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Men of an elevated soul propose to them
selves, as the object of life, to be the deThe first part of Don Quixote was published fenders of the weak, the support of the in 1605. We have no reason, I believe, to oppressed, the champions of justice and suppose it was written long before. It became innocence. Like Don Quixote, they find on immediately popular; and the admiration every side the image of the virtues they of the world raised up envious competitors, worship: they believe that disinterestedone of whom, Avellanada, published a con- ness, nobleness, courage, in short, knighttinuation in a strain of invective against the errantry, are still prevalent, and, with no author. Cervantes, who cannot be imagined calculation of their own powers, they expose to have ever designed the leaving his romance themselves as a sacrifice to the laws and in so unfinished a state, took time about the rules of an imaginary state of society." second part, which did not appear until 1615. If this were a true representation of the
Don Quixote is the only book in the scheme of Don Quixote, we cannot wonder Spanish language which can now be said that some persons should, as M. Sismondi to possess
much of a European reputation. tells they do, consider it as the most melanIt has, however, enjoyed enough to compen- choly book that has ever been written. sate for the neglect of all the rest. It is to They consider it also, no doubt, one of the Europe in general what Ariosto is to Italy, most immoral, as chilling and pernicious in and Shakspere to England ; the one book its influence on the social converse of manto which the slightest allusions may be made kind, as the “ Prince" of Machiavel is on without affectation, but not missed without their political intercourse..“ Cervantes," he discredit. Numerous translations and count- proceeds, " has shown us, in some measure, less editions of them, in every language, be the vanity of greatness of soul, and the speak its adaptation to mankind; no critic delusion of heroism. He has drawn in Don has been paradoxical enough to withhold Quixote a perfect man (un homme accompli), his admiration, no reader has ventured to who is nevertheless the constant object of confess a want of relish for that in which ridicule. Brave beyond the fabled knights the young and old, in every climate, have, he imitates, disinterested, honourable, genage after age, taken delight. They have, erous, the most faithful and respectful of doubtless, believed that they understood the lovers, the best of masters, the most accomauthor's meaning: and, in giving the reins plished and well educated of gentlemen, all to the gaiety that his fertile invention and his enterprises end in discomfiture to himcomic humour inspired, never thought of self, and in mischief to others.” M. Sisany deeper meaning than he announces, or mondi descants on the perfections of the delayed their enjoyment for any metaphys- Knight of La Mancha with a gravity which ical investigation of his plan.
is not quite easy for his readers to preserve. A new school of criticism, however, has It might be answered by a phlegmatic obof late years arisen in Germany, acute, in- server, that a mere enthusiasm for doing genious, and sometimes eminently successful good, if excited by vanity, and not accomin philosophical, or, as they denominate it, panied by common sense, will seldom be æsthetic analysis of works of taste, but glid- very serviceable to ourselves or to others; ing too much into refinement and conjectural that men who, in their heroism and care for hypothesis, and with a tendency to mislead the oppressed, would throw open the cages men of inferior capacities for this kind of in- of lions, and set galley-slaves at liberty, not vestigation into mere paradox and absurdity. forgetting to break the limbs of harmless An instance is supplied, in my opinion, by persons whom they mistake for wrong-doers, some remarks of Bouterwek, still more ex- are a class of whom Don Quixote is the real plicitly developed by Sismondi, on the de- type ; and that the world being much the siyn of Cervantes in Don Quixote, and which worse for such heroes, it might not be imhave been repeated in other publications. moral, notwithstanding their benevolent enAccording to these writers, the primary idea thusiasm, to put them out of countenance is that of a man of elevated character, by a little ridicule. This, however, is not, excited by heroic and enthusiastic feelings as I conceive, the primary aim of Certo the extravagant pitch of wishing to re- vantes; nor do I think that the exhibition store the age of chivalry: nor is it possible of one great truth, as the predominant, but to form a more mistaken notion of this concealed moral of a long work, is in the work, than by considering it merely as a spirit of his age. Ile possessed a very satire, intended by the author to ridicule the thoughtful mind and a profound knowledge absurd passion for reading old romances." of humanity; yet the generalization which “ The fundamental idea of Don Quixote,' the hypothesis of Bouterwek and Sismondi says Sismondi,“ is the eternal contrast be requires for the leading conceptions of Don tween the spirit of poetry and that of prose. | Quixote, besides its being a little inconsist
ent with the valorous and romantic charac- personality. Hence we find in all this secter of its author, belongs to a more advanced ond part, that, although the lunacy as to period of philosophy than his own. It will, knights-errant remains unabated, he is, on at all events, I presume, be admitted that all other subjects, not only rational in the we cannot reason about Don Quixote except low sense of the word, but clear, acute, profrom the book, and I think it may be shown found, sarcastic, cool-headed. His philosin a few words that these ingenious writers ophy is elevated, but not enthusiastic: his have been chiefly misled by some want of imagination is poetical, but it is restrained consistency which circumstances produced by strong sense
. There are, in fact, two in the author's delineation of his hero. Don Quixotes: one whom Cervantes first
In the first chapter of this romance, Cer- designed to draw, the foolish gentleman of vantes, with a few strokes of a great master, La Mancha, whose foolishness had made sets before us the pauper gentleman, an early him frantic; the other a highly-gifted, acriser and keen sportsman, who, when he complished model of the best chivalry, was idle, which was most part of the year," trained in all the court, the camp, or the gave himself up to reading books of chivalry college could impart, but scathed in one till he lost his wits. The events that follow portion of his mind by an inexplicable visiare in every one's recollection : his lunacy tation of monomania. One is inclined to consists, no doubt, only in one idea ; but ask why this Don Quixote, who is Cervanthis is so absorbing that it perverts the evi- tes, should have been more likely to lose dence of his senses, and predominates in all his intellects by reading romances than his language. It is to be observed, there Cervantes himself. As a matter of bodily fore, in relation to the nobleness of soul disease, such an event is doubtless possible; ascribed to Don Quixote, that every senti- but nothing can be conceived more improper ment he utters is borrowed with a punctil- for fiction, nothing more incapable of affordious rigour from the romances of his library: ing a moral lesson than the insanity which he resorts to them on every occasion for pre- arises wholly from disease. Insanity is in cedents. If he is intrepidly brave, it is be- no point of view a theme for ridicule; and cause his madness and vanity have made this is an inherent fault of the romance him believe himself unconquerable; if he (for those who have imagined that Cervanbestows kingdoms, it is because Amadis tes has not rendered Quixote ridiculous, would have done the same; if he is honour- have a strange notion of the word); but able, courteous, a redresser of wrongs, it is the thoughtlessness of mankind, rather than in pursuance of these prototypes, from their insensibility, for they do not connect whom, except that he seems rather more madness with misery, furnishes some apolscrupulous in chastity, it is his only boast ogy for the first two volumes. In propornot to diverge. Those who talk of the ex- tion as we perceive, below the veil of menalted character of Don Quixote seem really tal delusion, a noble intellect, we feel a to forget, that, on these subjects, he has no painful sympathy with its humiliation; the character at all: he is the echo of romance; character becomes more complicated and and to praise him is merely to say, that the interesting, but has less truth and naturaltone of chivalry, which these productions ness: an objection which might also be studied to keep up, and, in the hands of made, comparatively speaking, to the inciinferior artists, foolishly exaggerated, was dent in the latter volumes, wherein I do not full of moral dignity, and has, in a subdued find the admirable probability that reigns degree of force, modelled the character of a through the former. : . . But this contrast man of honour in the present day. But of wisdom and virtue with insanity in the throughout the first two volumes of Don same subject, would have been repulsive in Quixote, though in a few unimportant pas- the primary delineation, as I think any one sages he talks rationally, I cannot find more may judge by supposing Cervantes had, in than two in which he displays any other the first chapter, drawn such a picture of knowledge or strength of mind than the Quixote as Bouterwek and Sismondi have original delineation of the character would drawn for him. have led us to expect.
I must, therefore, venture to think as, I The case is much altered in the last two believe, the world has generally thought for volumes. Cervantes had acquired an im- two centuries, that Cervantes had no more mense popularity, and perceived the oppor: profound aim than he proposes to the reader. tunity, of which he had already availed If the fashion of reading bad romances of himself, that this romance gave for display- chivalry perverted the taste of his contempoing his own mind. He had become attached raries, and rendered their language ridicuto a hero who had made himn illustrious, and lous, it was natural that a zealous lover of suffered himself to lose sight of the clear good literature should expose this folly to outline he bad once traced for Quixote's | the world by exaggerating its effects on a fic
personage. It has been said by some died at his seat at Cannes, France, May 9, modern writer, though I cannot remember 1868. Works: Inquiry into the Colonial by whom, that there was a prose side in the Policy of the European Powers, Lond., 1803, mind of Cervantes. There was indeed a side 2 vols. 8vo ; Discourse of Natural Theology, of calm strong sense, which some take for Lond., 1835, p. 8vo; Dissertations on Subunpoetical. Ile thought the tone of those jects of Science Connected with Natural romances extravagant. It might naturally Theology, Lond., 1839, 2 vols. p. 8vo (the occur how absurd any one must appear who two preceding works are commonly adjoined should attempt to realize in actual life the to Lord Broughain and Sir Charles Bell's adventures of Amadis. Already a novelist, edition of Paley's Natural Theology, Lond., he perceived the opportunities this idea sug- 1836, 2. vols. p. 8vo: in all 5 vols., or gested. It was a necessary consequence abridged, Knight's shilling volumes, 1853, that the hero must be represented as liter- 4 vols. 18mo); Speeches, Edin., 1838, 4 vols ally insane, since his conduct would have 8vo; Speeches, Lond., 1843, 4 vols. 8vo; been extravagant beyond the probability of Ilistorical Sketches of Statesmen who flour fiction on any other hypothesis; and from ished in the Time of George III., Lond., this happy conception germinated, in a very 1839-43. 3 vols. 8vo; Political Philosophy, prolific mind, the whole history of Don Lond., 1810-44, 3 vols. 850, 3d edit., 1853, Quixote. Its simplicity is perfect; no limit new edit., 1861, 3 vols. 8vo; Albert Lunel; could be found save the author's discretion, or, The Chateau of Languedoc, Lond., 1814, 3 or sense, that he had drawn sufficiently on vols. post 8vo: suppressed, but republished ; his imagination ; but the death of Quixote, Lives of Men of Letters and Science of the which Cervantes has been said to have de- Time of George III., Lond., 1815–46, 3 vols. termined upon lest some one else should a royal 8vo; Contributions to the Edinburgh second time presume to continue the story, Review, Glasg., 1856, 3 vols. 8ro (he was cois in fact the only possible termination that founder with Jeffrey, Murray, and Sydney could be given after he had elevated the Smith of the Edinburgh Review); other pubcharacter to that pitch of mental dignity lications. Works collected by himself, Edin., which we find in the last two volumes. 1855–57, 10 vols. post 8vo. Ilis Autobiog
Few books of moral philosophy display raphy, Lond., 3 vols. 8vo, appeared after his as deep an insight into the mechanism of death. See also his Life by J. McGilchrist, mind as Don Quixote. And when we look Lond., fr. 8vo, Lord Campbell's Lives of also at the fertility of invention, the general | the Lord Chancellors, and Selections from the probability of events, and the great sim- Correspondence of the Late Macrey Napier, plicity of the story, wherein no artifices are Esq., Edited by his Son, Macvey Napier, practised to create suspense or complicate Lond., 1879, 8vo. Index, p. 544. the action, we shall think Cervantes fully de- Lord Brougham gnined distinction by his serving of the glory that attends this mono- proficiency in many departments: as a natment of his genius. It is not merely that ural philosopher, a political philosopher, an he is superior to all his predecessors and essayist, an orator, an historian, a biog; contemporaries. This, though it might ac-rapher,' a pleader, and a fair classical count for the European fame of his romance, scholar. Ilis efforts for the Diffusion of would be an inadequate testimony to its de- Useful Knowledge deserve all praise. sert. Cervantes stands on an eminence below which we must place the best of his
SIR WILLIAM GRANT. We have only to compare him with Le Sage or Fielding to judge of his We have now named in some respects the vast superiority. To Scott, indeed, he must most extraordinary individual of his time,-. yield in the variety of his power ; but in the one certainly than whom none ever better line of comic romance, we should hardly sustained the judicial ofice, though its functhink Scott his equal.
tions were administered by him upon a someIntroduction to the Literature of Europe. what contracted scale, -one than whom
none ever descended from the forum into the senate with more extraordinary powers of
argumentation, or flourished there with HENRY BROUGHAM, LORD BROUGHAM,
greater renown. It happened to this great
judge to have been for many years at the born in Edinburgh, Sept. 19, 1778, and edu- bar with a very moderate share of practice; cated at the High School and the University and although his parliamentary exertions of that city, after a brilliant career in the never tore him away from his profession, yet House of Commons, became Lord Chancellor his public character rested entirely upon of England, and was raised to the peerage their success until he was raised to the as Baron Brougham and Vaux, Nov. 1830; | bench.
The genius of the man then shone forth tacle which afforded true delight to every with extraordinary lustre. His knowledge person of sound judgment and pure taste. of law, which had hitherto been scanty, and After a long and silent bearing, -a hearing never enlarged by practice, was now ex- of all that could be urged by the counsel of panded to whatever dimensions might seem every party,-unbroken by a single word, required for performing his high office ; nor and when the spectator of Sir William Grant was he ever remarked as at all deficient even (for he was not heard) might suppose that his in the branch most difficult to master without mind had been absent from a scene in which forensic habits, the accomplishments of a he took no apparent share, the debate was case-lawyer: while his familiarity with the closed, -the advocate's hour was passed, principles of jurisprudence and his knowl- the parties were in silent expectation of the edge of their foundations were ample, as event, -the hall no longer resounded with his application of them was easy and mas- any voice,-it seemed as if the affair of the terly. The Rolls Court, however, in those day for the present was over, and the court days, was one of comparatively contracted was to adjourn, or to call for another cause. business; and although he gave the most No! The judge's time had now arrived, and entire satisfaction there, and in presiding at another artist was to fill the scene. The the Privy Council in Prize and Plantation great magistrate began to pronounce his Appeals, a doubt was always raised by the judgment, and every eye and every ear were admirers of Lord Eldon whether Sir William åt length fixed upon the bench. Forth came Grant could have as well answered the larger a strain of clear unbroken fluency, disposing demands upon his judicial resources, had he alike, in most luminous order, of all the facts presided in the Court of Chancery. That and of all the arguments in the cause; redoubt appears altogether unfounded. He ducing into clear and simple arrangement possessed the first great quality for despatch- the most entangled masses of broken and ing business (the ** real' and not " affected conflicting statement; weighing each matter, despatch" of Lord Bacon), a power of steadily and disposing of each in succession ; settling fixing his attention upon the matter before one doubt by a parenthetical remark; passhim, and keeping it invariably directed ing over another difficulty by a reason only towards the successive arguments addressed more decisive that it was condensed ; and to him. The certainty that not a word was giving out the whole impression of the case, lost deprived the advocate of all excuse for in every material view, upon the judge's repetition; while the respect which his judge mind, with argument enough to show why inspired checked needless prolixity, and he so thought, and to prove him right, and deterred him from raising desperate points without so much reasoning as to make you merely to have them frowned down by a forget that it was a judgment you were heartribunal as severe as it was patient. Ile had ing, by overstepping the bounds which disnot indeed to apprehend any interruption : tinguish a judgment from a speech. This is that was a course never practised in those the perfection of judicial eloquence: not days at the Rolls or the Cockpit; but while avoiding argument, but confining it to such the judge sat passive and unmoved it was reasoning as beseems him who has rather to plain that though his powers of endurance explain the grounds of his own conviction, had no limits, his powers of discriminating than to labour at convincing others; not were ever active, as his attention was ever rejecting reference to authority, but never awake; and as it required an eminent hardi- betokening a disposition to seek shelter hood to place base coin before so scrutinizing behind other men's names for what he might an eye, or tender light money to be weighed fear to pronounce in his own person ; not in such accurate scales as Sir William Grant's, disdaining even ornaments, but those of the so few men ventured to exercise a patience more chastened graces that accord with the which yet all knew to be unbounded. It severe standard of a judge's oratory. This may, indeed, be fairly doubted whether the perfection of judicial eloquence Sir William main force of muscular exertion, so much Grant attained, and its effect upon all lisinore clumsily applied by Sir John Leach in teners was as certain and as powerful as its the same court to effect the great object of merits were incontestable and exalted. his efforts,—the close compression of the In parliament he is unquestionably to be debate,--ever succeeded so well, or reduced classed with speakers of the first order. His the mass to as small a bulk, as the delicate style was peculiar: it was that of the closest hydraulic press of his illustrious predecessor
sor and severest reasoning ever heard in any did, without giving the least pain to the ad- popular assembly ; reasoning which would vocate, or in any one instance obstructing have been reckoned close in the argumentathe course of calm, deliberate, and unwearied tion of the bar or the dialectics of the justice.
schools. It was, from the first to the last, The court in those days presented a spec- throughout, pure reason, and the triumph
of pure reason. All was sterling, all per- Yet in this purely intellectual picture there fectly plain; there was po point in the remains to be noted a discrepancy, a want diction, no illustration in the topics, no or- of keeping, something more than a shade. nament of fancy in the accompaniments. The commanding intellect, the close reasoner, The language was choice,-perfectly clear, who could overpower other men's underabundantly correct, quite concise, admira- standing by the superior force of his own, bly suited to the matter which the words was the slave of his own prejudices to such clothed and conveyed. In so far it was fe- an extent, that he could see only the perils licitous, no farther; nor did it ever leave of revolution in any reformation of our inbehind it any impression of the diction, but stitutions, and never conceived it possible only of the things said: the words were that the monarchy could be safe, or that forgotten, for they had never drawn off the anarchy could be warded off, unless all attention for a moment from the things; things were maintained upon the same footthose things were alone remembered. No ing on which they stood in early, unenspeaker was more easily listened to; none lightened, and inexperienced ages of the 80 difficult to answer. Once Mr. Fox, when world. The signal blunder, which Bacon
was hearing him with a view to making long ago exposed, of confounding the youth that attempt, was irritated in a way very un- with the age of the species, was never comwonted to his sweet temper by the conversa-mitted by any one more glaringly than by this tion of some near him, even to the show of great reasoner. lle it was who first emsome crossness, and (after an exclamation) ployed the well-known phrase of the “wissharply said, “Do you think it so very dom of our ancestors ;' and the menaced pleasant a thing to have to answer a speech innovation, to stop which he applied it, was on which this great reasoner was observed the step of reform, almost imperceptibly to be most injured by a reply, were in that small, of subjecting men's real property to of Mr. Wilberforce quoting Clarendon's re- the payment of all their debts. marks on the conduct of the judges in the Historical Sketches of Statesmen, etc. Ship Money case, when Sir William Grant had undertaken to defend his friend Lord
CONDITION OF THE CAINESE. Melville; and in that of Lord Lansdowne (then Lord Henry Petty), three years later, The universal respect in which learning when the legality of the famous Orders in is held, and the privileges allowed to it, Council was debated. Here, however, the have not, however, made the Chinese carry speech was made on the one day, and the far their cultivation of it. They afford, on answer, able and triumphant as it was, fol- the contrary, a singular instance of a nation lowed on the next.
early making some progress, and then stopIt may safely be said that a long time will ping short for ages ; of a people, all of whom elapse before there shall arise such a light possess the instruments of education, the to illuminate either the senate or the bench, means of acquiring knowledge,-a people as the eminent person whose rare excellence most of whom have actually acquired some we have just been pausing to contemplate. knowledge, and yet none of whom have That excellence was no doubt limited in its ever gone beyond the most elementary sphere: there was no imagination, no vehe- studies. This can only be ascribed to the mence, no declamation, no wit; but the absolute form of their government, and the sphere was the highest, and in that highest manisest intention which the sovereigns sphere its place was lofty. The understand have always had to limit the literary acquiing alone was addressed by the understand-sitions of their subjects. The advantages ing. The faculties that distinguish our of keeping quiet and indolent a people so nature were those over which the oratory of numerous as to be able to crush almost any Sir William Grant asserted its control. 'His ruler, and the means of tranquillity which sway over the rational and intellectual por- elementary lessons like those of Confucius tion of mankind was that of a more power- and his school bestowed, if they were ful reason, a more vigorous intellect, than thoroughly learnt, and became, as it were, theirs ; a sway which no man had cause for mixed up with the nature of the people, being ashamed of admitting, because the could not escape the Chinese monarchs. victory was won by superior force of argu- They had a people to deal with whom they ment; a sway which the most dignified and found it easy to occupy with such pursuits, exalted genius might hold without stooping and with the innumerable customs and cerefrom its highest pinnacle, and which some monies which the sacred writings inculcate who might not deign to use inferior arts of together with far better things. The occupersuasion could find no objection whatever pation was more than harmless,—it was most to exercise.
useful in extinguishing fierce and turbulent