and the warm pressure of her hand. There was a refreshing
atmosphere of unworldliness about her. She had rarely been away from
her home, and although her brother's fame obliged her to receive many
strangers, she had never, as she told us, been able to overcome a
shyness of disposition, except in the case of a very few friends. She
was naturally witty and original, and when she did shake off her
shyness, had a childlike way of saying bright things which was very
charming. She and her brother had lived together, alone since their
mother's death, and in their mutual devotion have been well compared
to Charles Lamb and his sister.

"We spent a delightful evening in the garden-room in quiet, cheerful
talk. In society Mr. Whittier had the reputation of being very shy,
and he was so among strangers; but at times, in the companionship of
his friends, no one could be more genial. He had even a boyish
frankness of manner, a natural love of fun, a keen appreciation of the
humorous, which the sorrows and poor health of many years failed to
subdue. That night he talked to us freely of his childhood, of the
life on the old farm in Haverhill, which he has so vividly described
in _Snow-Bound_, and showed us a venerable book, _Davideis_, being a
history of David written in rhyme, the quaintest and most amusing
rhyme, by Thomas Ellwood, a friend of Milton. It was the first book of
'poetry,' he told us, that he read when a boy. He entertained us with
stories of people who came to see him. He had many very interesting
and charming visitors, of course, but there were also many exceedingly
queer ones, and these, he said with a queer smile, generally 'brought
their carpet bags!' He said he was thankful to live in such a place as
Amesbury, where people did not speak to him about his poems, nor think
of him as a poet. Sometimes he had amused himself by tracking the most
persistent of the lion-hunters, and found that the same individuals
went to Emerson and Longfellow and other authors, and made precisely
the same speeches. Emerson was not much annoyed by them; he enjoyed
studying character in all its phases.

"Begging letters and begging visits were also very frequent, and his
sister told us that her brother had frequently been victimized in his
desire to help those whose pitiful stories he believed. One day he
received a letter from a man in a neighboring town, asking him for a
loan of ten dollars, and assuring him that he should blow his brains
out if Mr. Whittier did not send him the money. The tone of the letter
made him doubt the sincerity of the writer, and he did not send the
money, comforting himself, he said, with the thought that the man
really had no brains to blow out. 'I must confess, however,' he
added, 'I looked rather anxiously at the newspapers for the next few
days, but seeing no news of a suicide in the neighboring town, I was
relieved.'

"His sister once told us of an incident which occurred during the war,
which pleased them very much. One night, at a late hour, the door-bell
rang, and her brother, on answering it, found a young man in an
officer's uniform standing at the door. 'Is this Mr. Whittier?' he
asked. 'Yes.' 'Well, sir,' was the quick reply, 'I only wanted to have
the pleasure of shaking hands with you.' And with that he seized the
poet's hand, shook it warmly, and rushed away, before Mr. Whittier had
recovered from his surprise.

"In subsequent visits to Mr. Whittier, he was sometimes induced to
talk about his poems, although that was a subject on which he rarely
spoke. On my friend's once warmly praising _Maud Muller_, he said
decidedly that he did not like the poem, because it was too sad; it
ministered to the spirit of unrest and dissatisfaction which was only
too prevalent. With _My Psalm_ he felt much better satisfied, because
it was more hopeful. His favorite poets were Wordsworth and Burns. He
once showed us an autograph letter of Burns, which he prized very
highly, and a number of beautiful photographs of Scotch scenery, the
gift of a sturdy old Scotchman, a neighbor of his and also an ardent,
admirer of Burns.

"Our conversation occasionally touched on the subject of marriage, and
I remember his asking us if we could imagine why there should be so
much unhappiness among married people, even among those who seemed to
have everything calculated to make them happy, and who really loved
each other. He said he had pondered over the subject a good deal, and
had finally concluded that it was because they saw too much of each
other. He did not believe it was well for any two human beings to have
too much of each other's society. We told him that, being a
much-to-be-commiserated bachelor, he was not competent authority on
that subject.

"Among the most intimate of his friends were Mr. and Mrs. James T.
Fields, Colonel Higginson, Charles Sumner, and Bayard Taylor. To the
two latter, and also to Emerson, he has alluded very beautifully in
one of his most characteristic poems, _The Last Walk in Autumn_.

"On visiting the poet after my return from the South, for a vacation,
I found a new inmate of the house, a gray and scarlet parrot, named
Charlie, a great pet of the poet and his sister, and far-famed for his
wit and wisdom. He could say many things with great distinctness, and
although at first refusing rather spitefully to make my acquaintance,
when I invited him to come into the kitchen and get his supper he at
once hopped upon my hand and behaved in the most amicable manner. It
was very comical to see him dance to a tune of Mr. Whittier's
whistling. His master told us that he would climb toilsomely up the
spout, pausing at every step or two to say, in a tone of the deepest
self-pity, 'Poor Charlie!' and when he reached the roof screaming
impertinently at the passers-by. The Irish children said that he
called them 'Paddies,' and threatened him with dire vengeance. Mr.
Whittier said he did not know; he 'could believe anything of that
bird.' Charlie's favorite amusement was shaking the unripe pears from
the trees in the garden; and when he saw Miss Whittier approaching, he
would steal away with drooping head, like a child caught in a naughty
action. This gifted bird afterwards died, and was much missed by the
poet, who alluded to him in the poem entitled _The Common Question_.

"Mr. Whittier showed me a couple of stuffed birds which had been sent
to him by the Emperor of Brazil, after reading his _Cry of a Lost
Soul_, in allusion to the bird in South American forests which has so
intensely mournful a note that the Indians give it a name which
signifies a lost soul. The first birds which were sent did not reach
him, and the Emperor on hearing it sent two more. The bird is larger
than a mocking bird, and has sober gray plumage, very unlike the
bright-hued creatures usually seen in tropical forests.

"The Emperor was a warm admirer of Mr. Whittier, and one of the first
persons for whom he inquired on reaching Boston was the poet. There
was some delay about their meeting and Dom Pedro became very
impatient. At last they met in a house in Boston. Dom Pedro expressed
great delight at meeting the poet, and talked with him a long time,
paying very little attention to any one else. On leaving, he asked Mr.
Whittier to accompany him downstairs, and before entering his carriage
threw his arms around the astonished poet and embraced him warmly.

"Rare and beautiful were the qualities which met in Mr. Whittier: a
singularly unworldly and sweet disposition, and unwavering love of
truth and justice, a keen sense of humor, the highest type of
courage, and a firm faith in God's goodness, which no amount of
suffering ever shook. For years he was an invalid, a martyr to severe
headaches. He once told me that he had not for a long time written
anything without suffering. The nearest and dearest of his earthly
ties had been severed by death. But he never rebelled. His life
exemplified the spirit of resignation which is breathed throughout so
many of his poems.

    All as God wills, who wisely heeds
      To give or to withhold,
    And knoweth more of all my needs
      Than all my prayers have told.

"My husband and I made our last visit to him two years ago, at Oak
Knoll. He gave us his customary warm greeting and, although in
extremely feeble health, was as sweet and genial in spirit and as
entertaining in conversation as ever. He took us into his cosey little
library, and talked about his books and pictures and old friends, and
promised to send us his latest photograph,--which he afterwards did.
Fearing to weary him, we stayed but a short time. So frail he looked,
that in parting from him our hearts were saddened by the thought that
we might not look upon that dear face again. And so it proved. I shall
ever remember him as I saw him then, in his beautiful country home,
surrounded by devoted friends, awaiting calmly the summons to enter
into rest--in that serene and lovely old age which comes only to those
gifted ones whose lives are the embodiment of all that is noblest and
best and sweetest in their poetry.

"Farewell, beloved, revered friend! Thou art gone to join the loved
ones who beckoned to thee from those blessed shores of Peace. To thee,
how great the gain! To us, how infinite the loss! But thy influence
shall remain with us. Still shalt thou

                          ... be to other souls
    The cup of strength in some great agony,
    Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,
    Beget the smiles that have no cruelty--
    Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
    And in diffusion ever more intense.



LXIII

HENRY WARD BEECHER


It would be no compliment to call Henry Ward Beecher the American
Spurgeon. He may be that, but he is more. If we can imagine Mr.
Spurgeon and Mr. John Bright with a cautious touch of Professor
Maurice and a strong tincture of the late F.W. Robertson--if, I say,
it is possible to imagine such a compound being brought up in New
England and at last securely fixed in a New York pulpit, we shall get
a product not unlike Henry Ward Beecher....

Mr. Beecher was brought up in the country. His novel, _Norwood_--not
very readable, by the way, although full of charming passages--abounds
in woods and streams, hills and dales, and flowers. "The willows," he
tells us somewhere, "had thrown off their silky catkins, and were in
leaf; the elm was covered with chocolate-colored blossoms, the soft
maple drew bees to its crimson tassels." Would that all preachers and
writers used no more offensive and superfluous flowers of speech than
such as these....

When he wants to illustrate the comfort of a powerful, unseen, though
protective love, he tells us how, as a boy, he woke up one midsummer
night and listened, with a sense of half-uneasy awe, to the wild cry
of the marsh birds, whilst the moonlight streamed full into his room;
and then, as he grew more and more disturbed, he suddenly heard his
father clear his throat "a-hem," in the next room, and instantly that
familiar sound restored his equanimity. The illustration is simple,
but it hits the mark and goes home. His affectionate tributes to his
father and mother are constantly breaking forth in spite of himself.
"I thank God," he says, "for two things. First, that I was born and
bred in the country, of parents that gave me a sound constitution and
a noble example. I never can pay back what I got from my parents. Next
I am thankful that I was brought up in circumstances where I never
became acquainted with wickedness." How delightful it is to think of a
man who, without a taint of conscious insincerity, but simply out of
the fulness of his heart, can get up before four thousand people, and
say:

"I never was sullied in act, nor in thought when I was young. I grew
up as pure as a woman. And I cannot express to God the thanks which I
owe to my mother, and to my father, and to the great household of
sisters and brothers among whom I lived. And the secondary knowledge
of those wicked things which I have gained in later life in a
professional way, I gained under such guards that it was not harmful
to me." ...

He has a wonderful way of importing his leisure hours into the pulpit,
and making the great cooped-up multitude feel something of the joy and
freshness of his own exhilaration. One golden day above others seems
to have dwelt in his mind. He refers to it again and again.

"When I walked one day on the top of Mt. Washington--glorious day of
memory! Such another day I think I shall not experience till I stand
on the battlements of the New Jerusalem--how I was discharged of all
imperfections; the wide far-spreading country which lay beneath me in
beauteous light, how heavenly it looked, and I communed with God. I
had sweet tokens that he loved me. My very being rose right up into
his nature. I walked with him, and the cities far and near of New
York, and all the cities and villages which lay between it and me,
with their thunder, the wrangling of human passions below me, were to
me as if they were not."

Some of his sermons are full of vacation-rambles. He passes through
woods and gardens and plucks flowers and fragrant leaves, which will
all have to do service in Brooklyn Church; he watches the crowded
flight of pigeons from the treetops, and thinks of men's riches that
so make themselves wings and fly away. As he scales the mountains and
sees the summer storms sweep through the valleys beneath him, he
thinks of the storms in the human heart--"many, many storms there are
that lie low and hug the ground, and the way to escape them is to go
up the mountain sides and get higher than they are."

Mr. Beecher's travels in Europe were not thrown away upon his ardent
and artistic temperament. He has stood before the great pictures to
some purpose, and has not failed to read their open secret.

"Have you ever stood in Dresden to watch that matchless picture of
Raphael's, the 'Madonna di San Siste'? Engravings of it are all
through the world; but no engraving has ever reproduced the mother's
face. The Infant Christ that she holds is far more nearly represented
than the mother. In her face there is a mist. It is wonder, it is
love, it is adoration, it is awe--it is all these mingled, as if she
held in her hands her babe, and yet it was God! That picture means
nothing to me as it does to the Roman Church; but it means everything
to me, because I believe that every mother should love the God that is
in her child, and that every mother's heart should be watching to
discern and see in the child, which is more than flesh and blood,
something that takes hold of immortality and glory."

             --Selected from the _Contemporary Review_.



LXIV

THE LONDON "TIMES" ON LOWELL


The London _Times_, sometimes nicknamed the _Thunderer_, was for many
years the most influential paper in the world. Emerson in his _English
Traits_ says, "No power in England is more felt, more feared, or more
obeyed." In view of the high position of this paper it is a matter of
interest to our American students of literature to read what this
paper had to say on the death of Lowell.

Here follows the larger part of the editorial from the _Times_:

The death of Mr. Lowell will probably be more keenly and widely felt
in England than would be that of any other American, or, indeed, of
any other man who was not a fellow-countryman of our own. To very many
in England it will be counted as a grave personal loss; and thousands
more will miss in him one whom through his writings they had admired,
felt with, laughed with, as with a friend. For a long time past, in
fact ever since he quitted the Legation, his long annual visits to
London have been regarded by a wide circle as one of the events of the
year, and he himself as one of the most valued guests. We had hoped
that this last June would again see him in his old London haunts,
bright, genial, interesting as ever; but a cruel fate decided that
this was not to be, and neither the Old World nor the New should know
him more. Never a strong man, he has succumbed, at a ripe age, it is
true, but prematurely, as all will think who knew how fresh his
intelligence and his sympathies were to the last. With him there
passes away one of the very few Americans who were the equals of any
son of the Old World--of any Frenchman or any Englishman--in that
indefinable mixture of qualities, which we sum up for want of a better
word, under the name of culture. How did he arrive at it? The answer
is, by natural gifts, by constant play of mind with mind in talk, and
by reading. On those who casually met Mr. Lowell in society, he
certainly did not make the impression of a book-worm, or of a man to
whom books were indispensable; but none the less is it true that
whenever official business was not too heavy, he invariably read for a
_minimum_ of four hours a day. This did not include the time that he
gave to ephemeral literature; it was the time that he spent in the
serious reading of books, generally old books. How many of us, not
professed students, can show a record as good, or half as good? He
read quickly, too, in various languages, his favorites being the
English of the Elizabethans, Spanish, old French, and modern French.
His excellent memory and wonderful assimilative power built up this
reading into the mental endowments that all the world admired.

When Mr. Lowell came to England as the representative of the United
States under the last Republican administration, London felt a
sympathetic curiosity as to the author of the famous _Biglow Papers_
and of so much excellent prose criticism. In a very short time the
feeling warmed into admiration and friendship. The official world
spoke well of the way in which the new minister performed his
duties--generally not very heavy, but always demanding tact and
prudence--of his position as minister. Menacing sounds, indeed, began
to be heard from across the ocean, when the Irish Fenians, who control
so much of the press of the United States, began to raise the cry that
Mr. Lowell sacrificed the interests of their dynamitard friends to a
brutal British government; but, as the Washington officials took no
notice, nobody here paid much attention to the matter. In social life,
the new minister began to be a power. He went everywhere--to the
houses of the great, to the houses of the men of letters, and to
places where such people most do congregate. His talk was excellent
give-and-take. He was neither a professional anecdotist, like another
famous American talker, Mr. Chauncey Depew, nor a man on the watch for
something to disagree with, like Mr. Blaine, nor even, as was his
admirable successor, Mr. Phelps, a man of long silences broken by
flashes of humor. Mr. Lowell seemed to know everything and have his
knowledge always to hand; he was quick in repartee; he mixed anecdote
with reflection in the happiest manner; he laughed at others' jests,
and they laughed at his. Still, one had to be a little careful with
him, for there were points on which he was extremely sensitive.
Nobody, for example, must talk in his presence of _Americanisms_, or
hint that the standard of language and literature observed in America
showed any deflection from the best standard of the race....

On one occasion Mr. Lowell was sorely tempted to make his permanent
home here. Just about the time of his ceasing to be minister, he was
seriously sounded as to his willingness to be nominated to the new
post of professor of English language and literature at Oxford. Had he
consented to stand, not even a board determined to sink literature in
philology could have passed over his claims. But he declined, for two
reasons. There were claims of family, over in Massachusetts, and,
greatly as he loved the mental atmosphere of England, he thought it
his duty not to accept a definitely English post. And the sense of
duty is strong in that old Puritan stock from which he sprang.

... But the distinguishing feature of Mr. Lowell was his adding to
these high literary gifts the strong practical side which made of him
a social power and a diplomatist. Naturally, such a man made a mark by
his speeches, and happy was the audience, at the unveiling of a
monument or at a literary dinner, that had the privilege of listening
to Mr. Lowell. Seldom in England, where this kind of speaking is not
cultivated as an art, have we witnessed such a perfect union of
self-possession, sense, and salt. The speech on Henry Fielding, the
speech in which he compared the sound of London to "the roaring loom
of time," the address on Democracy--to mention but a few--will not be
easily forgotten. Nor will those who had the privilege of experiencing
it, in however slight a degree, forget the sweet affectionateness
which, in spite of an occasional irritability and over-sensitiveness,
was at the root of Mr. Lowell's character. Corrupt politicians
disliked him and feared the barbed arrows of his indignant wit; but he
goes to the grave mourned by all that is best in America, and he takes
with him the heart-felt regard as well as the admiration, of this
elder branch of our common English race.



LXV

THE WRITING OF "AMERICA"


The Rev. Dr. Samuel F. Smith, author of _America_, died in Boston in
1895. On April 3, of the same year, he had received a grand public
testimonial in Music Hall in recognition of his authorship of
_America_. In the souvenir of that occasion Dr. Smith tells how he
came to write the poem that made him famous.

"In the year 1831 William C. Woodbridge, of New York, a noted
educator, was deputed to visit Germany and inspect the system of the
public schools, that if he should find in them any features of
interest unknown to our public schools here they might be adopted in
the schools of the United States. He found that in the German schools
much attention was given to music; he also found many books containing
music and songs for children. Returning home, he brought several of
these music-books, and placed them in the hands of Mr. Lowell Mason,
then a noted composer, organist, and choir leader. Having himself no
knowledge of the German language he brought them to me at Andover,
where I was then studying theology, requesting me, as I should find
time, to furnish him translations of the German words, or to write
new hymns and songs adapted to the German music.

"On a dismal day in February, 1832, looking over one of these books,
my attention was drawn to a tune which attracted me by its simple and
natural movement and its fitness for children's choirs. Glancing at
the German words at the foot of the page, I saw that they were
patriotic, and I was instantly inspired to write a patriotic hymn of
my own.

"Seizing a scrap of waste paper, I began to write, and in half an hour
I think the words stood upon it substantially as they are sung to-day.
I did not know at the time that the tune was the British _God Save the
King_. I do not share the regrets of those who deem it an evil that
the national tune of Britain and America is the same. On the contrary,
I deem it a new and beautiful tie of union between the mother and the
daughter, one furnishing the music (if, indeed, it is really English),
and the other the words.

"I did not propose to write a national hymn. I did not think that I
had done so. I laid the song aside, and nearly forgot that I had made
it. Some weeks later I sent it to Mr. Mason, and on the following
Fourth of July, much to my surprise, he brought it out at a children's
celebration in the Park Street Church, in Boston, where it was first
sung in public."



LXVI

ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS AND HER FIRST STORY


Some years ago the author of _Gates Ajar_ told in an American magazine
how she began her literary career. From this account we quote:

"The town of Lawrence was three miles and a half from Andover. Up to
the year 1860 we had considered Lawrence chiefly in the light of a
place to drive to.... Upon the map of our young fancy the great mills
were sketched in lightly; we looked up from the restaurant ice-cream
to see the hands pour out for dinner, a dark and restless, but a
patient, throng, used in those days, to standing eleven hours and
quarter--women and girls--at their looms, six days of the week, and
making no audible complaints; for socialism had not reached Lawrence,
and anarchy was content to bray in distant parts of the geography at
which the factory people had not arrived when they left school....

"...One January evening, we were forced to think about the mills with
curdling horror that no one living in that locality when the tragedy
happened will forget.

"At five o'clock the Pemberton Mills, all hands being at the time on
duty, without a tremor of warning, sank to the ground.

"At the erection of the factory a pillar with a defective core had
passed careless inspectors. In technical language the core had
'floated' an eighth of an inch from its position. The weak spot in the
too thin wall of the pillar had bided its time, and yielded. The roof,
the walls, the machinery fell upon seven hundred and fifty living men
and women, and buried them. Most of these were rescued, but
eighty-eight were killed. As the night came on, those watchers on
Andover Hill who could not join the rescuing parties, saw a strange
and fearful light at the north.

"Where we were used to watching the beautiful belt of the lighted
mills blaze--a zone of laughing fire from east to west, upon the
horizon bar--a red and awful glare went up. The mill had taken fire. A
lantern, overturned in the hands of a man who was groping to save an
imprisoned life, had flashed to the cotton, or the wool, or the oil
with which the ruins were saturated. One of the historic
conflagrations of New England resulted.

"With blanching cheeks we listened to the whispers that told us how the
mill-girls, caught in the ruins beyond hope of escape, began to sing.
They were used to singing, poor things, at their looms--mill-girls
always are--and their young souls took courage from the familiar sound
of one another's voices. They sang the hymns and songs which they had
learned in the schools and churches. No classical strains, no 'music
for music's sake,' ascended from that furnace; no ditty of love or
frolic, but the plain, religious outcries of the people: _Heaven is my
Home_, _Jesus, Lover of my Soul_, and _Shall we Gather at the River?_
Voice after voice dropped. The fire raced on. A few brave girls still
sang:

    Shall we gather at the river,
    There to walk and worship ever?

"But the startled Merrimac rolled by, red as blood beneath the glare
of the burning mills, and it was left to the fire and the river to
finish the chorus.

"At the time this tragedy occurred, I felt my share of its horror,
like other people; but no more than that. My brother, being of the
privileged sex, was sent over to see the scene, but I was not allowed
to go.

"Years after, I cannot say just how many, the half-effaced negative
came back to form under the chemical of some new perception of the
significance of human tragedy.

"It occurred to me to use the event as the basis of a story. To this
end I set forth to study the subject. I had heard nothing in those
days about 'material,' and conscience in the use of it, and little
enough about art. We did not talk about realism then. Of critical
phraseology I knew nothing, and of critical standards only what I had
observed by reading the best fiction. Poor novels and stories I did
not read. I do not remember being forbidden them; but, by that
parental art finer than denial, they were absent from my convenience.

"It needed no instruction in the canons of art, however, to teach me
that to do a good thing, one must work hard for it. So I gave the best
part of a month to the study of the Pemberton Mill tragedy, driving to
Lawrence, and investigating every possible avenue of information left
at that too long remove of time which might give the data. I visited
the rebuilt mills, and studied the machinery. I consulted engineers
and officials and physicians, newspaper men, and persons who had been
in the mill at the time of its fall. I scoured the files of old local
papers, and from these I took certain portions of names, actually
involved in the catastrophe, though, of course, fictitiously used.
When there was nothing left for me to learn on the subject, I came
home and wrote a little story called "The Tenth of January,' and sent
it to the _Atlantic Monthly_, where it appeared in due time.

"This story is of more interest to its author than it can possibly be
now to any reader, because it distinctly marked for me the first
recognition which I received from literary people."



LXVII

SIDNEY LANIER


Next to Poe, Sidney Lanier ranks as the foremost of the poets of the
South. In character Lanier is one of the rarest and purest of souls.
His life was so chaste, his ideals so high, his devotion to his art so
unselfish that he has been called "the Sir Galahad among American
poets." Dr. Gilman, who in his capacity as president of Johns Hopkins
University had frequent opportunities to observe Lanier, who was an
instructor in this institution, has made the following comment,--"The
appearance of Lanier was striking. There was nothing eccentric or odd
about him, but his words, manners, ways of speech, were distinguished.
I have heard a lady say that if he took his place in a crowded
horse-car, an exhilarating atmosphere seemed to be introduced by his
breezy ways."

He was born in Georgia in 1842. After graduation from a small college
in his native state and then serving as tutor for a short time, he
entered the Confederate army. During his war experiences, whether in
the field or in prison, he studied poetry and played the flute. These
two arts were his passions for life. While yet in his college days he
had acquired a fine reputation as a flute-player. At eighteen he was
said to be the best flute-player in Georgia. One of his college
friends at the time made record of his admiration in writing,--"Tutor
Lanier is the finest flute-player you or I ever saw. It is perfectly
splendid--his playing. He is far-famed for it. His flute cost fifty
dollars, and he runs the notes as easily as any one on the piano."

The passionate love of his sensitive soul is revealed in this poetic
description of a visit to the opera:

"I have just come in from the _Tempest_ at the Grand Opera House ...
and my heart is so full.... In one interlude between the scenes we had
a violin solo, adagio, with soft accompaniment by orchestra. As the
fair tender notes came, they opened like flower-buds expanding into
flowers under the sweet rain of the accompaniment. Kind heavens! My
head fell on the seat in front, I was weighed down with great loves
and great ideas and divine inflowings and devout outflowings, and as
each note grew and budded, and became a bud again and died into a
fresh birth in the next bud tone, I also lived these flower-tone
lives, and grew and expanded, and folded back and died and was born
again, and partook of the unfathomable mysteries of flowers and
tones." And at another time he writes in the same vein,--"'Twas
opening night of Theodore Thomas' orchestra at Central Park Garden,
and I could not resist the temptation to go and bathe in the sweet
amber seas of this fine orchestra, and so I went, and tugged me
through a vast crowd, and, after standing some while, found a seat,
and the baton waved, and I plunged into the sea, and lay and floated.
Ah! the dear flutes and oboes and horns drifted me hither and thither,
and the great violins and small violins swayed me upon waves, and
overflowed me with strong lavations, and sprinkled glistening foam in
my face, and in among the clarinetti, as among waving water-lilies
with plexile stems, pushed my easy way, and so, even lying in the
music waters, I floated and flowed, my soul utterly bent and
prostrate." Who has ever written more expressively of that ecstasy
that lays hold of the sensuous soul of the lover of fine music?

Lanier is one of the heroic souls of song. Like Stevenson he was
cheery enough to jest about his poverty. His contest with the demon of
Want seems to have been fiercer even than was the warfare waged by the
gay romancer. Lanier wishes to meet Charlotte Cushman, but he is not
sure that he can; he must sell a poem or two to get the price of a
suitable new dress coat. "Alas," he writes to the lady herself, in
that gay spirit of humor which is the strong defense of some sensitive
souls, "with what unspeakable care I would have brushed this present
garment of mine in days gone by, if I had dreamed that the time would
come when so great a thing as a visit to _you_ might hang upon the
little length of its nap! Behold, it is not only in man's breast that
pathos lies, and the very coat lapel that covers it may be a tragedy."

The poetic temperament is commonly supposed to be at variance with
domestic tranquillity. The domestic life of Lanier is a contradiction
to that popular belief. He ends one of his letters to his wife with
this petition,--"Let us lead them (the children) to love everything
in the world, above the world, and under the world adequately; that is
the sum and substance of a perfect life. And so God's divine rest be
upon every head under the roof that covers thine this night, prayeth
thy husband."

In his letter to Gibson Peacock, January 6, 1878, we have a charming
picture of the delight of a man who has at last found a place to nest
his family, after some years of forlorn wanderings and uncertainties:

"...I have also moved my family into our new home, have had a
Christmas tree for the youngsters, have looked up a cheap school for
Harry and Sidney, have discharged my daily duties as first flute of
the Peabody Orchestra, have written a couple of poems and part of an
essay on Beethoven and Bismarck, have accomplished at least a hundred
thousand miscellaneous nothings.... We are in a state of supreme
content with our new home; it really seems to me as incredible that
myriads of people have been living in their own homes heretofore; as
to the young couple with a first baby it seems impossible that a great
many other couples have had similar prodigies. Good heavens! how I
wish that the whole world had a home.

"I confess that I am a little nervous about the gas bills, which must
come in, in the course of time; and there are the water rates, and
several sorts of imposts and taxes; but then the dignity of being
liable to such things is a very supporting consideration. No man is a
Bohemian who has to pay a water tax and a street tax. Every day when I
sit down in my dining-room--_my_ dining-room! I find the wish growing
stronger that each poor soul in Baltimore, whether saint or sinner,
could come and dine with me. How I would carve out the merry-thoughts
for the old hags! How I would stuff the big wan-eyed rascals till
their rags ripped again! There was a knight of old times who built the
dining-hall of his castle across the highway, so that every wayfarer
must perforce pass through; there the traveler, rich or poor, found
always a trencher and wherewithal to fill it. Three times a day in my
own chair at my own table, do I envy that knight and wish that I might
do as he did."



LXVIII

THE STORY OF MARK TWAIN'S DEBTS


The story of "Mark Twain's Debts" is told in _The Bookman_ by
Frederick A. King. We are permitted to tell the story in Mr. King's
own words:

An anecdote is recorded of Mark Twain and General Grant, who, in
company with William D. Howells, once sat together at luncheon, spread
in the General's private office in the purlieus of Wall Street, in the
days when war and statesmanship had been laid aside, and the hero of
battles and civic life was endeavoring to retrieve his scattered
fortunes by a trial of business.

"Why don't you write your memoirs?" asked Mark Twain, mindful of how
much there was to record, and how eager would be the readers of such a
work.

But the General with characteristic modesty demurred, and the point
was not pressed. This was several years before the failure of the firm
of Ward and Grant, which swept away the General's private fortune,
leaving him an old man, broken in health, and filled with anxiety
about the provision for his family after he should be gone.

When the evil days at last came, some memory of the suggestion
dropped by his friend, the humorist--who could be immensely serious,
too, when need be--may have led to the task that, in added contention
with pain and suffering, constituted the last battle that the General
should fight.

Whatever the influence moving General Grant to the final decision to
compose his memoirs, it happened, to his great fortune, that Mark
Twain again called, and found that the work he had long ago suggested
was at last in progress; but also that the inexperienced writer,
modestly underestimating the commercial value of his forthcoming work,
was about to sign away the putative profits. Fifty thousand dollars
offered for his copyright seemed a generous sum to the unliterary
General Grant, and it took the vehement persuasion of one who was
himself a publisher to convince him that his prospective publishers
would not hesitate at quadrupling that sum rather than lose the chance
of publishing the book.

When the conjecture was proven true, the General with characteristic
generosity, withdrew the contract from his prospective publishers and
placed it in the hands of the firm that Mark Twain headed. All the
provisions were amply fulfilled; for when Mark Twain paid his last
visit to the stricken author at the place of sojourn on Mount
McGregor, he brought to the now speechless sufferer the smile of
happiness and satisfaction by saying: "General, there is in the bank
now royalties on advanced sales aggregating nearly $300,000. It is at
Mrs. Grant's order."

The anecdote is given at this length because, taken in connection
with subsequent events dealing with General Grant's benefactor, it
points a forceful illustration of the irony of fortune. There came a
day when the very instrument by which Mark Twain was enabled to
provide a peaceful close to the life of a brave warrior, and to
guarantee affluence for his family, delivered himself a stroke that
dissipated his own fortune at a time when age is supposed to have
absorbed the vigor for a new grapple with destinies.

In 1884 the publishing firm of C.L. Webster and Company was organized
to publish the works of Mark Twain. Of this firm Mark Twain was
president; but he took little active part in the management of its
affairs. Able to conceive in broad outlines successful policies, he
was singularly deficient in the power to handle the details of their
execution. On April 18, 1894, the firm whose business enterprises had
always figured in large sums through the immense popularity of the
author-publisher's own works, the _Memoirs of General Grant_, and the
_Life of Pope Leo_, made an assignment for the benefit of its
creditors. The bankrupt firm acknowledged liabilities approximating
$80,000. What in the ordinary view of commercial affairs would have
furnished but one item in the list of failures which record the
misfortunes of ninety per cent who engage in business, became in this
instance a notable case through the eminence of the chief actor.

What might he have done?

The law could lay claim upon his personal assets. To surrender these
possessions proved no act of self-sacrifice, considering his wife's
fortune, upon which the law had no claim. His wife, however, joined
him in the act of renunciation, and they stood together penniless.
Beyond this point there could be no legal, and, to many minds, no
moral responsibility for the debts of his firm. One can speculate upon
the force of the temptation to take advantage of the position. Mark
Twain was sixty years old, and ill at that. Having sacrificed all he
possessed to meet the demands of his creditors, he might justly claim
the benefit of what remained of capacity for wealth-producing labor.
His own words in reply to a slander which insinuated that he had set
to work again for his own benefit are splendid for inspiration and
honesty:

"The law recognizes no mortgage on a man's brain, and a merchant who
has given up all he has may take advantage of the laws of insolvency,
and start free again for himself; but I am not a business man, and
honor is a harder master than the law. It cannot compromise for less
than a hundred cents on the dollar."

... The great parallel case to the one here under examination is that
of Sir Walter Scott, who lost his all through the failure of his
printers, the Ballantynes, and between January, 1826, and January,
1828, earned for his creditors nearly £40,000. In the early stages of
this trial he suffered acutely from the attitude of his friends, and
he records in his diary how some would smile as if to say: "Think
nothing about it, my lad; it is quite out of our thoughts;" how others
adopted an affected gravity "such as one sees and despises at a
funeral," while the best bred "just shook hands and went on."

How the world treated Mark Twain we learn from the speech at the
banquet given by the Lotus Club on his return from his arduous journey
around the world: "There were ninety-six creditors in all, and not by
a finger's weight did ninety-five out of the ninety-six add to the
burden of that time."

"'Don't you worry, and don't you hurry,' was what they said." With the
courage of a man buffeted, but not beaten, he gathered himself up for
"one more last try for fortune and fair fame." In the latter part of
1895 he started out on a tour of the English-speaking countries of the
world to give lectures and readings from his own works.

There were misgivings, of course, as to the success of the venture.
Here was a field not absolutely untried, but not hitherto cultivated
to the point of assured success. In 1873 he had made a lecture tour in
England and in 1885 had given platform readings in company with George
W. Cable. But age had sapped the zest for public appearance, and he
was skeptical of his power to move people with interest in his books.
Moreover, there was a further thing to be considered, a possible
impediment to success among the English colonies which he proposed to
visit. His popularity with Englishmen had never been great, owing to
the liberties he had taken with that nation's people in _Innocents
Abroad_.

The latter apprehension was the more remote, however, for, starting
from New York, he had a continent to traverse before embarking for the
shores that held for him an uncertain welcome. To test his ability to
interest an audience, to "try it on the dog," as they say in
theatrical parlance, he subjected himself to the severest test
possible, crossed to Randall's Island and read before a company of
boys. Unsophisticated by the lecturer's reputation as a humorist, the
boys proved to be the organs of sincerest testimony to the permanence
of the old power to amuse, and the first public appearance in
Cleveland, Ohio, was undertaken with fewer misgivings.

From Vancouver, Mark Twain sailed for Sidney and gave readings before
the English-speaking communities of Australia; then continued on to
Tasmania, New Zealand, Ceylon, India and South Africa.

His fears as to his welcome among Englishmen were proved to be
groundless. In Australia, great as was his success as a lecturer, his
personal success outweighed even that, and the market on his books was
exhausted. We cannot follow him on this trip of mingled arduous labor
and personal satisfaction. The humorous reactions of his homely vision
upon the quaint, the bizarre, the pretentious, aspects of life in
remote parts of the world may be read in his own record of this
journey, _Following the Equator_. There are few things to record of
this great effort to pay his debts.

In India he was taken ill, but the disease was not severe. In June,
1897, when he had circled the globe and had settled for a time in
London, cablegrams came from that city announcing his mental and
physical collapse. The English-speaking world was stricken with
sympathy, and the New York _Herald_ at once began a subscription fund
for his relief. The report was contradicted at once, but admiration
for the author's strenuous effort seemed to grow, and the _Herald_
fund was assuming generous proportions when the following
characteristic message declining to accept the relief came from the
proposed beneficiary:

    I was glad when you instituted that movement, for I was tired
    of the fact and worry of debt, but I recognized that it is not
    permissible for a man whose case is not hopeless to shift his
    burden to other men's shoulders.

In November of the same year a report was circulated that he was out
of debt, but from Vienna, whither he had gone to live, came a laconic
cablegram nailing the optimistic impeachment:

    Lie. Wrote no such letters. Still deeply in debt.

Nearly half of the original indebtedness needed to be paid, and here,
with scarcely an opposing voice in judgment, he might have waived the
claim upon himself for his firm's responsibilities, but he avowed that
he would pay dollar for dollar.

The time of accomplishment was not long in coming. When the
undertaking was begun, it was with the resolution to clear up the debt
in three years. Allowing for the unexpected, it was feared it would
take four, then at the age of sixty-four a new start in life would be
open to the author, who might point to a considerable occupancy of
space on library shelves and regard a life work accomplished. It took
but two years and a half to pay the debt. He began the effort the
latter part of 1895 and finished it in the early part of 1898.

His return to America and his home in 1900 was, in the unromantic
procedure of our self-conscious days, of the nature of a triumph. He
was formally welcomed by the Lotus Club, and, of course, as delicately
as might be, he was praised for his honesty. His reply to compliment
was a generous recognition of social virtue, which renders easier such
an effort as he made.

Said he:

    Your president has referred to certain burdens which I was
    weighted with. I am glad he did, as it gives me an opportunity
    which I wanted. To speak of those debts--you all knew what he
    meant when he referred to it, and to the poor bankrupt firm of
    C.L. Webster and Company. No one has said a word about those
    creditors. There were ninety-six creditors in all, and not by
    a finger's weight did ninety-five out of the ninety-six add to
    the burden of that time. They treated me well; they treated me
    handsomely. I never knew I owed them anything; not a sign came
    from them.

The story is one of simple elements, and suits the prosaic character
of our age. It does not match Sir Walter's for romance. There was no
such brain-racking work; no forcing of the phantasmal multitude of the
poet's brain to dance to pay the expenses of the funeral; no mediæval
castle to sacrifice; no tragic failure of the ultimate goal. What
there is of real romance seems obscured by the facts of more or less
safe speculation upon assured futures. It was a safe business venture.

The hero was not unworthy of the praises which his peers at the Lotus
dinner were glad to lavish. Said St. Clair McKelway:

"He has enough excess and versatility to be a genius. He has enough
quality and quantity of virtues to be a saint. But he has honorably
transmuted his genius into work, whereby it has been brought into
relations with literature and with life. And he has preferred warm
fellowship to cool perfection, so that sinners love him and saints are
content to wait for him."



LXIX

HAMLIN GARLAND'S LITERARY BEGINNING


Hamlin Garland is one of the writers whose name suggests the great
Northwest. He was born in Wisconsin in 1860, went to Iowa and later to
Dakota, striving at an early age to wrest a living from the soil. At
ten years of age he plowed seventy acres of land. His vivid
descriptions of Western farm-life are not the results of reading and
casual observation, supplemented by a vivid imagination; they are the
products of actual experiences.

In a personal interview with Mr. Garland, Frank G. Carpenter gives us
the following interesting particulars:

"The conversation here turned to Mr. Garland's literary work, and he
told me how he was first led to write by reading Hawthorne's _Mosses
from an Old Manse_. This book so delighted him that he wanted to write
essays like it for a living, and he practised at this during the
intervals of his school-teaching and studying for years. It was not
until he was older that he attempted fiction or poetry. The story of
his first published article is a curious one. Said he:

"'My first literary success was a poem which I wrote for _Harper's
Weekly_, entitled 'Lost in the Norther.' It was a poem describing a
blizzard and the feelings of a man lost in it. I received twenty-five
dollars for it.'

"'That must have been a good deal of money to you then, Mr. Garland?'

"'It was,' was the reply. 'It was my first money in literature, and I
spent it upon my father and mother. I paid five dollars for a copy of
Grant's _Memoirs_, which I sent father, and with the remaining twenty
dollars I bought a silk dress for my mother. It was the first silk
dress she had ever had.'

"'When did you write your first fiction?'

"'My mother got half of the money I received for that,' replied Mr.
Garland, 'as it was due to her that I wrote it. I had been studying in
Boston for several years, when I went out to Dakota to visit my
parents. The night after I arrived I was talking with mother about old
times and old friends. She told me how one family had gone back to New
York for a visit, and had returned very happy, in getting back to
their Western home. As she told the story, the pathos of it struck me.
I went into another room and began to write. The story was one of the
best chapters of my book _Main-Traveled Roads_. I read it to mother,
and she liked it, and upon telling her that I thought it was worth at
least seventy-five dollars, she replied: "Well, if that is so, I think
you ought to _divvy_ with me, for I gave you the story." "I will,"
said I, and so, when I got my seventy-five dollars, I sent her a check
for thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents. I got many other good
suggestions during that trip to Dakota. I wrote poems and stories.
Some of the stories were published in _The Century_, and I remember
that I received six hundred dollars within two weeks from its editors.
It was perhaps a year later before I published my first book. It had a
good sale, and I have been writing from that day to this.'

"Hamlin Garland spends a part of every year in the West. He has bought
the old home place where he was born in Wisconsin, and he has there a
little farm of four acres, upon which he raises asparagus,
strawberries, onions, and bushels of other things. His mother lives
with him. During my talk with him the other night he said: 'I like the
West and the Western people. I have been brought up with them, and I
expect to devote my life to writing about them. I spend a portion of
each summer on the Rocky Mountains, camping out. I like to go where I
can sleep in the open air and have elbow-room away from the crowded
city.'"



LXX

STEPHEN CRANE: A "WONDERFUL BOY"


In 1900, Stephen Crane, while yet barely thirty, died. His early
passing away was widely regarded as a loss to American literature. In
England he was especially admired as a vigorous writer. His _The Red
Badge of Courage_ won him wide recognition as a keen analyst. Old
soldiers who read the story could not believe that it was written by a
boy who was born after the war had ended. By many critics his stories
of boyhood are considered the writings that shall be longest
remembered. Shortly before his death Mr. Crane wrote the following
letter to the editor of a Rochester daily:

"My father was a Methodist minister, author of numerous works of
theology, and an editor of various periodicals of the church. He was a
graduate of Princeton, and he was a great, fine, simple mind. As for
myself, I went to Lafayette College, but did not graduate. I found
mining-engineering not at all to my taste. I preferred base-ball.
Later I attended Syracuse University, where I attempted to study
literature, but found base-ball again much more to my taste. My first
work in fiction was for the New York _Tribune_, when I was eighteen
years old. During this time, one story of the series went into the
_Cosmopolitan_. At the age of twenty I wrote my first novel--_Maggie_.
It never really got on the market, but it made for me the friendship
of William Dean Howells and Hamlin Garland, and since that time I have
never been conscious for an instant that those friendships have at all
diminished. After completing _Maggie_, I wrote mainly for the New York
_Press_ and for _The Arena_. In the latter part of my twenty-first
year I began _The Red Badge of Courage_, and completed it early in my
twenty-second year. The year following I wrote the poems contained in
the volume known as _The Black Riders_. On the first day of last
November I was precisely twenty-nine years old and had finished my
fifth novel, _Active Service_. I have only one pride, and that is that
the English edition of _The Red Badge of Courage_ has been received
with great praise by the English reviewers. I am proud of this simply
because the remoter people would seem more just and harder to win."

In another letter to the same editor he writes about his literary
sincerity:

"The one thing that deeply pleases me is the fact that men of sense
invariably believe me to be sincere. I know that my work does not
amount to a string of dried beans--I always calmly admit it--but I
also know that I do the best that is in me without regard to praise or
blame. When I was the mark for every humorist in the country, I went
ahead; and now when I am the mark for only fifty per cent of the
humorists of the country, I go ahead; for I understand that a man is
born into the world with his own pair of eyes, and he is not at all
responsible for his vision--he is merely responsible for his quality
of personal honesty. To keep close to this personal honesty is my
supreme ambition."



LXXI

EUGENE FIELD


The general public will always remember Eugene Field as the author of
_Little Boy Blue_, the many friends of Field, in addition to their
memory of him as the charming poet of childhood, will always think of
him as the irrepressible prince of merry-makers. To perpetrate a joke
Field spared neither labor nor his friends. Many of his pranks were
mere whimsicalities, innocent pleasantries that hurt no one. He would
spend three hours in illustrating a letter to a friend, filling the
letter with gossipy trivialities and using six different kinds of ink
to make it look grotesque.

During the last years of Field's too brief life he was importuned so
frequently for the facts concerning his career that he printed a brief
biography or _Auto-Analysis_, as he called it. This contains a
generous portion of fiction mingled with some fact. He begins his
autobiography with:

"I was born in St. Louis, Mo., September 3, 1850.... Upon the death of
my mother (1856), I was put in the care of my (paternal) cousin, Miss
Mary Field French, at Amherst, Mass.

"In 1865 I entered the private school of Rev. James Tufts, Monson,
Mass., and there fitted for Williams College, which institution I
entered as a freshman in 1868. Upon my father's death, in 1869, I
entered the sophomore class of Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., my
guardian, John W. Burgess, now of Columbia College, being then a
professor in that institution. But in 1870 I went to Columbia, Mo.,
and entered the State University there, and completed my junior year
with my brother. In 1872 I visited Europe, spending six months and my
patrimony in France, Italy, Ireland, and Italy. In May, 1873, I became
a reporter on the St. Louis _Evening Journal_. In October of that year
I married Miss Julia Sutherland Comstock (born in Chenango Co., N.Y.),
of St. Joseph, Mo., at that time a girl of sixteen. We have had eight
children--three daughters and five sons."

This is not all of the autobiography. There are about a thousand words
more. The reason Field attended three collegiate institutions is that
his mischievous pranks made him _persona non grata_ to the college
authorities. In after years the old historian of Knox College wrote:
"He was prolific of harmless pranks and his school life was a big
joke."

The gay irresponsibility of Field is early illustrated in the reckless
manner in which he spent "six months and his patrimony" in Europe. In
1872 Field received $8,000, the first portion of his patrimony. He
proposed to a young friend, Comstock, the brother of Julia, whom he
later married, that they go to Europe. Field offered to bear all the
expenses of the trip. They went and for six months they had a glorious
time. Soon the money was gone; he telegraphed for more; was obliged
to sell the odd curios he had gathered to pay his way home. This
expenditure of his money in a trip abroad is not so unprofitable a
venture as it appears. The elder Field had left a fortune valued at
$60,000; Eugene's share was to be about $25,000. In two years he spent
about $20,000. His brother Roswell, more prudent, lived for several
years on his share but finally, owing to the depreciation of real
estate values, saw his fortune dwindle away. He is said to have envied
the shrewdness of Eugene in spending his money when he had it.

Field had the highest respect for womankind. In his _Auto-Analysis_ he
writes: "I am fond of companionship of women, and I have no
unconquerable prejudice against feminine beauty. I recall with pride
that in twenty-two years of active journalism I have always written in
reverential praise of womankind." This respect for womankind, however,
did not prevent him from playing pranks upon his wife. On their
wedding journey he delighted to tease his young Julia by ordering at
Delmonico's "boiled pig's feet à la St. Jo." A few years later a
quartet was accustomed to meet at Eugene's home. Field did not sing
with the quartet but as a fifth member acted as reader or reciter in
their little entertainments. Eugene delighted to tease his wife by
walking into the parlor when the quartet was practicing at his home
and saying: "Well, boys, let us take off our coats and take it easy;
it's too hot." When this was done, Eugene would blaze forth in the
brilliancy of a red flannel undershirt, with white cuffs and collar
pinned to his shirt.

When Carl Schurz was making his senatorial campaign in Missouri, Field
was sent with the party to report the meetings. Field, although
greatly admiring Schurz, took great delight in misreporting Schurz,
whose only comment would be: "Field, why will you lie so
outrageously?" One evening when a group of German serenaders had
assembled in front of the hotel to do honor to Schurz, Field rushed
out and pretending to be Schurz, addressed them in broken English. At
another time, at a political meeting, Field suddenly stepped out to
the front and began:

"Ladies and Shentlemen: I haf such a pad colt dot et vas not bossible
for me to make you a speedg to-night, but I haf die bleasure to
introduce to you my brilliant chournalistic friendt Euchene Fielt, who
will spoke you in my blace."

While in Denver Field worked upon the _Tribune_. Over his desk
hung,--"This is my busy day," and on the wall,--"God bless our
proofreader, He can't call for him too soon." In his office he kept an
old bottomless black-walnut chair. Across its yawning chasm he would
carelessly thrown old newspapers. As it was the only unoccupied chair
in the room, the casual visitor would drop unsuspectingly into the
trap. The angry subscriber who had come to wreak vengeance upon the
writer of irritating personalities could not withstand the apparently
sincere apologies which Field lavished upon his victim. It was so
humiliating to a man of Field's sensibilities to be obliged to receive
such important visitors in an office whose very furniture indicated
the poverty of the newspaper.

In 1883 Field moved to Chicago, where the rest of his life was
passed. Mr. Stone, one of the proprietors of _The News_, had gone to
Denver to have a personal interview with Field, whose work had
attracted attention in the newspaper world. Field stipulated that he
was to have a column a day for his own use. The Chicago public soon
was attracted by the brilliant versatility of the writer of "Sharps
and Flats," the title of the column written by Field.

Some months after Field had moved to Chicago he concluded that the
general public ought to know that he had arrived. It was a cold
morning in December. "So he arrayed himself in a long linen duster,
buttoned up from knees to collar, put an old straw hat on his head,
and taking a shabby book under one arm and a palm-leaf fan in his
hand, he marched all the way down Clark Street, past the City Hall, to
the office. Everywhere along the route he was greeted with jeers or
pitying words, as his appearance excited the mirth or commiseration of
the passers-by. When he reached the entrance to the _Daily News_
office he was followed by a motley crowd of noisy urchins whom he
dismissed with a grimace and the cabalistic gesture with which
Nicholas Koorn perplexed and repulsed Antony Van Corlear from the
battlement of the fortress of Rensellaerstein. Then closing the door
in their astonished faces, he mounted the two flights of stairs to the
editorial rooms, where he recounted, with the glee of the boy he was
in such things, the success of his joke."

Field had execrable taste in dress and he knew it. Consequently he
enjoyed presenting neckties to his friends. His biographer, Slason
Thompson, who worked in the same newspaper office, separated only by a
low thin partition, relates that in the afternoon about two o'clock
Field would stick his head above the partition and say,--"Come along,
Nompy, and I'll buy you a new necktie," and when Thompson would
decline the offer, Field would mildly respond, "Very well, if you
won't let me buy you a necktie, you must buy me a lunch," and off to
the coffee-house they would march, where the bill would be paid by
Thompson, for Field was indeed through life the gay knight he styled
himself, _sans peur and sans monnaie_.


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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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