Note Book of an English Opium-Eater (2024)

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Title: Note Book of an English Opium-Eater

Author: Thomas De Quincey

Release date: November 1, 2004 [eBook #6881]
Most recently updated: December 30, 2020

Language: English


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It is impossible to conciliate readers of so saturnine and gloomy a class,that they cannot enter with genial sympathy into any gaiety whatever, but,least of all, when the gaiety trespasses a little into the province of theextravagant. In such a case, not to sympathize is not to understand; andthe playfulness, which is not relished, becomes flat and insipid, orabsolutely without meaning. Fortunately, after all such churls havewithdrawn from my audience in high displeasure, there remains a largemajority who are loud in acknowledging the amusem*nt which they havederived from a former paper of mine, 'On Murder considered as one of theFine Arts;' at the same time proving the sincerity of their praise by onehesitating expression of censure. Repeatedly they have suggested to me,that perhaps the extravagance, though clearly intentional, and forming oneelement in the general gaiety of the conception, went too far. I am notmyself of that opinion; and I beg to remind these friendly censors, thatit is amongst the direct purposes and efforts of this bagatelle tograze the brink of horror, and of all that would in actual realization bemost repulsive. The very excess of the extravagance, in fact, bysuggesting to the reader continually the mere aeriality of the entirespeculation, furnishes the surest means of disenchanting him from thehorror which might else gather upon his feelings. Let me remind suchobjectors, once for all, of Dean Swift's proposal for turning to accountthe supernumerary infants of the three kingdoms, which, in those days,both at Dublin and at London, were provided for in foundling hospitals, bycooking and eating them. This was an extravaganza, though really bolderand more coarsely practical than mine, which did not provoke anyreproaches even to a dignitary of the supreme Irish church; its ownmonstrosity was its excuse; mere extravagance was felt to license andaccredit the little jeu d'esprit, precisely as the blank impossibilitiesof Lilliput, of Laputa, of the Yahoos, &c., had licensed those. If,therefore, any man thinks it worth his while to tilt against so mere afoam-bubble of gaiety as this lecture on the aesthetics of murder, Ishelter myself for the moment under the Telamonian shield of the Dean.But, in reality, my own little paper may plead a privileged excuse for itsextravagance, such as is altogether wanting to the Dean's. Nobody canpretend, for a moment, on behalf of the Dean, that there is any ordinaryand natural tendency in human thoughts, which could ever turn to infantsas articles of diet; under any conceivable circ*mstances, this would befelt as the most aggravated form of cannibalism—cannibalism applyingitself to the most defenceless part of the species. But, on the otherhand, the tendency to a critical or aesthetic valuation of fires andmurders is universal. If you are summoned to the spectacle of a greatfire, undoubtedly the first impulse is—to assist in putting it out. Butthat field of exertion is very limited, and is soon filled by regularprofessional people, trained and equipped for the service. In the case ofa fire which is operating upon private property, pity for a neighbor'scalamity checks us at first in treating the affair as a scenic spectacle.But perhaps the fire may be confined to public buildings. And in any case,after we have paid our tribute of regret to the affair, considered as acalamity, inevitably, and without restraint, we go on to consider it as astage spectacle. Exclamations of—How grand! How magnificent! arise in asort of rapture from the crowd. For instance, when Drury Lane was burneddown in the first decennium of this century, the falling in of the roofwas signalized by a mimic suicide of the protecting Apollo that surmountedand crested the centre of this roof. The god was stationary with his lyre,and seemed looking down upon the fiery ruins that were so rapidlyapproaching him. Suddenly the supporting timbers below him gave way; aconvulsive heave of the billowing flames seemed for a moment to raise thestatue; and then, as if on some impulse of despair, the presiding deityappeared not to fall, but to throw himself into the fiery deluge, for hewent down head foremost; and in all respects, the descent had the air of avoluntary act. What followed? From every one of the bridges over theriver, and from other open areas which commanded the spectacle, therearose a sustained uproar of admiration and sympathy. Some few years beforethis event, a prodigious fire occurred at Liverpool; the Goree, a vastpile of warehouses close to one of the docks, was burned to the ground.The huge edifice, eight or nine stories high, and laden with mostcombustible goods, many thousand bales of cotton, wheat and oats inthousands of quarters, tar, turpentine, rum, gunpowder, &c., continuedthrough many hours of darkness to feed this tremendous fire. Toaggravate the calamity, it blew a regular gale of wind; luckily for theshipping, it blew inland, that is, to the east; and all the way down toWarrington, eighteen miles distant to the eastward, the whole air wasilluminated by flakes of cotton, often saturated with rum, and by whatseemed absolute worlds of blazing sparks, that lighted up all the upperchambers of the air. All the cattle lying abroad in the fields through abreadth of eighteen miles, were thrown into terror and agitation. Men, ofcourse, read in this hurrying overhead of scintillating and blazingvortices, the annunciation of some gigantic calamity going on inLiverpool; and the lamentation on that account was universal. But thatmood of public sympathy did not at all interfere to suppress or even tocheck the momentary bursts of rapturous admiration, as this arrowy sleetof many-colored fire rode on the wings of hurricane, alternately throughopen depths of air, or through dark clouds overhead.

Precisely the same treatment is applied to murders. After the firsttribute of sorrow to those who have perished, but, at all events, afterthe personal interests have been tranquillized by time, inevitably thescenical features (what aesthetically may be called the comparativeadvantages) of the several murders are reviewed and valued. Onemurder is compared with another; and the circ*mstances of superiority, as,for example, in the incidence and effects of surprise, of mystery, &c.,are collated and appraised. I, therefore, for my extravagance, claim aninevitable and perpetual ground in the spontaneous tendencies of the humanmind when left to itself. But no one will pretend that any correspondingplea can be advanced on behalf of Swift.

In this important distinction between myself and the Dean, lies one reasonwhich prompted the present writing. A second purpose of this paper is, tomake the reader acquainted circ*mstantially with three memorable cases ofmurder, which long ago the voice of amateurs has crowned with laurel, butespecially with the two earliest of the three, viz., the immortalWilliams' murders of 1812. The act and the actor are each separately inthe highest degree interesting; and, as forty-two years have elapsed since1812, it cannot be supposed that either is known circ*mstantially to themen of the current generation.

Never, throughout the annals of universal Christendom, has there indeedbeen any act of one solitary insulated individual, armed with power soappalling over the hearts of men, as that exterminating murder, by which,during the winter of 1812, John Williams in one hour, smote two houseswith emptiness, exterminated all but two entire households, and assertedhis own supremacy above all the children of Cain. It would be absolutelyimpossible adequately to describe the frenzy of feelings which, throughoutthe next fortnight, mastered the popular heart; the mere delirium ofindignant horror in some, the mere delirium of panic in others. For twelvesucceeding days, under some groundless notion that the unknown murdererhad quitted London, the panic which had convulsed the mighty metropolisdiffused itself all over the island. I was myself at that time nearlythree hundred miles from London; but there, and everywhere, the panic wasindescribable. One lady, my next neighbor, whom personally I knew, livingat the moment, during the absence of her husband, with a few servants in avery solitary house, never rested until she had placed eighteen doors (soshe told me, and, indeed, satisfied me by ocular proof), each secured byponderous bolts, and bars, and chains, between her own bedroom and anyintruder of human build. To reach her, even in her drawing-room, was likegoing, as a flag of truce, into a beleaguered fortress; at every sixthstep one was stopped by a sort of portcullis. The panic was not confinedto the rich; women in the humblest ranks more than once died upon thespot, from the shock attending some suspicious attempts at intrusion uponthe part of vagrants, meditating probably nothing worse than a robbery,but whom the poor women, misled by the London newspapers, had fancied tobe the dreadful London murderer. Meantime, this solitary artist, thatrested in the centre of London, self-supported by his own consciousgrandeur, as a domestic Attila, or 'scourge of God;' this man, that walkedin darkness, and relied upon murder (as afterwards transpired) for bread,for clothes, for promotion in life, was silently preparing an effectualanswer to the public journals; and on the twelfth day after his inauguralmurder, he advertised his presence in London, and published to all men theabsurdity of ascribing to him any ruralizing propensities, by striking asecond blow, and accomplishing a second family extermination. Somewhatlightened was the provincial panic by this proof that the murderer hadnot condescended to sneak into the country, or to abandon for a moment,under any motive of caution or fear, the great metropolitan castrastativa of gigantic crime, seated for ever on the Thames. In fact, thegreat artist disdained a provincial reputation; and he must have felt, asa case of ludicrous disproportion, the contrast between a country town orvillage, on the one hand, and, on the other, a work more lasting thanbrass—a [Greek: chtaema es aei]—a murder such in quality as any murderthat he would condescend to own for a work turned out from his ownstudio.

Coleridge, whom I saw some months after these terrific murders, told me,that, for his part, though at the time resident in London, he hadnot shared in the prevailing panic; him they effected only as aphilosopher, and threw him into a profound reverie upon the tremendouspower which is laid open in a moment to any man who can reconcile himselfto the abjuration of all conscientious restraints, if, at the same time,thoroughly without fear. Not sharing in the public panic, however,Coleridge did not consider that panic at all unreasonable; for, as he saidmost truly in that vast metropolis there are many thousands of households,composed exclusively of women and children; many other thousands there arewho necessarily confide their safety, in the long evenings, to thediscretion of a young servant girl; and if she suffers herself to bebeguiled by the pretence of a message from her mother, sister, orsweetheart, into opening the door, there, in one second of time, goes towreck the security of the house. However, at that time, and for manymonths afterwards, the practice of steadily putting the chain upon thedoor before it was opened prevailed generally, and for a long time servedas a record of that deep impression left upon London by Mr. Williams.Southey, I may add, entered deeply into the public feeling on thisoccasion, and said to me, within a week or two of the first murder, thatit was a private event of that order which rose to the dignity of anational event. [2] But now, having prepared the reader to appreciate onits true scale this dreadful tissue of murder (which as a record belongingto an era that is now left forty-two years behind us, not one person infour of this generation can be expected to know correctly), let me pass tothe circ*mstantial details of the affair.

Yet, first of all, one word as to the local scene of the murders.Ratcliffe Highway is a public thoroughfare in a most chaotic quarter ofeastern or nautical London; and at this time (viz., in 1812), when noadequate police existed except the detective police of Bow Street,admirable for its own peculiar purposes, but utterly incommensurate to thegeneral service of the capital, it was a most dangerous quarter. Everythird man at the least might be set down as a foreigner. Lascars, Chinese,Moors, Negroes, were met at every step. And apart from the manifoldruffianism, shrouded impenetrably under the mixed hats and turbans of menwhose past was untraceable to any European eye, it is well known that thenavy (especially, in time of war, the commercial navy) of Christendom isthe sure receptacle of all the murderers and ruffians whose crimes havegiven them a motive for withdrawing themselves for a season from thepublic eye. It is true, that few of this class are qualified to act as'able' seamen: but at all times, and especially during war, only a smallproportion (or nucleus) of each ship's company consists of such men: thelarge majority being mere untutored landsmen. John Williams, however, whohad been occasionally rated as a seaman on board of various Indiamen, &c.,was probably a very accomplished seaman. Pretty generally, in fact, he wasa ready and adroit man, fertile in resources under all suddendifficulties, and most flexibly adapting himself to all varieties ofsocial life. Williams was a man of middle stature (five feet seven anda-half, to five feet eight inches high), slenderly built, rather thin, butwiry, tolerably muscular, and clear of all superfluous flesh. A lady, whosaw him under examination (I think at the Thames Police Office), assuredme that his hair was of the most extraordinary and vivid color, viz.,bright yellow, something between an orange and lemon color. Williams hadbeen in India; chiefly in Bengal and Madras: but he had also been upon theIndus. Now, it is notorious that, in the Punjaub, horses of a high casteare often painted—crimson, blue, green, purple; and it struck me thatWilliams might, for some casual purpose of disguise, have taken a hintfrom this practice of Scinde and Lahore, so that the color might not havebeen natural. In other respects, his appearance was natural enough; and,judging by a plaster cast of him, which I purchased in London, I shouldsay mean, as regarded his facial structure. One fact, however, wasstriking, and fell in with the impression of his natural tiger character,that his face wore at all times a bloodless ghastly pallor. 'You mightimagine,' said my informant, 'that in his veins circulated not red life-blood, such as could kindle into the blush of shame, of wrath, of pity—but a green sap that welled from no human heart.' His eyes seemed frozenand glazed, as if their light were all converged upon some victim lurkingin the far background. So far his appearance might have repelled; but, onthe other hand, the concurrent testimony of many witnesses, and also thesilent testimony of facts, showed that the oiliness and snaky insinuationof his demeanor counteracted the repulsiveness of his ghastly face, andamongst inexperienced young women won for him a very favorable reception.In particular, one gentle-mannered girl, whom Williams had undoubtedlydesigned to murder, gave in evidence—that once, when sitting alone withher, he had said, 'Now, Miss R., supposing that I should appear aboutmidnight at your bedside, armed with a carving knife, what would you say?'To which the confiding girl had, replied, 'Oh, Mr. Williams, if it wasanybody else, I should be frightened. But, as soon as I heard yourvoice, I should be tranquil.' Poor girl! had this outline sketch of Mr.Williams been filled in and realized, she would have seen something in thecorpse-like face, and heard something in the sinister voice, that wouldhave unsettled her tranquillity for ever. But nothing short of suchdreadful experiences could avail to unmask Mr. John Williams.

Into this perilous region it was that, on a Saturday night in December,Mr. Williams, whom we suppose to have long since made his coup d'essai,forced his way through the crowded streets, bound on business. To say, wasto do. And this night he had said to himself secretly, that he wouldexecute a design which he had already sketched, and which, when finished,was destined on the following day to strike consternation into 'all thatmighty heart' of London, from centre to circumference. It was afterwardsremembered that he had quitted his lodgings on this dark errand abouteleven o'clock P. M.; not that he meant to begin so soon: but he needed toreconnoitre. He carried his tools closely buttoned up under his looseroomy coat. It was in harmony with the general subtlety of his character,and his polished hatred of brutality, that by universal agreement hismanners were distinguished for exquisite suavity: the tiger's heart wasmasked by the most insinuating and snaky refinement. All his acquaintancesafterwards described his dissimulation as so ready and so perfect, thatif, in making his way through the streets, always so crowded on a Saturdaynight in neighborhoods so poor, he had accidentally jostled any person, hewould (as they were all satisfied) have stopped to offer the mostgentlemanly apologies: with his devilish heart brooding over the mosthellish of purposes, he would yet have paused to express a benign hopethat the huge mallet, buttoned up under his elegant surtout, with a viewto the little business that awaited him about ninety minutes further on,had not inflicted any pain on the stranger with whom he had come intocollision. Titian, I believe, but certainly Rubens, and perhaps Vandyke,made it a rule never to practise his art but in full dress—point ruffles,bag wig, and diamond-hilted sword; and Mr. Williams, there is reason tobelieve, when he went out for a grand compound massacre (in another sense,one might have applied to it the Oxford phrase of going out as GrandCompounder), always assumed black silk stockings and pumps; nor would heon any account have degraded his position as an artist by wearing amorning gown. In his second great performance, it was particularly noticedand recorded by the one sole trembling man, who under killing agonies offear was compelled (as the reader will find) from a secret stand to becomethe solitary spectator of his atrocities, that Mr. Williams wore a longblue frock, of the very finest cloth, and richly lined with silk. Amongstthe anecdotes which circulated about him, it was also said at the time,that Mr. Williams employed the first of dentists, and also the first ofchiropodists. On no account would he patronize any second-rate skill. Andbeyond a doubt, in that perilous little branch of business which waspractised by himself, he might be regarded as the most aristocratic andfastidious of artists.

But who meantime was the victim, to whose abode he was hurrying? Forsurely he never could be so indiscreet as to be sailing about on a rovingcruise in search of some chance person to murder? Oh, no: he had suitedhimself with a victim some time before, viz., an old and very intimatefriend. For he seems to have laid it down as a maxim—that the best personto murder was a friend; and, in default of a friend, which is an articleone cannot always command, an acquaintance: because, in either case, onfirst approaching his subject, suspicion would be disarmed: whereas astranger might take alarm, and find in the very countenance of hismurderer elect a warning summons to place himself on guard. However, inthe present ease, his destined victim was supposed to unite bothcharacters: originally he had been a friend; but subsequently, on goodcause arising, he had become an enemy. Or more probably, as others said,the feelings had long since languished which gave life to either relationof friendship or of enmity. Marr was the name of that unhappy man, who(whether in the character of friend or enemy) had been selected for thesubject of this present Saturday night's performance. And the storycurrent at that time about the connection between Williams and Marr,having (whether true or not true) never been contradicted upon authority,was, that they sailed in the same Indiaman to Calcutta; that they hadquarrelled when at sea; but another version of the story said—no: theyhad quarrelled after returning from sea; and the subject of their quarrelwas Mrs. Marr, a very pretty young woman, for whose favor they had beenrival candidates, and at one time with most bitter enmity towards eachother. Some circ*mstances give a color of probability to this story.Otherwise it has sometimes happened, on occasion of a murder notsufficiently accounted for, that, from pure goodness of heart intolerantof a mere sordid motive for a striking murder, some person has forged, andthe public has accredited, a story representing the murderer as havingmoved under some loftier excitement: and in this case the public, too muchshocked at the idea of Williams having on the single motive of gainconsummated so complex a tragedy, welcomed the tale which represented himas governed by deadly malice, growing out of the more impassioned andnoble rivalry for the favor of a woman. The case remains in some degreedoubtful; but, certainly, the probability is, that Mrs. Marr had been thetrue cause, the causa teterrima, of the feud between the men. Meantime,the minutes are numbered, the sands of the hour-glass are running out,that measure the duration of this feud upon earth. This night it shallcease. To-morrow is the day which in England they call Sunday, which inScotland they call by the Judaic name of 'Sabbath.' To both nations, underdifferent names, the day has the same functions; to both it is a day ofrest. For thee also, Marr, it shall be a day of rest; so is it written;thou, too, young Marr, shalt find rest—thou, and thy household, and thestranger that is within thy gates. But that rest must be in the worldwhich lies beyond the grave. On this side the grave ye have all slept yourfinal sleep.

The night was one of exceeding darkness; and in this humble quarter ofLondon, whatever the night happened to be, light or dark, quiet or stormy,all shops were kept open on Saturday nights until twelve o'clock, at theleast, and many for half an hour longer. There was no rigorous andpedantic Jewish superstition about the exact limits of Sunday. At the veryworst, the Sunday stretched over from one o'clock, A. M. of one day, up toeight o'clock A. M. of the next, making a clear circuit of thirty-onehours. This, surely, was long enough. Marr, on this particular Saturdaynight, would be content if it were even shorter, provided it would comemore quickly, for he has been toiling through sixteen hours behind hiscounter. Marr's position in life was this: he kept a little hosier's shop,and had invested in his stock and the fittings of his shop about 180pounds. Like all men engaged in trade, he suffered some anxieties. He wasa new beginner; but, already, bad debts had alarmed him; and bills werecoming to maturity that were not likely to be met by commensurate sales.Yet, constitutionally, he was a sanguine hoper. At this time he was astout, fresh-colored young man of twenty-seven; in some slight degreeuneasy from his commercial prospects, but still cheerful, andanticipating—(how vainly!)—that for this night, and the next night, atleast, he will rest his wearied head and his cares upon the faithful bosomof his sweet lovely young wife. The household of Marr, consisting of fivepersons, is as follows: First, there is himself, who, if he should happento be ruined, in a limited commercial sense, has energy enough to jump upagain, like a pyramid of fire, and soar high above ruin many timesrepeated. Yes, poor Marr, so it might be, if thou wert left to thy nativeenergies unmolested; but even now there stands on the other side of thestreet one born of hell, who puts his peremptory negative on all theseflattering prospects. Second in the list of his household, stands hispretty and amiable wife, who is happy after the fashion of youthful wives,for she is only twenty-two, and anxious (if at all) only on account of herdarling infant. For, thirdly, there is in a cradle, not quite nine feetbelow the street, viz., in a warm, cosy kitchen, and rocked at intervalsby the young mother, a baby eight months old. Nineteen months have Marrand herself been married; and this is their first-born child. Grieve notfor this child, that it must keep the deep rest of Sunday in some otherworld; for wherefore should an orphan, steeped to the lips in poverty,when once bereaved of father and mother, linger upon an alien andmurderous earth? Fourthly, there is a stoutish boy, an apprentice, saythirteen years old; a Devonshire boy, with handsome features, such as mostDevonshire youths have; [3] satisfied with his place; not overworked;treated kindly, and aware that he was treated kindly, by his master andmistress. Fifthly, and lastly, bringing up the rear of this quiethousehold, is a servant girl, a grown-up young woman; and she, beingparticularly kind-hearted, occupied (as often happens in families ofhumble pretensions as to rank) a sort of sisterly place in her relation toher mistress. A great democratic change is at this very time (1854), andhas been for twenty years, passing over British society. Multitudes ofpersons are becoming ashamed of saying, 'my master,' or 'my mistress:' theterm now in the slow process of superseding it is, 'my employer.' Now, inthe United States, such an expression of democratic hauteur, thoughdisagreeable as a needless proclamation of independence which nobody isdisputing, leaves, however, no lasting bad effect. For the domestic'helps' are pretty generally in a state of transition so sure and so rapidto the headship of domestic establishments belonging to themselves, thatin effect they are but ignoring, for the present moment, a relation whichwould at any rate dissolve itself in a year or two. But in England, whereno such resources exist of everlasting surplus lands, the tendency of thechange is painful. It carries with it a sullen and a coarse expression ofimmunity from a yoke which was in any case a light one, and often a benignone. In some other place I will illustrate my meaning. Here, apparently,in Mrs. Marr's service, the principle concerned illustrated itselfpractically. Mary, the female servant, felt a sincere and unaffectedrespect for a mistress whom she saw so steadily occupied with her domesticduties, and who, though so young, and invested with some slight authority,never exerted it capriciously, or even showed it at all conspiciously.According to the testimony of all the neighbors, she treated her mistresswith a shade of unobtrusive respect on the one hand, and yet was eager torelieve her, whenever that was possible, from the weight of her maternalduties, with the cheerful voluntary service of a sister.

To this young woman it was, that, suddenly, within three or four minutesof midnight, Marr called aloud from the head of the stairs—directing herto go out and purchase some oysters for the family supper. Upon whatslender accidents hang oftentimes solemn lifelong results! Marr occupiedin the concerns of his shop, Mrs. Marr occupied with some little ailmentand restlessness of her baby, had both forgotten the affair of supper; thetime was now narrowing every moment, as regarded any variety of choice;and oysters were perhaps ordered as the likeliest article to be had atall, after twelve o'clock should have struck. And yet, upon this trivialcirc*mstance depended Mary's life. Had she been sent abroad for supper atthe ordinary time of ten or eleven o'clock, it is almost certain that she,the solitary member of the household who escaped from the exterminatingtragedy, would not have escaped; too surely she would have sharedthe general fate. It had now become necessary to be quick. Hastily,therefore, receiving money from Marr with a basket in her hand, butunbonneted, Mary tripped out of the shop. It became afterwards, onrecollection, a heart-chilling remembrance to herself—that, precisely asshe emerged from the shop-door, she noticed, on the opposite side of thestreet, by the light of the lamps, a man's figure; stationary at theinstant, but in the next instant slowly moving. This was Williams; as alittle incident, either just before or just after (at present it isimpossible to say which), sufficiently proved. Now, when one considers theinevitable hurry and trepidation of Mary under the circ*mstances stated,time barely sufficing for any chance of executing her errand, it becomesevident that she must have connected some deep feeling of mysteriousuneasiness with the movements of this unknown man; else, assuredly, shewould not have found her attention disposable for such a case. Thus far,she herself threw some little light upon what it might be that, semi-consciously, was then passing through her mind; she said, that,notwithstanding the darkness, which would not permit her to trace theman's features, or to ascertain the exact direction of his eyes, it yetstruck her, that from his carriage when in motion, and from the apparentinclination of his person, he must be looking at No. 29.

The little incident which I have alluded to as confirming Mary's beliefwas, that, at some period not very far from midnight, the watchman hadspecially noticed this stranger; he had observed him continually peepinginto the window of Marr's shop; and had thought this act, connected withthe man's appearance, so suspicious, that he stepped into Marr's shop, andcommunicated what he had seen. This fact he afterwards stated before themagistrates; and he added, that subsequently, viz., a few minutes aftertwelve (eight or ten minutes, probably, after the departure of Mary), he(the watchman), when re-entering upon his ordinary half-hourly beat, wasrequested by Marr to assist him in closing the shutters. Here they had afinal communication with each other; and the watchman mentioned to Marrthat the mysterious stranger had now apparently taken himself off; forthat he had not been visible since the first communication made to Marr bythe watchman. There is little doubt that Williams had observed thewatchman's visit to Marr, and had thus had his attention seasonably drawnto the indiscretion of his own demeanor; so that the warning, givenunavailingly to Marr, had been turned to account by Williams. There can bestill less doubt, that the bloodhound had commenced his work within oneminute of the watchman's assisting Marr to put up his shutters. And on thefollowing consideration:—that which prevented Williams from commencingeven earlier, was the exposure of the shop's whole interior to the gaze ofstreet passengers. It was indispensable that the shutters should beaccurately closed before Williams could safely get to work. But, as soonas ever this preliminary precaution had been completed, once havingsecured that concealment from the public eye it then became of stillgreater importance not to lose a moment by delay, than previously it hadbeen not to hazard any thing by precipitance. For all depended upon goingin before Marr should have locked the door. On any other mode of effectingan entrance (as, for instance, by waiting for the return of Mary, andmaking his entrance simultaneously with her), it will be seen thatWilliams must have forfeited that particular advantage which mute facts,when read into their true construction, will soon show the reader that hemust have employed. Williams waited, of necessity, for the sound of thewatchman's retreating steps; waited, perhaps, for thirty seconds; but whenthat danger was past, the next danger was, lest Marr should lock the door;one turn of the key, and the murderer would have been locked out. In,therefore, he bolted, and by a dexterous movement of his left hand, nodoubt, turned the key, without letting Marr perceive this fatal stratagem.It is really wonderful and most interesting to pursue the successive stepsof this monster, and to notice the absolute certainty with which thesilent hieroglyphics of the case betray to us the whole process andmovements of the bloody drama, not less surely and fully than if we hadbeen ourselves hidden in Marr's shop, or had looked down from the heavensof mercy upon this hell-kite, that knew not what mercy meant. That he hadconcealed from Marr his trick, secret and rapid, upon the lock, isevident; because else, Marr would instantly have taken the alarm,especially after what the watchman had communicated. But it will soon beseen that Marr had not been alarmed. In reality, towards the fullsuccess of Williams, it was important, in the last degree, to interceptand forestall any yell or shout of agony from Marr. Such an outcry, and ina situation so slenderly fenced off from the street, viz., by walls thevery thinnest, makes itself heard outside pretty nearly as well as if itwere uttered in the street. Such an outcry it was indispensable to stifle.It was stifled; and the reader will soon understand how. Meantime, atthis point, let us leave the murderer alone with his victims. For fiftyminutes let him work his pleasure. The front-door, as we know, is nowfastened against all help. Help there is none. Let us, therefore, invision, attach ourselves to Mary; and, when all is over, let us comeback with her, again raise the curtain, and read the dreadfulrecord of all that has passed in her absence.

The poor girl, uneasy in her mind to an extent that she could but halfunderstand, roamed up and down in search of an oyster shop; and findingnone that was still open, within any circuit that her ordinary experiencehad made her acquainted with, she fancied it best to try the chances ofsome remoter district. Lights she saw gleaming or twinkling at a distance,that still tempted her onwards; and thus, amongst unknown streets poorlylighted, [4] and on a night of peculiar darkness, and in a region ofLondon where ferocious tumults were continually turning her out of whatseemed to be the direct course, naturally she got bewildered. The purposewith which she started, had by this time become hopeless. Nothing remainedfor her now but to retrace her steps. But this was difficult; for she wasafraid to ask directions from chance passengers, whose appearance thedarkness prevented her from reconnoitring. At length by his lantern sherecognized a watchman; through him she was guided into the right road; andin ten minutes more, she found herself back at the door of No. 29, inRatcliffe Highway. But by this time she felt satisfied that she must havebeen absent for fifty or sixty minutes; indeed, she had heard, at adistance, the cry of past one o'clock, which, commencing a few secondsafter one, lasted intermittingly for ten or thirteen minutes.

In the tumult of agonizing thoughts that very soon surprised her,naturally it became hard for her to recall distinctly the whole successionof doubts, and jealousies, and shadowy misgivings that soon opened uponher. But, so far as could be collected, she had not in the first moment ofreaching home noticed anything decisively alarming. In very many citiesbells are the main instruments for communicating between the street andthe interior of houses: but in London knockers prevail. At Marr's therewas both a knocker and a bell. Mary rang, and at the same time very gentlyknocked. She had no fear of disturbing her master or mistress; themshe made sure of finding still up. Her anxiety was for the baby, who beingdisturbed, might again rob her mistress of a night's rest. And she wellknew that, with three people all anxiously awaiting her return, and bythis time, perhaps, seriously uneasy at her delay, the least audiblewhisper from herself would in a moment bring one of them to the door. Yethow is this? To her astonishment, but with the astonishment came creepingover her an icy horror, no stir nor murmur was heard ascending from thekitchen. At this moment came back upon her, with shuddering anguish, theindistinct image of the stranger in the loose dark coat, whom she had seenstealing along under the shadowy lamp-light, and too certainly watchingher master's motions: keenly she now reproached herself that, underwhatever stress of hurry, she had not acquainted Mr. Marr with thesuspicious appearances. Poor girl! she did not then know that, if thiscommunication could have availed to put Marr upon his guard, it hadreached him from another quarter; so that her own omission, which had inreality arisen under her hurry to execute her master's commission, couldnot be charged with any bad consequences. But all such reflections thisway or that were swallowed up at this point in over-mastering panic. Thather double summons could have been unnoticed—this solitary fact inone moment made a revelation of horror. One person might have fallenasleep, but two—but three—that was a mere impossibility. And evensupposing all three together with the baby locked in sleep, still howunaccountable was this utter—utter silence! Most naturally at this momentsomething like hysterical horror overshadowed the poor girl, and now atlast she rang the bell with the violence that belongs to sickening terror.This done, she paused: self-command enough she still retained, though fastand fast it was slipping away from her, to bethink herself—that, if anyoverwhelming accident had compelled both Marr and his apprentice-boy toleave the house in order to summon surgical aid from opposite quarters—athing barely supposable—still, even in that case Mrs. Marr and her infantwould be left; and some murmuring reply, under any extremity, would beelicited from the poor mother. To pause, therefore, to impose sternsilence upon herself, so as to leave room for the possible answer to thisfinal appeal, became a duty of spasmodic effort. Listen, therefore, poortrembling heart; listen, and for twenty seconds be still as death. Stillas death she was: and during that dreadful stillness, when she hushed herbreath that she might listen, occurred an incident of killing fear, thatto her dying day would never cease to renew its echoes in her ear. She,Mary, the poor trembling girl, checking and overruling herself by a finaleffort, that she might leave full opening for her dear young mistress'sanswer to her own last frantic appeal, heard at last and most distinctly asound within the house. Yes, now beyond a doubt there is coming an answerto her summons. What was it? On the stairs, not the stairs that leddownwards to the kitchen, but the stairs that led upwards to the singlestory of bed-chambers above, was heard a creaking sound. Next was heardmost distinctly a footfall: one, two, three, four, five stairs were slowlyand distinctly descended. Then the dreadful footsteps were heard advancingalong the little narrow passage to the door. The steps—oh heavens!whose steps?—have paused at the door. The very breathing can be heardof that dreadful being, who has silenced all breathing except his own inthe house. There is but a door between him and Mary. What is he doing onthe other side of the door? A cautious step, a stealthy step it was thatcame down the stairs, then paced along the little narrow passage—narrowas a coffin—till at last the step pauses at the door. How hard the fellowbreathes! He, the solitary murderer, is on one side the door; Mary is onthe other side. Now, suppose that he should suddenly open the door, andthat incautiously in the dark Mary should rush in, and find herself in thearms of the murderer. Thus far the case is a possible one—that to acertainty, had this little trick been tried immediately upon Mary'sreturn, it would have succeeded; had the door been opened suddenly uponher first tingle-tingle, headlong she would have tumbled in, and perished.But now Mary is upon her guard. The unknown murderer and she have boththeir lips upon the door, listening, breathing hard; but luckily they areon different sides of the door; and upon the least indication of unlockingor unlatching, she would have recoiled into the asylum of generaldarkness.

What was the murderer's meaning in coming along the passage to the frontdoor? The meaning was this: separately, as an individual, Mary was worthnothing at all to him. But, considered as a member of a household, she hadthis value, viz., that she, if caught and murdered, perfected and roundedthe desolation of the house. The case being reported, as reported it wouldbe all over Christendom, led the imagination captive. The whole covey ofvictims was thus netted; the household ruin was thus full and orbicular;and in that proportion the tendency of men and women, flutter as theymight, would be helplessly and hopelessly to sink into the all-conqueringhands of the mighty murderer. He had but to say—my testimonials are datedfrom No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway, and the poor vanquished imagination sankpowerless before the fascinating rattlesnake eye of the murderer. There isnot a doubt that the motive of the murderer for standing on the inner sideof Marr's front-door, whilst Mary stood on the outside, was—a hope that,if he quietly opened the door, whisperingly counterfeiting Marr's voice,and saying, What made you stay so long? possibly she might have beeninveigled. He was wrong; the time was past for that; Mary was nowmaniacally awake; she began now to ring the bell and to ply the knockerwith unintermitting violence. And the natural consequence was, that thenext door neighbor, who had recently gone to bed and instantly fallenasleep, was roused; and by the incessant violence of the ringing and theknocking, which now obeyed a delirious and uncontrollable impulse in Mary,he became sensible that some very dreadful event must be at the root of soclamorous an uproar. To rise, to throw up the sash, to demand angrily thecause of this unseasonable tumult, was the work of a moment. The poor girlremained sufficiently mistress of herself rapidly to explain thecirc*mstance of her own absence for an hour; her belief that Mr. and Mrs.Marr's family had all been murdered in the interval; and that at this verymoment the murderer was in the house.

The person to whom she addressed this statement was a pawnbroker; and athoroughly brave man he must have been; for it was a perilous undertaking,merely as a trial of physical strength, singly to face a mysteriousassassin, who had apparently signalized his prowess by a triumph socomprehensive. But, again, for the imagination it required an effort ofself-conquest to rush headlong into the presence of one invested with acloud of mystery, whose nation, age, motives, were all alike unknown.Rarely on any field of battle has a soldier been called upon to face socomplex a danger. For if the entire family of his neighbor Marr had beenexterminated, were this indeed true, such a scale of bloodshed would seemto argue that there must have been two persons as the perpetrators; or ifone singly had accomplished such a ruin, in that case how colossal musthave been his audacity! probably, also, his skill and animal power!Moreover, the unknown enemy (whether single or double) would, doubtless,be elaborately armed. Yet, under all these disadvantages, did thisfearless man rush at once to the field of butchery in his neighbor'shouse. Waiting only to draw on his trousers, and to arm himself with thekitchen poker, he went down into his own little back-yard. On this mode ofapproach, he would have a chance of intercepting the murderer; whereasfrom the front there would be no such chance; and there would also beconsiderable delay in the process of breaking open the door. A brick wall,nine or ten feet high, divided his own back premises from those of Marr.Over this he vaulted; and at the moment when he was recalling himself tothe necessity of going back for a candle, he suddenly perceived a feebleray of light already glimmering on some part of Marr's premises. Marr'sback-door stood wide open. Probably the murderer had passed through it onehalf minute before. Rapidly the brave man passed onwards to the shop, andthere beheld the carnage of the night stretched out on the floor, and thenarrow premises so floated with gore, that it was hardly possible toescape the pollution of blood in picking out a path to the front-door. Inthe lock of the door still remained the key which had given to the unknownmurderer so fatal an advantage over his victims. By this time, the heart-shaking news involved in the outcries of Mary (to whom it occurred that bypossibility some one out of so many victims might still be within thereach of medical aid, but that all would depend upon speed) had availed,even at that late hour, to gather a small mob about the house. Thepawnbroker threw open the door. One or two watchmen headed the crowd; butthe soul-harrowing spectacle checked them, and impressed sudden silenceupon their voices, previously so loud. The tragic drama read aloud its ownhistory, and the succession of its several steps—few and summary. Themurderer was as yet altogether unknown; not even suspected. But there werereasons for thinking that he must have been a person familiarly known toMarr. He had entered the shop by opening the door after it had been closedby Marr. But it was justly argued—that, after the caution conveyed toMarr by the watchman, the appearance of any stranger in the shop at thathour, and in so dangerous a neighborhood, and entering by so irregular andsuspicious a course, (i.e., walking in after the door had been closed,and after the closing of the shutters had cut off all open communicationwith the street), would naturally have roused Marr to an attitude ofvigilance and self-defence. Any indication, therefore, that Marr had notbeen so roused, would argue to a certainty that something had occurredto neutralize this alarm, and fatally to disarm the prudent jealousies ofMarr. But this 'something' could only have lain in one simple fact, viz.,that the person of the murderer was familiarly known to Marr as that of anordinary and unsuspected acquaintance. This being presupposed as the keyto all the rest, the whole course and evolution of the subsequent dramabecomes clear as daylight. The murderer, it is evident, had opened gently,and again closed behind him with equal gentleness, the street-door. He hadthen advanced to the little counter, all the while exchanging the ordinarysalutation of an old acquaintance with the unsuspecting Marr. Havingreached the counter, he would then ask Marr for a pair of unbleachedcotton socks. In a shop so small as Marr's, there could be no greatlatitude of choice for disposing of the different commodities. Thearrangement of these had no doubt become familiar to the murderer; and hehad already ascertained that, in order to reach down the particular parcelwanted at present, Marr would find it requisite to face round to the rear,and, at the same moment, to raise his eyes and his hands to a leveleighteen inches above his own head. This movement placed him in the mostdisadvantageous possible position with regard to the murderer, who now, atthe instant when Marr's hands and eyes were embarrassed, and the back ofhis head fully exposed, suddenly from below his large surtout, had unslunga heavy ship-carpenter's mallet, and, with one solitary blow, had sothoroughly stunned his victim, as to leave him incapable of resistance.The whole position of Marr told its own tale. He had collapsed naturallybehind the counter, with his hands so occupied as to confirm the wholeoutline of the affair as I have here suggested it. Probable enough it isthat the very first blow, the first indication of treachery that reachedMarr, would also be the last blow as regarded the abolition ofconsciousness. The murderer's plan and rationale of murder startedsystematically from this infliction of apoplexy, or at least of a stunningsufficient to insure a long loss of consciousness. This opening stepplaced the murderer at his ease. But still, as returning sense mightconstantly have led to the fullest exposures, it was his settled practice,by way of consummation, to cut the throat. To one invariable type all themurders on this occasion conformed: the skull was first shattered; thisstep secured the murderer from instant retaliation; and then, by way oflocking up all into eternal silence, uniformly the throat was cut. Therest of the circ*mstances, as self-revealed, were these. The fall of Marrmight, probably enough, cause a dull, confused sound of a scuffle, and themore so, as it could not now be confounded with any street uproar—theshop-door being shut. It is more probable, however, that the signal forthe alarm passing down to the kitchen, would arise when the murdererproceeded to cut Marr's throat. The very confined situation behind thecounter would render it impossible, under the critical hurry of the case,to expose the throat broadly; the horrid scene would proceed by partialand interrupted cuts; deep groans would arise; and then would come therush up-stairs. Against this, as the only dangerous stage in thetransaction, the murderer would have specially prepared. Mrs. Marr and theapprentice-boy, both young and active, would make, of course, for thestreet door; had Mary been at home, and three persons at once had combinedto distract the purposes of the murderer, it is barely possible that oneof them would have succeeded in reaching the street. But the dreadfulswing of the heavy mallet intercepted both the boy and his mistress beforethey could reach the door. Each of them lay stretched out on the centre ofthe shop floor; and the very moment that this disabling was accomplished,the accursed hound was down upon their throats with his razor. The factis, that, in the mere blindness of pity for poor Marr, on hearing hisgroans, Mrs. Marr had lost sight of her obvious policy; she and the boyought to have made for the back door; the alarm would thus have been givenin the open air; which, of itself, was a great point; and several means ofdistracting the murderer's attention offered upon that course, which theextreme limitation of the shop denied to them upon the other.

Vain would be all attempts to convey the horror which thrilled thegathering spectators of this piteous tragedy. It was known to the crowdthat one person had, by some accident, escaped the general massacre: butshe was now speechless, and probably delirious; so that, in compassion forher pitiable situation, one female neighbor had carried her away, and puther to bed. Hence it had happened, for a longer space of time than couldelse have been possible, that no person present was sufficientlyacquainted with the Marrs to be aware of the little infant; for the boldpawnbroker had gone off to make a communication to the coroner; andanother neighbor to lodge some evidence which he thought urgent at aneighboring police-office. Suddenly some person appeared amongst the crowdwho was aware that the murdered parents had a young infant; this would befound either below-stairs, or in one of the bedrooms above. Immediately astream of people poured down into the kitchen, where at once they saw thecradle—but with the bedclothes in a state of indescribable confusion. Ondisentangling these, pools of blood became visible; and the next ominoussign was, that the hood of the cradle had been smashed to pieces. Itbecame evident that the wretch had found himself doubly embarrassed—first, by the arched hood at the head of the cradle, which, accordingly,he had beat into a ruin with his mallet, and secondly, by the gathering ofthe blankets and pillows about the baby's head. The free play of his blowshad thus been baffled. And he had therefore finished the scene by applyinghis razor to the throat of the little innocent; after which, with noapparent purpose, as though he had become confused by the spectacle of hisown atrocities, he had busied himself in piling the clothes elaboratelyover the child's corpse. This incident undeniably gave the character of avindictive proceeding to the whole affair, and so far confirmed thecurrent rumor that the quarrel between Williams and Marr had originated inrivalship. One writer, indeed, alleged that the murderer might have foundit necessary for his own safety to extinguish the crying of the child; butit was justly replied, that a child only eight months old could not havecried under any sense of the tragedy proceeding, but simply in itsordinary way for the absence of its mother; and such a cry, even ifaudible at all out of the house, must have been precisely what theneighbors were hearing constantly, so that it could have drawn no specialattention, nor suggested any reasonable alarm to the murderer. No oneincident, indeed, throughout the whole tissue of atrocities, so muchenvenomed the popular fury against the unknown ruffian, as this uselessbutchery of the infant.

Naturally, on the Sunday morning that dawned four or five hours later, thecase was too full of horror not to diffuse itself in all directions; but Ihave no reason to think that it crept into any one of the numerous Sundaypapers. In the regular course, any ordinary occurrence, not occurring, ornot transpiring until fifteen minutes after 1 A. M. on a Sunday morning,would first reach the public ear through the Monday editions of the Sundaypapers, and the regular morning papers of the Monday. But, if such werethe course pursued on this occasion, never can there have been a moresignal oversight. For it is certain, that to have met the public demandfor details on the Sunday, which might so easily have been done bycancelling a couple of dull columns, and substituting a circ*mstantialnarrative, for which the pawnbroker and the watchman could have furnishedthe materials, would have made a small fortune. By proper handbillsdispersed through all quarters of the infinite metropolis, two hundred andfifty thousand extra copies might have been sold; that is, by any journalthat should have collected exclusive materials, meeting the publicexcitement, everywhere stirred to the centre by flying rumors, andeverywhere burning for ampler information. On the Sunday se'ennight(Sunday the octave from the event), took place the funeral of theMarrs; in the first coffin was placed Marr; in the second Mrs. Marr, andthe baby in her arms; in the third the apprentice boy. They were buriedside by side; and thirty thousand laboring people followed the funeralprocession, with horror and grief written in their countenances.

As yet no whisper was astir that indicated, even conjecturally, thehideous author of these ruins—this patron of grave-diggers. Had as muchbeen known on this Sunday of the funeral concerning that person as becameknown universally six days later, the people would have gone right fromthe churchyard to the murderer's lodgings, and (brooking no delay) wouldhave torn him limb from limb. As yet, however, in mere default of anyobject on whom reasonable suspicion could settle, the public wrath wascompelled to suspend itself. Else, far indeed from showing any tendency tosubside, the public emotion strengthened every day conspicuously, as thereverberation of the shock began to travel back from the provinces to thecapital. On every great road in the kingdom, continual arrests were madeof vagrants and 'trampers,' who could give no satisfactory account ofthemselves, or whose appearance in any respect answered to the imperfectdescription of Williams furnished by the watchman.

With this mighty tide of pity and indignation pointing backwards to thedreadful past, there mingled also in the thoughts of reflecting persons anunder-current of fearful expectation for the immediate future. 'Theearthquake,' to quote a fragment from a striking passage in Wordsworth—

'The earthquake is not satisfied at once.'

All perils, specially malignant, are recurrent. A murderer, who is such bypassion and by a wolfish craving for bloodshed as a mode of unnaturalluxury, cannot relapse into inertia. Such a man, even more than theAlpine chamois hunter, comes to crave the dangers and the hairbreadthescapes of his trade, as a condiment for seasoning the insipid monotoniesof daily life. But, apart from the hellish instincts that might too surelybe relied on for renewed atrocities, it was clear that the murderer of theMarrs, wheresoever lurking, must be a needy man; and a needy man of thatclass least likely to seek or to find resources in honorable modes ofindustry; for which, equally by haughty disgust and by disuse of theappropriate habits, men of violence are specially disqualified. Were it,therefore, merely for a livelihood, the murderer whom all hearts wereyearning to decipher, might be expected to make his resurrection on somestage of horror, after a reasonable interval. Even in the Marr murder,granting that it had been governed chiefly by cruel and vindictiveimpulses, it was still clear that the desire of booty had co-operated withsuch feelings. Equally clear it was that this desire must have beendisappointed: excepting the trivial sum reserved by Marr for the week'sexpenditure, the murderer found, doubtless, little or nothing that hecould turn to account. Two guineas, perhaps, would be the outside of whathe had obtained in the way of booty. A week or so would see the end ofthat. The conviction, therefore, of all people was, that in a month ortwo, when the fever of excitement might a little have cooled down, or havebeen superseded by other topics of fresher interest, so that the newbornvigilance of household life would have had time to relax, some new murder,equally appalling, might be counted upon.

Such was the public expectation. Let the reader then figure to himself thepure frenzy of horror when in this hush of expectation, looking, indeed,and waiting for the unknown arm to strike once more, but not believingthat any audacity could be equal to such an attempt as yet, whilst alleyes were watching, suddenly, on the twelfth night from the Marr murder, asecond case of the same mysterious nature, a murder on the sameexterminating plan was perpetrated in the very same neighborhood. It wason the Thursday next but one succeeding to the Marr murder that thissecond atrocity took place; and many people thought at the time, that inits dramatic features of thrilling interest, this second case even wentbeyond the first. The family which suffered in this instance was that of aMr. Williamson; and the house was situated, if not absolutely inRatcliffe Highway, at any rate immediately round the corner of somesecondary street, running at right angles to this public thoroughfare, Mr.Williamson was a well-known and respectable man, long settled in thatdistrict; he was supposed to be rich; and more with a view to theemployment furnished by such a calling, than with much anxiety for furtheraccumulations, he kept a sort of tavern; which, in this respect, might beconsidered on an old patriarchal footing—that, although people ofconsiderable property resorted to the house in the evenings, no kind ofanxious separation was maintained between them and the other visitors fromthe class of artisans or common laborers. Anybody who conducted himselfwith propriety was free to take a seat, and call for any liquor that hemight prefer. And thus the society was pretty miscellaneous; in partstationary, but in some proportion fluctuating. The household consisted ofthe following five persons:—1. Mr. Williamson, its head, who was an oldman above seventy, and was well fitted for his situation, being civil, andnot at all morose, but, at the same time, firm in maintaining order; 2.Mrs. Williamson, his wife, about ten years younger than himself; 3. alittle grand-daughter, about nine years old; 4. a housemaid, who wasnearly forty years old; 5. a young journeyman, aged about twenty-six,belonging to some manufacturing establishment (of what class I haveforgotten); neither do I remember of what nation he was. It was theestablished rule at Mr. Williamson's, that, exactly as the clock struckeleven, all the company, without favor or exception, moved off. That wasone of the customs by which, in so stormy a district, Mr. Williamson hadfound it possible to keep his house free from brawls. On the presentThursday night everything had gone on as usual, except for one slightshadow of suspicion, which had caught the attention of more persons thanone. Perhaps at a less agitating time it would hardly have been noticed;but now, when the first question and the last in all social meetingsturned upon the Marrs, and their unknown murderer, it was a circ*mstancenaturally fitted to cause some uneasiness, that a stranger, of sinisterappearance, in a wide surtout, had flitted in and out of the room atintervals during the evening; had sometimes retired from the light intoobscure corners; and, by more than one person, had been observed stealinginto the private passages of the house. It was presumed in general, thatthe man must be known to Williamson. And in some slight degree, as anoccasional customer of the house, it is not impossible that he was.But afterwards, this repulsive stranger, with his cadaverous ghastliness,extraordinary hair, and glazed eyes, showing himself intermittinglythrough the hours from 8 to 11 P.M., revolved upon the memory of all whohad steadily observed him with something of the same freezing effect asbelongs to the two assassins in 'Macbeth,' who present themselves reekingfrom the murder of Banquo, and gleaming dimly, with dreadful faces, fromthe misty background, athwart the pomps of the regal banquet.

Meantime the clock struck eleven; the company broke up; the door ofentrance was nearly closed; and at this moment of general dispersion thesituation of the five inmates left upon the premises was precisely this:the three elders, viz., Williamson, his wife, and his female servant, wereall occupied on the ground floor—Williamson himself was drawing ale,porter, &c., for those neighbors, in whose favor the house-door had beenleft ajar, until the hour of twelve should strike; Mrs. Williamson and herservant were moving to and fro between the back-kitchen and a littleparlor; the little grand-daughter, whose sleeping-room was on thefirst floor (which term in London means always the floor raised byone flight of stairs above the level of the street), had been fast asleepsince nine o'clock; lastly, the journeyman artisan had retired to rest forsome time. He was a regular lodger in the house; and his bedroom was onthe second floor. For some time he had been undressed, and had lain downin bed. Being, as a working man, bound to habits of early rising, he wasnaturally anxious to fall asleep as soon as possible. But, on thisparticular night, his uneasiness, arising from the recent murders at No.29, rose to a paroxysm of nervous excitement which kept him awake. It ispossible, that from somebody he had heard of the suspicious-lookingstranger, or might even personally observed him slinking about. But, wereit otherwise, he was aware of several circ*mstances dangerously affectingthis house; for instance, the ruffianism of this whole neighborhood, andthe disagreeable fact that the Marrs had lived within a few doors of thisvery house, which again argued that the murderer also lived at no greatdistance. These were matters of general alarm. But there were otherspeculiar to this house; in particular, the notoriety of Williamson'sopulence; the belief, whether well or ill founded, that he accumulated, indesks and drawers, the money continually flowing into his hands; andlastly, the danger so ostentatiously courted by that habit of leaving thehouse-door ajar through one entire hour—and that hour loaded with extradanger, by the well-advertised assurance that no collision need be fearedwith chance convivial visiters, since all such people were banished ateleven. A regulation, which had hitherto operated beneficially for thecharacter and comfort of the house, now, on the contrary, under alteredcirc*mstances, became a positive proclamation of exposure anddefencelessness, through one entire period of an hour. Williamson himself,it was said generally, being a large unwieldy man, past seventy, andsignally inactive, ought, in prudence, to make the locking of his doorcoincident with the dismissal of his evening party.

Upon these and other grounds of alarm (particularly this, that Mrs.Williamson was reported to possess a considerable quantity of plate), thejourneyman was musing painfully, and the time might be within twenty-eightor twenty-five minutes of twelve, when all at once, with a crash,proclaiming some hand of hideous violence, the house-door was suddenlyshut and locked. Here, then, beyond all doubt, was the diabolic man,clothed in mystery, from No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway. Yes, that dreadfulbeing, who for twelve days had employed all thoughts and all tongues, wasnow, too certainly, in this defenceless house, and would, in a fewminutes, be face to face with every one of its inmates. A question stilllingered in the public mind—whether at Marr's there might not have beentwo men at work. If so, there would be two at present; and one ofthe two would be immediately disposable for the up-stairs work; since nodanger could obviously be more immediately fatal to such an attack thanany alarm given from an upper window to the passengers in the street.Through one half-minute the poor panic-stricken man sat up motionless inbed. But then he rose, his first movement being towards the door of hisroom. Not for any purpose of securing it against intrusion—too well heknew that there was no fastening of any sort—neither lock, nor bolt; norwas there any such moveable furniture in the room as might have availed tobarricade the door, even if time could be counted on for such an attempt.It was no effect of prudence, merely the fascination of killing fear itwas, that drove him to open the door. One step brought him to the head ofthe stairs: he lowered his head over the balustrade in order to listen;and at that moment ascended, from the little parlor, this agonizing cryfrom the woman-servant, 'Lord Jesus Christ! we shall all be murdered!'What a Medusa's head must have lurked in those dreadful bloodlessfeatures, and those glazed rigid eyes, that seemed rightfully belonging toa corpse, when one glance at them sufficed to proclaim a death-warrant.

Three separate death-struggles were by this time over; and the poorpetrified journeyman, quite unconscious of what he was doing, in blind,passive, self-surrender to panic, absolutely descended both flights ofstairs. Infinite terror inspired him with the same impulse as might havebeen inspired by headlong courage. In his shirt, and upon old decayingstairs, that at times creaked under his feet, he continued to descend,until he had reached the lowest step but four. The situation wastremendous beyond any that is on record. A sneeze, a cough, almost abreathing, and the young man would be a corpse, without a chance or astruggle for his life. The murderer was at that time in the little parlor—the door of which parlor faced you in descending the stairs; and thisdoor stood ajar; indeed, much more considerably open than what isunderstood by the term 'ajar.' Of that quadrant, or 90 degrees, which thedoor would describe in swinging so far open as to stand at right angles tothe lobby, or to itself, in a closed position, 55 degrees at the leastwere exposed. Consequently, two out of three corpses were exposed to theyoung man's gaze. Where was the third? And the murderer—where was he? Asto the murderer, he was walking rapidly backwards and forwards in theparlor, audible but not visible at first, being engaged with something orother in that part of the room which the door still concealed. What thesomething might be, the sound soon explained; he was applying keystentatively to a cupboard, a closet, and a scrutoire, in the hidden partof the room. Very soon, however, he came into view; but, fortunately forthe young man, at this critical moment, the murderer's purpose tooentirely absorbed him to allow of his throwing a glance to the staircase,on which else the white figure of the journeyman, standing in motionlesshorror, would have been detected in one instant, and seasoned for thegrave in the second. As to the third corpse, the missing corpse, viz., Mr.Williamson's, that is in the cellar; and how its local position canbe accounted for, remains a separate question much discussed at the time,but never satisfactorily cleared up. Meantime, that Williamson was dead,became evident to the young man; since else he would have been heardstirring or groaning. Three friends, therefore, out of four, whom theyoung man had parted with forty minutes ago, were now extinguished;remained, therefore, 40 per cent. (a large per centage for Williams toleave); remained, in fact, himself and his pretty young friend, the littlegrand-daughter, whose childish innocence was still slumbering without fearfor herself, or grief for her aged grand-parents. If they are gonefor ever, happily one friend (for such he will prove himself, indeed, iffrom such a danger he can save this child) is pretty near to her. Butalas! he is still nearer to a murderer. At this moment he is unnerved forany exertion whatever; he has changed into a pillar of ice; for theobjects before him, separated by just thirteen feet, are these:—Thehousemaid had been caught by the murderer on her knees; she was kneelingbefore the fire-grate, which she had been polishing with black lead. Thatpart of her task was finished; and she had passed on to another task,viz., the filling of the grate with wood and coals, not for kindling atthis moment, but so as to have it ready for kindling on the next day. Theappearances all showed that she must have been engaged in this labor atthe very moment when the murderer entered; and perhaps the succession ofthe incidents arranged itself as follows:—From the awful ejacul*tion andloud outcry to Christ, as overheard by the journeyman, it was clear thatthen first she had been alarmed; yet this was at least one and a-half oreven two minutes after the door-slamming. Consequently the alarm which hadso fearfully and seasonably alarmed the young man, must, in someunaccountable way, have been misinterpreted by the two women. It was said,at the time, that Mrs. Williamson labored under some dulness of hearing;and it was conjectured that the servant, having her ears filled with thenoise of her own scrubbing, and her head half under the grate, might haveconfounded it with the street noises, or else might have imputed thisviolent closure to some mischievous boys. But, howsoever explained, thefact was evident, that, until the words of appeal to Christ, the servanthad noticed nothing suspicious, nothing which interrupted her labors. Ifso, it followed that neither had Mrs. Williamson noticed anything; for, inthat case, she would have communicated her own alarm to the servant, sinceboth were in the same small room. Apparently the course of things afterthe murderer had entered the room was this:—Mrs. Williamson had probablynot seen him, from the accident of standing with her back to the door.Her, therefore, before he was himself observed at all, he had stunned andprostrated by a shattering blow on the back of her head; this blow,inflicted by a crow-bar, had smashed in the hinder part of the skull. Shefell; and by the noise of her fall (for all was the work of a moment) hadfirst roused the attention of the servant; who then uttered the cry whichhad reached the young man; but before she could repeat it, the murdererhad descended with his uplifted instrument upon her head, crushingthe skull inwards upon the brain. Both the women were irrecoverablydestroyed, so that further outrages were needless; and, moreover, themurderer was conscious of the imminent danger from delay; and yet, inspite of his hurry, so fully did he appreciate the fatal consequences tohimself, if any of his victims should so far revive into consciousness asto make circ*mstantial depositions, that, by way of making thisimpossible, he had proceeded instantly to cut the throats of each. Allthis tallied with the appearances as now presenting themselves. Mrs.Williamson had fallen backwards with her head to the door; the servant,from her kneeling posture, had been incapable of rising, and had presentedher head passively to blows; after which, the miscreant had but to bendher head backwards so as to expose her throat, and the murder wasfinished.

It is remarkable that the young artisan, paralyzed as he had been by fear,and evidently fascinated for a time so as to walk right towards the lion'smouth, yet found himself able to notice everything important. The readermust suppose him at this point watching the murderer whilst hanging overthe body of Mrs. Williamson, and whilst renewing his search for certainimportant keys. Doubtless it was an anxious situation for the murderer;for, unless he speedily found the keys wanted, all this hideous tragedywould end in nothing but a prodigious increase of the public horror, intenfold precautions therefore, and redoubled obstacles interposed betweenhimself and his future game. Nay, there was even a nearer interest atstake; his own immediate safety might, by a probable accident, becompromised. Most of those who came to the house for liquor were giddygirls or children, who, on finding this house closed, would go offcarelessly to some other; but, let any thoughtful woman or man come to thedoor now, a full quarter of an hour before the established time ofclosing, in that case suspicion would arise too powerful to be checked.There would be a sudden alarm given; after which, mere luck would decidethe event. For it is a remarkable fact, and one that illustrates thesingular inconsistency of this villain, who, being often so superfluouslysubtle, was in other directions so reckless and improvident, that at thisvery moment, standing amongst corpses that had deluged the little parlorwith blood, Williams must have been in considerable doubt whether he hadany sure means of egress. There were windows, he knew, to the back; butupon what ground they opened, he seems to have had no certain information;and in a neighborhood so dangerous, the windows of the lower story wouldnot improbably be nailed down; those in the upper might be free, but thencame the necessity of a leap too formidable. From all this, however, thesole practical inference was to hurry forward with the trial of furtherkeys, and to detect the hidden treasure. This it was, this intenseabsorption in one overmastering pursuit, that dulled the murderer'sperceptions as to all around him; otherwise, he must have heard thebreathing of the young man, which to himself at times became fearfullyaudible. As the murderer stood once more over the body of Mrs. Williamson,and searched her pockets more narrowly, he pulled out various clusters ofkeys, one of which dropping, gave a harsh gingling sound upon the floor.At this time it was that the secret witness, from his secret stand,noticed the fact of Williams's surtout being lined with silk of the finestquality. One other fact he noticed, which eventually became moreimmediately important than many stronger circ*mstances of incrimination;this was, that the shoes of the murderer, apparently new, and bought,probably, with poor Marr's money, creaked as he walked, harshly andfrequently. With the new clusters of keys, the murderer walked off to thehidden section of the parlor. And here, at last, was suggested to thejourneyman the sudden opening for an escape. Some minutes would be lost toa certainty trying all these keys; and subsequently in searching thedrawers, supposing that the keys answered—or in violently forcing them,supposing that they did not. He might thus count upon a brief intervalof leisure, whilst the rattling of the keys might obscure to the murdererthe creaking of the stairs under the re-ascending journeyman. His planwas now formed: on regaining his bedroom, he placed the bed againstthe door by way of a transient retardation to the enemy, that might givehim a short warning, and in the worst extremity, might give him a chancefor life by means of a desperate leap. This change made as quietly aspossible, he tore the sheets, pillow-cases, and blankets into broadribbons; and after plaiting them into ropes, spliced the different lengthstogether. But at the very first he descries this ugly addition to hislabors. Where shall he look for any staple, hook, bar, or other fixture,from which his rope, when twisted, may safely depend? Measured from thewindow-silli.e., the lowest part of the window architrave—therecount but twenty-two or twenty-three feet to the ground. Of this lengthten or twelve feet may be looked upon as cancelled, because to thatextent he might drop without danger. So much being deducted, there wouldremain, say, a dozen feet of rope to prepare. But, unhappily, there is nostout iron fixture anywhere about his window. The nearest, indeed the solefixture of that sort, is not near to the window at all; it is a spikefixed (for no reason at all that is apparent) in the bed-tester; now, thebed being shifted, the spike is shifted; and its distance from the window,having been always four feet, is now seven. Seven entire feet, therefore,must be added to that which would have sufficed if measured from thewindow. But courage! God, by the proverb of all nations in Christendom,helps those that help themselves. This our young man thankfullyacknowledges; he reads already, in the very fact of any spike at all beingfound where hitherto it has been useless, an earnest of providential aid.Were it only for himself that he worked, he could not feel himselfmeritoriously employed; but this is not so; in deep sincerity, he is nowagitated for the poor child, whom he knows and loves; every minute, hefeels, brings ruin nearer to her; and, as he passed her door, hisfirst thought had been to take her out of bed in his arms, and to carryher where she might share his chances. But, on consideration, he felt thatthis sudden awaking of her, and the impossibility of even whispering anyexplanation, would cause her to cry audibly; and the inevitableindiscretion of one would be fatal to the two. As the Alpine avalanches,when suspended above the traveller's head, oftentimes (we are told) comedown through the stirring of the air by a simple whisper, precisely onsuch a tenure of a whisper was now suspended the murderous malice of theman below. No; there is but one way to save the child; towards herdeliverance, the first step is through his own. And he has made anexcellent beginning; for the spike, which too fearfully he had expected tosee torn away by any strain upon the half-carious wood, stands firmly whentried against the pressure of his own weight. He has rapidly fastened onto it three lengths of his new rope, measuring eleven feet. He plaits itroughly; so that only three feet have been lost in the intertwisting; hehas spliced on a second length equal to the first; so that, already,sixteen feet are ready to throw out of the window; and thus, let the worstcome to the worst, it will not be absolute ruin to swarm down the rope sofar as it will reach, and then to drop boldly. All this has beenaccomplished in about six minutes; and the hot contest between above andbelow is steadily but fervently proceeding. Murderer is working hard inthe parlor; journeyman is working hard in the bedroom. Miscreant isgetting on famously down-stairs; one batch of bank-notes he has alreadybagged; and is hard upon the scent of a second. He has also sprung a coveyof golden coins. Sovereigns as yet were not; but guineas at this periodfetched thirty shillings a-piece; and he has worked his way into a littlequarry of these. Murderer is almost joyous; and if any creature is stillliving in this house, as shrewdly he suspects, and very soon means toknow, with that creature he would be happy, before cutting the creature'sthroat, to drink a glass of something. Instead of the glass, might he notmake a present to the poor creature of its throat? Oh no! impossible!Throats are a sort of thing that he never makes presents of; business—business must be attended to. Really the two men, considered simply as menof business, are both meritorious. Like chorus and semi-chorus, stropheand antistrophe, they work each against the other. Pull journeyman, pullmurderer! Pull baker, pull devil! As regards the journeyman, he is nowsafe. To his sixteen feet, of which seven are neutralized by the distanceof the bed, he has at last added six feet more, which will be short ofreaching the ground by perhaps ten feet—a trifle which man or boy maydrop without injury. All is safe, therefore, for him: which is more thanone can be sure of for miscreant in the parlor. Miscreant, however, takesit coolly enough: the reason being, that, with all his cleverness, foronce in his life miscreant has been over-reached. The reader and I know,but miscreant does not in the least suspect, a little fact of someimportance, viz., that just now through a space of full three minutes hehas been overlooked and studied by one, who (though reading in a dreadfulbook, and suffering under mortal panic) took accurate notes of so much ashis limited opportunities allowed him to see, and will assuredly reportthe creaking shoes and the silk-mounted surtout in quarters where suchlittle facts will tell very little to his advantage. But, although it istrue that Mr. Williams, unaware of the journeyman's having 'assisted' atthe examination of Mrs. Williamson's pockets, could not connect anyanxiety with that person's subsequent proceedings', nor specially,therefore, with his having embarked in the rope-weaving line, assuredly heknew of reasons enough for not loitering. And yet he did loiter.Reading his acts by the light of such mute traces as he left behind him,the police became aware that latterly he must have loitered. And thereason which governed him is striking; because at once it records—thatmurder was not pursued by him simply as a means to an end, but also as anend for itself. Mr. Williams had now been upon the premises for perhapsfifteen or twenty minutes; and in that space of time he had dispatched, ina style satisfactory to himself, a considerable amount of business. He haddone, in commercial language, 'a good stroke of business.' Upon twofloors, viz., the cellar-floor and the ground-floor, he has 'accountedfor' all the population. But there remained at least two floors more; andit now occurred to Mr. Williams that, although the landlord's somewhatchilling manner had shut him out from any familiar knowledge of thehousehold arrangements, too probably on one or other of those floors theremust be some throats. As to plunder, he has already bagged the whole. Andit was next to impossible that any arrear the most trivial should stillremain for a gleaner. But the throats—the throats—there it was thatarrears and gleanings might perhaps be counted on. And thus it appearedthat, in his wolfish thirst for blood, Mr. Williams put to hazard thewhole fruits of his night's work, and his life into the bargain. At thismoment, if the murderer knew all, could he see the open window abovestairs ready for the descent of the journeyman, could he witness the life-and-death rapidity with which that journeyman is working, could he guessat the almighty uproar which within ninety seconds will be maddening thepopulation of this populous district—no picture of a maniac in flight ofpanic or in pursuit of vengeance would adequately represent the agony ofhaste with which he would himself be hurrying to the street-door for finalevasion. That mode of escape was still free. Even at this moment, thereyet remained time sufficient for a successful flight, and, therefore, forthe following revolution in the romance of his own abominable life. He hadin his pockets above a hundred pounds of booty; means, therefore, for afull disguise. This very night, if he will shave off his yellow hair, andblacken his eyebrows, buying, when morning light returns, a dark-coloredwig, and clothes such as may co-operate in personating the character of agrave professional man, he may elude all suspicions of impertinentpolicemen; may sail by any one of a hundred vessels bound for any portalong the huge line of sea-board (stretching through twenty-four hundredmiles) of the American United States; may enjoy fifty years for leisurelyrepentance; and may even die in the odor of sanctity. On the other hand,if he prefer active life, it is not impossible that, with his subtlety,hardihood, and unscrupulousness, in a land where the simple process ofnaturalization converts the alien at once into a child of the family, hemight rise to the president's chair; might have a statue at his death; andafterwards a life in three volumes quarto, with no hint glancing towardsNo. 29 Ratcliffe Highway. But all depends on the next ninety seconds.Within that time there is a sharp turn to be taken; there is a wrong turn,and a right turn. Should his better angel guide him to the right one, allmay yet go well as regards this world's prosperity. But behold! in twominutes from this point we shall see him take the wrong one: and thenNemesis will be at his heels with ruin perfect and sudden.

Meantime, if the murderer allows himself to loiter, the ropemaker overheaddoes not. Well he knows that the poor child's fate is on the edgeof a razor: for all turns upon the alarm being raised before the murdererreaches her bedside. And at this very moment, whilst desperate agitationis nearly paralyzing his fingers, he hears the sullen stealthy step of themurderer creeping up through the darkness. It had been the expectation ofthe journeyman (founded on the clamorous uproar with which the street-doorwas slammed) that Williams, when disposable for his up-stairs work, wouldcome racing at a long jubilant gallop, and with a tiger roar; and perhaps,on his natural instincts, he would have done so. But this mode ofapproach, which was of dreadful effect when applied to a case of surprise,became dangerous in the case of people who might by this time have beenplaced fully upon their guard. The step which he had heard was on thestaircase—but upon which stair? He fancied upon the lowest: and in amovement so slow and cautious, even this might make all the difference;yet might it not have been the tenth, twelfth, or fourteenth stair? Never,perhaps, in this world did any man feel his own responsibility so cruellyloaded and strained, as at this moment did the poor journeyman on behalfof the slumbering child. Lose but two seconds, through awkwardness orthrough the self-counteractions of panic, and for her the totaldifference arose between life and death. Still there is a hope: andnothing can so frightfully expound the hellish nature of him whose balefulshadow, to speak astrologically, at this moment darkens the house of life,than the simple expression of the ground on which this hope rested. Thejourneyman felt sure that the murderer would not be satisfied to kill thepoor child whilst unconscious. This would be to defeat his whole purposein murdering her at all. To an epicure in murder such as Williams, itwould be taking away the very sting of the enjoyment, if the poor childshould be suffered to drink off the bitter cup of death without fullyapprehending the misery of the situation. But this luckily would requiretime: the double confusion of mind, first, from being roused up at sounusual an hour, and, secondly, from the horror of the occasion whenexplained to her, would at first produce fainting, or some mode ofinsensibility or distraction, such as must occupy a considerable time. Thelogic of the case, in short, all rested upon the ultra fiendishnessof Williams. Were he likely to be content with the mere fact of thechild's death, apart from the process and leisurely expansion of itsmental agony—in that case there would be no hope. But, because ourpresent murderer is fastidiously finical in his exactions—a sort ofmartinet in the scenical grouping and draping of the circ*mstances in hismurders—therefore it is that hope becomes reasonable, since all suchrefinements of preparation demand time. Murders of mere necessity Williamswas obliged to hurry; but, in a murder of pure voluptuousness, entirelydisinterested, where no hostile witness was to be removed, no extra bootyto be gained, and no revenge to be gratified, it is clear that to hurrywould be altogether to ruin. If this child, therefore, is to be saved, itwill be on pure aesthetical considerations. [5]

But all considerations whatever are at this moment suddenly cut short. Asecond step is heard on the stairs, but still stealthy and cautious; athird—and then the child's doom seems fixed. But just at that. moment allis ready. The window is wide open; the rope is swinging free; thejourneyman has launched himself; and already he is in the first stage ofhis descent. Simply by the weight of his person he descended, and by theresistance of his hands he retarded the descent. The danger was, that therope should run too smoothly through his hands, and that by too rapid anacceleration of pace he should come violently to the ground. Happily hewas able to resist the descending impetus: the knots of the splicingsfurnished a succession of retardations. But the rope proved shorter byfour or five feet than he had calculated: ten or eleven feet from theground he hung suspended in the air; speechless for the present, throughlong-continued agitation; and not daring to drop boldly on the roughcarriage pavement, lest he should fracture his legs. But the night was notdark, as it had been on occasion of the Marr murders. And yet, forpurposes of criminal police, it was by accident worse than the darkestnight that ever hid a murder or baffled a pursuit. London, from east towest, was covered with a deep pall (rising from the river) of universalfog. Hence it happened, that for twenty or thirty seconds the young manhanging in the air was not observed. His white shirt at length attractednotice. Three or four people ran up, and received him in their arms, allanticipating some dreadful annunciation. To what house did he belong? Eventhat was not instantly apparent; but he pointed with his finger toWilliamson's door, and said in a half-choking whisper—'Marr's murderer,now at work!'

All explained itself in a moment: the silent language of the fact made itsown eloquent revelation. The mysterious exterminator of No. 29 RatcliffeHighway had visited another house; and, behold! one man only had escapedthrough the air, and in his night-dress, to tell the tale.Superstitiously, there was something to check the pursuit of thisunintelligible criminal. Morally, and in the interests of vindictivejustice, there was everything to rouse, quicken, and sustain it.

Yes, Marr's murderer—the man of mystery—was again at work; at thismoment perhaps extinguishing some lamp of life, and not at any remoteplace, but here—in the very house which the listeners to this dreadfulannouncement were actually touching. The chaos and blind uproar of thescene which followed, measured by the crowded reports in the journals ofmany subsequent days, and in one feature of that case, has never to myknowledge had its parallel; or, if a parallel, only in one case—whatfollowed, I mean, on the acquittal of the seven bishops at Westminster in1688. At present there was more than passionate enthusiasm. The frenziedmovement of mixed horror and exultation—the ululation of vengeance whichascended instantaneously from the individual street, and then by a sublimesort of magnetic contagion from all the adjacent streets, can beadequately expressed only by a rapturous passage in Shelley:—

'The transport of a fierce and monstrous gladness
Spread through the multitudinous streets, fast flying
Upon the wings of fear:—From his dull madness
The starveling waked, and died in joy: the dying,
Among the corpses in stark agony lying,
Just heard the happy tidings, and in hope
Closed their faint eyes: from house to house replying
With loud acclaim the living shook heaven's cope,
And fill'd the startled earth with echoes.' [6]

There was something, indeed, half inexplicable in the instantaneousinterpretation of the gathering shout according to its true meaning. Infact, the deadly roar of vengeance, and its sublime unity, couldpoint in this district only to the one demon whose idea had brooded andtyrannized, for twelve days, over the general heart: every door, everywindow in the neighborhood, flew open as if at a word of command;multitudes, without waiting for the regular means of egress, leaped downat once from the windows on the lower story; sick men rose from theirbeds; in one instance, as if expressly to verify the image of Shelley (inv. 4, 5, 6, 7), a man whose death had been looked for through some days,and who actually did die on the following day, rose, armed himselfwith a sword, and descended in his shirt into the street. The chance was agood one, and the mob were made aware of it, for catching the wolfish dogin the high noon and carnival of his bloody revels—in the very centre ofhis own shambles. For a moment the mob was self-baffled by its own numbersand its own fury. But even that fury felt the call for self-control. Itwas evident that the massy street-door must be driven in, since there wasno longer any living person to co-operate with their efforts from within,excepting only a female child. Crowbars dexterously applied in one minutethrew the door out of hangings, and the people entered like a torrent. Itmay be guessed with what fret and irritation to their consuming fury, asignal of pause and absolute silence was made by a person of localimportance. In the hope of receiving some useful communication, the mobbecame silent. 'Now listen,' said the man of authority, 'and we shalllearn whether he is above-stairs or below.' Immediately a noise was heardas if of some one forcing windows, and clearly the sound came from abedroom above. Yes, the fact was apparent that the murderer was even yetin the house: he had been caught in a trap. Not having made himselffamiliar with the details of Williamson's house, to all appearance he hadsuddenly become a prisoner in one of the upper rooms. Towards this thecrowd now rushed impetuously. The door, however, was found to be slightlyfastened; and, at the moment when this was forced, a loud crash of thewindow, both glass and frame, announced that the wretch had made hisescape. He had leaped down; and several persons in the crowd, who burnedwith the general fury, leaped after him. These persons had not troubledthemselves about the nature of the ground; but now, on making anexamination of it with torches, they reported it to be an inclined plane,or embankment of clay, very wet and adhesive. The prints of the man'sfootsteps were deeply impressed upon the clay, and therefore easily tracedup to the summit of the embankment; but it was perceived at once thatpursuit would be useless, from the density of the mist. Two feet ahead ofyou, a man was entirely withdrawn from your power of identification; and,on overtaking him, you could not venture to challenge him as the same whomyou had lost sight of. Never, through the course of a whole century, couldthere be a night expected more propitious to an escaping criminal: meansof disguise Williams now had in excess; and the dens were innumerable inthe neighborhood of the river that could have sheltered him for years fromtroublesome inquiries. But favors are thrown away upon the reckless andthe thankless. That night, when the turning-point offered itself for hiswhole future career, Williams took the wrong turn; for, out of mereindolence, he took the turn to his old lodgings—that place which, in allEngland, he had just now the most reason to shun.

Meantime the crowd had thoroughly searched the premises of Williamson. Thefirst inquiry was for the young grand-daughter. Williams, it was evident,had gone into her room: but in this room apparently it was that the suddenuproar in the streets had surprised him; after which his undividedattention had been directed to the windows, since through these only anyretreat had been left open to him. Even this retreat he owed only to thefog and to the hurry of the moment, and to the difficulty of approachingthe premises by the rear. The little girl was naturally agitated by theinflux of strangers at that hour; but otherwise, through the humaneprecautions of the neighbors, she was preserved from all knowledge of thedreadful events that had occurred whilst she herself was sleeping. Herpoor old grandfather was still missing, until the crowd descended into thecellar; he was then found lying prostrate on the cellar floor: apparentlyhe had been thrown down from the top of the cellar stairs, and with somuch violence, that one leg was broken. After he had been thus disabled,Williams had gone down to him, and cut his throat. There was muchdiscussion at the time, in some of the public journals, upon thepossibility of reconciling these incidents with other circ*mstantialitiesof the case, supposing that only one man had been concerned in the affair.That there was only one man concerned, seems to be certain. Oneonly was seen or heard at Marr's: one only, and beyond all doubt the sameman, was seen by the young journeyman in Mrs. Williamson's parlor; and oneonly was traced by his footmarks on the clay embankment. Apparently thecourse which he had pursued was this: he had introduced himself toWilliamson by ordering some beer. This order would oblige the old man togo down into the cellar; Williams would wait until he had reached it, andwould then 'slam' and lock the street-door in the violent way described.Williamson would come up in agitation upon hearing this violence. Themurderer, aware that he would do so, met him, no doubt, at the head of thecellar stairs, and threw him down; after which he would go down toconsummate the murder in his ordinary way. All this would occupy a minute,or a minute and a half; and in that way the interval would be accountedfor that elapsed between the alarming sound of the street-door as heard bythe journeyman, and the lamentable outcry of the female servant. It isevident also, that the reason why no cry whatsoever had been heard fromthe lips of Mrs. Williamson, is due to the positions of the parties as Ihave sketched them. Coming behind Mrs. Williamson, unseen therefore, andfrom her deafness unheard, the murderer would inflict entire abolition ofconsciousness while she was yet unaware of his presence. But with theservant, who had unavoidably witnessed the attack upon her mistress, themurderer could not obtain the same fulness of advantage; and shetherefore had time for making an agonizing ejacul*tion.

It has been mentioned, that the murderer of the Marrs was not for nearly afortnight so much as suspected; meaning that, previously to the Williamsonmurder, no vestige of any ground for suspicion in any direction whateverhad occurred either to the general public or to the police. But there weretwo very limited exceptions to this state of absolute ignorance. Some ofthe magistrates had in their possession something which, when closelyexamined, offered a very probable means for tracing the criminal. But asyet they had not traced him. Until the Friday morning next afterthe destruction of the Williamsons, they had not published the importantfact, that upon the ship-carpenter's mallet (with which, as regarded thestunning or disabling process, the murders had been achieved) wereinscribed the letters 'J. P.' This mallet had, by a strange oversight onthe part of the murderer, been left behind in Marr's shop; and it is aninteresting fact, therefore, that, had the villain been intercepted by thebrave pawnbroker, he would have been met virtually disarmed. This publicnotification was made officially on the Friday, viz., on the thirteenthday after the first murder. And it was instantly followed (as will beseen) by a most important result. Meantime, within the secrecy of onesingle bedroom in all London, it is a fact that Williams had beenwhisperingly the object of very deep suspicion from the very first—thatis, within that same hour which witnessed the Marr tragedy. And singularit is, that the suspicion was due entirely to his own folly. Williamslodged, in company with other men of various nations, at a public-house.In a large dormitory there were arranged five or six beds; these wereoccupied by artisans, generally of respectable character. One or twoEnglishmen there were, one or two Scotchmen, three or four Germans, andWilliams, whose birth-place was not certainly known. On the fatal Saturdaynight, about half-past one o'clock, when Williams returned from hisdreadful labors, he found the English and Scotch party asleep, but theGermans awake: one of them was sitting up with a lighted candle in hishands, and reading aloud to the other two. Upon this, Williams said, in anangry and very peremptory tone, 'Oh, put that candle out; put it outdirectly; we shall all be burned in our beds.' Had the British party inthe room been awake, Mr. Williams would have roused a mutinous protestagainst this arrogant mandate. But Germans are generally mild and facilein their tempers; so the light was complaisantly extinguished. Yet, asthere were no curtains, it struck the Germans that the danger was reallynone at all; for bed-clothes, massed upon each other, will no more burnthan the leaves of a closed book. Privately, therefore, the Germans drewan inference, that Mr. Williams must have had some urgent motive forwithdrawing his own person and dress from observation. What this motivemight be, the next day's news diffused all over London, and of course atthis house, not two furlongs from Marr's shop, made awfully evident; and,as may well be supposed, the suspicion was communicated to the othermembers of the dormitory. All of them, however, were aware of the legaldanger attaching, under English law, to insinuations against a man, evenif true, which might not admit of proof. In reality, had Williams used themost obvious precautions, had he simply walked down to the Thames (not astone's-throw distant), and flung two of his implements into the river, noconclusive proof could have been adduced against him. And he might haverealized the scheme of Courvoisier (the murderer of Lord William Russell)—viz., have sought each separate month's support in a separate well-concerted murder. The party in the dormitory, meantime, were satisfiedthemselves, but waited for evidences that might satisfy others. No sooner,therefore, had the official notice been published as to the initials J. P.on the mallet, than every man in the house recognized at once the well-known initials of an honest Norwegian ship-carpenter, John Petersen, whohad worked in the English dockyards until the present year; but, havingoccasion to revisit his native land, had left his box of tools in thegarrets of this inn. These garrets were now searched. Petersen's tool-chest was found, but wanting the mallet; and, on further examination,another overwhelming discovery was made. The surgeon, who examined thecorpses at Williamson's, had given it as his opinion that the throats werenot cut by means of a razor, but of some implement differently shaped. Itwas now remembered that Williams had recently borrowed a large Frenchknife of peculiar construction; and accordingly, from a heap of old lumberand rags, there was soon extricated a waistcoat, which the whole housecould swear to as recently worn by Williams. In this waistcoat, and gluedby gore to the lining of its pockets, was found the French knife. Next, itwas matter of notoriety to everybody in the inn, that Williams ordinarilywore at present a pair of creaking shoes, and a brown surtout lined withsilk. Many other presumptions seemed scarcely called for. Williams wasimmediately apprehended, and briefly examined. This was on the Friday. Onthe Saturday morning (viz., fourteen days from the Marr murders) he wasagain brought up. The circ*mstantial evidence was overwhelming; Williamswatched its course, but said very little. At the close, he was fullycommitted for trial at the next sessions; and it is needless to say, that,on his road to prison, he was pursued by mobs so fierce, that, underordinary circ*mstances, there would have been small hope of escapingsummary vengeance. But upon this occasion a powerful escort had beenprovided; so that he was safely lodged in jail. In this particular jail atthis time, the regulation was, that at five o'clock, P. M. all theprisoners on the criminal side should be finally locked up for the night,and without candles. For fourteen hours (that is, until seven o'clock onthe next morning) they were left unvisited, and in total darkness. Time,therefore, Williams had for committing suicide. The means in otherrespects were small. One iron bar there was, meant (if I remember) for thesuspension of a lamp; upon this he had hanged himself by his braces. Atwhat hour was uncertain: some people fancied at midnight. And in thatcase, precisely at the hour when, fourteen days before, he had beenspreading horror and desolation through the quiet family of poor Marr, nowwas he forced into drinking of the same cup, presented to his lips by thesame accursed hands.

* * * * *

The case of the M'Keans, which has been specially alluded to, merits alsoa slight rehearsal for the dreadful picturesqueness of some two or threeamongst its circ*mstances. The scene of this murder was at a rustic inn,some few miles (I think) from Manchester; and the advantageous situationof this inn it was, out of which arose the two fold temptations of thecase. Generally speaking, an inn argues, of course, a close cincture ofneighbors—as the original motive for opening such an establishment. But,in this case, the house individually was solitary, so that no interruptionwas to be looked for from any persons living within reach of screams; andyet, on the other hand, the circumjacent vicinity was eminently populous;as one consequence of which, a benefit club had established its weeklyrendezvous in this inn, and left the peculiar accumulations in their club-room, under the custody of the landlord. This fund arose often to aconsiderable amount, fifty or seventy pounds, before it was transferred tothe hands of a banker. Here, therefore, was a treasure worth some littlerisk, and a situation that promised next to none. These attractivecirc*mstances had, by accident, become accurately known to one or both ofthe two M'Keans; and, unfortunately, at a moment of overwhelmingmisfortune to themselves. They were hawkers; and, until lately, had bornemost respectable characters: but some mercantile crash had overtaken themwith utter ruin, in which their joint capital had been swallowed up to thelast shilling. This sudden prostration had made them desperate: their ownlittle property had been swallowed up in a large social catastrophe, andsociety at large they looked upon as accountable to them for a robbery. Inpreying, therefore, upon society, they considered themselves as pursuing awild natural justice of retaliation. The money aimed at did certainlyassume the character of public money, being the product of many separatesubscriptions. They forgot, however, that in the murderous acts, which toocertainly they meditated as preliminaries to the robbery, they could pleadno such imaginary social precedent. In dealing with a family that seemedalmost helpless, if all went smoothly, they relied entirely upon their ownbodily strength. They were stout young men, twenty-eight to thirty-twoyears old; somewhat undersized as to height; but squarely built, deep-chested, broad-shouldered, and so beautifully formed, as regarded thesymmetry of their limbs and their articulations, that, after theirexecution, the bodies were privately exhibited by the surgeons of theManchester Infirmary, as objects of statuesque interest. On the otherhand, the household which they proposed to attack consisted of thefollowing four persons:—1. the landlord, a stoutish farmer—but him theyintended to disable by a trick then newly introduced amongst robbers, andtermed hocussing, i.e., clandestinely drugging the liquor of thevictim with laudanum; 2. the landlord's wife; 3. a young servant woman; 4.a boy, twelve or fourteen years old. The danger was, that out of fourpersons, scattered by possibility over a house which had two separateexits, one at least might escape, and by better acquaintance with theadjacent paths, might succeed in giving an alarm to some of the houses afurlong distant. Their final resolution was, to be guided by circ*mstancesas to the mode of conducting the affair; and yet, as it seemed essentialto success that they should assume the air of strangers to each other, itwas necessary that they should preconcert some general outline of theirplan; since it would on this scheme be impossible, without awaking violentsuspicions, to make any communications under the eyes of the family. Thisoutline included, at the least, one murder: so much was settled; but,otherwise, their subsequent proceedings make it evident that they wishedto have as little bloodshed as was consistent with their final object. Onthe appointed day, they presented themselves separately at the rustic inn,and at different hours. One came as early as four o'clock in theafternoon; the other not until half-past seven. They saluted each otherdistantly and shyly; and, though occasionally exchanging a few words inthe character of strangers, did not seem disposed to any familiarintercourse. With the landlord, however, on his return about eight o'clockfrom Manchester, one of the brothers entered into a lively conversation;invited him to take a tumbler of punch; and, at a moment when thelandlord's absence from the room allowed it, poured into the punch aspoonful of laudanum. Some time after this, the clock struck ten; uponwhich the elder M'Kean, professing to be weary, asked to be shown up tohis bedroom: for each brother, immediately on arriving, had engaged a bed.On this, the poor servant girl had presented herself with a bed-candle tolight him upstairs. At this critical moment the family were distributedthus:—the landlord, stupefied with the horrid narcotic which he haddrunk, had retired to a private room adjoining the public room, for thepurpose of reclining upon a sofa: and he, luckily for his own safety, waslooked upon as entirely incapacitated for action. The landlady wasoccupied with her husband. And thus the younger M'Kean was left alone inthe public room. He rose, therefore, softly, and placed himself at thefoot of the stairs which his brother had just ascended, so as to be sureof intercepting any fugitive from the bedroom above. Into that room theelder M'Kean was ushered by the servant, who pointed to two beds—one ofwhich was already half occupied by the boy, and the other empty: in these,she intimated that the two strangers must dispose of themselves for thenight, according to any arrangement that they might agree upon. Sayingthis, she presented him with the candle, which he in a moment placed uponthe table; and, intercepting her retreat from the room threw his arm roundher neck with a gesture as though he meant to kiss her. This was evidentlywhat she herself anticipated, and endeavored to prevent. Her horror may beimagined, when she felt the perfidious hand that clasped her neck armedwith a razor, and violently cutting her throat. She was hardly able toutter one scream, before she sank powerless upon the floor. This dreadfulspectacle was witnessed by the boy, who was not asleep, but had presenceof mind enough instantly to close his eyes. The murderer advanced hastilyto the bed, and anxiously examined the expression of the boy's features:satisfied he was not, and he then placed his hand upon the boy's heart, inorder to judge by its beatings whether he were agitated or not. This was adreadful trial: and no doubt the counterfeit sleep would immediately havebeen detected, when suddenly a dreadful spectacle drew off the attentionof the murderer. Solemnly, and in ghostly silence, uprose in her dyingdelirium the murdered girl; she stood upright, she walked steadily for amoment or two, she bent her steps towards the door. The murderer turnedaway to pursue her; and at that moment the boy, feeling that his onesolitary chance was to fly while this scene was in progress, bounded outof bed. On the landing at the head of the stairs was one murderer, at thefoot of the stairs was the other: who could believe that the boy had theshadow of a chance for escaping? And yet, in the most natural way, hesurmounted all hindrances. In the boy's horror, he laid his left hand onthe balustrade, and took a flying leap over it, which landed him at thebottom of the stairs, without having touched a single stair. He had thuseffectually passed one of the murderers: the other, it is true, was stillto be passed; and this would have been impossible but for a suddenaccident. The landlady had been alarmed by the faint scream of the youngwoman; had hurried from her private room to the girl's assistance; but atthe foot of the stairs had been intercepted by the younger brother, andwas at this moment struggling with him. The confusion of this life-and-death conflict had allowed the boy to whirl past them. Luckily he took aturn into a kitchen, out of which was a back-door, fastened by a singlebolt, that ran freely at a touch; and through this door he rushed into theopen fields. But at this moment the elder brother was set free for pursuitby the death of the poor girl. There is no doubt, that in her delirium theimage moving through her thoughts was that of the club, which met once a-week. She fancied it no doubt sitting; and to this room, for help and forsafety she staggered along; she entered it, and within the doorway oncemore she dropped down, and instantly expired. Her murderer, who hadfollowed her closely, now saw himself set at liberty for the pursuit ofthe boy. At this critical moment, all was at stake; unless the boy werecaught, the enterprise was ruined. He passed his brother, therefore, andthe landlady without pausing, and rushed through the open door into thefields. By a single second, perhaps, he was too late. The boy was keenlyaware, that if he continued in sight, he would have no chance of escapingfrom a powerful young man. He made, therefore, at once for a ditch, intowhich he tumbled headlong. Had the murderer ventured to make a leisurelyexamination of the nearest ditch, he would easily have found the boy—madeso conspicuous by his white shirt. But he lost all heart, upon failing atonce to arrest the boy's flight. And every succeeding second made hisdespair the greater. If the boy had really effected his escape to theneighboring farm-house, a party of men might be gathered within fiveminutes; and already it might have become difficult for himself and hisbrother, unacquainted with the field paths, to evade being intercepted.Nothing remained, therefore, but to summon his brother away. Thus ithappened that the landlady, though mangled, escaped with life, andeventually recovered. The landlord owed his safety to the stupefyingpotion. And the baffled murderers had the misery of knowing that theirdreadful crime had been altogether profitless. The road, indeed, was nowopen to the club-room; and, probably, forty seconds would have sufficed tocarry off the box of treasure, which afterwards might have been burst openand pillaged at leisure. But the fear of intercepting enemies was toostrongly upon them; and they fled rapidly by a road which carried themactually within six feet of the lurking boy. That night they passedthrough Manchester. When daylight returned, they slept in a thicket twentymiles distant from the scene of their guilty attempt. On the second andthird nights, they pursued their march on foot, resting again during theday. About sunrise on the fourth morning, they were entering some villagenear Kirby Lonsdale, in Westmoreland. They must have designedly quittedthe direct line of route; for their object was Ayrshire, of which countythey were natives; and the regular road would have led them through Shap,Penrith, Carlisle. Probably they were seeking to elude the persecution ofthe stage-coaches, which, for the last thirty hours, had been scatteringat all the inns and road-side cabarets hand-bills describing theirpersons and dress. It happened (perhaps through design) that on thisfourth morning they had separated, so as to enter the village ten minutesapart from each other. They were exhausted and footsore. In this conditionit was easy to stop them. A blacksmith had silently reconnoitred them, andcompared their appearance with the description of the hand-bills. Theywere then easily overtaken, and separately arrested. Their trial andcondemnation speedily followed at Lancaster; and in those days itfollowed, of course, that they were executed. Otherwise their case fell sofar within the sheltering limits of what would now be regarded asextenuating circ*mstances—that, whilst a murder more or less was not torepel them from their object, very evidently they were anxious toeconomize the bloodshed as much as possible. Immeasurable, therefore, wasthe interval which divided them from the monster Williams. They perishedon the scaffold: Williams, as I have said, by his own hand; and, inobedience to the law as it then stood, he was buried in the centre of aquadrivium, or conflux of four roads (in this case four streets),with a stake driven through his heart. And over him drives for ever theuproar of unresting London!


[1] See 'Miscellaneous Essays,' p. 17.

[2] I am not sure whether Southey held at this time his appointment to theeditorship of the 'Edinburgh Annual Register.' If he did, no doubt in thedomestic section of that chronicle will be found an excellent account ofthe whole.

[3] An artist told me in this year, 1812, that having accidentally seen anative Devonshire regiment (either volunteers or militia), nine hundredstrong, marching past a station at which he had posted himself, he did notobserve a dozen men that would not have been described in common parlanceas 'good looking.'

[4] I do not remember, chronologically, the history of gas-lights. But inLondon, long after Mr. Winsor had shown the value of gas-lighting, and itsapplicability to street purposes, various districts were prevented, formany years, from resorting to the new system, in consequence of oldcontracts with oil-dealers, subsisting through long terms of years.

[5] Let the reader, who is disposed to regard as exaggerated or romanticthe pure fiendishness imputed to Williams, recollect that, except for theluxurious purpose of basking and revelling in the anguish of dyingdespair, he had no motive at all, small or great, for attempting themurder of this young girl. She had seen nothing, heard nothing—was fastasleep, and her door was closed; so that, as a witness against him, heknew that she was as useless as any one of the three corpses. And yet hewas making preparations for her murder, when the alarm in the streetinterrupted him.

[6] 'Revolt of Islam,' canto xii.

[7] See his bitter letters to Lady Suffolk.


It is sometimes said, that a religious messenger from God does not comeamongst men for the sake of teaching truths in science, or of correctingerrors in science. Most justly is this said: but often in terms far toofeeble. For generally these terms are such as to imply, that, although nodirect and imperative function of his mission, it was yet open to him, asa permissible function—that, although not pressing with the force of anobligation upon the missionary, it was yet at his discretion—if not tocorrect other men's errors, yet at least in his own person to speak withscientific precision. I contend that it was not. I contend, that tohave uttered the truths of astronomy, of geology, &c., at the era of new-born Christianity, was not only below and beside the purposes of areligion, but would have been against them. Even upon errors of a farmore important class than errors in science can ever be—superstitions,for instance, that degraded the very idea of God; prejudices and falseusages, that laid waste human happiness (such as slavery, and manyhundreds of other abuses that might be mentioned), the rule evidentlyacted upon by the Founder of Christianity was this—Given the purificationof the well-head, once assumed that the fountains of truth are cleansed,all these derivative currents of evil will cleanse themselves. As ageneral rule, the branches of error were disregarded, and the roots onlyattacked. If, then, so lofty a station was taken with regard even to sucherrors as really had moral and spiritual relations, how much more withregard to the comparative trifles (as in the ultimate relations of humannature they are) of merely human science! But, for my part, I go further,and assert, that upon three reasons it was impossible for any messengerfrom God (or offering himself in that character) to have descended intothe communication of truth merely scientific, or economic, or worldly. Andthe three reasons are these:—First, Because such a descent would havedegraded his mission, by lowering it to the base level of a collusion withhuman curiosity, or (in the most favorable case) of a collusion with pettyand transitory interests. Secondly, Because it would have ruined hismission, by disturbing its free agency, and misdirecting its energies, intwo separate modes: first, by destroying the spiritual auctoritas (theprestige and consideration) of the missionary; secondly, by vitiating thespiritual atmosphere of his audience—that is, corrupting and misdirectingthe character of their thoughts and expectations. He that in the earlydays of Christianity should have proclaimed the true theory of the solarsystem, or that by any chance word or allusion should then, in a conditionof man so little prepared to receive such truths, have asserted or assumedthe daily motion of the earth on its own axis, or its annual motion roundthe sun, would have found himself entangled at once and irretrievably inthe following unmanageable consequences:—First of all, andinstantaneously, he would have been roused to the alarming fact, that, bythis dreadful indiscretion he himself, the professed deliverer of a newand spiritual religion, had in a moment untuned the spirituality of hisaudience. He would find that he had awakened within them the passion ofcuriosity—the most unspiritual of passions, and of curiosity in a fiercepolemic shape. The very safest step in so deplorable a situation would be,instantly to recant. Already by this one may estimate the evil, when suchwould be its readiest palliation. For in what condition would thereputation of the teacher be left for discretion and wisdom as anintellectual guide, when his first act must be to recant—and to recantwhat to the whole body of his hearers would wear the character of alunatic proposition. Such considerations might possibly induce him notto recant. But in that case the consequences are far worse. Having onceallowed himself to sanction what his hearers regard as the most monstrousof paradoxes, he has no liberty of retreat open to him. He must stand tothe promises of his own acts. Uttering the first truth of a science, he ispledged to the second; taking the main step, he is committed to all whichfollow. He is thrown at once upon the endless controversies which sciencein every stage provokes, and in none more than in the earliest. Starting,besides, from the authority of a divine mission, he could not (as othersmight) have the privilege of selecting arbitrarily or partially. If uponone science, then upon all; if upon science, then upon art; if upon artand science, then upon every branch of social economy his reformationsand advances are equally due—due as to all, if due as to any. To move inone direction, is constructively to undertake for all. Without power toretreat, he has thus thrown the intellectual interests of his followersinto a channel utterly alien to the purposes of a spiritual mission.

The spiritual mission, therefore, the purpose for which only the religiousteacher was sent, has now perished altogether—overlaid and confounded bythe merely scientific wranglings to which his own inconsiderateprecipitance has opened the door. But suppose at this point that theteacher, aware at length of the mischief which he has caused, and seeingthat the fatal error of uttering one solitary novel truth upon a matter ofmere science is by inevitable consequence to throw him upon a road leadingaltogether away from the proper field of his mission, takes the laudablecourse of confessing his error, and of attempting a return into his properspiritual province. This may be his best course; yet, after all, it willnot retrieve his lost ground. He returns with a character confessedlydamaged. His very excuse rests upon the blindness and shortsightednesswhich forbade his anticipating the true and natural consequences. Neitherwill his own account of the case be generally accepted. He will not besupposed to retreat from further controversy, as inconsistent withspiritual purposes, but because he finds himself unequal to the dispute.And, in the very best case, he is, by his own acknowledgment, tainted withhuman infirmity. He has been ruined for a servant of inspiration; and how?By a process, let it be remembered, of which all the steps are inevitableunder the same agency: that is, in the case of any primitive Christianteacher having attempted to speak the language of scientific truth indealing with the phenomena of astronomy, geology, or of any merely humanknowledge.

Now, thirdly and lastly, in order to try the question in an extreme form,let it be supposed that, aided by powers of working miracles, some earlyapostle of Christianity should actually have succeeded in carrying throughthe Copernican system of astronomy, as an article of blind belief, sixteencenturies before the progress of man's intellect had qualified him fornaturally developing that system. What, in such a case, would be the trueestimate and valuation of the achievement? Simply this, that he had thussucceeded in cancelling and counteracting a determinate scheme of divinediscipline and training for man. Wherefore did God give to man the powersfor contending with scientific difficulties? Wherefore did he lay a secrettrain of continual occasions, that should rise, by relays, through scoresof generations, for provoking and developing those activities in man'sintellect, if, after all, he is to send a messenger of his own, more thanhuman, to intercept and strangle all these great purposes? This is tomistake the very meaning and purposes of a revelation. A revelation is notmade for the purpose of showing to indolent men that which, by facultiesalready given to them, they may show to themselves; no: but for thepurpose of showing that which the moral darkness of man will not,without supernatural light, allow him to perceive. With disdain,therefore, must every thoughtful person regard the notion, that God couldwilfully interfere with his own plans, by accrediting ambassadors toreveal astronomy, or any other science, which he has commanded men, byqualifying men, to reveal for themselves.

Even as regards astronomy—a science so nearly allying itself to religionby the loftiness and by the purity of its contemplations—Scripture isnowhere the parent of any doctrine, nor so much as the silentsanctioner of any doctrine. It is made impossible for Scripture to teachfalsely, by the simple fact that Scripture, on such subjects, will notcondescend to teach at all. The Bible adopts the erroneous language of men(which at any rate it must do, in order to make itself understood), not byway of sanctioning a theory, but by way of using a fact. The Bible, forinstance, uses (postulates) the phenomena of day and night, ofsummer and winter; and, in relation to their causes, speaks by the samepopular and inaccurate language which is current for ordinary purposes,even amongst the most scientific of astronomers. For the man of science,equally with the populace, talks of the sun as rising and setting, ashaving finished half his day's journey, &c., and, without pedantry, couldnot in many cases talk otherwise. But the results, which are all thatconcern Scripture, are equally true, whether accounted for by onehypothesis which is philosophically just, or by another which is popularand erring.

Now, on the other hand, in geology and cosmology, the case is stronger.Here there is no opening for a compliance even with a language that iserroneous; for no language at all is current upon subjects that have neverengaged the popular attention. Here, where there is no such stream ofapparent phenomena running counter (as in astronomy there is) to the realphenomena, neither is there any popular language opposed to thescientific. The whole are abtruse speculations, even as regards theirobjects, nor dreamed of as possibilities, either in their true aspects ortheir false aspects, till modern times. The Scriptures, therefore, nowhereallude to such sciences, either as taking the shape of histories, appliedto processes current and in movement, or as taking the shape of theoriesapplied to processes past and accomplished. The Mosaic cosmogony, indeed,gives the succession of natural births; and probably the general outlineof such a succession will be more and more confirmed as geology advances.But as to the time, the duration, of this successive evolution, it is theidlest of notions that the Scriptures either have, or could have,condescended to human curiosity upon so awful a prologue to the drama ofthis world. Genesis would no more have indulged so mean a passion withrespect to the mysterious inauguration of the world, than the Apocalypsewith respect to its mysterious close. 'Yet the six days of Moses!' Days!But is it possible that human folly should go the length of understandingby the Mosaical day, the mysterious day of that awful agency whichmoulded the heavens and the heavenly host, no more than the ordinarynychthemeron or cycle of twenty-four hours? The period implied in aday, when used in relation to the inaugural manifestation ofcreative power in that vast drama which introduces God to man in thecharacter of a demiurgus or creator of the world, indicated one stageamongst six; involving probably many millions of years. The silliest ofnurses, in her nursery babble, could hardly suppose that the mightyprocess began on a Monday morning, and ended on Saturday night. If we areseriously to study the value and scriptural acceptation of scripturalwords and phrases, I presume that our first business will be to collatethe use of these words in one part of Scripture, with their use in otherparts, holding the same spiritual relations. The creation, for instance,does not belong to the earthly or merely historical records, but to thespiritual records of the Bible; to the same category, therefore, as theprophetic sections of the Bible. Now, in those, and in the Psalms, how dowe understand the word day? Is any man so little versed in biblicallanguage as not to know, that (except in the merely historical parts ofthe Jewish records) every section of time has a secret and separateacceptation in the Scriptures? Does an aeon, though a Grecian word, bearscripturally (either in Daniel or in St. John) any sense known to Grecianears? Do the seventy weeks of the prophet mean weeks in the senseof human calendars? Already the Psalms (xc.), already St. Peter (2dEpist.), warn us of a peculiar sense attached to the word day indivine ears. And who of the innumerable interpreters understands thetwelve hundred and sixty days in Daniel, or his two thousand and odd days,to mean, by possibility, periods of twenty-four hours? Surely the theme ofMoses was as mystical, and as much entitled to the benefit of mysticallanguage, as that of the prophets.

The sum of this matter is this:—God, by a Hebrew prophet, is sublimelydescribed as the Revealer; and, in variation of his own expression,the same prophet describes him as the Being 'that knoweth the darkness.'Under no idea can the relations of God to man be more grandly expressed.But of what is he the revealer? Not surely of those things which he hasenabled man to reveal for himself, but of those things which, were it notthrough special light from heaven, must eternally remain sealed up ininaccessible darkness. On this principle we should all laugh at a revealedcookery. But essentially the same ridicule, not more, and not less,applies to a revealed astronomy, or a revealed geology. As a fact, thereis no such astronomy or geology: as a possibility, by the a prioriargument which I have used (viz., that a revelation on such fields wouldcounteract other machineries of providence), there can be no suchastronomy or geology in the Bible. Consequently there is none.Consequently there can be no schism or feud upon these subjects betweenthe Bible and the philosophies outside.


In the person of this Mr. Schlosser is exemplified a common abuse, notconfined to literature. An artist from the Italian opera of London andParis, making a professional excursion to our provinces, is receivedaccording to the tariff of the metropolis; no one being bold enough todispute decisions coming down from the courts above. In that particularcase there is seldom any reason to complain—since really out of Germanyand Italy there is no city, if you except Paris and London, possessingmaterials, in that field of art, for the composition of an audiencelarge enough to act as a court of revision. It would be presumption in theprovincial audience, so slightly trained to good music and dancing, if itshould affect to reverse a judgment ratified in the supreme capital. Theresult, therefore, is practically just, if the original verdict was just;what was right from the first cannot be made wrong by iteration. Yet, evenin such a case, there is something not satisfactory to a delicate sense ofequity; for the artist returns from the tour as if from some new andindependent triumph, whereas, all is but the reverberation of an old one;it seems a new access of sunlight, whereas it is but a reflex illuminationfrom satellites.

In literature the corresponding case is worse. An author, passing by meansof translation before a foreign people, ought de jure to find himselfbefore a new tribunal; but de facto, he does not. Like the opera artist,but not with the same propriety, he comes before a court that neverinterferes to disturb a judgment, but only to re-affirm it. And he returnsto his native country, quartering in his armorial bearings these newtrophies, as though won by new trials, when, in fact, they are due toservile ratifications of old ones. When Sue, or Balzac, Hugo, or GeorgeSand, comes before an English audience—the opportunity is invariably lostfor estimating them at a new angle of sight. All who dislike them lay themaside—whilst those only apply themselves seriously to their study, whoare predisposed to the particular key of feeling, through which originallythese authors had prospered. And thus a new set of judges, that mightusefully have modified the narrow views of the old ones, fall by mereinertia into the humble character of echoes and sounding-boards to swellthe uproar of the original mob.

In this way is thrown away the opportunity, not only of applyingcorrections to false national tastes, but oftentimes even to the unfairaccidents of luck that befall books. For it is well known to allwho watch literature with vigilance, that books and authors have theirfortunes, which travel upon a far different scale of proportions fromthose that measure their merits. Not even the caprice or the folly of thereading public is required to account for this. Very often, indeed, thewhole difference between an extensive circulation for one book, and noneat all for another of about equal merit, belongs to no particularblindness in men, but to the simple fact, that the one has, whilstthe other has not, been brought effectually under the eyes of thepublic. By far the greater part of books are lost, not because they arerejected, but because they are never introduced. In any proper sense ofthe word, very few books are published. Technically they are published;which means, that for six or ten times they are advertised, but they arenot made known to attentive ears, or to ears prepared for attention.And amongst the causes which account for this difference in the fortune ofbooks, although there are many, we may reckon, as foremost, personalaccidents of position in the authors. For instance, with us in England itwill do a bad book no ultimate service, that it is written by a lord, ora bishop, or a privy counsellor, or a member of Parliament—though,undoubtedly, it will do an instant service—it will sell an edition orso. This being the case, it being certain that no rank will reprieve a badwriter from final condemnation, the sycophantic glorifier of the publicfancies his idol justified; but not so. A bad book, it is true, will notbe saved by advantages of position in the author; but a book moderatelygood will be extravagantly aided by such advantages. Lectures onChristianity, that happened to be respectably written and delivered, hadprodigious success in my young days, because, also, they happened to belectures of a prelate; three times the ability would not have procuredthem any attention had they been the lectures of an obscure curate. Yet onthe other hand, it is but justice to say, that, if written with threetimes less ability, lawn-sleeves would not have given them buoyancy,but, on the contrary, they would have sunk the bishop irrecoverably;whilst the curate, favored by obscurity, would have survived for anotherchance. So again, and indeed, more than so, as to poetry. Lord Carlisle,of the last generation, wrote tolerable verses. They were better than LordRoscommon's, which, for one hundred and fifty years, the judicious publichas allowed the booksellers to incorporate, along with other refuse of theseventeenth and eighteenth century, into the costly collections of the'British Poets.' And really, if you will insist on odious comparisons,they were not so very much below the verses of an amiable prime ministerknown to us all. Yet, because they wanted vital stamina, not only theyfell, but, in falling, they caused the earl to reel much more than anycommoner would have done. Now, on the other hand, a kinsman of LordCarlisle, viz., Lord Byron, because he brought real genius and power tothe effort, found a vast auxiliary advantage in a peerage and a veryancient descent. On these double wings he soared into a region of publicinterest, far higher than ever he would have reached by poetic poweralone. Not only all his rubbish—which in quantity is great—passed forjewels, but also what are incontestably jewels have been, and will be,valued at a far higher rate than if they had been raised from lessaristocratic mines. So fatal for mediocrity, so gracious for real power,is any adventitious distinction from birth, station, or circ*mstances ofbrilliant notoriety. In reality, the public, our never-sufficiently-to-be-respected mother, is the most unutterable sycophant that ever the cloudsdropped their rheum upon. She is always ready for jacobinical scoffs at aman for being a lord, if he happens to fail; she is always ready fortoadying a lord, if he happens to make a hit. Ah, dear sycophantic oldlady, I kiss your sycophantic hands, and wish heartily that I were a dukefor your sake!

It would be a mistake to fancy that this tendency to confound real meritand its accidents of position is at all peculiar to us or to our age. Dr.Sacheverell, by embarking his small capital of talent on the springtide ofa furious political collision, brought back an ampler return for hislittle investment than ever did Wickliffe or Luther. Such was hispopularity in the heart of love and the heart of hatred, that he wouldhave been assassinated by the Whigs, on his triumphal progresses throughEngland, had he not been canonized by the Tories. He was a dead man if hehad not been suddenly gilt and lacquered as an idol. Neither is the casepeculiar at all to England. Ronge, the ci-devant Romish priest (whosename pronounce as you would the English word wrong, supposing that ithad for a second syllable the final a of 'sopha,' i.e., Wronguh),has been found a wrong-headed man by all parties, and in a venial degreeis, perhaps, a stupid man; but he moves about with more eclat by farthan the ablest man in Germany. And, in days of old, the man that burneddown a miracle of beauty, viz., the temple of Ephesus, protesting, withtears in his eyes, that he had no other way of getting himself a name,has got it in spite of us all. He's booked for a ride down all history,whether you and I like it or not. Every pocket dictionary knows thatErostratus was that scamp. So of Martin, the man that parboiled, or par-roasted York Minster some ten or twelve years back; that fellow will floatdown to posterity with the annals of the glorious cathedral: he will

'Pursue the triumph and partake the gale,'

whilst the founders and benefactors of the Minster are practicallyforgotten.

These incendiaries, in short, are as well known as Ephesus or York; butnot one of us can tell, without humming and hawing, who it was thatrebuilt the Ephesian wonder of the world, or that repaired the time-honored Minster. Equally in literature, not the weight of service done, orthe power exerted, is sometimes considered chiefly—either of these mustbe very conspicuous before it will be considered at all—but the splendor,or the notoriety, or the absurdity, or even the scandalousness of thecirc*mstances [1] surrounding the author.

Schlosser must have benefitted in some such adventitious way before heever could have risen to his German celebrity. What was it thatraised him to his momentary distinction? Was it something very wicked thathe did, or something very brilliant that he said? I should ratherconjecture that it must have been something inconceivably absurd which heproposed. Any one of the three achievements stands good in Germany for areputation. But, however it were that Mr. Schlosser first gained hisreputation, mark what now follows. On the wings of this equivocalreputation he flies abroad to Paris and London. There he thrives, not byany approving experience or knowledge of his works, but through blindfaith in his original German public. And back he flies afterwards toGermany, as if carrying with him new and independent testimonies to hismerit, and from two nations that are directly concerned in his violentjudgments; whereas (which is the simple truth) he carries back a carelessreverberation of his first German character, from those who have far toomuch to read for declining aid from vicarious criticism when it will sparethat effort to themselves. Thus it is that German critics become audaciousand libellous. Kohl, Von Raumer, Dr. Carus, physician to the King ofSaxony, by means of introductory letters floating them into circles farabove any they had seen in homely Germany, are qualified by our ownnegligence and indulgence for mounting a European tribunal, from whichthey pronounce malicious edicts against ourselves. Sentinels present armsto Von Raumer at Windsor, because he rides in a carriage of QueenAdelaide's; and Von Raumer immediately conceives himself the Chancellor ofall Christendom, keeper of the conscience to universal Europe, upon allquestions of art, manners, politics, or any conceivable intellectualrelations of England. Schlosser meditates the same career.

But have I any right to quote Schlosser's words from an Englishtranslation? I do so only because this happens to be at hand, and theGerman not. German books are still rare in this country, though more (byone thousand to one) than they were thirty years ago. But I have a fullright to rely on the English of Mr. Davison. 'I hold in my hand,' asgentlemen so often say at public meetings, 'a certificate from HerrSchlosser, that to quote Mr. Davison is to quote him.' The Englishtranslation is one which Mr. Schlosser 'durchgelesen hat, und fur derengenauigkeit und richtigkeit er burgt [has read through, and for theaccuracy and propriety of which he pledges himself]. Mr. Schossler was soanxious for the spiritual welfare of us poor islanders, that he not onlyread it through, but he has even aufmerksam durchgelesen it [readit through wide awake] und gepruft [and carefully examined it]; nay, hehas done all this in company with the translator. 'Oh ye Athenians! howhard do I labor to earn your applause!' And, as the result of suchherculean labors, a second time he makes himself surety for its precision;'er burgt also dafur wie fur seine eigne arbeit' [he guarantees itaccordingly as he would his own workmanship]. Were it not for thisunlimited certificate, I should have sent for the book to Germany. As itis, I need not wait; and all complaints on this score I defy, above allfrom Herr Schlosser. [2]

In dealing with an author so desultory as Mr. Schlosser, the critic has aright to an extra allowance of desultoriness for his own share; soexcuse me, reader, for rushing at once in medias res.

Of Swift, Mr. Schlosser selects for notice three works—the 'Drapier'sLetters,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' and the 'Tale of a Tub.' With respect tothe first, as it is a necessity of Mr. S. to be forever wrong in hissubstratum of facts, he adopts the old erroneous account of Wood'scontract as to the copper coinage, and of the imaginary wrong which itinflicted on Ireland. Of all Swift's villainies for the sake ofpopularity, and still more for the sake of wielding this popularityvindictively, none is so scandalous as this. In any new life of Swift thecase must be stated de novo. Even Sir Walter Scott is not impartial; andfor the same reason as now forces me to blink it, viz., the difficulty ofpresenting the details in a readable shape. 'Gulliver's Travels' Schlosserstrangely considers 'spun out to an intolerable extent.' Many evil thingsmight be said of Gulliver; but not this. The captain is anything buttedious. And, indeed, it becomes a question of mere mensuration, that canbe settled in a moment. A year or two since I had in my hands a pocketedition, comprehending all the four parts of the worthy skipper'sadventures within a single volume of 420 pages. Some part of the space wasalso wasted on notes, often very idle. Now the 1st part contains twoseparate voyages (Lilliput and Blefuscu), the 2d, one, the 3d, five,and the 4th, one; so that, in all, this active navigator, who hasenriched geography, I hope, with something of a higher quality than yourold muffs that thought much of doubling Cape Horn, here gives us ninegreat discoveries, far more surprising than the pretended discoveries ofSinbad (which are known to be fabulous), averaging quam proxime, forty-seven small 16mo pages each. Oh you unconscionable German, built round inyour own country with circumvallations of impregnable 4tos, oftentimesdark and dull as Avernus—that you will have the face to describe dearexcellent Captain Lemuel Gulliver of Redriff, and subsequently of Newark,that 'darling of children and men,' as tedious. It is exactly because heis not tedious, because he does not shoot into German foliosity, thatSchlosser finds him 'intolerable.' I have justly transferred toGulliver's use the words originally applied by the poet to the robin-redbreast, for it is remarkable that Gulliver and the Arabian Nightsare amongst the few books where children and men find themselves meetingand jostling each other. This was the case from its first publication,just one hundred and twenty years since. 'It was received,' says Dr.Johnson, 'with such avidity, that the price of the first edition wasraised before the second could be made—it was read by the high and thelow, the learned and the illiterate. Criticism was lost in wonder. Now, onthe contrary, Schlosser wonders not at all, but simply criticises; whichwe could bear, if the criticism were even ingenious. Whereas, he utterlymisunderstands Swift, and is a malicious calumniator of the captain who,luckily, roaming in Sherwood, and thinking, often with a sigh, of hislittle nurse, [3] Glumdalcl*tch, would trouble himself slightly about whatHeidelberg might say in the next century. There is but one example on ourearth of a novel received with such indiscriminate applause as 'Gulliver;'and that was 'Don Quixote.' Many have been welcomed joyfully by a class—these two by a people. Now, could that have happened had it beencharacterized by dulness? Of all faults, it could least have had that.As to the 'Tale of a Tub,' Schlosser is in such Cimmerian vapors that nosystem of bellows could blow open a shaft or tube through which he mightgain a glimpse of the English truth and daylight. It is useless talking tosuch a man on such a subject. I consign him to the attentions of somepatriotic Irishman.

Schlosser, however, is right in a graver reflection which he makes uponthe prevailing philosophy of Swift, viz., that 'all his views weredirected towards what was immediately beneficial, which is thecharacteristic of savages.' This is undeniable. The meanness of Swift'snature, and his rigid incapacity for dealing with the grandeurs of thehuman spirit, with religion, with poetry, or even with science, when itrose above the mercenary practical, is absolutely appalling. His ownyahoo is not a more abominable one-sided degradation of humanity,than is he himself under this aspect. And, perhaps, it places thisincapacity of his in its strongest light, when we recur to the fact of hisastonishment at a religious princess refusing to confer a bishoprickupon one that had treated the Trinity, and all the profoundest mysteriesof Christianity, not with mere scepticism, or casual sneer, but with setpompous merriment and farcical buffoonery. This dignitary of the church,Dean of the most conspicuous cathedral in Ireland, had, in fullcanonicals, made himself into a regular mountebank, for the sake of givingfuller effect, by the force of contrast, to the silliest of jests directedagainst all that was most inalienable from Christianity. Ridiculing suchthings, could he, in any just sense, be thought a Christian? But, asSchlosser justly remarks, even ridiculing the peculiarities of Luther andCalvin as he did ridicule them, Swift could not be thought otherthan constitutionally incapable of religion. Even a Pagan philosopher, ifmade to understand the case, would be incapable of scoffing at anyform, natural or casual, simple or distorted, which might beassumed by the most solemn of problems—problems that rest with the weightof worlds upon the human spirit—

'Fix'd fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute.'

the destiny of man, or the relations of man to God. Anger, therefore,Swift might feel, and he felt it [7] to the end of his most wretchedlife; but what reasonable ground had a man of sense for astonishment—that a princess, who (according to her knowledge) was sincerely pious,should decline to place such a man upon an Episcopal throne? This argues,beyond a doubt, that Swift was in that state of constitutional irreligion,irreligion from a vulgar temperament, which imputes to everybody else itsown plebeian feelings. People differed, he fancied, not by more and lessreligion, but by more and less dissimulations. And, therefore, it seemedto him scandalous that a princess, who must, of course, in her heartregard (in common with himself) all mysteries as solemn masques andmummeries, should pretend in a case of downright serious business, to pumpup, out of dry conventional hoaxes, any solid objection to a man of hisshining merit. 'The Trinity,' for instance, that he viewed as thepassword, which the knowing ones gave in answer to the challenge of thesentinel; but, as soon as it had obtained admission for the party withinthe gates of the camp, it was rightly dismissed to oblivion or tolaughter. No case so much illustrates Swift's essential irreligion; since,if he had shared in ordinary human feelings on such subjects, not only hecould not have been surprised at his own exclusion from the bench ofbishops, after such ribaldries, but originally he would have abstainedfrom them as inevitable bars to clerical promotion, even upon principlesof public decorum.

As to the style of Swift, Mr. Schlosser shows himself withoutsensibility in his objections, as the often hackneyed English reader showshimself without philosophic knowledge of style in his applause. Schlosserthinks the style of Gulliver 'somewhat dull.' This shows Schlosser'spresumption in speaking upon a point where he wanted, 1st, originaldelicacy of tact; and, 2dly, familiar knowledge of English. Gulliver'sstyle is purposely touched slightly with that dulness ofcirc*mstantiality which besets the excellent, but 'somewhat dull' race ofmen—old sea captains. Yet it wears only an aerial tint of dulness; thefelicity of this coloring in Swift's management is, that it never goes thelength of wearying, but only of giving a comic air of downright Wappingand Rotherhithe verisimilitude. All men grow dull, and ought to be dull,that live under a solemn sense of eternal danger, one inch only of plank(often worm-eaten) between themselves and the grave; and, also, that seefor ever one wilderness of waters—sublime, but (like the wilderness onshore) monotonous. All sublime people, being monotonous, have a tendencyto be dull, and sublime things also. Milton and Aeschylus, the sublimestof men, are crossed at times by a shade of dulness. It is their weak side.But as to a sea captain, a regular nor'-nor'-wester, and sou'-sou'-easter,he ought to be kicked out of the room if he is not dull. It is not'ship-shape,' or barely tolerable, that he should be otherwise. Yet, afterall, considering what I have stated about Captain Gulliver's nine voyagescrowding into one pocket volume, he cannot really have much abused hisprofessional license for being dull. Indeed, one has to look out an excusefor his being so little dull; which excuse is found in the fact that hehad studied three years at a learned university. Captain Gulliver, thougha sailor, I would have you to know, was a gownsman of Cambridge: so saysSwift, who knew more about the Captain than anybody now-a-days. Cantabsare all horsem*n, ergo, Gulliver was fit for any thing, from thewooden shoon of Cambridge up to the Horse Marines.

Now, on the other hand, you, common-place reader, that (as an oldtradition) believe Swift's style to be a model of excellence, hereafter Ishall say a word to you, drawn from deeper principles. At present Icontent myself with these three propositions, which overthrow if youcan;—

1. That the merit, which justly you ascribe to Swift, isvernacularity; he never forgets his mother-tongue in exotic forms,unless we may call Irish exotic; for Hibernicisms he certainly has. Thismerit, however, is exhibited—not, as you fancy, in a gracefulartlessness, but in a coarse inartificiality. To be artless, and to beinartificial, are very different things; as different as being natural andbeing gross; as different as being simple and being homely.

2. That whatever, meantime, be the particular sort of excellence, or thevalue of the excellence, in the style of Swift, he had it in common withmultitudes beside of that age. De Foe wrote a style for all the world thesame as to kind and degree of excellence, only pure from Hibernicisms. Sodid every honest skipper [Dampier was something more] who had occasion torecord his voyages in this world of storms. So did many a hundred ofreligious writers. And what wonder should there be in this, when the mainqualification for such a style was plain good sense, natural feeling,unpretendingness, some little scholarly practice in putting together theclockwork of sentences, so as to avoid mechanical awkwardness ofconstruction, but above all the advantage of a subject, such in itsnature as instinctively to reject ornament, lest it should draw offattention from itself? Such subjects are common; but grand impassionedsubjects insist upon a different treatment; and there it is thatthe true difficulties of style commence.

3. [Which partly is suggested by the last remark.] That nearly all theblockheads with whom I have at any time had the pleasure of conversingupon the subject of style (and pardon me for saying that men of the mostsense are apt, upon two subjects, viz., poetry and style, to talkmost like blockheads), have invariably regarded Swift's style notas if relatively good [i.e. given a proper subject], but as ifabsolutely good—good unconditionally, no matter what the subject. Now,my friend, suppose the case, that the Dean had been required to write apendant for Sir Walter Raleigh's immortal apostrophe to Death, or to manypassages that I will select in Sir Thomas Brown's 'Religio Medici,' andhis 'Urn-burial,' or to Jeremy Taylor's inaugural sections of his 'HolyLiving and Dying,' do you know what would have happened? Are you awarewhat sort of ridiculous figure your poor bald Jonathan would have cut?About the same that would be cut by a forlorn scullion or waiter froma greasy eating-house at Rotterdam, if suddenly called away in vision toact as seneschal to the festival of Belshazzar the king, before a thousandof his lords.

Schlosser, after saying any thing right and true (and he really did saythe true thing about Swift's essential irreligion), usually becomesexhausted, like a boa-constrictor after eating his half-yearly dinner. Theboa gathers himself up, it is to be hoped for a long fit of dyspepsy, inwhich the horns and hoofs that he has swallowed may chance to avenge thepoor goat that owned them. Schlosser, on the other hand, retires into acorner, for the purpose of obstinately talking nonsense, until the gongsounds again for a slight refection of sense. Accordingly he likens Swift,before he has done with him, to whom? I might safely allow the readerthree years for guessing, if the greatest of wagers were depending betweenus. He likens him to Kotzebue, in the first place. How faithful theresemblance! How exactly Swift reminds you of Count Benyowski in Siberia,and of Mrs. Haller moping her eyes in the 'Stranger!' One really ispuzzled to say, according to the negro's logic, whether Mrs. Haller ismore like the Dean of St. Patrick's, or the Dean more like Mrs. Haller.Anyhow, the likeness is prodigious, if it is not quite reciprocal. Theother terminus of the comparison is Wieland. Now there is some shadowof a resemblance there. For Wieland had a touch of the comico-cynical inhis nature; and it is notorious that he was often called the GermanVoltaire, which argues some tiger-monkey grin that traversed his featuresat intervals. Wieland's malice, however, was far more playful and genialthan Swift's; something of this is shown in his romance of 'Idris,' andoftentimes in his prose. But what the world knows Wieland by is his'Oberon.' Now in this gay, musical romance of Sir Huon and his enchantedhorn, with its gleams of voluptuousness, is there a possibility that anysuggestion of a scowling face like Swift's should cross the festal scenes?

From Swift the scene changes to Addison and Steele. Steele is of lessimportance; for, though a man of greater intellectual activity [4] thanAddison, he had far less of genius. So I turn him out, as one would turnout upon a heath a ram that had missed his way into one's tulip preserve;requesting him to fight for himself against Schlosser, or others that maymolest him. But, so far as concerns Addison, I am happy to support thecharacter of Schlosser for consistency, by assuring the reader that, ofall the monstrosities uttered by any man upon Addison, and of all themonstrosities uttered by Schlosser upon any man, a thing which he saysabout Addison is the worst. But this I reserve for a climax at the end.Schlosser really puts his best leg foremost at starting, and one thinkshe's going to mend; for he catches a truth, viz., the following—that allthe brilliances of the Queen Anne period (which so many inconsideratepeople have called the Augustan age of our literature) 'point to this—that the reading public wished to be entertained, not roused to think; tobe gently moved, not deeply excited.' Undoubtedly what strikes a man inAddison, or will strike him when indicated, is the coyness andtimidity, almost the girlish shame, which he betrays in the presence ofall the elementary majesties belonging to impassioned or idealized nature.Like one bred in crowded cities, when first left alone in forests oramongst mountains, he is frightened at their silence, their solitude,their magnitude of form, or their frowning glooms. It has been remarked byothers that Addison and his companions never rise to the idea ofaddressing the 'nation' or the 'people;' it is always the 'town.' Eventheir audience was conceived of by them under a limited form. Yetfor this they had some excuse in the state of facts. A man would like atthis moment to assume that Europe and Asia were listening to him; and assome few copies of his book do really go to Paris and Naples, some toCalcutta, there is a sort of legal fiction that such an assumption issteadily taking root. Yet, unhappily, that ugly barrier of languagesinterferes. Schamyl, the Circassian chief, though much of a savage, is notso wanting in taste and discernment as to be backward in reading any bookof yours or mine. Doubtless he yearns to read it. But then, you see, thatinfernal Tchirkass language steps between our book, the darling,and him, the discerning reader. Now, just such a barrier existedfor the Spectator in the travelling arrangements of England. The very fewold heavies that had begun to creep along three or four main roads,depended so much on wind and weather, their chances of foundering were souncalculated, their periods of revolution were so cometary and uncertain,that no body of scientific observations had yet been collected to warranta prudent man in risking a heavy bale of goods; and, on the whole, evenfor York, Norwich, or Winchester, a consignment of 'Specs' was notquite a safe spec. Still, I could have told the Spectator who was anxiousto make money, where he might have been sure of a distant sale, thoughreturns would have been slow, viz., at Oxford and Cambridge. We know fromMilton that old Hobson delivered his parcels pretty regularly eighty yearsbefore 1710. And, one generation before that, it is plain, by theinteresting (though somewhat Jacobinical) letters [5] of Joseph Mede, thecommenter on the Apocalypse, that news and politics of one kind or other(and scandal of every kind) found out for themselves a sort ofcontraband lungs to breathe through between London and Cambridge; notquite so regular in their systole and diastole as the tides of ebb andflood, but better than nothing. If you consigned a packet into the properhands on the 1st of May, 'as sure as death' to speak Scottice, it wouldbe delivered within sixty miles of the capital before mid-summer. Stillthere were delays; and these forced a man into carving his world out ofLondon. That excuses the word town.

Inexcusable, however, were many other forms of expression in those days,which argued cowardly feelings. One would like to see a searchinginvestigation into the state of society in Anne's days—its extremeartificiality, its sheepish reserve upon all the impassioned grandeurs,its shameless outrages upon all the decencies of human nature. Certain itis, that Addison (because everybody) was in that meanest of conditionswhich blushes at any expression of sympathy with the lovely, the noble, orthe impassioned. The wretches were ashamed of their own nature, andperhaps with reason; for in their own denaturalized hearts they read onlya degraded nature. Addison, in particular, shrank from every bold andevery profound expression as from an offence against good taste. He durstnot for his life have used the word 'passion' except in the vulgar senseof an angry paroxysm. He durst as soon have danced a hornpipe on the topof the 'monument' as have talked of a 'rapturous emotion.' What would hehave said? Why, 'sentiments that were of a nature to prove agreeable afteran unusual rate.' In their odious verses, the creatures of that age talkof love as something that 'burns' them. You suppose at first that they arediscoursing of tallow candles, though you cannot imagine by whatimpertinence they address you, that are no tallow-chandler, upon suchpainful subjects. And, when they apostrophize the woman of their heart(for you are to understand that they pretend to such an organ), theybeseech her to 'ease their pain.' Can human meanness descend lower? As ifthe man, being ill from pleurisy, therefore had a right to take a lady forone of the dressers in an hospital, whose duty it would be to fix aburgundy-pitch plaster between his shoulders. Ah, the monsters! Then toread of their Phillises and Strephons, and Chloes, and Corydons—namesthat, by their very non-reality amongst names of flesh and blood, proclaimthe fantasticalness of the life with which they are poetically connected—it throws me into such convulsions of rage, that I move to the window, and(without thinking what I am about) throwing it up, calling, 'Police!police!' What's that for? What can the police do in the business? Why,certainly nothing. What I meant in my dream was, perhaps [but one forgetswhat one meant upon recovering one's temper], that the police shouldtake Strephon and Corydon into custody, whom I fancied at the other end ofthe room. And really the justifiable fury, that arises upon recalling suchabominable attempts at bucolic sentiments in such abominable language,sometimes transports me into a luxurious vision sinking back through onehundred and thirty years, in which I see Addison, Phillips, both John andAmbrose, Tickell, Fickell, Budgell, and Cudgell, with many others beside,all cudgelled in a round robin, none claiming precedency of another, noneable to shrink from his own dividend, until a voice seems to recall me tomilder thoughts by saying, 'But surely, my friend, you never could wish tosee Addison cudgelled? Let Strephon and Corydon be cudgelled without end,if the police can show any warrant for doing it But Addison was a man ofgreat genius.' True, he was so. I recollect it suddenly, and will back outof any angry things that I have been misled into saying by Schlosser, who,by-the-bye, was right, after all, for a wonder.

But now I will turn my whole fury in vengeance upon Schlosser. And,looking round for a stone to throw at him, I observe this. Addison couldnot be so entirely careless of exciting the public to think and feel, asSchlosser pretends, when he took so much pains to inoculate that publicwith a sense of the Miltonic grandeur. The 'Paradise Lost' had then beenpublished barely forty years, which was nothing in an age without reviews;the editions were still scanty; and though no Addison could eventuallypromote, for the instant he quickened, the circulation. If I recollect,Tonson's accurate revision of the text followed immediately upon Addison'spapers. And it is certain that Addison [6] must have diffused theknowledge of Milton upon the continent, from signs that soon followed. Butdoes not this prove that I myself have been in the wrong as well asSchlosser? No: that's impossible. Schlosser's always in the wrong; butit's the next thing to an impossibility that I should be detected in anerror: philosophically speaking, it is supposed to involve acontradiction. 'But surely I said the very same thing as Schlosser byassenting to what he said.' Maybe I did: but then I have time to make adistinction, because my article is not yet finished; we are only at pagesix or seven; whereas Schlosser can't make any distinction now, becausehis book's printed; and his list of errata (which is shocking though hedoes not confess to the thousandth part), is actually published. Mydistinction is—that, though Addison generally hated the impassioned,and shrank from it as from a fearful thing, yet this was when it combinedwith forms of life and fleshy realities (as in dramatic works), but notwhen it combined with elder forms of eternal abstractions. Hence, he didnot read, and did not like Shakspeare; the music was here too rapid andlife-like: but he sympathized profoundly with the solemn cathedralchanting of Milton. An appeal to his sympathies which exacted quickchanges in those sympathies he could not meet, but a more stationarykey of solemnity he could. Indeed, this difference is illustrateddaily. A long list can be cited of passages in Shakspeare, which have beensolemnly denounced by many eminent men (all blockheads) as ridiculous: andif a man does find a passage in a tragedy that displeases him, it issure to seem ludicrous: witness the indecent exposures of themselves madeby Voltaire, La Harpe, and many billions beside of bilious people.Whereas, of all the shameful people (equally billions and not lessbilious) that have presumed to quarrel with Milton, not one has thoughthim ludicrous, but only dull and somnolent. In 'Lear' and in 'Hamlet,' asin a human face agitated by passion, are many things that tremble on thebrink of the ludicrous to an observer endowed with small range of sympathyor intellect. But no man ever found the starry heavens ludicrous, thoughmany find them dull, and prefer a near view of a brandy flask. So in thesolemn wheelings of the Miltonic movement, Addison could find a sinceredelight. But the sublimities of earthly misery and of human frenzy werefor him a book sealed. Beside all which, Milton, renewed the types ofGrecian beauty as to form, whilst Shakspeare, without designing at allto contradict these types, did so, in effect, by his fidelity to a newnature, radiating from a Gothic centre.

In the midst, however, of much just feeling, which one could only wish alittle deeper, in the Addisonian papers on 'Paradise Lost,' there are somegross blunders of criticism, as there are in Dr. Johnson, and from theself-same cause—an understanding suddenly palsied from defective passion,A feeble capacity of passion must, upon a question of passion, constitutea feeble range of intellect. But, after all, the worst thing uttered byAddison in these papers is, not against Milton, but meant to becomplimentary. Towards enhancing the splendor of the great poem, he tellsus that it is a Grecian palace as to amplitude, symmetry, andarchitectural skill: but being in the English language, it is to beregarded as if built in brick; whereas, had it been so happy as to bewritten in Greek, then it would have been a palace built in Parian marble.Indeed! that's smart—'that's handsome, I calculate.' Yet, before a manundertakes to sell his mother-tongue, as old pewter trucked against gold,he should be quite sure of his own metallurgic skill; because else, thegold may happen to be copper, and the pewter to be silver. Are you quitesure, my Addison, that you have understood the powers of this languagewhich you toss away so lightly, as an old tea-kettle? Is it a ruled casethat you have exhausted its resources? Nobody doubts your grace in acertain line of composition, but it is only one line among many, and it isfar from being amongst the highest. It is dangerous, without examination,to sell even old kettles; misers conceal old stockings filled with guineasin old tea-kettles; and we all know that Aladdin's servant, by exchangingan old lamp for a new one, caused an Iliad of calamities: his master'spalace jumped from Bagdad to some place on the road to Ashantee; Mrs.Aladdin and the piccaninies were carried off as inside passengers; andAladdin himself only escaped being lagged, for a rogue and a conjuror, bya flying jump after his palace. Now, mark the folly of man. Most of thepeople I am going to mention subscribed, generally, to the supremeexcellence of Milton; but each wished for a little change to be made—which, and which only was wanted to perfection. Dr. Johnson, though hepretended to be satisfied with the 'Paradise Lost,' even in what heregarded as the undress of blank verse, still secretly wished it in rhyme.That's No. 1. Addison, though quite content with it in English, stillcould have wished it in Greek. That's No. 2. Bentley, though admiring theblind old poet in the highest degree, still observed, smilingly, thatafter all he was blind; he, therefore, slashing Dick, could havewished that the great man had always been surrounded by honest people;but, as that was not to be, he could have wished that his amanuensis hasbeen hanged; but, as that also had become impossible, he could wish to doexecution upon him in effigy, by sinking, burning, and destroying hishandywork—upon which basis of posthumous justice, he proceeded toamputate all the finest passages in the poem. Slashing Dick was No. 3.Payne Knight was a severer man even than slashing Dick; he professed tolook upon the first book of 'Paradise Lost' as the finest thing that earthhad to show; but, for that very reason, he could have wished, by yourleave, to see the other eleven books sawed off, and sent overboard;because, though tolerable perhaps in another situation, they really were anational disgrace, when standing behind that unrivalled portico of book 1.There goes No. 4. Then came a fellow, whose name was either not on histitle page, or I have forgotten it, that pronounced the poem to belaudable, and full of good materials; but still he could have wished thatthe materials had been put together in a more workmanlike manner; whichkind office he set about himself. He made a general clearance of alllumber: the expression of every thought he entirely re-cast: and he fittedup the metre with beautiful patent rhymes; not, I believe, out of anyconsideration for Dr. Johnson's comfort, but on principles of mereabstract decency: as it was, the poem seemed naked, and yet was notashamed. There went No. 5. Him succeeded a droller fellow than anyof the rest. A French book-seller had caused a prose French translation tobe made of the 'Paradise Lost,' without particularly noticing its Englishorigin, or at least not in the title page. Our friend, No. 6, getting holdof this as an original French romance, translated it back into Englishprose, as a satisfactory novel for the season. His little mistake was atlength discovered, and communicated to him with shouts of laughter; onwhich, after considerable kicking and plunging (for a man cannot but turnrestive when he finds that he has not only got the wrong sow by the ear,but actually sold the sow to a bookseller), the poor translator was tamedinto sulkiness; in which state ho observed that he could have wished hisown work, being evidently so much superior to the earliest form of theromance, might be admitted by the courtesy of England to take theprecedency as the original 'Paradise Lost,' and to supersede the very rudeperformance of 'Milton, Mr. John.' [7]

Schlosser makes the astounding assertion, that a compliment of Boileau toAddison, and a pure compliment of ceremony upon Addison's early Latinverses, was (credite posteri!) the making of Addison in England.Understand, Schlosser, that Addison's Latin verses were never heard of byEngland, until long after his English prose had fixed the public attentionupon him; his Latin reputation was a slight reaction from his Englishreputation: and, secondly, understand that Boileau had at no time any suchauthority in England as to make anybody's reputation; he had firstof all to make his own. A sure proof of this is, that Boileau's name wasfirst published to London, by Prior's burlesque of what the Frenchman hadcalled an ode. This gasconading ode celebrated the passage of the Rhine in1672, and the capture of that famous fortress called Skink ('le fameuxfort de'), by Louis XIV., known to London at the time of Prior's parody bythe name of 'Louis Baboon.' [8] That was not likely to recommend MasterBoileau to any of the allies against the said Baboon, had it ever beenheard of out of France. Nor was it likely to make him popular in England,that his name was first mentioned amongst shouts of laughter and mockery.It is another argument of the slight notoriety possessed by Boileau inEngland—that no attempt was ever made to translate even his satires,epistles, or 'Lutrin,' except by booksellers' hacks; and that no suchversion ever took the slightest root amongst ourselves, from Addison's dayto this very summer of 1847. Boileau was essentially, and in two senses,viz., both as to mind and as to influence, un homme borne.

Addison's 'Blenheim' is poor enough; one might think it a translation fromsome German original of those times. Gottsched's aunt, or Bodmer's wet-nurse, might have written it; but still no fibs even as to 'Blenheim.' His'enemies' did not say this thing against 'Blenheim' 'aloud,' nor hisfriends that thing against it 'softly.' And why? Because at that time(1704-5) he had made no particular enemies, nor any particular friends;unless by friends you mean his Whig patrons, and by enemies his tailor andco.

As to 'Cato,' Schlosser, as usual, wanders in the shadow of ancient night.The English 'people,' it seems, so 'extravagantly applauded' this wretcheddrama, that you might suppose them to have 'altogether changed theirnature,' and to have forgotten Shakspeare. That man must have forgottenShakspeare, indeed, and from ramollissem*nt of the brain, who couldadmire 'Cato.' 'But,' says Schlosser, 'it was only a 'fashion;' and theEnglish soon repented.' The English could not repent of a crime which theyhad never committed. Cato was not popular for a moment, nor tolerated fora moment, upon any literary ground, or as a work of art. It was an appleof temptation and strife thrown by the goddess of faction between twoinfuriated parties. 'Cato,' coming from a man without Parliamentaryconnections, would have dropped lifeless to the ground. The Whigs havealways affected a special love and favor for popular counsels: they havenever ceased to give themselves the best of characters as regards publicfreedom. The Tories, as contradistinguished to the Jacobites, knowing thatwithout their aid, the Revolution could not have been carried, mostjustly contended that the national liberties had been at least as muchindebted to themselves. When, therefore, the Whigs put forth theirman Cato to mouth speeches about liberty, as exclusively their pet,and about patriotism and all that sort of thing, saying insultingly to theTories, 'How do you like that? Does that sting?' 'Sting, indeed!'replied the Tories; 'not at all; it's quite refreshing to us, that theWhigs have not utterly disowned such sentiments, which, by their publicacts, we really thought they had.' And, accordingly, as the popularanecdote tells us, a Tory leader, Lord Bolingbroke, sent for Boothwho performed Cato, and presented him (populo spectante) with fiftyguineas 'for defending so well the cause of the people against a perpetualdictator.' In which words, observe, Lord Bolingbroke at once asserted thecause of his own party, and launched a sarcasm against a great individualopponent, viz., Marlborough. Now, Mr. Schlosser, I have mended yourharness: all right ahead; so drive on once more.

But, oh Castor and Pollux, whither—in what direction is it, that the manis driving us? Positively, Schlosser, you must stop and let me getout. I'll go no further with such a drunken coachman. Many another absurdthing I was going to have noticed, such as his utter perversion of whatMandeville said about Addison (viz., by suppressing one word, andmisapprehending all the rest). Such, again, as his point-blankmisstatement of Addison's infirmity in his official character, which wasnot that 'he could not prepare despatches in a good style,' butdiametrically the opposite case—that he insisted too much on style, tothe serious retardation of public business. But all these things are asnothing to what Schlosser says elsewhere. He actually describes Addison,on the whole, as a 'dull prosaist,' and the patron of pedantry! Addison,the man of all that ever lived most hostile even to what was good inpedantry, to its tendencies towards the profound in erudition and the non-popular; Addison, the champion of all that is easy, natural, superficial,a pedant and a master of pedantry! Get down, Schlosser, this moment; orlet me get out.

Pope, by far the most important writer, English or Continental, of his ownage, is treated with more extensive ignorance by Mr. Schlosser than anyother, and (excepting Addison) with more ambitious injustice. A falseabstract is given, or a false impression, of any one amongst his brilliantworks, that is noticed at all; and a false sneer, a sneer irrelevant tothe case, at any work dismissed by name as unworthy of notice. The threeworks, selected as the gems of Pope's collection, are the 'Essay onCriticism,' the 'Rape of the Lock,' and the 'Essay on Man.' On the first,which (with Dr. Johnson's leave) is the feeblest and least interesting ofPope's writings, being substantially a mere versification, like a metricalmultiplication-table, of common-places the most mouldy with whichcriticism has baited its rat-traps; since nothing is said worth answering,it is sufficient to answer nothing. The 'Rape of the Lock' is treated withthe same delicate sensibility that we might have looked for in Brennus, ifconsulted on the picturesque, or in Attila the Hun, if adjured to decideaesthetically, between two rival cameos. Attila is said (though no doubtfalsely) to have described himself as not properly a man so much as theDivine wrath incarnate. This would be fine in a melodrama, with Bengallights burning on the stage. But, if ever he said such a naughty thing, heforgot to tell us what it was that had made him angry; by whattitle did he come into alliance with the Divine wrath, whichwas not likely to consult a savage? And why did his wrath hurry, by forcedmarches, to the Adriatic? Now so much do people differ in opinion, that,to us, who look at him through a telescope from an eminence, fourteencenturies distant, he takes the shape rather of a Mahratta trooper,painfully gathering chout, or a cateran levying black-mail, or adecent tax-gatherer with an inkhorn at his button-hole, and supported by aselect party of constabulary friends. The very natural instinct whichAttila always showed for following the trail of the wealthiest footsteps,seems to argue a most commercial coolness in the dispensation of hiswrath. Mr. Schlosser burns with the wrath of Attila against allaristocracies, and especially that of England. He governs his fury, also,with an Attila discretion in many cases; but not here. Imagine this Huncoming down, sword in hand, upon Pope and his Rosicrucian light troops,levying chout upon Sir Plume, and fluttering the dove-cot of theSylphs. Pope's 'duty it was,' says this demoniac, to 'scourge the folliesof good society,' and also 'to break with the aristocracy.' No, surely?something short of a total rupture would have satisfied the claims ofduty? Possibly; but it would not have satisfied Schlosser. And Pope'sguilt consists in having made his poem an idol or succession of picturesrepresenting the gayer aspects of society as it really was, and supportedby a comic interest of the mock-heroic derived from a playful machinery,instead of converting it into a bloody satire. Pope, however, did notshrink from such assaults on the aristocracy, if these made any part ofhis duties. Such assaults he made twice at least too often for his ownpeace, and perhaps for his credit at this day. It is useless, however, totalk of the poem as a work of art, with one who sees none of its exquisitegraces, and can imagine his countryman Zacharia equal to a competitionwith Pope. But this it may be right to add, that the 'Rape of the Lock'was not borrowed from the 'Lutrin' of Boileau. That was impossible.Neither was it suggested by the 'Lutrin.' The story in Herodotus of thewars between cranes and pigmies, or the Batrachomyomachia (so absurdlyascribed to Homer) might have suggested the idea more naturally. Boththese, there is proof that Pope had read: there is none that he hadread the 'Lutrin,' nor did he read French with ease to himself. The'Lutrin,' meantime, is as much below the 'Rape of the Lock' in brilliancyof treatment, as it is dissimilar in plan or the quality of its pictures.

The 'Essay on Man' is a more thorny subject. When a man finds himselfattacked and defended from all quarters, and on all varieties ofprinciple, he is bewildered. Friends are as dangerous as enemies. He mustnot defy a bristling enemy, if he cares for repose; he must not disown azealous defender, though making concessions on his own behalf notagreeable to himself; he must not explain away ugly phrases in onedirection, or perhaps he is recanting the very words of his 'guide,philosopher, and friend,' who cannot safely be taxed with having first ledhim into temptation; he must not explain them away in another direction,or he runs full tilt into the wrath of mother Church—who will soon bringhim to his senses by penance. Long lents, and no lampreys allowed, wouldsoon cauterize the proud flesh of heretical ethics. Pope did wisely,situated as he was, in a decorous nation, and closely connected, uponprinciples of fidelity under political suffering, with the RomanCatholics, to say little in his own defence. That defence, and anyreversionary cudgelling which it might entail upon the Quixote undertaker,he left—meekly but also slyly, humbly but cunningly—to those whom heprofessed to regard as greater philosophers than himself. All partiesfound their account in the affair. Pope slept in peace; several pugnaciousgentlemen up and down Europe expectorated much fiery wrath in dusting eachother's jackets; and Warburton, the attorney, finally earned hisbishoprick in the service of whitewashing a writer, who was aghast atfinding himself first trampled on as a deist, and then exalted as adefender of the faith. Meantime, Mr. Schlosser mistakes Pope's courtesy,when he supposes his acknowledgments to Lord Bolingbroke sincere in theirwhole extent.

Of Pope's 'Homer' Schlosser think fit to say, amongst other evil things,which it really does deserve (though hardly in comparison with theGerman 'Homer' of the ear-splitting Voss), 'that Pope pocketed thesubscription of the "Odyssey," and left the work to be done by hisunderstrappers.' Don't tell fibs, Schlosser. Never do that any more.True it is, and disgraceful enough, that Pope (like modern contractors fora railway or a loan) let off to sub-contractors several portions of theundertaking. He was perhaps not illiberal in the terms of his contracts.At least I know of people now-a-days (much better artists) that wouldexecute such contracts, and enter into any penalties for keeping time atthirty per cent. less. But navies and billbrokers, that are in excessnow, then were scarce. Still the affair, though not mercenary, wasilliberal in a higher sense of art; and no anecdote shows more pointedlyPope's sense of the mechanic fashion, in which his own previous share ofthe Homeric labor had been executed. It was disgraceful enough, and needsno exaggeration. Let it, therefore, be reported truly: Pope personallytranslated one-half of the 'Odyssey'—a dozen books he turned out of hisown oven: and, if you add the Batrachomyomachia, his dozen was a baker'sdozen. The journeyman did the other twelve; were regularly paid; regularlyturned off when the job was out of hand; and never once had to 'strike forwages.' How much beer was allowed, I cannot say. This is the truth of thematter. So no more fibbing, Schlosser, if you please.

But there remains behind all these labors of Pope, the 'Dunciad,' which isby far his greatest. I shall not, within the narrow bounds assigned to me,enter upon a theme so exacting; for, in this instance, I should have tofight not against Schlosser only, but against Dr. Johnson, who hasthoroughly misrepresented the nature of the 'Dunciad,' and, consequently,could not measure its merits. Neither he, nor Schlosser, in fact, everread more than a few passages of this admirable poem. But the villany istoo great for a brief exposure. One thing only I will notice ofSchlosser's misrepresentations. He asserts (not when directly speaking ofPope, but afterwards, under the head of Voltaire) that the French author'strivial and random Temple de Gout 'shows the superiority in thisspecies of poetry to have been greatly on the side of the Frenchman.'Let's hear a reason, though but a Schlosser reason, for this opinion:know, then, all men whom it concerns, that 'the Englishman's satire onlyhit such people as would never have been known without his mention ofthem, whilst Voltaire selected those who were still called great, andtheir respective schools.' Pope's men, it seems, never had beenfamous—Voltaire's might cease to be so, but as yet they had notceased; as yet they commanded interest. Now mark how I will put threebullets into that plank, riddle it so that the leak shall not be stoppedby all the old hats in Heidelberg, and Schlosser will have to swim for hislife. First, he is forgetting that, by his own previous confession,Voltaire, not less than Pope, had 'immortalized a great manyinsignificant persons;' consequently, had it been any fault to doso, each alike was caught in that fault; and insignificant as the peoplemight be, if they could be 'immortalized,' then we have Schlosserhimself confessing to the possibility that poetic splendor should create asecondary interest where originally there had been none. Secondly, thequestion of merit does not arise from the object of the archer, but fromthe style of his archery. Not the choice of victims, but the executiondone is what counts. Even for continued failures it would pleadadvantageously, much more for continued and brilliant successes, that Popefired at an object offering no sufficient breadth of mark. Thirdly, it isthe grossest of blunders to say that Pope's objects of satire were obscureby comparison with Voltaire's. True, the Frenchman's example of a scholar,viz., the French Salmasius, was most accomplished. But so was theEnglishman's scholar, viz., the English Bentley. Each was absolutelywithout a rival in his own day. But the day of Bentley was the very day ofPope. Pope's man had not even faded; whereas the day of Salmasius, asrespected Voltaire had gone by for more than half a century. As to Dacier,'which Dacier, Bezonian?' The husband was a passable scholar—butmadame was a poor sneaking fellow, fit only for the usher of a boarding-school. All this, however, argues Schlosser's two-fold ignorance—first,of English authors; second, of the 'Dunciad;'—else he would have knownthat even Dennis, mad John Dennis, was a much cleverer man than most ofthose alluded to by Voltaire. Cibber, though slightly a coxcomb, was borna brilliant man. Aaron Hill was so lustrous, that even Pope's venom felloff spontaneously, like rain from the plumage of a pheasant, leaving himto 'mount far upwards with the swans of Thanes'—and, finally, let it notbe forgotten, that Samuel Clarke Burnet, of the Charterhouse, and SirIsaac Newton, did not wholly escape tasting the knout; if that ratherimpeaches the equity, and sometimes the judgment of Pope, at least itcontributes to show the groundlessness of Schlosser's objection—that thepopulation of the Dunciad, the characters that filled its stage, wereinconsiderable.


It is, or it would be, if Mr. Schlosser were himself more interesting,luxurious to pursue his ignorance as to facts, and the craziness of hisjudgment as to the valuation of minds, throughout his comparison of Burkewith Fox. The force of antithesis brings out into a feeble life ofmeaning, what, in its own insulation, had been languishing mortally intononsense. The darkness of his 'Burke' becomes visible darkness under theglimmering that steals upon it from the desperate commonplaces of this'Fox.' Fox is painted exactly as he would have been painted fifty yearsago by any pet subaltern of the Whig club, enjoying free pasture inDevonshire House. The practised reader knows well what is coming. Fox is'formed after the model of the ancients'—Fox is 'simple'—Fox is'natural'—Fox is 'chaste'—Fox is 'forcible;' why yes, in a sense, Fox iseven 'forcible:' but then, to feel that he was so, you must have heardhim; whereas, for forty years he has been silent. We of 1847, that canonly read him, hearing Fox described as forcible, are disposed torecollect Shakspeare's Mr. Feeble amongst Falstaff's recruits, who also isdescribed as forcible, viz., as the 'most forcible Feeble.' And,perhaps, a better description could not be devised for Fox himself—sofeeble was he in matter, so forcible in manner; so powerful for instanteffect, so impotent for posterity. In the Pythian fury of his gestures—inhis screaming voice—in his directness of purpose, Fox would now remindyou of some demon steam-engine on a railroad, some Fire-king or Salmoneus,that had counterfeited, because he could not steal, Jove's thunderbolts;hissing, bubbling, snorting, fuming; demoniac gas, you think—gas fromAcheron must feed that dreadful system of convulsions. But pump out theimaginary gas, and, behold! it is ditch-water. Fox, as Mr. Schlosserrightly thinks, was all of a piece—simple in his manners, simple in hisstyle, simple in his thoughts. No waters in him turbid with newcrystalizations; everywhere the eye can see to the bottom. No music inhim dark with Cassandra meanings. Fox, indeed, disturb decent gentlemenby 'allusions to all the sciences, from the integral calculus andmetaphysics to navigation!' Fox would have seen you hanged first. Burke,on the other hand, did all that, and other wickedness besides, which fillsan 8vo page in Schlosser; and Schlosser crowns his enormities by charginghim, the said Burke (p. 99), with 'wearisome tediousness.' Among my ownacquaintances are several old women, who think on this point precisely asSchlosser thinks; and they go further, for they even charge Burke with'tedious wearisomeness.' Oh, sorrowful woe, and also woeful sorrow, whenan Edmund Burke arises, like a cheeta or hunting leopard coupled in atiger-chase with a German poodle. To think, in a merciful spirit, of thejungle—barely to contemplate, in a temper of humanity, theincomprehensible cane-thickets, dark and bristly, into which that bloodycheeta will drag that unoffending poodle!

But surely the least philosophic of readers, who hates philosophy 'as toador asp,' must yet be aware, that, where new growths are not germinating,it is no sort of praise to be free from the throes of growth. Whereexpansion is hopeless, it is little glory to have escaped distortion. Noris it any blame that the rich fermentation of grapes should disturb thetransparency of their golden fluids. Fox had nothing new to tell us, nordid he hold a position amongst men that required or would even haveallowed him to tell anything new. He was helmsman to a party; what he hadto do, though seeming to give orders, was simply to repeat theirorders—'Port your helm,' said the party; 'Port it is,' replied thehelmsman.—But Burke was no steersman; he was the Orpheus that sailed withthe Argonauts; he was their seer, seeing more in his visions than healways understood himself; he was their watcher through the hours ofnight; he was their astrological interpreter. Who complains of a prophetfor being a little darker of speech than a post-office directory? or ofhim that reads the stars for being sometimes perplexed?

But, even as to facts, Schlosser is always blundering. Post-officedirectories would be of no use to him; nor link-boys; nor blazingtar-barrels. He wanders in a fog such as sits upon the banks of Cocytus.He fancies that Burke, in his lifetime, was popular. Of course, itis so natural to be popular by means of 'wearisome tediousness,'that Schlosser, above all people, should credit such a tale. Burke hasbeen dead just fifty years, come next autumn. I remember the time fromthis accident—that my own nearest relative stepped on a day of October,1797, into that same suite of rooms at Bath (North Parade) from which, sixhours before, the great man had been carried out to die at Beaconsfield.It is, therefore, you see, fifty years. Now, ever since then, hiscollective works have been growing in bulk by the incorporation ofjuvenile essays (such as his 'European Settlements,' his 'Essay on theSublime,' on 'Lord Bolingbroke,' &c.) or (as more recently) by theposthumous publication of his MSS; [9] and yet, ever since then, in spiteof growing age and growing bulk, are more in demand. At this time, half acentury after his last sigh, Burke is popular; a thing, let me tellyou, Schlosser, which never happened before to a writer steeped to hislips in personal politics. What a tilth of intellectual lava mustthat man have interfused amongst the refuse and scoria of such moulderingparty rubbish, to force up a new verdure and laughing harvests, annuallyincreasing for new generations! Popular he is now, but popular hewas not in his own generation. And how could Schlosser have the face tosay that he was? Did he never hear the notorious anecdote, that at oneperiod Burke obtained the sobriquet of 'dinner-bell?' And why? Notas one who invited men to a banquet by his gorgeous eloquence, but as onethat gave a signal to shoals in the House of Commons, for seeking refugein a literal dinner from the oppression of his philosophy. Thiswas, perhaps, in part a scoff of his opponents. Yet there must have beensome foundation for the scoff, since, at an earlier stage of Burke'scareer, Goldsmith had independently said, that this great orator

————'went on refining, And thought of convincing, whilst they thought of dining.'

I blame neither party. It ought not to be expected of any popularbody that it should be patient of abstractions amongst the intensities ofparty-strife, and the immediate necessities of voting. No deliberativebody would less have tolerated such philosophic exorbitations from publicbusiness than the agora of Athens, or the Roman senate. So far theerror was in Burke, not in the House of Commons. Yet, also, on the otherside, it must be remembered, that an intellect of Burke's combining powerand enormous compass, could not, from necessity of nature, abstain fromsuch speculations. For a man to reach a remote posterity, it is sometimesnecessary that he should throw his voice over to them in a vast arch—itmust sweep a parabola—which, therefore, rises high above the heads ofthose next to him, and is heard by the bystanders but indistinctly, likebees swarming in the upper air before they settle on the spot fit forhiving.

See, therefore, the immeasurableness of misconception. Of all public men,that stand confessedly in the first rank as to splendor of intellect,Burke was the least popular at the time when our blind friend Schlosserassumes him to have run off with the lion's share of popularity. Fox, onthe other hand, as the leader of opposition, was at that time a householdterm of love or reproach, from one end of the island to the other. To thevery children playing in the streets, Pitt and Fox, throughout Burke'sgeneration, were pretty nearly as broad distinctions, and as much a war-cry, as English and French, Roman and Punic. Now, however, all this isaltered. As regards the relations between the two Whigs whom Schlosser sosteadfastly delighteth to misrepresent,

'Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer'

for that intellectual potentate, Edmund Burke, the man whose true mode ofpower has never yet been truly investigated; whilst Charles Fox is knownonly as an echo is known, and for any real effect of intellect uponthis generation, for anything but the 'whistling of a name,' the Fox of1780-1807 sleeps where the carols of the larks are sleeping, thatgladdened the spring-tides of those years—sleeps with the roses thatglorified the beauty of their summers. [10]


Schlosser talks of Junius, who is to him, as to many people, more thanentirely the enigma of an enigma, Hermes Trismegistus, or the mediaevalPrester John. Not only are most people unable to solve the enigma, butthey have no idea of what it is that they are to solve. I have to informSchlosser that there are three separate questions about Junius, of whichhe has evidently no distinct knowledge, and cannot, therefore, have manychances to spare for settling them. The three questions are these:—A. Whowas Junius? B. What was it that armed Junius with a power sounaccountable at this day over the public mind? C. Why, having actuallyexercised this power, and gained under his masque far more than he everhoped to gain, did this Junius not come forward in his own person,when all the legal danger had long passed away, to claim a distinctionthat for him (among the vainest of men) must have been more preciousthan his heart's blood? The two questions, B and C, I have examined inpast times, and I will not here repeat my explanations further than tosay, with respect to the last, that the reason for the author not claiminghis own property was this, because he dared not; because it would havebeen infamy for him to avow himself as Junius; because it would haverevealed a crime and published a crime in his own earlier life, for whichmany a man is transported in our days, and for less than which many a manhas been in past days hanged, broken on the wheel, burned, gibbeted, orimpaled. To say that he watched and listened at his master's key-holes, isnothing. It was not key-holes only that he made free with, but keys; hetampered with his master's seals; he committed larcenies; not, like abrave man, risking his life on the highway, but petty larcenies—larceniesin a dwelling-house—larcenies under the opportunities of a confidentialsituation—crimes which formerly, in the days of Junius, our bloody codenever pardoned in villains of low degree. Junius was in the situation ofLord Byron's Lara, or, because Lara is a plagiarism, of Harriet Lee'sKraitzrer. But this man, because he had money, friends, and talents,instead of going to prison, took himself off for a jaunt to the continent.From the continent, in full security and in possession of the otium cumdignitate, he negotiated with the government, whom he had alarmed bypublishing the secrets which he had stolen. He succeeded. He sold himselfto great advantage. Bought and sold he was; and of course it is understoodthat, if you buy a knave, and expressly in consideration of his knaveries,you secretly undertake not to hang him. 'Honor bright!' Lord Barringtonmight certainly have indicted Junius at the Old Bailey, and had a reasonfor wishing to do so; but George III., who was a party to the negotiation,and all his ministers, would have said, with fits of laughter—'Oh, comenow, my lord, you must not do that. For, since we have bargained for aprice to send him out as a member of council to Bengal, you see clearlythat we could not possibly hang him before we had fulfilled our bargain.Then it is true we might hang him after he comes back. But, since the man(being a clever man) has a fair chance in the interim of rising to beGovernor-General, we put it to your candor, Lord Barrington, whether itwould be for the public service to hang his excellency?' In fact, he mightprobably have been Governor-General, had his bad temper not overmasteredhim. Had he not quarrelled so viciously with Mr. Hastings, it is ten toone that he might, by playing his cards well, have succeeded him. As itwas, after enjoying an enormous salary, he returned to England—notGovernor-General, certainly, but still in no fear of being hanged. Insteadof hanging him, on second thoughts, Government gave him a red ribbon. Herepresented a borough in Parliament. He was an authority upon Indianaffairs. He was caressed by the Whig party. He sat at good men's tables.He gave for toasts—Joseph Surface sentiments at dinner parties—'The man that betrays' [something or other]—'the man that sneaks into'[other men's portfolios, perhaps]—'is'—ay, what is he? Why he is,perhaps, a Knight of the Bath, has a sumptuous mansion in St. James'sSquare, dies full of years and honor, has a pompous funeral, and fearsonly some such epitaph as this—'Here lies, in a red ribbon, the man whobuilt a great prosperity on the basis of a great knavery.' I complainheavily of Mr. Taylor, the very able unmasker of Junius, for blinking thewhole questions B and C. He it is that has settled the question A, so thatit will never be re-opened by a man of sense. A man who doubts, afterreally reading Mr. Taylor's work, is not only a blockhead, but anirreclaimable blockhead. It is true that several men, among them LordBrougham, whom Schlosser (though hating him, and kicking him) cites, stillprofess scepticism. But the reason is evident: they have not readthe book, they have only heard of it. They are unacquainted with thestrongest arguments, and even with the nature of the evidence. [11] LordBrougham, indeed, is generally reputed to have reviewed Mr. Taylor's book.That may be: it is probable enough: what I am denying is not at allthat Lord Brougham reviewed Mr. Taylor, but that Lord Brougham readMr. Taylor. And there is not much wonder in that, when we see professedwriters on the subject—bulky writers—writers of Answers and Refutations,dispensing with the whole of Mr. Taylor's book, single paragraphs of whichwould have forced them to cancel their own. The possibility of scepticism,after really reading Mr. Taylor's book, would be the strongestexemplification upon record of Sancho's proverbial reproach, that a man'wanted better bread than was made of wheat—' would be the old caserenewed from the scholastic grumblers 'that some men do not know when theyare answered.' They have got their quietus, and they still continue to'maunder' on with objections long since disposed of. In fact, it is nottoo strong a thing to say—and Chief Justice Dallas did say somethinglike it—that if Mr. Taylor is not right, if Sir Philip Francis is notJunius, then was no man ever yet hanged on sufficient evidence. Evenconfession is no absolute proof. Even confessing to a crime, the man maybe mad. Well, but at least seeing is believing: if the court sees a mancommit an assault, will not that suffice? Not at all: ocular delusionson the largest scale are common. What's a court? Lawyers have no bettereyes than other people. Their physics are often out of repair, and wholecities have been known to see things that could have no existence. Now,all other evidence is held to be short of this blank seeing or blankconfessing. But I am not at all sure of that. Circ*mstantial evidence,that multiplies indefinitely its points of internexus with knownadmitted facts, is more impressive than direct testimony. If you detect afellow with a large sheet of lead that by many (to wit seventy) salientangles, that by tedious (to wit thirty) reentrant angles, fits into andowns its sisterly relationship to all that is left of the lead upon yourroof—this tight fit will weigh more with a jury than even if my lordchief justice should jump into the witness-box, swearing that, withjudicial eyes, he saw the vagabond cutting the lead whilst he himself satat breakfast; or even than if the vagabond should protest before thishonorable court that he did cut the lead, in order that he (the saidvagabond) might have hot rolls and coffee as well as my lord, the witness.If Mr. Taylor's body of evidence does not hold water, then is there noevidence extant upon any question, judicial or not judicial, that will.

But I blame Mr. Taylor heavily for throwing away the whole argumentapplicable to B and C; not as any debt that rested particularly uponhim to public justice; but as a debt to the integrity of his ownbook. That book is now a fragment; admirable as regards A; but (byomitting B and C) not sweeping the whole area of the problem. There yetremains, therefore, the dissatisfaction which is always likely to arise—not from the smallest allegatio falsi, but from the large suppressioveri. B, which, on any other solution than the one I have proposed, isperfectly unintelligible, now becomes plain enough. To imagine a heavy,coarse, hard-working government, seriously affected by such a bauble asthey would consider performances on the tight rope of style, is meremidsummer madness. 'Hold your absurd tongue,' would any of the ministershave said to a friend descanting on Junius as a powerful artist of style—'do you dream, dotard, that this baby's rattle is the thing that keeps usfrom sleeping? Our eyes are fixed on something else: that fellow, whoeverhe is, knows what he ought not to know; he has had his hand in some ofour pockets: he's a good locksmith, is that Junius; and before he reachesTyburn, who knows what amount of mischief he may do to self and partners?'The rumor that ministers were themselves alarmed (which was the nakedtruth) travelled downwards; but the why did not travel; and theinnumerable blockheads of lower circles, not understanding the real causeof fear, sought a false one in the supposed thunderbolts of the rhetoric.Opera-house thunderbolts they were: and strange it is, that grave menshould fancy newspapers, teeming (as they have always done) withPublicolas, with Catos, with Algernon Sidneys, able by such trivialsmall shot to gain a moment's attention from the potentates of DowningStreet. Those who have despatches to write, councils to attend, and votesof the Commons to manage, think little of Junius Brutus. A Junius Brutus,that dares not sign by his own honest name, is presumably skulking fromhis creditors. A Timoleon, who hints at assassination in a newspaper, onemay take it for granted, is a manufacturer of begging letters. And it is aconceivable case that a twenty pound note, enclosed to Timoleon's address,through the newspaper office, might go far to soothe that great patriot'sfeelings, and even to turn aside his avenging dagger. These sort of peoplewere not the sort to frighten a British Ministry. One laughs at theprobable conversation between an old hunting squire coming up to comfortthe First Lord of the Treasury, on the rumor that he was panic-struck.'What, surely, my dear old friend, you're not afraid of Timoleon?' FirstLord.—'Yes, I am.' C. Gent.—'What, afraid of an anonymous fellow in thepapers?' F. L.—'Yes, dreadfully.' C. Gent.—'Why, I always understoodthat these people were a sort of shams—living in Grub Street—or wherewas it that Pope used to tell us they lived? Surely you're not afraid ofTimoleon, because some people think he's a patriot?' F. L.—'No, not atall; but I am afraid because some people think he's a housebreaker!' Inthat character only could Timoleon become formidable to a CabinetMinister; and in some such character must our friend, Junius Brutus, havemade himself alarming to Government. From the moment that B is properlyexplained, it throws light upon C. The Government was alarmed—not at suchmoonshine as patriotism, or at a soap-bubble of rhetoric—but becausetreachery was lurking amongst their own households: and, if the thing wenton, the consequences might be appalling. But this domestic treachery,which accounts for B, accounts at the same time for C. The very sametreachery that frightened its objects at the time by the consequences itmight breed, would frighten its author afterwards from claiming itsliterary honors by the remembrances it might awaken. The mysteriousdisclosures of official secrets, which had once roused so muchconsternation within a limited circle, and (like the French affair of thediamond necklace) had sunk into neglect only when all clue seemed lost forperfectly unravelling its would revive in all its interest when adiscovery came before the public, viz., a claim on the part of Francis tohave written the famous letters, which must at the same time point astrong light upon the true origin of the treacherous disclosures. Someastonishment had always existed as to Francis—how he rose so suddenlyinto rank and station: some astonishment always existed as to Junius, howhe should so suddenly have fallen asleep as a writer in the journals. Thecoincidence of this sudden and unaccountable silence with the sudden andunaccountable Indian appointment of Francis; the extraordinary familiarityof Junius, which had not altogether escaped notice, with the secrets ofone particular office, viz., the War Office; the sudden recollection, sureto flash upon all who remembered Francis, if again he should becomerevived into suspicion, that he had held a situation of trust in thatparticular War Office; all these little recollections would begin to takeup their places in a connected story: this and that, laid together,would become clear as day-light; and to the keen eyes of still survivingenemies—Horne Tooke, 'little Chamier,' Ellis, the Fitzroy, Russell, andMurray houses—the whole progress and catastrophe of the scoundrelism, theperfidy and the profits of the perfidy, would soon become as intelligibleas any tale of midnight burglary from without, in concert with a wickedbutler within, that was ever sifted by judge and jury at the Old Bailey,or critically reviewed by Mr. John Ketch at Tyburn.

Francis was the man. Francis was the wicked butler within, whom Pharaohought to have hanged, but whom he clothed in royal apparel, and mountedupon a horse that carried him to a curule chair of honor. So far hisburglary prospered. But, as generally happens in such cases, thisprosperous crime subsequently avenged itself. By a just retribution, thesuccess of Junius, in two senses so monstrously exaggerated—exaggeratedby a romantic over-estimate of its intellectual power through an error ofthe public, not admitted to the secret—and equally exaggerated as to itspolitical power by the government in the hush-money for its futuresuppression, became the heaviest curse of the successful criminal. Thiscriminal thirsted for literary distinction above all other distinction,with a childish eagerness, as for the amrecta cup of immortality.And, behold! there the brilliant bauble lay, glittering in the sands of asolitude, unclaimed by any man; disputed with him (if he chose to claimit) by nobody; and yet for his life he durst not touch it. He stood—heknew that he stood—in the situation of a murderer who has dropt aninestimable jewel upon the murdered body in the death-struggle with hisvictim. The jewel is his! Nobody will deny it. He may have it for asking.But to ask is his death-warrant. 'Oh yes!' would be the answer, 'here'syour jewel, wrapt up safely in tissue paper. But here's another lot thatgoes along with it—no bidder can take them apart—viz. a halter, alsowrapt up in tissue paper.' Francis, in relation to Junius, was in thatexact predicament. 'You are Junius? You are that famous man who has beenmissing since 1772? And you can prove it? God bless me! sir; what a longtime you've been sleeping: every body's gone to bed. Well, then, you arean exceedingly clever fellow, that have had the luck to be thought tentimes more clever than really you were. And also, you are the greatestscoundrel that at this hour rests in Europe unhanged!'—Francis died, andmade no sign. Peace of mind he had parted with for a peaco*ck's feather,which feather, living or dying, he durst not mount in the plumage of hiscap.


[1] Even Pope, with all his natural and reasonable interest inaristocratic society, could not shut his eyes to the fact that a jest inhis mouth became twice a jest in a lord's. But still he failed toperceive what I am here contending for, that if the jest happened to missfire, through the misfortune of bursting its barrel, the consequenceswould be far worse for the lord than the commoner. There is, you see, ablind sort of compensation.

[2] Mr. Schlosser, who speaks English, who has read rather too muchEnglish for any good that he has turned it to, and who ought to have akeen eye for the English version of his own book, after so much readingand study of it, has, however, overlooked several manifest errors. I donot mean to tax Mr. Davison with, general inaccuracy. On the contrary, heseems wary, and in most cases successful as a dealer with thepeculiarities of the German. But several cases of error I detect withoutneeding the original: they tell their own story. And one of these I herenotice, not only for its own importance, but out of love to Schlosser, andby way of nailing his guarantee to the counter—not altogether as a badshilling, but as a light one. At p. 5 of vol. 2, in a foot-note, which isspeaking of Kant, we read of his attempt to introduce the notion ofnegative greatness into Philosophy. Negative greatness! What strangebird may that be? Is it the ornithorynchus paradoxus? Mr. Schlosserwas not wide awake there. The reference is evidently to Kant's essayupon the advantages of introducing into philosophy the algebraic idea ofnegative quantities. It is one of Kant's grandest gleams into hiddentruth. Were it only for the merits of this most masterly essay inreconstituting the algebraic meaning of a negative quantity [sogenerally misunderstood as a negation of quantity, and which even SirIsaac Newton misconstrued as regarded its metaphysics], great would havebeen the service rendered to logic by Kant. But there is a greater. Fromthis little brochure I am satisfied was derived originally the Germanregeneration of the Dynamic philosophy, its expansion through the idea ofpolarity, indifference, &c. Oh, Mr. Schlosser, you had not gepruft p. 5of vol. 2. You skipped the notes.

[3] 'Little nurse:'—the word Glumdalcl*tch, in Brobdingnagian,absolutely means little nurse, and nothing else. It may seem odd thatthe captain should call any nurse of Brobdingnag, however kind to him, bysuch an epithet as little; and the reader may fancy that Sherwood foresthad put it into his head, where Robin Hood always called his right handman 'Little John,' not although, but expressly because John stoodseven feet high in his stockings. But the truth is—that Glumdalcl*tchwas little; and literally so; she was only nine years old, and (says thecaptain) 'little of her age,' being barely forty feet high. She had timeto grow certainly, but as she had so much to do before she could overtakeother women, it is probable that she would turn out what, in Westmoreland,they call a, little stiffenger—very little, if at all, higher than acommon English church steeple.

[4.] 'Activity,'—It is some sign of this, as well as of the morethoroughly English taste in literature which distinguished Steele, thathardly twice throughout the 'Spectator' is Shakspeare quoted or alluded toby Addison. Even these quotations he had from the theatre, or the breathof popular talk. Generally, if you see a line from Shakspeare, it is safeto bet largely that the paper is Steele's; sometimes, indeed, of casualcontributors; but, almost to a certainty, not a paper of Addison's.Another mark of Steele's superiority in vigor of intellect is, that muchoftener in him than in other contributors strong thoughts came forward;harsh and disproportioned, perhaps, to the case, and never harmoniouslydeveloped with the genial grace of Addison, but original, and pregnantwith promise and suggestion.

[5] 'Letters of Joseph Mede,' published more than twenty years ago by SirHenry Ellis.

[6] It is an idea of many people, and erroneously sanctioned byWordsworth, that Lord Somers gave a powerful lift to the 'Paradise Lost.'He was a subscriber to the sixth edition, the first that had plates; butthis was some years before the Revolution of 1688, and when he was simplyMr. Somers, a barrister, with no effectual power of patronage.

[7] 'Milton, Mr. John:'—Dr. Johnson expressed his wrath, in anamusing way, at some bookseller's hack who, when employed to make anindex, introduced Milton's name among the M's, under the civil title of—'Milton, Mr. John.'

[8] 'Louis Baboon:'—As people read nothing in these days that is morethan forty-eight hours old, I am daily admonished that allusions the mostobvious to anything in the rear of our own time, needs explanation. LouisBaboon is Swift's jesting name for Louis Bourbon, i.e., Louis XIV.

[9] 'Of his MSS.:'—And, if all that I have heard be true, much hassomebody to answer for, that so little has been yet published. The twoexecutors of Burke were Dr. Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, a well-known M.P. in forgotten days, and Windham, a man too like Burke in elasticity ofmind ever to be spoken of in connection with forgotten things. Which ofthem was to blame, I know not. But Mr. R. Sharpe, M. P., twenty-five yearsago, well known as River Sharpe, from the [Greek: aperantologia] ofhis conversation, used to say, that one or both of the executors hadoffered him (the river) a huge travelling trunk, perhaps an Imperial ora Salisbury boot (equal to the wardrobe of a family), filled with Burke'sMSS., on the simple condition of editing them with proper annotations. AnOxford man, and also the celebrated Mr. Christian Curwen, then member forCumberland, made, in my hearing, the same report. The Oxford man, inparticular, being questioned as to the probable amount of MS., deposed,that he could not speak upon oath to the cubical contents; but this hecould say, that, having stripped up his coat sleeve, he had endeavored, bysuch poor machinery as nature had allowed him, to take the soundings ofthe trunk, but apparently there were none; with his middle finger he couldfind no bottom; for it was stopped by a dense stratum of MS.; below which,you know, other strata might lie ad infinitum. For anything proved tothe contrary, the trunk might be bottomless.

[10] A man in Fox's situation is sure, whilst living, to draw after himtrains of sycophants; and it is the evil necessity of newspapers the mostindependent, that they must swell the mob of sycophants. The publiccompels them to exaggerate the true proportions of such people as we seeevery hour in our own day. Those who, for the moment, modify, ormay modify the national condition, become preposterous idols in theeyes of the gaping public; but with the sad necessity of being too utterlytrodden under foot after they are shelved, unless they live in men'smemory by something better than speeches in Parliament. Having the usualfate, Fox was complimented, whilst living, on his knowledge ofHomeric Greek, which was a jest: he knew neither more nor less of Homer,than, fortunately, most English gentlemen of his rank; quite enough thatis to read the 'Iliad' with unaffected pleasure, far too little to revisethe text of any three lines, without making himself ridiculous. Theexcessive slenderness of his general literature, English and French, maybe seen in the letters published by his Secretary, Trotter. But hisfragment of a History, published by Lord Holland, at two guineas, andcurrently sold for two shillings (not two pence, or else I havebeen defrauded of 1s. 10d.), most of all proclaims the tenuity of hisknowledge. He looks upon Malcolm Laing as a huge oracle; and, having readeven less than Hume, a thing not very easy, with great naivete, cannotguess where Hume picked up his facts.

[11] Even in Dr. Francis's Translation of Select Speeches fromDemosthenes, which Lord Brougham naturally used a little in his own laborson that theme, there may be traced several peculiarities of diction thatstartle us in Junius. Sir P. had them from his father. And Lord Broughamought not to have overlooked them. The same thing may be seen in the notesto Dr. Francis's translation of Horace. These points, though notindependently of much importance, become far more so in combinationwith others. The reply made to me once by a publisher of some eminenceupon this question, was the best fitted to lower Mr. Taylor'sinvestigation with a stranger to the long history of the dispute.'I feel,' he said, 'the impregnability of the case made out by Mr. Taylor.But the misfortune is, that I have seen so many previous impregnable casesmade out for other claimants.' Ay, that would be unfortunate. Butthe misfortune for this repartee was, that I, for whose use it wasintended, not being in the predicament of a stranger to the dispute,having seen every page of the pleadings, knew all (except Mr. Taylor's) tobe false in their statements; after which their arguments signifiednothing.


Every thing in our days is new. Roads, for instance, which, beingformerly 'of the earth earthy,' and therefore perishable, are now iron,and next door to being immortal; tragedies, which are so entirelynew, that neither we nor our fathers, through eighteen hundred and ninetyodd years, gone by, since Caesar did our little island the honor to situpon its skirts, have ever seen the like to this 'Antigone;' and, finally,even more new are readers, who, being once an obedient race of men,most humble and deferential in the presence of a Greek scholar, are nowbecome intractably mutinous; keep their hats on whilst he is addressingthem; and listen to him or not, as he seems to talk sense or nonsense.Some there are, however, who look upon all these new things as beingintensely old. Yet, surely the railroads are new? No; not at all. Talus,the iron man in Spenser, who continually ran round the island of Crete,administering gentle warning and correction to offenders, by flooring themwith an iron flail, was a very ancient personage in Greek fable; and thereceived opinion is, that he must have been a Cretan railroad, called TheGreat Circular Coast-Line, that carried my lords the judges on theircircuits of jail-delivery. The 'Antigone,' again, that wears the freshnessof morning dew, and is so fresh and dewy in the beautiful person of MissFaucit, had really begun to look faded on the Athenian stage, and even 'ofa certain age,' about the death of Pericles, whose meridian year was theyear 444 before Christ. Lastly, these modern readers, that are soobstinately rebellious to the once Papal authority of Greek, they—No; onconsideration, they are new. Antiquity produced many monsters, butnone like them.

The truth is, that this vast multiplication of readers, within the lasttwenty-five years, has changed the prevailing character of readers. Theminority has become the overwhelming majority: the quantity has disturbedthe quality. Formerly, out of every five readers, at least four were, insome degree, classical scholars: or, if that would be saying toomuch, if two of the four had 'small Latin and less Greek,' they weregenerally connected with those who had more, or at the worst, who had muchreverence for Latin, and more reverence for Greek. If they did not allshare in the services of the temple, all, at least, shared in thesuperstition. But, now-a-days, the readers come chiefly from a class ofbusy people who care very little for ancestral crazes. Latin they haveheard of, and some of them know it as a good sort of industrious language,that even, in modern times, has turned out many useful books,astronomical, medical, philosophical, and (as Mrs. Malaprop observes)diabolical; but, as to Greek, they think of it as of an ancient mummy: youspend an infinity of time in unswathing it from its old dusty wrappers,and, when you have come to the end, what do you find for your pains? Awoman's face, or a baby's, that certainly is not the better for beingthree thousand years old; and perhaps a few ears of wheat, stolen fromPharaoh's granary; which wheat, when sown [1] in Norfolk or Mid-Lothian,reaped, thrashed, ground, baked, and hunted through all sorts of tortures,yields a breakfast roll that (as a Scottish baker observed to me) is 'notjust that bad.' Certainly not: not exactly 'that bad;' not worse thanthe worst of our own; but still, much fitter for Pharaoh's breakfast-tablethan for ours.

I, for my own part, stand upon an isthmus, connecting me, at one terminus,with the rebels against Greek, and, at the other, with those against whomthey are in rebellion. On the one hand, it seems shocking to me, who amsteeped to the lips in antique prejudices, that Greek, in unlimitedquantities, should not secure a limited privilege of talking nonsense. Isall reverence extinct for old, and ivy-mantled, and worm-eaten things?Surely, if your own grandmother lectures on morals, which perhaps now andthen she does, she will command that reverence from you, by means of hergrandmotherhood, which by means of her ethics she might not. To bea good Grecian, is now to be a faded potentate; a sort of phantom Mogul,sitting at Delhi, with an English sepoy bestriding his shoulders. Matchedagainst the master of ologies, in our days, the most accomplishedof Grecians is becoming what the 'master of sentences' had become longsince, in competition with the political economist. Yet, be assured,reader, that all the 'ologies' hitherto christened oology, ichthyology,ornithology, conchology, palaeodontology, &c., do not furnish such minesof labor as does the Greek language when thoroughly searched. The'Mithridates' of Adelung, improved by the commentaries of Vater and ofsubsequent authors, numbers up about four thousand languages and jargonson our polyglot earth; not including the chuckling of poultry, norcaterwauling, nor barking, howling, braying, lowing, nor other respectableand ancient dialects, that perhaps have their elegant and their vulgarvarieties, as well as prouder forms of communication. But my impressionis, that the Greek, taken by itself, this one exquisite language,considered as a quarry of intellectual labor, has more work in it,is more truly a piece de resistance, than all the remaining threethousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, with caterwauling thrown into thebargain. So far I side with the Grecian, and think that he ought to behonored with a little genuflexion. Yet, on the other hand, the finestsound on this earth, and which rises like an orchestra above all theuproars of earth, and the Babels of earthly languages, is truth—absolutetruth; and the hatefulest is conscious falsehood. Now, there isfalsehood, nay (which seems strange), even sycophancy, in the oldundistinguishing homage to all that is called classical. Yet why shouldmen be sycophants in cases where they must be disinterested? Sycophancygrows out of fear, or out of mercenary self-interest. But what can thereexist of either pointing to an old Greek poet? Cannot a man give his freeopinion upon Homer, without fearing to be waylaid by his ghost? But it isnot that which startles him from publishing the secret demur which hisheart prompts, upon hearing false praises of a Greek poet, or praiseswhich, if not false, are extravagant. What he fears, is the scorn of hiscontemporaries. Let once a party have formed itself considerable enough toprotect a man from the charge of presumption in throwing off the yoke ofservile allegiance to all that is called classical,—let it be a partyever so small numerically, and the rebels will soon be many. What a manfears is, to affront the whole storm of indignation, real and affected, inhis own solitary person. 'Goth!' 'Vandal!' he hears from every side. Breakthat storm by dividing it, and he will face its anger. 'Let me be a Goth,'he mutters to himself, 'but let me not dishonor myself by affecting anenthusiasm which my heart rejects!'

Ever since the restoration of letters there has been a cabal, an academicinterest, a factious league amongst universities, and learned bodies, andindividual scholars, for exalting as something superterrestrial, and quiteunapproachable by moderns, the monuments of Greek literature. France, inthe time of Louis XIV., England, in the latter part of that time; in fact,each country as it grew polished at some cost of strength, carried thiscraze to a dangerous excess—dangerous as all things false are dangerous,and depressing to the aspirations of genius. Boileau, for instance, andAddison, though neither [2] of them accomplished in scholarship, noreither of them extensively read in any department of the classicl*terature, speak every where of the classics as having notoriously, andby the general confession of polished nations, carried the functions ofpoetry and eloquence to that sort of faultless beauty which probably doesreally exist in the Greek sculpture. There are few things perfectin this world of frailty. Even lightning is sometimes a failure: Niagarahas horrible faults; and Mont Blanc might be improved by a century ofchiselling from judicious artists. Such are the works of blind elements,which (poor things!) cannot improve by experience. As to man whodoes, the sculpture of the Greeks in their marbles and sometimes intheir gems, seems the only act of his workmanship which has hit thebull's eye in the target at which we are all aiming. Not so, withpermission from Messrs. Boileau and Addison, the Greek literature. Thefaults in this are often conspicuous; nor are they likely to be hidden forthe coming century, as they have been for the three last. The idolatrywill be shaken: as idols, some of the classic models are destinedto totter: and I foresee, without gifts of prophecy, that many laborerswill soon be in this field—many idoloclasts, who will expose the signs ofdisease, which zealots had interpreted as power; and of weakness, which isnot the less real because scholars had fancied it health, nor the lessinjurious to the total effect because it was inevitable under theaccidents of the Grecian position.

Meantime, I repeat, that to disparage any thing whatever, or to turn theeye upon blemishes, is no part of my present purpose. Nor could it be:since the one sole section of the Greek literature, as to which I professmyself an enthusiast, happens to be the tragic drama; and here, only, Imyself am liable to be challenged as an idolater. As regards the Antigonein particular, so profoundly do I feel the impassioned beauty of hersituation in connection with her character, that long ago, in a work of myown (yet unpublished), having occasion (by way of overture introducing oneof the sections) to cite before the reader's eye the chief pomps of theGrecian theatre, after invoking 'the magnificent witch' Medea, I call upAntigone to this shadowy stage by the apostrophe, Holy heathen, daughterof God, before God was known, [3] flower from Paradise after Paradise wasclosed; that quitting all things for which flesh languishes, safety andhonor, a palace and a home, didst make thyself a houseless pariah, lestthe poor pariah king, thy outcast father, should want a hand to lead himin his darkness, or a voice to whisper comfort in his misery; angel, thatbadst depart for ever the glories of thy own bridal day, lest he that hadshared thy nursery in childhood, should want the honors of a funeral;idolatrous, yet Christian Lady, that in the spirit of martyrdom trodstalone the yawning billows of the grave, flying from earthly hopes, lesteverlasting despair should settle upon the grave of thy brother,' &c. Infact, though all the groupings, and what I would call permanent attitudesof the Grecian stage, are majestic, there is none that, to my mind, towersinto such affecting grandeur, as this final revelation, through Antigoneherself, and through her own dreadful death, of the tremendous wo thatdestiny had suspended over her house. If therefore my business had beenchiefly with the individual drama, I should have found little room for anysentiment but that of profound admiration. But my present business isdifferent: it concerns the Greek drama generally, and the attempt torevive it; and its object is to elucidate, rather than to praise or toblame. To explain this better, I will describe two things:—1st, The sortof audience that I suppose myself to be addressing; and, 2dly, As growingout of that, the particular quality of the explanations which I wish tomake.

1st, As to the audience: in order to excuse the tone (which occasionally Imay be obliged to assume) of one speaking as from a station of knowledge,to others having no knowledge, I beg it to be understood, that I take thatstation deliberately, on no conceit of superiority to my readers, but as acompanion adapting my services to the wants of those who need them. I amnot addressing those already familiar with the Greek drama, but those whofrankly confess, and (according to their conjectural appreciation of it)who regret their non-familiarity with that drama. It is a thing well knownto publishers, through remarkable results, and is now showing itself on ascale continually widening, that a new literary public has arisen, verydifferent from any which existed at the beginning of this century. Thearistocracy of the land have always been, in a moderate degree, literary;less, however, in connection with the current literature, than withliterature generally—past as well as present. And this is a tendencynaturally favored and strengthened in them, by the fine collectionsof books, carried forward through successive generations, which are sooften found as a sort of hereditary foundation in the country mansions ofour nobility. But a class of readers, prodigiously more extensive, hasformed itself within the commercial orders of our great cities andmanufacturing districts. These orders range through a large scale. Thehighest classes amongst them were always literary. But the interest ofliterature has now swept downwards through a vast compass of descents: andthis large body, though the busiest in the nation, yet, by having undertheir undisturbed command such leisure time as they have at all undertheir command, are eventually able to read more than those even whoseem to have nothing else but leisure. In justice, however, to thenobility of our land, it should be remembered, that their stations insociety, and their wealth, their territorial duties, and their variouspublic duties in London, as at court, at public meetings, in parliament,&c., bring crowded claims upon their time; whilst even sacrifices of timeto the graceful courtesies of life, are in reference to their stations,a sort of secondary duties. These allowances made, it still remains truethat the busier classes are the main reading classes; whilst from theirimmense numbers, they are becoming effectually the body that will more andmore impress upon the moving literature its main impulse and direction.One other feature of difference there is amongst this commercial class ofreaders: amongst the aristocracy all are thoroughly educated, exceptingthose who go at an early age into the army; of the commercial body, nonereceive an elaborate, and what is meant by a liberal education, exceptthose standing by their connections in the richest classes. Thus ithappens that, amongst those who have not inherited but achieved theirstations, many men of fine and powerful understandings, accomplished inmanners, and admirably informed, not having had the benefits when young ofa regular classical education, find (upon any accident bringing up suchsubjects) a deficiency which they do not find on other subjects. They aretoo honorable to undervalue advantages, which they feel to beconsiderable, simply because they were denied to themselves. They regrettheir loss. And yet it seems hardly worth while, on a simple prospect ofcontingencies that may never be realized, to undertake an entirely newcourse of study for redressing this loss. But they would be glad to availthemselves of any useful information not exacting study. These are thepersons, this is the class, to which I address my remarks on the'Antigone;' and out of their particular situation, suggesting upon allelevated subjects a corresponding tone of liberal curiosity, will arisethe particular nature and direction of these remarks.

Accordingly, I presume, secondly, that this curiosity will take thefollowing course:—these persons will naturally wish to know, at starting,what there is differentially interesting in a Grecian tragedy, ascontrasted with one of Shakspeare's or of Schiller's: in what respect, andby what agencies, a Greek tragedy affects us, or is meant to affect us,otherwise than as they do; and how far the Antigone of Sophocles wasjudiciously chosen as the particular medium for conveying to British mindsa first impression, and a representative impression, of Greek tragedy. Sofar, in relation to the ends proposed, and the means selected. Finally,these persons will be curious to know the issue of such an experiment. Letthe purposes and the means have been bad or good, what was the actualsuccess? And not merely success, in the sense of the momentary acceptanceby half a dozen audiences, whom the mere decencies of justice must havecompelled to acknowledge the manager's trouble and expense on theirbehalf; but what was the degree of satisfaction felt by students of theAthenian [4] tragedy, in relation to their long-cherished ideal? Did therepresentation succeed in realizing, for a moment, the awful pageant ofthe Athenian stage? Did Tragedy, in Milton's immortal expression,

———come sweeping by In sceptred pall?

Or was the whole, though successful in relation to the thing attempted, afailure in relation to what ought to have been attempted? Such are thequestions to be answered.

* * * * *

The first elementary idea of a Greek tragedy, is to be sought in a seriousItalian opera. The Greek dialogue is represented by the recitative, andthe tumultuous lyrical parts assigned chiefly, though not exclusively, tothe chorus on the Greek stage, are represented by the impassioned airs,duos, trios, choruses, &c. on the Italian. And there, at the very outset,occurs a question which lies at the threshold of a Fine Art,—that is ofany Fine Art: for had the views of Addison upon the Italian opera hadthe least foundation in truth, there could have been no room or openingfor any mode of imitation except such as belongs to a mechanic art.

The reason for at all connecting Addison with this case is, that hechiefly was the person occupied in assailing the Italian opera; and thishostility arose, probably, in his want of sensibility to good (that is, toItalian) music. But whatever might be his motive for the hostility, thesingle argument by which he supported it was this,—that a hero ought notto sing upon the stage, because no hero known to history ever summoned agarrison in a song, or changed a battery in a semichorus. In this argumentlies an ignorance of the very first principle concern in every FineArt. In all alike, more or less directly, the object is to reproduce inmind some great effect, through the agency of idem in alio. Theidem, the same impression, is to be restored; but in alio, in adifferent material,—by means of some different instrument. For instance,on the Roman stage there was an art, now entirely lost, of narrating, and,in part of dramatically representing an impassioned tale, by means ofdancing, of musical accompaniment in the orchestra, and of elaboratepantomime in the performer. Saltavit Hypermnestram, he danced (that is,he represented by dancing and pantomime the story of) Hypermnestra. Now,suppose a man to object, that young ladies, when saving their youthfulhusbands at midnight from assassination, could not be capable of waltzingor quadrilling, how wide is this of the whole problem! This is stillseeking for the mechanic imitation, some imitation founded in the veryfact; whereas the object is to seek the imitation in the sameness of theimpression drawn from a different, or even from an impossible fact. If aman, taking a hint from the Roman 'Saltatio' (saltavit Andromachen),should say that he would 'whistle Waterloo,' that is, by whistlingconnected with pantomime, would express the passion and the changes ofWaterloo, it would be monstrous to refuse him his postulate on thepretence that 'people did not whistle at Waterloo.' Precisely so: neitherare most people made of marble, but of a material as different as can wellbe imagined, viz. of elastic flesh, with warm blood coursing along itstubes; and yet, for all that, a sculptor will draw tears from you, byexhibiting, in pure statuary marble, on a sepulchral monument, two youngchildren with their little heads on a pillow, sleeping in each other'sarms; whereas, if he had presented them in wax-work, which yet is far morelike to flesh, you would have felt little more pathos in the scene than ifthey had been shown baked in gilt gingerbread. He has expressed theidem, the identical thing expressed in the real children; the sleep thatmasks death, the rest, the peace, the purity, the innocence; but inalio, in a substance the most different; rigid, non-elastic, and asunlike to flesh, if tried by touch, or eye, or by experience of life, ascan well be imagined. So of the whistling. It is the very worst objectionin the world to say, that the strife of Waterloo did not reveal itselfthrough whistling: undoubtedly it did not; but that is the very ground ofthe man's art. He will reproduce the fury and the movement as to the onlypoint which concerns you, viz. the effect, upon your own sympathies,through a language that seems without any relation to it: he will setbefore you what was at Waterloo through that which was not atWaterloo. Whereas any direct factual imitation, resting upon paintedfigures drest up in regimentals, and worked by watchwork through the wholemovements of the battle, would have been no art whatsoever in the sense ofa Fine Art, but a base mechanic mimicry.

This principle of the idem in alio, so widely diffused through allthe higher revelations of art, it is peculiarly requisite to bear in mindwhen looking at Grecian tragedy, because no form of human compositionemploys it in so much complexity. How confounding it would have been toAddison, if somebody had told him, that, substantially, he had himselfcommitted the offence (as he fancied it) which he charged so bitterly uponthe Italian opera; and that, if the opera had gone farther upon that roadthan himself, the Greek tragedy, which he presumed to be so prodigiouslyexalted beyond modern approaches, had gone farther even than the opera.Addison himself, when writing a tragedy, made this violation (as he wouldhave said) of nature, made this concession (as I should say) to ahigher nature, that he compelled his characters to talk in metre. It istrue this metre was the common iambic, which (as Aristotle remarks) is themost natural and spontaneous of all metres; and, for a sufficient reason,in all languages. Certainly; but Aristotle never meant to say that it wasnatural for a gentleman in a passion to talk threescore and ten iambicsconsecutively: a chance line might escape him once and away; as weknow that Tacitus opened one of his works by a regular dactylic hexameterin full curl, without ever discovering it to his dying day (a fact whichis clear from his never having corrected it); and this being a veryartificial metre, a fortiori Tacitus might have slipped into a simpleiambic. But that was an accident, whilst Addison had deliberatelyand uniformly made his characters talk in verse. According to the commonand false meaning [which was his own meaning] of the word nature, he hadas undeniably violated the principle of the natural, by this metricaldialogue, as the Italian opera by musical dialogue. If it is hard andtrying for men to sing their emotions, not less so it must be to deliverthem in verse.

But, if this were shocking, how much more shocking would it have seemed toAddison, had he been introduced to parts which really exist in the Greciandrama? Even Sophocles, who, of the three tragic poets surviving from thewrecks of the Athenian stage, is reputed the supreme artist [5] ifnot the most impassioned poet, with what horror he would have overwhelmedAddison, when read by the light of those principles which he had himselfso scornfully applied to the opera! In the very monsoon of his ravingmisery, from calamities as sudden as they were irredeemable, a king isintroduced, not only conversing, but conversing in metre; not only inmetre, but in the most elaborate of choral metres; not only under thetorture of these lyric difficulties, but also chanting; not only chanting,but also in all probability dancing. What do you think of that, Mr.Addison?

There is, in fact, a scale of graduated ascents in these artifices forunrealizing the effects of dramatic situations:

1. We may see, even in novels and prose comedies, a keen attention paid tothe inspiriting and dressing of the dialogue: it is meant to be life-like, but still it is a little raised, pointed, colored, and idealized.

2. In comedy of a higher and more poetic cast, we find the dialoguemetrical.

3. In comedy or in tragedy alike, which is meant to be still furtherremoved from ordinary life, we find the dialogue fettered not only bymetre, but by rhyme. We need not go to Dryden, and others, of ourown middle stage, or to the French stage for this: even in Shakspeare, asfor example, in parts of Romeo and Juliet (and for no capricious purpose),we may see effects sought from the use of rhyme. There is anotherillustration of the idealizing effect to be obtained from a particulartreatment of the dialogue, seen in the Hamlet of Shakspeare. In that dramathere arises a necessity for exhibiting a play within a play. Thisinterior drama is to be further removed from the spectator than theprincipal drama; it is a deep below a deep; and, to produce that effect,the poet relies chiefly upon the stiffening the dialogue, and removing itstill farther, than the general dialogue of the including or outsidedrama, from the standard of ordinary life.

4. We find, superadded to these artifices for idealizing the situations,even music of an intermitting character, sometimes less, sometimes moreimpassioned—recitatives, airs, choruses. Here we have reached the Italianopera.

5. And, finally, besides all these resources of art, we find dancingintroduced; but dancing of a solemn, mystical, and symbolic character.Here, at last, we have reached the Greek tragedy. Probably the bestexemplification of a Grecian tragedy that ever will be given to amodern reader is found in the Samson Agonistes of Milton. Now, in thechoral or lyric parts of this fine drama, Samson not only talks, 1st,metrically ( as he does every where, and in the most level parts of thescenic business), but, 2d, in very intricate metres, and, 3d, occasionallyin rhymed metres (though the rhymes are too sparingly and toocapriciously scattered by Milton), and, 4th, singing or chantingthese metres (for, as the chorus sang, it was impossible that hecould be allowed to talk in his ordinary voice, else he would have putthem out, and ruined the music). Finally, 5th, I am satisfied that Miltonmeant him to dance. The office of the chorus was imperfectlydefined upon the Greek stage. They are generally understood to be themoralizers of the scene. But this is liable to exceptions. Some ofthem have been known to do very bad things on the stage, and to comewithin a trifle of felony: as to misprision of felony, if there issuch a crime, a Greek chorus thinks nothing of it. But that is no businessof mine. What I was going to say is, that, as the chorus sometimesintermingles too much in the action, so the actors sometimes interminglein the business of the chorus. Now, when you are at Rome, you must do asthey do at Rome. And that the actor, who mixed with the chorus, wascompelled to sing, is a clear case; for his part in the choral odeis always in the nature of an echo, or answer, or like an antiphonyin cathedral services. But nothing could be more absurd than that one ofthese antiphonies should be sung, and another said. That he was alsocompelled to dance, I am satisfied. The chorus only sometimesmoralized, but it always danced: and any actor, mingling with thechorus, must dance also. A little incident occurs to my remembrance, fromthe Moscow expedition of 1812, which may here be used as an illustration:One day King Murat, flourishing his plumage as usual, made a gesture ofinvitation to some squadrons of cavalry that they should charge the enemy:upon which the cavalry advanced, but maliciously contrived to envelope theking of dandies, before he had time to execute his ordinary manoeuvre ofriding off to the left and becoming a spectator of their prowess. Thecavalry resolved that his majesty should for once ride down at their headto the melee, and taste what fighting was like; and he, finding that thething must be, though horribly vexed, made a merit of his necessity, andafterwards pretended that he liked it very much. Sometimes, in thedarkness, in default of other misanthropic visions, the wickedness of thiscavalry, their mechancete, causes me to laugh immoderately. Now Iconceive that any interloper into the Greek chorus must have danced whenthey danced, or he would have been swept away by their impetus:nolens volens, he must have rode along with the orchestral charge,he must have rode on the crest of the choral billows, or he would havebeen rode down by their impassioned sweep. Samson, and Oedipus, andothers, must have danced, if they sang; and they certainly did sing, bynotoriously intermingling in the choral business.[6]

'But now,' says the plain English reader, 'what was the object of allthese elaborate devices? And how came it that the English tragedy, whichsurely is as good as the Greek,' (and at this point a devil of defiancewhispers to him, like the quarrelsome servant of the Capulets or theMontagus, 'say better,') 'that the English tragedy contented itselfwith fewer of these artful resources than the Athenian?' I reply, that theobject of all these things was—to unrealize the scene. The English drama,by its metrical dress, and by other arts more disguised, unrealizeditself, liberated itself from the oppression of life in its ordinarystandards, up to a certain height. Why it did not rise still higher, andwhy the Grecian did, I will endeavor to explain. It was not that theEnglish tragedy was less impassioned; on the contrary, it was far moreso; the Greek being awful rather than impassioned; but the passion of eachis in a different key. It is not again that the Greek drama sought a lowerobject than the English: it sought a different object. It is not imparity,but disparity, that divides the two magnificent theatres.

Suffer me, reader, at this point, to borrow from my-self, and do notbetray me to the authorities that rule in this journal, if you happen toknow [which is not likely] that I am taking an idea from a paper whichyears ago I wrote for an eminent literary journal. As I have no copy ofthat paper before me, it is impossible that I should save myself any laborof writing. The words at any rate I must invent afresh: and, as to theidea, you never can be such a churlish man as, by insisting on a newone, in effect to insist upon my writing a false one. In the followingparagraph, therefore, I give the substance of a thought suggested bymyself some years ago.

That kind of feeling, which broods over the Grecian tragedy, and to courtwhich feeling the tragic poets of Greece naturally spread all theircanvas, was more nearly allied to the atmosphere of death than that oflife. This expresses rudely the character of awe and religious horrorinvesting the Greek theatre. But to my own feeling the different principleof passion which governs the Grecian conception of tragedy, as comparedwith the English, is best conveyed by saying that the Grecian is abreathing from the world of sculpture, the English a breathing from theworld of painting. What we read in sculpture is not absolutely death, butstill less is it the fulness of life. We read there the abstraction of alife that reposes, the sublimity of a life that aspires, the solemnity ofa life that is thrown to an infinite distance. This last is the feature ofsculpture which seems most characteristic: the form which presides in themost commanding groups, 'is not dead but sleepeth:' true, but it is thesleep of a life sequestrated, solemn, liberated from the bonds of spaceand time, and (as to both alike) thrown (I repeat the words) to adistance which is infinite. It affects us profoundly, but not byagitation. Now, on the other hand, the breathing life—life kindling,trembling, palpitating—that life which speaks to us in painting, this isalso the life that speaks to us in English tragedy. Into an Englishtragedy even festivals of joy may enter; marriages, and baptisms, orcommemorations of national trophies: which, or any thing like which, isincompatible with the very being of the Greek. In that tragedy whatuniformity of gloom; in the English what light alternating with depths ofdarkness! The Greek, how mournful; the English, how tumultuous! Even thecatastrophes how different! In the Greek we see a breathless waiting for adoom that cannot be evaded; a waiting, as it were, for the last shock ofan earthquake, or the inexorable rising of a deluge: in the English it islike a midnight of shipwreck, from which up to the last and till the finalruin comes, there still survives the sort of hope that clings to humanenergies.

Connected with this original awfulness of the Greek tragedy, and possiblyin part its cause, or at least lending strength to its cause, we may nextremark the grand dimensions of the ancient theatres. Every citizen had aright to accommodation. There at once was a pledge of grandeur. Outof this original standard grew the magnificence of many a futureamphitheatre, circus, hippodrome. Had the original theatre been merely aspeculation of private interest, then, exactly as demand arose, acorresponding supply would have provided for it through its ordinaryvulgar channels; and this supply would have taken place through rivaltheatres. But the crushing exaction of 'room for every citizen,' put anend to that process of subdivision. Drury Lane, as I read (or thinkthat I read) thirty years ago, allowed sitting room for three thousandeight hundred people. Multiply that by ten; imagine thirty-eightthousand instead of thirty-eight hundred, and then you have an idea of theAthenian theatre. [7]

Next, out of that grandeur in the architectural proportions arose, as bynecessity, other grandeurs. You are aware of the cothurnus, or buskin,which raised the actor's heel by two and a half inches; and you think thatthis must have caused a deformity in the general figure as incommensurateto this height. Not at all. The flowing dress of Greece healed all that.

But, besides the cothurnus, you have heard of the mask. So far asit was fitted to swell the intonations of the voice, you are of opinionthat this mask would be a happy contrivance; for what, you say, could acommon human voice avail against the vast radiation from the actor'scentre of more than three myriads? If, indeed (like the Homeric Stentor),an actor spoke in point of loudness, (Greek Text), as much as other fifty,then he might become audible to the assembled Athenians without aid. Butthis being impossible, art must be invoked; and well if the mask, togetherwith contrivances of another class, could correct it. Yet if it could,still you think that this mask would bring along with it an overbalancingevil. For the expression, the fluctuating expression, of the features, theplay of the muscles, the music of the eye and of the lips,—aids to actingthat, in our times, have given immortality to scores, whither would thosehave vanished? Reader, it mortifies me that all which I said to you uponthe peculiar and separate grandeur investing the Greek theatre isforgotten. For, you must consider, that where a theatre is built forreceiving upwards of thirty thousand spectators, the curve described bywhat in modern times you would call the tiers of boxes, must be so vast asto make the ordinary scale of human features almost ridiculous bydisproportion. Seat yourself at this day in the amphitheatre at Verona,and judge for yourself. In an amphitheatre, the stage, or properly thearena, occupying, in fact, the place of our modern pit, was much nearerthan in a scenic theatre to the surrounding spectators. Allow for this,and placing some adult in a station expressing the distance of theAthenian stage, then judge by his appearance if the delicate pencilling ofGrecian features could have told at the Grecian distance. But even if itcould, then I say that this circ*mstantiality would have been hostile tothe general tendencies (as already indicated) of the Grecian drama. Thesweeping movement of the Attic tragedy ought not to admit ofinterruption from distinct human features; the expression of aneye, the loveliness of a smile, ought to be lost amongst effects socolossal. The mask aggrandized the features: even so far it actedfavorably. Then figure to yourself this mask presenting an idealized faceof the noblest Grecian outline, moulded by some skilful artist Phidiacamanu, so as to have the effect of a marble bust; this accorded withthe aspiring cothurnus; and the motionless character impressed uponthe features, the marble tranquillity, would (I contend) suit the solemnprocessional character of Athenian tragedy, far better than the mostexpressive and flexible countenance on its natural scale. 'Yes,' you say,on considering the character of the Greek drama, 'generally it might; inforty-nine cases suppose out of fifty: but what shall be done in thefiftieth, where some dreadful discovery or anagnorisis (i.e.recognition of identity) takes place within the compass of a single lineor two; as, for instance, in the Oedipus Tyrannus, at the moment whenOedipus by a final question of his own, extorts his first fatal discovery,viz. that he had been himself unconsciously the murderer of Laius?' True,he has no reason as yet to suspect that Laius was his own father; whichdiscovery, when made further on, will draw with it another still moredreadful, viz. that by this parricide he had opened his road to a throne,and to a marriage with his father's widow, who was also his own naturalmother. He does not yet know the worst: and to have killed an arrogantprince, would not in those days have seemed a very deep offence: but thenhe believes that the pestilence had been sent as a secret vengeance forthis assassination, which is thus invested with a mysterious character ofhorror. Just at this point, Jocasta, his mother and his wife, says, [8] onwitnessing the sudden revulsion of feeling in his face, 'I shudder, ohking, when looking on thy countenance.' Now, in what way could thispassing spasm of horror be reconciled with the unchanging expression inthe marble-looking mask? This, and similar cases to this, must surely befelt to argue a defect in the scenic apparatus. But I say, no: first,Because the general indistinctiveness from distance is a benefit thatapplies equally to the fugitive changes of the features and to theirpermanent expression. You need not regret the loss through absence,of an appearance that would equally, though present, have been lostthrough distance. Secondly, The Greek actor had always the resource,under such difficulties, of averting his face a resource sanctioned insimilar cases by the greatest of the Greek painters. Thirdly, Thevoluminous draperies of the scenic dresses, and generally of the Greekcostume, made it an easy thing to muffle the features altogether by agesture most natural to sudden horror. Fourthly, We must considerthat there were no stage lights: but, on the contrary that the generallight of day was specially mitigated for that particular part of thetheatre; just as various architectural devices were employed to swell thevolume of sound. Finally. I repeat my sincere opinion, that the generalindistinctness of the expression was, on principles of taste, anadvantage, as harmonizing with the stately and sullen monotony of theGreek tragedy. Grandeur in the attitudes, in the gestures, in the groups,in the processions—all this was indispensable: but, on so vast a scale asthe mighty cartoons of the Greek stage, an Attic artist as little regardedthe details of physiognomy, as a great architect would regard, on thefrontispiece of a temple, the miniature enrichments that might be suitablein a drawing-room.

With these views upon the Grecian theatre, and other views that it mightoppress the reader to dwell upon in this place, suddenly in December lastan opportunity dawned—a golden opportunity, gleaming for a moment amongstthick clouds of impossibility that had gathered through three-and-twentycenturies—for seeing a Grecian tragedy presented on a British stage, andwith the nearest approach possible to the beauty of those Athenian pompswhich Sophocles, which Phidias, which Pericles created, beautified,promoted. I protest, when seeing the Edinburgh theatre's programme,that a note dated from the Vatican would not have startled me more, thoughsealed with the seal of the fisherman, and requesting the favor of mycompany to take coffee with the Pope. Nay, less: for channels there werethrough which I might have compassed a presentation to his Holiness; butthe daughter of Oedipus, the holy Antigone, could I have hoped to see her'in the flesh?' This tragedy in an English version, [9] and with Germanmusic, had first been placed before the eyes and ears of our countrymen atConvent Garden during the winter of 1844—5. It was said to havesucceeded. And soon after a report sprang up, from nobody knew where, thatMr. Murray meant to reproduce it in Edinburgh.

What more natural? Connected so nearly with the noblest house of scenicartists that ever shook the hearts of nations, nobler than ever raisedundying echoes amidst the mighty walls of Athens, of Rome, of Paris, ofLondon,—himself a man of talents almost unparalleled for versatility,—why should not Mr. Murray, always so liberal in an age so ungrateful tohis profession, have sacrificed something to this occasion? He,that sacrifices so much, why not sacrifice to the grandeur of the Antique?I was then in Edinburgh, or in its neighborhood; and one morning, at acasual assembly of some literary friends, present Professor Wilson,Messrs. J. F., C. N., L. C., and others, advocates, scholars, lovers ofclassical literature, we proposed two resolutions, of which the first was,that the news was too good to be true. That passed nem. con.; andthe second resolution was nearly passing, viz. that a judgment wouldcertainly fall upon Mr. Murray, had a second report proved true, viz. thatnot the Antigone, but a burlesque on the Antigone, was what he meditatedto introduce. This turned out false; [l0] the original report was suddenlyrevived eight or ten months after. Immediately on the heels of the promisethe execution followed; and on the last (which I believe was the seventh)representation of the Antigone, I prepared myself to attend.

It had been generally reported as characteristic of myself, that inrespect to all coaches, steamboats, railroads, wedding-parties, baptisms,and so forth, there was a fatal necessity of my being a trifle too late.Some malicious fairy, not invited to my own baptism, was supposed to haveendowed me with this infirmity. It occurred to me that for once in my lifeI would show the scandalousness of such a belief by being a trifle toosoon, say, three minutes. And no name more lovely for inaugurating such achange, no memory with which I could more willingly connect anyreformation, than thine, dear, noble Antigone! Accordingly, because acertain man (whose name is down in my pocket-book for no good) had told methat the doors of the theatre opened at half-past six, whereas, in fact,they opened at seven, there was I, if you please, freezing in the littlecolonnade of the theatre precisely as it wanted six-and-a-half minutes toseven,—six-and-a-half minutes observe too soon. Upon which this son ofabsurdity coolly remarked, that, if he had not set me half-an-hourforward, by my own showing, I should have been twenty-three-and-a-halfminutes too late. What sophistry! But thus it happened (namely, throughthe wickedness of this man), that, upon entering the theatre, I foundmyself like Alexander Selkirk, in a frightful solitude, or like a singlefamily of Arabs gathering at sunset about a solitary coffee-pot in theboundless desert. Was there an echo raised? it was from my own steps. Didany body cough? it was too evidently myself. I was the audience; I was thepublic. And, if any accident happened to the theatre, such as being burneddown, Mr. Murray would certainly lay the blame upon me. My businessmeantime, as a critic, was—to find out the most malicious seat,i.e. the seat from which all things would take the most unfavorableaspect. I could not suit myself in this respect; however bad a situationmight seem, I still fancied some other as promising to be worse. And I wasnot sorry when an audience, by mustering in strength through all parts ofthe house, began to divide my responsibility as to burning down thebuilding, and, at the same time, to limit the caprices of my distractedchoice. At last, and precisely at half-past seven, the curtain drew up; athing not strictly correct on a Grecian stage. But in theatres, as inother places, one must forget and forgive. Then the music began, of whichin a moment. The overture slipped out at one ear, as it entered the other,which, with submission to Mr. Mendelssohn, is a proof that it must behorribly bad; for, if ever there lived a man that in music can neitherforget nor forgive, that man is myself. Whatever is very good neverperishes from my remembrance,—that is, sounds in my ears by intervals forever,—and for whatever is bad, I consign the author, in my wrath, to hisown conscience, and to the tortures of his own discords. The mostvillanous things, however, have one merit; they are transitory as the bestthings; and that was true of the overture: it perished. Then, suddenly,—oh, heavens! what a revelation of beauty!—forth stepped, walking inbrightness, the most faultless of Grecian marbles, Miss Helen Faucit asAntigone. What perfection of Athenian sculpture! the noble figure, thelovely arms, the fluent drapery! What an unveiling of the idealstatuesque! Is it Hebe? is it Aurora? is it a goddess that moves beforeus? Perfect she is in form; perfect in attitude;

'Beautiful exceedingly,
Like a ladie from a far countrie.'

Here was the redeeming jewel of the performance. It flattered one'spatriotic feelings, to see this noble young countrywoman realizing soexquisitely, and restoring to our imaginations, the noblest of Greciangirls. We critics, dispersed through the house, in the very teeth of dutyand conscience, all at one moment unanimously fell in love with MissFaucit. We felt in our remorse, and did not pretend to deny, that our dutywas—to be savage. But when was the voice of duty listened to in the firstuproars of passion? One thing I regretted, viz. that from theindistinctness of my sight for distant faces, I could not accuratelydiscriminate Miss Faucit's features; but I was told by my next neighborthat they were as true to the antique as her figure. Miss Faucit's voiceis fine and impassioned, being deep for a female voice; but in this organlay also the only blemish of her personation. In her last scene, which isinjudiciously managed by the Greek poet,—too long by much, and perhapsmisconceived in the modern way of understanding it,—her voice grew toohusky to execute the cadences of the intonations: yet, even in this scene,her fall to the ground, under the burden of her farewell anguish, was in ahigh degree sculpturesque through the whole succession of its stages.

Antigone in the written drama, and still more in the personated drama,draws all thoughts so entirely to herself, as to leave little leisure forexamining the other parts; and, under such circ*mstances, the firstimpulse of a critic's mind is, that he ought to massacre all the restindiscriminately; it being clearly his duty to presume every thing badwhich he is not unwillingly forced to confess good, or concerning which heretains no distinct recollection. But I, after the first glory ofAntigone's avatar had subsided, applied myself to consider the general'setting' of this Theban jewel. Creon, whom the Greek tragic poets takedelight in describing as a villain, has very little more to do (untilhis own turn comes for grieving), than to tell Antigone, by minute-guns,that die she must. 'Well, uncle, don't say that so often,' is the answerwhich, secretly, the audience whispers to Antigone. Our uncle growstedious; and one wishes at last that he himself could be 'put up thespout.' Mr. Glover, from the sepulchral depth of his voice, gave effect tothe odious Creontic menaces; and, in the final lamentations over the deadbody of Haemon, being a man of considerable intellectual power, Mr. Gloverdrew the part into a prominence which it is the fault of Sophocles to haveauthorized in that situation; for the closing sympathies of the spectatorought not to be diverted, for a moment, from Antigone.

But the chorus, how did they play their part? Mainly their part musthave always depended on the character of the music: even at Athens, thatmust have been very much the case, and at Edinburgh altogether, becausedancing on the Edinburgh stage there was none. How came that about? Forthe very word, 'orchestral,' suggests to a Greek ear dancing, as theleading element in the choral functions. Was it because dancing with us isnever used mystically and symbolically never used in our religiousservices? Still it would have been possible to invent solemn and intricatedances, that might have appeared abundantly significant, if expounded byimpassioned music. But that music of Mendelssohn!—like it I cannot. Saynot that Mendelssohn is a great composer. He is so. But here he wasvoluntarily abandoning the resources of his own genius, and the support ofhis divine art, in quest of a chimera: that is, in quest of a thing calledGreek music, which for us seems far more irrecoverable than the 'Greekfire.' I myself, from an early date, was a student of this subject. I readbook after book upon it; and each successive book sank me lower intodarkness, until I had so vastly improved in ignorance, that I could myselfhave written a quarto upon it, which all the world should not have foundit possible to understand. It should have taken three men to construe onesentence. I confess, however, to not having yet seen the writings uponthis impracticable theme of Colonel Perronet Thompson. To writeexperimental music for choruses that are to support the else meagreoutline of a Greek tragedy, will not do. Let experiments be tried uponworthless subjects; and if this of Mendelssohn's be Greek music, thesooner it takes itself off the better. Sophocles will be delivered from anincubus, and we from an affliction of the auditory nerves.

It strikes me that I see the source of this music. We, that were learningGerman some thirty years ago, must remember the noise made at that timeabout Mendelssohn, the Platonic philosopher. And why? Was there any thingparticular in 'Der Phaedon,' on the immortality of the soul? Not at all;it left us quite as mortal as it found us; and it has long since beenfound mortal itself. Its venerable remains are still to be met with inmany worm-eaten trunks, pasted on the lids of which I have myself peruseda matter of thirty pages, except for a part that had been too closelyperused by worms. But the key to all the popularity of the PlatonicMendelssohn, is to be sought in the whimsical nature of German liberality,which, in those days, forced Jews into paying toll at the gates of cities,under the title of 'swine,' but caressed their infidel philosophers. Now,in this category of Jew and infidel, stood the author of 'Phaedon.' He wascertainly liable to toll as a hog; but, on the other hand, he was muchadmired as one who despised the Pentateuch. Now that Mendelssohn,whose learned labors lined our trunks, was the father of thisMendelssohn, whose Greek music afflicts our ears. Naturally, then, itstrikes me, that as 'papa' Mendelssohn attended the synagogue to saveappearances, the filial Mendelssohn would also attend it. I likewiseattended the synagogue now and then at Liverpool, and elsewhere. We allthree have been cruising in the same latitudes; and, trusting to my ownremembrances, I should pronounce that Mendelssohn has stolen his Greekmusic from the synagogue. There was, in the first chorus of the'Antigone,' one sublime ascent (and once repeated) that rang to heaven: itmight have entered into the music of Jubal's lyre, or have glorified thetimbrel of Miriam. All the rest, tried by the deep standard of my ownfeeling, that clamors for the impassioned in music, even as the daughterof the horse-leech says, 'Give, give,' is as much without meaning as mostof the Hebrew chanting that I heard at the Liverpool synagogue. I adviseMr. Murray, in the event of his ever reviving the 'Antigone,' to make thechorus sing the Hundredth Psalm, rather than Mendelssohn's music; or,which would be better still, to import from Lancashire the Handel chorus-singers.

But then, again, whatever change in the music were made, so as to 'betterthe condition' of the poor audience, something should really be done to'better the condition' of the poor chorus. Think of these worthy men, intheir white and skyblue liveries, kept standing the whole evening; noseats allowed, no dancing; no tobacco; nothing to console them butAntigone's beauty; and all this in our climate, latitude fifty-fivedegrees, 30th of December, and Fahrenheit groping about, I don't pretendto know where, but clearly on his road down to the wine cellar. Mr.Murray, I am perfectly sure, is too liberal to have grudged the expense,if he could have found any classic precedent for treating the chorus to abarrel of ale. Ale, he may object, is an unclassical tipple; but perhapsnot. Xenophon, the most Attic of prose writers, mentions pointedly in hisAnabasis, that the Ten Thousand, when retreating through snowymountains, and in circ*mstances very like our General Elphinstone'sretreat from Cabul, came upon a considerable stock of bottled ale. To besure, the poor ignorant man calls it barley wine, [Greek: oitoschrithinos:] but the flavor was found so perfectly classical that notone man of the ten thousand, not even the Attic bee himself, is reportedto have left any protest against it, or indeed to have left much of theale.

But stop: perhaps I am intruding upon other men's space. Speaking,therefore, now finally to the principal question, How far did thismemorable experiment succeed? I reply, that, in the sense of realizing allthat the joint revivers proposed to realize, it succeeded; and failed onlywhere these revivers had themselves failed to comprehend the magnificenttendencies of Greek tragedy, or where the limitations of our theatres,arising out of our habits and social differences, had made it impossibleto succeed. In London, I believe that there are nearly thirty theatres,and many more, if every place of amusem*nt (not bearing the technical nameof theatre) were included. All these must be united to compose abuilding such as that which received the vast audiences, and consequentlythe vast spectacles, of some ancient cities. And yet, from a great mistakein our London and Edinburgh attempts to imitate the stage of the Greektheatres, little use was made of such advantages as really were atour disposal. The possible depth of the Edinburgh stage was not laid open.Instead of a regal hall in Thebes, I protest I took it for the boudoir ofAntigone. It was painted in light colors, an error which was abominable,though possibly meant by the artist (but quite unnecessarily) as a properground for relieving the sumptuous dresses of the leading performers. Thedoors of entrance and exit were most unhappily managed. As to the dresses,those of Creon, of his queen, and of the two loyal sisters, were good:chaste, and yet princely. The dress of the chorus was as bad as bad ascould be: a few surplices borrowed from Episcopal chapels, or rather theornamented albes, &c. from any rich Roman Catholic establishment,would have been more effective. The Coryphaeus himself seemed, tomy eyes, no better than a railway laborer, fresh from tunnelling orboring, and wearing a blouse to hide his working dress. These ill-used men ought to 'strike' for better clothes, in case Antigone shouldagain revisit the glimpses of an Edinburgh moon; and at the same time theymight mutter a hint about the ale. But the great hindrances to a perfectrestoration of a Greek tragedy, lie in peculiarities of our theatres thatcannot be removed, because bound up with their purposes. I suppose thatSalisbury Plain would seem too vast a theatre: but at least a cathedralwould be required in dimensions, York Minster or Cologne. Lamp-light givesto us some advantages which the ancients had not. But much art would berequired to train and organize the lights and the masses of superincumbentgloom, that should be such as to allow no calculation of the dimensionsoverhead. Aboriginal night should brood over the scene, and the sweepingmovements of the scenic groups: bodily expression should be given to theobscure feeling of that dark power which moved in ancient tragedy: and weshould be made to know why it is that, with the one exception of thePersae, founded on the second Persian invasion, [11] in whichAeschylus, the author, was personally a combatant, and therefore acontemporary, not one of the thirty-four Greek tragedies surviving,but recedes into the dusky shades of the heroic, or even fabulous times.

A failure, therefore, I think the 'Antigone,' in relation to an objectthat for us is unattainable; but a failure worth more than many ordinarysuccesses. We are all deeply indebted to Mr. Murray's liberality, in twosenses; to his liberal interest in the noblest section of ancientliterature, and to his liberal disregard of expense. To have seen aGrecian play is a great remembrance. To have seen Miss Helen Faucit'sAntigone, were that all, with her bust, [Greek: os agalmatos] [12] andher uplifted arm 'pleading against unjust tribunals,' is worth—what is itworth? Worth the money? How mean a thought! To see Helen, to see Helenof Greece, was the chief prayer of Marlow's Dr. Faustus; the chief giftwhich he exacted from the fiend. To see Helen of Greece? Dr. Faustus, wehave seen her: Mr. Murray is the Mephistopheles that showed her to us.It was cheap at the price of a journey to Siberia, and is the next bestthing to having seen Waterloo at sunset on the 18th of June, 1815. [13]


[1] 'When sown;' as it has been repeatedly; a fact which somereaders may not be aware of.

[2] Boileau, it is true, translated Longinus. But there goes little Greekto that. It is in dealing with Attic Greek, and Attic poets,that a man can manifest his Grecian skill.

[3] 'Before God was known;'—i.e. known in Greece.

[4] At times, I say pointedly, the Athenian rather than theGrecian tragedy, in order to keep the reader's attention awake to aremark made by Paterculus,—viz. That although Greece coquettishlywelcomed homage to herself, as generally concerned in the Greekliterature, in reality Athens only had any original share in the drama, orin the oratory of Greece.

[5] 'The supreme artist:'—It is chiefly by comparison with Euripides,that Sophocles is usually crowned with the laurels of art. But there issome danger of doing wrong to the truth in too blindly adhering to theseold rulings of critical courts. The judgments would sometimes be reversed,if the pleadings were before us. There were blockheads in those days.Undoubtedly it is past denying that Euripides at times betrays marks ofcarelessness in the structure of his plots, as if writing too much in ahurry: the original cast of the fable is sometimes not happy, and theevolution or disentangling is too precipitate. It is easy to see that hewould have remoulded them in a revised edition, or diaskeue [Greek.] Onthe other hand, I remember nothing in the Greek drama more worthy of agreat artist than parts in his Phoenissae. Neither is he the effeminatelytender, or merely pathetic poet that some people imagine. He was able tosweep all the chords of the impassioned spirit. But the whole of thissubject is in arrear: it is in fact res integra, almost unbroken ground.

[6] I see a possible screw loose at this point: if you see it, reader,have the goodness to hold your tongue.

[7] 'Athenian Theatre:'—Many corrections remain to be made. Athens, inher bloom, was about as big as Calcutta, which contained, forty years ago,more than half a million of people; or as Naples, which (being long ratedat three hundred thousand), is now known to contain at least two hundredthousand more. The well known census of Demetrius Phalereus gave twenty-one thousand citizens. Multiply this by 5, or 4-3/4, and you have theirfamilies. Add ten thousand, multiplied by 4-1/2, for the Inquilini. Thenadd four hundred thousand for the slaves: total, about five hundred andfifty thousand. But upon the fluctuations of the Athenian population thereis much room for speculation. And, quaere, was not the population ofAthens greater two centuries before Demetrius, in the days of Pericles?

[8] Having no Sophocles at hand, I quote from memory, not pretendingtherefore to exactness: but the sense is what I state.

[9] Whose version, I do not know. But one unaccountable error wasforced on one's notice. Thebes, which, by Milton and by every scholar ismade a monosyllable, is here made a dissyllable. But Thebez, thedissyllable, is a Syrian city. It is true that Causabon deduces from aSyriac word meaning a case or enclosure (a theca), the name of Thebes,whether Boeotian or Egyptian. It is probable, therefore, that Thebes thehundred-gated of Upper Egypt, Thebes the seven-gated of Greece, and Thebesof Syria, had all one origin as regards the name. But this matters not; itis the English name that we are concerned with.

[10] 'False:' or rather inaccurate. The burlesque was not on theAntigone, but on the Medea of Euripides; and very amusing.

[11] But in this instance, perhaps, distance of space, combined with theunrivalled grandeur of the war, was felt to equiponderate the distance oftime, Susa, the Persian capital, being fourteen hundred miles from Athens.

[12] [Greek: Sterna th'os agalmatos], her bosom as the bosom of astatue; an expression of Euripides, and applied, I think, to Polyxenaat the moment of her sacrifice on the tomb of Achilles, as the bride thatwas being married to him at the moment of his death.

[13] Amongst the questions which occurred to me as requiring an answer, inconnection with this revival, was one with regard to the comparativefitness of the Antigone for giving a representative idea of the Greekstage. I am of opinion that it was the worst choice which could have beenmade; and for the very reason which no doubt governed that choice, viz.—because the austerity of the tragic passion is disfigured by a loveepisode. Rousseau in his letter to D'Alembert upon his article Geneve,in the French Encyclopedie, asks,—'Qui est-ce qui doute que, sur nostheatres, la meilleure piece de Sophocle ne tombat tout-a-plat?' And hisreason (as collected from other passages) is—because an interest derivedfrom the passion of sexual love can rarely be found on the Greek stage,and yet cannot be dispensed with on that of Paris. But why was it so rareon the Greek stage? Not from accident, but because it did not harmonizewith the principle of that stage, and its vast overhanging gloom. It isthe great infirmity of the French, and connected constitutionally with thegayety of their temperament, that they cannot sympathize with thisterrific mode of grandeur. We can. And for us the choice should havebeen more purely and severely Grecian; whilst the slenderness of the plotin any Greek tragedy, would require a far more effective support fromtumultuous movement in the chorus. Even the French are not uniformlyinsensible to this Grecian grandeur. I remember that Voltaire, amongstmany just remarks on the Electra of Sophocles, mixed with others that arenot just, bitterly condemns this demand for a love fable on the Frenchstage, and illustrates its extravagance by the French tragedy on the samesubject, of Crebillon. He (in default of any more suitable resource) hasactually made Electra, whose character on the Greek stage is painfullyvindictive, in love with an imaginary son of Aegisthus, her father'smurderer. Something should also have been said of Mrs. Leigh Murray'sIsmene, which was very effective in supporting and in relieving themagnificent impression of Antigone. I ought also to have added a note onthe scenic mask, and the common notion (not authorized, I am satisfied, bythe practice in the supreme era of Pericles), that it exhibited a Janusface, the windward side expressing grief or horror, the leeward expressingtranquillity. Believe it not, reader. But on this and other points, itwill be better to speak circ*mstantially, in a separate paper on the Greekdrama, as a majestic but very exclusive and almost, if one may say so,bigoted form of the scenic art.


It sounds like the tolling of funeral bells, as the annunciation is madeof one death after another amongst those who supported our canopy ofempire through the last most memorable generation. The eldest of theWellesleys is gone: he is gathered to his fathers; and here we have hislife circ*mstantially written.

Who, and of what origin are the Wellesleys? There is an impression currentamongst the public, or there was an impression, that the true nameof the Wellesley family is Wesley. This is a case very much resemblingsome of those imagined by the old scholastic logicians, where it wasimpossible either to deny or to affirm: saying yes, or saying no,equally you told a falsehood. The facts are these: the family wasoriginally English; and in England, at the earliest era, there is nodoubt at all that its name was De Welles leigh, which was pronounced inthe eldest times just as it is now, viz. as a dissyllable, [2] the firstsyllable sounding exactly like the cathedral city Wells, inSomersetshire, and the second like lea, (a field lying fallow.) Itis plain enough, from various records, that the true historicalgenesis of the name, was precisely through that composition ofwords, which here, for the moment, I had imagined merely to illustrate itspronunciation. Lands in the diocese of Bath and Wells lying by thepleasant river Perret, and almost up to the gates of Bristol, constitutedthe earliest possessions of the De Wellesleighs. They, seven centuriesbefore Assay, and Waterloo, were 'seised' of certain rich leasbelonging to Wells. And from these Saxon elements of the name, somehave supposed the Wellesleys a Saxon race. They could not possibly havebetter blood: but still the thing does not follow from the premises.Neither does it follow from the de that they were Norman. The firstDe Wellesley known to history, the very tip-top man of the pedigree, isAvenant de Wellesleigh. About a hundred years nearer to our own times,viz. in 1239, came Michael de Wellesleigh; of whom the important fact isrecorded, that he was the father of Wellerand de Wellesley. And what didyoung Mr. Wellerand perform in this wicked world, that the proud muse ofhistory should condescend to notice his rather singular name? Reader, hewas—'killed:' that is all; and in company with Sir Robert de Percival;which again argues his Somersetshire descent: for the family of LordEgmont, the head of all Percivals, ever was, and ever will be, inSomersetshire. But how was he killed? The time when, viz. 1303, theplace where, are known: but the manner how, is not exactly stated; itwas in skirmish with rascally Irish 'kernes,' fellows that (when presentedat the font of Christ for baptism) had their right arms covered up fromthe baptismal waters, in order that, still remaining consecrated to thedevil, those arms might inflict a devilish blow. Such a blow, with such anunbaptized arm, the Irish villain struck; and there was an end ofWellerand de Wellesleigh. Strange that history should make an end of aman, before it had made a beginning of him. These, however, are thefacts; which, in writing a romance about Sir Wellerand and SirPercival, I shall have great pleasure in falsifying. But how, says the toocurious reader, did the De Wellesleighs find themselves amongst Irishkernes? Had these scamps the presumption to invade Somersetshire? Did theydare to intrude into Wells? Not at all: but the pugnacious De Wellesleyshad dared to intrude into Ireland. Some say in the train of Henry II. Somesay—but no matter: there they were: and there they stuck likelimpets. They soon engrafted themselves into the county of Kildare;from which, by means of a fortunate marriage, they leaped into the countyof Meath; and in that county, as if to refute the pretended mutability ofhuman things, they have roosted ever since. There was once a famous copyof verses floating about Europe, which asserted that, whilst other princeswere destined to fight for thrones, Austria—the handsome house ofHapsburgh—should obtain them by marriage:

'Pugnabunt alii: tu, felix Austria, nube.'

So of the Wellesleys: Sir Wellerand took quite the wrong way: notcudgelling, but courting, was the correct way for succeeding in Kildare.Two great estates, by two separate marriages, the De Wellesleighs obtainedin Kildare; and, by a third marriage in a third generation, they obtainedin the county of Meath, Castle Dengan (otherwise Dangan) with lordships asplentiful as blackberries. Castle Dangan came to them in the year of ourLord, 1411, i.e. before Agincourt: and, in Castle Dangan did Field-marshal, the man of Waterloo, draw his first breath, shed his first tears,and perpetrate his earliest trespasses. That is what one might call apretty long spell for one family: four hundred and thirty-five years hasCastle Dangan furnished a nursery for the Wellesley piccaninnies. Amongstthe lordships attached to Castle Dangan was Mornington, which morethan three centuries afterwards supplied an earldom for the grandfather ofWaterloo. Any further memorabilia of the Castle Dangan family are notrecorded, except that in 1485 (which sure was the year of Bosworth field?)they began to omit the de and to write themselves Wellesley toutcourt. From indolence, I presume: for a certain lady Di. le Fl., whom*once I knew, a Howard by birth, of the house of Suffolk, told me as herreason for omitting the Le, that it caused her too much additionaltrouble.

So far the evidence seems in favor of Wellesley and against Wesley. But,on the other hand, during the last three centuries the Wellesleys wrotethe name Wesley. They, however, were only the maternal ancestors ofthe present Wellesleys. Garret Wellesley, the last male heir of the directline, in the year 1745, left his whole estate to one of the Cowleys, aStaffordshire family who had emigrated to Ireland in Queen Elizabeth'stime, but who were, however, descended from the Wellesleys. This Cowley orColley, taking, in 1745, the name of Wesley, received from George II. thetitle of Earl Mornington: and Colley's grandson, the Marquess Wellesley ofour age, was recorded in the Irish peerage as Wesley, Earl ofMornington; was uniformly so described up to the end of the eighteenthcentury; and even Arthur of Waterloo, whom most of us Europeans knowpretty well, on going to India a little before his brother, was thusintroduced by Lord Cornwallis to Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth, theGovernor-general), 'Dear sir, I beg leave to introduce to you ColonelWesley, who is a lieutenant-colonel of my regiment. He is a sensible man,and a good officer.' Posterity, for we are posterity in respect ofLord Cornwallis, have been very much of his opinion. Colonel Wesleyreally is a sensible man; and the sensible man, soon after hisarrival in Bengal, under the instigation of his brother, resumed the oldname of Wellesley. In reality, the name of Wesley was merely theabbreviation of indolence, as Chumley for Cholmondeley, Pomfret forPontefract, Cicester for Cirencester; or, in Scotland, Marchbanks forMajoribanks, Chatorow for the Duke of Hamilton's French title ofChatelherault. I remember myself, in childhood, to have met a niece ofJohn Wesley the Proto-Methodist, who always spoke of the, second LordMornington (author of the well-known glees) as a cousin, and as intimatelyconnected with her brother the great foudroyant performer on theorgan. Southey, in his Life of John Wesley, tells us that Charles Wesley,the brother of John, and father of the great organist, had the offer fromGarret Wellesley of those same estates which eventually were left toRichard Cowley. This argues a recognition of near consanguinity. Why theoffer was declined, is not distinctly explained. But if it had beenaccepted, Southey thinks that then we should have had no storming ofSeringapatam, no Waterloo, and no Arminian Methodists. All that is notquite clear. Tippoo was booked for a desperate British vengeance by hisown desperate enmity to our name, though no Lord Wellesley had beenGovernor-General. Napoleon, by the same fury of hatred to us, was bookedfor the same fate, though the scene of it might not have been Waterloo.And, as to John Wesley, why should he not have made the same schism withthe English Church, because his brother Charles had become unexpectedlyrich?

The Marquess Wellesley was of the same standing, as to age, or nearly so,as Mr. Pitt; though he outlived Pitt by almost forty years. Born in 1760,three or four months before the accession of George III., he was sent toEton, at the age of eleven; and from Eton, in his eighteenth year, he wassent to Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated as a nobleman. Hethen bore the courtesy title of Viscount Wellesley; but in 1781, when hehad reached his twenty-first year, he was summoned away from Oxford by thedeath of his father, the second Earl of Mornington. It is interesting, atthis moment, to look back on the family group of children collected atDangan Castle. The young earl was within a month of his majority: hisyounger brothers and sisters were, William Wellesley Pole (since dead,under the title of Lord Maryborough), then aged eighteen; Anne, sincemarried to Henry, son of Lord Southampton, aged thirteen; Arthur, agedtwelve; Gerald Valerian, now in the church, aged ten; Mary Elizabeth(since Lady Culling Smith), aged nine; Henry, since Lord Cowley, andBritish ambassador to Spain, France, &c. aged eight. The new LordMornington showed his conscientious nature, by assuming his father'sdebts, and by superintending the education of his brothers. He haddistinguished himself at Oxford as a scholar; but he returned thither nomore, and took no degree. As Earl of Mornington, he sat in the Irish Houseof Lords; but not being a British peer, he was able to sit also in theEnglish House of Commons; and of this opening for a more national career,he availed himself at the age of twenty-four. Except that he favored theclaims of the Irish Catholics, his policy was pretty uniformly that of Mr.Pitt. He supported that minister throughout the contests on the FrenchRevolution; and a little earlier, on the Regency question. This cameforward in 1788, on occasion of the first insanity which attacked GeorgeIII. The reader, who is likely to have been born since that era, willperhaps not be acquainted with the constitutional question then at issue.It was this: Mr. Fox held that, upon any incapacity arising in thesovereign, the regency would then settle (ipso facto of that incapacity)upon the Prince of Wales; overlooking altogether the case in which thereshould be no Prince of Wales, and the case in which such a Prince mightbe as incapable, from youth, of exercising the powers attached to theoffice, as his father from disease. Mr. Pitt denied that a Prince of Walessimply as such, and apart from any moral fitness which he might possess,had more title to the office of regent than any lamp-lighter or scavenger.It was the province of Parliament exclusively to legislate for theparticular case. The practical decision of the question was not calledfor, from the accident of the king's sudden recovery: but in Ireland, fromthe independence asserted by the two houses of the British council, thequestion grew still more complex. The Lord Lieutenant refused to transmittheir address, [3] and Lord Mornington supported him powerfully in hisrefusal.

Ten years after this hot collision of parties, Lord Mornington wasappointed Governor-General of India, and now first he entered upon a stageworthy of his powers. I cannot myself agree with Mr. Pearce, that 'thewisdom of his policy is now universally recognized;' because the samefalse views of our Indian position, which at that time caused his splendidservices to be slighted in many quarters, still preponderates. Alladministrations alike have been intensely ignorant of Indian politics; andfor the natural reason, that the business of home politics leaves them nodisposable energies for affairs so distant, and with which each man'schance of any durable connection is so exceedingly small. What LordMornington did was this: he looked our prospects in the face. Two greatenemies were then looming upon the horizon, both ignorant of our realresources, and both deluded by our imperfect use of such resources, as,even in a previous war, we had possessed. One of these enemies was Tippoo,the Sultan of Mysore: him, by the crushing energy of his arrangements,Lord Mornington was able utterly to destroy, and to distribute hisdominions with equity and moderation, yet so as to prevent any newcoalition arising in that quarter against the British power. There is aportrait of Tippoo, of this very ger, in the second volume of Mr. Pearce'swork, which expresses sufficiently the unparalleled ferocity of hisnature; and it is guaranteed, by its origin, as authentic. Tippoo, fromthe personal interest investing him, has more fixed the attention ofEurope than a much more formidable enemy: that enemy was the Mahrattaconfederacy, chiefly existing in the persons of the Peishwah, of Scindia,of Holkar, and the Rajah of Berar. Had these four princes been lessprofoundly ignorant, had they been less inveterately treacherous, theywould have cost us the only dreadful struggle which in India we havestood. As it was, Lord Mornington's government reduced and crippled theMaharattas to such an extent, that in 1817, Lord Hastings found itpossible to crush them for ever. Three services of a profounder nature,Lord Wellesley was enabled to do for India; first, to pave the way for thepropagation of Christianity,—mighty service, stretching to the clouds,and which, in the hour of death, must have given him consolation;secondly, to enter upon the abolition of such Hindoo superstitions as aremost shocking to humanity, particularly the practice of Suttee, and thebarbarous exposure of dying persons, or of first-born infants at Sangor onthe Ganges; finally, to promote an enlarged system of education, which (ifhis splendid scheme had been adopted) would have diffused its benefits allover India. It ought also to be mentioned that the expedition by way ofthe Red Sea against the French in Egypt, was so entirely of his suggestionand his preparation, that, to the great dishonor of Messrs. Pitt andDundas, whose administration was the worst, as a war administration,thus ever misapplied, or non-applied, the resources of a mighty empire, itlanguished for eighteen months purely through their neglect.

In 1805, having staid about seven years in India, Lord Mornington wasrecalled, was created Marquess of Wellesley, was sent, in 1821, as Viceroyto Ireland, where there was little to do; having previously, in 1809, beensent Ambassador to the Spanish Cortes, where there was an affinity to do,but no means of doing it. The last great political act of Lord Wellesley,was the smashing of the Peel ministry in 1834 viz. by the famousresolution (which he personally drew up) for appropriating to generaleducation in Ireland any surplus arising from the revenues of the IrishChurch. Full of honors, he retired from public life at the age of seventy-five, and, for seven years more of life, dedicated his time to suchliterary pursuits as he had found most interesting in early youth.

Mr. Pearce, who is so capable of writing vigorously and sagaciously, hastoo much allowed himself to rely upon public journals. For example, hereprints the whole of the attorney-general's official information againsteleven obscure persons, who, from the gallery of the Dublin theatre, did'wickedly, riotously, and routously' hiss, groan, insult, and assault (tosay nothing of their having caused and procured to be hissed, groaned,&c.) the Marquess Wellesley, Lord-Lieutenant General, and General Governorof Ireland. This document covers more than nine pages; and, after all,omits the only fact of the least consequence, viz., that several missileswere thrown by the rioters into the vice-regal box, and amongst them aquart-bottle, which barely missed his excellency's temples. Consideringthe impetus acquired by the descent from the gallery, there is littledoubt that such a weapon would have killed Lord Wellesley on the spot. Indefault however, of this weighty fact, the attorney-general favors us withmemorializing the very best piece of doggerel that I remember to haveread; viz., that upon divers, to wit, three thousand papers, the riotershad wickedly and maliciously written and printed, besides, observe,causing to be written and printed, 'No Popery,' as also the followingtraitorous couplet—

'The Protestants want Talbot,
As the Papists have got all but;'

Meaning 'all but' that which they got some years later by means of theClare election. Yet if, in some instances like this, Mr. Pearce has toolargely drawn upon official papers, which he should rather have abstractedand condensed, on the other hand, his work has a specific value inbringing forward private documents, to which his opportunities have gainedhim a confidential access. Two portraits of Lord Wellesley, one in middlelife, and one in old age, from a sketch by the Comte d'Orsay, arefelicitously executed.

Something remains to be said of Lord Wellesley as a literary man; andtowards such a judgment Mr. Pearce has contributed some very pleasingmaterials. As a public speaker, Lord Wellesley had that degree ofbrilliancy and effectual vigor, which might have been expected in a man ofgreat talents, possessing much native sensibility to the charms of style,but not led by any personal accidents of life into a separate cultivationof oratory, or into any profound investigation of its duties and itspowers on the arena of a British senate. There is less call for speakingof Lord Wellesley in this character, where he did not seek for any eminentdistinction, than in the more general character of an elegantlitterateur, which furnished to him much of his recreation in allstages of his life, and much of his consolation in the last. It isinteresting to see this accomplished nobleman, in advanced age, when otherresources were one by one decaying, and the lights of life weresuccessively fading into darkness, still cheering his languid hours by theculture of classical literature, and in his eighty-second year drawingsolace from those same pursuits which had given grace and distinction tohis twentieth.

One or two remarks I will make upon Lord Wellesley's verses—Greek as wellas Latin. The Latin lines upon Chantrey's success at Holkham in killingtwo woodco*cks at the first shot, which subsequently he sculptured inmarble and presented to Lord Leicester, are perhaps the most felicitousamongst the whole. Masquerading, in Lord Wellesley's verses, asPraxiteles, who could not well be represented with a Manon having apercussion lock, Chantrey is armed with a bow and arrows:

'En! trajecit aves una sagitta duas.'

In the Greek translation of Parthenopaeus, there are as few faultsas could reasonably be expected. But, first, one word as to the originalLatin poem: to whom does it belong? It is traced first to Lord Grenville,who received it from his tutor (afterwards Bishop of London), who hadtaken it as an anonymous poem from the 'Censor's book;' and with verylittle probability, it is doubtfully assigned to 'Lewis of the WarOffice,' meaning, no doubt, the father of Monk Lewis. By this anxiety intracing its pedigree, the reader is led to exaggerate the pretensions ofthe little poem; these are inconsiderable: and there is a conspicuousfault, which it is worth while noticing, because it is one peculiarlybesetting those who write modern verses with the help of a gradus, viz.that the Pentameter is often a mere reverberation of the precedingHexameter. Thus, for instance—

'Parthenios inter saltus non amplius erro,
Non repeto Dryadum pascua laeta choris;'

and so of others, where the second line is but a variation of the first.Even Ovid, with all his fertility, and partly in consequence of hisfertility, too often commits this fault. Where indeed the thought iseffectually varied, so that the second line acts as a musical minor,succeeding to the major, in the first, there may happen to arise apeculiar beauty. But I speak of the ordinary case, where the second ismerely the rebound of the first, presenting the same thought in a dilutedform. This is the commonest resource of feeble thinking, and is also astanding temptation or snare for feeble thinking. Lord Wellesley, however,is not answerable for these faults in the original, which indeed henotices slightly as 'repetitions;' and his own Greek version is spiritedand good. There, are, however, some mistakes. The second line isaltogether faulty;

[Greek: Choria Mainaliph pant erateina theph
Achnumenos leipon

does not express the sense intended. Construed correctly, this clause ofthe sentence would mean—'I, sorrowfully leaving all places gracious tothe Maenalian god:' but that is not what Lord Wellesley designed: 'Ileaving the woods of Cyllene, and the snowy summits of Pholoe, places thatare all of them dear to Pan'—that is what was meant: that is to say,not leaving all places dear to Pan, far from it; but leaving a fewplaces, every one of which is dear to Pan. In the line beginning

[Greek: Kan eth uph aelikias]

where the meaning is—and if as yet, by reason of my immature age,there is a metrical error; and [Greek: aelikia] will not expressimmaturity of age. I doubt whether in the next line,

[Greek: Maed alkae thalloi gounasin aeitheos]

[Greek: gounasin] could convey the meaning without the preposition
[Greek: eth]. And in

[Greek: Spherchomai ou kaleousi theoi.]

I hasten whither the gods summon me—[Greek: ou] is not the rightword. It is, however, almost impossible to write Greek verses whichshall be liable to no verbal objections; and the fluent movement of theseverses sufficiently argues the off-hand ease with which Lord Wellesleymust have read Greek, writing it so elegantly and with so little ofapparent constraint.

Meantime the most interesting (from its circ*mstances) of Lord Wellesley'sverses, is one to which his own English interpretation of it has done lessthan justice. It is a Latin epitaph on the daughter (an only child) ofLord and Lady Brougham. She died, and (as was generally known at the time)of an organic affection disturbing the action of the heart, at the earlyage of eighteen. And the peculiar interest of the case lies in thesuppression by this pious daughter (so far as it was possible) of her ownbodily anguish, in order to beguile the mental anguish of her parents. TheLatin epitaph is this:

'Blanda anima, e cunis heu! longo exercita morbo,
Inter maternas heu lachrymasque patris,
Quas risu lenire tuo jucunda solebas,
Et levis, et proprii vix memor ipsa mali;
I, pete calestes, ubi nulla est cura, recessus:
Et tibi sit nullo mista dolore quies!'

The English version is this:

'Doom'd to long suffering from earliest years,
Amidst your parents' grief and pain alone
Cheerful and gay, you smiled to soothe their tears;
And in their agonies forgot your own.
Go, gentle spirit; and among the blest
From grief and pain eternal be thy rest!'

In the Latin, the phrase e cunis does not express from your cradleupwards. The second line is faulty in the opposition of maternas topatris. And in the fourth line levis conveys a false meaning: levismust mean either physically light, i.e. not heavy, which is not thesense, or else tainted with levity, which is still less the sense. WhatLord Wellesley wished to say—was light-hearted: this he has notsaid: but neither is it easy to say it in good Latin.

I complain, however, of the whole as not bringing out Lord Wellesley's ownfeeling—which feeling is partly expressed in his verses, and partly inhis accompanying prose note on Miss Brougham's mournful destiny ('her lifewas a continual illness') contrasted with her fortitude, her innocentgaiety, and the pious motives with which she supported this gaiety to thelast. Not as a direct version, but as filling up the outline of LordWellesley, sufficiently indicated by himself, I propose this:—

'Child, that for thirteen years hast fought with pain,
Prompted by joy and depth of natural love,—
Rest now at God's command: oh! not in vain
His angel ofttimes watch'd thee,—oft, above
All pangs, that else had dimm'd thy parents' eyes,
Saw thy young heart victoriously rise.
Rise now for ever, self-forgetting child,
Rise to those choirs, where love like thine is blest,
From pains of flesh—from filial tears assoil'd,
Love which God's hand shall crown with God's own rest.'


[1] Memoirs and Correspondence.

[2] 'As a dissyllable:'—just as the Annesley family, ofwhich Lord Valentia is the present head, do not pronounce their nametrisyllabically (as strangers often suppose), but as the two syllablesAnns lea, accent on the first.

[3] Which adopted neither view; for by offering the regency of Irelandto the Prince of Wales, they negatived Mr. Fox's view, who held it to bethe Prince's by inherent right; and, on the other hand, they still moreopenly opposed Mr. Pitt.


This conversation is doubly interesting: interesting by its subject,interesting by its interlocutors; for the subject is Milton, whilst theinterlocutors are Southey and Landor. If a British gentleman, whentaking his pleasure in his well-armed yacht, descries, in some foreignwaters, a noble vessel, from the Thames or the Clyde, riding peaceably atanchor—and soon after, two smart-looking clippers, with rakish masts,bearing down upon her in company—he slackens sail: his suspicions areslightly raised; they have not shown their teeth as yet, and perhaps allis right; but there can be no harm in looking a little closer; and,assuredly, if he finds any mischief in the wind against his countryman, hewill show his teeth also; and, please the wind, will take up such aposition as to rake both of these pirates by turns. The two dialogists areintroduced walking out after breakfast, 'each his Milton in his pocket;'and says Southey, 'Let us collect all the graver faults we can lay ourhands upon, without a too minute and troublesome research;'—just so;there would be danger in that—help might put off from shore;—'not,'says he, 'in the spirit of Johnson, but in our own.' Johnson we maysuppose, is some old ruffian well known upon that coast; and 'faults'may be a flash term for what the Americans call 'notions.' A part of thecargo it clearly is; and one is not surprised to hear Landor, whilstassenting to the general plan of attack, suggesting in a whisper 'thatthey should abase their eyes in reverence to so great a man, withoutabsolutely closing them;' which I take to mean—that, without trustingentirely to their boarders, or absolutely closing their ports, they shoulddepress their guns and fire down into the hold, in respect of the vesselattacked standing so high out of the water. After such plain speaking,nobody can wonder much at the junior pirate (Landor) muttering, 'It willbe difficult for us always to refrain.' Of course it will: refrainingwas no part of the business, I should fancy, taught by that samebuccaneer, Johnson. There is mischief, you see, reader, singing in theair—'miching malhecho'—and it is our business to watch it.

But, before coming to the main attack, I must suffer myself to be detainedfor a few moments by what Mr. L. premises upon the 'moral' of any greatfable, and the relation which it bears, or should bear, to the solutionof such a fable. Philosophic criticism is so far improved, that, at thisday, few people, who have reflected at all upon such subjects, but areagreed as to one point: viz., that in metaphysical language the moralof an epos or a drama should be immanent, not transient; or,otherwise, that it should be vitally distributed through the wholeorganization of the tree, not gathered or secreted into a sort of redberry or racemus, pendent at the end of its boughs. This view Mr. Landorhimself takes, as a general view; but, strange to say, by some Landorianperverseness, where there occurs a memorable exception to this rule (as inthe 'Paradise Lost'), in that case he insists upon the rule in its rigor—the rule, and nothing but the rule. Where, on the contrary, the ruledoes really and obviously take effect (as in the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey'),there he insists upon an exceptional case. There is a moral, in hisopinion, hanging like a tassel of gold bullion from the 'Iliad;'—and whatis it? Something so fantastic, that I decline to repeat it. As well mighthe have said, that the moral of 'Othello' was—'Try Warren's Blacking!'There is no moral, little or big, foul or fair, to the 'Iliad.' Up to the17th book, the moral might seem dimly to be this—'Gentlemen, keep thepeace: you see what comes of quarrelling.' But there this moral ceases;—there is now a break of guage: the narrow guage takes place after this;whilst up to this point, the broad guage—viz., the wrath of Achilles,growing out of his turn-up with Agamemnon—had carried us smoothly alongwithout need to shift our luggage. There is no more quarrelling after Book17, how then can there be any more moral from quarrelling? If you insiston my telling you what is the moral of the 'Iliad,' I insist uponyour telling me what is the moral of a rattlesnake or the moral of aNiagara. I suppose the moral is—that you must get out of their way, ifyou mean to moralize much longer. The going-up (or anabasis) of the Greeksagainst Troy, was a fact; and a pretty dense fact; and, by accident, thevery first in which all Greece had a common interest. It was a joint-stockconcern—a representative expedition—whereas, previously there had beennone; for even the Argonautic expedition, which is rather of the darkest,implied no confederation except amongst individuals. How could it? For theArgo is supposed to have measured only twenty-seven tons: how she wouldhave been classed at Lloyd's is hard to say, but certainly not as A 1.There was no state-cabin; everybody, demi-gods and all, pigged in thesteerage amongst beans and bacon. Greece was naturally proud of havingcrossed the herring-pond, small as it was, in search of an entrenchedenemy; proud also of having licked him 'into Almighty smash;' this wassufficient; or if an impertinent moralist sought for something more,doubtless the moral must have lain in the booty. A peach is the moral of apeach, and moral enough; but if a man will have something better—amoral within a moral—why, there is the peach-stone, and its kernel, outof which he may make ratafia, which seems to be the ultimate morality thatcan be extracted from a peach. Mr. Archdeacon Williams, indeed, of theEdinburgh Academy, has published an octavo opinion upon the case, whichasserts that the moral of the Trojan war was (to borrow a phrase fromchildren) tit for tat. It was a case of retaliation for crimes againstHellas, committed by Troy in an earlier generation. It may be so; Nemesisknows best. But this moral, if it concerns the total expedition to theTroad, cannot concern the 'Iliad,' which does not take up matters from soearly a period, nor go on to the final catastrophe of Ilium.

Now, as to the 'Paradise Lost,' it happens that there is—whether thereought to be or not—a pure golden moral, distinctly announced, separatelycontemplated, and the very weightiest ever uttered by man or realized byfable. It is a moral rather for the drama of a world than for a humanpoem. And this moral is made the more prominent and memorable by thegrandeur of its annunciation. The jewel is not more splendid in itselfthan in its setting. Excepting the well-known passage on Athenian oratoryin the 'Paradise Regained,' there is none even in Milton where themetrical pomp is made so effectually to aid the pomp of the sentiment.Hearken to the way in which a roll of dactyles is made to settle, like theswell of the advancing tide, into the long thunder of billows breaking forleagues against the shore:

'That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence.'—

Hear what a motion, what a tumult, is given by the dactylic close to eachof the introductory lines! And how massily is the whole locked up into thepeace of heaven, as the aerial arch of a viaduct is locked up intotranquil stability by its key-stone, through the deep spondaic close,

'And justify the ways of God to man.'

That is the moral of the Miltonic epos; and as much grander than any othermoral formally illustrated by poets, as heaven is higher than earth.

But the most singular moral, which Mr. Landor anywhere discovers, is inhis own poem of 'Gebir.' Whether he still adheres to it, does notappear from the present edition. But I remember distinctly, in theoriginal edition, a Preface (now withdrawn) in which he made hisacknowledgments to some book read at a Welsh Inn for the outline of thestory; and as to the moral, he declared it to be an exposition of thatmost mysterious offence, Over-Colonization. Much I mused, in myyouthful simplicity, upon this criminal novelty. What might it be? CouldI, by mistake, have committed it myself? Was it a felony, or amisdemeanor?—liable to transportation, or only to fine and imprisonment?Neither in the Decemviral Tables, nor in the Code of Justinian, nor themaritime Code of Oleron, nor in the Canon Law, nor the Code Napoleon, norour own Statutes at large, nor in Jeremy Bentham, had I read of such acrime as a possibility. Undoubtedly the vermin, locally calledSquatters, [1] both in the wilds of America and Australia, who pre-occupy other men's estates, have latterly illustrated the logicalpossibility of such an offence; but they were quite unknown at the era ofGebir. Even Dalica, who knew as much wickedness as most people, would havestared at this unheard of villany, and have asked, as eagerly as Idid—'What is it now? Let's have a shy at it in Egypt.' I, indeed, knew acase, but Dalica did not, of shocking over-colonization. It was thecase, which even yet occurs on out-of-the-way roads, where a man, unjustlybig, mounts into the inside of a stage-coach already sufficiently crowded.In streets and squares, where men could give him a wide berth, they hadtolerated the injustice of his person; but now, in a chamber so confined,the length and breadth of his wickedness shines revealed to every eye. Andif the coach should upset, which it would not be the less likely to do forhaving him on board, somebody or other (perhaps myself) must liebeneath this monster, like Enceladus under Mount Etna, calling upon Joveto come quickly with a few thunderbolts and destroy both man and mountain,both succubus and incubus, if no other relief offered. Meantime, theonly case of over-colonization notorious to all Europe, is that which someGerman traveller (Riedesel, I think) has reported so eagerly, in ridiculeof our supposed English credulity; viz.—the case of the foreign swindler,who advertised that he would get into a quart bottle, filled Drury Lane,pocketed the admission money, and decamped, protesting (in his adieus tothe spectators) that' it lacerated his heart to disappoint so many nobleislanders; but that on his next visit he would make full reparation bygetting into a vinegar cruet.' Now, here certainly was a case of over-colonization, not perpetrated, but meditated. Yet, when one examines thiscase, the crime consisted by no means in doing it, but in not doing it;by no means in getting into the bottle, but in not getting into it. Theforeign contractor would have been probably a very unhappy man, had hefulfilled his contract by over-colonizing the bottle, but he would havebeen decidedly a more virtuous man. He would have redeemed his pledge;and, if he had even died in the bottle, we should have honored him as a'vir bonus, cum mala fortuna compositus;' as a man of honor matched insingle duel with calamity, and also as the best of conjurers. Over-colonization, therefore, except in the one case of the stage-coach, isapparently no crime; and the offence of King Gebir, in my eyes, remains amystery to this day.

What next solicits notice is in the nature of a digression: it is a kindof parenthesis on Wordsworth.

'Landor.—When it was a matter of wonder how Keats, who was ignorant ofGreek, could have written his "Hyperion," Shelley, whom envy nevertouched, gave as a reason—"because he was a Greek." Wordsworth, beingasked his opinion of the same poem, called it, scoffingly, "a pretty pieceof paganism;" yet he himself, in the best verses he ever wrote—andbeautiful ones they are—reverts to the powerful influence of the "pagancreed."'

Here are nine lines exactly in the original type. Now, nine tailors areranked, by great masters of algebra, as = one man; such is the receivedequation; or, as it is expressed, with more liveliness, in an old Englishdrama, by a man who meets and quarrels with eighteen tailors—'Come, hangit! I'll fight you both.' But, whatever be the algebraic ratio oftailors to men, it is clear that nine Landorian lines are not always equalto the delivery of one accurate truth, or to a successful conflict withthree or four signal errors. Firstly—Shelley's reason, if it ever wasassigned, is irrelevant as regards any question that must have beenintended. It could not have been meant to ask—Why was the 'Hyperion' soGrecian in its spirit? for it is anything but Grecian. We should praise itfalsely to call it so; for the feeble, though elegant, mythology of Greecewas incapable of breeding anything so deep as the mysterious portentsthat, in the 'Hyperion,' run before and accompany the passing away ofdivine immemorial dynasties. Nothing can be more impressive than thepicture of Saturn in his palsy of affliction, and of the mighty goddesshis grand-daughter, or than the secret signs of coming woe in the palaceof Hyperion. These things grew from darker creeds than Greece had everknown since the elder traditions of Prometheus—creeds that sent downtheir sounding plummets into far deeper wells within the human spirit.What had been meant, by the question proposed to Shelley, was no doubt—How so young a man as Keats, not having had the advantage of a regularclassical education, could have been so much at home in the details of theelder mythology? Tooke's 'Pantheon' might have been obtained byfavor of any English schoolboy, and Dumoustier's 'Lettres a Emile surla Mythologie' by favor of very many young ladies; but these,according to my recollection of them, would hardly have sufficed. Spence's'Polymetis,' however, might have been had by favor of any goodlibrary; and the 'Bibliotheca' of Apollodorus, who is the co*ck ofthe walk on this subject, might have been read by favor of a Latintranslation, supposing Keats really unequal to the easy Greek text. Thereis no wonder in the case; nor, if there had been, would Shelley's kindremark have solved it. The treatment of the facts must, in anycase, have been due to Keats's genius, so as to be the same whether he hadstudied Greek or not: the facts, apart from the treatment, must inany case have been had from a book. Secondly—Let Mr. Landor rely upon it—that Wordsworth never said the thing ascribed to him here as any formaljudgment, or what Scottish law would call deliverance, upon the'Hyperion.' As to what he might have said incidentally and collaterally;the meaning of words is so entirely affected by their position in aconversation—what followed, what went before—that five words dislocatedfrom their context never would be received as evidence in the Queen'sBench. The court which, of all others, least strictly weighs its rules ofevidence, is the female tea-table; yet even that tribunal would requirethe deponent to strengthen his evidence, if he had only five detachedwords to produce. Wordsworth is a very proud man as he has good reason tobe; and perhaps it was I myself, who once said in print of him—that it isnot the correct way of speaking, to say that Wordsworth is as proud asLucifer; but, inversely, to say of Lucifer that some people have conceivedhim to be as proud as Wordsworth. But, if proud, Wordsworth is nothaughty, is not ostentatious, is not anxious for display, is not arrogant,and, least of all, is he capable of descending to envy. Who or what is itthat he should be envious of? Does anybody suppose that Wordsworthwould be jealous of Archimedes if he now walked upon earth, or MichaelAngelo, or Milton? Nature does not repeat herself. Be assured she willnever make a second Wordsworth. Any of us would be jealous of his ownduplicate; and, if I had a doppelganger, who went about personatingme, copying me, and pirating me, philosopher as I am, I might (if theCourt of Chancery would not grant an injunction against him) be so farcarried away by jealousy as to attempt the crime of murder upon hiscarcass; and no great matter as regards HIM. But it would be a sad thingfor me to find myself hanged; and for what, I beseech you? formurdering a sham, that was either nobody at all, or oneself repeated oncetoo often. But if you show to Wordsworth a man as great as himself, stillthat great man will not be much like Wordsworth—the great man willnot be Wordsworth's doppelganger. If not impar (as you say) he will bedispar; and why, then, should Wordsworth be jealous of him, unless he isjealous of the sun, and of Abd el Kader, and of Mr. Waghorn—all of whomcarry off a great deal of any spare admiration which Europe has to disposeof. But suddenly it strikes me that we are all proud, every man of us; andI daresay with some reason for it, 'be the same more or less.' For I nevercame to know any man in my whole life intimately, who could not dosomething or other better than anybody else. The only man amongst us thatis thoroughly free from pride, that you may at all seasons rely on as apattern of humility, is the pickpocket. That man is so admirable in histemper, and so used to pocketing anything whatever which Providence sendsin his way, that he will even pocket a kicking, or anything in that lineof favors which you are pleased to bestow. The smallest donations are byhim thankfully received, provided only that you, whilst half-blind withanger in kicking him round a figure of eight, like a dexterous skater,will but allow him (which is no more than fair) to have a second 'shy'at your pretty Indian pocket-handkerchief, so as to convince you, oncooler reflection, that he does not always miss. Thirdly—Mr. Landorleaves it doubtful what verses those are of Wordsworth's which celebratethe power 'of the Pagan creed;' whether that sonnet in which Wordsworthwishes to exchange for glimpses of human life, then and in thosecirc*mstances, 'forlorn,' the sight

'——Of Proteus coming from the sea,
And hear old Triton wind his wreathed horn;'

whether this, or the passage on the Greek mythology in 'The Excursion.'Whichever he means, I am the last man to deny that it is beautiful, andespecially if he means the latter. But it is no presumption to deny firmlyMr. Landor's assertion, that these are 'the best verses Wordsworth everwrote.' Bless the man!

'There are a thousand such elsewhere,
As worthy of your wonder:'—

Elsewhere, I mean, in Wordsworth's poems. In reality it isimpossible that these should be the best; for even if, in theexecutive part, they were so, which is not the case, the very nature ofthe thought, of the feeling, and of the relation, which binds it to thegeneral theme, and the nature of that theme itself, forbid the possibilityof merits so high. The whole movement of the feeling is fanciful: itneither appeals to what is deepest in human sensibilities, nor is meant todo so. The result, indeed, serves only to show Mr. Landor's slenderacquaintance with Wordsworth. And what is worse than being slenderlyacquainted, he is erroneously acquainted even with these two shortbreathings from the Wordsworthian shell. He mistakes the logic. Wordsworthdoes not celebrate any power at all in Paganism. Old Triton indeed! he'slittle better, in respect of the terrific, than a mail-coach guard, norhalf as good, if you allow the guard his official seat, a coal-blacknight, lamps blazing back upon his royal scarlet, and his blunderbusscorrectly slung. Triton would not stay, I engage, for a second look at theold Portsmouth mail, as once I knew it. But, alas! better things than everstood on Triton's pins are now as little able to stand up for themselves,or to startle the silent fields in darkness, with the sudden flash oftheir glory—gone before it had fall come—as Triton is to play theFreyschutz chorus on his humbug of a horn. But the logic of Wordsworth isthis—not that the Greek mythology is potent; on the contrary, that it isweaker than cowslip tea, and would not agitate the nerves of a hensparrow; but that, weak as it is—nay, by means of that very weakness—itdoes but the better serve to measure the weakness of something whichhe thinks yet weaker—viz. the death-like torpor of London societyin 1808, benumbed by conventional apathy and worldliness—

'Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.'

This seems a digression from Milton, who is properly the subject of thiscolloquy. But, luckily, it is not one of my sins. Mr. Landor is lordwithin the house of his own book; he pays all accounts whatever; andreaders that have either a bill, or bill of exceptions, to tender againstthe concern, must draw upon him. To Milton he returns upon a verydangerous topic indeed—viz. the structure of his blank verse. I know ofnone that is so trying to a wary man's nerves. You might as well taxMozart with harshness in the divinest passages of 'Don Giovanni,' asMilton with any such offence against metrical science. Be assured, it isyourself that do not read with understanding, not Milton that bypossibility can be found deaf to the demands of perfect harmony. You aretempted, after walking round a line threescore times, to exclaim at last—'Well, if the Fiend himself should rise up before me at this very moment,in this very study of mine, and say that no screw was loose in that line,then would I reply—'Sir, with submission, you are——.' 'What!' supposethe Fiend suddenly to demand in thunder; 'what am I?' 'Horribly wrong,'you wish exceedingly to say; but, recollecting that some people arecholeric in argument, you confine yourself to the polite answer-'That,with deference to his better education, you conceive him to lie;'—that'sa bad word to drop your voice upon in talking with a fiend, and you hastento add—'under a slight, a very slight mistake.' Ay, you might ventureon that opinion with a fiend. But how if an angel should undertake thecase? And angelic was the ear of Milton. Many are the prima facieanomalous lines in Milton; many are the suspicious lines, which in many abook I have seen many a critic peering into, with eyes made up formischief, yet with a misgiving that all was not quite safe, very muchlike an old raven looking down a marrow-bone. In fact, such is themetrical skill of the man, and such the perfection of his metricalsensibility, that, on any attempt to take liberties with a passage of his,you feel as when coming, in a forest, upon what seems a dead lion; perhapshe may not be dead, but only sleeping; nay, perhaps he may not besleeping, but only shamming. And you have a jealousy, as to Milton, evenin the most flagrant case of almost palpable error, that, after all, theremay be a plot in it. You may be put down with shame by some man readingthe line otherwise, reading it with a different emphasis, a differentcaesura, or perhaps a different suspension of the voice, so as to bringout a new and self-justifying effect. It must be added, that, inreviewing Milton's metre, it is quite necessary to have such books as'Nare's English Orthoepy' (in a late edition), and others of thatclass, lying on the table; because the accentuation of Milton's age was,in many words, entirely different from ours. And Mr. Landor is not freefrom some suspicion of inattention as to this point. Over and above hisaccentual difference, the practice of our elder dramatists in theresolution of the final tion (which now is uniformly pronouncedshon), will be found exceedingly important to the appreciation of awriter's verse. Contribution, which now is necessarily pronounced as aword of four syllables, would then, in verse, have five, being read intocon-tri-bu-ce-on. Many readers will recollect another word, which foryears brought John Kemble into hot water with the pit of Drury Lane. Itwas the plural of the word ache. This is generally made a dissyllable bythe Elizabethan dramatists; it occurs in the 'Tempest.' Prospero says—

'I'll fill thy bones with aches.'

What follows, which I do not remember literatim, is such metricallyas to require two syllables for aches. But how, then, was this tobe pronounced? Kemble thought akies would sound ludicrous; aitchestherefore he called it: and always the pit howled like a famishedmenagerie, as they did also when he chose (and he constantly chose) topronounce beard like bird. Many of these niceties must be known,before a critic can ever allow himself to believe that he is right inobelizing, or in marking with so much as a ? any verse whatever ofMilton's. And there are some of these niceties, I am satisfied, not evenyet fully investigated.

It is, however, to be borne in mind, after all allowances and provisionalreservations have been made that Bentley's hypothesis (injudiciously as itwas managed by that great scholar) has really a truth of fact to standupon. Not only must Milton have composed his three greatest poems, the two'Paradises, and the 'Samson,' in a state of blindness—but subsequently,in the correction of the proofs, he must have suffered still more fromthis conflict with darkness and, consequently, from this dependence uponcareless readers. This is Bentley's case: as lawyers say: 'My lord, thatis my case.' It is possible enough to write correctly in the dark, as Imyself often do, when losing or missing my lucifers—which, like someelder lucifers, are always rebelliously straying into place where theycan have no business. But it is quite impossible to correct a proof inthe dark. At least, if there is such an art, it must be a section of theblack art. Bentley gained from Pope that admirable epithet of slashing,['the ribbalds—from slashing Bentley down to piddling Theobalds,' i.e.Tibbulds as it was pronounced], altogether from his edition of the'Paradise Lost.' This the doctor founded on his own hypothesis as to theadvantage taken of Milton's blindness; and corresponding was the havocwhich he made of the text. In fact, on the really just allegation thatMilton must have used the services of an amanuensis; and the plausible onethat this amanuensis, being often weary of his task, would be likely toneglect punctilious accuracy; and the most improbable allegation that thisweary person would also be very conceited, and add much rubbish of hisown; Bentley resigned himself luxuriously, without the whisper of ascruple, to his own sense of what was or was not poetic, which sensehappened to be that of the adder for music. The deaf adder heareth notthough the musician charm ever so wisely. No scholarship, which so farbeyond other men Bentley had, could gain him the imaginative sensibilitywhich, in a degree so far beyond average men, he wanted. Consequently, theworld never before beheld such a scene of massacre as his 'Paradise Lost'exhibited. He laid himself down to his work of extermination like thebrawniest of reapers going in steadily with his sickle, coat stripped off,and shirt sleeves tucked up, to deal with an acre of barley. One duty, andno other, rested upon his conscience; one voice he heard—Slash away,and hew down the rotten growths of this abominable amanuensis. The carnagewas like that after a pitched battle. The very finest passages in everybook of the poem were marked by italics, as dedicated to fire andslaughter. 'Slashing Dick' went through the whole forest, like a woodmanmarking with white paint the giant trees that must all come down in amonth or so. And one naturally reverts to a passage in the poem itself,where God the Father is supposed to say to his Filial assessor on theheavenly throne, when marking the desolating progress of Sin and Death,—

'See with what havoc these fell dogs advance
To ravage this fair world.'

But still this inhuman extravagance of Bentley, in following out hishypothesis, does not exonerate us from bearing in mind so muchtruth as that hypothesis really must have had, from the pitiabledifficulties of the great poet's situation.

My own opinion, therefore, upon the line, for instance, from 'ParadiseRegained,' which Mr. Landor appears to have indicated for the reader'samazement, viz.:—

'As well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society,'

is—that it escaped revision from some accident calling off the ear ofMilton whilst in the act of having the proof read to him. Mr. Landorsilently prints it in italics, without assigning his objection; but, ofcourse that objection must be—that the line has one foot too much. It isan Alexandrine, such as Dryden scattered so profusely, without askinghimself why; but which Milton never tolerates except in the choruses ofthe Samson.

'Not difficult, if thou hearken to me'—

is one of the lines which Mr. Landor thinks that 'no authority willreconcile' to our ears. I think otherwise. The caesura is meant to fallnot with the comma after difficult , but after thou; and there is amost effective and grand suspension intended. It is Satan who speaks—Satan in the wilderness; and he marks, as he wishes to mark, thetremendous opposition of attitude between the two parties to thetemptation.

'Not difficult if thou——'

there let the reader pause, as if pulling up suddenly four horses inharness, and throwing them on their haunches—not difficult if thou (insome mysterious sense the son of God); and then, as with a burst ofthunder, again giving the reins to your quadriga,

'——hearken to me:'

that is, to me, that am the Prince of the Air, and able to perform all mypromises for those that hearken to any temptations.

Two lines are cited under the same ban of irreconcilability to our ears,but on a very different plea. The first of these lines is—

'Launcelot, or Pellias, or Pellinore;'

The other

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus.'

The reader will readily suppose that both are objected to as 'roll-callsof proper names.' Now, it is very true that nothing is more offensive tothe mind than the practice of mechanically packing into metricalsuccessions, as if packing a portmanteau, names without meaning orsignificance to the feelings. No man ever carried that atrocity so far asBoileau, a fact of which Mr. Landor is well aware; and slight is thesanction or excuse that can be drawn from him. But it must not beforgotten that Virgil, so scrupulous in finish of composition, committedthis fault. I remember a passage ending

'——Noemonaque Prytaninque;'

but, having no Virgil within reach, I cannot at this moment quote itaccurately. Homer, with more excuse, however, from the rudeness of hisage, is a deadly offender in this way. But the cases from Milton are verydifferent. Milton was incapable of the Homeric or Virgilian blemish. Theobjection to such rolling musketry of names is, that unless interspersedwith epithets, or broken into irregular groups by brief circ*mstances ofparentage, country, or romantic incident, they stand audaciously perkingup their heads like lots in a catalogue, arrow-headed palisades, or younglarches in a nursery ground, all occupying the same space, all drawn up inline, all mere iterations of each other. But in

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus,'

though certainly not a good line when insulated (better, however,in its connection with the entire succession of which it forms part), theapology is, that the massy weight of the separate characters enables themto stand like granite pillars or pyramids, proud of their self-supportingindependency.

Mr. Landor makes one correction by a simple improvement in thepunctuation, which has a very fine effect. Rarely has so large a resultbeen distributed through a sentence by so slight a change. It is in the'Samson.' Samson says, speaking of himself (as elsewhere) with thatprofound pathos, which to all hearts invests Milton's own situation in thedays of his old age, when he was composing that drama—

'Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.'

Thus it is usually printed; that is, without a comma in the latter line;but, says Landor, 'there ought to be commas after eyeless, afterGaza, after mill.' And why? because thus 'the grief of Samson isaggravated at every member of the sentence.' He (like Milton) was—1.blind; 2. in a city of triumphant enemies; 3. working for daily bread; 4.herding with slaves; Samson literally, and Milton with those whompolitically he regarded as such.

Mr. Landor is perfectly wrong, I must take the liberty of saying, when hedemurs to the line in Paradise Regained:

'From that placid aspect and meek regard,'

on the ground that; 'meek regard conveys no new idea to placidaspect.' But aspect is the countenance of Christ when passiveto the gaze of others: regard is the same countenance in activecontemplation of those others whom he loves or pities. The placidaspect expresses, therefore, the divine rest; the meek regardexpresses the divine benignity: the one is the self-absorption of thetotal Godhead, the other the eternal emanation of the Filial Godhead.

'By what ingenuity,' says Landor, 'can we erect into a verse—

"In the bosom of bliss, and light of light?'"

Now really it is by my watch exactly three minutes too late for himto make that objection. The court cannot receive it now; for the line justthis moment cited, the ink being hardly yet dry, is of the same identicalstructure. The usual iambic flow is disturbed in both lines by the verysame ripple, viz., a trochee in the second foot, placid in the oneline, bosom in the other. They are a sort of snags, such as lie in thecurrent of the Mississippi. There, they do nothing but mischief. Here,when the lines are read in their entire nexus, the disturbance stretchesforwards and backwards with good effect on the music. Besides, if it didnot, one is willing to take a snag from Milton, but one does notaltogether like being snagged by the Mississippi. One sees no particularreason for bearing it, if one only knew how to be revenged on a river.

But, of these metrical skirmishes, though full of importance to theimpassioned text of a great poet (for mysterious is the life that connectsall modes of passion with rhythmus), let us suppose the casual reader tohave had enough. And now at closing for the sake of change, let us treathim to a harlequin trick upon another theme. Did the reader ever happen tosee a sheriff's officer arresting an honest gentleman, who was doing nomanner of harm to gentle or simple, and immediately afterwards a secondsheriff's officer arresting the first—by which means that second officermerits for himself a place in history; for at the same moment he liberatesa deserving creature (since an arrested officer cannot possibly bag hisprisoner), and he also avenges the insult put upon that worthy man?Perhaps the reader did not ever see such a sight; and, growing personal,he asks me, in return, if I ever saw it. To say the truth, I neverdid; except once, in a too-flattering dream; and though I applauded soloudly as even to waken myself, and shouted 'encore,' yet all went fornothing; and I am still waiting for that splendid exemplification ofretributive justice. But why? Why should it be a spectacle so uncommon?For surely those official arresters of men must want arresting at times aswell as better people. At least, however, en attendant one may luxuriatein the vision of such a thing; and the reader shall now see such a visionrehearsed. He shall see Mr. Landor arresting Milton—Milton, of all men!—for a flaw in his Roman erudition; and then he shall see me instantlystepping up, tapping Mr. Landor on the shoulder, and saying, 'Officer,you're wanted;' whilst to Milton I say, touching my hat, 'Now, sir, beoff; run for your life, whilst I hold his man in custody, lest he shouldfasten on you again.'

What Milton had said, speaking of the 'watchful cherubim,' was—

'Four faces each
Had, like a double Janus;'

Upon which Southey—but, of course, Landor, ventriloquizing throughSouthey—says, 'Better left this to the imagination: double Januses arequeer figures.' Not at all. On the contrary, they became so common, thatfinally there were no other. Rome, in her days of childhood, contentedherself with a two-faced Janus; but, about the time of the first or secondCaesar, a very ancient statue of Janus was exhumed, which had four faces.Ever afterwards, this sacred resurgent statue became the model for anypossible Janus that could show himself in good company. The quadrifronsJanus was now the orthodox Janus; and it would have been as much asacrilege to rob him of any single face as to rob a king's statue [2] ofits horse. One thing may recall this to Mr. Landor's memory. I think itwas Nero, but certainly it was one of the first six Caesars, that built,or that finished, a magnificent temple to Janus; and each face was somanaged as to point down an avenue leading to a separate market-place.Now, that there were four market-places, I will make oath beforeany Justice of the Peace. One was called the Forum Julium, one theForum Augustum, a third the Forum Transitorium: what the fourth wascalled is best known to itself, for really I forget. But if anybody saysthat perhaps it was called the Forum Landorium, I am not the man toobject; for few names have deserved such an honor more, whether from thosethat then looked forward into futurity with one face, or from ourposterity that will look back into the vanishing past with another.


[1] Squatters:—They are a sort of self-elected warming-pans. Whatwe in England mean by the political term 'warming-pans,' are menwho occupy, by consent, some official place, or Parliamentary seat, untilthe proper claimant is old enough in law to assume his rights. When thetrue man comes to bed, the warming-pan respectfully turns out. But theseultra-marine warming-pans wouldn't turn out. They showed fight, andwouldn't hear of the true man, even as a bed-fellow.

[2] A king's statue:—Till very lately the etiquette of Europe was,that none but royal persons could have equestrian statues. Lord Hopetoun,the reader will object, is allowed to have a horse, in St. Andrew'sSquare, Edinburgh. True, but observe that he is not allowed to mount him.The first person, so far as I remember, that, not being royal, has, in ourisland, seated himself comfortably in the saddle, is the Duke ofWellington.


I am myself, and always have been, a member of the Church of England, andam grieved to hear the many attacks against the Church [frequently mostilliberal attacks], which not so much religion as political rancor givesbirth to in every third journal that I take up. This I say to acquitmyself of all dishonorable feelings, such as I would abhor to co-operatewith, in bringing a very heavy charge against that great body in itsliterary capacity. Whosoever has reflected on the history of the Englishconstitution—must be aware that the most important stage of itsdevelopment lies within the reign of Charles I. It is true that thejudicial execution of that prince has been allowed by many persons tovitiate all that was done by the heroic parliament of November, 1640: andthe ordinary histories of England assume as a matter of course that thewhole period of parliamentary history through those times is to beregarded as a period of confusion. Our constitution, say they, was formedin 1688-9. Meantime it is evident to any reflecting man that therevolution simply re-affirmed the principles developed in the strifebetween the two great parties which had arisen in the reign of James I.,and had ripened and come to issue with each other in the reign of his son.Our constitution was not a birth of a single instant, as they wouldrepresent it, but a gradual growth and development through a long tract oftime. In particular the doctrine of the king's vicarious responsibility inthe person of his ministers, which first gave a sane and salutary meaningto the doctrine of the king's personal irresponsibility ['The king can dono wrong'], arose undeniably between 1640 and 1648. This doctrine is themain pillar of our constitution, and perhaps the finest discovery that wasever made in the theory of government. Hitherto the doctrine that theKing can do no wrong had been used not to protect the indispensablesanctity of the king's constitutional character, but to protect the wrong.Used in this way, it was a maxim of Oriental despotism, and fit only for anation where law had no empire. Many of the illustrious patriots of theGreat Parliament saw this; and felt the necessity of abolishing a maxim sofatal to the just liberties of the people. But some of them fell into theopposite error of supposing that this abolition could be effected only bythe direct negation of it; their maxim accordingly was—'The kingcan do wrong,' i.e. is responsible in his own person. In this greaterror even the illustrious wife of Colonel Hutchinson participated; [1]and accordingly she taxes those of her own party who scrupled to accede tothe new maxim, and still adhered to the old one, with unconscientiousdealing. But she misapprehended their meaning, and failed to see wherethey laid the emphasis: the emphasis was not laid, as it was by the royalparty, on the words 'can do no wrong'—but on 'The king:' that is, wrongmay be done; and in the king's name; but it cannot be the king who did it[the king cannot constitutionally be supposed the person who did it]. Bythis exquisite political refinement, the old tyrannical maxim was disarmedof its sting; and the entire redress of all wrong, so indispensable to thepopular liberty, was brought into perfect reconciliation with the entireinviolability of the sovereign, which is no less indispensable to thepopular liberty. There is moreover a double wisdom in the new sense: fornot only is one object [the redress of wrong] secured in conjunction withanother object [the king's inviolability] hitherto held irreconcilable,—but even with a view to the first object alone a much more effectual meansis applied, because one which leads to no schism in the state, than couldhave been applied by the blank negation of the maxim; i.e. by lodgingthe responsibility exactly where the executive power [ergo the power ofresisting this responsibility] was lodged. Here then is one example inillustration of my thesis—that the English constitution was in a greatmeasure gradually evolved in the contest between the different parties inthe reign of Charles I. Now, if this be so, it follows that forconstitutional history no period is so important as that: and indeed,though it is true that the Revolution is the great era for theconstitutional historian, because he there first finds the constitutionfully developed as the 'bright consummate flower,' and what is equallyimportant he there first finds the principles of our constitutionratified by a competent authority,—yet, to trace the root and growthof the constitution, the three reigns immediately preceding are still moreproperly the objects of his study. In proportion then as the reign ofCharles I. is Important to the history of our constitution, in thatproportion are those to be taxed with the most dangerous of all possiblefalsifications of our history, who have misrepresented either the facts orthe principles of those times. Now I affirm that the clergy of the Churchof England have been in a perpetual conspiracy since the era of therestoration to misrepresent both. As an illustration of what I mean Irefer to the common edition of Hudibras by Dr. Grey: for the proof I mightrefer to some thousands of books. Dr. Grey's is a disgusting case: for heswallowed with the most anile credulity every story, the most extravagantthat the malice of those times could invent against either thePresbyterians or the Independents: and for this I suppose amongst otherdeformities his notes were deservedly ridiculed by Warburton. But, amongsthundreds of illustrations more respectable than Dr. Grey's I will referthe reader to a work of our own days, the Ecclesiastical Biography [inpart a republication of Walton's Lives] edited by the present master ofTrinity College, Cambridge, who is held in the highest esteem wherever heis known, and is I am persuaded perfectly conscientious and as impartialas in such a case it is possible for a high churchman to be. Yet so it isthat there is scarcely one of the notes having any political reference tothe period of 1640-1660, which is not disfigured by unjust prejudices: andthe amount of the moral which the learned editor grounds upon thedocuments before him—is this, that the young student is to cherish thedeepest abhorrence and contempt of all who had any share on theparliamentary side in the 'confusions' of the period from 1640 to 1660:that is to say of men to whose immortal exertions it was owing that thevery revolution of 1688, which Dr. W. will be the first to applaud, foundus with any such stock of political principles or feelings as could make abeneficial revolution possible. Where, let me ask, would have been thewillingness of some Tories to construe the flight of James II. into avirtual act of abdication, or to consider even the most formal act ofabdication binding against the king,-had not the great struggle ofCharles's days gradually substituted in the minds of all parties arational veneration of the king's office for the old superstitionin behalf of the king's person, which would have protected him fromthe effects of any acts however solemnly performed which affectedinjuriously either his own interests or the liberties of his people.Tempora mutantur: nos et mutamur in illis. Those whom we find infierce opposition to the popular party about 1640 we find still in thesame personal opposition fifty years after, but an opposition resting onfar different principles: insensibly the principles of their antagonistshad reached even them: and a courtier of 1689 was willing to concede morethan a patriot of 1630 would have ventured to ask. Let me not beunderstood to mean that true patriotism is at all more shown in supportingthe rights of the people than those of the king: as soon as both aredefined and limited, the last are as indispensable to the integrity of theconstitution—as the first: and popular freedom itself would suffer asmuch, though indirectly, from an invasion of Caesar's rights—as by a moredirect attack on itself. But in the 17th century the rights of the peoplewere as yet not defined: throughout that century they were graduallydefining themselves—and, as happiness to all great practical interests,defining themselves through a course of fierce and bloody contests. Forthe kingly rights are almost inevitably carried too high in ages ofimperfect civilization: and the well-known laws of Henry the Seventh, bywhich he either broke or gradually sapped the power of the aristocracy,had still more extravagantly exalted them. On this account it is just tolook upon democratic or popular politics as identical in the 17th centurywith patriotic politics. In later periods, the democrat and the patriothave sometimes been in direct opposition to each other: at that periodthey were inevitably in conjunction. All this, however, is in generaloverlooked by those who either write English history or comment upon it.Most writers of or upon English history proceed either upon servileprinciples, or upon no principles: and a good Spirit of English History,that is, a history which should abstract the tendencies and main results[as to laws, manners, and constitution] from every age of English history,is a work which I hardly hope to see executed. For it would require theconcurrence of some philosophy, with a great deal of impartiality. Howidly do we say, in speaking of the events of our own time which affect ourparty feelings,—'We stand too near to these events for an impartialestimate: we must leave them to the judgment of posterity!' For it is afact that of the many books of memoirs written by persons who were notmerely contemporary with the great civil war, but actors and even leadersin its principal scenes—there is hardly one which does not exhibit a moreimpartial picture of that great drama than the histories written at hisday. The historian of Popery does not display half so much zealotry andpassionate prejudice in speaking of the many events which have affectedthe power and splendor of the Papal See for the last thirty years, andunder his own eyes, as he does when speaking of a reformer who lived threecenturies ago—of a translator of the Bible into a vernacular tongue wholived nearly five centuries ago—of an Anti-pope—of a Charlemagne or aGregory the Great still further removed from himself. The recent events helooks upon as accidental and unessential: but in the great enemies, orgreat founders of the Romish temporal power, and in the history of theiractions and their motives, he feels that the whole principle of the Romishcause and its pretensions are at stake. Pretty much under the same feelinghave modern writers written with a rancorous party spirit of the politicalstruggles in the 17th century: here they fancy that they can detect theincunabula of the revolutionary spirit: here some have been sosharpsighted as to read the features of pure jacobinism: and others [2]have gone so far as to assert that all the atrocities of the Frenchrevolution had their direct parallelisms in acts done or countenanced bythe virtuous and august Senate of England in 1640! Strange distortion ofthe understanding which can thus find a brotherly resemblance between twogreat historical events, which of all that ever were put on record standoff from each other in most irreconcilable enmity: the one originating, asMr. Coleridge has observed, in excess of principle; the other in the utterdefect of all moral principle whatever; and the progress of each beinganswerable to its origin! Yet so it is. And not a memoir-writer of thatage is reprinted in this, but we have a preface from some red-hot Anti-jacobin warning us with much vapid common-place from the mischiefs andeventual anarchy of too rash a spirit of reform as displayed in the Frenchrevolution—not by the example of that French revolution, but by that ofour own in the age of Charles I. The following passage from theIntroduction to Sir William Waller's Vindication published in 1793, mayserve as a fair instance: 'He' (Sir W. Waller) 'was, indeed, at lengthsensible of the misery which he had contributed to bring on his country;'(by the way, it is a suspicious circ*mstance—that Sir William [3] firstbecame sensible that his country was miserable, when he became sensiblethat he himself was not likely to be again employed; and became fullyconvinced of it, when his party lost their ascendancy:) 'he was convinced,by fatal experience, that anarchy was a bad step towards a perfectgovernment; that the subversion of every establishment was no safefoundation for a permanent and regular constitution: he found thatpretences of reform were held up by the designing to dazzle the eyes ofthe unwary, &c.; he found in short that reformation, by popularinsurrection, must end in the destruction and cannot tend to the formationof a regular Government.' After a good deal more of this well-meaningcant, the Introduction concludes with the following sentence:—the writeris addressing the reformers of 1793, amongst whom—'both leaders andfollowers,' he says, 'may together reflect—that, upon speculative andvisionary reformers,' (i.e. those of 1640) 'the severest punishmentwhich God in his vengeance ever yet inflicted—was to curse them with thecomplete gratification of their own inordinate desires.' I quote thispassage—not as containing any thing singular, but for the very reasonthat it is not singular: it expresses in fact the universal opinion:notwithstanding which I am happy to say that it is false. What 'completegratification of their own desires' was ever granted to the 'reformers' inquestion? On the contrary, it is well known (and no book illustrates thatparticular fact so well as Sir William Waller's) that as early as 1647 thearmy had too effectually subverted the just relations between itself andparliament—not to have suggested fearful anticipations to all discerningpatriots of that unhappy issue which did in reality blight theirprospects. And, when I speak of an 'unhappy issue,' I would be understoodonly of the immediate issue: for the remote issue was—the revolution of1688, as I have already asserted. Neither is it true that even theimmediate issue was 'unhappy' to any extent which can justify the ordinarylanguage in which it is described. Here again is a world of delusions. Wehear of 'anarchy,' of 'confusions,' of 'proscriptions,' of 'bloody andferocious tyranny.' All is romance; there was no anarchy; no confusions;no proscriptions; no tyranny in the sense designed. The sequestrations,forfeitures, and punishments of all sorts which were inflicted by theconquering party on their antagonists—went on by due course of law; andthe summary justice of courts martial was not resorted to in England:except for the short term of the two wars, and the brief intermediatecampaign of 1648, the country was in a very tranquil state. Nobody waspunished without an open trial; and all trials proceeded in the regularcourse, according to the ancient forms, and in the regular courts ofjustice. And as to 'tyranny,' which is meant chiefly of the acts ofCromwell's government, it should be remembered that the Protectoratelasted not a quarter of the period in question (1640-1660); a fact whichis constantly forgotten even by very eminent writers, who speak as thoughCromwell had drawn his sword in January 1649—cut off the king's head—instantly mounted his throne—and continued to play the tyrant for thewhole remaining period of his life (nearly ten years). Secondly, as to thekind of tyranny which Cromwell exercised, the misconception isludicrous: continental writers have a notion, well justified by thelanguage of English writers, that Cromwell was a ferocious savage whobuilt his palace of human skulls and desolated his country. Meantime, hewas simply a strong-minded—rough-built Englishman, with a characterthoroughly English, and exceedingly good-natured. Gray valued himself uponhis critical knowledge of English history: yet how thoughtlessly does heexpress the abstract of Cromwell's life in the line on the villageCromwell—'Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood!' How wasCromwell guilty of his country's blood? What blood did he cause to beshed? A great deal was shed no doubt in the wars (though less, by the way,than is imagined): but in those Cromwell was but a servant of theparliament: and no one will allege that he had any hand in causing asingle war. After he attained the sovereign power, no more domestic warsarose: and as to a few persons who were executed for plots andconspiracies against his person, they were condemned upon evidence openlygiven and by due course of law. With respect to the general character ofhis government, it is evident that in the unsettled and revolutionarystate of things which follows a civil war some critical cases will ariseto demand an occasional 'vigor beyond the law'—such as the Romangovernment allowed of in the dictatorial power. But in general, Cromwell'sgovernment was limited by law: and no reign in that century, prior to therevolution, furnishes fewer instances of attempts to tamper with the laws—to overrule them—to twist them to private interpretations—or todispense with them. As to his major-generals of counties, who figure inmost histories of England as so many Ali Pachas that impaled a fewprisoners every morning before breakfast—or rather as so many ogres thatate up good Christian men, women and children alive, they weredisagreeable people who were disliked much in the same way as ourcommissioners of the income-tax were disliked in the memory of us all; andheartily they would have laughed at the romantic and bloody masquerade inwhich they are made to figure in the English histories. What then was the'tyranny' of Cromwell's government, which is confessedly complained ofeven in those days? The word 'tyranny' was then applied not so much to themode in which his power was administered (except by the prejudiced)—as toits origin. However mercifully a man may reign,—yet, if he have no rightto reign at all, we may in one sense call him a tyrant; his power notbeing justly derived, and resting upon an unlawful (i.e. a military)basis. As a usurper, and one who had diverted the current of a grandnational movement to selfish and personal objects, Cromwell was andwill be called a tyrant; but not in the more obvious sense of the word.Such are the misleading statements which disfigure the History of Englandin its most important chapter. They mislead by more than a simple error offact: those, which I have noticed last, involve a moral anachronism; forthey convey images of cruelty and barbarism such as could not co-existwith the national civilization at that time; and whosoever has notcorrected this false picture by an acquaintance with the Englishliterature of that age, must necessarily image to himself a state ofsociety as rude and uncultured as that which prevailed during the wars ofYork and Lancaster—i.e. about two centuries earlier. But those,with which I introduced this article, are still worse; because theyinvolve an erroneous view of constitutional history, and a mostcomprehensive act of ingratitude: the great men of the Long Parliamentpaid a heavy price for their efforts to purchase for their descendants abarrier to irresponsible power and security from the anarchy of undefinedregal prerogative: in these efforts most of them made shipwreck of theirown tranquillity and peace; that such sacrifices were made unavailingly(as it must have seemed to themselves), and that few of them lived to seethe 'good old cause' finally triumphant, does not cancel their claims uponour gratitude—but rather strengthen them by the degree in which itaggravated the difficulty of bearing such sacrifices with patience. Butwhence come these falsifications of history? I believe, from two causes;first (as I have already said) from the erroneous tone impressed upon thenational history by the irritated spirit of the clergy of the establishedchurch: to the religious zealotry of those times—the church was theobject of especial attack; and its members were naturally exposed to heavysufferings: hence their successors are indisposed to find my good in acause which could lead to such a result. It is their manifest right tosympathize with their own order in that day; and in such a case it isalmost their duty to be incapable of an entire impartiality. Meantime theyhave carried this much too far: the literature of England must always bein a considerable proportion lodged in their hands; and the extensivemeans thus placed at their disposal for injuriously coloring thatimportant part of history they have used with no modesty or forbearance.There is not a page of the national history even in its local subdivisionswhich they have not stained with the atrabilious hue of their woundedremembrances: hardly a town in England, which stood a siege for the kingor the parliament, but has some printed memorial of its constancy and itssufferings; and in nine cases out of ten the editor is a clergyman of theestablished church, who has contrived to deepen 'the sorrow of the time'by the harshness of his commentary. Surely it is high time that the woundsof the 17th century should close; that history should take a morecommanding and philosophic station; and that brotherly charity should nowlead us to a saner view of constitutional politics; or a saner view ofpolitics to a more comprehensive charity. The other cause of thisfalsification springs out of a selfishness which has less claim to anyindulgence—viz. the timidity with which the English Whigs of former daysand the party to whom They [4] succeeded, constantly shrank fromacknowledging any alliance with the great men of the Long Parliament underthe nervous horror of being confounded with the regicides of 1649. It wasof such urgent importance to them, for any command over the publicsupport, that they should acquit themselves of an sentiment of lurkingtoleration for regicide, with which their enemies never failed to loadthem, that no mode of abjuring it seemed sufficiently emphatic to themhence it was that Addison, with a view to the interest of his party,thought fit when in Switzerland, to offer a puny insult to the memory ofGeneral Ludlow; hence it is that even in our own days, no writers haveinsulted Milton with so much bitterness and shameless irreverence as theWhigs; though it is true that some few Whigs, more however in theirliterary than in their political character, have stepped forward in hisvindication. At this moment I recollect a passage in the writings of amodern Whig bishop—in which, for the sake of creating a charge offalsehood against Milton, the author has grossly mis-translated a passagein the Defensio pro Pop. Anglicano: and, if that bishop were notdead, I would here take the liberty of rapping his knuckles—were it onlyfor breaking Priscian's head. To return over to the clerical feud againstthe Long Parliament,—it was a passage in a very pleasing work of this day(Ecclesiastical Biography) which suggested to me the whole of whatI have now written. Its learned editor, who is incapable of uncandidfeelings except in what concerns the interests of his order, has adoptedthe usual tone in regard to the men of 1640 throughout his otherwisevaluable annotations: and somewhere or other (in the Life of Hammond,according to my remembrance) he has made a statement to this effect—Thatthe custom prevalent among children in that age of asking their parents'blessing was probably first brought into disuse by the Puritans. Is itpossible to imagine a perversity of prejudice more unreasonable? Theunamiable side of the patriotic character in the seventeenth century wasunquestionably its religious bigotry; which, however, had its ground in areal fervor of religious feeling and a real strength of religiousprinciple somewhat exceeding the ordinary standard of the 19th century.But, however palliated, their bigotry is not to be denied; it was oftenoffensive from its excess; and ludicrous in its direction. Many harmlesscustoms, many ceremonies and rituals that had a high positive value, theirfrantic intolerance quarrelled with: and for my part I heartily join inthe sentiment of Charles II.—applying it as he did, but a good deal moreextensively, that their religion 'was not a religion for a gentleman:'indeed all sectarianism, but especially that which has a modern origin—arising and growing up within our own memories, unsupported by a grandtraditional history of persecutions—conflicts—and martyrdoms, lurkingmoreover in blind alleys, holes, corners, and tabernacles, must appearspurious and mean in the eyes of him who has been bred up in the grandclassic forms of the Church of England or the Church of Rome. But, becausethe bigotry of the Puritans was excessive and revolting, is that areason for fastening upon them all the stray evils of omission orcommission for which no distinct fathers can be found? The learned editordoes not pretend that there is any positive evidence, or presumption even,for imputing to the Puritans a dislike to the custom in question: but,because he thinks it a good custom, his inference is that nobody couldhave abolished it but the Puritans. Now who does not see that, if this hadbeen amongst the usages discountenanced by the Puritans, it would on thataccount have been the more pertinaciously maintained by their enemies inchurch and state? Or, even if this usage were of a nature to be prohibitedby authority, as the public use of the liturgy—organs—surplices, &c.,who does not see that with regard to that as well as to otherPuritanical innovations there would have been a reflux of zeal in therestoration of the king which would have established them in more strengththan ever? But it is evident to the unprejudiced that the usage inquestion gradually went out in submission to the altered spirit of thetimes. It was one feature of a general system of manners, fitted by itspiety and simplicity for a pious and simple age, and which therefore eventhe 17th century had already outgrown. It is not to be inferred thatfilial affection and reverence have decayed amongst us, because they nolonger express themselves in the same way. In an age of imperfect culture,all passions and emotions are in a more elementary state—'speak a plainerlanguage'—and express themselves externally: in such an age theframe and constitution of society is more picturesque; the modes of liferest more undisguisedly upon the basis of the absolute and originalrelation of things: the son is considered in his sonship, the father inhis fatherhood: and the manners take an appropriate coloring. Up to themiddle of the 17th century there were many families in which the childrennever presumed to sit down in their parents' presence. But with us, in anage of more complete intellectual culture, a thick disguise is spread overthe naked foundations of human life; and the instincts of good tastebanish from good company the expression of all the profounder emotions. Ason therefore, who should kneel down in this age to ask his papa'sblessing on leaving town for Brighton or Bath—would be felt by himself tobe making a theatrical display of filial duty, such as would be painful tohim in proportion as his feelings were sincere. All this would have beenevident to the learned editor in any case but one which regarded thePuritans: they were at any rate to be molested: in default of any gravermatter, a mere fanciful grievance is searched out. Still, however, nothingwas effected; fanciful or real, the grievance must be connected with thePuritans: here lies the offence, there lies the Puritans: it would be veryagreeable to find some means of connecting the one with the other: but howshall this be done? Why, in default of all other means, the learned editorassumes the connection. He leaves the reader with an impressionthat the Puritans are chargeable with a serious wound to the manners ofthe nation in a point affecting the most awful of the household charities:and he fails to perceive that for this whole charge his sole ground is—that it would be very agreeable to him if he had a ground. Such is thepower of the esprit de corps to palliate and recommend as colorablethe very weakest logic to a man of acknowledged learning and talent!—Inconclusion I must again disclaim any want of veneration and entireaffection for the Established Church: the very prejudices and injustice,with which I tax the English clergy, have a generous origin: but it isright to point the attention of historical students to their strength andthe effect which they have had. They have been indulged to excess; theyhave disfigured the grandest page in English history; they have hid thetrue descent and tradition of our constitutional history; and, byimpressing upon the literature of the country a false conception of thepatriotic party in and out of Parliament, they have stood in the way of agreat work,—a work which, according to my ideal of it, would be the mostuseful that could just now be dedicated to the English public—viz. aphilosophic record of the revolutions of English History. The EnglishConstitution, as proclaimed and ratified in 1688-9, is in its kind, thenoblest work of the human mind working in conjunction with Time, and whatin such a case we may allowably call Providence. Of this chef d'oeuvreof human wisdom it were desirable that we should have a proportionablehistory: for such a history the great positive qualification would be aphilosophic mind: the great negative qualification would be this [which tothe established clergy may now be recommended as a fit subject for theirmagnanimity]; viz. complete conquest over those prejudices which havehitherto discolored the greatest era of patriotic virtue by contemplatingthe great men of that era under their least happy aspect—namely, inrelation to the Established Church.

Now that I am on the subject of English History, I will notice one of thethousand mis-statements of Hume's which becomes a memorable one from thestress which he has laid upon it, and from the manner and situation inwhich he has introduced it. Standing in the current of a narrative, itwould have merited a silent correction in an unpretending note: but itoccupies a much more assuming station; for it is introduced in aphilosophical essay; and being relied on for a particular purpose with themost unqualified confidence, and being alleged in opposition to the veryhighest authority [viz. the authority of an eminent person contemporarywith the fact] it must be looked on as involving a peremptory defiance toall succeeding critics who might hesitate between the authority of Mr.Hume at the distance of a century from the facts and Sir William Templespeaking to them as a matter within his personal recollections. SirWilliam Temple had represented himself as urging in a conversation withCharles II., the hopelessness of any attempt on the part of an Englishking to make himself a despotic and absolute monarch, except indeedthrough the affections of his people. [5] This general thesis he hadsupported by a variety of arguments; and, amongst the rest, he haddescribed himself as urging this—that even Cromwell had been unable toestablish himself in unlimited power, though supported by a military forceof eighty thousand men. Upon this Hume calls the reader's attentionto the extreme improbability which there must beforehand appear to be insupposing that Sir W. Temple,—speaking of so recent a case, with so muchofficial knowledge of that case at his command, uncontradicted moreover bythe king whose side in the argument gave him an interest in contradictingSir William's statement, and whose means of information were paramount tothose of all others,—could under these circ*mstances be mistaken.Doubtless, the reader will reply to Mr. Hume, the improbability isextreme, and scarcely to be invalidated by any possible authority—which,at best, must terminate in leaving an equilibrium of opposing evidence.And yet, says Mr. Hume, Sir William was unquestionably wrong, and grosslywrong: Cromwell never had an army at all approaching to the number ofeighty thousand. Now here is a sufficient proof that Hume had never readLord Clarendon's account of his own life: this book is not so common ashis 'History of the Rebellion;' and Hume had either not met with it, orhad neglected it. For, in the early part of this work, Lord Clarendon,speaking of the army which was assembled on Blackheath to welcome thereturn of Charles II., says that it amounted to fifty thousand men: and,when it is remembered that this army was exclusive of the troops ingarrison—of the forces left by Monk in the North—and above all of theentire army in Ireland,—it cannot be doubted that the whole would amountto the number stated by Sir William Temple. Indeed Charles II. himself, inthe year 1678 [i.e. about four years after this conversation] asSir W. Temple elsewhere tells us, 'in six weeks' time raised an army oftwenty thousand men, the completest—and in all appearance the bravesttroops that could be any where seen, and might have raised many more; andit was confessed by all the Foreign Ministers that no king in Christendomcould have made and completed such a levy as this appeared in such atime.' William III. again, about eleven years afterwards, raised twenty-three regiments with the same ease and in the same space of six weeks. Itmay be objected indeed to such cases, as in fact it was objected tothe case of William III. by Howlett in his sensible Examination of Dr.Price's Essay on the Population of England, that, in an age whenmanufactures were so little extended, it could ever have been difficult tomake such a levy of men—provided there were funds for paying andequipping them. But, considering the extraordinary funds which weredisposable for this purpose in Ireland, &c. during the period ofCromwell's Protectorate, we may very safely allow the combined authorityof Sir William Temple—of the king—and of that very prime minister whodisbanded Cromwell's army, to outweigh the single authority of Hume at thedistance of a century from the facts. Upon any question of fact, indeed,Hume's authority is none at all.


[1] This is remarked by her editor and descendant Julius Hutchinson, whoadds some words to this effect—'that if the patriot of that daywere the inventors of the maxim [The king can do no wrong], we aremuch indebted to them.' The patriots certainly did not invent the maxim,for they found it already current: but they gave it its new andconstitutional sense. I refer to the book, however, as I do to almost allbooks in these notes, from memory; writing most of them in situationswhere I have no access to books. By the way, Charles I., who used themaxim in the most odious sense, furnished the most colorable excuse forhis own execution. He constantly maintained the irresponsibility of hisministers: but, if that were conceded, it would then follow that the kingmust be made responsible in his own person:—and that construction led ofnecessity to his trial and death.

[2] Amongst these Mr. D'Israeli in one of the latter volumes of his'Curiosities of Literature' has dedicated a chapter or so to a formalproof of this proposition. A reader who is familiar with the history ofthat age comes to the chapter with a previous indignation, knowing whatsort of proof he has to expect. This indignation is not likely to bemitigated by what he will there find. Because some one madman, fool, orscoundrel makes a monstrous proposal—which dies of itself unsupported,and is in violent contrast to all the acts and the temper of those times,—this is to sully the character of the parliament and three-fourths ofthe people of England. If this proposal had grown out of the spirit of theage, that spirit would have produced many more proposals of the samecharacter and acts corresponding to them. Yet upon this one infamousproposal, and two or three scandalous anecdotes from the libels of theday, does the whole onus of Mr. D'Israeli's parallel depend. Tantamnerem tam negligenter?—in the general character of an Englishman I havea right to complain that so heavy an attack upon the honor of England andher most virtuous patriots in her most virtuous age should be made with somuch levity: a charge so solemn in its matter should have been prosecutedwith a proportionate solemnity of manner. Mr. D'Israeli refers with justapplause to the opinions of Mr. Coleridge: I wish that he would haveallowed a little more weight to the striking passage in which thatgentleman contrasts the French revolution with the English revolution of1640-8. However, the general tone of honor and upright principle, whichmarks Mr. D'Israeli's' work, encourages me and others to hope that he willcancel the chapter—and not persist in wounding the honor of a greatpeople for the sake of a parallelism, which—even if it were true—is athousand times too slight and feebly supported to satisfy the mostaccommodating reader.

[3] Sir William and his cousin Sir Hardress Waller, were both remarkablemen. Sir Hardress had no conscience at all; Sir William a very scrupulousone; which, however, he was for ever tampering with—and generallysucceeded in reducing into compliance with his immediate interest. He was,however, an accomplished gentleman: and as a man of talents worthy of thehighest admiration.

[4] Until after the year 1688, I do not remember ever to have found theterm Whig applied except to the religious characteristics of that party:whatever reference it might have to their political distinctions was onlysecondary and by implication.

[5] Sir William had quoted to Charles a saying from Gourville (a Frenchmanwhom the king esteemed, and whom Sir William himself considered the onlyforeigner he had ever known that understood England) to this effect: 'Thata king of England who will be the man of his people, is the greatest kingin the world; but, if he will be something more, by G— he is nothing atall.'


He was a man of very extraordinary genius. He has generally been treatedby those who have spoken of him in print as a madman. But this is amistake and must have been founded chiefly on the titles of his books. Hewas a man of fervid mind and of sublime aspirations: but he was no madman;or, if he was, then I say that it is so far desirable to be a madman. In1798 or 1799, when I must have been about thirteen years old, WalkingStewart was in Bath—where my family at that time resided. He frequentedthe pump-room, and I believe all public places—walking up and down, anddispersing his philosophic opinions to the right and the left, like aGrecian philosopher. The first time I saw him was at a concert in theUpper Rooms; he was pointed out to me by one of my party as a veryeccentric man who had walked over the habitable globe. I remember thatMadame Mara was at that moment singing: and Walking Stewart, who was atrue lover of music (as I afterwards came to know), was hanging upon hernotes like a bee upon a jessamine flower. His countenance was striking,and expressed the union of benignity with philosophic habits of thought.In such health had his pedestrian exercises preserved him, connected withhis abstemious mode of living, that though he must at that time have beenconsiderably above forty, he did not look older than twenty-eight; atleast the face which remained upon my recollection for some years was thatof a young man. Nearly ten years afterwards I became acquainted with him.During the interval I had picked up one of his works in Bristol,—viz. hisTravels to discover the Source of Moral Motion, the second volumeof which is entitled The Apocalypse of Nature. I had been greatlyimpressed by the sound and original views which in the first volume he hadtaken of the national characters throughout Europe. In particular he wasthe first, and so far as I know the only writer who had noticed theprofound error of ascribing a phlegmatic character to the English nation.'English phlegm' is the constant expression of authors when contrastingthe English with the French. Now the truth is, that, beyond that of allother nations, it has a substratum of profound passion: and, if we are torecur to the old doctrine of temperaments, the English character must beclassed not under the phlegmatic but under the melancholictemperament; and the French under the sanguine. The character of anation may be judged of in this particular by examining its idiomaticlanguage. The French, in whom the lower forms of passion are constantlybubbling up from the shallow and superficial character of their feelings,have appropriated all the phrases of passion to the service of trivial andordinary life: and hence they have no language of passion for the serviceof poetry or of occasions really demanding it: for it has been alreadyenfeebled by continual association with cases of an unimpassioned order.But a character of deeper passion has a perpetual standard in itself, bywhich as by an instinct it tries all cases, and rejects the language ofpassion as disproportionate and ludicrous where it is not fully justified.'Ah Heavens!' or 'Oh my God!' are exclamations with us so exclusivelyreserved for cases of profound interest,—that on hearing a woman even(i.e. a person of the sex most easily excited) utter such words, we lookround expecting to see her child in some situation of danger. But, inFrance, 'Ciel!' and 'Oh mon Dieu!' are uttered by every woman if a mousedoes but run across the floor. The ignorant and the thoughtless, however,will continue to class the English character under the phlegmatictemperament, whilst the philosopher will perceive that it is the exactpolar antithesis to a phlegmatic character. In this conclusion, thoughotherwise expressed and illustrated, Walking Stewart's view of the Englishcharacter will be found to terminate: and his opinion is especiallyvaluable—first and chiefly, because he was a philosopher; secondly,because his acquaintance with man civilized and uncivilized, under allnational distinctions, was absolutely unrivalled. Meantime, this andothers of his opinions were expressed in language that if literallyconstrued would often appear insane or absurd. The truth is, his longintercourse with foreign nations had given something of a hybrid tinctureto his diction; in some of his works, for instance, he uses the Frenchword helas! uniformly for the English alas! and apparently with noconsciousness of his mistake. He had also this singularity about him—that he was everlastingly metaphysicizing against metaphysics. To me,who was buried in metaphysical reveries from my earliest days, this wasnot likely to be an attraction any more than the vicious structure of hisdiction was likely to please my scholarlike taste. All grounds of disgust,however, gave way before my sense of his powerful merits; and, as I havesaid, I sought his acquaintance. Coming up to London from Oxford about1807 or 1808 I made inquiries about him; and found that he usually readthe papers at a coffee-room in Piccadilly: understanding that he was poor,it struck me that he might not wish to receive visits at his lodgings, andtherefore I sought him at the coffee-room. Here I took the liberty ofintroducing myself to him. He received me courteously, and invited me tohis rooms—which at that time were in Sherrard-street, Golden-square—astreet already memorable to me. I was much struck with the eloquence ofhis conversation; and afterwards I found that Mr. Wordsworth, himself themost eloquent of men in conversation, had been equally struck when he hadmet him at Paris between the years 1790 and 1792, during the early stormsof the French revolution. In Sherrard-street I visited him repeatedly, andtook notes of the conversations I had with him on various subjects. TheseI must have somewhere or other; and I wish I could introduce them here, asthey would interest the reader. Occasionally in these conversations, as inhis books, he introduced a few notices of his private history: inparticular I remember his telling me that in the East Indies he had been aprisoner of Hyder's: that he had escaped with some difficulty; and that,in the service of one of the native princes as secretary or interpreter,he had accumulated a small fortune. This must have been too small, I fear,at that time to allow him even a philosopher's comforts: for some part ofit, invested in the French funds, had been confiscated. I was grieved tosee a man of so much ability, of gentlemanly manners, and refined habits,and with the infirmity of deafness, suffering under such obviousprivations; and I once took the liberty, on a fit occasion presentingitself, of requesting that he would allow me to send him some books whichhe had been casually regretting that he did not possess; for I was at thattime in the hey-day of my worldly prosperity. This offer, however, hedeclined with firmness and dignity, though not unkindly. And I now mentionit, because I have seen him charged in print with a selfish regard to hisown pecuniary interest. On the contrary, he appeared to me a very liberaland generous man: and I well remember that, whilst he refused to accept ofany thing from me, he compelled me to receive as presents all the bookswhich he published during my acquaintance with him: two of these,corrected with his own hand, viz. the Lyre of Apollo and the Sophiometer,I have lately found amongst other books left in London; and others heforwarded to me in Westmoreland. In 1809 I saw him often: in the spring ofthat year, I happened to be in London; and Mr. Wordsworth's tract on theConvention of Cintra being at that time in the printer's hands, Isuperintended the publication of it; and, at Mr. Wordsworth's request, Iadded a long note on Spanish affairs which is printed in the Appendix. Theopinions I expressed in this note on the Spanish character at that timemuch calumniated, on the retreat to Corunna then fresh in the public mind,above all, the contempt I expressed for the superstition in respect to theFrench military prowess which was then universal and at its height, andwhich gave way in fact only to the campaigns of 1814 and 1815, fell in, asit happened, with Mr. Stewart's political creed in those points where atthat time it met with most opposition. In 1812 it was, I think, that I sawhim for the last time: and by the way, on the day of my parting with him,I had an amusing proof in my own experience of that sort of ubiquityascribed to him by a witty writer in the London Magazine: I met him andshook hands with him under Somerset-house, telling him that I should leavetown that evening for Westmoreland. Thence I went by the very shortestroad (i.e. through Moor-street, Soho—for I am learned in manyquarters of London) towards a point which necessarily led me throughTottenham-court-road: I stopped nowhere, and walked fast: yet so it wasthat in Tottenham-court-road I was not overtaken by (that wascomprehensible), but overtook, Walking Stewart. Certainly, as the abovewriter alleges, there must have been three Walking Stewarts in London. Heseemed no ways surprised at this himself, but explained to me thatsomewhere or other in the neighborhood of Tottenham-court-road there was alittle theatre, at which there was dancing and occasionally good singing,between which and a neighboring coffee-house he sometimes divided hisevenings. Singing, it seems, he could hear in spite of his deafness. Inthis street I took my final leave of him; it turned out such; and,anticipating at the time that it would be so, I looked after his white hatat the moment it was disappearing and exclaimed—'Farewell, thou half-crazy and most eloquent man! I shall never see thy face again.' I did notintend, at that moment, to visit London again for some years: as ithappened, I was there for a short time in 1814: and then I heard, to mygreat satisfaction, that Walking Stewart had recovered a considerable sum(about 14,000 pounds I believe) from the East India Company; and from theabstract given in the London Magazine of the Memoir by his relation, Ihave since learned that he applied this money most wisely to the purchaseof an annuity, and that he 'persisted in living' too long for the peace ofan annuity office. So fare all companies East and West, and all annuityoffices, that stand opposed in interest to philosophers! In 1814, however,to my great regret, I did not see him; for I was then taking a great dealof opium, and never could contrive to issue to the light of day soonenough for a morning call upon a philosopher of such early hours; and inthe evening I concluded that he would be generally abroad, from what hehad formerly communicated to me of his own habits. It seems, however, thathe afterwards held conversaziones at his own rooms; and did notstir out to theatres quite so much. From a brother of mine, who at onetime occupied rooms in the same house with him, I learned that in otherrespects he did not deviate in his prosperity from the philosophic tenorof his former life. He abated nothing of his peripatetic exercises; andrepaired duly in the morning, as he had done in former years, to St.James's Park,—where he sate in contemplative ease amongst the cows,inhaling their balmy breath and pursuing his philosophic reveries. He hadalso purchased an organ, or more than one, with which he solaced hissolitude and beguiled himself of uneasy thoughts if he ever had any.

The works of Walking Stewart must be read with some indulgence; the titlesare generally too lofty and pretending and somewhat extravagant; thecomposition is lax and unprecise, as I have before said; and the doctrinesare occasionally very bold, incautiously stated, and too hardy and high-toned for the nervous effeminacy of many modern moralists. But WalkingStewart was a man who thought nobly of human nature: he wrote therefore attimes in the spirit and with the indignation of an ancient prophet againstthe oppressors and destroyers of the time. In particular I remember thatin one or more of the pamphlets which I received from him at Grasmere heexpressed himself in such terms on the subject of Tyrannicide(distinguishing the cases in which it was and was not lawful) as seemed toMr. Wordsworth and myself every way worthy of a philosopher; but, from theway in which that subject was treated in the House of Commons, where itwas at that time occasionally introduced, it was plain that his doctrinewas not fitted for the luxurious and relaxed morals of the age. Like allmen who think nobly of human nature, Walking Stewart thought of ithopefully. In some respects his hopes were wisely grounded; in others theyrested too much upon certain metaphysical speculations which areuntenable, and which satisfied himself only because his researches in thattrack had been purely self-originated and self-disciplined. He relied uponhis own native strength of mind; but in questions, which the wisdom andphilosophy of every age building successively upon each other have notbeen able to settle, no mind, however strong, is entitled to build whollyupon itself. In many things he shocked the religious sense—especially asit exists in unphilosophic minds; he held a sort of rude and unscientificSpinosism; and he expressed it coarsely and in the way most likely to giveoffence. And indeed there can be no stronger proof of the utter obscurityin which his works have slumbered than that they should all have escapedprosecution. He also allowed himself to look too lightly and indulgentlyon the afflicting spectacle of female prostitution as it exists in Londonand in all great cities. This was the only point on which I was disposedto quarrel with him; for I could not but view it as a greater reproach tohuman nature than the slave-trade or any sight of wretchedness that thesun looks down upon. I often told him so; and that I was at a loss toguess how a philosopher could allow himself to view it simply as part ofthe equipage of civil life, and as reasonably making part of theestablishment and furniture of a great city as police-offices, lamp-lighting, or newspapers. Waiving however this one instance of somethinglike compliance with the brutal spirit of the world, on all other subjectshe was eminently unworldly, child-like, simple-minded, and upright. Hewould flatter no man: even when addressing nations, it is almost laughableto see how invariably he prefaces his counsels with such plain truthsuttered in a manner so offensive as must have defeated his purpose if ithad otherwise any chance of being accomplished. For instance, inaddressing America, he begins thus:—'People of America! since yourseparation from the mother-country your moral character has degenerated inthe energy of thought and sense; produced by the absence of yourassociation and intercourse with British officers and merchants: you haveno moral discernment to distinguish between the protective power ofEngland and the destructive power of France.' And his letter to the Irishnation opens in this agreeable and conciliatory manner:—'People ofIreland! I address you as a true philosopher of nature, foreseeing theperpetual misery your irreflective character and total absence of moraldiscernment are preparing for' &c. The second sentence begins thus—'Youare sacrilegiously arresting the arm of your parent kingdom fighting thecause of man and nature, when the triumph of the fiend of French police-terror would be your own instant extirpation—.' And the letter closesthus:—'I see but one awful alternative—that Ireland will be a perpetualmoral volcano, threatening the destruction of the world, if the educationand instruction of thought and sense shall not be able to generate thefaculty of moral discernment among a very numerous class of thepopulation, who detest the civic calm as sailors the natural calm—andmake civic rights on which they cannot reason a pretext for feuds whichthey delight in.' As he spoke freely and boldly to others, so he spokeloftily of himself: at p. 313, of 'The Harp of Apollo,' on making acomparison of himself with Socrates (in which he naturally gives thepreference to himself) he styles 'The Harp,' &c., 'this unparalleled workof human energy.' At p. 315, he calls it 'this stupendous work;' and lowerdown on the same page he says—'I was turned out of school at the age offifteen for a dunce or blockhead, because I would not stuff into my memoryall the nonsense of erudition and learning; and if future ages shoulddiscover the unparalleled energies of genius in this work, it will provemy most important doctrine—that the powers of the human mind must bedeveloped in the education of thought and sense in the study of moralopinion, not arts and science.' Again, at p. 225 of his Sophiometer, hesays:—'The paramount thought that dwells in my mind incessantly is aquestion I put to myself—whether, in the event of my personal dissolutionby death, I have communicated all the discoveries my unique mind possessesin the great master-science of man and nature.' In the next page hedetermines that he has, with the exception of one truth,—viz. 'thelatent energy, physical and moral, of human nature as existing in theBritish people.' But here he was surely accusing himself without ground:for to my knowledge he has not failed in any one of his numerous works toinsist upon this theme at least a billion of times. Another instance ofhis magnificent self-estimation is—that in the title pages of several ofhis works he announces himself as 'John Stewart, the only man of nature[1] that ever appeared in the world.'

By this time I am afraid the reader begins to suspect that he was crazy:and certainly, when I consider every thing, he must have been crazy whenthe wind was at NNE; for who but Walking Stewart ever dated his books by acomputation drawn—not from the creation, not from the flood, not fromNabonassar, or ab urbe condita, not from the Hegira—but fromthemselves, from their own day of publication, as constituting the onegreat era in the history of man by the side of which all other eras werefrivolous and impertinent? Thus, in a work of his given to me in 1812 andprobably published in that year, I find him incidentally recording ofhimself that he was at that time 'arrived at the age of sixty-three, witha firm state of health acquired by temperance, and a peace of mind almostindependent of the vices of mankind—because my knowledge of life hasenabled me to place my happiness beyond the reach or contact of othermen's follies and passions, by avoiding all family connections, and allambitious pursuits of profit, fame, or power.' On reading this passage Iwas anxious to ascertain its date; but this, on turning to the title page,I found thus mysteriously expressed: 'in the 7000th year of AstronomicalHistory, and the first day of Intellectual Life or Moral World, from theera of this work.' Another slight indication of craziness appeared in anotion which obstinately haunted his mind that all the kings and rulers ofthe earth would confederate in every age against his works, and would huntthem out for extermination as keenly as Herod did the innocents inBethlehem. On this consideration, fearing that they might be interceptedby the long arms of these wicked princes before they could reach thatremote Stewartian man or his precursor to whom they were mainly addressed,he recommended to all those who might be impressed with a sense of theirimportance to bury a copy or copies of each work properly secured fromdamp, &c. at a depth of seven or eight feet below the surface of theearth; and on their death-beds to communicate the knowledge of this factto some confidential friends, who in their turn were to send down thetradition to some discreet persons of the next generation; and thus, ifthe truth was not to be dispersed for many ages, yet the knowledge thathere and there the truth lay buried on this and that continent, in secretspots on Mount Caucasus—in the sands of Biledulgerid—and in hiding-places amongst the forests of America, and was to rise again in somedistant age and to vegetate and fructify for the universal benefit ofman,—this knowledge at least was to be whispered down from generation togeneration; and, in defiance of a myriad of kings crusading against him,Walking Stewart was to stretch out the influence of his writings through along series of [Greek: lampadophoroi] to that child of nature whomhe saw dimly through a vista of many centuries. If this were madness, itseemed to me a somewhat sublime madness: and I assured him of my co-operation against the kings, promising that I would bury 'The Harp ofApollo' in my own orchard in Grasmere at the foot of Mount Fairfield; thatI would bury 'The Apocalypse of Nature' in one of the coves of Helvellyn,and several other works in several other places best known to myself. Heaccepted my offer with gratitude; but he then made known to me that herelied on my assistance for a still more important service—which wasthis: in the lapse of that vast number of ages which would probablyintervene between the present period and the period at which his workswould have reached their destination, he feared that the English languagemight itself have mouldered away. 'No!' I said, 'that was not probable:considering its extensive diffusion, and that it was now transplanted intoall the continents of our planet, I would back the English languageagainst any other on earth.' His own persuasion however was, that theLatin was destined to survive all other languages; it was to be theeternal as well as the universal language; and his desire was thatI would translate his works, or some part of them, into that language. [2]This I promised; and I seriously designed at some leisure hour totranslate into Latin a selection of passages which should embody anabstract of his philosophy. This would have been doing a service to allthose who might wish to see a digest of his peculiar opinions cleared fromthe perplexities of his peculiar diction and brought into a narrow compassfrom the great number of volumes through which they are at presentdispersed. However, like many another plan of mine, it went unexecuted.

On the whole, if Walking Stewart were at all crazy, he was so in a waywhich did not affect his natural genius and eloquence—but rather exaltedthem. The old maxim, indeed, that 'Great wits to madness sure are nearallied,' the maxim of Dryden and the popular maxim, I have heard disputedby Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth, who maintain that mad people are thedullest and most wearisome of all people. As a body, I believe they areso. But I must dissent from the authority of Messrs. Coleridge andWordsworth so far as to distinguish. Where madness is connected, as itoften is, with some miserable derangement of the stomach, liver, &c. andattacks the principle of pleasurable life, which is manifestly seated inthe central organs of the body (i.e. in the stomach and the apparatusconnected with it), there it cannot but lead to perpetual suffering anddistraction of thought; and there the patient will be often tedious andincoherent. People who have not suffered from any great disturbance inthose organs are little aware how indispensable to the process of thinkingare the momentary influxes of pleasurable feeling from the regular goingson of life in its primary function; in fact, until the pleasure iswithdrawn or obscured, most people are not aware that they have anypleasure from the due action of the great central machinery of the system:proceeding in uninterrupted continuance, the pleasure as much escapes theconsciousness as the act of respiration: a child, in the happiest state ofits existence, does not know that it is happy. And generally whatsoeveris the level state of the hourly feeling is never put down by theunthinking (i.e. by 99 out of 100) to the account of happiness: it isnever put down with the positive sign, as equal to + x; but simplyas = 0. And men first become aware that it was a positive quantity,when they have lost it (i.e. fallen into—x). Meantime the genialpleasure from the vital processes, though not represented to theconsciousness, is immanent in every act—impulse—motion—word—andthought: and a philosopher sees that the idiots are in a state ofpleasure, though they cannot see it themselves. Now I say that, where thisprinciple of pleasure is not attached, madness is often little more thanan enthusiasm highly exalted; the animal spirits are exuberant and inexcess; and the madman becomes, if he be otherwise a man of ability andinformation, all the better as a companion. I have met with several suchmadmen; and I appeal to my brilliant friend, Professor W——, who is not aman to tolerate dulness in any quarter, and is himself the ideal of adelightful companion, whether he ever met a more amusing person than thatmadman who took a post-chaise with us from —— to Carlisle, long yearsago, when he and I were hastening with the speed of fugitive felons tocatch the Edinburgh mail. His fancy and his extravagance, and his furiousattacks on Sir Isaac Newton, like Plato's suppers, refreshed us not onlyfor that day but whenever they recurred to us; and we were both grievedwhen we heard some time afterwards from a Cambridge man that he had metour clever friend in a stage coach under the care of a brutal keeper.——Such a madness, if any, was the madness of Walking Stewart: his health wasperfect; his spirits as light and ebullient as the spirits of a bird inspring-time; and his mind unagitated by painful thoughts, and at peacewith itself. Hence, if he was not an amusing companion, it was because thephilosophic direction of his thoughts made him something more. Ofanecdotes and matters of fact he was not communicative: of all that he hadseen in the vast compass of his travels he never availed himself inconversation. I do not remember at this moment that he ever once alludedto his own travels in his intercourse with me except for the purpose ofweighing down by a statement grounded on his own great personal experiencean opposite statement of many hasty and misjudging travellers which hethought injurious to human nature: the statement was this, that in all hiscountless rencontres with uncivilized tribes, he had never met with any soferocious and brutal as to attack an unarmed and defenceless man who wasable to make them understand that he threw himself upon their hospitalityand forbearance.

On the whole, Walking Stewart was a sublime visionary: he had seen andsuffered much amongst men; yet not too much, or so as to dull the genialtone of his sympathy with the sufferings of others. His mind was a mirrorof the sentient universe.—The whole mighty vision that had fleeted beforehis eyes in this world,—the armies of Hyder-Ali and his son with orientaland barbaric pageantry,—the civic grandeur of England, the great desertsof Asia and America,—the vast capitals of Europe,—London with itseternal agitations, the ceaseless ebb and flow of its 'mighty heart,'—Paris shaken by the fierce torments of revolutionary convulsions, thesilence of Lapland, and the solitary forests of Canada, with the swarminglife of the torrid zone, together with innumerable recollections ofindividual joy and sorrow, that he had participated by sympathy—lay likea map beneath him, as if eternally co-present to his view; so that, in thecontemplation of the prodigious whole, he had no leisure to separate theparts, or occupy his mind with details. Hence came the monotony which thefrivolous and the desultory would have found in his conversation. I,however, who am perhaps the person best qualified to speak of him, mustpronounce him to have been a man of great genius; and, with reference tohis conversation, of great eloquence. That these were not better known andacknowledged was owing to two disadvantages; one grounded in his imperfecteducation, the other in the peculiar structure of his mind. The first wasthis: like the late Mr. Shelley he had a fine vague enthusiasm and loftyaspirations in connection with human nature generally and its hopes; andlike him he strove to give steadiness, a uniform direction, and anintelligible purpose to these feelings, by fitting to them a scheme ofphilosophical opinions. But unfortunately the philosophic system of bothwas so far from supporting their own views and the cravings of their ownenthusiasm, that, as in some points it was baseless, incoherent, orunintelligible, so in others it tended to moral results, from which, ifthey had foreseen them, they would have been themselves the first toshrink as contradictory to the very purposes in which their system hadoriginated. Hence, in maintaining their own system they both foundthemselves painfully entangled at times with tenets pernicious anddegrading to human nature. These were the inevitable consequences of the[Greek: proton pheudos] in their speculations; but were naturallycharged upon them by those who looked carelessly into their books asopinions which not only for the sake of consistency they thoughtthemselves bound to endure, but to which they gave the full weight oftheir sanction and patronage as to so many moving principles in theirsystem. The other disadvantage under which Walking Stewart labored, wasthis: he was a man of genius, but not a man of talents; at least hisgenius was out of all proportion to his talents, and wanted an organ as itwere for manifesting itself; so that his most original thoughts weredelivered in a crude state—imperfect, obscure, half developed, and notproducible to a popular audience. He was aware of this himself; and,though he claims everywhere the faculty of profound intuition into humannature, yet with equal candor he accuses himself of asinine stupidity,dulness, and want of talent. He was a disproportioned intellect, and sofar a monster: and he must be added to the long list of original-mindedmen who have been looked down upon with pity and contempt by commonplacemen of talent, whose powers of mind—though a thousand times inferior—were yet more manageable, and ran in channels more suited to common usesand common understandings.


[1] In Bath, he was surnamed 'the Child of Nature;'—which arose from hiscontrasting on every occasion the existing man of our present experiencewith the ideal or Stewartian man that might be expected to emerge in somemyriads of ages; to which latter man he gave the name of the Child ofNature.

[2] I was not aware until the moment of writing this passage that WalkingStewart had publicly made this request three years after making it tomyself: opening the 'Harp of Apollo,' I have just now accidentallystumbled on the following passage, 'This Stupendous work is destined, Ifear, to meet a worse fate than the Aloe, which as soon as it blossomsloses its stalk. This first blossom of reason is threatened with the lossof both its stalk and its soil: for, if the revolutionary tyrant shouldtriumph, he would destroy all the English books and energies of thought. Iconjure my readers to translate this work into Latin, and to bury it inthe ground, communicating on their death-beds only its place ofconcealment to men of nature.'

From the title page of this work, by the way, I learn that 'the 7000thyear of Astronomical History' is taken from the Chinese tables, andcoincides (as I had supposed) with the year 1812 of our computation.


It is a remarkable proof of the inaccuracy with which most men read—thatDonne's Biathanatos has been supposed to countenance Suicide; andthose who reverence his name have thought themselves obliged to apologizefor it by urging, that it was written before he entered the church. ButDonne's purpose in this treatise was a pious one: many authors had chargedthe martyrs of the Christian church with Suicide—on the principle that ifI put myself in the way of a mad bull, knowing that he will kill me—I amas much chargeable with an act of self-destruction as if I fling myselfinto a river. Several casuists had extended this principle even to thecase of Jesus Christ: one instance of which, in a modern author, thereader may see noticed and condemned by Kant, in his Religion innerhalbdie gronzen der blossen Vernunft; and another of much earlier date (asfar back as the 13th century, I think), in a commoner book—Voltaire'snotes on the little treatise of Beccaria, Dei delitti e delle pene.These statements tended to one of two results: either they unsanctifiedthe characters of those who founded and nursed the Christian church; orthey sanctified suicide. By way of meeting them, Donne wrote his book: andas the whole argument of his opponents turned upon a false definition ofsuicide (not explicitly stated, but assumed), he endeavored toreconstitute the notion of what is essential to create an act of suicide.Simply to kill a man is not murder: prima facie, therefore, thereis some sort of presumption that simply for a man to kill himself—may notalways be so: there is such a thing as simple homicide distinct frommurder: there may, therefore, possibly be such a thing as self-homicidedistinct from self-murder. There may be a ground for such a distinction,ex analogia. But, secondly, on examination, is there any ground forsuch a distinction? Donne affirms that there is; and, reviewing severaleminent cases of spontaneous martyrdom, he endeavors to show that acts somotived and so circ*mstantiated will not come within the notion of suicideproperly defined. Meantime, may not this tend to the encouragement ofsuicide in general, and without discrimination of its species? No: Donne'sarguments have no prospective reference or application; they are purelyretrospective. The circ*mstances necessary to create an act of mere self-homicide can rarely concur, except in a state of disordered society, andduring the cardinal revolutions of human history: where, however, theydo concur, there it will not be suicide. In fact, this is the naturaland practical judgment of us all. We do not all agree on the particularcases which will justify self-destruction: but we all feel andinvoluntarily acknowledge (implicitly acknowledge in our admiration,though not explicitly in our words or in our principles), that there aresuch cases. There is no man, who in his heart would not reverence a womanthat chose to die rather than to be dishonored: and, if we do not say,that it is her duty to do so, that is because the moralist mustcondescend to the weakness and infirmities of human nature: mean andignoble natures must not be taxed up to the level of noble ones. Again,with regard to the other sex, corporal punishment is its peculiar andsexual degradation; and if ever the distinction of Donne can be appliedsafely to any case, it will be to the case of him who chooses to dierather than to submit to that ignominy. At present, however, there isbut a dim and very confined sense, even amongst enlightened men (as we maysee by the debates of Parliament), of the injury which is done to humannature by giving legal sanction to such brutalizing acts; and thereforemost men, in seeking to escape it, would be merely shrinking from apersonal dishonor. Corporal punishment is usually argued with a singlereference to the case of him who suffers it; and so argued, God knowsthat it is worthy of all abhorrence: but the weightiest argument againstit—is the foul indignity which is offered to our common nature lodged inthe person of him on whom it is inflicted. His nature is our nature:and, supposing it possible that he were so far degraded as to beunsusceptible of any influences but those which address him through thebrutal part of his nature, yet for the sake of ourselves—No! not merelyfor ourselves, or for the human race now existing, but for the sake ofhuman nature, which trancends all existing participators of that nature—we should remember that the evil of corporal punishment is not to bemeasured by the poor transitory criminal, whose memory and offence aresoon to perish: these, in the sum of things, are as nothing: the injurywhich can be done him, and the injury which he can do, have so momentaryan existence that they may be safely neglected: but the abiding injury isto the most august interest which for the mind of man can have anyexistence,—viz. to his own nature: to raise and dignify which, I ampersuaded, is the first—last—and holiest command [1] which theconscience imposes on the philosophic moralist. In countries, where thetraveller has the pain of seeing human creatures performing the labors ofbrutes, [2]—surely the sorrow which the spectacle moves, if a wisesorrow, will not be chiefly directed to the poor degraded individual—toodeeply degraded, probably, to be sensible of his own degradation, but tothe reflection that man's nature is thus exhibited in a state of miserableabasem*nt; and, what is worst of all, abasem*nt proceeding from manhimself. Now, whenever this view of corporal punishment becomes general(as inevitably it will, under the influence of advancing civilization), Isay, that Donne's principle will then become applicable to this case, andit will be the duty of a man to die rather than to suffer his own natureto be dishonored in that way. But so long as a man is not fully sensibleof the dishonor, to him the dishonor, except as a personal one, does notwholly exist. In general, whenever a paramount interest of human nature isat stake, a suicide which maintains that interest is self-homicide: but,for a personal interest, it becomes self-murder. And into this principleDonne's may be resolved.

* * * * *

A doubt has been raised—whether brute animals ever commit suicide: to meit is obvious that they do not, and cannot. Some years ago, however, therewas a case reported in all the newspapers of an old ram who committedsuicide (as it was alleged) in the presence of many witnesses. Not havingany pistols or razors, he ran for a short distance, in order to aid theimpetus of his descent, and leaped over a precipice, at the foot of whichhe was dashed to pieces. His motive to the 'rash act,' as the paperscalled it, was supposed to be mere taedium vitae. But, for my part, Idoubted the accuracy of the report. Not long after a case occurred inWestmoreland which strengthened my doubts. A fine young blood horse, whocould have no possible reason for making away with himself, unless it werethe high price of oats at that time, was found one morning dead in hisfield. The case was certainly a suspicious one: for he was lying by theside of a stone-wall, the upper part of which wall his skull hadfractured, and which had returned the compliment by fracturing his skull.It was argued, therefore, that in default of ponds, &c. he haddeliberately hammered with his head against the wall; this, at first,seemed the only solution; and he was generally pronounced felo dese. However, a day or two brought the truth to light. The field layupon the side of a hill: and, from a mountain which rose above it, ashepherd had witnessed the whole catastrophe, and gave evidence whichvindicated the character of the horse. The day had been very windy; andthe young creature being in high spirits, and, caring evidently as littlefor the corn question as for the bullion question, had raced about in alldirections; and at length, descending too steep a part of the field, hadbeen unable to check himself, and was projected by the impetus of his owndescent like a battering ram against the wall.

Of human suicides, the most affecting I have ever seen recorded is onewhich I met with in a German book: the most calm and deliberate is thefollowing, which is said to have occurred at Keswick, in Cumberland: butI must acknowledge, that I never had an opportunity, whilst staying atKeswick, of verifying the statement. A young man of studious turn, who issaid to have resided near Penrith, was anxious to qualify himself forentering the church, or for any other mode of life which might secure tohim a reasonable portion of literary leisure. His family, however, thoughtthat under the circ*mstances of his situation he would have a betterchance for success in life as a tradesman; and they took the necessarysteps for placing him as an apprentice at some shopkeeper's in Penrith.This he looked upon as an indignity, to which he was determined in no caseto submit. And accordingly, when he had ascertained that all opposition tothe choice of his friends was useless, he walked over to the mountainousdistrict of Keswick (about sixteen miles distant)—looked about him inorder to select his ground—cooly walked up Lattrig (a dependency ofSkiddaw)—made a pillow of sods—laid himself down with his face lookingup to the sky—and in that posture was found dead, with the appearance ofhaving died tranquilly.


[1] On which account, I am the more struck by the ignoble argument ofthose statesmen who have contended in the House of Commons that such andsuch classes of men in this nation are not accessible to any loftierinfluences. Supposing that there were any truth in this assertion, whichis a libel not on this nation only, but on man in general,—surely it isthe duty of lawgivers not to perpetuate by their institutions the evilwhich they find, but to presume and gradually to create a better spirit.

[2] Of which degradation, let it never be forgotten that France but thirtyyears ago presented as shocking cases as any country, even where slaveryis tolerated. An eye-witness to the fact, who has since published it inprint, told me, that in France, before the revolution, he had repeatedlyseen a woman yoked with an ass to the plough; and the brutal ploughmanapplying his whip indifferently to either. English people, to whom I haveoccasionally mentioned this as an exponent of the hollow refinement ofmanners in France, have uniformly exclaimed—'That is more than Ican believe;' and have taken it for granted that I had my information fromsome prejudiced Englishman. But who was my informer? A Frenchman, reader,—M. Simond; and though now by adoption an American citizen, yet stillFrench in his heart and in all his prejudices.


It is asserted that this is the age of Superficial Knowledge; and amongstthe proofs of this assertion we find Encyclopaedias and other popularabstracts of knowledge particularly insisted on. But in this notion andits alleged proofs there is equal error—wherever there is much diffusionof knowledge, there must be a good deal of superficiality: prodigiousextension implies a due proportion of weak intension; a sea-likeexpansion of knowledge will cover large shallows as well as largedepths. But in that quarter in which it is superficially cultivated theintellect of this age is properly opposed in any just comparison to anintellect without any culture at all:—leaving the deep soils out of thecomparison, the shallow ones of the present day would in any preceding onehave been barren wastes. Of this our modern encyclopedias are the bestproof. For whom are they designed, and by whom used?—By those who in aformer age would have gone to the fountain heads? No, but by those who inany age preceding the present would have drunk at no waters at all.Encyclopedias are the growth of the last hundred years; not because thosewho were formerly students of higher learning have descended, but becausethose who were below encyclopaedias have ascended. The greatness of theascent is marked by the style in which the more recent encyclopaedias areexecuted: at first they were mere abstracts of existing books—well or illexecuted: at present they contain many original articles of greatmerit. As in the periodical literature of the age, so in theencyclopaedias it has become a matter of ambition with the publishers toretain the most eminent writers in each several department. And hence itis that our encyclopaedias now display one characteristic of this age—thevery opposite of superficiality (and which on other grounds we are wellassured of)—viz. its tendency in science, no less than in otherapplications of industry, to extreme subdivision. In all the employmentswhich are dependent in any degree upon the political economy of nations,this tendency is too obvious to have been overlooked. Accordingly it haslong been noticed for congratulation in manufactures and the useful arts—and for censure in the learned professions. We have now, it is alleged, nogreat and comprehensive lawyers like co*ke: and the study of medicine issubdividing itself into a distinct ministry (as it were) not merely uponthe several organs of the body (oculists, aurists, dentists,cheiropodists, &c.) but almost upon the several diseases of the sameorgan: one man is distinguished for the treatment of liver complaints ofone class—a second for those of another class; one man for asthma—another for phthisis; and so on. As to the law, the evil (if it be one)lies in the complex state of society which of necessity makes the lawscomplex: law itself is become unwieldy and beyond the grasp of one man'sterm of life and possible range of experience: and will never again comewithin them. With respect to medicine, the case is no evil but a greatbenefit—so long as the subdividing principle does not descend too low toallow of a perpetual re-ascent into the generalizing principle (the[Greek: to] commune) which secures the unity of the science. Inancient times all the evil of such a subdivision was no doubt realized inEgypt: for there a distinct body of professors took charge of each organof the body, not (as we may be assured) from any progress of the scienceoutgrowing the time and attention of the general professor, but simplyfrom an ignorance of the organic structure of the human body and thereciprocal action of the whole upon each part and the parts upon thewhole; an ignorance of the same kind which has led sailors seriously (andnot merely, as may sometimes have happened, by way of joke) to reserve oneulcerated leg to their own management, whilst the other was given up tothe management of the surgeon. With respect to law and medicine then, thedifference between ourselves and our ancestors is not subjective butobjective; not, i.e. in our faculties who study them, but in thethings themselves which are the objects of study: not we (the students)are grown less, but they (the studies) are grown bigger;—and that ourancestors did not subdivide as much as we do—was something of their luck,but no part of their merit. Simply as subdividers therefore to the extentwhich now prevails, we are less superficial than any former age. In allparts of science the same principle of subdivision holds: here therefore,no less than in those parts of knowledge which are the subjects ofdistinct civil professions, we are of necessity more profound than ourancestors; but, for the same reason, less comprehensive than they. Is itbetter to be a profound student, or a comprehensive one? In some degreethis must depend upon the direction of the studies: but generally, Ithink, it is better for the interests of knowledge that the scholar shouldaim at profundity, and better for the interests of the individual that heshould aim at comprehensiveness. A due balance and equilibrium of the mindis but preserved by a large and multiform knowledge: but knowledge itselfis but served by an exclusive (or at least paramount) dedication of onemind to one science. The first proposition is perhaps unconditionallytrue: but the second with some limitations. There are such people asLeibnitzes on this earth; and their office seems not that of planets—torevolve within the limits of one system, but that of comets (according tothe theory of some speculators)—to connect different systems together. Nodoubt there is much truth in this: a few Leibnitzes in every age would beof much use: but neither are many men fitted by nature for the part ofLeibnitz; nor would the aspect of knowledge be better, if they were. Weshould then have a state of Grecian life amongst us in which every manindividually would attain in a moderate degree all the purposes of thesane understanding,—but in which all the purposes of the saneunderstanding would be but moderately attained. What I mean is this:—letall the objects of the understanding in civil life or in science berepresented by the letters of the alphabet; in Grecian life each man wouldseparately go through all the letters in a tolerable way; whereas atpresent each letter is served by a distinct body of men. Consequently theGrecian individual is superior to the modern; but the Grecian whole isinferior: for the whole is made up of the individuals; and the Grecianindividual repeats himself. Whereas in modern life the whole derives itssuperiority from the very circ*mstances which constitute the inferiorityof the parts; for modern life is cast dramatically: and the differenceis as between an army consisting of soldiers who should each individuallybe competent to go through the duties of a dragoon—of a hussar—of asharp-shooter—of an artillery-man—of a pioneer, &c. and an army on itspresent composition, where the very inferiority of the soldier as anindividual—his inferiority in compass and versatility of power andknowledge—is the very ground from which the army derives its superiorityas a whole, viz. because it is the condition of the possibility of a totalsurrender of the individual to one exclusive pursuit. In sciencetherefore, and (to speak more generally) in the whole evolution of thehuman faculties, no less than in Political Economy, the progress ofsociety brings with it a necessity of sacrificing the ideal of what isexcellent for the individual, to the ideal of what is excellent for thewhole. We need therefore not trouble ourselves (except as a speculativequestion) with the comparison of the two states; because, as a practicalquestion, it is precluded by the overruling tendencies of the age—whichno man could counteract except in his own single case, i.e. by refusingto adapt himself as a part to the whole, and thus foregoing the advantagesof either one state or the other. [1]


[1] The latter part of what is here said coincides, in a way which israther remarkable, with a passage in an interesting work of Schiller'swhich I have since read, (on the Aesthetic Education of Men, in aseries of letters: vid. letter the 6th.) 'With us in order to obtain therepresentative word (as it were) of the total species, we mustspell it out by the help of a series of individuals. So that on a surveyof society as it actually exists, one might suppose that the faculties ofthe mind do really in actual experience show themselves in as separate aform, and in as much insulation, as psychology is forced to exhibit themin its analysis. And thus we see not only individuals, but whole classesof men, unfolding only one part of the germs which are laid in them by thehand of nature. In saying this I am fully aware of the advantages whichthe human species of modern ages has, when considered as a unity, over thebest of antiquity: but the comparison should begin with the individuals:and then let me ask where is the modern individual that would have thepresumption to step forward against the Athenian individual—man to man,and to contend for the prize of human excellence? The polypus nature ofthe Grecian republics, in which every individual enjoyed a separate life,and if it were necessary could become a whole, has now given place to anartificial watch-work, where many lifeless parts combine to form amechanic whole. The state and the church, laws and manners, are now tornasunder: labor is divided from enjoyment, the means from the end, theexertion from the reward. Chained for ever to a little individual fractionof the whole, man himself is moulded into a fraction; and, with themonotonous whirling of the wheel which he turns everlastingly in his ear,he never develops the harmony of his being; and, instead of imaging thetotality of human nature, becomes a bare abstract of his business or thescience which he cultivates. The dead letter takes the place of the livingunderstanding; and a practised memory becomes a surer guide than geniusand sensibility. Doubtless the power of genius, as we all know, will notfetter itself within the limits of its occupation; but talents ofmediocrity are all exhausted in the monotony of the employment allotted tothem; and that man must have no common head who brings with him thegeniality of his powers unstripped of their freshness by the ungeniallabors of life to the cultivation of the genial.' After insisting at somelength on this wise, Schiller passes to the other side of thecontemplation, and proceeds thus:—'It suited my immediate purpose topoint out the injuries of this condition of the species, withoutdisplaying the compensations by which nature has balanced them. But I willnow readily acknowledge—that, little as this practical condition may suitthe interests of the individual, yet the species could in no other wayhave been progressive. Partial exercise of the faculties (literally"one-sidedness in the exercise of the faculties") leads the individualundoubtedly into error, but the species into truth. In no other way thanby concentrating the whole energy of our spirit, and by converging ourwhole being, so to speak, into a single faculty, can we put wings as itwere to the individual faculty and carry it by this artificial flight farbeyond the limits within which nature has else doomed it to walk. Just ascertain as it is that all human beings could never, by clubbing theirvisual powers together, have arrived at the power of seeing what thetelescope discovers to the astronomer; just so certain it is thatthe human intellect would never have arrived at an analysis of theinfinite or a Critical Analysis of the Pure Reason (the principalwork of Kant), unless individuals had dismembered (as it were) andinsulated this or that specific faculty, and had thus armed theirintellectual sight by the keenest abstraction and by the submersion of theother powers of their nature. Extraordinary men are formed then byenergetic and over-excited spasms as it were in the individual faculties;though it is true that the equable exercise of all the faculties inharmony with each other can alone make happy and perfect men.' After thisstatement, from which it should seem that in the progress of societynature has made it necessary for man to sacrifice his own happinessto the attainment of her ends in the development of his species,Schiller goes on to inquire whether this evil result cannot be remedied;and whether 'the totality of our nature, which art has destroyed, mightnot be re-established by a higher art,'—but this, as leading to adiscussion beyond the limits of my own, I omit.


It has already, I believe, been said more than once in print that onecondition of a good dictionary would be to exhibit the history ofeach word; that is, to record the exact succession of its meanings. Butthe philosophic reason for this has not been given; which reason, by theway, settles a question often agitated, viz. whether the true meaning of aword be best ascertained from its etymology, or from its present use andacceptation. Mr. Coleridge says, 'the best explanation of a word is oftenthat which is suggested by its derivation' (I give the substance of hiswords from memory). Others allege that we have nothing to do with theprimitive meaning of the word; that the question is—what does it meannow? and they appeal, as the sole authority they acknowledge, to thereceived—

Usus, penes quem est jus et norma loquendi.

In what degree each party is right, may be judged from this consideration—that no word can ever deviate from its first meaning per saltum:each successive stage of meaning must always have been determined by thatwhich preceded. And on this one law depends the whole philosophy of thecase: for it thus appears that the original and primitive sense of theword will contain virtually all which can ever afterwards arise: as in theevolution-theory of generation, the whole series of births isrepresented as involved in the first parent. Now, if the evolution ofsuccessive meanings has gone on rightly, i.e. by simply lapsingthrough a series of close affinities, there can be no reason for recurringto the primitive meaning of the word: but, if it can be shown that theevolution has been faulty, i.e. that the chain of true affinitieshas ever been broken through ignorance, then we have a right to reform theword, and to appeal from the usage ill-instructed to a usage better-instructed. Whether we ought to exercise this right, will depend on aconsideration which I will afterwards notice. Meantime I will first give afew instances of faulty evolution.

1. Implicit. This word is now used in a most ignorant way; and fromits misuse it has come to be a word wholly useless: for it is now nevercoupled, I think, with any other substantive than these two—faith andconfidence: a poor domain indeed to have sunk to from its original widerange of territory. Moreover, when we say, implicit faith, orimplicit confidence, we do not thereby indicate any specific kind offaith and confidence differing from other faith or other confidence: butit is a vague rhetorical word which expresses a great degree of faithand confidence; a faith that is unquestioning, a confidence that isunlimited; i.e. in fact, a faith that is a faith, a confidence thatis a confidence. Such a use of the word ought to be abandoned to women:doubtless, when sitting in a bower in the month of May, it is pleasant tohear from a lovely mouth—'I put implicit confidence in your honor:' but,though pretty and becoming to such a mouth, it is very unfitting to themouth of a scholar: and I will be bold to affirm that no man, who had everacquired a scholar's knowledge of the English language, has used the wordin that lax and unmeaning way. The history of the word is this.—Implicit (from the Latin implicitus, involved in, folded up) wasalways used originally, and still is so by scholars, as the directantithete of explicit (from the Latin explicitus, evolved, unfolded):and the use of both may be thus illustrated.

Q. 'Did Mr. A. ever say that he would marry Miss B.?'—A. 'No; notexplicitly (i.e. in so many words); but he did implicitly—by showinggreat displeasure if she received attentions from any other man; by askingher repeatedly to select furniture for his house; by consulting her on hisown plans of life.'

Q. 'Did Epicurus maintain any doctrines such as are here ascribedto him?'—A. 'Perhaps not explicitly, either in words or by any othermode of direct sanction: on the contrary, I believe he denied them—and disclaimed them with vehemence: but he maintained them implicitly: forthey are involved in other acknowledged doctrines of his, and may bededuced from them by the fairest and most irresistible logic.'

Q. 'Why did you complain of the man? Had he expressed any contemptfor your opinion?'—A. 'Yes, he had: not explicit contempt, I admit; forhe never opened his stupid mouth; but implicitly he expressed the utmostthat he could: for, when I had spoken two hours against the old newspaper,and in favor of the new one, he went instantly and put his name down as asubscriber to the old one.'

Q. 'Did Mr.—— approve of that gentleman's conduct and way of life?'—A. 'I don't know that I ever heard him speak about it: but he seemed togive it his implicit approbation by allowing both his sons to associatewith him when the complaints ran highest against him.'

These instances may serve to illustrate the original use of the word;which use has been retained from the sixteenth century down to our owndays by an uninterrupted chain of writers. In the eighteenth century thisuse was indeed nearly effaced but still in the first half of that centuryit was retained by Saunderson the Cambridge professor of mathematics (seehis Algebra, &c.), with three or four others, and in the latter half by aman to whom Saunderson had some resemblance in spring and elasticity ofunderstanding, viz. by Edmund Burke. Since his day I know of no writerswho have avoided the slang and unmeaning use of the word, exceptingMessrs. Coleridge and Wordsworth; both of whom (but especially the last)have been remarkably attentive to the scholar-like [1] use of words, andto the history of their own language.

Thus much for the primitive use of the word implicit. Now, withregard to the history of its transition into its present use, it isbriefly this; and it will appear at once, that it has arisen throughignorance. When it was objected to a papist that his church exacted anassent to a great body of traditions and doctrines to which it wasimpossible that the great majority could be qualified, either as respectedtime—or knowledge—or culture of the understanding, to give anyreasonable assent,—the answer was: 'Yes; but that sort of assent is notrequired of a poor uneducated man; all that he has to do—is to believe inthe church: he is to have faith in her faith: by that act he adoptsfor his own whatsoever the church believes, though he may never have hoardof it even: his faith is implicit, i.e. involved and wrapped up inthe faith of the church, which faith he firmly believes to be the truefaith upon the conviction he has that the church is preserved from allpossibility of erring by the spirit of God.' [2] Now, as this sort ofbelieving by proxy or implicit belief (in which the belief was notimmediate in the thing proposed to the belief, but in the authorityof another person who believed in that thing and thus mediately inthe thing itself) was constantly attacked by the learned assailants ofpopery,—it naturally happened that many unlearned readers of theseprotestant polemics caught at a phrase which was so much bandied betweenthe two parties: the spirit of the context sufficiently explained to themthat it was used by protestants as a term of reproach, and indicated afaith that was an erroneous faith by being too easy—too submissive—andtoo passive: but the particular mode of this erroneousness they seldomcame to understand, as learned writers naturally employed the term withoutexplanation, presuming it to be known to those whom they addressed. Hencethese ignorant readers caught at the last result of the phrase 'implicitfaith' rightly, truly supposing it to imply a resigned and unquestioningfaith; but they missed the whole immediate cause of meaning by which onlythe word 'implicit' could ever have been entitled to express that result.

I have allowed myself to say so much on this word 'implicit,' because thehistory of the mode by which its true meaning was lost applies almost toall other corrupted words—mutatis mutandis: and the amount of itmay be collected into this formula,—that the result of the word isapprehended and retained, but the schematismus by which that resultwas ever reached is lost. This is the brief theory of all corruption ofwords. The word schematismus I have unwillingly used, because noother expresses my meaning. So great and extensive a doctrine howeverlurks in this word, that I defer the explanation of it to a separatearticle. Meantime a passable sense of the word will occur to every bodywho reads Greek. I now go on to a few more instances of words that haveforfeited their original meaning through the ignorance of those who usedthem.

'Punctual.' This word is now confined to the meagre denoting ofaccuracy in respect to time—fidelity to the precise moment of anappointment. But originally it was just as often, and just as reasonably,applied to space as to time; 'I cannot punctually determine the origin ofthe Danube; but I know in general the district in which it rises, and thatit* fountain is near that of the Rhine.' Not only, however, was it appliedto time and space, but it had a large and very elegant figurative use.Thus in the History of the Royal Society by Sprat (an author who wasfinical and nice in his use of words)—I remember a sentence to thiseffect: 'the Society gave punctual directions for the conducting ofexperiments;' i.e. directions which descended to the minutiae andlowest details. Again in the once popular romance of Parismus Prince ofBohemia—'She' (I forget who) 'made a punctual relation of the wholematter;' i.e. a relation which was perfectly circ*mstantial andtrue to the minutest features of the case.


[1] Among the most shocking of the unscholarlike barbarisms, nowprevalent, I must notice the use of the word 'nice' in an objectiveinstead of a subjective sense: 'nice' does not and cannot express aquality of the object, but merely a quality of the subject: yet we heardaily of 'a very nice letter'—'a nice young lady,' &c., meaning a letteror a young lady that it is pleasant to contemplate: but 'a nice younglady'—means a fastidious young lady; and 'a nice letter' ought to mean aletter that is very delicate in its rating and in the choice of itscompany.

[2] Thus Milton, who (in common with his contemporaries) always uses theword accurately, speaks of Ezekiel 'swallowing his implicit roll ofknowledge'—i.e. coming to the knowledge of many truths not separatelyand in detail, but by the act of arriving at some one master truth whichinvolved all the rest.—So again, if any man or government were tosuppress a book, that man or government might justly be reproached as theimplicit destroyer of all the wisdom and virtue that might have been theremote products of that book.


It is a remarkable fact, that the very finest epigram in the Englishlanguage happens also to be the worst. Epigram I call it in theaustere Greek sense; which thus far resembled our modern idea of anepigram, that something pointed and allied to wit was demanded in themanagement of the leading thought at its close, but otherwise nothingtending towards the comic or the ludicrous. The epigram I speak of is thewell-known one of Dryden dedicated to the glorification of Milton. It isirreproachable as regards its severe brevity. Not one word is there thatcould be spared; nor could the wit of man have cast the movement of thethought into a better mould. There are three couplets. In the firstcouplet we are reminded of the fact that this earth had, in threedifferent stages of its development, given birth to a trinity oftranscendent poets; meaning narrative poets, or, even more narrowly, epicpoets. The duty thrown upon the second couplet is to characterize thesethree poets, and to value them against each other, but in such terms asthat, whilst nothing less than the very highest praise should be assignedto the two elder poets in this trinity—the Greek and the Roman—nevertheless, by some dexterous artifice, a higher praise than the highestshould suddenly unmask itself, and drop, as it were, like a diadem fromthe clouds upon the brows of their English competitor. In the kind ofexpectation raised, and in the extreme difficulty of adequately meetingthis expectation, there was pretty much the same challenge offered toDryden as was offered, somewhere about the same time, to a Britishambassador when dining with his political antagonists. One of these—theambassador of France—had proposed to drink his master, Louis XIV., underthe character of the sun, who dispensed life and light to the wholepolitical system. To this there was no objection; and immediately, by wayof intercepting any further draughts upon the rest of the solar system,the Dutch ambassador rose, and proposed the health of their highmightinesses the Seven United States, as the moon and six [1] planets, whogave light in the absence of the sun. The two foreign ambassadors,Monsieur and Mynheer, secretly enjoyed the mortification of their Englishbrother, who seemed to be thus left in a state of bankruptcy, 'no funds'being available for retaliation, or so they fancied. But suddenly ourBritish representative toasted his master as Joshua, the son ofNun, that made the sun and moon stand still. All had seemed lost forEngland, when in an instant of time both her antagonists were checkmated.Dryden assumed something of the same position. He gave away the supremejewels in his exchequer; apparently nothing remained behind; all wasexhausted. To Homer he gave A; to Virgil he gave B; and, behold! afterthese were given away, there remained nothing at all that would not havebeen a secondary praise. But, in a moment of time, by giving A andB to Milton, at one sling of his victorious arm he raised him above Homerby the whole extent of B, and above Virgil by the whole extent of A. Thisfelicitous evasion of the embarrassment is accomplished in the secondcouplet; and, finally, the third couplet winds up with graceful effect, bymaking a resume, or recapitulation of the logic concerned in thedistribution of prizes just announced. Nature, he says, had it not in herpower to provide a third prize separate from the first and second; herresource was, to join the first and second in combination: 'To make athird, she joined the former two.'

Such is the abstract of this famous epigram; and, judged simply by theoutline and tendency of the thought, it merits all the vast popularitywhich it has earned. But in the meantime, it is radically vicious asregards the filling in of this outline; for the particular quality inwhich Homer is accredited with the pre-eminence, viz., loftiness ofthought, happens to be a mere variety of expression for that quality,viz. majesty, in which the pre-eminence is awarded to Virgil. Homerexcels Virgil in the very point in which lies Virgil's superiority toHomer; and that synthesis, by means of which a great triumph is reservedto Milton, becomes obviously impossible, when it is perceived that thesupposed analytic elements of this synthesis are blank reiterations ofeach other.

Exceedingly striking it is, that a thought should have prospered for onehundred and seventy years, which, on the slightest steadiness ofexamination, turns out to be no thought at all, but mere blank vacuity.There is, however, this justification of the case, that the mould, the setof channels, into which the metal of the thought is meant to run, reallyhas the felicity which it appears to have: the form is perfect; andit is merely in the matter, in the accidental filling up of the mould,that a fault has been committed. Had the Virgilian point of excellencebeen loveliness instead of majesty, or any word whatever suggestingthe common antithesis of sublimity and beauty; or had it been power on theone side, matched against grace on the other, the true lurking tendency ofthe thought would have been developed, and the sub-conscious purpose ofthe epigram would have fulfilled itself to the letter.

N.B.—It is not meant that loftiness of thought and majesty areexpressions so entirely interchangeable, as that no shades of differencecould be suggested; it is enough that these 'shades' are not substantialenough, or broad enough, to support the weight of opposition which theepigram assigns to them. Grace and elegance, for instance, are farfrom being in all relations synonymous; but they are so to the full extentof any purposes concerned in this epigram. Nevertheless, it is probableenough that Dryden had moving in his thoughts a relation of the wordmajesty, which, if developed, would have done justice to his meaning. Itwas, perhaps, the decorum and sustained dignity of the composition—theworkmanship apart from the native grandeur of the materials—the majesticstyle of the artistic treatment as distinguished from the originalcreative power—which Dryden, the translator of the Roman poet, familiartherefore with his weakness and with his strength, meant in this place topredicate as characteristically observable in Virgil.


[1] 'Six planets;'—No more had then been discovered.


There is nothing extraordinary, or that could merit a special notice, in asimple case of oversight, or in a blunder, though emanating from thegreatest of poets. But such a case challenges and forces our attention,when we know that the particular passage in which it occurs was wroughtand burnished with excessive pains; or (which in this case is also known)when that particular passage is pushed into singular prominence as havingobtained a singular success. In no part of his poetic mission did Pope sofascinate the gaze of his contemporaries as in his functions of satirist;which functions, in his latter years, absorbed all other functions. Andone reason, I believe, why it was that the interest about Pope decayed sorapidly after his death (an accident somewhere noticed by Wordsworth),must be sought in the fact, that the most stinging of his personalallusions, by which he had given salt to his later writings, werecontinually losing their edge, and sometimes their intelligibility, asPope's own contemporary generation was dying off. Pope alleges it as apalliation of his satiric malice, that it had been forced from him in theway of retaliation; forgetting that such a plea wilfully abjures thegrandest justification of a satirist, viz., the deliberate assumption ofthe character as something corresponding to the prophet's mission amongstthe Hebrews. It is no longer the facit indignatio versum. Pope'ssatire, where even it was most effective, was personal and vindictive, andupon that argument alone could not he philosophic. Foremost in the orderof his fulminations stood, and yet stands, the bloody castigation bywhich, according to his own pretence, he warned and menaced (but by which,in simple truth, he executed judgment upon) his false friend, Addison.

To say that this drew vast rounds of applause upon its author, andfrightened its object into deep silence for the rest of his life, like theQuos ego of angry Neptune, sufficiently argues that the verses musthave ploughed as deeply as the Russian knout. Vitriol could not scorchmore fiercely. And yet the whole passage rests upon a blunder; and theblunder is so broad and palpable, that it implies instant forgetfulnessboth in the writer and the reader. The idea which furnishes the basis ofthe passage is this: that the conduct ascribed to Addison is in its ownnature so despicable, as to extort laughter by its primary impulse; butthat this laughter changes into weeping, when we come to understand thatthe person concerned in this delinquency is Addison. The change, thetransfiguration, in our mood of contemplating the offence, is charged uponthe discovery which we are supposed to make as to the person of theoffender; that which by its baseness had been simply comic when imputed tosome corresponding author, passes into a tragic coup-de-theatre,when it is suddenly traced back to a man of original genius. The whole,therefore, of this effect is made to depend upon the sudden scenicaltransition from a supposed petty criminal to one of high distinction. And,meantime, no such stage effect had been possible, since the knowledge thata man of genius was the offender had been what we started with from thebeginning. 'Our laughter is changed to tears,' says Pope, 'as soon as wediscover that the base act had a noble author.' And, behold! the initialfeature in the whole description of the case is, that the libeller was onewhom 'true genius fired:'

'Peace to all such! But were there one whose mind
True genius fires,' &c.

Before the offence is described, the perpetrator is already characterizedas a man of genius: and, in spite of that knowledge, we laugh. Butsuddenly our mood changes, and we weep, but why? I beseech you. Simplybecause we have ascertained the author to be a man of genius.

'Who would not laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?'

The sole reason for weeping is something that we knew already before webegan to laugh.

It would not be right in logic, in fact, it would be a mis-classification,if I should cite as at all belonging to the same group several passages inMilton that come very near to Irish bulls, by virtue of distortedlanguage. One reason against such a classification would lie precisely inthat fact—viz., that the assimilation to the category of bulls lurks inthe verbal expression, and not (as in Pope's case) amongst the conditionsof the thought. And a second reason would lie in the strange circ*mstance,that Milton had not fallen into this snare of diction through anycarelessness or oversight, but with his eyes wide open, deliberatelyavowing his error as a special elegance; repeating it; and well aware ofsplendid Grecian authority for his error, if anybody should be bold enoughto call it an error. Every reader must be aware of the case—

'Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve'—

which makes Adam one of his own sons, Eve one of her own daughters. This,however, is authorized by Grecian usage in the severest writers. Neithercan it be alleged that these might be bold poetic expressions, harmonizingwith the Grecian idiom; for Poppo has illustrated this singular form ofexpression in a prose-writer, as philosophic and austere as Thucydides; aform which (as it offends against logic) must offend equally in alllanguages. Some beauty must have been described in the idiom, such asatoned for its solecism: for Milton recurs to the same idiom, and underthe same entire freedom of choice, elsewhere; particularly in thisinstance, which has not been pointed out: 'And never,' says Satan to theabhorred phantoms of Sin and Death, when crossing his path,

'And never saw till now
Sight more detestable than him and thee.'

Now, therefore, it seems, he had seen a sight more detestable thanthis very sight. He now looked upon something more hateful than X Y Z.What was it? It was X Y Z.

But the authority of Milton, backed by that of insolent Greece, wouldprove an overmatch for the logic of centuries. And I withdraw, therefore,from the rash attempt to quarrel with this sort of bull, involving itselfin the verbal expression. But the following, which lies rooted in the merefacts and incidents, is certainly the most extraordinary practicalbull [1] that all literature can furnish. And a stranger thing, perhaps,than the oversight itself lies in this—that not any critic throughoutEurope, two only excepted, but has failed to detect a blunder somemorable. All the rampant audacity of Bentley—'slashing Bentley'—allthe jealous malignity of Dr. Johnson—who hated Milton without disguise asa republican, but secretly and under a mask would at any rate havehated him from jealousy of his scholarship—had not availed to sharpenthese practised and these interested eyes into the detection of anoversight which argues a sudden Lethean forgetfulness on the part ofMilton; and in many generations of readers, however alive and awake withmalice, a corresponding forgetfulness not less astonishing. Two readersonly I have ever heard of that escaped this lethargic inattention; one ofwhich two is myself; and I ascribe my success partly to good luck, butpartly to some merit on my own part in having cultivated a habit ofsystematically accurate reading. If I read at all, I make it a duty toread truly and faithfully. I profess allegiance for the time to the manwhom I undertake to study; and I am as loyal to all the engagementsinvolved in such a contract, as if I had come under a sacramentummilitare. So it was that, whilst yet a boy, I came to perceive, with awonder not yet exhausted, that unaccountable blunder which Milton hascommitted in the main narrative on which the epic fable of the 'ParadiseLost' turns as its hinges. And many a year afterwards I found that PaulRichter, whose vigilance nothing escaped, who carried with him throughlife 'the eye of the hawk, and the fire therein,' had not failed to makethe same discovery. It is this: The archangel Satan has designs upon man;he meditates his ruin; and it is known that he does. Specially tocounteract these designs, and for no other purpose whatever, a choir ofangelic police is stationed at the gates of Paradise, having (I repeat)one sole commission, viz., to keep watch and ward over the threatenedsafety of the newly created human pair. Even at the very first this dutyis neglected so thoroughly, that Satan gains access without challenge orsuspicion. That is awful: for, ask yourself, reader, how a constable or aninspector of police would be received who had been stationed at No. 6, ona secret information, and spent the night in making love at No. 15.Through the regular surveillance at the gates, Satan passes withoutobjection; and he is first of all detected by a purely accidentalcollision during the rounds of the junior angels. The result of thiscollision, and of the examination which follows, is what no reader canever forget—so unspeakable is the grandeur of that scene between the twohostile archangels, when the Fiend (so named at the moment underthe fine machinery used by Milton for exalting or depressing the ideas ofhis nature) finally takes his flight as an incarnation of darkness,

'And fled
Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of night.

The darkness flying with him, naturally we have the feeling that heis the darkness, and that all darkness has some essential relationto Satan.

But now, having thus witnessed his terrific expulsion, naturally we askwhat was the sequel. Four books, however, are interposed before we reachthe answer to that question. This is the reason that we fail to remark theextraordinary oversight of Milton. Dislocated from its immediate plan inthe succession of incidents, that sequel eludes our notice, which else andin its natural place would have shocked us beyond measure. The simpleabstract of the whole story is, that Satan, being ejected, and sternlycharged under Almighty menaces not to intrude upon the young Paradise ofGod, 'rides with darkness' for exactly one week, and, having digested hiswrath rather than his fears on the octave of his solemn banishment,without demur, or doubt, or tremor, back he plunges into the very centreof Eden. On a Friday, suppose, he is expelled through the main entrance:on the Friday following he re-enters upon the forbidden premises through aclandestine entrance. The upshot is, that the heavenly police suffer, inthe first place, the one sole enemy, who was or could be the object oftheir vigilance, to pass without inquest or suspicion; thus theyinaugurate their task; secondly, by the merest accident (no thanksto their fidelity) they detect him, and with awful adjurations sentencehim to perpetual banishment; but, thirdly, on his immediate return, inutter contempt of their sentence, they ignore him altogether, andapparently act upon Dogberry's direction, that, upon meeting a thief, thepolice may suspect him to be no true man; and, with such manner of men,the less they meddle or make, the more it will be for their honesty.


[1] It is strange, or rather it is not strange, considering thefeebleness of that lady in such a field, that Miss Edgeworth alwaysfancied herself to have caught Milton in a bull, under circ*mstanceswhich, whilst leaving the shadow of a bull, effectually disown thesubstance. 'And in the lowest deep a lower deep still opens to devour me.'This is the passage denounced by Miss Edgeworth. 'If it was already thelowest deep,' said the fair lady, 'how the deuce (no, perhaps it might beI that said 'how the deuce') could it open into a lower deep?' Yes,how could it? In carpentry, it is clear to my mind that it could not.But, in cases of deep imaginative feeling, no phenomenon is more naturalthan precisely this never-ending growth of one colossal grandeur chasingand surmounting another, or of abysses that swallowed up abysses.Persecutions of this class oftentimes are amongst the symptoms of fever,and amongst the inevitable spontaneities of nature. Other people I haveknown who were inclined to class amongst bulls Milton's all-famousexpression of 'darkness visible,' whereas it is not even a bold ordaring expression; it describes a pure optical experience of very commonoccurrence. There are two separate darknesses or obscurities: first, thatobscurity by which you see dimly; and secondly, that obscurity whichyou see. The first is the atmosphere through which vision is performed,and, therefore, part of the subjective conditions essential to the actof seeing. The second is the object of your sight. In a glass-house atnight illuminated by a sullen fire in one corner, but else dark, you seethe darkness massed in the rear as a black object. That is the 'visibledarkness.' And on the other hand, the murky atmosphere between you and thedistant rear is not the object, but the medium, through or athwart whichyou descry the black masses. The first darkness is subjective darkness;that is, a darkness in your own eye, and entangled with your very facultyof vision. The second darkness is perfectly different: it is objectivedarkness; that is to say, not any darkness which affects or modifies yourfaculty of seeing either for better or worse; but a darkness which is theobject of your vision; a darkness which you see projected from yourselfas a massy volume of blackness, and projected, possibly, to a vastdistance.


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