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Title: A Commonplace Book of Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies. - 2nd ed.
Author: Jameson, Mrs. (Anna), 1794-1860
Language: English
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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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Commonplace Book of Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies. - 2nd ed." ***

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   A

   COMMONPLACE BOOK

   OF

   Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies.


[Illustration]


   A COMMONPLACE BOOK—

   OF

   Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies.

   ORIGINAL AND SELECTED.

   PART I.—ETHICS AND CHARACTER.

   PART II.—LITERATURE AND ART.

   BY MRS. JAMESON.

   “Un peu de chaque chose, et rien du tout,—à la française!”—MONTAIGNE.

   With Illustrations and Etchings.

   SECOND EDITION, CORRECTED.

   LONDON:
   LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.
   1855.


[Illustration]

PREFACE.


I must be allowed to say a few words in explanation of the contents of
this little volume, which is truly what its name sets forth—a book of
common-places, and nothing more. If I have never, in any work I have
ventured to place before the public, aspired to _teach_, (being myself a
_learner_ in all things,) at least I have hitherto done my best to
deserve the indulgence I have met with; and it would pain me if it could
be supposed that such indulgence had rendered me presumptuous or
careless.

For many years I have been accustomed to make a memorandum of any
thought which might come across me—(if pen and paper were at hand), and
to mark (and _remark_) any passage in a book which excited either a
sympathetic or an antagonistic feeling. This collection of notes
accumulated insensibly from day to day. The volumes on Shakspeare’s
Women, on Sacred and Legendary Art, and various other productions,
sprung from seed thus lightly and casually sown, which, I hardly know
how, grew up and expanded into a regular, readable form, with a
beginning, a middle, and an end. But what was to be done with the
fragments which remained—without beginning, and without end—links of a
hidden or a broken chain? Whether to preserve them or destroy them
became a question, and one I could not answer for myself. In allowing a
portion of them to go forth to the world in their original form, as
unconnected fragments, I have been guided by the wishes of others, who
deemed it not wholly uninteresting or profitless to trace the path,
sometimes devious enough, of an “inquiring spirit,” even by the little
pebbles dropped as vestiges by the way side.

A book so supremely egotistical and subjective can do good only in one
way. It may, like conversation with a friend, open up sources of
sympathy and reflection; excite to argument, agreement, or disagreement;
and, like every spontaneous utterance of thought out of an earnest mind,
suggest far higher and better thoughts than any to be found here to
higher and more productive minds. If I had not the humble hope of such a
possible result, instead of sending these memoranda to the printer, I
should have thrown them into the fire; for I lack that creative faculty
which can work up the teachings of heart-sorrow and world-experience
into attractive forms of fiction or of art; and having no intention of
leaving any such memorials to be published after my death, they must
have gone into the fire as the only alternative left.

The passages from books are not, strictly speaking, _selected_; they are
not given here on any principle of choice, but simply because that by
some process of assimilation they became a part of the individual mind.
They “found _me_,”—to borrow Coleridge’s expression,—“found me in some
depth of my being;” I did not “find _them_.”

For the rest, all those passages which are marked by inverted commas
must be regarded as borrowed, though I have not always been able to give
my authority. All passages not so marked are, I dare not say, original
or new, but at least the unstudied expression of a free discursive mind.
Fruits, not advisedly plucked, but which the variable winds have shaken
from the tree: some ripe, some “harsh and crude.”

Wordsworth’s famous poem of “The Happy Warrior” (of which a new
application will be found at page 87.), is supposed by Mr. De Quincey to
have been first suggested by the character of Nelson. It has since been
applied to Sir Charles Napier (the Indian General), as well as to the
Duke of Wellington; all which serves to illustrate my position, that the
lines in question are equally applicable to any man or any woman whose
moral standard is irrespective of selfishness and expediency.

With regard to the fragment on Sculpture, it may be necessary to state
that it was written in 1848. The first three paragraphs were inserted in
the Art Journal for April, 1849. It was intended to enlarge the whole
into a comprehensive essay on “Subjects fitted for Artistic Treatment;”
but this being now impossible, the fragment is given as originally
written; others may think it out, and apply it better than I shall live
to do.


   August, 1854.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]


CONTENTS.

   PART I.

   Ethics and Character.


 ETHICAL FRAGMENTS.                                        Page

   Vanity                                                     1

   Truths and Truisms                                         3

   Beauty and Use                                             5

   What is Soul?                                              7

   The Philosophy of Happiness                                9

   Cheerfulness a Virtue                                     10

   Intellect and Sympathy                                    11

   Old Letters                                               12

   The Point of Honour                                       13

   Looking up                                                14

   Authors                                                   14

   Thought and Theory                                        15

   Impulse and Consideration                                 16

   Principle and Expediency                                  16

   Personality of the Evil Principle                         17

   The Catholic Spirit                                       18

   Death-beds                                                19

   Thoughts on a Sermon                                      20

   Love and Fear of God                                      22

   Social Opinion                                            23

   Balzac                                                    23

   Political                                                 24

   Celibacy                                                  25

   Landor’s Wise Sayings                                     26

   Justice and Generosity                                    27

   Roman Catholic Converts                                   28

   Stealing and Borrowing                                    28

   Good and Bad                                              29

   Italian Proverb. Greek Saying                             30

   Silent Grief                                              31

   Past and Future                                           32

   Suicide. Countenance                                      33

   Progress and Progression                                  34

   Happiness in Suffering                                    35

   Life in the Future                                        36

   Strength. Youth                                           38

   Moral Suffering                                           40

   The Secret of Peace                                       41

   Motives and Impulses                                      42

   Principle and Passion                                     43

   Dominant Ideas                                            44

   Absence and Death                                         45

   Sydney Smith. Theodore Hook                               46

   Werther and Childe Harold                                 50

   Money Obligations                                         52

   Charity. Truth                                            53

   Women. Men                                                55

   Compensation for Sorrow                                   57

   Religion. Avarice                                         57

   Genius. Mind                                              59

   Hieroglyphical Colours                                    60

   Character                                                 61

   Value of Words                                            62

   Nature and Art                                            64

   Spirit and Form                                           67

   Penal Retribution. The Church                             68

   Woman’s Patriotism                                        70

   Doubt. Curiosity                                          71

   Tieck. Coleridge                                          71

   Application of a Bon Mot of Talleyrand                    73

   Adverse Individualities                                   75

   Conflict in Love                                          76

   French Expressions                                        77

   Practical and Contemplative Life                          78

   Joanna Baillie. Macaulay’s Ballads                        80

   Cunning                                                   80

   Browning’s Paracelsus                                     81

   Men, Women, and Children                                  84

   Letters                                                  100

   Madame de Staël. Dejà                                    103

   Thought too free                                         105

   Good Qualities, not Virtues                              106

   Sense and Phantasy                                       107

   Use the Present                                          108

   Facts                                                    109

   Wise Sayings                                             111

   Pestilence of Falsehood                                  112

   Signs instead of Words. Relations with the World         113

   Milton’s Adam and Eve                                    115

   Thoughts, sundry                                         116

 A REVELATION OF CHILDHOOD                                  117

 THE INDIAN HUNTER AND THE FIRE;
   an Allegory                                              147

 POETICAL FRAGMENTS                                         152

   Theological.


 THE HERMIT AND THE MINSTREL                                155

   Pandemonium                                              158

   Southey on the Religious Orders                          162

   Forms in Religion—Image Worship                          164

   Religious Differences                                    165

   Expansive Christianity                                   169

 NOTES FROM VARIOUS SERMONS:—

   A Roman Catholic Sermon                                  172

   Another                                                  176

   Church of England Sermon                                 178

   Another                                                  181

   Dissenting Sermon                                        187

   Father Taylor of Boston                                  188


   PART II.

   Literature and Art.


 NOTES FROM BOOKS:—

   Dr. Arnold                                               198

   Niebuhr                                                  220

   Lord Bacon                                               230

   Chateaubriand                                            240

   Bishop Cumberland                                        247

   Comte’s Philosophy                                       250

   Goethe                                                   261

   Hazlitt’s “Liber Amoris”                                 263

   Francis Horner, “The Nightingale”                        267

   Thackeray’s “English Humourists”                         271


 NOTES ON ART:—

   Analogies                                                276

   Definition of Art                                        279

   No Patriotic Art                                         280

   Verse and Colour                                         280

   Dutch Pictures                                           281

   Morals in Art                                            283

   Physiognomy of Hands                                     288

   Mozart and Chopin                                        289

   Music                                                    293

   Rachel, the Actress                                      294

   English and German Actresses                             298

   Character of Imogen                                      303

   Shakspeare Club                                          305

   “Maria Maddalena”                                        305

   The Artistic Nature                                      307

   Woman’s Criticism                                        309

   Artistic Influences                                      310

   The Greek Aphrodite                                      311

   Love, in the Greek Tragedy                               312

   Wilkie’s Life and Letters                                313

   Wilhelm Schadow                                          317

   Artist Life                                              321

   Materialism in Art                                       323

   A Fragment on Sculpture, and on certain Characters in
     History and Poetry, considered as Subjects for Modern
     Art                                                    326

     Helen of Troy                                          332

     Penelope—Laodamia                                      336

     Hippolytus                                             339

     Iphigenia                                              343

     Eve                                                    347

     Adam                                                   350

     Angels                                                 351

     Miriam—Ruth                                            354

     Christ—Solomon—David                                   355

     Hagar—Rebecca—Rachel—Queen of Sheba                    356

     Lady Godiva                                            357

     Joan of Arc                                            359

     Characters from Shakspeare                             364

     Characters from Spenser                                366

     From Milton. The Lady—Comus—Satan                      367

     From the Italian and Modern Poets                      370



LIST OF ETCHINGS.


   1. Fruits and Flowers. After an old drawing.

   2. Out of my garden.

   3. Virgin Martyrs. Thought. Memory. Fancy. After Benedetto
        da Matera.

   4. La Penserosa. After Ambrogio Lorenzette.

   5. La Fille du Feu. From a sketch by Von Schwind.

   6. Laus Dei. Angel after Hans Hemmeling.

   7. Eve and Cain. After Steinle.

   8. Study. After an old print.

   9. The Parcæ. From a sketch by Carstens.

   10. Antique Owlet. In Goethe’s collection at Weimar.


   *** The woodcuts are inserted to divide the
   paragraphs and subjects, and are ornamental rather than
   illustrative. Where the same vignette heads several paragraphs
   consecutively, it is to signify that the _ideas_ expressed
   stand in relation to each other.


PART I.

Ethics and Character.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



Ethical Fragments.


1.

Bacon says, how wisely! that “there is often as great vanity in
withdrawing and retiring men’s conceits from the world, as in obtruding
them.” Extreme vanity sometimes hides under the garb of ultra modesty.
When I see people haunted by the idea of self,—spreading their hands
before their faces lest they meet the reflection of it in every other
face, as if the world were to them like a French drawing-room, panelled
with looking glass,—always fussily putting their obtrusive self behind
them, or dragging over it a scanty drapery of consciousness, miscalled
modesty,—always on their defence against compliments, or mistaking
sympathy for compliment, which is as great an error, and a more vulgar
one than mistaking flattery for sympathy,—when I see all this, as I have
seen it, I am inclined to attribute it to the immaturity of the
character, or to what is worse, a total want of simplicity. To some
characters fame is like an intoxicating cup placed to the lips,—they do
well to turn away from it, who fear it will turn their heads. But to
others, fame is “love disguised,” the love that answers to love, in its
widest most exalted sense. It seems to me, that we should all bring the
best that is in us (according to the diversity of gifts which God has
given us), and lay it a reverend offering on the altar of humanity,—if
not to burn and enlighten, at least to rise in incense to heaven. So
will the pure in heart, and the unselfish do; and they will not heed if
those who _can_ bring nothing or _will_ bring nothing, unless they can
blaze like a beacon, call out “VANITY!”

[Illustration]


2.

There are truths which, by perpetual repetition, have subsided into
passive truisms, till, in some moment of feeling or experience, they
kindle into conviction, start to life and light, and the truism becomes
again a vital truth.

[Illustration]


3.

It is well that we obtain what we require at the cheapest possible rate;
yet those who cheapen goods, or beat down the price of a good article,
or buy in preference to what is good and genuine of its kind an inferior
article at an inferior price, sometimes do much mischief. Not only do
they discourage the production of a better article, but if they be
anxious about the education of the lower classes they undo with one hand
what they do with the other; they encourage the mere mechanic and the
production of what may be produced without effort of mind and without
education, and they discourage and wrong the skilled workman for whom
education has done much more and whose education has cost much more.

Every work so merely and basely mechanical, that a man can throw into it
no part of his own life and soul, does, in the long run, degrade the
human being. It is only by giving him some kind of mental and moral
interest in the labour of his hands, making it an exercise of his
understanding, and an object of his sympathy, that we can really elevate
the workman; and this is not the case with very cheap production of any
kind. (Southampton, Dec. 1849.)


Since this was written the same idea has been carried out, with far more
eloquent reasoning, in a noble passage which I have just found in Mr.
Ruskin’s last volume of “The Stones of Venice” (the Sea Stories). As I
do not _always_ subscribe to his theories of Art, I am the more
delighted with this anticipation of a moral agreement between us.

“We have much studied and much perfected of late, the great civilised
invention of the division of labour, only we give it a false name. It is
not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided, but the men:—divided
into mere segments of men,—broken into small fragments and crumbs of
life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man
is not enough to make a pin or a nail, but exhausts itself in making the
point of a pin or the head of a nail. Now, it is a good and desirable
thing truly to make many pins in a day, but if we could only see with
what crystal sand their points are polished—sand of human soul, much to
be magnified before it can be discerned for what it is,—we should think
there might be some loss in it also; and the great cry that rises from
all our manufacturing cities, louder than their furnace-blast, is all in
very deed for this,—that we manufacture everything there except men,—we
blanch cotton, and strengthen steel, and refine sugar, and shape
pottery; but to brighten, to strengthen, to refine, or to form a single
living spirit, never enters into our estimate of advantages; and all the
evil to which that cry is urging our myriads, can be met only in one
way,—not by teaching nor preaching; for to teach them is but to show
them their misery; and to preach to them—if we do nothing more than
preach,—is to mock at it. It can be met only by a right understanding on
the part of all classes, of what kinds of labour are good for men,
raising them and making them happy; by a determined sacrifice of such
convenience, or beauty or cheapness, as is to be got only by the
degradation of the workman, and by equally determined demand for the
products and results of a healthy and ennobling labour.” ....

“We are always in these days trying to separate the two (intellect and
work). We want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always
working; and we call one a gentleman and the other an operative;
whereas, the workman ought to be often thinking, and the thinker often
working, and both should be gentlemen in the best sense. It is only by
labour that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labour
can be made happy; and the two cannot be separated with impunity.”

Wordsworth, however, had said the same thing before either of us:

                     “Our life is turn’d
   Out of her course wherever man is made
   An offering or a sacrifice,—a tool
   Or implement,—a passive thing employed
   As a brute mean, without acknowledgment
   Of common right or interest in the end,
   Used or abused as selfishness may prompt.
   Say what can follow for a rational soul
   Perverted thus, but weakness in all good
   And strength in evil?”

[Illustration]


And this leads us to the consideration of another mistake, analogous
with the above, but referable in its results chiefly to the higher, or
what Mr. Ruskin calls the _thinking_, classes of the community.

It is not good for us to have all that we value of worldly material
things in the form of money. It is the most vulgar form in which value
can be invested. Not only books, pictures, and all beautiful things are
better; but even jewels and trinkets are sometimes to be preferred to
mere hard money. Lands and tenements are good, as involving duties; but
still what is valuable in the market sense should sometimes take the
ideal and the beautiful form, and be dear and lovely and valuable for
its own sake as well as for its convertible worth in hard gold. I think
the character would be apt to deteriorate when all its material
possessions take the form of money, and when money becomes valuable for
its own sake, or as the mere instrument or representative of power.

[Illustration]


4.

We are told in a late account of Laura Bridgeman, the blind, deaf, and
dumb girl, that her instructor once endeavoured to explain the
difference between the material and the immaterial, and used the word
“soul.” She interrupted to ask, “What is soul?”

“That which thinks, feels, hopes, loves,——”

“And _aches_?” she added eagerly.

[Illustration]


5.

I was reading to-day in the Notes to Boswell’s Life of Johnson that “it
is a theory which every one knows to be _false in fact_, that virtue in
real life is always productive of happiness, and vice of misery.” I
should say that all my experience teaches me that the position is not
false but true: that virtue _does_ produce happiness, and vice _does_
produce misery. But let us settle the meaning of the words. By
_happiness_, we do not necessarily mean a state of worldly prosperity.
By _virtue_, we do not mean a series of good actions which may or may
not be rewarded, and, if done for reward, lose the essence of virtue.
Virtue, according to my idea, is the habitual sense of right, and the
habitual courage to act up to that sense of right, combined with
benevolent sympathies, the charity which thinketh no evil. This union of
the highest conscience and the highest sympathy fulfils my notion of
virtue. Strength is essential to it; weakness incompatible with it.
Where virtue is, the noblest faculties and the softest feelings are
predominant; the whole being is in that state of harmony which I call
happiness. Pain may reach it, passion may disturb it, but there is
always a glimpse of blue sky above our head; as we ascend in dignity of
being, we ascend in happiness, which is, in my sense of the word, the
feeling which connects us with the infinite and with God.

And vice is necessarily misery: for that fluctuation of principle, that
diseased craving for excitement, that weakness out of which springs
falsehood, that suspicion of others, that discord with ourselves, with
the absence of the benevolent propensities,—these constitute misery as a
state of being. The most miserable person I ever met with in my life had
12,000_l._ a year; a cunning mind, dexterous to compass its own ends;
very little conscience, not enough, one would have thought, to vex with
any retributive pang; but it was the absence of goodness that made the
misery, obvious and hourly increasing. The perpetual kicking against the
pricks, the unreasonable _exigéance_ with regard to things, without any
high standard with regard to persons,—these made the misery. I can speak
of it as misery who had it daily in my sight for five long years.

I have had arguments, if it be not presumption to call them so, with
Carlyle on this point. It appeared to me that he confounded happiness
with pleasure, with self-indulgence. He set aside with a towering scorn
the idea of living for the sake of happiness, so called: he styled this
philosophy of happiness, “the philosophy of the frying-pan.” But this
was like the reasoning of a child, whose idea of happiness is plenty of
sugar-plums. Pleasure, pleasurable sensation, is, as the world goes,
something to thank God for. I should be one of the last to undervalue
it; I hope I am one of the last to live for it; and pain is pain, a
great evil, which I do not like either to inflict or suffer. But
happiness lies beyond either pain or pleasure—is as sublime a thing as
virtue itself, indivisible from it; and under this point of view it
seems a perilous mistake to separate them.

[Illustration]


6.

Dante places in his lowest Hell those who in life were melancholy and
repining without a cause, thus profaning and darkening God’s blessed
sunshine—_Tristi fummo nel’ aer dolce_; and in some of the ancient
Christian systems of virtues and vices, Melancholy is unholy, and a
vice; Cheerfulness is holy, and a virtue.

Lord Bacon also makes one of the characteristics of moral health and
goodness to consist in “a constant quick sense of felicity, and a noble
satisfaction.”

What moments, hours, days of exquisite felicity must Christ, our
Redeemer, have had, though it has become too customary to place him
before us only in the attitude of pain and sorrow! Why should he be
always crowned with thorns, bleeding with wounds, weeping over the world
he was appointed to heal, to save, to reconcile with God? The radiant
head of Christ in Raphael’s Transfiguration should rather be our ideal
of Him who came “to bind up the broken-hearted, to preach the acceptable
year of the Lord.”

[Illustration]


7.

A profound intellect is weakened and narrowed in general power and
influence by a limited range of sympathies. I think this is especially
true of C——: excellent, honest, gifted as he is, he does not do half the
good he might do, because his sympathies are so confined. And then he
wants gentleness: he does not seem to acknowledge that “the wisdom that
is from above is _gentle_.” He is a man who carries his bright intellect
as a light in a dark-lantern; he sees only the objects on which he
chooses to throw that blaze of light: those he sees vividly, but, as it
were, exclusively. All other things, though lying near, are dark,
because perversely he _will_ not throw the light of his mind upon them.

[Illustration]


8.

Wilhelm von Humboldt says, “Old letters lose their vitality.”

Not true. It is because they retain their vitality that it is so
dangerous to keep some letters,—so wicked to burn others.

[Illustration]


9.

A Man thinks himself, and is thought by others to be insulted when
another man gives him the lie. It is an offence to be retracted at once,
or only to be effaced in blood. To give a woman the lie is not
considered in the same unpardonable light by herself or others,—is
indeed a slight thing. Now, whence this difference? Is not truth as
dear to a woman as to a man? Is the virtue itself, or the reputation of
it, less necessary to the woman than to the man? If not, what causes
this distinction,—one so injurious to the morals of both sexes?

[Illustration]


10.

It is good for us to look up, morally and mentally. If I were tired I
would get some help to hold my head up, as Moses got some one to hold up
his arms while he prayed.

“Ce qui est moins que moi m’éteint et m’assomme; ce qui est à côté de
moi m’ennuie et me fatigue. II n’y a que ce qui est au-dessus de moi qui
me soutienne et m’arrache à moi-même.”

[Illustration]


11.

There is an order of writers who, with characters perverted or hardened
through long practice of iniquity, yet possess an inherent divine sense
of the good and the beautiful, and a passion for setting it forth, so
that men’s hearts glow with the tenderness and the elevation which live
not in the heart of the writer,—only in his head.

And there is another class of writers who are excellent in the social
relations of life, and kindly and true in heart, yet who,
intellectually, have a perverted pleasure in the ridiculous and
distorted, the cunning, the crooked, the vicious,—who are never weary of
holding up before us finished representations of folly and rascality.

Now, which is the worst of these? the former, who do mischief by making
us mistrust the good? or the latter, who degrade us by making us
familiar with evil?

[Illustration]


12.

“Thought and theory,” said Wordsworth, “must precede all action that
moves to salutary purposes. Yet action is nobler in itself than either
thought or theory.”

Yes, and no. What we _act_ has its consequences on earth. What we
_think_, its consequences in heaven. It is not without reason that
action should be preferred before barren thought; but all action which
in its result is worth any thing, must result from thought. So the old
rhymester hath it:

  “He that good thinketh good may do,
   And God will help him there unto;
   For was never good work wrought,
   Without beginning of good thought.”

The result of impulse is the positive; the result of consideration the
negative. The positive is essentially and abstractedly better than the
negative, though relatively to facts and circumstances it may not be the
most expedient.

On my observing how often I had had reason to regret not having followed
the first impulse, O. G. said, “In _good_ minds the first impulses are
generally right and true, and, when altered or relinquished from regard
to expediency arising out of complicated relations, I always feel sorry,
for they remain right. Our first impulses always lean to the positive,
our second thoughts to the negative; and I have no respect for the
negative,—it is the vulgar side of every thing.”

On the other hand, it must be conceded, that one who stands endowed with
great power and with great responsibilities in the midst of a thousand
duties and interests, can no longer take things in this simple fashion;
for the good first impulse, in its flow, meets, perhaps, some rock, and
splits upon it; it recoils on the heart, and becomes abortive. Or the
impulse to do good _here_ becomes injury _there_, and we are forced to
calculate results; we cannot trust to them.

[Illustration]

I have not sought to deduce my principles from conventional notions of
expediency, but have believed that out of the steady adherence to
certain fixed principles, the right and the expedient _must_ ensue, and
I believe it still. The moment one begins to solder right and wrong
together, one’s conscience becomes like a piece of plated goods.

[Illustration]

It requires merely passive courage and strength to resist, and in some
cases to overcome evil. But it requires more—it needs bravery and
self-reliance and surpassing faith—to act out the true inspirations of
your intelligence and the true impulses of your heart.

[Illustration]

Out of the attempt to harmonise our actual life with our aspirations,
our experience with our faith, we make poetry,—or, it may be, religion.

[Illustration]

F—— used the phrase “_stung into heroism_” as Shelley said, “_cradled
into poetry_,” by wrong.

[Illustration]


13.

Coleridge calls the personal existence of the Evil Principle, “a mere
fiction, or, at best, an allegory supported by a few popular phrases and
figures of speech, used incidentally or dramatically by the
Evangelists.” And he says, that “the existence of a personal,
intelligent, Evil Being, the counterpart and antagonist of God, is in
direct contradiction to the most express declarations of Holy Writ.
‘_Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?_’—Amos,
iii. 6. ‘_I make peace and create evil._’—Isaiah, xlv. 7. This is the
deep mystery of the abyss of God.”

Do our theologians go with him here? I think not: yet, as a theologian,
Coleridge is constantly appealed to by Churchmen.

[Illustration]


14.

“We find (in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians), every where
instilled as the essence of all well-being and well-doing, (without
which the wisest public and political constitution is but a lifeless
formula, and the highest powers of individual endowment profitless or
pernicious,) the spirit of a divine sympathy with the happiness and
rights,—with the peculiarities, gifts, graces, and endowments of other
minds, which alone, whether in the family or in the Church, can impart
unity and effectual working together for good in the communities of
men.”


“The Christian religion was, in fact, a charter of freedom to the whole
human race.”—_Thom’s Discourses on St. Paul’s Epistle to the
Corinthians._

And this is the true Catholic spirit,—the spirit and the teaching of
Paul,—in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic spirit,—the spirit and
tendency of Peter, which stands upon forms, which has no respect for
individuality except in so far as it can imprison this individuality
within a creed, or use it to a purpose.

[Illustration]


15.

Dr. Baillie once said that “all his observation of death-beds inclined
him to believe that nature intended that we should go out of the world
as unconscious as we came into it.” “In all my experience,” he added, “I
have not seen one instance in fifty to the contrary.”

Yet even in such a large experience the occurrence of “one instance in
fifty to the contrary” would invalidate the assumption that such was the
law of nature (or “nature’s intention,” which, if it means any thing,
means the same).

The moment in which the spirit meets death is perhaps like the moment in
which it is embraced by sleep. It never, I suppose, happened to any one
to be conscious of the immediate transition from the waking to the
sleeping state.

[Illustration]


16.

_Thoughts on a Sermon._

He is really sublime, this man! with his faith in “the religion of
pain,” and “the deification of sorrow!” But is he therefore right? What
has he preached to us to-day with all the force of eloquence, all the
earnestness of conviction? that “pain is the life of God as shown forth
in Christ;”—“that we are to be crucified to the world and the world to
us.” This perpetual presence of a crucified God between us and a pitying
redeeming Christ, leads many a mourner to the belief that this world is
all a Golgotha of pain, and that we are here to crucify each other. Is
this the law under which we are to live and strive? The missionary
Bridaine accused himself of sin in that he had preached fasting,
penance, and the chastisements of God to wretches steeped in poverty and
dying of hunger; and is there not a similar cruelty and misuse of power
in the servants of Him who came to bind up the broken-hearted, when
they preach the necessity, or at least the theory, of moral pain to
those whose hearts are aching from moral evil?

Surely there is a great difference between the resignation or the
endurance of a truthful, faithful, loving, hopeful spirit, and this
dreadful theology of suffering as the necessary and appointed state of
things! I, for one, will not accept it. Even while most miserable, I
will believe in happiness; even while I do or suffer evil, I will
believe in goodness; even while my eyes see not through tears, I will
believe in the existence of what I do not see—that God is benign, that
nature is fair, that the world is not made as a prison or a penance.
While I stand lost in utter darkness, I will yet wait for the return of
the unfailing dawn,—even though my soul be amazed into such a blind
perplexity that I know not on which side to look for it, and ask “where
is the East? and whence the dayspring?” For the East holds its wonted
place, and the light is withheld only till its appointed time.

God so strengthen me that I may think of pain and sin only as accidental
apparent discords in his great harmonious scheme of good! Then I am
ready—I will take up the cross, and hear it bravely, while I _must_; but
I will lay it down when I can, and in any case I will never lay it on
another.

[Illustration]


17.

If I fear God it is because I love him, and believe in his love; I
cannot conceive myself as standing in fear of any spiritual or human
being in whose love I do not entirely believe. Of that Impersonation of
Evil, who goes about seeking whom he may devour, the image brings to me
no fear, only intense disgust and aversion. Yes, it is because of his
love for me that I fear to offend against God; it is because of his love
that his displeasure must be terrible. And with regard to human beings,
only the being I love has the power to give me pain or inspire me with
fear; only those in whose love I believe, have the power to injure me.
Take away my love, and you take away my fear: take away _their_ love,
and you take away the power to do me any harm which can reach me in the
sources of life and feeling.


18.

Social opinion is like a sharp knife. There are foolish people who
regard it only with terror, and dare not touch or meddle with it. There
are more foolish people, who, in rashness or defiance, seize it by the
blade, and get cut and mangled for their pains. And there are wise
people, who grasp it discreetly and boldly by the handle, and use it to
carve out their own purposes.

[Illustration]


19.

While we were discussing Balzac’s celebrity as a romance writer, she (O.
G.) said, with a shudder: “His laurels are steeped in the tears of
women,—every truth he tells has been wrung in tortures from some woman’s
heart.”

[Illustration]


20.

Sir Walter Scott, writing in 1831, seems to regard it as a terrible
misfortune that the whole burgher class in Scotland should be gradually
preparing for representative reform. “I mean,” he says, “the middle and
respectable classes: when a borough reform comes, which, perhaps, cannot
long be delayed, ministers will no longer return a member for Scotland
from the towns.” “The gentry,” he adds, “will abide longer by _sound_
principles, for they are needy, and desire advancement for themselves,
and appointments for their sons and so on. But this is a very hollow
dependence, and those who sincerely hold ancient opinions are waxing
old,” &c. &c.

With a great deal more, showing the strange moral confusion which his
political bias had caused in his otherwise clear head and honest mind.
The sound principles, then, by which educated people are to abide,—over
the decay of which he laments,—are such as can only be upheld by the
most vulgar self-interest! If a man should utter openly such sentiments
in these days, what should we think of him?

[Illustration]

In the order of absolutism lurk the elements of change and destruction.
In the unrest of freedom the spirit of change and progress.

[Illustration]


21.

“A single life,” said Bacon, “doth well with churchmen, for charity will
hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool.”

Certainly there are men whose charities are limited, if not dried up, by
their concentrated domestic anxieties and relations. But there are
others whose charities are more diffused, as well as healthier and
warmer, through the strength of their domestic affections.

Wordsworth speaks strongly of the evils of ordaining men as clergymen in
places where they had been born or brought up, or in the midst of their
own relatives: “Their habits, their manners, their talk, their
acquaintanceships, their friendships, and let me say, even their
domestic affections, naturally draw them one way, while their
professional obligations point out another.” If this were true
universally, or even generally, it would be a strong argument in favour
of the celibacy of the Roman Catholic clergy, which certainly is one
element, and not the least, of their power.

[Illustration]


22.

Landor says truly: “Love is a secondary passion in those who love most,
a primary in those who love least: he who is inspired by it in the
strongest degree is inspired by honour in a greater.”

“Whatever is worthy of being loved for any thing is worthy to be
preserved.”

Again:—“Those are the worst of suicides who voluntarily and prepensely
stab or suffocate their own fame, when God hath commanded them to stand
on high for an example.”

“Weak motives,” he says, “are sufficient for weak minds; whenever we see
a mind which we believed a stronger than our own moved habitually by
what appears inadequate, we may be certain that there is—to bring a
metaphor from the forest—_more top than root_.”

Here is another sentence from the same writer—rich in wise sayings:—

“Plato would make wives common to abolish selfishness; the very mischief
which, above all others, it would directly and immediately bring forth.
There is no selfishness where there is a wife and family. There the
house is lighted up by mutual charities; everything achieved for them is
a victory; everything endured a triumph. How many vices are suppressed
that there may be no _bad_ example! How many exertions made to recommend
and inculcate a _good_ one.”

True: and I have much more confidence in the charity which begins in the
home and diverges into a large humanity, than in the world-wide
philanthropy which begins at the outside of our horizon to converge into
egotism, of which I could show you many and notable examples.

[Illustration]

All my experience of the world teaches me that in ninety-nine cases out
of a hundred, the safe side and the just side of a question is the
generous side and the merciful side. This your mere worldly people do
not seem to know, and therein make the sorriest and the vulgarest of all
mistakes. “_Pour être assez bon il faut l’être trop_:” we all need more
mercy than we deserve.

How often in this world the actions that we condemn are the result of
sentiments that we love and opinions that we admire!

[Illustration]


23.

A.—— observed in reference to some of her friends who had gone over to
the Roman Catholic Church, “that the peace and comfort which they had
sought and found in that mode of faith was like the drugged sleep in
comparison with the natural sleep: necessary, healing perhaps, where
there is disease and unrest, not otherwise.”

[Illustration]


24.

“A poet,” says Coleridge, “ought not to pick nature’s pocket. Let him
borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing. Examine
nature accurately, but write from recollection, and trust more to your
imagination than your memory.”

This advice is even more applicable to the painter, but true perhaps in
its application to all artists. Raphael and Mozart were, in this sense,
great borrowers.

[Illustration]


25.

“What is the difference between being good and being bad? the good do
not yield to temptation and the bad do.”

This is often the distinction between the good and the bad in regard to
act and deed; but it does not constitute the difference between _being_
good and _being_ bad.

[Illustration]


26.

The Italians say (in one of their characteristic proverbs) _Sospetto
licenzia Fede_. Lord Bacon interprets the saying “as if suspicion did
give a passport to faith,” which is somewhat obscure and ambiguous. It
means, that suspicion discharges us from the duty of good faith; and in
this, its original sense, it is, like many of the old Italian proverbs,
worldly wise and profoundly immoral.

[Illustration]


27.

IT was well said by Themistocles to the King of Persia, that “speech was
like cloth of arras opened and put abroad, whereby the imagery doth
appear in figure, whereas in thoughts they lie but in packs” (_i. e._
rolled up or packed up). Dryden had evidently this passage in his mind
when he wrote those beautiful lines:

  “Speech is the light, the morning of the mind;
   It spreads the beauteous images abroad,
   Which else lie furled and shrouded in the soul.”

Here the comparison of Themistocles, happy in itself, is expanded into a
vivid poetical image.

[Illustration]


28.

“Those are the killing griefs that do not speak,” is true of some, not
all characters. There are natures in which the killing grief finds
utterance while it kills; moods in which we cry aloud, “as the beast
crieth, expansive not appealing.” That is my own nature: so in grief or
in joy, I say as the birds sing:

  “Und wenn der Mensch in seiner Qual verstummt,
   Gab mir ein Got zu sagen was ich leide!”

[Illustration]


29.

Blessed is the memory of those who have kept themselves unspotted _from_
the world!—yet more blessed and more dear the memory of those who have
kept themselves unspotted _in_ the world!

[Illustration]


30.

Everything that ever has been, from the beginning of the world till now,
belongs to us, is ours, is even a part of us. We belong to the future,
and shall be a part of it. Therefore the sympathies of _all_ are in the
past; only the poet and the prophet sympathise with the future.

When Tennyson makes Ulysses say, “I am a part of all that I have seen,”
it ought to be rather the converse,—“What I have seen becomes a part of
me.”

[Illustration]


31.

In what regards policy—government—the interest of the many is sacrificed
to the few; in what regards society, the morals and happiness of
individuals are sacrificed to the many.


32.

We spoke to-night of the cowardice, the crime of a particular suicide:
O. G. agreed as to this instance, but added: “There is a different
aspect under which suicide might be regarded. It is not always, I think,
from a want of religion, or in a spirit of defiance, or a want of
confidence in God that we quit life. It is as if we should flee to the
feet of the Almighty and embrace his knees, and exclaim, ‘O my father!
take me home! I have endured as long as it was possible; I can endure no
more, so I come to you!’”


Of an amiable man with a disagreeable expressionless face, she said:
“His countenance always gives me the idea of matter too strong, too hard
for the soul to pierce through. It is as a plaster mask which I long to
break (making the gesture with her hand), that I may see the countenance
of his heart, for that must be beautiful!”

[Illustration]


33.

Carlyle said to me: “I want to see some institution to teach a man the
truth, the worth, the beauty, the heroism of which his present existence
is capable; where’s the use of sending him to study what the Greeks and
Romans did, and said, and wrote? Do ye think the Greeks and Romans would
have been what they were, if they had just only studied what the
Phœnicians did before them?” I should have answered, had I dared: “Yet
perhaps the Greeks and Romans would not have been what they were if the
Egyptians and Phœnicians had not been before them.”

[Illustration]


34.

Can there be _progress_ which is not _progression_—which does not leave
a past from which to start—on which to rest our foot when we spring
forward? No wise man kicks the ladder from beneath him, or obliterates
the traces of the road through which he has travelled, or pulls down the
memorials he has built by the way side. We cannot _get on_ without
linking our present and our future with our past. All reaction is
destructive—all progress conservative. When we have destroyed that
which the past built up, what reward have we?—we are forced to fall
back, and have to begin anew. “Novelty,” as Lord Bacon says, “cannot be
content to add, but it must deface.” For this very reason novelty is not
progress, as the French would try to persuade themselves and us. We gain
nothing by defacing and trampling down the idols of the past to set up
new ones in their places—let it be sufficient to leave them behind us,
measuring our advance by keeping them in sight.

[Illustration]


35.

E—— was compassionating to-day the old and the invalided; those whose
life is prolonged in spite of suffering; and she seemed, even out of the
excess of her pity and sympathy, to wish them fairly out of the world;
but it is a mistake in reasoning and feeling. She does not know how much
of happiness may consist with suffering, with physical suffering, and
even with mental suffering.

[Illustration]


36.

“Renoncez dans votre âme, et renoncez y fermement, une fois pour toutes,
à vouloir vous connaître au-delà de cette existence passagère qui vous
est imposée, et vous redeviendrez agréable à Dieu, utile aux autres
hommes, tranquille avec vous-mêmes.”

This does not mean “renounce hope or faith in the future.” No! But
renounce that perpetual craving after a selfish interest in the
unrevealed future life which takes the true relish from the duties and
the pleasures of this. We can conceive of no future life which is not a
continuation of this: to anticipate in that _future_ life, _another_
life, a _different_ life; what is it but to call in doubt our individual
identity?

If we pray, “O teach us where and what is peace!” would not the answer
be, “In the grave ye shall have it—not before?” Yet is it not strange
that those who believe most absolutely in an after-life, yet think of
the grave as peace? Now, if we carry this life with us—and what other
life can we carry with us, unless we cease to be ourselves—how shall
there be peace?

[Illustration]

As to the future, my soul, like Cato’s, “shrinks back upon herself and
startles at destruction;” but I do not think of my own destruction,
rather of that which I love. That I should cease to be is not very
intolerable; but that what I love, and do now in my soul possess, should
cease to be—there is the pang, the terror! I desire that which I love to
be immortal, whether I be so myself or not.

[Illustration]

Is not the idea which most men entertain of another, of an eternal life,
merely a continuation of this present existence under pleasanter
conditions? We cannot conceive another state of existence,—we only fancy
we do so.

[Illustration]

“I conceive that in all probability we have immortality already. Most
men seem to divide life and immortality, making them two distinct
things, when, in fact, they are one and the same. What is immortality
but a continuation of life—life which is already our own? We have, then,
begun our immortality even now.”

For the same reason, or, rather, through the same want of reasoning by
which we make _life_ and _immortality_ two (distinct things), do we make
_time_ and _eternity_ two, which like the others are really one and the
same. As immortality is but the continuation of life, so eternity is but
the continuation of time; and what we call time is only that part of
eternity in which we exist _now_.—_The New Philosophy._

[Illustration]


37.

Strength does not consist only in the _more_ or the _less_. There are
different sorts of strength as well as different degrees:—The strength
of marble to resist; the strength of steel to oppose; the strength of
the fine gold, which you can twist round your finger, but which can bear
the force of innumerable pounds without breaking.

[Illustration]


38.

Goethe used to say, that while intellectual attainment is progressive,
it is difficult to be as good when we are old, as we were when young.
Dr. Johnson has expressed the same thing.

Then are we to assume, that to _do_ good effectively and wisely is the
privilege of age and experience? To _be_ good, through faith in
goodness, the privilege of the young.

To preserve our faith in goodness with an extended knowledge of evil, to
preserve the tenderness of our pity after long contemplation of pain,
and the warmth of our charity after long experience of falsehood, is to
be at once good and wise—to understand and to love each other as the
angels who look down upon us from heaven.

[Illustration]

We can sometimes love what we do not understand, but it is impossible
completely to understand what we do not love.


I observe, that in our relations with the people around us, we forgive
them more readily for what they _do_, which they _can_ help, than for
what they _are_, which they _cannot_ help.

[Illustration]


39.

“Whence springs the greatest degree of moral suffering?” was a question
debated this evening, but not settled. It was argued that it would
depend on the texture of character, its more or less conscientiousness,
susceptibility, or strength. I thought from two sentiments—from
_jealousy_, that is, the sense of a wrong endured, in one class of
characters; from _remorse_, that is, from the sense of a wrong
inflicted, in another.

[Illustration]


40.

The bread of life is love; the salt of life is work; the sweetness of
life, poesy; the water of life, faith.

[Illustration]


41.

I have seen triflers attempting to draw out a deep intellect; and they
reminded me of children throwing pebbles down the well at Carisbrook,
that they might hear them sound.

[Illustration]


42.

A bond is necessary to complete our being, only we must be careful that
the bond does not become bondage.

[Illustration]

“The secret of peace,” said A. B., “is the resolution of the lesser into
the greater;” meaning, perhaps, the due relative appreciation of our
duties, and the proper placing of our affections: or, did she not rather
mean, the resolving of the lesser duties and affections into the higher?
But it is true in either sense.

[Illustration]

The love we have for Genius is to common love what the fire on the altar
is to the fire on the hearth. We cherish it not for warmth or for
service, but for an offering, as the expression of our worship.

[Illustration]

All love not responded to and accepted is a species of idolatry. It is
like the worship of a dumb beautiful image we have ourselves set up and
deified, but cannot inspire with life, nor warm with sympathy.
No!—though we should consume our own hearts on the altar. Our love of
God would be idolatry if we did not believe in his love for us—his
responsive love.

[Illustration]

In the same moment that we begin to speculate on the possibility of
cessation or change in any strong affection that we feel, even from that
moment we may date its death: it has become the _fetch_ of the living
love.

[Illustration]

“Motives,” said Coleridge, “imply weakness, and the reasoning powers
imply the existence of evil and temptation. The angelic nature would act
from impulse alone.” This is the sort of angel which Angelico da Fiesole
conceived and represented, and _he_ only.

Again:—“If a man’s conduct can neither be ascribed to the angelic or the
bestial within him, it must be fiendish. Passion without appetite is
_fiendish_.”

And, he might have added, appetite without passion, _bestial_. Love in
which is neither appetite nor passion is _angelic_. The union of all is
human; and according as one or other predominates, does the human being
approximate to the fiend, the beast, or the angel.

[Illustration]


43.

I don’t mean to say that principle is not a finer thing than passion;
but passions existed before principles: they came into the world with
us; principles are superinduced.

There are bad principles as well as bad passions; and more bad
principles than bad passions. Good principles derive life, and strength,
and warmth from high and good passions; but principles do not give life,
they only bind up life into a consistent whole. One great fault in
education is, the pains taken to inculcate principles rather than to
train feelings. It is as if we took it for granted that passions could
_only_ be bad, and are to be ignored or repressed altogether,—the old
mischievous monkish doctrine.

[Illustration]


44.

It is easy to be humble where humility is a condescension—easy to
concede where we know ourselves wronged—easy to forgive where vengeance
is in our power.

[Illustration]

“You and I,” said H. G., yesterday, “are alike in this:—both of us so
abhor injustice, that we are ready to fight it with a broomstick if we
can find nothing better!”

[Illustration]


45.

“The wise only _possess_ ideas—the greater part of mankind are
_possessed by_ them. When once the mind, in despite of the remonstrating
conscience, has abandoned its free power to a haunting impulse or idea,
then whatever tends to give depth and vividness to this idea or
indefinite imagination, increases its despotism, and in the same
proportion renders the reason and free will ineffectual.” This paragraph
from Coleridge sounds like a _truism_ until we have felt its _truth_.


46.

“La Volonté, en se déréglant, devient passion; cette passion continuée
se change en habitude, et faute de résister à cette habitude elle se
transforme en besoin.”—_St. Augustin_. Which may be rendered—“out of the
unregulated will, springs _passion_, out of passion gratified, _habit_;
out of habits unresisted, _necessity_.” This, also, is one of the truths
which become, from the impossibility of disputing or refuting them,
_truisms_—and little regarded, till the truth makes itself felt.

[Illustration]


47.

I wish I could realise what you call my “_grand_ idea of being
independent of the absent.” I have not a friend worthy the name, whose
absence is not pain and dread to me;—death itself is terrible only as it
is absence. At some moments, if I could, I would cease to love those who
are absent from me, or to speak more correctly, those whose path in life
diverges from mine—whose dwelling house is far off;—with whom I am
united in the strongest bonds of sympathy while separated by duties and
interests by space and time. The presence of those whom we love is as a
double life; absence, in its anxious longing, and sense of vacancy, is
as a foretaste of death.

“La mort de nos amis ne compte pas du moment où ils meurent, mais de
celui où nous cessons de vivre avec eux;” or, it might rather be said,
_pour eux_; but I think this arises from a want either of _faith_ or
_faithfulness_.

“La peur des morts est une abominable faiblesse! c’est la plus commune
et la plus barbare des profanations; _les mères ne la connaissent
pas_!”—And why? Because the most _faithful_ love is the love of the
mother for her child.

[Illustration]


48.

At dinner to-day there was an attempt made by two very clever men to
place Theodore Hook above Sydney Smith. I fought with all my might
against both. It seems to me that a mind must be strangely warped that
could ever place on a par two men with aspirations and purposes so
different, whether we consider them merely as individuals, or called
before the bar of the public as writers. I do not take to Sydney Smith
personally, because my nature feels the want of the artistic and
imaginative in _his_ nature; but see what he has done for humanity, for
society, for liberty, for truth,—for us women! What has Theodore Hook
done that has not perished with him? Even as wits—and I have been in
company with both—I could not compare them; but they say the wit of
Theodore Hook was only fitted for the company of men—the strongest proof
that it was not genuine of its kind, that when most bearable, it was
most superficial. I set aside the other obvious inference, that it
required to be excited by stimulants and those of the coarsest, grossest
kind. The wit of Sydney Smith almost always involved a thought worth
remembering for its own sake, as well as worth remembering for its
brilliant vehicle: the value of ten thousand pounds sterling of sense
concentrated into a cut and polished diamond.

It is not true, as I have heard it said, that after leaving the society
of Sydney Smith you only remembered how much you had laughed, not the
good things at which you had laughed. Few men—wits by profession—ever
said so many memorable things as those recorded of Sydney Smith.

[Illustration]


49.

“When we would show any one that he is mistaken our best course is to
observe on what side he considers the subject,—for his view of it is
generally right on _this_ side,—and admit to him that he is right so
far. He will be satisfied with this acknowledgment, that he was not
wrong in his judgment, but only inadvertent in not looking at the whole
of the case.”—_Pascal._

[Illustration]


50.

“We should reflect,” says Jeremy Taylor, preaching against ambition,
“that whatever tempts the pride and vanity of ambitious persons is not
so big as the smallest star which we see scattered in disorder and
unregarded on the pavement of heaven.”

Very beautiful and poetical, but certainly no good argument against the
sin he denounces. The star is inaccessible, and what tempts our pride or
our ambition is only that which we consider with hope as _accessible_.
That we look up to the stars not desiring, not aspiring, but only
loving—therein lies our hearts’ truest, holiest, safest _devotion_ as
contrasted with _ambition_.

It is the “_desire_ of the moth for the star,” that leads to its burning
itself in the candle.

[Illustration]


51.

The brow stamped “with the hieroglyphics of an eternal sorrow,” is a
strong and beautiful expression of Bishop Taylor’s.

He says truly: “It is seldom that God sends such calamities upon men as
men bring upon themselves and suffer willingly.” And again: “What will
not tender women suffer to hide their shame!” What indeed! And again:
“Nothing is intolerable that is necessary.” And again: “Nothing is to be
esteemed evil which God and nature have fixed with eternal sanctions.”

There is not one of these ethical sentences which might not be treated
as a text and expounded, opening into as many “branches” of
consideration as ever did a Presbyterian sermon. Yet several involve a
fallacy, as it seems to me;—others a deeper, wider, and more awful
signification than Taylor himself seems to have contemplated when he
uttered them.

[Illustration]


52.

The same reasons which rendered Goethe’s “Werther” so popular, so
passionately admired at the time it appeared—just after the seven years’
war,—helped to render Lord Byron so popular in his time. It was not the
individuality of “Werther,” nor the individuality of “Childe Harold”
which produced the effect of making them, for a time, a pervading
power,—a _part_ of the life of their contemporaries. It was because in
both cases a chord was struck which was ready to vibrate. A phase of
feeling preexistent, palpitating at the heart of society, which had
never found expression in any poetic form since the days of Dante, was
made visible and audible as if by an electric force; words and forms
were given to a diffused sentiment of pain and resistance, caused by a
long period of war, of political and social commotion, and of unhealthy
moral excitement. “Werther” and “Childe Harold” will never perish;
because, though they have ceased to be the echo of a wide despair, there
will always be, unhappily, individual minds and hearts to respond to the
individuality.

[Illustration]

Lord Byron has sometimes, to use his own expression, “curdled” a whole
world of meaning into the compass of one line:—

   “The starry Galileo and his woes.”

   “The blind old man of Chio’s rocky isle.”

Here every word, almost every syllable, paints an idea. Such lines are
_picturesque_. And I remember another, from Thomson, I think:—

   “Placed far amid the melancholy main.”

In general, where words are used in description, the objects and ideas
flow with the words in succession. But in each of these lines the mind
takes in a wide horizon, comprising a multitude of objects at once, as
the eye takes in a picture, with scene, and action, and figures,
fore-ground and background, all at once. That is the reason I call such
lines _picturesque_.

[Illustration]


53.

I have a great admiration for power, a great terror of
weakness—especially in my own sex,—yet feel that my love is for those
who overcome the mental and moral suffering and temptation, through
excess of tenderness rather than through excess of strength; for those
whose refinement and softness of nature mingling with high intellectual
power and the capacity for strong passion, present to me a problem to
solve, which, when solved, I take to my heart. The question is not,
which of the two diversities of character be the highest and best, but
which is most sympathetic with my own.

[Illustration]


54.

C—— told me, that some time ago, when poor Bethune the Scotch poet first
became known, and was in great hardship, C—— himself had collected a
little sum (about 30_l._), and sent it to him through his publishers.
Bethune wrote back to refuse it absolutely, and to say that, while he
had head and hands, he would not accept _charity_. C—— wrote to him in
answer, still anonymously, arguing against the principle, as founded in
false pride, &c. Now poor Bethune is dead, and the money is found
untouched,—left with a friend to be returned to the donors!

This sort of disgust and terror, which all finely constituted minds feel
with regard to pecuniary obligation,—my own utter repugnance to it, even
from the hands of those I most love,—makes one sad to think of. It gives
one such a miserable impression of our social humanity!

Goethe makes the same remark in the “Wilhelm Meister:—“Es ist sonderbar
welch ein wunderliches Bedenken man sich macht, Geld von Freunden und
Gönnern anzunehmen, von denen man jede andere Gabe mit Dank und Freude
empfangen würde.”

[Illustration]


55.

“In the celestial hierarchy, according to Dionysius Areopageta, the
angels of Love hold the first place, the angels of Light the second, and
the Thrones and Dominations the third. Among terrestrials, the
Intellects, which act through the imagination upon the heart of man—_i.
e._ poets and artists—may be accounted first in order; the merely
scientific intellects the second; and the merely ruling intellects—those
which apply themselves to the government of mankind, without the aid of
either science or imagination—will not be disparaged if they are placed
last.”

All government, all exercise of power—no matter in what form—which is
not based in love and directed by knowledge, is a tyranny. It is not of
God, and shall not stand.

“A time will come when the operations of charity will no longer be
carried on by machinery, relentless, ponderous, indiscriminate, but by
human creatures, watchful, tearful, considerate, and wise.”—_Westminster
Review._

[Illustration]


56.

“Those writers who never go further into a subject than is compatible
with making what they say indisputably clear to man, woman, and child,
may be the lights of _this_ age, but they will not be the lights of
_another_.”


“It is not always necessary that truth should take a bodily form,—a
material palpable form. It is sometimes better that it should dwell
around us spiritually, creating harmony,—sounding through the air like
the solemn sweet tone of a bell.”

[Illustration]


57.

Women are inclined to fall in love with priests and physicians, because
of the help and comfort they derive from both in perilous moral and
physical maladies. They believe in the presence of real pity, real
sympathy, where the tone and look of each have become merely habitual
and conventional,—I may say professional. On the other hand, women are
inclined to fall in love with criminal and miserable men out of the pity
which in our sex is akin to love, and out of the power of bestowing
comfort or love. “Car les femmes out un instinct céleste pour le
malheur.” So, in the first instance, they love from gratitude or faith;
in the last, from compassion or hope.

[Illustration]


58.

“Men of all countries,” says Sir James Mackintosh, “appear to be more
alike in their best qualities than the pride of civilisation would be
willing to allow.”

And in their _worst_. The distinction between savage and civilised
humanity lies not in the _qualities_, but the _habits_.


59.

Coleridge notices “the increase in modern times of vicious associations
with things in themselves indifferent,” as a sign of unhealthiness in
taste, in feeling, in conscience.

The truth of this remark is particularly illustrated in the French
literature of the last century.

[Illustration]


60.

“And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the
understanding also after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation,
a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at
the moment unpaid loss and unpayable, but the sure years reveal the deep
remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend,
wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later
assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates a
revolution in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or youth
which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a
household, or a style of living, and allows the formation of new
influences that prove of the first importance during the next
years.”—_Emerson._

[Illustration]


61.

Religion, in its general sense, is properly the comprehension and
acknowledgment of an unseen spiritual power and the soul’s allegiance
to it; and CHRISTIANITY, in its particular sense, is the comprehension
and appreciation of the personal character of Christ, and the heart’s
allegiance to that.

[Illustration]


62.

Avarice is to the intellect what _sensuality_ is to the morals. It is an
intellectual form of sensuality, inasmuch as it is the passion for the
acquisition, the enjoyment in the possession, of a palpable, tangible,
selfish pleasure; and it would have the same tendency to unspiritualise,
to degrade, and to harden the higher faculties that a course of grosser
sensualism would have to corrupt the lower faculties. Both dull the edge
of all that is fine and tender within us.

[Illustration]


63.

A king or a prince becomes by accident a part of history. A poet or an
artist becomes by nature and necessity a part of universal humanity.

[Illustration]

As what we call Genius arises out of the disproportionate power and size
of a certain faculty, so the great difficulty lies in harmonising with
it the rest of the character.

“Though it burn our house down, who does not venerate fire?” says the
Hindoo proverb.

[Illustration]


64.

An elegant mind informing a graceful person is like a spirit lamp in an
alabaster vase, shedding round its own softened radiance and heightening
the beauty of its medium. An elegant mind in a plain ungraceful person
is like the same lamp enclosed in a vase of bronze; we may, if we
approach near enough, rejoice in its influence, though we may not behold
its radiance.

[Illustration]


65.

Landor, in a passage I was reading to-day, speaks of a language of
criticism, in which qualities should be graduated by colours; “as, for
instance, _purple_ might express grandeur and majesty of thought;
_scarlet_, vigour of expression; _pink_, liveliness; _green_, elegant
and equable composition, and so on.”

_Blue_, then, might express contemplative power? _yellow_, wit?
_violet_, tenderness? and so on.

[Illustration]


66.

I quoted to A. the saying of a sceptical philosopher: “The world is but
one enormous WILL, constantly rushing into life.”

“Is that,” she responded quickly, “another new name for God?”

[Illustration]


67.

A death-bed repentance has become proverbial for its fruitlessness, and
a death-bed forgiveness equally so. They who wait till their own
death-bed to make reparation, or till their adversary’s death-bed to
grant absolution, seem to me much upon a par in regard to the moral, as
well as the religious, failure.

[Illustration]


68.

A character endued with a large, vivacious, active intellect and a
limited range of sympathies, generally remains immature. We can grow
_wise_ only through the experience which reaches us through our
sympathies and becomes a part of our life. All other experience may be
gain, but it remains in a manner extraneous, adds to our possessions
without adding to our strength, and sharpens our implements without
increasing our capacity to use them.


Not always those who have the quickest, keenest, perception of character
are the best to deal with it, and perhaps for that very reason. Before
we can influence or deal with mind, contemplation must be lost in
sympathy, observation must be merged in love.

[Illustration]


69.

Montaigne, in his eloquent tirade against melancholy, observes that the
Italians have the same word, _Tristezza_, for melancholy and for
malignity or wickedness. The noun _Tristo_, “a wretch,” has the double
sense of our English word corresponding with the French noun
_misérable_. So Judas Iscariot is called _quel tristo_. Our word
“wretchedness” is not, however, used in the double sense of _tristezza_.

[Illustration]

“On ne considère pas assez les paroles comme des faits:” that was well
said!

Since for the purpose of circulation and intercommunication we are
obliged to coin truth into words, we should be careful not to adulterate
the coin, to keep it pure, and up to the original standard of
significance and value, that it may be reconvertible into the truth it
represents.

If I use a term in a sense wherein I know it is not understood by the
person I address, then I am guilty of using words (in so far as they
represent truth), if not to ensnare intentionally, yet to mislead
consciously; it is like adulterating coin.

[Illustration]

“Common people,” said Johnson, “do not accurately adapt their words to
their thoughts, nor their thoughts to the objects;”—that is to say, they
neither apprehend truly nor speak truly—and in this respect children,
half-educated women, and ill-educated men, are the “common people.”

It is one of the most serious mistakes in Education that we are not
sufficiently careful to habituate children to the accurate use of words.
Accuracy of language is one of the bulwarks of truth. If we looked into
the matter we should probably find that all the varieties and
modifications of conscious and unconscious lying—as exaggeration,
equivocation, evasion, misrepresentation—might be traced to the early
misuse of words; therefore the contemptuous, careless tone in which
people say sometimes “words—words—mere words!” is unthinking and unwise.
It tends to debase the value of that which is the only medium of the
inner life between man and man: “Nous ne sommes hommes, et nous ne
tenons les uns aux autres, que par la parole,” said Montaigne.

[Illustration]


70.

“We are happy, good, tranquil, in proportion as our inner life is
accessible to the external life, and in harmony with it. When we become
dead to the moving life of Nature around us, to the changes of day and
night (I do not speak here of the sympathetic influences of our
fellow-creatures), then we may call ourselves philosophical, but we are
surely either bad or mad.”

“Or perhaps only sad?”


There are moments in the life of every contemplative being, when the
healing power of Nature is felt—even as Wordsworth describes it—felt in
the blood, in every pulse along the veins. In such moments converse,
sympathy, the faces, the presence of the dearest, come so near to us,
they make us shrink; books, pictures, music, anything, any object which
has passed through the medium of mind, and has been in a manner
humanised, is felt as an intrusive reflection of the busy, weary,
thought-worn self within us. Only Nature, speaking through no
interpreter, gently steals us out of our humanity, giving us a foretaste
of that more diffused disembodied life which may hereafter be ours.
Beautiful and genial, and not wholly untrue, were the old superstitions
which placed a haunting divinity in every grove, and heard a living
voice responsive in every murmuring stream.


This present Sunday I set off with the others to walk to church, but it
was late; I could not keep up with the pedestrians, and, not to delay
them, turned back. I wandered down the hill path to the river brink, and
crossed the little bridge and strolled along, pensive yet with no
definite or continuous subject of thought. How beautiful it was—how
tranquil! not a cloud in the blue sky, not a breath of air! “And where
the dead leaf fell there did it rest;” but so still it was that scarce a
single leaf did flutter or fall, though the narrow pathway along the
water’s edge was already encumbered with heaps of decaying foliage.
Everywhere around, the autumnal tints prevailed, except in one sheltered
place under the towering cliff, where a single tree, a magnificent
lime, still flourished in summer luxuriance, with not a leaf turned or
shed. I stood still opposite, looking on it quietly for a long time. It
seemed to me a happy tree, so fresh and fair and grand, as if its
guardian Dryad would not suffer it to be defaced. Then I turned, for
close beside me sounded the soft, interrupted, half-suppressed warble of
a bird, sitting on a leafless spray, which seemed to bend with its tiny
weight. Some lines which I used to love in my childhood came into my
mind, blending softly with the presences around me.

  “The little bird now to salute the morn
   Upon the naked branches sets her foot,
   The leaves still lying at the mossy root,
   And there a silly chirruping doth keep,
   As if she fain would sing, yet fain would weep;
   Praising fair summer that too soon is gone,
   And sad for winter, too soon coming on!” _Drayton._

The river, where I stood, taking an abrupt turn, ran wimpling by; not as
I had seen it but a few days before,—rolling tumultuously, the dead
leaves whirling in its eddies, swollen and turbid with the mountain
torrents, making one think of the kelpies, the water wraiths, and such
uncanny things,—but gentle, transparent, and flashing in the low
sunlight; even the barberries, drooping with rich crimson clusters over
the little pools near the bank, and reflected in them as in a mirror, I
remember vividly as a part of the exquisite loveliness which seemed to
melt into my life. For such moments we are grateful: we feel then what
God _can_ do for us, and what man can not.—_Carolside, November 5th,
1843._

[Illustration]


71.

“In the early ages of faith, the spirit of Christianity glided into and
gave a new significance to the forms of heathenism. It was not the forms
of heathenism which encrusted and overlaid the spirit of Christianity,
for in that case the spirit would have burst through such extraneous
formulæ, and set them aside at once and for ever.”

[Illustration]


72.

Questions. In the execution of the penal statutes, can the individual
interest of the convict be reconciled with the interest of society? or
must the good of the convict and the good of society be considered as
inevitably and necessarily opposed?—the one sacrificed to the other, and
at the best only a compromise possible?

This is a question pending at present, and will require wise heads to
decide it? How would Christ have decided it? When He set the poor
accused woman free, was He considering the good of the culprit or the
good of society? and how far are we bound to follow His example? If He
consigned the wicked to weeping and gnashing of teeth, was it for
atonement or retribution, punishment or penance? and how far are we
bound to follow His example?

[Illustration]


73.

I marked the following passage in Montaigne as most curiously applicable
to the present times, in so far as our religious contests are concerned;
and I leave it in his quaint old French.

“C’est un effet de la Providence divine de permettre sa saincte Eglise
être agitée, comme nous la voyons, de tant de troubles et d’orages, pour
éveiller par ce contraste les âmes pies et les ravoir de l’oisiveté et
du sommeil ou les avail plongées une si longue tranquillité. Si nous
contrepèsons la perte que nous avons faite par le nombre de ceux qui se
sont dévoyés, au gain qui nous vient par nous être remis en haleine,
ressuscité notre zêle et nos forces à l’occasion de ce combat, je ne
sais si l’utilité ne surmonte point le dommage.”

[Illustration]


74.

“They (the friends of Cassius) were divided in opinion,—some holding
that servitude was the extreme of evils, and others that tyranny was
better than civil war.”

Unhappy that nation, wherever it may be, where the question is yet
pending between servitude and civil war! such a nation might be driven
to solve the problem after the manner of Cassius—with the dagger’s
point.

“Surely,” said Moore, “it is wrong for the lovers of liberty to identify
the principle of resistance to power with such an odious person as the
devil!”

[Illustration]


75.

“Where the question is of a great deal of good to ensue from a small
injustice, men must pursue the things which are just in present, and
leave the future to Divine Providence.”

This so simple rule of right is seldom attended to as a rule of life
till we are placed in some strait in which it is forced upon us.

[Illustration]


76.

A woman’s patriotism is more of a sentiment than a man’s,—more
passionate: it is only an extension of the domestic affections, and with
her _la patrie_ is only an enlargement of _home_. In the same manner, a
woman’s idea of fame is always a more extended sympathy, and is much
more of a presence than an anticipation. To her the voice of fame is
only the echo—fainter and more distant—of the voice of love.

[Illustration]


77.

“La doute s’introduit dans l’âme qui rêve, la foi descend dans l’âme qui
souffre.”

The reverse is equally true,—and judging from my own experience, I
should say oftener true.

[Illustration]


78.

“La curiosité est si voisine à la perfidie qu’elle peut enlaidir les
plus beaux visages.”

[Illustration]


79.

When I told Tieck of the death of Coleridge (I had just received the sad
but not unexpected news in a letter from England), he exclaimed with
emotion, “A great spirit has passed away from the earth, and has left no
adequate memorial of its greatness.” Speaking of him afterwards he said,
“Coleridge possessed the creative and inventive spirit of poetry, not
the productive; he _thought_ too much to produce,—the analytical power
interfered with the genius: Others with more active faculties seized and
worked out his magnificent hints and ideas. Walter Scott and Lord Byron
borrowed the first idea of the form and spirit of their narrative poems
from Coleridge’s ‘Christabelle.’” This judgment of one great poet and
critic passed on another seemed to me worth preserving.

[Illustration]


80.

Coleridge says, “In politics what begins in fear usually ends in folly.”

He might have gone farther, and added: In morals what begins in fear
usually ends in wickedness. In religion what begins in fear usually ends
in fanaticism. Fear, either as a principle or a motive, is the beginning
of all evil.

[Illustration]

In another place he says,—

“Talent lying in the understanding is often inherited; genius, being the
action of reason and imagination, rarely or never.”

There seems confusion here, for genius lies not in the amount of
intellect—it is a quality of the intellect apart from quantity. And the
distinction between talent and genius is definite. Talent combines and
uses; genius combines and creates.

[Illustration]

Of Sara Coleridge, Mr. Kenyon said very truly and beautifully, “that
like her father she had the controversial _intellect_ without the
controversial _spirit_.”

[Illustration]


81.

We all remember the famous _bon mot_ of Talleyrand. When seated between
Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier, and pouring forth gallantry, first
at the feet of one, then of the other, Madame de Staël suddenly asked
him if she and Madame Récamier fell into the river, which of the two he
would save first? “Madame,” replied Talleyrand, “je crois que vous savez
nager!” Now we will match this pretty _bon mot_ with one far prettier,
and founded on it. Prince S., whom I knew formerly, was one day
loitering on the banks of the Isar, in the English garden at Munich, by
the side of the beautiful Madame de V., then the object of his devoted
admiration. For a while he had been speaking to her of his mother, for
whom, _vaurien_ as he was, he had ever shown the strongest filial love
and respect. Afterwards, as they wandered on, he began to pour forth his
soul to the lady of his love with all the eloquence of passion. Suddenly
she turned and said to him, “If your mother and myself were both to fall
into this river, whom would you save first?” “My mother!” he instantly
replied; and then, looking at her expressively, immediately added, “To
save _you_ first would be as if I were to save _myself_ first!”

[Illustration]


82.

If we were not always bringing ourselves into comparison with others, we
should know them better.

[Illustration]

83.

There are ways of governing every mind which lies within the circle
described by our own; the only question is, whether the means required
be such as we _can_ use? and if so, whether we shall think it right to
do so?


You think I do not know you, or that I mistake you utterly, because I am
actuated by the impulses of my own nature, rather than by my perception
of the impulses of yours? It is not so.


If we would retain our own consistency, without which there is no moral
strength, we must stand firm upon our own moral life.

  “Be true unto thyself;
   And it shall follow as the night to day,
   Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

But to be true to others as well as ourselves, is not merely to allow to
them the same independence, but to sympathise with it. Unhappily here
lies the chief difficulty. There are brains so large that they
unconsciously swamp all individualities which come in contact or too
near, and brains so small that they cannot take in the conception of any
other individuality as a whole, only in part or parts. As in Religion,
where there is a strong, sincere, definite faith, there is generally
more or less intolerance; so in character, where there is strong
individuality, self-assurance, and defined principles of action, there
is usually something hard and intolerant of the individuality of others.
In some characters we meet with, toleration is a principle of the
reason, and intolerance a quality of the mind, and then the whole being
strikes a discord.

[Illustration]


84.

If we can still love those who have made us suffer, we love them all the
more. It is as if the principle, that conflict is a necessary law of
progress, were applicable even to love. For there is no love like that
which has roused up the intensest feelings of our nature,—revealed us to
ourselves, like lightning suddenly disclosing an abyss,—yet has survived
all the storm and tumult of such passionate discord and all the terror
of such a revelation.

[Illustration]


85.

F has much, much to learn! Through power, through passion, through
feeling we do much, but only through observation, reflection, and
sympathy we learn much; hence it is that minds highly gifted often
remain immature. Artist minds especially, so long as they live only or
chiefly for their art, their faculties bent on creating or representing,
remain immature on one side—the reasoning and reflecting side of the
character.

[Illustration]


86.

Said a Frenchman of his adversary, “Il se croit supérieur à moi de toute
la hauteur de sa bêtise!” There is a mingled felicity, politeness, and
acrimony, in this phrase quite untranslatable.


87.

It is a pity that we have no words to express the French distinction
between _rêver_ and _rêvasser_. The one implies meditation on a definite
subject: the other the abandonment of the mind to vague discussion,
aimless thoughts.

[Illustration]


88.

It seems to me that the conversation of the first converser in the world
would _tire_ me, _pall_ on me at last, where I am not sure of the
sincerity. Talk without truth is the hollow brass; talk without love is
like the tinkling cymbal, and where it does not tinkle it gingles, and
where it does not gingle, it jars.

[Illustration]


89.

There are few things more striking, more interesting to a thoughtful
mind, than to trace through all the poetry, literature, and art of the
Middle Ages that broad ever-present distinction between the practical
and the contemplative life. This was, no doubt, suggested and kept in
view by the one grand division of the whole social community into those
who were devoted to the religious profession (an immense proportion of
both sexes) and those who were not. All through Dante, all through the
productions of mediæval art, we find this pervading idea; and we must
understand it well and keep it in mind, or we shall never be able to
apprehend the entire beauty and meaning of certain religious groups in
sculpture and painting, and the significance of the characters
introduced. Thus, in subjects from the Old Testament, Leah always
represents the practical, Rachel, the contemplative life. In the New
Testament, Martha and Mary figure in the same allegorical sense; and
among the saints we always find St. Catharine and St. Clara patronising
the religious and contemplative life, while St. Barbara and St. Ursula
preside over the military or secular existence. It was a part, and a
very important part, of that beautiful and expressive symbolism through
which art in all its forms spoke to the popular mind.

For myself, I have the strongest admiration for the _practical_, but the
strongest sympathy with the _contemplative_ life. I bow to Leah and to
Martha, but my love is for Rachel and for Mary.

[Illustration]


90.

Bettina does not describe nature, she informs it, with her own life: she
seems to live in the elements, to exist in the fire, the air, the water,
like a sylph, a gnome, an elf; she does not contemplate nature, she _is_
nature; she is like the bird in the air, the fish in the sea, the
squirrel in the wood. It is one thing to describe nature, and quite
another unconsciously so to inform nature with a portion of our own
life.

[Illustration]


91.

Joanna Baillie had a great admiration of Macaulay’s Roman Ballads.
“But,” said some one, “do you really account them as poetry?” She
replied, “They _are_ poetry if the sounds of the trumpet be music!”

[Illustration]


92.

All my own experience of life teaches me the _contempt_ of cunning, not
the _fear_. The phrase “profound cunning” has always seemed to me a
contradiction in terms. I never knew a cunning mind which was not either
shallow, or on some point diseased. People dissemble sometimes who yet
hate dissembling, but a “cunning mind” emphatically delights in its own
cunning, and is the ready prey of cunning. That “pleasure in deceiving
and aptness to be deceived” usually go together, was one of the wise
sayings of the wisest of men.

[Illustration]


93.

It was a saying of Paracelsus, that “Those who would understand the
course of the heavens above must first of all recognise the heaven in
man:” meaning, I suppose, that all pursuit of knowledge which is not
accompanied by praise of God and love of our fellow-creatures must turn
to bitterness, emptiness, foolishness. We must imagine him to have come
to this conclusion only late in life.

Browning, in that wonderful poem of Paracelsus,—a poem in which there is
such a profound far-seeing philosophy, set forth with such a luxuriance
of illustration and imagery, and such a wealth of glorious eloquence,
that I know nothing to be compared with it since Goethe and
Wordsworth,—represents his aspiring philosopher as at first impelled
solely by the appetite to _know_. He asks nothing of men, he despises
them; but he will serve them, raise them, after a sort of God-like
fashion, independent of their sympathy, scorning their applause, using
them like instruments, cheating them like children,—all for their good;
but it will not do. In Aprile, “who would love infinitely, and be
beloved,” is figured the type of the poet-nature, desiring only beauty,
resolving all into beauty; while in Paracelsus we have the type of the
reflecting, the inquiring mind desiring only knowledge, resolving all
into knowledge, asking nothing more to crown his being. And both find
out their mistake; both come to feel that love without knowledge is
blind and weak, and knowledge without love barren and vain.


  “I too have sought to KNOW as thou to LOVE,
   Excluding love as thou refused’st knowledge;
   Still thou hast beauty and I power. We wake!

          *       *       *       *       *

   Are we not halves of one dissever’d world,
   Whom this strange chance unites once more? Part?—Never!
   Till thou, the lover, know, and I, the knower,
   Love—until both are saved!”


After all, perhaps, only the same old world-renowned myth in another
form—the marriage of Cupid and Psyche; Love and Intelligence long
parted, long suffering, again embracing, and lighted on by Beauty to an
immortal union. But to return to our poet. Aprile, exhausted by his own
aimless, dazzling visions, expires on the bosom of him who knows; and
Paracelsus, who began with a selfsufficing scorn of his kind, dies a
baffled and degraded man in the arms of him who loves;—yet wiser in his
fall than through his aspirations, he dies trusting in the progress of
humanity so long as humanity is content to be _human_; to _love_ as well
as to _know_;—to fear, to hope, to worship, as well as to aspire.

[Illustration]


94.

Lord Bacon says: “I like a plantation (in the sense of colony) in a
_pure_ soil; that is, where people are not displanted to the end to
plant in others: for else it is rather an extirpation than a
plantation.” (Bacon, who wrote this, counselled to James I. the
plantation of Ulster exactly on the principle he has here deprecated.)

He adds, “It is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of
people, and wicked condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant”
(_i. e._ colonise). And it is only now that our politicians are
beginning to discover and act upon this great moral truth and obvious
fitness of things!—like Bacon, adopting practically, and from mere
motives of expediency, a principle they would theoretically abjure!

[Illustration]


95.

Because in real life we cannot, or do not, reconcile the high theory
with the low practice, we use our wit to render the theory ridiculous,
and our reason to reconcile us to the practice. We ought to do just the
reverse.

[Illustration]

Many would say, if they spoke the truth, that it had cost them a
life-long effort to unlearn what they had been taught.

For as the eye becomes blinded by fashion to positive deformity, so
through social conventionalism the conscience becomes blinded to
positive immorality.

It is fatal in any mind to make the moral standard for men high and the
moral standard for women low, or _vice versâ_. This has appeared to me
the very commonest of all mistakes in men and women who have lived much
in the world, but _fatal_ nevertheless, and in three ways; first, as
distorting the moral ideal, so far as it exists in the conscience;
secondly, as perplexing the bounds, practically, of right and wrong;
thirdly, as being at variance with the spirit and principles of
Christianity. Admit these premises, and it follows inevitably that such
a mistake is _fatal_ in the last degree, as disturbing the consistency
and the elevation of the character, morally, practically, religiously.


Akin to this mistake, or identical with it, is the belief that there are
essential masculine and feminine virtues and vices. It is not, in fact,
the quality itself, but the modification of the quality, which is
masculine or feminine: and on the manner or degree in which these are
balanced and combined in the individual, depends the perfection of that
individual character—its approximation to that of Christ. I firmly
believe that as the influences of religion are extended, and as
civilisation advances, those qualities which are now admired as
essentially _feminine_ will be considered as essentially _human_, such
as gentleness, purity, the more unselfish and spiritual sense of duty,
and the dominance of the affections over the passions. This is, perhaps,
what Buffon, speaking as a naturalist, meant, when he said that with
the progress of humanity, “_Les races se féminisent_;” at least I
understand the phrase in this sense.


A man who requires from his own sex manly direct truth, and laughs at
the cowardly subterfuges and small arts of women as being _feminine_;—a
woman who requires from her own sex tenderness and purity, and thinks
ruffianism and sensuality pardonable in a man as being
_masculine_,—these have repudiated the Christian standard of morals
which Christ, in his own person, bequeathed to us—that standard which we
have accepted as Christians—theoretically at least—and which makes no
distinction between “the highest, holiest manhood,” and the highest,
holiest womanhood.

I might illustrate this position not only scripturally but
philosophically, by quoting the axiom of the Greek philosopher
Antisthenes, the disciple of Socrates,—“The virtue of the man and the
woman is the same;” which shows a perception of the moral truth, a sort
of anticipation of the Christian doctrine, even in the pagan times. But
I prefer an illustration which is at once practical and poetical, and
plain to the most prejudiced among men or women.

Every reader of Wordsworth will recollect, if he does not know by heart,
the poem entitled “The Happy Warrior.” It has been quoted often as an
epitome of every manly, soldierly, and elevated quality. I have heard it
applied to the Duke of Wellington. Those who make the experiment of
merely substituting the word _woman_ for the word _warrior_, and
changing the feminine for the masculine pronoun, will find that it reads
equally well; that almost from beginning to end it is literally as
applicable to the one sex as to the other. As thus:—


CHARACTER OF THE HAPPY WOMAN.

   Who is the happy _woman_? Who is _she_
   That every _woman_ born should wish to be?
   It is the generous spirit, who, when brought
   Among the tasks of real life, had wrought
   Upon the plan that pleased _her_ childish thought;
   Whose high endeavours are an inward light,
   That make the path before _her_ always bright:
   Who, with a natural instinct to discern
   What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
   Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
   But makes _her_ moral being _her_ prime care;
   Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
   And Fear, and Sorrow, miserable train!
   Turns _that_ necessity to glorious gain;
   In face of these doth exercise a power
   Which is our human nature’s highest dower:
   Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
   Of their bad influence, and their good receives;
   By objects, which might force the soul to abate
   _Her_ feeling, rendered more compassionate;
   Is placable—because occasions rise
   So often that demand such sacrifice;
   More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure
   As tempted more; more able to endure,
   As more exposed to suffering and distress;
   Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
   ’Tis _she_ whose law is reason; who depends
   Upon that law as on the best of friends;
   Whence in a state where men are tempted still
   To evil for a guard against worse ill,
   And what in quality or act is best,
   Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
   _She_ fixes good on good alone, and owes
   To virtue every triumph that _she_ knows.
   Who, if _she_ rise to station of command,
   Rises by open means; and there will stand
   On honourable terms, or else retire.

       *       *       *       *       *

   Who comprehends _her_ trust, and to the same
   Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
   And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
   For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
   Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall
   Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
   Whose powers shed round _her_ in the common strife
   Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
   A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
   But who, if _she_ be called upon to face
   Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
   Great issue, good or bad for human kind,
   Is happy as a lover; and attired
   With sudden brightness, like to one inspired;
   And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
   In calmness made, and sees what _she_ foresaw;
   Or if an unexpected call succeed,
   Come when it will, is equal to the need!


In all these fifty-six lines there is only one line which cannot be
feminised in its significance,—that which I have filled up with
asterisks, and which is totally at variance with our ideal of A HAPPY
WOMAN. It is the line—

   “And in himself possess his own desire.”

No woman could exist happily or virtuously in such complete independence
of all external affections as these words express. “Her desire is to her
husband,”—this is the sort of subjection prophesied for the daughters of
Eve. A woman doomed to exist without this earthly rest for her
affections, does not “in herself possess her own desire;” she turns
towards God; and if she does not make her life a life of worship, she
makes it a life of charity, (which in itself is worship,) or she dies a
spiritual and a moral death. Is it much better with the man who
concentrates his aspirations in himself? I should think not.

[Illustration]

Swift, as a man and a writer, is one of those who had least sympathy
with women; and I have sometimes thought that the exaggeration, even to
morbidity, of the coarse and the cruel in his character, arose from this
want of sympathy; but his strong sense showed him the one great moral
truth as regards the two sexes, and gave him the courage to avow it.

He says, “I am ignorant of any one quality that is amiable in a woman
which is not equally so in a man. I do not except even modesty and
gentleness of nature; nor do I know one vice or folly which is not
equally detestable in both.” Then, remarking that cowardice is an
_infirmity_ generally allowed to women, he wonders that they should
fancy it becoming or graceful, or think it worth improving by
affectation, particularly as it is generally allied to cruelty.


Here is a passage from one of Humboldt’s letters, which I have seen
quoted with sympathy and admiration, as applied to the manly character
only:—

“Masculine independence of mind I hold to be in reality the first
requisite for the formation of a character of real manly worth. The man
who suffers himself to be deceived and carried away by his own weakness,
may be a very amiable person in other respects, but cannot be called a
good man; such beings should not find favour in the eyes of a woman, for
a truly beautiful and purely feminine nature should be attracted only by
what is highest and noblest in the character of man.”


Now we will take this bit of moral philosophy, and, without the
slightest alteration of the context, apply it to the female character.

“Feminine independence of mind I hold to be in reality the first
requisite for the formation of a character of real feminine worth. The
woman who allows herself to be deceived and carried away by her own
weakness may be a very amiable person in other respects, but cannot be
called a good woman; such beings should not find favour in the eyes of a
man, for the truly beautiful and purely manly nature should be attracted
only by what is highest and noblest in the character of woman.”


After reading the above extracts, does it not seem clear, that by the
exclusive or emphatic use of certain phrases and epithets, as more
applicable to one sex than to the other, we have introduced a most
un-christian confusion into the conscience, and have prejudiced it early
against the acceptance of the larger truth?

It might seem, that where we reject the distinction between masculine
and feminine virtues, one and the same type of perfection should suffice
for the two sexes; yet it is clear that the moment we come to consider
the personality, the same type will not suffice: and it is worth
consideration that when we place before us the highest type of manhood,
as exemplified in Christ, we do not imagine him as the father, but as
the son; and if we think of the most perfect type of womanhood, we never
can exclude the mother.


Montaigne deals with the whole question in his own homely
straightforward fashion:—

“Je dis que les mâles et les fémelles sont jettés en même moule; sauf
l’institution et l’usage la différence n’y est pas grande. Platon
appelle indifféremment les uns et les autres à la société de touts
études, exercises, charges, et vocations guerrières et paisibles en sa
république, et le philosophe Antisthènes ôtait toute distinction entre
leur vertu et la nôtre. Il est bien plus aisé d’accuser un sexe que
d’excuser l’autre: c’est ce qu’on dit, ‘le fourgon se moque de la
poële.’”

Not that I agree with Plato,—rather would leave all the fighting,
military and political, if there must be fighting, to the men.

[Illustration]

Among the absurdities talked about women, one hears, perhaps, such an
aphorism as the following quoted with a sort of ludicrous
complacency,—“The woman’s strength consists in her weakness!” as if it
were not the weakness of a woman which makes her in her violence at once
so aggravating and so contemptible, in her dissimulation at once so
shallow and so dangerous, and in her vengeance at once so cowardly and
so cruel.

[Illustration]

I should not say, from my experience of my own sex, that a woman’s
nature is flexible and impressible, though her feelings are. I know
very few instances of a very inferior man ruling the mind of a superior
woman, whereas I know twenty—fifty—of a very inferior woman ruling a
superior man. If he love her, the chances are that she will in the end
weaken and demoralise him. If a superior woman marry a vulgar or
inferior man he makes her miserable, but he seldom governs her mind, or
vulgarises her nature, and if there be love on his side the chances are
that in the end she will elevate and refine him.

The most dangerous man to a woman is a man of high intellectual
endowments morally perverted; for in a woman’s nature there is such a
necessity to approve where she admires, and to believe where she
loves,—a devotion compounded of love and faith is so much a part of her
being,—that while the instincts remain true and the feelings
uncorrupted, the conscience and the will may both be led far astray.
Thus fell “our general mother,”—type of her sex,—overpowered, rather
than deceived, by the colossal intellect,—half serpent, half angelic.

[Illustration]

Coleridge speaks, and with a just indignant scorn, of those who consider
chastity as if it were a _thing_—a thing which might be lost or kept by
external accident—a thing of which one might be robbed, instead of a
state of being. According to law and custom, the chastity of Woman is as
the property of Man, to whom she is accountable for it, rather than to
God and her own conscience. Whatever people may say, such is the common,
the social, the legal view of the case. It is a remnant of Oriental
barbarism. It tends to much vice, or, at the best, to a low standard of
morality, in both sexes. This idea of property in the woman survives
still in our present social state, particularly among the lower orders,
and is one cause of the ill treatment of wives. All those who are
particularly acquainted with the manners and condition of the people
will testify to this; namely, that when a child or any weaker individual
is ill treated, those standing by will interfere and protect the victim;
but if the sufferer be _the wife_ of the oppressor, it is a point of
etiquette to look on, to take no part in the fray, and to leave the
brute man to do what he likes “with his own.” Even the victim herself,
if she be not pummelled to death, frequently deprecates such an
interference with the dignity and the rights of her owner. Like the poor
woman in the “Médecin malgré lui:”—“Voyez un peu cet impertinent qui
vent empêcher les maris de battre leurs femmes!—et si je veux qu’il me
batte, moi?”—and so ends by giving her defender a box on the ear.

[Illustration]

“Au milieu de tous les obstacles que la nature et la société out semés
sur les pas de la femme, la seule condition de repos pour elle est de
s’entourer de barrières que les passions ne puissent franchir; incapable
de s’approprier l’existence, elle est toujours semblable a la Chinoise
dont les pieds ont été mutilés et pour laquelle toute liberté est un
leurre, toute espace ouverte une cause de chute. En attendant que
l’éducation ait donné aux femmes leur véritable place, malheur à celles
qui brisent les lisses accoutumées! pour elles l’indépendance ne sera,
comme la gloire, qu’un deuil éclatant du bonheur!”—_B. Constant._

This also is one of those common-places of well-sounding eloquence, in
which a fallacy is so wrapt up in words we have to dig it out. If this
be true, it is true only so long as you compress the feet and compress
the intellect,—no longer.

Here is another:—

“L’expérience lui avait appris que quel que fut leur âge, ou leur
caractère, toutes les femmes vivaient avec le même rêve, et qu’elles
avaient toutes au fond du cœur un roman commencé dont elles attendaient
jusqu’à la mort le héros, comme les juifs attendent le Messie.”

This “roman commencé,” (et qui ne finit jamais), is true as regards
women who are idle, and who have not replaced dreams by duties. And what
are the “barrières” which passion cannot overleap, from the moment it
has subjugated the will? How fine, how true that scene in Calderon’s
“Magico Prodigioso,” where Justina conquers the fiend only by not
_consenting_ to ill!

                       ——“This agony
   Of passion which afflicts my heart and soul
   May sweep imagination in its storm;
   The will is firm.”

And the baffled demon shrinks back,—

  “Woman, thou hast subdued me
   Only by not owning thyself subdued!”

[Illustration]

A friend of mine was once using some mincing elegancies of language to
describe a high degree of moral turpitude, when a man near her
interposed, with stern sarcasm, “Speak out! Give things their proper
names! _Half words are the perdition of women!_”

[Illustration]

“I observe,” said Sydney Smith, “that _generally_ about the age of
forty, women get tired of being virtuous and men of being honest.” This
was said and received with a laugh as one of his good things; but, like
many of his good things, how dreadfully true! And why? because,
_generally_, education has made the virtue of the woman and the honesty
of the man a matter of external opinion, not a law of the inward life.

[Illustration]

Dante, in his lowest hell, has placed those who have betrayed women; and
in the lowest deep of the lowest deep those who have betrayed trust.

[Illustration]

Inveterate sensuality, which has the effect of utterly stupifying and
brutifying lower minds, gives to natures more sensitively or more
powerfully organised a horrible dash of ferocity. For there is an awful
relation between animal blood-thirstiness and the proneness to
sensuality, and in some sensualists a sort of feline propensity to
torment and lacerate the prey they have not the appetite to devour.

[Illustration]

“La Chevalerie faisait une tentative qui n’a jamais réussi, quoique
souvent essayée; la tentative de se servir des passions humaines, et
particulièrement de l’amour pour conduire l’homme à la vertu. Dans cette
route l’homme s’arrête toujours en chemin. L’amour inspire beaucoup de
bons sentiments—le courage, le dévouement, le sacrifice des biens et de
la vie; mais il ne se sacrifie pas lui-même, et c’est là que la
faiblesse humaine reprend ses droits.”—_St. Marc-Girardin._


I am not sure that this well-sounding remark is true—or, if true, it is
true of the mere passion, not of love in its highest phase, which is
self-sacrificing, which has its essence in the capability of
self-sacrifice.

                                “Love was given,
     Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for this end;
   For this the passion to excess was driven,
     That _self_ might be annull’d.”

[Illustration]

In every mind where there is a strong tendency to fear, there is a
strong capacity to hate. Those who dwell in fear dwell next door to
hate; and I think it is the cowardice of women which makes them such
intense haters.

[Illustration]

Our present social opinion says to the man, “You may be a vulgar brutal
sensualist, and use the basest means to attain the basest ends; but so
long as you do not offend against conventional good manners you shall be
held blameless.” And to the woman it says, “You shall be guilty of
nothing but of yielding to the softest impulses of tenderness, of
relenting pity; but if you cannot add hypocrisy you shall be punished as
the most desperate criminal.”

[Illustration]


96.

“It is worthy of notice that the external expressions appropriated to
certain feelings undergo change at different periods of life and in
different constitutions. The child cries and sobs from fear or pain, the
adult more generally from sudden grief or warm affection, or sympathy
with the feeling of others.”—_Dr. Holland._

Those who have been accustomed to observe the ways of children will
doubt the accuracy of this remark, though from the high authority of
one of the most accomplished physiologists of our time. Children cry
from grief, and from sympathy with grief, at a very early age. I have
seen an infant in its mother’s arms, before it could speak, begin to
whimper and cry when it looked up in her face, which was disturbed and
bathed with tears; and that has always appeared to me an exquisite touch
of most truthful nature in Wordsworth’s description of the desolation of
Margaret:—

                        “Her little child
   Had from its mother caught the trick of grief,
   And sighed amid its playthings.”

[Illustration]


97.

“LETTERS,” said Sir James Mackintosh, “must not be on a subject. Lady
Mary Wortley’s letters on her journey to Constantinople are an admirable
book of travels, but they are not letters. A meeting to discuss a
question of science is not conversation, nor are papers written to
another to inform or discuss, letters. Conversation is relaxation, not
business, and must never appear to be occupation;—nor must letters.”

“A masculine character may be a defect in a female, but a masculine
genius is still a praise to a writer of whatever sex. The feminine
graces of Madame de Sevigné’s genius are exquisitely charming, but the
philosophy and eloquence of Madame de Staël are above the distinctions
of sex.”

[Illustration]


98.

OF the wars between Napoleon and the Holy Alliance, Madame de Staël once
said with most admirable and prophetic sense:—“It is a contest between a
_man_ who is the enemy of liberty, and a _system_ which is equally its
enemy.” But it is easier to get rid of a man than of a system: witness
the Russians, who assassinate their czars one after another, but cannot
get rid of their _system_.

[Illustration]


99.

The Empress Elizabeth of Russia during the war with Sweden commanded the
old Hetman of the Cossacks to come to court on his way to Finland. “If
the Emperor, your father,” said the Hetman, “had taken my advice, your
Majesty would not now have been annoyed by the Swedes.” “What was your
advice?” asked the Empress. “To put all the nobility to death, and
transplant the people into Russia.” “But that,” said the Empress, “would
have been cruel!” “I do not see that,” he replied quietly; “they are all
dead now, and they would only have been dead if my advice had been
taken.”

Something strangely comprehensive and unanswerable in this barbarian
logic!

[Illustration]


100.

IT was the Abbé Boileau who said of the Jesuits, that they had
lengthened the Creed and shortened the Decalogue. The same witty
ecclesiastic being asked why he always wrote in Latin, took a pinch of
snuff, and answered gravely, “Why, for fear the bishops should read
me!”

101.

When Talleyrand once visited a certain reprobate friend of his, who was
ill of cholera, the patient exclaimed in his agony, “Je sens les
tourmens de l’enfer!”

“Déjà?” said Talleyrand.

Much in a word! I remember seeing a pretty French vaudeville wherein a
lady is by some accident or contrivance shut up perforce with a lover
she has rejected. She frets at the _contretemps_. He makes use of the
occasion to plead his cause. The cruel fair one will not relent. Still
he pleads—still she turns away. At length they are interrupted.

“Déjà!” exclaims the lady, in an accent we may suppose to be very
different from that of Talleyrand; and on the intonation of this one
word, pronounced as only an accomplished French actress could pronounce
it, depends the _dénouement_ of the piece.

[Illustration]


102.

Louis XVI. sent a distinguished physician over to England to inquire
into the management of our hospitals. He praised them much, but added,
“Il y manque deux choses; nos curés et nos hospitalières;” that is, he
felt the want of the religious element in the official and medical
treatment of the sick. A want which, I think, is felt at present and
will be supplied.

[Illustration]


103.

Those who have the largest horizon of thought, the most extended vision
in regard to the relation of things, are not remarkable for
self-reliance and ready judgment. A man who sees limitedly and clearly,
is more sure of himself, and more direct in his dealings with
circumstances and with others, than a man whose many-sided capacity
embraces an immense extent of objects and _objections_,—just as, they
say, a horse with blinkers more surely chooses his path, and is less
likely to shy.

[Illustration]


104.

What we truly and earnestly aspire _to be_, that in some sense we _are_.
The mere aspiration, by changing the frame of the mind, for the moment
realises itself.

[Illustration]


105.

There are no such self-deceivers as those who think they reason when
they only feel.

[Illustration]


106.

There are moments when the liberty of the inner life, opposed to the
trammels of the outer, becomes too oppressive: moments when we wish that
our mental horizon were less extended, thought less free; when we long
to put the discursive soul into a narrow path like a railway, and force
it to run on in a straight line to some determined goal.

[Illustration]


107.

If the deepest and best affections which God has given us sometimes
brood over the heart like doves of peace,—they sometimes suck out our
life-blood like vampires.

[Illustration]


108.

To a Frenchman the words that express things seem often to suffice for
the things themselves, and he pronounces the words _amour_, _grâce_,
_sensibilité_, as if with a relish in his mouth—as if he tasted them—as
if he possessed them.

[Illustration]


109.

There are many good qualities, and valuable ones too, which hardly
deserve the name of virtues. The word Virtue was synonymous in the old
time with valour, and seems to imply contest; not merely passive
goodness, but active resistance to evil. I wonder sometimes why it is
that we so continually hear the phrase, “a virtuous woman,” and scarcely
ever that of a “virtuous man,” except in poetry or from the pulpit.

[Illustration]

110.

A Lie, though it be killed and dead, can sting sometimes,—like a dead
wasp.


111.

“On me dit toute la journée dans le monde, telle opinion, telle idée,
sont _reçues_. On ne sait donc pas qu’en fait d’opinion, et d’idées
j’aime beaucoup mieux les choses qui sont rejettées que celles qui sont
reçues?”

[Illustration]


112.

“Sense can support herself handsomely in most countries on some
eighteenpence a day, but for phantasy, planets and solar systems will
not suffice.” And _thence_ do you infer the superiority of sense over
phantasy? Shallow reasoning! God who made the soul of man of sufficient
capacity to embrace whole worlds and systems of worlds, gave us thereby
a foretaste of our immortality.

[Illustration]


113.

“Faith in the _hereafter_ is as necessary for the intellectual as the
moral character, and to the man of letters as well as to the Christian,
the present forms but the slightest portion of his
existence.”—_Southey._

Goethe did not think so. “Genutzt dem Augenblick,” “_Use_ the present,”
was _his_ favourite maxim; and always this notion of sacrificing or
slighting the present seems to me a great mistake. It ought to be the
most important part of our existence, as it is the only part of it over
which we have power. It is in the present only that we absolve the past
and lay the foundation for the future.

[Illustration]


114.

“Je allseitigen, je individueller,” is a beautiful significant phrase,
quite untranslateable, used, I think, by Rahel (Madame Varnhagen). It
means that the more the mind can multiply on every side its capacities
of thinking and feeling, the more individual, the more original, that
mind becomes.

[Illustration]


115.

“I wonder,” said C., “that facts should be called _stubborn_ things.” I
wonder, too, seeing you can always oppose a fact with another fact, and
that nothing is so easy as to twist, pervert, and argue or misrepresent
a fact into twenty different forms. “Il n’y a rien qui s’arrange aussi
facilement que les faits,”—Nothing so _tractable_ as facts,—said
Benjamin Constant. True; so long as facts are only material,—or as one
should say, mere matter of fact,—you can modify them to a purpose, turn
them upside down and inside out; but once vivify a fact with a feeling,
and it stands up before us a living and a very stubborn thing.

[Illustration]


116.

Every human being is born to influence some other human being; or many,
or all human beings, in proportion to the extent and power of the
sympathies, rather than of the intellect.

It was said, and very beautifully said, that “one man’s wit becomes all
men’s wisdom.” Even more true is it that one man’s virtue becomes a
standard which raises our anticipation of possible goodness in all men.


117.

It is curious that the memory, most retentive of images, should yet be
much more retentive of feelings than of facts: for instance, we remember
with such intense vividness a period of suffering, that it seems even to
renew itself through the medium of thought; yet, at the same time, we
perhaps find difficulty in recalling, with any distinctness, the causes
of that pain.

[Illustration]


118.

“Truth has never manifested itself to me in such a broad stream of light
as seems to be poured upon some minds. Truth has appeared to my mental
eye, like a vivid, yet small and trembling star in a storm, now
appearing for a moment with a beauty that enraptured, now lost in such
clouds, as, had I less faith, might make me suspect that the previous
clear sight had been a delusion.”—_Blanco White._

Very exquisite in the aptness as well as poetry of the comparison! Some
walk by daylight, some walk by starlight. Those who see the sun do not
see the stars; those who see the stars do not see the sun.

He says in another place:—

“I am averse to too much activity of the imagination on the future life.
I hope to die full of confidence that no evil awaits me: but any picture
of a future life distresses me. I feel as if an eternity of existence
were already an insupportable burden on my soul.”

How characteristic of that lassitude of the soul and sickness of the
heart which “asks not happiness, but longs for rest!”

[Illustration]


119.

“Those are the worst of suicides who voluntarily and prepensely stab or
suffocate their fame when God hath commanded them to stand on high for
an example.”

[Illustration]


120.

Carlyle thus apostrophised a celebrated orator, who abused his gift of
eloquence to insincere purposes of vanity, self-interest, and
expediency:—“You blasphemous scoundrel! God gave you that gifted tongue
of yours, and set it between your teeth, to make known your true meaning
to us, not to be rattled like a muffin-man’s bell!”

[Illustration]


121.

I think, with Carlyle, that a lie should be trampled on and extinguished
wherever found. I am for fumigating the atmosphere when I suspect that
falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me. A. thinks this is too
_young_ a feeling, and that as the truth is sure to conquer in the end,
it is not worth while to fight every separate lie, or fling a torch into
every infected hole. Perhaps not, so far as we are ourselves concerned;
but we should think of others. While secure in our own antidote, or wise
in our own caution, we should not leave the miasma to poison the
healthful, or the briars to entangle the unwary. There is no occasion
perhaps for truth to sally forth like a knight-errant tilting at every
vizor, but neither should she sit self-assured in her tower of strength,
leaving pitfalls outside her gate for the blind to fall into.

[Illustration]


122.

“There is a way to separate memory from imagination—we may narrate
without painting. I am convinced that the mind can employ certain
indistinct signs to represent even its most vivid impressions; that
instead of picture writing, it can use something like algebraic symbols:
such is the language of the soul when the paroxysm of pain has passed,
and the wounds it received formerly are skinned over, not healed:—it is
a language very opposite to that used by the poet and the
novel-writer.”—_Blanco White._

True; but a language in which the soul can converse only with itself; or
else a language more conventional than words, and like paper as a tender
for gold, more capable of being defaced and falsified. There is a
proverb we have heard quoted: “Speech is silver, silence is golden.” But
better is the silver diffused than the talent of gold buried.

[Illustration]


123.

However distinguished and gifted, mentally and morally, we find that in
conduct and in our external relations with, society there is ever a
levelling influence at work. Seldom in our relations with the world, and
in the ordinary commerce of life, are the best and highest within us
brought forth; for the whole system of social intercourse is levelling.
As it is said that law knows no distinction of persons but that which it
has itself instituted; so of society it may be said, that it allows of
no distinction but those which it can recognise—external distinctions.

We hear it said that general society—the _world_, as it is called—and a
public school, are excellent educators; because in one the man, in the
other the boy, “finds, as the phrase is, his own level.” He does not; he
finds the level of others. _That_ may be good for those below
mediocrity, but for those above it _bad_: and it is for those we should
most care, for if once brought down in early life by the levelling
influence of numbers, they seldom rise again, or only partially. Nothing
so dangerous as to be perpetually measuring ourselves against what is
beneath us, feeling our superiority to that which we force ourselves to
assimilate to. This has been the perdition of many a schoolboy and many
a man.

[Illustration]


124.

“Il me semble que le plus noble rapport entre le ciel et la terre, le
plus beau don que Dieu ait fait à l’homme, la pensée, l’inspiration, se
décompose en quelque sorte dès qu’elle est descendue dans son âme. Elle
y vient simple et désintéressée; il la reproduit corrompue par tous les
intérêts auxquels il l’associe; elle lui a été confiée pour la
multiplier à l’avantage de tous; il la publie au profit de son
amour-propre.”—_Madame de Saint-Aulaire._

There would be much to say about this, for it is not always, nor
generally, _amour-propre_ or interest; it is the desire of sympathy,
which impels the artist mind to the utterance in words, or the
expression in form, of that thought or inspiration which God has sent
into his soul.

[Illustration]


125.

Milton’s Eve is the type of the masculine standard of perfection in
woman; a graceful figure, an abundance of fine hair, much “coy
submission,” and such a degree of unreasoning wilfulness as shall risk
perdition.

And the woman’s standard for the man is Adam, who rules and demands
subjection, and is so indulgent that he gives up to blandishment what
he would refuse to reason, and what his own reason condemns.

[Illustration]


126.

Every subject which excites discussion impels to thought. Every
expression of a mind humbly seeking truth, not assuming to have found
it, helps the seeker after truth.

[Illustration]


128.

As a man just released from the rack stands bruised and broken,—bleeding
at every pore, and dislocated in every limb, and raises his eyes to
heaven, and says, “God be praised! I suffer no more!” because to that
past sharp agony the respite comes like peace—like sleep,—so we stand,
after some great wrench in our best affections, where they have been
torn up by the root; when the conflict is over, and the tension of the
heart-strings is relaxed, then comes a sort of rest,—but of what kind?

[Illustration]


129.

To trust religiously, to hope humbly, to desire nobly, to think
rationally, to will resolutely, and to work earnestly,—may this be
mine.

[Illustration]

A REVELATION OF CHILDHOOD.

(FROM A LETTER.)


We are all interested in this great question of popular education; but I
see others much more sanguine than I am. They hope for some immediate
good result from all that is thought, written, spoken on the subject day
after day. I see such results as possible, probable, but far, far off.
All this talk is of systems and methods, institutions, school houses,
schoolmasters, schoolmistresses, school books; the ways and the means by
which we are to instruct, inform, manage, mould, regulate, that which
lies in most cases beyond our reach—the spirit sent from God. What do we
know of the mystery of child-nature, child-life? What, indeed, do we
know of any life? All life we acknowledge to be an awful mystery, but
child-life we treat as if it were no mystery whatever—just so much
material placed in our hands to be fashioned to a certain form according
to our will or our prejudices,—fitted to certain purposes according to
our notions of expediency. Till we know how to _reverence_ childhood we
shall do no good. Educators commit the same mistake with regard to
childhood that theologians commit with regard to our present earthly
existence; thinking of it, treating of it, as of little value or
significance in itself, only transient, and preparatory to some
condition of being which is to follow—as if it were something separate
from us and to be left behind us as the creature casts its skin. But as
in the sight of God this life is also something for its own sake, so in
the estimation of Christ, childhood was something for its own
sake,—something holy and beautiful in itself, and dear to him. He saw it
not merely as the germ of something to grow out of it, but as perfect
and lovely in itself as the flower which precedes the fruit. We
misunderstand childhood, and we misuse it; we delight in it, and we
pamper it; we spoil it ingeniously, we neglect it sinfully; at the best
we trifle with it as a plaything which we can pull to pieces and put
together at pleasure—ignorant, reckless, presumptuous that we are!

And if we are perpetually making the grossest mistakes in the physical
and practical management of childhood, how much more in regard to what
is spiritual! What do we know of that which lies in the minds of
children? we know only what we put there. The world of instincts,
perceptions, experiences, pleasures, and pains, lying there without
self-consciousness,—sometimes helplessly mute, sometimes so imperfectly
expressed, that we quite mistake the manifestation—what do we know of
all this? How shall we come at the understanding of it? The child lives,
and does not contemplate its own life. It can give no account of that
inward, busy, perpetual activity of the growing faculties and feelings
which it is of so much importance that we should know. To lead children
by questionings to think about their own identity, or observe their own
feelings, is to teach them to be artificial. To waken self-consciousness
before you awaken conscience is the beginning of incalculable mischief.
Introspection is always, as a habit, unhealthy: introspection in
childhood, fatally so. How shall we come at a knowledge of life such as
it is when it first gushes from its mysterious fountain head? We cannot
reascend the stream. We all, however we may remember the external scenes
lived through in our infancy, either do not, or cannot, consult that
part of our nature which remains indissolubly connected with the inward
life of that time. We so forget it, that we know not how to deal with
the child-nature when it comes under our power. We seldom reason about
children from natural laws, or psychological data. Unconsciously we
confound our matured experience with our memory: we attribute to
children what is not possible, exact from them what is
impossible;—ignore many things which the child has neither words to
express, nor the will nor the power to manifest. The quickness with
which children perceive, the keenness with which they suffer, the
tenacity with which they remember, I have never seen fully appreciated.
What misery we cause to children, what mischief we do them by bringing
our own minds, habits, artificial prejudices and senile experiences, to
bear on their young life, and cramp and overshadow it—it is fearful!

Of all the wrongs and anomalies that afflict our earth, a sinful
childhood, a suffering childhood, are among the worst.

O ye men! who sit in committees, and are called upon to legislate for
children,—for children who are the offspring of diseased or degenerate
humanity, or the victims of a yet more diseased society,—do you, when
you take evidence from jailors, and policemen, and parish schoolmasters,
and doctors of divinity, do you ever call up, also, the wise physician,
the thoughtful physiologist, the experienced mother? You have
accumulated facts, great blue books full of facts, but till you know in
what fixed and uniform principles of nature to seek their solution, your
facts remain a dead letter.

I say nothing here of teaching, though very few in truth understand that
lowest part of our duty to children. Men, it is generally allowed,
_teach_ better than women because they have been better taught the
things they teach. Women _train_ better than men because of their quick
instinctive perceptions and sympathies, and greater tenderness and
patience. In schools and in families I would have some things taught by
men, and some by women: but we will here put aside the art, the act of
teaching: we will turn aside from the droves of children in national
schools and reformatory asylums, and turn to the individual child,
brought up within the guarded circle of a home or a select school,
watched by an intelligent, a conscientious influence. How shall we deal
with that spirit which has come out of nature’s hands unless we remember
what we were ourselves in the past? What sympathy can we have with that
state of being which we regard as immature, so long as we commit the
double mistake of sometimes attributing to children motives which could
only spring from our adult experience, and sometimes denying to them the
same intuitive tempers and feelings which actuate and agitate our
maturer life? We do not sufficiently consider that our life is not made
up of separate parts, but is _one_—is a progressive whole. When we talk
of leaving our childhood behind us, we might as well say that the river
flowing onward to the sea had left the fountain behind.

[Illustration]


121.

I will here put together some recollections of my own child-life; not
because it was in any respect an exceptional or remarkable existence,
but for a reason exactly the reverse, because it was like that of many
children; at least I have met with many children who throve or suffered
from the same or similar unseen causes even under external conditions
and management every way dissimilar. Facts, therefore, which can be
relied on, may be generally useful as hints towards a theory of conduct
in education. What I shall say here shall be simply the truth so far as
it goes; not something between the false and the true, garnished for
effect,—not something half-remembered, half-imagined,—but plain,
absolute, matter of fact.

No; certainly I was not an extraordinary child. I have had something to
do with children, and have met with several more remarkable for
quickness of talent, and precocity of feeling. If any thing in
particular, I believe I was particularly naughty,—at least so it was
said twenty times a day. But looking back now, I do not think I was
particular even in this respect; I perpetrated not more than the usual
amount of mischief—so called—which every lively active child perpetrates
between five and ten years old. I had the usual desire to know, and the
usual dislike to learn; the usual love of fairy tales, and hatred of
French exercises. But not of what I learned, but of what I did _not_
learn; not of what they taught me, but of what they could _not_ teach
me; not of what was open, apparent, manageable, but of the under
current, the hidden, the unmanaged or unmanageable, I have to speak, and
you, my friend, to hear and turn to account, if you will, and how you
will. As we grow old the experiences of infancy come back upon us with a
strange vividness. There is a period when the overflowing, tumultuous
life of our youth rises up between us and those first years; but as the
torrent subsides in its bed we can look across the impassable gulf to
that haunted fairy land which we shall never more approach, and never
more forget!


In memory I can go back to a very early age. I perfectly remember being
sung to sleep, and can remember even the tune which was sung to
me—blessings on the voice that sang it! I was an affectionate, but not,
as I now think, a loveable nor an attractive child. I did not, like the
little Mozart, ask of every one around me, “Do you love me?” The
instinctive question was, rather, “Can I love you?” Yet certainly I was
not more than six years old when I suffered from the fear of not being
loved where I had attached myself, and from the idea that another was
preferred before me, such anguish as had nearly killed me. Whether those
around me regarded it as a fit of ill-temper, or a fit of illness, I do
not know. I could not then have given a name to the pang that fevered
me. I knew not the cause, but never forgot the suffering. It left a
deeper impression than childish passions usually do; and the
recollection was so far salutary, that in after life I guarded myself
against the approaches of that hateful, deformed, agonising thing which
men call jealousy, as I would from an attack of cramp or cholera. If
such self-knowledge has not saved me from the pain, at least it has
saved me from the demoralising effects of the passion, by a wholesome
terror, and even a sort of disgust.

With a good temper, there was the capacity of strong, deep, silent
resentment, and a vindictive spirit of rather a peculiar kind. I
recollect that when one of those set over me inflicted what then
appeared a most horrible injury and injustice, the thoughts of vengeance
haunted my fancy for months: but it was an inverted sort of vengeance. I
imagined the house of my enemy on fire, and rushed through the flames
to rescue her. She was drowning, and I leaped into the deep water to
draw her forth. She was pining in prison, and I forced bars and bolts to
deliver her. If this were magnanimity, it was not the less vengeance;
for, observe, I always fancied evil, and shame, and humiliation to my
adversary; to myself the _rôle_ of superiority and gratified pride. For
several years this sort of burning resentment against wrong done to
myself and others, though it took no mean or cruel form, was a source of
intense, untold suffering. No one was aware of it. I was left to settle
it; and my mind righted itself I hardly know how: not certainly by
religious influences—they passed over my mind, and did not at the time
sink into it,—and as for earthly counsel or comfort, I never had either
when most needed. And as it fared with me then, so it has been in after
life; so it has been, _must_ be, with all those who, in fighting out
alone the pitched battle between principle and passion, will accept no
intervention between the infinite within them and the infinite above
them; so it has been, _must_ be, with all strong natures. Will it be
said that victory in the struggle brings increase of strength? It may be
so with some who survive the contest; but then, how many sink! how many
are crippled morally for life! how many, strengthened in some particular
faculties, suffer in losing the harmony of the character as a whole!
This is one of the points in which the matured mind may help the
childish nature at strife with itself. It is impossible to say how far
this sort of vindictiveness might have penetrated and hardened into the
character, if I had been of a timid or retiring nature. It was expelled
at last by no outer influences, but by a growing sense of power and
self-reliance.


In regard to truth—always such a difficulty in education,—I certainly
had, as a child, and like most children, confused ideas about it. I had
a more distinct and absolute idea of honour than of truth,—a mistake
into which our conventional morality leads those who educate and those
who are educated. I knew very well, in a general way, that to tell a lie
was _wicked_; to lie for my own profit or pleasure, or to the hurt of
others, was, according to my infant code of morals, worse than wicked—it
was _dishonourable_. But I had no compunction about telling
_fictions_;—inventing scenes and circumstances, which I related as real,
and with a keen sense of triumphant enjoyment in seeing the listener
taken in by a most artful and ingenious concatenation of
impossibilities. In this respect “Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, that liar of
the first magnitude,” was nothing in comparison to me. I must have been
twelve years old before my conscience was first awakened up to a sense
of the necessity of truth as a principle, as well as its holiness as a
virtue. Afterwards, having to set right the minds of others cleared my
own mind on this and some other important points.


I do not think I was naturally obstinate, but remember going without
food all day, and being sent hungry and exhausted to bed, because I
would not do some trifling thing required of me. I think it was to
recite some lines I knew by heart. I was punished as wilfully obstinate:
but what no one knew then, and what I know now as the fact, was, that
after refusing to do what was required, and bearing anger and threats in
consequence, I lost the power to do it. I became stone: the _will_ was
petrified, and I absolutely _could_ not comply. They might have hacked
me in pieces before my lips could have unclosed to utterance. The
obstinacy was not in the mind, but on the nerves; and I am persuaded
that what we call obstinacy in children, and grownup people, too, is
often something of this kind, and that it may be increased, by
mismanagement, by persistence, or what is called firmness, in the
controlling power, into disease, or something near to it.


There was in my childish mind another cause of suffering besides those I
have mentioned, less acute, but more permanent and always
unacknowledged. It was fear—fear of darkness and supernatural
influences. As long as I can remember anything, I remember these horrors
of my infancy. How they had been awakened I do not know; they were never
revealed. I had heard other children ridiculed for such fears, and held
my peace. At first these haunting, thrilling, stifling terrors were
vague; afterwards the form varied; but one of the most permanent was the
ghost in Hamlet. There was a volume of Shakspeare lying about, in which
was an engraving I have not seen since, but it remains distinct in my
mind as a picture. On one side stood Hamlet with his hair on end,
literally “like quills upon the fretful porcupine,” and one hand with
all the fingers outspread. On the other strided the ghost, encased in
armour with nodding plumes; one finger pointing forwards, and all
surrounded with a supernatural light. O that spectre! for three years it
followed me up and down the dark staircase, or stood by my bed: only the
blessed light had power to exorcise it. How it was that I knew, while I
trembled and quaked, that it was unreal, never cried out, never
expostulated, never confessed, I do not know. The figure of Apollyon
looming over Christian, which I had found in an old edition of the
“Pilgrim’s Progress,” was also a great torment. But worse, perhaps, were
certain phantasms without shape, things like the vision in Job—“_A
spirit passed before my face; it stood still, but I could not discern
the form thereof_:”—and if not intelligible voices, there were strange
unaccountable sounds filling the air around with a sort of mysterious
life. In daylight I was not only fearless, but audacious, inclined to
defy all power and brave all danger,—that is, all danger I could see. I
remember volunteering to lead the way through a herd of cattle (among
which was a dangerous bull, the terror of the neighbourhood) armed only
with a little stick; but first I said the Lord’s Prayer fervently. In
the ghastly night I never prayed; terror stifled prayer. These visionary
sufferings, in some form or other, pursued me till I was nearly twelve
years old. If I had not possessed a strong constitution and a strong
understanding, which rejected and contemned my own fears, even while
they shook me, I had been destroyed. How much weaker children suffer in
this way, I have since known; and have known how to bring them help and
strength, through sympathy and knowledge, the sympathy that soothes and
does not encourage—the knowledge that dispels, and does not suggest, the
evil.


People, in general, even those who have been much interested in
education, are not aware of the sacred duty of _truth_, exact truth in
their intercourse with children. Limit what you tell them according to
the measure of their faculties; but let what you say be the truth.
Accuracy not merely as to fact, but well-considered accuracy in the use
of words, is essential with children. I have read some wise book on the
treatment of the insane, in which absolute veracity and accuracy in
speaking is prescribed as a _curative_ principle; and deception for any
purpose is deprecated as almost fatal to the health of the patient. Now,
it is a good sanatory principle, that what is curative is preventive;
and that an unhealthy state of mind, leading to madness, may, in some
organisations, be induced by that sort of uncertainty and perplexity
which grows up where the mind has not been accustomed to truth in its
external relations. It is like breathing for a continuance an impure or
confined air.

Of the mischief that may be done to a childish mind by a falsehood
uttered in thoughtless gaiety, I remember an absurd and yet a painful
instance. A visitor was turning over, for a little girl, some prints,
one of which represented an Indian widow springing into the fire kindled
for the funeral pile of her husband. It was thus explained to the child,
who asked innocently, whether, if her father died, her mother would be
burned? The person to whom the question was addressed, a lively, amiable
woman, was probably much amused by the question, and answered, giddily,
“Oh, of course,—certainly!” and was believed implicitly. But
thenceforth, for many weary months, the mind of that child was haunted
and tortured by the image of her mother springing into the devouring
flames, and consumed by fire, with all the accessories of the picture,
particularly the drums beating to drown her cries. In a weaker
organisation, the results might have been permanent and serious. But to
proceed.

These terrors I have described had an existence external to myself: I
had no power over them to shape them by my will, and their power over me
vanished gradually before a more dangerous infatuation,—the propensity
to reverie. This shaping spirit of imagination began when I was about
eight or nine years old to haunt my _inner_ life. I can truly say that,
from ten years old to fourteen or fifteen, I lived a double existence;
one outward, linking me with the external sensible world, the other
inward, creating a world to and for itself, conscious to itself only. I
carried on for whole years a series of actions, scenes, and adventures;
one springing out of another, and coloured and modified by increasing
knowledge. This habit grew so upon me, that there were moments—as when I
came to some crisis in my imaginary adventures,—when I was not more
awake to outward things than in sleep,—scarcely took cognisance of the
beings around me. When punished for idleness by being placed in
solitary confinement (the worst of all punishments for children), the
intended penance was nothing less than a delight and an emancipation,
giving me up to my dreams. I had a very strict and very accomplished
governess, one of the cleverest women I have ever met with in my life;
but nothing of this was known or even suspected by her, and I exulted in
possessing something which her power could not reach. My reveries were
my real life: it was an unhealthy state of things.

Those who are engaged in the training of children will perhaps pause
here. It may be said, in the first place, How are we to reach those
recesses of the inner life which the God who made us keeps from every
eye but his own? As when we walk over the field in spring we are aware
of a thousand influences and processes at work of which we have no exact
knowledge or clear perception, yet must watch and use accordingly,—so it
is with education. And secondly, it may be asked, if such secret
processes be working unconscious mischief, where the remedy? The remedy
is in employment. Then the mother or the teacher echoes with
astonishment, “Employment! the child is employed from morning till
night; she is learning a dozen sciences and languages; she has masters
and lessons for every hour of every day: with her pencil, her piano,
her books, her companions, her birds, her flowers,—what can she want
more?” An energetic child even at a very early age, and yet farther as
the physical organisation is developed, wants something more and
something better; employment which shall bring with it the bond of a
higher duty than that which centres in self and self-improvement;
employment which shall not merely cultivate the understanding, but
strengthen and elevate the conscience; employment for the higher and
more generous faculties; employment addressed to the sympathies;
employment which has the aim of utility, not pretended, but real,
obvious, direct utility. A girl who as a mere child is not always being
taught or being amused, whose mind is early restrained by the bond of
definite duty, and thrown out of the limit of self, will not in after
years be subject to fancies that disturb or to reveries that absorb, and
the present and the actual will have that power they ought to have as
combined in due degree with desire and anticipation.

The Roman Catholic priesthood understand this well: employment, which
enlists with the spiritual the sympathetic part of our being, is a means
through which they guide both young and adult minds. Physicians who have
to manage various states of mental and moral disease understand this
well; they speak of the necessity of employment (not mere amusement) as
a curative means, but of employment with the direct aim of usefulness,
apprehended and appreciated by the patient, else it is nothing. It is
the same with children. Such employment, chosen with reference to
utility, and in harmony with the faculties, would prove in many cases
either preventive or curative. In my own case, as I now think, it would
have been both.

There was a time when it was thought essential that women should know
something of cookery, something of medicine, something of surgery. If
all these things are far better understood now than heretofore, is that
a reason why a well educated woman should be left wholly ignorant of
them? A knowledge of what people call “common things”—of the elements of
physiology, of the conditions of health, of the qualities, nutritive or
remedial, of substances commonly used as food or medicine, and the most
economical and most beneficial way of applying both,—these should form a
part of the system of every girls’ school—whether for the higher or the
lower classes. At present you shall see a girl studying chemistry, and
attending Faraday’s lectures, who would be puzzled to compound a
rice-pudding or a cup of barley-water: and a girl who could work quickly
a complicated sum in the Rule of Three, afterwards wasting a fourth of
her husband’s wages through want of management.

In my own case, how much of the practical and the sympathetic in my
nature was exhausted in airy visions!

As to the stuff out of which my waking dreams were composed, I cannot
tell you much. I have a remembrance that I was always a princess-heroine
in the disguise of a knight, a sort of Clorinda or Britomart, going
about to redress the wrongs of the poor, fight giants, and kill dragons;
or founding a society in some far-off solitude or desolate island, which
would have rivalled that of Gonsalez, where there were to be no tears,
no tasks, and no laws,—except those which I made myself,—no caged birds
nor tormented kittens.

[Illustration]

Enough of the pains, and mistakes, and vagaries of childhood; let me
tell of some of its pleasures equally unguessed and unexpressed. A
great, and exquisite source of enjoyment arose out of an early,
instinctive, boundless delight in external beauty. How this went hand in
hand with my terrors and reveries, how it could coexist with them, I
cannot tell now—it was so; and if this sympathy with the external,
living, beautiful world, had been properly, scientifically cultivated,
and directed to useful definite purposes, it would have been the best
remedy for much that was morbid: this was not the case, and we were,
unhappily for me, too early removed from the country to a town
residence. I can remember, however, that in very early years the
appearances of nature did truly “haunt me like a passion;” the stars
were to me as the gates of heaven; the rolling of the wave to the shore,
the graceful weeds and grasses bending before the breeze as they grew by
the wayside; the minute and delicate forms of insects; the trembling
shadows of boughs and leaves dancing on the ground in the highest noon;
these were to me perfect pleasures of which the imagery now in my mind
is distinct. Wordsworth’s poem of “The Daffodils,” the one beginning—

   “I wandered lonely as a cloud,”

may appear to some unintelligible or overcharged, but to me it was a
vivid truth, a simple fact; and if Wordsworth had been then in my hands
I think I must have loved him. It was this intense sense of beauty which
gave the first zest to poetry: I love it, not because it told me what I
did not know, but because it helped me to words in which to clothe my
own knowledge and perceptions, and reflected back the pictures
unconsciously hoarded up in my mind. This was what made Thomson’s
“Seasons” a favourite book when I first began to read for my own
amusement, and before I could understand one half of it; St. Pierre’s
“Indian Cottage” (“La Chaumière Indienne”) was also charming, either
because it reflected my dreams, or gave me new stuff for them in
pictures of an external world quite different from that I
inhabited,—palm-trees, elephants, tigers, dark-turbaned men with flowing
draperies; and the “Arabian Nights” completed my Oriental intoxication,
which lasted for a long time.

I have said little of the impressions left by books, and of my first
religious notions. A friend of mine had once the wise idea of collecting
together a variety of evidence as to the impressions left by certain
books on childish or immature minds: If carried out, it would have been
one of the most valuable additions to educational experience ever made.
For myself I did not much care about the books put into my hands, nor
imbibe much information from them. I had a great taste, I am sorry to
say, for forbidden books; yet it was not the forbidden books that did
the mischief, except in their being read furtively. I remember
impressions of vice and cruelty from some parts of the Old Testament and
Goldsmith’s “History of England,” which I shudder to recall. Shakspeare
was on the forbidden shelf. I had read him all through between seven
and ten years old. He never did me any moral mischief. He never soiled
my mind with any disordered image. What was exceptionable and coarse in
language I passed by without attaching any meaning whatever to it. How
it might have been if I had read Shakspeare first when I was fifteen or
sixteen, I do not know; perhaps the occasional coarsenesses and
obscurities might have shocked the delicacy or puzzled the intelligence
of that sensitive and inquiring age. But at nine or ten I had no
comprehension of what was unseemly; what might be obscure in words to
wordy commentators, was to me lighted up by the idea I found or
interpreted for myself—right or wrong.

No; I repeat, Shakspeare—bless him!—never did me any moral mischief.
Though the Witches in Macbeth troubled me,—though the Ghost in Hamlet
terrified me (the picture that is,—for the spirit in Shakspeare was
solemn and pathetic, not hideous),—though poor little Arthur cost me an
ocean of tears,—yet much that was obscure, and all that was painful and
revolting was merged on the whole in the vivid presence of a new,
beautiful, vigorous, living world. The plays which I now think the most
wonderful produced comparatively little effect on my fancy: Romeo and
Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, struck me then less than the historical plays,
and far less than the Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cymbeline. It may be
thought, perhaps, that Falstaff is not a character to strike a child, or
to be understood by a child:—no; surely not. To me Falstaff was not
witty and wicked—only irresistibly fat and funny; and I remember lying
on the ground rolling with laughter over some of the scenes in Henry the
Fourth,—the mock play, and the seven men in buckram. But The Tempest and
Cymbeline were the plays I liked best and knew best.

Altogether I should say that in my early years books were known to me,
not as such, not for their general contents, but for some especial image
or picture I had picked out of them and assimilated to my own mind and
mixed up with my own life. For example out of Homer’s Odyssey (lent to
me by the parish clerk) I had the picture of Nasicaa and her maidens
going down in their chariots to wash their linen: so that when the first
time I went to the Pitti Palace, and could hardly see the pictures
through blinding tears, I saw _that_ picture of Rubens, which all
remember who have been at Florence, and it flashed delight and
refreshment through those remembered childish associations. The Syrens
and Polypheme left also vivid pictures on my fancy. The Iliad, on the
contrary, wearied me, except the parting of Hector and Andromache, in
which the child, scared by its father’s dazzling helm and nodding
crest, remains a vivid image in my mind from that time.

The same parish clerk—a curious fellow in his way—lent me also some
religious tracts and stories, by Hannah More. It is most certain that
more moral mischief was done to me by some of these than by all
Shakspeare’s plays together. These so-called pious tracts first
introduced me to a knowledge of the vices of vulgar life, and the
excitements of a vulgar religion,—the fear of being hanged and the fear
of hell became co-existent in my mind; and the teaching resolved itself
into this,—that it was not by being naughty, but by being found out,
that I was to incur the risk of both. My fairy world was better!

About Religion:—I was taught religion as children used to be taught it
in my younger days, and are taught it still in some cases, I
believe—through the medium of creeds and catechisms. I read the Bible
too early, and too indiscriminately, and too irreverently. Even the New
Testament was too early placed in my hands; too early made a lesson
book, as the custom then was. The _letter_ of the Scriptures—the
words—were familiarised to me by sermonising and dogmatising, long
before I could enter into the _spirit_. Meantime, happily, another
religion was growing up in my heart, which, strangely enough, seemed to
me quite apart from that which was taught,—which, indeed, I never in
any way regarded as the same which I was taught when I stood up wearily
on a Sunday to repeat the collect and say the catechism. It was quite
another thing. Not only the taught religion and the sentiment of faith
and adoration were never combined, but it never for years entered into
my head to combine them; the first remained extraneous, the latter had
gradually taken root in my life, even from the moment my mother joined
my little hands in prayer. The histories out of the Bible (the Parables
especially) were, however, enchanting to me, though my interpretation of
them was in some instances the very reverse of correct or orthodox. To
my infant conception our Lord was a being who had come down from heaven
to make people good, and to tell them beautiful stories. And though no
pains were spared to _indoctrinate_ me, and all my pastors and masters
took it for granted that my ideas were quite satisfactory, nothing could
be more confused and heterodox.


It is a common observation that girls of lively talents are apt to grow
pert and satirical. I fell into this danger when about ten years old.
Sallies at the expense of certain people, ill-looking, or ill-dressed,
or ridiculous, or foolish, had been laughed at and applauded in company,
until, without being naturally malignant, I ran some risk of becoming
so from sheer vanity.

The fables which appeal to our higher moral sympathies may sometimes do
as much for us as the truths of science. So thought our Saviour when he
taught the multitude in parables.

A good clergyman who lived near us, a famous Persian scholar, took it
into his head to teach me Persian (I was then about seven years old),
and I set to work with infinite delight and earnestness. All I learned
was soon forgotten; but a few years afterwards, happening to stumble on
a volume of Sir William Jones’s works—his Persian grammar—it revived my
Orientalism, and I began to study it eagerly. Among the exercises given
was a Persian fable or poem—one of those traditions of our Lord which
are preserved in the East. The beautiful apologue of “St. Peter and the
Cherries,” which Goethe has versified or imitated, is a well known
example. This fable I allude to was something similar, but I have not
met with the original these forty years, and must give it here from
memory.

“Jesus,” says the story, “arrived one evening at the gates of a certain
city, and he sent his disciples forward to prepare supper, while he
himself, intent on doing good, walked through the streets into the
market place.

“And he saw at the corner of the market some people gathered together
looking at an object on the ground; and he drew near to see what it
might be. It was a dead dog, with a halter round his neck, by which he
appeared to have been dragged through the dirt; and a viler, a more
abject, a more unclean thing, never met the eyes of man.

“And those who stood by looked on with abhorrence.

“‘Faugh!’ said one, stopping his nose; ‘it pollutes the air.’ ‘How
long,’ said another, ‘shall this foul beast offend our sight?’ ‘Look at
his torn hide,’ said a third; ‘one could not even cut a shoe out of it.’
‘And his ears,’ said a fourth, ‘all draggled and bleeding!’ ‘No doubt,’
said a fifth, ‘he hath been hanged for thieving!’

“And Jesus heard them, and looking down compassionately on the dead
creature, he said, ‘Pearls are not equal to the whiteness of his teeth!’

“Then the people turned towards him with amazement, and said among
themselves, ‘Who is this? this must be Jesus of Nazareth, for only HE
could find something to pity and approve even in a dead dog;’ and being
ashamed, they bowed their heads before him, and went each on his way.”

I can recall, at this hour, the vivid, yet softening and pathetic
impression left on my fancy by this old Eastern story. It struck me as
exquisitely humorous, as well as exquisitely beautiful. It gave me a
pain in my conscience, for it seemed thenceforward so easy and so vulgar
to say satirical things, and so much nobler to be benign and merciful,
and I took the lesson so home, that I was in great danger of falling
into the opposite extreme,—of seeking the beautiful even in the midst of
the corrupt and the repulsive. Pity, a large element in my composition,
might have easily degenerated into weakness, threatening to subvert
hatred of evil in trying to find excuses for it; and whether my mind has
ever completely righted itself, I am not sure.


Educators are not always aware, I think, how acute are the perceptions,
and how permanent the memories, of children. I remember experiments
tried upon my temper and feelings, and how I was made aware of this, by
their being repeated, and, in some instances, spoken of, before me.
Music, to which I was early and peculiarly sensitive, was sometimes made
the medium of these experiments. Discordant sounds were not only
hateful, but made me turn white and cold, and sent the blood backward to
my heart; and certain tunes had a curious effect, I cannot now account
for: for though, when heard for the first time, they had little effect,
they became intolerable by repetition; they turned up some hidden
emotion within me too strong to be borne. It could not have been from
association, which I believe to be a principal element in the _emotion_
excited by music. I was too young for that. What associations could such
a baby have had with pleasure or with pain? Or could it be possible that
associations with some former state of existence awoke up to sound? That
our life “hath elsewhere its beginning, and cometh from afar,” is a
belief or at least an instinct, in some minds, which music, and only
music, seems to thrill into consciousness. At this time, when I was
about five or six years old, Mrs. Arkwright—she was then Fanny
Kemble—used to come to our house, and used to entrance me with her
singing. I had a sort of adoration for her, such as an ecstatic votary
might have for a Saint Cecilia. I trembled with pleasure when I only
heard her step. But her voice!—it has charmed hundreds since; whom has
it ever moved to a more genuine passion of delight than the little child
that crept silent and tremulous to her side? And she was fond of
me,—fond of singing to me, and, it must be confessed, fond also of
playing these experiments on me. The music of “Paul and Virginia” was
then in vogue, and there was one air—a very simple air—in that opera,
which, after the first few bars, always made me stop my ears and rush
out of the room. I became at last aware that this was sometimes done by
particular desire to please my parents, or amuse and interest others by
the display of such vehement emotion. My infant conscience became
perplexed between the reality of the feeling and the exhibition of it.
People are not always aware of the injury done to children by repeating
before them things they say, or describing things they do: words and
actions, spontaneous and unconscious, become thenceforth artificial and
conscious. I can speak of the injury done to myself, between five and
eight years old. There was some danger of my becoming a precocious
actress,—danger of permanent mischief such as I have seen done to other
children,—but I was saved by the recoil of resistance and resentment
excited in my mind.

This is enough. All that has been told here refers to a period between
five and ten years old.

[Illustration]



THE INDIAN HUNTER AND THE FIRE.

(FROM THE GERMAN.)


Once upon a time the lightning from heaven fell upon a tree standing in
the old primeval forest and kindled it, so that it flamed on high. And
it happened that a young hunter, who had lost his path in that
wilderness, beheld the gleam of the flames from a distance, and, forcing
his way through the thicket, he flung himself down in rapture before the
blazing tree.

“O divine light and warmth!” he exclaimed, stretching forth his arms.
“O blessed! O heaven-descended Fire! let me thank thee! let me adore
thee! Giver of a new existence, quickening thro’ every pulse, how lost,
how cold, how dark have I dwelt without thee! Restorer of my life!
remain ever near me, and, through thy benign and celestial influence,
send love and joy to illuminate my soul!”

And the Fire answered and said to him, “It is true that my birth is from
heaven, but I am now, through mingling with earthly elements, subdued to
earthly influences; therefore, beware how you choose me for thy friend,
without having first studied my twofold nature. O youth! take heed lest
what appear to thee now a blessing, may be turned, at some future time,
to fiery pain and death.” And the youth replied, “No! O no! thou blessed
Fire, this could never be. Am I then so senseless, so inconstant, so
thankless? O believe it not! Let me stay near thee; let me be thy
priest, to watch and tend thee truly. Ofttimes in my wild wintry life,
when the chill darkness encompassed me, and the ice-blast lifted my
hair, have I dreamed of the soft summer breath,—of the sunshine that
should light up the world within me and the world around me. But still
that time came not. It seemed ever far, far off; and I had perished
utterly before the light and the warmth had reached me, had it not been
for thee!”

Thus the youth poured forth his soul, and the Fire answered him in
murmured tones, while her beams with a softer radiance played over his
cheek and brow: “Be it so then. Yet do thou watch me constantly and
minister to me carefully; neglect me not, leave me not to myself, lest
the light and warmth in which thou so delightest fail thee suddenly, and
there be no redress; and O watch thyself also! beware lest thou too
ardently stir up my impatient fiery being! beware lest thou heap too
much fuel upon me; once more beware, lest, instead of life, and love,
and joy, I bring thee only death and burning pain!” And the youth
passionately vowed to keep her behest: and in the beginning all went
well. How often, for hours together, would he lie gazing entranced
toward the radiant beneficent Fire, basking in her warmth, and throwing
now a leafy spray, now a fragment of dry wood, anon a handful of odorous
gums, as incense, upon the flame, which gracefully curling and waving
upwards, quivering and sparkling, seemed to whisper in return divine
oracles; or he fancied he beheld, while gazing into the glowing depths,
marvellous shapes, fairy visions dancing and glancing along. Then he
would sing to her songs full of love, and she, responding to the song
she had herself inspired, sometimes replied, in softest whispers, so
loving and so low, that even the jealous listening woods could not
overhear; at other times she would shoot up suddenly in rapturous
splendour, like a pillar of light, and revealed to him all the wonders
and the beauties which lay around him, hitherto veiled from his sight.

But at length, as he became accustomed to the glory and the warmth, and
nothing more was left for the fire to bestow, or her light to reveal,
then he began to weary and to dream again of the morning, and to long
for the sun-beams; and it was to him as if the fire stood between him
and the sun’s light, and he reproached her therefore, and he became
moody and ungrateful; and the fire was no longer the same, but unquiet
and changeful, sometimes flickering unsteadily, sometimes throwing out a
lurid glare. And when the youth, forgetful of his ministry, left the
flame unfed and unsustained, so that ofttimes she drooped and waned, and
crept in dying gleams along the damp ground, his heart would fail him
with a sudden remorse, and he would cast on the fuel with such a rough
and lavish hand that the indignant fire hissed thereat, and burst forth
in a smoky sullen gleam,—then died away again. Then the youth, half
sorrowful, half impatient, would remember how bright, how glowing, how
dazzling was the flame in those former happy days, when it played over
his chilled and wearied limbs, and shed its warmth upon his brow, and he
desired eagerly to recall that once inspiring glow. And he stirred up
the embers violently till they burned him, and then he grew angry, and
then again he wearied of all the watching and the care which the subtle,
celestial, tameless element required at his hand: and at length, one day
in a sullen mood, he snatched up a pitcher of water from the fountain
and poured it hastily on the yet living flame.——

For one moment it arose blazing towards heaven, shed a last gleam upon
the pale brow of the youth, and then sank down in darkness extinguished
for ever!

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


PAULINA.

FROM AN UNFINISHED TALE, 1823.

   And think’st thou that the fond o’erflowing love
     I bear thee in my heart could ever be
   Repaid by careless smiles that round thee rove,
     And beam on others as they beam on me?

   Oh, could I speak to thee! could I but tell
   The nameless thoughts that in my bosom swell,
   And struggle for expression! or set free
   From the o’er mastering spirit’s proud control
   The pain that throbs in silence at my soul,
   Perhaps—yet no—I will not sue, nor bend,
   To win a heartless pity—Let it end!

   I have been near thee still at morn, at eve;
   Have mark’d thee in thy joy, have seen thee grieve;
   Have seen thee gay with triumph, sick with fears,
   Radiant in beauty, desolate in tears:
   And communed with thy heart, till I made mine
   The echo and the mirror unto thine.
   And I have sat and looked into thine eyes
   As men on earth look to the starry skies,
   That seek to read in Heaven their human destinies!

   Too quickly I read mine,—I knew it well,—
   I judg’d not of thy heart by all it gave,
   But all that it withheld; and I could tell
   The very sea-mark where affection’s wave
   Would cease to flow, or flow to ebb again,
   And knew my lavish love was pour’d in vain,
   As fruitless streams o’er sandy deserts melt,
   Unrecompensed, unvalued, and unfelt!

[Illustration]


LINES.—1840.


   Take me, my mother Earth, to thy cold breast,
   And fold me there in everlasting rest,
         The long day is o’er!
         I’m weary, I would sleep—
         But deep, deep,
         Never to waken more!

   I have had joy and sorrow; I have proved
   What life could give; have lov’d, have been belov’d;
         I am sick, and heart sore,
         And weary,—let me sleep!
         But deep, deep,
         Never to waken more!

   To thy dark chambers, mother Earth, I come,
   Prepare my dreamless bed in my last home;
         Shut down the marble door,
         And leave me,—let me sleep!
         But deep, deep,
         Never to waken more!

   Now I lie down,—I close my aching eyes,
   If on this night another morn must rise,
         Wake me not, I implore!
         I only ask to sleep,
         And deep, deep,
         Never to waken more!


[Illustration]

[Illustration]



Theological Fragments.


1.

THE HERMIT AND THE MINSTREL.

(A PARABLE, FROM ST. JEROME.)


A certain holy anchorite had passed a long life in a cave of the
Thebaid, remote from all communion with men; and eschewing, as he would
the gates of Hell, even the very presence of a woman; and he fasted and
prayed, and performed many and severe penances; and his whole thought
was how he should make himself of account in the sight of God, that he
might enter into his paradise.

And having lived this life for three score and ten years he was puffed
up with the notion of his own great virtue and sanctity, and, like to
St. Anthony, he besought the Lord to show him what saint he should
emulate as greater than himself, thinking perhaps, in his heart, that
the Lord would answer that none was greater or holier. And the same
night the angel of God appeared to him, and said, “If thou wouldst excel
all others in virtue and sanctity, thou must strive to be like a certain
minstrel who goes begging and singing from door to door.”

And the holy man was in great astonishment, and he arose and took his
staff and ran forth in search of this minstrel; and when he had found
him he questioned him earnestly, saying, “Tell me, I pray thee, my
brother, what good works thou hast performed in thy lifetime, and by
what prayers and penances thou hast made thyself acceptable to God?”

And the man, greatly wondering and ashamed to be so questioned, hung
down his head as he replied, “I beseech thee, holy father, mock me not!
I have performed no good works, and as to praying, alas! sinner that I
am, I am not worthy to pray. I do nothing but go about from door to door
amusing the people with my viol and my flute.”

And the holy man insisted and said, “Nay, but peradventure in the midst
of this thy evil life thou hast done some good works?” And the minstrel
replied, “I know of nothing good that I have done.” And the hermit,
wondering more and more, said, “How hast thou become a beggar: hast thou
spent thy substance in riotous living, like most others of thy calling?”
and the man answering, said, “Nay; but there was a poor woman whom I
found running hither and thither in distraction, for her husband and her
children had been sold into slavery to pay a debt. And the woman being
very fair, certain sons of Belial pursued after her; so I took her home
to my hut and protected her from them, and I gave her all I possessed to
redeem her family, and conducted her in safety to the city, where she
was reunited to her husband and children. But what of that, my father;
is there a man who would not have done the same?”

And the hermit, hearing the minstrel speak these words, wept bitterly,
saying, “For my part, I have not done so much good in all my life; and
yet they call me a man of God, and thou art only a poor minstrel!”


At Vienna, some years ago, I saw a picture by Von Schwind, which was
conceived in the spirit of this old apologue. It exhibited the lives of
two twin brothers diverging from the cradle. One of them, by profound
study, becomes a most learned and skilful physician, and ministers to
the sick; attaining to great riches and honours through his labours and
his philanthropy. The other brother, who has no turn for study, becomes
a poor fiddler, and spends his life in consoling, by his music,
sufferings beyond the reach of the healing art. In the end, the two
brothers meet at the close of life. He who had been fiddling through the
world is sick and worn out: his brother prescribes for him, and is seen
culling simples for his restoration, while the fiddler touches his
instrument for the solace of his kind physician.

It is in such representations that painting did once speak, and might
again speak to the hearts of the people.

Another version of the same thought, we find in De Berenger’s pretty
ballad, “_Les deux Sœurs de Charité_.”

[Illustration]


2.

When I was a child, and read Milton for the first time, his Pandemonium
seemed to me a magnificent place. It struck me more than his Paradise,
for _that_ was beautiful, but Pandemonium was terrible and beautiful
too. The wondrous fabric that “from the earth rose like an exhalation
to the sound of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,”—the splendid piles
of architecture sweeping line beyond line, “Cornice and frieze with
bossy sculptures graven,”—realised a certain picture of Palmyra I had
once seen, and which had taken possession of my imagination: then the
throne, outshining the wealth of Ormuz and of Ind,—the flood of light
streaming from “starry lamps and blazing cressets” quite threw the
flames of perdition into the shade. As it was said of Erskine, that he
always spoke of Satan with respect, as of a great statesman out of
place, a sort of leader of the Opposition; so to me the grand arch-fiend
was a hero, like my _then_ favourite Greeks and Romans, a Cymon, a
Curtius, a Decius, devoting himself for the good of his country;—such
was the moral confusion created in my mind. Pandemonium inspired no
horror; on the contrary, my fancy revelled in the artistic beauty of the
creation. I felt that I should like to go and see it; so that, in fact,
if Milton meant to inspire abhorrence, he has failed, even to the height
of his sublimity. Dante has succeeded better. Those who dwell with
complacency on the doctrine of eternal punishments must delight in the
ferocity and the ingenuity of his grim inventions, worthy of a vengeful
theology. Wicked latitudinarians may shudder and shiver at the images
called up—grotesque, abominable, hideous—but then Dante himself would
sternly rebuke them for making their human sympathies a measure for the
judgments of God, and compassion only a veil for treason and rebellion:—

  “Chi è piu scellerato di colui
   Ch’ al giudicio divin passion porta?”

  “Who can show greater wickedness than he
   Whose passion by the will of God is moved?”

However, it must be said in favour of Dante’s Inferno, that no one ever
wished to go there.

These be the Christian poets! but they must yield in depth of imagined
horrors to the Christian Fathers. Tertullian (writing in the second
century) not only sends the wicked into that dolorous region of despair,
but makes the endless measureless torture of the doomed a part of the
joys of the redeemed. The spectacle is to give them the same sort of
delight as the heathen took in their games, and Pandemonium is to be as
a vast amphitheatre for the amusement of the New Jerusalem. “How
magnificent,” exclaims this pious doctor of the Church, “will be the
scale of that game! With what admiration, what laughter, what glee, what
triumph, shall I behold so many mighty monarchs, who had been given out
as received into the skies, moaning in unfathomable gloom! Persecutors
of the Christians liquefying amid shooting spires of flame! Philosophers
blushing before their disciples amid those ruddy fires! Then,” he goes
on, still alluding to the amphitheatre, “then is the time to hear the
tragedians doubly pathetic, now that they bewail their own agonies! To
observe actors released by the fierceness of their torments from all
restraints on their gestures! Then may we admire the charioteer glowing
all over in his car of torture, and watch the wrestlers struggling, not
in the gymnasium but with flames!” And he asks exultingly, “What prætor,
or consul, or questor, or priest, can purchase you by his munificence a
game of triumph like this?”

And even more terrible are the imaginations of good Bishop Taylor, who
distils the essence from all sins, all miseries, all sorrows, all
terrors, all plagues, and mingles them in one chalice of wrath and
vengeance to be held to the lips and forced down the unwilling throats
of the doomed “with violence of devils and accursed spirits!” Are these
mere words? Did any one ever fancy or try to realise what they express?


3.

I was surprised to find this passage in one of Southey’s letters:—


“A Catholic Establishment would be the best, perhaps the only means of
civilising Ireland. Jesuits and Benedictines, though they would not
enlighten the savages, would humanise them and bring the country into
cultivation. A petition that asked for this, saying plainly, ‘We are
Papists, and will be so, and this is the best thing that can be done for
us and you too,’—such a petition I would support, considering what the
present condition of Ireland is, how wretchedly it has always been
governed, and how hopeless the prospect.” (1805.)


Southey was thinking of what the religious orders had done for Paraguay;
whether he would have penned the same sentiments twenty or even ten
years later, is more than doubtful.

[Illustration]


4.

The old monks and penitents—dirty, ugly, emaciated old fellows they
were!—spent their days in speaking and preaching of their own and
others’ sinfulness, yet seem to have had ever present before them a
standard of beauty, brightness, beneficence, aspirations which nothing
earthly could satisfy, which made their ideas of sinfulness and misery
_comparative_, and their scale was graduated from themselves _upwards_.
We philosophers reverse this. We teach and preach the spiritual dignity,
the lofty capabilities of humanity. Yet, by some mistake, we seem to be
always speculating on the amount of evil which may or can be endured,
and on the amount of wickedness which may or must be tolerated; and our
scale is graduated from ourselves _downwards_.

[Illustration]


5.

“So long as the ancient mythology had any separate establishment in the
empire, the spiritual worship which our religion demands, and so
essentially implies as only fitting for it, was preserved in its purity
by means of the salutary contrast; but no sooner had the Church become
completely triumphant and exclusive, and the parallel of Pagan idolatry
totally removed, than the old constitutional appetite revived in all its
original force, and after a short but famous struggle with the
Iconoclasts, an image worship was established, and consecrated by bulls
and canons, which, in whatever light it is regarded, differed in no
respect but the names of its objects from that which had existed for so
many ages as the chief characteristic of the religious faith of the
Gentiles.”—_H. Nelson Coleridge._

I think, with submission, that it differed in sentiment; for in the
mythology of the Pagans the worship was to _beauty_, _immortality_, and
_power_, and in the Christian mythology—if I may call it so—of the
Middle Ages, the worship was to _purity_, _self-denial_, and _charity_.

[Illustration]


6.

“A narrow half-enlightened reason may easily make sport of all those
forms in which religious faith has been clothed by human imagination,
and ask why they are retained, and why one should be preferred to
another? It is sufficient to reply, that some forms there must be if
Religion is to endure as a social influence, and that the forms already
in existence are the best, if they are in unison with human sympathies,
and express, with the breadth and vagueness which every popular
utterance must from its nature possess, the interior convictions of the
general mind. What would become of the most sacred truth if all the
forms which have harboured it were destroyed at once by an unrelenting
reason, and it were driven naked and shivering about the earth till some
clever logician had devised a suitable abode for its reception? It is on
these outward forms of religion that the spirit of artistic beauty
descends and moulds them into fitting expressions of the invisible grace
and majesty of spiritual truth.”—_Prospective Review_, Feb. 24. 1845.

[Illustration]


7.

“Have not Dying Christs taught fortitude to the virtuous sufferer? Have
not Holy Families cherished and ennobled domestic affections? The tender
genius of the Christian morality, even in its most degenerate state, has
made the Mother and her Child the highest objects of affectionate
superstition. How much has that beautiful superstition by the pencils of
great artists contributed to humanise mankind?”—_Sir James Mackintosh_,
writing in 1802.

[Illustration]


8.

I remember once at Merton College Chapel (May, 1844), while Archdeacon
Manning was preaching an eloquent sermon on the eternity of reward and
punishment in the future life, I was looking at the row of windows
opposite, and I saw that there were seven, all different in pattern and
construction, yet all harmonising with each other and with the building
of which they formed a part;—a symbol they might have been of
differences in the Church of Christ. From the varied windows opposite I
looked down to the faces of the congregation, all upturned to the
preacher, with expression how different! Faith, hope, fear, in the open
mouths and expanded eyelids of some; a sort of silent protest in the
compressed lips and knitted brows of others; a speculative inquiry and
interest, or merely admiring acquiescence in others; as the high or low,
the wide or contracted head prevailed; and all this diversity in
organisation, in habits of thought, in expression, harmonised for the
time by one predominant object, one feeling! the hungry sheep looking up
to be fed! When I sigh over apparent disagreement, let me think of those
windows in Merton College Chapel, and the same light from heaven
streaming through them all!—and of that assemblage of human faces,
uplifted with the same aspiration one and all!

[Illustration]


9.

I have just read the article (by Sterling, I believe), in the “Edinburgh
Review” for July; and as it chanced, this same evening, Dr. Channing’s
“Discourse on the Church,” and Captain Maconochie’s “Report on Secondary
Punishments” from Sydney, came before me.

And as I laid them down, one after another, _this_ thought struck
me:—that about the same time, in three different and far divided regions
of the globe, three men, one military, the other an ecclesiastic, the
third a lawyer, and belonging apparently to different religious
denominations, all gave utterance to nearly the same sentiments in
regard to a Christian Church. Channing says, “A church destined to
endure through all ages, to act on all, to blend itself with new forms
of society, and with the highest improvements of the race, cannot be
expected to ordain an immutable mode of administration, but must leave
its modes of worship and communion to conform themselves silently and
gradually to the wants and progress of humanity. The rites and
arrangements which suit one period lose their significance or efficiency
in another; the forms which minister to the mind _now_ may fetter it
hereafter, and must give place to its free unfolding,” &c., and more to
the same purpose.

The reviewer says, “We believe that in the judgment of an enlightened
charity, many Christian societies who are accustomed to denounce each
others’ errors, will at length come to be regarded as members in common
of one great and comprehensive Church, in which diversity of forms are
harmonised by an all-pervading unity of spirit.” And more to the same
purpose. The soldier and reformer says, “I believe there may be error
because there must be imperfection in the religious faith of the best
among us; but that the degree of this error is not vital in any
Christian denomination seems demonstrable by the best fruits of
faith—good works—being evidenced by all.”

It is pleasant to see benign spirits divided in opinion, but harmonised
by faith, thus standing hand in hand upon a shore of peace, and looking
out together in serene hope for the dawning of a better day, instead of
rushing forth, each with his own farthing candle, under pretence of
illuminating the world—every one even more intent on putting out his
neighbour’s light than on guarding his own.

   (Nov. 15. 1841.)


While the idea of possible harmony in the universal Church of Christ (by
which I mean all who accept His teaching and are glad to bear His name)
is gaining ground theoretically, _practically_ it seems more and more
distant; since 1841 (when the above was written) the divergence is
greater than ever; and, as in politics, moderate opinions appear (since
1848) to merge on either side into the extremes of ultra conservatism
and ultra radicalism, as fear of the past or hope of the future
predominate, so it is in the Church. The sort of dualism which prevails
in politics and religion might give some colour to Lord Lindsay’s theory
of “progress through antagonism.”

[Illustration]


10.

I Incline to agree with those who think it a great mistake to consider
the present conditions or conception of Christianity as complete and
final: like the human soul to which it was fitted by Divine love and
wisdom, it has an immeasurable capacity of development, and “The Lord
hath more truth yet to break forth out of his Holy Word.”

[Illustration]


11.

The nations of the present age want not _less_ religion, but _more_.
They do not wish for less community with the Apostolic times, but for
more; but above all, they want their wounds healed by a Christianity
showing a life-renewing vitality allied to reason and conscience, and
ready and able to reform the social relations of life, beginning with
the domestic and culminating with the political. They want no negations,
but positive reconstruction—no conventionality, but an honest _bonâ
fide_ foundation, deep as the human mind, and a structure free and
organic as nature. In the meantime let no national form be urged as
identical with divine truth, let no dogmatic formula oppress conscience
and reason, and let no corporation of priests, no set of dogmatists, sow
discord and hatred in the sacred communities of domestic and national
life. This view cannot be obtained without national efforts, Christian
education, free institutions, and social reforms. Then no zeal will be
called Christian which is not hallowed by charity,—no faith Christian
which is not sanctioned by reason.”—_Hippolitus._

“Any author who in our time treats theological and ecclesiastical
subjects frankly, and therefore with reference to the problems of the
age, must expect to be ignored, and if that cannot be done, abused and
reviled.”

The same is true of moral subjects on which strong prejudices (or shall
I say strong _convictions_?) exist in minds not very strong.

It is not perhaps of so much consequence what we believe, as it is
important that we believe; that we do not affect to believe, and so
belie our own souls. Belief is _not_ always in our power, but truth is.

[Illustration]


12.

It seems an arbitrary limitation of the design of Christianity to
assume, as Priestley does, that “it consists solely in the revelation of
a future life confirmed by the bodily resurrection of Christ.” This is
truly a very material view of Christianity. If I were to be sure of
annihilation I should not be less certain of the truth of Christianity
as a system of morals exquisitely adapted for the improvement and
happiness of man as an individual; and equally adapted to conduce to the
amelioration and progressive happiness of mankind as a species.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



NOTES FROM VARIOUS SERMONS,

MADE ON THE SPOT;

SHOWING SOME THINGS IN WHICH ALL GOOD MEN ARE AGREED.


I.

_From a Roman Catholic Sermon._


When travelling in Ireland, I stayed over one Sunday in a certain town
in the north, and rambled out early in the morning. It was cold and wet,
the streets empty and quiet, but the sound of voices drew me in one
direction, down a court where was a Roman Catholic chapel. It was so
crowded that many of the congregation stood round the door. I remarked
among them a number of soldiers and most miserable-looking women. All
made way for me with true national courtesy, and I entered at the moment
the priest was finishing mass, and about to begin his sermon. There was
no pulpit, and he stood on the step of the altar; a fine-looking man,
with a bright face, a sonorous voice, and a _very_ strong Irish accent.
His text was from Matt. v. 43, 44.

He began by explaining what Christ really meant by the words “Love thy
neighbour.” Then drew a picture in contrast of hatred and dissension,
commencing with dissension in families, between kindred, and between
husband and wife. Then made a most touching appeal in behalf of children
brought up in an atmosphere of contention where no love is. “God help
them! God pity them! small chance for them of being either good or
happy! for their young hearts are saddened and soured with strife, and
they eat their bread in bitterness!”

Then he preached patience to the wives, indulgence to the husbands, and
denounced scolds and quarrelsome women in a manner that seemed to glance
at recent events: “When ye are found in the streets vilifying and
slandering one another, ay, and fighting and tearing each other’s hair,
do ye think ye’re women? no, ye’re not! ye’re devils incarnate, and
ye’ll go where the devils will be fit companions for ye!” &c. (Here some
women near me, with long black hair streaming down, fell upon their
knees, sobbing with contrition.) He then went on, in the same strain of
homely eloquence, to the evils of political and religious hatred, and
quoted the text, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live
peaceably with all men.” “I’m a Catholic,” he went on, “and I believe in
the truth of my own religion above all others. I’m convinced, by long
study and observation, it’s the best that is; but what then? Do ye think
I hate my neighbour because he thinks differently? Do ye think I _mane_
to force my religion down other people’s throats? If I were to preach
such uncharity to ye, my people, you wouldn’t listen to me, ye oughtn’t
to listen to me. Did Jesus Christ force His religion down other people’s
throats? Not He! He endured all, He was kind to all, even to the wicked
Jews that afterwards crucified Him.” “If you say you can’t love your
neighbour because he’s your enemy, and has injured you, what does that
mane? ‘_ye can’t! ye can’t!_’ as if that excuse will serve God? hav’n’t
ye done more and worse against Him? and didn’t He send His only Son into
the world to redeem ye? My good people, you’re all sprung from one
stock, all sons of Adam, all related to one another. When God created
Eve, mightn’t He have made her out of any thing, a stock or a stone, or
out of nothing at all, at all? but He took one of Adam’s ribs and
moulded her out of that, and gave her to him, just to show that we’re
all from one original, all related together, men and women, Catholics
and Protestants, Jews and Turks and Christians; all bone of one bone,
and flesh of one flesh!” He then insisted and demonstrated that all the
miseries of life, all the sorrows and mistakes of men, women, and
children; and, in particular, all the disasters of Ireland, the bankrupt
landlords, the religious dissensions, the fights domestic and political,
the rich without thought for the poor, and the poor without food or
work, all arose from nothing but the want of love. “Down on your knees,”
he exclaimed, “and ask God’s mercy and pardon; and as ye hope to find
it, ask pardon one of another for every angry word ye have spoken, for
every uncharitable thought that has come into your minds; and if any man
or woman have aught against his neighbour, no matter what, let it be
plucked out of his heart before he laves this place, let it be forgotten
at the door of this chapel. Let me, your pastor, have no more rason to
be ashamed of you; as if I were set over wild bastes, instead of
Christian men and women!”

After more in this fervid strain, which I cannot recollect, he gave his
blessing in the same earnest heartfelt manner. I never saw a
congregation more attentive, more reverent, and apparently more touched
and edified. (1848.)

[Illustration]


II.

_From another Roman Catholic Sermon, delivered in the private chapel of
a Nobleman._

This Discourse was preached on the festival of St. John the Baptist, and
was a summary of his doctrine, life, and character. The text was taken
from St. Luke, iii. 9. to 14.; in which St. John answers the question of
the people, “what shall we do then?” by a brief exposition of their
several duties.

“What is most remarkable in all this,” said the priest, “is truly that
there is nothing very remarkable in it. The Baptist required from his
hearers very simple and very familiar duties,—such as he was not the
first to preach, such as had been recognised as duties by all religions;
and do you think that those who were neither Jews nor Christians were
therefore left without any religion? No! never did God leave any of his
creatures without religion; they could not utter the words _right_,
_wrong_,—_beautiful_, _hateful_, without recognising a religion written
by God on their hearts from the beginning—a religion which existed
before the preaching of John, before the coming of Christ, and of which
the appearance of John and the doctrine and sacrifice of Christ, were
but the fulfilment. For Christ came to _fulfil_ the law, not to destroy
it. Do you ask what law? Not the law of Moses, but the universal law of
God’s moral truth written in our hearts. It is, my friends, a folly to
talk of _natural_ religion as of something different from _revealed_
religion.

“The great proof of the truth of John’s mission lies in its
comprehensiveness: men and women, artisans and soldiers, the rich and
the poor, the young and the old, gathered to him in the wilderness; and
he included all in his teaching, for he was sent to all; and the best
proof of the truth of his teaching lies in its harmony with that law
already written in the heart and the conscience of men. When Christ came
afterwards, he preached a doctrine more sublime, with a more
authoritative voice; but here, also, the best proof we have of the truth
of that divine teaching lies in this—that he had prepared from the
beginning the heart and the conscience of man to harmonise with it.”


This was a very curious sermon; quiet, elegant, and learned, with a good
deal of sacred and profane history introduced in illustration, which I
am sorry I cannot remember in detail. It made, however, no appeal to
feeling or to practice; and after listening to it, we all went in to
luncheon and discussed our newspapers.

[Illustration]


III.

_Fragments of a Sermon (Anglican Church)._

Text, Luke iv., from the 14th to the 18th, but more especially the 18th
verse. This sermon was extempore.


The preacher began by observing, that our Lord’s sermon at Nazareth
established the second of two principles. By his sermon from the Mount,
in which he had addressed the multitude in the open air, under the vault
of the blue heaven alone, he has left to us the principle that all
places are fitted for the service of God, and that all places may be
sanctified by the preaching of his truth. While, by his sermon in the
Synagogue (that which is recorded by St. Luke in this passage), he has
established the principle, that it is right to set apart a place to
assemble together in worship and to listen to instruction; and it is
observable that on this occasion our Saviour taught in the synagogue,
where there was no sacrifice, no ministry of the priests, as in the
Temple; but where a portion of the law and the prophets might be read by
any man; and any man, even a stranger (as he was himself), might be
called upon to expound.

Then reading impressively the whole of the narrative down to the 32nd
verse, the preacher closed the sacred volume, and went on to this
effect:—

“There are two orders of evil in the world—Sin and Crime. Of the second,
the world takes strict cognisance; of the first, it takes comparatively
little; yet _that_ is worse in the eyes of God. There are two orders of
temptation: the temptation which assails our lower nature—our appetites;
the temptation which assails our higher nature—our intellect. The
_first_, leading to sin in the body, is punished in the body,—the
consequence being pain, disease, death. The _second_, leading to sins of
the soul, as pride chiefly, uncharitableness, selfish sacrifice of
others to our own interests or purposes,—is punished in the soul—in the
Hell of the Spirit.”

(All this part of his discourse very beautiful, earnest, eloquent; but I
regretted that he did not follow out the distinction he began with
between _sin_ and _crime_, and the views and deductions, religious and
moral, which that distinction leads to.)

He continued to this effect: “Christ said that it was a part of his
mission to heal the broken-hearted. What is meant by the phrase ‘a
broken heart?’” He illustrated it by the story of Eli, and by the wife
of Phineas, both of whom died broken in heart; “and our Saviour himself
died on the cross heart-broken by sorrow rather than by physical
torture.”—

(I lost something here because I was questioning and doubting within
myself, for I have always had the thought that Christ must have been
_glad_ to die.)

He went on:—“To heal the broken-hearted is to say to those who are beset
by the remembrance and the misery of sin, ‘My brother, the past is
past—think not of it to thy perdition; arise and sin no more.’” (All
this, and more to the same purpose, wonderfully beautiful! and I became
all soul—subdued to listen.) “There are two ways of meeting the pressure
of misery and heart-break: first, by trusting to time” (then followed a
quotation from Schiller’s “Wallenstein,” in reference to grief, which
sounded strange, and yet beautiful, from the pulpit, “Was verschmerzte
nicht der Mensch?”—what cannot man grieve down?); “secondly, by defiance
and resistance, setting oneself resolutely to endure. But Christ taught
a different way from either—by _submission_—by the complete surrender of
our whole being to the will of God.

“The next part of Christ’s mission was to preach deliverance to the
captives.” (Then followed a most eloquent and beautiful exposition of
Christian freedom—of who were free; and who were not free, but properly
spiritual captives.) “To be content within limitations is freedom; to
desire beyond those limitations is bondage. The bird which is content
within her cage is free; the bird which can fly from tree to tree, yet
desires to soar like the eagle,—the eagle which can ascend to the
mountain peak yet desires to reach the height of that sun on which his
eye is fixed,—these are in bondage. The man who is not content within
his sphere of duties and powers, but feels his faculties, his position,
his profession; a perpetual trammel,—_he_ is spiritually in bondage. The
only freedom is the freedom of the soul, content within its external
limitations, and yet elevated spiritually far above them by the inward
powers and impulses which lift it up to God.”

[Illustration]


IV.

_Recollections of another Church of England Sermon preached extempore._

The text was taken from Matt. xii. 42.: “The Queen of the South shall
rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it,” &c.


The preacher began by drawing that distinction between knowledge and
wisdom which so many comprehend and allow, and so few apply. He then
described the two parties in the great question of popular education.
Those who would base all human progress on secular instruction, on
knowledge in contradistinction to ignorance, as on light opposed to
darkness;—and the mistake of those who, taking the contrary extreme,
denounce all secular instruction imparted to the poor as dangerous, or
contemn it as useless. The error of those who sneer at the triumph of
intellect he termed a species of idiocy; and the error of those who do
not see the insufficiency of knowledge, blind presumption. Then he
contrasted worldly wisdom and spiritual; with a flow of gorgeous
eloquence he enlarged on the picture of worldly wisdom as exhibited in
the character of Solomon, and of intellect, and admiration for
intellect, in the character of the Queen of Sheba. “In what consisted
the wisdom of Solomon? He made, as the sacred history assures us, three
thousand proverbs, mostly prudential maxims relating to conduct in life;
the use and abuse of riches; prosperity and adversity. His acquirements
in natural philosophy seem to have been confined to the appearances of
material and visible things; the herbs and trees, the beasts and birds,
the creeping things and fishes. His political wisdom consisted in
increasing his wealth, his dominions, and the number of his subjects and
cities. On his temple he lavished all that art had then accomplished,
and on his own house a world of riches in gold, and silver, and precious
things: but all was done for his own glory—nothing for the improvement
or the happiness of his people, who were ground down by taxes, suffered
in the midst of all his magnificence, and remained ignorant in spite of
all his knowledge. Witness the wars, tyrannies, miseries, delusions, and
idolatries which followed after his death.”

“But the Queen of Sheba came not from the uttermost parts of the earth
to view the magnificence and wonder at the greatness of the King, she
came to hear his wisdom. She came not to ask anything from him, but to
prove him with hard questions. No idea of worldly gain, or selfish
ambition was in her thoughts; she paid even for the pleasure of hearing
his wise sayings by rare and costly gifts.”

“Knowledge is power; but he who worships knowledge not for its own sake,
but for the power it brings, worships power. Knowledge is riches; but he
who worships knowledge for the sake of all it bestows, worships riches.
The Queen of Sheba worshipped knowledge solely for its own sake; and the
truths which she sought from the lips of Solomon she sought for truth’s
sake. She gave, all she could give, in return, the spicy products of her
own land, treasures of pure gold, and blessings warm from her heart. The
man who makes a voyage to the antipodes only to behold the constellation
of the Southern Cross, the man who sails to the North to see how the
magnet trembles and varies, these love knowledge for its own sake, and
are impelled by the same enthusiasm as the Queen of Sheba.” He went on
to analyse the character of Solomon, and did not treat him, I thought,
with much reverence either as sage or prophet. He remarked that, “of the
thousand songs of Solomon one only survives, and that both in this song
and in his proverbs his meaning has often been mistaken; it is supposed
to be spiritual, and is interpreted symbolically, when in fact the
plain, obvious, material significance is the true one.”

He continued to this effect,—but with a power of language and
illustration which I cannot render. “We see in Solomon’s own description
of his dominion, his glory, his wealth, his fame, what his boasted
wisdom achieved; what it could, and what it could not do for him. What
was the end of all his magnificence? of his worship of the beautiful? of
his intellectual triumphs? of his political subtlety? of his ships, and
his commerce, and his chariots, and his horses, and his fame which
reached to the ends of the earth? All—as it is related—ended in
feebleness, in scepticism, in disbelief of happiness, in sensualism,
idolatry, and dotage! The whole ‘Book of Ecclesiastes,’ fine as it is,
presents a picture of selfishness and epicurism. This was the King of
the Jews! the King of those that know! (_Il maestro di color chi
sanno._) Solomon is a type of worldly wisdom, of desire of knowledge for
the sake of all that knowledge can give. We imitate him when we would
base the happiness of a people on knowledge. When we have commanded the
sun to be our painter, and the lightning to run on our errands, what
reward have we? Not the increase of happiness, nor the increase of
goodness; nor—what is next to both—our faith in both.”

“It would seem profane to contrast Solomon and Christ had not our
Saviour himself placed that contrast distinctly before us. He
consecrated the comparison by applying it—‘Behold a greater than Solomon
is here.’ In quoting these words we do not presume to bring into
comparison the two _natures_, but the two intellects—the two aspects of
truth. Solomon described the external world; Christ taught the moral
law. Solomon illustrated the aspects of nature; Christ helped the
aspirations of the spirit. Solomon left as a legacy the saying that ‘in
much wisdom there is much grief;’ and Christ preached to us the lowly
wisdom which can consecrate grief; making it lead to the elevation of
our whole being and to ultimate happiness. The two majesties—the two
kings—how different! Not till we are old, and have suffered, and have
laid our experience to heart, do we feel the immeasurable distance
between the teaching of Christ and the teaching of Solomon!”

Then returning to the Queen of Sheba, he treated the character as the
type of the intellectual woman. He contrasted her rather favourably with
Solomon. He described with picturesque felicity, her long and toilsome
journey to see, to admire, the man whose wisdom had made him
renowned;—the mixture of enthusiasm and humility which prompted her
desire to learn, to prove the truth of what rumour had conveyed to her,
to commune with him of all that was in her heart. And she returned to
her own country rich in wise sayings. But did the final result of all
this glory and knowledge reach her there? and did it shake her faith in
him she had bowed to as the wisest of kings and men?

He then contrasted the character of the Queen of Sheba with that of
Mary, the mother of our Lord, that feminine type of holiness, of
tenderness, of long-suffering; of sinless purity in womanhood, wifehood,
and motherhood: and rising to more than usual eloquence and power, he
prophesied the regeneration of all human communities through the social
elevation, the intellect, the purity, and the devotion of Woman.

[Illustration]


V.

_From a Sermon (apparently extempore) by a Dissenting Minister._


The ascetics of the old times seem to have had a belief that all sin was
in the body; that the spirit belonged to God, and the body to his
adversary the devil; and that to contemn, ill-treat, and degrade by
every means this frame of ours, so wonderfully, so fearfully, so
exquisitely made, was to please the Being who made it; and who, for
gracious ends, no doubt, rendered it capable of such admirable
development of strength and beauty. Miserable mistake!

To some, this body is as a prison from which we are to rejoice to escape
by any permitted means: to others, it is as a palace to be luxuriously
kept up and decorated within and without. But what says Paul (Cor. vi.
19.),—“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which
is in you, which ye have from God, and which is not your own?”

Surely not less than a temple is that form which the Divine Redeemer
took upon him, and deigned, for a season, to inhabit; which he
consecrated by his life, sanctified by his death, glorified by his
transfiguration, hallowed and beautified by his resurrection!

It is because they do not recognise _this_ body as a temple, built up by
God’s intelligence, as a fitting sanctuary for the immortal Spirit, and
_this_ life equally with any other form of life as dedicate to Him, that
men fall into such opposite extremes of sin:—the spiritual sin which
contemns the body, and the sensual sin which misuses it.

[Illustration]


VI.


When I was at Boston I made the acquaintance of Father Taylor, the
founder of the Sailors’ Home in that city. He was considered as the
apostle of the seamen, and I was full of veneration for him as the
enthusiastic teacher and philanthropist. But it is not of his virtues or
his labours that I wish to speak. He struck me in another way, _as a
poet_; he was a born poet. Until he was five-and-twenty he had never
learned to read, and his reading afterwards was confined to such books
as aided him in his ministry. He remained an illiterate man to the last,
but his mind was teeming with spontaneous imagery, allusion, metaphor.
One might almost say of him,

             “He could not ope
   His mouth, but out there flew a trope!”

These images and allusions had a freshness, an originality, and
sometimes an oddity that was quite startling, and they were generally,
but not always, borrowed from his former profession—that of a sailor.


One day we met him in the street. He told us in a melancholy voice that
he had been burying a child, and alluded almost with emotion to the
great number of infants he had buried lately. Then after a pause,
striking his stick on the ground and looking upwards, he added, “There
must be something wrong somewhere! there’s a storm brewing, when the
doves are all flying aloft!”


One evening in conversation with me, he compared the English and the
Americans to Jacob’s vine, which, planted on one side of the wall, grew
over it and hung its boughs and clusters on the other side,—“but it is
still the same vine, nourished from the same root!”


On one occasion when I attended his chapel, the sermon was preceded by a
long prayer in behalf of an afflicted family, one of whose members had
died or been lost in a whaling expedition to the South Seas. In the
midst of much that was exquisitely pathetic and poetical, refined ears
were startled by such a sentence as this,—“Grant, O Lord! that this rod
of chastisement be sanctified, every twig of it, to the edification of
their souls!”


Then immediately afterwards he prayed that the Divine Comforter might be
near the bereaved father “when his aged heart went forth from his bosom
to flutter round the far southern grave of his boy!” Praying for others
of the same family who were on the wide ocean, he exclaimed, stretching
forth his arms, “O save them! O guard them! thou angel of the deep!”


On another occasion, speaking of the insufficiency of the moral
principles without religious feelings, he exclaimed, “Go heat your ovens
with snowballs! What! shall I send you to heaven with such an icicle in
your pocket? I might as well put a millstone round your neck to teach
you to swim!”


He was preaching against violence and cruelty:—“Don’t talk to me,” said
he, “of the savages! a ruffian in the midst of Christendom is the savage
of savages. He is as a man freezing in the sun’s heat, groping in the
sun’s light, a straggler in paradise, an alien in heaven!”

In his chapel all the principal seats in front of the pulpit and down
the centre aisle were filled by the sailors. We ladies, and gentlemen,
and strangers, whom curiosity had brought to hear him, were ranged on
each side; he would on no account allow us to take the best places. On
one occasion, as he was denouncing hypocrisy, luxury, and vanity, and
other vices of more civilised life, he said emphatically, “I don’t mean
_you_ before me here,” looking at the sailors; “I believe you are wicked
enough, but honest fellows in some sort, for you profess less, not more,
than you practise; but I mean to touch _starboard_ and _larboard_
there!” stretching out both hands with the forefinger extended, and
looking at us on either side till we quailed.


He compared the love of God in sending Christ upon earth to that of the
father of a seaman who sends his eldest and most beloved son, the hope
of the family, to bring back the younger one, lost on his voyage, and
missing when his ship returned to port.


Alluding to the carelessness of Christians, he used the figure of a
mariner, steering into port through a narrow dangerous channel, “false
lights here, rocks there, shifting sand banks on one side, breakers on
the other; and who, instead of fixing his attention to keep the head of
his vessel right, and to obey the instructions of the pilot as he sings
out from the wheel, throws the pilot overboard, lashes down the helm,
and walks the deck whistling, with his hands in the pockets of his
jacket.” Here, suiting the action to the word, he put on a true
sailor-like look of defiant jollity;—changed in a moment to an
expression of horror as he added, “See! See! she drifts to destruction!”


One Sunday he attempted to give to his sailor congregation an idea of
Redemption. He began with an eloquent description of a terrific storm at
sea, rising to fury through all its gradations; then, amid the waves, a
vessel is seen labouring in distress and driving on a lee shore. The
masts bend and break, and go overboard; the sails are rent, the helm
unshipped, they spring a leak! the vessel begins to fill, the water
gains on them; she sinks deeper, deeper, _deeper! deeper!_ He bent over
the pulpit repeating the last words again and again; his voice became
low and hollow. The faces of the sailors as they gazed up at him with
their mouths wide open, and their eyes fixed, I shall never forget.
Suddenly stopping, and looking to the farthest end of the chapel as into
space, he exclaimed, with a piercing cry of exultation, “A life boat! a
life boat!” Then looking down upon his congregation, most of whom had
sprung to their feet in an ecstasy of suspense, he said in a deep
impressive tone, and extending his arms, “_Christ is that life boat!_”

[Illustration]


VII.

RELIGION AND SCIENCE.


“It is true, that science has not made Nature as expressive of God in
the first instance, or to the beginner in religion, as it was in earlier
times. Science reveals a rigid, immutable order; and this to common
minds looks much like self-subsistence, and does not manifest
intelligence, which is full of life, variety, and progressive operation.
Men, in the days of their ignorance, saw an immediate Divinity
accomplishing an immediate purpose, or expressing an immediate feeling,
in every sudden, striking change of nature—in a storm, the flight of a
bird, &c.; and Nature, thus interpreted, became the sign of a present,
deeply interested Deity. Science undoubtedly brings vast aids, but it is
to _prepared_ minds, to those who have begun in another school. The
greatest aid it yields consists in the revelation it makes of the
Infinite. It aids us not so much by showing us marks of design in this
or that particular thing as by showing the _Infinite_ in the _finite_.
Science does this office when it unfolds to us the unity of the
universe, which thus becomes the sign, the efflux of one unbounded
intelligence, when it reveals to us in every work of Nature infinite
connections, the influences of all-pervading laws—when it shows us in
each created thing unfathomable, unsearchable depths, to which our
intelligence is altogether unequal. Thus Nature explored by science is a
witness of the Infinite. It is also a witness to the same truth by its
beauty; for what is so undefined, so mysterious as beauty?”—_Dr.
Channing._

[Illustration]



PART II.

Literature and Art.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Notes from Books.


1.

“A great advantage is derived from the occasional practice of reading
together, for each person selects different beauties and starts
different objections: while the same passage perhaps awakens in each
mind a different train of associated ideas, or raises different images
for the purposes of illustration.”—_Francis Horner._


2.

“C’est ainsi que je poursuis la communication de quelque esprit fameux,
non afin qu’il m’enseigne mais afin que je le connaisse, et que le
connaissant, s’il le faut, je l’imite.”—_Montaigne._

[Illustration]


DR. ARNOLD.

3.

I sat up till half-past two this morning reading Dr. Arnold’s “Life and
Letters,” and have my soul full of him to-day.

On the whole I cannot say that the perusal of this admirable book has
changed any notion in my mind, or added greatly to my stock of ideas.
There was no height of inspiration, or eloquence, or power, to which I
looked _up_; no profound depth of thought or feeling into which I looked
_down_; no _new_ lights; no _new_ guides; no absolutely _new_ aspects of
things human or spiritual.

On the other hand, I never read a book of the kind with a more
harmonious sense of pleasure and _approbation_,—if the word be not from
me presumptuous. While I read page after page, the mind which was
unfolded before me seemed to me a brother’s mind—the spirit, a kindred
spirit. It was the improved, the elevated, the enlarged, the enriched,
the every-way superior reflection of my own intelligence, but it was
certainly _that_. I felt it so from beginning to end. Exactly the
reverse was the feeling with which I laid down the Life and Letters of
Southey. I was instructed, amused, interested; I profited and admired;
but with the _man_ Southey I had no sympathies: my mind stood off from
his; the poetical intellect attracted, the material of the character
repelled me. I liked the embroidery, but the texture was disagreeable,
repugnant. Now with regard to Dr. Arnold, my entire sympathy with the
character, with the _material_ of the character, did not extend to all
its manifestations. I liked the texture better than the
embroidery;—perhaps, because of my feminine organisation.

Nor did my admiration of the intellect extend to the acceptance of _all_
the opinions which emanated from it; perhaps because from the manner
these were enunciated, or merely touched upon (in letters chiefly), I
did not comprehend clearly the reasoning on which they may have been
founded. Perhaps, if I had done so, I must have respected them more,
perhaps have been convinced by them; so large, so candid, so rich in
knowledge, and apparently so logical, was the mind which admitted them.

And yet this excellent, admirable man, seems to have _feared_ God, in
the common-place sense of the word fear. He considered the Jews as out
of the pale of equality; he was against their political emancipation
from a hatred of Judaism. He subscribed to the Athanasian Creed, which
stuck even in George the Third’s orthodox throat. He believed in what
Coleridge could not admit, in the existence of the spirit of evil as a
person. He had an idea that the Church _of God_ may be destroyed by an
Antichrist; he speaks of such a consummation as possible, as probable,
as impending; as if any institution really from God could be destroyed
by an adverse power!—and he thought that a lawyer could not be a
Christian.


4.

Certain passages filled me with astonishment as coming from a churchman,
particularly what he says of the sacraments (vol. ii. pp. 75. 113.); and
in another place, where he speaks of “the _pestilent_ distinction
between clergy and laity;” and where he says, “I hold that one form of
Church government is exactly as much according to Christ’s will as
another.” And in another place he speaks of the Anglican Church (with
reference to Henry VIII. as its father, and Elizabeth as its
foster-mother), as “the child of regal and aristocratical selfishness
and unprincipled tyranny, who has never dared to speak boldly to the
great, but has contented herself with lecturing the poor;” but he forgot
at the moment the trial of the bishops in James’s time, and their noble
stand against regal authority.


5.

With regard to conservatism (vol. ii. pp. 19. 62.), he seems to mean—as
I understand the whole passage,—that it is a good _instinct_ but a bad
_principle_. Yet as a principle is it, as he says, “always wrong?”
Though as the adversary of progress, it must be always wrong, yet as the
adversary of change it _may_ be sometimes right.


6.

He remarks that most of those who are above sectarianism are in general
indifferent to Christianity, while almost all who profess to value
Christianity seem, when they are brought to the test, to care only for
their own sect. “Now,” he adds, “it is manifest to me, that all our
education must be Christian, and not be sectarian.” Yet the whole aim of
education up to this time has been, in this country, eminently
sectarian, and every statesman who has attempted to place it on a
broader basis has been either wrecked or stranded.

“All sects,” he says in another place, “have had among them marks of
Christ’s Catholic Church in the graces of his Spirit and the confession
of his name,” and he seems to wish that some one would compile a book
showing side by side what professors of all sects have done for the good
of Christ’s Church,—the martyrdoms, the missionary labours of
Catholics, Protestants, Arians, &c.; “a grand field,” he calls it,—and
so it were; but it lies fallow up to this time.


7.

“the philosophy of medicine, I imagine, is at zero; our practice is
empirical, and seems hardly more than a course of guessing, more or less
happy.” In another place (vol. ii. p. 72.), he says, “yet I honour
medicine as the most beneficent of all professions.”


8.

He says (vol. ii. p. 42.), “Narrow-mindedness tends to wickedness,
because it does not extend its watchfulness to every part of our moral
nature.” “Thus, a man may have one or more virtues, such as are
according to his favourite ideas, in great perfection; and still be
nothing, because these ideas are his idols, and, worshipping them with
all his heart, there is a portion of his heart, more or less
considerable, left without its proper object, guide, and nourishment;
and so this portion is left to the dominion of evil,” &c.

(One might ask _how_, if a man worship these ideas with _all_ his heart,
a portion could be left? but the sense is so excellent, I cannot quarrel
with a slight inaccuracy in the expression. I never quite understood
before why it is difficult to subscribe to the truth of the phrase “He
is a good but a narrow-minded man,” but _felt_ the incompatibility.)


9.

He says “the word _useful_ implies the idea of good robbed of its
nobleness.” Is this true? the _useful_ is the _good_ applied to
practical purposes; it need not, therefore, be less noble. The nobleness
lies in the spirit in which it is so applied.


10.

Benthamism (what _is_ it?), Puritanism, Judaism, how he hates them! I
suppose, because he _fears_ God and _fears_ for the Church of God.
Hatred of all kinds seems to originate in fear.


11.

What he says of conscience, very remarkable!

“Men get embarrassed by the common cases of a misguided conscience: but
a compass may be out of order as well as a conscience; and you can trace
the deranging influence on the latter quite as surely as on the former.
The needle may point due south if you hold a powerful magnet in that
direction; still the compass, generally speaking, is a true and sure
guide,” &c.; and then he adds, “he who believes his conscience to be
God’s law, by obeying it obeys God.”

I think there would be much to say about all this passage relating to
conscience, nor am I sure that I quite understand it. Derangement of the
intellect is madness; is not derangement of the conscience also madness?
might it not be induced, as we bring on a morbid state of the other
faculties, by over use and abuse? by giving it more than its due share
of power in the commonwealth of the mind? It should preside, not
tyrannise; rule, not exercise a petty cramping despotism. A healthy
courageous conscience gives to the powers, instincts, impulses, fair
play; and having once settled the order of government with a strong
hand, is not always meddling though always watchful.

Then again, how is conscience “God’s law?” Conscience is not the law,
but the interpreter of the law; it does not teach the difference between
right and wrong, it only impels us to do what we believe to be right,
and smites us when we _think_ we have been wrong. How is it that many
have done wrong, and every day do wrong for conscience’ sake?—and does
that sanctify the wrong in the eyes of God, as well as in those of John
Huss?[1]


12.

“Prayer,” he says, “and kindly intercourse with the poor, are the two
great safeguards of spiritual life—its more than food and raiment.”

True; but there is something higher than this fed and clothed spiritual
life; something more difficult, yet less conscious.


13.

In allusion to Coleridge, he says very truly, that the power of
contemplation becomes diseased and perverted when it is the main
employment of life. But to the same great intellect he does beautiful
justice in another passage. “Coleridge seemed to me to love truth
really, and, therefore, truth presented herself to him, not negatively,
as she does to many minds, who can see that the objections against her
are unfounded, and therefore that she is to be received; but she filled
him, as it were, heart and mind, imbuing him with her very self, so that
all his being comprehended her fully, and loved her ardently; and that
seems to me to be true wisdom.”


14.

Very fine is a passage wherein he speaks against meeting what is wrong
and bad with negatives, with merely proving the wrong to be wrong, and
the false to be false, without substituting for either the positively
good and true.


15.

He contrasts as the two forms of the present danger to the Church and to
society, the prevalent epicurean atheism, and the lying and formal
spirit of priestcraft. He seems to have had an impression that the
Church of God may be “utterly destroyed”(?), or, he asks, “must we look
forward for centuries to come to the mere alternations of infidelity and
superstition, scepticism, and Newmanism?” It is very curious to see two
such men as Arnold and Carlyle both overwhelmed with a terror of the
magnitude of the mischiefs they see impending over us. They are
oppressed with the anticipation of evil as with a sense of personal
calamity. Something alike, perhaps, in the temperaments of these two
extraordinary men;—large conscientiousness, large destructiveness, and
small hope: there was great mutual sympathy and admiration.


16.

Very admirable what he says in favour of comprehensive reading, against
exclusive reading in one line of study. He says, “Preserve proportion in
your reading, keep your view of men and things extensive, and depend
upon it a mixed knowledge is not a superficial one; as far as it goes
the views that it gives are true; but he who reads deeply in one class
of writers only, gets views which are almost sure to be perverted, and
which are not only _narrow but false_.”

[Illustration]


17.

All his descriptions of natural scenery and beauty show his intense
sensibility to them, but nowhere is there a trace of the love or the
comprehension of art, as the reflection from the mind of man of the
nature and the beauty he so loved. Thus, after dwelling on a scene of
exquisite natural beauty, he says, “Much more beautiful, because made
truly after God’s own image, are the forms and colours of kind, and
wise, and holy thoughts, words, and actions;” that is to say—although he
knew not or made not the application—ART, in the high sense of the word,
for that is the embodying in beautiful hues and forms, what is kind,
wise, and holy; in one word—_good_. In fact, he says himself, art,
physical science, and natural history, were not included within the
reach of his mind; the first for want of taste, the second for want of
time, and the third for want of inclination.


18.

He says, “The whole subject of the brute creation is to me one of such
painful mystery, that I dare not approach it.” This is very striking
from such a man. How deep, consciously or unconsciously, does this
feeling lie in many minds!

Bayle had already termed the acts, motives, and feelings of the lower
order of animals, “un des plus profonds abîmes sur quoi notre raison
peut s’exerciser.”

There is nothing, as I have sometimes thought, in which men so blindly
sin as in their appreciation and treatment of the whole lower order of
creatures. It is affirmed that love and mercy towards animals are not
inculcated by any direct precept of Christianity, but surely they are
included in its spirit; yet it has been remarked that cruelty towards
animals is far more common in Western Christendom than in the East. With
the Mahometan and Brahminical races humanity to animals, and the
sacredness of life in all its forms, is much more of a religious
principle than among ourselves.

Bacon, in his “Advancement of Learning,” does not think it beneath his
philosophy to point out as a part of human morals, and a condition of
human improvement, justice and mercy to the lower animals—“the extension
of a noble and excellent principle of compassion to the creatures
subject to man.” “The Turks,” he says, “though a cruel and sanguinary
nation both in descent and discipline, give alms to brutes, and suffer
them not to be tortured.”

It should seem as if the primitive Christians, by laying so much stress
upon a future life in contradistinction to this life, and placing the
lower creatures out of the pale of hope, placed them at the same time
out of the pale of sympathy, and thus laid the foundation for this utter
disregard of animals in the light of our fellow creatures. The
definition of virtue among the early Christians was the same as
Paley’s—that it was good performed for the sake of ensuring everlasting
happiness—which of course excluded all the so-called brute creatures.
Kind, loving, submissive, conscientious, much enduring, we know them to
be; but because we deprive them of all stake in the future, because they
have no selfish calculated aim, these are not virtues; yet if we say “a
_vicious_ horse,” why not say a _virtuous_ horse?

The following passage, bearing curiously enough on the most abstruse
part of the question, I found in Hallam’s Literature of the Middle
Ages:—“Few,” he says, “at present, who believe in the immateriality of
the human soul, would deny the same to an elephant; but it must be owned
that the discoveries of zoology have pushed this to consequences which
some might not readily adopt. The spiritual being of a sponge revolts a
little our prejudices; yet there is no resting-place, and we must admit
this, or be content to sink ourselves into a mass of medullary fibre.
Brutes have been as slowly emancipated in philosophy as some classes of
mankind have been in civil polity; their souls, we see, were almost
universally disputed to them at the end of the seventeenth century, even
by those who did not absolutely bring them down to machinery. Even
within the recollection of many, it was common to deny them any kind of
reasoning faculty, and to solve their most sagacious actions by the
vague word instinct. We have come of late years to think better of our
humble companions; and, as usual in similar cases, the preponderant bias
seems rather too much of a levelling character.”

When natural philosophers speak of “the higher reason and more limited
instincts of man,” as compared with animals, do they mean savage man or
cultivated man? In the savage man the instincts have a power, a range, a
certitude, like those of animals. As the mental faculties become
expanded and refined the instincts become subordinate. In tame animals
are the instincts as strong as in wild animals? Can we not, by a process
of training, substitute an entirely different set of motives and habits?

Why, in managing animals, do men in general make brutes of themselves to
address what is most _brute_ in the lower creature, as if it had not
been demonstrated that in using our higher faculties, our reason and
benevolence, we develop sympathetically higher powers in _them_, and in
subduing them through what is best within us, raise them and bring them
nearer to ourselves?

In general the more we can gather of facts, the nearer we are to the
elucidation of theoretic truth. But with regard to animals, the
multiplication of facts only increases our difficulties and puts us to
confusion.

“Can we otherwise explain animal instincts than by supposing that the
Deity himself is virtually the active and present moving principle
within them? If we deny them _soul_, we must admit that they have some
spirit direct from God, what we call _unerring_ instinct, which holds
the place of it.” This is the opinion which Newton adopts. Then are we
to infer that the reason of man removes him further from God than the
animals, since we cannot offend God in our instincts, only in our
reason? and that the superiority of the human animal lies in the power
of sinning? Terrible power! terrible privilege! out of which we deduce
the law of progress and the necessity for a future life.

The following passage bearing on the subject is from Bentham:—

“The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those
rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand
of tyranny. It may come one day to be recognised that the number of
legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the _os sacrum_,
are reasons insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the caprice
of a tormentor. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line?
is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But
a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational as well
as a more conversable animal than an infant of a day, a week, or even a
month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The
question is not, ‘can they reason?’ nor ‘can they speak?’ but ‘can they
suffer?’”

I do not remember ever to have heard the kind and just treatment of
animals enforced upon Christian principles or made the subject of a
sermon.

[Illustration]


19.

Once, when I was at Vienna, there was a dread of hydrophobia, and orders
were given to massacre all the dogs which were found unclaimed or
uncollared in the city or suburbs. Men were employed for this purpose,
and they generally carried a short heavy stick, which they flung at the
poor proscribed animal with such certain aim as either to kill or maim
it mortally at one blow. It happened one day that, close to the edge of
the river, near the Ferdinand’s-Brücke, one of these men flung his stick
at a wretched dog, but with such bad aim that it fell into the river.
The poor animal, following his instinct or his teaching, immediately
plunged in, redeemed the stick, and laid it down at the feet of its
owner, who, snatching it up, dashed out the creature’s brains.

I wonder what the Athenians would have done to such a man? they who
banished the judge of the Areopagus because he flung away the bird which
had sought shelter in his bosom?

[Illustration]


20.

I return to Dr. Arnold. He laments the neglect of our cathedrals and the
absurd confusion in so many men’s minds “between what is really Popery,
and what is but wisdom and beauty adopted by the Roman Catholics and
neglected by us.”


21.

He says, “Then, only, can opportunities of evil be taken from us, when
we lose also all opportunity of doing or becoming good.” An obvious,
even common place thought, well and tersely expressed. The inextricable
co-relation and apparent antagonism of good and evil were never more
strongly put.


22.

The defeat of Varus by the Germans, and the defeat of the moors by
Charles Martel, he ranked as the two most important battles in the
history of the world. I see why. The first, because it decided whether
the north of Europe was to be completely Latinised; the second, because
it decided whether all Europe was to be completely Mahomedanised.


23.

“How can he who labours hard for his daily bread—hardly and with
doubtful success—be made wise and good, and therefore how can he be made
happy? This question undoubtedly the Church was meant to solve; for
Christ’s kingdom was to undo the evil of Adam’s sin; but the Church has
not solved it nor attempted to do so, and no one else has gone about it
rightly. How shall the poor man find time to be educated?”

This question, which “the Church has not yet solved,” men have now set
their wits to solve for themselves.


24.

When in Italy he writes:—“It is almost awful to look at the beauty which
surrounds me and then think of moral evil. It seems as if heaven and
hell, instead of being separated by a great gulf from us and from each
other, were close at hand and on each other’s confines.”

“Might but the sense of moral evil be as strong in me as is my delight
in external beauty!”

A prayer I echo, Amen! if by the _sense_ he mean the abhorrence of it;
otherwise, to be perpetually haunted with the perception of moral evil
were dreadful; yet, on the other hand, I am half ashamed sometimes of a
conscious shrinking within myself from the sense of moral evil, merely
as I should shrink from external filth and deformity, as hateful to
perception and recollection, rather than as hateful to God and
subversive of goodness.


25.

Here is a very striking passage. He says, “A great school is very
trying; it never can present images of rest and peace; and when the
spring and activity of youth are altogether unsanctified by anything
pure and elevated in its desires, it becomes a spectacle that is
dizzying and almost more morally distressing than the shouts and gambols
of a set of lunatics. It is very startling to see so much of sin
combined with so little of sorrow. In a parish, amongst the poor,
whatever of sin exists there is sure also to be enough of suffering:
poverty, sickness, and old age are mighty tamers and chastisers. But,
with boys of the richer classes, one sees nothing but plenty, health,
and youth; and these are really awful to behold, when one must feel that
they are unblessed. On the other hand, few things are more beautiful
than when one does see all holy and noble thoughts and principles, not
the forced growth of pain, or infirmity, or privation, but springing up
as by God’s immediate planting, in a sort of garden of all that is fresh
and beautiful; full of so much hope for this world as well as for
heaven.”

To this testimony of a schoolmaster let us add the testimony of a
schoolboy. De Quincey thus describes in himself the transition from
boyhood to manhood: “Then first and suddenly were brought powerfully
before me the change which was worked in the aspects of society by the
presence of woman; woman, pure, thoughtful, noble, coming before me as
Pandora crowned with perfections. Right over against this ennobling
spectacle, with equal suddenness, I placed the odious spectacle of
schoolboy society—no matter in what region of the earth,—schoolboy
society, so frivolous in the matter of its disputes, often so brutal in
the manner; so childish and yet so remote from simplicity; so foolishly
careless, and yet so revoltingly selfish; dedicated ostensibly to
learning, and yet beyond any section of human beings so conspicuously
ignorant.”

There is a reverse to this picture, as I hope and believe. If I have met
with those who looked back on their school-days with horror, as having
first contaminated them with “evil communication,” I have met with
others whose remembrances were all of sunshine, of early friendships, of
joyous sports.

Nor do I think that a large school composed wholly of girls is in any
respect better. In the low languid tone of mind, the petulant tempers,
the small spitefulnesses, the cowardly concealments, the compressed or
ill-directed energies, the precocious vanities and affectations, many
such congregations of _Femmelettes_ would form a worthy pendant to the
picture of boyish turbulence and vulgarity drawn by De Quincey.

I am convinced from my own recollections, and from all I have learned
from experienced teachers in large schools, that one of the most fatal
mistakes in the training of children has been the too early separation
of the sexes. I say, _has been_, because I find that everywhere this
most dangerous prejudice has been giving way before the light of truth
and a more general acquaintance with that primal law of nature, which
ought to teach us that the more we can assimilate on a large scale the
public to the domestic training, the better for all. There exists still,
the impression—in the higher classes especially—that in early education,
the mixture of the two sexes would tend to make the girls masculine and
the boys effeminate, but experience shows us that it is all the other
way. Boys learn a manly and protecting tenderness, and the girls become
at once more feminine and more truthful. Where this association has
begun early enough, that is, before five years old, and has been
continued till about ten or twelve, it has uniformly worked well; on
this point the evidence is unanimous and decisive. So long ago as 1812,
Francis Horner, in describing a school he visited at Enmore, near
Bridgewater, speaks with approbation of the boys and the girls standing
up together in the same class: it is the first mention, I find, of this
innovation on the old collegiate, or charity-school plan,—itself a
continuation of the monkish discipline. He says, “I liked much the
placing the boys and girls together at an early age; it gave the boys a
new spur to emulation.” When I have seen a class of girls stand up
together, there has been a sort of empty tittering, a vacancy in the
faces, an inertness, which made it, as I thought, very up-hill work for
the teacher; so when it was a class of boys, there has been often a
sluggishness—a tendency to ruffian tricks—requiring perpetual effort on
the part of the master. In teaching a class of boys and girls,
accustomed to stand up together, there is little or nothing of this.
They are brighter, readier, better behaved; there is a kind of mutual
influence working for good; and if there be emulation, it is not mingled
with envy or jealousy. Mischief, such as might be apprehended, is in
this case far less likely to arise than where boys and girls, habitually
separated from infancy, are first thrown together, just at the age when
the feelings are first awakened and the association has all the
excitement of novelty. A very intelligent schoolmaster assured me that
he had had more trouble with a class of fifty boys, than with a school
of three hundred boys and girls together (in the midst of whom I found
him); and that there were no inconveniences resulting which a wise and
careful and efficient superintendence could not control. “There is,”
said he, “not only more emulation, more quickness of brain, but
altogether a superior healthiness of tone, body and mind, where the boys
and girls are trained together till about ten years old; and it extends
into their after life:—I should say because it is in accordance with the
laws of God in forming us with mutual sympathies, moral and
intellectual, and mutual dependence for help from the very beginning of
life.”

What is curious enough, I find many people—fathers, mothers,
teachers,—who are agreed that in the schools for the lower classes, the
two sexes may be safely and advantageously associated, yet have a sort
of horror of the idea of such an innovation in schools for the higher
classes. One would like to know the reason for such a distinction,
instead of being encountered, as is usual, by a sneer or a vile
innuendo.

[Illustration]


NIEBUHR.

LIFE AND LETTERS, 1852.

26.

In a letter to a young student in philology there are noble passages in
which I truly sympathise. He says, among other things: “I wish you had
less pleasure in satires, not excepting those of Horace. Turn to the
works which elevate the heart, in which you contemplate great men and
great events, and live in a higher world. Turn away from those which
represent the mean and contemptible side of ordinary circumstances and
degenerate days: they are not suitable for the young, who in ancient
times would not have been suffered to have them in their hands. Homer,
Æschylus, Sophocles, Pindar,—these are the poets for youth.” And again:
“Do not read the ancient authors in order to make æsthetic reflections
on them, but in order to drink in their spirit and to fill your soul
with their thoughts; and in order to gain that by reading which you
would have gained by reverently listening to the discourses of great
men.”

We should turn to works of art with the same feeling.

On the whole, all my own educational experience has shown me the
dangerous—in some cases fatal—effects on the childish intellect, where
precocious criticism was encouraged, and where caricatures and ugly
disproportioned figures, expressing vile or ridiculous emotions, were
placed before the eyes of children, as a means of amusement.

If I were a legislator I would forbid travesties and ridiculous
burlesques of Shakspeare’s finest and most serious dramas to be acted
in our theatres. That this has been done and recently (as in the case of
the Merchant of Venice) seems to me a national disgrace.


27.

It is strange, confounding, to hear Niebuhr speak thus of Goethe:—

“I am inclined to think that Goethe is utterly destitute of
susceptibility to impressions from the fine arts.”(!!) He afterwards
does more justice to Goethe—certainly one of the profoundest critics in
art who ever lived; although I am inclined to think that his was an
educated perception rather than a natural sensibility. Niebuhr’s
criticism on Goethe’s Italian travels,—on Goethe’s want of sympathy with
the people,—his regarding the whole country and nation simply as a sort
of bazaar of art and antiquities, an exhibition of beauty and a
recreation for himself: his habit of surveying all moral and
intellectual greatness, all that speaks to the heart, with a kind of
patronising superiority, as if created for his use,—and finding
amusement in the folly, degeneracy, and corruption of the people;—all
this appears to me admirable, and so far I had strong sympathy with
Niebuhr; for I well remember that in reading Goethe’s “Italianische
Reise,” I had the same perception of the artless and the superficial in
point of feeling, in the midst of so much that was fine and valuable in
criticism. It is well to be artistic in art, but not to walk about the
world _en artiste_, studying humanity, and the deepest human interests,
as if they were _art_.

Niebuhr afterwards says, in speaking of Rome, “I am sickened here of
art, as I should be of sweetmeats instead of bread.” So it _must_ be
where art is separated wholly from morals.


28.

He speaks of the “wretched superstition,” and the “utter incapacity for
piety” in the people of the Roman States.

Superstition and the want of piety go together; and the combination is
not peculiar to the Italians, nor to the Roman Catholic faith.


29.

In speaking of the education of his son, he deprecates the learning by
rote of hymns. “To a happy child, hymns deploring the misery of human
life are without meaning.” (And worse.) “So likewise to a good child are
those expressing self-accusation and contrition.” (He might have added,
and self-applause.)

I am quite sure, from my own experience of children who have been
allowed to learn penitential psalms and hymns, that they think of
wickedness as a sort of thing which gives them self-importance.


30.

“Only what the mind takes in willingly can it assimilate with itself,
and make its own, part of its life.”

A truism of the greatest value in education; but who thinks of it when
cramming children’s minds with all sorts of distasteful heterogeneous
things?


31.

“When reflection has become too one-sided and too domineering over a
deeply feeling heart, it is apt to lead us into errors in our treatment
of others.”

And all that follows—very wise! for the want of this reflection leaves
us stranded and wrecked through feeling and perception merely.


32.

Very curious and interesting, as a trait of character and feeling, is
the passage in which he represents himself, in the dangerous confinement
of his second wife, as praying to his first wife for succour. “In my
terrible anxiety,” he says, “I prayed most earnestly, and entreated my
Milly, too, for help. I comforted Gretchen by telling her that Milly
would send help. When she was at the worst, she sighed out, ‘Ah, cannot
your Amelia send me a blessing?’”

This is curious from a Protestant and a philosopher. It shows that there
may be something nearly allied to our common nature in the Roman
Catholic invocation to the saints, and to the souls of the dead.


33.

Niebuhr, speaking of a lady (Madame von der Recke, I think,—the “Elise”
of Goethe) who had patronised him, says, “I will receive roses and
myrtles from female hands, but no laurels.”

This makes one smile; for most of the laurels which Niebuhr will receive
in this country will be through female hands—through the admirable
translation and arrangement of his life and letters by Susanna
Winkworth.


34.

The following I read with cordial agreement:—“While I am ready to adopt
any well-grounded opinion” (regarding, I suppose, mere facts, or
speculations as to things), “my inmost soul revolts against receiving
the judgment of others respecting persons; and whenever I have done so I
have bitterly repented of it.”


35.

He says, “I cannot worship the abstraction of Virtue. She only charms me
when she addresses herself to my heart, and speaks thus the love from
which she springs. I really love nothing but what actually exists.”

What _does_ actually exist to us but that which we believe in? and where
we strongly love do we not believe sometimes in the _unreal_? is it not
_then_ the existing and the actual to us?


36.

“A faculty of a quite peculiar kind, and for which we have no word, is
the recognition of the incomprehensible. It is something which
distinguishes the seer from the ordinary learned man.”

But in religion this is _faith_. Does Niebuhr admit this kind of faith,
“the recognition of the incomprehensible,” in philosophy, and not in
religion? for he often complains of the want in himself of any faith but
an historic faith.


37.

“In times of good fortune it is easy to appear great—nay, even to act
greatly; but in misfortune very difficult. The greatest man will commit
blunders in misfortune, because the want of proportion between his means
and his ends progressively increases, and his inward strength is
exhausted in fruitless efforts.”

This is true; but under all extremes of good or evil fortune we are apt
to commit mistakes, because the tide of the mind does not flow equally,
but rushes along impetuously in a flood, or brokenly and distractedly in
a rocky channel, where its strength is exhausted in conflict and pain.
The extreme pressure of circumstances will produce extremes of feeling
in minds of a sensitive rather than a firm cast.


38.

This next passage is curious as a scholar’s opinion of “free trade” in
the year 1810; though I believe the phrase “free trade” was not even
invented at that time—certainly not in use in the statesman’s
vocabulary.

“I presume you will admit that commerce is a good thing, and the first
requisite in the life of any nation. It appears to me, that this much
has now been palpably demonstrated, namely, that an advanced and
complicated social condition like this in which we live can only be
maintained by establishing mutual relationships between the most remote
nations; and that the limitation of commerce would, like the sapping of
a main pillar, inevitably occasion the fall of the whole edifice; and
also that commerce is so essentially beneficial and in accordance with
man’s nature, that the well-being of each nation is an advantage to all
the nations that stand in connection with it.”

It is strange how long we have been (forty years, and more) in
recognising these simple principles; and in Germany, where they were
first enunciated, they are not recognised yet.

[Illustration]


CHARACTER OF DEMADES.

(FROM NIEBUHR’s LECTURES.)


39.

“By his wit and his talent, and more especially by his gift as an
improvisatore, he rose so high that he exercised a great influence upon
the people, and sometimes was more popular even than Demosthenes. With a
shamelessness amounting to honesty, he bluntly told the people
everything he felt and what all the populace felt with him. When hearing
such a man the populace felt at their ease: he gave them the feeling
that they might be wicked without being disgraced, and this excites with
such people a feeling of gratitude. There is a remarkable passage in
Plato, where he shows that those who deliver hollow speeches, without
being in earnest, have no power or influence; whereas others, who are
devoid of mental culture, but say in a straightforward manner what they
think and feel, exercise great power. It was this which in the
eighteenth century gave the materialist philosophy in France such
enormous influence with the higher classes; for they were told there was
no need to be ashamed of the vulgarest sensuality; formerly people had
been ashamed, but now a man learned that he might be a brutal
sensualist, provided he did not offend against elegant manners and
social conventionalism. People rejoiced at hearing a man openly and
honestly say what they themselves felt. Demades was a remarkable
character. He was not a bad man; and I like him much better than
Eschines.”

What an excuse, what a sanction is here for the demagogues who direct
the worst passions of men to the worst and the most selfish purposes,
and the most debasing consequences! Demades “not a bad man?” then what
_is_ a bad man?

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


LORD BACON.

(1849.)


40.

“It was not the pure knowledge of nature and universality, but it was
the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give the
law unto himself, which was the form of the first temptation.”

But, in this sense, the first temptation is only the type of the
perpetual and ever-present temptation—the temptation into which we are
to fall through necessity, that we may rise through love.


41.

Here is an excellent passage—a severe commentary on the unsound,
un-christian, unphilosophical distinction between morals and politics in
government:—

“Although men bred in learning are perhaps to seek in points of
convenience and reasons of state and accommodations for the present,
yet, on the other hand, to recompense this they are perfect in those
same plain grounds of religion, justice, honour, and moral virtue which,
if they be well and watchfully pursued, there will be seldom use of
those other expedients, no more than of physic in a sound, well-directed
body.”


42.

“Now (in the time of Lord Bacon, that is,) now sciences are delivered to
be believed and accepted, and not to be farther discovered; and
therefore, sciences stand at a clog, and have done for many ages.”

In the present time, this is true only, or especially, of theology as an
art, and divinity as a science; so made by the schoolmen of former ages,
and not yet emancipated.


43.

“Generally he perceived in men of devout simplicity this opinion, that
the secrets of nature were the secrets of God, part of that glory into
which man is not to press too boldly.”

God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect he has given
us on this side of the grave. But not the less will he keep his own
secrets from us. Has he not proved it? who has opened that door to the
knowledge of a future being which it has pleased him to keep shut fast,
though watched by hope and by faith?


44.

The Christian philosophy of these latter times appears to be
foreshadowed in the following sentence, where he speaks of such as have
ventured to deduce and confirm the truth of the Christian religion from
the principles and authorities of philosophers: “Thus with great pomp
and solemnity celebrating the intermarriage of faith and sense as a
lawful conjunction, and soothing the minds of men with a pleasing
variety of matter, though, at the same time, rashly and unequally
intermixing things divine and things human.”

This last common-place distinction seems to me, however, unworthy of
Bacon. It should be banished—utterly set aside. Things which are divine
should be human, and things which are human, divine; not as a mixture,
“a medley,” in the sense of Bacon’s words, but an interfusion; for
nothing that we esteem divine can be anything to us but as we make it
_ours_, _i. e._ humanise it; and our humanity were a poor thing but for
“the divinity that stirs within us.” We do injury to our own nature—we
misconceive our relations to the Creator, to his universe, and to each
other, so long as we separate and studiously keep wide apart the
_divine_ and the _human_.


45.

“Let no man, upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied
moderation, think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too
well studied either in the book of God’s word or the book of God’s
works.” Well advised! But then he goes on to warn men that they do not
“unwisely mingle or confound their learnings together:” mischievous this
contradistinction between God’s word and God’s works; since both, if
emanating from him, must be equally true. And if there be one truth,
then, to borrow his own words in another place, “the voice of nature
will consent, whether the voice of man do so or not.”


46.

Apropos to education—here is a good illustration: “Were it not better
for a man in a fair room to set up one great light or branching
candlestick of lights, than to go about with a rushlight into every dark
corner?”

And here is another: “It is one thing to set forth what ground lieth
unmanured, and another to correct ill husbandry in that which _is_
manured.”

47.

“It is without all controversy that learning doth make the minds of men
gentle and generous, amiable, and pliant to government, whereas
ignorance maketh them churlish, thwarting, and mutinous.”


48.

“An impatience of doubt and an unadvised haste to assertion without due
and mature suspension of the judgment, is an error in the conduct of the
understanding.”

“In contemplation, if a man begin with certainties he shall end in
doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in
certainties.” Well said and profoundly true.

This is a celebrated and often-cited passage; an admitted principle in
theory. I wish it were oftener applied in practice,—more especially in
education. For it seems to me that in teaching children we ought not to
be perpetually dogmatising. We ought not to be ever placing before them
only the known and the definite; but to allow the unknown, the
uncertain, the indefinite, to be suggested to their minds: it would do
more for the growth of a truly religious feeling than all the catechisms
of scientific facts and creeds of theological definitions that ever were
taught in cut and dried question and answer. Why should not the young
candid mind be allowed to reflect on the unknown, as such? on the
doubtful, as such—open to inquiry and liable to discussion? Why will
teachers suppose that in confessing their own ignorance or admitting
uncertainties they must diminish the respect of their pupils, or their
faith in truth? I should say from my own experience that the effect is
just the reverse. I remember, when a child, hearing a very celebrated
man profess his ignorance on some particular subject, and I felt
awe-struck—it gave me a perception of the infinite,—as when looking up
at the starry sky. What we unadvisedly cram into a child’s mind in the
same form it has taken in our own, does not always healthily or
immediately assimilate; it dissolves away in doubts, or it hardens into
prejudice, instead of mingling with the life as truth ought to do. It is
the early and habitual surrendering of the mind to authority, which
makes it afterwards so ready for deception of all kinds.


49.

He speaks of “legends and narrations of miracles wrought by martyrs,
hermits, monks, which, though they have had passage for a time by the
ignorance of the people, the superstitious simplicity of some, and the
politic toleration of others, holding them but as divine poesies; yet
after a time they grew up to be esteemed but as old wives’ fables, to
the great scandal and detriment of religion.”

Very ambiguous, surely. Does he mean that it was to the great scandal
and detriment of religion that they existed at all? or that they came to
be regarded as old wives’ fables?


50.

He says, farther on, “though truth and error are carefully to be
separated, yet rarities and reports that seem incredible are not to be
suppressed or denied to the memory of men.”

“For it is not yet known in what cases and how far effects attributed to
superstition do participate of natural causes.”


51.

“To be speculative with another man to the end to know how to work him
or wind him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not
entire and ingenuous; which, as in friendship, it is a want of
_integrity_, so towards princes or superiors it is a want of _duty_.”
(No occasion, surely, for the distinction here drawn; inasmuch as the
want of integrity involves the want of _every_ duty.)

Then he speaks of “the stooping to points of necessity and convenience
and outward basenesses,” as to be accounted “submission to the occasion,
not to the person.” Vile distinction! an excuse to himself for his
dedication to the King, and his flattery of Carr and Villiers.


52.

Our English Universities are only now beginning to show some sign
(reluctant sign) of submitting to that re-examination which the great
philosopher recommended two hundred and fifty years ago, when he says:
“Inasmuch as most of the usages and orders of the universities were
derived from more obscure times, it is the more requisite they be
reexamined”—and more to the same purpose.


53.

“If that great Workmaster (God) had been of a human disposition, he
would have cast the stars into some pleasant and beautiful works and
orders like the frets in the roofs of houses; whereas, one can scarce
find a posture in square or triangle or straight line amongst such an
infinite number, so differing an harmony there is between the spirit of
man and the spirit of nature.”

Perhaps if our human vision could be removed to a sufficient distance to
contemplate the whole of what we now see in part, what appears disorder
might appear beautiful order. The stars which now appear as if flung
about at random, would perhaps be resolved into some exquisitely
beautiful and regular edifice. The fly on the cornice, “whose feeble ray
scarce spreads an inch around,” might as well discuss the proportions of
the Parthenon as we the true figure and frame of God’s universe.

I remember seeing, through Lord Rosse’s telescope, one of those nebulæ
which have hitherto appeared like small masses of vapour floating about
in space. I saw it composed of thousands upon thousands of brilliant
stars, and the effect to the eye—to mine at least—was as if I had had my
hand full of diamonds, and suddenly unclosing it, and flinging them
forth, they were dispersed as from a centre, in a kind of partly
irregular, partly fan-like form; and I had a strange feeling of suspense
and amazement while I looked, because they did not change their relative
position, did not fall—though in act to fall—but seemed fixed in the
very attitude of being flung forth into space;—it was most wondrous and
beautiful to see!

[Illustration]


54.

It is pleasant to me to think that Bacon’s stupendous intellect believed
in the moral progress of human societies, because it is my own belief,
and one that I would not for worlds resign. I indeed believe that each
human being must here (or hereafter?) work out his own peculiar moral
life: but also that the whole race has a progressive moral life: just as
in our solar system every individual planet moves in its own orbit,
while the whole system moves on together; we know not whither, we know
not round what centre—“_ma pur si muove!_”


55.

Yet he says in another place, with equal wit and sublimity, “Every
obtaining of a desire hath a _show_ of advancement, as motion in a
circle hath a _show_ of progression.” Perhaps our movement may be
_spiral_? and every revolution may bring us nearer and nearer to some
divine centre in which we may be absorbed at last?


56.

He refers in this following passage to that theory of the angelic
existences which we see expressed in ancient symbolic Art, first by
variation of colour only, and later, by variety of expression and form.
He says,—“We find, as far as credit is to be given to the celestial
hierarchy of that supposed Dionysius, the senator of Athens, that the
first place or degree is given to the Angels of Love, which are called
Seraphim; the second to the Angels of Light, which are termed Cherubim;
and the third, and so following, to Thrones, Principalities, and the
rest (which are all angels of power and ministry); so as the angels of
knowledge and illumination are placed before the angels of office and
domination.”

—But the Angels of LOVE are first and over all. In other words, we have
here in due order of precedence, 1. LOVE, 2. KNOWLEDGE, 3. POWER,—the
angelic Trinity, which, in unity, is our idea of GOD.

[Illustration]


CHATEAUBRIAND.

(“MEMOIRES D’OUTRE TOMBE.” 1851.)


57.

Chateaubriand tells us that when his mother and sisters urged him to
marry, he resisted strongly—he thought it too early; he says, with a
peculiar naïveté, “Je ne me sentais aucune qualité de mari: toutes mes
illusions étaient vivantes, rien n’était épuisé en moi, l’énergie même
de mon existence avait doublé par mes courses,” &c.

So then the “_existence épuisé_” is to be kept for the wife! “_la vie
usée_”—“_la jeunesse abusée_,” is good enough to make a husband!
Chateaubriand, who in many passages of his book piques himself on his
morality, seems quite unconscious that he has here given utterance to a
sentiment the most profoundly immoral, the most fatal to both sexes,
that even his immoral age had ever the effrontery to set forth.


58.

“Il paraît qu’on n’apprend pas à mourir en tuant les autres.”

Nor do we learn to suffer by inflicting pain: nothing so patient as
pity.


59.

“Le cynisme des mœurs ramène dans la société, en annihilant le sens
moral, une sorte de barbares; ces barbares de la civilisation, propres à
détruire comme les Goths, n’ont pas la puissance de fonder comme eux;
ceux-ci étaient les énormes enfants d’une nature vierge; ceux-là sont
les avortons monstrueux d’une nature dépravée.”

We too often make the vulgar mistake that undisciplined or overgrown
passions are a sign of strength; they are the signs of immaturity, of
“enormous childhood.”—And the distinction (above) is well drawn and
true. The real savage is that monstrous, malignant, abject thing,
generated out of the rottenness and ferment of civilisation. And yet
extremes meet: I remember seeing on the shores of Lake Huron some
Indians of a distant tribe of Chippawas, who in appearance were just
like those fearful abortions of humanity which crawl out of the
darkness, filth, and ignorance of our great towns, just so miserable, so
stupid, so cruel,—only, perhaps, less _wicked_.


60.

Chateaubriand was always comparing himself with Lord Byron—he hints more
than once, that Lord Byron owed some of his inspiration to the perusal
of his works—more especially to Renée. In this he was altogether
mistaken.


61.

“Une intelligence supérieure n’enfante pas le mal sans douleur, parceque
ce n’est pas son fruit naturel, et qu’elle ne devait pas le porter.”


62.

Madame de Coeslin (whom he describes as an impersonation of aristocratic
_morgue_ and all the pretension and prejudices of the _ancien régime_),
“lisant dans un journal la mort de plusieurs rois, elle ôta ses lunettes
et dit en se mouchant, ‘Il y a donc une _épizootie sur ces bêtes à
couronne_!”

I once counted among my friends an elderly lady of high rank, who had
spent the whole of a long life in intimacy with royal and princely
personages. In three different courts she had filled offices of trust
and offices of dignity. In referring to her experience she never either
moralised or generalised; but her scorn of “ces bêtes à couronne,” was
habitually expressed with just such a cool epigrammatic bluntness as
that of Madame de Coeslin.


63.

“L’aristocratie a trois âges successifs; l’âge des supériorités, l’âge
des priviléges, l’âge des vanités; sortie du premier, elle dégénère dans
le second et s’éteint dans le dernier.”

In Germany they are still in the first epoch. In England we seem to have
arrived at the second. In France they are verging on the third.


64.

Chateaubriand says of himself:—

“Dans le premier moment d’une offense je la sens à peine; mais elle se
grave dans ma mémoire; son souvenir au lieu de décroître, s’augmente
avec le temps. Il dort dans mon cœur des mois, des années entières,
puis il se réveille à la moindre circonstance avec une force nouvelle,
et ma blessure devient plus vive que le prémier jour: mais si je ne
pardonne point à mes ennemis je ne leur fais aucun mal; je suis
_rancunier_ et ne suis point _vindicatif_.”

A very nice and true distinction in point of feeling and character, yet
hardly to be expressed in English. We always attach the idea of
malignity to the word _rancour_, whereas the French words _rancune_,
_rancunier_, express the relentless without the vengeful or malignant
spirit.

Such characters make me turn pale, as I have done at sight of a tomb in
which an offending wretch had been buried alive. There is in them always
something acute and deep and indomitable in the internal and exciting
emotion; slow, scrupulous, and timid in the external demonstration.
Cordelia is such a character.


65.

Chateaubriand says of his friend Pelletrie,—“Il n’avait pas précisément
des vices, mais il était rongé d’une vermine de petits défauts dont on
ne pouvait l’épurer.” I know such a man; and if he had committed a
murder every morning, and a highway robbery every night,—if he had
killed his father and eaten him with any possible sauce, he could not
be more intolerable, more detestable than he is!


66.

“Un homme nous protège par ce qu’il vaut; une femme par ce que vous
valez: voilà pourquoi de ces deux empires l’un est si odieux, l’autre si
doux.”


67.

He says of Madame Roland, “Elle avait du caractère plutôt que du génie;
le premier peut donner le second, le second ne peut donner le premier.”
What does the man mean? this is a mistake surely. What the French call
_caractère_ never could give genius, nor genius, _caractère_. _Au
reste_, I am not sure that Madame Roland—admirable creature!—had genius;
but for talent, and _caractère_—first rate.


68.

“Soyons doux si nous voulons être regrettés. La hauteur du génie et les
qualités supérieures ne sont pleurées que des anges.”

“Veillons bien sur notre caractère. Songeons que nous pouvons avec un
attachement profond n’en pas moins empoisonner des jours que nous
rachéterions au prix de tout notre sang. Quand nos amis sont descendus
dans la tombe, quels moyens avons nous de réparer nos torts? nos
inutiles regrets, nos vains repentirs, sont ils un remède aux peines que
nous leurs avons faites? Ils auraient mieux aimé de nous un sourire
pendant leur vie que toutes nos larmes après leur mort.”


69.

“L’amour est si bien la félicité qu’il est poursuivi de la chimère
d’être toujours; il ne veut prononcer que des serments irrévocables; au
défaut de ses joies, il cherche à éterniser ses douleurs; ange tombé, il
parle encore le langage qu’il parlait au séjour incorruptible; son
espérance est de ne cesser jamais. Dans sa double nature et dans sa
double illusion, ici-bas il prétend se perpétuer par d’immortelles
pensées et par des générations intarissables.”


70.

Madame d’Houdetot, after the death of Saint Lambert, always before she
went to bed used to rap three times with her slipper on the floor,
saying,—“Bon soir, mon ami; bon soir, bon soir!”

So then, she thought of her lover as gone _down_—not _up_?

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



BISHOP CUMBERLAND.

BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH IN 1691.


71.

Bishop Cumberland founds the law of God, as revealed in the Scriptures,
upon the general law of nature. He does not attempt to found the laws of
nature upon the Bible. “We believe,” he says, “in the truth of
Scripture, because it promotes and illustrates the fundamental laws of
nature in the government of the world.”

Then does the Bishop mean here that the Bible is not the WORD nor the
WILL of God, but the exposition of the WORD and the record of the WILL,
so far as either could be rendered communicable to human comprehension
through the medium of human language and intelligence?

There is a striking passage in Bunsen’s Hippolytus, which may be
considered with reference to this opinion of the Bishop.

He (Bunsen) says, that “what relates the history of ‘the word of God’
in his humanity, and in this world, and what records its teachings, and
warnings, and promises (that is, the Bible?) was mistaken for ‘the word
of God’ itself, in its proper sense.”

Does he mean that we deem erroneously the collection of writings we call
the Bible to be “the word of God;” whereas, in fact, it is “the history,
the record of the word of God?” that is, of all that God has spoken to
man—in various revelations—through human life—by human deeds?—because
this is surely a most important and momentous distinction.


72.

According to Bishop Cumberland, _benevolence_, in its large sense,—that
is, a regard for all GOOD, universal and particular,—is the primary law
of nature; and _justice_ is one form, and a secondary form, of this law:
a moral virtue, not a law of nature,—if I understand his meaning
rightly.

Then which would he place _highest_, the law of nature or the moral law?

If you place them in contradistinction, then are we to conclude that the
law of nature _precedes_ the moral law, but that the moral law
_supersedes_ the law of nature? Yet no law of nature (as I understand
the word) _can_ be superseded, though the moral law may be based upon
it, and in that sense may be _above_ it.


73.

In this following passage the Bishop seems to have anticipated what in
more modern times has been called the “_greatest happiness principle_.”
He says:—

“The good of all rational beings is a complex whole, being nothing but
the aggregate of good enjoyed by each.” “We can only act in our proper
spheres, labouring to do good, but this labour will be fruitless, or
rather mischievous, if we do not keep in mind the higher gradations
which terminate in universal benevolence. Thus, no man must seek his own
pleasure or advantage otherwise than as his family permits; or provide
for his family to the detriment of his country; or promote the good of
his country at the expense of mankind; or serve mankind, if it were
possible, without regard to the majesty of God.”


74.

Paley deems the recognition of a future state so essential that he even
makes the definition of virtue to consist in this, that it is good
performed for the sake of everlasting happiness. That is to say, he
makes it a sort of bargain between God and man, a contract, or a
covenant, instead of that obedience to a primal law, from which if we
stray in will, we do so at the necessary expense of our happiness.
Bishop Cumberland has no reference to this doctrine of Paley’s;—seems,
indeed, to set it aside altogether, as contrary to the essence of
virtue.


On the whole, this good Bishop appears to have treated ethics not as an
ecclesiastic, but as Bacon treated natural philosophy;—the pervading
spirit is the perpetual appeal to experience, and not to authority.

[Illustration]


COMTE’S PHILOSOPHY.

1852.


75.

Comte makes out three elements of progress, “les philosophes, les
prolétaires, et les femmes;”—types of intellect, material activity, and
sentiment.

From Woman, he says, is to proceed the preponderance of the social
duties and affections over egotism and ambition. (La prépondérance de la
sociabilité sur la personalité.) He adds:—“Ce sexe est certainement
supérieure au notre quant à l’attribut le plus fondamentale de l’espèce
humaine, la tendence de faire prévaloir la _sociabilité_ sur la_
personalité_.”


76.

“S’il ne fallait _qu’aimer_ comme dans l’Utopie Chrétienne, sur une vie
future affranchie de toute égoïste necessité matérielle, la femme
régnerait; mais il faut surtout _agir_ et _penser_ pour combattre contre
les rigueurs de notre vraie destinée: dès-lors l’homme doit commander
malgré sa moindre moralité.”

“Malgré?” Sometimes man commands _because_ of the “moindre moralité:”—it
spares much time in scruples.


77.

“L’influence feminine devient l’auxiliaire indispensable de tout pouvoir
spirituel, comme le moyen âge l’a tant montré.”


“Au moyen âge la Catholicisme occidentale ébaucha la systématisation de
la puissance morale en superposant à l’ordre pratique une libre autorité
spirituelle, habituellement secondée par les femmes.”


78.

“La Force, proprement dite, c’est ce qui régit les actes, sans régler
les volontés.”

Herein lies a distinction between Force and Power; for Power, properly
so called, does both.


79.

He insists throughout on the predominance of _sociabilité_ over
_personalité_——and what is that but the Christian law philosophised?
and again, “Il n’y a de directement morale dans notre nature que
l’amour.” Where did he get this, if not in the Epistle of St. John?

“Celui qui se croirait indépendant des autres dans ses affections, ses
pensées, ou ses actes, ne pourrait même formuler un tel blasphème sans
une contradiction immédiate—puisque son langage même ne lui appartient
pas.”


80.

He says that if the women regret the age of chivalry, it is not for the
external homage then paid to them, but because “l’élément le plus moral
de l’humanité” (woman, to wit), “doit préférer à tout autre le seul
régime qui érigea directement en principe la préponderance de la morale
sur la politique. Si elles regrettent leur douce influence antérieure,
c’est surtout comme s’effaçant aujourd’hui sous un grossier égoïsme.

“Leurs vœux spontanés seconderont toujours les efforts directes des
philosophes et des prolétaires pour transformer enfin les débats
politiques en transactions sociales en faisant prévaloir les _dévoirs_
sur les _droits_.”

This is admirable; for we are all inclined to think more about our
_rights_ (and our wrongs too) than about our _duties_.


81.

“Si donc aimer nous satisfait mieux que d’être aimé, cela constate la
supériorité naturelle des affections désintéressées.”

Meaning—what is true—that the love we bear to another, much more fills
the whole soul and is more a possession of an actuating principle, than
the love of another for us:—but both are necessary to the complement of
our moral life. The first is as the air we breathe; the last is as our
daily bread.


82.

He says that the only true and firm friendship is that between man and
woman, because it is the only affection “exempte de toute concurrence
actuelle ou possible.”

In this I am inclined to agree with him, and to regret that our
conventional morality or immorality, and the too early severance of the
two sexes in education, place men and women in such a relation to each
other, socially, as to render such friendships difficult and rare.


83.

“En vérité l’amour ne saurait être profond, s’il n’est pas pur.”

Christianity, he says, “a favorisé l’essor de la véritable passion,
tandisque le polythéisme consacrait surtout les appétits.”

He is speaking here as teacher, philosopher, and legislator, not as poet
or sentimentalist. Perhaps it will come to be recognised sooner or
later, that what people are pleased to call the _romance_ of life is
founded on the deepest and most immutable laws of our being, and that
any system of ecclesiastical polity, or civil legislation, or moral
philosophy, which takes no account of the primal instincts and
affections, which are the springs of life and on which God made the
continuation of his world to depend, _must_ of necessity fail.

I have just read a volume of Psychological Essays by one of the most
celebrated of living surgeons, and closed the book with a feeling of
amazement: a long life spent in physiological experiences, dissecting
dead bodies, and mending broken bones, has then led him, at last, to
some of the most obvious, most commonly known facts in mental
philosophy? So some of our profound politicians, after a long life spent
in governing and reforming men, may arrive, _at last_, at some of the
commonest facts in social morals.


84.

He contends for the indissolubility of marriage, and against divorce;
and he thinks that education should be in the hands of women to the age
of ten or twelve, “Afin que le cœur y prévale toujours sur l’esprit:”
all very excellent principles, but supposing a _hypothetical_ social and
moral state, from which we are as yet far removed. What he says,
however, of the indissolubility of the marriage bond is so beautiful and
eloquent, and so in accordance with my own moral theories, that I cannot
help extracting it from a mass of heavy and sometimes unintelligible
matter. He begins by laying it down as a principle that the
“amélioration morale de l’homme constitue la principale mission de la
femme,” and that “une telle destination indique aussitôt que le lien
conjugal doit être unique et indissoluble, afin que les relations
domestiques puissent acquérir la plénitude et la fixité qu’exige leur
efficacité morale.” This, however, supposes the holiest and completest
of all bonds to be sealed on terms of equality, not that the latter end
of a man’s life, _la vie usée et la jeunesse épuisée_, are to be tacked
on to the beginning of a woman’s fresh and innocent existence; for then
influences are reversed, and instead of the amelioration of the
masculine, we have the demoralisation of the feminine, nature. He
supposes the possibility of circumstances which demand a personal
separation, but even then _sans permettre un nouveau mariage_. In such a
case his religion imposes on the innocent victim (whether man or woman)
“une chasteté compatible d’ailleurs avec la plus profonde tendresse. Si
cette condition lui semble rigoureuse, il doit l’accepter, d’abord, en
vue de l’ordre général; puis, comme une juste conséquence de son erreur
primitive.”

There would be much to say upon all this, if it were worth while to
discuss a theory which it is not possible to reduce to general practice.
We cannot imagine the possibility of a second marriage where the first,
though perhaps unhappy or early ruptured, has been, not a personal
relation only, but an interfusion of our moral being,—of the deepest
impulses of life—with those of another; _these_ we cannot have a second
time to surrender to a second object;—but this might be left to Nature
and her holy instincts to settle. However, he goes on in a strain of
eloquence and dignity, quite unusual with him, to this effect:—“Ce n’est
que par l’assurance d’une inaltérable perpetuité que les liens intimes
peuvent acquérir la consistance et la plénitude indispensable à leur
efficacité morale. La plus méprisable des sectes éphémères que suscita
l’anarchie moderne (the Mormons, for instance?) me parait être celle qui
voulut ériger l’inconstance en condition de bonheur.”.... “Entre deux
êtres aussi complexes et aussi divers que l’homme et la femme, ce n’est
pas trop de toute la vie pour se bien connaître et s’aimer dignement.
Loin de taxer d’illusion la haute idée que deux vrais époux se forment
souvent l’un de l’autre, je l’ai presque toujours attribuée à
l’appréciation plus profonde que procure seule une pleine intimité, que
d’ailleurs développe des qualités inconnues aux indifférents. On doit
même regarder comme très-honorable pour notre espèce, cette grande
estime que ses membres s’inspirent mutuellement quand ils s’étudient
beaucoup. _Car la haine et l’indifférence mériteraient seules le
reproche d’aveuglement qu’une appréciation superficielle applique à
l’amour._ Il faut donc juger pleinement conforme à la nature humaine
l’institution qui prolonge au-delà du tombeau l’indentification de deux
dignes époux.”

He lays down as one of the primal instincts of human kind “_l’homme doit
nourrir la femme_.” This may have been, as he says, a universal
_instinct_; perhaps it ought to be one of our social ordinations;
perhaps it may be so at some future time; but we know that it is not a
present fact; that the woman must in many cases maintain herself or
perish, and she asks nothing more than to be allowed to do so.

However, I agree with Comte that the position of a woman, enriched and
independent by her own labour, is anomalous and seldom happy. It is a
remark I have heard somewhere, and it appears to me true, that there
exists no being so hard, so keen, so calculating, so unscrupulous, so
merciless in money matters as the wife of a Parisian shopkeeper, where
she holds the purse and manages the concern, as is generally the case.


85.

Here is a passage wherein he attacks that egotism which with many good
people enters so largely into the notion of another world:—which Paley
inculcated, and which Coleridge ridiculed, when he spoke of “_this_
worldliness,” and the “_other_ worldliness.”

“La sagesse sacerdotale, digne organe de l’instinct public, y avait
intimement rattaché les principales obligations sociales à titre de
condition indispensable du salut personnel: mais la récompense infinie
promise ainsi à tous les sacrifices ne pouvait jamais permettre une
affection pleinement désinteressée.”

This perpetual iteration of a system of future reward and punishment, as
a principle of our religion and a motive of action, has in some sort
demoralised Christianity; especially in minds where love is not a chief
element, and which do not love Christ for his love’s sake, but for his
power’s sake, and because judgment and punishment are supposed to be in
his hand.


86.

Putting the test of revelation out of the question, and dealing with the
philosopher philosophically, the best refutation of Comte’s system is
contained in the following criticism: it seems to me final.

“In limiting religion to the relations in which we stand to each other,
and towards _Humanity_, Comte omits one very important consideration.
Even upon his own showing, this _Humanity_ can only be the _supreme
being_ of _our_ planet, it cannot be the _Supreme Being_ of the
Universe. Now, although in this our terrestrial sojourn, all we can
distinctly know must be limited to the sphere of our planet; yet,
standing on this ball and looking forth into infinitude, we know that it
is but an atom of the infinitude, and that the humanity we worship
_here_, cannot extend its dominion _there_. If our relations to humanity
may be systematised into a cultus, and made a religion as they have
formerly been made a morality, and if the whole of our practical
priesthood be limited to this religion, there will, nevertheless remain
for us, outlying this terrestrial sphere,—the sphere of the infinite, in
which our thoughts must wander, and our emotions will follow our
thoughts; so that besides the religion of humanity there must ever be a
religion of the Universe. Or, to bring this conception within ordinary
language, there must ever remain the old distinctions between _religion_
and _morality_, our relations to God, and our relations towards man. The
only difference being, that in the _old_ theology moral precepts were
inculcated with a view to a celestial habitat; in the _new_, the moral
precepts are inculcated with a view to the general progress of the
race.”—_Westminster Review._


In fact the doctrine of the non-plurality of worlds as recently set
forth by an eminent professor and D. D. would exactly harmonise with
Comte’s “Culte du Positif,” as not merely limiting our sympathies to
this one form of intellectual being, but our religious notions to this
one habitable orb.

But to those who take other views, the argument above contains the
_philosophical_ objection to Comte’s _system_, as such; and I repeat,
that it seems to me unanswerable; but there are excellent things in his
theory, notwithstanding;—things that make us pause and think. In some
parts it is like Christianity with Christ, as a _personalité_, omitted.
For Christ the humanised divine, he substitutes an abstract deified
humanity. 1854.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


GOETHE.

(DICHTUNG UND WAHRHEIT.)


87.

“As a man embraces the determination to become a soldier and go to the
wars, bravely resolved to bear dangers, and difficulties, and wounds,
and death itself, but at the same time never anticipating the particular
form in which those evils may surprise us in an extremely unpleasant
manner;—just so we rush into authorship!”


88.

Goethe says of Lavater, “that the conception of humanity which had been
formed in himself, and in his own humanity, was so akin to the living
image of Christ, that it was impossible for him to conceive how a man
could live and breathe without being a Christian. He had, so to speak, a
physical affinity with Christianity; it was to him a necessity, not
only morally, but from organisation.”

Lavater’s individual feeling was, perhaps, but an anticipation of that
which may become general, universal. As we rise in the scale of being,
as we become more gentle, spiritualised, refined, and intelligent, will
not our “physical affinity” with the religion of Christ become more and
more apparent, till it is less a doctrine than a principle of life? So
its Divine Author knew, who prepared it for us, and is preparing and
moulding us through progressive improvement to comprehend and receive
it.


89.

Goethe speaks of “polishing up life with the varnish of fiction;” the
artistic turn of the man’s mind showed itself in this love of creating
an effect in his own eyes and in the eyes of others. But what can
fiction—what can poetry do for life, but present some one or two out of
the multitudinous aspects of that grand, beautiful, terrible, and
infinite mystery? or by _life_, does he mean here the mere external
forms of society?—for it is not clear.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


HAZLITT’S “LIBER AMORIS.”

1827.


90.

Is love, like faith, ennobled through its own depth and fervour and
sincerity? or is it ennobled through the nobility, and degraded through
the degradation of its object? Is it with love as with worship? Is it a
_religion_, and holy when the object is pure and good? Is it a
_superstition_, and unholy when the object is impure and unworthy?


Of all the histories I have read of the aberrations of human passion,
nothing ever so struck me with a sort of amazed and painful pity as
Hazlitt’s “Liber Amoris.” The man was in love with a servant girl, who
in the eyes of others possessed no particular charms of mind or person,
yet did the mighty love of this strong, masculine, and gifted being,
lift her into a sort of goddess-ship; and make his idolatry in its
intense earnestness and reality assume something of the sublimity of an
act of faith, and in its expression take a flight equal to anything that
poetry or fiction have left us. It was all so terribly real, he sued
with such a vehemence, he suffered with such resistance, that the
powerful intellect reeled, tempest-tost, and might have foundered but
for the gift of expression. He might have said like Tasso—like Goethe
rather—“Gab mir ein Gott zu sagen was ich leide!” And this faculty of
utterance, eloquent utterance, was perhaps the only thing which saved
life, or reason, or both. In such moods of passion, the poor uneducated
man, dumb in the midst of the strife and the storm, unable to comprehend
his intolerable pain or make it comprehended, throws himself in a blind
fury on the cause of his torture, or hangs himself in his neckcloth.


91.

Hazlitt takes up his pen, dips it in fire and thus he writes:—


“Perfect love has this advantage in it, that it leaves the possessor of
it nothing farther to desire. There is one object (at least), in which
the soul finds absolute content;—for which it seeks to live or dares to
die. The heart has, as it were, filled up the moulds of the
imagination; the truth of passion keeps pace with, and outvies, the
extravagance of mere language. There are no words so fine, no flattery
so soft, that there is not a sentiment beyond them that it is impossible
to express, at the bottom of the heart where true love is. What idle
sounds the common phrases _adorable creature_, _divinity_, _angel_, are!
What a proud reflection it is to have a feeling answering to all these,
rooted in the breast, unalterable, unutterable, to which all other
feelings are light and vain! Perfect love reposes on the object of its
choice, like the halcyon on the wave, and the air of heaven is around
it!”


92.

“She stood (while I pleaded my cause before her with all the earnestness
and fondness in the world) with the tears trickling from her eye-lashes,
her head drooping, her attitude fixed, with the finest expression that
ever was seen of mixed regret, pity, and stubborn resolution, but
without speaking a word—without altering a feature. _It was like a
petrifaction of a human face in the softest moment of passion._”


93.

“Shall I not love her,” he exclaims, “for herself alone, in spite of
fickleness and folly? to love her for her regard for me, is not to love
her but myself. She has robbed me of herself, shall she also rob me of
my love of her? did I not live on her smile? is it less sweet because it
is withdrawn from me? Did I not adore her every grace? and does she bend
less enchantingly because she has turned from me to another? Is my love
then in the power of fortune or of her caprice? No, I will have it
lasting as it is pure; and I will make a goddess of her, and build a
temple to her in my heart, and worship her on indestructible altars, and
raise statues to her, and my homage shall be unblemished as her
unrivalled symmetry of form. And when that fails, the memory of it shall
survive, and my bosom shall be proof to scorn as hers has been to pity;
and I will pursue her with an unrelenting love, and sue to be her slave
and tend her steps without notice, and without reward; and serve her
living, and mourn for her when dead; and thus my love will have shown
itself superior to her hate, and I shall triumph and then die. This is
my idea of the only true and heroic love, and such is mine for her.”


Hazlitt, when he wrote all this, seemed to himself full of high and calm
resolve. The hand did not fail, the pen did not stagger over the paper
in a formless scrawl, yet the brain was reeling like a tower in an
earthquake. “Passion,” as it has been well said, “when in a state of
solemn and omnipotent vehemence, always appears to be calmness to him
whom it domineers;” not unfrequently to others also, as the tide at its
highest flood looks tranquil, and “neither way inclines.”

[Illustration]


THE NIGHTINGALE.


94.

Reading the Life and Letters of Francis Horner, in the midst of a
correspondence about Statistics and Bullion, and Political Economy, and
the Balance of Parties, I came upon the following exquisite passage in a
letter to his friend Mrs. Spencer:—

“I was amused by your interrogatory to me about the Nightingale’s note.
You meant to put me in a dilemma with my politics on one side and my
gallantry on the other. Of course you consider it as a plaintive note,
and you were in hopes that no idolater of Charles Fox would venture to
agree with that opinion. In this difficulty I must make the best escape
I can by saying, that it seems to me neither cheerful nor
melancholy,—but always according to the circumstances in which you hear
it, the scenery, your own temper of mind, and so on. I settled it so
with myself early in this month, when I heard them every night and all
day long at Wells. In daylight, when all the other birds are in active
concert, the Nightingale only strikes you as the most active, emulous,
and successful of the whole band. At night, especially if it is a calm
one, with light enough to give you a wide indistinct view, the solitary
music of this bird takes quite another character, from all the
associations of the scene, from the languor one feels at the close of
the day, and from the stillness of spirits and elevation of mind which
comes upon one when walking out at that time. But it is not always
so—different circumstances will vary in every possible way the effect.
Will the Nightingale’s note sound alike to the man who is going on an
adventure to meet his mistress (supposing he heeds it at all), and when
he loiters along upon his return? The last time I heard the Nightingale
it was an experiment of another sort. It was after a thunderstorm in a
mild night, while there was silent lightning opening every few minutes,
first on one side of the heavens then on the other. The careless little
fellow was piping away in the midst of all this terror. To _me_, there
was no melancholy in his note, but a sort of sublimity; yet it was the
same song which I had heard in the morning, and which then seemed
nothing but bustle.”

And in the same spirit Portia moralises:—

   The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
   When every goose is cackling, would be thought
   No better a musician than the wren.
   How many things by season, seasoned are
   To their right praise and true perfection!

Nor will Coleridge allow the song of the nightingale to be always
plaintive,—“most musical, most _melancholy_;” he defies the epithet
though it be Milton’s.

               ’Tis the _merry_ nightingale,
   That crowds and hurries and precipitates
   With thick fast warble his delicious notes,
   As he were fearful that an April night
   Would be too short for him to utter forth
   His love-chaunt, and disburthen his full soul
   Of all its music.

As a poetical commentary on these beautiful passages, every reader of
Joanna Baillie will remember the night scene in De Montfort, where the
cry of the Owl suggests such different feelings and associations to the
two men who listen to it, under such different circumstances. To De
Montfort it is the screech-owl, foreboding death and horror,—and he
stands and shudders at the “instinctive wailing.” To Rezenvelt it is the
sound which recalls his boyish days, when he merrily mimicked the
night-bird till it returned him cry for cry,—and he pauses to listen
with a fanciful delight.

[Illustration]


THACKERAY’S LECTURES ON THE ENGLISH HUMORISTS

(1833.)


95.

A Lecture should not read like an essay; and, therefore, it surprises me
that these lectures so carefully prepared, so skilfully adapted to meet
the requirements of oral delivery, should be such agreeable reading. As
_lectures_, they wanted only a little more point, and emphasis and
animation on the part of the speaker: as _essays_, they atone in
eloquence and earnestness for what they want in finish and purity of
style.

Genius and sunshine have this in common that they are the two most
precious gifts of heaven to earth, and are dispensed equally to the just
and the unjust. What struck me most in these lectures, when I heard
them, (and it strikes me now in turning over the written pages,) is
this: we deal here with writers and artists, yet the purpose, from
beginning to end, is not artistic nor critical, but moral. Thackeray
tells us himself that he has not assembled his hearers to bring them
better acquainted with the writings of these writers, or to illustrate
the wit of these wits, or to enhance the humour of these humourists;—no;
but to deal justice on the men as _men_—to tell us how _they_ lived, and
loved, suffered and made suffer, who still have power to pain or to
please; to settle _their_ claims to our praise or blame, our love or
hate, whose right to fame was settled long ago, and remains undisputed.
This is his purpose. Thus then he has laid down and acted on the
principle that “morals have something to do with art;” that there is a
moral account to be settled with men of genius; that the power and the
right remains with us to do justice on those who being dead yet rule our
spirits from their urns; to try them by a standard which perhaps neither
themselves, nor those around them, would have admitted. Did Swift when
he bullied men, lampooned women, trampled over decency and humanity,
flung round him filth and fire, did he anticipate the time when before a
company of intellectual men, and thinking, feeling women, in both
hemispheres, he should be called up to judgment, hands bound,
tongue-tied? Where be now his gibes? and where his terrors? Thackeray
turns him forth, a spectacle, a lesson, a warning; probes the lacerated
self-love, holds up to scorn, or pity more intolerable, the miserable
egotism, the half-distempered brain. O Stella! O Vanessa! are you not
avenged?

Then Sterne—how he takes to pieces his feigned originality, his feigned
benevolence, his feigned misanthropy—all feigned!—the licentious parson,
the trader in sentiment, the fashionable lion of his day, the man
without a heart for those who loved him, without a conscience for those
who trusted him! yet the same man who gave us the pathos of “Le Fevre,”
and the humours of “Uncle Toby!” Sad is it? ungrateful is it? ungracious
is it?—well, it cannot be helped; you cannot stifle the conscience of
humanity. You might as well exclaim against any natural result of any
natural law. Fancy a hundred years hence some brave, honest,
human-hearted Thackeray standing up to discourse before our
great-great-grandchildren in the same spirit, with the same stern truth,
on the wits, and the poets and the artists of the present time! Hard is
your fate, O ye men and women of genius! very hard and pitiful, if ye
must be subjected to the scalpel of such a dissector! You, gifted
sinner, whoever you may be, walking among us now in all the impunity of
conventional forbearance, dealing in oracles and sentimentalisms,
performing great things, teaching good things, you are set up as one of
the lights of the world:—Lo! another time comes; the torch is taken out
of your hand, and held up to your face. What! is it a mask, and not a
face? “Off, off ye lendings!” O God! how much wiser, as well as better,
not to study how to _seem_, but how to _be_! How much wiser and better,
not to have to shudder before the truth as it oozes out from a thousand
unguessed, unguarded apertures, staining your lawn or your ermine; not
to have to tremble at the thought of that future Thackeray, who “shall
pluck out the heart of your mystery,” and shall anatomise you, and
deliver lectures upon you, to illustrate the standard of morals and
manners in Queen Victoria’s reign!

In these lectures, some fine and feeling and discriminative passages on
character, make amends for certain offences and inconsistencies in the
novels; I mean especially in regard to the female portraits. No woman
resents his Rebecca—inimitable Becky!—no woman but feels and
acknowledges with a shiver the completeness of that wonderful and
finished artistic creation; but every woman resents the selfish inane
Amelia, and would be inclined to quote and to apply the author’s own
words when speaking of ‘Tom Jones:’—“I can’t say that I think Amelia a
virtuous character. I can’t say but I think Mr. Thackeray’s evident
liking and admiration for his Amelia shows that the great humourist’s
moral sense was blunted by his life, and that here in art and ethics
there is a great error. If it be right to have a heroine whom we are to
admire, let us take care at least that she is admirable.”

Laura, in ‘Pendennis,’ is a yet more fatal mistake. She is drawn with
every generous feeling, every good gift. We do not complain that she
loves that poor creature Pendennis, for she loved him in her childhood.
She grew up with that love in her heart; it came between her and the
perception of his faults; it is a necessity indivisible from her nature.
Hallowed, through its constancy, therein alone would lie its best
excuse, its beauty and its truth. But Laura, faithless to that first
affection; Laura, waked up to the appreciation of a far more manly and
noble nature, in love with Warrington, and then going back to Pendennis,
and marrying _him_! Such infirmity might be true of some women, but not
of such a woman as Laura; we resent the inconsistency, the indelicacy of
the portrait.

And then Lady Castlewood,—so evidently a favourite of the author, what
shall we say of her? The virtuous woman, _par excellence_, who “never
sins and never forgives,” who never resents, nor relents, nor repents;
the mother, who is the rival of her daughter; the mother, who for years
is the _confidante_ of a man’s delirious passion for her own child, and
then consoles him by marrying him herself! O Mr. Thackeray! this will
never do! such women _may_ exist, but to hold them up as examples of
excellence, and fit objects of our best sympathies, is a fault, and
proves a low standard in ethics and in art. “When an author presents to
us a heroine whom we are called upon to admire, let him at least take
care that she is admirable.” If in these, and in some other instances,
Thackeray has given us cause of offence, in the lectures we may thank
him for some amends: he has shown us what he conceives true womanhood
and true manliness ought to be; so with this expression of gratitude,
and a far deeper debt of gratitude left unexpressed, I close his book,
and say, good night!

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


Notes on Art.


96.

Sometimes, in thoughtful moments, I am struck by those beautiful
analogies between things apparently dissimilar—those awful
approximations between things apparently far asunder—which many people
would call fanciful and imaginary, but they seem to bring all God’s
creation, spiritual and material, into one comprehensive whole; they
give me, thus associated, a glimpse, a perception of that overwhelming
unity which we call the universe, the multitudinous ONE.

Thus the principle of the highest ideal in art, as conceived by the
Greeks, and unsurpassed in its purity and beauty, lay in considering
well the characteristics which distinguish the _human_ form from the
brute form; and then, in rendering the human form, the first aim was to
soften down, or, if possible, throw out wholly, those characteristics
which belong to the brute nature, or are common to the brute and the
man; and the next, to bring into prominence and even enlarge the
proportions of those manifestations of forms which distinguish humanity;
till, at last, the _human_ merged into the _divine_, and the God in
look, in limb, in feature, stood revealed.

Let us now suppose this broad principle which the Greeks applied to
form, ethically carried out, and made the basis of all education—the
training of men as a race. Suppose we started with the general axiom
that all propensities which we have in common with the lower animals are
to be kept subordinate, and so far as is consistent with the truth of
nature refined away; and that all the qualities which elevate, all the
aspirations which ally us with the spiritual, are to be cultivated and
rendered more and more prominent, till at last the human being, in
faculties as well as form, approaches the God-like—I only
say—suppose?——

Again: it has been said of natural philosophy (Zoology) that in order to
make any real progress in the science, as such, we must more and more
disregard _differences_, and more and more attend to the obscured but
essential conditions which are revealed in _resemblances_, in the
constant and similar relations of primitive structure. Now if the same
principle were carried out in theology, in morals, in art, as well as in
science, should we not come nearer to the essential truth in _all_?

[Illustration]


97.

“There is an instinctive sense of propriety and reality in every mind;
and it is not true, as some great authority has said, that in art we are
satisfied with contemplating the work without thinking of the artist. On
the contrary, the artist himself is one great object in the work. It is
as embodying the energies and excellences of the human mind, as
exhibiting the efforts of genius, as symbolising high feeling, that we
most value the creations of art; without design the representations of
art are merely fantastical, and without the thought of a design acting
upon fixed principles in accordance with a high standard of goodness and
truth, half the charm of design is lost.”

[Illustration]


98.

“Art, used collectively for painting, sculpture, architecture, and
music, is the mediatress between, and reconciler of, nature and man. It
is, therefore, the power of humanising nature, of infusing the thoughts
and passions of man into everything which is the object of his
contemplation. Colour, form, motion, sound, are the elements which it
combines, and it stamps them into unity in the mould of a _moral_ idea.”

This is Coleridge’s definition:—Art then is nature, _humanised_; and in
proportion as humanity is elevated by the interfusion into our life of
noble aims and pure affections will art be spiritualised and moralised.

[Illustration]


99.

If faith has elevated art, superstition has everywhere debased it.

[Illustration]


100.

Goethe observes that there is no patriotic art and no patriotic
science—that both are universal.

There is, however, _national_ art, but not _national_ science: we say
“national art,” “natural science.”

[Illustration]


101.

“Verse is in itself music, and the natural symbol of that union of
passion with thought and pleasure, which constitutes the essence of all
poetry as contradistinguished from history civil or
natural.”—_Coleridge._

In the arts of design, colour is to form what verse is to prose—a more
harmonious and luminous vehicle of the thought.

[Illustration]


102.

Subjects and representations in art not elevated nor interesting in
themselves, become instructive and interesting to higher minds from the
_manner_ in which they have been treated; perhaps because they have
passed through the medium of a higher mind in taking form.

This is one reason, though we are not always conscious of it, that the
Dutch pictures of common and vulgar life give us a pleasure apart from
their wonderful finish and truth of detail. In the mind of the artist
there must have been the power to throw himself into a sphere _above_
what he represents. Adrian Brouwer, for instance, must have been
something far better than a sot; Ostade something higher than a boor;
though the habits of both led them into companionship with sots and
boors. In the most farcical pictures of Jan Steen there is a depth of
feeling and observation which remind me of the humour of Goldsmith; and
Teniers, we know, was in his habits a refined gentleman; the brilliant
elegance of his pencil contrasting with the grotesque vulgarity of his
subjects. To a thinking mind, some of these Dutch pictures of character
are full of material for thought, pathetic even where least sympathetic:
no doubt, because of a latent sympathy with the artist, apart from his
subject.

[Illustration]


103.

Coleridge says,—“Every human feeling is greater and larger than the
exciting cause.” (A philosophical way of putting Rochefoucauld’s neatly
expressed apophthegm: “Nous ne sommes jamais ni si heureux ni si
malheureux que nous l’imaginons.”) “A proof,” he proceeds, “that man is
designed for a higher state of existence; and this is deeply implied in
music, in which there is always something more and beyond the immediate
expression.”

But not music only, every production of art ought to excite emotions
greater and thoughts larger than itself. Thoughts and emotions which
never perhaps were in the mind of the artist, never were anticipated,
never were intended by him—may be strongly suggested by his work. This
is an important part of the morals of art, which we must never lose
sight of. Art is not only for pleasure and profit, but for good and for
evil.

Goethe (in the _Dichtung und Wahrheit_) describes the reception of Marie
Antoinette at Strasbourg, where she passed the frontier to enter her new
kingdom. She was then a lovely girl of sixteen. He relates that on
visiting before her arrival the reception room on the bridge over the
Rhine, where her German attendants were to deliver her into the hands of
the French authorities, he found the walls hung with tapestries
representing the ominous story of Jason and Medea—of all the marriages
on record the most fearful, the most tragic in its consequences. “What!”
he exclaims, his poetical imagination struck with the want of moral
harmony, “was there among these French architects and decorators no man
who could perceive that pictures represent things,—that they have a
meaning in themselves,—that they can impress sense and feeling,—that
they can awaken presentiments of good or evil?” But, as he tells us, his
exclamations of horror were met by the mockery of his French companions,
who assured him that it was not everybody’s concern to look for
significance in pictures.

These self-same tapestries of the story of Jason and Medea were after
the Restoration presented by Louis XVIII. to George IV., and at present
they line the walls of the Ball-room in Windsor Castle. We might repeat,
with some reason, the question of Goethe; for if pictures have a
significance, and speak to the imagination, what has the tragedy of
Jason and Medea to do in a ball-room?


Goethe, who thus laid down the principle that works of art speak to the
feelings and the conscience, and can awaken associations tending to good
and evil, by some strange inconsistency places art and artists out of
the sphere of morals. He speaks somewhere with contempt and ridicule of
those who take their conscience and their morality with them to an opera
or a picture gallery. Yet surely he is wrong. Why should we not? Are our
conscience and our morals like articles of dress which we can take off
and put on again as we fancy it convenient or expedient?—shut up in a
drawer and leave behind us when we visit a theatre or a gallery of art?
or are they not rather a part of ourselves—our very life—to graduate the
worth, to fix the standard of all that mingles with our life? The idea
that what we call _taste_ in art has something quite distinctive from
conscience, is one cause that the popular notions concerning the
productions of art are abandoned to such confusion and uncertainty; that
simple people regard _taste_ as something forensic, something to be
learned, as they would learn a language, and mastered by a study of
rules and a dictionary of epithets; and they look up to a professor of
taste, just as they would look up to a professor of Greek or of Hebrew.
Either they listen to judgments lightly and confidently promulgated with
a sort of puzzled faith and a surrender of their own moral sense, which
are pitiable; as if art also had its infallible church and its hierarchy
of dictators!—or they fly into the opposite extreme, and seeing
themselves deceived and misled, fall away into strange heresies. All
from ignorance of a few laws simple in their form, yet infinite in their
application;—_natural_ laws we must call them, though here applied to
art.

In my younger days I have known men conspicuous for their want of
elevated principle, and for their dissipated habits, held up as arbiters
and judges of art; but it was to them only another form of epicurism and
self-indulgence; and I have seen them led into such absurd and fatal
mistakes for want of the power to distinguish and to generalise, that I
have despised their judgment, and have come to the conclusion that a
really high standard of taste and a low standard of morals are
incompatible with each other.

[Illustration]


104.

“The fact of the highest artistic genius having manifested itself in a
polytheistic age, and among a people whose moral views were essentially
degraded, has, we think, fostered the erroneous notion that the sphere
of art has no connection with that of morality. The Greeks, with
penetrative insight, dilated the essential characteristics of man’s
organism as a vehicle of superior intelligence, while their intense
sympathy with physical beauty made them alive to its most subtle
manifestations; and reproducing their impressions through the medium of
art, they have given birth to models of the human form, which reveal its
highest possibilities, and the excellence of which depends upon their
being individual expressions of ideal truth. Thus, too, in their
descriptions of nature, instead of multiplying insignificant details,
they seized instinctively upon the characteristic features of her
varying aspects, and not unfrequently embodied a finished picture in one
comprehensive and harmonious word. In association with their marvellous
genius, however, we find a cruelty, a treachery, and a licence which
would be revolting if it were not for the historical interest which
attaches to every genuine record of a bygone age. Their low moral
standard cannot excite surprise when we consider the debasing tendency
of their worship, the objects of their adoration being nothing more than
their own degraded passions invested with some of the attributes of
deity. Now, among the modifications of thought introduced by
Christianity, there is perhaps none more pregnant with important results
than the harmony which it has established between religion and
morality. The great law of right and wrong has acquired a sacred
character, when viewed as an expression of the divine will; it takes its
rank among the eternal verities, and to ignore it in our delineations of
life, or to represent sin otherwise than as treason against the supreme
ruler, is to retain in modern civilisation one of the degrading elements
of heathenism. Conscience is as great a fact of our inner life as the
sense of beauty, and the harmonious action of both these instinctive
principles is essential to the highest enjoyment of art, for any
internal dissonance disturbs the repose of the mind, and thereby
shatters the image mirrored in its depths.”—_A. S._

[Illustration]


105.

“Mais vous autres artistes, vous ne considerez pour la plupart dans les
œuvres que la beauté ou la singularité de l’exécution, sans vous
pénétrer de l’idée dont cet œuvre est la forme; ainsi votre intelligence
adore souvent l’expression d’un sentiment que votre cœur repousserait
s’il en avait la conscience.”—_George Sand._

[Illustration]


106.

Lavater told Goethe that on a certain occasion when he held the velvet
bag in the church as collector of the offerings, he tried to observe
only the hands; and he satisfied himself that in every individual, the
shape of the hand and of the fingers, the action and sentiment in
dropping the gift into the bag, were distinctly different and
individually characteristic.

What then shall we say of Van Dyck, who painted the hands of his men and
women, not from individual nature, but from a model hand—his own very
often?—and every one who considers for a moment will see in Van Dyck’s
portraits, that, however well painted and elegant the hands, they in
very few instances harmonise with the _personalité_;—that the position
is often affected, and as if intended for display,—the display of what
is in itself a positive fault, and from which some little knowledge of
comparative physiology would have saved him.

There are hands of various character; the hand to catch, and the hand to
hold; the hand to clasp, and the hand to grasp. The hand that has
worked or could work, and the hand that has never done anything but hold
itself out to be kissed, like that of Joanna of Arragon in Raphael’s
picture.

Let any one look at the hands in Titian’s portrait of old Paul IV.:
though exquisitely modelled, they have an expression which reminds us of
claws; they belong to the face of that grasping old man, and could
belong to no other.

[Illustration]


107.

Mozart and Chopin, though their genius was differently developed, were
alike in some things: in nothing more than this, that the artistic
element in both minds wholly dominated over the social and practical,
and that their art was the element in which they moved and lived,
through which they felt and thought. I doubt whether either of them
could have said, “_D’abord je suis homme et puis je suis artiste_;”
whereas this could have been said with truth by Mendelsohn and by
Litzst. In Mendelsohn the enormous creative power was modified by the
intellect and the conscience. Litzst has no creative power.

Litzst has thus drawn the character of Chopin:—“Rien n’était plus pur et
plus exalté en même temps que ses pensées; rien n’était plus tenace,
plus exclusif, et plus minutieusement dévoué que ses affections. Mais
cet être ne comprenait que ce qui était identique à lui-même:—le reste
n’existait pour lui que comme une sorte de rêve fâcheux, auquel il
essayait de se soustraire en vivant au milieu du monde. Toujours perdu
dans ses rêveries, la réalité lui deplaisait. Enfant il ne pouvait
toucher à un instrument tranchant sans se blesser; homme il ne pouvait
se trouver en face d’un homme différent de lui, sans se heurter contre
cette contradiction vivante.”

“Ce qui le préservait d’un antagonisme perpétuel c’était l’habitude
volontaire et bientôt invétérée de ne point voir, de ne pas entendre ce
qui lui deplaisait: en général sans toucher à ses affections
personelles, les êtres qui ne pensaient pas comme lui devenaient à ses
yeux comme des espèces de fantômes; et comme il était d’une politesse
charmante, on pouvait prendre pour une bienveillance courtoise ce qui
n’était chez lui qu’un froid dédain—une aversion insurmontable.”


108.

The father of Mozart was a man of high and strict religious principle.
He had a conviction—in his case more truly founded than is usual—that
he was the father of a great, a surpassing genius, and consequently of a
being unfortunate in this, that he must be in advance of his age,
exposed to error, to envy, to injustice, to strife; and to do his duty
to his son demanded large faith and large firmness. But because he _did_
estimate this sacred trust as a duty to be discharged, not only with
respect to his gifted son, but to the God who had so endowed him; so, in
spite of many mistakes, the earnest straightforward endeavour to do
right in the parent seems to have saved Mozart’s moral life, and to have
given that completeness to the productions of his genius, which the
harmony of the moral and creative faculties alone can bestow.


“The modifying power of circumstances on Mozart’s style, is an
interesting consideration. Whatever of striking, of new or beautiful he
met with in the works of others left its impression on him; and he often
reproduced these efforts, not servilely, but mingling his own nature and
feelings with them in a manner not less surprising than delightful.”

This is true equally of Shakespeare and of Raphael, both of whom adapted
or rather adopted much from their precursors in the way of material to
work upon; and whose incomparable originality consisted in the
interfusion of their own great individual genius with every subject
they touched, so that it became theirs, and could belong to no other.


The Figaro was composed at Vienna. The Don Juan and Clemenza di Tito at
Prague;—which I note because the localities are so characteristic of the
operas. Cimarosa’s Matrimonio Segreto was composed at Prague; it was on
the fortification of the Hradschin one morning at sun-rise that he
composed the _Pria che spunti in ciel l’aurora_.


When called upon to describe his method of composing, what Mozart said
of himself was very striking from its _naïveté_ and truth. “I do not,”
he said, “aim at originality. I do not know in what my originality
consists. Why my productions take from my hand that particular form or
style which makes them _Mozartish_, and different from the works of
other composers is probably owing to the same cause which makes my nose
this or that particular shape; makes it, in short, Mozart’s nose, and
different from other people’s.”

Yet, as a composer, Mozart was as _objective_, as dramatic, as
Shakspeare and Raphael; Chopin, in comparison, was wholly
_subjective_,—the Byron of Music.

[Illustration]


109.

Talking once with Adelaide Kemble, after she had been singing in the
“Figaro,” she compared the music to the bosom of a full blown rose in
its voluptuous, intoxicating richness. I said that some of Mozart’s
melodies seemed to me not so much composed, but found—found on some
sunshiny day in Arcadia, among nymphs and flowers. “Yes,” she replied,
with ready and felicitous expression, “not _inventions_, but
_existences_.”

[Illustration]


110.

Old George the Third, in his blindness and madness, once insisted on
making the selection of pieces for the concert of ancient music (May,
1811),—it was soon after the death of the Princess Amelia. “The
programme included some of the finest passages in Handel’s ‘Samson,’
descriptive of blindness; the ‘Lamentation of Jephthah,’ for his
daughter; Purcel’s ‘Mad Tom,’ and closed with ‘God save the King,’ to
make sure the application of all that went before.”

[Illustration]


111.

Every one who remembers what Madlle. Rachel was seven or eight years
ago, and who sees her now (1853), will allow that she has made no
progress in any of the essential excellences of her art:—a certain proof
that she is not a great artist in the true sense of the word. She is a
finished actress, but she is nothing more, and nothing better; not
enough the artist ever to forget or conceal her art; consequently there
is a want somewhere, which a mind highly toned and of quick perceptions
feels from beginning to end. The parts in which she once excelled—the
Phêdre and the Hermione, for instance—have become formalised and hard,
like studies cast in bronze; and when she plays a new part it has no
freshness. I always go to see her whenever I can. I admire her as what
she is—the Parisian actress, practised in every trick of her _métier_. I
admire what she does, I think how well it is all _done_, and am inclined
to clap and applaud her drapery, perfect and ostentatiously studied in
every fold, just with the same feeling that I applaud herself.

As to the last scene of Adrienne Lecouvreur, (which those who are
_avides de sensation_, athirst for painful emotion, go to see as they
would drink a dram, and critics laud as a miracle of art,) it is
altogether a mistake and a failure; it is beyond the just limits of
terror and pity—beyond the legitimate sphere of _art_. It reminds us of
the story of Gentil Bellini and the Sultan. The Sultan much admired
Bellini’s picture of the decollation of John the Baptist, but informed
him that it was inaccurate—surgically—for the tendons and muscles ought
to shrink where divided; and then calling for one of his slaves, he drew
his scimitar, and striking off the head of the wretch, gave the
horror-struck artist a lesson in practical anatomy. So we might possibly
learn from Rachel’s imitative representation, (studied in an hospital as
they say,) how poison acts on the frame, and how the limbs and features
writhe into death; but if she were a great moral artist she would feel
that what is allowed to be true in painting, is true in art generally;
that mere imitation, such as the vulgar delight in, and hold up their
hands to see, is the vulgarest and easiest aim of the imitative arts,
and that between the true interpretation of poetry in art and such base
mechanical means to the lowest ends, there lies an immeasurable
distance.

I am disposed to think that Rachel has not genius, but talent, and that
her talent, from what I see year after year, has a downward
tendency,—there is not sufficient moral seasoning to save it from
corruption. I remember that when I first saw her in Hermione she
reminded me of a serpent, and the same impression continues. The long
meagre form with its graceful undulating movements, the long narrow face
and features, the contracted jaw, the high brow, the brilliant
supernatural eyes which seem to glance every way at once; the sinister
smile; the painted red lips, which look as though they had lapped, or
could lap, blood; all these bring before me the idea of a Lamia, the
serpent nature in the woman’s form. In Lydia, and in Athalie, she
touches the extremes of vice and wickedness with such a masterly
lightness and precision, that I am full of wondering admiration for the
actress. There is not a turn of her figure, not an expression in her
face, not a fold in her gorgeous drapery, that is not a study; but
withal such a consciousness of her art, and such an ostentation of the
means she employs, that the power remains always _extraneous_, as it
were, and exciting only to the senses and the intellect.

Latterly she has become a hard mannerist. Her face, once so flexible,
has lost the power of expressing the nicer shades and softer gradations
of feeling; so much so, that they write dramas for her with
supernaturally wicked and depraved heroines to suit her especial powers.
I conceive that an artist could not sink lower in degradation. Yet to
satisfy the taste of a Parisian audience and the ambition of a Parisian
actress this was not enough, and wickedness required the piquancy of
immediate approximation with innocence. In the Valeria she played two
characters, and appeared on the stage alternately as a miracle of vice
and a miracle of virtue: an abandoned prostitute and a chaste matron.
There was something in this contrasted impersonation, considered simply
in relation to the aims and objects of art, so revolting, that I sat in
silent and deep disgust, which was partly deserved by the audience which
could endure the exhibition.

It is the entire absence of the high poetic and moral element which
distinguishes Rachel as an actress, and places her at such an
immeasurable distance from Mrs. Siddons, that it shocks me to hear them
named together.


112.

It is no reproach to a capital actress to play effectively a very wicked
character. Mrs. Siddons played the abandoned Milwood as carefully, as
completely as she played Hermoine and Constance; but if it had required
a perpetual succession of Calistas and Milwoods to call forth her
highest powers, what should we think of the woman and the artist?


113.

When dramas and characters are invented to suit the particular talent of
a particular actor or actress, it argues rather a limited range of the
artistic power; though within that limit the power may be great and the
talent genuine.


Thus for Liston and for Miss O’Neil, so distinguished in their
respective lines of Comedy and Tragedy, characters were especially
constructed and plays written, which have not been acted since their
time.


114.

A celebrated German actress (who has quitted the stage for many years)
speaking of Rachel, said that the reason she must always stop short of
the highest place in art, is because she is nothing but an actress—that
only; and has no aims in life, has no duties, feelings, employments,
sympathies, but those which centre in herself in the interests of her
art;—which thus ceases to be _art_ and becomes a _métier_.

This reminded me of what Pauline Viardot once said to me:—“D’abord je
suis _femme_, avec les dévoirs, les affections, les sentiments d’une
femme; et puis je suis _artiste_.”


115.

The same German actress whose opinion I have quoted, told me that the
Leonora and the Iphigenia of Goethe were the parts she preferred to
play. The Thekla and the Beatrice of Schiller next. (In all these she
excelled.) The parts easiest to her, requiring no effort scarcely, were
Jerta (in Houwald’s Tragedy, “Die Schuld”), and Clärchen in Egmont; of
the character of Jerta, she said beautifully:—“Ich habe es nicht
gespielt, Ich habe es gesagt!” (I did not _play_ it, I _uttered_ it.)
This was extremely characteristic of the woman.

I once asked Mrs. Siddons, which of her great characters she preferred
to play? She replied, after a moment’s consideration, and in her rich
deliberate emphatic tones:—“Lady Macbeth is the character I have most
_studied_.” She afterwards said that she had played the character during
thirty years, and scarcely acted it once, without carefully reading
over the part and generally the whole play in the morning; and that she
never read over the play without finding something new in it;
“something,” she said, “which had not struck me so much as it _ought_ to
have struck me.”


Of Mrs. Pritchard, who preceded Mrs. Siddons in the part of Lady
Macbeth, it was well known that she had never read the play. She merely
studied her own part as written out by the stage-copyist; of the other
parts she knew nothing but the _cues_.


116.

When I asked Mrs. Henry Siddons, which of her characters she preferred
playing? she said at once “Imogen, in Cymbeline, was the character I
played with most ease to myself, and most success as regarded the
public; it cost no effort.”

This was confirmed by others. A very good judge said of her—“In some of
her best parts, as Juliet, Rosalind, and Lady Townley, she may have been
approached or equalled. In Viola and Imogen she was never equalled. In
the grace and simplicity of the first, in the refinement and shy but
impassioned tenderness of the last, _I_ at least have never seen any one
to be compared to her. She hardly seemed to _act_ these parts; they came
naturally to her.”

This reminds me of another anecdote of the same accomplished actress and
admirable woman. The people of Edinburgh, among whom she lived, had so
identified her with all that was gentle, refined and noble, that they
did not like to see her play wicked parts. It happened that Godwin went
down to Edinburgh with a tragedy in his pocket, which had been accepted
by the theatre there, and in which Mrs. Henry Siddons was to play the
principal part—that of a very wicked woman (I forget the name of the
piece). He was warned that it risked the success of his play, but her
conception of the part was so just and spirited, that he persisted. At
the rehearsal she stopped in the midst of one of her speeches and said,
with great _naïveté_, “I am afraid, Mr. Godwin, the people will not
endure to hear me say this!” He replied coolly, “My dear, you cannot be
always young and pretty—you must come to this at last,—go on.” He
mistook her meaning and the feeling of “the people.” The play failed;
and the audience took care to discriminate between their disapprobation
of the piece and their admiration for the actress.


117.

Madame Schrœder Devrient told me that she sung with most pleasure to
herself in the “Fidelio;” and in this part I have never seen her
equalled.

Fanny Kemble told me the part she had played with most pleasure to
herself, was Camiola, in Massinger’s “Maid of Honour.” It was an
exquisite impersonation, but the play itself ineffective and not
successful, because of the weak and worthless character of the hero.


118.

Mrs. Charles Kean told me that she had played with great ease and
pleasure to herself, the part of Ginevra, in Leigh Hunt’s “Legend of
Florence.” She _made_ the part (as it is technically termed), and it was
a very complete and beautiful impersonation.


These answers appear to me psychologically, as well as artistically,
interesting, and worth preserving.

[Illustration]


119.

Mrs. Siddons, when looking over the statues in Lord Lansdowne’s gallery,
told him that one mode of expressing intensity of feeling was suggested
to her by the position of some of the Egyptian statues with the arms
close down at the sides and the hands clenched. This is curious, for the
attitude in the Egyptian gods is intended to express repose. As the
expression of intense passion self-controlled, it might be appropriate
to some characters and not to others. Rachel, as I recollect, uses it in
the Phêdre:—Madame Rettich uses it in the Medea. It would not be
characteristic in Constance.

[Illustration]


120.

On a certain occasion when Fanny Kemble was reading Cymbeline, a lady
next to me remarked that Imogen ought not to utter the words “Senseless
linen!—happier therein than I!” aloud, and to Pisanio,—that it detracted
from the strength of the feeling, and that they should have been uttered
aside, and in a low, intense whisper. “Iachimo,” she added, “might
easily have won a woman who could have laid her heart so bare to a mere
attendant!”

On my repeating this criticism to Fanny Kemble, she replied just as I
had anticipated: “Such criticism is the mere expression of the natural
emotions or character of the critic. _She_ would have spoken the words
in a whisper; _I_ should have made the exclamation aloud. If there had
been a thousand people by, I should not have cared for them—I should not
have been conscious of their presence. I should have exclaimed before
them all, ‘Senseless linen!—happier therein than I!’”

And thus the artist fell into the same mistake of which she accused her
critic—she made Imogen utter the words aloud, because _she_ would have
done so herself. This sort of subjective criticism in both was quite
feminine; but the question was not how either A. B. or F. K. would have
spoken the words, but what would have been most natural in such a woman
as Imogen?

And most undoubtedly the first criticism was as exquisitely true and
just as it was delicate. Such a woman as Imogen would _not_ have uttered
those words aloud. She would have uttered them in a whisper, and turning
her face from her attendant. With such a woman, the more intense the
passion, the more conscious and the more veiled the expression.

[Illustration]


121.

I read in the life of Garrick that, “about 1741, a taste for Shakespeare
had lately been revived by the encouragement of some distinguished
persons of taste of both sexes; but more especially by the ladies who
formed themselves into a society, called the ‘Shakespeare Club.’” There
exists a Shakespeare Society at this present time, but I do not know
that any ladies are members of it, or allowed to be so.

[Illustration]


122.

The “Maria Maddalena” of Friedrich Hebbel is a domestic tragedy. It
represents the position of a young girl in the lower class of society-a
character of quiet goodness and feeling, in a position the most usual,
circumstances the most common-place. The representation is from the
life, and set forth with a truth which in its naked simplicity, almost
hardness, becomes most tragic and terrible. Around this girl, portrayed
with consummate delicacy, is a group of men. First her father, an honest
artisan, coarse, harsh, despotic. Then a light-minded, good-natured,
dissipated brother, and two suitors. All these love her according to
their masculine individuality. To the men of her own family she is as a
part of the furniture—something they are accustomed to see—necessary to
the daily well-being of the house, without whom the fire would not be on
the hearth, nor the soup on the table; and they are proud of her charms
and good qualities as belonging to them. By her lovers she is loved as
an object they desire to possess—and dispute with each other. But no one
of all these thinks of _her_—of what she thinks, feels, desires,
suffers, is, or may be. Nor does she seem to think of it herself, until
the storm falls upon her, enwraps her, overwhelms her. Then she stands
in the midst of the beings around her, and who are one and all in a kind
of external relation to her, completely alone. In her grief, in her
misery, in her amazement, her perplexity, her terror, there is no one to
take thought for her, no one to help, no one to sympathise. Each is
self-occupied, self-satisfied. And so she sinks down and perishes, and
they stand wondering at what they had not the sense to see, wringing
their hands over the irremediable. It is the Lucy Ashton of vulgar life.

The manners and characters of this play are essentially German; but the
_stuff_—the material of the piece—the relative position of the
personages, might be true of any place in this christian, civilised
Europe. The whole is wonderfully, painfully natural, and strikes home to
the heart, like Hood’s “Bridge of Sighs.” It was a surprise to me that
such a piece should have been acted, and with applause, at the Court
Theatre at Vienna; but I believe it has not been given since 1849.

[Illustration]


123.

Here is a very good analysis of the artistic nature: “Il ressent une
véritable émotion, mais il s’arrange pour la montrer. Il fait un peu ce
que faisait cet acteur de l’antiquité qui, venant de perdre son fils
unique et jouant quelque temps après le rôle d’Electre embrassant l’urne
d’Oreste, prit entre ses mains l’urne qui contenait les cendres de son
enfant, et joua sa propre douleur, dit Aulus Gellius, au lieu de jouer
celle de son rôle. Ce melange de l’émotion naturelle et de l’émotion
théatrale est plus fréquent qu’on ne croit, surtout à certaines époques
quand le raffinement de l’Education fait que l’homme ne sent pas
seulement ses émotions, mais qu’il sent aussi l’effet qu’elles peuvent
produire. Beaucoup de gens alors, sont naturellement comédiens; c’est à
dire qu’ils donnent un rôle à leurs passions: ils sentent en dehors au
lieu de sentir en dedans; leurs émotions sont _en relief_ au lieu d’être
_en profondeur_.”—_St. Marc Girardin._

I think Margaret Fuller must have had the above passage in her mind when
she worked out this happy illustration into a more finished form. She
says:—“The difference between the artistic nature and the unartistic
nature in the hour of emotion, is this: in the first the feeling is a
cameo, in the last an intaglio. Raised in relief and shaped _out_ of the
heart in the first; cut _into_ the heart, and hardly perceptible till
you take the impression, in the last.”

And to complete this fanciful and beautiful analogy, we might add, that
because the artistic nature is demonstrative, it is sometimes thought
insincere; and insincere it _is_ where the form is hollow in proportion
as it is cast outward, as in the casts and electrotype copies of the
solid sculpture. And because the unartistic nature is undemonstrative,
it is sometimes thought cold, unreal; for of this also there are
imitations; and in passing the touch over certain intaglios, we feel by
contact that they are not so deep as we supposed.

God defend us from both! from the hollowness that imitates solidity,
and the shallowness that imitates depth!

[Illustration]


124.

Goethe said of some woman, “She knew something of devotion and love, but
of the pure admiration for a glorious piece of man’s handiwork—of a mere
sympathetic veneration for the creation of the human intellect—she could
form no idea.”

This may have been true of the individual woman referred to; but that
female critics look for something in a production of art beyond the mere
handiwork, and that “our sympathetic veneration for a creation of human
intellect,” is often dependent on our moral associations, is not a
reproach to us. Nor, if I may presume to say so, does it lessen the
value of our criticism, where it can be referred to principles. Women
have a sort of unconscious logic in these matters.

[Illustration]


125.

“When fiction,” says Sir James Mackintosh, “represents a degree of ideal
excellence superior to any virtue which is observed in real life, the
effect is perfectly analogous to that of a model of ideal beauty in the
fine arts.”

That is to say—As the Apollo exalts our idea of possible beauty, in
form, so the moral ideal of man or woman exalts our idea of possible
virtue, provided it be _consistent_ as a whole. If we gave the Apollo a
god-like head and face and left a part of his frame below perfection,
the elevating effect of the whole would be immediately destroyed, though
the figure might be more according to the standard of actual nature.

[Illustration]


126.

“In Dante, as in Shakespeare, every man selects by instinct that which
assimilates with the course of his own previous occupations and
interests.” (_Merivale._) True, not of Dante and Shakespeare only, but
of all books worth reading; and not merely of books and authors, but of
all productions of mind in whatever form which speak to mind; all works
of art, from which we _imbibe_, as it were, what is sympathetic with our
individuality. The more universal the sympathies of the writer or the
artist, the more of such individualities will be included in his domain
of power.

[Illustration]


127.

The distinction so cleverly and beautifully drawn by the Germans (by
Lessing first I believe) between “Bildende” and “Redende Kunst” is not
to be rendered into English without a lengthy paraphrase. It places in
immediate contradistinction the art which is evolved in _words_, and the
art which is evolved in _forms_.

[Illustration]


128.

Venus, or rather the Greek Aphrodite, in the sublime fragment of
Eschylus (the Danaïdes) is a grand, severe, and pure conception; the
principle eternal of beauty, of love, and of fecundity—or the law of the
continuation of being through beauty and through love. Such a
conception is no more like the Ovidean Roman Venus than the Venus of
Milo is like the Venus de Medicis.

[Illustration]


129.

In the Greek tragedy, love figures as one of the laws of nature—not as a
power, or a passion; these are the aspects given to it by the Christian
imagination.

Yet this higher idea of love _did_ exist among the ancients—only we must
not seek it in their poetry, but in their philosophy. Thus we find it in
Plato, set forth as a beautiful philosophical theory; not as a passion,
to influence life, nor as a poetic feeling, to adorn and exalt it. Nor
do we moderns owe this idea of a mystic, elevated, and elevating love to
the Greek philosophy. I rather agree with those who trace it to the
mingling of Christianity with the manners of the old Germans, and their
(almost) superstitious reverence for womanhood. In the Middle Ages,
where morals were most depraved, and women most helpless and oppressed,
there still survived the theory formed out of the combination of the
Christian spirit, and the Germanic customs; and when in the 15th
century Plato became the fashion, then the theory became a science, and
what had been religion became again philosophy. This sort of speculative
love became to real love what theology became to religion; it was a
thesis to be talked about and argued in universities, sung in sonnets,
set forth in art; and so being kept as far as possible from all bearings
on our moral life, it ceased to find consideration either as a primæval
law of God, or as a moral motive influencing the duties and habits of
our existence; and thus we find the social code in regard to it
diverging into all the vagaries of celibacy on one hand, and all the
vilenesses of profligacy on the other.

[Illustration]


130.

Wilkie’s “Life and Letters” have not helped me much. His opinions and
criticisms on his own art are sensible, not suggestive. I find, however,
one or two passages strongly illustrative of the value of _truth_ as a
principle in art, and the sort of _vitality_ it gives to scenery and
objects.

He writes, when travelling in Holland, to his friend, Sir George
Beaumont;—

“One of the first circumstances that struck me wherever I went was what
you had prepared me for; the resemblance that everything bore to the
Dutch and Flemish pictures. On leaving Ostend, not only the people,
houses, trees, but whole tracks of country reminded me of Teniers, and
on getting further into the country this was only relieved by the
pictures of Rubens and Wouvermans, or some other masters taking his
place.

“I thought I could trace the particular districts in Holland where
Ostade, Cuyp, and Rembrandt had studied, and could almost fancy the spot
where the pictures of other masters had been painted. Indeed nothing
seemed new to me in the whole country; and what one could not help
wondering at, was, that these old masters should have been able to draw
the materials of so beautiful a variety of art, from so contracted and
monotonous a theme.”

Their variety arose out of their truthfulness. I had the same feeling
when travelling in Holland and Belgium. It was to me a perpetual
succession of reminiscences, and so it has been with others. Rubens and
Rembrandt (as landscape painters)—Cuyp, Hobbima, were continually in my
mind; occasionally the yet more poetical Ruysdaal; but who ever thinks
of Wouvermans, or Bergham, or Karel du Jardin, as national or natural
painters? their scenery is all _got up_ like the scenery in a ballet,
and I can conceive nothing more tiresome than a room full of their
pictures, elegant as they are.


131.

Again, writing from Jerusalem, Wilkie says, “Nothing here requires
revolution in our opinions of the finest works of art: with all their
discrepancies of detail, they are yet constantly recalled by what is
here before us. The background of the Heliodorus of Raphael is a Syrian
building; the figures in the Lazarus of Sebastian del Piombo are a
Syrian people; and the indescribable tone of Rembrandt is brought to
mind at every turn, whether in the street, the Synagogue, or the
Sepulchre.” And again: “The painter we are always referring to, as one
who has most truly given the eastern people, is Rembrandt.”

He partly contradicts this afterwards, but says, that Venetian art
reminds him of Syria. Now, the Venetians were in constant communication
with the East; all their art has a tinge of orientalism. As to
Rembrandt, he must have been in familiar intercourse with the Jew
merchants and Jewish families settled in the Dutch commercial towns; he
painted them frequently as portraits, and they perpetually appear in his
compositions.


132.

In the following passage Wilkie seems unconsciously to have anticipated
the invention (or rather the _discovery_) of the Daguerreotype, and some
of its results. He says:—“If by an operation of mechanism, animated
nature could be copied with the accuracy of a cast in plaster, a tracing
on a wall, or a reflection in a glass, without modification, and without
the proprieties and graces of art, all that utility could desire would
be perfectly attained, but it would be at the expense of almost every
quality which renders art delightful.”

One reason why the Daguerreotype portraits are in general so
unsatisfactory may perhaps be traced to a natural law, though I have not
heard it suggested. It is this: every object that we behold we see not
with the eye only, but with the soul; and this is especially true of the
human countenance, which in so far as it is the expression of mind we
see through the medium of our own individual mind. Thus a portrait is
satisfactory in so far as the painter has sympathy with his subject, and
delightful to us in proportion as the resemblance reflected through
_his_ sympathies is in accordance with _our own_. Now in the
Daguerreotype there is no such medium, and the face comes before us
without passing through the human mind and brain to our apprehension.
This may be the reason why a Daguerreotype, however beautiful and
accurate, is seldom satisfactory or agreeable, and that while we
acknowledge its truth as to fact, it always leaves something for the
sympathies to desire.


133.

He says, “One thing alone seems common in all the stages of early art;
the desire of making all other excellences tributary to the expression
of thought and sentiment.”

The early painters had _no other_ excellences except those of thought
and expression; therefore could not sacrifice what they did not possess.
They drew incorrectly, coloured ineffectively, and were ignorant of
perspective.

[Illustration]


134.

When at Dusseldorf, I found the President of the Academy, Wilhelm
Schadow, employed on a church picture in three compartments; Paradise
in the centre; on the right side, Purgatory; on the left side, Hell. He
explained to me that he had not attempted to paint the interior of
Paradise as the sojourn of the blessed, because he could imagine no kind
of occupation or delight which, prolonged to eternity, would not be
wearisome. He had therefore represented the exterior of Paradise, where
Christ, standing on the threshold with outstretched arms, receives and
welcomes those who enter. (This was better and in finer taste than the
more common allegory of St. Peter and his keys.) On one side of the
door, the Virgin Mary and a group of guardian angels encourage those who
approach. Among these we distinguish a martyr who has died for the
truth, and a warrior who has fought for it. A care-worn, penitent mother
is presented by her innocent daughter. Those who were “in the world and
the world knew them not,” are here acknowledged—and eyes dim with
weeping, and heads bowed with shame, are here uplifted, and bright with
the rapturous gleam which shone through the portals of Paradise.

The idea of Purgatory, he told me, was suggested by a vision or dream
related by St. Catherine of Genoa, in which she beheld a great number of
men and women shut up in a dark cavern; angels descending from heaven,
liberate them from time to time, and they are borne away one after
another from darkness, pain, and penance, into life and light—again to
behold the face of their Maker—reconciled and healed. In his picture,
Schadow has represented two angels bearing away a liberated soul. Below
in the fore-ground groups of sinners are waiting, sadly, humbly, but not
unhopefully, the term of their bitter penance. Among these he had placed
a group of artists and poets who, led away by temptation, had abused
their glorious gifts to wicked or worldly purposes;—Titian, Ariosto,
and, rather to my surprise, the beautiful, lamenting spirit of Byron.
Then, what was curious enough, as types of ambition, Lady Macbeth and
her husband, who, it seems, were to be ultimately saved, I do not know
why—unless for the love of Shakespeare.

Hell, like all the hells I ever saw, was a failure. There was the usual
amount of fire and flames, dragons and serpents, ghastly, despairing
spirits, but nothing of original or powerful conception. When I looked
in Schadow’s face, so beautiful with benevolence, I wondered _how_ he
could—but in truth he could _not_—realise to himself the idea of a hell;
all the materials he had used were borrowed and common-place.

But among his cartoons for pictures already painted, there was one
charming idea of quite a different kind. It was for an altar, and he
called it “THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE.” Above, the sacrificed Redeemer lies
extended in his mother’s arms. The pure abundant Waters of Salvation,
gushing from the rock beneath their feet, are received into a great
cistern. Saints, martyrs, teachers of the truth, are standing round,
drinking or filling their vases, which they present to each other. From
the cistern flows a stream, at which a family of poor peasants are
drinking with humble, joyful looks; and as the stream divides and flows
away through flowery meadows, little sportive children stoop to drink of
it, scooping up the water in their tiny hands, or sipping it with their
rosy smiling lips. A beautiful and significant allegory beautifully
expressed, and as intelligible to the people as any in the “Pilgrim’s
Progress.”

[Illustration]


135.

Haydon discussed “High Art” as if it depended solely on the knowledge
and the appreciation of _form_. In this lay his great mistake. Form is
but the vehicle of the highest art.

[Illustration]


136.

Southey says that the Franciscan Order “excluded all art, all
science;—no pictures might profane their churches.” This is a most
extraordinary instance of ignorance in a man of Southey’s universal
learning. Did he forget Friar Bacon? had he not heard of that museum of
divine pictures, the Franciscan church and convent at Assisi? And that
some of the greatest mathematicians, architects, mosaic workers,
carvers, and painters, of the 13th and 14th centuries were Franciscan
friars?

[Illustration]


137.

Wordsworth’s remark on Sir Joshua Reynolds as a painter, that “he lived
too much for the age and the people among whom he lived,” is hardly
just; as a portrait-painter he could not well do otherwise; his
profession was to represent the people among whom he lived. An artist
who takes the higher, the creative and imaginative walks of art, and who
thinks he can, at the same time, live for and with the age, and for the
passing and clashing interests of the world, and the frivolities of
society, does so at a great risk: there must be perilous discord between
the inner and the outer life—such discord as wears and irritates the
whole physical and moral being. Where the original material of the
character is not strong, the artistic genius will be gradually
enfeebled and conventionalised, through flattery, through sympathy,
through misuse. If the material be strong, the result may perhaps be
worse; the genius may be demoralised and the mind lose its balance. I
have seen in my time instances of both.

[Illustration]


138.

“The man,” says Coleridge, “who reads a work meant for immediate effect
on one age, with the notions and feelings of another, may be a refined
gentleman but a very sorry critic.”

This is especially true with regard to art: but Coleridge should have
put in the word, _only_, (“only the notions and feelings of another
age,”) for a very great pleasure lies in the power of throwing ourselves
into the sentiments and notions of one age, while feeling _with_ them,
and reflecting _upon_ them, with the riper critical experience which
belongs to another age.

[Illustration]


139.

A _good_ taste in art feels the presence or the absence of merit; a
_just_ taste discriminates the degree,—the _poco-più_ and the
_poco-meno_. A _good_ taste rejects faults; a _just_ taste selects
excellences. A _good_ taste is often unconscious; a _just_ taste is
always conscious. A _good_ taste may be lowered or spoilt; a _just_
taste can only go on refining more and more.

[Illustration]


140.

Artists are interesting to me as men. Their work, as the product of
mind, should lead us to a knowledge of their own being; else, as I have
often said and written, our admiration of art is a species of atheism.
To forget the soul in its highest manifestation is like forgetting God
in his creation.

[Illustration]


141.

“Les images peints du corps humain, dans les figures où domine par trop
le savoir anatomique, en révèlant trop clairement à l’homme les secrets
de sa structure, lui en découvrent aussi par trop ce qu’on pourrait
appeler le point de vue _matériel_, ou, si l’on veut, _animal_.”

This is the fault of Michal-Angelo; yet I have sometimes thought that
his very materialism, so grand, and so peculiar in character, may have
arisen out of his profound religious feeling, his stern morality, his
lofty conceptions of our _mortal_, as well as _immortal_ destinies. He
appears to have beheld the human form only in a pure and sublime point
of view; not as the animal man, but as the habitation, fearfully and
wondrously constructed, for the spirit of man,—

           “The outward shape,
   And unpolluted temple of the mind.”

This is the reason that Michal-Angelo’s materialism affects us so
differently from that of Rubens. In the first, the predominance of form
attains almost a moral sublimity. In the latter, the predominance of
flesh and blood is debased into physical grossness. Michal-Angelo
believed in the resurrection of THE BODY, emphatically; and in his Last
Judgment the dead rise like Titans, strong to contend and mighty to
suffer. It is the apotheosis of form. In Ruben’s picture of the same
subject (at Munich) the bodily presence of resuscitated life is
revolting, reminding us of the text of St. Paul—“Flesh and blood shall
_not_ inherit the kingdom of God.” Both pictures are _æsthetically_
false, but _artistically_ miracles, and should thus be considered and
appreciated.

I have never looked on those awful figures in the Medici Chapel without
thinking what stupendous intellects must inhabit such stupendous
forms—terrible in their quietude; but they are supernatural, rather than
divine.

   “Heidnische Ruhe und Christliche Milde, sie bleiben Dir fremde;
    Alt-testamentisch bist Du, Zürnender, wie ist Dein Gott!”

John Edward Taylor, in his profound and beautiful essay “MICHAEL-ANGELO,
A POET,” says truly that “Dante worshipped the philosophy of religion,
and Michael-Angelo adored the philosophy of art.” The religion of the
one and the art of the other were evolved in a strange combination of
mysticism, materialism, and moral grandeur. The two men were congenial
in character and in genius.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


A FRAGMENT ON SCULPTURE.


AND ON CERTAIN CHARACTERS IN HISTORY AND POETRY CONSIDERED AS
SUBJECTS OF MODERN ART.

1848.


I Should begin by admitting the position laid down by Frederick
Schlegel, that art and nature are not identical. “Men,” he says,
“traduce nature, who falsely give her the epithet of artistic;” for
though nature comprehends all art, art cannot comprehend all nature.
Nature, in her sources of pleasures and contemplation is infinite; and
art, as her reflection in human works, finite. Nature is boundless in
her powers, exhaustless in her variety; the powers of art and its
capabilities of variety in production are bounded on every side. Nature
herself, the infinite, has circumscribed the bounds of finite art; the
one is the divinity; the other, the priestess. And if poetic art in the
_interpreting_ of nature share in her infinitude, yet in _representing_
nature through material, form, and colour, she is,—oh, how limited!


If each of the forms of poetic art has its law of limitation as
determined as the musical scale, narrowest of all are the limitations of
sculpture, to which, notwithstanding, we give the highest place; and it
is in regard to sculpture, we find most frequently those mistakes which
arise from a want of knowledge of the true principles of art.

Admitting, then, as necessary and immutable, the limitations of the art
of sculpture as to the management of the material in giving form and
expression; its primal laws of repose and simplicity; its rejection of
the complex and conventional; its bounded capabilities as to choice of
subject; must we also admit, with some of the most celebrated critics of
art, that there is but one style of sculpture, the Greek? And that every
deviation from pure Greek art must be regarded as a depravation and
perversion of the powers and subjects of sculpture? I do not see that
this follows.


It is absolute that Greek art reached long ago the term of its
development. In so far as regards the principles of beauty and
execution, it can go no farther. We may stand and look at the relics of
the Parthenon in awe and in despair; we can do neither more, nor better.
But we have not done with Greek sculpture. What in it is purely _ideal_,
is eternal; what is conventional, is in accordance with the primal
conditions of all imitative art. Therefore though it may have reached
the point at which development stops, and though its capability of
adaptation be limited by necessary laws; still its all-beautiful, its
immortal imagery is ever near us and around us; still “doth the old
feeling bring back the old names,” and with the old names, the forms;
still, in those old familiar forms we continue to clothe all that is
loveliest in visible nature; still, in all our associations with Greek
art—

  “’Tis Jupiter who brings whate’er is great,
   And Venus who brings every thing that’s fair.”

That the supreme beauty of Greek art—that the majestic significance of
the classical myths—will ever be to the educated mind and eye as things
indifferent and worn out, I cannot believe.


But on the other hand it may well be doubted whether the impersonation
of the Greek allegories in the purest forms of Greek art will ever give
intense pleasure to the people, or ever speak home to the hearts of the
men and women of these times. And this not from the want of an innate
taste and capacity in the minds of the masses—not because ignorance has
“frozen the genial current in their souls”—not merely through a vulgar
preference for mechanical imitation of common and familiar forms; but
from other causes not transient—not accidental. A classical education is
not now, as heretofore, the _only_ education given; and through an
honest and intense sympathy with the life of their own experience, and
through a dislike to vicious associations, though clothed in classical
language and classical forms, _thence_ is it that the people have turned
with a sense of relief from gods and goddesses, Ledas and Antiopes, to
shepherds and shepherdesses, groups of Charity, and young ladies in the
character of Innocence,—harmless, picturesque inanities, bearing the
same relation to classical sculpture that Watts’s hymns bear to Homer
and Sophocles.


Classical attainments of any kind are rare in our English sculptors;
therefore it is, that we find them often quite familiar with the
conventional treatment and outward forms of the usual subjects of Greek
art, without much knowledge of the original poetical conception, its
derivation, or its significance; and equally without any real
appreciation of the idea of which the form is but the vehicle. Hence
they do not seem to be aware how far this original conception is
capable of being varied, modified, _animated_ as it were, with an
infusion of fresh life, without deviating from its essential truth, or
transgressing those narrow limits, within which all sculpture must be
bounded in respect to action and attitude. To express _character_ within
these limits is the grand difficulty. We must remember that too much
value given to the head as the seat of mind, too much expression given
to the features as the exponents of character, must diminish the
importance of those parts of the form on which sculpture mainly depends
for its effect on the imagination. To convey the idea of a complete
individuality in a single figure, and under these restrictions, is the
problem to be solved by the sculptor who aims at originality, yet feels
his aspirations restrained by a fine taste and circumscribed by certain
inevitable associations.


It is therefore a question open to argument and involving considerations
of infinite delicacy and moment, in morals and in art, whether the old
Greek legends, endued as they are with an imperishable vitality derived
from their abstract youth, may not be susceptible of a treatment in
modern art analogous to that which they have received in modern poetry,
where the significant myth, or the ideal character, without losing its
classic grace, has been animated with a purer sentiment, and developed
into a higher expressiveness. Wordsworth’s Dion and Laodomia; Shelley’s
version of the Hymn to Mercury; Goethe’s Iphigenia; Lord Byron’s
Prometheus; Keats’s Hyperion; Barry Cornwall’s Proserpina; are instances
of what I mean in poetry. To do the same thing in art, requires that our
sculptors should stand in the same relation to Phidias and Praxiteles,
that our greatest poets bear to Homer or Euripides; that they should be
themselves poets and interpreters, not mere translators and imitators.

Further, we all know, that there is often a necessity for conveying
abstract ideas in the forms of art. We have then recourse to allegory;
yet allegorical statues are generally cold and conventional and
addressed to the intellect merely. Now there are occasions, in which an
abstract quality or thought is far more impressively and intelligibly
conveyed by an _impersonation_ than by a _personification_. I mean, that
Aristides might express the idea of justice; Penelope, that of conjugal
faith; Jonathan and David (or Pylades and Orestes), friendship; Rizpah,
devotion to the memory of the dead; Iphigenia, the voluntary sacrifice
for a good cause; and so of many others; and such figures would have
this advantage, that with the significance of a symbol they would
combine all the powers of a sympathetic reality.

[Illustration]


HELEN.

I have never seen any statue of Helen, ancient or modern. Treated in the
right spirit, I can hardly conceive a diviner subject for a sculptor. It
would be a great mistake to represent the Greek Helen merely as a
beautiful and alluring woman. This, at least, is not the Homeric
conception of the character, which has a wonderful and fascinating
individuality, requiring the utmost delicacy and poetic feeling to
comprehend, and rare artistic skill to realise. The oft-told story of
the Grecian painter, who, to create a Helen, assembled some twenty of
the fairest models he could find, and took from each a limb or a
feature, in order to compose from their separate beauties an ideal of
perfection,—this story, if it were true, would only prove that even
Zeuxis could make a great mistake. Such a combination of heterogeneous
elements would be psychologically and artistically false, and would
never give us a Helen.

She has become the ideal type of a fatal, faithless, dissolute woman;
but according to the Greek myth, she is _predestined_,—at once the
instrument and the victim of that fiat of the gods which had long before
decreed the destruction of Troy, and _her_ to be the cause. She must not
only be supremely beautiful,—“a daughter of the gods, divinely tall, and
most divinely fair!”—but as the offspring of Zeus (the title by which
she is so often designated in the Iliad), as the sister of the great
twin demi-gods Castor and Pollux, she should have the heroic lineaments
proper to her Olympian descent, touched with a pensive shade; for she
laments the calamities which her fatal charms have brought on all who
have loved her, all whom she has loved:—

  “Ah! had I died ere to these shores I fled,
   False to my country and my nuptial bed!”

She shrinks from the reproachful glances of those whom she has injured;
and yet, as it is finely intimated, wherever she appears her resistless
loveliness vanquishes every heart, and changes curses into blessings.
Priam treats her with paternal tenderness; Hector with a sort of
chivalrous respect.

  “If some proud brother eyed me with disdain,
   Or scornful sister with her sweeping train,
   Thy gentle accents softened all my pain;
   Nor was it e’er my fate from thee to find
   A deed ungentle or a word unkind.”

Helen, standing on the walls of Troy, and looking sadly over the battle
plain, where the heroes of her forfeited country, her kindred and her
friends, are assembled to fight and bleed for her sake, brings before us
an image full of melancholy sweetness as well as of consummate beauty.
Another passage in which she upbraids Venus as the cause of her
fault—not as a mortal might humbly expostulate with an immortal, but
almost on terms of equality, and even with bitterness,—is yet more
characteristic. “For what,” she asks, tauntingly, “am I reserved? To
what new countries am I destined to carry war and desolation? For what
new lover must I break a second vow? Let me go hence! and if Paris
lament my absence, let Venus console him, and for his sake ascend the
skies no more!” A regretful pathos should mingle with her conscious
beauty and her half-celestial dignity; and, to render her truly, her
Greek elegance should be combined with a deeper and more complex
sentiment than Greek art has usually sought to express.

I am speaking here of Homer’s Helen—the Helen of the Iliad, not the
Helen of the tragedians—not the Helen who for two thousand years has
merely served “to point a moral;” and an artist who should think to
realise the true Homeric conception, should beware of counterfeits, for
such are abroad.[2]

There is a wild Greek myth that it was not the real Helen, but the
phantom of Helen, who fled with Paris, and who caused the destruction of
Troy; while Helen herself was leading, like Penelope, a pattern life at
Memphis. I must confess I prefer the proud humility, the pathetic
elegance of Homer’s Helen, to such jugglery.

It may flatter the pride of virtue, or it may move our religious
sympathies, to look on the forlorn abasement of the Magdalene as the
emblem of penitence; but there are associations connected with
Helen—“sad Helen,” as she calls herself, and as I conceive the
character,—which have a deep tragic significance; and surely there are
localities for which the impersonation of classical art would be better
fitted than that of sacred art.

I do not know of any existing statue of Helen. Nicetas mentions among
the relics of ancient art destroyed when Constantinople was sacked by
the Latins in 1202, a bronze statue of Helen, with long hair flowing to
the waist; and there is mention of an Etruscan figure of her, with wings
(expressive of her celestial origin, for the Etruscans gave all their
gods and demi-gods wings): in Müller I find these two only. There are
likewise busts; and the story of Helen, and the various events of her
life, occur perpetually on the antique gems, bas-reliefs, and painted
vases. The most frequent subject is her abduction by Paris. A beautiful
subject for a bas-relief, and one I believe not yet treated, would be
Helen and Priam mourning over the lifeless form of Hector; yet the
difficulty of preserving the simple sculptural treatment, and at the
same time discriminating between this and other similar funereal groups,
would render it perhaps a better subject for a picture, as admitting
then of such scenery and accessories as would at once determine the
signification.

[Illustration]


   PENELOPE.        ALCESTIS.        LAODAMIA.

Statues of Penelope and Helen might stand in beautiful and expressive
contrast; but it is a contrast which no profane or prosaic hand should
attempt to realise. Penelope is all woman in her tenderness and her
truth; Helen, half a goddess in the midst of error and remorse.

Nor is Penelope the only character which might stand as a type of
conjugal fidelity in contrasted companionship with Helen: Alcestis, who
died for her husband; or, better still, Laodamia, whose intense love
and longing recalled hers from the shades below, are susceptible of the
most beautiful statuesque treatment; only we must bear in mind that the
leading _motif_ in the Alcestis is _duty_, in the Laodamia, _love_.

I remember a bas-relief in the Vatican, which represents Hermes
restoring Protesilaus to his mourning wife. The interview was granted
for three hours only; and when the hero was taken from her a second
time, she died on the threshhold of her palace. This is a frequent and
appropriate subject for sarcophagi and funereal vases. But there exists,
I believe, no single statue commemorative of the wife’s passionate
devotion.

The modern sculptor should penetrate his fancy with the sentiment of
Wordsworth’s Laodamia.


While the pen is in my hand I may remark that two of the stanzas in the
Laodamia have been altered, and, as it seems to me, not improved, since
the first edition. Originally the poem opened thus:

  “With sacrifice, before the rising morn
   Perform’d, my slaughter’d lord have I required;
   And in thick darkness, amid shades forlorn,
   Him of the infernal Gods have I desired:
   Celestial pity I again implore;
   Restore him to my sight—great Jove, restore!”

Altered thus, and comparatively flat:—

  “With sacrifice before the rising morn
   Vows have I made, by fruitless hope inspired;
   And from the infernal Gods, mid shades forlorn
   Of night, my slaughtered lord have I required:
   Celestial pity I again implore;
   Restore him to my sight—great Jove, restore!”

In the early edition the last stanza but one stood thus:—


  “Ah! judge her gently who so deeply loved!
   Her who, in reason’s spite, yet without crime,
   Was in a trance of passion thus removed;
   Delivered from the galling yoke of time,
   And these frail elements,—to gather flowers
   Of blissful quiet ’mid unfading bowers!”

In the later editions thus altered, and, to my taste, spoiled:—

  “By no weak pity might the Gods be moved;
   She who thus perish’d not without the crime
   Of lovers that in Reason’s spite have loved,
   Was doomed to wander in a grosser clime
   Apart from happy ghosts, that gather flowers
   Of blissful quiet ’mid unfading bowers.”

Altered, probably, because Virgil has introduced the shade of Laodamia
among the criminal and unhappy lovers,—an instance of extraordinary bad
taste in the Roman poet; whatever may have been her faults, she surely
deserved to be placed in better company than Phædra and Pasiphäe.
Wordsworth’s intuitive feeling and taste were true in the first
instance, and he might have trusted to them. In my own copy of
Wordsworth I have been careful to mark the original reading in justice
to the _original_ Laodamia.

[Illustration]



   HIPPOLYTUS.      NEOPTOLEMUS.

I have never met with a statue, ancient or modern, of Hippolytus; the
finest possible ideal of a Greek youth, touched with some individual
characteristics which are peculiarly fitted for sculpture. He is a
hunter, not a warrior; a tamer of horses, not a combatant with spear and
shield. He should have the slight, agile build of a young Apollo, but
nothing of the God’s effeminacy; on the contrary, there should be an
infusion of the severe beauty of his Amazonian mother, with that
sedateness and modesty which should express the votary and companion of
Diana; while, as the fated victim of Venus, whom he had contemned, and
of his stepmother Phædra, whom he had repulsed, there should be a kind
of melancholy in his averted features. A hound and implements of the
chase would be the proper accessories, and the figure should be
undraped, or nearly so.

A sculptor who should be tempted to undertake this fine, and, as I
think, untried subject—at least as a single figure—must begin by putting
Racine out of his mind, whose “Seigneur Hippolyte” makes sentimental
love to the “Princesse Aricie,” and must penetrate his fancy with the
conception of Euripides.


I find in Schlegel’s “Essais littéraires,” a few lines which will assist
the fancy of the artist, in representing the person and character of
Hippolytus.

“Quant à l’Hippolyte d’Euripide il a une teinte si divine que pour le
sentir dignement il faut, pour ainsi dire, être initié dans les mystères
de la beauté, avoir respiré l’air de la Grèce. Rappelez vous ce que
l’antiquité nous a transmis de plus accompli parmi les images d’une
jeunesse héroïque, les Dioscures de Monte-Cavallo, le Méléagre et
l’Apollon du Vatican. Le caractère d’Hippolyte occupe dans la poësie à
peu près la même place que ces statues dans la sculpture.” “On peut
remarquer dans plusieurs beautés idéales de l’antique que les anciens
voulant créer une image perfectionnée de la nature humaine ont fondu les
nuances du caractère d’un sexe avec celui de l’autre; que Junon, Pallas,
Diane, out une majesté, une sévérité mâle; qu’ Apollon, Mercure,
Bacchus, au contraire, ont quelque chose de la grace et de la douceur
des femmes. De même nous voyons dans la beauté héroïque et vierge
d’Hippolyte l’image de sa mère l’Amazone et le reflet de Diane dans un
mortel.”

(The last lines are especially remarkable, and are an artistic
commentary on what I have ventured to touch upon ethically at page 85.)


The story of Hippolytus is to be found in bas-reliefs and gems; it
occurs on a particularly fine sarcophagus now preserved in the cathedral
at Agrigentum, of which there is a cast in the British Museum.

Under the heroic and classical form, Hippolytus conveys the same idea of
manly chastity and self-control which in sacred art would be suggested
by the figure of Joseph, the son of Jacob.

A noble companion to the Hippolytus would be Neoptolemus, the son of
Achilles. He is the young Greek warrior, strong and bold and brave; a
fine ideal type of generosity and truth. The conception, as I imagine
it, should be taken from the Philoctetes of Sophocles, where
Neoptolemus, indignant at the craft of Ulysses, discloses the trick of
which he had been made the unwilling instrument, and restores the fatal,
envenomed arrows to Philoctetes. The celebrated lines in the Iliad
spoken by Achilles—

  “Who dares think one thing and another tell
   My soul detests him as the gates of hell!”

should give the leading characteristic _motif_ in the figure of his son.
There should be something of remorseful pity in the very youthful
features; the form ought to be heroically treated, that is, undraped,
and he should hold the arrows in his hand.

Neoptolemus, as the savage avenger of his father’s death, slaying the
grey-haired Priam at the foot of the altar, and carrying off Andromache,
is, of course, quite a different version of the character. He then
figures as Pyrrhus—

  “The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
   Black as his purpose, did the night resemble.”

The fine moral story of Neoptolemus and Philoctetes is figured on the
Etruscan vases. Of the young, truth-telling, Greek hero I find no single
statue.

[Illustration]


IPHIGENIA.

I have often been surprised that we have no statue of this eminently
beautiful subject. We have the story of Iphigenia constantly repeated in
gems and bas-reliefs; the most celebrated example extant being the
Medici Vase. But no single figure of Iphigenia, as the Greek ideal of
heroic maidenhood and self-devotion, exists, I believe, in antique
sculpture. The small and rather feebly elegant statuette by Christian
Tieck is the only modern example I have seen.

Iphigenia may be represented under two very different aspects, both
beautiful.

First, as the Iphigenia in Aulis; the victim sacrificed to obtain a fair
wind for the Grecian fleet detained on its way to Troy. Extreme youth
and grace, with a tender resignation not devoid of dignity, should be
the leading characteristics; for we must bear in mind that Iphigenia,
while regretting life and the “lamp-bearing day,” and “the beloved
light,” and her Argive home and her “Mycenian handmaids,” dies
willingly, as the Greek girl ought to die, for the good of her country.
She begins, indeed, with a prayer for pity, with lamentations for her
untimely end, but she resumes her nobler self; and all her sentiments,
when she is brought forth, crowned for sacrifice, are worthy of the
daughter of Agamemnon. She even exults that she is called upon to perish
for the good of Greece, and to avenge the cause of right on the Spartan
Helen. “I give,” she exclaims, “my life for Greece! sacrifice me—and let
Troy perish!” When her mother weeps, she reproves those tears: “It is
not well, O my mother! that I should love life too much. Think that thou
hast brought me forth for the common good of Greece, not for thyself
only!” She glories in her anticipated renown, not vainly, since, while
the world endures, and far as the influences of literature and art
extend, her story and her name shall live. The scene in Euripides should
be taken as the basis of the character—the finest scene in his finest
drama. The tradition that Iphigenia was not really sacrificed, but
snatched away from the altar by Diana, and a hind substituted in her
place, should be present to the fancy of the artist, when he sets
himself to represent the majestic resignation of the consecrated virgin;
as adding a touch of the marvellous and ideal to the Greek elegance and
simplicity of the conception.

The _picture_ of Iphigenia as drawn by Tennyson is wonderfully vivid;
but it wants the Greek dignity and statuesque feeling; it is
emphatically a picture, all over colour and light, and crowded with
accessories. He represents her as encountering Helen in the land of
Shadows, and, turning from her “with sick and scornful looks averse,”
for she remembers the tragedy at Aulis.

  “My youth (she said) was blasted with a curse:
     This woman was the cause!
   I was cut off from hope in that sad place
     Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears.
   My father held his hand upon his face;
     I, blinded with my tears,
   Essayed to speak; my voice came thick with sighs
     As in a dream; dimly I could descry
   The stern black-bearded kings with wolfish eyes
     Waiting to see me die.
   The tall masts quiver’d as they lay afloat,
     The temples and the people and the shore;
   One drew a sharp knife thro’ my tender throat
     Slowly—and nothing more.”

The famous picture of the sacrifice of Iphigenia by Timanthes, the theme
of admiration and criticism for the last two thousand years, which every
writer on art deems it proper to mention in praise or in blame, could
hardly have been more vivid or more terrible than this.

The analogous idea, that of heroic resignation and self-devotion in a
great cause, would be conveyed in sacred art by the figure of Jephtha’s
daughter; she too regrets the promises of life, but dies not the less
willingly. “My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do
to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch
as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the
children of Ammon.” And for a single statue, Jephtha’s daughter would be
a fine subject—one to task the powers of our best sculptors; the
_sentiment_ would be the same as the Iphigenia, but the _treatment_
altogether different.


For the Iphigenia in Tauris I think the modern sculptor would do well to
set aside the character as represented by Euripides, and rather keep in
view the conception of Goethe.[3] In his hand it has lost nothing of its
statuesque elegance and simplicity, and has gained immeasurably in moral
dignity and feminine tenderness. The Iphigenia in Tauris is no longer
young, but she is still the consecrated virgin; no more the victim, but
herself the priestess of those very rites by which she was once fated to
perish. While Euripides has depicted her as stern and astute, Goethe has
made her the impersonation of female devotedness, and mild, but
unflinching integrity. She is like the young Neoptolemus when she
disdains to use the stratagem which Pylades had suggested, when
she dares to speak the truth, and trust to it alone for help and safety.
The scene in which she is haunted by the recollection of her doomed
ancestry, and mutters over the song of the Parcæ on that far-off sullen
shore, is sublime, but incapable of representation in plastic art. It
should, however, be well studied, as helping the artist to the abstract
conception of the character as a whole.

Carstens made a design, suggested by this tragedy, of the Three Parcæ
singing their fatal mysterious song. A model of one of the figures (that
of Atropos) used to stand in Goethe’s library, and a cast from this is
before me while I write: every one who sees it takes it for an antique.

[Illustration]


EVE.

I have but a few words to say of Eve. As she is the only undraped figure
which is allowable in sacred art, the sculptors have multiplied
representations of her, more or less finely imagined; but what I
conceive to be the true type has seldom, very seldom, been attained. The
remarks which follow are, however, suggestive, not critical.

It appears to me—and I speak it with reverence—that the Miltonic type is
not the highest conceivable, nor the best fitted for sculptural
treatment. Milton has evidently lavished all his power on this fairest
of created beings; but he makes her too nymph-like—too goddess-like. In
one place he compares her to a Wood-nymph, Oread, or Dryad of the
groves; in another to Diana’s self, “though not, as she, with bow and
quiver armed.” The scriptural conception of our first parent is not like
this; it is ampler, grander, nobler far. I fancy her the sublime ideal
of maternity. It may be said that this idea of her predestined
motherhood should not predominate in the conception of Eve before the
Fall: but I think it should.

It is most beautifully imagined by Milton that Eve, separated from her
mate, her Adam, is weak, and given over to the merely womanish nature,
for only when linked together and supplying the complement to each
other’s _moral_ being, can man or woman be strong; but we must also
remember that the “spirited sly snake,” in tempting Eve, even when he
finds her alone, uses no vulgar allurements. “Ye shall be as Gods,
knowing good and evil.” Milton, indeed, seasons his harangue with
flattery: but for this he has no warrant in Scripture.

As the Eve of Paradise should be majestically sinless, so after the Fall
she should not cower and wail like a disappointed girl. Her infinite
fault, her infinite woe, her infinite penitence, should have a touch of
grandeur. She has paid the inevitable price for that mighty knowledge of
good and evil she so coveted; that terrible predestined experience—she
has found it, or it has found her;—and she wears her crown of grief as
erst her crown of innocence.

I think the noble picture of Eve in Mrs. Browning’s Drama of Exile, as
that of the Mother of our redemption not less than the Mother of
suffering humanity, might be read and considered with advantage by a
modern sculptor.

                             “Rise, woman, rise
   To thy peculiar and best altitudes
   Of doing good and of resisting ill!
   Something thou hast to bear through womanhood;
   Peculiar suffering answering to the sin,
   Some pang paid down for each new human life;
   Some weariness in guarding such a life,
   Some coldness from the guarded; some mistrust
   From those thou hast too well served; from those beloved
   Too loyally, some treason. But go, thy love
   Shall chant to itself its own beatitudes
   After its own life-working!
   I bless thee to the desert and the thorns,
   To the elemental change and turbulence,
   And to the solemn dignities of grief;
   To each one of these ends, and to this end
   Of Death and the hereafter!
   _Eve._                     I accept,
   For me and for my daughters, this high part
   Which lowly shall be counted!”

The figure of Eve in Raphael’s design (the one engraved by Marc Antonio)
is exquisitely statuesque as well as exquisitely beautiful. In the
moment that she presents the apple to Adam she looks—perhaps she ought
to look—like the _Venus Vincitrice_ of the antique time; but I am not
sure; and, at all events, the less of the classical sentiment the
better.

[Illustration]


ADAM.

I have seen no statue of Adam; but surely he is a fine subject, either
alone or as the companion of Eve; and the Miltonic type is here
all-sufficient, combining the heroic ideal of Greek art with something
higher still—

   “Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,”

whence true authority in men—in fact, essential manliness.

Goethe had the idea that Adam ought to be represented with a spade, as
the progenitor of all who till the ground, and partially draped with a
deerskin, that is, after the Fall; which would be well: but he adds that
Adam should have a child at his feet in the act of strangling a serpent.
This appears to me objectionable and ambiguous; if admissible at all,
the accessory figure would be a fitter accompaniment for Eve.

[Illustration]


ANGELS.

Angels, properly speaking, are neither winged men nor winged children.
Wings, in ancient art, were the symbols of a divine nature; and the
early Greeks, who humanised their gods and goddesses, and deified
humanity through the perfection of the forms, at first distinguished the
divine and the human by giving wings to all the celestial beings; thus
lifting them above the earth. Our religious idea of angels is altogether
different. Give to the child-form wings, in other words, give to the
child-nature, innocent, and pure, the adjuncts of wisdom and power, and
thus you realise the idea of the angel as Raphael conceived it. It is
so difficult to imagine in the adult form the union of perfect purity
and perfect wisdom, the absence of experience and suffering, and the
capacity of thinking and feeling, a condition of being in which all
conscious _motive_ is lost in the _impulse_ to good, that it remains a
problem in art. The angels of Angelico da Fiesole, who are not only
winged, but convey the idea of movement only by the wings, not by the
limbs, are exquisite, as fitted to minister to us in heaven, but hardly
as fitted to keep watch and ward for us on earth—

   “Against foul fiends to aid us militant.”

The feminine element always predominates in the conception of angels,
though they are supposed to be masculine: I doubt whether it ought to be
so.


While these sheets are going through the press, I find the following
beautiful passage relative to angels in the last number of “Fraser’s
Magazine”:—

“It is safer, even, and perhaps more orthodox and scriptural, to
‘impersonate’ time and space, strength and love, and even the laws of
nature, than to give us any more angel worlds, which are but dead
skeletons of Dante’s creations without that awful and living reality
which they had in his mind; or to fill children’s books, as the High
Church party are doing now, with pictures and tales of certain winged
hermaphrodites, in whom one cannot think (even by the extremest stretch
of charity) that the writers or draughtsmen really believe, while one
sees them servilely copying mediæval forms, and intermingling them with
the ornaments of an extinct architecture; thus confessing _naïvely_ to
every one but themselves, that they accept the whole notion as an
integral portion of a creed, to which, if they be members of the Church
of England, they cannot well belong, seeing that it was, happily for us,
expelled both by law and by conscience at the Reformation.”

This is eloquent and true; but not the less true it is, that if we have
to represent in art those “spiritual beings who walk this earth unseen,
both when we sleep and when we wake”—beings, who (as the author of the
above passage seems to believe) may be intimately connected with the
phenomena of the universe—we must have a type, a bodily type, under
which to represent them; and as we cannot do this from knowledge, we
must do it symbolically. Angels, as we figure them, are _symbols_ of
moral and spiritual existences elevated above ourselves—we do not
believe in the forms, we only accept their significance. I should be
glad to see a better impersonation than the impossible creatures
represented in art; but till some artist-poet, or poet-artist, has
invented such an impersonation, we must employ that which is already
familiarised to the eye and hallowed to the fancy without imposing on
the understanding.

[Illustration]


   MIRIAM.        RUTH.

Both the Old and the New Testament abound in sculptural subjects; but
fitly to deal with the Old Testament required a Michal-Angelo. Beautiful
as are the gates of Ghiberti they are hardly what the Germans would call
“alt-testamentische,” they are so essentially elegant and graceful, and
the old Hebrew legends and personages are so tremendous. Even Miriam and
Ruth dilate into a sort of grandeur. In representation I always fancy
them above life-size.


I doubt whether the same artist who could conceive the Prophets would be
able to represent the Apostles, or that the same hand which gave us
Moses could give us Christ. Michal-Angelo’s idea of Christ, both in
painting and sculpture is, to me, revolting.

[Illustration]


   CHRIST.      SOLOMON.       DAVID.

I do not like the idea of Moses and Christ placed together. Much finer
in artistic and moral contrast would be the two teachers,—Christ as the
divine and spiritual law-giver, Solomon as the type of worldly wisdom.
They should stand side by side, or be seated each on his throne, a
crowned King, with book and sceptre—but how different in character!


We have multiplied statues of David. I have never seen one which
realised the finest conception of his character, either as Hero, King,
Prophet, or Poet. In general he figures as the slayer of Goliath, and is
always too feeble and boyish. David, singing to his lute before Saul;
David as the musician and poet, young, beautiful, half-draped,
heaven-inspired, exorcising by his art the dark spirit of evil which
possessed the jealous King:—this would be a theme for an artist, and
would as finely represent the power of sacred song as a figure of St.
Cecilia. But the sentiment should not be that of a young Apollo, or an
Orpheus; therein would lie the chief difficulty.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


   HAGAR.       REBEKAH.       RACHEL.

I remember to have seen fine statues of Hagar holding her pitcher, of
Rebekah contemplating her bracelet, and of Rachel as the shepherdess.
But I would have a different version; Hagar as the poor cast-away,
driven forth with her boy into the wilderness; Rebekah as the exulting
bride; and Rachel as the mild, pensive wife. They would represent, in a
very complete manner, contrasted phases of the destiny of Woman,
connected together by our religious associations, and appealing to our
deepest human sympathies.

[Illustration]


THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.

The Queen of Sheba would be a fine subject for a single statue, as the
religious type of the queenly, intellectual woman, the treatment being
kept as far as possible from that of a Pallas or a Muse.


The journey of the Queen of the South to visit Solomon would be a
capital subject for a processional bas-relief, and as a _pendant_ to the
journey of “the Wise Men of the East,” to visit a greater than Solomon.
The latter has been perpetually treated from the fourth century. Of the
journey of the Queen of Sheba I have seen, as yet, no example.

[Illustration]


LADY GODIVA.

With regard to statuesque subjects from modern history and
poetry,—_Romantic Sculpture_, as it is styled,—the taste both of the
public and the artist evidently sets in this direction. That the
treatment of such subjects should not be classical is admitted; but in
the development of this romantic tendency there is cause to fear that we
may be inundated with all kinds of picturesque vagaries and violations
of the just laws and limits of art.


I remember, however, a circumstance which makes me hopeful as to the
progress of feeling; knowledge may come hereafter. I remember about
twenty years ago proposing the figure and story of Lady Godiva as
beautiful subjects for sculpture and painting. There were present on
that occasion, among others, two artists and a poet. The two artists
laughed outright, and the poet extemporised an epigram upon Peeping Tom.
If I were to propose Lady Godiva as a subject now[4], I believe it would
be received with a far different feeling even by those very men. If I
were Queen of England I would have it painted in Fresco in my council
chamber. There should be seen the palfrey with its rich housings, and
near it, as preparing to mount, the noble lady should stand, timid, but
resolved: her veil should lie on the ground; the drapery just falling
from her fair limbs and partly sustained by one hand, while with the
other she loosens her golden tresses. A bevy of waiting-maids, with
averted faces, disappear hurriedly beneath the massive porch of the
Saxon palace, which forms the background, with sky and trees seen
through openings in the heavy architecture. This is the picturesque
version of the story; but there are many others. As a single statue, the
figure of Lady Godiva affords an opportunity for the legitimate
treatment of the undraped female form, sanctified by the purest, the
most elevated associations;—by woman’s tearful pride and man’s respect
and gratitude.

[Illustration]


JOAN OF ARC.

Shakspeare, who is so horribly unjust to Joan of Arc, has put a sublime
speech into her mouth where she answers Burgundy who had accused her of
sorcery,—

  “Because you want the grace that others have.
   You judge it straight a thing impossible
   To compass wonders but by help of devils!”

The whole theory of popular superstition comprised in three lines!

But Joan herself—how at her name the whole heart seems to rise up in
resentment, not so much against her cowardly executioners as against
those who have so wronged her memory! Never was a character,
historically pure, bright, definite, and perfect in every feature and
outline, so abominably treated in poetry and fiction,—perhaps for this
reason, that she was in herself so exquisitely wrought, so complete a
specimen of the heroic, the poetic, the romantic, that she could not be
touched by art or modified by fancy, without being in some degree
profaned. As to art, I never saw yet any representation of “Jeanne la
grande Pastoure,” (except, perhaps, the lovely statue by the Princess of
Wurtemburg,) which I could endure to look at—and even that gives us the
contemplative simplicity, but not the power, intellect, and energy,
which must have formed so large a part of the character. Then as to the
poets, what shall be said of them? First Shakspeare, writing for the
English stage, took up the popular idea of the character as it prevailed
in England in his own time. Into the hypothesis that the greater part of
Henry VI. is not by Shakspeare, there is no occasion to enter here; the
original conception of the character of Joan of Arc may not be his, but
he has left it untouched in its principal features. The English hated
the memory of the French Heroine because she had caused the loss of
France and had humiliated us as a nation; and our chroniclers revenged
themselves and healed their wounded self-love by imputing her victories
to witchcraft. Shakspeare, giving her the attributes which the
historians of his time assigned to her, represents her as a warlike,
arrogant sorceress—a “monstrous woman”—attended and assisted by demons.
I pass over the depraved and perverse spirit in which Voltaire profaned
this divine character. A theme which a patriot poet would have
approached as he would have approached an altar, he has made a vehicle
for the most licentious parody that ever disgraced a national
literature. Schiller comes next, and hardly seems to me more excusable.
Not only has he missed the character, he has deliberately falsified both
character and fact. His “Johanna” might have been called by any other
name; and the scene of his tragedy might have been placed anywhere in
the wide world with just the same probability and truth. Schiller and
Goethe held a principle that all considerations were to yield before the
proprieties of art. But Milton speaks somewhere of those “faultless
proprieties of nature” which never can be violated with impunity: and
Art can never move freely but in the domain of nature and of truth. All
the fine writing in Schiller’s “Maid of Orleans” can never reconcile me
to its absolute and revolting falsehood. The sublime, simple-hearted
girl who to the last moment regarded herself as set apart by God to do
His work, he makes the victim of an insane passion for a young
Englishman. In the love-sick classical heroines of Corneille and Racine
there is nothing more Frenchified, more absurd, more revolting. Then he
makes her die victorious on the field of battle defending the
oriflamme;—far, far more glorious as well as more pathetic her real
death—but it offended against Schiller’s æsthetic conception of the
dignity of tragedy.

Lastly, we have Southey’s epic: what shall be said of it?—even what he
said of the Lusiad of Camoens, “that it is read with little emotion, and
remembered with little pleasure.” No. I do not wish to see Joan turned
into a heroine of tragedy or tale, because, as it seems to me, the whole
life and death of this martyred girl is too near us, and too
historically distinct, and, I will add, too sacred, to be dressed out in
romantic prose or verse. What Walter Scott might have made of her I do
not know—something marvellously picturesque and life-like, no doubt—and
yet I am glad he did not try his hand on her. But she remains a
legitimate and most admirable subject for representative art; and as yet
nothing has been done in sculpture to fix the ideal and heroic in her
character, nor in painting, worthy of her exploits. There exists no
contemporary portrait of her except in the brief description of her in
the old French Chronicle of the Siege of Orleans, where it is said that
her figure was tall and slender, her bust fine, her hair and eyes black;
that she wore her hair short, and could never be persuaded to put on a
head-piece, and farther (and in this respect both Schiller and Southey
have wronged her), that she had never slain a man, using her consecrated
sword merely to defend herself. I should like to see a fine equestrian
statue of her by one of our best English sculptors, set up in a
conspicuous place among us, as a national expiation.

Southey mentions that in the beginning of the last war, about 1795, when
popular feeling, excited almost to frenzy, raged against France, a
pantomime, or ballet, was performed at Covent Garden, from the story of
Joan of Arc, at the conclusion of which she is carried away by demons,
like a female Don Juan. This denouement caused such a storm of
indignation, that the author—one James Cross—was obliged, after the
first two or three representations, to change the demons into angels,
and send her straight into Heaven:—an anecdote pleasant to record as
illustrating the sure ultimate triumph of truth over falsehood; of all
the better sympathies over prejudice and wrong;—in spite of history,
and, what is more, in spite of Shakspeare!

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


CHARACTERS FROM SHAKSPEARE.

Joan of Arc is not, however, a Shakspearian character; and, in fact,
there are very few of his personages susceptible of sculptural
treatment. They are too dramatic, too profound, too complex in their
essential nature where they are tragic; too many-sided and picturesque
where they are comic.

For instance, the attempt to condense into marble such light,
evanescent, quaint creations as those in “The Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”
is better avoided; we feel that a marble fairy must be a heavy
absurdity. Oberon and Titania might perhaps float along in a bas-relief;
but we cannot put away the thought that they have reality without
substantiality, and we do not like to see them, or Ariel, or Caliban
fixed in the definite forms of sculpture.

There are, however, a few of Shakspeare’s characters which appear to me
beautifully adapted for statuesque treatment: Perdita holding her
flowers; Miranda lingering on the shore; might well replace the
innumerable “Floras” and “Nymphs preparing to bathe,” which people the
_atéliers_ of our sculptors. Cordelia has something of marble quietude
about her; and Hermione is a statue ready made. And, by the way, it is
observable that Shakspeare represents Hermione as a _coloured_ statue.
Paulina will not allow it to be touched, because “the colour is not yet
dry.” Again,—

  “Would you not deem those veins
   Did verily bear blood?

  “The very life seems warm upon her lips,
   The fixture of her eye hath motion in’t,
   And we are mocked by Art!
   The ruddiness upon her lip is wet,

  “You’ll mar it if you kiss it, stain your own
   With oily painting.”

I think it possible to model small ornamental statuettes and groups from
some few of the scenes in Shakspeare’s plays; but this is quite
different from life-size figures of Hamlet, Othello, Shylock, Macbeth,
which must either have the look of real individual portraiture, or
become mere idealisations of certain qualities; and Shakspeare’s
creations are neither the one nor the other.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]


CHARACTERS FROM SPENSER.

Spenser is so essentially a picturesque poet, he depends for his rich
effects so much on the combination of colour and imagery, and multiplied
accessories, that one feels—at least _I_ feel, on laying down a volume
of the “Fairie Queene” dazzled as if I had been walking in a gallery of
pictures. His “Masque of Cupid,” for instance, although a procession of
poetical creations, could not be transferred to a bas-relief without
completely losing its Spenserian character—its wondrous glow of colour.
Thus Cupid “uprears himself exulting from the back of the ravenous
lion;” removes the bandage from his eyes, that he may look round on his
victims; “shakes the darts which his right hand doth strain full
dreadfully,” and “claps on high his coloured wings twain.” This
certainly is not the Greek Cupid, nor the Cupid of sculpture; it is the
Spenserian Cupid. So of his Una, so of his Britomart, and the Red Cross
Knight and Sir Guyon: one might make elegant _statuesque_ impersonations
of the allegories they involve, as of Truth, Chastity, Faith,
Temperance; but then they would lose immediately their Spenserian
character and sentiment, and must become something altogether different.

[Illustration]


   THE LADY.        COMUS.

It is not so with Milton. The “Lady” in Comus, whether she stands
listening to the echos of her own sweet voice, or motionless as marble
under the spell of the “false enchanter,” _looking_ that divine reproof
which in the poem she _speaks_,—

  “I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,
   And virtue has no tongue to check her pride”—

is a subject perfectly fitted for sculpture, and never, so far as I
know, executed. It would be a far more appropriate ornament for a lady’s
_boudoir_ than French statues of MODESTY, which generally have the
effect of making one feel very much ashamed.[5]

Sabrina has been beautifully treated by Marshall.

It is difficult to render Comus without making him too like a Bacchus or
an Apollo. He is neither.

He represents not the beneficent, but the intoxicating and brutifying
power of wine. His joviality should not be that of a God, but with
something mischievous, bestial, Faun-like; and he should have, with the
Dionysian grace, a dash of the cunning and malignity of his Mother
Circe. These characteristics should be in the mind of the artist. The
panther’s skin, the coronal of vine leaves, and, instead of the Thyrsus,
the magician’s wand, are the proper accessories. It is also worth
notice, that in the antique representations Comus has wings as a
demigod, and in a picture described by Philostratus (a night scene) he
lies crouched in a drunken sleep. Little use, however, is made of him in
the antique myths, and the Miltonic conception is that which should be
embodied by the modern sculptor.


Il Penseroso and L’Allegro, if embodied in sculpture as poetical
abstractions (either masculine or feminine) of Melancholy and Mirth,
would cease to be Miltonic, for the conceptions of the poet are
essentially picturesque, and expressed in both cases by a luxuriant
accumulation of images and accessories, not to be brought within the
limits of plastic art without the most tasteless confusion and
inconsistency.

[Illustration]


SATAN.

The religious idea of a Satan—the impersonation of that mixture of the
bestial, the malignant, the impious, and the hopeless, which constitute
THE FIEND, the enemy of all that is human and divine—I conceive to be
quite unfitted for the purpose of sculpture. Danton’s attempt
degenerates into grim caricature. Milton’s Satan—“the archangel
ruined,”—is however a strictly poetical creation, and capable of the
most poetical statuesque treatment. But we must remember that, if it be
a gross mistake, religious and artistic, to conceive the Messiah under
the form of a larger, stronger humanity, with a _physique_ like that of
a wrestler, (as M. Angelo has done in the Last Judgement) it is equally
a mistake to conceive the lost angel, our spiritual adversary, under any
such coarse Herculean lineaments. There can be no image of the Miltonic
Satan without the elements of beauty, “though changed by pale ire, envy,
and despair!” Colossal he may be, vast as Mount Athos; but it is not
necessary to express this that he should be hewn out of Mount Athos, or
look like the giant Polypheme! His proportions, his figure, his
features—like his power—are angelic. As the Hero—for he is so—of the
“Paradise Lost,” the subject is open to poetic treatment; but I am not
aware that as yet it has been poetically treated.

Of the Italian poetry and history, and all the wondrous and lovely
shapes which come thronging out of that Elysian land,—I can say nothing
now,—or only this,—that after all I am not _quite_ sure that I am right
about Spenser. For, at first view, what poet seems less amenable to
statuesque treatment than Dante? One would have imagined that only a
preternatural fusion of Michal-Angelo and Rembrandt could fitly render
the murky recesses and ghastly and monstrous inhabitants of the Inferno,
or attempt to shadow forth the dazzling mysteries of the Paradiso. Yet
see what Flaxman has achieved! His designs are legitimate bas-reliefs,
not pictures in outline. He has been true to his own art, and all that
could be done within the limitations of his art he has accomplished. It
is a translation of Dante’s _ideas_ into sculpture, with every thing
_peculiarly_ Dantesque in the treatment, set aside.

Now as to our more modern poets.—From amid the long array of beautiful
subjects which seem to move in succession before the fancy, there are
two which stand out prominent in their beauty. First, Lord Byron’s
“Myrrha,” who with her Ionian elegance is susceptible of the purest
classical treatment. She should hold a torch; but not with the air of a
Mænad, nor of a Thais about to fire Persepolis. The sentiment should be
deeper and quieter.

                   “Dost thou think
   A Greek girl dare not do for love that which
   An Indian widow does for custom?”

Ion in Talfourd’s Tragedy—the boy-hero, in all the tenderness of extreme
youth, already self-devoted and touched with a melancholy grace and an
elevation beyond his years—is so essentially statuesque, that I am
surprised that no sculptor has attempted it; perhaps because, in this
instance, as in that of Myrrha, the popular realisation of both
characters as subjects of formative art has been spoiled by theatrical
trappings and associations.

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] “_Sancta Simplicitas!_” was the exclamation of Huss to the woman
who, when he was burned at the stake, in her religious zeal brought a
faggot to light the pile.

[2] Canova’s bust of Helen is such a counterfeit; whereas the Helen of
Gibson is, for a mere head, singularly characteristic.

[3] There is a fine translation of the German Iphigenia by Miss
Swanwick. (Dramatic Works of Goethe. Bohn, 1850.)

[4] 1848. At the moment I transcribe this (1854), a very charming statue
of the Lady Godiva (suggested, I believe, by Tennyson’s poem) stands in
the Exhibition of the Royal Academy.

[5] For example, the statue of Modesty executed for Josephine’s boudoir.


   LONDON:
   A. and G. A. SPOTTISWOODE,
   New-street-Square.





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