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this is antiquated. For, to begin with, it is no- But Robert Hall had not got to the bottom thing of the kind; though it is much more shame- or nearly to the bottom of his own mind in this faced in its policy than it used to be. When matter. What he felt—what he thought was so writers such as Charles Kingsley, Miss Yonge, mischievous (and what, unless he had altered his and George MacDonald have written novels, belief, really was mischievous to him) was not so which have been read and relished by millions much the absence of any element of positive of good and pure souls within distinctly sectarian Christianity, as the diffused, interpenetrating, uninclosures—when such books awaken all but uni- conquerable delight of the novelist in life as it is, versal shouts of delight and gratitude-when that and the presence of moral elements for which is the case, common love of approbation (which there was no room under shelter of his beliefsis usually very strong in a certain order of mind) for example, love, as understood among us of the makes certain people hold their tongues. They Western nations—a thing of which there is not do not want to be laughed at, that is all--but a germ in the Semitic mind, or a hint in the Old their (more or less) secret opinions remain un- and New Testament. Now, it was the more or altered; the judgment condemning works of fic- less impassioned, but always direct, delight in tion is held as extensively as ever among the life and this world, without reference to any serious classes now incriminated; and-here we positive Christian institute or dogma, which was have prepared a surprise for some—we will do at the bottom of it all, and spoiled Mr. Hall's them more justice than they, by their shame- religious life for weeks: and it is this delight faced reticence, do themselves, and will boldly which is the essential condition of all good poerepeat that if the logic of their creed is the same try or fiction. Write fiction on any other plan, their condemnation of fiction ought to stand. and nobody will read it. The literary artist in Robert Hall has left it on record that no writ- this kind turns over the pages of what Mr. Mereings ever did him so much harm as those of dith calls the “Book of Earth"_which is also, Maria Edgeworth: *
as he says, the "Book of Egoism”—and he finds In point of tendency, I should class Miss Edge. And poor Mr. Hall—his tortured organs crammed
it full, not only of “wisdom," but of delight. worth's writings among the most irreligious I ever read. Not from any desire she evinces to do mis. with sharp-pointed calculi—found that even as chief, or to unsettle the mind, like some of the insid- little as he got of it in Miss Edgeworth (who is, ious infidels of the last century; not so much from however, full of animal spirits), took the savor any direct attack she makes upon religion, as from out of his closet and pulpit exercises for “weeks.” a universal and studied omission of the subject. In Now, here we impinge, end on, upon one of her writings a very high strain of morality is assumed. the most interesting questions, and from its charshe delineates the most virtuous characters, and rep- acter necessarily the foremost of the questions resents them in the most affecting circumstances of suggested by the relation of the New Fiction to life-in sickness, in distress, even in the immediate the moral and spiritual culture of the age. It prospect of eternity, and finally sends them off the would recur again and again in dealing with stage with their virtue unsullied—and all this with novelists like Kingsley, Thackeray, and George out the remotest allusion to Christianity, the only Eliot, not to mention others. The startling point true religion. Thus, she does not attack religion, in the case is that so much of our fiction has lost or inveigh against it, but makes it appear unneces- the healthy simplicity of Scott and his school, sary, by exhibiting perfect virtue without it. No and is as much occupied, though in a subauditur, works ever produced so bad an effect on my own with the skeleton in the cupboard of daily life as mind as hers. I did not expect any irreligion there; I was off my guard, their moral character beguiled even a Robert Hall could be with “the corrupme, I read volume after volume with eagerness, and tion of the human heart," and the “miseries of the evil effect of them I experienced for weeks.
the perishing creature.”
It is the fashion to try to trace things to reNow, here we have the whole case in little mote origins, and show more or less plausibly the whole case, we mean, as to one of its most how complex products have been evolved from serious elements. Robert Hall was bound by beginnings held for simple — we say held for his creed (which was, however, liberal) to find simple, because the egg is in reality as complex fiction objectionable unless it was written with a
as the chick; and, as Dogberry said, “it will go certain dominating purpose. And so are those
near to be thought so " before long. What, who, nowadays, hold a creed resembling his. however, if we follow the fashion, may we supThey may and do dodge the obligation ; they pose to have been the beginning of deliberately can not destroy it. The whole “ situation” in composed fiction among human beings? Rethis particular is thoroughly insincere.
serving that point for future consideration, we *“Life and Writings of Robert Hall, M. A.," 6 vols., may pause upon the one which has been already
raised, because it is, in the anatomy of the sub
vol. i., p. 174.
ject, vital. If a man maintains not only that man heaven of divine luster, and utterly alien in conis imperfect, but that he is corrupt and, without ception to anything to be found in the Fathers or supernatural aid connecting itself with certain the Apostles. Governor Winthrop's wife writes beliefs, incapable of good, then he must feel that to her husband, “I love thee, first, because thou to him the fountains of art, in poetry, fiction, or lovest Christ”; but the good man would have otherwise, are sealed. But, whatever else may been very much hurt if he had believed her, be said of the essential logic of such an opinion This, I repeat, is the everlasting difficulty as to
I as that, it is plain that poetry and fiction have in the poetic, or thoroughly “human" novel, reall ages set themselves in battle array against it, garded from what we have (without committing and that the victory seems more and more to any one) agreed to call the “ evangelical ” point of lean to their side. Now, as we have already view. A novel may contain no vice, or other noticed, the seit-geist does not argue—it is in wrong-doing, or it may treat the wrong-doing the air, and it conquers by inconsistencies. How- with the most orthodox severity, and yet the ever, we can not now follow up this, or trace the work may be obnoxious to criticism of the kind history of story-telling, so far as we know it, from now contemplated. Hawthorne's “Scarlet LetJotham's parable down to Mr. George Meredith's ter" is a case in point. True, Hawthome makes "Book of Egoism."
it plain here and there that he did not understand Most, if not all, of the critics of the old-fash- Puritanism, after all; but Cotton Mather himself, ioned school who have condemned novels and or a grimmer than he, might be satisfied with the romances have been anxious to explain that they climax-the scene in which the minister dies on do not extend their condemnation to books like the scaffold. Nevertheless, the predominant inthe “ Pilgrim's Progress,” or stories carefully Auence of the story is naturalistic, and it does not written in order to inculcate religious truths, or require a very subtile intellect to gather doubtmoral truths set in organic relation to religious ful oracles from it. External nature and human truths. It is true they have always been very nature are both handled with the sympathetic jealous in admitting stories of actual life to any touch of the artist, not with that of the moralist. position of even qualified honor, because of the The Rev. Mr. Wilson would have turned sourly difficulty of introducing what they would call the away from the last chapter, in which it is sugsal evangelicum into such stories, and also be gested that “a new truth” will some day be cause to tell a story of natural human feeling is, “revealed," in order to place certain matters on from their point of view, slippery work—the “in- a more satisfactory footing. “ New truth? new terest” being apt to slide, under the workman's truth? Why, what new truth can there be in very eye, into paths held to be dangerous. But, such a case?" he would have said. “My unof course, it would never do to condemn simple learned and unregenerate brother, you have given parables, or even complicated parables, or narra- your mind too much to ballads and play-books. tives as inartificial and as little discursive as those Learn the lesson of self-abasement, and be not of Joseph and his brethren, or Job. This would wise above that which is written." land then in an obvious difficulty. The great The exact process by which the literature of crux with them is always the passion of love any given age, or any given branch of literature between man and woman. In the first place, assumes a new color is sometimes very obscure, paint it as he will, the artist is sure to get too but now and then it is amusingly obvious. Many much color on the canvas—for their taste. In reasons have been assigned for Queen Elizabeth's the second place, they are vaguely influenced by remaining unmarried. If one of them were proved the fact already mentioned that love, as under- to be true (which is not possible), then it would stood among the Westerns, is not to be found in follow that very much of the poetic and romanthe Bible. When the description of love is car- tic literature of her age and Milton's received a ried to the height which is necessary to make it peculiar tinge from facts which had no more to interesting in itself, there are, in the eye of these do with literature or morals than the shape of critics, two evils. The first they see clearly and Cleopatra's nose. As it happens, we can trace constantly point out-namely, that “ the perish- the fact that in our own time the religious classes ing creature" occupies too large a space in the (with large exceptions) read novels extensively heart. The second they do not see clearly, but and without scruple to immediate causes which they feel it-and they flinch from pictures of life lie upon the surface. We are not now taking the which attribute so much exalting power to an larger or deeper view of the matter—we are not "earthly" passion; the good woman in the Book going to pause upon the question of the influence of Proverbs, or a subordinated figure like the of Sir Walter Scott and Miss Austen in breaking wife sketched by St. Paul, does not show very fresh ground among that large class of serious congruously with woman as the inspirer and re- readers who take what might be roughly described generator of the man ; a being seen in a seventh as the ordinary old-fashioned Church of England view of religion, nor upon the influence in foster- In this scale I have left out Mrs. Gaskell, but ing latent naturalistic tendencies which was exer- her influence in making novels acceptable readcised by the revival of the old ballad literature: ing in certain circles has been incalculable. It the writings of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and was not on account of any poetic naturalism that the cultivation of German. The last, however, her Ruth" was ever shut out. But Mrs. Gashas had more to do with it than would at first kell was one of three very notable novelists, sight be supposed. The childlike poetic natural- whose early training lay within Puritan or quasiism of German romance and poetry stole upon Puritan boundaries. The other two are Mrs. the mind before there was time to think how Beecher Stowe and George Eliot. Both these naturalism in art stood related to hard-and-fast writers had the command of a certain dialect literalism of creed—and the waters were out be- (not to say more) which gave them the entry into fore any one knew it. The direct influence of “evangelical" circles at once. There are thoustories like Fouqué's and ballads like Uhland's sands of such circles where “Mr. Gilfil's Love was confined, of course, to a few minds. But story,” and much more “Adam Bede," would these were minds that could be swiftly kindled, meet a doubtful welcome; but none where “Unand that were sure to pass on the torch. How- cle Tom's Cabin” or “The Minister's Wooing" ever, to pass from such generalities, it may plausi- would not take the readers by storm. It is inbly be said that writers like Miss Yonge, Charles teresting, by the way, to note the prominence Kingsley, and Dinah Mulock (Mrs. Craik), were which the question of poetic naturalism and Puthe foremost among those who led the way to ritanism assumes in Mrs. Stowe's earlier novthe new state of things. So far as we know, Mr. els. Her own mind was evidently much “exerKingsley was the only one who avowedly took cised " upon it. up naturalistic-poetic ground as land lying within The end of it is that, nowadays, nearly everythe territory of any Biblical creed. He did this body reads a story of some kind. Nearly all, with great ardor, and got himself into trouble by if not all, the avowedly religious periodicals, in it; but he was within his commission as a dis- which a story is at all possible, take care to have ciple of Mr. Maurice, whatever may be thought one running from number to number. True, the of his policy or his arguments. “It may seem "human interest" in these tales is never strong, paradoxical, yet is hardly hazardous, to say that nor is the humor; and the range of allusions is the Maurice theology owes its power not less to narrow. In other words, we find the old antagoits indulgence, than to its correction, of the pan- nism still present-when we look closely. But theistic tendency of the age. It answers the de- the general reader does not look closely, and the mand of every ideal philosophy and every poetic very thinnest of such narratives approximates soul for an indwelling divine presence, living and more closely to the character of the novel proper acting in all the beauty of the world and the
good than, say, Legh Richmond's “ Dairyman's Daughof human hearts." These sentences of Dr. Mar- ter,” or Hannah More's “Celebs in Search of a tineau's are aimed at the influence of the Maurice Wife.” dogma upon the practical religious “benevo- It will probably be said that the extended aclence" of the age, but they apply with even ceptance of the novel in our own day is largely more obvious weight to the question of the rela- due to the fact that fiction is no longer the indetion between poetic literature and the old stiff cent thing it once was. But this, so far as it is orthodoxy. And here, once more, the minds im- true, refers us back to the larger question of popregnated by Maurice and his school were them- etic naturalism as against dogmatic literalism; selves propagators, and what one man like Dr. for the purification of fiction has gone on handGeorge MacDonald acquired he passed on to in-hand with certain wide improvements and thousands. We do not pretend to determine to greater freedom of construction as to what may what extent, if any, Dr. MacDonald was at any be good to read. We might here recall the outtime indebted to the elder prophet; but the reader cry made in certain circles about “ Jane Eyre,” may find in the former's poem of “ The Disciple" and later about “Ruth.” But it is undoubtedly a fragmentary statement of the case as we have true that within the boundaries of literature propput it, and Dr. MacDonald's solution. Now, Dr. er there is little fiction that is offensive. Indeed, MacDonald, like Kingsley, has written no novel too much stress—or at least stress of the wrong without distinctly Christian assumptions. But to kind-has been laid upon the presence in recent a reader within the Christian precincts there is literature of what might be called the luxuriousno great harshness in the transition from, say, wanton novel. The importance of this product
Robert Falconer” to a story by Mrs. Oliphant; has been overrated, and certainly its real signififrom Mrs. Oliphant it is easy to pass to Mr. Trol- cance has not been shown or hinted at. The lope; and from him to Mr. Blackmore or Mr. exaggeration in the treatment of it is easily Charles Reade.
accounted for. There is a considerable class
of leading - article writers and reviewers who sarily either Christian or anti-Christian. But it are, naturally enough, on the lookout for exciting is certain that Christian dogmatists of various topics, and fond of exhibiting their parts of types have carried the dislike to poetic naturalism speech. It is from these gentlemen that we get of all kinds to lengths which leave one in no doubt those amazingly indignant criticisms of a certain as to the logic of the dislike. To take a small class of novels, which ring so false. The object instance : About twenty - four years ago Dr. with which the articles are produced is, in too Campbell—a great malleus hæreticorum in his many cases, worse than that with which the day—led a fierce attack upon Mr. Lynch's “ Rivstories are written. The latter are often the ulet," a little book of sacred poems, whose one work of inexperienced writers, women in particu- fault, in the eyes of those who disliked it, was its lar, who have got into a fume about they know way of fusing religious faith and the sentiment not what, and who really mean no harm. The of natural beauty with the intermediate simply critics, on the other hand, know very well what human affections. Dr. Campbell was justly conthey are about; their virtuous indignation is ar- demned for his virulence, but he knew what he tificial lather ; their object is to produce a “spi- was about when he proclaimed to the like-mindcy” paper, which, under cover of zeal for purity, ed, “Either this book is all wrong, or some of shall be full of impure suggestion. So much for our dogmatic bases must be revised.” I do not one class of journalists who make capital out of remember whether Dr. Campbell had an organ such novels. But there is another and a still at his Tabernacle—but, of course, the question larger class, made up of half-sincere social crit- goes to music (nay, to singing) in public worship, ics, usually young. These gentlemen (for lady to pictures everywhere, and so on, and on. A reviewers seldom get into an indecorous passion “spiritual” man of a certain school, who hapof decorum) are generally on the right side, so pens to be acutely sensitive to music, will tell far as intention goes, but they make mountains you, and tell you truly, that he finds the special out of molehills. When you go to the poor, emotive agitation caused by music unfavorable abused novel itself you find, probably, that the to “spirituality.” Similarly with novels, and roharm in it is of a kind or a size which would mances, and poetry. These all arouse more imnever have struck anybody who was not in want pulse than the dogma or received law of the mind of “a cat to tear-this is Ercles' vein.” We can control, or is, at least in most cases, likely to have, in fact, but very little fiction which is, in control. So that the observance of certain rules the high and true sense, immoral. There are of conduct is felt to be endangered, and at all numerous hints of social heresy, and some nib- events the whole nature is for a time in a tumult. bling at things which would be better left alone. An outsider may say: “That is your own fault; This seems inevitable in a state of society in why do you not put things in their places, suborwhich clever young women abound, marriage is dinate what should be subordinated, and work difficult, and luxury great. One result of these all the results into your higher life?” Such an facts-taken with the vivacity of the modern appeal, however, comes practically to nothing; style of living, and the throwing open of nearly for you can not give eyes to the blind or ears to all libraries to all comers—is naturally that men the deaf. and women, but especially women of imperfect But this is not the whole of the case. We experience, should be imaginatively stretching naturally attach something of sacred force and out their hands toward closed doors of mature right divine to all spontaneous emotion of the experience, and should make a sad muddle of kind which is said to “carry us out of ourselves." their work. But of wicked intention in such The "spiritually-minded” objector would be the novelists there is small evidence.
last to deny that spontaneity is of the essence of The matter, however, goes deeper than what some kinds of sacredness-and, to put it roughwould be generally recognized as immorality, ly, he is jealous of competing spontaneities. He and a widespread but quiet and unsuspected finds they surge upward from the sensations conflict is going on, as we have already said, be- caused by music, novels, romances, plays, etc., tween poetic naturalism in general and the spirit and he attributes them to—the devil. They are or the belief which would cast it out as a thing a sort of demonism. He puts them all from him unholy or unprofitable. The objection to novels with averted head, attributing them to the great and romances, poems and plays (we use only spontaneous source of evil. That phraseology is general phrases), has not been confined strictly to not so common now as it used to be-we can Christian critics of a certain class. It is to be trace it through the middle ages back to the Fatraced in minds of a certain dogmatic order eve- thers, and it belonged to the “ Manicheanism,” rywhere and in various ages. There is something against which Kingsley made such incessant war. like it, for example, in Plato, and it has its last That that way of meeting the case is wholly canroots in a philosophy of life which is not neces- did is not in my brief to affirm. But, as we have
seen, the matter is in course of settlement by the the far-reaching æsthetic revival, and some other usual non-argumentative methods. Novels go topics, which would at the first glance appear uteverywhere, more or less. The recent revivals terly alien. There are great changes in the air, of the old-fashioned "evangelicalism” are against and in these the novel will play a large and even them, but the victory will remain with the novel- increasing part. What will be the probable ist. He is largely aided by the usual accommo- course of events in this respect is a question dated phraseology of the pulpit and the religious which will connect itself with certain typical stopress. All this stands connected with the spread ries of the last decade, and may, perhaps, be of scientific knowledge, the increase of luxury, considered in another article.
HENRY HOLBEACH (The Contemporary Review).
MIDDLE-CLASS DOMESTIC LIFE IN SPAIN.
Spain, “Spanische's für die Gebildetewelt,” rough indeed; and with a vengeance! Said by Von Alban Stotz, the following remarkable Pepita, my nursemaid, to me to-night, her sweet passage occurs. Speaking of the Spanish De- face rippling over with a naïve smile, “ Dios me partment in the first exhibition in 1851, he says: libre de ca sarse con un hombre de campo ! " i. e., “I beheld only three things: a sword; a bishop's “God preserve me from ever being wedded to a staff; and a very beautiful guitar.”
campo-man, or field-laborer!”—and an old fishI have never read an observation more pithy, erman, smoking his coarse paper cigarette in my or, when well considered, more descriptive, in a den, looked up and said: few words, of the Spanish national character ; “Ya lo creo, Pepita : una gente que tiene there is, save in Cataluña—and the Cataluñans poca civilizacion ;”i. e., “I believe you, Pepita : say they are not Spaniards !—very little solid in- they are a set of men who can boast of very litdustry in Spain, but there is an old-world chiv- tle civilization.” alry, well-betokened by the sword above men- It is not of the domestic life of these wild tioned; a mediæval state of religion ; and a sons of toil that I am about to speak in the love of amusement, well-betokened by the tin- present chapter, but of the life of a different kling guitar.
class, namely, the middle class of Spain, among Many writers, notably Ford and Borrow, have which I place the priest, the well-to-do tradeswritten, and written well and truthfully, upon the man, the doctor, the lawyer, the merchant, and, always interesting and picturesque peasant class- in a word, the town or country gentleman. No es of Spain. Those mahogany-faced sons of the English pen has ever yet portrayed the life of wild, gray, spreading campo, or of the blue, ro- these persons—their manners, their mode of life, mantic sierra, semi-gypsy, semi-savage, wholly houses, food, income, religion, ideas, and nuruneducated, nobly chivalrous, children of Nature, series. whom the railway traveler, as he rattles through In this chapter I entirely disclaim speaking of the wastes of Andalucia or the pine-woods near the inhabitants of the frigid northwest of Spain ; Seville, sees flitting, ghost-like, in gaudy dresses I have never visited the so-called Carlist provin the country or province. They shuffle along, inces, and, if, as I am told, the inhabitants are singing their wild, melancholy ditties, at set of very English, and their climate very Scottish, I sun, in sandaled feet through clouds of dust to- certainly shall say with Pepita, “ Dios me libre!" ward their lonely pueblo, fitting, with their pa- —“God preserve me!” tient ass trotting in front, through the groves of I write of the three fourths of the Peninsula stunted, glaucous olive-trees, or threading the with which I am familiar, and have for many narrow track that skirts the hedge of aloe or of years been familiar - Andalucia, the Castiles, prickly pear.
Valencia, Murcia, Cataluña, and, but slightly, Rough sons of toil! full of interest are you, Aragon. your quaint herbal remedies, your strange folk- The sword, the pastoral staff, the guitar, are lore, your erotic songs and ditties, your women's specially emblematic of the tastes and character wailing nana (nursery rhyme) as they put baby of the nation, but especially of that part of it to sleep, your outlandish superstitions—full of which is composed of the great middle class : interest for poet, painter, or any lover of the old- the men are most chivalrous, and full of courage;