Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

told him that a carriage was waiting for him at the door. THE ROD IN OLD TIMES.

He went down immediately, and was seized by the footmen,

who struck him repeated' blows with their' sticks. The GENTLE remonstrance for a fault is of modern date. chevalier, seated inside the carriage, watched the proceed. The old and universally recognized practice consisted of ings, and encouraged his servants by his approving words. coarse abuse, kicking, and beating. It perhaps is so still in “Strike, strike !" said he; “ only take care of his head; certain parts of Europe. Clarke, in his “ Travels in Russia," something good may come out of it." Like a Frenchman, tells us that the cudgel goes from morning to night. Things he could not help uttering his bon-mot to excite a laugh may there be now softened a little; but before being too even in such circumstances. His influence was so great hard on Russian usages sixty years ago, let us bear in mind, with the ministers and the Lieutenant Criminel, that when that beating domestics with a stick was common in Eng Voltaire would have brought an action against him, the land in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is a matter of poor author found himself thrown into the Bastile, and history that that excellent female sovereign used so to beat then ordered to exile himself to the other side of the Chaoher maids of honor that they cried in a piteous manner; nel. He landed just in time to see the splendid obsequies and that Her Majesty son etimes so lost her temper and accorded to Sir Isaac Newton. This roused in him the sense of dignity, as to strike her courtiers with her fist. desire to know more of those sciences in which he afterWhen the appointment of a lord-deputy of Ireland was wards became an adept, and which, until then, had rediscussed by ber, Sir Robert Cecil, and the Earl of Essex, ceived but little attention in France. the last named opposed the wishes of the other two as to Had the Pont-Neuf in Paris a tongue, how many of these the person best fitted for so important a post. Sir William scenes could it bear witness to. It was the favorite lounge Knollys was named by Her Majesty ; but Essex very of newspaper writers and wits, thus it became also the warmly insisted on Sir George Carew, and turning his back classic ground of the law of the stick. Here it was that upon her, used a contemptuous expression. The queen, ex Monsieur de Bautru, a gentleman and an Academician, was asperated beyond all the bounds of self-control, gave him a found one morning rolled in the mud, and half dead, from sound box on the ear, and bade him "go and be banged." the attacks of the lackeys of a nobleman whom he had Instead of receiving the chastisement with humility, he offended in a witty song. Some days after, one of these grasped his sword. bilt, and swore “that he would not have satellites, passing near him, began to imitate the cries he taken that blow from King Henry her father, and that it had uttered during his punishment. * Truly," said Bautru, was an indignity that he neither could nor would endure that is a good echo; it repeats the sound a long time from any one." With some further impertinence about a after.” When the queen Anne of Austria, saw him walk king in petticoats, he rushed from his queen's presence, ing with a stick, she inquired if he had the gout. On his and withdrew from court.

replying in the negative, the Prince de Guémenée said, It is said that George II., when greatly offended by “Do you not understand that he carries a stick as Saint some remonstrances of his prime minister, Walpole, kicked | Lawrence does his gridiron; it is the mark of his martyrhim out of his cabinet ; and as His Majesty had shown dom.” His passion for bon-mots could not be restrained, such passion before in the presence of several persons, and soon brought upon him another attack from the MarFielding took up the idea of printing in his journal, Com- quis de Borbonne. When he appeared at the Tuileries mon Sense, a “ Dissertation on Kicks," which is not want- | after this misadventure, no one knew what to say to him. ing in many passages of clever satire. He remarks that, | “Ah!” he cried, “ do they think me a savage because I at the court of France, the sovereign would not disgrace have passed through the wood ? " himself by using personal violence. This is too compli When the “ Essay on Satire " was published, the authormentary. Fielding does not seem to have been aware that ship was generally attributed to Dryden. The Duchess of the French kings liked, on occasion, to in dulge their temper Portsmouth and the Earl of Rochester, believing themselves in a way very similar to the true Briton. Louis XIII. de to be insulted by some of the remarks, could do nothing clined to have noblemen for his gentlemen of the bedcham better than set the servants of the latter to beat the poor ber, because he could not beat them as he liked, and gave a author; and it is also said, but without sufficient proof, dozen hard blows to a valet who disputed with the pages that the Duke of Buckingham did the same. Unfortunately, the honor of precedence. His bror her, Gaston d'Orleans, the character of Dryden was not equal in dignity to his threw a gentleman into the canal at Fontainebleau, because talent. he had not shown him sufficient respect. Even Louis XIV., Though the noblemen of the day were generally willing with all his magnificence, so far forgot himself as to raise enough to have the wits at their tables, they did not enjoy his cane to the back of one of his servants; and on another being altogether eclipsed in society. One of them said to occasion he threw the weapon out of the window, lest he | a comedian ; “I warn you, that if from the present time to should yield to the temptation of chastising Lauzun. The the end of supper you display more wit than I, you will reclever Louvois ran the same risk, and, bau it not been for ceive a hundred strokes of the cane.” A critic wbo would the timely interference of Madame de Maintenon, would not speak well of an author's work bad this remark adbave suffered by the hand of his royal master.

dressed to him : “An ass was once made to speak by a Thus the courtiers came to consider the stick as the blow, but a stick shall make you be silent.” To which ibe ultima ratio in their relations with interiors, more especially critic replied, “Well, if you wish me to change my tone, au bors. In their eyes, they were gent bâtonnable, every I will say that your piece is charming; for I had rather say time there was a wrong to be redressed, and that was very a silly thing than be beaten.” Of all the writers of the often. It was an incident of this kind that drove Voltaire / last century who came in for attacks, La Harpe was the into banishment, and led to his residence for some time in

esidence for some time in object of hatred, contempt, and bitter satire from all the our island. The tragedy of “ Edipus" and the poem of republic of letters ; his very face provoked a blow. After the “ Henriade" had already made him a name. He was he had given great offence on one occasion, this equib apthen about thirty-one years of age, and discontented with peared : « A society of amateurs, having offered a prize to his surname of Arouet, which he received from his father, the best player on la hurpe, have adjudged it to Monsieur

nose another more euphonious, borrowing it from a | Dorat ; it now proposes to give a double prize to any one small property which his mother possessed in Poitou. This who, to the satisfaction of the public, will, by means of rods, piece of vanity offended the Chevalier de Roban, and meet- | draw the sweetest and most harmonious sounds from la ing Voltaire at the opera, “ Ab çà,” said he to him, “how harpe." are you to be addressed ? Is it to be Monsieur Arouet, or It is not surprising that actors should in such a period Monsieur de Voltaire ?” “Monsieur le Chevalier,” re

Monsieur le Chevalier," re- treat the poor authors to blows when they did not like plied Voltaire, “it is better to make one's self a name, than their cast of character; but more than one actress is reto sully that which has been given to us.”

corded to have broken her delicate whip in flagellating one The chevalier resolved to be avenged. One day, when who had offended her. A poet who had written an opera, Voltaire was dining with the Duc de Sully, the servants | found himself on one occasion surrounded by all the balletdancers, who fell upon him with their fists, saying in cho- ' “ Fighting doctor! Who's the fighting doctor ? I rus, “Wby did you write us such a worthless piece ?" A asked. young author who had ventured to parody some couplets, “ Ould Finnerty, no less, av the militia. Begorra, he'd and turn them against the actors at a certain theatre, was have ye out for sneezin' crucked, so ye'd betther mind. asked to sit beside the prima donna, who thus addressed I'll go bail he has the pistols wud him. He never thravels him : “I can understand a good joke, and am not vexed) wudout thim. He downed sivin min wud thim deadly with your wit, but I have need of two or three couplets tools." against some one I know; come, and do me the favor to By this time we had reached the scene of accident. write them in my dressing-room.” Flattered by this, the One of the wheels of the car had noiselessly and unostentaauthor fell into the snare; but hardly had he entered, when | tiously scattered its spokes, which lay strewn along the all the actresses, armed with long rods, fell upon, and beat road like so many valiant soldiery who had fallen in dehim unmercifully, until an officer of police, hearing the fence of some isolated fortress. The fighting doctor had cries, interfered. It is said that the Chevalier de Boufflers proceeded in advance, in the hope of obtaining assistance had written an epigram against a lady of rank. After at a wayside sheeling, and the driver was bitterly lamentsome coolness, she begged for a reconciliation, and asked | ing the ill turn that his luck had played him. him to dinner. But though he went, like a prudent man • What betther cud I hope for, comin' wud that ould he put his pistols in his pocket. As soon as he arrived, he bloodthirsty villyan? He's goin' to fight a jewel beyant at was seized by four strong footmen, who, under the very Phoul a Dhonninel, the haytben. Goin' to kill a man on eyes of the lady, gave him fifty strokes. Boufflers, as soon Christmas Day, the ould varmint, av he can. Och, wirra, as it was over, with wonderful sang-froid, drew out his such a Christmas Eve! It's in the chapel I ought to be, pistols, cocked them, and desired the men, under pain of on me bades, let alone bein' out wud a murtherin' ould death, to do to their mistress as they had done to him. Turk on a lonely common, wud nothin' betune me an'

They were obliged to obey, and he counted the lashes ; then heaven but the snow, and a blast that wud cut the back they were to give tbe same to each other; which task ac | teeth out av an ostrich." complished, the marquis bowed gracefully, and departed. “Hould yer whist ! ” cried Micky Delany, leading him

But happily the supremacy of the stick began to wane rather roughly aside, “hould yer whist, an' mebbe we cud in the last century; literary men raised their heads above set it all right afther all.” such insults, and would no longer recognize brutal force ; Here my charioteer dropped his voice into a confidential the sword and the law were called in to help. The former whisper, and after some very impressive pantomime, in was of no value but to prove the personal courage of those which he would appear to be endeavoring to induce the who used it: but the latter proved the change in public other to come round to his views, he ended by exclaiming opinion, and the progress of the condition of literary men. | in a loud tone, Mozart's passion was roused when his patron, the Arch. “ Av ye don't take me offer ye 'll be here till the new bishop of Salzburg, in 1781, treated him like one of his year, an' the divil mind ye for an ungrateful bosthune.” pages; and when the Comte d'Arco kicked him to the door, Micky Delany's proposition was simply to impress the he declared that wbenever he received such an insult, he services of the second horse, to drive tandem, and give a should return it in the same way. One of the first occasions lift to the driver and passenger of the useless car, leaving when justice openly interfered in France was about 1770, the luckless vehicle to its fate. when a comedian coming from the theatre at Versailles was I offered no objection, and in a few minutes the fighting attacked by some officers : the patrol interfered, and took up doctor's carpet-bag was transferred, a rough sort of tandem five young men, all belonging to high families and in the | established, and the injured car placed safely inside a ditch. king's household. Louis XV, declined to interfere, and Dr. Finnerty, whom we picked up at a distance of about justice took its course. Evidently the Revolution was near a mile, seemed exceedingly well pleased with the change in at band, as may be shown by the reply of Piron some time | his rate of travelling. after. He met a noble of high rank, who was showing a “ Their conveyances here, sir, are of the most infayrior friend out of the door. The latter stopped from politeness, description. Their horses, sir, are only fit for the knacker. to let the author enter. “Pass on, pass on," said the host; | The owner ought to be hanged. The driver ought to be “he is only a poet." Piron did not hesitate. “ Since qualities are known," he said, “I take my rank ;” and put- The doctor jerked out his sentences broadside at me, ting on his hat, went first. The queen, Marie Antoinette, and threw forward his wiry little frame at every final word. afterwards confirmed this emancipation of literature by re Having offered him a “nip” from my flask, which he proving one of her courtiers in these words : “ When the tossed off with a flourish as if it were a pint bumper, and king and I speak to an author we always call him Mon having accepted in return a pinch of snuff strong enough sieur."

to blow the lid off a plate-chest, we warmed up consideraArriving at the nineteenth century, our task is ended ; bly. the stick is now a fallen royalty; the aristocracy of birth * It's a strange night for a drive. I'm on a strange erand that of the pen can meet on level ground without at rand, sir,” observed the doctor. tacking each other. Literary manners are on a much “A case of surgery?” I remarked inquiringly. higber level; the author is no longer a valet or a parasite, “Oho! oho !” and his laugh flew across the snow, and I neither the court-fool, nor the pet spaniel of the duchess. thought of Gabriel Grubb and the goblins. “ Oho! there Assaults on the person, of whatever kind, are now so may be surgical assistance required. A leg may have to speedily punished by fine and otherwise, that they are little be amputated. A body may have to be cut open. Do you heard of, except among the rude and least instructed of see this box, sir?producing as he spoke a dark oblong the population - an immense advance on what prevailed box, the brass rims of which shone up like the plates upon even in “good” society so lately as a hundred years ago. a coffin-lid. “There's a brace of surgical instruments in

this box that have made holes in men's bodies before now. Oho!”

“I imagine from the shape of the box that it contains MY IRISH STORY.

pistols, doctor.”

“I don't say what they are. I say that they can bark BY NUGENT ROBINSON.

and bite. They will bark before long. They will bite before long, if I get the chance."

A thought flashed across me like lightning. This blood“It's a car from the Royal,” exclaimed Micky in great thirsty doctor — this drive in the snow - this case of pisexcitement. “Och, begorra, it's the wan that tuk the tols - led directly to the “ mess” referred to in my cousin fightin' doctor from Westport, an,' blur an' agers, they 're Geoffry's telegram. A duel was to be fought, and Geoffry bet be the snow !"

was to be one of the targets.

I was turning rapidly in my mind how I should pump / “This is no laughing matter, Geoffry," I exclaimed anthe doctor, when he asked, —

grily. “Are you going as far as Leenawn ?

Ooi'Pon my life I know it isn't, and yet it is so exquisitely “ Yes," I replied.

absurd that I can only see it from the apex of its absurd" Then I can take the car on to Carrig na Golliogue ?” ity,” and he burst out again. “ I am going to Carrig na Golliogue."

“Will you be good enough to inform me why you He gave a short whistle, and taking a very close look at brought me here, and if I have come upon a fool's errand ?" me

I burst out angrily. “ You're not going to Shulawn Castle, eh?

“ Don't fizz up that way, old man,” cried my cousin. “ I really don't know where I am going to. I received a “ Have a liquor, and you shall hear it all." telegram from a cousin of mine, asking me to come to an I adopted his suggestion. inn and”

" The fact is, at a ball at Athlone last month I met one “I know all about it. You 're Mr. Greville. I intro- | of the most piquant, exquisite, fascinating, bewildering duce myself - Denis Phelim Finnerty, surgeon to the little Irish girls that ever planted a dainty foot upon a Phoul a Phouca Militia. We have the same business in four-leaved shamrock. She was stopping for a few days hand. Let us settle the preliminaries," and Doctor Fin with some friends who resided near the town, and in these nerty rubbed his hands briskly together, as if he was en few days I saw as much of her as I possibly could, and in deavoring to flatten a bullet between his palms.

these few days I discovered that she possessed but one “ You must really enlighten me,” I said.

fault — namely, a heap of romance laid on at the highest “ You are new to the business. Are you prepared to possible pressure. In fact she is a Lydia Languish, Anno act, sir, without seeing your principal ? I am."

Domini 187. Eh bien, mon brave, I followed her to her “ Before I reply to your question, I should wish to hear mountain home, and put up at this sumptuous and palatial your version of the story."

hostelry ; I asked permission to make myself known to her This was to ascertain the exact state of things from his father, a splendid Irish Sir Anthony Absolute, but she point of view.

would not have me meet him for worlds. Our interviews “You are welcome to it, sir. Your man has been sent were all mysteriously secret, and stolen, as if our respeca message. No gentleman wearing the Queen's scarlet can tive lives were to pay the forfeit of discovery. One day we refuse to meet another, when that other is his equal." met under the shadow of a clump of turf - this is a very

“ Granted. And may I ask who has sent him this mes open country; another day behind the solitary tree in the sage?"

barony — always accompanied though by an abigail - till The lady's father, sir, her natural and lawful'protector." one unlucky afternoon, last Thursday, by Jove ! Sir An“ Father! Can it be possible that my cousin is going to thony, who was returning from shooting, dropped upon us fight an old man?”

just as I had asked her to be my wife, and was sealing the * He is bound to fight her grandfather if necessary. delicious · Yes' in the stereotyped and orthodox manner; He 'll be horsewhipped in his barrack-square if he shows and then, mon cher, there was a shine. He wanted to shoot the white feather. Here's Leenawn, sir," and the doctor me then and there, but kindly postponed it until you aralighted from the car on to the steps of the hotel, with the rived. He sent me a hostile message through a wiry little agility that laughed in the teeth of gout or rheumatism. doctor, who seems anxious to have blood at any price, true

Here was a pretty situation of affairs. My cousin Geof- to the instincts of his profession. This little gallipot warfry involved in a duel with some elderly gentleman, in rior has departed for Westport, for his barking irons,' whose ashes glowed their wonted fires. But why or where and this is the state of the poll for you, and isn't it an exfore? Geoffry, with all his careless ways, was incapable quisite piece of fooling?" of doing a dishonorable act. Of this I felt thoroughly as “Is this gentleman a lunatic ?I asked. sured; yet that there must have been grave, painfully " Not quite." grave offense given to provoke this ultimatum there could “ Is he a person of position ?" be no possibility of doubt. Doctor Finnerty had evidently “ As good as any in the County Galway, or any other assumed that I was proceeding to Carrig na Golliogue for

county.the purpose of acting as second to my cousin ; and it was

“ Did vou offer any explanation ?dow painfully apparent to me that my kinsman required

“ As long as the road from this to Westport. I could my services in this very unenviable capacity, and hence have sold it by mile. Of course I couldn't say that it was his telegram.

his daughter's fault.” When the belligerent physician rejoined me, a strong “And he won't listen to reason ? " aroma of whiskey punch emanating from his person, he in “ He'll listen to nobody but his medical adviser, and stantly repeated his inquiry as to my power to act in the that gentleman, as I have already told you, will have nothabsence of my principal. I inforned him that as yet I had | ing short of blood." not been informed by my cousin of the nature of the con-' “ And what is this hot-headed, foolish, unchristian-like irelemps, and that I would be glad to be more fully posted | old man's name?" I asked in thorough disgust. up in the matter.

“In the first place," responded my kinsman, “he is not " Your cousin will post you up, sir, I 'll go bail. Talk old, mark thati and in the second place, he is not unof the weather. There will be snow before morning,” and christian-like, as he is the most charitable man in this or rolling the collar of his cloak over his ears, he spoke no any other district." other word until we jerked up opposite a long straggling But his name - what is his name?" building, situated on the side of the road, which proved to “His name is Myles Maurice Carew." be the hostelry to which I had been so mysteriously and

“What !” I exclaimed, bounding to my feet; “ is it unexpectedly summoned.

Myles Carew formerly of the Blue Dragoons?" I was ushered into a dingy apartment, redolent of the « The same man; but what is the meaning of this ? Do perfume of damp turf. Upon inquiring for Mr. Greville, | vou know him ?”. I was informed by a young lady in bare feet that he was .“ Do I know him I why, he was my father's most intimate “ convaynient." This young lady commiserated my con friend, although much his junior.” dition by such exclamations as “ Och wirra! but ye must “By Jove ! I often heard my father speak of him, now be kilt wud the cowld. What brought ye out, ye crayture, that you mention it. Hip! hooray! ” sich a cruel night? A sup o sperrits ’ill save your life. Rowl off your coat, an' get foreninst the fire.”

Of course I interviewed Myles Carew in his stronghold My gay and festive cousin greeted me with considerable | at Carrig na Golliogue. warmth, and upon my gravely questioning him as to the Of course l arranged the preliminaries, not of a duel, dilemma into which he had plunged himself, to my irrita- | but of a meeting between his romantic daughter and my tion and astonishment he burst out laughing.

kinsman.

Of course we enjoyed ourselves to our heart's content. | the great Scotchman. With all these points of resemblance I believe that I found the Irish whiskey too much for me, between the men, it is astonishing that their work should but this is irrelevant. Doctor Finnerty came out like a be so different. The fact is, that the English novel was hero, and narrated his duelling experiences with all the looking one way and seeking one set of effects in the hands gusto of a man who had stood his ground in the fifteen of Fielding; and in the hands of Scott it was looking acres; but inside of this line of fire, his heart was big, and eagerly in all ways and searching for all the effects that by in the right place.

any possibility it could utilize. The difference between I did not leave Carrig na Golliogue for a fortnight - I these two men marks a great enfranchisement. With Scott wish that I was there now.

the Romantic movement, the movement of an extended

curiosity and an enfranchised imagination, has begun. This I have just received a note from Mr. Geoffry Greville, is a trite thing to say ; but trite things are often very infrom Gibraltar. It refers to the sponsorship of a little definitely comprehended : and this enfranchisement, in as lady in whose career I am supposed to take a special inter

far as it regards the technical change that came over est.

modern prose romance, has never perhaps been explained Heigh ho! I envy Geoffry, but I will take another sum with any clearness. mer out of myself for all that.

To do so, it will be necessary roughly to compare the two sets of conventions upon which plays and romances are respectively based. The purposes of these two arts

are so much alike, and they deal so much with the same VICTOR HUGO'S ROMANCES.

passions and interests, that we are apt to forget the funda

mental opposition of their methods. And yet such a funBY LESLIE STEPHEN.

damental opposition exists. In the drama the action is Après le roman pittoresque mais prosaïque de Walter Scott developed in great measure by means of things that reil restera un autre roman à créer, plus beau et plus complet en main outside of the art; by means of real things, that is, core selon nous. C'est le roman, à la fois drame et épopée, and not artistic conventions for things. This is a sort of pittoresque mais poétique, réel mais idéal, vrai mais grand,

realism, that is not to be confounded with that realism in qui enchâssera Walter Scott dans Homère. - Victor Hugo on

painting of which we hear so much. The realism in paintQuentin Durward.

ing is a thing of purposes ; this, that we have to indicate Victor Hugo's romances occupy an important position 1 in the drama, is an affair of method. We have heard a in the history of literature ; many innovations, timidly made story, indeed, of a painter in France who, when he wanted elsewhere, have in them been carried boldly out to their to paint a sea-beach, carried realism from his ends to his last consequences; much that was indefinite in literary means and plastered real sand upon his canvas; and that tendencies has attained to definite maturity; many things is precisely what is done in the drama. The dramatic have come to a point and been distinguished one from the author has to paint his beaches with real sand: real live other; and it is only in the last romance of all, “ Quatre man and women move about the stage; we hear real voices; Vingt Treize,” that this culmination is most perfect. This what is feigned merely puts an edge upon what is; we do is in the nature of thinge. Men who are in any way typi actually see a woman go bebind a screen as Lady Teazle, cal of a stage of progress may be compared more justly to and, after a certain interval, we do actually see her very the hand upon the dial of the clock, which continues to ad shamefully produced again. Now all these things, that vance as it indicates, than to the stationary mile-stone, remain as they were in life, and are not transmuted into which is only the measure of what is past. The movement any artistic convention, are terribly stubborn and difficult is not arrested. That significant something by which the to deal with ; and hence there are for the dramatist many work of such a man differs from that of his predecessors resultant limitations in time and space. These limitations goes on disengaging itself and becoming more and more in some sort approximate towards those of painting: the articulate and cognizable. The same principle of growth, dramatic author is tied down, not indeed to a moment, but that carried his first book beyond the books of previous to the duration of each scene or act; he is confined to the writers, carries his last book beyond his first. And just as stage, almost as the painter is confined within his frame. the most imbecile production of any literary age gives us But the great restriction is this, that a dramatic author sometimes the very clue to comprehension we have sought must deal with his actors, and with his actors alone. Cerlong and vainly in contemporary masterpieces, so it may be tain moments of suspense, certain significant dispositions the very weakest of an author's books that, coming in the of personages, a certain logical advance of fable, these are sequel of many others, enables us at last to get hold of the only means at the disposal of the playwright. It is what underlies the whole of them, - of that spinal marrow true that, with the assistance of the scene-painter, the of significance that unites the work of his life into some- costumier, and the conductor of the orchestra, he may add thing organic and rational. This is what has been done to this something of pageant, something of sound and fury; by “Quatre Vingt Treize" for the earlier romances of but these are, for the dramatic writer, beside the mark, Victor Hugo, and through them for a whole division of and do not come under the vivifying touch of his genius. modern literature. We have here the legitimate continua When we turn to romance, we find this no longer. Here tion of a long and living literary tradition; and hence, so nothing is reproduced to our senses directly. Not only far, its explanation. When many lines diverge from each the main conception of the work, but the scenery, the apother in direction so slightly as to confuse the eye, we know pliances, the mechanism by which this conception is brought that we have only to produce them to make the chaos | home to us, have been put through the crucible of another plain: this is continually so in literary history ; and we man's mind, and come out again, one and all, in the form shall best understand the importance of Victor Hugo's of written words. With the loss of every degree of such romances if we think of them as some such prolongation of realism as we have described, there is for art a clear gain one of the main lines of literary tendency.

of liberty and largeness of competence. Thus, painting, in

which the round outlines of things are thrown on to a flat When we compare the novels of Walter Scott with those | board, is far more free than sculpture.

board, is far more free than sculpture, in which their solidof the man of genius who preceded him, and whom he de ity is preserved. It is by giving up these childish identilighted to honor as a master in the art, -I mean Henry ties that art gains true strength. And so in the case of Fielding, - we shall be somewhat puzzled, at the first novels as compared with the stage. Continuous narration moment, to explain the difference that there is between is the flat board on to which the novelist throws everything. these two. Fielding has as much human science; has a And from this, there results for him a great loss of vividfar firmer hold upon the tiller of his story; has a keen ness, but a great compensating gain in his power over the sense of character, which he draws (and Scott often does subject ; so that he can now subordinate one thing to 80 too) in a rather abstract and academical manner; and another in importance, and introduce all manner of very tinally, is quite as humorous and quite as good-humored as subtle detail, to a degree that was before impossible. He can render just as easily the flourish of trumpets before a some day there will be found the man of science to stand victorious emperor and the gossip of country market women, up and give the explanation. Scott took an interest in the gradual decay of forty years of a man's life and the many things in which Fielding took none; and for this gesture of a passionate moment. He finds himself equally reason, and no other, he introduced them into his romances. unable, if he looks at it from one point of view, - equally If he had been told what would be the nature of the more able, if he looks at it from another point of view,- to re ment that he was so lightly initiating, he would have been produce a color, a sound, an outline, a logical argument, a very incredulous and not a little scandalized. At the time physical action. He can show his readers, behind and when he wrote, the real drift of this new manner of pleasaround the personages that for the moment occupy the ing people in fiction was not yet apparent; and, even now, foreground of his story, the continual suggestion of the it is only by looking at the romances of Victor Hugo that landscape; the turn of the weather that will turn with it we are enabled to form any proper judgment in the matmen's lives and fortunes, dimly foreshadowed on the hori. ter. These books are not only descended by ordinary zon; the fatality of distant events, the stream of national generation from the Waverley novels, but it is in then tendency, the grand salient framework of causation. And chiefly that we shall find the revolutionary tradition of all this thrown upon the flat board — all this entering nat Scott carried further; that we shall find Scott himself, in urally and smoothly into the texture of continuous, intelli so far as regards his conception of prose fiction and its gent narration.

purposes, surpassed in his own spirit, instead of tamely This touches the difference between Fielding and Scott. followed. We have here, as I said before, a line of literary In the work of the latter, true to his character of a modern tendency produced, and by this, production definitely and a romantic, we become suddenly conscious of the back separated from others. When we come to Hugo, we see ground. Fielding, on the other hand, although he had that the deviation, which seemed slight enough and not recognized that the novel was nothing else than an epic in very serious between Scott and Fielding, is indeed sucb a prose, wrote in the spirit not of the epic, but of the drama. great gulf in thought and sentiment as only successive This is not, of course, to say that the drama was in any generations can pass over; and it is but natural that one way incapable of a regeneration similar in kind to that of of the great advances that Hugo has made upon Scott is an which I am now speaking with regard to the novel. The advance in self-consciousness. Both men follow the same notorious contrary fact is sufficient to guard the reader road; but where the one went blindly and carelessly, the against such a misconstruction. All that is meant is, other advances with all deliberation and forethought. that Fielding remained ignorant of certain capabilities There never was artist much more unconscious than Scott; which the novel possesses over the drama; or, at least, and there have been not many more conscious than Hugo. neglected and did not develop them. To the end he con The passage at the head of these pages shows how organitinued to see things as a playwright sees them. The world cally he had understood the nature of his own changes. with which he dealt, the world he had realized for bimself He has, underlying each of the five great romances (which and sought to realize and set before his readers, was a alone we purpose here to examine), two deliberate designs: world of exclusively human interest. As for landscape be one artistic, the other consciously ethical and intellectual. was content to underline stage directions, as it might be This is a man living in a different world from Scott, who done in a play-book : Tom and Molly retire into a prac professes sturdily (in one of his introductions) that he does ticable wood. As for nationality and public sentiment, it | not believe in novels having any moral influence at all; is curious enough to think that Tom Jones is laid in the but still Hugo is too much of an artist to let himself be year forty-five, and that the only use he makes of the re hampered by his dogmas ; and the truth is that the artistic bellion is to throw a troop of soldiers into his hero's way. | result seems, in at least one great instance, to have very It is most really important, however, to notice the change little connection with the other, or directly ethical result which has been introduced into the conception of character The artistic result of a romance, what is left upon the by the beginning of the romantic movement and the con memory by any really powerful and artistic novel, is somesequent introduction into fiction of a vast amount of new thing so complicated and refined that it is difficult to put a material. Fielding tells us as much as be thought necessary | name upon it; and yet something as simple as nature. to account for the actions of his creatures; he thought that These two propositions may seem mutually destructive, but each of these actions could be decomposed on the spot into they are so only in appearance. The fact is that art is a few simple personal elements, as we decompose a force working far ahead of language as well as of science, realizin a question of perfectly abstract dynamics. The larger ing for us, by all manner of suggestions and exaggerations, motives are all unknown to him ; he had not understood eflects for which as yet we have no direct name; nay, for that the configuration of the landscape or the fashion of the which we may never perhaps have a direct name, for the times could be for anything in a story: and so, naturally | reason that these effects do not enter very largely into the and rightly, he said nothing about them. But Scott's in necessities of life. Hence alone is that suspicion of vaguestinct, the instinct of the man of an age profoundly dif ness that often hangs about the purpose of a romance; it ferent, taught him otherwise; and, in his work, the indi. is clear enough to us in thought; but we are not used to vidual characters begin to occupy a comparatively small consider anything clear until we are able to formulate it in proportion of that canvas on which armies manœuvre, and words, and analytical language has not been sufficiently great bills pile themselves upon each other's shoulders. shaped to that end. We all know this difficulty in the Fielding's characters were always great to the full stature case of a picture, simple and strong as may be the imprese of a perfectly arbitrary will. Already in Scott we begin sion that it has left with us; and it is only because lanto have a sense of the subtle influences that moderate and guage is the medium of romance, that we are prevented qualify a man's personality ; that personality is no longer from seeing that the two cases are the same. It is not that thrown out in unnatural isolation, but is resumed into its there is anything blurred or indefinite in the impression place in the constitution of things.

left with us, it is just because the impression is so very It is this change in the manner of regarding men and definite after its own kind, that we find it hard to fit it ex. their actions, first exhibited in romance, that has since | actly with the expressions of our philosophical speech. renewed and vivified history. For art precedes philosophy It is this idea which underlies and issues from a romance, and even science. People must have noticed things and this something which it is the function of that form of art interested themselves in them, before they begin to debate to create, this epical value, that I propose chiefly to seek, upon their causes or influence. And it is in this way that and, as far as may be, to throw into relief, in the present art is the pioneer of knowledge; those predilections of the study. It is thus, I believe, tbat we shall see most clearly artist he knows not why, those irrational acceptations and the great stride that Hugo has taken beyond his predecesrecognitions, reclaim, out of the world that we have not yet sors, and how, no longer content with expressing more or realized, ever another and another corner; and after the less abstract relations of man to man, he has set before facts have been thus vividly brought before us, and have himself the task of realizing, in the language of romance, had time to settle and arrange themselves in our minds, much of the involution of our complicated lives.

« ПредишнаНапред »