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I. THE APOTHEOSIS
Merriman. Chaps. XXIII. and XXIV.,
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And the white souls that need not chain The darkening streets about me lie,
or bar. The shame, the fret, the squalid jars:
l'ntiring, through its endless corridor But swallows' wings go flashing by
Thou rangest, and the clanking of thy And in the puddles there are stars.
Is music to the captives who would soar, FREDERICK LANG BRIDGE.
And only wait for thee
To draw the bolt, and whisper "Liberty!" HYMN TO DEATH. Lord of the land of darkness, thy do- Helmsman that sittest 'mid the lowering main
dark, Knows not the splendor of the awaken
Patiently stretching forth thy strong ing sun.
right hand O'er its wide fields there waves no yellow To those who fear thee and thy dusky grain,
bark, No lingering glory tells when day is Thou mayest not stay; a wind blows done;
from the land, But everywhere is quietness and peace: The rushing keel pursues the ebbing A land of shadows as of wings out
Thy trembling freight turn eir sad Where strife, and hot desire, and anguish eyes on thine, cease,
That show not doubt or dread, intent and And, regnant in their stead,
grave. Broods the unbroken silence of the dead. For thee, for thee they shine,
Those lights that gleam beyond the hoShepherd that leanest pensive on thy rizon-line.
crook In the low valley of the gathered mist, Master of subtler harmonies than fill Watching with fixed unfathomable look
The upper air where roll the heavenly Yon smiling pastures which the sun hath
Life strikes a thousand cords that soothe Lo! hither come the stragglers from the
Love, hate, revenge, ambition, laughter, Weary stumbling down the rugged steep,
tears; Torn by the briers, bruised by the cruel One note is thine, one note the heart of
rocks. Ah, shepherd, lead thy sheep
Yields to thy touch, then like a broken Gently unto the bourne of rest and sleep.
string Healer of heart-ache, when beneath the
Falls mute, but that clear strain beyond strain Of toil and struggle the tired pulse beats Turning the anthems which the immortals
Of short-lived time shall ring, low,
sing. Or the racked body writhes in throes of
pain, And weeping, round the house the
Great Shadow, when il' visions of the
night mourners go, Calmly thou enterest through the fast
Before our eyes unveiled, thy form hath closed door,
passed, Smiling on those poor souls who cower
And our proud hearts have paid in quick and shrink,
affright Then standing by the sufferer, bendest
Their tribute to thee, silent, sombre, o'er,
vast, And givest him to drink
Have we not seen through and beyond A draught fresh-drawn from blessed
thee rise Lethe's brink.
Between thee and the light that fires the
sunWarder of this great dungeon-palace built The substance thou translatest to our eyes, By Him whose footstool is the farthest
The awful form of One star,
With whom have Time, and Life, and Here lie thy prisoners-spirits stained with
Death begun? guilt,
B. P. NEUMAN.
From The Nineteenth Century. be worse than laughing in church, and THE APOTHEOSIS OF THE NOVEL UNDER almost as bad as making a joke in really QUEEN VICTORIA.
respectable society. The responsibillLet us leave it to the reviewers to abuse ties of intellect are now so widely felt such effusions of fancy at their leisure, that they weigh even where there is no and over every new novel to talk in ground for them. Imagination, if it exists, threadbare strains of the trash with which must be kept within bounds. Humor, or the press now groans. Let us not desert what passes for it, must be sparingly inone another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded dulged. The foundations of belief, the fumore extensive and unaffected pleasure ture of the race, the freedom of the will, than those of any other literary corpora- the unity of history, the limits of political tions in the world, no species of composi- economy, are among the subjects which tion has been so much decried. From haunt the mind without paralyzing the pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are
pen of the latter-day novelist. The almost as many as our readers; and while
"smooth tale, generally of love," has the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of been developed into a representation of the man who collects and publishes in a
the higher life with episodes on ultimate volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, things. I dare say that it is all quite and Prior, with a paper from the Specta- right, and that to read for amusement is tor, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulo- a blunder as well as a sin. If people gized by a thousand pens there seems al- want comedy, they can go to the play. most a general wish of decrying the ca
If they want farce, they can turn to pacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances
politics. The serious novel is for which have only genius, wit and taste to graver moods. But those who love, like recommend them.
Horace, the golden mean may look back
with fondness to the beginning of her So wrote Miss Austen, a woman of
Majesty's reign, when novelists had spirit as well as a woman of genius, at
ceased to be pariahs and had not bethe commencement of the expiring cen
come prigs. tury. Nobody could write so now. The
Perhaps few of us realize the extent eighty years which have elapsed since to which the novel itself is a growth of Jane Austen was laid to rest in Win- the present reign. If we put aside the chester Cathedral have brought no in
great and conspicuous instances of tellectual or moral revolution more Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding, of complete than the apotheosis of the Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, and novel. Sir Walter Scott seriously, and Walter Scott, there is scarcely an Enwith good reason, believed that if he glish novelist now read who died before had put his name to “Waverley” and her Majesty's accession to the throne. “Guy Mannering" he would have in
I am told that superfine people, when jured his reputation as a poet, and even they wish to disparage art, or literature, his character as a gentleman.
or furniture, or individuals, describe novel is published anonymously now
the objects of their contempt as “Early adays, it is in order that the public may Victorian.” In other words, they conbe subsequently informed whose iden- sign them to the same category as tity it is which has been artfully, and Dickens, Thackeray, and Charlotte but for a moment, concealed. The Brontë. The immense and almost unnovel threatens to supersede the pulpit, paralleled popularity of Dickens has, as as the motor-car will supersede the
was inevitable, suffered some diminuomnibus. We have a new class of nov. tion. The social abuses which he elists who take themselves very satirized are for the most part extinct. seriously, and well they may. Their The social habits which he chronicled works are seldom intended to raise a have largely disappeared. The taste for smile. They are designed less for "wallowing naked in the pathetic" is amusement than for instruction, so that not what it was. A generation has to read them in a spirit of levity would arisen which can be charitable without
waiting for Christmas, and cheerful strange to realize that "Pickwick" and without drinking to excess. But these “Oliver Twist" were actually coming out are small points, and it is impossible to at the same time. “Oliver Twist" beimagine a time when Dickens will not gan to run in January, 1837, and conbe regarded as one of the great masters tinued till March, 1839. "Oliver Twist," of English fiction. The late Master of again, was overlapped by “Nicholas Balliol, a keen and fastidious critic, a Nickleby," which lasted from April, refined and delicate scholar, regarded 1838, to October, 1839. Three such Dickens as beyond comparison the first books in little more than three years is writer of his time. When the queen a feat which no other British novelist came to the throne, “Pickwick” was ap- has achieved, except Sir Walter Scott. pearing in monthly parts. The first They proved to the benighted “Early number was issued in April, 1836, the Victorians” that in the days of effete last in November, 1837. It is a curious Whiggery and Bedchamber plots coincidence that in June, 1837, when the genius of the highest order had apcrown actually passed from William the peared. Miss Martineau could never Fourth to Victoria, the death of the forgive Dickens for having in “Oliver author's sister-in-law suspended the Twist" confounded the new Poor-law publication. “Pickwick" had burst with the old. That is not literary critupon the world as an entire novelty. icism. But it must be admitted that No other English novelist who was then Dickens, though not intellectually a writing survives now except Disraeli Socialist, was a very sentimental poliand Bulwer, as different from Dickens, tician. He hated political economy, to say nothing of their inferiority, as and he coupled with it the name of Sir chalk from cheese.
Robert Peel. A gushing and impulsive The imitators of Dickens, so numer- benevolence, which in Dickens's case ous and so tiresome, are apt, illogically was thoroughly genuine, is often enough, to make people forget that he offended by the cold blooded temper and was among the most original of all cautious methods of parliamentary writers. It is the language of compli- statesmanship. When Dickens began ment and not of detraction to call him to write, public affairs were on rather a the Cockney's Shakespeare. In Shake- low level, and were conducted on rather speare he was steeped. His favorite a small scale. Dickens's early work novelist was Smollett. But his art was was a more or less conscious revolt all his own. He was the Hogarth of against fashionable lethargy and conliterature, painting with a broad brush, ventional shams. His novels, unlike never ashamed of caricature, but al. Thackeray's, were in a sense a part of ways an artist, and not a dauber. politics. They were meant to affect, There is little or no resemblance be- and they did affect, the political temper tween Falstaff and Sam Weller. But of the nation. I sometimes wonder that they are the two comic figures which the Independent Labor Party do not have most thoroughly seized upon the make more of Dickens. For Dickens, English mind. Touchstone and Mr. though he did not trouble himself much Micawber may be each a finer specimen about abstract propositions, was posof his creator's powers. They are not, sessed with the idea that both political however, quite so much to the taste of parties were engaged in preying upon all readers. They require a little more the public. fineness of palate. Sam Weller is, and To Dickens as an historical novelist seems likely to remain, the ideal Lon- imperfect justice has been done. The doner. We cannot hear his pronuncia- “Tale of Two Cities" is said to be most tion. We get his humor without its admired by those who admire Dickens drawbacks. The defects are absent the least. A similar remark has been from his qualities. He has not even the made of "Esmond." The “Tale of Two appalling gluttony which distinguishes Cities" is founded upon Carlyle's Mr. Pickwick and his friends. It seems "Frenci. Revolution." It has no humor, or next to none. But it is a marvellous wickian Club, when Mr. Pickwick in his piece of writing; the plot, though sim- controversy with Mr. Blotton of Aldple, is excellent, and, whatever may be gate would not put up to be put down by thought about the genuineness of the clamor, was taken from a parliamenpathos in “Dombey and Son," or the "Old tary duel between Canning and Peel. Curiosity Shop," the tragedy of Sidney Bardell v. Pickwick is a travesty of Carton is a tragedy indeed. The use of Norton v. Norton and Lord Melbourne. Christ's words, especially of words I am afraid there is some truth in the which occur in the Burial Service of the tradition that Mr. Pecksniff was inChurch of England, is always a danger- tended to express the sentiments of the ous experiment. But at the end of the illustrious Sir Robert. The family of "Tale of Two Cities,” Dickens has justi- the Tite Barnacles might be easily fieu it by the reverence and the dignity identified, if the process were worth the of his tone. “Barnaby Rudge," the trouble. But Dickens's dramatic instory of Lord George Gordon and his stinct was the strongest of his qualities, riots, is, I cannot help thinking, an un- so strong that it overmastered all the derrated book. The execution of the others, except his humor, which was, executioner may be melodramatic. But perhaps, a part of it. For his humor nobody who has read the passage can hardly any praise can be too high. It ever forget it, and the rant of Sim has every merit except the depth and Tappertit deserves immortality as much subtlety which are found only in the as the name of Dolly Varden. Of greatest masters of all. About his course Dickens's historical knowledge pathos there always have been, and was neither wide nor deep. His most probably there always will be, two popular history is “David Copperfield,” opinions. It differs in different books, the history of himself, his own favorite and even in the same book. It differs, among his own books, and a remarkable I should say, in kind as well as in deexception to the rule that an author is gree. Little Vell and Sidney Carton the worst judge of his own perform- scarcely seem to have common origin. ances. I take it that the key to a proper When the old washerwoman denied that understanding of Dickens and his work one person could have written the is to be found in the master-passion of whole of "Dombey and Son,” she perthe man. Dickens was a born actor. haps only meant to express enthusiastic When he was not performing in private admiration. But people sometimes theatricals himself, he liked best to be mean more than they know. If any one at the play. The famous soliloquy of will compare the death of Mrs. Dombey Jaques expressed his philosophy of life with the death of little Paul, he must iar more thoroughly than it expressed be struck by the impressive beauty of Shakespeare's. To Dickens all the the one scene and the harrowing extenworld was a stage, and all the men and nation of the other. It is hardly women merely players. When he strange that there should be controversy wrote, he had in his mind not so much when evidence can be produced on both the way in which things would have sides. Dickens had a singularly simple happened as the way in which they and straightforward character. When would act. There is no “realism" in he meant to be funny he was rollicking. Dickens, if realism means the worship He was irresistible even to Sydney of the literal. He drew, no doubt, as Smith, who held out against the new everybody must draw, from his own humorist as long as he could. When experience. He had the keenest eye for he meant to be pathetic he piled up the outward facts. Nothing on the surface agony with vigor. He kept the two eluded his observation or escaped his things apart. There is no humorous elememory. He made ample use of his ment in his pathos, and no pathetic eleearly opportunities as a reporter in the ment in his humor. He could not have House of Commons and the courts of drawn a Mercutio if he had tried, and he law. The famous debate in the Pick- knew better than to try. He has been