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“ Time's witness, herald of antiquity,
The light of truth, and life of memory.” But it is equally plain that this bias of his faculties which we have been considering, utterly disables him for that high station. As personated by him, Clio is no longer the sober, steadfast, “strongeyed muse.” But stripped of her ample and spotless robes, and tricked out in the frippery garb of an Italian improvisatrice, she mouths and rants, and pours forth a voluble strain of incoherent words, and of extravagant, half-incubated thoughts; while no venerable hen cackles more complacently over the exclusion of her eggs, than she does over her equally frail progeny.
He would also be considered a man of genius, while he is unenlightened by a single coruscation of its divine fire; is neither warmed by its vivifying imaginings and brilliant hopes, nor actuated by its generous and magnificent, though vaulting, aims; and hence, also, he is incapable of detecting or sympathizing with either. Preferring the feverish, unreasoning, fitful, and clamorous clappings of the populace before that steady growth and accumulation of men's love, admiration, and gratitude, which makes its object the property of “no age, but of all time," he gathers a crowd that he may listen to its plaudits; he burns to achieve-not fame, butpopularity. Hence, his partial observations upon men and events; his discoloring of facts, his stupid idolatry of that lurid glory which lights up the hero, and his total blindness to that more ethereal essence which transfigures man by the magical play of his fancy, the brilliancy of his imagination, the subtilty or strength of his intellect; by the mild splendor of his virtues, or the attractive beauty of enlarged affections and regulated passions. Hence, too, it is, that to command his praise an object must be gross and palpable; that the more spiritual the form the less beautiful it is in his sight; in proportion as it is godlike it is unworthy of admiration. The truth is, that Mr. Headley belongs to the more respectable branch of that numerous class in literature,-known by their spawn of books with flaunting yellow covers, startling titles, and contemptible woodcuts,—who are analogous to the demagogue in politics. These are chiefly solicitous after noisy notoriety, being little scrupulous in the use of means so as they accomplish this end. Painfully conscious of their inferiority and of their radical defects, not even selfdeceivers upon the score of their own merits and deservings, they yet strive to attain by juggling arts that consideration which is spontaneously awarded to real worth. Not daring with their weak pinions to fly boldly for the sun while he rides high in the full splendor of meridian glory, they wind sinuously along, trailing and
crawling upon the earth's surface that they may reach it by strategy at sunset. They listen for the yell of the populace, watch the tide of its favor, truckle to its mean demands, and pander to its craving and depraved tastes. Now, the man of genius contemptuously scorns all this clap-trap; for the invariable characteristic of genius is, that it never constrains its possessor to use the arts and appliances of quackery with the purpose of gaining the suffrages of the public. Popularity is not the great end he seeks. It is not applause he covets—the thundering acclamations of an impulsive populace, the sugared praise of friends or parasites, of patrons or clients; nor the stereotyped epithets of hireling critics. Mere popularity he disdains, and all the arts which insure it; for he possesses an honest confidence in his own strength, and looks calmly, patiently, and prophetically, into the future for his reward. His ambition is not to build a tent rich with gold and tinsel work, glittering with gewgaws, and dazzling the sight with rich and diverse colors; to raise a thin, flapping canopy, which the cold will penetrate, rain tarnish, and the winds destroy; which may indeed evoke the fitful admiration of gaping crowds, but shall soon fall into unseemly tatters, and be huddled away to decay and forgetfulness. He builds a temple, founded
"Upon so high a rock,
Higher standeth none in Spaine ;" which shall be durable as the everlasting hills; and to which generations living in the “far country" of the future shall gather to offer up their homage of veneration. He seeks fame! He burns to achieve a name that men “will not willingly let die;" to print it upon the rock
" That shall not molte away for heate,
And not away with storme's beate ;"
" Written full of names
That I on hem began to poure.”
For the hero has "no armor against fate;" like a comet he "rolls, and blazes, and dies;" he is the child of the present; his fame is ever brightest while the story of his prowess is freshest; the boundaries which he established shall be eradicated; his battle fields shall "laugh and sing" under the rich vineyard or the bending grain; new ranks
of men shall fill the vacant places of his victims, and time shall conquer the conqueror Not so with the man of genius. He is not solicitous to perform mere deeds—to fire a temple, sack a city, conquer an army, usurp a kingdom. To him these seem gross and earthly manifestations; things of to-day, which, like the animal that performs them, shall perish; they obliterate from the records of man the story of his advancement in arts, science, refinement, and religion; placing the extremes of social existence-the savage chieftain and the polished hero-upon one footing : for the former may perform deeds as startling as the latter; and the whirl of batile gratifies the barbarous Maximin or his horse, as keenly as the accomplished Julian or the divine Augustus. And herein lies the difference between this spirit-the spirit of force, and the spirit of thought; between power which proceeds from matter, and power which emanates from the soul. The one retrogrades man to infancy; the other advances him, as if by one leap, to robust manhood. The one hurls back the car of refinement and obstructs the fountains of knowledge, hews at the key-stone of the temple of liberty, and undermines the solid walls of religion; the other stands in the stead of experience, as if by inspiration overleaps the barriers of ignorance and time, and pours into the overflowing lap of its possessor all knowledge and refinement, giving to him by instinct what the average of men are generations striving to gain. Thus it happens that it is ever in advance of its age; and, as the example of most famous men proves, is often undervalued by it—like a star whose patient light is unobserved, or, if observed, unheeded; but which, rolling on for ages, ever burning brightly, shall at length be discovered to act as the sun of a universe of suns; and men will enthusiastically do homage to it as the centre of all gravity, the seat of all material energy and order. Genius, which is the highest manifestation of this bright spirit, advances the barbarian to all the sublimities of man's capacities without depressing them or lowering the standard of civilization or refinement. Its possessor waits not for the slow operation of time, but springs forth like the Grecian war-goddess, full-grown and vigorous. So was it with Homer, the old-time barbarian; who, even now, when a century of generations has lapsed, is the highest model for imitation, the day-star of man's noblest ambition : and the hoary-headed harper, wreathed in his immortal robes of verse from his seat far away back in the old world, flings around with the lavish hand of a creator what the slow and plodding disciples of science exhaust centuries in acquiring. For, while the influence of the spirit of force is destructive, that of this beneficent principle is creative. It produces war
riors that will live when actual heroes are forgotten ; crowns ideal beings with a more imperishable fame than the most invulnerable general can gain for himself; gives to the children of fancy a substantial reality, and "makes a soul under the ribs of death.” It is the herald and harbinger of arts, science, and philosophy; the evangelist of freedom; the hand-maiden of religion; and conqueror over time.
The period has now arrived when it will be proper to undertake the unpleasant task of pointing out the special defects of our writer, somewhat in detail. And although the productions of this gentleman abound in solecisms of language and gross violations of syntax; although scarcely a paragraph occurs in which he does not commit some wretched verbal error or stumble upon some detestable grammatical heresy; although he not only disregards mere euphony, but pertinaciously uses such words and terms as are inexpressive and inapt-inappropriate to each other and to the sentiments they labor to convey; notwithstanding that his style is turgid, declamatory, and filled to repletion with puffy adjectives—two or more of which unhappy parts of speech are constantly to be seen hobbling along with a haughty noun upon their shoulders; notwithstanding all this, and that his writings are a fair field for criticism and promise tempting returns, we shall only start the hare but will not remain long upon the scent. We do not seek to display their numerous venial faults. Our design has been rather to discuss their moral bearing in general terms, and incidentally to classify the author himself. Meanwhile we rest upon his books, and appeal to them for the justice of our strictures.
Mr. Headley's writings are justly censurable for these among other faults: the feeble structure of his sentences and their redundancy of superlative epithets; the illogical arrangement and insequency of his ideas; and his affectation of intensity both of thought and expression. These faults we intend to exhibit without adhering to any particular order; and, for a very obvious reason, shall confine our attention more particularly to portions of his latest and most popular work. Thus, at page 26 of Washington and his Generals, he says—and the paragraph is given as a specimen of these faults epitomized :
“Whether bowed in fasting and prayer before God in behalf of his country, or taking the fate of the American army on his brave heartwhether retreating before the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, or pouring his furious squadrons to the charge—whether lost in anxious thought, as his eye seeks in vain for some ray amid the gloomy prospect that surrounds him, or spurring his frightened steed amid the broken ice of the angry Delaware in the midst of the midnight storm
whether galloping into the deadly volleys of the enemy in the strong effort to restore the fight, or wearing the wreath of victory which a grateful nation placed with mingled tears and acclamations on his browhe is the same self-collected, noble-minded, and resolute man.”
Here amidst a sea of epithets both "cold and hot, and moist and dry," we have a description of one who is self-collected at the same moment that he is lost or bewildered in anxious thought! Who is making active exertions to discover a particular natural phenomenon, while his mind is confounded or pre-occupied with solicitous meditations! Upon whose brow, as a sort of crowning grace we presume, mingled tears and acclamations are placed in company with the wreath of victory! This we opine is what Mr. Headley fancies to be “fine writing.” This is one of his intense passages; one of his powerful paintings !
Again at page 19 he says of Washington,—“Educated only in the common schools, he was offered a midshipman's berth in the British navy when but fourteen years of age.” A captious critic might ask, “To whom does the term, fourteen years of age, apply; to Washington or to the British navy?" But without tarrying to discuss that point, we ask, what is the legitimate interpretation of this sentence, under the customary laws of composition ? Plainly this; that the advancement and attainments of the person in this unfavorable position-only “a common school”—were such as to attract the attention of those in authority, and to induce the proffer of the honorable station alluded to. As it stands, such is the meaning of this sentence, or it is incoherent. The nominative part of the sentence states a cause, and the objective gives its lateral results. But Mr. Headley means no such thing; and in the succeeding sentence he shows that he was stating several distinct, independent, and disconnected facts that Washington had been educated at a common school, and that at a certain age he had been an applicant for admission into the British navy.
And again, at page 21, we find an animated but fragmentary description of Washington's perilous mission to M. de St. Pierre, the French commandant upon the Ohio, introduced by the following feeble and fallacious statement :-"He was sent as commissioner by Governor Dinwiddie to demand of the French commander why he had invaded the king's colonies ?" At this juncture Mr. Headley's intensity seems to have failed him; and such as this, according to his version, was the silly purport, the childish scope, the petty end and aim, of this important mission. Such is the summary and even niggardly manner in which important political transactions are uniformly discussed by this artificial and