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mirable balance. He is now sitting opposite to me in each, opening out of a little corridor. In each, ON THE BAG OF SILVER, forty pounds (it must be too, is a large plate-glass window, with which you dreadfully hard), writing to Boulogne.
can do as you like. As you pay extra sor this luxBest love to Mamie and Katie, and dear Plorn, ury, it may be regarded as the first move toward two and all the boys left when this comes to Gad's Hill; classes of passengers. also to my dear good Anne, and her little woman.
Ever affectionately. On the whole, it is evident that Dickens re
tained his insular prejudices to the last, and that The fame of these readings speedily reached -in spite of the enthusiasm which he aroused the United States, and Dickens was repeatedly and the kindnesses which he experienced-he importuned and entreated to pay us a profes- never really liked either America or the Amerisional visit. He held out in his refusal to extend From the hour of his landing he was his travels so far until, in 1867, the representa- counting the days until his return voyage should tions as to the enormous monetary harvest he begin; and this fact lends an additional pathos might expect to reap here overcame his resolu- to the knowledge that his sufferings while here tion, and on November 19th of that year he landed from “ true American catarrh," as he facetiously once more upon our shores. A considerable por- calls it, so weakened his constitution as to pretion of the second volume is filled with vivid de- cipitate the attack that ended his life only two scriptions of his readings in the various Eastern
later. cities; but the scenes themselves can hardly have A few other letters must be quoted as illusfaded as yet from the popular mind, and it will be trating phases of Dickens's character that have more interesting, perhaps, to learn how far the im- not yet been touched upon. Here is a most pressions received during the earlier visit were characteristic one, in which he defends and justimodified during the later one. Between the two fies the first of those numerous attacks which he visits, the impetuous author had evidently ac- made in his novels upon religious cant: quired discretion, even if he had not changed his opinions, and there are only two paragraphs in
[To Mr. David Dickson.] the later correspondence that can be set over
1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, YORK GATE, against the long letter of 1842. In a letter
REGENT'S PARK, May 10, 1843. written from the Parker House, Boston, under
SIR: Permit me to say, in reply to your letter, date of January 4, 1868, he says:
that you do not understand the intention (I dare say
the fault is mine) of that passage in the “ Pickwick There are two apparently irreconcilable contrasts here. Down below in this hotel every night of the Shepherd,” and of this and every other
Papers " which has given you offense. The design are the bar-loungers, dram-drinkers, drunkards, allusion to him, is, to show how sacred things are swaggerers, loafers, that one might find in a Bouci- degraded, vulgarized, and rendered absurd when cault play. Within half an hour is Cambridge, persons who are utterly incompetent to teach the where a delightful domestic life-simple, self-respectful, cordial, and affectionate—is seen in an ad, such mysteries, and how, in making mere
commonest things take upon themselves to expound mirable aspect. All New England is primitive and phrases of divine words, these persons miss the puritanical. All about and around it is a puddle of mixed human mud, with no such quality in it. Per spirit in which they had their origin. I have seen a
great deal of this sort of thing in many parts of haps I may in time sist out some tolerably intelligi. England, and I never knew it lead to charity or ble whole, but I certainly have not done so yet. It
good deeds. is a good sign, maybe, that it all seems immensely
Whether the great Creator of the world and the more difficult to understand than it was when I was
creature of his hands, molded in his own image, be here before.
quite so opposite in character as you believe, is a In another letter, addressed to Mr. Macready question which it would profit us little to discuss. under date of March 21, 1868, he says :
I like the frankness and candor of your letter, and
thank you for it. That every man who seeks heaven You would find the general aspect of America must be born again, in good thoughts of his Maker, and Americans decidedly much improved. You I sincerely believe. That it is expedient for every would find immeasurably greater consideration and hound to say so in a certain snufiling form of words, respect for your privacy than of old. You would to which he attaches no good meaning, I do not befind a steady change for the better everywhere, ex
lieve. I take it, there is no difference between us. cept (oddly enough) in the railroads generally, which
Faithfully yours. seem to have stood still, while everything else has moved. But there is an exception westward. There
The following extract from a letter to Mr. the express trains have now a very delightful carriage Macready (written in 1853) testifies to that sturdy called “ drawing-room car," literally a series of faith in the people which was one of the dominatlittle private drawing-rooms, with sofas and a table ing sentiments of Dickens's life. It refers to an
address which he had just previously delivered at such a collection. It was written in reply to a Birmingham :
letter from Mr. Makeham remonstrating against
a “figure of speech” used in the tenth chapter I know you would have been full of sympathy
of Edwin Drood”: and approval if you had been present at Birmingham, and that you would have concurred in the tone GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, I tried to take about the eternal duties of the arts to
KENT, Wednesday Night, June, 1870. the people. I took the liberty of putting the court DEAR SIR: It would be quite inconceivable to and that kind of thing out of the question, and rec- me—but for your letter-that any reasonable reader ognizing nothing but the arts and the people. The could possibly attach a scriptural reference to a pasmore we see of life and its brevity, and the world sage in a book of mine, reproducing a much-abused and its varieties, the more we know that no exercise social figure of speech, impressed with all sorts of of our abilities in any art, but the addressing of it to service, on all sorts of inappropriate occasions, withthe great ocean of humanity in which we are drops, out the faintest connection of it with its original and not to by-ponds (very stagnant) here and there, source. I am truly shocked to find that any reader ever can or ever will lay the foundations of an en- can make the mistake. durable retrospect.
I have always striven in my writings to express
veneration for the life and lessons of our Saviour ; This is from a letter to Mr. Charles Knight because I feel it ; and because I rewrote that history defending “Hard Times” against some strictures for my children—every one of whom knew it from which the latter had made upon it:
having it repeated to them—long before they could My satire is against those who see figures and read, and almost as soon as they could speak. averages, and nothing else—the representatives of
But I have never made proclamation of this from the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time
Faithfully yours, -the men who, through long years to come, will do
CHARLES DICKENS. more to damage the real useful truths of political
JOHN M. MAKEHAM, Esq. economy than I could do (if I tried) in my whole life ; the addled heads who would take the average The selections which we have made from the of cold in the Crimea during twelve months as a
"Letters” will probably appear somewhat desulreason for clothing a soldier in nankeens on a night when he would be frozen to death in fur, and who tory and altogether inadequate; but then the letwould comfort the laborer in traveling twelve miles ters themselves are desultory in subject, and we a day to and from his work, by telling him that the have not aimed to do more than indicate their
Taken as a whole, they average distance of one inhabited place from anoth-quality and variety. er in the whole area of England is not more than portray with wonderful vividness and fidelity four miles. Bah! What have you to do with these? nearly all possible phases of the author's thoughts
and feelings; and it may be confidently said, in The last letter of all-written less than an conclusion, that there are very few men whose hour before the fatal stroke ended for ever the hearts and lives could be laid so bare as in this labors of that teeming brain and prolific pen-is correspondence and yet leave upon the reader so in a peculiar degree appropriate as the close of consistently pleasing an impression.
FRA G M E N T S.
happiest and best minds," we feel in each of these MATTHEW ARNOLD ON POETRY.
utterances—too partial to express a universal I a
what masters of a craft may choose to say casual remark—the dominating bias and instincupon the subject of their art. The interest is tive leanings of a lifetime. If, then, we rememrather increased than diminished by the limitation ber that Mr. Matthew Arnold is equally eminent of the imperfection of their view, inseparable from as a critic and a poet, we shall not be too much personal inclination, idiosyncrasy of genius, or ab- surprised to read the following account of poetry sorbing previous course of study. When Hein- given in the preface to his selections from Wordsrich exclaims, “There's no lust like to poetry”; worth:* “It is important, therefore, to hold fast when Goethe asserts, “ Die kunst ist nur Gestal
*" Poems of Wordsworth.” Chosen and edited by tung"; when Shelley writes, “ Poetry is the rec- Matthew Arnold. “Golden Treasury Series," Macmilord of the best and happiest moments of the lan, 1879.
to this: that poetry is at bottom a criticism of proved with certainty by the whole history of litlife; that the greatness of a poet lies in his pow- erature to our time, it is that the self-preservative erful and beautiful application of ideas to life-to instinct of humanity rejects such art as does not the question, How to live.”
contribute to its intellectual nutrition and moral At first sight this definition will strike most sustenance. It can not afford to continue long people as a paradox. It would be scarcely less in contact with ideas that run counter to the startling to hear, as indeed we might perhaps principles of its own progress. It can not behear from a new school of writers upon art, that stow more than passing notice upon trifles, how“criticism is at bottom the poetry of things,” ever exquisitely finished. Poetry will not, indeed, inasmuch as it is the critic's function to select the live without style or its equivalent. But style quintessential element of all he touches, and to alone will never confer enduring and cosmopolipresent that only in choice form to the public he tan fame upon a poet. He must have placed professes to instruct. Yet, when we return to himself in accord with the permanent emotions, Mr. Arnold, and compare the passage above the conservative forces of the race; he must have quoted with the fuller expression the same uttered what contributes to the building up of view upon a preceding page, the apparent para- vital structure in the social organism, in order to dox is reduced to the proportions of a sound and gain more than a temporary or a partial hearing. valuable generalization : “Long ago, in speaking Though style is an indispensable condition of of Homer, I said that the noble and profound success in poetry, it is by matter, and not by application of ideas to life is the most essential form, that a poet has to take his final rank. part of poetic greatness. I said that a great poet Of the two less perfect kinds of poetry, the receives his distinctive character of superiority poetry of revolt and the poetry of indifference, from his application, under the conditions im- the latter has by far the slighter chance of surmutably fixed by the laws of poetic beauty and vival. Powerful negation implies that which it poetic truth, from his application, I say, whatever rebels against. The energy of the rebellious it may be, of the ideas,
spirit is itself a kind of moral greatness. We
are braced and hardened by contact with impas'On man, on nature, and on human life,'
sioned revolutionaries, with Lucretius, Voltaire, which he has acquired for himself.” An impor- Leopardi. Something necessary to the onward tant element in this description of poetic great- progress of humanity—the vigor of antagonism, ness is the further determination of the ideas in the operative force of the antithesis—is commuquestion as moral: “It is said that to call these nicated by them. They are in a high sense ethiideas moral ideas is to introduce a strong and cal by the exhibition of hardihood, self-reliance, injurious limitation. I answer that it is to do hatred of hypocrisy. Even Omar's secession nothing of the kind, because moral ideas are from the mosque to the tavern symbolizes a nereally so main a part of human life. The ques- cessary and recurring moment of experience. It tion, how to live, is itself a moral idea ; and it is is, moreover, dignified by the pathos of the poet's the question which most interests every man, and view of life. Meleager's sensuality is condoned with which, in some way or other, he is perpetu- by the delicacy of his sentiment. Tone counts ally occupied."
for much in this poetry of revolt against morals. With the substance of these passages there it is only the Stratons, the Beccadellis, the Bauare few who, after mature reflection on the nature delaires, who, in spite of their consummate form, of poetry, will not agree. That the weight of are consigned to poetical perdition by vulgarity, Mr. Arnold's authority should be unhesitatingly perversity, obliquity of vision. But the carving given against what he calls the poetry of revolt of cherry-stones in verse, the turning of triolets and the poetry of indifference to morals, is a and rondeaux, the seeking after sound or color matter for rejoicing to all who think the dissemi- without heed for sense, is all foredoomed to final nation of sound views on literature important. failure. The absolute neglect which has fallen It is good to be reminded at the present moment on the melodious Italian sonnet-writers of the that Omar Kayam failed of true greatness be- sixteenth century is due to their cult of art for cause he was a reactionary, and that Théophile art's sake, and their indifference to the realities Gautier took up his abode in what can never be of life. If we ask why Machiavelli's “Mandramore than a wayside halting-place. From time gora" is inferior to Shakespeare's “Merry Wives to time critics arise who attempt to persuade us of Windsor," in spite of its profound knowledge that it does not so much matter what a poet says of human nature, its brilliant wit, its irresistible as how he says it, and that the highest poetical humor, its biting satire, and its incomparably achievements are those which combine a certain closer workmanship, we can only answer that vagueness of meaning with sensuous melody and Shakespeare's conception of life was healthy, color of verbal composition. Yet, if one thing is natural, exhilarating, while Machiavelli's, without displaying the earnestness of revolt, was artificial, While substantially agreeing with Mr. Arnold, morbid, and depressing. The sympathies which it may be possible to take exception to the form every great work of art stimulates tend in the of his definition. He lays too great stress, percase of Shakespeare's play to foster, in the case haps, on the phrases, application of ideas, and of Machiavelli's to stunt, the all-essential elements criticism. The first might be qualified as misof social happiness and vigor. In point of form, leading, because it seems to attribute an ulterior the “Mandragora” has better right to be a clas- purpose to the poet; the second as tending to sic comedy than the “Merry Wives of Windsor." confound two separate faculties, the creative and But the application of ideas to life in it is so un- the judicial. Plato's conception of poetry as an sound and so perverse that common sense rejects inspiration, á divine instinct, may be nearer to it: we tire of living in so false a world.
the truth. The application of ideas should not Without multiplying instances, it can be af- be too conscious, else the poet sinks into the firmed, with no dread of opposition, that all art, preacher. The criticism of life should not be to be truly great art, to be permanent and fresh too much his object, else the poet might as well and satisfying through a hundred generations, to have written essays. What is wanted is that, yield the bread and wine of daily sustenance to however spontaneous his utterance may be, men and women in successive ages, must be however he may aim at only beauty in his work, moralized-must be in harmony with those prin- or “sing but as the linnet sings,” his message ciples of conduct, that tone of feeling, which it is should be adequate to healthy and mature huthe self-preservative instinct of civilized humanity manity. His intelligence of what is noble and to strengthen. This does not mean that the art- enduring, his expression of a full, harmonious ist should be consciously didactic or obtrusively personality, is enough to moralize his work. It ethical. The objects of ethics and of art are dis- is even better that he should not turn aside to tinct. The one analyzes and instructs; the other comment. That is the function of the homilist. embodies and delights. But, since all the arts We must learn how to live from him less by his give form to thought and feeling, it follows that precepts than by his examples and by being in the greatest art is that which includes in its syn- his company. It would no doubt be misunderthesis the fullest complex of thoughts and feel- standing Mr. Arnold to suppose that he estiings. The more complete the poet's grasp of mates poetry by the gnomic sentences conveyed human nature as a whole, the more complete his in it, or that he intends to say that the greatest presentation of life in organized complexity, the poets have deliberately used their art as the vehigreater he will be. Now the whole struggle of cle of moral teaching. Yet there is a double the human race from barbarism to civilization is danger in the wording of his definitions. On the one continuous effort to maintain and to extend one hand, if we accept them too literally, we run its moral dignity. It is by the conservation and the risk of encouraging that false view of poetry alimentation of moral qualities that we advance. which led the Byzantineś to prefer Euripides to The organization of our faculties into a perfect Sophocles, because he contained a greater numwhole is moral harmony. Therefore artists who ber of quotable maxims; which brought the huaspire to greatness can neither be adverse nor manists of the sixteenth century to the incomindifferent to ethics. In each case they proclaim prehensible conclusion that Seneca had improved their own inadequacy to the subject-matter of upon the Greek drama by infusing greater gravity their art, humanity. In each case they present a into his speeches; which caused Tasso to invent maimed and partial portrait of their hero, man. an ex post facto allegory for the “Gerusalemme,” In each case they must submit, however exqui- and Spenser to describe Ariosto’s mad Orlando, site their style, however acute their insight, to the triumphant climax of that poet's irony, as "a be excluded from the supreme company of the good governor and a virtuous man.” On the immortals. We need do no more than name other hand, there is the peril of forgetting that the chiefs of European poetry—Homer, Pindar, the prime aim of all art is at bottom only preÆschylus, Sophocles, Virgil, Horace, Dante, sentation. That, and that alone, distinguishes Shakespeare, Molière—in order to recognize the the arts, including poetry, from every other operafact that they owe their superiority to the com- tion of the intellect, and justifies Hegel's general pleteness of their representation, to their firm definition of Art as “ Die sinnliche Erscheinung grasp upon the harmony of human faculties in der Idee.” Poetry is not so much a criticism of large morality. It is this which makes classical life as a revelation of life, a presentment of life and humane literature convertible terms. It is according to the poet's capacity for observing this which has led all classes and ages of men and displaying it in forms that reproduce it for back and back to these great poets as to their his readers. The poet is less a judge than a seer familiar friends and teachers, “ the everlasting and reporter. If he judges, it is as light, falling solace of mankind."
upon an object, showing its inequalities, discov. ering its loveliness, may be said to judge. The sion. The very greatest poets of the world have greatest poet is not the poet who has said the combined all these qualities, together with that best things about life, but he whose work most grand humanity which confers upon them imfully and faithfully reflects life in its breadth and mortal freshness. Of Homer, Pindar, Sophocles, largeness, eliminating what is accidental, trivial, Æschylus, Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare, Molière, temporary, local, or rendering insignificant details Goethe, it is only possible to say that one or the mirror of the universal by his treatment. He other element of poetic achievement has been teaches less by what he inculcates than by what displayed more eminently than the rest, that one he shows; and the truth of Plato's above-men- or other has been held more obviously in abeytioned theory is that he may himself be unaware ance, when we come to distinguish each great of the far-reaching lessons he communicates. master from his peers. But lesser men may rest From Shakespeare we could better afford to lose their claims to immortality upon slighter merits; the profound remarks on life in “Timon” or and among these merits it will be found impos“Troilus and Cressida " than the delineation of sible to exclude what we call form, style, and the Othello's passion. The speeches of Nestor in several poetic qualities above enumerated. the “Iliad” are less valuable than the portrait of Achilles; and what Achilles says about fame, The final test of greatness in a poet is his heroism, death, and friendship, could be sooner adequacy to human nature at its best; his feelspared than the presentment of his action. ing for the balance of sense, emotion, will, intel
The main thing to keep in mind is this, that lect in moral harmony; his faculty for regarding the world will very willingly let die in poetry what the whole of life, and representing it in all its does not contribute to its intellectual strength largeness. If this be true, dramatic and epical and moral vigor. In the long run, therefore, poetry must be the most enduring, the most inpoetry full of matter and moralized wins the day. structive monuments of creative genius in verse. But it must, before all else, be poetry. The ap- These forms bring into quickest play and present plication of the soundest moral ideas, the finest in fullest activity the many-sided motives of our criticism of life, will not save it from oblivion, if life on earth. Yet the lyrist has a sphere scarcely it fails in the essential qualities that constitute a second in importance to that of the epic and work of art. Imagination, or the power to see dramatic poets. The thought and feeling he exclearly and to project forcibly; fancy, or the presses may, if his nature be adequate, embrace power to flash new light on things familiar, and the whole gamut of humanity; and if his expresby their combination to delight the mind with sion be sufficient, he may give the form of uninovelty; creative genius, or the power of giving versality to his experience, creating magic mirrors form and substance, life and beauty to the fig- wherein all men shall see their own hearts rements of the brain; style, or the power to sus- flected and glorified without violation of reality tain a flawless and unwavering distinction of ut- or truth. terance; dramatic energy, or the power to make
J. A. SYMONDS (Fortnightly Review). men and women move before us with self-evident reality in fiction ; passion, sympathy, enthusiasm, or the power of feeling and communicating feeling, of understanding and arousing emotion ;
IRVING'S SHYLOCK. lyrical inspiration, or the power of spontaneous THAT no artist has so much actual enjoyment singing—these are among the many elements of success as the actor, and that no fame is so that go to make up poetry. These, no doubt, evanescent as his, has been generally accepted are alluded to by Mr. Arnold in the clause refer- as a truth. But only the first part of the saying ring to “poetic beauty and poetic truth.” But is altogether true; the last part will, at least, bear it is needful to insist upon them, after having modification. Were it entirely and unfailingly true, dwelt so long upon the matter and the moral neither actors nor spectators would be beset by tone of poetry. No sane critic can deny that the traditions, no fulfilled renown would interpose its possession of one or more of these qualities in laurels between the student-artist and the dramany very eminent degree will save a poet from atist's creation, or stir the air about his audithe neglect to which moral revolt or indifference ence with the distant echo of its trumpets. On might otherwise condemn him. Ariosto's vul- the contrary, the traditions of the great actors of garity of feeling, Shelley's crude and discordant the past are always with us—and, although we opinions, Leopardi's overwhelming pessimism, can not point to handiwork of theirs in stone or Heine's morbid sentimentality, Byron's superfi- on canvas, they are the most interesting of memciality and cynicism, sink to nothing beneath theories, because the aiguillon of curiosity and quessaving virtues of imagination, lyrical inspiration, tion pricks all discussion of them. Did Garrick poetic style, humor, intensity, and sweep of pas- give this passage so?
Did the Siddons make