By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Genius in Sunshine and Shadow
Author: Ballou, Maturin Murray, 1820-1895
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Genius in Sunshine and Shadow" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




By the Same Author


One fine octavo volume. $3.50.

"A vast storehouse of the best thought of the world."--_Boston: Home

"Will find its way into thousands of families. It is a volume to take up
when a few minutes of leisure are found, and it will always be read with
interest."--_Boston Journal._

"'Edge-Tools of Speech' is one of the best books of quotation in the
language. It is indispensable in the library and at the

"He has classified his quotations alphabetically under the head of subjects
('Ability,' 'Absence,' etc.), and has collected the most famous literary or
historical sayings bearing on each subject. Thus the word 'Ability' is made
the text of wise utterances from Napoleon I., Dr. Johnson, Wendell
Phillips, Longfellow, Maclaren, Gail Hamilton, Froude, Beaconsfield,
Zoroaster, Schopenhauer, La Rochefoucauld, Matthew Wren, Gibbon, and
Aristotle. It has no rival."--_Christian Union._

"The book is one which will at once command a place on the reference-shelf
of every well-appointed library, and which will be a most useful aid to
every literary man."--_Boston Courier._

"To open it at random anywhere is to chance upon the wisdom of the ages.
Every important authority of every age and clime is represented. The
choicest reading of a lifetime is brought, in its salient points, into the
limits of this volume."--_Boston Traveller._

*** _For sale by all booksellers. Sent, post-paid, upon receipt of price_,






      'Tis in books the chief
    Of all perfection to be plain and brief.


    _Copyright, 1886_,

    _All rights reserved._

    University Press:


The volume in hand might perhaps better have been entitled "Library
Notes," as the pages are literally the gathered notes of the author's
library-hours. The reader will kindly peruse these pages remembering
that they assume only to be the gossip, as it were, of the author with
himself,--notes which have grown to these proportions by casual
accumulation in the course of other studies, and without consecutive
purpose. That these notes thus made have been put into printed form, is
owing to the publisher's chance knowledge and hearty approval of them.
These few lines are by way, not of apology,--no sensible person ever
made an apology, according to Mr. Emerson,--but of introduction; so that
the reader may not fancy he is to encounter a labored essay upon the
theme suggested by the title of the volume.

These pages may not be without a certain wholesome influence, if,
fortunately, they shall incite others to analyze the character of genius
as exhibited by the masters of art and literature. The facts alluded
to, though familiar to many, are not so to all; wherefore the volume
may indirectly promote the knowledge of both history and biography, at
the same time leading the thoughtful reader to seek further and more
ample information concerning those individuals who are here so briefly

M. M. B.




The ever-flowing tide of time rapidly obliterates the footprints of
those whom the world has delighted to honor. While it has caused heroic
names, like their possessors, to lapse into oblivion, it has also
shrouded many a historical page with the softened veil of distance, like
ivy-grown towers, rendering what was once terrible now only picturesque.
In glancing back through thousands of years, and permitting the mind to
rest on the earliest recorded epochs, one is apt to forget how much
human life then, in all its fundamental characteristics, was like our
own daily experience. There never was a golden age; that is yet to come.
The most assiduous antiquarian has only corroborated the fact that human
nature is unchanged. Conventionalities, manners and customs, the
fashions, may change, but human nature does not. As an example of the
mutability of fame, we have only to ask ourselves what is actually
known to-day of Homer,[1] Aristophanes, and their renowned
contemporaries, or even of our more familiar Shakespeare?[2] Of the
existence of the first named we have evidence in his two great epics,
the Iliad and the Odyssey; but, though deemed the most famous poet that
ever lived, we do not even know his birthplace.

    "Ten ancient towns contend for Homer dead,
    Through which the living Homer begged his bread."

The cautious historian only tells us that he is supposed to have
flourished about nine hundred years before the time of Christ; while
there are also learned writers who contend that no such person as
Homer[3] ever lived, and who attribute the two most famous poems of
antiquity to various minstrels or ballad-mongers, who celebrated the
"tale of Troy divine" at various periods, and whose songs and legends
were fused into unity at the time of Pisistratus.

Over the personality of Aristophanes,[4] the great comic poet of
Greece, who is supposed to have flourished some five or six hundred
years later than Homer, there rests the same cloud of obscurity, and he
is clearly identified only by eleven authentic comedies which are still
extant, though he is believed to have written fifty. Of Shakespeare,
born some two thousand years later (1564), how little is actually known
beyond the fact of his birthplace! Even the authorship of his plays,
like that of Homer's poems, is a subject of dispute. Perhaps, however,
this loss of individuality but adds to the influence of the poet's
divine mission. The really great men of history, benefactors of their
race, are those who still live in the undying thoughts which they have
left behind them.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this familiar gossip we propose to glance briefly at such names as
may suggest themselves, without observing any strict system of
classification. The theme is so fruitful, the pages of history so teem
with portraits which stand forth in groups to attract the eye, that one
hardly knows where to begin, what matter to exclude, what to adduce; and
therefore, closing the elaborate records of the past, we will trust to
momentary inspiration and the ready promptings of memory.

The first thought which strikes us in this connection is, that the
origin of those whom the world has called great--men who have written
their names indelibly upon the pages of history--is often of the
humblest character. Such men have most frequently risen from the ranks.
In fact, genius ignores all social barriers and springs forth wherever
heaven has dropped the seed. The grandest characters known in art,
literature, and the useful inventions have illustrated the axiom that
"brave deeds are the ancestors of brave men;" and it would almost appear
that an element of hardship is necessary to the effective development of
true genius. Indeed, when we come to the highest achievements of the
greatest minds, it seems that they were not limited by race, condition
of life, or the circumstances of their age. "It is," says Emerson, "the
nature of poetry to spring, like the rainbow daughter of Wonder, from
the Invisible, to abolish the past and refuse all history." But this of
course refers only to poetry in its loftiest and noblest conceptions and
sentiments; and then only in passages of a great work.

Æsop, the fabulist, who flourished six hundred years before Christ, and
whose fables are as familiar to us after the lapse of twenty-five
hundred years as household words; Publius Syrus,[5] the eminent
moralist, who lived in the time of Julius Cæsar, and whose wise axioms
are to be found in every library; Terence,[6] the Carthaginian poet and
dramatist; Epictetus, the stoic philosopher,--all were slaves in early
life,[7] but won freedom and lasting fame by force of their native
genius. No man is nobler than another unless he is born with better
abilities, a more amiable disposition, and a larger heart and brain. The
field is open to all; for it is fixedness of purpose and perseverance
that win the prizes of this world,--qualities that can be exercised by
the most humble.

Protagoras, the Greek sophist and orator, was in his youth a street
porter of Athens, carrying loads upon his back like a beast of burden.
He was a singularly independent genius, and was expelled from his native
city because he openly doubted the existence of the gods. His
countryman, Cleanthes the stoic, was also "a hewer of stone and drawer
of water," but rose among the Athenians to be esteemed as a rival of the
great philosopher Zeno. He wrote many works in his day,--about three
hundred years before the Christian Era,--none of which have been
preserved except a hymn to Jupiter, which is remarkable for purity of
thought and elevation of sentiment.

We need not confine ourselves, however, to so remote a period to
illustrate that genius is independent of circumstances. In our random
treatment of the subject there occurs to us the name of Bandoccin, one
of the most learned men of the sixteenth century, who was the son of an
itinerant shoemaker, and who was himself brought up to the trade. Gelli,
the prolific Italian author, and president of the Florentine Academy,
was a tailor by trade, and of very humble birth. His moral dialogues
entitled, _I Capricci del Bottajo_ ("The Whims of the Cooper"), have
been pronounced by competent critics to be extraordinary for originality
and piquancy, while all his works are remarkable for purity of diction.
Canova, the sculptor of world-wide fame, was the son of a day-laborer in
the marble quarries. Opie, the distinguished English painter, earned his
bread at the carpenter's trade until his majority, but before his death
became professor of painting in the Royal Academy. Amyot, the brilliant
scholar, and professor of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, who is ranked among
those who have contributed most towards the perfection of the French
language, learned to write upon birch-bark with charcoal, while he lived
on a loaf of bread per day. This man rose to be grand almoner of France,
and proved that courage, perseverance, and genius need no ancestors.[8]

Akenside, the English didactic poet, wit, essayist, and physician,
author of the "Pleasures of the Imagination," was a butcher's boy. His
developed genius caused him to be appointed to the Queen's household.
Sir Humphry Davy was an apothecary's apprentice in his youth. Matthew
Prior, the English poet and diplomatist, began life as a charity
scholar. Rollin, famous for his "Ancient History," was the son of a poor
Parisian cutler, and began life at an iron-forge. James Barry, the
eminent historical painter, was in his minority a foremast hand on board
an Irish coasting-vessel. D'Alembert, the remarkable French
mathematician, author, and academician, was at birth a poor foundling in
the streets of Paris, though it must be added that he was the
illegitimate and discarded son of Madame de Tencin, one of the
wickedest, most profligate, most cynical, and ablest of the high-placed
women of France. D'Alembert scorned her[9] proffered help when she,
learning that he was the offspring of one of her desultory amours,
attempted to assist him by her money and patronage. He lived austerely
poor, and his love was lavished, not on his natural, or rather
unnatural, mother, but on the indigent woman who had picked him up in
the street, and who by self-denial had enabled him to obtain sustenance
and education. As soon as he was old enough to realize his true
situation, he said, "I have no name, but with God's help I will make
one!" The time came when Catherine II. of Russia offered him one hundred
thousand francs per annum to become the educator of her son, which he

Béranger, the lyric poet of France, whose effectiveness and purity of
style defy criticism, was at one time a barefooted orphan on the
boulevards of the great city. His verses, bold, patriotic, and
satirical, were in every mouth among the masses of his countrymen,
contributing more than any other cause to produce the revolution of
1830.[10] He had the noble independence to refuse all official
recognition under government. Rachel, it will be remembered, was in her
childhood a street-ballad singer. A resident of the French capital once
pointed out to the writer a spot on the Champs Élysées where at the age
of twelve, so pale as to seem scarcely more than a shadow, she used to
appear daily, accompanied by her brother. A rude cloth was spread on the
ground, upon which she stood and recited tragic scenes from Corneille
and Racine, or sang patriotic songs for pennies, accompanied upon the
violin by her brother.

Her attitudes, gestures, and voice always captivated a crowd of people.
Rachel was a Jewish pedler's daughter, though she was born in
Switzerland; and in these youthful days she wore a Swiss costume upon
the boulevards.[11]

Boccaccio, the most famous of Italian novelists, was the illegitimate
son of a Florentine tradesman, and began life as a merchant's clerk. It
is well known that Shakespeare borrowed the plot of "All's Well that
Ends Well" from Boccaccio.[12] In fact, the "Decamerone" furnished him
with plots for several of his plays. Chaucer derived from the same
source his poem of the "Knight's Tale." We never hear shallow people
reflecting upon the Bard of Avon for taking some of his plots from
earlier writers, and weaving about them the golden threads of his superb
genius, without recalling Dryden's remark relative to Ben Jonson's
adaptations and translations from the classics, in such plays as
"Catiline" and "Sejanus." "He invades authors," says Dryden, "like a
monarch; and what would be theft in other writers is but victory in
him." Sterne's idea upon the same subject also suggests itself. "As
monarchs have a right," he says, "to call in the specie of a State and
raise its value by their own impression, so are there certain
prerogative geniuses who are above plagiaries, who cannot be said to
steal, but from their improvement of a thought, rather to borrow it, and
repay the commonwealth of letters with interest again, and may more
properly be said to adopt than to kidnap a sentiment, by leaving it heir
to their own fame."

Columbus, who gave a new world to the old, was a weaver's son, and in
his youth he earned his bread as a cabin-boy in a coasting-vessel which
sailed from Genoa. The story of the great Genoese pilot possesses a more
thrilling interest than any narrative which the imagination of poet or
romancer has ever conceived. His name flashes a bright ray over the
mental darkness of the period in which he lived. In imagination one sees
him wandering for years from court to court, begging the necessary means
wherewith to prosecute his inspired purpose,[13] and finally, after
successfully accomplishing his mission, languishing in chains and in

How naturally Halleck's invocation to Death, in "Marco Bozarris," occurs
to us here, as the hero, when his object has been attained, joyfully
faces the grim monarch:

    "Thy grasp is welcome as the hand
    Of brother in a foreign land;
    Thy summons welcome as the cry
    That told the Indian isles were nigh,
    To the world-seeking Genoese,
    When the land wind from woods of palm
    And orange-groves and fields of balm
    Blew o'er the Haytian seas."

De Foe, the author of "Robinson Crusoe," and of over two hundred other
books, was a hosier by trade, the son of a London butcher named James
Foe. The particle _De_ was added by the son without other authority than
the suggestion of his own fancy. Cardinal Wolsey and Kirke White were
also sons of butchers.

Claude Lorraine, the glorious colorist, whose very name has become a
synonym in art, was in youth employed as a pastry-cook. Molière, the
great French dramatist and actor, who presents one of the most
remarkable instances of literary success known to history, was the son
of a tapestry-maker, and was himself at one time apprenticed to a
tailor, and afterwards became a _valet-de-chambre_. When Molière was
valet to Louis XIII., he had already appeared upon the stage, and was
rather sneered at by the other members of the king's household. The
generous monarch observed this, and determined to put a stop to it: "I
am told you have short commons here, Molière, and some of my people
decline to serve you," said Louis, as he rose from his breakfast one
day. "Sit down here at my table. I warrant you are hungry." And the king
cut him a portion of chicken and put it upon his plate just at the
moment when a distinguished member of the royal household entered. "You
see me," said the king, "giving Molière his breakfast, as some of my
people do not think him good enough company for themselves." From that
hour the royal valet was treated with due consideration. William
Cobbett, the English author and vigorous political writer, was a poor
farmer's boy and entirely self-educated. Izaak Walton, the delightful
biographist and miscellaneous author, whose "Complete Angler" would make
any man's name justly famous, was for years a linen-draper in London.
Pope and Southey were the sons of linen-drapers.

How rapidly instances of the triumphs of genius over circumstances
multiply upon us when the mind is permitted to roam at will through the
long vista of the past! Cervantes, the Spanish Shakespeare, whose "Don
Quixote" is as much a classic[14] as "Hamlet," was a common foot-soldier
in the army of Castile. In 1575 he was captured by an Algerine corsair
and carried as a slave to Algiers, where he endured the most terrible
sufferings. He was finally ransomed and returned to Spain. Alexandre
Dumas's grandmother was an African slave. Hugh Miller, author, editor,
poet, distinguished naturalist, whose clear, choice Saxon-English caused
the Edinburgh "Review" to ask, "Where could this man have acquired his
style?" was a stone-mason, and his only college was a stone-quarry.[15]

Keats, the sweetest of English poets, whose delicacy of fancy and beauty
of versification are "a joy forever," was born in a stable. Oliver
Cromwell, one of the most extraordinary men in English history, famous
as a citizen, great as a general, and greatest as a ruler, was the son
of a malt-brewer. Howard, the philanthropist and author, whose name
stands a monument of Christian fame, was at first a grocer's boy.
Rossini, one of the greatest of modern composers, was the son of an
itinerant musician and a strolling actress. Andrea del Sarto was the son
of a tailor, and took his name from his father's trade. Perino del Vaga
was born in poverty and nearly starved in his boyhood. Perugino, whose
noble painting of the "Infant Christ and the Virgin" adorns the Albani
Palace at Rome, grew up in want and misery. We all remember the story of
the shepherd-boy Giotto, who finally came to be so eminent a painter,
and the intimate friend of Dante; like Michael Angelo, he was an
architect and sculptor. Paganini, one of the greatest of instrumental
performers that ever lived, was born in poverty and was illegitimate. He
gained enormous sums of money by his wonderful exhibitions and musical
compositions, but was spoiled by adulation, becoming reckless and
dissipated. His performances in the cities of Europe created a _furore_
before unparalleled in the history of music, and never since surpassed.

Wilson the unequalled ornithologist, Dr. Livingstone the heroic
missionary and African traveller, and Tannahill[16] the Scottish
poet,--author of that familiar and favorite song, "Jessie, the Flower of
Dumblane,"--earned their living in youth as journeymen weavers. Joost
van den Vondel, the national poet of Holland, was a hosier's apprentice.
Molière, already referred to, began his career as a journeyman tailor,
but occasionally his maternal grandfather took him to the play, and thus
were sown the seeds which led to his greatness as a dramatic author and
actor. Samuel Woodworth, author of the "Old Oaken Bucket," one of the
sweetest lyrics in our language, was a journeyman printer. Richard
Cobden, statesman, economist, and author, was a poor Sussex farmer's
son, whose youthful occupation was that of tending sheep. John Bright,
the intimate friend and coadjutor of Cobden, one of the greatest, most
eloquent, and most successful of English reformers, was the son of a
cotton-spinner. Lord Clyde, the successful general who crushed the
rebellion in India, and who was made a peer of England, was the son of a
carpenter. The motto of his life, always inscribed upon the fly-leaf of
his pocket memorandum-book, was: "By means of patience, common-sense,
and time, impossibilities become possible."

John Bunyan,[17] the author of "Pilgrim's Progress," the solace
and delight of millions, and a text-book for all future time, was a
tinker. His great work is said to have obtained a larger circulation
than any other English book except the translation of the Bible.
Benjamin Franklin, statesman, philosopher, epigrammatist, was a
tallow-chandler.[18] Nathaniel Bowditch, the eminent mathematician, was
a cooper's apprentice. He was twenty-one years of age before he may be
said to have begun his education, but in his prime was a Fellow of the
Royal Society of London, and was offered the chair of mathematics in
Harvard College. Hiram Powers, the first sculptor from this country to
win European fame, was brought up a ploughboy on a Vermont farm; his
"Greek Slave" gave him high rank among modern sculptors. Elihu Burritt,
the remarkable linguist, was a Connecticut horse-shoer. Whitefield, the
eloquent English preacher and father of the sect of Calvinistic
Methodists, was in youth the stable-boy of an English inn. Cardinal
Wolsey, chief minister of Henry VIII., was brought up to follow his
father's humble calling of a butcher. Horne Tooke, the English wit,
priest, lawyer, and genius, was the son of a poulterer.[19] Correra,
afterwards president of Guatemala, was born in poverty, and for years
was a drummer-boy in the army, where he was laughed at for saying that
the world should some day hear from him, being reminded that his present
business was to make a noise in the world. But he meant what he said,
and acted under Lord Clyde's motto. He rose by degrees to the highest
position in the gift of his countrymen. "To the persevering mortal the
blessed immortals are swift," says Zoroaster.

Ebenezer Elliott, the English "Corn-Law Rhymer,"[20] was a blacksmith,
but a poet by nature, and his songs created a political revolution in
his native land, though unlike Béranger's, in France, it was a peaceful
revolution. He was ever a true champion of the poor and oppressed. In
the latter portion of his life he was in easy pecuniary circumstances.
William Lloyd Garrison,[21] the beloved philanthropist, orator, and
writer, was born in poverty, and was early apprenticed to a shoemaker,
but became a journeyman printer before his majority. He suffered
imprisonment for his opinions' sake, and may be said to have been the
father of Abolitionism in America, fortunately living long enough to see
the grand effort of his life crowned with success, in the emancipation
of the blacks and the abolishment of slavery throughout the length and
breadth of his native land. Kepler, the famous German astronomer, was
the son of a poor innkeeper, and though enjoying royal patronage, often
felt the pressure of poverty. Coleridge said: "Galileo was a great
genius and so was Newton; but it would take two or three Galileos and
Newtons to make one Kepler." We owe our knowledge of the laws of the
planetary system to him.

Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning-jenny, and founder of
the great cotton industries of England, never saw the inside of a
schoolhouse until after he was twenty years of age, having long served
as a barber's assistant. Justice Tenterden, and Turner, greatest among
landscape-painters, were also brought up to the same trade. James
Brindley, the English engineer and mechanician, and Cook, the famed
navigator, were day-laborers in early life. Romney, the artist, John
Hunter, the physiologist, Professor Lee, the Orientalist, and John
Gibson, the sculptor, were carpenters by trade. Shakespeare was a
wool-comber in his youth. These low estates, the workshop and the mine,
have often contributed liberally to recruit the ranks of those whom the
world has recognized as men of genius.

Horace Mann declared that education is our only political safety. He
might have gone further, and said our only moral safety also. It is not,
however, the school and the college alone that bring about this grand
object, though they are natural adjuncts. Real education is the
apprenticeship of life, and that is always the best which we realize in
our struggle to obtain a livelihood. Genius, as a rule, owes little to
scholastic training,--within these pages there will be found proof
sufficient of this. Sir T. F. Buxton says he owed more to his father's
gamekeeper, who could neither read nor write, than to any other source
of knowledge. He said this man was truly his "guide, philosopher, and
friend," whose memory was stored with more varied rustic knowledge, good
sense, and mother wit, than his young master ever met with afterwards.
He adds that he was his first instructor, and that he profited far more
by his remarks and admonitions than by those of his more learned

Perhaps at first thought it may seem singular that so many unschooled
geniuses should have risen to be famous in their several departments,
but it is because they were geniuses. They saw and understood nature and
art by intuition, while those of us who can claim no such distinction
have been compelled to acquire knowledge by plummet and line, so to
speak. "The ambition of a man of parts," says Sydney Smith, "should be
not to know books, but things; not to show other men that he has read
Locke, and Montesquieu, and Beccaria, and Dumont, but to show that he
knows the subjects upon which they have written." Let us pursue our
examples still further, for they are both interesting and remarkable
when brought thus together.

Benjamin West[23] was born in Pennsylvania, a poor farmer's boy; but the
genius of art was in him, and after patient study he became an eminent
painter, finally succeeding Sir Joshua Reynolds as president of the
Royal Academy in 1792. George III. was his personal friend and patron.
He was so thoroughly appreciated there that he made England his home,
where he died in 1820. John Britton, author of the "Beauties of England
and Wales," as well as of several valuable works on architecture, was
born in a mud cabin in Wiltshire, and was for years engaged as a
bar-tender. He was finally turned adrift by his employer with two
guineas in his pocket, but before his death his list of published books
exceeded eighty volumes! Sir Francis Chantrey, the eminent sculptor, was
in his minority a journeyman carver in wood. Talma, the great tragic
actor of France, and favorite of the first Napoleon, was a dentist by
trade. Gifford, the eminent English critic and essayist, was "graduated"
from a cobbler's bench. When Cicero was asked concerning his lineage, he
replied, "I commence an ancestry." Beaumarchais, the successful French
dramatist, author of the "Barber of Seville" and the "Marriage of
Figaro," was a watchmaker by trade, but developed such versatile genius
as finally to excite the jealousy of the unscrupulous Voltaire.

Thomas Ball, the sculptor, who has done so much to ornament the parks
and squares of Boston, used as a lad to sweep out the halls of the
Boston Museum.[24] The author has often been within the walls of his
pleasant studio in the environs of Florence, adjoining his charming
domestic establishment. It is near to the spot where Powers produced his
"Greek Slave," and overlooks the lovely city of Florence, divided by the
Arno. Andrew Jackson, who became President of the United States, was the
son of a poor Irish emigrant, and so was John C. Calhoun, the great
Southern statesman and Vice-President. Abraham Lincoln and the late
President Garfield were both sons of toil, the former being commonly
designated as "the rail-splitter," the latter as "the canal-boy." Andrew
Johnson was a journeyman tailor. Henry Wilson was a cobbler at the bench
until he was nearly twenty-one. So also was Andersen,[25] the Danish
novelist. Jasmin, who has been called the Burns of France, was the son
of a street beggar. Allan Cunningham, poet, novelist, and miscellaneous
writer, began life as a stone-mason; he became the father of four sons,
all of whom won distinction in literature. Among the father's novels was
that of "Paul Jones," which was remarkably successful. Dr. Isaac Miller,
Dean of Carlisle, began life as a weaver, and Dr. Prideaux, Bishop of
Worcester, earned his living in youth as a kitchen-boy at Oxford. Watt,
the great Scotch inventor, whose steam-engine has revolutionized modern
industry, and Whitney, inventor of the cotton-gin, were street gamins
in childhood. Both these inventors were thought by their associates to
be "beside themselves" as they grew towards maturity. "No man is quite
sane," says Emerson; "each has a vein of folly in his composition, a
slight determination of blood to the head, to make sure of holding him
hard to some one point which nature has taken to heart."

The world's great men, according to the acceptation of the term, have
not always been great scholars. General Nathaniel Greene, the successful
Revolutionary commander, second only in military skill to Washington,
was brought up at a blacksmith's forge. Horace Greeley, orator and
journalist, was the son of a poor New Hampshire farmer and earned his
living for years by setting type. William Sturgeon the able and famous
electrician, Samuel Drew the English essayist, and Bloomfield the poet,
all rose from the cobbler's bench; and so did Thomas Edwards, the
profound naturalist. Robert Dodsley, the poet, dramatist, and friend of
Pope began life as a London footman in livery. His tragedy of "Cleone"
was so successful and well constructed, that Dr. Johnson said, "If Otway
had written it, no other of his pieces would have been remembered,"
which was certainly extravagant praise.[26] Douglas Jerrold was born in
a garret at Sheerness. Hobson, one of England's admirals, was a
tailor's apprentice in early life. Huntington, the remarkable preacher
and revivalist, was originally a coal-heaver, and Bewick, the father of
wood-engraving, was a laborer in a coal mine for many years.

John Gay, the English poet, was not "born with a silver spoon in his
mouth," but in youth he came up to London, where he served as a clerk to
a silk-mercer. "How long he continued behind the counter," says Dr.
Johnson, "or with what degree of softness and dexterity he received and
accommodated the ladies, as he probably took no delight in telling it,
is not known." He wrote comedies, fables, farces, and ballads, and wrote
well, and was vastly popular. Gay was a great gourmand, very lazy, and
fond of society.[27] The silk-mercer's clerk attained the much-coveted
honor of resting at last in Westminster Abbey. Boffin, the great
navigator, served at first before the mast as a common sailor. Robert
Dick, the geologist and botanist, followed his trade as a baker through
his whole life.

Would it not seem, in the light of these many instances, that practical
labor forms the best training even for genius?

Linnæus (Karl von Linné), the great Swedish botanist, the most
influential naturalist of the eighteenth century, was a shoemaker's
apprentice. His works upon his favorite study are authority with
students of science all over the world. He became physician to the king
and made his home at Stockholm, but roamed over all Scandinavia in
pursuing his special science of botany and also that of zoölogy. He will
always be remembered as having been the first to perfect a systematic
and scientific classification of plants and animals. He lies buried in
the Upsala Cathedral.

Thorwaldsen, the great Danish sculptor, was the son of an humble
Icelandic fisherman, but by reason of native genius he rose to bear the
name of the greatest of modern sculptors. He left in the Copenhagen
museum alone six hundred grand examples of the art he adorned. Many of
our readers will remember having seen near Lucerne, Switzerland, one of
his most remarkable pieces of sculpture, representing a wounded and
dying lion of colossal size, designed to commemorate the heroic fidelity
of the Swiss guards who fell Aug. 10, 1792. Thorwaldsen was passionately
fond of children, so that the moment he entered a house he gathered all
the juveniles about him; and in most of his marble groups he introduces
children. He never married, but made his beautiful mistress, the Roman
Fortunata, celebrated by repeating her face in many of his ideal groups.
Thorwaldsen gave an impulse to art in his native country which has no
like example in history; indeed, art is to-day the religion of
Copenhagen, and Thorwaldsen is its prophet.

George Stephenson, the English engineer and inventor, was in his youth a
stoker in a colliery, learning to read and write at a laborers' evening
school. John Jacob Astor began life as a pedler in the streets of New
York, where his descendants own a hundred million dollars worth of real
estate.[28] The elder Vanderbilt, famous not alone for his millions but
also for his vast enterprise in the development of commerce and
railroads, served as a cabin-boy on a North River sloop during several
years of his youth. George Peabody, the great American philanthropist
and millionnaire, was born in poverty. Fisher Ames, the eminent
statesman and orator, eked out a precarious living for years as a
country pedagogue. Greatness lies not alone in the possession of genius,
but in the right and effective use of it.

We have given examples sufficient to illustrate this branch of our
subject, though they might be almost indefinitely extended. It was
Daniel Webster[29] who said that "a man not ashamed of himself need not
be ashamed of his early condition in life." Titles are vendible, but
genius is the gift of Heaven.

Enthusiasm is the heritage of youth; it plans with audacity and executes
with vigor: "It is the leaping lightning," according to Emerson, "not to
be measured by the horse-power of the understanding." In the
accomplishment of great deeds it is undoubtedly the keenest spur, and
consequently those who have become eminent in the history of the world
have mostly achieved their greatness before gray hairs have woven
themselves about their brows. Unless the tree has borne ample blossoms
in the spring, we shall look in vain for a generous crop in the fall.
Notwithstanding the abundance of axioms as to youth and rashness
dwelling together, we have ample evidence that it is the period of
deeds, when the senses are unworn and the whole man is in the vigor of
strength and earnestness. Goethe tells us that the destiny of any nation
depends upon the opinions of its young men. Let us recall a few
examples, in corroboration of this view, among those who have made their
mark upon the times in which they lived.

Alexander the Great reigned over the Macedonians at sixteen; Scipio was
but twenty-nine at the zenith of his military glory; Charles XII.[30]
was only nineteen when, as commander-in-chief, he won the famous battle
of Narva; Condé was twenty-two when he gained the battle of Rocroi;
Scipio the Younger conquered Carthage at thirty-six, and Cortes subdued
Mexico at the same age. At thirty Charlemagne was master of France and
Germany; at thirty-two Clive had established the British power in India.
Hannibal won his greatest victories before he was thirty, and Napoleon
was but twenty-seven when he outgeneralled the veteran marshals of
Austria on the plains of Italy. George Washington won his first battle
as a colonel at twenty-two; Lafayette was a major-general in our army at
the age of twenty. Nor are we to look only for youthful greatness among
those who have won laurels in war. William Pitt was prime minister of
England at twenty-four; Calhoun had achieved national greatness before
he was thirty; while the names of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and
the elder Pitt in England also suggest themselves in this

Handel composed sonatas at ten years of age; Mozart was equally
precocious, and died at thirty-six, at which age Shakespeare had written
"Hamlet." Bellini, the composer, had produced "II Pirata," "La
Sonnambula," and "La Norma," before his thirtieth year; "I Puritani" was
finished at thirty, and he died two years later. Charles Matthews the
elder began to write for the press at fourteen, and Moore wrote verses
for print at the same age; undoubtedly both were open to cool and
judicious criticism.[32] Henry Kirke White published a volume of poems
at seventeen. Bryant, the first American poet of celebrity, began to
write verses at the age of ten, and his most celebrated poem,
"Thanatopsis," was written before he was twenty. Fitz-Greene Halleck,
author of "Marco Bozzaris," wrote verses for the magazines at fourteen.
Congreve was at the height of his literary fame at four-and-twenty,--he
to whom Dryden said Shakespeare had bequeathed his poetical crown, and
to whom Pope dedicated his version of the Iliad. Watt invented the
steam-engine before he was thirty. The reproof administered by his
grandmother for his idleness in taking off and replacing the cover of
the teakettle, and "playing with the steam to no purpose," will occur to
the reader. Joan of Arc[33] was but eighteen when she raised the siege
of Orléans and conquered city after city, until Charles VII. was crowned
king at Rheims.

Guizot, the distinguished French statesman and historian, seems to have
been "a child who had no childhood." At eleven years of age he was able
to read in their respective languages Thucydides, Demosthenes, Dante,
Schiller, Gibbon, and Shakespeare.

Robert Hall, the eloquent English clergyman, was a remarkable instance
of early mental development. It is said that before he was ten years of
age he perused with interest and understanding Edwards's treatises on
the "Affections" and on the "Will." His sermons, essays, and writings
generally were eagerly read and admired by the public; but excessive
application at last brought on insanity. It was gracefully said of him
that his imperial fancy laid all nature under tribute. Even in madness
he did not lose his power of retort. A hypocritical condoler visited him
in the mad-house, and asked in a servile tone: "Pray, what brought you
here, Mr. Hall?" Hall touched his brow significantly with his finger,
and replied, "What'll never bring you, sir,--too much brains!"[34]

Macaulay had already won an exalted reputation for prose and poetry
before he was twenty-three, and N. P. Willis, before he left college,
had achieved enduring fame by his sacred poems,[35] which, in fact, he
never afterwards excelled in a long and successful literary career.
Schiller wrote and published in his fourteenth year a poem on Moses.
Klopstock began his "Messiah" at seventeen, and Tasso had produced his
"Rinaldo," and completed the first three cantos of "Jerusalem
Delivered," before he was nineteen. Milton was an unremitting student at
ten. Southey began to write verses before he was eleven, Chaucer and
Cowley at twelve, and Leigh Hunt at about the same age. Pope,[36] like
so many others, began to write poetry as a child, thus proving that
"poets are born and not made." Chatterton, the remarkable literary
prodigy, died at eighteen, but not until he had established a lasting
reputation. Bulwer-Lytton was a successful author at about the same age,
and so were Keats and Bayard Taylor. Dickens produced the "Pickwick
Papers" before he was twenty-five, and it may safely be said that in
wit, humor, and originality he never surpassed that delicious book.
These seem interesting facts to remember, though they do not establish
any actual criterion, since the thoughtful student of the past can
adduce many notable examples of mature development in art and

Among these is that of Edmund Burke, on the whole the greatest of
English philosophical statesmen. He is the most remarkable instance of a
number of men of genius who seem to have grown younger as they grew
older,--that is, mentally and morally. Macaulay has noticed that Bacon's
writings towards the close of his career exceeded those of his youth and
manhood "in eloquence, in sweetness and variety of expression, and in
richness of illustration."[37] He adds: "In this respect the history of
his mind bears some resemblance to the history of the mind of Burke. The
treatises on the 'Sublime and Beautiful,'[38] though written on a
subject which the coldest metaphysician could hardly treat without being
occasionally betrayed into florid writing, is the most unadorned of
Burke's works. It appeared when he was twenty-five or twenty-six. When,
at forty, he wrote the 'Thoughts on the Causes of the Present
Discontents,' his reason and judgment had reached their full maturity,
but his eloquence was in its splendid dawn. At fifty his rhetoric was as
rich as good taste would admit; and when he died, at almost seventy, it
had become ungracefully gorgeous. In his youth he wrote on the emotions
produced by mountains and cascades, by the masterpieces of painting and
sculpture, by the faces and necks of beautiful women, in the style of a
Parliamentary report. In his old age he discussed treaties and tariffs
in the most fervid and brilliant language of romance."

Socrates learned to play on musical instruments in his old age. Cato at
eighty first studied the Greek language, and Plutarch did not apply
himself to learn the Latin language until about the same age.
Theophrastus[39] began his "Character of Man" on his ninetieth birthday.
Peter Rusard, one of the fathers of French poetry, did not develop his
poetic faculty until nearly fifty. Arnauld, the learned French
theologian and philosopher, translated Josephus in his eightieth year.
Lope de Vega, one of the most learned men of the sixteenth century,
wrote his best at seventy years of age. Dr. Johnson applied himself to
learn the Dutch language at seventy. At seventy-three, when quite
feeble, he composed a Latin prayer to test to his own satisfaction the
loss or retention of his mental faculties. Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"
were the work of the author's last years. Franklin's philosophical
pursuits were but fairly begun at fifty. La Mothe le Vayer's best
treatises were written after he was eighty years of age, and Izaak
Walton's when he was nearly ninety. Thomas Hobbes, the remarkable
English philosopher and author, published his version of the Odyssey in
his eighty-seventh year, and his Iliad in his eighty-eighth.
Winckelmann,[40] author of the "History of Ancient Art," lived in
ignorance and obscurity until the prime of his life, when he became
famous. Landor was busy with authorship until after he was eighty. The
Earl of Chatham made his most remarkable oratorical effort at seventy,
and our own American orator and statesman, Robert C. Winthrop, at a
still later period of his life. Fontenelle continued his literary
pursuits until he was ninety-nine, "blossoming in the winter of his
days," as Lord Orrery wrote of him. Ménage, the celebrated French critic
and scholar, wrote sonnets and epigrams at ninety. Julius Scaliger, the
renowned Italian scholar and poet, dictated to his son, at the age of
seventy, two hundred verses of his own composition from memory. Mr.
Gladstone and John Bright, the English statesmen, are more recent
examples of oratorical, mental, and physical powers in advanced years.
George Bancroft the American historian, in his eighty-sixth year is
still engaged in authorship, and Whittier and Holmes are writing with
unabated vigor at nearly eighty years of age. Miss Elizabeth Peabody at
eighty-four is still a vigorous writer and active philanthropist, and
the same may be said of Mrs. Julia Ward Howe at the age of sixty-six.
Mrs. Howe, indeed, is one of the foremost of American women, whether we
regard the ripeness of her scholarship, the breadth of her
understanding, the richness of her imagination, or the quiet intrepidity
with which she champions great reforms.


Who does not enjoy recalling these silent friends, favorite authors
grown dear to us by age and long association? Some one has said that
authors, like coins, grow dearer as they grow old. Indeed, Samuel
Rogers, the banker and poet, declared that when friends at his famous
"breakfasts" were praising a new book, he forthwith began to re-read an
old one. All these writers were double-sided, so to speak; they had
their book natures and their human natures, and it is when we prefer to
contemplate them in the latter aspect that we like them best. Carlyle
calls them "the vanguard in the march of mind, the intellectual
backwoodsmen reclaiming from the idle wilderness new territory for the
thought and activity of their happier brethren." It is true that we can
form but a partial judgment of authors by their books, their motives
being not always as pure as we are inclined to believe.[41] A traitor
like Bolingbroke is quite capable of writing a captivating book on
patriotism; and it has been said if Satan were to write one, it would be
upon the advantages of virtue.

It is certain he has ever shown such a hearty appreciation of virtue
that he holds in highest estimation his success in corrupting it.
Examples flash across the memory. There was Sir Thomas More advocating
toleration, while he was himself a fierce persecutor; Sallust declaring
against the licentiousness of his age, yet addicted to habitual
debaucheries; Byron assuming a misanthropy which he never felt; and
Cowley boasting of his mistresses, though he had not the courage even to
address one. Smollett's descriptions and scenes were often indelicate,
though he was himself in that respect a faultless man. "As a rule, the
author who is not in genius far above his productions must be a
second-rate one at best," says Bulwer-Lytton. Sometimes we detect
striking likenesses between the author and his works. Goldsmith, for
instance, was the same hero to low-bred women, and the same coward to
ladies, that he depicts in his charming comedy. It is difficult,
however, in the light of Handel's inspired music, to realize what an
animal nature possessed him in his every-day mood,--what a glutton he
was at table; or to reconcile the sublime strains of Mozart with his
trivial personality.[42] Still, Buffon persistently declares, "Le style
c'est l'homme."

Addison, recognized as the purest and most perspicuous writer of the
English language, though exercising such mastership of the pen, had no
oral ability, and rarely attempted to talk in social circles. He said of
himself that though he had a hundred pounds in the bank, he had no small
coin in his pocket.[43]

Dr. Johnson and Coleridge were famous for their colloquial facility, but
both of these were rather lecturers than talkers, however delightful in
this respect the latter may have been. Johnson during his life was
undoubtedly more of a power as a talker than as a writer. It has been
said that Scott talked more poetry and Edmund Burke more eloquence than
they ever wrote. Emerson thought that "better things are said, more
incisive, more wit and insight are dropped in talk and forgotten, than
gets into books." E. H. Chapin and H. W. Beecher have talked sounder and
more brilliant theology than they ever preached from the pulpit.
Spontaneous thoughts come from our inner consciousness; sermons and
essays, from the cooler action of the brain. Coleridge, on first meeting
Byron, entertained the poet with one of his monologues, wherein he
ascended into the seventh heaven upon wings of theology and metaphysics.
Leigh Hunt described the scene to Charles Lamb, and expressed his wonder
that Coleridge should have chosen so unsympathetic an auditor. "Oh, it
was only his fun," explained Lamb; "there's an immense deal of quiet
humor about Coleridge!" Wordsworth speaks of him as the "rapt one, with
the godlike forehead," the "heaven-eyed creature." Hazlitt says that "no
idea ever entered the mind of man, but at some period or other it had
passed over his head with rustling pinions." Talfourd writes of seeing
"the palm-trees wave, and the pyramids tower, in the long perspective of
his style." When Coleridge once asked Lamb, "Charles, did you ever hear
me preach?" he received the quiet reply, "I never heard you do anything
else." Rogers tells us: "Coleridge was a marvellous talker. One morning,
when Hookham Frere also breakfasted with me, Coleridge talked for three
hours without intermission about poetry, and so admirably that I wish
every word he uttered had been written down." Madame de Staël said of
him that he was great in monologue, but that he had no idea of dialogue.

Macaulay was also remarkable for his conversational powers, which were
greatly aided by an excellent memory. He has been accused of talking too
much; and Sydney Smith once said of him: "He is certainly more agreeable
since his return from India. His enemies might perhaps have said
before--though I never did so--that he talked rather too much; but now
he has occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation
perfectly delightful!" In a party in which eminent men are present, the
rule is said to be that, for good conversation, the number of talkers
should never be fewer than the Graces or more than the Muses. Goldsmith,
who wrote so charmingly and exhibited such a remarkable versatility with
the pen, could make no figure in conversation. Fox, Bentley, Burke,
Curran, and Swift were all brilliant talkers; Tasso, Dante, Gray, and
Dryden[44] were all taciturn. Of Ben Jonson it is said that he was
mostly without speech, sitting by the hour quite silent in society,
sucking in the wine and humor of his companions.

Sheridan had the reputation of being a brilliant conversationalist; but
we all know that many of his "impromptus" were laboriously prepared
beforehand, and that he was wont to lie in wait silently for half an
evening watching his opportunity to discharge the arrows of his polished
wit. One would be glad to learn how it was with Shakespeare in society.
He could hold his own in a controversy, however, as Thomas Fuller, in
his "Worthies of England," says, "Many were the wet-combats between him
and Ben Jonson:[45] which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon and
an English man-of-war; master Jonson, like the former, was built far
higher in learning; solid, but slow, in his performances. Shakespeare,
like the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk but lighter in sailing,
could turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds
by the quickness of his wit and invention." Shakespeare himself has
said, "Silence is only commendable in a neat's tongue dried and a maid
not vendible;" but the ancient stoics thought that by silence they heard
other men's imperfections and concealed their own.

The diplomatist Metternich said he had never known more than ten or
twelve persons with whom it was pleasant to converse. Margaret Fuller
said Carlyle's talk was an amazement to her, though she was familiar
with his writings. His conversation, she declared, was a splendor
scarcely to be faced with steady eye. He did not converse--only
harangued. She thought him "arrogant and overbearing, but it was not the
arrogance of littleness, nor self-love, but rather the arrogance of some
old Scandinavian conqueror; it was his nature, the untamable impulse
that had given him power to crush the dragons. She was not led to love
or revere him, but liked him heartily,--liked to see him the powerful
smith, the Siegfried, melting all the old iron in his furnace till it
glows to a sunset red and burns you, if you senselessly go too

When Dr. Johnson was asked why he was not invited out to dine as
Garrick[47] was, he answered, as if it was a great triumph to him,
"Because great lords and ladies don't like to have their mouths
stopped!" He indulged a furious hatred to Americans, and whenever there
was an opportunity sneered at them even more bitterly than he did at
Scotchmen. It will be remembered that he thought something could be made
out of a Scotchman "if you caught him young;" but he would not admit
even this saving clause as regarded Americans. He said, "I am willing to
love all, all mankind, except an American." He called them "robbers and
pirates;" adding, "I'd burn and destroy them!"

These words were addressed to Miss Anna Seward, of Lichfield. It was in
the grammar school of this ancient cathedral town that Addison, Dr.
Johnson, and Garrick received their early education, and Johnson was a
native of the place. Miss Seward's father was the canon resident of
Lichfield Cathedral. In his family there was a beautiful young lady
named Honora Sneyd, a companion to his daughter. John André, a cultured
London youth, fell in love with Honora, and was tacitly accepted. The
young man was somewhat suddenly called back to the metropolis on
business, and a separation thus ensued which seemed to wean the lady's
affections from him, so that she soon after married a Mr. Edgeworth and
in the course of time became the mother of Maria Edgeworth, the
well-known novel-writer.[48] John André remained faithful to his first
love, and came to America carrying in his bosom a miniature of Honora
suspended from his neck. His sad fate during our Revolutionary War is
well known to all. He was the Major André whom Washington reluctantly
executed as a spy, and whose memorial is now conspicuous in Westminster

Peter Corneille, the great French dramatic poet, had nothing in his
exterior that indicated his genius. As to his conversational powers,
they were simply insipid, and never failed to weary all listeners.
Nature had endowed him with brilliant gifts, but forgot to grant him the
ordinary accomplishments. He did not even speak correct French, which he
never failed to write with perfection. When his friends represented to
him how much more he might please by not disdaining to correct these
trivial errors, he would smile and say, "I am none the less Peter
Corneille!" We learn from Rogers that in the early days of his
popularity Byron was quite diffident in society, or at least never
ventured to take part in the conversation. If any one happened to let
fall an observation which offended him, he never attempted to reply, but
treasured it up for days, and would then come out with some cutting
remarks, giving them as his deliberate opinion, the result of his
experience of the individual's character. Southey[49] was stiff,
reserved, sedate, and so wrapped up in a garb of asceticism that Charles
Lamb once stutteringly told him he was "m-made for a m-m-monk, but
somehow the co-co-cowl didn't fit."

Racine made this confidential confession to his son: "Do not think that
I am sought after by the great on account of my dramas; Corneille
composed nobler verses than mine, but no one notices him, and he only
pleases by the mouth of the actors. I never allude to my works when with
men of the world, but I amuse them about matters they like to hear. My
talent with them consists not in making them feel that I have any, but
in showing them that they have." The well-remembered saying about
Goldsmith's lack of conversational power is excellent because it was so
true; namely, that "he wrote like an angel and talked like poor
Poll."[50] Fisher Ames and Rufus Choate were distinguished for their
conversational powers. Stuart, the American painter, was remarkable in
this respect; and so were Washington Allston, Edgar A. Poe, Margaret
Fuller, and the late Caleb Cushing. The lady just named was considered
to be the best talker of her sex since Madame de Staël. Indeed, those
who knew her well said she talked even better than she wrote, which was
saying much.

Charles Sumner used to relate a talk in a company where Daniel Webster
was present. The question under discussion was what were the best means
of culture. Webster was silent until all had spoken. He then said:
"Gentlemen, you have overlooked one of the means of culture which I
consider of the first importance, and from which I have gained the most;
that is, good conversation."[51]

Whipple has said in one of his essays that "real, earnest conversation
is a kind of intellectual cannibalism, where strong minds feed on each
other and mightily enjoy the repast."

Charles Lamb's most sportive essays, which read as though they came
almost spontaneously from his pen, are known to have been the result of
intense brain labor. He would spend a whole week in elaborating a single
humorous letter to a friend. Lamb was so sensitive concerning
proof-reading as to be the dread of the printers. It is said of the
poet-laureate of England that he has been known to re-write a poem
twenty times and more before he was satisfied to give it to the printer.
Dickens, when writing a book, was accustomed to shut himself up for days
together, and to work with fearful energy until the task was completed;
after which he would come forth presenting the appearance of a person
recovering from a fit of illness. The free-and-easy spirit which
characterizes his pages affords no evidence of the travail through which
their author passed in giving them birth. Bulwer-Lytton took matters
much more philosophically. He always worked at pen-craft leisurely,
never more than three or four hours a day; and yet by carefully
observing a system the aggregate of his productions was very large.
Balzac, after thinking over a subject, would retire to his study and
write it out half a dozen times before he gave the manuscript to the
printer, whom he afterwards tormented to the very verge of exasperation
by his proof alterations. To come nearer to our own time, we may remark
that Longfellow, whose versification seems always to have flowed with
such ease and fluency from his pen, was a slow and painstaking producer,
sometimes altering and amending until the original draft of an essay or
poem was quite improved out of sight.

Dr. Channing nearly drove his printers crazy; after his
manuscript--almost illegible by corrections and interlineations--had
been returned to them with alterations, omissions, and additions on the
first proof-sheets, he would ponder over, alter, and amend three or four
successive proofs before he finally allowed the result to meet the
public eye,--a new edition involving another series of alterations. The
lyric which cost Tennyson the most trouble was "Come into the Garden,
Maud." It is said to have been held back from the public after it had
been a year in his hands, going through repeated processes of
alteration. What time indorses, requires time to create and finish. To
this determination of Tennyson to condense all his thoughts into the
smallest space, and never to expand when by patient labor he can
contract, we owe the few lines in which he states in the "Princess" the
whole nebular theory of the universe as expounded by Kant and Laplace;
and how much reflection must have been required to condense the
description of the fundamental defect of English law, on which volumes
have been written, as he has done in "Aylmer's Field:"--

    "The lawless science of our law,
    That codeless myriad of precedent,
    That wilderness of single instances."

When we observe good workmanship, whether it be by a stone-mason, a
cabinet-maker, or a writer, we may be sure that it has cost much patient
labor. His biographer tells us that Moore thought ten or fifteen lines
in twenty-four hours a good day's accomplishment in poetry; and at this
rate he wrote "Lalla Rookh."[52] Wordsworth wrote his verses, laid them
aside for weeks, then, taking them up, frequently rewrote them a score
of times before he called them finished. Buffon's "Studies of Nature"
cost him fifty years of writing and re-writing before the work was
published. John Foster, the profound and eloquent English essayist,
often spent hours upon a single sentence. Ten years elapsed between the
first sketch of Goldsmith's "Traveller" and its final completion.
Rochefoucauld[53] spent fifteen years over his little book of Maxims,
altering some of them thirty times. Rogers admitted that he had more
than once spent ten days upon a single verse before he turned it to suit
him. Vaugelas, the great French scholar, devoted twenty years to his
admirable translation of "Quintus Curtius."

Some authors have produced with such rapidity as to approach
improvisation. Perhaps the most remarkable instance of this was in the
case of Lope de Vega, who composed and wrote a versified drama in a
single day, and is known to have done so for seven consecutive days.
Contemporary with Shakespeare and Cervantes, De Vega has left behind him
two thousand original dramas sparkling with vivacity of dialogue and
richness of invention. Soldier, duellist, poet, sailor, and priest, his
long life was one of intense activity and adventure.[54] The name of
Hardy, the French dramatic author and actor, occurs to us in this
connection; though an inferior genius to De Vega, he wrote over six
hundred original dramas. He was considered the first dramatic writer of
the days of Henry IV. and Louis XIII., before whom Hardy often appeared
upon the stage personating the heroes of his own dramas.

Prynne, the English antiquary, politician, and pamphlet-writer, sat down
early in the morning to his composition. Every two hours his man brought
him a roll and a pot of ale as refreshment; and so he continued until
night, when he partook of a hearty dinner. One of his pamphlets was
entitled "A Scourge for Stage-Players," which was considered so
scurrilous that the Star-Chamber sentenced him to pay a heavy fine, to
be exposed in the pillory, to lose his ears, and to be imprisoned for
life. He was finally released from prison. While he was confined in the
pillory, a pyramid of his offending pamphlets was made close at hand, to
windward of his position, and set on fire, so that the author was very
nearly choked to death by the smoke. He was almost as incessant and
inveterate a writer as Petrarch, and considered being debarred from pen
and ink an act more barbarous than the loss of his ears. However, he
partially obviated his want of the usual facilities by writing a whole
volume on his prison walls while confined in the Tower of London.

Byron wrote the "Corsair" in ten days, which was an average of nearly
two hundred lines a day,--a fact which he acknowledged to Moore with a
degree of shame. He said he would not confess it to everybody,
considering it to be a humiliating fact, proving his own want of
judgment in publishing, and the public in reading, "things which cannot
have stamina for permanent attention." The surpassing beauty of the
"Corsair," however, excuses all the author said or did in connection
with it. It may nevertheless be affirmed that, as a rule, no great work
has ever been performed with ease, or ever will be accomplished without
encountering the throes of time and labor. Dante, we remember, saw
himself "growing lean" over his "Divine Comedy." Mary Russell Mitford,
the charming English authoress, dramatist, poet, and novelist, who so
excelled in her sketches of country life, says of herself: "I write with
extreme slowness, labor, and difficulty; and, whatever you may think,
there is a great difference of facility in different minds. I am the
slowest writer, I suppose, in England, and touch and retouch
incessantly." Her life was one of constant labor and self-abnegation in
behalf of a worthless, selfish, and imperious father. He was a robust,
showy, wasteful profligate, and a gambler. A doctor by profession, he
was a spendthrift and sensualist by occupation. He contracted a venal
marriage with an heiress much older than himself, and after squandering
her entire fortune he fell back upon his daughter as the bread-winner
for the whole family. By a remarkable chance she became the possessor of
a great lottery prize, from which she realized twenty thousand pounds,
every penny of which her beastly father drank and gambled away. Still,
the devotion and industry of the daughter never waned for a moment. Her
patient struggles have placed her name on the roll of fame, while her
father's has sunk into deserved oblivion.

De Tocqueville wrote to his publishers: "You must think me very slow.
You would forgive me if you knew how hard it is for me to satisfy
myself, and how impossible it is for me to finish things incompletely."
Horace suggested that authors should keep their literary productions
from the public eye for at least nine years, which certainly ought to
produce "the well-ripened fruit of sage delay." After a labor of eleven
years Virgil pronounced his Æneid imperfect. This recalls the Italian
saying, "One need not be a stag, neither ought one to be a tortoise."
Tasso's manuscript, which is still extant, is almost illegible because
of the number of alterations which he made after having written it.
Montaigne, "the Horace of Essayists," could not be induced, so lazy and
self-indulgent was he, to even look at the proof-sheets of his writings.
"I add, but I correct not," he said.

The writer of these pages has seen the original draft of Longfellow's
"Excelsior," so interlined and amended to suit the author's taste as to
make the manuscript rather difficult to decipher. The poet wrote a
back-hand, as it is called; that is, the letters sloped in the opposite
direction from the usual custom, and as a rule his writing was
remarkably legible. Coleridge was very methodical as to the time and
place of his composition. He told Hazlitt that he liked to compose
walking over uneven ground, or making his way through straggling
branches of undergrowth in the woods; which was a very affected and
erratic notion, and might better have been "whipped out of him."[55]
Wordsworth, on the contrary, found his favorite place for composing his
verses in walking back and forth upon the smooth paths of his garden,
among flowers and creeping vines. Hazlitt, in a critical analysis of the
two poets, traces a likeness to the style of each in his choice of
exercise while maturing his thoughts,--which, it would seem to us, is a
subtile deduction altogether too fine to signify anything.

Charles Dibdin, the famous London song-writer and musician, whose
sea-songs as published number over a thousand, caught his ideas "on the
fly." As an example, he was at a loss for something new to sing on a
certain occasion. A friend was with him in his lodgings and suggested
several themes. Suddenly the jar of a ladder against the street
lamp-post under his window was heard. It was a hint to his fertile
imagination, and Dibdin exclaimed, "The Lamplighter! That's it;
first-rate idea!" and stepping to the piano he finished both song and
words in an hour, and sang them in public with great éclat that very
night, under the title of "Jolly Dick, the Lamplighter." Like nearly all
such mercurial geniuses, Dibdin was generous, careless, and improvident
in his habits, dying at last poor and neglected.

Dr. Johnson was so extremely short-sighted that writing, re-writing, and
correcting upon paper were very inconvenient for him; he was therefore
accustomed to revolve a subject very carefully in his mind, forming
sentences and periods with minute care; and by means of his remarkable
memory he retained them with great precision for use and final
transmission to paper. When he began, therefore, with pen in hand, his
production of copy was very rapid, and it required scarcely any
corrections. Boswell says that posterity will be astonished when they
are told that many of these discourses, which might be supposed to be
labored with all the slow attention of literary leisure, were written in
haste, as the moments pressed, without even being read over by Johnson
before they were printed. Sir John Hawkins says that the original
manuscripts of the "Rambler" passed through his hands, "and by the
perusal of them I am warranted to say, as was said of Shakespeare by the
players of his time, that he never blotted a line." Johnson tells us
that he wrote the life of Savage in six-and-thirty hours. He also wrote
his "Hermit of Teneriffe" in a single night. When we consider the amount
of literary work performed by Johnson, say in the period of seven years,
while "he sailed a long and painful voyage round the world of the
English language," and produced his dictionary, we must give him credit
for the most remarkable industry and great rapidity of production.
During these seven years he found time also to complete his "Rambler,"
the "Vanity of Human Wishes," and his tragedy, besides several minor
literary performances. No wonder he developed hypochondria. Burke was a
very slow and painstaking producer; it is even said that he had all his
works printed at a private press before submitting them to his

Hume was more rapid, even careless with his first edition of a work, but
went on correcting each new one to the day of his death.[56] Macaulay,
in his elaborate speeches, did not write them out beforehand, but
_thought_ them out, trusting to his memory to recall every epigrammatic
statement and every felicitous epithet which he had previously forged in
his mind, so that when the time came for their delivery they appeared to
spring forth as the spontaneous outpouring of his feelings and
sentiments, excited by the questions discussed. Wendell Phillips
followed a similar method.

Thomas Paine, the political and deistical writer, was under contract to
furnish a certain amount of matter for each number of the "Pennsylvania
Magazine." Aitken the publisher had great difficulty in getting him to
fulfil his agreement. Paine's indolence was such that he was always
behindhand with his engagements. Finally, after it had become too late
to delay longer, Aitken would go to his house, tell him the printers
were standing idle waiting for his copy, and insist upon his
accompanying him to the office. Paine would do so, when pen, ink, and
paper would be placed before him, and he would sit thoughtfully, but
produce nothing until Aitken gave him a large glass of brandy. Even then
he would delay. The publisher naturally feared to give him a second
glass, thinking that it would disqualify him altogether, but, on the
contrary, his brain seemed to be illumined by it, and when he had
swallowed the third glass,--quite enough to have made Mr. Aitken dead
drunk,--he would write with rapidity, intelligence, and precision, his
ideas appearing to flow faster than he could express them on paper. The
copy produced under the fierce stimulant was remarkable for correctness,
and fit for the press without revision.[57]

Charlotte Bronté was a very slow producer of literary work, and was
obliged to choose her special days. Often for a week, and sometimes
longer, she could not write at all; her brain seemed to be dormant.
Then, without any premonition or apparent inducing cause, she would
awake in the morning, go to her writing-desk, and the ideas would come
with more rapidity than she could pen them. Mrs. Gaskell the novelist,
a friend of the Brontés, was exactly the opposite in her style of
composition. She could sit down at any hour and lose herself in the
process of the story she was composing. She was also a prolific
authoress, of whom George Sand said: "She has done what neither I nor
other female writers in France can accomplish; she has written novels
which excite the deepest interest in men of the world, and which every
girl will be the better for reading." Bacon[58] often had music played
in the room adjoining his library, saying that he gathered inspiration
from its strains. Warburton said music was always a necessity to him
when engaged in intellectual labor. Curran, the great Irish barrister,
had also his favorite mode of meditation; it was with his violin in
hand. He would seem to forget himself, running voluntaries over the
strings, while his imagination, collecting its tones, was kindling and
invigorating all his faculties for the coming contest at the bar. Bishop
Beveridge adopted Bacon's plan, and said, "When music sounds sweetest in
my ears, truth commonly flows the clearest in my mind." Even the cold,
passionless Carlyle said music was to him a kind of inarticulate speech
which led him to the edge of the infinite, and permitted him for a
moment to gaze into it.

John Foster, the English essayist, declared that the special quality of
genius was "the power to light its own fire;" and certainly Sir Walter
Scott was a shining example of this truth. Shelley, a poet of finer but
less robust fibre, decided that "the mind, in creating, is as a fading
coal, which some passing influence, like an invisible wind, wakens into
momentary brightness."

As already remarked, ten years transpired between the first sketch of
the "Traveller," which was made in Switzerland, and its publication; but
the history of the "Vicar of Wakefield" was quite different. Goldsmith
hastened the closing pages to raise money, being terribly pressed for
the payment of numerous small bills, and also by his landlady for rent.
He was actually under arrest for this last debt, and sent to Dr. Johnson
to come to him at once. Understanding very well what was the trouble,
Johnson sent him a guinea, and came in person as soon as he could. He
found, on arriving, that Goldsmith had already broken the guinea and was
drinking a bottle of wine purchased therewith. The Doctor put the cork
into the bottle, and began to talk over the means of extricating the
impecunious author from his troubles. Goldsmith told Johnson that he had
just finished a small book, and wished he would look at it; perhaps it
would bring in some money. He brought forth the manuscript of the
"Vicar of Wakefield." Johnson hastily glanced over it, paused, read a
chapter carefully, bade Goldsmith to be of good cheer, and hastened away
with the new story to Newbury the publisher, who, solely on Johnson's
recommendation, gave him sixty pounds for the manuscript and threw it
into his desk, where it remained undisturbed for two years.[59]

A voluminous writer once explained to Goldsmith the advantage of
employing an amanuensis. "How do you manage it?" asked Goldsmith. "Why,
I walk about the room and dictate to a clever man, who puts down very
correctly all that I tell him, so that I have nothing to do but to look
it over and send it to the printers." Goldsmith was delighted with the
idea, and asked his friend to send the scribe to him. The next day the
penman came with his implements, ready to catch his new employer's words
and to record them. Goldsmith paced the room with great thoughtfulness,
just as his friend had described to him, back and forth, back and forth,
several times; but after racking his brain to no purpose for half an
hour, he gave it up. He handed the scribe a guinea, saying, "It won't
do, my friend; I find that my head and hand must work together."

Milton dictated that immortal poem, "Paradise Lost," his daughters being
his amanuenses; but Milton was then blind. It is said of Julius Cæsar
that while writing a despatch he could at the same time dictate seven
letters to as many clerks. This seems almost miraculous; but in our own
day Paul Morphy has performed quite as difficult a feat at chess,
playing several games at once, blindfolded.

One of the most eminent and eloquent of American preachers and
lecturers, Thomas Starr King, was accustomed to dictate to an
amanuensis; but when a difficulty would occur in developing his thought,
he would take the pen in his own hand, and, abstracting himself entirely
from the wondering reporter by his side, would spend perhaps half an
hour in deeper thinking and more exact expression than when he dictated.
Those who have examined his manuscript since his death easily perceive
that the portions of a sermon or a lecture which he personally wrote are
better than those which he poured forth to his amanuensis as he walked
the room. On one occasion a friend who was in favor of making the pen
and brain work together went to hear Mr. King deliver a lecture on Pope
Gregory VII. (Hildebrand), and at its conclusion told the lecturer that
he could distinguish, without seeing the manuscript, the portions he
wrote with his own hand from those he dictated. He succeeded so well, in
the course of half an hour's conversation, as to surprise the orator by
hitting on the passages in dispute, and proving his case.

To write an acceptable book, poem, or essay, is quite as much of a trade
as to make a clock or shoe a horse. To produce easy-flowing sentences,
as they finally appear before the reader's eye, has cost much careful
thought, long and patient practice, and even with some famous authors,
as we have seen, many hours of writing and re-writing. So far as it is
applied to authorship, we are not surprised at Hogarth's remark: "I know
no such thing as genius; genius is nothing but labor and diligence."
Buffon's definition is nearly the same; he says, "Genius is only great
patience." Authors are generally very commonplace representatives of
humanity, and remarkably like the average citizen whom we meet in our
daily walk. Rogers, in his "Table Talk," says: "When literature is the
sole business of life, it becomes a drudgery; when we are able to resort
to it only at certain hours, it is a charming relaxation. In my early
years I was a banker's clerk, obliged to be at the desk every day from
ten to five o'clock, and I shall never forget the delight with which, on
returning home, I used to read and write during the evening." He was a
great reader, but said that "a man who attempts to read all the new
publications must often do as a flea does--skip."[60]

To recur to Charles Dickens, is it generally known that his favorite
novel of "David Copperfield" partially relates to the history of his own
boyhood? The story of David's employment, when a child, in washing and
labelling blacking-bottles in a London cellar, was true of Dickens
himself. If it were possible to read between the lines, we should not
infrequently find the most effective narrative sketches little less than
biography or autobiography. Thackeray and Dickens both wrote under the
thin gauze of fiction. "Vivian Gray" is but a photograph of its
dilettante author; and every character drawn by Charlotte Bronté is a
true portrait, all being confined within so small a circle as to be
easily recognizable. Smollett sat for his own personality in that of
Roderick Random; while Scott drew many of his most strongly
individualized characters, like that of Dominie Sampson, from people in
his immediate circle.

Coleridge says of Milton: "In 'Paradise Lost,' indeed in every one of
his poems, it is Milton himself whom you see. His Satan, his Adam, his
Raphael, almost his Eve, are all John Milton; and it is a sense of this
intense egotism that gives one the greatest pleasure in reading Milton's
works." It is well known that many of Byron's[61] poetical plots are
almost literally his personal experiences. This was especially the case
as to the "Giaour." A beautiful female slave was thrown into the sea for
infidelity, and was terribly avenged by her lover, while Byron was in
the East; being impressed with the dramatic character of the tragedy, he
gave it expression in a poem. Carlyle says that Satan was Byron's grand
exemplar, the hero of his poetry, and the model, apparently, of his
conduct. In Bulwer-Lytton's "Disowned," one of his earliest and best
stories, the hero, Clarence Linden, a youth of eighteen, while
journeying as a pedestrian, makes the acquaintance of a free-and-easy
person named Cole,--a gypsy king,--in whose camp he passes the night:
all of which was an actual experience of Bulwer himself. Hans Christian
Andersen gives us many of his personal experiences in his popular tale,
"Only a Fiddler;" so is "Gilbert Gurney," a novel by Theodore Hook, a
biography of himself as a practical joker. It will thus be seen that
authors do not always draw entirely upon the imagination for incidents,
characters, and plot, but that there is from first to last a large
amount of actual truth in seeming fiction.

When Goldsmith was a lad of fifteen or there-about, some one gave him a
guinea, with which, and a borrowed horse, he set out for a holiday trip.
He got belated when returning, and, inquiring of a stranger if he would
point out to him a house of entertainment, was mischievously directed to
the residence of the sheriff of the county. Here he knocked lustily at
the door, and sending his horse to the stable, ordered a good supper,
inviting the "landlord" to drink a bottle of wine with him. The next
morning, after an ample breakfast, he offered his guinea in payment,
when the squire, who knew Goldsmith's family, overwhelmed him with
confusion by telling him the truth. Thirty years afterwards Goldsmith
availed himself of this humiliating blunder at the time he wrote that
popular comedy, "She Stoops to Conquer." When Goldsmith was talking to a
friend of writing a fable in which little fishes were to be introduced,
Dr. Johnson, who was present, laughed rather sneeringly. "Why do you
laugh?" asked Goldsmith, angrily. "If you were to write a fable of
little fishes, you would make them speak like whales!" The justice of
the reproof was perfectly apparent to Johnson, who was conscious of
Goldsmith's superior inventiveness, lightness, and grace of composition.

Speaking of authors writing from their own personal experience recalls a
name which we must not neglect to mention. Laurence Sterne, author of
"Tristram Shandy," various volumes of sermons, the "Sentimental
Journey," etc., was a curious compound in character, but possessed of
real genius. He was quite a sentimentalist in his writings, and those
who did not know him personally would accredit him with possessing a
tender heart. The fact was, however, as Horace Walpole said of him, "He
had too much sentiment to have any feeling." His mother, who had run in
debt on account of an extravagant daughter, would have been permitted to
remain indefinitely in jail, but for the kindness of the parents of her
pupils. Her son Laurence heeded her not. "A dead ass was more important
to him than a living mother," says Walpole. Sterne also used his wife
very ill. One day he was talking to Garrick in a fine sentimental manner
in praise of conjugal love and fidelity. "The husband," said Sterne,
"who behaves unkindly to his wife, deserves to have his house burned
over his head." Garrick's reply was only just: "If you think so, I hope
_your_ house is insured." He is known to have been engaged to a Miss
Fourmantel for five years, and then to have jilted her so cruelly that
she ended her days in a mad-house. Such was the great Laurence Sterne.
It was poetical justice that he should repent at leisure of his
subsequent hasty marriage to one whom he had known only four weeks. He
twice visited the lady whom he had deceived, in the establishment where
she was confined; and the character of Maria, whom he so pathetically
describes, is drawn from her, showing how cheaply he could coin his
pretended feelings. Contradictions in character are often ludicrous,
and go to show that the author and the man are seldom one. What can be
more contradictory in the nature of the same individual than Sterne
whining over a dead ass and neglecting to relieve a living mother; or
Prior addressing the most romantic sonnets to his Chloe, and at the same
time indulging a sentimental passion for a barmaid?

Goldsmith's "Deserted Village," according to Mr. Best, an Irish
clergyman, relates to the scenes in which Goldsmith was himself an
actor. Auburn is a poetical name for the village of Lissoy, county of
Westneath. The name of the schoolmaster was Paddy Burns. "I remember him
well," says Mr. Best; "he was indeed a man severe to view. A woman
called Walsey Cruse kept the ale-house. I have often been within it. The
hawthorn bush was remarkably large, and stood in front of the
ale-house." The author of the "Deserted Village," however, made his best
contemporary "hit" with his poem of the "Traveller." He always
distrusted his poetic ability, and this poem was kept on hand some years
after it was completed, before he published it in 1764. It passed
through several editions in the first year, and proved a golden harvest
to Newbury the publisher; but Goldsmith received only twenty guineas for
the manuscript.

The character of Sober, in Johnson's "Idler," is a portrait of himself;
and he admitted more than once that he had his own outset in life in his
mind when he wrote the Eastern story of "Gelaleddin." Is not "Tristram
Shandy" a synonym for its author, Sterne? Hazlitt and many others fuse
the personality of the author of the "Imaginary Conversations" with this
admirable work from his pen: certainly a high compliment to Landor, if
the portraiture is a likeness. Walter Savage Landor[62] was a most
erratic genius, a man of uncontrollable passions which led him into
constant difficulties; at times he must have been partially deranged. In
all his productions he exhibits high literary culture; and being born to
a fortune, he was enabled to adapt himself to his most fastidious
tastes, though in the closing years of his life, having lost his money,
he learned the meaning of that bitter word dependence. The severest
critic must accord him the genius of a poet; but his literar reputation
will rest upon his elaborate prose work, "Imaginary Conversations" of
literary men and statesmen, upon which he was engaged for more than ten
years. He lived to the age of ninety, and found solace in his pen to the


As we have already remarked, authors are very much like other people,
rarely coming up to the idea formed of them by enthusiastic readers.
They are pretty sure to have some idiosyncrasies more or less peculiar;
and who, indeed, has not? To know the true character of these
individuals, we should see them in their homes rather than in their

Having so lately spoken of Landor, we are reminded of another literary
character who in many respects resembled him. William Beckford, the
English author, utterly despised literary fame, and when he wrote he
could afford to do so, for he was a millionnaire. His romance of
"Vathek," as an Eastern tale, was pronounced by the critics superior to
"Rasselas;" and indeed "Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia," is hardly in any
sense an Eastern tale. "Johnson," says Macaulay, "not content with
turning filthy savages, ignorant of their letters and gorged with raw
steaks cut from living cows, into philosophers as eloquent and
enlightened as himself or his friend Burke, and into ladies as
accomplished as Mrs. Lennox or Mrs. Sheridan, transferred the whole
domestic system of England to Egypt." Beckford read to Rogers one of
his novels in which the hero was a Frenchman who was ridiculously fond
of dogs, and in which his own life was clearly depicted. Even this
millionnaire author was finally reduced to such necessity as obliged him
to sell his private pictures for subsistence. The last which he disposed
of was Bellini's portrait of the "Doge of Venice," which was bought for
and hung in the National Gallery on the very day that Beckford died, in

Certainly those authors who give us their own personal experience as a
basis for their sketches are no plagiarists. The late Wendell
Phillips[63] delighted, in his lecture on the "Lost Arts," to prove that
there was nothing new under the sun; a not uncongenial task for this
"silver-tongued orator," who was an iconoclast by nature. So early as
the age of twenty-five he relinquished the practice of the law because
he was unwilling to act under an oath to the Constitution of the United
States. In one sense there is nothing new under the sun. Genius has not
hesitated to borrow bravely from history and legend. The "Amphitrion" of
Molière was adopted from Plautus, who had borrowed it from the Greeks,
and they from the Indians. Any one reading a collection of the Arabian
stories for the first time will be surprised at meeting so many which
are familiar, and which he had thought to be of modern birth. La
Fontaine borrowed from Petronius the "Ephesian Matron," which had been
taken from Greek annals, having been previously transferred from the
Arabic, where it appeared taken from the Chinese. There is no ignoring
the fact that a large portion of our plots belonged originally to
Eastern nations. The graceful, attractive, and patriotic story of
William Tell was proven by the elder son of Haller, a century ago, to
have been, in the main features, but the revival of a Danish story to be
found in Saxo Grammaticus. The interesting legend of the apple was but a
fable revived. The English story of Whittington and his Cat was common
two thousand years ago in Persia.

When the writer of these pages visited the grand temples of Nikko, in
the interior of Japan, he was told that the wonderfully preserved
carvings beneath the eaves and on the inner walls, thousands of years
old, were executed by one who was known as the "Left-Handed Artist," who
was a dwarf, and had but partial use of the right hand. It seems,
according to the local legend preserved for so many centuries, that
while this artist was working at the ornamentation of the temples at
Nikko he saw and fell in love with a beautiful Japanese girl resident in
the city; for Nikko was then a city of half a million, though now but a
straggling village. The girl would have nothing to do with the artist,
on account of his deformity of person. All his attempts to win her
affection were vain; she was inflexible. Finally the heart-broken
artist returned to Tokio, his native place. Here be carved in wood a
life-size figure of his beloved, so perfect and beautiful that the gods
endowed it with life, and the sculptor lived with it as his wife, in the
enjoyment of mutual love, all the rest of his days. Here, then, in
Japan, we have the legend upon which the Greek story of Pygmalion and
Galatea is undoubtedly founded.

As regards the subject of plagiarism in general, which is so often
spoken of as connected with literary productions, it should be
remembered, as Ruskin says, that all men who have sense and feeling are
being constantly helped. They are taught by every person whom they meet,
and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest is he
who has been oftenest aided.[64] "Literature is full of coincidences,"
says Holmes, "which some love to believe plagiarisms. There are thoughts
always abroad in the air, which it takes more wit to avoid than to hit

It has been truthfully said that no man is quite sane; each one has a
vein of folly in his composition, a view which would certainly seem to
be illustrated by circumstances which are easily recalled. Take, for
instance, the fact that Schiller[65] could not write unless surrounded
by the scent of decayed apples, with which he kept one drawer of his
writing-desk well filled. Could we have a clearer instance of monomania?
He also required his cup of strong coffee when he was composing, and the
coffee was well "laced" with brandy. Bulwer-Lytton, in his life of
Schiller, declares that when he wrote at night he drank hock wine. As an
opposite and much more agreeable habit, we have that of Méhul, the
French composer, and author of over forty successful operas, who could
not produce a note of original music except amid the perfume of roses.
His table, writing-desk, and piano were constantly covered with them; in
this delicious atmosphere he produced his "Joseph in Egypt," which alone
would have entitled him to undying fame.

Father Sarpi, who was Macaulay's favorite historian, best known as the
author of the "History of the Council of Trent," having the idea that
the atmosphere immediately about him became in a degree impregnated with
the mental electricity of his brain, was accustomed to build a paper
enclosure about his head and person while he was writing. "All air is
predatory," he said. Salieri, the Venetian composer, prepared himself
for writing by filling a capacious dish at his side with candy and
bonbons, which he consumed in large quantities during the process.
Sarti, the well-known composer of sacred music, was obliged to work in
the dark, or thought that he was, as daylight or artificial light of any
sort at such moments utterly disconcerted him. Rossini, on the contrary,
seemed to have no special ideas about his surroundings when he was in a
mood for composing. He sat down among his friends, laughing and talking
all the while that he was creating, and framing with marvellous rapidity
strains that will live for all time. The whole of "Tancredi," which
first made his fame, was produced in the very midst of social life and
merry companionship. He said he found inspiration in the cheerful human
voices about him. As to the peculiarities we have noted in others, they
must at first have been mere affectations; but such is the force of
habit, that no doubt these individuals became confirmed in them and
really believed their indulgence a necessity.

Carneades, the Greek philosopher, so famed for his subtle and powerful
eloquence, before sitting down to write dosed himself with hellebore,--a
strange resort, as it is supposed to act directly upon the liver, and
only very slightly to stimulate the brain, besides being a fatal poison
in large doses. It is well known that Dryden resorted to singular aids
as preparatory to literary composition; being in the habit of first
having himself bled and then making a meal of raw meat. The former
process, he contended, rendered his brain clear, and the latter
stimulated his imagination. In 1668 he held the position now filled by
Tennyson, as poet-laureate of England. He was a notable instance of
power in poetry, satire, and indecency, whom Cowper characterized as a
lewd writer but a chaste companion. Dryden's own couplet will forcibly
apply to himself:--

    "O gracious God! how far have we
    Profaned thy heavenly gift of poesy!"

His "Essay on Dramatic Poesy," according to Dr. Johnson, entitled him to
be considered the father of English criticism. His dramas, such as
"Mariage à-la-Mode," "All for Love," "Don Sebastian," etc., were, by
reason of their indecency, examples of perverted genius. He was
sixty-six years old when he wrote his "Alexander's Feast," by far his
best literary effort. While Macaulay calls him "an illustrious
renegade,"[66] Dr. Johnson says, "he found the English language brick
and left it marble,"--a most superlative and ridiculous comment to be
made by so erudite a critic.

When James Francis Stephens, the English entomologist, was about to
write, he mounted a horse and arranged his thoughts and sentences while
at full gallop. This was a plan that Sir Walter Scott also adopted when
he wrote "Marmion," galloping up and down the shore of the Firth of
Forth. But he concluded that he could do better pen-work in a more
rational manner, so this practice did not become habitual with him.
Scott made an interesting confession when writing the third volume of
"Woodstock." He declared that he had not the slightest idea how the
story was to be wound up to a catastrophe. He said he could never lay
out a plan for a novel and stick to it. "I only tried to make that which
I wrote diverting and interesting, leaving the rest to fate." Sir David
Dalrymple (afterwards Lord Hailes) was a voluminous author on historical
and antiquarian subjects. His "Annals of Scotland," published in 1792,
was his most important work; Dr. Johnson called it "a book which will
always sell, it has such a stability of dates, such a certainty of
facts, and such punctuality of citation." Lord Hailes's mode of writing
was very domestic, so to speak, being performed by the parlor fire, and
amid his family circle of wife and children. He was always ready to
answer any appeal, however trifling, and to enter cheerfully into all
current family affairs. This seems hardly reconcilable with the extreme
nicety and absolute correctness of his work.

Cormontaigne, the French military engineer, wrote an elaborate treatise
on fortification in the trenches and while under fire. The Duke of
Wellington, when his army was at San Christoval awaiting battle with the
French, wrote a complete essay on the purpose of establishing a bank at
Lisbon after the English methods. Thomas Hood wrote at night, when the
house was still and the children asleep. Ouida[67] writes with her dogs
only as companions, while they lie contentedly at her feet in the bright
sunny library whose windows overlook the valley of the Arno and her
well-beloved Florence. In the flower-garden before the villa her
favorite Newfoundland dog, not long since dead, lies buried beneath a
marble monument. Her productive literary capacity is wonderfully rapid,
but the demand far exceeds it, and the prices she receives are
unprecedented. She has few if any intimate friends, and no confidants,
leading a life of almost perfect isolation.

Notwithstanding common-sense and experience have ever taught that the
brain is capable of producing its best work when in its normal
condition, still a host of writers have resorted systematically to some
sort of artificial stimulant to aid them in authorship. History tells
us that Æschylus, Eupolis, Cratinus, and Ennius, in the olden time,
would not attempt to compose until they had become nearly intoxicated
with wine. In more modern times, we know that Shadwell, De Quincey,
Psalmanazar the famous literary impostor, Coleridge, Robert Hall, and
Bishop Horsley stimulated themselves with fabulous doses of opium.
Alfred de Musset, Burns, Edgar A. Poe, Dickens, Christopher North, and a
host of others whose names will only too readily occur to the reader,
were reckless as to the use of alcohol. They were both fed and consumed
by stimulants. We are inclined, however, to forgive much of indiscretion
in a brilliant and ardent imagination. Schiller, so lately referred to,
was addicted to Rhenish wine in large quantities. Blackstone, author of
"Commentaries on the Laws of England," remarkable for his clearness and
purity of style, never wrote without a bottle of port by his side, which
he emptied at a sitting.

It is related of Bacon that he did not drink wine when engaged in
pen-craft, but he was accustomed to have sherry poured into a broad open
vessel, and to inhale its fragrance with great relish. He believed that
his brain thus received the stimulating influence without the narcotic
effect. Sheridan could neither write nor talk until warmed by wine. If
about to make a speech in the House, he would, just before rising,
swallow half a tumbler of raw brandy. Burke presents a remarkable
contrast; his great stimulant being _hot water_. The most impassioned
passages of his speeches had no other physical inspiration; all the rest
came from his glowing soul, which was powerful enough to vitalize his
body for an oration of four hours' length. The food which sustained him
on such occasions was _cold_ mutton, the drink being _hot_ water. Brandy
and port, even claret and champagne, would have driven him wild, though
they were the ordinary stimulants of his contemporaries. Burke was, like
Burns, a man of an excitable temperament; but, unlike Burns, he was wise
enough to avoid all dangerous alcoholic excitements, which increased the
impulsive elements of his nature and diminished the action of his
reason. It will be observed that even in the occasional violence of his
invective, his passion is still reasoned passion, or reason penetrated
by passion, so as to reach the will as well as to convince the

Addison, with his bottle of wine at each end of the long gallery at
Holland House, where he walked back and forth perfecting his thoughts,
will be sure to be recalled by the reader in this connection.
Consciously or unconsciously he took a glass of the stimulant at each
turn, until wrought up to the required point. Dr. Radcliffe, the eminent
London physician and author, was often found in an over-stimulated
condition. Summoned one evening to a lady patient, he found that he was
too much inebriated to count her pulse, and so muttered, "Drunk! dead
drunk!" and hastened homeward. The next morning, while experiencing
intense mortification over the recollection, he received a note from the
same patient, in which she said, she knew only too well her own
condition when he called, and begged him to keep the matter secret,
enclosing a hundred-pound note.

Burns was wont oftentimes to compose, as he tells us, "by the lee side
of a bowl of punch, which had overset every mortal in the company except
the haut-boy and the Muse."[68] Of course "the pernicious expedient of
stimulants," as Carlyle would say, only served to use up more rapidly
his already wasted physical strength. Sometimes, however, Burns would
compose walking in the open fields. His first effort was to master some
pleasing air, and then he easily produced appropriate words for it. One
noble trait of Burns's character should not be forgotten. Though he died
in abject poverty, he did not leave a farthing of debt owed to any one.
Nothing could be finer than Carlyle's exordium in his review of
Lockhart's "Life of Burns:" "With our readers in general, with men of
right feeling anywhere, we are not required to plead for Burns. In
pitying admiration he lies enshrined in all our hearts, in a far nobler
mausoleum than that one of marble; neither will his works ever as they
are, pass away from the memory of men. While the Shakspeares and Miltons
roll on like mighty rivers through the country of Thought, bearing
fleets of traffickers and assiduous pearl-fishers on their waves, this
little Valclusa Fountain will also arrest our eye; for this also is of
Nature's own and most cunning workmanship, bursts from the depths of the
earth, with a full gushing current, into the light of day; and often
will the traveller turn aside to drink of its clear waters, and muse
among its rocks and pines."

As we have seen, musical composers, like those devoted to literature,
are apt to have singular fancies. Glück, who was at one time the
music-teacher of Marie Antoinette, and whose operas have entitled him to
a niche in the temple of fame, could compose only while under the
influence of champagne, two bottles of which he would consume at a
sitting. He was an eccentric individual, singing and acting the part for
which he at the same time wrote the music. Handel, when he felt the
inspiration of music upon him, sought the graveyard of some village
church, and on the moss-grown stones laid his portfolio and wrote his
notes, never trying their harmony until he had completed the entire
piece. It seems strange to us, in the light of his great genius, to
think what an immense glutton Handel was. We have already spoken of
this, but recur to it again in this connection; for one is puzzled how
to reconcile the grossness of his appetite with his æsthetic nature. He
could devour more food at one dinner than any other composer in
three.[69] Never before was height and breadth of musical genius
combined with such enormous appetite for the good things of the table;
and yet his digestion was as sound as his love and need of food was
portentous. Everything about this great composer was gigantesque, as
became a giant. His forgetive brain was recruited by the nourishment
drawn from a ravenous yet healthy stomach.

Unlike Handel's mode of composition, Mozart played his music upon the
harpsichord before he wrote a note of it upon paper; but he had a most
exalted idea of his mission, and prepared himself for composition, not
by partaking of a hearty dinner, but by reading favorite classic authors
for hours before beginning what was to him a sacred task. His favorite
authors on such occasions were Dante and Petrarch. He chose the morning
for his compositions; but he would often delay writing his scores for
the musicians until it was too late to copy them, and sometimes failed
altogether to write out the part intended to be performed by himself;
yet when the moment arrived, so perfectly had all been arranged in his
mind, he played it without hesitation, instrument in hand. The Emperor
Joseph, before whom he was performing on one occasion, observed that the
music-sheet before him contained no characters whatever, and asked,
"Where is your part?" "Here," replied Mozart, pointing with his finger
to his forehead.[70] He became blind before he was forty years of age,
but continued to compose. The duet and chorus in "Judas Maccabæus," and
some others of his finest efforts were produced after his total
deprivation of sight; nor did he cease to conduct his oratorios in
public on account of his blindness.

Spontini, the Italian composer, like Sarti, could only produce his music
in the dark, dictating to some one sitting in an adjoining room.
Rossini, author of the "Barber of Seville," composed his music as the
elder Dumas was accustomed to write; namely, in bed. Offenbach, of
opera-bouffe notoriety, almost lived on coffee while creating his dainty
aerial music. The writer of these pages met this composer in Paris in
1873, when he was at the height of his popularity, and was told by him
that he took no wine or spirit until _after_ his work of composition was
completed. Cimarosa, the Italian composer, who won national fame before
he was twenty-five, derived his inspiration from the noisy crowd. Auber,
the French composer, could write only among the green fields and the
silence of the country. Sacchini, another Italian composer, lost the
thread of his inspiration unless attended by his favorrite cats, they
sitting all about him while he worked, some upon the table, some on the
floor, and one always perched contentedly between his shoulders on his
neck; he declared that their purring was to him a soothing anodyne, and
fitted him for composition by making him content. Eugène Sue would not
take up his pen except in full dress and with white kids on his hands.
Thus he produced the "Mysteries of Paris," which Dumas designated as
"one-gross-of-gloves long." Buffon would only sit down to write after
taking a bath and donning pure linen with a full frilled bosom.
Haydn[71] declared that he could not compose unless he wore the large
seal-ring which Frederick the Great had given him. He would sit wrapped
in silence for an hour or more, after which he would seize his pen and
write rapidly without touching a musical instrument; and he rarely
altered a line. In early life, poor, freezing in a miserable garret, he
studied the rudiments of his favorite art by the side of an old broken
harpsichord. For a period of six years he endured a bitter conflict with
poverty, being often compelled for the sake of warmth to lie in bed most
of the day as well as the night. Finally he was relieved from this
thraldom by the generosity of his patron, Prince Esterhazy, a passionate
lover of music, who appointed him his chapel-master, with a salary
sufficient to keep him supplied with the ordinary comforts of life.

Crébillon the elder, a celebrated lyric poet and member of the French
Academy, was enamoured of solitude, and could only write effectively
under such circumstances. His imagination teemed with romances, and he
produced eight or ten dramas which enjoyed popularity in their
day,--about 1776. One day, when he was alone and in a deep reverie, a
friend entered his study hastily. "Don't disturb me," cried the author,
"I am enjoying a moment of happiness: I am going to hang a villain of a
minister, and banish another who is an idiot."

We have lately mentioned Dumas. Hans Christian Andersen, speaking of the
various habits of authors, thus refers to the elder Dumas, with whom he
was intimate: "I generally found him in bed, even long after mid-day,
where he lay, with pen, ink, and paper by his side, and wrote his newest
drama. On entering his apartment I found him thus one day; he nodded
kindly to me, and said: 'Sit down a minute. I have just now a visit from
my Muse; she will be going directly.' He wrote on, and after a brief
silence shouted '_Vivat_' sprang out of bed, and said, 'The third act is

Lamartine was peculiar in his mode of composition, and never saw his
productions, after the first draft, until they were printed, bound, and
issued to the public. He was accustomed to walk forth in his park during
the after part of the day, or of a moonlit evening, with pencil and
pieces of paper, and whatever ideas struck him he recorded. That was the
end of the matter so far as he was concerned. These pieces of paper he
threw into a special box, without a number or title upon them. His
literary secretary with much patient ability assorted these papers,
arranged them as he thought best, and sold them to the publishers at a
royal price. We know of no similar instance where authorship and
recklessness combined have produced creditable results. Certainly such
indifference argued only the presence of weakness and irresponsibility,
which were indeed prominent characteristics of Lamartine.

The remarkable facility with which Goethe's poems were produced is said
to have resembled improvisation, an inspiration almost independent of
his own purposes. "I had come," he says, "to regard the poetic talent
dwelling in me entirely as nature; the rather that I was directed to
look upon external nature as its proper subject. The exercise of this
poetic gift might be stimulated and determined by occasion, but it
flowed forth more joyfully and richly, when it came involuntarily, or
even against my will." Addison, whose style is perhaps the nearest to
perfection in ancient or modern literature, did not reach that standard
without much patient labor. Pope tells us that "he would show his verses
to several friends, and would alter nearly everything that any of them
hinted was wrong. He seemed to be distrustful of himself, and too much
concerned about his character as a poet, or, as he expressed it, 'too
solicitous for that kind of praise which God knows is a very little
matter after all.'" Pope himself published nothing until it had been a
twelvemonth on hand, and even then the printer's proofs were full of
alterations. On one occasion this was carried so far that Dodsley, his
publisher, thought it better to have the whole recomposed than to
attempt to make the necessary alterations. Yet Pope admits that "the
things that I have written fastest have always pleased the most. I wrote
the 'Essay on Criticism' fast, for I had digested all the matter in
prose before I began it in verse."

"I never work better," says Luther, "than when I am inspired by anger:
when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well; for then my whole
temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane
vexations and temptations depart." We are reminded of Burke's remark in
this connection: "A vigorous mind is as necessarily accompanied with
violent passions as a great fire with great heat." Luther, however
ribald he may have been at times, had the zeal of honesty. There was
not a particle of vanity or self-sufficiency in the great reformer. "Do
not call yourselves Lutherans," he said to his followers; "call
yourselves Christians. Who and what is Luther? Has Luther been crucified
for the world?"

Churchill,[73] the English poet and satirist, was so averse to
correcting and blotting his manuscript that many errors were unexpunged,
and many lines which might easily have been improved were neglected.
When expostulated with upon this subject by his publisher, he replied
that erasures were to him like cutting away so much of his flesh; thus
expressing his utter repugnance to an author's most urgent duty. Though
Macaulay tells us that his vices were not so great as his virtues, still
he was dissipated and licentious. Cowper was a great admirer of his
poetry, and called him "the great Churchill." George Wither,[74] the
English poet, satirist, and political writer, was compelled to watch and
fast when he was called upon to write. He "went out of himself," as he
said, at such times, and if he tasted meat or drank one glass of wine he
could not produce a verse or sentence.

Rogers, who wrote purely _con amore_, took all the time to perfect his
work which his fancy dictated, and certainly over-refined many of his
compositions. The "Pleasures of Memory" occupied him seven years. In
writing, composing, re-writing, and altering his "Columbus" and "Human
Life," each required just double that period of time before the
fastidious author felt satisfied to call it finished. Besides this, the
second edition of each went through another series of emendations. The
observant reader will find that Rogers has often weakened his first and
best thoughts by this elaboration. The expression of true genius
oftenest comes, like the lightning, in its full power and effect at the
first flash. "Every event that a man would master," says Holmes, "must
be mounted on the run, and no man ever caught the reins of a thought
except as it galloped by him." One who has had years of active editorial
experience on the daily press can hardly conceive of such fastidious
slowness of composition as characterizes some authors. Sir Joshua
Reynolds, in speaking of Rogers, Rochefoucauld, Cowper, and others, and
their dilatory habits of composition, says, that although men of
ordinary talents may be highly satisfied with their productions, men of
genius never are,--an assumption which is not borne out by facts, as we
shall have occasion to show in these chapters. Modesty is not always the
characteristic of genius; and very few popular writers are without a due
share of vanity in their natures.

Voltaire somewhere says that an author should write with the rapidity
which genius inspires, but should correct with care and deliberation;
which doubtless expresses the process adopted by this unscrupulous but
versatile writer, of whom Carlyle said: "With the single exception of
Luther, there is perhaps, in these modern ages, no other man of a merely
intellectual character, whose influence and reputation have become so
entirely European as that of Voltaire." Sydney Smith was so rapid a
producer that he had not patience even to read over his compositions
when finished. He would throw down his manuscript and say: "There, it is
done; now, Kate, do look it over, and put dots to the _i's_ and strokes
to the _t's_." He was once advised by a fashionable publisher to attempt
a three-volume novel. "Well," said he, after some seeming consideration,
"if I do so, I must have an archdeacon for my hero, to fall in love with
the pew-opener, with the clerk for a confidant; tyrannical interference
of the church-wardens; clandestine correspondence concealed under the
hassock; appeal to the parishioners," etc. He was overflowing with humor
to the very close of life. He wrote to Lady Carlisle during his last
illness, saying, "If you hear of sixteen or eighteen pounds of human
flesh, they belong to _me_. I look as if a curate had been taken out of

Buffon caused his "Époques de la Nature" to be copied eighteen times, so
many corrections and changes were made. As he was then (1778) over
seventy years of age, one would think this an evidence that his mind was
failing him. Pope covered with memoranda every scrap of clear paper
which came in his way. Some of his most elaborate literary work was
begun and finished on the backs of old letters and bits of yellow
wrappers. We do not wonder that such fragmentary manuscript always
suggested the idea of revision and correction. It is difficult to
understand why Pope should have assumed this small virtue of economy and
yet often have been lavish in other directions; indeed, it may be
questioned whether it was intended to be an act of economy. Such petty
parsimony is inexplicable, but certainly it grew into a fixed habit with
him. We believe it was Swift who first called him "paper-saving Pope;"
but Swift was nearly as eccentric a paper-saver as Pope. He wrote to Dr.
Sheridan: "Keep very regular accounts, in large books and a fair hand;
not like me, who, to save paper, confuse everything!" Miss Mitford had
the same habit of writing upon waste scraps of paper, fly-leaves of
books, envelopes, and odd rejected bits, all in so small a hand as to be
nearly illegible. William Hazlitt was also remarkable for the same
practice, and we are told that he even made the first outline of some of
his essays on the walls of his chamber, much to the annoyance of his

Some idea of the rapidity with which Byron wrote may be inferred from
the fact that the "Prisoner of Chillon" was written in two days and sent
away complete to the printer. The traveller in Switzerland does not fail
to visit the house--once a wayside inn, at Merges, on the Lake of
Geneva--where Byron wrote this poem while detained by a rainstorm, in
1816. On the heights close at hand is the Castle of Wuffens, dating back
to the tenth century. Morges is a couple of leagues from Lausanne, and
the spot where Gibbon finished his "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,"
in 1787. Colton, the philosophical but erratic author of "Lacon," wrote
that entire volume upon covers of letters and such small scraps of paper
as happened to be at hand when a happy thought inspired him. Having
completed a sentence, and rounded it to suit his fancy, he threw it into
a pile with hundreds of others, which were finally turned over to the
printer in a cloth bag. No classification or system of arrangement was
observed. Colton exhibited all the singularities that only too often
characterize genius, especially as regards improvidence and recklessness
of habit. He lived unattended, in a single room in Princes Street, Soho,
London, in a neglected apartment containing scarcely any furniture. He
wrote very illegibly upon a rough deal table with a stumpy pen. He was
finally so pressed with debts that he absconded to avoid his London
creditors, though he held the very comfortable vicarage of Kew, in

Montaigne, the French philosopher and essayist, whose writings have been
translated into every modern tongue, like the musician Sacchini was
marvellously fond of cats, and would not sit down to write without his
favorite by his side. Thomas Moore required complete isolation when he
did literary work, and shut himself up, as did Charles Dickens. He was
a very slow and painstaking producer. Some friend having congratulated
him upon the seeming facility and appropriateness with which a certain
line was introduced into a poem he had just published, Moore replied,
"Facility! that line cost me hours of patient labor to achieve." His
verses, which read so smoothly, and which appear to have glided so
easily from his pen, were the result of infinite labor and patience. His
manuscript, like Tennyson's, was written, amended, rewritten, and
written again, until it was finally satisfactory to his critical ear and
fancy. "Easy writing," said Sheridan, "is commonly damned hard reading."

Bishop Warburton tells us that he could "only write in a hand-to-mouth
style" unless he had all his books about him; and that the blowing of an
east wind, or a fit of the spleen, incapacitated him for literary work;
and still another English bishop could write only when in full
canonicals, a fact which he frankly admitted. Milton would not attempt
to compose except between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, at which
season his poetry came as if by inspiration, and with scarcely a mental
effort.[75] Thomson, Collins, and Gray entertained very similar ideas,
which when expressed so incensed Dr. Johnson that he publicly ridiculed
them. Crabbe fancied that there was something in the effect of a sudden
fall of snow that in an extraordinary manner stimulated him to poetic
composition; while Lord Orrery found no stimulant equal to a fit of the
gout!--all of which fancies are but mild forms of monomania. James Hogg
(the Ettrick Shepherd) was only too glad to write without any of these
accessories, when he could get any material to write upon. He used to
employ a bit of slate, for want of the necessary paper and ink. The son
of an humble Scottish farmer, he experienced all sorts of misfortunes in
his endeavors to pursue literature as a calling. He was both a prose and
poetic writer of considerable native genius, and formed one of the
well-drawn characters of Christopher North's "Noctes Ambrosianæ." N. P.
Willis in the latter years of his life was accustomed to ride on
horseback before he sat down to write. He believed there was a certain
nervo-vital influence imparted from the robust health and strength of
the animal to the rider, as he once told the writer of these pages; and,
so far as one could judge, the influence upon himself certainly favored
such a conclusion.

Some authors frankly acknowledge that they have not the necessary degree
of patience to apply themselves to the correction of their manuscripts.
Ovid, the popular Roman poet, admitted this. Such people may compose
with pleasure, but there is the end; neither a sense of responsibility
nor a desire for correctness can overcome their constitutional laziness.
Pope, Dryden, Moore, Coleridge, Swift,--in short, nine-tenths of the
popular authors of the past and the present, all change, correct,
amplify, or contract, and interline more or less every page of
manuscript which they produce, and often to such a degree as greatly to
confuse the compositors. Richard Savage, the unfortunate English poet,
could not, or would not, bring himself to correct his faulty sentences,
being greatly indebted to the intelligence of the proof-reader for the
presentable form in which his writings finally appeared. Julius
Scaliger, a celebrated scholar and critic, was, on the other hand, an
example of remarkable correctness, so that his manuscript and the
printer's pages corresponded exactly, page for page and line for line.
Hume,[76] the historian, was never done with his manifold corrections;
his sense of responsibility was unlimited, and his appreciation of his
calling was grand. Fénelon and Gibbon were absolutely correct in their
first efforts; and so was Adam Smith, though he dictated to an

We are by no means without sympathy for those writers who dread and
avoid the reperusal and correction of their manuscripts. Only those who
are familiar with the detail of book-making can possibly realize its
trying minutiæ. When one has finished the composition and writing of a
chapter, his work is only begun; it must be read and re-read with care,
to be sure of absolute correctness. When once in type, it must be again
carefully read for the correction of printer's errors, and again revised
by second proof; and finally a third proof is necessary, to make sure
that all errors previously marked have been corrected. By this time,
however satisfactory in composition, the text becomes "more tedious than
a twice-told tale." Any author must be singularly conceited who can,
after such experience, take up a chapter or book of his own production
and read it with any great degree of satisfaction. Godeau, Bishop of
Venice, used to say that "to compose is an author's heaven; to correct,
an author's purgatory; but to revise the press, an author's hell!"

Guido Reni, whose superb paintings are among the gems of the Vatican, in
the height of his fame would not touch pencil or brush except in full
dress. He ruined himself by gambling and dissolute habits, and became
lost as to all ambition for that art which had been so grand a mistress
to him in the beginning. He finally arrived at that stage where he lost
at the gaming-table and in riotous living what he earned by contract
under one who managed his affairs, giving him a stipulated sum for just
so much daily work in his studio. Such was the famous author of that
splendid example of art, the "Martyrdom of Saint Peter," in the Vatican.
Parmigiano, the eminent painter, was full of the wildness of genius. He
became mad after the philosopher's stone, jilting art as a mistress,
though his eager creditors forced him to set once more to work, though
to little effect.

Great painters, like great writers, have had their peculiar modes of
producing their effects. Thus Domenichino was accustomed to assume and
enact before the canvas the passion and character he intended to depict
with the brush. While engaged upon the "Martyrdom of Saint Andrew,"
Caracci, a brother painter, came into his studio and found him in a
violent passion. When this fit of abstraction had passed, Caracci
embraced him, admitting that Domenichino had proved himself his master,
and that he had learned from him the true manner of expressing sentiment
or passion upon the canvas.

Richard Wilson, the eminent English landscape-painter, strove in vain,
he said, to paint the motes dancing in the sunshine. A friend coming
into his studio found the artist sitting dejected on the floor, looking
at his last work. The new-comer examined the canvas and remarked
critically that it looked like a broad landscape just after a shower.
Wilson started to his feet in delight, saying, "That is the effect I
intended to represent, but thought I had failed." Poor Wilson possessed
undoubted genius, but neglected his art for brandy, and was himself
neglected in turn. He was one of the original members of the Royal

Undoubtedly, genius is at times nonplussed and at fault, like plain
humanity, and is helped out of a temporary dilemma by accident,--as when
Poussin the painter, having lost all patience in his fruitless attempts
to produce a certain result with the brush, impatiently dashed his
sponge against the canvas and brought out thereby the precise effect
desired; namely, the foam on a horse's mouth.

Washington Allston[77] is recalled to us in this connection, one of the
most eminent of our American painters, and a poet of no ordinary
pretensions. "The Sylphs of the Seasons and other Poems" was published
in 1813. He was remarkable for his graphic and animated conversational
powers, and was the warm personal friend of Coleridge and Washington
Irving. Irving says, "His memory I hold in reverence and affection as
one of the purest, noblest, and most intellectual beings that ever
honored me with his friendship." While living in London he was elected
associate of the Royal Academy. Bostonians are familiar with Allston's
half-finished picture of "Belshazzar's Feast," upon which he was engaged
when death snatched him from his work.


It has been said that the first three men in the world were a gardener,
a ploughman, and a grazier; while all political economists admit that
the real wealth and stamina of a nation must be looked for among the
cultivators of the soil. Was it not Swift who declared that the man who
could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass grow upon a spot of
ground where only one grew before, deserved better of mankind than the
whole race of politicians? Bacon, Cowley, Sir William Temple, Buffon,
and Addison were all attached to horticulture, and more or less time was
devoted by them to the cultivation of trees and plants of various sorts;
nor did they fail to record the refined delight and the profit they
derived therefrom. Daniel Webster was an enthusiastic agriculturist; so
were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Walter Scott, Horace Greeley,
Gladstone, Evarts,[78] Wilder, Loring, Poore, and a host of other
contemporaneous and noted men. "They who labor in the earth," said
Jefferson, "are the chosen people of God."

But the habits and mode of composition adopted by literary men still
crowd upon the memory. Hobbes, the famous English philosopher, author of
a "Treatise on Human Nature," a political work entitled the "Leviathan,"
etc., was accustomed to compose in the open air. The top of his
walking-stick was supplied with pen and inkhorn, and he would pause
anywhere to record his thoughts in the note-book always carried in his
pocket. Virgil rose early in the morning and wrote at a furious rate
innumerable verses, which he afterwards pruned and altered and polished,
as he said, after the manner of a bear licking her cubs into shape. The
Earl of Roscommon, in his "Essay on Translated Verse," declared this to
be the duty of the poet,--

    "To write with fury and correct with phlegm."

Dr. Darwin, the ingenious English poet, wrote his works, like some
others of whom we have spoken, on scraps of paper with a pencil while
travelling. His old-fashioned sulky was so full of books as to give
barely room for him to sit and to carry a well-stored hamper of fruits
and sweetmeats, of which he was immoderately fond.

Rousseau tells us that he composed in bed at night, or else out of doors
while walking, carefully recording his ideas in his brain, arranging and
turning them many times until they satisfied him, and then he committed
them to paper perfected. He said it was in vain for him to attempt to
compose at a table surrounded by books and all the usual accessories of
an author. Irving wrote most of the "Stout Gentleman" mounted on a stile
at Stratford-on-Avon, while his friend Leslie, the painter, was engaged
in taking sketches of the interesting locality. Jane Taylor, the English
poetess and prose writer, began to produce creditable work at a very
early age, and used at first to compose tales and dramas while whipping
a top, committing them to paper at the close of that somewhat trivial
exercise. As she grew older she said that she could find mental
inspiration only from outdoor exercise.

Petavius, the learned Jesuit, when composing his "Theologica Dogmata"
and other works, would leave his table and pen at the end of every other
hour to twirl his chair, first with one hand, then with the other, for
ten minutes, by way of exercise. Cardinal Richelieu resorted to jumping
in his garden, and in bad weather leaped over the chairs and tables
indoors,--an exercise which seemed to have a special charm for him.
Samuel Clark, the English philosopher and mathematician, adopted
Richelieu's plan of exercise when tired of continuous writing. Pope
says, with regard to exercise, "I, like a poor squirrel, am continually
in motion, indeed, but it is only a cage of three feet: my little
excursions are like those of a shopkeeper, who walks every day a mile or
two before his own door, but minds his business all the while."

We are told that Douglas Jerrold, when engaged in preparing literary
matter, used to walk back and forth before his desk, talking wildly to
himself, occasionally stopping to note down his thoughts. Sometimes he
would burst forth in boisterous laughter when he hit upon a droll idea.
He was always extremely restless, would pass out of the house into the
garden and stroll about, carelessly picking leaves from the trees and
chewing them; then suddenly hastening back to his desk, he recorded any
thoughts or sentences which had formed themselves in his mind. Jerrold
wrote so fine a hand, forming his letters so minutely, that his
manuscript was hardly legible to those not accustomed to it. He was very
fastidious about his writing-desk, permitting nothing upon it except
pen, ink, and paper. Like most persons who habitually resort to
stimulants, he could not be content with a single glass of spirits or
wine, but consumed many, until he was only too often unfitted for mental
labor. Jerrold's wit was of a coarser texture than that of Sheridan,
but, unlike his, it came with spontaneous force; it was always ready,
though it had not the polish which premeditation is able to impart.
Oftentimes his wit was severely sarcastic, but as a rule it was only
genial and mirth-provoking.

It was asked in Jerrold's club, on a certain occasion, what was the best
definition of dogmatism. "There is but one," he instantly replied,--"the
maturity of puppyism." A member remarked one day that the business of a
mutual acquaintance was going to the devil. "All right," said Jerrold;
"then he's sure to get it back again." Another member who was not very
popular with the club, hearing a certain melody spoken of, said, "That
always carries me away when I hear it." "Cannot some one whistle it?"
asked Jerrold. Another member, who was rather given to boasting, said:
"Very singular! I dined at the Marchioness of So-and-so's last week, and
we actually had no fish." "Easily explained," said Jerrold; "no doubt
they had eaten it all upstairs." When Heraud, a somewhat bombastic
versifier, asked him if he had read his "Descent into Hell," Jerrold
instantly replied, "No; I had rather see it." Being asked what was the
idea of Harriet Martineau's rather atheistical book, he answered that it
was plain enough,--"There is no God, and Harriet is his Prophet." This
is even better than the remark of another wit who, when asked what was
the outcome of a meeting before which three of the ablest and most
dogmatic Positivists in England made speeches, replied that the result
arrived at was this: that there were three persons and no God. Jerrold
could not confine himself to any regular system of work, but drove the
quill at such times and only to such purpose as his erratic mood
indicated, jumping from one subject to another like one crossing a brook
upon stepping-stones. This, however, was a habit by no means peculiar to
Douglas Jerrold. There are some ludicrous stories told of him; like that
of his being pursued by a printer's boy about the town, from house to
club, from club to the theatre, and so on, and finally of his being
overtaken, getting into a corner and writing an admirable article with
pencil and paper on the top of his hat.

Agassiz,[79] the great Swiss naturalist, who became an adopted and
honored son of this country, was singularly unmethodical in his habits
of professional labor. If he was suddenly seized with an interest in
some scientific inquiry, he would pursue it at once, putting by all
present work, though it might be that he had just got fairly started in
another direction. "I always like to take advantage," he would say, "of
my productive moods." The rule that we must finish one thing before we
begin another, had no force with him. An individual connected with the
lyceum of a neighboring city called upon Agassiz to induce him to
lecture on a certain occasion, but was courteously informed by the
scientist that he could not comply with the request. "It will be a great
disappointment to our citizens," suggested the caller. "I am sorry for
that," replied Agassiz. "We will cheerfully give you double the usual
price," added the agent, "if you will accommodate us." "Ah, my dear
sir," replied the scientist, with that earnest but genial expression so
natural to his manly features, "I cannot afford to waste time in making

A very similar habit of composition or study possessed Goldsmith,
Coleridge, Wordsworth, Pope, and some others of the poets, who not
infrequently laid by a half-constructed composition for two or three
years, then finally took up the neglected theme, finished and published
it. This unmethodical style of doing things is but one of the many
eccentricities of genius. Scott said he never knew a man of much ability
who could be perfectly regular in his habits, while he had known many a
blockhead who could. Southey and Coleridge were at complete antipodes in
regard to regularity of habits and punctuality: the former did
everything by rule, the latter nothing. Charles Lamb said of Coleridge,
"He left forty thousand treatises on metaphysics and divinity, not one
of them complete." Neither Agassiz, Coleridge, nor any of similar
irregularity in work, is to be imitated in those respects. Had it not
been for Agassiz's far-seeing and vigorous powers,--in short, for his
great genius, he could never have accomplished his remarkable mission.
The deduction which we naturally draw is, that method is a good servant
but a bad master. If genius were to be trammelled by system and order,
it would suffocate. Perhaps Montaigne was nearly right when he thought
that individuals ought sometimes to cross the line of fixed rules, in
order to awaken their vigor and keep them from growing musty.

Coleridge was much addicted to the habit of marginal writing; which,
though sadly wasteful on his own part, was very enriching to those
friends who loaned him from their libraries.[80] Charles Lamb, who was
not inclined to spare book-borrowers as a tribe, had no reflections to
cast upon Coleridge for this habit. The depth, weight, and originality
of his comments as hastily and carelessly penned on the margins of books
were wonderful, and if collected and classified would form several
volumes, not only of captivating interest, but of rare critical value,
as the few which have been brought together abundantly prove. In one
volume which he returned to Lamb is this memorandum: "I shall die soon,
my dear Charles Lamb, and then you will not be vexed that I have
be-scribbled your book. S. T. C., May 2d, 1811." "Elia" valued these
marginal notes beyond price, and said that to lose a volume to Coleridge
carried some sense and meaning with it. These critical notes often
nearly equalled in quantity of matter the original text. In his article
upon the subject, Lamb says, "I counsel thee, shut not thy heart nor thy
library against S. T. C." As we have already said, while this erratic
expenditure of Coleridge's rare literary taste and judgment enriched
others, it in a degree impoverished himself; for had the same time and
thought been expended upon consecutive literary work, it would have
produced volumes of inestimable value to the world at large, and have
proved monumental to their author.

Byron was addicted to marginalizing; and though he could not equal
Coleridge in the profundity of his criticisms, or impart such charming
interest to them, still he was quite original and often piquant. Burns
contented himself with trifling criticisms of approval or disapproval
pencilled in the margin of books, especially poetical ones, which were
nearly all he was in the habit of reading.

Many famous authors and public men have been extravagantly fond of the
rod and line, disciples of that patient and poetical angler, Izaak
Walton. George Herbert, the English poet; Henry Wotton, diplomatist and
author; Dr. Paley, Archdeacon of Carlisle; John Dryden, poet and
dramatist; Sydney Smith, the witty divine; Sir Humphry Davy, the eminent
chemist,--all were devoted anglers.[81] This brief list might be largely
increased. Bulwer-Lytton says: "Though no participator in the joys of
more vehement sport, I have a pleasure that I cannot reconcile to my
abstract notions of the tenderness due to dumb creatures, in the
tranquil cruelty of angling. I can only palliate the wanton
destructiveness of my amusement by trying to assure myself that my
pleasure does not spring from the success of the treachery I practise
towards a poor little fish, but rather from that innocent revelry in the
luxuriance of summer life which only anglers enjoy to the utmost."
Walton puts himself on record in these words: "We may say of angling, as
Dr. Boteler said of strawberries: 'Doubtless God could have made a
better berry, but doubtless God never did;' and so, if I might be judge,
God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than
angling." Sydney Smith declared it to be an occupation fit for a bishop,
and that it need in no way interfere with sermon-making.

Perhaps the best thing said or done in angling is an unpublished
anecdote of the great preacher to the seamen,--the late Father Taylor,
of Boston. He was once lured to try his hand at the rod, and soon
brought up a very little fish that had been tempted by his bait. He took
the small creature carefully from the hook, gazed at it a moment, and
then cast it back into the water, with this advice: "My little friend,
go and tell your mother that you have seen a ghost!"

Dr. Parr, the profound English scholar, was a most inveterate smoker; so
was Charles Lamb,[82] who one day said to his doctor, "I have acquired
this habit by toiling over it, as some men toil after virtue."

Robert Hall, the popular English divine, was very much addicted to
tobacco and other stimulants. A friend who found him in his study
blowing forth clouds of smoke from his lips, said, "There you are, at
your old idol!" "Yes," replied the divine, "burning it." Napoleon could
never abide smoking tobacco; yet observing how much other men seemed to
enjoy it, he tried to acquire the habit, but finally gave it up in
disgust. He, however, took snuff to excess. Sir Walter Scott was very
fond of smoking. Thackeray, like Burns, loved to get away by himself and
enjoy the flavor of a rank tobacco-pipe. Carlyle, like Tennyson, did not
care for a cigar, but kept a pipe in his mouth most of his waking hours.
Bulwer-Lytton was a ceaseless smoker; and there are few if any notable
Germans who have not been addicted to the same indulgence. The nicotine
produced from tobacco is one of the most deadly of all poisons, as has
been proven by some startling experiments in the Paris hospitals.[83]
Thackeray said there was good eating in Scott's novels. Extending the
remark, it might be added that there was good drinking in those of
Dickens, and good smoking in those of Thackeray.

Dean Swift relieved his sombre moods by harnessing his servants with
cords and driving them, school-boy fashion, up and down the stairs and
through the garden of the deanery of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.
Dickens was controlled by a nervous activity which made him crave
physical exercise of some sort, and he daily found relief in an eight or
ten mile walk. Thackeray once told the author of these pages that he
preferred to take his exercise driving upon very easy roads. When
Dickens was in this country he was frequently accompanied in his long
walks by the late James T. Fields, who was ever ready to sacrifice
himself to the pleasure of others. Mr. Fields was not partial to extreme
pedestrian exercise, and the author of the "Pickwick Papers" tested his
good-nature to the verge of exhaustion in this respect. Dumas, when not
otherwise engaged, was accustomed to go down into his kitchen, and,
deposing the servants, cook his own dinner; and an excellent cook he
must have been, if one half the stories rife about him be true. Besides,
did he not write an original cook-book, which still stands for good
authority in the cafés of the boulevards?

Dr. Warton, the English critic and author, as represented by
contemporary authority, was noted for a love of vulgar society, which he
daily sought in low tap-rooms and gin-shops, where he joked away the
evening hours. Turner the painter had similar tastes and habits, though
he was of a reserved and unsociable character, and noted for his
parsimony. Shelley, Goldsmith, and Macaulay delighted in the company of
young children. "They are so near to God," said Shelley. "Intercourse
with them freshens and rejuvenates one's soul," wrote Macaulay. "I love
these little people; and it is not a small thing when they, who are so
fresh from God, love us," said Dickens. Children always had a most
tender and humanizing effect upon Douglas Jerrold, no matter what was
his mood. He writes: "A creature undefiled by the taint of the world,
unvexed by its injustice, unwearied by its hollow pleasures; a being
fresh from the source of light, with something of its universal lustre
in it. If childhood be this, how holy the duty to see that in its onward
growth it shall be no other!"

History tells us that Henry of Navarre, who was every inch a king, was
often seen upon his palace floor with two of his children upon his back,
playing elephant and rider. What a peep into the king's heart we get by
this little picture of his domestic life! Where was all the monarch's
pride of State, his kingly dignity? "How hard it is to hide the sparks
of nature!" It is related of Epictetus that he would steal away from his
philosophical associates to pass an hour romping with a group of
children,--"to prattle, to creep, and to play with them." Charles Robert
Maturin, the poet, author of the tragedy of "Bertram," and other
successful dramas, could not endure to have children near him during his
hours of literary composition. At such times he was particularly
sensitive, and pasted a wafer on his forehead as a token to the members
of his family that he was not to be interrupted. He said if he lost the
thread of his ideas even for a moment, they were gone from him
altogether. Sir Walter Scott, on the contrary, was ever ready to lay
down his pen at any moment, to exchange pleasant words with child or
adult, friend or stranger; and it was notorious that children could
always interrupt him with impunity. He declared that their childish
accents made his heart dance with glee. He could not check their
confidence and simplicity, though pressed upon him when his thoughts
were soaring in poetic flights or describing vivid scenes of warfare and
carnage. Scott preserved considerable system, nevertheless, in his
composition and labor. He lay awake, he tells us, for a brief period in
the quiet of the early morning, and arranged carefully in his mind the
work of the coming day. He laid out systematically the subject upon
which he was writing, and resolved in what manner he would treat it.
Thus it was that he could lay down his pen at any moment without
deranging the purpose of the work. He had one axiom to which he
tenaciously adhered, and was often heard to repeat it to his dependants
and friends: "Do whatever is to be done, at once; take the hours of
reflection or recreation after business, and never before it."

Schiller said that children made him half glad and half sorry,--always
inclined to moralize. "Happy child," he exclaims, "the cradle is still
to thee a vast space: become a man, and the boundless world will be too
small for thee." Goethe was ever watchful, loving, and tender with the
young. "Children," he says, "like dogs, have so sharp and fine a scent,
that they detect and hunt out everything." He thought their innocent
delusions should be held sacred. Elihu Burritt, the "Learned
Blacksmith," says that he once congratulated an humble farmer upon
having a fine group of sons. "Yes, they are good boys," was the father's
answer. "I talk to them often, but I do not beat my children,--the world
will beat them by and by, if they live." A fine thought, rudely

Shelley's interest in children was connected with his half belief in the
Platonic doctrine of pre-existence. As he was passing over one of the
great London bridges, meditating on the mystery, he saw a poor
working-woman with a child a few months old in her arms. Here was an
opportunity to bring the theory to a decisive test: and in his impulsive
way he took the infant from its astonished mother, and in his shrill
voice began to ask it questions as to the world from which it had so
recently come. The child screamed, the indignant parent called for the
police to rescue her baby from the philosophical kidnapper; and as
Shelley reluctantly delivered the infant to its mother's arms, he
muttered, as he passed on, "How strange it is that these little
creatures should be so provokingly reticent!" Shelley was a child
himself in many respects; in illustration of which the reader has only
to recall the poet's singular amusement of sailing paper boats whenever
he found himself conveniently near a pond. So long as the paper which
he chanced to have about him lasted, he remained riveted to the spot.
First he would use the cover of letters, next letters of little value;
but he could not resist the temptation, finally, of employing for the
purpose the letters of his most valued correspondents. He always carried
a book in his pocket, but the fly-leaves were all consumed in forming
these paper boats and setting them adrift to constitute a miniature
fleet. Once he found himself on the banks of the Serpentine River
without paper of any sort except a ten-pound note. He refrained for a
while; but presently it was rapidly twisted into a boat by his skilful
fingers, and devoted to his boat-sailing purpose without further delay.
Its progress being watched, it was finally picked up on the opposite
shore of the river and returned to the owner for more legitimate use.

Charles Lamb in his quaint way says: "I know that sweet children are the
sweetest things in nature, not even excepting the delicate creatures
which bear them; but the prettier the kind of a thing is, the more
desirable it is that it should be pretty of its kind. One daisy differs
not much from another in glory; but a violet should look and smell the

Good and substantial food is quite as necessary to authors and public
men, as to those who gain their livelihood by laborious physical
employment. Authors are, however, as a rule, rather inclined to free
indulgence at table. There is as much intemperance in eating as in
drinking. Tom Moore, who was the best diner-out of his day, said, by way
of excusing this habit, "In grief, I have always found eating a
wonderful relief." N. P. Willis was quite a gourmand. "There are," he
once wrote, "so few invalids untemptable by those deadly domestic
enemies, sweetmeats, pastry, and gravies, that the usual civilities at a
meal are very like being politely assisted to the grave." It is
certainly better to punish our appetites than to be punished by them.
Dickens and Thackeray were both inclined to free indulgence at the
table, the former being struck with death at a public banquet. Dean
Swift often gave better advice than he was himself inclined to follow.
He says: "Temperance," meaning both in eating and drinking, "is a
necessary virtue to great men, since it is the parent of the mind, which
philosophy allows to be one of the greatest felicities in life."
Macready, the famous English tragedian, would not touch food of any kind
for some hours before making one of his grand dramatic efforts, but
drank freely of strong tea before appearing in public,--a subtle
stimulant in which the late Rufus Choate freely indulged, particularly
before addressing a jury.

Abstinence in diet was a special virtue with Milton. Shelley utterly
despised the pleasures of the table. Walter Scott was an abstemious
eater. Pope was a great epicure, and so was the poet Gay. Speaking of
appetite, Coleridge tells us of a man he once saw at a dinner-table, who
struck him as remarkable for his dignity and wise face. The awful charm
of his manner was not broken until the muffins appeared, and then the
wise one exclaimed, "Them's the jockeys for me!" Dignity is sometimes
very rudely unmasked, and an imposing air is nearly always the cloak of
a fool. Newton lived on the simplest food. "If Aristotle could diet on
acorns," he said, "so can I;" and before sitting down to study he
exercised freely and abstained from food. Dr. George Fordyce, the
eminent Scotch physician, ate but one meal a day, saying that if one
meal in twenty-four hours was enough for a lion, it was sufficient for a
man; but in order not to be like the lion, he drank a bottle of port,
half a pint of brandy, and a pitcher of ale with his one meal. Lamartine
used to pass one day in ten fasting, as he said, to clear both stomach
and brain. Aristo, the stoic philosopher, used to fast for days on
acorns. Thomas Byron, a well-known author, never ate flesh of any sort.
Dryden's favorite dish was a chine of bacon. Charles Lamb was enamoured
of roast pig. He said, "You can no more improve sucking pig than you can
refine a violet!" Keats was a very fastidious eater, but was fond of the
table, especially where there was good wine,[85] and yet he was not
addicted to its intemperate use. Dr. Johnson was greedy over boiled
mutton; and Dr. Rhondelet, the famous writer on fishes, was so fond of
figs that he died from having at one time eaten immoderately of them.
Barrow, one of the greatest of English theologians and mathematicians,
is said to have died of a surfeit of pears,--a fruit of which he was
extravagantly fond.

Gastronomic appetite and reason have been compared to two buckets in a
well; when one is at the top the other is at the bottom. Byron nearly
starved himself to prevent growing gross and uninteresting in physical
aspect. Addison was addicted to port and claret, and was accustomed, as
already spoken of, while meditating a moral or political essay, to pace
up and down the long gallery of Holland House.[86] When a humorous
suggestion occurred to his fertile fancy, he solaced himself with
claret; or fortified himself with a glass of port when a moral sentiment
required to be enforced by an impressive close to a beautifully
constructed sentence.[87] This was after his frigid marriage to the
Dowager Countess of Warwick. On his death-bed he is reported to have
said to her graceless son, "See how a Christian can die!" Probably the
profligate youth, spying his father-in-law as he walked in the gallery,
might have irreverently remarked: "See how a Christian can drink!" But
the truth is that Addison, judged by the habits of his time, should be
considered a moderate drinker. Poe's nerves were so shattered that a
slight amount of wine would intoxicate him into a frenzy of dissipation;
the same amount swallowed by a regular toper would hardly disturb his
brain at all. While Pitt was quite a young man, he was so weakly that
his physician ordered him to drink freely of port wine, and he thus
contracted the habit of depending upon stimulants, and could not do
without them. Lord Greville tells us he has seen him swallow a bottle of
port wine by tumblerfuls before going to the House. This, together with
the habit of late suppers, helped materially to shorten his life.[88]

Goldsmith had a queer fancy for sassafras tea, from which he imagined he
derived an excellent tonic effect. Such a relish had certainly one
element to recommend it,--and that was its harmlessness. Dr. Shaw, the
English naturalist, nearly killed himself by drinking green tea to
excess. Haydn partook immoderately of strong coffee, and kept it brewing
by his side while he composed. Burns lived on whiskey for weeks
together, supplemented by tobacco, which caused Byron to say that he was
"a strange compound of dirt and deity."

Aristippus of old lived up to his own motto; namely, "Good cheer is no
hindrance to a good life." Few men reason about their appetites, but
they give way to them until disease reminds them they are made of mortal
stuff. Even Plutarch used to indulge at times in riotous living, saying,
"You cannot reason with the belly; it has no ears." Addison has pithily
recorded his own ideas of this matter. "When I behold a fashionable
table set out in all its magnificence," he says, "I fancy that I see
gouts and dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable
distempers, lying in ambuscade among the dishes. Nature delights in the
most plain and simple diet. Every animal but man keeps to one dish.
Herbs are the food of this species, fish of that, and flesh of a third.
Man falls upon everything that comes in his way; not the smallest fruit
or excrescence of the earth, scarce a berry or a mushroom, can escape
him." It is among the easiest of all things to outsit both our health
and our pleasure at the table. "The pleasures of the palate," said
shrewd old Seneca, "deal with us like Egyptian thieves, who strangle
those whom they embrace."

Thackeray said towards the close of his life, that his physicians warned
him habitually not to do what he habitually did. "They tell me that I
should not drink wine, and somehow I drink wine; that I should not eat
this or that, and, guided by my appetite for this or that, I disregard
the warning."

Eminent men are not unlike the rest of humanity in a desire for some
sort of recreation, and each one finds it after his own natural bent or
fancy. Literature is capable of affording the most rational and lasting
enjoyment to cultured minds, but physical exercise has also its
reasonable demands. The late Victor Emmanuel found recreation only in
hunting, having a number of lodges devoted to this purpose in different
parts of Italy. McMahon, late President of France, was also an ardent
sportsman. William the Conqueror passed all his leisure in the
hunting-field; and President Cleveland hastens with rod and gun to pass
his vacation in the Adirondack region. Henry V. occupied a whole day at
a time upon his one game,--tennis. Cardinal Mazarin, while virtual ruler
of France, used to shut himself up in his library and pass an hour daily
in jumping over the chairs. Louis XVI. had a passion for constructing
intricate locks and keys, many curious specimens of which are still
extant in the Cluny Museum. Charles II. in his leisure hours enjoyed
practical chemistry. John Milton wiled away the long hours of his
blindness, when not engaged in composing and dictating, by playing upon
a cabinet organ; and Chief Justice Saunders was given to the same
recreation. The Duke of Burgundy had a singular fancy for constructing
mechanical traps and surprises in his house and grounds, so that
visitors were liable to encounter practical jokes at every turn.

We might cover pages in enumerating the resorts of notable people in
their instinctive search after necessary recreation from sterner duties.
Man must be doing something in order to be happy; action being quite as
necessary to the health of body and brain as thought. Schiller declared
that he found the greatest happiness of life to consist in the regular
discharge of some mechanical duty. "Cheerfulness," says the shrewd and
practical Dr. Horne, is "the daughter of employment; and I have known a
man come home from a funeral in high spirits, merely because he had the
management of it." It is in our unoccupied moments that discontent
creeps into the mind; busy people have no time to be very miserable.
Amusements are not without a double purpose, and it is only a mistaken
zeal which argues against those that are innocent. "Let the world," says
that wise old philosopher Robert Burton, "have their May-games, wakes,
whatsunales, their dancings and concerts; their puppet-shows, hobby
horses, tabors, bagpipes, balls, barley-breaks, and whatever sports and
recreations please them best, provided they be followed with

Sir George Cornewall Lewis, a scholar as well as a statesman, found
delight in a variety of intellectual work. He shirked as well as he
could all invitations to parties, balls, and dinners, and once
despairingly exclaimed, when he was called from his studies to enter
into some form of amusement, "that life was tolerable were it not for
its pleasures."


Leonardo da Vinci, the inspired painter of the "Last Supper" upon the
walls of the time-worn Milan convent,[89] is said to have had a strange
inclination for dirt. One biographer tells us he grovelled in it. Da
Vinci was a great engineer and scientist, as well as artist. The face of
Judas in the group seated at the table carries with it a legend. The
artist entertained a bitter enmity towards a priest of the Cathedral who
had worked him some vital injury, either real or imaginary. His revenge
was clear to him; his enemy's hated features were impressed upon his
mind, and so, a little modified to suit the supposed treacherous
character of the disciple, were made to constitute those of Judas at the
moment when he contemplates the betrayal of his Master. The likeness was
too plain not to be recognized by those who knew of the ill feeling
existing between the artist and priest. The result was that the latter
was virtually banished from the city, as he asked to be, and was
transferred to Rome.

Raphael thought he could paint best under the inspiration of wine, and
therefore used it freely. Some modern critics pretend to discover the
vinous influence in certain exaggerations of style peculiar to his best
pictures. Notwithstanding the number and grandeur of the works which he
left behind him, he died prematurely at the age of thirty-seven. A book
might easily be written upon the peculiarities and habits of artists;
but we continue our desultory gossip.

How often we see the lives and fortunes of individuals contingent upon
seeming chance! Cromwell and Hampden, who were cousins, both took
passage in a vessel that lay in the Thames, bound for this country, in
1637. They were actually on board, when an order of council prohibited
the vessel from sailing. We recall two other instances of a similar
character in the career of Goethe and Robert Burns, each of whom was
once on the eve of sailing for America to seek a foreign home. Locke was
banished from England by force of public opinion, in company with his
friend Lord Ashley, and wrote his well-known "Essay on the Human
Understanding"[90] in a Dutch garret. He finally lived down all
detraction, and was himself a practical example of that self-teaching
which he so strongly advocates in his writings. He possessed a wonderful
memory; so also did Thomas Fuller, who could repeat five hundred
unconnected words after twice hearing them. Coleridge esteemed Fuller,
not only for his wit, originality, and liberality, but as being the most
sensible great man of an age that boasted a galaxy of great men.

Jeremy Taylor, whose birth is shrouded in mystery, though he is said to
be the son of a barber, was a singular compound, in character, of
simplicity and erudition. He was always a child among children, and it
is said that a child could at any time attract his attention. He
encountered many of the sterner vicissitudes of life, being more than
once cast into prison. In the civil war he was a decided adherent of
Charles I., and some have supposed him to have been a natural son of
that monarch. Emerson calls him the Shakespeare of divines. Gibbon, the
distinguished historian, composed while walking back and forth in his
room, completely arranging his ideas in his brain before taking his pen
in hand, which in a degree accounts for the correctness of his
manuscript.[91] Montaigne and Châteaubriand,[92] when disposed to
composition, sought the open fields and unfrequented paths, where,
somewhat like Gibbon, they arranged their matter with great precision
before sitting down to write. Bacon always wrote in a small room,
because, as he believed, it enabled him to concentrate his thoughts.
Franklin wrote and studied with a plate of bread and cheese by his side
to repair mental waste, as he said, and also to economize time. Is there
not a ceaseless interest hanging over the domestic and professional
habits of these famous men of the past?

Congreve, to whom Pope dedicated his Iliad and Dryden submitted his
poems for criticism before giving them to the public, was extremely
popular, witty, and original as a dramatist. Congreve was a slow writer,
and was the father, as it were, of that style of writing which died with
Sheridan. He wrote only a few dramas, but those were incomparable for
the brilliancy of the dialogue; yet the brilliancy was obtained by the
hardest intellectual _work_. According to Macaulay, no English author
except Byron had at so early an age stood so high in the estimation of
his contemporaries. But the licentiousness and general immorality of
the works of Congreve are without excuse.[93] He had not even the paltry
plea of necessity, which might lead him to pander to a vitiated taste in
seeking a market for his wares, as was evidently the case with Fielding.
He was very desirous to pass for a man of fashion, and affectedly
sneered at his own literary productions, declaring them to be produced
simply to while away his idle hours. Vanity seems to have completely
overshadowed any spirit of ambition which may have originally inspired
him. Flattery and royal patronage were the ruin of Congreve so far as
his after fame is concerned. Had he known the wholesome spur of
necessity, his grand powers would have shone with surpassing lustre. He
had the genius, but not the incentive, wherewith to make a great name.
Pope is said, on a certain occasion, to have hinted as much to Congreve,
whom he really reverenced for his ability, and to have incurred his
partial enmity thereby. "Oh that men's ears should be to counsel deaf,"
says Shakespeare, "but not to flattery." The broad inconsistency of
Congreve's dramas is the fact that all his characters are equally
endowed with wit, culture, and genius. Collier, in his review of the
profaneness of the English stage, administered to Congreve a merited
castigation, to which the dramatist attempted to reply, but without

The remarkable vicissitudes which have waited upon the career of men of
genius, and especially of authors, are very noticeable. The earliest
authentic history shows us the same fatality besetting the paths of such
characters as has pursued them to the present day. The student of the
past will recall as examples Seneca and his friend Lucan, who were
honored and famous in the days of Nero. Both of these renowned authors,
when condemned to death, lanced their veins and sung a dying requiem
while the tide of their lives ebbed slowly away. So Socrates drank of
the fatal hemlock, like Sappho and Lucretius, voluntarily seeking death.
"That which is a necessity to him that struggles, is little more than a
choice to him who is willing," says Seneca. Sophocles, the Greek tragic
poet and rival of Æschylus, was brought to trial by his own children as
a lunatic. He composed more than a hundred tragedies, of which seven are
still extant. He also excelled as a musician. Plautus, poet and
dramatist, was at one time a baker's assistant, earning his bread by
grinding corn in a hand-mill. Tasso, Italy's favorite epic poet, became
broken-hearted from unrequited love, and was confined in a mad-house for
years, and, illustrative of the mutability of fortune, was afterwards
brought to Rome to be crowned, like Petrarch, with laurels, but died
before the day of coronation. Euripides, one of the three tragic poets
of Greece, was torn to pieces by dogs; and Hesiod, a still more ancient
poet, fell by the assassin's dagger. In later times there looms up the
name of Galileo, the discoverer and natural philosopher, imprisoned by
the Inquisition for teaching men that the world moved.[94] "Poor
Galileo," said a modern wit, "was too honest; he should have treated
these inquisitors to a champagne supper, and they would have risen from
it with the conviction that the world surely _did_ turn round."
Galileo's greatest affliction, however, was that of becoming totally
blind. Milton, who visited him in prison, tells us he was poor and old.
In a letter which he dictated to a correspondent, Galileo says: "Alas!
your dear friend has become irreparably blind. The heavens, the earth,
this universe, which by wonderful observation I have enlarged a thousand
times past the belief of former ages, are henceforth shrunk into the
narrow space which I myself occupy." Handel also passed the last of his
life in the gloom of blindness; and Beethoven was afflicted with
incurable deafness, which nearly drove him to suicide.[95] It was
perhaps the most trying misfortune possible to one with his special
endowments. Have not these historic characters tested the familiar axiom
that calamity is man's true touchstone?

Dante, the greatest poet between the Augustan and Elizabethan ages, was
expatriated and exiled from wife and children, becoming a
poverty-stricken wanderer. Thus broken in heart and fortune he was
hurried by persecution to his grave. Spenser, who endowed English verse
with the soul of harmony while eking out a life of misery, finally died
in abject poverty. Milton sold "Paradise Lost"[96] for ten pounds. "When
Milton composed that grand poem," says Carlyle, "he was not only poor
but impoverished; he was in darkness, and with dangers compassed round,
he sang his immortal song, and found fit audience, though few." At one
time Milton borrowed fifty pounds of Jonathan Hartop, of Aldborough, who
lived to the remarkable age of one hundred and thirty-eight years, dying
in 1791. He returned the loan at the time agreed upon, but Mr. Hartop,
knowing his straitened circumstances, refused to take the money; the
pride of the poet, however, was equal to his genius, and he sent the
money back a second time with an angry letter, which was found years
afterwards among the papers of the remarkable old man. Corneille, the
French dramatist; Vaugelas, a noted author of the same nationality;
Crabbe, the English poet; Chatterton, the precocious and versatile
genius; Holzmann, the profound Oriental scholar; Cervantes; Camoens,[97]
the pride of Portugal; and Erasmus, the Dutch scholar, who rose to the
leadership of the literature of his day,--all lived more or less
continuously on the verge of starvation. Camoens had a black servant who
had grown old with him. This man, a native of Java, is said to have
saved his master's life in the shipwreck whereby he lost all his fortune
except his poems. In after years, when Camoens became so much reduced as
to be able no longer to support his servant, the faithful retainer
begged in the streets of Lisbon for bread to sustain the one great poet
of Portugal. Le Sage, author of "Gil Blas," was endowed with exquisite
literary taste, but the victim of extreme poverty. De Quincey, the
eminent English author, tells us that he passed much time in London in
the most abject want, living upon precarious charity. Nowhere else can
so vivid a picture of misused genius be found as in the "Confessions of
an English Opium-Eater." De Quincey was noted for his rare
conversational powers, supplemented by a vast and varied stock of
information. He was finally successful in a business point of view, and
was possessed of a noble generosity, as he relieved at a critical moment
the necessities of Coleridge at a cost of five hundred pounds. This was
at a comparatively early period of De Quincey's life. Afterwards he was
himself often in want of a tenth part of the sum. He was a voluminous
writer, though not always publishing under his own name; his collection
of works as issued in this country, edited by J. T. Fields, forms some
twenty volumes. Let us not forget to mention Sydenham, the English
scholar who gave us, among other profound works, the best version of
Plato, and who breathed his last in a London sponging-house. "Genius,"
says Whipple, "may almost be defined as the faculty of acquiring

Some writers have contended, and not without reason, that such adversity
was often providential; that without the spur of necessity genius would
rarely accomplish its best, and that distress has often elicited talents
which would otherwise have remained dormant. In speaking of Burns,
Carlyle says: "We question whether for his culture as a poet, poverty
and much suffering were not absolutely advantageous. Great men in
looking back over their lives have testified to that effect. 'I would
not for much,' says Jean Paul, 'that I had been born rich.' And yet Jean
Paul's birth was poor enough, for in another place he adds: 'The
prisoner's allowance is bread and water, and I have often only the
latter.' But the gold that is refined in the hottest furnace comes out
the purest; or, as he has himself expressed it, 'the canary-bird sings
sweetest the longer it has been trained in a darkened cage.'" Horace
emphatically declares, that adversity has the effect of developing
talents which prosperous circumstances would not have elicited. The
hardships endured by many historic persons crowd upon the mind in this
connection. We remember John Bunyan in Bedford jail,[98] writing that
immortal work, "Pilgrim's Progress;" Ben Jonson,[99] the comrade of
Shakespeare; John Seldon, the profound scholar and author; and Jeremy
Taylor, whose "Holy Living and Dying" is only second to "Pilgrim's
Progress,"--all of whom endured the suffering of imprisonment.[100] Nor
must we forget Sir Walter Raleigh, who during his thirteen years of
prison-life produced his incomparable "History of the World."[101]
Lydiat, the subtle scholar to whom Dr. Johnson refers, wrote his
"Annotations on the Parian Chronicles," while confined for debt in the
King's Bench; and Wicquefort's curious work on Ambassadors is dated from
the prison to which he was condemned for life. Voltaire wrote his
"Henriad" while confined in the Bastile; De Foe produced his best works
within the walls of Newgate; and Cervantes gave the world "Don Quixote"
from a prison.[102]

Some of the sweetest love-lyrics extant were written by Charles, Duke
of Orleans, during his captivity of twenty-five years. Baron Trenck
wrote his wonderful book of personal experience during a ten years'
captivity in a subterranean dungeon at Magdeburg,--a book which has been
translated into every modern language. He was released from prison, but
died by the guillotine at Paris in 1794. Silvio Pellico, the Italian
poet and dramatist, who wrote the well-known story of his prison life,
was ten years confined in the fortress of Spielberg, in Moravia. Ponce
de Leon, among the foremost of Spanish poets, as well as the poet
Alonzo de Ereilla, were victims of long and severe incarceration because
they dared to translate the Biblical Songs of Solomon into Spanish.
James Howell, the English author, wrote his "Familiar Letters" in the
Fleet Prison. So popular were they, that he had the pleasure of seeing
ten editions of them published in rapid succession; this was about the
year 1646. William Penn and Roger Williams, both founders of States in
this country, suffered imprisonment. The former wrote his well-known "No
Cross, No Crown" in the Tower of London. Oakley, the great Oriental
scholar, whose remarkable Asiatic researches have rendered his name
famous, wrote his work on the Saracens in jail. Cobbett, the political
satirist, was no stranger to the inside of a prison; and we all remember
Cooper, the English chartist, who made himself famous by his "Prison
Rhymes," written behind the frowning bars. Montgomery suffered the same
chilling influences for daring to make a public plea for freedom of
speech. Theodore Hook, the novelist, delightful miscellaneous writer,
and unrivalled wit, was for a long period imprisoned.[103]

Richard Lovelace, the English poet, was a gallant soldier who spilled
his blood for his king in the civil war and impoverished himself in the
same cause, was imprisoned for political reasons, and died poor and
neglected at the age of forty. He wrote to "Lucasta,"[104] when going to
the wars, that fine and often-quoted couplet:--

    "I could not love thee, dear, so much,
      Loved I not honor more."

Lucasta (_Lux casta_, "pure light"), to whom his verses were dedicated,
was Lady Sacheverell, whom he devotedly loved, but who married another
after having been deceived by the false report that Lovelace had been
killed. He was liberated from prison under Cromwell, but lived a
wretched life thereafter. Leigh Hunt, the most genial of essayists, was
imprisoned for two years, when he was visited by Lamb, Byron, and Moore.
His offence was a libel on the Prince Regent, afterwards George the
Fourth. Madame Guyon wrote the most of her beautiful poems--so greatly
admired by Cowper--while a captive for four years in the Bastile. The
great public library of Paris contains forty octavo volumes of her
writings. Why does not some popular author give us a book upon this
theme, and entitle it "Behind the Prison Bars"? The suggestion is freely
offered, and is perhaps worth considering. Disraeli tells us: "The gate
of the prison has sometimes been the porch of fame."

The reference to Lovelace reminds us that sometimes the female favorites
of poets are selected from rather questionable positions, and certainly
with very questionable taste. Prior poured out his admiration in verses
addressed to Chloe, a fat barmaid; and Bousard addressed poems to
Cassandra, who followed the same refining occupation. Colletet, a French
bard, addressed his lines to his servant-girl, whom he afterwards
married. No doubt that oftenest the poet's mistress has no actual
existence, but, like the sculptor's ideal, is the combined result drawn
from several choice models.

Gilbert Wakefield, the erudite scholar, theologian, and author, suffered
two years' imprisonment for publishing his "Enquiry into the Expediency
of Public and Social Worship." "The sentence passed upon him was most
infamous," says Rogers, who, in company with his sister, visited the
prisoner in Dorchester jail. While incarcerated here, Wakefield wrote
his "Noctes Carcerariæ" ("Prison Nights"). Matthew Prior, the poet,
diplomatist, courtier, and versatile author, was the son of a joiner,
though it is not known exactly where he was born. Chancing to interest
the Earl of Dorset, he was educated at the cost of that liberal
nobleman. He[105] was one of those, as Dr. Johnson said, "that have
burst out from an obscure original to great eminence." Thackeray says of
him, "He loved, he drank, he sang; and he was certainly deemed one of
the brightest lights of Queen Anne's reign." His contempt for pedigree
was very natural, and was wittily expressed in the epitaph which he
wrote for himself:--

    "Nobles and heralds, by your leave,
      Here lies what once was Matthew Prior;
    The son of Adam and of Eve:
      Can Bourbon or Nassau claim higher?"

Schumann, the German musical composer, author of "Paradise and the
Peri," in a fit of mental depression threw himself into the Rhine, but
was rescued. Goethe, Alfieri, Raphael, and George Sand all struggled
against a nearly fatal temptation to end their earthly careers. The last
named declared that at the sight of a body of water or a precipice she
could hardly restrain herself from committing suicide! "Genius bears
within itself a principle of destruction, of death, and of madness,"
says Lamartine. De Quincey, who was never quite sane, was given to queer
habits in connection with his literary work. He was wont to keep his
manuscripts stored in his bath-tub, and carried his money in his
hat.[106] Cowper, after a fruitless attempt to hang himself, became a
religious monomaniac, "hovering in the twilight of reason and the dawn
of insanity."[107] Moore, the gay, vivacious, witty, diner-out, sank
finally into childish imbecility. John Clare, the English peasant poet,
was born in poverty; his early productions accidentally attracted
attention and gained him patrons, but after a brief, irregular, unhappy
career he died in an insane asylum. So also died Charles Fenno Hoffman,
our own popular poet, editor, and novelist, who wrote "Sparkling and
Bright." Cruden, the industrious author and compiler of the Biblical
Concordance, suffered from long fits of insanity; and so did Jeremy
Bentham,[108] though he lived to extreme old age, and died so late as
1832. Congreve said it was the prerogative of great souls to be
wretched; and Jean Paul, that great souls attract sorrows as lofty
mountains do storms. Lenau, the Hungarian lyric poet, died in a
mad-house; in the height of his fame he refused, when invited, to visit
an asylum, saying, "I shall be there soon enough as it is." It would
seem but charitable to attribute fits of insanity to Carlyle, who
pronounced most of his contemporaries "fools and lunatics." His wife
confessed that she felt as if she were keeping a mad-house. Vaugelas
died in such poverty that he bequeathed his body to the surgeons at
Paris for a given sum with which to pay his last board-bill. In his will
he wrote: "As there may still remain creditors unpaid after all that I
have shall be disposed of, it is my last wish that my body should be
sold to the surgeons to the best advantage, and that the purchase-money
should go to discharge those debts which I owe to society, so that if I
could not while living, at least when dead I may be useful." Vaugelas
was called the owl, because he ventured forth only at night, through
fear of his creditors.

Next to the "Newgate Calendar," it has been said, the biography of
authors is the most sickening chapter in the history of man. "Woe be to
the youthful poet who sets out upon his pilgrimage to the temple of fame
with nothing but hope for his viaticum!" wrote Southey, in 1813, to a
young man who had consulted him. "There is the Slough of Despond, and
the Hill of Difficulty, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death upon the
way." Coleridge's exhortation to youthful literati may be summed up in
one sentence: "Never pursue literature as a trade." Béranger's advice
was by no means to be despised. He spoke as one having authority, and he
certainly had experience.[109] "Write if you will," he says, "versify if
you must, sing away if the singing mood is an imperative mood, but on no
account give up your other occupation; let your authorship be a pastime,
not a trade; let it be your avocation, not your vocation." Even the
successful Washington Irving speaks of "the seductive but treacherous
paths of literature." He adds: "There is no life more precarious in its
profits and more fallacious in its enjoyments than that of an author."
But these lines were addressed to his nephew, and must be taken _cum
grano salis_. He had genius, his nephew had not; he never could have
acquired so much money had he, like Halleck, become a clerk,--even the
clerk of Mr. Astor. The truth is, most writers have failed in authorship
because they have not had talent enough to write books that an
intelligent public would buy and read, and because their vagabond habits
deterred them from being employed by merchants and tradesmen as salesmen
and clerks. Real genius now obtains a remuneration always higher than
that of clerks and tradesmen. It is mediocre writers who mourn in our
days; but they should never have taken as a profession a role they were
incompetent to fill. They are like doctors who cannot obtain patients,
and lawyers who cannot attract clients.

But we were considering the past, not the present. Robert Heron, author,
scholar, teacher, who wrote much that will live in literature, died in
hopeless poverty. His "History of Scotland" and his "Universal
Geography" are still among our best books of reference. He says of
himself in a paper written just before he died: "The tenor of my life
has been temperate, laborious, humble, and quiet, and, to the utmost of
my power, beneficent. For these last three months I have been brought to
the very extremity of bodily and pecuniary distress, and I shudder at
the thought of perishing in jail." Yet such was his fate; he died in
Newgate. Thomas Decker, the English author, and collaborator with Ford
and Rowley in the production of popular dramas, died in a debtor's
prison. Christopher Smart, the personal friend of Dr. Johnson, produced
his principal poem while confined in a mad-house. Richard Savage, the
English poet, experienced a life which reads like fiction.[110] The
natural son of an English earl and countess, he was abandoned by his
mother to the care of a nurse who brought him up in ignorance of his
parentage. Before he was thirty years of age he was tried and condemned
for murder; and, though finally pardoned, he died in jail. During a
considerable portion of the time that Savage was engaged upon his
tragedy of "Sir Thomas Overbury," he was without lodgings and often
without meat; nor had he any other convenience for study and composition
than the open fields or the public streets. Having formed his sentences
and speeches in his mind, he would step into a shop, ask for pen and
ink, and write down what he had composed upon such scraps of paper as he
had picked up by chance, often from the street gutters.

Thomas Hood, the famous English humorist, began at first as a clerk in a
store, then became apprentice to an engraver; but his genius soon led
him to seek literary occupation as a regular means of support. He was
endowed with an unlimited fund of wit and comic power. His "Song of the
Shirt" showed that he had also great tenderness and pathos in his
nature. He edited various magazines and weekly papers, and published two
or three humorous books; but his career was far from a success in any
light. His life was occupied in incessant brain-work, aggravated by
ill-health and the many uncertainties of authorship. He finally died
poor in his forty-seventh year, leaving a dependent family.

William Thom was an English poet of genius, but very humbly born. He was
at first a weaver and afterwards a strolling pedler, often only too
glad to obtain a lodging in a country barn. The poor fellow said,
"There's much good sleeping to be had in a hayloft." In one of these
deplorable shelters his only child, who followed him, perished from
hunger and exposure. Thom published so late as 1844 a collection of his
poems entitled, "Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Weaver." The volume
was well received, and the author was given a dinner by his London
admirers. He died at the age of fifty-nine in extreme poverty. We find
two admirable poems by him in Sargent's "British and American Poets."

The reader who has perused these pages thus far will doubtless have come
to the conclusion that even talent is not developed as a rule in calm
and sunshine, but that it must encounter the tempest in some form before
the fruit can ripen. Byron, in the third canto of "Childe Harold," thus
gloomily declares the penalties of becoming famous:--

      "He who ascends to mountain-tops shall find
      The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
      He who surpasses or subdues mankind
      Must look down on the hate of those below.
      Though high _above_ the sun of glory glow,
      And far _beneath_ the earth and ocean spread,
      _Round_ him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
      Contending tempests on his naked head,
    And thus reward the toils which to those summits led."

Longfellow's idea is true and forcible: "Time has a doomsday book, in
which he is continually recording illustrious names. But as soon as a
new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in
illumined characters never to be effaced."

Thackeray's tender and beautiful thoughts upon this subject occur to us
here: "To be rich, to be famous? do these profit a year hence, when
other names sound louder than yours, when you lie hidden away under
ground, along with the idle titles engraven on your coffin? Only true
love lives after you, follows your memory with secret blessings, or
pervades you and intercedes for you. _Non omnis moriar_, if, dying, I
yet live in a tender heart or two; nor am lost and hopeless, living, if
a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me."


Our familiar gossip thus far concerning those whose lives by universal
consent, "rising above the deluge of years," bear the impress of genius,
has led us to speak of the hardships and vicissitudes to which they have
so often been subjected. At this sad yet interesting aspect of genius we
will continue to glance, observing, as hitherto, no chronological order,
but discussing the personalities of each character as they are unrolled
before us on the panorama of memory.

Handel, most original of composers, after losing his entire fortune in a
legitimate effort to further the interests of the art he loved so well,
passed the last of his life in the gloom of blindness. His glorious
oratorios were most of them produced under the stress of keen adversity,
loss of fortune, and failing health, quite sufficient to have
discouraged any one not truly inspired.[111] Mozart also labored under
the ban of poverty. He was glad to accept even the position of
chapel-master. It is well known that during the composition of some of
his masterpieces he and his family suffered for bread. The great
composer was so absorbed in music that he was but a child in matters of
business.[112] Whatever may be the true definition of genius,
perseverance and application form no inconsiderable part of it. "It is a
very great error," said Mozart, "to suppose that my art has been easily
acquired. I assure you that there is scarcely any one that has so worked
at the study of composition as I have. You could hardly mention any
famous composer whose writings I have not diligently and repeatedly
studied throughout." A boy came to Mozart wishing to compose something,
and inquiring the way to begin. Mozart told him to wait. "You composed
much earlier," said the youth. "But asked nothing about it," replied the
musician.[113] Willmott says very truly that genius finds its own road
and carries its own lamp.

We have seen that Goldsmith produced some of his finest literary work
under stress of circumstances. "Oh, gods! gods!" he exclaimed to his
friend Bryanton, "here in a garret, writing for bread and expecting to
be dunned for a milk-score!" Like so many other children of genius, he
was careless, extravagant, irregular, always in debt and difficulty, all
which hurried him to his grave. He died at the age of forty-five. When,
on his death-bed, the physician asked him if his mind was at ease, he
answered, "No, it is not!" and these were his last words. In that
exquisite story, the "Vicar of Wakefield,"[114] we have the explanation
of how he supported himself while on his travels. "I had some knowledge
of music," he says, "and now turned what was once my amusement into a
present means of subsistence. Whenever I approached a peasant's house
towards nightfall, I played one of my most merry tunes; and that
procured me not only a lodging, but subsistence for the next day."
Goldsmith's many faults were all on the amiable side, though he was
perhaps a little inclined to find fault with his ill-fortune in good set
phrases. Sometimes we are forced to remember that the misery which can
so readily find relief in words of complaint is not dissimilar to that
love which Thackeray thought quite a bearable malady when finding an
outlet in rhyme and prose. Real suffering and profound sorrow are nearly
always silent in proportion to their depth. It is evanescent afflictions
which most readily find tongue. "To write well," says Madame de Staël,
"we should feel truly; but not, as Corinne did, heartbreakingly." If
Goldsmith did grumble, he had bitter cause. At one time having pawned
everything that would bring money, he resorted to writing ballads at
five shillings apiece, going out secretly in the evening to hear them
sung in the streets. His five shillings were often shared with some
importunate beggar. One day he gave away his bed-clothes to a poor woman
who had none; and then, feeling cold at night, he ripped open his bed
and was found lying up to his chin in the feathers! The very name of
Goldsmith seems to us to ring with a generous tone of unselfishness and
human sympathy. The story is true of his leaving the card-table to
relieve a poor woman whose voice as she sang some ditty in passing on
the street came to his sensitive ear indicating distress. Not a line can
be found in all his productions where he has written severely against
any one, though he was himself the subject of bitter criticism and
literary abuse. He was not a very thorough reader of books, but owed his
ability as a writer more to the keenness of his observation. Nature and
life were the books he studied; which was simply going to the
fountain-head for his information.

Machiavelli, the renowned Italian statesman, philosopher, and
dramatist, whose picturesque history of Florence alone would have
entitled him to fame, was entirely misconstrued by the times in which he
lived, suffering imprisonment, torture, and banishment in the cause of
public liberty. Macaulay says of him: "The name of a man whose genius
has illumined all the dark places of policy, and to whose patriotic
wisdom an oppressed people owed their last chance of emancipation,
passed into a proverb of infamy." The victim of one age often becomes
the idol of the next. Dante,[115] expatriated, and exiled from wife and
children, is not forgotten. The greatest genius between the Augustan and
Elizabethan ages, an accomplished musician, a painter of no mean repute,
and a brilliant scholar, he yet enjoyed no contemporary fame. "The
inventor of the spinning-jenny is pretty sure of his reward in his own
day," says Carlyle; "but the writer of a true poem, like the apostle of
a true religion, is nearly as sure of the contrary." Dante poured out
the deep devotion of his youthful heart at the feet of that Beatrice
whose name he has rendered classic by the genius of his pen, though she
did not live to bless him. His later marriage was ill-assorted and
unhappy. The sublime and unique "Divine Comedy" was not even published
until after its author's death. Now the pilgrim bends with reverence
over the grave whither he was hurried by persecution. How absurd are the
transitions of which human appreciation is capable! Even the cool,
philosophical Carlyle was struck with admiration of the poet's devotion.
He says: "I know not in the world an affection equal to that of Dante.
It is a tenderness, a trembling, longing, pitying love, like the wail of
Æolian harps,--soft, soft, like a child's young heart; one likens it to
the song of angels; it is among the purest utterances of affection,
perhaps the very purest that ever came out of a human soul."

Hard indeed seems to have been the fate of the Italian dramatist and
poet, Bentivoglio, who, after impoverishing himself in acts of charity,
literally selling all and giving the proceeds to the poor, when old and
miserable was refused admission into a hospital which he had himself
founded in his days of prosperity. Kotzebue, the German author and
dramatist, who wrote that remarkable play "The Stranger," was a man
beset with morbid melancholy, causing him to pray for death, which came
at last by a murderous hand.[116] Philip Massinger, the creator of "Sir
Giles Overreach," a dramatic conception almost worthy of Shakespeare,
despite his rare and wondrous powers, was the child of adversity.
Massinger wrote in conjunction with Beaumont and Fletcher, they getting
whatever of credit was earned by the three. In those days, an
established writer for the stage would frequently utilize the brains of
others of less note, calling them to aid in productions which bore only
the employer's name. There seemed to be no sunshine in Massinger's life;
it was all in shadow.[117] Could anything be more pathetic than this
brief entry in the death chronicle of a London parish, under date of
March 20, 1639: "Buried--Philip Massinger--a stranger."

Erasmus, the Dutch scholar and philosopher, defrauded of his patrimony
while an orphan of tender years, devoted himself to learning, and
cheerfully submitted to every deprivation to secure it. While pursuing
his studies in Paris he was clothed in rags, and his form was cadaverous
from want of food. It was at this time that he wrote to a friend, "As
soon as I get any money, I will buy first Greek books and then clothes."
Thus nurtured in the school of adversity, he rose to a proud
distinction; and to him, more than to any other writer, was attributed
the success of the Reformation,--it being expressively remarked that he
laid the egg which Luther hatched. If it be true that an atmosphere of
hardship is necessary to the nurture of genius, then certainly Erasmus
encountered the requisite discipline; but as Dr. Johnson says in his
epigrammatic way, "there is a frightful interval between the seed and
the timber." Death is the dropping of the flower that the fruit may
ripen. Thus fame may follow, but seldom is contemporary; nor does true
genius fail to recognize this. Milton's ambition, to use his own words,
was, "to leave something, so written, to after ages that they should not
willingly let it die;" and Cato said he had rather posterity should
inquire why no statues were erected to him, than why they were.
Motherwell calls fame "a flower upon a dead man's heart." Were it
otherwise, were fame contemporary, it would be but the breath of popular
applause, the shallowest phase of reputation. "I always distrust the
accounts of eminent men by their contemporaries," says Samuel Rogers.
"None of us has any reason to slander Homer or Julius Caesar; but we
find it difficult to divest ourselves of prejudices when we are writing
about persons with whom we have been acquainted."

It is tears which wash the eyes of poor humanity, and enable it to see
the previously invisible land of beauty; it is threshing which separates
the wheat from the chaff; every ripened genius has passed its Gethsemane
hours. "The eternal stars shine out as soon as it is dark enough!" says
Carlyle. Izaak Walton, the delightful biographer and charming
miscellaneous writer, was an humble hosier in London in early life. It
was sorrow caused by the death of his wife and children in the stived
quarters of a poor city tradesman, which led him finally to turn his
back upon the great metropolis and seek a home in the country. What
seemed to him to be "dim funereal tapers," proved to be "heaven's
distant lamps." Influenced by the inspiring surroundings of Nature, he
produced his "Complete Angler;" of which Charles Lamb said, "It might
sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it," and which modern
criticism has pronounced one of the best pastorals in the English
language. Spenser, author of the "Faerie Queene," of whose birth little
is known, died in great destitution, though he was buried near Chaucer
in Westminster Abbey. Of his poetry Campbell says: "He threw the soul of
harmony into our verse, and made it more warmly, tenderly, and
magnificently descriptive than it ever was before, or, with a few
exceptions, it has ever been since." The best critics agree that the
originality and richness of his allegorical personages vie with the
splendor of ancient mythology.

Let us not forget to speak of Schiller in his early indigence and
distress, wanting friends and wanting bread, but yet bravely fighting
the battle of life. The humble cottage is still extant, near Leipsic,
where he wrote the "Song of Joy" in those trying days.[118] We recall
Crabbe, stern poet of life's strivings and hardships, reduced to the
verge of starvation, and only relieved by the noble charity of Edmund
Burke; and Otway, one of the most admirable of English dramatists,
author of "Venice Preserved," choked to death by the crust of bread he
eagerly swallowed when weakened by famine. Butler, the author of
"Hudibras,"[119] died in poverty in a London garret. Santara, the famous
French painter, died neglected and penniless in a pauper hospital.
Andrea del Sarto labored hard and patiently at a tailor's bench to
procure the means of pursuing art; and Benvenuto Cellini[120] languished
in the dungeons of San Angelo.

We have spoken of De Foe in prison, he who produced two hundred volumes,
yet died insolvent. Dr. Johnson said there was never anything written by
man that was wished longer by its readers, except "Don Quixote,"
"Robinson Crusoe," and "Pilgrim's Progress." The author of "Robinson
Crusoe" says of himself: "I have gone through a life of wonders, and am
the subject of a great variety of providences. I have been fed more by
miracles than Elijah when the ravens were his purveyors. In the school
of affliction I have learned more philosophy than at the academy, and
more divinity than from the pulpit. In prison I have learned that
liberty does not consist in open doors and the egress and regress of
locomotion. I have seen the rough side of the world as well as the
smooth, and have in less than half a year tasted the difference between
the closet of a king and the dungeon of Newgate." "Talent is often to be
envied," says Holmes, "and genius very commonly to be pitied; it stands
twice the chance of the other of dying in a hospital, in jail, in debt,
in bad repute."

The example of Robert Greene's life carries with it an impressive moral.
He was well educated, taking his degree at Cambridge, England, and was a
successful playwright and poet; but he was also improvident and reckless
in his life, exhibiting more than the usual eccentricities of genius. He
squandered his patrimony in dissipation, and died in great poverty. His
last book, "The Groatsworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance,"
is a book both curious and rare.[121]

With all his dissipated proclivities, Henry Fielding had much more
genius than Robert Greene. He too was constantly poor through his own
recklessness. Lady Montagu, who was a kinswoman of his, said: "He was
always wanting money, and would have wanted it had his hereditary lands
been as extensive as his imagination." And yet he was a marvel of
industry, ever slaving with the pen, writing often under excruciating
pain, and producing his most famous work, "Tom Jones," as has been said,
with an ache and a pain to every sentence. He was, as usual, very short
of money when this work was finished, and tried to sell it to a
second-class publisher for twenty-five pounds. Thomson the poet heard of
this from Fielding, and told him to come to Miller the book-publisher.
This individual gave it to his wife to read, and she bade him to secure
it by all means; so the publisher offered the impecunious author two
hundred guineas for it, and the bargain was closed, to the entire
satisfaction of both parties.[122] Critics have remarked upon the
similarity between Steele and Fielding, though attributing the greater
genius and learning to the latter. They were certainly alike in one
respect; namely, as regarded a chronic state of impecuniosity.

Fielding said of himself that he had no choice but to be a hackney
writer or a hackney coachman for a living. His genius deserved a better
fate. Owing to his poverty he was forced to throw upon the market many
productions which he had much better have thrown into the fire.
Fortunately, in literature it is the rule that the unworthy perishes,
and only the good remains. Many of Fielding's works have a just and
lasting fame, and no library is complete without them. In spite of his
many imperfections, which made brusque Dr. Johnson refuse to sit at
table with him, there was much that was fine and lovable in Harry
Fielding,--truthful, generous to a fault, and with wit and wisdom
marvellously combined. Gibbon, speaking of his own genealogy, refers to
the fact of Fielding being of the same family as the Earl of Denbigh,
who, in common with the imperial family of Austria, is descended from
the celebrated Rodolph of Hapsburg. "While one branch," he says, "have
contented themselves with being sheriffs of Leicestershire and justices
of the peace, the other has furnished emperors of Germany and kings of
Spain; but the magnificent romance of 'Tom Jones' will be read with
pleasure when the palace of the Escurial is in ruins and the imperial
eagle of Austria is rolling in the dust."

Justice, like the sword of Damocles, is ever suspended. Nemesis is not
dead, but sleepeth. Sometimes old age seizes upon an ill-spent life, and
gives us a striking example of the vicissitudes of genius. Dean Swift,
the great master of biting satire and felicitous analogy, possessing
the rarest qualities of wit, humor, and eloquence, was yet so
paradoxical and inconsistent withal, as to lie under the suspicion of
madness half of his life. Ambitious, talented, ever seeking preferment,
never satisfied, now a busy Whig and now a noisy Tory, he was a perfect
brigand in politics, and his motto was, "Stand and deliver." Swift's
bitterness, scorn, and subsequent misanthropy were the sequence of
disappointment. "All my endeavors to distinguish myself," he wrote to
Bolingbroke, "were only for want of a great title and fortune, that I
might be used like a lord by those who have an opinion of my parts;
whether right or wrong is no great matter." Coarse, sceptical, and
irreligious,[123] he was arrogant where he dared to be, and cautious
with his money, though having a reputation for charity. "If you were in
a strait," asks Thackeray, "would you like such a benefactor? I think I
would rather have had a potato and a friendly word from Goldsmith, than
be beholden to the Dean for a guinea and a dinner." Heartlessly
vibrating between Stella and Vanessa, to the misery and mortification of
both, he finally married the former, only to separate from her at the
church door. We are fain to abhor the man while we freely acknowledge
the lustre of his genius, and to see only providential justice in his
fate, when in the later years of his life, grown morose, misanthropic,
and solitary, watched at all times by a keeper, his memory and other
faculties failed him, and the great Dean became a picture of death in
life. He made many enemies, and was bitterly criticised by his
contemporaries, often not without ample justice. He has been stigmatized
as "the apostate politician, the perjured lover, and the ribald
priest,--a heart burning with hatred against the whole human race, a
mind richly laden with images from the gutter and the lazar-house."[124]

At complete antipodes to this portrait is that of Richard Steele, the
popular dramatist, essayist, and editor; the friend of Addison, and one
of the wittiest and most popular men of his day. His also was an erratic
career, alternating between vice and virtue; or, as he says of himself,
always sinning and repenting, until he finally outlived his relish for
society, his income, and his health. "He was the best-natured creature
in the world," says Young; "even in his worst state of health he seemed
to desire nothing but to please and be pleased." Worn out and forgotten
by his contemporaries, Steele retired into the country and left
posterity to appreciate his genius. With a warm heart overflowing with
love of wife and children, his checkered life was yet full of faults and
careless blunders, many of which were directly traceable to strong
drink. Little learned in books, but with a large knowledge of men and
the world, he wrote with captivating simplicity and in the most
colloquial style. Social and kindly in the extreme, his whole character
is in strong contrast with the harshness of Swift and the dignified
loneliness of Addison.[125] Somehow we forget about the sword of
Damocles, and ignore Nemesis altogether in connection with the name of
Steele; and while we do not forget his weaknesses, we recollect more
readily his loving nature, his appreciation of beauty and goodness, and
his warm sympathy and kindness of heart. It was Steele who said of a
noble lady of his time, that to love her was a liberal education.

Dr. Johnson spent much of his early life in penury, wandering in the
streets, sometimes all night, without the means to pay for a lodging. A
garret was a luxury to him in those days.[126] Alas! what a satire upon
learning and authorship! Notwithstanding his powerful intellect, he was
subject to such a singular and even superstitious dread of death, that
he could hardly be persuaded to execute his will in later years. When
Garrick showed Johnson his fine house and grounds at Hampton Court, the
mind of the great lexicographer reverted to his special weakness,
saying, "Ah! David, David, these are the things which make a death-bed
terrible." When he and Garrick both became famous, they used to chaff
each other about who came to London with two shillings, and who had
two-and-sixpence. Johnson was a confirmed hypochondriac; hence the gloom
and morbid irritability of his disposition. His disorder entailed upon
him perpetual fretfulness and mental despondency. Had it not been for
the wonderful vigor of his mind,--as in the case of Cowper, who was
similarly affected,--he would have been the inmate of a mad-house.
Macaulay says of Johnson grown old: "In the fulness of his fame, and in
the enjoyment of a competent fortune, he is better known to us than any
other man in history. Everything about him, his coat, his wig, his
figure, his face, his scrofula, his St. Vitus's dance, his rolling walk,
his blinking eye, the outward signs which too clearly marked his
approbation of his dinner, his insatiable appetite for fish-sauce and
veal-pie with plums, his inextinguishable thirst for tea, his trick of
touching the posts as he walked, his mysterious practice of treasuring
up scraps of orange-peel, his morning slumbers, his midnight
disputations, his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntings, his
puffings, his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence, his sarcastic wit,
his vehemence, his indolence, his fits of tempestuous rage, his queer
inmates, old Mr. Levitt and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge and the
negro Frank,--are all as familiar to us as the objects by which we have
been surrounded from childhood."

The greatest talents are usually coupled with the most acute
sensibility. Rousseau imagined a phantom ever by his side; Luther had
his demon, who frequented his study at all hours. So realistic was the
great reformer's imagination, that he was accustomed to throw at the
intruder any article nearest at hand. The confusion thus caused may
easily be conceived when on one such occasion he cast his inkstand, with
its contents, at the supposed demon. Cowper's weird and fatal messenger
will also be remembered. Tasso's spirits glided in the air,[127] and
Mozart's "man in black" induced him to write his own requiem. But
Johnson saw omens in the most trifling circumstances. If he chanced, in
passing out of the house, to place his left foot foremost, he would
return and start with the right, as promising immunity from accident and
a safe return. Strange as it may seem, this eminent and profound man put
faith in a long list of equally ridiculous omens in every-day life. He
was a most voluminous and versatile writer, and excelled in delineating
female characters; though Burke did say "all the ladies of his dramatis
personæ were Johnsons in petticoats." Few persons with means so limited
as his ever spent more for charitable purposes; and if his disposition
was irritable, his heart was kind. "He loved the poor," says Mrs.
Thrale, "as I never yet saw any one else love them. He nursed whole
nests of people in his house, where the lame, the blind, the sick, and
the sorrowful found a sure retreat." Now and then, throughout Johnson's
life, we get a glimpse that shows us the man, not as the world at large
knew him, but as his unmasked heart appeared. Does the reader recall the
incident of his kneeling by the dying bed of an aged woman, and giving
her a pious kiss, afterwards recording, "We parted firmly, hoping to
meet again"?

Melancholy has been the very demon of genius, the skeleton in the closet
of poets and philosophers. Burton composed his "Anatomy of Melancholy"
to divert his own depressed spirits.[128] Cowper is another example. He
says of himself, "I was struck with such a dejection of spirits as none
but they who have felt the same can have the least conception of." He
was tenderly attached, it will be remembered, to his cousin Theodora,
who returned his love; but disappointment was the lot of both, as her
parents, doubtless for good reasons, forbade the union. While the vastly
humorous and popular ballad of "John Gilpin" was delighting the
Londoners, and was being read to crowded audiences at high prices, the
poor unhappy author was confined as a lunatic, and, to use his own
words, was "encompassed by the midnight of absolute despair."[129] The
poet, like the clown in the ring, when he appears before the public must
be all smiles and jests, though concealing perhaps an agony of physical
or mental suffering. We know little of the real aspect which the face of
Harlequin presents beneath his mask. Be sure he has his sorrows, deep
and dark, in spite of the grinning features which he wears. Who does not
recall the words which Thackeray makes his old and faithful gold pen

    "I've help'd him to pen many a line for bread;
    To joke, with sorrow aching in his head;
    And make your laughter when his own heart bled."

Was there ever pleasanter or more genial reading than "Cowper's Familiar
Letters," full to the brim with sparkling humor? Yet these were coined
from his brain while in a state of hopeless dejection. "I wonder," he
writes to Mr. Newton, "that a sportive thought should ever knock at the
door of my intellect, and still more that it should gain admittance. It
is as if Harlequin should introduce himself into the gloomy chamber
where a corpse is deposited in state." He was one of the most amiable
and gifted, but also one of the unhappiest, of the children of genius.

Christopher Smart, poet, scholar, and prose writer, was an eccentric
individual, but of such undoubted ability as to challenge the admiration
and win the friendship of Dr. Johnson, who wrote his biography. His
habits finally became very bad, so that, delirium setting in, it was
found necessary to confine him in an asylum. While there he wrote a very
remarkable religious poem entitled the "Song of David," produced in his
rational moments, which exhibited sublimity and power, and is still
considered one of the curiosities of English literature. Smart improved
in health and was discharged with his full reason restored, but was soon
after committed to the King's Bench prison for debt; and there he died,
poverty-stricken and neglected, in 1770. Samuel Boyle was a contemporary
of Smart, and was possessed of equal genius whether with the pen or the
bottle. Poor fellow! he got an indifferent living as a fag author,
though he was capable of fine literary work. His poem entitled the
"Deity" fully proved this. Ogle, the London publisher, used to employ
Boyle to translate some of Chaucer's tales into modern English, which
he did with much excellence and spirit, and for which he received
threepence per printed line. The poor genius sank lower and lower, lived
in a miserable garret, wearing a blanket about his shoulders, having no
vest or coat, and was at last found famished to death with a pen in his
hand. "Hunger and nakedness," says Carlyle, "perils and revilings, the
prison, the cross, the poison-chalice, have in most times and countries
been the market price the world has offered for wisdom, the welcome with
which it has greeted those who have come to enlighten and purify it.
Homer and Socrates and the Christian apostles belong to old days; but
the world's Martyrology was not completed with them."

Richard Payne Knight, the Greek scholar and antiquary, was a remarkable
genius in his way. His gift of ancient coins, bronzes, and works of art
presented to the British Museum was valued at fifty thousand pounds. He
was a poet of more than ordinary ability, and wrote, among other prose
works, "An Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of Taste." He was for
a number of consecutive years a member of Parliament. He had singular
attacks of melancholy, and finally developed such a loathing of life
that he destroyed himself with poison.

Poverty has nearly always been the patrimony of the Muses. "An author
who attempts to live on the manufacture of his imagination," says
Whipple, "is constantly coquetting with starvation." A glance at the
brief life of Chatterton is evidence enough of the truth of this
remark. He began to write poems of extraordinary merit at an immature
age, and when a mere boy came up to London to seek for literary
employment as a means of support. He wrote sermons, poems, essays, and
political articles with an ability far beyond his years. He was indeed a
prodigy of genius, and probably would have stood in the front rank of
English poets had he lived to maturer years. No one ever equalled him at
the same age, and Tasso alone, says Campbell, can be compared to him as
a youthful prodigy. His life in the metropolis was one of great hardship
and deprivation, as he often suffered for want of the simplest
necessities of life, and grew so emaciated in appearance from the lack
of food that strangers, sometimes meeting him in the street, forced him
to accept a dinner which he was too proud to ask for. All this while,
with much more consideration for the feelings of the family at home than
thought for himself, he wrote cheerful letters to his mother, and even
sent small and acceptable presents to his sister, in order to content
them for his absence. Seeking only expression for the divine afflatus
within him, he had no thought of self, no care for the morrow. By
degrees, young as he was, he sank into utter despondency, and was
reduced to actual starvation. He was found at last upon his bed of
straw, having taken his own life in a fit of desperation. At the time he
swallowed the fatal poison he was not quite nineteen years of age.

George Combe, the English author, encountered a full share of the
vicissitudes of genius. He was capable of much theoretical goodness, but
was not practical in that respect. He wrote in his old age, "Few men
have enjoyed more of the pleasures and brilliance of life than myself;"
yet he died in the King's Bench, where he had taken refuge from his
creditors, not leaving enough to pay the expenses of his funeral.

Many a child of genius has been compelled to prostitute godlike powers
to repel the gnawings of hunger; as for instance Holzman, the sagacious
Oriental scholar and professor of Greek, who sold his notes on Dion
Cassius for a dinner. The record of this learned man's struggles with
dire want form a pathetic chapter in literary history. He tells us
himself that at the age of eighteen he studied to acquire glory, but at
twenty-five he studied to get bread.

While these pages are preparing for the press, Dr. Moshlech, a
scientist, and the master of ten languages, has died in the county
almshouse of Erie, Pennsylvania. He was a Prussian by birth, and
graduated with high honors from the University of Bonn; made medicine a
specialty, and practised the profession for several years in Paris, but
finally turned his attention to science, and afterwards to the
languages. He numbered among his friends many illustrious men, chief of
whom were Darwin and Victor Hugo. At the beginning of our late war he
visited this country, and accepted a position as Professor of Greek and
Hebrew in Bethany College, West Virginia, which he held but a short
time, owing to the war excitement. He subsequently practised medicine in
Ohio and Pennsylvania, and wrote for scientific publications. He was so
much interested in his work that he neglected to make provision for his
old age; and when he could no longer pursue his profession, this man,
who had associated with the most learned men of Europe, was compelled to
apply to a poorhouse for shelter and bread. Even after he entered the
almshouse he prepared a number of young men for college, and lectured
occasionally before the Erie Historical Society.

Few authors are so calm of spirit, or so assured of their position, as
not to shrink from well-expressed criticism, and especially when it
comes in the form of ridicule,--forgetting that although an ass may bray
at a classic statue, an ass cannot create one.[130] So sensitive was
even Newton to critical attacks, that Whiston, another English
philosopher, and a personal friend of Sir Isaac, said he was quite
unmanned when any declaration of his was called in question by the
reviewers; and further, that he (Whiston) lost Newton's favor, which he
had enjoyed for twenty years, by contradicting him on some point of his
printed works; "for," he adds, "no man was of a more fearful temper."
Some critics use the pen as the surgeon does the scalpel: they do not
analyze, but they dissect. The flowers of the imagination, like the life
of the body, vanish if too closely pressed. "Criticism," says Richter,
"often takes from the tree caterpillar and blossoms together."[131] Thus
was the heart of poor Keats crushed and broken by the malignant severity
of Gifford in the "Quarterly Review." One would have thought that this
captious critic, who by his own talent alone had worked his way from the
cobbler's bench to the editorial chair of the "Quarterly," would have
been more considerate towards a man[132] who, like himself, rose from
humble associations. It only proved that the man who had successfully
cast the slough of vulgar life, had still the heart of a clown. Gifford
was indignant and sensitive beyond measure at a published criticism on
his translation of Juvenal, which appeared in the "Critical Review;" and
he put forth a sharp, angry answer, in the form of a large quarto
pamphlet. No poet ever exhibited a more vivid perception of the
beautiful, or greater powers of fancy, than Keats; but the bitterness of
the criticism referred to was too much for his delicate health and
sensitive nature, hastening, if it did not actually develop, the seeds
of consumption, of which he died. Keats's father was a livery-stable
keeper, and it is said that the future poet was born in the most humble
quarters; but the irresistible fire of genius lighted his path, and had
he lived past the noon of life, he would have carved his way to the
highest fame. He finally went to Rome, in the hope of recuperating his
failing health; but that was not to be. In the last day of his illness a
companion who had called in, asked him how he was. "Better, my friend,"
he answered in a low voice. "I feel the daisies growing over me!" He
died at Rome in his twenty-sixth year, Feb. 23, 1821. His body lies in
the English burial-ground outside the gates of the ancient city, by the
Appian Way, and near to the pyramid of Cestius. The simple slab that
marks the spot interests one quite as much as many of the grand
historical monuments of the Via Appia.[133] We all remember the touching
epitaph from his own pen:--

    "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

As to the effect of criticism in general, we are told that Pope was
observed to writhe in his chair on hearing the letter of Cibber
mentioned, with other severe criticism on the product of his hand and
brain. The strictures, deserved and undeserved, which were publicly
made on Montesquieu are said to have hastened his death. Ritson's
extreme sensitiveness to criticism ended in lunacy, and Racine is
thought by many to have died from the same cause.

Surely disappointment tracks the path of genius. Thus Collins, the
eminent lyric poet, whose "Ode to the Passions" has made his name famous
and familiar in our day, did not live to enjoy his literary success;
indeed, his death is known to have been hastened by long neglect. The
last half of his brief life was darkened by melancholy,[134] and his
home was a lunatic asylum. The money received from his publishers as
copyright on his poems he voluntarily refunded, also paying the entire
expense of the edition, after which he made a bonfire of the sheets. As
we have seen in so many other instances, it was left for posterity to do
Collins justice. In the course of a single generation, without any
adventitious aid to bring them into notice, his poems have come to rank
among the best of their kind in the language. Poor Collins! unfortunate
in love, threatened with blindness, and harassed by bailiffs half his
life, his career was one of unrest, unhappiness, and despair; death,
the comforter of him whom time cannot console, gave the poet an early

Small was the portion of happiness that fell to the share of these men
of genius; the lonely places they occupied were too lofty for
companionship. "The wild summits of the mountains are inaccessible,"
says Madame Necker; "only eagles and reptiles can get there." We have
seen how hard appears the fate of genius as a rule, and that its
possession is often at the cost of great deprivation and unhappiness. Is
it not difficult to recall an instance where a pronounced genius has
also enjoyed the quiet beauty of domestic life? Wordsworth's remark,
however, is applicable: namely, that men do not make their homes unhappy
because they have genius, but because they have not enough genius. The
conclusion would seem to be that we may envy talent, but must oftenest
pity genius.

About half a century since, the well-known indiscretions of Shelley
caused his name to be tabooed in London society, though in moral
attributes he stood immeasurably above his friend Byron. Still, he was
amenable enough to censure. His poetry is strikingly brilliant; each
line is a complete thought, and the whole sparkles like sunlight upon
the sea. After being expelled from college he made a "Gretna Green"
marriage with Harriet Westbrook, but eventually abandoned her with his
two children,--the woman who had given up all for him, and who in her
dark hour of sorrow and despair drowned herself.[136] We can describe
Shelley's character no better than by comparing it to his longest poem,
the "Revolt of Islam," which abounds in passages of surpassing beauty,
but which as a whole is deficient in connection and human interest. It
is as erratic as his own life.[137] There is so much of bad in the best,
and of good in the worst, that few of us are willing to sit in judgment
upon poor humanity. Time has softened the asperity of our feelings, and
the productions of Shelley's genius are now justly admired. When, after
his fatal accident, his body was washed on shore, a copy of Keats's
poems was found in his pocket. His ashes now rest near those of his
brother poet outside the gates of Rome. As a striking example of his
remarkable sensibility, we may mention the effect upon him when he
first listened to the reading of Coleridge's "Christabel"[138] in a
small social circle. Says one who was present, "Shelley was so affected
that he fainted dead away." He was consistent, and lived up to his
convictions. While listening to the organ in an Italian cathedral, he
sighed that charity instead of faith was not regarded as the substance
of religion. The maintenance of his opinion cost him a fine estate, so
constant and profuse were his charities towards impoverished men of
letters and the poor generally.

The author of an "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard"[139] was
absolutely a slave to diffidence and painful shyness,--a characteristic
which led to bitter persecution while he was a young student; nor could
he ever quite divest himself of this nervous timidity. Hazlitt says of
Gray that "he was terrified out of his wits at the bare idea of having
his portrait prefixed to his works, and probably died from nervous
agitation at the publicity into which his name had been forced by his
learning, taste, and genius." On the death of Cibber, the vacant
laureateship was offered to Gray, but his sensitiveness led him to
decline it.[140]


In these desultory chapters we have more than once seen that fame
appeals to posterity; but in the instance of Byron it was contemporary,
for he tells us he "awoke one morning and found himself famous." No
man's errors were ever more closely observed and recorded than his; and
we are still too near the period of his life to forget his foibles and
remember only the productions of his genius. Byron, like Pope, was a
sufferer from physical deformity, and much of the morbid sensibility of
both arose from their common misfortune. Macaulay, speaking of Byron,
says: "He had naturally a generous and feeling heart, but his temper was
wayward and irritable. He had a head which statuaries loved to copy, and
a foot the deformity of which the beggar in the street mimicked.
Distinguished at once by the strength and by the weakness of his
intellect, affectionate yet perverse, a poor lord and a handsome
cripple, he required, if ever man required, the finest and most
judicious training. But capriciously as Nature had dealt with him, the
parent to whom the office of forming his character was intrusted was
more capricious still. She passed from paroxysms of rage to paroxysms of
tenderness. At one time she stiffled him with her caresses; at another
time she insulted his deformity. He came into the world; and the world
treated him as his mother had treated him,--sometimes with fondness,
sometimes with cruelty, never with justice. It indulged him without
discrimination, and punished him without discrimination. He was truly a
spoiled child,--the spoiled child of fortune, the spoiled child of fame,
the spoiled child of society." The author of "Don Juan" was actuated at
times by a strange recklessness, and a desire to seem worse than he
really was. He aped the misanthrope, assumed unfelt remorse, and
affected singularity, in order to court notoriety. However capricious
may have been his temper, he came rightly enough by it, since his mother
was noted for the frenzied violence of her passion, being wholly without
judgment or self-control, and in nearly every respect disqualified for
performing a parent's duty.[141] Byron was also a victim of hypochondria
only in a less degree than Johnson and Cowley; and this is his one
genuine excuse for the excesses into which he sometimes rushed headlong.
No matter in what light we consider him, all must concede the fervor of
his passionate genius; and therein lay his remarkable power, for man is
at his greatest when stimulated by the passions. Enthusiasm is
contagious, and infuses a spirit of emulation; while reason, calm and
forcible, only wins us by the slow process of conviction.

The truest grandeur of our nature is often born of sorrow. Those who
have suffered most have developed the profoundest sympathies and have
sung for us the sweetest notes. It is the heart which is seamed with
scars that compels other hearts. Charles Lamb, at one time himself
confined in an insane asylum, lived to the end of his days with, and in
charge of, an unfortunate sister, who in a fit of madness murdered her
mother,--an experience sufficient to cast, as it did, an awful blight
over his whole life; but it was the occasion in him of an instance of
holy human love and pure self-denial seldom equalled. Poor Mary
Lamb[142] knew when these mental attacks were coming on, and then her
brother and herself, hand in hand, sought the asylum, to the matron of
which he would say, "I have brought Mary again;" and presently, when
the attack had passed, he was at the door of the asylum to receive her
once more and take her kindly home. The domestic tragedy and his
sister's condition caused Lamb to give up all idea of marriage, though
at the time of the sad occurrence he was sincerely attached to a lovely
woman. The court, after Mary's trial, consigned her to her brother's
care. He wrote to his friend Coleridge, "I am wedded to the fortunes of
my sister and my poor old father." The father died not long subsequent,
but Mary survived Charles thirteen years, dying in 1847. With
considerable ability as a versifier, Lamb will not be remembered as a
poet; his fame will rest on his essays and his sagacious criticisms. The
"Essays of Elia" are inimitable, full of the author's personality,
exquisitely delicate, poetical, whimsical, witty, and odd. The only
fault to be reasonably found with them is their brevity. We wish there
were a dozen volumes in place of one. They are the pedestal upon which
the fame of this gentle, charitable, and quaint genius will ever rest.
Lamb's character was amiably eccentric, but always full of
loving-kindness. The pseudonym of "Elia" has become famous, and was
first assumed in the author's contributions to the "London Magazine."
While his lovable disposition and pensive cast of thought tinge all his
productions, there is ever a playfulness lurking just below the surface
which is sure to captivate the most casual reader. During his life Lamb
was looked upon by the world as possessing more oddity than genius; but
now all join in admitting him to be one of the fixed stars of
literature.[143] What a significant fact it is that Lamb was so tenderly
regarded by the galaxy of notable men with whom he associated! He was a
schoolmate of Coleridge and intimate with him for fifty years. Southey,
Hazlitt, Wordsworth, Godwin, De Quincey, Edward Irving, Thomas Hood,
Leigh Hunt, and other men of literary fame were the warm and loving
friends of Charles Lamb.

With all his æsthetic proclivities, "Elia" was of a sensuous nature.
Besides roast pig, he had other favored dishes, not rare and luxurious,
but special, nevertheless. He was particularly fond of brawn, and
considered tripe to be superlatively appetizing when suitably prepared.
He was also a connoisseur in all sorts of drinks; not that he was
extravagant,--on the contrary, he was to a degree self-denying, and even
with all his little generosities and his care of his sister Mary he
managed to leave two thousand pounds, saved out of his always moderate
income, to make that sister comfortable. He wrote to Wordsworth: "God
help me! I am a Christian, an Englishman, a Londoner, a Templar. When I
put off these snug relations and go to the world to come, I shall be
like a crow on the sand." Lamb said that oftentimes absurd images forced
themselves with irresistible power upon his mind,--such, for instance,
as an elephant in a coach office gravely waiting to have his trunk
booked; or a mermaid over a fish-kettle cooking her own tail![144]

Wordsworth--to whom we have already alluded more than once--was at times
distressingly poor, and in such straitened circumstances that he and his
family denied themselves meat for days together. Had it not been for the
admirable influence of his sister Dorothy, who cheered his spirits and
counteracted his morbid tendencies, his mind might have drifted into
something like insanity. His disappointment was great at the comparative
failure of his literary work, which brought him little in the way of
pecuniary return during his life. A fortunate legacy and comparatively
sinecure office, however, finally afforded him humble independence.

It seems gratuitous to refer to the natural weakness of so pure and
good a man as Wordsworth, but we have tried to be impartial in these
pages. Grand and simple as our poet was, he had the element of vanity
snugly stowed away among his attributes, yet ready to betray itself on
occasion. It is related that sometimes when he met a little child he
would stop and ask him to observe his face carefully, so that in after
years the child might be able to say he had seen the great Wordsworth.
"Wordsworth," says Charles Lamb, "one day told me that he considered
Shakespeare greatly overrated. 'There is,' said he, 'an immensity of
trick in all Shakespeare wrote, and people are taken by it. Now, if I
had a mind, I could write exactly like Shakespeare!' So you see," added
Lamb, "it was only the mind that was wanting!" The late James T. Fields,
who was a hearty admirer and personal friend of the poet, said, "Yes,
Wordsworth was vain; but think for a moment what he has produced, and
how much he had in him to be self-conscious of!"

Colton, better known by his _nom de plume_ of "Lacon," is a vivid
illustration of the eccentricities of genius. Though he was a man whose
personal character is entirely unworthy of our respect, yet no one can
deny that he was endowed with marked and original powers. He comes
before us in our day simply as the author of his remarkable Laconics,
full of spontaneous thoughts happily expressed, and which will compare
favorably with the apothegms of Bacon or the terse brevities of
Rochefoucauld. The eccentricities and irregularities of Colton are
almost too extravagant for belief, and certainly will not bear
rehearsal. At one and the same time a clergyman of fair repute and the
secret companion of sporting-men and gamblers, he was always playing a
double part. He was the author of several important pamphlets and some
excellent poetry, and, when abroad, the well-paid correspondent of the
London press. Notwithstanding the wit and consummate wisdom of the
volume which made him famous, it must be admitted that he was incapable
of appreciating what was grand and noble in principle. Deeply in debt,
he fled to Paris to escape the importunities of his creditors, where he
became a confirmed and undisguised gambler. Here at one time he realized
such an extraordinary run of luck as to break a famous bank, becoming
the possessor of nearly thirty thousand pounds. His experience was like
that of nearly every one who becomes suddenly rich in a similar manner.
He lost every penny of his winnings within a few weeks, and retired to
Fontainebleau, where he ended his life by suicide.[145] In future
generations, when his personal career is forgotten, his one remarkable
literary monument will still remain, like the column of Luxor,

It is known to every mathematician that the regular gambler must lose in
the end, even though he may "break the bank" now and then. Even if the
bank is honestly conducted, all the chances are against him. The theory
of probabilities has become almost an exact science. Arago,--the famous
French astronomer and natural philosopher,--when consulted by a
gentleman who was infatuated with the terrible vice of gambling, told
him, within a few francs, how much he had lost the preceding year. "But
I must play," was the answer. "It is true that I find my fortune
diminishing every year, as you have stated; but can you not tell me how,
on a capital of five million francs, I may save enough to give me a
decent burial in the end?" Arago, after learning the gambler's method of
playing, and the sum he risked, told him that he must reduce the amount
of his daily ventures to a certain small number of francs, and that,
according to the law of chances, however cool and calm his playing, he
would lose his five million francs in about fifteen years. Every body of
stockholders in a faro bank can calculate on twenty per cent of their
investment being returned to them yearly.

Could genius enjoy the advantage of being judged by its peers, it would
stand a better chance for contemporary fame; but overshadowed, as it so
often is, by foibles, waywardness, and those passions alike common to
the humble and the exalted, it must pass through the crucible of time to
fit it for sincere homage. Robert Burns, whose struggle with fate began
almost beside the cradle, and whose youth was one ceaseless buffeting
with misfortune, is an illustration in point. His productions are not of
a character to set aside altogether the remembrance of his follies,
though we are all inclined to treat the memory of the Scottish bard with
indulgence and half reverence, while we hasten to acknowledge his great
and unquestioned genius. Burns was sadly addicted to whiskey and
tobacco, which led Byron, as we have already said, to call him "a
strange compound of dirt and deity." The author of "Childe Harold"
forgot the proverb about those who live in glass houses. Burns, from
early youth, was subject to extraordinary fits of dejection, which
amounted to a species of hypochondria, long before convivial society had
inoculated him with the then popular vice of intemperance. He became
finally an incongruous mixture of mirth and melancholy, while poverty
with its attendant ills was seldom from his door. He writes to a friend:
"I have been for some time pining under secret wretchedness; the pang of
disappointment, the sting of pride, and some wandering stabs of remorse
settle on my vitals like vultures when my attention is not called away
by the claims of society or the vagaries of the Muse." Poor, ill-fated
genius![146] By his follies and indulgences he as surely committed
suicide in his thirty-seventh year as did the starving, half-delirious
Chatterton on his bed of straw.

Mrs. Dunlop, an early patroness of Burns, had in her family an old and
favored housekeeper, who did not exactly relish her mistress's attention
to a man of such low estate. In order to overcome her prejudice, her
mistress induced the domestic to read one of Burns's poems, the
"Cotter's Saturday Night." When Mrs. Dunlop inquired her opinion of the
poem, the housekeeper replied with quaint indifference, "Aweel, madam,
that's vera weel." "Is that all you have to say in its favor?" asked the
mistress. "'Deed, madam," she replied, "the like o' you quality may see
a vast in 't; but I was aye used the like o' all that the poet has
written about in my ain father's house, and atweel I dinna ken how he
could hae described it any other gate." When Burns heard of the old
woman's criticism, he remarked that it was one of the highest
compliments he had ever received.

The name of Thoreau suggests itself in this connection. He lived in a
cabin erected by himself on the borders of Walden Pond, a voluntary
hermit, frugal and self-denying, that he might enjoy a studious
retirement. The intimate friend of Emerson and Hawthorne must have had
fine original qualities to commend him. Known at the outset only as an
oddity, he grew finally to be respected and admired for his quaint
genius. He experienced a disappointment in love, which doubtless had
much to do with his social peculiarities.[147] In business and the
affairs of every-day life he was utterly impracticable. He supported
himself during his college course at Cambridge by teaching school, doing
carpentering, and other work. The restrictions of society were
intolerable to him; he never attended church, never paid a tax, and
never voted. He ate no flesh, drank no wine, never used tobacco, and
though a naturalist, used neither trap nor gun. When asked at dinner
what dish he preferred, he answered, "The nearest." "So many negative
superiorities smack somewhat of the prig," says one of his reviewers.
"Time," says Thoreau, in his fanciful way, "is but a stream I go fishing
in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect
how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I
would drink deeper--fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars."
He worshipped Nature in all her forms, and depicted with a loving and
exuberant fancy hills and water, with the myriad life which peopled
them. He wrote several books which are read to-day with more of interest
than when the author was alive.

Genius and inspiration are so nearly allied as to leave no dividing
line, and the sublimity of martyrdom is often added to the column of
fame. Joan of Arc, the most illustrious heroine of history, was born a
poor peasant girl of Lorraine; but at the age of eighteen, impelled by
an exalted enthusiasm, she commanded an army of devoted followers, and
raising the siege of Orleans gave to Charles VII. a crown. At the age of
thirteen she said she received commands from Heaven to go and liberate
France; and with a confidence of Divine support she pursued her mission.
No romancer would dare to imagine or portray so glorious a heroine;
fiction could not equal the actual deeds that this pure and lowly girl
accomplished.[148] That she was the agent of Divine Providence to bring
about a great political object goes without saying; yet this maid of
Domremy was burned at the stake.

Rachel, the child of poverty, the itinerant of the Parisian boulevards,
infused with genius, suddenly became the idol of courts and of princes,
being as devoutly worshipped by the lovers of art on the banks of the
Neva and the Thames as on the shores of her beautiful Seine. How strange
were the vicissitudes of this wonderful artist, this frail child of
genius! An actress of transcendent dramatic power, she leaves us the
souvenir of a splendid star of histrionic art extinguished when it
burned the brightest. One day, when Rachel was thus singing and reciting
on the public street, a benevolent-looking man, with pitying eyes, was
attracted, in passing, by the child's intelligent look, and put a
five-franc piece in her hand. She took the silver with a grateful
courtesy and watched him until he passed out of sight. A citizen who had
seen the generous act said, "That was Victor Hugo;" and the
child-actress remembered the name ever after. But little did the great
poet anticipate what the pale-faced child was destined to become in that
world of art of which he was so distinguished a disciple.

Edwin Forrest, our own famous tragedian, was in Paris in 1836, and was
invited by the manager to see an actress who was to make her début at
one of the theatres on a certain evening. The manager asked him, in the
course of the performance, what he thought of the débutante. Forrest
replied that he feared she would never rise above mediocrity, and added,
"But that Jewish-looking girl, that little bag of bones, with the marble
face and the flaming eyes,--there is demoniacal power in her. If she
lives and does not burn out too soon, she will make a great actress." He
referred to Rachel, then in her fifteenth year. We all know how that
genius developed. Parsimony was a fixed trait of her character; she
could not help it. "Is it any wonder," she once said to a friend, "that
I should be fond of money, considering the suffering I went through in
my youth to earn a few sous?"

It appears as if Nature scattered her seeds of genius to the wind, so
many take root and blossom in sterile places, and also that she
delights to add vigor and glory to her chance productions. Thus Adelina
Patti, the greatest prima donna of her day, was once a barefooted child
in the streets of New York. Kings and queens, spellbound by her glorious
voice, have delighted to honor her; but her domestic life was wrecked at
the moment of her greatest professional triumph. Complete success is
granted to none. Some bitterness is sure to tincture our cup of bliss,
for, after all, it is of earth and not of heaven. Perfection may exist
with angels above, but not among mortals. The life of genius is beset
with extraordinary temptations; the stimulating spur of praise,
flattery, and high homage should be, but rarely is, counterbalanced by
the curb of reason. We have already seen that great genius and true
domestic happiness are seldom found under the same roof. The
extraordinary development of certain faculties argues diminution in
others; and where there are extremes, it is ever difficult to harmonize
the various parts.

Miss Landon, the youthful and tender poetess and novelist, known to the
world by her familiar signature "L. E. L.," coined the treasures of her
brain to support those who were dependent upon her. In one of her
letters she says, "My life, since the age of fifteen years, has been one
incessant struggle with adversity." Her productions can hardly be said
to bear the stamp of high genius, but they enjoyed a certain popularity
and procured the much-needed money. The mystery of her early and
mournful death is only known in heaven. She died from a dose of prussic
acid, in her thirty-sixth year, which was also her bridal year.[149]

The infinitely sweet and touching poems of Mrs. Hemans were the outflow
of a heart yearning for human affection and finding it not. Her domestic
life also proved to be a marked failure. She separated from her husband
after six years of married life, and never saw him again. Her genius was
early developed; her poems were contributed to the London press at the
age of fifteen.[150] She died at the age of forty-one, worn out by
domestic unhappiness and ill health. She has herself said, "There is
strength deep-bedded in our hearts, of which we reck but little till the
shafts of heaven have pierced its frail dwelling. Must not earth be rent
before her gems are found?" "It has been the fashion among youthful
critics of late," says Epes Sargent, "to undervalue her productions; but
not a few of these have a charm, a tenderness, and a spirit which must
make them long dear to the hearts of the many." Her complete works,
containing a tragedy entitled, "The Vespers of Palermo," are contained
in six volumes. We may also recall the sad, sad life of Charlotte
Bronté, the poor curate's daughter, whose orphaned childhood was so
miserable, and whose youth was drudgery as a schoolteacher at sixteen
pounds a year. Under the pressure of extreme ill health and a heart
nearly broken with sorrow, this daughter of genius produced "Jane Eyre,"
a novel of such power, piquancy, and originality as to take the reading
world by storm. She was finally married, but only to die in her bridal
year. The three daughters of Rev. Patrick Bronté were each endowed with
literary genius, which under happier circumstances might have developed
into famous results. Charlotte wrote, as we have said, "Jane Eyre;"
Emily wrote "Wuthering Heights," an almost equally popular novel; and
Anne wrote the "Tenant of Wildfell Hall." The three unitedly published
in 1846 "Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell," the sisters'
respective pseudonyms.[151] The father's income was one hundred and
seventy pounds a year, upon which to support a family of twelve persons.
He was a man of more than ordinary culture and of much poetic talent. A
volume of his poems was published in 1811, entitled "Cottage Poems." He
survived his whole family. Many critics have pronounced "Villette,"
published by Charlotte a couple of years before her death, to be
superior in construction and interest to "Jane Eyre."

It would seem that deep and thoughtful minds, like deep waters, must
have a gloom in them, and that ideal life leads to turbulence of soul.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, endowed by Nature with an acute and subtle
intellect, always suffered more or less from a morbid sensibility. Even
in his youth, like Burns, he was oppressed by fits of deep dejection,
which gave his friends much anxiety. His order of genius was of the
highest; of that there is no doubt. His style is simple, graceful, and
forcible, with a power to awaken intense interest in the characters
which he delineated. The "Scarlet Letter" is perhaps the best known and
most popular of his several productions; and much of the same
half-suppressed, feverish excitement is realized in its perusal as in a
degree characterized Hawthorne himself. His most prominent trait as an
author lay in his originality and power of analysis.[152]

Insanity is often the result of an overtasked sensitive brain wandering
in the realms of fancy. Like a high-mettled horse, it sometimes throws
the rider,--as in the instance of Cowper, Collins, and others already
spoken of in these pages. Charles Fenno Hoffman, the ripe scholar, poet,
and novelist, conceded to be one of the best song-writers we have had
in America, was bereft of reason and died the inmate of an insane
asylum, where the last quarter of his life was passed. While yet a boy,
Hoffman met with an accident so serious as to render necessary the
amputation of one of his legs, and thenceforth he was obliged to go with
a wooden one.

Béranger, like De Foe, was at one period the prime favorite of the
Court, and presently was languishing within the dreary walls of the
Bastile, where he wrote some of his most effective poems. Contemporary
with Béranger was Alfred de Musset, a poet and littérateur of rare
excellence, possessed of a flow of poetical genius characterized by
passion, vivacity, and grace, notwithstanding that a morbid,
misanthropic frame of mind consumed him in secret. His youthful liaison
with George Sand is familiar to us all, and no doubt it left a weird
influence upon his life. When De Musset received money he would squander
it in the most reckless dissipation, then live on bread and onions until
he earned another supply, to be lavished in the same manner. He was the
intimate friend of the Duke of Orleans, Victor Hugo, and other notable
men, but deliberately chose the debasing career of a drunkard, and died
at the premature age of forty-seven, a victim to the demon of alcohol.

The grandmother of Alexandre Dumas the elder was an African negress. He
enjoyed no educational advantages, until while yet a mere boy, actuated
by a Bohemian spirit, which always influenced him more or less, he
wandered away from his native place (Villers-Cotterets, France), and
sought a stranger's home in Paris. Many of the varied productions of
this prolific and sensual novelist bear testimony to his African origin,
in their savage voluptuousness and barbaric taste. Dumas was one of the
greatest plagiarists of modern times, so that it was said by his critics
that he introduced the sweating system into literature. But no
intelligent reader can deny that he was a great genius,[153]--in
evidence of which he possessed the thousand and one conventional
characteristics of the race. At one time he would resort to all manner
of expedients to dodge his creditors and escape arrest for debt, at
another scattering gold with the most lavish and inconsiderate hand.
Unlike Lamartine, he failed entirely in politics, but certainly was for
years the most popular novelist in France. Dumas was frequently in the
receipt of large sums in gold from the many popular books which he
wrote. When this money was received it was placed in a pile upon the
table of his sitting-room, and if appealed to in behalf of a charity, or
asked for aid by an impecunious caller, he sent the parties to _help
themselves_ as long as the pile of napoleons lasted! Such reckless
disregard of reasonable care for money seems almost incredible; but this
story is authenticated by his son, the present popular author and
dramatist, Alexandre Dumas.

The life of Douglas Jerrold is still another example of the mutability
of fortune; at first call-boy in a theatre, then a sailor, and finally a
printer's apprentice, he became at last a famous dramatist, essayist,
wit, and humorist. The anecdote of his first contribution to the press
is perhaps not too familiar to repeat. He was a youthful compositor in a
publishing office, where he ventured to drop anonymously into the
editor's box a contribution consisting of a criticism on "Der
Freischütz." He lay awake that night thinking of his venture, and the
next morning was rendered half frantic with joy when his copy was handed
to him to be put into type by his own hands. Appended to the copy the
editor had written a note, asking the anonymous author for further
contributions. Jerrold became a prominent member of the brilliant
coterie which made "Punch," that daring wag, a great moral and political
power. Many of his best sayings--flashes of wit like those of Wycherley,
Congreve, and Sheridan--rarely found their way into print, being uttered
in small social circles, or in the society of the London clubs, where he
was rather feared for the keenness of his satire, as he was no respecter
of persons. As a dramatist Jerrold is best known by those popular plays,
"The Rent Day" and "Black-Eyed Susan,"[154] the latter being still
considered the best nautical drama on the stage. Good-fellowship, as it
is falsely called, was the bane of Jerrold's life; and though he
realized a most liberal income, he died poor and grievously in debt.
During the last years of his life he was editor of "Lloyd's Weekly
Newspaper," from which he received one thousand pounds per annum,
besides an income of a very handsome amount for other and various
literary work.

Charles Dickens, whose early career was not without its severe
discipline, and who was indisputably one of the greatest literary
geniuses of modern times, certainly shortened his life by free living.
He was extravagantly fond of the pleasures of the table, and a constant
participant in convivial occasions.[155] Undoubtedly his domestic
infelicity was largely attributable to a habit of overstimulating,
besides which, brandy and continuous literary effort are incompatible
with each other. His later works will not compare favorably with his
earlier ones. "Our Mutual Friend" was not worthy of his reputation; and
the half of "Edwin Drood" which was published was not of a character to
make an intelligent reader desire more. At fifty-eight his brain was
failing. Both Dickens and Thackeray were really sacrificed to the Moloch
of conviviality. The latter was not only a remarkable novelist, but is
entitled to distinct fame as a poet. He was a man of noble impulses, and
charitable to a fault. He inherited a small fortune, in the expenditure
of which he was very lavish, at one time giving the impecunious Dr.
Maginn five hundred pounds,--an unfortunate brother author who appealed
to Thackeray when he was in a strait; and no needy man was ever refused
by the author of "Vanity Fair."

There are few objects which if held up against a strong light, will not
betray some defect. A perfect emerald was perhaps never seen, and almost
as rare is a perfect diamond; the magnifying-glass is pretty sure to
detect some flaw in the gem, be it never so small. So the microscope
applied to genius is apt to discover those imperfections of humanity
from which no mortal is entirely exempt. Washington said it was
lamentable that great characters are so seldom without blot.[156] Edgar
A. Poe, whose genius has so lately received public recognition, was left
an orphan at a tender age, thus lacking the moral influence and training
which might have prevented the blight of his after years. His father was
a law-student, and his mother an actress named Elizabeth Arnold. Heaven
had breathed into his soul the fire of a master-spirit, but at the same
time endowed him with a morbid sensitiveness which rendered his
imagination weird and gloomy. He became the victim of strong drink, and
was thereby marked for an early grave, dying, after an erratic career,
in a public hospital. He was an editor, critic, and poet, wielding a
most witty but bitterly sarcastic pen. When penniless and in absolute
want, he wrote to a friend, with a supreme contempt of the very sinews
of war for which he was suffering: "The Romans worshipped their
standard, and the Roman standard happened to be an eagle. Our standard
is only one tenth of an eagle, one dollar, but we make all even by
adoring it with tenfold devotion." Even in boyhood Poe developed a wild,
unruly disposition, being expelled from the University of Virginia, and
afterwards from the West Point Academy. The writer of these pages knew
Poe personally, and employed him as a regular contributor to a paper
which the writer was editing. Poe's literary reputation rests mainly
upon one remarkable poem, "The Raven." Mr. Lowell's portrait of the
author of "The Raven" is both concise and true,--"three fifths of him
genius and two fifths sheer fudge." He was unquestionably a man of
genius, but wrong-headed from very childhood.

We must worship our literary heroes and heroines from afar: indeed, this
will apply with force to all notables; intimacy is pretty sure to
disenchant us. "The love or friendship of such people," says De Quincey,
"rather contracts itself into the narrow circle of individuals. You, if
you are brilliant like themselves, they will hate; you, if you are
dull, they will despise. Gaze, therefore, on the splendor of such idols
as a passing stranger. Look for a moment as one sharing in the idolatry,
but pass on before the splendor has been sullied by human frailty."
Admiration is the offspring of ignorance; even where familiarity does
not breed contempt, it blunts the keenness of our homage, since to those
that know them best, authors quickly come down from their pedestals and
become only men and women. One of Byron's biographers lays it down as a
rule to avoid writers whose works amuse you; for when you see them they
will delight you no more, though Shelley, he admits, was an exception.
Mr. Emerson thought the conditions of literary success almost
destructive of the best social powers. We are told by Lockhart that
Scott could not endure, in London or Edinburgh, the little exclusive
circles of literary society; he craved the company of men of business
and affairs. "It is much better to read authors than to know them," says
Horace Walpole. Speaking of young Mr. Burke, he says (in 1761), that
although a remarkably sensible man, "he has not worn off his authorship
yet, and thinks there is nothing so charming as writers, and to be one.
He will know better one of these days." Even Byron hated authors who
were all author,--"fellows in foolscap uniform turned up with ink." Miss
Mitford, in the ripeness of her experience, wrote that authors "as a
general rule are the most disappointing people in the world;" much
preferring persons who loved letters to those who followed the
profession of authorship. Sir Egerton Brydges, the prolific writer of
sonnets, novels, essays, letters, etc., says: "I have observed that
vulgar readers almost always lose their veneration for the writings of
the genius with whom they have had personal intercourse."

We have spoken several times of the remuneration realized by authors for
their literary productions, and perhaps a few more words upon this
subject may be of interest to the general reader.

In the reigns of William III., Anne, and George I., literature, however
excellent, could not find a sufficient market to fairly requite its
authors. Intelligent, cultured men could not realize remunerative
incomes by their pen; so the political chiefs of those days came forward
and extended official patronage to them in a manner which was often
princely and munificent. Thus Congreve, scarcely yet twenty-one years of
age, was given a place under Government which made him independent for
life. Rowe, poet and dramatist, author of "Tamerlane," was made
under-secretary of state, and finally became poet-laureate, in 1714.
Hughes, the poet and dramatist, also held a lucrative Government office;
he was the author of the "Siege of Damascus," a drama, singular to say,
which was played for the first time on the evening of his death. Ambrose
Phillips, an author of similar character, was made judge of the
prerogative court of Ireland. Locke, the English philosopher,
philanthropist, and voluminous writer, was the recipient of liberal
Government patronage. Newton, it will be remembered, was made Master of
the Royal Mint. Stepney, the poet, of whom Dr. Johnson said, "He is a
very licentious translator, and does not recompense the neglect of his
author by beauties of his own," was honored by various appointments, as
also was Matthew Prior, of whom the same critic heartily approved. Gay
was made Secretary of Legation at five-and-twenty,--he whom we have seen
come up to London and begin life as a mercer's clerk. Montague is
another illustrious example of those geniuses who may be said to have
enjoyed at least a degree of sunshine as well as of shadow. His poem on
the death of Charles II. led to his various appointments and his
earldom. Steele was made Commissioner of Stamps, and Swift came very
near being made a bishop.[157] Addison was appointed Secretary of State,
and Dr. Johnson was the recipient of a pension. The reader can easily
add instances to such as we have enumerated as those most readily
presenting themselves. In our own day excellence in literature is much
more remunerative, and in a legitimate business way. Good books sell,
and authors receive fair royalties thereon; but even among us instances
of official recognition for literary merit are not wanting. We recall in
this connection Bancroft the historian, as Minister to Germany; Lowell
the scholar and poet, Minister to the Court of St. James. Hawthorne,
Irving, Everett, Motley, Bayard Taylor, Howells, and others, have all
been officially recognized in a similar manner.


Egotism in eminent characters is often amusing to us, but extremely
undignified in them. It is almost always the betrayal of weakness,--the
tongue of vanity. He who talks of himself, however humble the words,
exposes a proud heart. Still, as Emerson says, "there are dull and
bright, sacred and profane, coarse and fine egotists." Carlyle was an
egotist of the first water, and so were many other famous authors.
Demosthenes expressed his pleasure when even a fishwoman pointed him out
in the streets of Athens. Margaret Fuller once wrote: "I have now met
all the minds of this country worth meeting, and find none comparable to
my own "! The admiration point is ours; the words evince most
insufferable vanity. No wonder Emerson complained of her "mountainous
me," or that Lowell called the whole of her being a "capital I." Even
the gentle, undemonstrative Hawthorne was obliged to denounce her
vanity; and yet Margaret was a woman full of kindly human instinct and
of remarkable culture. Dickens was vain,[158] egotistical, and
selfish,--traits which grew upon him as he advanced in years.
Thackeray, in his frank, open way, acknowledged his delight at being
recognized by street gamins as the author of "Vanity Fair." Hans
Andersen, like Dante, confidently predicted his own future greatness.
Kepler declared that "God has not sent in six thousand years an observer
like myself." Buffon's vanity was proverbial and ridiculous; and yet the
man was not ridiculous according to Pope's idea, that "every man has
just so much vanity as he lacks understanding," for we all know that
Buffon was a profound naturalist and scholar. "I am the greatest
historian that ever lived," wrote Gibbon in his private diary; and
Goethe said, "All I have had to do, I have done in kingly fashion."
Albert Dürer, in reviewing his own work, wrote, "It cannot be better
done." Though he had in his day many admirers, and has even some at the
present time, we confess that his pictures have no attraction for us.
However, he has unquestionable merit as an engraver, and was court
painter to Charles V. Ruskin's conceit peeps out everywhere in his
writings. Nothing could be more egotistical than Disraeli's
(Beaconsfield) novels. George Sand boastfully betrays her own liaison
with De Musset in her popular story of "Elle et Lui." "I shall be read,"
says Southey, "by posterity, if I am not read now,--read with Milton,
and Virgil, and Dante, when poets whose works are now famous will only
be known through a biographical dictionary."[159] Most of the eminent
men among the ancients were superlatively conceited and vain. Plato
quoted the oracle which pronounced him great; Cæsar frequently commends
himself, and so does Cicero. Pliny puts himself on record as one of this
class when he wrote to Venator: "The longer your letter was, so much the
more agreeable I thought it, especially as it turned entirely upon my
works. I am not surprised you should find a pleasure in them, since I
know you have the same affection for every composition of mine as you
have for the author." "A modern instance" occurs to us here. When a
certain distinguished lady asked Lord Brougham, the great English orator
and author, who was the _best_ debater in the House of Lords, his
lordship modestly replied, "Lord Stanley is the _second_ best, madam."
That some people who despise flatterers do not hesitate to flatter
themselves, is an axiom to the truth of which we must all subscribe.

In contradistinction to these, Whittier, the Quaker poet, wrote recently
to a correspondent in that gentle, modest manner which is so
characteristic of everything relating to him: "I have never thought of
myself as a poet in the sense in which we use the word when we speak of
the great poets. I have just said from time to time the things I had to
say, and it has been a series of surprises to me that people should pay
so much attention to them, and remember them so long." Voltaire betrayed
his conceit when he attempted to criticise Shakespeare. Balzac and
Victor Hugo were two egotists. "There are only three writers of the
French language," said Balzac,--"Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, and
myself." Southey, Young, Pope, Dryden, and Wordsworth betrayed their
vanity in an egregious manner. Goldsmith was conspicuously vain at
times. Landor had a supreme estimate of his own productions, and wrote
to Wordsworth, concerning his "Imaginary Conversations," as follows: "In
two thousand years there have not been five volumes in prose equal in
their contents to these."[160] Voltaire's remark upon Dante served only
to illustrate his own spleen and jealousy. "His reputation," said the
sarcastic Frenchman, "will continually be growing greater, because there
is now nobody who reads him." As for Voltaire's tragedies, De
Tocqueville said he could not even read them through, and he doubted if
anybody else could. Scott said he read the "Henriade" through, and
_lived_, but it was when he was a young man, and then he read
everything. Dr. Johnson once acknowledged that he never read Milton
through until he was obliged to do so in compiling his dictionary.
Southey said he had read Spenser through about _thirty_ times, and that
he could not read Pope once. It was perhaps singular, but Southey,
Coleridge, and Wordsworth all failed to appreciate Virgil.

Hannah More tells us that on a certain occasion when she was visiting
the Garricks in 1776, David read aloud to herself and Mrs. Garrick her
(Hannah's) last poem. "After dinner Garrick read 'Sir Eldred' with all
his pathos and all his graces. I think I was never so ashamed in my
life; but he read it so superbly that I cried like a child. Only think
what a ridiculous thing to cry at the reading of one's own poetry." In
another place she says: "Whether my writings have promoted the spiritual
welfare of my readers, I know not; but they have enabled me to do good
by private charity and public beneficence. I am almost ashamed to say
that they have brought me thirty thousand pounds." Burns was affected
almost to tears when he heard for the first time George Lockhart, of
Glasgow, sing his verses. "I'll be hanged if I knew half their merit
until now!" he said. James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd," wrote, "I
cannot express what my feelings were at first hearing a song of mine
sung by a beautiful young lady in Ettrick to her harpsichord." One
recalls in this connection the legend told in Rome of Canova's
disguising himself and mingling with the crowd of citizens that he
might hear their comments upon a newly unveiled statue just completed by
his own hands, and of the great satisfaction he bore away with him at
their commendations. Thomas Hood could not suppress his pleasure at
listening to the "Song of the Shirt"[161] as sung by the poor sorrowing
work-people in the London streets, adapted to rude airs of their own
composition. Béranger, the song-writer of France, acknowledged a similar
delight in hearing his verses sung upon the Parisian boulevards by the
common people. Francis Jacox speaks of the first visit of the old poet
Ducis to his beloved master, Louis XVIII., when that monarch graciously
recited to him some of his own verses. In an ecstasy of delight Ducis
exclaimed: "I am more fortunate than Boileau or Racine; they recited
their verses to Louis XIV., but my king recites my verses to me!"

Though people are said to be vainer of qualities which they fondly
believe they have than of those which they do really possess, still we
must allow to genius some latitude in the matter of conceit, since
common people exhibit so much of that spirit on no capital at all. Dr.
Holmes says of conceit, that "it is to character what salt is to the
ocean,--it keeps it sweet and renders it endurable." Perhaps the acme of
conceit is reached when Cicero says, "For all my toils and pains I have
no recompense here; but hereafter, in heaven, among the immortal gods, I
shall look back on my beloved city, and find my reward in seeing her
made glorious by my career." Horace, referring to his future fame, says,
"I shall not wholly die."

Vanity, says Shakespeare, keeps persons in favor with themselves who are
out of favor with all others. He was not himself without a portion of
that conceit which he says "in weakest bodies strongest works;" but
there is this difference in his share of vanity,--he had, indeed, a
genius the gods themselves might envy. He begins one of his sonnets,--

    "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme."

And again he says:--

    "Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live--such virtue hath my pen--
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men."

Sydney Smith's definition occurs to us here, wherein he defines vanity
as "proceeding from the supposition of possessing something better than
the rest of the world possesses. Nobody is vain of possessing two legs
and two arms, because that is the precise quantity of either sort of
limb which everybody possesses." Fielding bluntly tells the truth when
he says, "There is scarcely any man, however much he may despise the
character of a flatterer, but will condescend, in the meanest manner,
to flatter himself." We have seen that even Diogenes was gratified by
popular praise, not to say flattered thereby; while the fact of his
occupying so notable and peculiar an abode argued a degree of pride and
vanity. Did not Thoreau also affect humility in his rudely built cabin
on the borders of Walden Pond? Certainly the idea of Diogenes and his
tub must have occurred to so classic a scholar as the Concord hermit.
Southey's appeal to posterity to do him justice, in his letter to his
publisher, will be remembered: "My day and popularity will come when I
shall have said good-night to the world." De Quincey remarks that
posterity is very hard to get at; and Swift thought the present age
altogether too free in laying taxes on the next. "Future ages shall talk
of this; they shall be famous to all posterity;" whereas their time and
thoughts, he believed, would be taken up with present things, as ours
are now. Carlyle thought Dr. Johnson's carelessness as to future fame a
very remarkable trait in his character.

The vanity of authors is their shame, and ought to be their secret.
While it does not necessarily detract from the merit of their excellent
productions, it prejudices all by belittling them in our estimation.
Oftentimes the career of these notables, as we have seen, has been one
of surmounted difficulties and hardships endured for the sake of their
chosen calling, embittering their nature, perhaps, yet at the same time
tincturing them with an exultant spirit of success.

There are examples in abundance, however, of an opposite
character--examples of true modesty and self-forgetfulness--among poets
and authors generally. The poet Rogers, as well as Whittier, is a happy
example of an equable life with a full share of reasonable blessings.
Referring to his irreproachable career, Sheridan told Rogers it was easy
for happy people to be good.

    "How noiseless falls the foot of time
      That only treads on flowers!"

says William Robert Spencer. A modest estimate of self sits gracefully
upon genius. Listen to Newton: "I do not know what I may appear to the
world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the
sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth
lay all undiscovered before me." Scott was very little tainted with
vanity; indeed, he wrote in his diary that no one disliked or despised
the "pap" of praise so heartily as he did. He said there was nothing he
scorned more, except those persons who seem to praise one in order to be
puffed in return. As a rule, he did not entertain a very high opinion of
literary people, or, as we have seen, desire to associate with them. He
said: "If I encounter men of the world, men of business, odd or striking
characters of professional excellence in any department, I am in my
element, for they cannot lionize me without my returning the compliment
and learning something of them."

Some people think praise so pleasant and agreeable that they cannot have
too much of it. Goldsmith said Garrick was a mere glutton of praise, who
swallowed all he came across and mistook it for renown,--the fluffy of
dunces. Not actors alone, but writers also, are endowed with a very
ravenous appetite for the same sort of nutriment. There is a nest of
vanity in almost every breast, and according to Burke it is omnivorous.
Rochefoucauld declared that men had little to say when not prompted by

Another example of unbounded self-conceit occurs to us in the instance
of the French poet and dramatist Scudéri, the protégé of Cardinal
Richelieu. His genius was not to be doubted, but it was deeply shadowed
by his vanity, as made manifest in the preface to his literary works,
which abounds in gasconade pure and simple. Of his epic poem "Alaric" he
says: "I have such a facility in writing verses, and also in my
invention, that a poem of double its length would have cost me but
little trouble. Although it contains only eleven thousand lines, I
believe that longer epics do not exhibit more embellishment than mine."
Poor, self-satisfied Scudéri! both he and his works are very nearly
forgotten, though he was an honored member of the French Academy.[162]
John Heyward, poet and jester, a court favorite in the days of Queen
Mary, is another example of consummate vanity. He was among the earliest
who wrote English plays. In a work which he produced, in 1556, called
"The Spider and the Fly," a parable there are seventy-seven chapters,
and at the beginning of each is a portrait of the author in various
attitudes, either sitting or standing by a window hung with cobwebs.
Dryden honestly declared that it was better for him to own his failing
of vanity than for the world to do it for him; and adds: "For what other
reason have I spent my life in so unprofitable a study? Why am I grown
old in seeking so unprofitable a reward as fame? The same parts and
application which have made me a poet might have raised me to any honors
of the gown." Sometimes Goethe speaks with the true breath of humility,
and sometimes quite the reverse. He says, "Had I earlier known how many
excellent things have been in existence for hundreds and thousands of
years, I should have written no line; I should have had enough else to
do." And yet Goethe is not only the most illustrious name in German
literature, but one of the greatest poets of any age or nation.

Eugene Sue,[163] who was born in luxury, and who need never have
written for support, would sit down to write only in full dress, even
wearing, as we have seen, kid gloves,--an evidence of vanity which has a
precedent in Buffon, who when found engaged in literary work was always
curled, powdered, ruffled, and perfumed. N. P. Willis was as dainty in
his dress as in his style of writing; and Emerson's remark relative to
Nature would well apply to him, when he says, "She is never found in
undress." Ruskin, who lives in a glass house as it regards the matter of
self esteem, charges Goethe with self-complacency, and at the same time
adds that this quality marks a second-rate character. The reader will
not be long in determining which of the two was the more amenable to
such criticism. Before we dismiss Mr. Ruskin let us quote a letter of
his published not long since, and written so late as 1881, addressed to
Alexander Mitchell. "What in the devil's name," he writes, "have you to
do with either Mr. Disraeli or Mr. Gladstone? You are a student at the
university, and have no more business with politics than you have with
rat-catching. Had you ever read ten words of mine with understanding,
you would have known that I care no more for Mr. Disraeli or Mr.
Gladstone than for two old bagpipes with their drones going by steam;
but that I hate all Liberalism as I do Beelzebub, and that, with
Carlyle, I stand--we two alone now in England--for God and the Queen!"
So much for the vanity and conceit of Mr. John Ruskin.

Pope never saw the inside of a university, or indeed of a school worthy
of the name. Two Romish priests attempted at different times to do
something for him as personal tutors, but with little success. "This was
all the teaching I had," he says, "and God knows it extended a very
little way." And yet at the age of sixteen he thought himself, as he has
recorded, "to be the greatest genius that ever was;" and we are afraid
that this vanity and self-conceit never quite deserted him. Atterbury
compared him to Homer in a nutshell. Dr. Johnson pronounces Pope's Iliad
to be "the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen; and
its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events
in the annals of learning." As soon as Pope was pecuniarily able he made
himself a comfortable home, and brought his aged parents into it and
made them happy. He calls his existence "a long disease;" but if he was
"sent into this breathing world but half made up," Nature compensated
him by the richness with which she endowed his brain. "In the streets he
was an object of pity," says Tuckerman; "at his desk, a king." Though
his life was embittered in a measure by his physical deformity and by
ill-health, he was not lacking in the tenderness of heart which forms
the key-note to all domestic happiness. "I never in my life knew," says
Bolingbroke, "a man who had so tender a heart for his particular
friends, or a more general friendship for mankind." As to his poetry
there has always been a great diversity of opinion, but we think it
reached the height of art. It is therefore difficult to realize the
egotism which could prompt the following couplet from his pen in the
ripeness of his fame:--

    "I own I'm proud,--I must be proud, to see
    Men not afraid of God afraid of me."

Colley Cibber was a sharp thorn in Pope's side; he was a witty actor, as
well as clever dramatist and mediocre poet. He was chosen poet-laureate
in 1730. His most popular comedy was "Love's Last Shift, or the Fool in
Fashion," though it divided the honors with the "Careless Husband," in
which Cibber himself enacted the principal role. Dr. Johnson disliked
him because, "though he was not a blockhead, he was pert, petulant, and
presumptuous." On the stage he excelled in almost the whole range of
light, fantastic, comic characters; but in poetry, which he much
affected, his lyrics were all so bad that his friends pretended he made
them so on purpose, and fully justified Johnson's remark that they were
"truly incomparable." He was the recipient of a pension of two hundred
pounds from George I.

There is a vein of vanity in most of us: few authors or artists are
without a share; and, singular to say, it most frequently arises from
trivial matters in which there would seem to be the least cause for
pride. William Mitford, the author of the "History of Greece," a
scholarly and admirable piece of literary work, was most proud of his
election to a captaincy in the Southampton militia. To be sure, his
literary work challenged some severe criticism; De Quincey said of it,
"It is as nearly perfect in its injustice as human infirmity will
allow." Carlyle certainly magnified his own calling when he wrote: "O
thou who art able to write a book, which once in the two centuries or
oftener there is a man gifted to do, envy not him whom they name
conqueror or city-builder, and inexpressibly pity him whom they name
conqueror or city-burner." Great as he was in authorship, Macaulay in
one of his letters remarks, "I never read again the most popular
passages of my own works without painfully feeling how far my execution
has fallen short of the standard which is in my mind." He is undoubtedly
one of the noblest characters in English literature, and his mortal
remains very properly rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey,--a
favorite resort of the great historian during his life. As an example of
modest merit we recall the name of Robert Boyle, the Irish chemist and
linguist, the great experimental philosopher of the seventeenth
century,--he whom some wit called "the father of chemistry and the
brother of the Earl of Cork." He translated the Gospels into the Malay
language, and published the translation at his own expense; he was
besides a thorough Hebrew and Greek scholar. His many published works
are all profound and useful. He was chosen President of the Royal
Soceity, but refused the honor, from an humble estimate of his own
merit, and for the same reason declined a peerage which was tendered to
him. We owe to him, according to Boerhaave, "the secrets of fire, air,
water, animals, plants, and fossils." Boyle cared nothing for fame.

In realizing that genius is apt among its other foibles to be over
self-conscious, we should be careful not to confound conceit with
vanity, to which it is so nearly allied. The latter makes one sensitive
to the opinions of others, while the former renders us self-satisfied.
Few have possessed either genius or personal beauty without being
conscious of it; though Hazlitt declares that no great man ever thought
himself great,--an assertion which the reader will hardly be prepared to
indorse. A famous American philosopher was persuaded that vanity was
often the source of good to the possessor, and that among other comforts
of life, one might consistently thank God for his vanity. Still, when
evinced in social intercourse nothing is more derogatory to dignity; one
becomes not only his own, but everybody's fool. "Vanity is so anchored
in the heart of man," says Pascal, "that a soldier, sutler, cook, and
street porter vapor and wish to have their admirers; and philosophers
even wish the same."

Concerning localities rendered of special interest by association, Leigh
Hunt said: "I can no more pass through Westminster without thinking of
Milton, or the Borough without thinking of Chaucer and Shakespeare, or
Gray's Inn without calling Bacon to mind, or Bloomsbury Square without
Steele and Akenside, than I can prefer bricks and mortar to wit and
poetry, or not see a beauty upon it beyond architecture, in the
splendor of the recollection. I once had duties to perform which kept me
out late at night, and severely taxed my health and spirits. My path lay
through a neighborhood in which Dryden lived; and though nothing could
be more commonplace, and I used to be tired to the heart and soul of me,
I never hesitated to go a little out of the way, purely that I might
pass through Gold Street, to give myself the shadow of a pleasant
thought." Gibbon was twenty-three years in preparing the material for
and in writing his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire;" that is to
say, he began it in 1764, and did not finish it until 1787. He says as
he "sat musing amidst the ruins of the capital, while the barefooted
friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, the idea of
writing the decline and fall of the city first occurred to his mind."
The writer of these pages has visited the garden and summer-house at
Lausanne, overlooking Lake Leman, where Gibbon completed his work, and
where he laid down his pen in triumph almost exactly a century since.

James Watt has localized a spot of interest in connection with himself
at Glasgow, where first flashed upon him the idea which resulted in the
improvement of the steam-engine. Leibnitz recalls the grove near Leipsic
where in his youth he first began to meditate and create. So Burns had
his favorite walk at Dumfries, secluded, and commanding a view of the
distant hills, where he composed, as was his wont, in the open air. He
says in a letter to Mr. Thomson, August, 1793, "Autumn is my propitious
season. I make more verses in it than all the year else." Luther tells
us of the spot, and the very tree, under which he argued with Dr.
Staupitz as to whether it was his true vocation to preach. Beethoven
wrote to Frau von Streicher, at Baden: "When you visit the ancient
ruins, do not forget that Beethoven has often lingered there; when you
stray through the silent pine forest, do not forget that Beethoven often
wrote poems there, or, as it is termed, 'composed.'" How readily we
pardon the conceit that peeps out from the words of the great magician
of harmony! Hawthorne writes in his note-book: "If ever I should have a
biographer, he ought to make great mention of this chamber in my
memoirs; because here my mind and character were formed, and here I sat
a long, long time, waiting for the world to know me, and sometimes
wondering why it did not know me sooner, or whether it would ever know
me at all,--at least until I were in my grave." Scott tells us of the
precise spot where at the age of thirteen he first read Percy's
"Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," beneath a huge platanus tree,
forgetting his dinner in the absorbing interest of the book, whose
influence upon the mind of the youth may easily be traced in the future
poet and romancer. Cowper, who was not blessed with a particularly good
memory with regard to what he was accustomed to read, yet possessed a
tenacious one for localities, and therefore used in summer to select
certain spots out of doors by pond or hedges where to read his favorite
books and chapters. The recalling of these spots brought back, he said,
the remembrance of the subjects and chapters read beside them. This was
certainly an original and remarkable mode of memorizing ideas. William
Ellery Channing localizes the clump of willows, a favorite retreat,
where the view of the dignity of human nature first broke upon him, and
of which he was ever after such a tenacious advocate. He often resorted
hither, and speaks of the place with grateful solemnity. It overlooked
the meadows and river west of Boston, with a background formed by the
Brookline hills.[164] Washington Irving used to point out to visitors
the spot, commanding the Hudson River, where he first read the "Lady of
the Lake," with a wild-cherry tree over his head. In his old age he
writes to a friend: "Come and see me, and I will give you a book and a

As an example of the perseverance of genius under discouraging
circumstances, we recall the trying experience of our own great
naturalist Audubon, who had stored in a pine box a thousand and more of
his drawings for his great work on "The Birds of America," while he
pursued his studies. On opening the box, after the lapse of a few
months, he found his carefully made illustrations destroyed and
converted into a nest for rats. The work of years was irreparably gone
to nought. After a brief period of bitter disappointment, he says: "I
took up my gun, my note-book, and my pencil, and went forth to the woods
as gayly as if nothing had happened. I felt pleased that I might now
make better drawings than before; and, ere a period not exceeding three
years had elapsed, my portfolio was again filled."[165] The destruction
of his first thousand drawings was a blessing in disguise, both to
science and to its modest disciple, since it confirmed him in the
resolve which culminated in producing what Cuvier denominated "the most
magnificent monument art had ever erected to ornithology." The
destruction of Sir Isaac Newton's papers by his favorite dog, embracing
the careful calculations of years of study, will occur to the reader in
this connection, as well as the loss of Carlyle's first manuscript copy
of the "French Revolution," burned by a maid-of-all-work to kindle the
fire. Having no draft or copy of the same, he was compelled to reproduce
it as nearly as possible from memory. There is positive pleasure in the
original production of a piece of literary work; but the reproduction
under such circumstances must have been agonizing.

The history of literature is full of instances wherein its votaries have
by patient perseverance finally achieved the much-desired fame which has
inspired them to endure deprivation and labor. We affirm this, though at
the same time recalling Douglas Jerrold's words,--"How much of what is
thought by idle people fame is really sought for as the representative
of so many legs of mutton! We may make Fame an angelic creature on the
tombs of poets, but how often do bards invoke her as a bouncing
landlady!" Pope made his way from obscurity, overcoming by sheer
perseverance obstacles that genius hardly ever before encountered. He
was not only deformed, as we have said, but he was diseased, "unable to
take his own stockings off--a woman nurse with him always." So far as we
know it, there was not much to love, or even respect, in his personal
character; but we must all admire the wonderful perseverance and genius
that enabled him to write what he did. His translation of the Iliad
alone was sufficient to give him lasting fame; and it did give him
plenty of money, as he received a little over five thousand three
hundred pounds from it. How Goldsmith would have scattered that generous
sum of money, and how securely Pope hoarded it!

Gifford showed wonderful perseverance and resolve in the right
direction, learning to write and to work out mathematical sums on scraps
of leather with an awl, for the want of better facilities. This was at
his native place, Ashburton in Devonshire, where he sat all day for
five years upon a cobbler's bench, earning just enough to support life.
But he conquered in the brave struggle with adverse fortune. "The nerve
that never relaxes, the eye that never blenches, the thought that never
wanders,--these are the masters of victory," says Burke. Gifford finally
came to the editorial chair of the "Quarterly Review," where he remained
for fifteen years, proving one of the severest critics of his day, as we
have had occasion to observe, and regarding authors, according to
Southey, as Izaak Walton did worms, slugs, and frogs. "Whatever may have
been his talents," says Mr. Whipple, "they were exquisitely unfitted for
his position; his literary judgment being contemptible where any sense
of beauty was required."

As an example of calm, determined resolve and patience to accomplish an
honorable end, we know of nothing more remarkable in connection with
authorship or literature than that of Sir Walter Scott's deliberately
sitting down to pay off a debt of one hundred and twenty-eight thousand
pounds with his pen. Scott considered it a debt of honor, though it was
not of his own contracting. Amid the pains and pressure of increasing
age he worked on to fulfil this honorable purpose, until in seven years
he had paid all but about twenty thousand pounds of this enormous load
of debt, when the overwrought brain and body gave out, and he was laid
to sleep forever. The great "Wizard of the North" says modestly: "It is
with the deepest regret that I recollect in my manhood the
opportunities of learning[166] which I neglected in my youth; through
every part of my literary career I have felt pinched and hampered by my
own ignorance, and I would at this moment give half the reputation I
have had the good fortune to acquire, if by so doing I could rest the
remaining part upon a sound foundation of learning and science."


There seems always to have been a natural attraction in literature which
draws from other and less captivating professions. Bryant, Longfellow,
and Washington Irving started early in life with the purpose of studying
law; so did Bailey the poet, and Prescott the historian,--though each
and all abandoned that profession for literature. Beaconsfield served an
apprenticeship in an attorney's office in London. Burke, Lockhart, John
Wilson, Shirley Brooks, Corneille, Layard, and Buffon began in life as
solicitors, but soon drifted into literature. Byron's first poetical
efforts were failures; so were those of Bulwer-Lytton and Beaconsfield,
both in literature and oratory. "I have begun several times many things,
and have succeeded in them at last," said the latter when he was hissed
down in the House of Commons. "I shall sit down now, but the time will
come when you will hear me." He toiled patiently, until the House
laughed with him instead of at him.[167] Sheridan broke down completely
on the occasion of his first effort at public speaking, but declared
that it was in him and should come out. Bulwer-Lytton worked his way
upwards by slow degrees, and acquired his later facility only by the
greatest assiduity and patient application. He wrote at first very
slowly and with great difficulty; but he resolved to overcome his
slowness of thought, and he succeeded. He was very systematic in his
literary work, and rarely wrote more than three hours each day; that is,
from ten o'clock in the morning until one. When regularly engaged, the
product of a day in latter years amounted to twenty pages of printed
matter, such as appear in the regular editions of his novels. Jean Paul
Richter's first efforts as a writer were failures; but he possessed
genius and the great element of success,--namely, patience. He fought
long and hard to attain a position in literature, supporting himself by
small contributions to the press, not all of which were accepted or paid
for. "I will succeed in making an honorable living by my pen," he said,
"or I will starve in the attempt." His triumph was near at hand.[168]

It is the overcoming of difficulties by heroic perseverance that in no
small degree serves to secure and to fix success. "Every noble work is
at first impossible," says Carlyle. "Even in social life it is
persistency," says Whipple, "which attracts confidence, more than
talents and accomplishments."

Thus it will be seen that the greatest geniuses have not commanded
success at the outset, but have finally achieved it by deserving it.
Voltaire was one of the most brilliant and popular of dramatists; but
when "Mariamne" was brought out, it was played but once. The question of
its merit was settled oddly enough. The farce which was given after
Voltaire's production was entitled "Mourning." "For the deceased play, I
suppose," said one of the critics, in the pit; and this decided the fate
of the piece. Again, when the "Semirarmis" of Voltaire was acted for the
first time, it was far from receiving all the praise which its author
anticipated for it. As he was coming from the theatre, he overtook
Piron, a less celebrated but brother dramatist, and asked him his
opinion of the piece. "I think," said Piron, "you would be very glad if
I had written it!"

Dr. Samuel Parr, whom Macaulay pronounced to be the greatest scholar of
his age, was a very hard-working literary genius, sensitive more
especially to the tender emotions, so that he would weep like a woman
when listening to any affecting story. He was very erratic and
imaginative, having a special horror of the east wind, which he believed
had both a moral and physical power over him. Sheridan knew this very
well, and kept the Doctor a prisoner in the house for a whole fortnight
by fixing the weathercock in that direction. The Doctor was not without
his share of conceit, founded upon the possession of acknowledged talent
and ability. He once said in a miscellaneous assembly, pertinent to the
subject before the company: "England has produced three great classical
scholars: the first was Bentley, the second was Porson, and the third
modesty forbids _me_ to mention."

In glancing through the records of the past no name upon the roll of
fame strikes the eye of appreciation more pleasantly than that of Sir
Philip Sidney, whose life has been called poetry put in action. He lived
amid contemporary applause, and his memory is the admiration of all. The
bravest of soldiers, he was also the gentlest of sons, equally
illustrious for moral qualities and for intellectual genius, controlled
by "that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound." No incident
in history is more familiar than that of this exhausted warrior
resigning the cup of water to a fainting soldier, whose need, he said,
was greater than his own. Sidney was one of the brightest ornaments of
Queen Elizabeth's court. Lord Brooke, who was his intimate friend, says
of him: "Though I lived with him and knew him from a child, yet I never
knew him other than a man with such steadiness of mind, lovely and
familiar gravity, as carried grace and reverence above greater years.
His talk was ever of knowledge, and his very play tended to enrich the
mind." His death occurred at the age of thirty-two, from a wound in
battle, the result of his self-abnegation. He was in full armor, but
seeing the marshal of the camp unprotected, he took off his armor and
gave it to him, thus exposing himself to the mortal wound which he
received. Fuller says, "He was slain before Zutphen, in a small skirmish
which we may sadly term a great battle, considering our heavy loss

Victor Hugo was banished from France for his opposition to the _coup
d'état_. He was ever true to his convictions without counting the cost.
"If there is anything grander than Victor Hugo's genius," said Louis
Blanc, "it is the use which he has made of it." He affords us an
instance of the highest fame and the favor of fortune culminating in
ripe old age. When Hugo was but a rising man, he was still looked upon
by the elder littérateurs with considerable jealousy. At the time when
he was first an aspirant for the honors of the French Academy, and
called on M. Royer-Collard to solicit his vote, the sturdy veteran
professed entire ignorance of his name. "I am the author of 'Notre Dame
de Paris,' 'Marion Delorme,' 'Les Derniers Jours d'un Condamne,' etc."
"I never heard of them," said Collard. "Will you do me the honor of
accepting a copy of my works?" said Victor Hugo, with perfect urbanity.
"I never read new books," was the cutting reply.[169] But the time came
presently when not to know the author of "Les Misérables" was to argue
one's self unknown. When he had reached the age of sixty-three he wrote
on a bit of sketching paper accompanying a scene he wished to delineate
in the "Toilers of the Sea:" "On the face of this cardboard I have
sketched my own destiny,--a steamboat tossed by the tempest in the midst
of the monstrous ocean; almost disabled, assaulted by foaming waves, and
having nothing left but a bit of smoke which people call glory, which
the wind sweeps away, and which constitutes its strength."

Improvidence has ever been a distinctive and a common feature in the
lives of men of genius. Sir Thomas Lawrence, the celebrated English
portrait-painter, was an illustrious example. Of his natural genius
there was ample evidence even in childhood, when at the age of six years
he produced in crayon in a very few moments accurate likenesses of
eminent persons. At the age of twenty-three he succeeded Sir Joshua
Reynolds as first painter to the king. He received a hundred guineas
each for his portraits,--head and bust,--and one thousand if
full-length, which was a large price for those days; and yet he was
always embarrassed for money, and died deeply in debt while president of
the Royal Academy.

Thomas Moore was very improvident; and though he realized over thirty
thousand pounds from his literary productions, yet his family were
obliged to live in the most economical manner, often experiencing
serious deprivation of the ordinary comforts of life. "His excellent
wife," says Rogers, "contrived to maintain the whole family upon a
guinea a week; and he, when in London, thought nothing of throwing away
that sum weekly on hackney-coaches and gloves." In order to escape the
payment of his just debts, Moore was finally obliged to go to Paris,
where, Rogers tells us, he frittered away a thousand pounds a year.[170]

Lamartine and the elder Dumas are notable examples of gross
improvidence,--the first being reduced almost to beggary before his
death, and supported solely by the liberal contributions of his
admirers, while the latter was much of his life either squandering gold
profusely or dodging his honest creditors.

Richard Savage, the unfortunate poet and dramatist, passed his life
divided between beggary and extravagance. His undoubted genius and
ability as an author attracted the hearty friendship of Johnson and
Steele, both of whom made earnest efforts to save him from himself; but
dissolute habits had taken too firm a hold of him. It is also honorable
to Pope that he was his steady and consistent friend almost to the close
of his life. Savage's ill-conceived poem of "The Bastard" was intended
to expose the cruelty of his mother, who was responsible in the main
for the wreck of his life. He finally died a prisoner for debt in
Bristol jail. Undoubtedly Dr. Johnson was right when he said that the
miseries which Savage underwent were sometimes the consequence of his
faults, and his faults were often the effect of his misfortunes.

The period of which we are writing has been vividly described by
Macaulay, from whom we quote:--

    "All that is squalid and miserable might now be summed up in the
    word Poet. That word denoted a creature dressed like a scarecrow,
    familiar with compters and sponging-houses, and perfectly competent
    to decide on the comparative merits of the Common Side in the
    King's Bench prison and of Mount Scoundrel in the Fleet. Even the
    poorest pitied him; and they well might pity him. For if their
    condition was equally abject, their aspirings were not equally
    high, nor their sense of insult equally acute. To lodge in a garret
    up four pair of stairs, to dine in a cellar among footmen out of
    place, to translate ten hours a day for the wages of a ditcher, to
    be hunted by bailiffs from one haunt of beggary and pestilence to
    another,--from Grub Street to St. George's Field, and from St.
    George's Field to the alleys behind St. Martin's church,--to sleep
    on a bulk in June and amidst the ashes of a glass-house in
    December, to die in a hospital and to be buried in a parish vault,
    was the fate of more than one writer who, if he had lived thirty
    years earlier, would have been admitted to the sittings of the
    Kitcat or the Scriblerus club, would have sat in Parliament, and
    would have been intrusted with embassies to the High Allies; who,
    if he had lived in our time, would have found encouragement
    scarcely less munificent in Albemarle Street or in Paternoster Row.

     "As every climate has its peculiar diseases, so every walk of life
    has its peculiar temptations. The literary character assuredly has
    always had its share of faults, vanity, jealousy, morbid
    sensibility. To these faults were now superadded the faults which
    are commonly found in men whose livelihood is precarious, and whose
    principles are exposed to the trial of severe distress. All the
    vices of the gambler and of the beggar were blended with those of
    the author. The prizes in the wretched lottery of book-making were
    scarcely less ruinous than the blanks. If good fortune came, it
    came in such a manner that it was almost certain to be abused.
    After a month of starvation and despair, a full third night or a
    well-received dedication filled the pocket of the lean, ragged,
    unwashed poet with guineas. He hastened to enjoy those luxuries
    with the images of which his mind had been haunted while he was
    sleeping amidst the cinders and eating potatoes at the Irish
    ordinary in Shoe Lane. A week of taverns soon qualified him for
    another year of night-cellars. Such was the life of Savage, of
    Boyse, and of a crowd of others. Sometimes blazing in gold-lace
    hats and waistcoats; sometimes lying in bed because their coats had
    gone to pieces, or wearing paper cravats because their linen was in
    pawn; sometimes drinking champagne and Tokay with Betty Careless;
    sometimes standing at the window of an eating-house in Porridge
    island, to snuff up the scent of what they could not afford to
    taste,--they knew luxury; they knew beggary; but they never knew
    comfort. These men were irreclaimable. They looked on a regular and
    frugal life with the same aversion which an old gypsy or a Mohawk
    hunter feels for a stationary abode, and for the restraints and
    securities of civilized communities."

Notwithstanding Douglas Jerrold received a thousand pounds per annum
from "Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper" alone, besides a respectable income
from "Punch" and other literary labor, he never had a guinea in his
pocket; every penny was forestalled, and he left his family in extreme

Goldsmith, as we have seen, was the most improvident of men, and died
owing two thousand pounds; which led Dr. Johnson to say, "Was ever poet
so trusted before?" It was at this time that Boswell, who was always a
little jealous of Goldsmith's intimacy with Johnson, made some
disparaging remarks about the dead poet; whereupon Johnson promptly
replied, "Dr. Goldsmith was wild, sir, but he is so no more!" "Cover the
good man who has been vanquished," says Thackeray,--"cover his face and
pass on!" Some families seem to inherit impecuniosity; Goldsmith came
thus rightfully, so to speak, by his weakness in this respect.[171]

Sheridan, according to Byron, wrote the best comedy, the "School for
Scandal;" the best opera, the "Duenna;" the best farce, the "Critic;"
and delivered the most famous oration of modern times. With genius and
talents which entitled him to the highest station, he yet sank into
difficulties, mostly through inexcusable improvidence, outraging every
principle of justice and of truth, finally dying in neglect. The reader
will be apt to recall the anecdote illustrative of Sheridan's
impecuniosity. As he was hacking his face one day with a dull razor, he
turned to his son and said, "Tom, if you open any more oysters with my
razor, I'll cut you off with a shilling." "Very well, father," was the
reply; "but where is the shilling to come from?" Sheridan thought if he
had stuck to the law he might have done as well as his friend Erskine;
"but," he added, "I had no time for such studies; Mrs. Sheridan and
myself were often obliged to keep writing for our daily leg or shoulder
of mutton, otherwise we should have had no dinner; yes, it was a _joint_

All authorities combine in pronouncing the great speech of Sheridan on
the impeachment of Warren Hastings to be one of the grandest oratorical
efforts known to us. But the persuasive power of eloquence was never
better illustrated than in the instance of Mirabeau when he pleaded his
own case. His liaison with the Marchioness de Mounier surpasses, in
fact, all stories of romance. Mirabeau induced her to run away with him,
for which she was seized and thrown into a convent, while he escaped to
Switzerland.[172] He was brought to trial, was convicted of contumacy,
and sentenced to lose his head. The lady escaped and once more joined
him; together they passed into Holland, where they were a second time
arrested, she being again immured in a convent and he confined in the
Castle of Vincennes, where he remained for more than three years. After
his liberation he obtained a new trial, pleaded his own case, and by the
impassioned power of his all-commanding eloquence he terrified the court
and the prosecutor, melted the audience to tears, obtained a prompt
reversal of his sentence, and even threw the whole cost of the suit upon
the prosecution.[173]

When the stupid, ill-bred Judge Robinson insulted Curran by reflecting
upon his poverty while he was arguing a case before him, saying to him
that he "suspected his law library was rather contracted," Curran
answered the servile office-holder in words of aptest eloquence and
cutting irony. "It is true, my lord," said Curran, with dignified
respect, "that I am poor, and the circumstance has somewhat curtailed my
library; my books are not numerous, but they are select, and I hope they
have been perused with proper disposition. I have prepared myself for
this high profession rather by the study of a few good works than by the
composition of a great many bad ones. I am not ashamed of my poverty,
but I should be ashamed of my wealth could I have stooped to acquire it
by servility and corruption. If I rise not to rank, I shall at least be
honest; and should I ever cease to be so, many an example shows me that
ill-gained reputation, by making me the more conspicuous, would only
make me the more universally and the more notoriously contemptible!"

Speaking of eloquence, Hazlitt describes how he walked ten miles to hear
Coleridge the poet preach, and declared that he could not have been more
delighted if he had heard the music of the spheres. The names of Fox,
Pitt, Grattan, Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Wendell Phillips, and
Rufus Choate, with many others, crowd upon the mind as we dwell upon the
theme of eloquence in oratory. There is eloquence of the pen as well as
of the tongue; Socrates of old, celebrated for his noble oratorical
compositions, was of so timid a disposition that he rarely ventured to
speak in public. He compared himself to a whetstone, which will not cut,
but which readily enables other things to do so; for his productions
served as models to other orators.

We have myriads of examples showing us that accident has often
determined the bent and development of genius. Accident may not,
however, create genius; it is innate, or it is not at all. Cowley tells
us that when quite young he chanced upon a copy of the "Faerie
Queene,"[175] nearly the only book at hand, and becoming interested he
read it carefully and often, until enchanted thereby he became
irrevocably a poet. The apple that fell on Newton's head with a force
apparently out of all proportion to its size, led him to ponder upon the
fact, until he deduced the great law of gravitation and laid the
foundation of his philosophy. It was Shakespeare's youthful roguery
which drove him from his trade of wool-carding and necessitated his
leaving Stratford. A company of strolling actors became his first new
associates, and he took up with their business for a while; but
dissatisfied with his own success as an actor he turned to writing
plays, and thus arose the greatest dramatist the world has produced.
Molière, who was of very low birth, being often taken as a lad to the
theatre by his grandfather, was thus led to study the usages of the
stage, and came to be the greatest dramatic author of France.
"Tartuffe," which he wrote a hundred and twenty years ago, still holds
the stage, as well as many others of his inimitable productions. He was
the Shakespeare of France. Hallam says that Shakespeare had the greater
genius, but Molière has perhaps written the better comedies. Corneille
fell in love, and was thus incited to pour out his feelings in verse,
developing rapidly into a poet and dramatist. He was intended for the
law; but love tripped up his heels and made him a poet.

The chance perusal of De Foe's "Essay on Projects," Dr. Franklin tells
us, influenced the principal events and course of his life; so the
reading of the "Lives of the Saints" caused Ignatius Loyola to form the
purpose of creating a new religious order,--which purpose eventuated in
the powerful society of the Jesuits. Benjamin West says, "A kiss from my
mother made me a painter."[176] La Fontaine read by chance a volume of
Malherbe's poems,--he who was called "the poet of princes and the prince
of poets,"--whereby he became so impressed, that ever after his mind
sought expression through the same medium. Rousseau's eccentric genius
was first aroused by an advertisement offering a prize for the best
essay on a certain theme, which brought out his "Declamation against the
Arts and Sciences" (winning the prize thereby), and determined his
future career. The husband and father of the woman who nursed Michael
Angelo were stone-masons, and the chisel thus became the first and most
common plaything put into the child's hands; hence his earliest efforts
were made to apply the hammer and chisel to marble, and the seed was
planted which blossomed into art. It was the accidental observation of
steam, lifting by its expansive power the heavy iron cover of a boiling
pot, that suggested to the mind of James Watt thoughts which led to the
invention of the steam-engine. The "Pickwick Papers," Dickens's earliest
and best literary work, owes its origin to the publisher of a magazine
upon which he was doing job-work desiring him to write a serial story to
fit some comic pictures which were in the publisher's possession. The
genius was in Dickens, but it slept.

The sight of Virgil's tomb, just above the Grotto of Posilippo, at
Naples, determined Giovanni's literary vocation for life. So Gibbon was
struck with the idea of writing his "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,"
as he sat dreaming amid the ruins of the Forum.[177] When Scott was a
mere boy he chanced upon a copy of Percy's "Reliques of Ancient Poetry,"
which he read with eagerness again and again. As soon as he could get
the necessary sum of money, he purchased a copy; and thus the taste for
poetry was early instilled into his soul and found after expression in
his charming poems. Scott's first literary effort was the translation of
"Götz von Berlichengen," to which Carlyle ascribes large influence on
the great novelist's future career. He says this translation was "the
prime cause of 'Marmion' and the 'Lady of the Lake,' with all that has
followed from the same creative hand. Truly a grain of seed that had
lighted in the right soil. For if not firmer and fairer, it has grown to
be taller and broader than any other tree; and all nations of the earth
are still yearly gathering of its fruit."

While in England, not long since, the writer of these pages was told an
anecdote relating to Mrs. Siddons which was new to him, and which
illustrates how often accident has directed the future bent of genius.
When quite a young lady, Sarah Siddons saw in some private gallery an
antique statue of great excellence, which had a most electrifying effect
upon her. It suggested to her at once the most effective position and
manner in which to express intensity of feeling. The arms were close
down at the sides, and the hands nervously clenched, while the head was
erect, the chest expanded, and the face half in profile. "I cannot
express how indelibly the pose took effect upon my imagination," said
the great actress many years afterwards, "or the force of the lesson
taught me by the marble." If memory serves us correctly, we recall an
old engraving of Mrs. Siddons in the character of Lady Macbeth, which
would be nearly a reproduction of the pose described.[178]

Accident developed one of the greatest vocalists the world has ever
known. Jenny Lind was at the beginning of her life a poor neglected
little girl, homely and uncouth, living in a single room of a
tumble-down house in a narrow street at Stockholm. When the humble woman
who had her in charge went out to her daily labor, she was accustomed to
lock Jenny in with her sole companion, a cat. One day the little girl,
who was always singing to herself like a canary-bird, "because," as she
said, "the song was in her and would come out," sat with her dumb
companion at the window warbling her sweet childlike notes. She was
overheard by a passing lady, who paused and listened, struck by the
clearness and trill of the untutored notes. She made careful inquiries
about the child and became the patroness of little Jenny, who was at
once supplied with a music-teacher. She loved the art of song, and had
the true genius for it. Jenny made rapid progress, surprising both
patroness and teachers, and presently became the great Queen of Song.

The world knows of Jenny Lind's splendid fortune, of her professional
triumphs, and of her noble charities; but few, perhaps, have ever
pictured her humble girlhood, cooped up in a cheerless room, with only
her cat for a companion, in a dull quarter of the Swedish capital. The
plain, awkward girl grew up under favorable culture to be a graceful,
lovely woman. The courts of Europe treated her as a revered guest; she
was covered with laurels and with jewels, but she was ever in
disposition and character the same pure, simple Swedish girl. Adulation
had no power to spoil this child of Nature and of art. The Swedish
public cherish her name as that of their most favored daughter, and
honor her for the noble educational institution which she has so
liberally founded in her native Stockholm.

Christina Nilsson, another Scandinavian vocalist, was the daughter of an
humble Swedish peasant, born in so lowly a cabin that it was difficult
to conceive of the name of "home" being applied to it. While yet a child
she was obliged to work with the rest of the family in the fields and on
the mountain-side. Her sweet voice was first heard at the fairs and
peasant weddings, where her simple Scandinavian melodies delighted the
assembled crowds. At one of these public gatherings a man of taste and
means heard the child's voice, and realized the hidden possibilities it
indicated. He was a magistrate, and became her patron, taking her from
her humble surroundings and supplying her with suitable teachers. She
was carefully taught instrumental as well as vocal music, and became
both an eminent pianist and singer, developing like her fair
countrywoman, Jenny Lind, into a vocalist of grandest genius, and of
such ability as the world affords but few examples.

Taglioni was also Scandinavian by birth, having been born at Stockholm,
in 1804, of humble parentage, her father being a dancing-master. She had
the genius of an artist, which she patiently developed through many dark
hours of toil and deprivation, until she made herself acknowledged as
queen of the ballet in the great cities of Europe. Her purity of
character added a charm to her public performances, giving her a
prestige never before enjoyed by any exponent of her art. She finally
amassed a large fortune, and retiring from the stage married Count
Gilbert de Voisins. Doubtless many of our readers have paused in their
gondolas beneath the windows of her marble palace on the Grand Canal at
Venice, to recall the story of the great danseuse, or have looked with
pleasure upon her elegant villa on the Lake of Como.


It is not the author's purpose to treat the names of painters, or indeed
those of any other branch of art, especially by themselves. Were any
single line to be selected, the peculiarities of its representatives
would alone be sufficient to fill a volume. Under the general design of
this gossip about genius, the pen is permitted to glide after its own
fancy, treating only upon such individuals as readily suggest
themselves, and who are illustrative of characteristics already

Upon beginning the chapter before us, we were thinking of John Opie, the
distinguished English painter, born in Cornwall in 1761. When Opie was
only ten years of age[179] he saw a person who was somewhat accomplished
with the pencil draw a butterfly. The boy watched the process with
marked interest, and as soon as the draughtsman had departed, produced
upon a shingle a drawing equally good, which he showed to his mother.
She, good woman, encouraged him, as Mrs. West did her son on a similar
occasion; but the father, being a harsh, rude, low-bred man, was
constantly punishing the boy for laziness, and for chalking figures,
faces, and animals on every stray bit of board or flat surface at hand.
The boy had genius, however; what he required was opportunity. Good
fortune sent Dr. Wolcott, better known as "Peter Pindar," that way. He
saw the boy's dawning genius, and helped him with suitable material and
some useful suggestions. It was not long before the lad got away from
home, quietly aided by his good friend Wolcott, and soon earned money
enough to clothe himself decently and to make a start in life. He
finally married Amelia, daughter of James Alderson, who afterwards
became the well-known authoress Amelia Opie. The husband developed into
a distinguished artist, whose historical pictures, "The Death of Rizzio"
and "Jephthah's Vow," were stepping-stones to his election as President
of the Royal Academy. Does not this truthful sketch from life, of a poor
wood-sawyer's son, read like romance?

Genius will assert itself; it seems useless to strive against it. The
secret suggestions of the soul are true, lead us whither they will.
Salvator Rosa was the son of a poor architect who made ineffectual
efforts to thwart his son's predilection for art, but all in vain. The
young man, finding that he could not hope for any assistance from his
father, strove all the harder to earn a livelihood by painting, but
nearly starved before he reached his majority. About this time the
patrons of art in Rome offered a grand prize for the best painting to be
submitted at an exhibition to be held in the Eternal City. The young
Neapolitan saw his chance, and painted a picture into which he infused
all the glowing spirit of the art which burned within him. If it failed,
he resolved that no one should know aught of its authorship. It was
forwarded anonymously, and received the recognition of being hung in the
most favorable position. That picture took the grand prize, the unknown
artist being lauded as above Titian. Nought was to be heard for it but
praise. This decided the fate of Rosa. He left his humble home near
Naples and settled in Rome, where he secured the friendship and intimacy
of the greatest men of the day.

Numerous and grand were the pictures sent forth from Rosa's hand; orders
pressed upon him faster than he could fill them, and thus he stepped at
once into the highest contemporary fame and fortune.[180] "Salvator
possessed real genius," says Ruskin, "but was crushed by misery in his
youth." He was not only a painter, but also a poet and a musician;
nearly all cultured Italians are the latter. At the grand Carnival of
the year 1639 there appeared upon the Corso and in the squares of Rome
an actor of fantastic dress, who was marked like all the other revellers
on such occasions, but whose name was given as one Formica, of Southern
Italy. He attracted both public and private attention by his brilliant
wit, his eloquence, and especially by his songs, as he accompanied
himself on the lute. He was the hero of the Carnival of that season. By
and by the appointed hour arrived when all the revellers unmasked, and
lo! the stranger proved to be Salvator Rosa.

Among painters, Rubens is one of the greatest and most familiar names,
though Ruskin disparages him by saying that "he is a healthy, worthy,
kind-hearted, courtly-phrased animal, without any clearly perceptible
traces of a soul, except when he paints children." Rubens became an
artist from love of art, and his career was one in which there was far
more of sunshine than usually falls to the lot of genius. He throve
greatly in a business point of view as well as in art, and became a man
of wealth in his native city of Antwerp, where he built a comfortable
house and adorned it inside with pencil and brush--the whole, as he
estimated it, worth about a thousand pounds sterling. Presently there
came to Antwerp the Duke of Buckingham, who coveted the artist's house.
A negotiation was opened, and Rubens sold it to the Duke for twelve
times what it cost, or say in our currency sixty thousand dollars.

Rubens must have possessed wonderful industry, as we judge by the fact
that a hundred of his paintings may be found in the Munich Gallery
alone, not to mention those contained in other European collections.
Undoubtedly his "Descent from the Cross," now in the Antwerp Cathedral,
is his grandest work. Our artist was by no means without his vein of
vanity, as evinced by the family picture which he painted, and in which
he gives himself due prominence. This picture is placed just above his
tomb, back of the altar, in the Church of St. Jacques, at Antwerp. The
presumptuousness is increased by the fact that the combined portraits of
his first and second wife, his daughter, with his father, grandfather,
and himself, are intended to represent a Holy Family, and the painting
is typical of that idea. The whole is incongruous and in bad taste.
Vandyke, Teniers, and Denis Calvart, the instructor of Guido Reni, were
all natives of Antwerp. The city owes its attraction to travellers
almost solely to the fact that here are so many masterpieces of

William Hogarth was a great and original genius, who wrote comedies
pictorially, satirized vice, and depicted all phases of life more in
detail than is possible with the pen. He was early apprenticed to a
silversmith; but the natural bent of his genius was too apparent and
promising not to be encouraged by the study of art. In the dramatic and
satirical departments of design he has never been excelled. It has been
objected that his pictures are vulgar; but when we remember the period
in which they appeared, and also the fact that they undoubtedly convey
useful lessons of morality, we shall find ample excuse if not
commendation for the artist. In 1753 he published his "Analysis of
Beauty," in which he maintains that a waving line is essential to
beauty. Hogarth composed comedies just as much as did Molière. It was a
singular characteristic of this able designer and artist that he could
not successfully illustrate another's work; he is known utterly to have
failed in the attempt, though never in the successful illustration of
his own ideas. Hogarth was also a historian, inasmuch as every picture
he produced represented the manners and customs of the period. The
interior scenes give us the exact style of the furniture and minutest
domestic surroundings; while out of doors we have all the various modes
of conveyance in use, and a faithful picture of the street architecture.
Hogarth died in 1764.

James Spencer, who was a personal friend of Hogarth, began life as a
London footman; but the genius of an artist was born in him, and it
gradually forced its way to the front. At odd moments he practised
drawing and even painting with oils, whenever and wherever he could
seize upon a brief chance. It happened that a professional
portrait-painter was engaged to make a portrait of the head of the
family where Spencer had long acted as footman. When the likeness was
finished, he heard his master express some just dissatisfaction at its
want of resemblance to the original. Spencer very humbly asked
permission of his master to copy the painting and see if he could not
get a good likeness. After expressing some astonishment at the request,
his master assented. In a much briefer period than the first artist
occupied, and without a single sitting on the part of his employer,
Spencer astonished the family by producing not only a remarkable
likeness, but an entirely satisfactory painting. With such a start the
footman became a professional portrait-painter, and accumulated the
means ere long to set up a fine London establishment.

In an earlier part of this volume we gave numerous instances of genius
being at its best in early youth, when, as Burke says, "the senses are
unworn and tender, and the whole frame is awake in every part." Of this
early development we know of no more striking instance in art than that
of Sir Thomas Lawrence, who at the age of ten years surpassed most of
the London portrait-painters both in his certain likenesses and in the
general effect of his portraits. He was a remarkable genius, and for a
considerable period was the talk of all London.[181] Added to his
ability as an artist, young Lawrence was remarkably handsome. Prince
Hoare saw something so angelic in his face that he desired to paint him
in the character of Christ. In about seven minutes Lawrence scarcely
ever failed of producing in crayon an excellent likeness of any person
present, and in a manner expressive of both grace and freedom. He
succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds, in due time, as first painter to the
king, was knighted in 1815, and five years later became President of the
Royal Academy.

To realize under what shadows many an artist has lived, worked, and
died, yet who is known to us of the highest genius, we have only to
recall some familiar names. Correggio was of very humble birth: and
though one of the most original of all the brilliant masters of the
sixteenth century, he enjoyed little contemporary fame. His works to-day
are held at as high a valuation as those of Raphael, Titian, or
Murillo.[182] His modesty was characteristic; his pretension, nothing.
His pictures speak for him, and exhibit the softness, tenderness, and
harmony of his nature. Nearly all his work was done at his native city
of Correggio and at Parma; nor is he believed ever to have visited Rome.
It was he who, after gazing on one of Raphael's finest productions,
exclaimed, "I also am a painter!"

Correggio was chosen by the canons of the cathedral at Parma to paint
for them the "Assumption of the Virgin." It was a subject well fitted
to his style, and his conception and execution of the painting were
beyond criticism. It may be seen, mellowed by age, in the Parma
Cathedral to-day. When the work was done, the priests meanly haggled and
found fault with it, in order to reduce the price, which had been
previously agreed upon. Finally, they only paid the artist half the
promised sum, stealing the balance to supply their secret luxuries. To
add insult to their meanness, the priests paid the artist the price in
copper coin. He could not refuse the money, for his poverty-stricken
family awaited his return with it to supply their pressing needs.
Correggio took the heavy burden on his shoulders and bore it two leagues
and more, under a broiling Italian sun, to reach his home. On arriving
there he was completely exhausted, and drank freely of the water his
children brought to him; then, disheartened at his ill-fortune and
broken down by fatigue, he went sadly to his rude bed, to awake on the
following morning in a burning fever and delirious. In two days
Correggio was no more.

The development of the genius which slept in the soul of Canova when a
lad was brought about by a happy accident. A superb banquet was
preparing in the palace of the Falieri family at Venice. The tables were
already arranged, when it was discovered that a crowning ornament of
some sort was required to complete the general effect of the banqueting
board. Canova's grandfather, who brought him up, was a stone-cutter,
often hewing out stone ornaments for the architects; and as he lived
close at hand, he was hastily consulted by the steward of the Falieris.
Canova chanced to go with his grandfather to view the tables, and
overheard the consultation. His quick eye and ready genius at once
suggested a suitable design for the apex of the principal dishes. "Give
me a plate of cold butter," said the boy; and seating himself at a side
table he rapidly moulded a lion of proper proportions, and so true to
nature in its pose and detail as to astonish all present. It was put in
place, and proved to be the most striking ornamental article there. When
the guests were seated and discovered it, they exclaimed aloud with
admiration, and demanded to see at once the person who could perform
such a miracle impromptu. Canova was brought before them, and his boyish
person only heightened their wonder. From that hour he had in the head
of this opulent family a kind, appreciative, and liberal patron. He was
placed under tuition with the best sculptors of Venice and Rome, to
study the art of which he finally became a grand master.[183]

The story of Spagnoletto is a romantic one, and not without a vivid
moral. Of such humble birth was he, that nothing is said of it by
himself or his friends. He suffered the very extreme of poverty; but
feeling a deep love for art, and a consciousness within him that he was
born to be a painter, he pursued this purpose through besetting
difficulties for years. He still felt within him a power of genius
superior to all and every disadvantage which he encountered. He was
Spanish by birth, but made his way on foot to Rome, where he worked for
his daily bread at anything which offered, and for many months was
employed as a street porter, but at the same time followed the study of
art in his humble way. One day a cardinal passing in his carriage saw in
the streets a ragged person painting a board affixed to an ordinary
house of Rome. The young man's wretchedness attracted his attention. It
was Spagnoletto earning wherewith to purchase a loaf of bread. The
cardinal questioned him, took him home to his palace and gave him every
luxury he desired, as well as the means to pursue his beloved art. For a
brief time all was well, and the art student made great progress; but,
alas! the nature which could withstand the frowns of fortune wilted
beneath her smiles, and pleasure thoroughly seduced the youth by her
tempting wiles. He became a slave to the senses, neglected art entirely,
and was fast going to ruin. One night Spagnoletto had a dream; it was
the midnight visit of his better angel, and she prevailed. He awoke the
next morning determined to leave the cardinal's palace with all its
luxuries behind him, to resume his former condition and industry. He
worked his way to Naples, and by degrees rose steadily in art until he
cast off his rags and was independent. He furnished so perfect a
painting of Saint Bartholomew stripped to the muscles, that it became a
valued study for anatomists, and from that day his fame was assured. His
pictures were eagerly sought for, and to-day they adorn the best
European galleries.[184] As Salvator Rosa, the Italian artist, delighted
most in depicting wild, rugged mountain scenery and battles, so
Spagnoletto, the Spanish painter, was most at home with martyrdoms,
executions, and tragic scenes generally. He died at Naples in 1656.

Genius is confined to no line of art, to no special profession; we find
its exponents in the legislative hall, in the pulpit, and on the stage.
Garrick was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses of the English
stage; he was not only an actor, but a successful dramatic author. He
married a Viennese danseuse, and so far as the world knows was happy in
his domestic relations. He was equally at home in tragedy and comedy,
possessing in a most marvellous degree the art of imitating the
physiognomy of others and the manner of expressing their various
emotions. It is said of him that he could imitate anything, bird or
beast, both in voice and manner. On the occasion of a grand dinner-party
in London, at a certain lord's, Garrick was a guest; in the course of
the entertainment he was suddenly missed, and at last was discovered in
the garden belonging to the house, where a young negro boy was rolling
on the ground convulsed with screams of laughter to see Garrick
mimicking a turkey-cock that was strutting about in the enclosure. The
actor had his coat-tail stuck out behind, and was in a seeming flutter
of feathered rage and pride.[185] Garrick declared that he would
cheerfully give a hundred guineas if he could say "Oh!" as Whitfield
did. A noble friend wished him to be a candidate for Parliament. "No, my
lord," said the actor, sincerely; "I would rather play the part of great
men on the stage, than the part of fool in Parliament."[186] He
accumulated a large fortune, stated at over a hundred and fifty thousand
pounds. He died in 1779, and was buried with such pomp as is awarded
only to those who are considered national characters. His ashes rest
beside the tomb of Shakespeare in Westminster Abbey.

Moore mentions having seen that excellent comic genius John Liston
behind the scenes in a towering rage about some trifle, while he was
dressed and "made up" for the part of Rigdum Funidos,--a contrast which
must have been as ludicrous as when Washington Irving met Grimaldi in a
furious rage behind the curtain, with the regular stage grin painted on
his cheeks. Liston began his profession in tragic parts and developed
his wonderful comic powers by chance, being suddenly called upon one
evening to fill the low comedian's place on account of the illness of
the actor cast for the part. He made a hit at once, such as he had not
dreamed of, and it was seen by every one that he was naturally a comic
actor. On the occasion referred to, by the exercise of his extraordinary
facial powers he caused the spectators and actors, until the curtain
fell on the closing scene, to roar with laughter, though but very little
of the text had been audible to them. True genius loses itself in the
character and the subject. Betterton, when he performed Hamlet, by
reason of the violent and sudden emotion of amazement and horror at the
presence of his father's spectre, absolutely turned as white as his
neckcloth, although his natural cast of countenance was very florid,
while his whole body seemed affected by an uncontrollable tremor. Had
his father's apparition indeed risen before him, he could not have been
seized with more real agonies. When a well-known actor of that period,
named Booth, first took the part of the ghost, Betterton acted Hamlet;
on which occasion his extraordinary look struck Booth with such horror
that for a moment he remained silent, having forgotten his part.[187]

Samuel Foote, the witty English comedian, was one of the vainest of
geniuses. "For loud, obstreperous, broad-faced mirth," said Dr. Johnson,
"I know not his equal." Foote sought the stage to earn thereby a living
after squandering his fortune at gaming and other vices. When visiting
in the country, his vanity led him to boast of his horsemanship, an
accomplishment of which he knew little or nothing; and when invited by
Lord Mexborough to join the hunt, he could not decently decline. The
consequence was that at the first burst he was thrown and broke his leg
in two places, so that amputation was necessary. However, he managed to
play nearly as well with a cork leg. To some one who made a reflection
upon his "game" leg, Foote replied promptly: "Make no allusion to my
weakest part. Did I ever attack your head?" Garrick, observing that
Foote had placed a plaster bust of him in his entry, remarked, "You are
not afraid, I see, to trust me near your gold and bank-notes." "No,"
retorted the humorist, "you have no hands!" Foote was considered by his
contemporaries the greatest master of comic humor after Molière. One day
Foote, Garrick, and Dr. Johnson went together to Bedlam,--a hospital in
London for the insane. Johnson, who was much affected at the sight of
so much human misery, got into a corner by himself to meditate, and in
the progress of his mood he threw himself into so many strange
attitudes, and drew his face into such odd shapes, that Foote whispered
mysteriously to Garrick to ask _how they should contrive to get him

Of the moral character of Nell Gwynn, who was a favorite London actress
and a mistress of Charles II., the less said the better; and yet she was
not entirely void of good impulses, for it is well known that she
persuaded the king to establish and endow Chelsea Hospital. But of
Bracegirdle, the beautiful actress who captivated all hearts, and whom
Congreve was thought nearly to worship, not a word reflecting upon her
moral character could be truthfully uttered. At a London coffee-house
one evening there chanced to be gathered a score or more of her
admirers, including the Dukes of Devonshire and Dorset, besides other
members of the peerage. Bracegirdle's name had been mentioned; when Lord
Halifax said: "You all of you praise the virtue of this lady; why not
reward her for not selling it? There are two hundred guineas _pour
encourager les autres_." A thousand guineas were raised on the spot,
which the noblemen took to Bracegirdle, going into her presence in a
body. As it was a testimony intended in honor of her virtue, she
accepted it. No doubt a large portion of this handsome tribute found its
way very quickly into the hands of her needy pensioners; for she was no
more estimable in her profession than noble in her charities. The best
dramatists wrote for her; and two of them, Rowe and Congreve, when they
gave her a lover in a play seemed palpably to plead their own passions
and to make their individual court to her in fictitious characters.

Having spoken of Nell Gwynn and Bracegirdle, another English actress,
Margaret Woffington, comes forcibly to mind; and though we do not
propose to treat especially the profession of the drama, the incidental
mention of some of its members in this gossip is not out of place. Her
father was an Irish bricklayer in Dublin, where Peg Woffington, as she
was best known, was a great public favorite long before she came to
London to find an equally agreeable home. Her versatility of genius may
be judged of from the fact of her personating Lady Macbeth and Sir Harry
Wildare with equal excellence. The latter character was a favorite one
with Garrick, but he gave up the part altogether after witnessing her
excellence in its assumption.[188] She also was distinguished for her
benevolence and open-handed charity. The manager of Covent Garden
Theatre could always be sure of a full house when he announced her in
the character of the gay, dissipated, good-humored rake, Sir Harry
Wildare. Margaret built and endowed two almshouses at Teddington,
Middlesex, and lies buried in the principal church of the district. In
the height of her popularity she declared that she preferred the society
of men to that of women; the latter, she said, "talk of nothing but
silks and scandal." Her end was singularly dramatic. She was playing the
character of Rosalind with more than usual éclat, when she was struck
with paralysis, and died soon after in the prime of life.[189]

We have spoken of accident as often determining the development and
directing the course of genius. Edward Shuter was one of the most
popular comedians on the London stage in 1776, but he began life as a
pot-boy at a public-house in the neighborhood of Covent Garden. A
gentleman came to the house one evening, and after refreshing himself he
sent the boy Shuter to call him a hackney-coach. On reaching home he
found that he had dropped his pocket-book; and suspecting that he had
lost it in the coach, he went the next morning to the tavern to make
inquiry. He asked Shuter if he knew the number of the hack. The poor boy
could not read or write, and was totally unskilled in numerals; but he
knew the signs by which his master scored the quarts and pints of porter
that were drunk, and to the gentleman's inquiry as to the number of the
coach which the boy had called for him Shuter said it was "two pots and
a pint" (771). This was unintelligible to the gentleman, but was
explained by the landlord. The coachman was summoned, and the
pocket-book recovered. This acuteness of the boy interested the
gentleman, and he became his patron, sent him to school, and gave him a
start in the line of his choice, which was the theatrical profession.
Such is the story in brief of one of the famous London comedians.

How many of our readers remember the one recorded scene when Queen
Elizabeth condescended to coquet with Shakespeare? The great bard was
performing the part of a king; Elizabeth's box was contiguous to the
stage, and she purposely dropped her handkerchief from the box upon the
boards, at the very feet of Shakespeare, having a mind thus to try
whether her poet would stoop from his high estate of assumed majesty.
"Take up _our_ sister's handkerchief," was his prompt and dignified
order to one of the actors in his train.

       *       *       *       *       *

It will doubtless be found interesting to see recorded in juxtaposition
the words and the manner of death of some of the great geniuses whom
history mentions. When Alonzo Cano, the famous Spanish artist, was
dying, the attendant priest presented before him an ivory crucifix; Cano
turned away and refused to look at it because the sculpture was so bad,
calling for a plain cross, which he embraced, and died. Chaucer breathed
his last while composing a ballad. When the priest came whom Alfieri
had been prevailed upon to see, he requested him to call the next day.
"Death, I trust, will tarry four-and-twenty hours," he said, but died in
the interim. Petrarch was found dead in his library, leaning on a book.
"I could wish this tragic scene were over," said Quin the actor, "but I
hope to go through it with becoming dignity." Pitt, the great statesman,
died alone, in a solitary house on Wimbledon Common. Rousseau, when
dying, asked to be carried to the window of the apartment overlooking
his garden, that he might look his last on Nature.

When Malherbe the lyric poet was dying, he reprimanded his nurse for
making use of a solecism in her language, and bade the priest stop his
trite, cant talk about heaven, saying, "Your wretched style only makes
me out of conceit with it." Bide, the English monk and author, on the
night of his death continued to dictate to his amanuensis. He asked his
scribe how many chapters yet remained to complete the work, and was told
there was one. "Take your pen," he commanded, and went on with the work.
By and by the scribe said, "It is finished," just as his master breathed
his last. Roscommon, when expiring, quoted from his own translation of
the "Dies Iræ." "All my possessions for a moment of time!" were the
dying words of Queen Elizabeth. The last words of Cardinal Beaufort
were, "What! is there no bribing death?" The last words uttered by Byron
were, "I must sleep now." In his last moments Crébillon, who had
composed two acts of his tragedy of "Catiline," regretted that he had
not been spared to complete it.

Colorden on the day of his death was visited by his friend Barthe, who
requested his opinion of the comedy of the "Selfish Man," which he came
to read at his bedside. "You may add an excellent trait to the character
of your principal personage," said Colorden. "Say that he obliged an old
friend, on the eve of his death, to hear him read a five-act comedy!"
"Let me die to the sound of delicious music," were the last words of
Mirabeau. Herder died writing an ode to the Deity, his pen on the last
line. Heller died feeling his own pulse; and when he found it almost
gone, turning his eyes to his brother physician, said, "My friend, the
artery ceases to beat!" "Tell Collingwood to bring the fleet to anchor,"
said Nelson, and expired. The last words of Charles I. were uttered on
the scaffold,--"I fear not death! Death is not terrible to me!"

Curran's ruling passion was strong in death. Near the close of his
earthly hours his physician at his morning call said he "seemed to cough
with more difficulty." "That's surprising," said the almost exhausted
invalid, "as I have been practising all night." "There is not a drop of
blood on my hands," said the expiring Frederick V. of Denmark. "Let not
poor Nellie starve" (Nell Gwynn, his mistress), were the last words of
Charles II. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore do
I die in exile," said Pope Gregory VII. with his expiring breath. Anne
Boleyn turned to the executioner on the scaffold, and pointing to her
neck, said pathetically, "It is small, very small indeed!" The last
words of Maria Theresa were, "I do not sleep; I wish to meet my death
awake." Madam Roland exclaimed, "O liberty! liberty! how many crimes are
committed in thy name!"

It was in perfect accord with his character when Chancellor Thurlow said
at the closing moment of his life, "I'm shot if I don't believe I'm
dying!" "World without end, Amen!" said Bunyan as he breathed his last.
"Guilty, but recommended to the mercy of the court," whispered Lord
Hermand. "For the last time I commit soul, body, and spirit into His
hands," said John Knox in dying. "Trust in God," said President Edwards,
"and you need not fear." These were his last words. "If I had strength
enough to hold a pen," said Willian Hunter, the distinguished anatomist,
"I would write how easy and delightful it is to die." The dying words of
Louis XIV. were, "I thought that dying had been more difficult." Arthur
Murphy the dramatist quoted in his last breath Pope's lines,--

    "Taught by reason, half by mere decay,
    To welcome death and calmly pass away."

When asked if he heard the prayers which were offered in his presence,
the Duke of Marlborough replied, "Yes, and I join in them." He never
spoke again. "O Lord, open the King of England's eyes," said the martyr
Tyndale as he died at the stake. When those noble English reformers,
Latimer and Ridley, were being burned at the stake, "Be of good cheer,
brother," cried Ridley, "for our God will either assuage the fury of
this flame or enable us to abide it." Latimer replied: "Be of good
comfort, brother, for we shall this day light such a candle in England
as by God's grace shall never be put out." Lady Jane Grey's last words
upon the scaffold were: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
"Many things are growing plain and clear to me," whispered Schiller, and
died with these words on his lips.

Anna Lætitia Barbauld, the English authoress, wrote with great poetic
feeling and moral beauty. Her husband became a lunatic, and she suffered
much. It was her beautiful self-sacrifice that gave the best charm to
her character. She wrote, among many other works, a popular life of the
novelist Richardson, and some political pamphlets of great force and
excellence. Her series of books for children would alone have given her
lasting reputation. There occurs to us in these closing pages the stanza
which she wrote in her old age, probably in her eighty-second year, not
long before her death,--lines which Rogers and Wordsworth so much and so
justly admired. The former says in his "Table Talk" that while sitting
with Madame D'Arblay a few weeks before her death, he asked her if she
remembered these lines of Mrs. Barbauld's. "Remember them!" answered
the famous authoress, "I repeat them to myself every night before I go
to sleep."

      "Life! we've been long together
    Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
      'T is hard to part when friends are dear;
      Perhaps 't will cost a sigh, a tear;
      Then steal away, give little warning,
        Choose thine own time;
    Say not 'Good-night,' but in some brighter clime
      Bid me 'Good morning.'"


Genius has its hours of sunshine as well as of shadow, and when it finds
expression in wit and humor it is undoubtedly most popular. The Emperor
Titus thought he had lost a day if he had passed it without laughing.
Coleridge tells us men of humor are in some degree men of genius; wits
are rarely so, although a man of genius may, among other gifts, possess
wit. As in pathos and tenderness "one touch of nature makes the whole
world kin," so is it in true wit and humor with the appreciative.
Obtuseness will be unsympathetic under any circumstances. "It is not in
the power of every one to taste humor," says Sterne, "however much he
may wish it; it is the gift of God! and a true feeler always brings half
the entertainment with him." Bruyere has somewhere said very finely that
"wit is the god of moments, but genius is the god of ages." Some men of
genius have found their most natural exponent to be the pen; others
indulge in practical humor. Sheridan[190] belonged to this latter
class; he was full of fun and frolic, ever on the alert for an
opportunity to exercise his humor. When on a certain occasion he had
been driving about the town for three or four hours in a hackney-coach,
he chanced to see his friend Richardson, whom he hailed, and invited
into the vehicle. When they were seated together he at once introduced a
subject upon which he and Richardson always differed, and a controversy
naturally ensued. At last, affecting to be mortified at Richardson's
argument, Sheridan said abruptly, "You are really too bad; I cannot bear
to listen to such things: I will not stay in the coach with you." And
accordingly he opened the door and sprang out, Richardson hallooing
triumphantly, "Ah, you're beat, you're beat!" Nor was it until the heat
of the victory had a little cooled that he realized he was left in the
lurch to pay for Sheridan's three hours' coaching.[191]

Sheridan, profligate and unprincipled as he was, still was capable of
fine expression of sentiment and true poetic fire. In a poem called
"Clio's Protest; or, the Picture Varnished," we find the following
really beautiful lines:--

    "Marked you her cheek of rosy hue?
    Marked you her eye of sparkling blue?
    That eye in liquid circles moving;
    That cheek abashed at man's approving;
    The one Love's arrows darting round;
    The other blushing at the wound:
    Did she not speak, did she not move,
    Now Pallas, now the Queen of Love?"

The poets have frequently made satire an auxiliary of their wit; and
when the proportions are properly adhered to, a favorable result is
produced. Satire, like many subtle poisons used as a medicine, may be
safely taken in small quantities, while an overdose is liable to be
fatal. In Chaucer's[192] Canterbury Pilgrims he draws his portraits to
the life. While he exposes the weakness of human nature, he does not do
so in surliness; a pleasant smile wreathes his lips all the while. There
is slyness, but no bitterness in his satire. He would not chastise, he
would only reform his fellow-men. As illustrating exactly the opposite
spirit, we may instance Pope, Dryden, and Byron, who, descending from
their high estate, often prostituted their genius to attacks upon
personal enemies or rivals, with keenest weapons, while their opponents
had no means of defence. The "Dunciad" is a monument of satiric wit, or
genius belittled.

Swift, who wrote "cords" of worthless rhymes, squibs, songs, and verses,
which live as much by their vulgar smartness as for the slight portion
of true wit which tinctures them, says: "Satire is a sort of glass
wherein beholders generally discover everybody's face but their own;
which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets with in
the world, and that so few are offended with it." Hawthorne gave the
Dean a merited thrust when he said, "the person or thing on which his
satire fell shrivelled up as if the Devil had spit on it." The _double
entendre_ to be found in nearly all of Swift's effusions, epigrams, and
verses, comes with ill grace from a dignitary of the Church. He was
always ready with an epigram on all occasions. One "lives in our memory"
which he addressed to Mrs. Houghton of Bormount, who took occasion one
day to praise her husband in Swift's presence:--

    "You always are making a god of your spouse;
    But this neither reason nor conscience allows:
    Perhaps you will say 'tis in gratitude due,
    And you adore him because he adores you.
    Your argument's weak, and so you will find;
    For you, by this rule, must adore all mankind."

The wit and humor of Shakespeare endear him to our hearts; and what a
rich harvest does the gleaner obtain from his pages! Take "Love's
Labor's Lost," for instance, a play produced in his youth, so full of
quips and quiddity as to live in the memory by whole scenes. There is no
lack of scathing sarcasm in the play, but it leaves no bitter taste in
the mouth, like the "doses" of Swift or the more unscrupulous
productions of Pope in the same line. Ben Jonson,[193] who ranked so
high as a dramatist, has been pronounced to be, next to Shakespeare, the
greatest wit and humorist of his time. His expression was through the
pen, not by the tongue: no man was more taciturn in society. Much of
Jonson's matter was better adapted to his time than to ours; words which
seem to us so coarse and vulgar passed unchallenged in the period which
gave them birth.

Here are five lines from Jonson, with which he closes a play directed
against plagiarists and libellers generally. He sums up thus:--

    "Blush, folly, blush! here's none that fears
    The wagging of an ass's ears,
    Although a wolfish case he wears.
    Detraction is but baseness' varlet,
    And apes are apes, though clothed in scarlet."

It is said that Jonson was a "sombre" man. We have seen that it is by no
means always sunshine with those who brighten others' spirits by their
pen. The great luminary is not always above the horizon.

A friend remarked to the wife of one of our wittiest poets, "What an
atmosphere of mirth you must live in, to share a home with one who
writes always so sportively and wittily!" The answer was a most
significant shake of the head.

We spoke of Dryden as a satirist; perhaps no writer ever went further in
the line of bitterness and personality. His portrait of the Duke of
Buckingham will occur to the reader in this connection:--

    "A man so various that he seemed to be
    Not one, but all mankind's epitome;
    Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
    Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
    But, in the course of one revolving moon,
    Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon."

When a boy at school in Westminster, Dryden more than once showed the
budding promise of the genius that was in him. When put with other
classmates to write a composition on the miracle of the conversion of
water into wine, he remained idle and truant, as usual, up to the last
moment, when he had only time to produce one line in Latin and two in
English; but they were of such excellence as to presage his future
greatness as a poet, and elicit hearty praise from his tutor. They were
as follows:--

    _Videt et erubit lympha pudica Deum!_

    "The modest water, awed by power divine,
    Beheld its God, and blushed itself to wine."

Dryden's complete works form the largest amount of poetical composition
from the pen of one writer, in the English language; and yet he
published scarcely anything until he was nearly thirty years of age.
From that period he was actively engaged in authorship for forty years,
and gave us some of the finest touches of his genius in his second
spring of life. Addison wrote of Dryden at this period the following

    "But see where artful Dryden next appears,
    Grown old in rhyme, but charming e'en in years;
    Great Dryden next, whose tuneful Muse affords
    The sweetest numbers and the fittest words.
    Whether in comic sounds or tragic airs
    She forms her voice, she moves our smiles or tears;
    If satire or heroic strains she writes,
    Her hero pleases and her satire bites;
    From her no harsh, unartful numbers fall,
    She wears all dresses, and she charms in all."

Richard Porson, the profound scholar, linguist, and wit, reared many
monuments of classic learning, which have however crumbled away, leaving
his name familiar to us only as a writer of _jeux d'esprit_; but these
are admirable. He was full of the sunshine of wit; and though sarcastic
and personal, as the nature of his _bon-mots_ compelled, he had no
bitterness in his reflections, and uttered them with a good-natured
laugh. Wonderful stories are told of his powers of memory. He could
repeat several consecutive pages of a book after reading them once. It
was he who wrote a hundred epigrams in one night on the subject of
Pitt's drinking habit, one of which occurs to us:--

    "When Billy found he scarce could stand,
    'Help, help!' he cried, and stretched his hand,
      To faithful Harry calling.
    Quoth he, 'My friend, I'm sorry for't,
    'Tis not my practice to support
      A minister that's falling.'"

The "faithful Harry" was Dundas, Viscount Melville.

The reply of Pitt to Walpole, March 6, 1741, is one of the finest, most
polished, and biting retorts on record: "The atrocious crime of being a
young man, which the honorable gentleman has, with such spirit and
decency, charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny,
but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies
may cease with their youth, and not of that number who are ignorant in
spite of experience."

Dr. Gilles, the historian of Greece, and Dr. Porson used often to meet
and discuss matters of mutual interest relating to the classics. These
interviews were certain to lead to very earnest arguments; Porson was
much the better scholar of the two. Dr. Gilles was one day speaking to
him of the Greek tragedies and of the Odes of Pindar. "We know nothing,"
said Gilles, emphatically, "of the Greek metres." Porson answered: "If,
Doctor, you will put your observation in the singular number, I believe
it will be quite correct." In repartee he was remarkable. "Dr. Porson,"
said a gentleman with whom he had been disputing,--"Dr. Porson, my
opinion of you is most contemptible." "Sir," responded the Doctor
promptly, "I never knew an opinion of yours that was not contemptible."
Porson was a natural wit, so to speak. Being once at a dinner-party
where the conversation turned upon Captain Cook and his celebrated
voyages, an ignorant person in order to contribute something towards the
conversation asked, "Pray, was Cook killed on his first voyage?" "I
believe he was," answered Porson, "though he did not mind it much, but
immediately entered upon a second."

The sharpest repartee is both witty and satirical. James II., when Duke
of York, made a visit to Milton, prompted by curiosity. In the course of
his conversation the Duke said to the poet that he thought his blindness
was a judgment of Heaven on him because he had written against Charles
I., the Duke's father; whereupon the immortal poet replied: "If your
Highness thinks that misfortunes are indexes of the wrath of Heaven,
what must you think of your father's tragical end? I have lost my
eyes--he lost his head."

Few men equalled Coleridge in the matter of prompt readiness of retort,
and few have so misused the lavish gifts of Providence.[194] On a
certain occasion he was riding along a Durham turnpike road, in his
awkward fashion,--for he was no horseman,--when a wag, noticing his
peculiarity, approached him. Quite mistaking his man, he thought the
rider a good subject for a little sport, and so accosted him: "I say,
young man, did you meet a _tailor_ on the road?" "Yes," replied
Coleridge, "I did, and he told me if I went a little further I should
meet a _goose_!" The assailant was struck dumb, while the traveller
jogged leisurely on.

Lord Bolingbroke, the ardent friend of Pope, was often bitterly
satirical, and notably quick at retort. Being at Aix-la-Chapelle during
the treaty of peace at that place, he was asked impertinently by a
Frenchman whether he came there in any public character. "No, sir,"
replied Bolingbroke, very deliberately; "I come like a French minister,
with no character at all." Bolingbroke's talents were more brilliant
than solid, but the style of his literary work is admirable. It is
generally believed that he wrote the "Essay on Man" in prose, and that
Pope put it into verse, with such additions as would naturally occur in
such an adaptation.

Painters, like poets, are equal at times to producing the keenest
epigrams. Salvator Rosa's opinion of Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment" is
an instance of this. The brother artist wrote not unkindly as follows:--

    "My Michael Angelo, I do not jest;
    Thy pencil a great judgment has expressed;
    But in that judgment thou, alas! hast shown
    But very little judgment of thine own!"

We have already spoken of Molière[195] in these pages, though only too
briefly when his just fame is considered. England has her Shakespeare,
Spain her Cervantes, Germany her Goethe, and France her Molière. We have
seen how triumphantly his powerful genius made its way amid adverse
circumstances, until it enabled him, as Disraeli says, "to give his
country a Plautus in farce, a Terence in composition, and a Menander in
his moral truths." In short, Molière showed that the most successful
reformer of the manners and morals of the people is a great comic poet.
Did not Cervantes "laugh Spain's chivalry away"? It is a curious fact,
worthy of note, that Molière, who was so great a comic writer, and such
an admirable comedian upon the stage, should have been socially one of
the most serious of men and of a melancholic temperament. It was a
considerable time before his genius struck out in the right direction
and became self-reliant. At the beginning of his dramatic authorship he
"borrowed bravely" from the Italian, as Shakespeare did; and Spanish
legends were also adapted by his facile pen to dramatic purposes,
himself enacting chosen comedy parts of his own plays.

This course, however, did not satisfy the genius of Molière; he felt
that he was capable of greater originality and of more truly artistic
work. After much communing with himself he sought a new and more
legitimate field of inspiration and employed fresher material. Having
now the entrée to the Hôtel de Rambouillet, he began to study with
critical eye the court life about him, soon producing his "Précieuses
Ridicules," which was a biting satire upon the follies of the day,
though delicately screened. The author skilfully parried in the prologue
any application to his court associates, by averring that the satire was
aimed at their imitators in the provinces. The _ruse_ was sufficient,
and the play was performed without offence; but its significance was
nevertheless realized, and had its reformative influence without
producing too great a shock. It was almost his first grand and original
effort, and from thenceforth his career was a triumphal march. He is
said to have exclaimed, "I need no longer study Plautus and Terence, nor
poach on the fragments of Menander, I have only to study the world about
me." Subsequently the brilliant success of his "Tartuffe," his
"Misanthrope," and his "Bourgeois Gentilhomme" confirmed him in his
conviction. Although society felt itself arraigned, it was also humbled
and powerless. The author had become too great a power to be suppressed.

Molière's domestic life, like that of only too many men of genius, and
especially of authors, was a wreck.[196]

It may be doubted if such persons ought to marry at all. Rousseau is
another instance of domestic infelicity; and so are Milton, Dryden,
Addison, Steele; indeed, the list could be indefinitely extended. A
young painter of great promise once told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he had
taken a wife. "Married!" responded the great master; "then you are
ruined as an artist." Michael Angelo's answer when he was asked why he
never married will be remembered: "I have espoused my art, and that
occasions me sufficient domestic cares; my works shall be my children."
The marriage of men of genius forms a theme of no little interest in the
history of literature. It is herein that genius has oftenest found its
sunshine or its shadow. Even Emerson has said, "Is not marriage an open
question, when it is alleged from the beginning of the world that such
as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are out wish to
get in?" Rousseau married a kitchen-girl, and Raphael allied himself for
the last eleven years of his life with a common girl of Rome, whom he
first saw washing her feet in the Tiber. Judging from her portrait,
which he painted, and which still hangs in the Barberini Gallery, she
was by no means beautiful, though the ensemble of head, face, and neck
strikes the eye as forming a very attractive whole. Margarita belonged
to the lower classes of the Eternal City, and when Raphael died she went
back to her former obscurity. There must have been many noble qualities
in this young Roman girl, to have held the consistent devotion of so
great an artist for an entire decade. She must have possessed some
inspiring influence over him other than forming his mere physical model.
Sympathetic she undoubtedly was, or else no such union could have
lasted; and one feels that he must have imparted to her a portion of the
glowing aspirations which fired his own genius.

Goethe married to legitimize his offspring; Niebuhr, to please a
mistress; Churchill, because he was dispirited and lonely; Napoleon, to
obtain influence; Wilkes, to oblige a friend; Lamartine, in gratitude
for a fortune which was offered to him, and which he rapidly squandered;
Wycherly married his servant to spite his relations. And so we might
fill pages with brief mention of the influences which have led men of
note to assume matrimonial relations. Balzac's marriage forms a curious
example. He met by chance, when travelling, a youthful married lady, who
told him, without knowing who he was, how much she admired Balzac's
writings. "I never travel without a volume of his," she added, producing
a copy. Greatly flattered, the author made himself known to the lady,
who was a princess by birth, and who became his constant correspondent
until the death of her husband, when she gave him her hand and fortune.
They were married, and settled to domestic life in a château on the

But we have wandered away from Molière before quite concluding the
consideration of himself and his works. One of his most popular
productions, "L'Impromptu de Versailles," has often been borrowed from;
indeed, the general idea has been appropriated bodily both on the
English and American stage. In this piece Molière appears in his own
person and in the midst of his whole theatrical company, apparently
taken quite aback because there is no suitable piece prepared for the
occasion. The characters are the actors as though congregated in the
Green Room, with whom the manager is consulting, now reprimanding and
now advising. In the course of his remarks he throws out hints of plots
designed for plays, criticises his own productions, gives amusing
sketches of character, and in short presents a humorous, realistic, and
unique scene which formed as a whole a very complete comedy, and which
proved a grand success. Louis XIV. was his friend and patron; being
himself particularly fond of theatrical performances, he often made
shrewd suggestions, which the actor and dramatist took good care
faithfully to adopt. Indeed, it was said that this then unique idea of
the Green Room brought before the curtain was from his Majesty's own
brain, though greatly improved upon by Molière. Some of the plots hinted
at by the manager before his company in this play were afterwards
amplified and perfected so as to become popular dramas, not only by
Molière, but by other dramatists. This is notably the case with
Beaumarchais' "Barber of Seville," which is but the elaboration of one
of these incipient plots. However, Molière was himself so liberal a
borrower, like Montesquieu, Racine, and Corneille, he could well afford
to lend to others. Bruyère embodies whole passages from Publius Syrus in
his printed works; and La Fontaine borrowed his style and much of his
matter from Mazot and Rabelais. Though we have referred to this subject
before, we will add that Voltaire looked upon everything as imitation;
saying that the instruction which we gather from books is like fire: we
fetch it from our neighbor's, kindle it at home, and communicate it to
others, till it becomes the property of all.


Every thoughtful person must often have realized how close is the
natural sympathy between artists in literature and artists of the pencil
and brush; between painters and poets. Belori informs us of a curious
volume in manuscript by the hand of Rubens, which contained among other
topics descriptions of the passions and actions of men, drawn from the
poets and delineated by the artist's own graphic pencil. Here were
represented battles, shipwrecks, landscapes, and various casualties of
life, copied and illustrated from Virgil and other classic poets,
showing clearly whence Rubens often got his inspiration and ideas of
detail. The painter and the poet are the Siamese-twins of genius. The
finest picture ever produced is but poetry realized, though each art has
its distinct province. The same may be said as to sculpture and poetry.
It has long been a mooted question whether the Laocoön in sculpture
preceded or was borrowed from the idea expressed in poetry. Lessing
believed that the sculptor borrowed from the poet. All the sister
arts[197]--music, sculpture, poetry, and painting--are most intimately
allied. When great composers, like Mozart, were contemplating a grand
expression of their genius, they endeavored to inspire themselves with
lofty ideas by reading the poets; while masters in literature and
oratory have sought for a similar purpose the elevating and soothing
influence of music.

Orators have not infrequently depended upon more material stimulus, as
we have seen in the instances of Pitt and Sheridan. The biographer of
More tells us that when Sir Thomas was sent by Henry VIII. on an embassy
to the Emperor of Germany, before he delivered his important remarks he
ordered one of his servants to fill him a goblet of wine, which he drank
off at once, and in a few moments repeated it, still demanding another.
This his faithful servant, knowing his master's temperate habits, feared
to furnish, and even at first declined to do so, lest he should expose
him thereby before the Emperor. Still, upon a reiterated order, he
brought the wine, which was rapidly swallowed by Sir Thomas, who then
made his address to the sovereign in Latin, like one inspired, and to
the intense admiration of all the auditors, the Emperor himself
complimenting him upon his eloquence. More was a strange medley of
character. Devout in his religious convictions, he was yet as
light-hearted as a child,--at times wise as Solomon in his discourse,
and anon descending almost to buffoonery; a truly good man at heart, and
yet often espousing the worst of causes. Though a pronounced reformer,
he predicted that the Reformation would result in universal vice. He is
represented to have had a supreme contempt for money and a true
generosity of spirit. With the most solemn convictions of the realities
of death, he yet died upon the scaffold with a joke upon his lips.

That imaginative English artist Barry, the great historical painter,
advised his pupils as follows: "Go home from the Academy, light your
lamps, and exercise yourselves in the creative part of your art, with
Homer, with Livy, and all the great characters ancient and modern, for
your companions and counsellors." Barry has left behind him works upon
art which should not be read except with care, unbiassed judgment, and
honest appreciation. His own eccentricities, all arising from a passion
for art, led his contemporaries to criticise the man and ignore his
work. He was wildly enthusiastic in all things relating to art, but yet
sometimes exhibited the coarseness of his early associations. He was
born at Cork, from whence his father sailed as a foremast hand aboard a
coasting vessel, and designed his son for the same humble occupation;
but the lad had other and higher aspirations, until finally he attracted
the notice of people able to advise and help him. Humbly born and
self-educated as he was, he presented some of the highest aspects of
genius. By the generosity of Edmund Burke he was sent to Rome, where he
studied art for three or four years under favorable circumstances. On
his return to England he took high rank, and was engaged by the Academy
as a professor. At times in his lectures before the students he would
burst into such vehement enthusiasm as to electrify his listeners, and
they in turn would rise to their feet and shout applauses long and deep,
entirely heedless of the great turmoil which they created. Then Barry
would exclaim: "Go it, go it, boys; they did so at Athens!"

Literature and art should be wedded together. The careful reader and the
keen observer gather up a mental harvest and store it for use. What many
conceive to be genius is often but reproduction. Hosts of ideas have
passed through the crucible of the author's mind and have been refined
by the process, coming forth individualized by the stamp of his
personality. He is none the less an originator, a creator; originality
is after all but condensed and refined observation.

There is a great deal of nonsense written and credited by the world at
large as to the inspiration of authorship. Some of the very best poetic
turns of thought are the children of purest accident. Sir Joshua
Reynolds, calling upon Goldsmith one day, opened his door without
knocking, and found him engaged in the double occupation of authorship
and teaching a pet dog to sit upon his haunches, now casting a glance at
his writing-table, and now shaking his finger at the dog to make him
retain his upright position. The last lines upon the paper were still
wet,--as Sir Joshua[198] said when he afterwards told the story,--and
formed a part of the description of Italy:--

    "By sports like these are all their cares beguiled:
    The sports of children satisfy the child."

Goldsmith, with his usual good humor, joined in the laugh caused by his
whimsical employment, and acknowledged to the great painter that his
boyish sport with the dog suggested the lines.

Goldsmith was always the wayward and erratic being whom we have
represented in these pages. His habit on retiring at night was to read
in bed until overcome by somnolence; and he was so little inclined to
sleep, that his candle was kept burning until the last moment. His mode
of extinguishing it finally, when it was out of immediate reach, was
characteristic of his indolence and carelessness: he threw his slipper
at it, which consequently was found in the morning covered with grease
beside the overturned candlestick.

If, as we have attempted to show, authors exhibit oftentimes a spirit of
vanity, it must be admitted that readers as frequently exhibit evidence
of captiousness.

Those who sit down to peruse a book without a good and wholesome
appetite for reading are very much in the same condition as one who
approaches a table loaded with food, without a sense of hunger. In
neither case can one be a proper judge of what is before him; mental or
physical pabulum requires for just appreciation a wholesome appetite.
Unjust criticism often grows out of an attempt to force the appetite,
the censor coming to his task in a wrong humor. The author is usually
severely judged; he is solus, his critics are many: if he satisfies one
class of readers he is sure to dissatisfy another. Swift's definition of
criticism, in his "Tale of a Tub," is pertinent. "A true critic," he
says, "in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose
thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away, and
consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones."

Edgar A. Poe's sarcasm upon the "North American Review," in the matter
of criticism, will long be remembered. It was generally considered at
the time not only a keen but a just retort. Our erratic genius writes:
"I cannot say that I ever fairly comprehended the force of the term
'insult,' until I was given to understand, one day, by a member of the
'North American Review' clique, that this journal was not only willing
but anxious to render me that justice which had been already accorded me
by the 'Revue Française,' and the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,' but was
restrained from doing so by my 'invincible spirit of antagonism.' I
wish the 'North American Review' to express no opinion of me
whatever,--for I have none of it. In the mean time, as I see no motto on
its titlepage, let me recommend it one from 'Sterne's Letter from
France.' Here it is: 'As we rode along the valley, we saw a herd of
asses on the top of one of the mountains: how they viewed and _reviewed_
us!'" No one can deny that Poe possessed remarkable genius; but his best
friends could not approve either his temper or his habits.

Balzac complained of lack of appreciation; though, as has just been
shown, he captivated one of his readers to such a degree as to bring him
a wife and a fortune. "A period," he says, "shall have cost us the labor
of a day; we shall have distilled into an essay the essence of our mind;
it may be a finished piece of art, and they think they are indulgent
when they pronounce it to contain some pretty things, and that the style
is not bad!" Montaigne said that he found his readers too learned or too
ignorant, and that he could please only a middle class who possessed
just knowledge enough to understand him. To read well and to a
consistent purpose is as much of an art as to write well. It was said of
Dr. Johnson by Mrs. Knowles that "he knows how to read better than any
other one; he gets at the substance of a book directly; he tears out the
heart of it."

A literary friend of the writer has long adopted an effective aid to
memory in connection with reading. After perusing a book he writes down
the date, the place, and under what circumstances it was read, and in a
few concise lines gives the impression it has left upon his mind. This
he does not design as a criticism; it is intended for himself only. At a
future day he can take up the volume, since perusing which he may have
read a hundred in a similar manner, and by turning to his brief comment
at the close, the power of association enables him to recall the subject
of the volume and virtually to remember the contents. He assures us that
the circumstances under which he became familiar with the book, if
fairly remembered, recall even its detail. For our own part, we have
trusted solely to a retentive memory, and the choice of such lines of
reading as inclination has suggested. The books which we consult
lovingly will long remain with us, requiring very little effort to
impress their contents upon the brain.

How suggestive is this theme of books and the reading of them! Whipple
eulogizes them thus appropriately: "Books,--light-houses erected in the
great sea of time; books,--the precious depositories of the thoughts and
creations of genius; books,--by whose sorcery time past becomes time
present, and the whole pageantry of the world's history moves in solemn
procession before our eyes. These were to visit the fireside of the
humble, and lavish the treasures of the intellect upon the poor. Could
we have Plato and Shakespeare and Milton in our dwellings, in the full
vigor of their imaginations, in the full freshness of their hearts, few
scholars would be affluent enough to afford them physical support; but
the living images of their minds are within the reach of all. From their
pages their mighty souls look out upon us in all their grandeur and
beauty, undimmed by the faults and follies of earthly existence,
consecrated by time."

Poets have been more addicted to building castles upon paper than
residences upon the more substantial earth. Though the old axiom of
"genius and a garret" has passed away, both as a saying and in the
experiences of real life, still it had its pertinency in the early days
of literature and art. Ariosto, who was addicted to castle-building with
the pen, was asked why he was so modestly lodged when he prepared a
permanent home for himself. He replied that palaces are easier built
with words than with stones. But the poet, nevertheless, had a snug and
pretty abode at Ferrara, Italy, a few leagues from Bologna, which is
still extant. Leigh Hunt says: "Poets love nests from which they can
take their flights, not worlds of wood and stone to strut in." The
younger Pliny was more of a substantial architect, whose villa, devoted
to literary leisure, was magnificent, surrounded by gardens and parks.
Tycho Brahe, the great Danish astronomer, built a grand castle and
observatory combined on an island of the Baltic, opposite Copenhagen,
which he named the "Castle of the Heavens."

Many of our readers have doubtless visited the house which Shakespeare
built for himself in his native town on Red-Lion Street. In passing
through its plain apartments one receives with infinite faith the
stereotyped revelations of the local cicerone. Buffon was content to
locate himself for his literary work and study in an old half-deserted
tower, and Gibbon, as we have seen, to write his great work in the
summer-house of a Lausanne garden. Chaucer lived and wrote in a grand
palace, because he was connected with royalty; but he never dilated upon
such surroundings,--his fancy ran to outdoor nature, to the flowers and
the trees. Milton[199] sought an humble "garden house" to live in; that
is, a small house in the environs of the city, with a pleasant little
garden attached. Addison wrote his "Campaign" "up two pair of back
stairs in the Hay-market." Johnson tells us that much of his literary
work was produced from a garret in Exeter Street. Paul Jovius,[200] the
Italian author, who wrote three hundred concise eulogies of statesmen,
warriors, and literary men of the fourteenth century, built himself an
elegant château on the Lake of Como, beside the ruins of the villa of
Pliny, and declared that when he sat down to write he was inspired by
the associations of the place. In his garden he raised a marble statue
to Nature, and his halls contained others of Apollo and the Muses.

The traveller visits with eager interest Rubens' house in his native
city of Antwerp, a veritable museum within, but plain and unpretentious
without. Rubens is to the Belgian capital what Thorwaldsen is to
Copenhagen. Spenser lived in an Irish castle (Kilcolman Castle), which
was burned over his head by a mob; and, sad to say, his child was burned
with it. In his verses Spenser was always depicting "lowly cots," and it
was on that plane that his taste rested. Moore's vine-clad cottage at
Sloperton is familiar to all. In the environs of Florence we still see
the cottage home where Landor lived and wrote, and in the city itself
the house of Michael Angelo,--plain and unadorned externally, but with a
few of the great artist's household gods duly preserved in the several
apartments. The historic home of the poet Longfellow, in Cambridge, has
become a Mecca to lovers of poetry and genius; while Tennyson's
embowered cottage at the Isle of Wight is equally attractive to
travellers from afar.

Pope[201] had a modest nest at Twickenham, and Wordsworth at Rydal
Mount, the beauties of both being more dependent upon the surrounding
scenery than upon any architectural attraction. Pope declared all
gardens to be landscape-paintings, and he loved them. Scott made
himself a palatial home at Abbotsford, which was quite an exception to
that of his brother poets. Dr. Holmes's unpretentious town house in the
Trimountain city overlooks the broad Charles, and affords him a glorious
view of the setting sun. Emerson's Concord home was and is the picture
of rural simplicity. Hawthorne's biographer makes us familiar with his
red cottage at Lenox. Bryant made himself an embowered summer cottage at
Roslyn, New York State. Lowell has a fine but plain residence
overlooking the beautiful grounds of Mount Auburn. Nothing could be more
simple and lovely than Whittier's Danvers home. None of these poets have
built castles of stone, whatever they may have done under poetical

"I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness,"
says the poet Cowley, "as that I might be master at least of a small
house and a large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to
them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life only to the culture of
them and study of Nature, and then, with no desire beyond my wall,--

          '----Whole and entire to lie,
    In no unactive ease, and no unglorious poverty.'"

Cowley at last got what he so ardently desired, but it was not until he
was too old and broken in health to find that active enjoyment which he
had so fondly anticipated. He died in the forty-ninth year of his age.

We spoke of the contrast which was manifest between the private and
public life of Molière. These paradoxes are strange, but by no means
uncommon in the character of men of genius. It will be remembered that
Grimaldi, the cleverest and most mirth-provoking clown of his day in
England, was often under medical treatment on account of his serious
attacks of melancholy. It seems almost incredible that men of such
profound judgment in most matters, as were Dr. Johnson and Addison,
should have been so inexcusably weak as to entertain a belief in
ghosts,--an eccentricity which neither of them denied. Byron,[202] who
as a rule was noted for his shrewd common-sense, was so superstitious
that he would not help a person at table to salt, nor permit himself to
be served with it by another's hand. There were other equally absurd
"omens" which he strenuously regarded. Cowper, who was a devoutly
religious man, deliberately attempted to hang himself,--an act entirely
at variance with his serious convictions. So also Hugh Miller, one of
the most wholesome writers upon the true principles of life, wrested his
own life from his Maker's hands.

Pope, who was such a bravado with his pen, boldly denouncing an army of
scholars and wits in his "Dunciad," was personally an arrant coward, who
could not summon sufficient self-possession to make a statement before a
dozen of his personal friends. The paradox which existed between
Goldsmith's pen and tongue passed into an axiom: with the one he was all
eloquence and grace; with the other, as foolish as a parrot. Douglas
Jerrold, whose forte was as clearly that of wit and humor as it is the
sun's province to shine, was ever wishing to write a profound essay on
natural philosophy. Newton, highest authority in algebra, could not make
the proper change for a guinea without assistance, and while he was
master of the Mint was hourly put to shame by the superior practical
arithmetic of the humblest clerks under him. Another peculiarity of
Newton was that he fancied himself a poet; but who ever saw a verse of
his composition? Judged by all accepted rules, Charles Lamb experienced
ills sufficient to have driven him to commit suicide; whereas the truth
shows that with "his sly, shy, elusive, ethereal humor" he was
ordinarily the most genial and contented of beings.

Curious beyond expression are the many-sided phases of genius, and
indeed of all humanity. Let us therefore have a care how we judge our
fellow-men, since what they truly are within themselves we cannot know,
and may only infer by what they seem to be relatively to ourselves.
Undoubtedly the germs of virtue and of vice are born within the soul of
every human being; their development is contingent upon how slight a
cause! Nor in our readiness to censure should we forget in whose image
we are all created,--"a little lower than the angels, a little higher
than the brutes." It is the nature of man, like the harp, to give forth
beautiful or discordant sounds according to the delicacy and skill with
which it is touched. We find what we come to find,--what, indeed, we
bring with us. Richard Baxter, the prolific author upon theology, at the
close of a long life said: "I now see more good and more evil in all men
than heretofore I did. I see that good men are not so good as I once
thought they were; and I find that few are so bad as either malicious
enemies or censorious professors do imagine."


Adams, John, 28.

Addison, Joseph, 38, 42, 78, 86, 116 and note, 118, 202, 277, 283, 296,

Æschylus, 77.

Æsop, 4.

Agassiz, Louis, 103 and note.

Akenside, Mark, 7.

Alexander the Great, 27.

Alfieri, Vittorio, 136, 266.

Allston, Washington, 45, 97 and note.

Ames, Fisher, 26, 45.

Amyot, Jacques, 6.

Andersen, Hans Christian, 22 and note, 63, 84, 205.

André, Major John, 43.

Angelo, Michael, 14, 242, 283.

Arago, Dominique François, 184.

Arc, Joan of, 29, 188.

Ariosto, Lodovico, 295.

Aristippus, 118.

Aristo, 115.

Aristophanes, 2, 3.

Arkwright, Sir Richard, 18.

Arnauld, Antoine, 33.

Astor, John Jacob, 26 and note.

Astor, William B., 26 note.

Auber, Daniel François Esprit, 82.

Audubon, John James, 222, 223 and note.

Bacon, Francis, 32, 57 and note, 77, 124.

Bailey, Philip James, 227.

Ball, Thomas, 21 and note.

Balzac, de (Honoré), 46, 207, 284, 293.

Bancroft, George, 35, 203, 227.

Bandoccin, 6.

Barbauld, Anna Lætitia, 269.

Barrow, Isaac, 116.

Barry, James, 7, 32 note, 289.

Baxter, Richard, 301.

Beaconsfield, Lord (Disraeli), 13 note, 87 note, 117 note, 135, 205, 227
and note.

Beaufort, Cardinal Henry, 266.

Beaumarchais, de (Pierre Auguste Caron), 21.

Beckford, William, 68.

Beecher, H. W., 38.

Beethoven, van, Ludwig, 127 and note, 221.

Bellini, Vincenzo, 29.

Bentham, Jeremy, 137 and note.

Bentivoglio, Ercole, 149.

Bentley, Richard, 40.

Béranger, de (Pierre Jean), 8, 139 and note, 194, 209.

Betterton, Thomas, 260.

Beveridge, Bishop, 57.

Bewick, Thomas, 24.

Bide, 266.

Biglow, Hosea, 20 note.

Blackstone, Sir William, 77.

Blessington, Lady Margaret, 67 note.

Bloomfield, Robert, 23.

Boccaccio, Giovanni, 9.

Boëthius, 131 note.

Boffin, ----, 24.

Boleyn, Anne, 268.

Bolingbroke, Lord (Henry Saint John), 280.

Bousard, ----, 135.

Bowditch, Nathaniel, 16.

Boyle, Robert, 281.

Boyle, Samuel, 164.

Bracegirdle, 262.

Bright, John, 15, 35.

Brindley, James, 19.

Britton, John, 21.

Bronté, Anne, 192.

Bronté, Charlotte, 56, 62, 192.

Bronté, Emily, 192.

Bronté, Rev. Patrick, 192.

Brooks, Shirley, 227.

Brougham, Lord, 32 note, 206.

Browning, Mrs., 163 note.

Bruyère, de la (Jean), 270, 286.

Bryant, William C., 29, 227, 298.

Brydges, Sir Samuel Egerton, 201.

Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte, 48, 61, 83, 89, 205, 215, 227,

Bulwer Lytton, 31, 37, 46, 63, 106, 108, 227, 228.

Bunyan, John, 15 and note, 131, 268.

Burgundy, Duke of, 119.

Burke, Edmund, 32 and note, 33, 38, 40, 55, 77, 78, 86, 225, 227.

Burns, Robert, 77, 79 and note, 106, 108, 117, 122, 185, 186, 208, 220.

Burritt, Elihu, 16, 112.

Burton, Robert, 120, 162 and note.

Butler, Samuel, 153 and note.

Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell, 19.

Byron, George Gordon Noel, 37, 44, 50, 62, and note, 63, 90, 106, 116,
117, 142, 176, 177 and note, 200, 227, 266, 273, 299 and note.

Byron, Thomas, 115.

Cæsar, Julius, 60, 206.

Cæsar, Octavius, 28 note.

Calhoun, John C., 22, 28.

Calvart, Denis, 251.

Camoens, Luis, 129 and note.

Campbell, Thomas, 152, 287 note.

Cano, Alonzo, 265.

Canova, Antonio, 6, 208, 255, 256.

Carlyle, Thomas, 36, 41, 58, 63, 79, 89, 108, 128, 130, 138, 148, 149,
151, 165, 204, 218, 223, 229.

Carneades, 73.

Cato, 33, 151.

Cellini, Benvenuto, 153 and note.

Cervantes, Miguel, 12, 13 and note, 129, 131 note, 132 and note, 206.

Channing, Dr. William E., 47, 222 and note.

Chantrey, Sir Francis, 21.

Chapin, E. H., 38.

Charlemagne, 28.

Charles, Duke of Orleans, 132.

Charles I. of England, 267.

Charles II. of England, 267.

Charles XII. of Sweden, 27 and note.

Châteaubriand, François Auguste, 124 and note.

Chatham, Earl of, 34.

Chatterton, Thomas, 31, 129, 166.

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 10, 31, 34, 131 note, 265, 273, 296.

Choate, Rufus, 45, 114.

Churchill, Charles, 87 and note, 284.

Cibber, Colley, 217.

Cicero, 21, 206, 209.

Cimarosa, Domenico, 62.

Clare, John, 137.

Clark, Samuel, 100.

Cleanthes the Stoic, 5.

Clive, Robert, Lord, 28.

Clyde, Lord, 15.

Cobbett, William, 12, 32 note, 133.

Cobden, Richard, 15.

Coleridge, S. T., 2 note, 18, 38, 39, 52, 53 note, 62, 77, 104, 105 and
note, 115, 123, 139, 152 note, 208, 239, 270, 279 and note.

Colletet, Guillaume, 135.

Collier, John Payne, 125.

Collins, William, 171 and note.

Colorden, 267.

Colton (Lacon), 91, 182, 183.

Columbus, Christopher, 10, 11 and note.

Combe, George, 166.

Congreve, William, 29, 124, 125 and note, 138, 201.

Condé, de (Louis II. de Bourbon), Prince, 28.

Cook, James, Capt., 19.

Cormontaigne, Louis de, 76.

Corneille, Peter, 43, 44, 128, 227, 241.

Correggio, Antonio Allegri da, 254.

Correra, ----, 17.

Cortes, Hernando, 28.

Cowley, Abraham, 31, 37, 239, 298.

Cowper, William, 137 and note, 161, 162, 221, 299.

Crabbe, George, 92, 129, 153.

Crassus, Roman triumvir, 5 note.

Cratinus, 77.

Crébillon, Prosper Jolyot, 84, 267.

Cromwell, Oliver, 13, 122.

Cruden, Alexander, 137.

Cunningham, Allan, 22.

Curran, John Philpot, 40, 57, 238, 267.

Cushing, Caleb, 45.

D'Alembert, Jean le Rond, 7.

Dalrymple, Sir David (Lord Hailes), 75.

Dante, Allighieri, 40, 51, 128, 148 and note, 205.

D'Arblay, Madame (Frances Burney), 269.

Darwin, Dr. Erasmus, 99.

Davenant, Sir William, 131 note.

Da Vinci, Leonardo, 121 and note.

Davy, Sir Humphry, 7, 106.

Decker, Thomas, 140.

DeFoe, Daniel, 11, 132, 153.

Demosthenes, 204.

De Quincey, Thomas, 77, 129, 136, 137 and note, 199, 211.

De Tocqueville, Alexis Charles Henry Clerel, 52, 207.

Dibdin, Charles, 53.

Dick, Robert, 24.

Dickens, Charles, 31, 46, 62, 77, 91, 109, 110, 114, 197, 204 and note,

Diogenes, 211.

Dodsley, Robert, 23.

Domenichino, Zampieri, 96.

Drew, Samuel, 23.

Dryden, John, 10, 40 and note, 73, 74 and note, 106, 115, 214, 273, 276,

Ducis, Jean François, 209.

Dumas, Alexandre, 13, 84 and note, 109, 194, 233.

Durer, Albert, 205.

Edgeworth, Maria, 43 and note.

Edwards, President Jonathan, 268.

Edwards, Thomas, 23.

Elizabeth, Queen, 266.

Elliott, Ebenezer, 17 and note.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 4, 23, 27, 38, 63 note, 69 note, 200, 204, 283,

Ennius, 77.

Epictetus, 5, 110.

Erasmus, Désiré, 150.

Ereilla, Alonzo de, 133.

Eupolis, 77.

Euripides, 126.

Evarts, William, 98 and note.

Fénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe, 94.

Fielding, Henry, 45 note, 155 and note, 156, 210.

Fields, James T., 109, 182.

Fletcher, Andrew, of Saltoun, 8 note.

Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier, 34.

Foote, Samuel, 261.

Fordyce, Dr. George, 115.

Forrest, Edwin, 189.

Foster, John, 48, 58.

Fox, Charles James, 40.

Franklin, Dr. Benjamin, 16 and note, 34, 124, 241.

Frederick V. of Denmark, 267.

Fuller, Margaret, 41, 42 and note, 45, 204.

Fuller, Thomas, 40 and note, 123.

Galileo, 126, 127 and note.

Garfield, James A., 22.

Garrick, David, 42 and note, 43, 65, 213, 258, 259 and note, 263 note.

Garrison, William Lloyd, 18 and note.

Gaskell, Mrs. Elizabeth C., 57.

Gay, John, 24 and note, 114, 202.

Gelli, Giovanni Battista, 6.

Gibbon, Edward, 91, 94, 123 and note, 156, 205, 220, 242 and note.

Gibson, John, 19.

Gifford, William, 21, 169, 224.

Gilles, Dr., 278.

Giotto, Angiolotto, 14.

Giovanni, 242.

Gladstone, Rt. Hon. W. E., 35.

Glück, von (Johann Christoph), 80.

Godeau, Antoine, Bishop of Venice, 95.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, 27, 71 note, 85, 111, 122, 136, 180 note, 205,
214, 284.

Goldsmith, Oliver, 2 note, 37, 40, 45, 48, 58, 63, 66, 109, 117, 146 and
note, 147, 207, 236 and note, 290, 300.

Grattan, Henry, 116 note.

Gray, Thomas, 40, 174 and note, 175 note.

Greeley, Horace, 23.

Greene, General Nathanael, 23.

Greene, Robert, 154.

Gregory VII., Pope, 268.

Grey, Lady Jane, 269.

Grimaldi, Joseph, 299.

Guizot, François Pierre Guillaume, 30.

Guyon, Madame, Jeanne Bouvier de la Motte, 134.

Gwynn, Nell, 262, 267.

Hall, Robert, 30 and note, 77, 108.

Hallam, Arthur, 153 note.

Halleck, Fitz-Greene, 11, 29, 139.

Hamilton, Alexander, 28.

Hampden, John, 122.

Handel, George Frederick, 29, 37, 80, 81 and note, 127, 144 and note.

Hannibal, 28.

Hardy, ----, 49.

Hawkins, Sir John, 54.

Hawksworth, Dr. John, 168 note.

Haydn, Joseph, 83 and note, 117.

Haydon, Benjamin Robert, 253 note.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 193, 221, 298.

Hazlitt, William, 3 note, 9 note, 39, 45, 53, 90, 174 and note, 207, 233

Heller, Joseph, 267.

Hemans, Mrs. Felicia Dorothea, 191 and note.

Henry of Navarre, 110.

Henry V. of France, 119.

Herbert, George, 106.

Herder, von (Johann Gottfried), 267.

Hermand, Lord, 268.

Heron, Robert, 140.

Hesiod, 126.

Heyward, John, 214.

Hobbes, Thomas, 34, 99.

Hobson, ----, 24.

Hoffman, Charles Fenno, 137, 193.

Hogarth, William, 61, 251.

Hogg, James, 14 note, 93, 208.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 35, 71, 88, 154, 209.

Holzmann, Adolf, 129, 167.

Homer, 2 and note.

Hood, Thomas, 76, 141, 209 and note.

Hook, Theodore, 133 and note.

Horace, 52, 210.

Horne, Dr. Thomas Hartwell, 120.

Horsley, Bishop Samuel, 77.

Howard, John, 14.

Howe, Mrs. Julia Ward, 35.

Howell, James, 133.

Hughes, John, 201.

Hugo, Victor, 207, 231.

Hume, David, 55 and note, 94 and note.

Hunt, Leigh, 16 note, 31, 38, 134, 144 note, 145 note, 219, 295.

Hunter, John, 19.

Hunter, William, 268.

Huntington, William, 24.

Irving, Washington, 97, 100, 139, 227.

Jackson, Andrew, 22.

Jasmin, Jacques, 22.

Jeffrey, Lord Francis, 43 note.

Jerrold, Douglas, 23, 29 note, 101, 102, 110, 196, 224, 236, 300.

Johnson, Andrew, 22.

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 23, 24, 33, 36 note, 38, 42, 54, 58, 66, 74, 92,
116, 140 note, 151, 155 note, 159-162, 180 note, 202, 208, 211, 216,
236, 293, 296, 299.

Jonson, Ben, 10, 40 and note, 68, 131 and note, 275 and note.

Jovius, Paul, 296.

Keats, John, 13, 31, 115 and note, 169, 170 and note.

Kepler, Johann, 18, 205.

Kimball, Moses, 21 note.

King, Thomas Starr, 60.

Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb, 31.

Knight, Richard Payne, 165.

Knox, John, 268.

Kotzebue, von, August Friedrich Ferdinand, 149 and note.

Lafayette, General Marie Jean Paul, 28.

Lafayette, Madame de, 48 note.

La Fontaine, Jean, 70, 241, 286.

Lamartine, Alphonse de, 85, 115, 136, 233, 284.

Lamb, Charles, 38, 39, 44, 46, 104, 105, 107 and note, 113 and note,
115, 152, 178-181, 182, 300.

Lamb, Mary, 178.

Landon, Miss Letitia Elizabeth, 190, 191 and note.

Landor, Walter Savage, 34, 67 and note, 207, 297.

Latimer, Hugh, 269.

Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 232, 253.

Layard, Austen Henry, 227.

Lee, Prof. Samuel, 19.

Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Baron, 220.

Lenau, Nikolaus, 138.

Leon, Ponce de, 132.

Le Sage (Gil Blas), 129.

Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, 120.

Lincoln, Abraham, 22.

Lind, Jenny, 244.

Linnæus (Karl von Linné), 25.

Liston, John, 260.

Livingston, Dr. David, 14.

Locke, John, 122 and note, 201.

Lockhart, John Gibson, 227.

Longfellow, Henry W., 38 note, 47, 52, 142, 227, 297.

Lorraine, Claude, 11.

Louis XIII. of France, 12

Louis XIV. of France, 268.

Louis XVI. of France, 119.

Lovelace, Richard, 133.

Lowell, James Russell, 203, 298.

Loyola, Ignatius, 241.

Lucan, 126.

Luther, Martin, 86, 161, 221.

Lydiat, Thomas, 131.

Macaulay, Lord (Thomas Babington), 30, 32, 39, 55, 68, 74, 109, 137
note, 148, 160, 176, 218, 234.

Macready, William Charles, 114.

Machiavelli, Niccolò di Bernardo, 148.

Malherbe, de (François), 266.

Mann, Horace, 19.

Marlborough, Duke of (John Churchill), 268.

Maria Theresa, 268.

Massinger, Philip, 149.

Matthews, Charles, Sr, 29.

Maturin, Charles Robert, 110.

Maurice of Saxony, 28 note.

Mazarin, Cardinal Giulio, 119.

McMahon, ----, 119.

Méhul, Étienne Henri, 72.

Ménage, Gilles, 34.

Menander, 33 note.

Metternich, von (Clemens Wenzel), 41.

Miller, Dr. Isaac, Dean of Carlisle, 22.

Miller, Hugh, 13 and note, 299.

Milton, John, 31, 59, 62, 92, 114, 119, 128, and note, 151, 279, 283,

Mirabeau, de (Honoré Gabriel de Riquetti), 237, 267.

Mitford, Mary Russell, 51, 90, 200.

Mitford, William, 217.

Molière, Jean Baptiste Pocquelin, 11, 12, 15, 69, 240, 281, 282, 285.

Montague, Edward, 202.

Montaigne, Michel Eyquem, 52, 91, 104, 123, 293.

Montesquieu, Charles, 171.

Montgomery, James, 133.

Moore, Thomas, 29, 48 and note, 91, 114, 232, 297.

More, Hannah, 208.

More, Sir Thomas, 37, 288.

Morphy, Paul, 60.

Moshlech, Dr., 167.

Motherwell, William, 151.

Mounier, Marchioness de, 237.

Mozart, Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus, 29, 37, 81, 82 and note, 144
and note, 145 and note, 161.

Murphy, Arthur, 268.

Musset, Alfred de, 77, 194.

Napoleon Bonaparte, 28, 108, 284.

Necker, Madame Albertine Adrienne, 172.

Nelson, Lord, Horatio, 267.

Newton, Sir Isaac, 115, 168, 202, 212, 223, 240, 300.

Niebuhr, Barthold Georg, 284.

Nilsson, Christina, 245.

North, Christopher, 77.

Oakley, Henry, 133.

Offenbach, Isaac, 82.

Opie, Amelia, 248.

Opie, John, 6, 247 and note.

Orrery, Lord, 93.

Otway, Thomas, 153.

Paganini, Niccolò, 14.

Paine, Thomas, 55, 56 and note.

Paley, Dr. William (Archdeacon of Carlisle), 106.

Parmigiano, Girolamo Francesco Maria (Mazzola), 95.

Parr, Dr., 107, 226 note, 229.

Pascal, Blaise, 219.

Patti, Adelina, 190.

Paul, Jean, 130, 138.

Peabody, Elizabeth, 35.

Peabody, George, 26.

Pellico, Silvio, 132.

Penn, William, 133.

Perugino, Pietro Venucci, 14.

Petavius, Denis, 100.

Petrarch, Francesco, 266.

Petronius, 70.

Phillips, Ambrose, 201.

Phillips, Wendell, 55, 69.

Pierce, Franklin, 193.

Pisistratus, 2.

Pitt, William, 28, 117, 266, 278.

Plato, 206.

Plautus, 69, 126.

Pliny, 206, 295.

Plutarch, 33, 118.

Poe, Edgar A., 45, 77, 117, 198, 292.

Pope, Alexander, 12, 31 and note, 86, 89, 100, 114, 170, 176, 205, 215,
234, 261 note, 273, 297, 300.

Porson, Richard, 277, 278.

Poussin, Nicolas, 97.

Powers, Hiram, 16.

Prideaux, Dr. John, Bishop of Worcester, 22.

Prior, Matthew, 7, 135, 136 and note.

Protagoras, 5.

Prynne, William, 50.

Psalmanazar, George, 77.

Pygmalion and Galatea, 70, 71.

Quin, James, 266.

Rachel, Elisabeth Félix, 8, 9 and note, 188.

Racine, Jean, 44, 169 note, 171.

Radcliffe, Dr. John, 78.

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 131 and note.

Rame, Louise de la (Ouida), 76 and note.

Raphael, Sanzio, 122, 136, 283.

Reni, Guido, 95.

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 88, 283, 291.

Rhondelet, Dr. Guillaume, 116.

Richelieu, Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, 100.

Richter, Jean Paul, 169 and note, 228 and note.

Ridley, Nicholas, 269.

Ritson, Joseph, 171.

Rochefoucauld, Duc François, 48 and note, 213.

Rogers, Samuel, 36, 39, 49, 61 note, 87, 88, 151, 212.

Roland, Madam Marie Jeanne, 268.

Rollin, Charles, 7.

Romney, George, 19.

Rosa, Salvator, 248-250, 280.

Roscommon, Earl of (Wentworth Dillon), 99, 266.

Rossini, Gioacchimo, 14, 73, 82.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 99, 161, 241, 266, 283.

Rowe, Nicholas, 201.

Royer-Collard, 231 note.

Rubens, Peter Paul, 250, 287, 297.

Rusard, Peter, 33.

Ruskin, John, 71, 205, 215.

Sacchini, Antonio Maria Gasparo, 82.

St. Pierre, de (Jacques Henri Bernardin), 59 note.

Salieri, Antonio, 73.

Sallust, 37.

Sand, George, 57, 136, 194, 205.

Santara, 153.

Sargent, Epes, 191.

Sarpi, Father Paolo, 72.

Sarti, Giuseppe, 73.

Sarto, Andrea del, 14, 153.

Saunders, Chief Justice Sir Edmund, 119.

Savage, Richard, 94, 140, 233.

Scaliger, Julius, 34, 94

Schiller, von (Johann Christoph Friedrich), 31, 72 and note, 111, 120,
152 and note, 269.

Schumann, Robert, 136.

Scipio, 27.

Scipio the Younger, 28.

Scott, Sir Walter, 7 note, 38, 43 note, 58, 62, 75, 104, 108, 111, 114,
200, 207, 212, 221, 225, 226 and note, 242, 298.

Scudéri, George, 213.

Scudéri, Mlle. de (Madeleine), 213 note.

Seldon, John, 131.

Seneca, 118, 126.

Seward, Miss Anna, 42.

Shadwell, Thomas, 77.

Shakespeare, Wm., 2 and note, 3, 9, 19, 29, 40, 106 note, 125, 210, 240,
265, 274, 296.

Shaw, Dr., 117.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 58, 109, 112, 114, 172, 173 and note, 174.

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley Butler, 40, 77, 92, 211, 226 note, 227, 229,
236, 271, 272.

Shuter, Edward, 264.

Siddons, Mrs. Sarah, 243, 244 and note.

Sidney, Sir Philip, 230.

Smart, Christopher, 140, 164.

Smith, Adam, 94.

Smith, Sir Sydney, 20, 37 note, 39, 81 note, 89, 106, 107, 197 note,

Smollett, Tobias George, 37, 62.

Sneyd, Miss Honora, 43.

Socrates, 33, 126, 239.

Sophocles, 126.

Southey, Robert, 12, 31, 44 and note, 104, 138, 205, 208, 211.

Spagnoletto, 256-258 and note.

Spencer, James, 252.

Spencer, William Robert, 212.

Spenser, Edmund, 128, 152, 240 note, 297.

Spontini, Gasparo Luigi Pacifico, 82.

Staël, Madame de (Anne Louise), 39, 147.

Steele, Richard, 158, 202, 283.

Stephens, James Francis, 75.

Stephenson, George, 26.

Stepney, George, 202.

Sterne, Laurence, 10, 64, 67, 270.

Stuart, Gilbert Charles, 45.

Sturgeon, William, 23.

Sue, Eugène, 83, 214 and note.

Sumner, Charles, 45.

Swift, Dean (Jonathan) 40, 90, 98, 108, 114, 136 note, 156-158, 202 and
note, 211, 274, 292.

Sydenham, Floyer, 130.

Syrus, Publius, 4 and note.

Taglioni, Marie, 246.

Talfourd, Thomas Noon, 39.

Talma, François Joseph, 21.

Tannahill, Robert, 14 and note.

Tasso, Torquato, 31, 40, 52, 126, 161 and note.

Taylor, Bayard, 31.

Taylor, Father, 107, 198.

Taylor, Jane, 100.

Taylor, Jeremy, 123, 131.

Tell, William, 70.

Tencin, Madame de Claudine Alexandrine Guérin, 7 and note.

Teniers, David, 251.

Tennyson, Alfred, 46, 47, 48, 108, 297.

Tenterden, Justice (Abbott), Charles, 19.

Terence, 5 and note.

Thackeray, William Makepeace, 24 note, 62, 108, 109, 114, 118, 125 note,
142, 157 and note, 159 note, 163, 195, 197, 205.

Theophrastus, 33.

Thom, William, 141.

Thoreau, Henry David, 186, 187, 211.

Thorwaldsen, Albert Bertel, 25.

Thrale, Mrs. Esther Lynch (Salusbury), 162.

Thurlow, Chancellor Edward, 268.

Titus, Emperor, 271.

Tooke, Horne, 17 note.

Trenck, Baron, von der (Friedrich), 132.

Turner, Joseph Mallord William, 19, 109, 287 note.

Tyndale, William, 269.

Vaga, Perius del, 14.

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 26.

Vandyke, Sir Anthony, 251.

Vaugelas, Claude Favre, 49, 129, 138.

Vayer, La Mothe le, François, 34.

Vega, Lope de, 33, 49 and note.

Victor Emmanuel, 119.

Virgil, 52, 99.

Voltaire, de (François Marie Arouet), 88, 132, 207, 229, 286.

Vondel, Joost van den, 15.

Wakefield, Gilbert, 135.

Waller, Edmund, 29 note, 128 note.

Walpole, Horace, 200.

Walton, Izaak, 12, 34, 152.

Warburton, Bishop William, 57, 92.

Warton, Dr. Joseph, 109.

Washington, George, 28.

Watt, James, 22, 29, 220, 242.

Webster, Daniel, 26 and note, 45.

Wellington, Duke of, Arthur (Wellesley), 9 note, 76.

West, Benjamin, 20 and note, 241 and note.

Whipple, Edwin Percy, 17 note, 28 note, 46, 103 note, 130, 165, 225,
229, 270 note, 294.

White, Henry Kirke, 11, 29.

Whitefield, George, 16.

Whitney, Eli, 22, 23.

Whittier, John Greenleaf, 35, 206, 212, 298.

Wicquefort, de (Abraham), 132.

Wilkes, John, 284.

William of Orange, 28 note.

William the Conqueror, 119.

Williams, Roger, 133.

Willis, Nathaniel Parker, 30, 31 note, 93, 114, 215.

Wilson, Henry, 22.

Wilson, John, 14, 227.

Wilson, Richard, 96.

Winckelmann, 34 and note.

Winthrop, Robert C., 34.

Wither, George, 87 and note.

Woffington, Margaret (Peg), 263, 264 and note.

Wolcott, Dr. John, 247 note.

Wolsey, Cardinal Thomas, 11, 17.

Woodworth, Samuel, 15.

Wordsworth, William, 39, 48, 53, 181, 182, 208, 297.

Wotton, Henry, 106.

Wycherly, William, 284.

Zoroaster, 17.

University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.


[Footnote 1: Goldsmith makes his Chinese philosopher recount the name of
Homer as the first poet and beggar among the ancients,--a blind man
whose mouth was more frequently filled with verses than with bread.]

[Footnote 2: Shakespeare's line expired in his daughter's only daughter.
Several of the descendants of Shakespeare's sister Joan, bearing a
strong family likeness to the great poet, were, so late as 1852, living
in and about Stratford, chiefly in a state of indigence.]

[Footnote 3: I have no doubt whatever that Homer is a mere concrete name
for the rhapsodies of the Iliad. Of course there was a Homer, and twenty
besides. I will engage to compile twelve books, with characters just as
distinct and consistent as those of the Iliad, from the metrical ballads
and other chronicles of England, about Arthur and the Knights of the
Round Table.--_Coleridge._]

[Footnote 4: They must needs be men of lofty stature, whose shadows
lengthen out to remote posterity.--_Hazlitt._]

[Footnote 5: The Edinburgh "Review," once the most formidable of
critical journals, took its motto from Publius Syrus:--

"Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvetur."]

[Footnote 6: The kindly human sympathy exhibited by Terence contributed
largely to the popularity of his dramas. Whenever the often-quoted
words, "I am a man; and I have an interest in everything that concerns
humanity," were spoken upon the Roman stage, they were received with
tumultuous applause by all classes.]

[Footnote 7: Crassus, a Roman triumvir, noted for his great wealth, who
lived about a hundred years before the Christian Era, bought and sold
slaves. These he educated, and taught the highest accomplishments of the
day, sparing no labor or expense for the purpose. These educated slaves
were then sold for large sums of money, so that any rich man could own
his private poet and scholar. We are told by Plutarch that some of these
slaves brought enormous prices into the treasury of Crassus.]

[Footnote 8: "What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe,"
asks Sir Walter Scott, "save that it runs back to a successful

[Footnote 9: When approached by Madame de Tencin, who was finally eager
to acknowledge so distinguished a son, he replied:--

"Je ne connais qu'une mère, c'est la vitrière."]

[Footnote 10: I knew a very wise man that believed if a man were
permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the
laws of a nation.--_Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun._]

[Footnote 11: Rachel made her debut at the Théâtre Français of Paris, in
1838. She came to this country in 1855, and performed in our Eastern
cities. Three years later she died of consumption, near Cannes, in the
South of France. When she was giving one of her readings before the Duke
of Wellington, she perceived that all her audience were ignorant of the
French language except the Duke himself. She went on, however, at her
best, consoling herself that he at least understood her. After it was
over, the Duke approached the great actress, and said: "Mademoiselle,
our guests have had a great advantage over me; they have had the
happiness of hearing you: I am as deaf as a post."]

[Footnote 12: Hazlitt, after remarking that Shakespeare's play of "All's
Well that Ends Well" is taken from Boccaccio, adds: "The poet has
dramatized the original novel with great skill and comic spirit, and has
preserved all the beauty of character and sentiment without improving
upon it, which is impossible." In the town of Certaldo, Tuscany, the
house in which Boccaccio was born is shown to curious travellers. On the
façade is an inscription speaking of the small house and a name which
filled the world. "Before seven years of age," says Boccaccio, "when as
yet I had met with no stories, was without a master, and hardly knew my
letters, I had a natural talent for fiction, and produced some small

[Footnote 13: The author has stood upon the Bridge of Pinos, at Granada,
from whence Columbus, discouraged and nearly heart-broken, was recalled
by Isabella, after having been denied and dismissed, as he supposed, for
the last time. The messenger of the relenting queen overtook the great
pilot at the bridge, and conducted him back to the Hall of the
Ambassadors, in the Alhambra.]

[Footnote 14: Disraeli tells us that the French ambassador to Spain,
meeting Cervantes, congratulated him on the great success and reputation
gained by his "Don Quixote;" whereupon the author whispered in his ear:
"Had it not been for the Inquisition, I should have made my book much
more entertaining." When Cervantes was a captive, and in prison at
Algiers, he concerted a plan to free himself and his comrades. One of
them traitorously betrayed the plot. They were all conveyed before the
Dey of Algiers, who promised them their lives if they would betray the
contriver of the plot. "I was that person," replied Cervantes; "save my
companions, and let me perish." The Dey, struck with his noble
confession, spared his life and permitted them all to be ransomed.]

[Footnote 15: "The Testimony of the Rocks," a noble and monumental work,
by Hugh Miller, was published in 1857. The night following its
completion its author shot himself through the heart. The overworked
brain had given out, and all was chaos. He had sense enough left to
write a few loving lines to his wife and children, and to say farewell.]

[Footnote 16: Falling into a state of morbid despondency and mental
derangement, Tannahill committed suicide, by drowning, in his
thirty-sixth year. James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd," visited him a
short time before his death. "Farewell," said Tannahill, as he grasped
his brother poet's hand; "we shall never meet again!"]

[Footnote 17: One of Bunyan's biographers tells us his library consisted
of two books,--the Bible and Fox's "Book of Martyrs." The latter work,
in three volumes, is preserved in the Bedford town library, and contains
Bunyan's name at the foot of the titlepages written by himself. Bunyan's
crime, for which he was imprisoned twelve years, was teaching plain
country people the knowledge of the Scriptures and the practice of

[Footnote 18: Is it generally known that among the accomplishments of
his after years was that of music and an instrumental performer? Leigh
Hunt says that "Dr. Franklin offered to teach my mother the guitar, but
she was too bashful to become his pupil. She regretted this afterwards,
possibly from having missed so illustrious a master. Her first child,
who died, was named after him."

In his Autobiography Franklin says: "At ten years of age I was called
home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that of a
soap-boiler and tallow-chandler, a business to which he had served no
apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New England,
because he found his own, that of a dyer, in too little request. I was
accordingly employed in cutting the wicks, filling the moulds," etc.]

[Footnote 19: His original name was John Horne, but being adopted and
educated by William Tooke, he assumed his name. His humble birth being
suspected by the proud striplings at Eton, when he was questioned as to
his father he replied, "He was a Turkey merchant!" He was imprisoned for
a year because he said that certain Americans were "murdered" by the
king's troops at Lexington!]

[Footnote 20: Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer, was no pander to popular
cries unless they were founded on reason. Being asked, "What is a
communist?" he answered, "One who has yearnings for equal division of
unequal earnings. Idler or bungler, he is willing to fork out his penny
and pocket your shilling." Whipple says: "His poetry could hardly be
written by a man who was not physically strong. You can hear the ring of
his anvil, and see the sparks fly off from his furnace, as you read his

[Footnote 21: While these notes are writing, the city of Boston is
erecting a bronze statue to the memory of Garrison, which is to adorn
one of its finest and largest public parks,--a fitting tribute to the
honored philanthropist.]

[Footnote 22: Hosea Biglow's words are specially applicable here:--

    "An' yit I love th' unhighschooled way
      Ol' farmers hed when I wuz younger;
    Their talk wuz meatier, an' 'ould stay,
      While book-froth seems to whet your hunger."]

[Footnote 23: His "Death on the Pale Horse," now in the Academy of Fine
Arts at Philadelphia, is the most remarkable of his productions in this
country. The Pennsylvania Hospital, in the same city, has also "Christ
Healing the Sick," by West,--a truly noble conception, a vigorous work
of art, and a generous gift from the author.]

[Footnote 24: His old employer, Moses Kimball, paid Ball twenty thousand
dollars for the bronze group now standing in Park Square. It represents
President Lincoln Freeing the Slaves. The purchaser presented it to the
city of Boston.]

[Footnote 25: Hans Christian Andersen was one of the most gifted of
modern authors. In his story entitled "Only a Fiddler," he has given
many striking pictures from the experience of his own life. His best
books are his fairy-tales, of which he has published several volumes.]

[Footnote 26: Any one who could place the tragedy of "Cleone" before
that of "Venice Preserved," by Otway, in point of merit, must have been
singularly prejudiced.]

[Footnote 27: Thackeray says: "He was lazy, kindly, uncommonly idle;
rather slovenly, forever eating and saying good things. A little French
abbé of a man, sleek, soft-handed, and soft-hearted." A Mr. Rich was the
manager of the theatre in which Gay's "Beggar's Opera" was brought out.
Its unprecedented success suggested the epigram that "it made Rich gay,
and Gay rich."]

[Footnote 28: Among his liberal bequests were four hundred thousand
dollars for the establishment of a public library in New York, to which
his son, William B. Astor, subsequently added as much more. The Astor
Library is therefore one of the best endowed institutions of the kind in

[Footnote 29: Webster, when told that there was no room for new lawyers
in a profession already overcrowded, answered, with the proud
consciousness of genius and character, "There is always room at the

[Footnote 30: Charles XII. put his whole soul into the cause of Sweden
at the time when she was threatened with extinction by her enemies. He
fought all Europe,--Danes, Russians, Poles, Germans,--and gave away a
kingdom before he was twenty. At his coronation at Upsala, he snatched
the crown from the hands of the archbishop and set it proudly on his
head with his own hands.]

[Footnote 31: Whipple speaks of three characters "who seem to have been
statesmen from the nursery." These were: "Octavius Cæsar, more
successful in the arts of policy than even the great Julius, never
guilty of youthful indiscretion, or, we are sorry to say, of youthful
virtue; Maurice of Saxony, the preserver of the Reformed religion in
Germany, in that memorable contest in which his youthful sagacity proved
more than a match for the veteran craft of Charles V.; and the second
William of Orange, the preserver of the liberties of Europe against the
ambition of Louis XIV., who, as a child, may be said to have prattled
treaties and lisped despatches."]

[Footnote 32: Nothing is so beneficial to a young author as the advice
of a man whose judgment stands constitutionally at the freezing
point.--_Douglas Jerrold._]

[Footnote 33: The life of Jeanne d'Arc is like a legend in the midst of

[Footnote 34: After a couple of years Hall was restored to the full
possession of his faculties, and for twenty years thereafter maintained
his high reputation as a pulpit orator. He died in 1831.]

[Footnote 35: Fifty years after these poems were published, as we are
informed by the publishers, there is a steady demand for from two to
three hundred copies annually. Of how many American books, of a similar
character, can this be said?]

[Footnote 36: I wrote things, I'm ashamed to say how soon. Part of an
epic poem when about twelve. The scene of it lay at Rhodes and some of
the neighboring islands; and the poem opened under water, with a
description of the Court of Neptune.--_Pope._]

[Footnote 37: Lord Brougham hoped to see the day when every man in the
United Kingdom could read Bacon. "It would be much more to the purpose,"
said Cobbett, "if his lordship could use his influence to see that every
man in the kingdom could _eat_ bacon."]

[Footnote 38: On a certain occasion when Barry, the eminent painter,
exhibited one of his admirable pictures, some one present doubted that
it was his work, so remarkable was its excellence, and Barry at the time
had not established any special fame. The artist was so affected by the
remark that he burst into tears and retired. Burke, who was present,
followed him to pacify his grief. The painter by chance quoted some
passages of the newly published essay on the "Sublime and Beautiful." It
appeared anonymously, and Burke took occasion to sneer at it, when Barry
showed more feeling than he had done about his picture. He commended the
essay in the most earnest language. Burke, smiling, acknowledged its
authorship. "I could not afford to buy it," replied the astonished
artist, "but I transcribed every line with my own hands;" at the same
time pulling the manuscript from his pocket. This was commendation so
sincere and appreciative, that the great author and the great painter
clasped hands in mutual friendship.]

[Footnote 39: Menander, the poet, was Theophrastus's favorite pupil.]

[Footnote 40: Winckelmann, one of the most distinguished writers on
classic antiquities and the fine arts, was the son of a shoemaker. He
contrived, by submitting to all sorts of personal deprivation, to fit
himself for college, and to go through with the studies there by
teaching young and less advanced fellow-students, at the same time
supporting a bedridden and helpless father.]

[Footnote 41: "People may be taken in once, who imagine that an author
is greater in private life than other men," says Dr. Johnson.]

[Footnote 42: Such incongruities do exist: nothing is infallible;
phrenologists even find the crania of some men to exhibit contradictory
evidences. When Sydney Smith with some friends submitted his head to be
examined by a phrenologist who did not know him, the party were amused
at the examiner declaring him to be a great naturalist,--"never happier
than when arranging his birds and fishes." "Sir," said the divine, "I
don't know a fish from a bird!"]

[Footnote 43: "Men of genius," says Longfellow, "are often dull and
inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is
only a stone."]

[Footnote 44: Dryden said of himself: "My conversation is slow and dull,
my humor saturnine and reserved. In short, I am none of these who
endeavor to break jests in company, or make repartees." And yet at
Will's Coffee-House, where the wits of the town met, his chair in winter
was always in the warmest nook by the fire, and in summer was placed in
the balcony. "To bow to him, and to hear his opinion of Racine's last
tragedy or of Bossuet's treatise on epic poetry was thought a privilege.
A pinch from his snuff-box was an honor sufficient to turn the head of a
young enthusiast." Every one must remember how, in Scott's novel of the
"Pirate," Claud Halcro is continually boasting of having obtained at
least that honor from "Glorious John."]

[Footnote 45: Jonson was a bricklayer, like his father before him. "Let
them blush not that have, but those who have not, a lawful calling,"
says Thomas Fuller as he records this fact; and goes on to say that
"Jonson helped in the construction of Lincoln's Inn, with a trowel in
his hand and a book in his pocket. Some gentlemen pitying that his parts
should be buried under the rubbish of so mean a calling, did by their
bounty manumise him freely to follow his own ingenious inclinations."]

[Footnote 46: Margaret Fuller by marriage became the Marchioness of
Ossoli, and with her husband and child perished in the wreck of the brig
"Elizabeth," from Leghorn, near Fire Island, in 1850. She was one of the
most gifted literary women of America.]

[Footnote 47: Garrick was so popular that it was impossible for him to
respond to half the social invitations which he received from the
nobility. Even royalty itself honored him by private interviews, often
listening to his readings in the domestic circle of the palace. Though
he was always rewarded by the hearty approval of the king and queen, he
said its effect upon him was like a "wet blanket" compared with the
thunders of applause which he usually received in public.]

[Footnote 48: Sir Walter Scott greatly admired Maria Edgeworth's novels,
complimenting "her wonderful power of vivifying all her persons and
making them live as beings in your mind." Lord Jeffrey honored "their
singular union of sober sense and inexhaustible invention." She died in
1849, in her eighty-second year.]

[Footnote 49: Southey was marvellously industrious, as over one hundred
published volumes testify. Few men have been students so long and
consecutively. He possessed one of the largest private libraries in
England. He says: "Having no library within reach, I live upon my own
stores, which are, however, more ample perhaps than were ever before
possessed by one whose whole estate was in his inkstand." He generously
supported the family of Coleridge, who were left destitute. His first
wife was a sister of Coleridge's wife.]

[Footnote 50: "To expect an author to talk as he writes is ridiculous,"
says Hazlitt; "even if he did, you would find fault with him as a

[Footnote 51: There is a sort of knowledge beyond the power of learning
to bestow, and this is to be had in conversation: so necessary is this
to understanding the characters of men, that none are more ignorant of
them than those learned pedants whose lives have been entirely consumed
in colleges and among books.--_Fielding._]

[Footnote 52: His publishers paid Moore three thousand guineas for the
copyright of "Lalla Rookh," his favorite production; and the liberal
purchasers, Longman & Co., had no reason to regret their bargain. When
Moore's "Lalla Rookh" first appeared, the author was terribly taken
aback in company by Lady Holland, who said to him, "Mr. Moore, I don't
intend to read your Larry O'Rourke; I don't like Irish stories!"]

[Footnote 53: Madame de Lafayette was a warm friend of Rochefoucauld.
She was intimately allied to the clever men of the time, and was
respected and loved by them. The author of the "Maxims" owed much to
her, while she also was under obligations to him. Their friendship was
of mutual benefit. "He gave me intellect," she said, "and I reformed his

[Footnote 54: His enemies having declared that De Vega's dramas were not
judged upon their merit, but were popular because they bore his
name,--to try the public taste he wrote and published a book of poems
anonymously, entitled "Soliloquies on God." Their merit was undisputed,
and they were vastly popular, until the carping critics threatened him
with the unknown author as a rival. His triumph when he claimed them as
his own was complete.]

[Footnote 55: Coleridge tells us how he was once cured of infidelity by
his teacher. "I told Boyer that I hated the thought of becoming a
clergyman. 'Why so?' said he. 'Because, to tell you the truth, sir,' I
said, 'I'm an infidel!' For this, without further ado, Boyer flogged
me,--wisely, as I think, soundly, as I know. Any whining or sermonizing
would have gratified my vanity, and confirmed me in my absurdity; as it
was, I was laughed at, and got heartily ashamed of my folly."]

[Footnote 56: When Hume was in Paris receiving the homage of the
philosophers, three little boys were brought before him, who
complimented him after the fashion of grown persons, expressing their
admiration for his beautiful history. These children afterwards
succeeded to the throne as Louis XVI., his brother, Louis XVIII., and
Charles X.]

[Footnote 57: This was the Tom Paine on whom was written one of the most
felicitous of epitaphs:--

    "Here lies Tom Paine, who wrote in Liberty's defence,
    But in his 'Age of Reason' lost his 'Common Sense.'"]

[Footnote 58: Bacon was full of crotchets, so to speak. In spring, he
would go out for a drive in an open coach while it rained, to receive
"the benefit of irrigation," which, he contended, was "most wholesome
because of the nitre in the air, and the universal spirit of the world."
He had extraordinary notions and indulged them freely, such as dosing
himself with chemicals, rhubarb, nitre, saffron, and many other
medicines. At every meal his table was abundantly strewn with flowers
and sweet herbs.]

[Footnote 59: It is curious that St. Pierre's story of Paul and
Virginia, which has since proved one of the most popular tales ever
written, was at first listened to by the author's friends so coldly that
after it was finished he laid it by for months; but when it once got
into print the public indorsed it immediately, and fresh editions
followed each other in rapid succession.]

[Footnote 60: Poor, dear Rogers! Smith was disposed to be a little too
hard on him. Some one having asked after Rogers's health in Smith's
presence, he replied, "He's not very well." "Why, what's the matter?"
rejoined the querist. "Oh, don't you know," said Smith, "he's produced a
couplet;" and added: "When our friend is delivered of a couplet with
infinite labor and pain, he takes to his bed, has straw laid down, the
knocker tied up, expects his friends to call and make inquiries, and the
answer at the door invariably is, 'Mr. Rogers and his little couplet are
as well as can be expected'!"]

[Footnote 61: That excellent and conservative critic, Epes Sargent, says
of the author of "Don Juan," "He may have been overrated in his day; but
his place in English literature must ever be in the front rank of the
immortals." "Byron," said Emerson once, "had large utterance, but little
to say,"--a half-truth pointedly expressed; but, alluding to Byron's
poems in his later life, acknowledging their captivating energy, Emerson
denied having uttered, even in conversation, so derogatory a remark of
him who was, with all his limitations, a bard palpably inspired.]

[Footnote 62: "I had learned from his works," remarks Lady Blessington,
after meeting Landor at Florence, in May, 1825, "to form a high opinion
of the man as well as the author. But I was not prepared to find in him
the courtly, polished gentleman of high breeding, of manners,
deportment, and demeanor, that one might expect to meet with in one who
had passed the greater part of his life in courts."]

[Footnote 63: This man scornfully renounces your civil
organizations,--county and city, or governor or army; is his own navy
and artillery, judge and jury, legislature and executive. He has learned
his lessons in a bitter school.--_Emerson._]

[Footnote 64: "Every one of my writings," says Goethe, "has been
furnished to me by a thousand different persons, by a thousand different
things. The learned and the ignorant, the wise and the foolish, infancy
and age, have come in turn, generally without having been the least
suspicious of it, to bring me the offering of their thoughts, their
faculties, their experience; often have they sown the harvest I have
reaped. My work is that of an aggregation of human beings taken from the
whole of nature; it bears the name of Goethe."]

[Footnote 65: When only eighteen years of age, in 1777, he wrote "The
Robbers," a tragedy of extraordinary power, though he characterized it
at a later day as "a monster for which fortunately there was no
original." During a few years after its first publication it was
translated into various languages and read all over Europe.]

[Footnote 66: Such facts as the following lead us to draw rather
disparaging conclusions as to Dryden's character. He was short of money
at a certain time, and sent to Jacob Tonson, his publisher, asking him
to advance him some, which Tonson declined to do; whereupon Dryden sent
him these lines, adding, "Tell the dog that he who wrote these can write

    "With leering looks, bull-faced, and freckled skin,
    With two left legs, and Judas-colored hair,
    And frowzy pores, that taint the ambient air!"

The bookseller felt the force of the description, and to avoid trouble
immediately sent the insulting poet the money.]

[Footnote 67: The real name of this lady is Louise de la Rame. Her
father was a Frenchman and her mother of English birth. The name of
"Ouida" is an infantine corruption of her baptismal name Louise. Her
first episode in love occurred when she was a maiden of forty years,
resulting finally in a most embittering disappointment.]

[Footnote 68: Burns realized his own unfortunate lack of self-control,
but he gives good advice to others, as follows:--

    "Reader, attend! Whether thy soul
    Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
    Or darkling grubs this earthly hole
      In low pursuit,--
    Know, prudent, cautious self-control
      Is wisdom's root."]

[Footnote 69: It is said to have been when Handel's great appetite was
being spoken of as rather at antipodes with his glorious musical
conceptions, that Sydney Smith remarked, "his own idea of heaven was
eating _foie gras_ to the sound of trumpets!"]

[Footnote 70: The overture to "Don Giovanni," generally considered to be
the best portion of the opera, was written by Mozart in _two hours_, he
having overslept himself. It was copied in great haste by the scribes,
and actually played for the first time without rehearsal.]

[Footnote 71: The poet Carpani once asked his friend Haydn how it
happened that his church music was of so animating and cheerful a
character. "I cannot make it otherwise," replied the composer; "I write
according to the thoughts which I feel. When I think of God, my heart is
so full of joy that the notes dance and leap as it were from my pen."]

[Footnote 72: Dumas was a charming story-teller in society. Being at a
large party one evening, the hostess tried to draw him out to exhibit
his powers in this line. At last, weary of being importuned, he said:
"Every one to his trade, madam. The gentleman who entered your
drawing-room just before me is a distinguished artillery officer. Let
him bring a cannon here and fire it; then I will tell one of my little

[Footnote 73: Churchill was a spendthrift of fame, and enjoyed all his
revenue while he lived; posterity owes him little, and pays him

[Footnote 74: Wither had a strange career. He was imprisoned for some
published satire in 1613, at the age of twenty-five, but lived to his
eightieth year, dying finally in misery and obscurity.]

[Footnote 75: Dr. Johnson was not particularly inclined to "smash
images;" but when he looked for the first time upon Callcott's picture
of "Milton and his Daughters," one of whom holds a pen as if about to
write from his dictation, the doctor coolly remarked, "The daughters
were never taught to write!"]

[Footnote 76: Such a superiority do the pursuits of literature possess
over other occupation, that even he who attains but a mediocrity merits
pre-eminence above those that excel the most in the common and vulgar

[Footnote 77: Allston's death was peculiar. It occurred in 1843, after a
cheerful evening passed in the midst of his friends. He had just laid
his hand on the head of a favorite young friend, and after begging her
to live as near perfection as she could, he blessed her with fervent
solemnity, and with that blessing on his lips, died.]

[Footnote 78: The farm of William M. Evarts is situated in Vermont. He
once, in eulogizing that State, declared that no criminal was allowed to
enter its prisons unless he furnished evidence of good moral character
before he committed his crime!]

[Footnote 79: E. P. Whipple said of Agassiz in 1866: "He is not merely a
scientific thinker, he is a scientific force; and no small portion of
the immense influence he exerts is due to the energy, intensity, and
geniality which distinguish the nature of the man. In personal
intercourse he inspires as well as informs; communicates not only
knowledge, but the love of knowledge."]

[Footnote 80: On the fly-leaf of a volume of Anderson's "British Poets"
he wrote the following lines:--

    "Ye autograph-secreting thieves,
    Keep scissors from these precious leaves,
    And likewise thumbs, profane and greasy,
    From pages hallowed by S. T. C."]

[Footnote 81:

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

[Footnote 82: When Lamb was once asked by a friend why he did not leave
off smoking, he humorously replied that he could find no equivalent

[Footnote 83: A patient who had been an inveterate smoker of tobacco for
years, on entering the hospital was placed in a hot water bath, and here
he remained for half an hour. A frog and other aqueous animals placed in
the same water after it had become cool, died instantly; showing that
the patient had exuded by the pores of the skin sufficient nicotine to
impregnate the water.]

[Footnote 84: At another time, having been greatly annoyed by the
persistent crying and screaming of some infant children, Lamb tried to
bear it patiently; but finally he quietly ejaculated, "B-b-blessed b-be
the m-memory of g-good King Herod!"]

[Footnote 85: Hayden, the painter, says of Keats, that at dinner he
would swallow some grains of red pepper in order that he might enjoy the
more the "delicious coolness of claret."]

[Footnote 86: It was at Holland House, of which he became possessed by
marriage, that Addison

    "Taught us how to live; and (oh! too high
    A price for knowledge) taught us how to die."]

[Footnote 87: Those were days when people drank freely. "How I should
like," said Grattan one day to Rogers, "to spend my whole life in a
small neat cottage! I could be content with very little; I should need
only cold meat, and bread, and beer, and _plenty of claret_."]

[Footnote 88: The blemishes of great men are not the less blemishes; but
they are, unfortunately, the easiest part for imitation.--_Disraeli._]

[Footnote 89: Occupied, the last time the author visited Milan, as
barracks for a cavalry regiment. Time and exposure are fast obliterating
the original work of Da Vinci. In 1520 Leonardo da Vinci visited France
at the urgent solicitation of Francis I. His health was feeble, and the
king often came to Fontainebleau to see him. One day when the king
entered, Leonardo rose up in bed to receive him, but in the effort
fainted. Francis hastened to support him; but the eyes of the artist
closed forever, and he lay encircled in the arms of the monarch.]

[Footnote 90: The original copy of this work is still preserved, dated
1671, though it was not published until 1690,--an evidence of the
author's great caution in offering his views to the public. Three of his
works were not published until after his death.]

[Footnote 91: Rogers says that Gibbon took very little exercise. He had
been staying some time with Lord Sheffield in the country; and when he
was about to go away, the servants could not find his hat. "Bless me,"
said Gibbon, "I certainly left it in the hall on my arrival here." He
had not stirred out of the house during the whole of the visit.]

[Footnote 92: Châteaubriand was the most famous French author of the
First Empire. It will be remembered that he visited this country in
1791. He wrote, relative to dining with Washington at Philadelphia:
"There is a virtue in the look of a great man. I felt myself warmed and
refreshed by it during the rest of my life." His career was full of
remarkable vicissitudes. He was once left for dead on the battlefield,
suffered banishment, and was for a time imprisoned in the Bastile.]

[Footnote 93: Thackeray says of Congreve: "He loved, conquered, and
jilted the beautiful Bracegirdle, the heroine of all his plays, the
favorite of all the town of her day."]

[Footnote 94: Galileo was remarkable, even in his youth, for mechanical
genius, and also for his accomplishments in painting, poetry, music, and
song. In early childhood, it is said of him, "while other boys were
whipping their tops, he was scientifically considering the cause of the

[Footnote 95: "I was nigh taking my life with my own hands," he wrote,
"but art held me back. I could not leave the world until I had revealed
what was within me." In view of his great misfortune, his dying words
are very touching: "I shall be able to hear in heaven!"]

[Footnote 96: When "Paradise Lost" was first published, in 1667, Edmund
Waller, himself a poet, politician, and critic, said: "The old blind
schoolmaster, John Milton, has published a tedious poem on the fall of
man; if its length be not considered a merit, it has no other." The
second edition was not brought out until seven years later, 1674, the
year in which Milton died. This edition was prefaced by two short poems,
the first by Andrew Marvell in English, and the second by Samuel Barrow
in Latin, in which Milton's poem is placed "above all Greek, above all
Roman fame."]

[Footnote 97: When a friend complained to Camoens that he had not
furnished some promised verses for him, the disheartened poet replied:
"When I wrote verses I was young, had sufficient food, was a lover, and
beloved by many friends, and by the ladies; then I felt poetical ardor;
now I have no spirits to write, no peace of mind or of body."]

[Footnote 98: The county jail in which Bunyan spent the twelve years of
his life from 1660 to 1672 was taken down in 1801. It stood on what is
now the vacant piece of land at the corner of the High Street and Silver
Street, used as a market-place, in Bedford. Silver Street was so named
because it was the quarter where the Jews in early times trafficked in
the precious metals.]

[Footnote 99: Ben Jonson tried his fortune as an actor, but did not
succeed. A duel with a brother actor, whom unhappily he killed, caused
him to be imprisoned by the sentence of the court. He was ten years
younger than Shakespeare, and survived him twenty-one years, dying in

[Footnote 100: Imprisonment could not deprive Boëthius of the
consolation of philosophy, nor Raleigh of his eloquence, nor Davenant of
his grace, nor Chaucer of his mirth: nor five years of slavery at
Algiers deaden the wit of Cervantes.--_Willmott._]

[Footnote 101: Urged by the King of Spain to punish Raleigh for his
attack on the town of St. Thomas, James I. basely resolved to carry into
execution a sentence sixteen years old, which had been followed by an
imprisonment of thirteen years, and then a release. So Raleigh was
brought up before the Court of King's Bench to receive sentence, and was
beheaded the next morning.]

[Footnote 102: Philip III., King of Spain, saw a student one day at a
distance on the banks of the river Manzanares, reading a book, and from
time to time breaking off to roar with laughter and show other signs of
delight. "That person is either mad or is reading 'Don Quixote,'" said
the king,--a volume of panegyric in a few words. Cervantes did not have
to wait the verdict of posterity as to his incomparable history of the
famous Knight La Mancha; it sprung at once into unbounded popularity,
while "it laughed Spain's chivalry away."]

[Footnote 103: During Theodore Hook's confinement in a sponging-house in
London he was visited by an old friend. Astonished at the comparative
spaciousness of the apartment, the latter observed by way of
consolation, "Really, Hook, you are not so badly lodged, after all. This
is a cheerful room enough." "Oh, yes," replied Theodore, pointing
significantly to the iron defences outside; "remarkably so--barring the

[Footnote 104:

    "Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
      That from the nunnery
    Of thy breast and quiet mind
      To war and arms I fly.

    "True, a new mistress now I chase,
      The first foe in the field;
    And with a stronger faith embrace
      A sword, a horse, a shield.

    "Yet this inconstancy is such
      As you too shall adore;
    I could not love thee, dear, so much,
      Loved I not honor more."]

[Footnote 105: Swift and Prior were very intimate, and he is frequently
mentioned in the "Journal to Stella." "Mr. Prior," says Swift, "walks to
make himself fat, and I to keep myself lean. We often walk round the
Park together."]

[Footnote 106: De Quincey was often very happily delivered of witty
ideas. He said on one occasion, "If once a man indulges himself in
murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing
he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to
incivility and procrastination. Once being upon this downward path, you
never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from
some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time."]

[Footnote 107: "I cannot bear much thinking," said Cowper. "The meshes
of the brain are composed of such mere spinner's threads in me, that
when a long thought finds its way into them, it buzzes and twangs and
bustles about at such a rate as seems to threaten the whole

[Footnote 108: Macaulay spoke with great admiration of Bentham, and
placed him in the same rank with Galileo and Locke, designating him as
"the man who found jurisprudence a gibberish, and left it a science."]

[Footnote 109: Béranger's first collection of songs was published in
1815 and received with great favor by the people; but the bold,
patriotic, and often satirical tone of these songs gave offence to the
Government; and as the author did not abate the freedom of his criticism
in future poems, he was condemned to imprisonment and to pay a heavy

[Footnote 110: "In a cellar, or the meanest haunt of the casual
wanderer, was to be found," as Dr. Johnson says, "the man whose
knowledge of life might have aided the statesman, whose eloquence might
have influenced senates, and whose conversation might have polished

[Footnote 111: Mozart said of him that he struck you, whenever he
pleased, with a thunderbolt. Leigh Hunt also said he was the Jupiter of
music; nor is the title the less warranted from his including in his
genius the most affecting tenderness as well as the most overpowering

[Footnote 112: His biographer tells us that the King of Prussia offered
him three thousand crowns a year, to attract him to Berlin; but he
declined to quit the service of the Emperor Joseph, who paid him only
eight hundred florins; and that he was often reduced to painful distress
for want of money while he lived in Vienna.]

[Footnote 113: We see that which we bring eyes to see, and appreciation
presupposes a degree of the same genius in ourselves. Mozart's wife said
of him that he was a better dancer than musician. Leigh Hunt tells us
that when Mozart became a great musician, a man in distress accosted him
in the street, and as the composer had no money to give him, he bade him
wait a little, while he went into a coffee-house, where he wrote a
beautiful minuet extempore, and, sending the poor man to the nearest
music-dealer's, made him a present of the handsome sum gladly paid by
the publisher.]

[Footnote 114: This book, which none of us fail to read and read again
with delight, was at first very coldly received, and severely attacked
by the reviewers; until Lord Holland, being ill, sent to his bookseller
for some amusing book to read, and received the "Vicar of "Wakefield."
He read it, and was so much pleased with it that he mentioned it
wherever he visited. The consequence was, the first edition was rapidly
exhausted, and the fame of the book established.]

[Footnote 115: Perhaps the cause of Dante's struggle through life lay in
that reckless sarcasm which prompted his answer to the Prince of Verona,
who asked him how he could account for the fact, that in the household
of princes the court fool was in greater favor than the philosopher.
"Similarity of mind," said the fierce genius, "is all over the world the
source of friendship."]

[Footnote 116: Kotzebue was fifty-eight years of age when he was
assassinated at Mannheim, in 1819, by Karl Ludwig Sand, who was actuated
by a fanatical zeal against one whom he considered a traitor to liberty.
Kotzebue was a prolific writer, and has left several dramas.]

[Footnote 117: The sad lines in his last poem, entitled "Waiting for
Death," will long be remembered:--

    "Deformed and wrinkled; all that I can crave
      Is quiet in my grave.
    Such as live happy hold long life a jewel;
      But to me thou art cruel
    If thou end not my tedious misery,
      And I soon cease to be.
    Strike, and strike home then; pity unto me,
      In one short hour's delay, is tyranny!"]

[Footnote 118: "Schiller," says Coleridge, "has the material sublime to
produce an effect; he sets a whole town on fire, and throws infants with
their mothers into the flames, or locks up a father in an old tower. But
Shakespeare drops a handkerchief, and the same or greater effect

[Footnote 119: "'Hudibras,'" says Hallam, "was incomparably more popular
than 'Paradise Lost.' No poem in our language rose at once to so great
reputation; nor can this remarkable popularity be called ephemeral, for
it is looked upon to-day as a classic." Butler died in 1680.]

[Footnote 120: "Benvenuto Cellini, the jeweller, engraver, poet,
musician, soldier, sculptor, and lover: and in all so truly admirable!"
His autobiography remained in dusty oblivion for the period of two
hundred years after his death before it met the public eye.]

[Footnote 121: "We quote a verse from his "Death-Bed Lament," contained
in this volume:--

    "Deceiving world, that with alluring toys
    Hast made my life the subject of thy scorn,
    And scornest now to lend thy fading joys,
    To out-length my life, whom friends have left forlorn;--
    How well are they that die ere they are born,
    And never see thy slights, which few men shun,
    Till unawares they helpless are undone!"]

[Footnote 122: Before Miller died, he had cleared over eighteen thousand
pounds by the publication of "Tom Jones." The number of editions that
has been published is almost fabulous. The popularity of Fielding may be
judged of from what Dr. Johnson says of his "Amelia": "It was, perhaps,
the only book, of which, being printed off betimes one morning, a new
edition was called for before night."]

[Footnote 123: Swift has had many biographers; his life has been
told by the kindest and most good-natured of men, Scott, who admired
but could not bring himself to love him; and by stout old Johnson, who,
forced to admit him into the company of poets, receives the famous
Irishman, and takes off his hat to him with a bow of surly recognition,
scans him from head to foot, and passes over to the other side of the

[Footnote 124: Swift at one time in his subtle way declared with
elaborate reasons, that on the whole it would be impolitic to abolish
the Christian religion in England. We have yet to discover a finer piece
of irony. His exquisitely ridiculous proposition to utilize for _food_
the babies born in Ireland, so as to prevent their becoming a burden to
the country, will also be remembered.]

[Footnote 125: It is in the nature of such lords of intellect to be
solitary; they are in the world, but not of it; and our minor struggles,
brawls, successes, pass over them.--_Thackeray._]

[Footnote 126: "In London," says Dawson, "Johnson suffered a great deal
from poverty, and made use of many little artifices to eke out his
scanty means. All the great kindly acts which his large manly heart
prompted him to do cost him much self-denial. When he said that a man
could live very well in a garret for one-and-sixpence a week, the
statement was not a speculative but an experimental one."]

[Footnote 127: Tasso was often obliged to borrow a crown from a friend
to pay for his month's lodging. He has left us a pretty sonnet to his
cat, in which he begs the light of her eyes to write by, being too poor
to purchase a candle.]

[Footnote 128: Burton is said to have been, in the intervals of his
vapors, the most facetious companion in the university where he was
educated. So great was the demand for his "Anatomy of Melancholy," when
published, that his publisher is said to have acquired an estate by the
sale of it.]

[Footnote 129: How appropriate are the lines by Mrs. Browning, dedicated
to Cowper's grave:--

    "O poets! from a maniac's tongue was poured the deathless singing!
    O Christians! at your cross of hope a hopeless hand was clinging!
    O men! this man in brotherhood your weary paths beguiling,
    Groaned inly while he taught you peace, and died while we were

[Footnote 130: According to Disraeli, Dr. Hawksworth, who was employed
by the English Government to write an account of Captain Cook's first
voyage, and who was the intimate friend of Dr. Johnson, absolutely died
from the effects of severe criticism. He was an extremely graceful,
effective, and ready writer.]

[Footnote 131: Racine encountered much harsh criticism, which rendered
him very unhappy. He told his son in after years that he suffered far
more pain from the fault found with his productions than he ever
experienced pleasure from their success.]

[Footnote 132: Richter's remark that "some souls fall from heaven like
flowers, but ere the pure fresh buds have had time to open, they are
trodden in the dust of the earth, and lie soiled and crushed beneath the
foul tread of some brutal hoof," has been aptly applied to Keats.]

[Footnote 133: Keats modestly admitted the shortcomings of his early
compositions. He said, "I have written independently, without judgment;
I may write independently and with judgment hereafter. The genius of
poetry must work out its own salvation in a man."]

[Footnote 134: Collins was deeply attached to a young lady, who did not
return his passion, and there is little doubt that the consequent
disappointment preyed upon his mind to such an extent as finally to
dethrone his reason. Dr. Johnson says nothing of this, but tells us how
"he loved fairies, genii, giants, and monsters," and how "he delighted
to rove through the meanders of enchantment, to gaze on the magnificence
of golden palaces, and to repose by waterfalls of Elysian gardens."]

[Footnote 135: Johnson met Collins one day with a book under his arm, at
which the former looked inquiringly. "I have but one book," said the
melancholy poet; "it is the Bible." After his death, which occurred in
his thirty-sixth year, there was found among his papers an ode on the
"Superstitions of the Highlands." In his last days he committed many
manuscript poems to the flames.]

[Footnote 136: Shelley's favorite amusement had been boating and
sailing. While returning one day--July 8, 1822--from Leghorn, whither he
had been to welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy, his boat was struck by a squall
and he was drowned. Thus he met the same fate as his deserted wife.]

[Footnote 137: As to Shelley's mode of composition, he said: "When my
brain gets heated with thought, it soon boils and throws off images and
words faster than I can skim them off. In the morning, when cooled down,
out of that rude sketch, as you justly call it, I shall attempt a

[Footnote 138: This production was circulated in manuscript only for the
first three or four years after it was completed. Lockhart says that it
was hearing it read from manuscript that led Scott to produce the "Lay
of the Last Minstrel."]

[Footnote 139: "Genius is rarely conscious of its power," says Hazlitt;
"our own idea is that if Gray had had an eye to his posthumous fame, had
cast a sidelong glance to the approbation of posterity, he would have
failed in producing a work of lasting texture like this."]

[Footnote 140: It is not many years since the auctioneer in a public
salesroom in London, in the course of his advertised list of objects to
be disposed of, held up two small half sheets of paper, all written
over, torn, and mutilated. He called these scraps most interesting, but
apologized for their condition. There was present a highly intelligent
company of amateurs in autographs, attracted by the sale. The first
offer for these scraps of paper was ten pounds. The bids rose rapidly
until sixty-five was reached, when they were knocked off; but as there
proved to be two bidders at that price, it was necessary to put them up
again. They were finally closed at one hundred pounds. These scraps of
paper, which were almost a hundred years old to a day, were the original
copy of "Gray's Elegy."]

[Footnote 141: Speaking of Byron's mother, Dawson, the brilliant English
lecturer, says: "She was a shrieking, howling, red-faced, passionate,
self-indulgent person; now spoiling him by ridiculous indulgence, now
subjecting him to her extravagant wrath. A ridiculous person, an absurd
person, short and fat. What a sight it was to see her in a rage, running
round the room after the lame boy, and he mocking, and dodging, and
hopping about! Although that may be droll to hear, it was tragical to
suffer from; and there is much mercy to be bestowed upon a man whose
father was a blackguard and whose mother was a fool!"]

[Footnote 142: We quote from one of his sister's letters to a
confidential friend: "Charles is very busy at the office; he will be
kept there to-day until seven or eight o'clock. He came home very smoky
and drinky last night, so that I am afraid a hard day's work will not
agree very well with him. I have been eating a mutton-chop all alone,
and I have just been looking into the pint porter-pot, which I find
quite empty, and yet I am still very dry; if you were with me, we would
have a glass of brandy and water, but it is quite impossible to drink
brandy and water by one's self." Is not this a quiet peep behind the

[Footnote 143: It was singular that with his acute sensibility and
tenderness of nature Lamb never cared for music. But this was the case
with Dr. Johnson, Fox, Pitt, and Sir James Mackintosh. Johnson was
observed by a friend to be extremely inattentive at a concert, while a
celebrated solo player was running up the divisions and subdivisions of
notes upon the violin. The friend desiring to induce the Doctor to give
his attention, remarked how difficult the performance was. "Difficult,
do you call it, sir?" replied Johnson. "I wish it were impossible." It
will also be remembered that Goethe was not particularly fond of music.
Once at a court concert in Weimar, when a pianist was in the middle of a
very long sonata, the poet suddenly rose up, and, to the horror of the
assembled ladies and gentlemen, exclaimed, "If this lasts three minutes
longer, I shall confess everything!"]

[Footnote 144: Leigh Hunt tells us that Lamb was under the middle size,
and of fragile make, but with a head as fine as if it had been carved on
purpose. He had a very weak stomach. Three glasses of wine would put him
in as lively a condition as can be wrought in some men only by as many

[Footnote 145: In his volume of wise sayings, which has passed through
many editions, we find this paragraph: "The gamester, if he dies a
martyr to his profession, is doubly ruined. He adds his soul to every
other loss, and by the act of suicide renounces earth to forfeit

[Footnote 146: When the last scene came, those who had neglected him in
life, at least paid their respects to his remains; twelve thousand
people followed the body of Robert Burns to its resting-place in the

[Footnote 147: We find these two verses in Thoreau's published journal:


    Canst thou love with thy mind,
      And reason with thy heart?
    Canst thou be kind,
      And from thy darling part?


    Canst thou range earth, sea, and air,
    And so meet me everywhere?
    Through all events I will pursue thee,
    Through all persons I will woo thee.]

[Footnote 148: In battle, the maiden displayed a spirit of almost
reckless bravery, leading her followers into the thickest of the fight.
"She was benign," says Michelet, "in the fiercest conflict, good among
the bad, gentle even in war. She wept after the victories, and relieved
with her own hands the necessities of the wounded."]

[Footnote 149: Her husband, George Maclean, was Governor of Cape Coast
Castle, and, as is well known, treated her with marked disrespect, even
going so far as to introduce a favorite mistress into the castle. Some
envious people circulated vile reports as to "L. E. L.," but no one of
intelligence ever heeded them.]

[Footnote 150: "Her gladness was like a burst of sunlight," says one of
her own sex who knew her well; "and if in her sadness she resembled the
night, it was night wearing her stars. She was a Muse, a Grace, a
variable child, a dependent woman, the Italy of human beings."]

[Footnote 151: Charlotte married her father's curate, Mr. Nicholls. The
other two sisters died young and unmarried. "The bringing out of our
book of poems," writes Charlotte, "was hard work. As was to be expected,
neither we nor our poems were at all wanted."]

[Footnote 152: Longfellow was a classmate of Hawthorne in college, and
Franklin Pierce was his most intimate friend. When Pierce was chosen
President, he at once appointed our author to the Consulship at
Liverpool, which lucrative office he held for four years.]

[Footnote 153: Thackeray testifies to his hearty admiration of the elder
Dumas in these words: "I think of the prodigal banquets to which this
Lucullus of a man has invited me, with thanks and wonder."]

[Footnote 154: Jerrold was but twenty-five years of age when he wrote
this the first of his dramas. It was a great success from the start, and
had a run of three hundred consecutive nights, though the author
received but seventy pounds for the copyright.]

[Footnote 155: Sydney Smith, when talking of the bad effect of late
hours, said of a distinguished diner-out, that it should be written on
his tomb, "He dined late,"--to which Luttrell added, "And died early."]

[Footnote 156: Some one told Father Taylor, the well-known seamen's
clergyman of Boston, that a certain individual who was under discussion
was a very good citizen, except for an amiable weakness. "But I have
found," said the practical old preacher, "that weakness of character is
nearly the only defect which cannot be remedied."]

[Footnote 157: The prejudice excited in Queen Anne's mind by the
Archbishop of York, on account of the alleged infidelity in the "Tale of
a Tub," is supposed to be the reason why Swift's aspirations were not
granted by his royal mistress. His final unsatisfactory appointment as
Dean of St. Patrick was awarded to him instead of the coveted

[Footnote 158: The author remembers him well on the occasion of his
first appearance in this country as a lecturer and public reader. His
style at that time (which was afterwards changed) was that of a modern
dude, wearing flash waistcoats, double watch-chains, gold eye-glasses
and rings.]

[Footnote 159: No father or mother thinks their own children ugly; and
this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the

[Footnote 160: No one can anticipate the suffrages of posterity. Every
man in judging of himself is his own contemporary. He may feel the gale
of popularity, but he cannot tell how long it will last. His opinion of
himself wants distance, wants time, wants numbers, to set off and
confirm it. He must be indifferent to his own merits before he can feel
a confidence in them. Besides, every one must be sensible of a thousand
weaknesses and deficiencies in himself, whereas genius only leaves
behind it the monuments of its strength.--_Hazlitt._]

[Footnote 161: The "Song of the Shirt" first appeared in "Punch," in
1844; and was Hood's favorite piece of all his published compositions,
though the "Bridge of Sighs" was perhaps more popular with the public.
Hood died in 1845, at the age of forty-seven.]

[Footnote 162: His sister, Mlle. de Scudéri, is better known to us in
literature than himself. She was a distinguished member of the society
which met at the Hôtel de Rambouillet, and which has been made so famous
by Molière in his "Précieuses ridicules." She survived her brother some

[Footnote 163: Sue studied medicine at first, and was with the French
army in Spain (1823) as military surgeon. After inheriting his father's
fortune, he studied painting, but renounced that art finally to engage
in literature. His romances were for a time as popular as those of
Dumas, and in their character as immoral as those of Paul de Kock.]

[Footnote 164: He possessed a diminutive figure, with a pale, attenuated
face, eyes of spiritual brightness, an expansive and calm brow, and his
movements were characterized by a nervous alacrity. Until he reached the
years of middle life he was embarrassed by restricted means and
necessary habits of self-denial.]

[Footnote 165: With gun in hand, and note-book and drawing material by
his side, Audubon explored the coast, lakes, and rivers from Labrador
and Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. As early as 1810 he explored alone the
primeval forests of North America, impelled more by a love of Nature
than a desire to make himself famous. His original and finely
hand-colored illustrated work sold in folio at a thousand dollars a
volume, and is now rare and valuable.]

[Footnote 166: Like Milton, Swift, and other great geniuses, Scott was,
as Swift says of himself at school, "very justly celebrated for his
stupidity." But one is inclined to think that it was largely owing to a
want of talent in his master rather than in the pupil. It will be
remembered that it was the illustrious Samuel Parr, when an undermaster
at Harrow School, who first discovered the latent talent and genius of
Sheridan, and who by judicious cultivation brought it forth and
developed it.]

[Footnote 167: In five or six years subsequent to that failure of his
maiden speech, Disraeli, as he was then known, became leader of the
Opposition in the House, and Chancellor of the Exchequer soon after,
rising rapidly, until in 1868 he became Premier of England.]

[Footnote 168: Richter was a Bavarian, and of very humble birth. During
his youthful career he was reduced to extreme indigence. He became a
tutor in a private family, and afterwards taught school, all the while
striving with his pen both for fame and money, until at last he
"compelled" public appreciation. He is one of the few geniuses of that
period who were happy in their domestic relations. He died at Baireuth
in 1825.]

[Footnote 169: Royer-Collard was an eminent philosopher and statesman,
the founder of a school called the "Doctrinaire," of which Cousin was a
disciple. He was President of the Chamber of Deputies in 1828. His
father's family name was Royer, to which he joined the name of his wife,
Mademoiselle Collard.]

[Footnote 170: Hazlitt was a just but merciless critic. It was he who
designated Moore's productions "the poetry of the toilet-table, of the
saloon, and of the fashionable world,--not the poetry of nature, of the
heart, or of human life;" and the force of the criticism lay in the fact
of its truth.]

[Footnote 171: Goldsmith himself tells us: "My father, the younger son
of a good family, was possessed of a small living in the Church. His
education was above his fortune, and his generosity greater than his
education. Poor as he was, he had his flatterers; for every dinner he
gave them they returned him an equivalent in praise, and this was all he

[Footnote 172: It happened that a certain lady became charmed with
Mirabeau by reading his writings, and wrote him rather a tender letter,
asking him to describe himself to her. He did so by return of post as
follows: "Figure to yourself a tiger that has had the small-pox."
History has not handed down the sequel.]

[Footnote 173: Mirabeau and the Marchioness had agreed on mutual
destruction, by exchanging poisoned locks of hair, if he failed to be

[Footnote 174: To make the appropriateness of this retort clear, it
should be known that Judge Robinson was the author of many stupid,
slavish, and scurrilous political pamphlets; and by his servility to the
ruling powers he had been raised to the eminence which he thus
shamefully disgraced.]

[Footnote 175: The effect the poem had upon the Earl of Southampton when
he first read it will be remembered. Spenser took it to this noble
patron of poets as soon as it was finished, and sent it up to him. The
earl read a few pages and said to a servant, "Take the writer twenty
pounds." Reading on, he presently cried in rapture, "Carry that man
twenty pounds more." Still he read on; but at length he shouted, "Go
turn that fellow out of the house, for if I read further I shall be

[Footnote 176: When a boy, West secretly pursued his first attempts at
art, absenting himself from school to do so. Being one day surprised at
his work in the garret of the house by his mother, he expected to be
seriously reproved; but Mrs. West saw incipient genius in her son's work
at the age of ten; so she kissed and congratulated him, promising to
intercede with his father in his behalf that he would forgive him for
his truancy.]

[Footnote 177: It was not without difficulty that Gibbon could obtain a
publisher for his famous History. After it had been declined by several
houses, it was finally undertaken by Thomas Cadell, "on easy terms," as
the author expresses it. It was thought best to publish only five
hundred copies at first; this edition being soon exhausted, edition
after edition followed in rapid succession, until, as Gibbon says, "my
book was on every table and on almost every toilet."]

[Footnote 178: Sydney Smith said of Mrs. Siddons: "What a face she had!
The gods do not bestow such a face as hers on the stage more than once
in a century. I knew her very well, and she had the good taste to laugh
at my jokes; she was an excellent person, but she was not remarkable out
of her profession, and never got out of tragedy even in common life. She
used to _stab_ the potatoes; and said 'Boy, give me a knife!' as she
would have said 'Give me a dagger!'"]

[Footnote 179: "I first discovered Opie," says Dr. Wolcott, "in a little
hovel in the Parish of St. Agnes, Cornwall. He was the son of a poor
sawyer. I was first led to notice him by some drawings which he had
made." The good Doctor gave him material aid, took him to his house, and
finally introduced him into London society.]

[Footnote 180: He fought under Masaniello, and after the final defeat at
Naples he escaped to Florence, where he was befriended by the Grand
Duke, who was a liberal patron of art. His masterpiece is considered to
be the "Conspiracy of Catiline," though he excelled in wild mountain
scenery rather than in the grouping of human figures.]

[Footnote 181: Haydon, the historical painter, had power but not
popularity. Sir Arthur Shea, a man who rose to the height of his
profession as regarded popularity, was Haydon's special aversion. "He
is," Haydon once began, "the most impotent painter in--" His listeners
supposed he would add "the world." That did not satisfy Haydon's
antipathy, and his conclusion was,--"in the solar system!"]

[Footnote 182: Many of our readers will remember a remarkable picture by
Correggio in the Dresden Gallery, representing a "Penitent Magdalen,"
the ineffable and almost divine beauty of which no one can fail to
appreciate. One of the Saxon kings paid six thousand louis-d'ors
($30,000) for this painting, which is only about eighteen inches square.
Twice that sum would not purchase it to-day.]

[Footnote 183: Canova executed a statue of Washington, which ornaments
the State House in Boston, and is known to have produced during his life
fifty statues and as many busts, besides numerous groups in marble. He
died in 1822, having the reputation of being the greatest sculptor of
his age.]

[Footnote 184: Spagnoletto was finally appointed court painter in Spain,
and some of his best paintings still adorn the Madrid Gallery. His
"Adoration of the Shepherds" is familiar to us all, and remains
unsurpassed in power of conception and execution. In the Madrid Museo is
another of his masterpieces, a "Mater Dolorosa."]

[Footnote 185: "Mr. Murphy, sir, you knew Mr. Garrick?" asked Rogers the
poet of that individual. "Yes, sir, I did, and no man better." "Well,
sir, what did you think of his acting?" After a pause: "Well, sir, _off_
the stage he was a mean, sneaking little fellow. But _on_ the
stage"--throwing up his hands and eyes--"oh, my great God!"]

[Footnote 186: In the broad grounds of Abington Abbey, in
Northamptonshire, stands Garrick's mulberry-tree, with this inscription
upon copper attached to one of the limbs: "This tree was planted by
David Garrick, Esq., at the request of Ann Thursby, as a growing
testimony of their friendship, 1778."]

[Footnote 187: Pope was younger than Betterton, but they were very warm
personal friends, and it is thought that the poet aided the actor in the
adaptations which he published from Chaucer, and for which he received
hearty if not merited commendation.]

[Footnote 188: Garrick was for a long time at her feet, and indeed was
at one time engaged to be married to her, but the nuptials were not
consummated. It was generally believed that the engagement was broken
from disinclination on her part.]

[Footnote 189: During the vacation season Miss Woffington went to Bath,
and on her return was telling Quin how much she had been pleased by the
excursion. "And pray, madam," he inquired, "what made you go to Bath?"
"Mere wantonness," she replied. "And pray, madam, did it cure you?"]

[Footnote 190: From the volatility of his mind and conduct, it would be
a misuse of language to say that he had good principles or bad
principles. He had no principles at all. His life was a life of
expedients and appearances, in which he developed a shrewdness and
capacity made up of talent and mystification, of ability and trickery,
which were found equal to almost all emergencies.--_Whipple._]

[Footnote 191: Sheridan probably had not a penny in his pocket. He never
did have for more than a few minutes at a time; yet this was the man of
whose famous speech in the House of Commons Burke said: "It was the most
astonishing effort of eloquence, argument, and wit united, of which
there was any record or tradition." And of which Fox said, "All that he
had ever heard, all that he had ever read, when compared with it,
dwindled into nothing, and vanished like vapor before the sun."]

[Footnote 192: "A perpetual fountain of good sense," Dryden calls him;
"and of good humor, too, and wholesome thought," adds Lowell. He was
scholar, courtier, soldier, ambassador, one who had known poverty as a
housemate, and who had been the companion of princes.]

[Footnote 193: Jonson died on the 6th of August, 1637, at the age of
sixty-three. He survived both wife and children. He was buried in
Westminster Abbey. A common slab laid over his grave bears the
inscription, "O Rare Ben Jo_h_nson!"--not Jonson, as it is always
printed. Jonson was a heavy drinker, and it has been said that every
line of his poetry cost him a cup of sack. Canary was his favorite
drink; of which he partook so immoderately that his friends called him
familiarly the Canary Bird.]

[Footnote 194: Coleridge says sadly in his "Literary Life," "I have laid
too many eggs in the hot sands of this wilderness the world, with
ostrich carelessness and ostrich oblivion. The greater part, indeed,
have been trodden under foot and are forgotten. But yet no small number
have crept forth into life, some to furnish feathers for the caps of
others, and still more to plume the shafts in the quiver of my
enemies,--of them that, unprovoked, have lain in wait against my soul."]

[Footnote 195: So disgusted was the paternal upholsterer, Pocquelin, at
his son's choice of the stage for a profession, that he virtually
disowned him. Molière was an assumed name, to save the family honor; but
how rapidly that name became famous.]

[Footnote 196: Molière was fascinated by his young wife; her lighter
follies charmed him. He was a husband who was always a lover. The actor
on the stage was the very man he personated. Mademoiselle Molière, as
she was called by the public, was the Lucile in "Le Bourgeois
Gentilhomme." With what a fervor the poet feels her neglect! with what
eagerness he defends her from the animadversions of the friend who would
have dissolved the spell!--_Disraeli._]

[Footnote 197: Campbell the poet and Turner the artist were dining
together on a certain occasion with a large party. The poet was called
upon for a toast, and by way of a joke on the great professor of the
"sister art" gave, "The Painters and Glaziers." After the laughter had
subsided, the artist was of course summoned to propose a toast also. He
rose, and with admirable tact and ready wit responded to the author of
"Pleasures of Memory" by giving "The Paper-stainers."]

[Footnote 198: Sir Joshua Reynolds was inclined to tell stories about
Goldsmith's negligence in his habits, his want of neatness in dress, his
unkempt appearance at all times, and his absolute want of cleanliness.
No doubt the reflection was merited by the careless author; but the
famous artist was himself such a gross consumer of snuff that his
shirt-bosom, collars, and vest were never in a respectable condition.]

[Footnote 199: Milton was a London boy in his eighth year when
Shakespeare died (1616); he was seventeen years old when Fletcher died
(in 1625); and twenty-nine when Ben Jonson died (in 1637).]

[Footnote 200: Paul Jovius was from an ancient Italian family. He wrote
altogether in Latin. Clement VII. made him a bishop, and he enjoyed the
favor of Charles V. and Francis I., which enabled him to amass great
wealth. He died at Florence in 1552.]

[Footnote 201: "Pope died in 1744," says Lowell, "at the height of his
renown, the acknowledged monarch of letters, as supreme as Voltaire when
the excitement and exposure of his coronation-ceremonies at Paris
hastened his end, a generation later."]

[Footnote 202: No other man presented within himself such a bundle of
contradictions. "He seems an embodied antithesis," says Whipple,--"a
mass of contradictions, a collection of opposite frailties and powers.
Such was the versatility of his mind and morals, that it is hardly
possible to discern the connection between the giddy goodness and the
brilliant wickedness which he delighted to exhibit." In all his
relations he was consistently inconsistent.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Genius in Sunshine and Shadow" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

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

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