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it, and another! In striking contrast to the effort of the will; when you have them they unhurried bargeman's wife in her cabin is an are the inevitable result of your state of cultirritable Frenchman in the corner of a dili- ure, and the will can no more get rid of them gence, looking at his watch every half-hour, than it can get rid of an organic disease. and wishing that the dust and rattle were When you have a limited amount of power over, and he were in his own easy-chair at and of culture, and are not quite clear in your home. Those who really lead the intellectual own mind as to where the limits lie, it is life, and have embraced it for better and for natural on the one hand that you should fear worse, are like the bargeman's wife; but the insufficiency of what you possess, and on those who live the life from time to time only, the other that in more sanguine moments for some special purpose, wishing to be rid of you should indulge in hopes which are it as soon as that purpose is accomplished, only extravagant because your powers have are like the sufferer in the purgatory of the not yet been accurately measured. You will diligence. · Is there indeed really any true in- alternate between fear and hope, accordtellectual life at all when every hour of labor ing to the temporary predominance of sadis spoiled by a feverish eagerness to be at the dening or cheerful ideas, but both these feelend of the projected task? You cannot take ings will urge you to complete the work in a bit out of another man's life and live it, hand, that you may see your own powers without having lived the previous years that reflected in it, and measure them more exled up to it, without having also the assured actly. This is the main cause of the eagerhopes for the years that lie beyond. The at-ness of young authors, and the reason why tempt is constantly made by amateurs of all they often launch work upon the sea of pubkinds, and by men of temporary purposes, licity which is sure to go immediately to the and it always fails. The amateur says when bottom, from the unworkmanlike haste with he awakes on some fine summer morning, which it has been put together. But beyond and draws up his blind, and looks out on the this there is another cause, which is, that dewy fields: “Ah, the world of nature is beginners in literature have rarely acquired beautiful to-day: what if I were to lead the firm intellectual habits, that they do not yet life of an artist?" And after breakfast he lead the tranquil intellectual life, so that such seeks up his old box of watercolor and his a piece of work as the composition of a book blockbook, and stool, and white umbrella, keeps them in an unwholesome state of exand what not, and sallies forth, and fixes him-citement. When you feel this coming upon self on the edge of the forest or the banks of you, pray remember Mr. Galton's wise travthe amber stream. The day that he passes eller in unknown tracts, or the bargeman's there looks like an artist's day, yet it is not wife in the canal-boat. It has not been preceded by the three or four Amongst the many advantages of experithousand days which ought to have led up to ence, one of the most valuable is that we it; it is not strong in the assured sense of come to know the range of our own powers, present skill, in the calm knowledge that the and if we are wise we keep contentedly withhours will bear good fruit. So the chances in them. This relieves us from the malady are that there will be some hurry, and fret- of eagerness; we know pretty accurately befulness, and impatience, under the shadow of forehand what our work will be when it is that white parasol, and also that when the done, and therefore we are not in a hurry to day is over there will be a disappointment. see it accomplished. The coolness of old You cannot put an artist's day into the life of hands in all departments of labor is due in any one but an artist..
part to the cooling of the temperament by Our impatiences come mainly, I think, age, but it is due even more to the fulness of from an amateurish doubt about our own acquired experience, for we do not find capacity, which is accompanied by a fevered middle-aged men so cool in situations where eagerness to see the work done, because we they feel themselves incompetent. The conare tormented both by hopes and fears so duct of the most experienced painters in the long as it is in progress. We have fears that management of their work is a good example it may not turn out as it ought to do, and we of this masterly coolness, because we can see have at the same time hopes for its success. them painting in their studios whereas we Both these causes produce eagerness, and cannot so easily see or so justly estimate the deprive us of the tranquillity which distin-coolness of scientific or literary workmen. A guishes the thorough workman, and which is painter of great experience will have, usually, necessary to thoroughness in the work itself. several pictures at a time upon his easels. Now please observe that I am not advising and pass an hour upon one, or an hour upon you to set aside these hopes and fears by an the other, simple as the state of the pigment invites him without ever being tempted tol It would be an experiment worth trying, risk anything by hurrying a process. The so to order your intellectual life, that howugly preparatory daubing which irritates the ever stony and thorny your path might be, impatience of the "beginner does not dis- however difficult and arduous, it should at turb his equanimity; he has laid it with a all events never be dull; or, to express what view to the long-foreseen result, and it satis- I mean more accurately, that you yourself fies him temporarily as the right thing for should never feel the depressing influences of the time being. If you know what is the dulness during the years when they are most right thing for the time being, and always do to be dreaded. I want you to live steadily it, you are sure of the calm of the thorough and happily in your intellectual labors, even workman. All his touches, except the very to the natural close of existence, and my best last touch on each work, are touches of prep-wish for you is that you may escape a long aration, leading gradually up to his result. and miserable malady which brain-workers Ingres used to counsel his pupils to sketch very commonly suffer from when the first always, to sketch upon and within the first dreams of youth have been disappointed-a sketch till the picture came right in the end ; malady in which the intellectual desires are and this was strictly Balzac's method in lit- feeble, the intellectual hopes are few; whose erature. The literary and artistic labors of victim, if he has still resolution enough to these two men did not proceed so much learn anything, acquires without satisfaction, upon the principle of travelling as upon that and, if he has courage to create, has neither of cultivation. They took an idea' in the pride nor pleasure in his creations. rough, as a settler takes a tract from wild na- If I were to sing the praises of knowledge ture, and then they went over it repeatedly, as they have been so often sung by louder each time pushing the cultivation of it a little harps than mine, I might avoid so dreary a farther. Scott, Horace Vernet, John Phillip, theme. It is easy to pretend to believe that and many others, have worked rather on the the intellectual life is always sure to be interprinciple of travelling, passing over the esting and delightful, but the truth is that, ground once, and leaving it, never coming either from an unwise arrangement of their back again to correct the mistakes of yester- work, or from mental or physical causes day. Both methods of work require delibera- which we will investigate to some extent betion, but the latter needs it in the supreme fore we have done with the subject, many degree. All very decided workers, men who men whose occupations are reputed to be did not correct, have been at the same time amongst the most interesting have suffered very deliberate workers-rapid, in the sense terribly from ennui, and that not during å of accomplishing much in the course of the week or two at a time, but for consecutive year, or the life, but cautious and slow and years and years. observant whilst they actually labored, think. There is a class of books written with the ing out very carefully every sentence before praiseworthy intention of stimulating young they wrote it, every touch of paint before men to intellectual labor, in which this danthey laid it.
ger of the intellectual life is systematically ignored. It is assumed in these books that the satisfactions of intellectual labor are cer
tain; that although it may not always, or LETTER II.
often, result in outward and material prosTO A STUDENT IN THE FIRST ARDOR OF INTEL
perity, its inward joys will never fail. PromLECTUAL AMBITION.
ises of this kind cannot safely be made to any
one. - The'satisfactions of intellectual riches The first freshness - Why should it not be preserved |--The are not more sure than the satisfactions of dulness of the intellectual-Fictions and false promises |
material riches; the feeling of dull''indifferEnnui in work itself-Dürer's engraving of MelancholyScott about Dryden-Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth-Hum-ence which often so mysteriously'clouds 'the boldt, Cuvier, Goethe-Tennyson's "Maud "-Preventives life of the rich man in the midst of the most of ennui-Hard study for limited times-The ennui of
elaborate contrivances for his pleasure and jaded faculties.
amusement, has its exact counterpart in the I HAVE been thinking about you frequently lives of men who are rich in the best treasof late, and the burden or refrain of my ures of the mind, and who have infinite intelthoughts has been “What a blessing he has lectual resources. However brilliant yoür in that first freshness, if only he could keep ability, however brave and persistent your it!" But now I am beginning more hopeful- industry, however vast your knowledge, ly to ask myself, “Why should he not keep there is always this dreadful possibility of en
: nui. People tell you that work is a specific
against it, but many a man has worked to one doomed to labor incessantly in the steadily and earnestly, and suffered terribly feverish exercise of the imagination," and of from ennui all the time that he was working, that “sinking of spirit which follows violent although the labor was of his own choice, the mental exertion," is it not evident that his labor that he loved best, and for which Na- kindly understanding of Dryden's case came ture evidently intended him. The poets, from from the sympathy of a fellow-laborer who Solomon downwards, have all of them, so far knew by his own experience the gloomier and as I know, given utterance in one page or an- more depressing passages of the imaginative other of their writings to this feeling of life? It would be prudent perhaps to omit dreary dissatisfaction, and Albert Dürer, in the mention of Byron, because some may athis “Melencolia," illustrated it. It is plain tribute his sadness to his immorality; and if I that the robust female figure which has exer-spoke of Shelley, they might answer that he cised the ingenuity of so many commentators was “sad because he was impious;" but the is not melancholy either from weakness of truth is, that quite independently of conduct, the body or vacancy of the mind. She is and even of belief, it was scarcely possible strong and she is learned; yet, though the for natures so highly imaginative as these plumes of her wings are mighty, she sits two, and so ethereally intellectual as one of heavily and listlessly, brooding amidst the the two, to escape those clouds of gloom implements of suspended labor, on the shore which darken the intellectual life. Wordsof a waveless sea. The truth is that Dürer worth was not immoral, Wordsworth was engraved the melancholy that he himself only not unorthodox, yet he could be as ead in his too intimately knew. . This is not the dulness own sober way as Byron in the bitterness of of the ignorant and incapable, whose minds his desolation, or Shelley in his tenderest are a blank because they have no ideas, whose wailing. The three men who seem to have hands are listless for want of an occupation; been the least subject to the sadness of intelit is the sadness of the most learned, the most lectual workers were Alexander Humboldt, intelligent, the most industrious; the weary Cuvier, and Goethe. Alexander Humboldt, misery of those who are rich in the attain- so far as is known to us, lived always in a ments of culture, who have the keys of the clear and cheerful daylight; his appetite for chambers of knowledge, and wings to bear learning was both strong and regular; he emthem to the heaven of the ideal. If you coun- braced the intellectual life in his earliest mansel this “Melencolia " to work that she may hood, and lived in it with an unhesitating be merry, she will answer that she knows singleness of purpose, to the limits of extreme the uses of labor and its vanity, and the pre-old age. Cuvier was to the last a model stucise amount of profit that a man hath of all dent, of a temper at once most unflinching his labor which he taketh under the sun. All and most kind, happy in all his studies, hapthings are full of labor, she will tell you; and pier still in his unequalled facility of mental in much wisdom is much grief, and he that self-direction. Goethe, as all know, lived a increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. life of unflagging interest in each of the three
Can we escape this brooding melancholy of great branches of intellectual labor. During the great workers-has any truly intellectual the whole of his long life he was interested in person escaped it ever? The question can literature, in which he was a master; he was never be answered with perfect certainty, be- interested in science, in which he was a discause we can never quite accurately know coverer, and in art, of which he was an arthe whole truth about the life of another. I dent though not practically successful stuhave known several men of action, almost dent. His intellectual activity ceased only entirely devoid of intellectual culture, who on rare occasions of painful illness or overenjoyed an unbroken flow of animal energy, whelming affliction; he does not seem to and were clearly free from the melancholy of have asked himself ever whether knowledge Dürer; but I never intimately knew a really was worth its cost; he was always ready to cultivated person who had not suffered from pay the appointed price of toil. He had no it more or less, and the greatest sufferers infirmity of intellectual doubt; the powerful were the most conscientious thinkers and impulses from within assured him that knowlstudents. Amongst the illustrious dead, it edge was good for him, and he went to it may be very safely answered that any poet urged by an unerring instinct, as a young who has described it has written from his salmon bred in the slime of a river seeks own experience-a transient experience it strength in the infinite sea. And yet, being may be, yet his own. When Walter Scott, a poet and a man of strong passions, Goethe à-propos of Dryden, spoke of “the appar- did not altogether escape the green-sickness ently causeless fluctuation of spirits incident, which afflicts the imaginative temperament, or he could never have written “Werther;” | Let me recommend certain precautions which but he cured himself very soon, and the au- taken together are likely to keep you safe. thor of Werther" had no indulgence for Care for the physical health in the first place, Wertherism-indeed we are told that he for if there is a morbid mind the bodily organs grew ashamed of having written the book are not doing their work as they ought to do. which inoculated the younger minds of Eu- Next, for the mind itself, I would heartily rope with that miserable disease. In our recommend hard study, really hard study, own time an illustrious poet has given in taken very regularly but in very moderate **Maud" a very perfect study of a young quantity. The effect of it on the mind is as mind in a morbid condition, a mind having bracing as that of cold water on the body, indeed the student-temper, but of a bad kind, but as you ought not to remain too long in that which comes not from the genuine love the cold bath, so it is dangerous to study hard of study, but from sulky rage against the more than a short time every day. Do some world.
work that is very difficult (such as reading "Thanks, for the fiend best knows whether woman or man some language that you have to puzzle out à be the worse
coups de dictionnaire) two hours a day reguI will bury myself in my books, and the Devil may pipe to his
o his larly, to brace the fighting power of the inown."
tellect, but let the rest of the day's work be This kind of self-burial in one's library does
easier. Acquire especially, if you possibly not come from the love of literature. The
can, the enviable faculty of getting entirely recluse will not speak to his neighbor, yet
rid of your work in the intervals of it, and of needs human intercourse of some kind, and
taking a hearty interest in common things, seeks it in reading, urged by an inward
in a garden, or stable, or dog-kennel, or necessity. He feels no gratitude towards the
farm. If the work pursues you-if what is winners of knowledge; his morbid ill-nature
called unconscious cerebration, which ought depreciates the intellectual laborers:
to go forward without your knowing it, be* The man of science himself is fonder of glory and vain;
comes conscious cerebration, and bothers An eye well-practised in nature, a spirit bounded and poor."
you, then you have been working beyond What is the life such a spirit will choose
your cerebral strength, and you are not safe. for itself? Despising alike the ignorant and
An organization which was intended by the learned, the acuteness of the cultivated | Nature for the intellectual life cannot be and the simplicity of the poor, in what form healthy and happy without a certain degree of activity or inaction will he seek what all of intellectual activity. Natures like those of men need, the harmony of a life well tuned?
Humboldt and Goethe need immense labors * Be mine a philosopher's life in the quiet woodland ways; for their own felicity, smaller powers need less Where, it I cannot be gay, let a passionless peace be my lot." extensive labor. To all of us who have intel
There are many different morbid states of lectual needs there is a certain supply of work the mind, and this of the hero of “Maud " is necessary to perfect health. If we do less, we only one of them, but it is the commonest are in danger of that ennui which comes from amongst intellectual or semi-intellectual want of intellectual exercise; if we do more, young men. See how he has a little fit of we may suffer from that other ennui which is momentary enthusiasm (all he is capable of) due to the weariness of the jaded faculties, about a shell that suddenly and accidentally and this is the more terrible of the two. attracts his attention. How true to the morbid nature is that incident! Unable to pursue any large and systematic observation, the
LETTER III. diseased mind is attracted to things suddenly and accidentally, sees them out of all propor- TO AN INTELLECTUAL MAN WHO DESIRED AN tion, and then falls into the inevitable fit of
OUTLET FOR HIS ENERGIES. scornful peevishness. “What is it? A learned man
Dissatisfaction of the intellectual when they have not an ex. Could give it a clumsy name:
tensive influence-A consideration suggested to the author Let him name it who can."
by Mr. Matthew Arnold-Each individual mind a portion
of the national mind, which must rise or decline with the The question which concerns the world is, minds of which it is composed--Influence of a townsman how this condition of the mind may be
in his town-Household influence-Charities and conde
scendences of the highly cultivated-A suggestion of M. avoided. The cure Mr. Tennyson suggested
Taine-Conversation with inferiors-How to make it inwas war; but wars, though more frequent to teresting-That we ought to be satisfied with humble rethan is desirable, are not to be, had always. sults and small successes. And in your case, my friend, it is happily THERE is a very marked tendency amongst not a cure but a preventive that is needed. I persons of culture to feel dissatisfied with
themselves and their success in life when they your culture is a gain to England, whether do not exercise some direct and visible in England counts you amongst her eminent fluence over a considerable portion of the pub- sons, or leaves you forever obscure. Is it lic. To put the case in a more concrete form, not a noble spectacle, a spectacle well worthy it may be affirmed that if an intellectual of a highly civilized country, when a private young man does not exercise influence by lit-citizen, with an admirable combination of erature, or by oratory, or by one of the most patriotism and self-respect, says to himself as elevated forms of art, he is apt to think that he labors, “I know that in a country so great his culture and intelligence are lost upon the as England, where there are so many able world, and either to blame himself for being men, all that I do can count for very little in what he considers a failure, or else (and this public estimation, yet I will endeavor to store is more common) to find fault with the world my mind with knowledge and make my judgin general for not giving him a proper chance ment sure, in order that the national mind of of making his abilities tell. The facilities for England, of which my mind is a minute fracobtaining culture are now so many and great, tion, may be enlightened by so much, be it and within the reach of so many well-to-do never so little"? I think the same noble feel. people, that hundreds of persons become really ing might animate a citizen with reference to very clever in various ways who would have his native town; I think a good townsman remained utterly uncultivated had they lived might say to himself, “Our folks are not in any previous century. A few of these dis- much given to the cultivation of their minds, tinguish themselves in literature and other and they need a few to set them an example. pursuits which bring notoriety to the success- I will be one of those few. I will work and ful, but by far the greater number have to re-think, in order that our town may not get main in positions of obscurity, often being into a state of perfect intellectual stagnation." clearly conscious that they have abilities and But if the nation or the city were too vast to knowledge not much, if at all, inferior to the call forth any noble feeling of this kind, surely abilities and knowledge of some who have the family is little enough and near enough. achieved distinction. The position of a clever Might not a man say, “I will go through a man who remains obscure is, if he has ambi- good deal of intellectual drudgery in order tion, rather trying to the moral fibre, but that my wife and children may unconsciously there are certain considerations which might get the benefit of it; I will learn facts for them help to give a direction to his energy and so that they may be accurate, and get ideas for procure him a sure relief, which reputation them that they may share with me a more too frequently fails to provide.
elevated mental state; I will do something The first consideration is one which was of towards raising the tone of the whole house fered to me many years ago by Mr. Matthew hold”? Arnold, and which I can give, though from The practical difficulty in all projects of memory, very nearly in his own words. The this kind is that the household does not care multiplicity of things which make claim to to be intellectually elevated, and opposes the the attention of the public is in these days resistance of gravitation. The household has such that it requires either uncommon its natural intellectual level, and finds it as strength of will or else the force of peculiar inevitably as water that is free. Cultivated circumstances to make men follow any seri- men are surrounded in their homes by a group ous study to good result, and the great ma- of persons, wife, children, servants, who, in jority content themselves with the general their intercourse with one another, create the enlightenment of the epoch, which they get household tone. What is a single individual from newspapers and reviews. Hence the ef- with his books against these combined and forts of the intellectual produce little effect, active influences? Is he to go and preach the and it requires either extraordinary talent or gospel of the intellect in the kitchen? Wil extraordinary fanaticism to awaken the seri- he venture to present intellectual conclusion ous interest of any considerable number of in the drawing-room? The kitchen has a ton readers. Yet, in spite of these discourage- of its own which all our efforts cannot elevate ments, we ought to remember that our labors, and the drawing-room has its own atmos if not applauded by others, may be of infinite phere, an atmosphero unfavorable to sever value to ourselves, and also that beyond this and manly thinking. You cannot make cook gain to the individual, his culture is a gain to intellectual, and you must not be didacti the nation, whether the nation formally rec-with ladies. Intellectual men always fee ognizes it or not. For the intellectual life of this difficulty, and most commonly keep the a nation is the sum of the lives of all intel intellect very much to themselves, when the lectual people belor.ging to it, and in this sense are at home. If they have not an outlet els