페이지 이미지

cordiality of the party. The relations always maintained, in spite of wide and outspoken differences of opinion, between Scott and Jeffrey did credit to both, bore witness to the manliness of their characters, and afforded an example unhappily too rarely imitated by eminent men who in later times have held the position of criticised and critic.

But, in real truth, Walter Scott had much reason to view with complacency the article which had so greatly irritated the blindest of his worshippers. Just as Wilkes never was a Wilkite, so we may be sure that Scott's self-appreciation was not of that order which demands universal adulation. Jeffrey was essentially a modern. Busy with his profession, busy with his political reforms, busy with reading all the new books as they came out, acquainting himself with every new idea, thinking of the present and looking hopefully to the future, he could not but be a contrast to Scott deep in the romanticism and chivalry of the past, and viewing with despondency and dread the democratic changes which the years would bring. To the critic it seemed that to write a modern romance of chivalry was to mistake the spirit of the age-to be much • such a fantasy as to build a modern abbey or an English

pagoda.' This, then, was the fundamental fault of poems such as Marmion' or "The Lay. In the former Jeffrey, moreover, strangely discovered a neglect of Scottish feelings, a deadness to the sense of national patriotism ! But he allowed to Marmion' great merits and various kinds of 'merit.' As to the account of Flodden Field, the Review declares that certainly of all the poetical battles which . have been fought from the days of Homer to those of Mr.

Southey, there is none in our opinion at all comparable for • interest and animation-for breadth of drawing and mag

nificence of effort—with this of Mr. Scott. The description is quoted at length, and the critic continues: this powerful poetry is superior in our apprehension to all that this author has hitherto published, and with a few faults of diction, equal to anything that has ever been written upon similar subjects.

The natural effect of the rivalry of the Quarterly Re'view' was to intensify the party spirit of the Edinburgh.' In the first half-dozen years of the 'Edinburgh,' though the contributors were nearly all Whigs, certainly many of the articles, even some of those bearing directly upon politics, though of a liberalising tendency, had disclosed but little partisanship, in the narrow sense of the word. Henceforth the division was complete. Whigs turned to the 'Edinburgh'

Over, stream the sense great meritodden Fiel battles orhinder. and Jeffrey 15 of the Ed interary, artistic,h every int

and Jeffrey, Tories to the Quarterly' and Gifford. During the monopoly of the 'Edinburgh,' eminent men, desirous of having their say on the literary, artistic, or scientific topics of the time, in an organ certain to reach every intellectual circle of readers, had, of necessity, recourse to its pages. If the politics of that journal were distasteful to them, contributors and readers were constrained to swallow them nevertheless. But a change had now come. The two great Reviews had become standard-bearers of the two great political parties; and whether we consider the political or literary interest of the general public, it must be admitted that there was ample room for both. The rise of the new journal thus marks an important era in the life of the · Edinburgh Review.

The circulation of the older Review, far from being checked, rapidly increased. In 1814 over 12,000 copies per quarter were printed; the numbers rising to more than 13,500 in the years 1817 and 1818, the highest point ever attained.

Jeffrey had already accomplished, and more than accomplished, his purpose. His aspiration was to establish a critical authority which should be at once honest, enlightened, and independent. Again and again in his letters he pours contempt on the kind of literary criticism which had hitherto prevailed. It was generally to the last degree incompetent, ignorant, and dull; and it was for the most part at the command of booksellers who wished simply to puff their own wares. His organ prided itself from the beginning on its inaccessibility to the influence of the trade. It would serve the public interest, and the public interest alone ; and on many occasions it showed an almost Roman superiority to claims due to the personal ties of friendship or to considerations of business relationship. The fact that Walter Scott was one of Jeffrey's best friends, that “The Lay' and 'Marmion' were published by Longmans and Constable, the publishers of the Edinburgh, did not deflect by a hair's breadth the critical judgement of the Review. Men like Walter Scott were big enough to understand this, and to give Jeffrey credit for it even when they disagreed with his judgement and winced under his criticism. Thus, on the whole, happy relations were preserved with old friends; and as time went on intimate friendship and mutual respect grew up even between those who had first come into contact through the difficult relation of author and critic.

Perhaps one of the most curious experiences of this kind arose out of Jeffrey's review of Moore's poetry in 1806. The Irishman challenged the critic, who, seconded by Francis Horner, met the indignant author at Chalk Farm; but the fight was prevented by the myrmidons of Bow Street, who conveyed both parties before the magistrate, by whom they were promptly bound over to keep the peace. Byron has made the meeting famous in lines which suggest, without any foundation, that no real mischief was intended. Perhaps some colour was given to the suggestion by the fact that at the police station no bullet was found in Jeffrey's pistol, and that he and Moore made friends almost before they had left the battlefield. The Scotchman explained that his criticism only meant that the tendency of Moore's poetry was immoral, and conveyed no reflection on the author's private character, about which alone the Irishman was solicitous. The Editor in this strange way won not only a friend but a contributor. Moore, in later days, wrote for the Review, and became the honoured guest of its Editor at Craig Crook.

It is very intelligible that men such as Jeffrey and his associates—men gifted with great literary acumen, but who were actively engaged in the different professions and pursuits of life-should have felt an exaggerated contempt for those who seemed to them to be penmen and nothing else. The notion that some small literary coterie, holding itself aloof from the active world, was to lay down the laws which regulated poetry and taste, and to assume airs of superiority even towards the acknowledged great masters of the English language, drove them to distraction. They had themselves perhaps too little leisure to appreciate contemplative poetry at its true value. That the Lakers' were a puling and

self-admiring race' was their honest if prejudiced opinion in 1816,* as it had been when, fourteen years earlier, in the very first number of the Review, Southey and his school had been called up for judgement.

It was not only between the critics and the criticised that trouble arose in the early days of the Review. It had become, of course, a very valuable property, and disputes soon sprang up between rival claimants to the right of publishing it in London. Early in 1806 Constable had proposed to transfer the entire London publication to Murray. Longmans, however, had the law on their side, and, on the strength of their previous agreement with Constable, they

* Article on “Childe Harold,' December, 1816.

obtained an injunction to restrain any other publisher in London from selling the “Edinburgh Review' without their consent. Whatever may have been the merits of the dispute, it was put an end to the following year by Longmans selling their whole property in the title and future publication of the Review for 1,0001. Accordingly Murray became the proprietor of the London rights in the Review, and under his auspices No. 21 (Oct. 1807) was brought out. At this time the London circulation was 3,500 a quarter; and it seems that about five-sevenths of the whole issue went to London. Murray and Constable, however, did not long work together, and in 1808 the latter established a London house for the sale of the Review, withdrawing it entirely from Murray; and between the two considerable coolness resulted. It was in the year that the Review bore the name of John Murray as publisher on the title-page that Jeffrey's slashing article on Wordsworth's poetry, and the review of "Marmion' already noticed, made their appearance. In October, 1814, Longmans repurchased from Constable, for 4,5001., their former rights in the Reviewrights which they had relinquished to him seven years before for 1,0001. In 1826 came the great failure of Constable, from whose trustee Longmans took over, at a valuation, the whole interest in the Review, which has from that day to this been their exclusive property. From 1826 to 1891 the name of Adam Black, or of Adam and Charles Black, appeared along with that of Longmans on the titlepage as agents for the distribution of the Review in Edinburgh, after which year A. and C. Black removed their business to London.

The year 1814, which brought back the London business of the Review to its original publishers, was in many ways an important year in its history. Indeed, the Peace may be said to mark another stage in its career. The war had absorbed men's thoughts, largely to the exclusion of home politics; but the time was once more approaching when divergent views of domestic interest and civil government were to divide into hostile factions not unevenly balanced the political forces of the kingdom. In November of that year appeared Jeffrey's famous article on Wordsworth's 'Excur

sion,' beginning This will never do'; and in the same number was his review of Waverley,' concluding with words which indicate that to him, at least, the great mystery was no mystery at all. If this be, indeed, the work,' so ends the article, of an author hitherto unknown, Mr. Scott would


do well to look to his laurels, and to rouse himself for a • sturdier competition than any he has yet had to encounter.'

A few months later, on Napoleon's escape from Elba, the war was renewed. The hundred days' culminating in Waterloo put an end to the Napoleonic era, and Great Britain turned again into the paths of peace, which she continued to follow for the space of forty years. Tbe short but trying period of renewed war proved that Jeffrey was able to preserve his independent standpoint against the pressure of extravagant political partisanship no less than against that of personal friendship or trade interest. To us looking back upon those times it seems strange, indeed, that statesmen so patriotic, and in many respects so farseeing, as Lord Grey and Francis Horner should have denounced the determination of the British Government in 1815 to have recourse to arms. Napoleon at the head of the armies of France could not be other than an imminent menace to the liberties of Europe.

Jeffrey, we have seen, had disliked the French war in its origin. No one, therefore, more thankfully welcomed the peace. It would be strange, indeed,' he wrote in the Review in May, 1814'if pages dedicated like ours to topics of present interest should be ushered into the world at such a moment as this, without some stamp of that common joy and overwhelming emotion with which the wonderful events of the past three months are still filling all the regions of the earth. In such a situation it must be difficult for any one who has the means of being heard to refrain from giving utterance to his sentiments. But to us, whom it has assured, for the first time, of the entire sympathy of our countrymen, the temptation, we own, is irresistible. . .. The peace had come upon the world like the balmy air and flushing verdure of a late spring after the dreary chill of a long and interminable winter; and the refreshing sweetness with which it has visited the earth, feels like Elysium to those who have just escaped from the driving tempests it has banished.'

Was our country, after only ten months' rest, on Napoleon's escape from Elba, to be plunged once more into war ? Jeffrey hated war; but neither his love of peace nor the intense party zeal of his friends sufficed to destroy his power of calmly judging the facts. Only a week before Waterloo he writes to his friend, Francis Horner, that though the latter may “think it all damnable heresy,' he feels himself that there is more danger to freedom from the triumph of Napoleon than from the resurrection of the Bourbons. In short, on the main question, the Ministry, Tory though it

« 이전계속 »