« ПредишнаНапред »
MR. TUPPER'S WORK AS A POET.
It is well lighted, is easy of access, and its situation is most picturesque. The number of objects found in this cave is enormous, and would appear to point to an extended period of occupation by these primitive people. The grand Irou de Chcdeux, as M. Van Benedcu has proposed to call it, has also been subjected to the inundation, but the contents have been preserved almost intact, and this circumstance gives a value to the discoveries which was to some extent wanting in the Furfooz caves. According to M. Dupont's theory, the former inhabitants of the cave, warned by the dangerous cracks in the walls and ceiling, suddenly abandoned their dwelling-place, leaving behind them their tools, ornaments, and the remains of their meals. Soon afterwards the roof and sides fell in, and the pieces thus detached covered the floor. In this manner the remains have been preserved from the action of the waters, and have remained undisturbed until the present day. The unfortunate inhabitants doubtless saw in this occurrence the manifestation of a superior power, since the cavern does not appear to have been inhabited after this period, only a fuw worked flints and bones, probably the result of an occasional visit, having been discovered on the upper surface of the cavern.
An important point seems to be established by M. Dupont's researches, — viz. the extended commercial relations of these primitive peoples. The flint which was used for the manufacture of their implements is not that of Belgium, but, according to M. de Alortillet, was brought from Touraine. Several specimens of fossil shells, most of which had been perforated, probably for the purpose of being strung together, and worn as ornaments, were collected, and were submitted to M. Nyst, the wellknown paleontologist. lie recognized most of them as belonging to the calcaire grassier of Courtagnon, near Rhcims. Two species belonged to the department of Scine-et-Oise. Some fragments of jet and a few sharks' teeth were from the same locality. "We cannot therefore deny," says M. Dupont," the relations of these men with Champagne, whilst there is no evidence to show their connection with Hainaut and the province of Liege, which could have also furnished them with their flint."
Amongst other objects brought to light during the excavations were the forearm of an elephant, which appears to be that of the mammoth of Siberia, an animal which did not exist in Belgium at that <• | >», 11
"When we reflect that, till within a comparatively short time, these bones were looked upon as those of a race of giants, and gifted with miraculous powers, we cannot be surprised that our inhabitants of the caverns of the Lessc, whose civilization may be compared to that of those African nations who are sunk in the darkest depths of fetichism, attributed similar properties to those enormous bones which were placed as a fetich near their hearth."
Judging from the quantity of bones found in the cavern, the principal food of these cave-dwellers was the ill -li of the horse. M Dupont collected nine hundred and thirty-seven molar teeth belonging to thU animal, a number which corresponds to about forty heads, supposing each set of teeth to be complete. The marrow seems to have been in great request, all the long bones having been broken, so as to extract it- Most of them, retain traces of incisions made by their flint tools. The large number of bones of water-rats would also lead us to suppose that they formed a part of the food of these people, as did the badger, hare, and boar.
The number of objects obtained from this cavern is greater than that obtained from the whole of the caves previously explored. Of worked flints, in various stages of manufacture, thirty thousand were collected. Besides these, M. Dupont obtained several cubic metres of bones of all kinds, the horses' teeth already mentioned, and a vast quantity of miscellaneous articles.
The facts acquired by the excavations at Chaleux, combined with those obtained at the Furfooz caves, form a striking picture of the early ages of man in Belgium. "These ancient people and their customs reappear, after having been forgotten for thousands of years, and like the fabulous bird in whose ashes are found the germ of a new life, antujuity becomes regenerated from its own debris. We see them in their dark, subterranean dwellings, surrounding the hearth, which is protected by toe supernatural power of immense, fantastically-shaped bones, engaged in patiently making their flint tools and utensils of reindeer horn, in the midst of pestilential emanations from the animal remains, which their indifference allowed them to retain in their dwelling. The skins of wild beasts, having the hair removed, were stitched together by the aid of their sharpened flints and ivory needles, and served as clothing. We see them pursuing wild animals, armed with arrows and lances tipped with a barb of flint. We take part in; their fuasts, where a horse, bear, or reindeer replaces, on days when their hunting lias been successful, the tainted flesh of the rat, their only resource against famine. Their trading extended as far as the regions now forming part of France, from whose inhabitants they obtained shells, jet, with which they delight to ornament themselves, and the flint which is so valuable to them. But a falling-iii of the roof drives them from their principal dwelling, in which lie buried the objects of their faith and their domestic utensils, and they are
forced to seek another habitation We know
nothing certain of the relation of these people with those of earlier times. Had they ancestors in this country? The great discoveries of our illustrious compatriot Schmerling, and those which Professor Malaise has made at Engihoul, seem to prove that the men whose traces I have brought to bght on the Lesse did not belong to the indigenous races of Belgium, but were only the successors of the more ancient population. I have even met with certain evidences of our primordial ancestors at Chaleux, but the trail was lost as soon as found. Our knowledge of these ancestors stops short at this point."
We have given in the above abstract an account of the most important features in M. Dupont's report, which is of great interest. We trust that these explorations, which have been carried on at the expense of the government, will be continued.
the rich double blossoms and heavy hyacinth-like odors of a style so saturated with sentiment, till they learned to long for the beauty they had at first despised. The same may be said with even more obvious truth of the rugged humor and keen imaginative fidelity of Mr. Browning's muse. And so we cannot wonder that it is comparatively late in his career before Martin Farquhar Tupper has wrung for himself the vacant throne waiting tor him among the immortals, and after a long and glorious term of popularity among those who know when their heart* are touched without being able to justify their taste to the intellect, has been adopted by the suffrage of mankind and the final decree of publishers into the same rank with Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Browning. Mr. Tupper is quite conscious that the critical moment of his fame has at length arrived. In a preface marked by his usual sententious wisdom, he explains why he asked the admission which has not been denied him to this brotherhood of poets: —
"It has occurred to me to request the famous poetical Sosii of Dover Street to authorize a Selection from my various Rhymes and Rhythms in Moxon's Miniature Series, and aware (as I needs must be by this time) that I have readers and friends in many nooks and corners of our habitable globe, I have done my best to fill this niche, and to answer my publishers' purpose as well as my own, by grouping as a Selection, not alone several such poems as the world has been kind enough heretofore to mint-mark with its approbation, but also some that have been found fault with, and others that are quite new. A man who has run the gauntlet of so-called criticism fearlessly and successfully for wellnigh thirty years, is not at this hour careful to catch vain praises, or to escape from as vain censures. Let us all retain our opinions peaceably; and if any one will honestly judge an author, let him first read his works, — the very last thing thought of by certain professional critics. Englishmen, nowever, of every class, arc in the main lovers of fair play, especially when all that is asked of them is an open field and no favor. To such I commend this beautifully printed volume as a mere book specimen worthy of the Elzevirs.
"martis F. Tupper.
"Alburt, December, 1866."
A man of less accurate mind would have thought it needless to point out that his popularity extends only to the habitable globe, but it is one of the distinctions which has endeared Mr. Tupper to his many admirers, that he brings out into clear view those universal and half-unconscious assumptions of human thought, the indisputable character of which is recognized as soon as they are put down in his massive and lucid English before the readers. The public will hail with satisfaction the award which assigns Mr. Tupper his place beside the great poets of our generation, and we cannot doubt that the noble company of the great poets who strove in vain for that recognition which Mr. Tupper has gloriously achieved, will rise up to ratify the judgment: —
"The inheritors of unfulfilled renown
"And many more whose names on earth ore dork,
Rose robed in dazzling immortality.
'Thou art become as one of us,' they cry;
'It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long
Swung blind in unascended majesty,
Silent atone amid a heaven of song.
Assume thy winged throne, thou Vespor of our throng.'"
If such a winged throne could be kept for Keats, with his rich and sensuous but unhuman imaginings, how much larger and steadier a seat must be reserved for the graceful, intellectual embonpoint, the large, full-bottomed humanity of Tuppcr's cheery genius. Oblivion never "shrank like a thing reproved" as it shrinks beneath the accents we have already quoted of our own domestic poet, no less "sublimely mild" than Sidney's. Tupper indeed has not yet left us, and long may his throne swing kingless in unascended majesty, if that soft vesper light is to set for us before it rises for them. But this is at least the moment which prefigures his reception among the immortals, and the fitting time therefore to say a word of his extraordinary powers.
As we began by remarking, Tupper has formed the taste which he satisfies. To one not familiar with Tupper there is a certain disappointment at first, such, as many complained of in reading, for instance, Wordsworth's lines written near Tintern Abbey, in the meditative egotism which may be observed in him no less than in Wordsworth. The disciples of Wordsworth are reconciled to this by the necessarily prophetic character of those who bring new lessons to mankind. As a thoughtful critic wrote, "It came to pass in those days that William Wordsworth went up into the hills." And that no doubt suggested the true character of Wordsworth's poetic mission. With Mr. Tupper the explanation is somewhat different. He, too, as he tells us, "magnifies his office," but the egotism essential to him is not a mere consequence of the simplest way of reporting the thoughts which came to the writer, as in Wordsworth's ca«e, for he is not so much the mere canal of his thoughts, the aqueduct by which they reach us, as the very object and substance of most of his finest thoughts, the vision itself, no less than the stage on which the vision appears. This is the first stumbling-block to his disciples. But then, when thev come to see what there is in that genial personality, that it is a sort of glorified Anglo-Saxon essence which frankly unveils itself under the mere appearance of egotism, the apparent stumbling-block becomes a step to genuine admiration. Take, for instance, the following gay and delicate verses on Mr. Tuppcr's "beautiful brain," seeming to paint the first singing, as it were, of the kettle of genius before the evaporation of prose into verse begins, — lines which, with a significant meaning, which we shall presently understand, Mr. Tupper has named " Sloth."
"'A little more sleep, n little more slumber,
A little more folding the hands to sleep,'
Over my mind are beginning to creep, —
Bv your wild whispers, my Fanciful train, And-, like a linnet, be carelessly captnred
In the soft nets of my beautiful brain.
"Touch not these curtains! your hand will be tearing
Delicate tissues of thoughts and of things; — Call me not! — your cruel voice will be scaring
Flocks of young visions on gossamer wings: Leave me, O leave me! for in your rude presence
Nothing of all my bright world can remain,— Thou art a blight to this garden of pleasance,
Thou art a blot on my beautiful brain!
MR. TUPPER'S WORK AS A POET.
•• Cease your dull lecture on cares and emp
Let me forget awhile trouble and strife,
This is the heart and the marrow of life!
Is to lie tin:- without peril or pain, Lazily listening the musical measures
Of the sweet voice in my beautiful brain!
"Hush, — for the halo of calmneu is spreading
Over my spirit as mild as a dove;
Over mv body his vial of love;
Thus would I court them again and again,
In the swift waltz of my beautiful brain!"
The seeming egotism of this poem, attributing, as it appears to do, beauty of a high order even to the whity-brown nerve-tissue of Mr. Tupper's brain itself, vanishes as soon as its extraordinary subtlety and boldness of conception are fully perceived. Mr. Tupper, dream-absorbed, and caught in the soft nets of his own beautiful brain, — Mr. Tupper, finding any disturbing agency, whether of domestic servant or of that" hind " elsewhere more than once referred to by him, or indeed of any other interrupting influence, a blot on the intrinsic beauty of the brain in the network of which he is a struggling captive,—Mr. Tupper, half-lulled again by the " sweet vision " in that beautiful brain,—finally, Mr. Tupper's heart reeling "in the swift waltz" of his beautiful brain,— are all, especially the last, metaphors so bold that the earnest student of his poetry is driven to look beneath the surface. And were be sees at once that the poet sees really in himself the genius of England, — that he sees that it is the peculiar danger of England to be even too much ruled by her intellectual class, to be caught, in short, "in the soft net of her beautiful brain, — that the agency which is most unpleasantly awakening her, and preventing her from giving herself up to that influence, is the true " blot on her beautiful brain," namely, the laboring class, giving rise no doubt to the conditioner-England question, — that, in spite of this awakening blot on the brain, the voice of the intellectual siren is still in danger of prevailing, — nay, that finally, the very heart of England is yielding to the intoxication, and whirling madly about in the swift v.alt / of the intellectual thoughts which can neither sober it nor govern themselves. And now we see why he has named the lines " Sloth." It is moral sloth which prevents the will and heart of England from asserting themselves against the toils laid for them by the morbidly active brain.
Mr. Tupper is often as impressive as this, but not often quite so subtle. You must study him indeed, like all great poets, to grasp his full greatness, but usually his apparent drift and his real drift are one and the same. And, as in this poem, he himself almost always stands, and usually without any sort of disguise, for the English character. Take, for instance, the grand lines on " Energy," beginning: —
The whole piece is unfortunately too long for quotation, but we must show how simply and powerfully, after this introduction to show us that he is really speaking of the English national mind, he glides
into his usual identification of that mind with his own representative personality. He speaks of the manifest destiny which urges on his own "energies ethereal," but he is only the microcosm in which we see the delineation of the macrocosm indicated at the commencement of the poem: —
"Unflinching and unfearing,
The flatterer of none,
The honors I have won!
I bent it to my will;
I dive and stem it still, —
Shall conquer or control
)tlv gladiator soul!
Not tamely bide my time;
Shall make my eport sublime!
For sign by beck or nod,
Of an onward-urging God!"
How fine is that contrast: —
"My energies ethereal,
An "ethereal gladiator," — that is what Mr. Tupper would make out of the strong Anglo-Saxon stuff of which his countrymen are made. That is what Mr. Tupper has already made out of himself.
But it is not only in teaching us to see really broad and comprehensive thoughts in the apparent egotism of his reflections that Mr. Tupper has educated the taste which he gratifies. As Wordsworth educated us to appreciate truly the (almost naked) simplicity which he always observed, so Tupper has educated us to appreciate truly a simplicity of another kind, — a cooing, domestical simplicity, almost dovey in its sweetness and innocence, which when closely associated with the strong Anglo-Saxon feelings we have described, — the "gladiator-soul" element of Mr. Tupper's poetry, — makes a very rare combination indeed. Take, for example, the second stanza in the poem called "Fans Parnassi," or" Solace of Song": —
"Ah! thou fairy fount of sweetness,
Well I wot now dear thou art
To' my hot and thirsty heart,
I have raced from thought to thought,
Frank as Sappho, as unsought,—
As a sister Ariel ought, —
Evoe! Fons Parnassi,
The unchastened mind, as yet uncultivated by Mr. Tupper's influence, will revolt against this, as the enemies of Wordsworth who composed the parody about "naughty Nancy Lake" rebelled against his simplicity. But the doveof Mr. Tupper's muse will overcome them at last, and make them see the exquisite taste and feeling of " an innocent wife-like" Egeria,— how completely it rids us of any of the ambiguous feelings excited by the story of Numa and Egeria, — an Egeria, too, who does not dance in Mr. Tupper's presence at all without having her sister with her. Even so, we may perhaps a little regret some of the last lines. We don't think "an innocent wife-like" Egeria should have been at all like a Bacchante, even a Bacchante in "Word's attire," though we have no doubt that is a very respectable attire. We don't think the allusion quite in Mr. Tupper's ordinary tone. Still the innocent sweetness of the general conception is perhaps even enhanced by the slip.
The same exquisite purity of feeling shows itself in Mr. Tupper's love of crystals and all symbols of purity. The thoughts shooting through his brain when " the calm chaos-brooding dove" of Silence is present with him he likens to crystals, in spite of the partial painfulness of the suggestion of crystals dancing about in the soft net of a " beautiful brain."
"Dear Nurse of Thought, calm chaos-brooding dove,
"Rarer than Eloquence, and sweeter far
'* The rushing crystals throb about my brain,
There is no doubt a certain intentional incongruity between the dove-like character of Silence and her crystallizing modus operandi on the brain. The one is soft purity, the other hard purity; and Mr. Tupper means to teach us by the contrast how really consistent is the soft cooing of domestic peace with the hard and luminous brilliance of poetic conception. He is very happy in conveying moral lessons by these metaphors. In an address to the flying years he says, — .
"ehec! Fug Aces.
"The flying years ! the flying years!
where every one will feel at once the originality and beauty of the phrase "covered hopes and fears." It transports you immediately to the partridge-field, you near the whirr of the startled brood as, like hopes and fears, they rise from their nest in the bosom of earth, and the report of the gun which brings down one and leaves the others, — a living type of the apparently harsh and capricious selections of destiny. Yet docs not the sportsman select the fattest partridge for his aim, just as destiny so often destroys the richest, best-fed hopes, and leaves the lean ones uninjured?
But we must conclude arbitrarily, or we should never conclude at all; and as Tupper finely says, — a truth which, like All his truths, has grown upon us more and more the more deeply we study his works, —
"All created yearnings tend
In a rapid ever stronger
To that cataract, The End."
That we should feel such a creature-yearning at all while reading Mr. Tupper is the strongest proof we could bring of the rare generalizing power which belongs to his wise, genial, and innocent poetic nature.
If the Apostle Paul had lived some centuries later on, he might have had occasion to add to the list of perils which he underwent those underground dangers to which so large a portion of our population are subject, and of which the Report of the Inspectors of Coal-Mines forms the instructive, though ominous, death-roll.
People sitting before their cheerful Christmas fire have very feeble notions of the difficulty and risk that every nub of coal represents. They have a generally vague impression of the gloomy interior of a coal-pit, that rises to a certain degree of intensity when any particular tragedy on a large scale is unfortunately enacted, such as those at the Hartley or the Risca collieries; but except on such occasions as these they have but little idea of the daily and hourly danger incurred by those whose province it is to procure that most essential article for carrying on British commerce and supplying warmth to the British population. The Reports, albeit they are blue-books, deserve to be studied attentively by every intelligent person; for though we are not all colliery proprietors or coal-merchants, we are all indirectly interested in the coal question; and even as a matter of humanity we cannot help feeling a certain amount of sympathy with the lives and fortunes of three hundred and seven thousand of our fellowcountrymen, — that being, according to the Report, about the number of coal-miners employed during the past year.
And when we come to consider that, even after years of diligent and stringent government supervision, when every possible rule has been made for the protection of life, founded upon the most scientific investigations, for every 109,000 tons of coal brought to the light of day, one life is lost, what must have been the hecatombs annually sacrificed underground in the days when it was nobody's business to look after the safety of the collier, when he was nothing but a wretched troglodyte, unknown and unnoticed save by those whose policy it was to get as much as they could out of him! It really is a terrible thing to think that every 109,000 tons demands a life, and that during the year 1864 for every 354 persons employed one was struck down, and it fully justifies the pressure put on coal-masters to prevent by every possible means such a lamentable state of things.
It will always happen, however, that whatever rules are made, whatever improvements effected, they will be frequently rendered nugatory by the stupidity and carelessness of those for whose protection they were adopted, and it is surprising what a large proportion of accidents is due to this cause. Some of them read almost like acts of suicide; the worst of it being that the one who is to blame is seldom the only victim, but that others are generally included in the fatal results.
It might be expected that the more recently a coal district has been worked the smaller percentage would there be of accidents or deaths, owing to the increased appliances and better working arrangements of the newer collieries, as compared with those which have been at work for some time.