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LORD JOHN RUSSELL.

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC (1792-1878):
English Liberal politician and twice Prime Minister.


SYDNEY SMITH, in his amusing and clever letter to Archdeacon Singleton, thus describes Lord John Russell:—"There is not a better man in England than Lord John Russell; but his worst failure is, that he is utterly ignorant of all moral fear; there is nothing he would not undertake.  I believe he would perform the operation for the stone, build St. Peter's, or assume (with or without ten minutes' notice) the command of the Channel fleet; and no one would discover by his manner that the patient had died, the church tumbled down, and the Channel fleet been knocked to atoms.  I believe his motives are always pure, and his measures often able; but they are endless, and never done with that pedetentous pace and that pedetentous mind in which it behooves the wise and virtuous improver to walk.  He alarms the wise Liberals; and it is impossible to sleep soundly while he has the command of the watch."

    This, though a smart sketch, is by no means correct; indeed, it is as nearly as possible the reverse of correct.  What Sydney Smith averred Lord John Russell to be, that assuredly he is not.  No man is less rash than he; no man is slower to initiate measures.  By nature and temperament, he is eminently conservative.  Sir Robert Peel, who was proverbially cautious, was bolder than he; witness his thoroughgoing measure on the Corn Laws.  Gladstone, also a careful, slow man, has shot far ahead of Russell in matters of finance.  Had Lord John Russell not been a man of great tact, discretion, and caution, he never could have secured the confidence of his large body of followers.  And when he has lost adherents, and excited suspicions amongst those who sit upon his own side of the House, it has almost invariably been through his holding back,—his disposition to stand still and even to recede,—certainly never through his enterprise or boldness.

    Lord John Russell is an eminently respectable politician.  His high family connections give him influence, and his pure personal character commands respect.  He is a man of carefully cultivated powers, of sound judgment, of large experience, and of undoubted patriotism.  He is beloved, as well as admired.  But he is not a man of genius; he is neither brilliant nor original; his qualities are of a more solid, practical, and useful kind.  He has excellent tact, his style of speaking is exactly suited to the House of Commons, and, though he is not eloquent, no man makes more appropriate and telling speeches, or is more attentively listened to.  He is not an orator, yet he succeeds better than many orators do, for he labours to convince.  And he does this in spite of his deficiency in those graces which are so greatly admired in other speakers.  His physique is against him.  He is a little, quiet, modest, almost insignificant-looking personage.  His features are sharp, and his frame fragile.  When he is first pointed out, you wonder that such a man can be a leader of the House of Commons, and of the many great, bulky men you find there.  But, as Ben Jonson says,


"It is not growing, like a tree,
 In bulk, doth make man better be."


    And when Lord John Russell speaks, you soon find that in him, as in all of us, "the mind's the measure of the man."  His manner, at first, is rather hesitating, and his voice is feeble in tone and quality.  It is somewhat monotonous, and seemingly incapable of that fine modulation which is admired so much in the orations of Disraeli.  There is an aristocratic twang and thorough House of Commons tone about it.  As he warms, he becomes freer and easier, but he rarely rises into enthusiasm.  When he has said a good thing, which he does in the most polished manner, he turns round, as if to receive the cheers of his supporters, which are always ready; and his statesmanlike views, expounded in felicitous diction, rarely fail to command the admiration of both sides of the House.  He is always self-possessed, and on emergencies he is never found wanting in skill and energy.  It is these qualities, and his long experience of Parliamentary tactics, which have given Lord John his present eminent position in the British legislature.

    He entered the House of Commons when a very young man.  He was born in 1792,—the third son of the late Duke of Bedford,—and he was returned to Parliament in 1813, as member for Tavistock, one of the family boroughs.  He thus commenced his Parliamentary career at twenty-one years of age, and has continued a member of the House of Commons almost without interval since then,—that is, for a period of nearly fifty years.  His maiden speech was made on the Alien Bill, in the year 1814.  The speech which he then delivered very much resembled one of his speeches now; it was terse, pointed, argumentative, and enlivened by playful satire and wit.  In that speech he alluded to the question of Parliamentary Reform, to which he afterwards devoted himself so thoroughly, and made the question almost his own in the House of Commons.  It would be beside our purpose to quote the early sentiments of Lord John on this topic, but it appears to us that not only was his mind, character, and style of oratory formed at that early period of his career, but that he has added little to these except what careful culture and the maturing influence of years and experience have necessarily effected.  In this respect he strikingly differs from Peel, Disraeli, and many of his famous contemporaries.

    From 1814 to 1831 he revived from time to time the discussion of Whig Reform, as opposed to Radical Parliamentary Reform.  To the latter he was always opposed; and he withstood Burdett, O'Connell, and Hunt as emphatically as Sir Harry Inglis himself could do.  His plans were invariably moderate, and on one occasion, at the request of Lord Castlereagh, he withdrew his resolutions for the disfranchisement of certain corrupt boroughs, on the understanding that Grampound only was to be disfranchised, which was done.  But two years later, in 1821, he renewed his efforts, proposing to extend the measure of disfranchisement of rotten boroughs, and transfer the seats to large towns then unrepresented.  The question was taken up out of doors, agitation increased from year to year, until March, 1831, when Lord John proposed the first Reform Bill in the House of Commons.  The measure was thought to be very revolutionary at the time; but experience has shown that it was rather conservative than otherwise.  Still it was a great and important constitutional change, to which Lord John Russell's exertions were greatly instrumental.  Since then he has been prominently before the public as a practical statesman, as a Liberal leader in the House of Commons, and occasionally as Prime Minister of Britain.  He has represented during his career the moderate liberalism of his age, and his exertions have been devoted quite as much to restraining the too eager amongst his own followers, as to urging on the lagging spirit of his opponents.  One thing is clear and admitted, that Lord John Russell is a thoroughly honest politician, animated by a pure sense of duty, and that, while many others of our public men have proved faithless, he has adhered pretty constantly to his early moderate Whig principles and opinions.

    We turn now to Lord John Russell's career as an author, for he, like many other members of the present administration, has been a writer of books.  His success as a writer has, however, been but moderate, and we question whether the copyright of his works would be regarded by any bookseller as a desirable investment.  That he has sought to achieve reputation as a writer of books is, however, creditable to him as a man; and it indicates a literary taste which is honourable even to a lord.  He has written a novel, —"The Nun of Aronea;" a play, "Don Carlos;" a biography,—"Lord William Russell; a history,—"Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe;" and he has written several essays and tracts on political subjects.  His last works are his "Memoirs and Letters of Fox," and his "Memoirs and Letters of Moore,"—both of which might have been better done.

    To speak the truth, his Lordship does not shine as an author.  We have inquired for "The Nun of Aronea " at the circulating library, but the librarian's answer was, "Never heard of such a book."  The Nun may therefore be regarded as a mere curiosity of literature, interesting only as a Prime Minister's first literary enterprise.  Several of the leading Whig ministers made their literary début in the same line.  The Marquis of Normanby's novel, entitled "No," is, we suppose, still inquired after, though it is a somewhat sickly affair.  The Duke of Argyle and Sir William Molesworth are also authors, but of a more solid, philosophical kind.  It is not improbable that Lord Byron—with whom Lord John Russell was intimate in his early years, travelling with him in Portugal in 1809—had some influence in directing Lord John Russell's attention to imaginative literature.  His journey in Spain seems to have suggested to him the subject of the drama commenced by him about the same time, though not published for many years after, on the subject of "Don Carlos."  This play has been a good deal ridiculed by his Lordship's literary opponents, yet it is a favourable specimen of his literary powers, even though bearing it be not equal to Schiller's tragedy bearing the same title.  The Westminster Review has characterized the speeches in the play, which are intended to be dignified, as "grand nonsense, which, of all things, is the most unsupportable;" and added, that "there is not a vestige of poetical feeling, nor a single passage that rises above commonplace, not a character or creation in the whole dramatis personæ; they are mere automata; a more undignified, pitiful puppet than Philip could not be walked through five acts of any play; nor a more puling, characterless personage than Don Carlos, whose mawkish sentimentality would overpower even a boarding-school miss of the last generation."  This, however, is too severe.  For example, the following passage is well written, and it will be read with interest now, as indicating, under the guise of a fictitious character, the source of the writer's own after-success in the political drama in which he has played so prominent a part:


    Valdez.                                              It was my aim.
And I obtained it not for empty glory,
For as I rooted out the weeds of passion,
One still remained, and grew till its tall plant
Struck root in every fibre of my heart:
It was ambition,—not the mean desire
Of rank or title, but great, glorious sway
O'er multitudes of minds.
    Lucero.    That you have gained.
    Valdez.    I have indeed, and why?  I'll tell thee why.
      .  .   .   .   .   .  My appetites
Were in one potent essence concentrate,
I neither loved, nor feasted, nor played dice;
Power was my feast, my mistress, and my game.
Thus I have acted with a will entire,
And wreathed the passion that distracted others
Into a sceptre for myself.


    Another of Lord John's early essays, if not his first, was a book entitled "Essays and Sketches of Life and Character, by a Gentleman who has left his Lodgings."  The pseudonyms assumed by his Lordship on this occasion was "Joseph Skillet," who ushered the essays into notice with a rather humorous preface, explaining how the MSS. came into his possession, and why he determined to print them.  This was a fashion in vogue at the time, and probably the author of Waverley helped it by the very amusing prefaces which he usually prefixed to his novels.  Joseph Skillet's essays were not, however, very brilliant, though somewhat dogmatic.  They indicated considerable reading, and a cultivated literary taste.  There is some smartness about the essays, but we search them in vain for one original thought.  Take, for instance, a passage on "Men of Letters:"—


    "There is no class of persons, it may be observed, whose feelings are more open to remark than men of letters.  In the first place, they are raised on an eminence, where everything they do is carefully observed by those who have not been able to get so high.  In the next place, their occupation, especially if they are poets, being either the expression of superabundant feeling or the pursuit of praise, they are naturally more sensitive and quick in their emotions than any other class of men: hence a thousand little quarrels and passing irritabilities.  In the next place, they have the power of wounding deeply those of whom they are envious.  A man who shoots envies another who shoots better.  A shoemaker even envies another who makes more popular shoes; but the sportsman and the shoemaker can only say they do not like their rivals; the author cuts his brother author to the bone with the sharp edge of an epigram or bon mot."


    But Lord John's reputation as a literary man rather rests on his political works than on any of those above mentioned.  In 1820 he published a Life of his distinguished ancestor, Lord William Russell.  This is a good, readable biography, though we are disposed to suspect biographies written by descendants of distinguished men.  They can scarcely be called impartial, as they are concerned to spare the deceased in matters about which the public are interested in knowing the whole truth.  The "Life of Lord William Russell" is rather too much of a collection, in the style of Moore's Life and Letters.  In the art of biography, Lord John certainly is not great.  Speaking of the opinion of his relative, the author states: "The political opinions of Lord Russell were those of a Whig.  His religious creed was that of a mild and talented Christian."  But he adds, speaking of his animosity to the Catholics: "It must be owned that the violence of Lord Russell against the Roman Catholics betrayed him into credulity."  Thus, the mild and talented Christian, according to the author, was a man of violent animosity and a credulous zealot.

    Lord John, when recently speaking at Bristol, on the subject of English History, was very hard upon Hume and others, who fell infinitely short of his own high standard.  But it is clear that the history of England, written in the above style, would be neither accurate nor instructive.

    In 1821 another work appeared from Lord John Russell's pen, entitled "An Essay on the History of the English Government and Constitution, from the Reign of Henry the Seventh to the present Time."  This work is fragmentary, being only the latter half of the treatise originally proposed by his Lordship, which was to embrace an examination of the history of constitutional monarchies.  The Essay contains a summary of the then political opinions of his Lordship on poor laws, national debt, liberty of the press, Parliamentary reform, public schools, and such like subjects.  The conclusion of the treatise contains the pith of it, as postscripts often do, and it is as follows: "There was a practical wisdom in our ancestors, which induced them to alter and vary the form of our institutions as they went on, to suit the circumstances of the time, and reform them according to the dictates of experience.  They never ceased to work upon one frame of government, as a sculptor fashions the model of a favourite statue.  It is an act now seldom used, and the disuse has been attended with evils of the most alarming magnitude."  Cobbett would have found a rich subject for his sarcasm in this sentence, had he analyzed it in his usual scarifying style,—for it is anything but well written,—yet you see through the author's meaning clearly enough; the Westminster Review thus briefly criticised it: "The sentence exhibits the tinkering propensities of Lord John to mend the constitutional kettle."  In former days, his Lordship was a zealous supporter of the Corn Laws, which he looked upon as "preventing the abandonment of agriculture in England;" and he very highly approved Lord Lauderdale's scheme of coining guineas of the value of twenty-one shillings paper currency, as a measure necessary for "the safety of the State" and the satisfaction of the claims of the national creditor.

    One of the best-written sentences in the last-mentioned Essay is that in which his Lordship describes the character of the political lawyer,—a description, however, by no means complimentary to the Bar:

    "Generally speaking, the first disposition of a lawyer, it must be confessed, is to inquire boldly and argue sharply upon public abuses.  They are not apt to indulge any bigoted reverence for the depositaries of power; and, on the other hand, they value liberty as the guardian of free speech.  But the close of a lawyer's life is not always conformable to his outset.  Many who commence by too warm an admiration for popular privileges, end by too frigid a contempt for all enthusiasm.  They are accustomed to let their tongues for the hour, and by a natural transition they sell them for a term of years, or for life.  Commencing with the vanity of popular harangues, they end by the meanest calculations of avarice."  This is certainly sense, but happily not quite correct.  There are lawyers who have ratted; but even ministers are not infallible; and there are men of all political parties the close of whose lives is not always conformable to their outset,—for which, indeed, they are as often entitled to our praise as to our blame.

    The largest work which Lord John has published, and that on which he has bestowed most pains, is his "Memoirs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht," published in two quarto volumes, in 1824; and it has since reached a fourth edition.  This bespeaks the public approval.  But the book is dull, and lends no fresh interest to the history of the period.  It is a dry compilation, an annotated chapter of historical events; but it is not history, unless it be the dropsy of history.  Beside Macaulay, Alison, and Martineau, his Lordship indeed looks small.  But he continued to write other historical works; the principal of which are, "The Establishment of the Turks in Europe; an Historical Essay, with Preface," published in 1828, in which the author regarded with rather a favourable eye the doctrines of Mahomet, but failed to give any clear idea of the history or government of Turkey in Europe.  Another historical essay followed, in 1832, on "The Causes of the French Revolution," a gossiping book about Voltaire, Rousseau, and the court of Louis; but its title is evidently a misnomer.  Indeed, his Lordship was now so immersed in the political life of the House of Commons, that works of an elaborate or carefully studied character were scarcely to be expected from his pen.  Nevertheless, he has since appeared as an author, or rather as an editor,—in 1842, as the editor of the "Correspondence of John, Fourth Duke of Bedford," and more recently as the editor of Tom Moore's and Charles James Fox's "Life and Correspondence."  The subjects are in themselves of great interest, and deserve able and careful treatment.  Whether they have received that, let the critics and the public be the judges.  It is clear, however, that Lord John Russell's reputation with posterity will not depend upon his literary works.  His true arena is the House of Commons,—the theatre of his greatest intellectual efforts and his most decided triumphs.


――――♦――――

 
THE RT. HON. BENJAMIN DISRAELI.

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS (1804-81):
English statesman and twice Prime Minister.  Picture Wikipedia.


THE distinguished Conservative leader of the House of Commons is entitled to be regarded as a literary, quite as much as a political character.  He had achieved a reputation as an author long before his advent as a debater; and, not improbably, it was his careful training in the former capacity which laid the foundations of his success in the latter.

    This British statesman is of Jewish descent.  His grandfather, Benjamin Disraeli, was a Venetian merchant, settled for many years in England.  He left a moderate fortune to his son, Isaac Disraeli, the well-known author of the "Curiosities of Literature," and other works.  Mr. Isaac Disraeli lived at the old house, No. 6 Bloomsbury Square, where Benjamin, the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, was born, in December, 1805.

    The son took after the father's tastes, and very early made his début in literature.  After a careful course of school instruction, and an ineffectual attempt on the part of his father to make a city merchant of him, the youth made a tour in Germany, in his eighteenth year, and on his return to England he set about the composition of his first work, which was published while he was yet a minor, in the beginning of 1826.  The book was a novel, in five volumes,—the well-known "Vivian Grey."  Its appearance caused considerable excitement in the literary world; it quite puzzled the busy idlers of high life by its pictures of fashionable society, which, however faithful they may have been, were calculated to give the general reader a thorough contempt for that blasé region of humanity.  But those caterers for the press, who assumed to represent the aristocratic portion of society, pronounced the pictures drawn in "Vivian Grey" to be impudently false and outrageously absurd.  However this may be, the book was eagerly read, and was the "talk of the season."  It exhibited almost reckless power, was full of daring sarcasm, and, though often false and absurd, was yet, throughout, (we speak more especially of the first two volumes, which are complete in themselves,) original and coherent.

    It is curious, at this time of day, to read "Vivian Grey" by the light thrown upon its pages by the more recent career of its author.  Thus regarded, it is something of a prophetic book.  It contained the germs of nearly all the subsequent fruit of Mr. Disraeli's mind,—to the extent of his political aspirations, his struggles, and his successes.  They are all foreshadowed there.  Although, in the third volume (published a year after the first two), he disclaimed the charge of having attempted to paint his own portrait in the book, it is nevertheless very clear that, in imagination, he was the hero of his own tale, and that the characters or puppets which he exhibited and worked were such as he would have formed had he the making of the world; nay, more, they were such as he subsequently found ready-made to his hand.

    In "Vivian Grey" you have the fast young man in upper-class life,—a brilliant, fashionable, clever, sardonic, heartless, ambitious youth,—possessed by an ardent craving for political intrigue, and a keen desire for fame and power, to achieve which he has no scruples about the means, employing tricks, falsities, and grand coups de théâtre, provided these will serve his purpose.  The motto standing on the title-page bespeaks the character of Vivian Grey:


"Why then the world's mine oyster,
 Which I with sword will open."


    One of the prominent characters in the book is the Marquis de Carabas,—an aristocratic booby,—one of those ciphers with a figure before it, in the shape of a title, which give ciphers so much value in modern society.  This Marquis de Carabas had been in power,—and he might be again.  So Vivian clings to his skirts, makes a friend of him, intrigues for him, and hopes by his aid to vault into power and office, though despising, all the while, the Marquis's heart, intellect, and character.  Vivian first gains his Lordship's favour at a dinner-party, by helping him out in an argument by a quotation from Bolingbroke (invented by Vivian for the occasion), and he afterwards secures the noble lord by furnishing him with a receipt for making "Tomahawk Punch."  From a dissertation on punch, Vivian diverges into a conversation about Power, and of course he succeeds, in his usual all-powerful way, in rousing the old lord's slumbering ambition.  Here is a curious passage:


    "'Is power a thing so easily to be despised, young man?' asked the Marquis.

    "'O, no, my lord, you do mistake me,' eagerly burst forth Vivian; 'I am no cold-blooded philosopher, that would despise that, for which, in my opinion, men—real men—should alone exist.  Power!  O, what sleepless nights! what days of hot anxiety! what exertions of mind and body! what travel! what hatred! what fierce encounters! what dangers of all possible kinds, would I not endure, with a joyous spirit, to gain it!' . . . .

    "It must not be supposed that Vivian was, to all the world, the fascinating creature that he was to the Marquis of Carabas.  Many complained that he was reserved, silent, haughty.  But the truth was, Vivian Grey often asked himself, 'Who is to be my enemy to-morrow?'  He was too cunning a master of the human mind not to be aware of the quicksands upon which all greenhorns strike; he knew too well the danger of unnecessary intimacy.  A
SMILE FOR A FRIEND, AND A SNEER FOR THE WORLD, is the way to govern mankind, and such was the motto of Vivian Grey.

    "Now, Vivian Grey was conscious that there was at least one person in the world who was no craven, either in body or mind; and so he had long come to the comfortable conclusion that it was impossible that his career could be anything but the most brilliant . . . . . Not that it must be supposed, even for a moment, that Vivian Grey was what the world calls conceited.  O, no! he knew the measure of his own mind, and had fathomed the depth of his powers with equal skill and impartiality; but in the process he could not but feel that he could conceive much, and dare do more."


    Vivian climbs well.  He forms a party, and seems on the eve of vaulting with them into power.  At this time his father (a retired literary gentleman) writes to him as follows.  It is Vivian Grey's other self that speaks; and perhaps Benjamin Disraeli himself may yet look back with interest at this prophetic utterance of his youth:—


"'You are now, my dear son, a member of what is called le grand monde,—society formed on anti-social principles.  Apparently, you have possessed yourself of the object of your wishes; but the scenes you live in are very movable; the characters you associate with are all masked; and it will always be doubtful whether you can retain that long which has been obtained by some slippery artifice.  Vivian, you are a juggler; and the deception of your sleight-of-hand tricks depends upon instantaneous motion.  When the selfish combine with the selfish, bethink you how many projects are doomed to disappointment; how many cross interests baffle the parties, at the same time joined together without ever uniting.  What a mockery is their love! but how deadly are their hatreds!  All this great society, with whom so young an adventurer has trafficked, abate nothing of their price in the slavery of their service and the sacrifice of violated feelings.  What sleepless nights has it cost you to win over the disobliged, to conciliate the discontented, to cajole the contumacious!  You may smile at the hollow flatteries, answering to flatteries as hollow, which, like bubbles when they touch, dissolve into nothing; but tell me, Vivian, what has the self-tormentor felt at the laughing treacheries which force a man down into self-contempt?'"


    An old political character, Cleveland, thus discourses to Vivian:—


    "'O Grey! of all the delusions which flourish in this mad world, the delusion of that man is the most frantic who voluntarily, and of his own accord, supports the interest of a party.  I mention this to you because it is a rock on which all young politicians strike.  Fortunately, you enter life under different circumstances from those which usually attend most political débutants.  You have your connections formed and your views ascertained.  But if, by any chance, you find yourself independent and unconnected, never, for a moment, suppose that you can accomplish your objects by coming forward, unsolicited, to fight the battle of a party.  They will cheer your successful exertions, and then smile at your youthful zeal; or, crowing themselves for the unexpected succour, be too cowardly to reward their unexpected champion.  No, Grey, make them fear you, and they will kiss your feet.'"


    It will be seen, from these extracts, that the book is intensely political in its character, and is not without its close bearings upon the career of the author himself.  Its sketches of character were found so clever, its satire so keen and relentless, its dialogue so brisk and effervescent, that "Vivian Grey" became the rage of the day, and there was a decided run upon it at all the circulating libraries.  Not improbably its great success dazzled the author.  Finding himself suddenly raised to a giddy eminence, he struggled convulsively to retain it; and in his next novel, entitled "Contarini Fleming, or, The Physiological Romance," the faults of "Vivian Grey" came out again in a still more exaggerated form.  There was the same flashiness and force, the same dashing satire and exaggerated character, the same strong self-portraiture, the same desire to astonish people, and take them, as it were, by storm.  And yet, withal, the book was full of brilliant writing and captivating imagery; and though the taste which dictated it was often false, the thoughts were generally striking and the language chaste, elegant, and classical.

    In the meantime, the author had made an extensive tour through foreign countries, visiting Italy, Greece, and Albania; passing from thence, in the winter of 1829-30, to Constantinople.  In the following spring he visited the land of his fathers, and traversed the scenes made memorable by the deeds and history of the children of Israel,—a portion of his tour which seems to have exercised great influence on his ardent imagination.  From Syria, he travelled on to Egypt and Nubia, and returned to England in 1831, where he found the nation in the throes of the Reform agitation.  He could not fail to be influenced by the stirring events passing around him at this time; but, still under the deep shadow of Eastern tradition and romance, he now gave birth to his "Wondrous Tale of Alroy,"—which the critics universally hailed as a damning proof of the young author's confirmed literary lunacy.  The book was beautifully written, yet it was an exhibition of romance run mad, which no elegances of style could redeem.  Wild, incongruous, and raving, it was laughed at unmercifully,—and for a writer to be laughed at in England, when he means to be serious! every one knows what the fate of that writer is.  But Disraeli had pluck in him, and he recovered himself in time, though not before he had perpetrated several other literary absurdities of an extraordinary kind.  One of these was his "Revolutionary Epic," in commemoration of the great revolutionists of modern times, from Robespierre down to John Frost.  Only the first part of this poem was given to the world; but the author promised future instalments, should the plaudits of the public encourage him to proceed.  In his Preface, however, he added, "That if the decision of the public should be in the negative, then will he, without a pang, hurl his lyre to Limbo."  As the public laughed at the poem, nothing more has been heard of the sequel of the "Revolutionary Epic."

    After the lapse of a few years, Mr. Disraeli again appeared before the public in a succession of novels.  Abandoning the ultra-romantic style he had adopted in the "Wondrous Tale of Alroy," and the ultra-sardonic manner of "Vivian Grey," he consented to enter upon a more beaten track, in which, by dint of perseverance and hard work, he was soon enabled to get ahead of most of his contemporaries.  "Henrietta Temple," "Venetia," and "The Young Duke," were rather sickening in their love passages, but the stories were well told.  "Violette the Danseuse" (which has been generally attributed to him) was a charming tale, though there was about it rather too much of the "man about town."  His later tales are well known; they are certainly his best;—"Coningsby," published in 1844 "Sybil," in 1845; and "Tancred," in 1847.

    "Coningsby" and "Sybil" are of a strongly political character; they might almost be regarded as a kind of official state papers, embodying the theories of Young England as to politics, society, and history.  "Coningsby" was hailed, on its appearance, as an exceedingly clever novel,—clever in the higher acceptation of the term.  It exhibited moral courage, mental independence, and worthy aims.  It showed, on the writer's part, a strong desire to make Conservatism popular: and even while scouting democracy, he made his court to it.  "Coningsby" is eminently a novel of progress; it might almost be termed democratic.  The pictures of the aristocracy and their toadies, given there, do not make us fall in love with them,—most probably they were not intended to do so.  In delineating the corruption of the rotten boroughs, though Disraeli may not equal Thackeray or Dickens, he yet furnishes us with capital pictures, broadly painted, and full of truthful vigour.  His Rigby, Monmouth, Taper, and Tadpole, will not soon be forgotten.
 

    But it is difficult to ascertain from these novels, or even from Mr. Disraeli's speeches, what his precise principles are.  One thing he is very enthusiastic about, and that is, the Judaic element in civilization, and he from time to time cries up "the pure Caucasian breed," and "the Venetian origin of the British Constitution."  But his notions about the said British Constitution are very peculiar.  He decries the representative part of it, which many take to be its vital element.  He sets the press and public opinion above the Parliament.  "Opinion," says he, "is now supreme, and speaks in print.  The representation of the press is far more complete than the representation of Parliament.  Parliamentary representation was the happy device of a ruder age, to which it was admirably adapted; an age of semi-civilization, when there was a leading class in the community; but it exhibits many symptoms of desuetude.  It is now controlled by a system of representation more vigorous and comprehensive."  And then he goes on to say that, "If we are forced to revolutions, let us propose to our consideration the idea of a free monarchy, established on fundamental laws, itself the apex of a vast pile of municipal and local government, ruling an educated people, represented by a free and intellectual press;" in fact, a kind of parental despotism, or combination of absolutism and democracy, such as is now being tried on the other side of the English Channel.  All this may seem rather destructive in its tendencies.  Indeed, Mr. Disraeli's forte is not constructiveness: he is good at pulling down; but any hodman can do this.  The great practical genius must show how he can build.  If we were called upon, after a perusal of Mr. Disraeli's writings and speeches, to give a definition of his politics, we should say,—his sentiments are Tory, his presentiments are Radical; he feels like a Paladin, he thinks like a Republican.  As for his proper political party, though he may at present be the leader of a party, his own is really to make yet.  He has but few sympathies with the men whom he leads, and they have few or none with him.  The Buckingham county aristocracy turn up their noses at him; but let these and other county magnates beware how they spit upon the Jewish gabardine.  He may plant his foot upon their necks yet.  He has himself publicly stated in the House of Commons, that he had little sympathy for either of the great political parties into which the public men of England have heretofore been divided; and in "Coningsby," while he avers that "the Whigs are worn out," and Radicalism is polluting," he also emphatically declares that "Conservatism is a sham."

    Indeed, Mr. Disraeli is a thorough sceptic as regards all that we denominate social progress.  He scouts it as a delusion, and represents it as a hoax.  This is made very clear in his most careful novel, "Tancred."  As the Edinburgh Review observed, in noticing the work on its appearance:


"All that we are accustomed most to admire and desiderate, all that we are wont to rest upon as most stable amid the fluctuating fortunes of the world,—the progress of civilization, the development of human intelligence, the co-ordinate extension of power and responsibility among the masses of mankind, the advance of self-reliance and self-control, all, in truth, for which not we alone, but all other nations, have been yearning, and fighting, and praying for the last three centuries,—all that has been done by the Reformation, by the English and French Revolutions, by American Independence,—is here proclaimed an entire delusion and failure; and we are taught that we can now only hope to improve our future by utterly renouncing our past."


    "Tancred " falls back upon an old idea of Mr. Disraeli's,—the supremacy of the Jewish race, and their alleged prerogative of being at once the moral ruler and political master of humanity.  Indeed, we are strongly impressed with the idea that this distinguished man's life and opinions have been in no small degree influenced by the fact of his own peculiar origin and ancestry.  We say this in no offensive or hostile spirit.  But a man cannot ignore his own blood; and of all races of men, the "peculiar people" cling the most tenaciously to their traditions, kindred, and ancestry.  A Jew never becomes thoroughly influenced by the national spirit of the people among whom he lives; he is a Jew still; his home and country are in the East,—still in the promised land.  What is more, he cannot sympathize fully with the ideas of progress and civilization entertained by other races.  He is neither inspired by the military and adventurous spirit of the Celt, nor the colonizing, laborious enterprise of the Saxon.  He does not cling to the soil until it becomes native to him.  Though centuries pass away, the Jewish family, like the Gypsy, remains the same.  It never merges nor subsides, like the Saxon, Danish, or Norman, into the nation amid which it has planted itself.

    This essential characteristic of the Jew will be found to form the true key to "Coningsby," "Sybil," and especially to "Tancred" and also to those peculiarly "destructive" and altogether indefinite political views entertained (so far as can be collected from his speeches and writings) by the distinguished subject of our present memoir.  In "Tancred," the old Judaic notions as to the race will be found revived in their most intense form.  He there represents "the slumber of the East as more vital than the waking life of the rest of the globe;" and Europe is described as "that quarter of the globe to which God has never spoken."  "'I know well,' says Tancred, in Palestine, 'though born in a northern or distant isle, that the Creator of the world speaks with men only in this land; and that is why I am here.'"  "Is it to be believed," writes Mr. Disraeli, speaking in his own proper person, "that there are no peculiar and eternal qualities in a land thus visited, which distinguish it from all others? that Palestine is like Normandy or Yorkshire, or even Athens or Rome?"  Strange, that the country gentlemen of England should have adopted this Fetichist for their leader!

    We have left ourselves but small space to refer to the political career of Mr. Disraeli; but it is not necessary we should refer to this at any length.  In "Vivian Grey" his political views seemed bounded by a desire to find a Marquis de Carabas.  The feverish excitement of the Reform Bill, which stimulated him to become the poet of the epoch, brought him out in the character of a Radical, or rather a hater of the Whigs; because, after all, he never seems to have clung very closely to Radicalism.  However, he went down to High Wycombe as a candidate for that borough, in 1832, recommended by Mr. Hume and Sir E. L. Bulwer.  Mr. O'Connell was, at the same time, applied to for a character.  Mr. Disraeli was defeated; a second election took place in the same year, when he was again defeated; and he tried the borough a third time, in 1835, when he was a third time defeated.  It seems that the late Earl Grey, on hearing of Disraeli having contested the Wycombe election with his relative, Colonel Grey, asked of some one the question, "Who is he?" and immediately the young aspirant for Parliamentary honours issued a furious pamphlet under this title.  It was originally published by Hatchard of Piccadilly, but is not now to be had.  It was a furious onslaught on the Whigs, very eloquent, but in many places very unintelligible.

    A vacancy in the representation of Marylebone shortly after occurred, on which Disraeli announced himself as a candidate, published placards, and canvassed the constituency; but he did not go to the poll.  Joseph Hume, on whom he called, gave him "the cold shoulder;" for the old veteran could not see very clearly through the young politician's hodgepodge notions of Anti-Whig Liberalism, Tory Radicalism, and Absolutist Democracy, which he had just developed in an address to the electors of High Wycombe, under the title of "The Crisis Examined."  So, abandoning the hope of getting into Parliament on Joseph Hume's or Daniel O'Connell's shoulders, the Young-Englander suddenly wheeled round on the other tack, and forthwith came out in the character of a full-blown Tory.  He went down to Taunton to oppose Mr. Labouchere, and was defeated.  A furious altercation between him and O'Connell afterwards took place, in which the latter denounced him, in his usual coarse, Swift-like style, as one who, "if his genealogy were traced, would be found to be the true heir-at-law of the impenitent thief who died upon the cross."  On this, Disraeli, stung to fury, challenged Morgan O'Connell to fight him in a duel; but Morgan declined; Disraeli was bound over to keep the peace, and the correspondence was published.  In his letter to O'Connell he concluded with these words: "We shall meet at Philippi, where I will seize the first opportunity of inflicting castigation for the insults you have lavished upon me."  The correspondence was a good deal laughed at, and Disraeli had by this time certainly succeeded in reducing himself to the lowest possible plight as a public man.  But he had genius in him, and resolution; and he worked his way upward again, as we shall see.

    He began to recover himself through means of the press,—always his great power.  He wrote a very clever, brilliant, and admirable essay, entitled, "A Vindication of the English Constitution;" and shortly after, he published in the Times newspaper a series of very clever letters, afterwards collected in a volume, entitled the "Letters of Runnymede."  They were racy, brilliant, satirical, and well-informed, though occasionally rather insolent in their smartness.  It is also supposed that, about the same time, and even down to a recent date, Mr. Disraeli contributed frequently to the leading columns of "The Thunderer."

    At length, Mr. Disraeli succeeded in obtaining admission to Parliament, as one of the members for the borough of Maidstone.  This was at the general election in 1837.  No great expectations were formed of him, and yet there was some curiosity excited respecting his début as an orator.  He had delivered some blazing philippics against the Whigs out of doors, and uttered sundry mystic speeches, rather overlaid with classical allusions.  The gentlemen of the House of Commons expected that Disraeli would make a fool of himself; and he did not disappoint them.  His first effort was a ludicrous failure,—his maiden speech being received with "loud bursts of laughter."  The newspapers said of him, that he went up like a rocket, and came down like its stick.  You may conceive the chagrin of the young legislator,—whose speech had been composed in the grandest and most ambitious strain of eloquence, but was received as if every period concluded a pun or a flash of wit.  It was as if Hamlet had been played as a comedy!  But towards the conclusion, he threw in a sentence worthy of being quoted, for it was a true prophecy.  Writhing under the shouts of laughter which had drowned so much of his studied eloquence, he exclaimed in an almost savage voice: "I have begun several times many things, and have often succeeded at last.  I shall sit down now, but the time will come when YOU WILL HEAR ME!"  The time did come,—for Disraeli now stands confessed to be one of the greatest orators within the walls of the British Parliament.

    The subsequent career of Disraeli furnishes an admirable lesson to all men: it shows what determination and energy will do.  He owed all his success to hard work and patient industry.  He began carefully to unlearn his faults, to study the character of his audience, to cultivate the arts of speech, and to fill his mind with the elements of Parliamentary knowledge.  He soon felt that success in oratory was not to be obtained at a bound, but had to be patiently worked for.  His triumph did come; but it came slowly, and by degrees.  A year and a half elapsed before he again attempted to address the House; and then the results of his care and study showed themselves in an excellent speech on the presentation of the Chartist Petition.  He had already thrown away his poetic and historical imagery, and took his stand on facts, feelings, and strong common-sense.  In the following year, he delivered a speech full of strong sympathy for the incarcerated Chartists, Lovett and Collins, disclaiming the plea of mercy on the part of the state in their behalf, and insisting that they were the really aggrieved parties.  His speeches on copyright and education in the following year were much admired, and also his famous attack on foreign consular establishments in the session of 1842.  These speeches served to efface the recollection of his first egregious failure, though he had not yet achieved a very high position in the House.
 

    In 1844 Mr. Disraeli commenced his series of oratorical attacks on Sir Robert Peel, and continued them with invincible pertinacity, and with growing power and force of satire, until the fall of that lamented statesman, and even for some time after.  It is said that Disraeli had been slighted in his aspirations for office,—at all events, he had been overlooked; for Sir Robert Peel always preferred to have under him men of strongly practical qualities.  How that may be, we cannot tell; but certainly, the vehement personal attacks,—the stinging, biting satire launched through the teeth,—the almost vengeful wrath with which Disraeli pursued the minister, and met him with his poisoned shafts at every turn,—exhibited a determined personal hostility, which must have had its foundation in some slighted ambition or exasperated individual feeling.  So far as Disraeli was concerned, it was war to the knife, and to the death.  A series of assaults, so long sustained and so vindictive, is probably unexampled in the history of Parliamentary warfare.  There was a large and growing party of malcontents, too, in the House, who did not fail to urge on the satire of Disraeli by their laughter and applause.  His irony became more and more polished, keen, and penetrating.  His speeches were full of refinement, but equally full of venom.  The adder lurked under the rose-leaves: the golden arrows were tipped with deadly poison.  No wonder that the sensitive subject of all those speeches should have writhed under the hands of his ruthless, but too skilful anatomist.

    Take a few instances of Disraeli's satire.  On one occasion, he characterized the Premier as only "a great Parliamentary middleman."  And what is a middleman?  "He was a man who bamboozled one party and plundered the other, till, having obtained a position to which he was not entitled, he called out, 'Let us have no party!  Let us have fixity of tenure!'"  This passage, however, has since been quoted against Mr. Disraeli himself.  Then he went on to describe his great Parliamentary antagonist's speeches, recorded in Hansard, as "dreary pages of interminable talk; full of predictions falsified, pledges broken, calculations that had gone wrong, and budgets that had blown up.  And this not relieved by a single original thought, a single generous impulse, or a single happy expression."  Then he described the Peel policy as "a system so matter-of-fact, yet so fallacious; taking in everybody, though everybody knew he was deceived; a system so mechanical, yet so Machiavellian, that he could hardly say what it was, except a sort of humdrum hocus-pocus, in which the 'Order of the Day' was moved to take in a nation;" and he concluded the speech by calling on the House to prove that "cunning is not caution, nor habitual perfidy high policy of state," exhorting them to "dethrone a dynasty of deception, by putting an end to this intolerable yoke of official despotism and Parliamentary imposture."  It was in the course of the same session (1846) that Mr. Disraeli made the happy hit of representing Sir Robert Peel as having "caught the Whigs bathing, and run away with their clothes,"—an idea which Punch seized upon, and worked out with characteristic vigour.  There was also a terrible sting in his apparently off-hand, but probably studied remark on Sir Robert Peel's habit of quotation, in which he advised him to "stick to quotation; because he never quoted any passage that had not previously received the full meed of Parliamentary approbation."

    Of course, any mere description would fail to convey the screaming delight with which such palpable hits were hailed on one side of the House, and the blank dismay which they caused on the other.  Their sting lay in the tone with which the words were uttered, and in the position of the contending parties at the time.  They were addressed to minds familiar with the person attacked, with his history as written in Hansard, and hot with the living politics of the day.  To those who read them on the printed paper, they may seem comparatively dead and pointless.

    Disraeli's boldness increased with his success.  There was no other man on his side to compare with him.  He towered infinitely above the host of country gentlemen, who, though exasperated Protectionists, were nevertheless for the most part dumb, and could only find a vent for their eloquence in cheering Disraeli's bitter attacks on the Premier.  The session of 1846 brought his oratory to its climax.  He then took the lead in opposing the Premier's measure of Corn-Law Repeal, and delivered on the occasion several of his ablest speeches, full of cutting sarcasm and powerful invective.  In the debate on the third reading of the Corn Bill, in a strain of withering irony, he acquitted the Premier of meditated deception in his adoption of Free-Trade principles, "seeing that he had all along, for thirty or forty years, traded on the ideas of others; that his life had been one great appropriation clause; and that he had ever been the burglar of other men's intellects."  He also denounced him as the "political pedlar, who, adopting the principles of Free Trade, had bought his party in the cheapest market, and sold them in the dearest."  The feeling which dictated these speeches was obviously not so much deep-rooted conviction as personal hostility and revenge; and though Disraeli's followers may have cheered, they could not but, at the same time, condemn much of what he so eloquently uttered.  Sir Robert Peel fell from power, and only then did his enemy's attacks cease.

    The subsequent history of Mr. Disraeli is too well known to require comment at our hands.  We do not here discuss politics or parties.  In this sketch we have aimed merely at giving an idea of the littérateur and the statesman, whose talents, energy, and industry have already carried him so high, and may possibly carry him higher.


Hughendon Manor near High Wycombe, Disraeli's seat from 1848 until his death.  Now
a National Trust property.  Picture Wikipedia.


    With the features and general portraiture of Disraeli the reader of Punch is already familiar; indeed, that useful periodical may be regarded as a gallery of the portraits of living men of mark.  His external appearance is very characteristic.  A face of ashy paleness, large dark eyes, curling black hair, a stooping gait, an absorbed look, a shuffling walk,—these are his external marks; and once seen, you will not fail to remember Disraeli.  There is something unusual, indeed quite foreign, in his appearance; and you could not by any possibility mistake him for a Saxon.  Notwithstanding his position, he is an exceedingly isolated being.  He makes no intimates, has few or no personal friends,—he seems to be lonely and self-absorbed, feeding upon his own thoughts.
 

Disraeli and Queen Victoria, during
the latter's visit to Hughenden Manor
at the height of the Eastern crisis.
Picture Wikipedia.

    As a debater, Mr. Disraeli is entitled to a very high rank, perhaps the highest in the present House of Commons.  But it must be confessed that his oratory is entirely intellectual.  He never touches the heart: his greatest efforts have been satirical,—of the scathing, blighting, and destroying kind: his best speeches have been eminently of a destructive character.  Yet their finish has been perfect,—perfect as a product of the mere intellect.  He never carries away his auditors in a fit of enthusiasm, as O'Connell and Shiel could do.  The feeling he leaves with you is that of high admiration of his intellectual powers,—and you cannot help saying, "What a remarkably clever man Disraeli is!"  Though usually ungainly and somewhat supercilious in his action, no speaker can be more effective than he is in making his "points."  His by-play, as actors call it, is perfect; and to his sneers and sarcasms he gives the fullest force by the most subtle modulations of his voice, by transient expressions of the features, and by the inimitable shrug; and, while the House is convulsed by the laughter which he has raised at an adversary's expense, he himself usually remains as apparently unmoved and impassive, as if he were not an actor in the scene.

    Such is but a brief and imperfect sketch of this remarkable man,—lately Chancellor of the British Exchequer.  His position is a lofty one, and he has earned it solely by his talent and his industry.  He has already achieved success in many ways; but he is competent to do much more.  Whether he succeed as a great statesman, and found an enduring reputation as a patriot and benefactor of men, depends entirely upon himself.


――――♦――――

 
THE RT. HON. W. E. GLADSTONE.

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98): English Statesman
and four times Prime Minister.  Picture Wikipedia.


THE present Chancellor of the British Exchequer has sprung from the middle ranks of the people.  His father, the late Sir John Gladstone, of Fasque, was in early life a small tradesman in the town of Leith, where he was born.  The family originally came from Biggar, in Lanarkshire, and were respectable people, though in humble circumstances.  John Gladstone, or Gladstones, as he was then called, did not succeed in business at Leith, and afterwards removed to Liverpool, where, at the age of twenty-two, he began the world anew, in a very small way; but by dint of industry, energy, and frugality, and through shrewd knowledge of men, of life, and of business, he rapidly succeeded in accumulating an immense fortune, chiefly in the West Indian and American trade.  Indeed, rapid though the success of Liverpool men often is, that of John Gladstone was almost unprecedented.  This was, in a great measure, owing to his commercial skill and enterprise, which led him to embark in ventures from which other merchants held aloof; but the safety and wisdom of which, rash though to some they might appear, were amply justified by the result.  For example, he was the first Liverpool merchant who ventured upon the East India trade, now of such vast extent; his vessel, the Kinginsall, having been the very first that sailed from Liverpool to Calcutta.  He thus opened up an immense field of profitable trade to Liverpool; and, while he largely increased his own fortunes, he proved a benefactor to his fellow-townsmen, which they were never slow to acknowledge.

    John Gladstones not only succeeded as a merchant, but he also achieved distinction as a member of Parliament.  At different times he represented Lancaster, Woodstock, and Berwick.  Though a Conservative, he was a man of liberal tendencies, being one of Mr. Canning 's most attached supporters; and when Canning visited Liverpool, during the time he represented that town, he invariably made Seaforth House (Mr. Gladstone's residence) his temporary home.  In 1835, he obtained permission, by royal license, to drop the final letter s in his name; and in 1846 he was created a baronet of the United Kingdom.  Having purchased extensive estates in his native country, at Fasque and Belfour, in Kincardineshire, he chiefly resided there in his later years, leaving his extensive Liverpool business to the management of his sons.

    Sir John Gladstone was twice married,—first to a Liverpool lady, the daughter of Joseph Hall, Esq., by whom he had no issue; and, secondly, to Miss Anne Robertson, a daughter of Andrew Robertson, Provost (or Mayor) of Dingwall, a small town in the north of Scotland, situated in the Highland county of Ross.  By this lady Sir John Gladstone had a family of four sons and two daughters.  The fourth son, William Ewart, is the subject of our present sketch.  Readers of the newspapers may have observed that, not long ago, he paid a visit to Dingwall, the early home of his mother; and that he still associates that place of his kindred, in his memory, with many tender recollections.  He was, on the occasion referred to, presented with the freedom of the burgh,—a usual mode of complimenting public men in the towns of the North; and it generally affords an opportunity for much pleasant speech-making and exchange of compliments, which on the above occasion was not neglected.

    Sir John Gladstone, like Sir Robert Peel the elder, early designed his son William for the legislature, and educated him with the view of placing him there.  Doubtless the youth long remembered the beautiful face and the lofty career of Canning, his father's favourite political leader; and he may have received impressions from those visits of Canning to his father's house while he was yet a boy, which exercised no slight influence upon his subsequent career.  William Ewart Gladstone was born in 1809; he was sent to Eton School in 1821, and entered Christ Church, Oxford, as a student, in 1829.  He there distinguished himself by his diligence, good conduct, studious habits, and classical attainments.  Amongst his fellow-students were the present Lord Canning, with whom he entered as a student, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Elgin, Lord Harris, and Mr. Sidney Herbert.  Great hopes were entertained of his future career, even at that early age; and these were not diminished by his appearance in 1831, when he took a double first-class and his degree of B.A.  He had even then, too, achieved considerable eminence as a debater at the meetings of the Oxford Debating Society, where he assumed that liberal tone of Conservative politics which has since distinguished him.

    The Conservative party was not very strong in talent at that time, and the burden of the battle in Parliament fell upon Peel, who gallantly, but ineffectually, struggled to resist the democratic tendencies of the age.  When Mr. Gladstone entered the House of Commons for Newark, in December, 1832, he was accordingly welcomed as an important accession to the debating phalanx of the Conservatives.  Nor were public expectations in "the young Oxonian" disappointed.  In two years he had made a position in the House, though he was then not more than twenty-five years of age.  One secret of his success as a speaker was, not that he was so eloquent, as that he was so diligent.  He made himself thoroughly acquainted with the subjects upon which he spoke; mastered bluebooks, statistics, Parliamentary history, and political economy; the driest and most repulsive subjects were encountered and unravelled by him in his search for facts.  Such men always succeed in the House.  It is seen that they are conscientious and well-informed, and when they speak, the audience know that they have really got something to say.
 

    Mr. Gladstone at first did what the Conservative members of Parliament then felt impelled to do,—united with his fellow-representatives of similar views to stem the tide of "Reform."  His first speech was delivered in reply to Lord Howick, on the question of Negro emancipation, in which he urged the right of the planters to compensation.  He opposed, in successive Parliaments, the reform of the Irish Church, the reduction of the number of Irish bishops, the "Appropriation Clause," the Dissenters' Chapel Bill, the endowment of Maynooth, the emancipation of the Jews, and many other measures, on which his views have since entirely changed.  Indeed, Mr. Gladstone, in the early period of his career, was regarded in the light of an Oxford bigot; and he was stigmatized as a man of a narrow head, and a still narrower heart.  The Whig Examiner named him the "Pony Peel," regarding Peel himself as the "Joseph Surface" of politics.  We need scarcely say how different is the appreciation in which Mr. Gladstone is now held.

    It takes a long course of education in the practical business of life to bring out the true qualities of a man; and Mr. Gladstone's career only proves the truth of this observation.  It appears to us that Mr. Gladstone's history may be divided into two distinct parts;—one dating from his entry into the House of Commons down to the death of Sir Robert Peel; the other, since that event.  During nearly the whole of the first period, he was a pure Conservative,—his efforts being mainly devoted to resist all change or "reform;" whereas during the second period, or since Sir Robert Peel's famous Free-Trade policy was introduced, he has been engaged in the initiation and practical carrying out of a series of changes and reforms of the most extensive and influential character.

    Among the many remarkable gifts of Sir Robert Peel was that of detecting and appreciating character.  He rarely failed in the selection of the right man to support him in carrying out his policy to a successful issue; and from an early period, he seems to have appreciated the qualities of Mr. Gladstone.  He saw much deeper into him than most men.  While others saw in him a clever chopper of "Oxford logic," a man who could only split straws and promulgate extreme notions of High-Church policy, Peel saw in him a clear-sighted, practical man, of liberal tendencies and large views.  No one doubted Mr. Gladstone's scholarship, his skill as a debater, or his earnestness as a religious man; but he seems to have been regarded as one who lived amongst abstractions rather than realities, and whose mind was too much filled with the theories of the schoolmen and theologians, to attract any active sympathy from men living in a practical and rather commonplace age.

    During that first period of his career, Mr. Gladstone's style of oratory was somewhat peculiar.  It was very deferential, subdued, mild, and rather casuistical; yet there was a mysterious sort of charm about it, which invariably riveted the attention of the House.  Sincerity in any cause will always command attention and respect; and these Mr. Gladstone invariably obtained.  His manner was singular in the House of Commons, where dapper debaters and glib-tongued orators, with very little in their heads, are always ready enough to spring to their feet, and arrogantly deliver themselves of platitudes or blarney, to the disgust of reporters and the dismay of the Speaker.  Yet here was a man of the most profound scholarship, who, in the quietest possible tone of voice,—mild, clear, and harmonious,—in an abstracted, absorbed, and unaffected manner, delivered himself of the serious utterances of a deeply reflective and religious spirit.  He was never personal, and he carefully avoided all appeals which could serve to rouse the violence of political or religious rancour.  His finely-organized mind shrank from all this; he thus made few enemies, and gradually increased the number of his friends and admirers.  Still he was looked upon very much in the light of a resurrectionized monk, quite out of his element in a hard-mouthed modern legislature.

    Now we must speak of his practical qualities, which shortly afterwards came into light.  As we have observed, Peel marked him as a useful man, and he early secured him as a practical ally.  Mr. Gladstone's character has two distinct sides, the theoretical and the practical, the latter of which Peel was the first to detect.  In 1834 he was nominated a Lord of the Treasury, an office which was afterwards changed for that of Under-Secretary for the Colonies.  Great was the surprise of the quid nuncs at the intimation of the last appointment.  "What could Peel be thinking about, that he should appoint Gladstone, the young Oxonian and religious theorist, to so important an office?"  But the quid nuncs did not know, as Peel knew, that Gladstone had one character for the study and another for the secretary's desk.  In the latter capacity, he soon distinguished himself as an intelligent, active, painstaking official, thoroughly practical, knowing the business details of his office, and, in short, possessed of all those qualities which make the successful statesman.  Peel knew his man better than the quid nuncs, and they were afterwards found ready enough to admit his eminent abilities.  Mr. Gladstone's first tenure of office was, however, short, as he went out with Sir Robert Peel's ministry in 1835, on their defeat upon the Appropriation Clause.

    He remained out of office until the year 1841; and in the interval he occupied a good deal of his leisure on literary topics.  He was a diligent contributor to periodicals; he wrote a very admirable review of the Life of Blanco White in the Quarterly, and published several anonymous political pamphlets.  But the work which excited the greatest interest was that entitled "The State in its Relations with the Church," which he published at Amiens in 1838.  This book embodied his then views of the Church, and deservedly excited a great deal of notice.  It formed the subject of one of Macaulay's best essays in the Edinburgh Review, and it was defended by Dr. Arnold in his Introductory Lectures on Modern History.  There were few Reviews which passed by this book at the time of its appearance; and though Mr. Gladstone there put forward views of the most extreme kind, calculated to excite the most keen religious controversy,—leading, as they seemed to lead, to religious persecution,—still they were so evidently sincere, and the result of such conscientious inquiry, and set before the reader in such mild and plausible language, that they excited little hostility, though a very great deal of criticism.

    Mr. Gladstone, having laid down his principle, did not scruple to push it to its consequences, although in somewhat vague and misty logic.  His theory was based on the principle, that all "power," as the gift of God, is to be used for his glory; and that, in consequence, the possessors of all such power—statesmen, legislators, and magistrates—are called upon to hallow it by joint acts of worship.  Hence the state must select a religion, establish it, and make the people adopt it, discouraging every other form of religion,—not by direct persecution, but by excluding the professors of the non-established religion from civil offices, and from all marks of national honour.  Mr. Macaulay handled the subject of Mr. Gladstone's essay in a masterly manner, showing that the profession of a state religion by the entire members of the state would be a gross absurdity, and not only so, but a base tyranny.  To that essay we beg to refer the attention of the reader who would see the whole subject of Mr. Gladstone's work thoroughly discussed in all its bearings.

    Macaulay was, however, very complimentary to Mr. Gladstone.  He congratulated him, a young and rising politician, on the devotion of a portion of his leisure to study and research; setting himself down to the preparation of a grave and elaborate treatise on an important part of the philosophy of government.  Mr. Macaulay also recognized in Mr. Gladstone a man well qualified for philosophical investigation.  "His mind," he says,


"is of large grasp; nor is he deficient in dialectical skill.  But he does not give his intellect fair play.  There is no want of light, but a great want of what Bacon would have called dry light.  His rhetoric, though often good of its kind, darkens and perplexes the logic which it should illustrate.  Half his acuteness and diligence, with a barren imagination and scanty vocabulary, would have saved him from all his mistakes.  The book, though not a good book, shows more talent than many good books.  It abounds with eloquent and ingenious passages; it bears the signs of much patient thought; it is written throughout with excellent taste and temper; nor does it, so far as we have observed, contain one expression unworthy of a gentleman, a scholar, or a Christian."


    Doubtless, Mr. Gladstone was still under the strong influences of the High-Church principles inculcated at Oxford when he wrote his book.  The main aim of the teaching of that seminary seems to be to direct the mind backwards, rather than forwards; to revive old traditions, and renovate old forms; to feed upon old books, and cherish old thoughts; to make men lead lives of the tenth century, instead of the nineteenth.  But, as Mr. Macaulay well remarks,


"It is to no purpose that a man resists the influence which the vast mass, in which he is but an atom, must exercise on him.  He may try to be a man of the tenth century, but he cannot.  Whether he will or no, he must be a man of the nineteenth century.  He shares in the motion of the moral as well as in that of the physical world.  He can no more be as intolerant as he would have been in the days of the Tudors, than he can stand in the evening exactly where he stood in the morning.  The globe goes round from west to east, and he must go round with it."


    What Mr. Gladstone mainly wanted at this time, to bring out his better qualities, was more abundant intercourse with men, and larger acquaintance with the living world about him.  And, fortunately for himself and his country, those opportunities shortly after occurred to him.  In 1841 Sir Robert Peel returned to power, and, with his usual sagacity, filled his offices with the best men about him.  Many of these were comparatively young and untried, but they amply justified the selection of their chief.  Mr. Gladstone, the Oxonian, was, strange to say, placed at the Board of Trade, first as Vice-President, and afterwards as President.  He was also made Master of the Mint, and a member of the Cabinet.  Sir Robert Peel received most valuable aid from his young coadjutor, with whom he confidentially consulted in all the difficult debates which arose out of his proposed modifications of commercial law.  Mr. Gladstone, who had been regarded, even by many of his own party, as a dreamy enthusiast, astonished the public by the mastery which he exhibited over the minutiæ of commercial and financial arrangements, pursuing the business of his office into the minutest details, and bringing to bear upon practical questions a large amount of information, drawn from all sources,—from the under-current of commerce which flows in warehouses and country-houses, as well as from the more readily accessible library, full of statistical tables and Parliamentary returns.  He was unwearied in his assiduity, and always ready to defend the measure of his chief.  Indeed, during the progress of the Free-Trade measures, he was confessedly Sir Robert's right arm.  And not in Parliament only was he indefatigable, but also in the press.  In his pamphlet, published in 1844, "On the Ministry and the Sugar Duties," he brought the full force of fact and argument to bear in favour of the total abolition of differential duties; and in an able article published by him in the "Colonial and Foreign Quarterly," he showed a disposition to go much further in the direction of Free Trade than was supposed to be contemplated by the party then in power.

    In 1845 Mr. Gladstone resigned office, on conscientious grounds.  Having, in his book on "The State in its Relations to the Church," stated opinions adverse to the continued endowment of Maynooth, he preferred resigning office to supporting by his vote the ministerial measure with that object (p.249).  But his speeches, since delivered, on the "Papal Aggression Bill," show that his views on that question must have undergone some important change; if not so, then we are altogether unable to reconcile them.  At an early period in his career he was also opposed to the admission of the Jews to Parliament; but on that question, too, he dropped his opposition, and subsequently supported the measure.  This shows that his opinions, as published in "The State in its Relations to the Church," were prematurely given to the world; and we have very little doubt that, before long, Mr. Gladstone will show that his views on the entire subject have undergone still more important modifications.  Indeed, he has already declared his conviction that his early High-Church theory cannot be carried out in practice; and what he now desires is, equal civil rights for men of all religious persuasions, and a disconnection of the Church from the secular power.

    Mr. Gladstone was felt to be too valuable a man to be allowed to remain out of office.  Accordingly, when, at the close of 1845, Sir Robert Peel announced his resolution to repeal the Corn Laws, and Lord Stanley thereupon resigned the Secretaryship for the Colonies, Mr. Gladstone was at once appointed to the vacant post.  But, representing as he did Newark, one of the family seats of the late Duke of Newcastle,—a bitter opponent of the Free-Trade measures,—Mr. Gladstone felt called upon to resign; and, consequently, he remained out of Parliament during the discussion of the Corn-Law question, though still consulted on all occasions by the indefatigable Premier.  Mr. Gladstone remained out until the general election of 1847, when he was returned for Oxford University, which he continues to represent.  On his return to Parliament, he took part in the debates as before, exhibiting rapid progress as a skilful and eloquent speaker.  He began to throw himself with more ardour than before into the party conflicts of the time; no less anxious to convince, he became more vigorous and trenchant in his replies, showing a growing eagerness to achieve triumph, as well as to produce conviction.  And without this, a House of Commons speaker is not likely to achieve decided success.  He must yield himself, in a great measure, to the spirit of his party; and if he would be a leader, he must master and direct it.  Mr. Gladstone was evidently now in a fair way of becoming a great party leader.

    The growing liberal tendency of his mind was strikingly exhibited in 1850, when he went to Naples for the benefit of his children's health.  He had no intention of making any comment on the internal state of the kingdom when he went there; but hearing of the frightful atrocities committed on Neapolitan subjects, for no other crime than that of entertaining liberal views of politics, he made inquiries, visited the prisons, saw the wretched prisoners, gathered information about them from their friends and relatives, and the heart of the humane man was torn with indignation and horror.  He was appalled at the violation of all honour, good faith, and humanity, by the king and his ministers.  Thirty thousand men, and these the best in Naples, were incarcerated in dungeons, cruelly tortured, and ignominiously treated there!  His whole nature revolted at this monstrous inhumanity, and he determined to do what he could to remedy the evil.  Returned home, he addressed a private letter to his friend, Lord Aberdeen, whom he knew to have considerable influence at the Neapolitan court, detailing the wrongs of the prisoners and the horrible discoveries which he had made.  Lord Aberdeen did expostulate with the King of Naples and his ministers, but without effect.  Then Mr. Gladstone determined on publishing his "Two Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen," and thus to denounce the monstrous cruelty of the Neapolitan Bourbon in the face of the civilized world.  The letters had an immense sale, and commanded universal admiration, not less for their trenchant style than for the vein of large-hearted humanity which ran through them.  Lord Palmerston addressed a copy of the pamphlet to every minister representing England at foreign courts, as an appeal and protest to the great family of nations against the tyranny of Naples.

    Shortly after Mr. Gladstone's return to England, in 1851, the brief Stanley interregnum occurred, and, in consequence of Mr. Gladstone's vote in favour of Disraeli's motion of inquiry into agricultural distress, hopes were entertained that he might be disposed to join the Protectionist administration.  No expectations could have proved more unfounded; and to the application of Lord Derby he returned a decided negative.  In the following year, when the Protectionists succeeded at length in forming a ministry, Mr. Gladstone placed himself in decided opposition.  He may almost be said to have been the leader of the opposition.  He acted with unflagging spirit, was always ready to defend by his voice and his vote the great measures of Peel, and showed a power and amplitude of resource in debate which astonished even his warmest admirers.  He took the very first rank in the House.  As a ready and skilful speaker, a close and argumentative reasoner, there were few, if any, to equal him.  His views of the question under discussion were always large and statesmanlike, and he often succeeded in presenting it in a new and strikingly original aspect.

    Towards the close of the session of 1852, Mr. Gladstone came more and more closely into collision with the brilliant Protectionist leader, Mr. Disraeli.  The style of speaking of the two men is very different.  Disraeli is full of brilliant points, is often fiercely defiant and sarcastic, and he tries to hit hard, nor does he often fail.  Gladstone's success was never so dazzling; but his cool precision, keen analysis, logical force and accuracy of reasoning, not without a considerable power of quiet ridicule, made him on many occasions Disraeli's match.  In weight of character he had greatly the advantage; and it is character, more than genius, which leads the House of Commons.  But on some occasions Mr. Gladstone, in pure oratory, outstripped even Disraeli.

    The most notable instance occurred on the night of the 16th December, 1852,—a night memorable in the annals of Parliament.  The Protectionist budget had been under discussion for more than a week, and the division was drawing nigh.  Disraeli, the one man of commanding talent on his side of the House, rose to reply, and his speech must be confessed a masterpiece.  He spoke from ten in the Thursday evening until two o'clock in the Friday morning, under circumstances of great discouragement; yet his pluck never failed him, and to the last he fought desperately, like a gallant stag at bay.  He gored and tossed his assailants, hurled defiance at them, was keenly sarcastic and fiercely denunciatory by turns, galled them with personalities, and lashed the House into passion, cheered on by his party, and, perhaps, stimulated by the vehemence of his own hate.  His speech was a splendid one, magnificently delivered; and though evidently the desperate defiance of a defeated leader, it was worthy of a hero.
 

Photographed by Elliott & Fry, ca. 1880.  Picture Wikipedia. [p.252]


    Who was to reply?  Mr. Gladstone sprang to his feet.  Remember, it was two o'clock in the morning when Disraeli sat down, and the House was impatient to divide.  The difficulty in obtaining the ear of the House on such an occasion and at such an hour is always very great.  But Mr. Gladstone made himself master of the situation by an artful appeal to the outraged personal feelings of the House: "He felt that the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer called for a reply, and a reply on the moment.  He told the right honourable gentleman that the license of language he had used, the phrases he had applied to the characters of men whose public career (interruption),—he told the right honourable gentleman that he was not entitled to charge with insolence members of that House,—to say to the right honourable member for Carlisle that he respected but did not regard him.  Much as he had already learned, the right honourable gentleman had yet to learn the limits of moderation, of discretion, and of temperance, that ought to restrain the conduct and language of every member of that House, disregard of which was an offence in the meanest among them, and which was tenfold more so when committed by the leader of the House of Commons."  He had now completely secured the attention of his audience, and he proceeded in a masterly style to vindicate the Free-Trade policy established by the preceding administration, which he did with an aptness and brilliancy of language, and in a compactness of argument, abundantly supported by apposite facts and illustrations, which stamped the speaker as one of the greatest orators and most successful debaters who had ever addressed that august assembly.  The display of that night was worthy of the proudest days of Parliament; and it is only matter of regret, that, in consequence of the lateness of the hour at which Mr. Gladstone's speech of two hours' duration was delivered, the reports of it published in the next morning's papers were so unavoidably curtailed and imperfect.



    On the accession of the present ministry to office, Mr. Gladstone was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer,—an eminence which his financial abilities eminently qualify him to occupy; and it is no exaggeration to say, that his speech on presenting the late ministerial budget, which embraced so many important changes and improvements in taxation and finance, was one of the ablest ever made upon any similar occasion.

    Mr. Gladstone does not possess the physical attributes of the popular orator.  He has rather a recluse-like air; and, like his rival Disraeli, seems to be possessed by an abstraction of thought from which he with difficulty rouses himself.  His voice is clear and musical, but wanting in tone and volume: it sounds somewhat like a voice clearly heard afar off.  His countenance is that of a student,—pale and intellectual; his eye is of remarkable depth, and might almost be described as fascinating.  Like Disraeli, he wants dignity of gait, and slouches somewhat.  But in the House of Commons, personal short-comings such as these are thought lightly of.


    We cannot better take leave of the illustrious subject of this brief sketch, than by quoting his own language, addressed to the people of Manchester a short time ago, on the occasion of unveiling the statue of Sir Robert Peel, erected in front of the Royal Infirmary there; and we do so chiefly on this account,—that we believe the aims and objects of Sir Robert Peel's life, as thus described by Mr. Gladstone, are those which mainly animate and inspire himself.
 

    "It is easy," said he,


"to enumerate many characteristics of the greatness of Sir Robert Peel.  It is easy to speak of his ability, of his sagacity, of his indefatigable industry; but, great as were the intellectual powers of Sir Robert Peel, if you will allow me, as one who may call myself his pupil and his follower in politics, to bear my witness, this I must say, that there was something greater still in Sir Robert Peel,—something yet more admirable than the immense intellectual endowments with which it had pleased the Almighty to gift him,—and that was, his sense of public virtue,—it was his purity of conscience,—it was his determination to follow the public good,—it was that disposition in him which, when he had to choose between personal ease and enjoyment, or again, on the other hand, between political power and distinction and what he knew to be the welfare of the nation, his choice was made at once; and when his choice was once made, no man ever saw him hesitate,—no man ever saw him hold back from that which was necessary to give it effect.  And, Mr. Mayor, it is the last word which I will address to you when I say this,—may God grant that many of those who shall traverse this crowded thoroughfare, as they eye the work which has been this day delivered over to your custody, may have awakened within their breasts the noble and honourable desire to tread, each for himself, in his own sphere, be it wide or be it narrow, the path of duty and of virtue; and in discharging those functions which appertain to us as citizens, to discharge them in the spirit of that great man,—the spirit and the determination to allow no difficulty, no obstacle, to stand between him and the performance of his duty,—relying upon it that duty in this country is the road to fame,—that if public men do not reap their reward, as in barbarous times they may have sought it, from immense and extensive possessions, measured upon the surface of the earth, they reap it in a form far more precious, when, like Sir Robert Peel, they bequeath a name which is the property not only of their family, not only of their own descendants, but of every man who calls himself an Englishman,—a part of our common wealth,—something that helps to endear us to our common country,—something that makes us feel that England is indeed a country that it is a blessing to belong to,—a country that has a great and beneficial part to play in the designs of Providence for the improvement and advancement of mankind."


――――♦――――

 
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64), American novelist and short story writer.
Engraving from a painting (possibly 1850) by C. G. Thompson.


NOT very long ago, a writer in the Edinburgh Review asked, with a considerable display of gravity, "Who reads an American book?" to which the only appropriate reply would be, "Who, that reads at all, doesn't read an American book?"  Indeed, few books are more popular among English readers than those which come from our kinsmen in America.  Was not Channing read? and Washington Irving, who caught the very spirit of English life, and painted it in his "Bracebridge Hall" and the "Sketch-Book" as very few English writers have done?  And in History, are not Prescott and Bancroft read?  And in Moral Philosophy, is not Emerson read?  And in Poetry, is there any living writer whose works are more generally diffused and admired in England than Longfellow's poems are?  And in Fiction, can we produce any sea novels equal to those of Cooper and Herman Melville?  American books not read, indeed!  Why, one need only look at the cheap series of Bohn and Routledge,—at the publishing lists of Murray and Colburn, to see whether American books be read or not.  These houses compete with each other for the privilege of publishing books by American authors,—the best of all proofs that their books sell, and are read too.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the host of American writers whose works have recently become popular in England.  He first became known to us through his "Scarlet Letter;" that dark, weird story, told with such wondrous power.  But he had, long before the publication of that book, been well known in America as an author.  As long ago as 1837 he published the first volume of his "Twice-told Tales," and in 1842 the second volume appeared; in 1845 he edited the "Journal of an African Cruiser;" and in 1846 he published his "Mosses from an Old Manse."  But his best works are, unquestionably, his "Scarlet Letter," "The House of the Seven Gables," and, more recently, "The Marble Faun," which has already, like his other works, passed through many editions in England.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne is a New-Englander, having been born at Salem, Massachusetts,—a district chiefly peopled by the stern old Puritan race.  He counts among his ancestors "bold Hawthorne," a general famous during the Revolutionary struggle; though for many generations the Hawthorne family had followed their English instinct towards a sea life, and pursued their fortunes on that element.  The "author" of the family was born about 1807, and was educated at Bowdoin College, in Maine, where he graduated in 1825.  He studied in company with Longfellow, the poet, whom he still counts among his warm friends.  Though the Hawthornes are comfortable, snug people, well to do in the world, this son, like the rest, must needs work; and so he learned this "blessed faculty and divine gift of labour," as Elihu Burritt, we think, has styled it; filling up the intervals of his time in study and literary occupation.  Having succeeded in obtaining a situation in the Boston custom-house, while Bancroft, the future historian, was collector there, he spent several years, with considerable advantage to himself, in that enlightened town.

    Like many young minds, he became haunted with ideas of Christian brotherhood, and left his situation at Boston to join himself to the community of Brook Farm, near West Roxbury, where he toiled amidst its rugged furrows in field labour, and dreamed great dreams of the reconstruction of old society upon entirely new foundations.  But the dreams did not last long.  His individualism was too strong for community; so he left the Farm, and married.  Then it was that he went to reside at the little town of Concord, where dwelt Emerson, the Thinker.  In the Life of Margaret Fuller, Emerson thus refers to the new-comer: —


    "In 1842 Nathaniel Hawthorne came to live in Concord, in the 'Old Manse,' with his wife, who was herself an artist.  With these welcomed persons, Margaret formed a strict and happy acquaintance.  She liked their home, and the taste which had filled it with new articles of beautiful furniture, yet harmonized with the antique fixtures left by the former proprietors.  She liked, too, the pleasing walks and rides and boatings which the neighbourhood commanded.  At the same time, William Ellery Charming, whose wife was her sister, built a house in Concord, and this circumstance made a new tie and another home for Margaret."


    The Old Manse, to which Hawthorne had thus removed, had never, until he and his young wife entered it as their home, been profaned by a lay occupant.  Those who are familiar with his works will remember the delicious picture which he gives in the first chapter of the "Mosses from an Old Manse," which was written there.


    "Between two tall gate-posts of rough-hewn stone, (the gate itself having fallen from its hinges at some unknown epoch,) we beheld the gray front of the old parsonage-house, terminating the vista of an avenue of black ash-trees.  It was now a twelvemonth since the funeral procession of the venerable clergyman, its last inhabitant, had turned from that gateway towards the burying-ground.  The wheel-track leading to the door, as well as the whole breadth of the avenue, was almost overgrown with grass, affording dainty mouthfuls to two or three vagrant cows, and an old white horse, who had his own living to pick up along the roadside.  The glimmering shadows, that lay half asleep between the door of the house and the public highway, were a kind of spiritual medium, seen through which the edifice had not quite the aspect of the natural world.  Certainly, it had little in common with those ordinary abodes, which stand so imminent upon the road, that every passer-by can thrust his hand, as it were, into the domestic circle.  From these quiet windows, the figures of passing travellers looked too remote and dim to disturb the sense of privacy.  In its near retirement, and accessible seclusion, it was the very spot for the residence of a clergyman; a man not estranged from human life, yet enveloped, in the midst of it, with a veil woven of intermingled gloom and darkness.  It was worthy to have been one of the time-honoured parsonages of England; in which, through many generations, a succession of holy occupants pass from youth to age, and bequeath each an inheritance of sanctity to pervade the house, and hover over it as an atmosphere."


    Curiously enough, Emerson himself had once been an inhabitant of the Old Manse.  In its rear was a delightful little nook of a study, in which he wrote "Nature;" and he used to watch the Assyrian dawn and the Paphian sunset and moon-rising, from the summit of the eastern hill near at hand.  The windows of the study peeped between willow branches down into the orchard, revealing glimpses of the river Assabet, shining through the trees.  From one of the windows, facing northward, a broader view of the river was gained, and at a spot where its hitherto obscure waters gleam forth into the light of history.  It was at this window that the clergyman who then dwelt in the Manse stood watching the outbreak of a long and deadly struggle between two nations; he saw the irregular array of his parishioners on the further side of the river, and the glittering line of the British on the hither bank; and he waited in an agony of suspense the rattle of the musketry.  It came,—and there needed but a gentle wind to sweep the battle-smoke around this quiet home.  Under the stone-wall which separates the battle-ground from the precincts of the parsonage is still to be seen the grave of two British soldiers, slain in the skirmish, and who have since slept peacefully there where they were laid.

    While Hawthorne lived at the Old Manse, he had many visitors of mark, for his name had now become known.  There were Lowell the poet, and Emerson, and Margaret Fuller, and Ellery Channing, who occasionally came to enjoy a day's fishing in the river.  It was a kind of poet's life which Hawthorne led, amidst the sound of bees, the murmuring of streams, and the rustling of leaves.  What was more, the Old Manse was said to be "haunted;" and occasionally there came a rustling noise, as of a minister's silk gown, sweeping through the very midst of the company, so closely as almost to brush against the chairs: yet there was nothing visible.

    Glancing back at his three years' life there, he afterwards said:


"It seems but the scattered reminiscences of a single summer.  In fairy-land there is no measurement of time; and in a spot so sheltered from the turmoil of life's ocean, three years hasten away with a noiseless flight, as the breezy sunshine chases the cloud-shadows across the depths of a still valley.  Now came hints, growing more and more distinct, that the owner of the old house was pining for his native air.  Carpenters next appeared, making a tremendous racket among the out-buildings, strewing green grass with fine shavings and chips of chestnut joists, and vexing the whole antiquity of the place with their discordant renovations.  Soon, moreover, they divested our abode of the veil of woodbines which had crept over a large portion of its southern face.  All the agèd mosses were cleared unsparingly away; and there were horrible whispers about brushing up the external walls with a coat of paint,—a purpose as little to my taste as might be that of rouging the venerable cheeks of one's grandmother.  But the hand that renovates is always more sacrilegious than that which destroys.  In fine, we gathered up our household goods, drank a farewell cup of tea in our pleasant little breakfast-room,—delicately fragrant tea—an unpurchasable luxury—one of the many angel-gifts that had fallen like dew upon us,—and passed forth between the tall stone gateposts, as uncertain as the wandering Arabs where our tent might next be pitched.  Providence took me by the hand, and—an oddity of dispensation which, I trust, there is no irreverence in smiling at—has led me, as the newspapers announce while I am writing, from the Old Manse into a Custom House!"


    Hawthorne now became Surveyor of the Customs in Salem, and thither he removed accordingly.  He remained there three years, occasionally digging amongst the old archives of the place, amongst which he professes to have discovered the record of the story which he has so skilfully woven together in his "Scarlet Letter."  Hawthorne went in as Surveyor with the Loco-Foco, or Polk administration, and he also went out with them.  It is one of the evils of the popular system of governing in America, that, at every change of power from party to party, there is a clean sweep made of those in office, in favour of the adherents of the new dynasty.  As head Surveyor, Hawthorne had it in his power, on assuming office, to turn out the former officials, and supply their places with those of his own kidney in politics.  "The greater part of my officers," he says, "were Whigs.  It was well for their venerable brotherhood that the new Surveyor was not a politician, and, though a faithful Democrat in principle, neither received nor held his office with any reference to political services.  It pained, and at the same time amused me, to behold the terrors that attended my advent; to see a furrowed cheek, weather-beaten by half a century of storm, turn ashy pale at the glance of so harmless an individual as myself; to detect, as one or another addressed me, the tremor of a voice which, in long-past days, had been wont to halloo through a speaking-trumpet, hoarsely enough to frighten Boreas himself into silence."  But Hawthorne never could find it in his heart to dismiss the old veterans; so they vegetated on, each in his old place.

    Hawthorne confesses that it was good for him, at this time of his life, to be brought into companionship with men whose habits and pursuits and intellectual abilities were of an altogether different kind from his own; and whose peculiar qualities he must go out of himself to appreciate.  He had now fallen among business men, who knew nothing of literature, who read few books, but who were full of the practical knowledge of the world.  He found there were other valuable qualities in life besides literary ones, requiring fully as much integrity, manliness, courage, ability, and industry to display and develop them aright.

"I took it," he says,


"in good part at the hands of Providence that I was thrown into a position so little akin to my past habits, and set myself seriously to gather from it whatever profit was to be had.  After my fellowship of toil and impracticable schemes with the dreamy brethren of Brook Farm; after living for three years within the subtle influence of an intellect like Emerson's; after those wild, free days in the Assabet, indulging fantastic speculations, beside our fire of fallen boughs, with Ellery Channing; after talking with Thoreau about pine-trees and Indian relics; after growing fastidious by sympathy with the classic refinement of Hillard's culture; after becoming imbued with poetic sentiment at Longfellow's hearthstone, —it was time, at length, that I should exercise other faculties of my nature, and nourish myself with food for which I had hitherto had little appetite.  Even the old inspector was desirable, as a change of diet, to a man who had known Alcott.  I looked upon it as an evidence, in some measure, of a system naturally well balanced, and lacking no essential part of a thorough organization, that, with such associates to remember, I could mingle at once with men of altogether different qualities, an a never murmur at the change.  Literature, its exertions and objects, were now of little moment in my regard.  I cared not, at this period, for books; they were apart from me. Nature—except it were human nature—the nature that is developed in earth and sky—was, in one sense, hidden from me; and all the imaginative delight wherewith it had been spiritualized passed away out of my mind.  A gift, a faculty, if it had not departed, was suspended and inanimate within me."


    So Hawthorne, for the time, gave up writing, and confined himself to business,—to dry details of imports, and puzzling figures of arithmetic.  He ceased to be the poet, and sunk into the ordinary man.  His creative gifts lay dormant within him.  He was regarded by those about him as the Surveyor of the revenue,—nothing more.  "It is a good lesson—though it may be often a hard one—for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world's dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of significance beyond that circle is all that he achieves, and all that he aims at."  But Hawthorne's time of dismissal came round.  He had already gathered the groundwork of a tale, by poring among the old custom-house records; but he could not set to work upon it.  The atmosphere of the custom-house deadened his contrivance and imagination: his gift had departed from him.  Happily, the quadrennial election of President came round, and the usual clearance was made of the heads of departments.  General Taylor, the Whig, was elected, and all Democratic officials were dismissed, to make room for Whig ones.  So Hawthorne was driven forth from his Surveyorship.  He became himself again; and to his dismissal from office we most probably owe the publication of his "Scarlet Letter" and other subsequent works.

    It was in "The Scarlet Letter" that Hawthorne's strongly-marked characteristics as an author first clearly displayed themselves.  Indeed, until its appearance, his name was not at all extensively known as a writer; nor does he himself seem to have been very ambitious after fame.  He had long written anonymously in magazines and reviews, when a friend of his, Horatio Bridge, of the United States Navy, was instrumental in bringing him before the public as the author of the "Twice-told Tales."

    In the last dedication of "The Snow Image" to Mr. Bridge, the author says:


"If anybody is responsible for my being at this day an author, it is yourself.  I know not whence your faith came; but, while we were lads together at a country college, gathering blueberries, in study hours, under those tall academic pines; or watching the great logs as they tumbled along the current of the Androscoggin; or shooting pigeons and grey squirrels in the woods; or bat-fowling in the summer twilight; or catching trouts in that shadowy little stream which, I suppose, is still wandering riverward through the forest, though you and I will never cast a line in it again,—two idle lads, in short, (as we need not fear to acknowledge now,) doing a hundred things that the Faculty never heard of, or else it would have been the worse for us,—still it was your prognostic of your friend's destiny that he was to be a writer of fiction.  And a fiction-monger, in due season, he became.  But, was there ever such a weary delay in obtaining the slightest recognition from the public, as in my case?  I sat down by the wayside of life like a man under enchantment, and a shrubbery sprang up around me, and the bushes grew to be saplings, and the saplings became trees, until no exit appeared possible through the entangling depths of my obscurity.  And there, perhaps, I should be sitting at this moment, with the moss on the imprisoning tree-trunks, and the yellow leaves of more than a score of autumns piled above me, if it had not been for you.  For it was through your interposition—and that, moreover, unknown to himself—that your early friend was brought before the public somewhat more prominently than theretofore, in the first volume of 'Twice-told Tales.'"


    These "Twice-told Tales" contain many very clever sketches of life, character, and nature; as also does the collection entitled "The Snow Image, and other Tales," as well as the "Mosses from an Old Manse."  "The Rill from the Town Pump" has travelled far and wide.  It was published by the teetotallers in England many years ago, but without any author's name attached.  In "Ethan Brand," "Goodman Brown," "Main Street," "The Minister's Black Veil," and "Legends of the Province House," Hawthorne showed what power slumbered within him.  But these are confessedly cursory sketches, thrown off with ease, to fill the pages of newspapers, magazines, and annuals, where for a long time they lay buried, until the author's fame, founded on his later writings, brought them to light again.  These sketches exhibit lively imagination, and close observation; their style is simple, pure, and tranquil.  A deep love of nature is apparent in them; nor are they wanting in a quaint humour and tenderness, which give a charming interest to his recitals of the old traditions and legends of New England.  But on the whole, the feeling which pervades these early sketches is that of pensiveness and melancholy.  The writer shows a strong sympathy with the darker side of human nature, and never seems more in his element than when unravelling a gloomy life-mystery, and tracing some dark thread of guilt to its source.  Even his humour is melancholy, and his gayety seems to flow from him with effort.  But his deep pensiveness is always natural.  The American poet Lowell, who knows him well, has hit him off in a few lines, as


        "Hawthorne, with genius so shrinking and rare,
 That you hardly at first see the strength that is there.
 .        .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .
 His strength is so tender, his mildness so meek,
 He's a John Bunyan Fouqué, a Puritan Tieck."


    Lowell even fancies that Nature has made a slight mistake in Hawthorne,—that, having run short of material in his construction, she finished him off with


"Some finer-grained stuff for a woman prepared."

 

From a carte-da-visite.

    In "The Scarlet Letter," as we have said, Hawthorne for the first time fully brings out his great and peculiar powers.  He lays decisive hand upon the apparition,—brings it near to us, so that we can see it face to face,—and unravels, skilfully and painfully, the dark mysteries of being.  There is something extraordinarily fascinating in this book: we read on even while we shrink from it.  The misery of the poor woman, Hesther Prynne,—she who wears the badge of disgrace,—stands prominent in every page; in strange contrast with her elfin child, little Pearl.  We hang over that remarkable scene between the faithless priest and the guilty woman, in the deep shadow of the primeval forest,—while the mysterious child plays near at hand by the brookside, with a deeply-riveted interest.  Then, that picture of the wronged husband, silently pursuing his revenge,—how terrible it is!  Yet, harrowing though the subject be, there is nothing prurient or feverish about it.  The whole story is told with simple power.  The work is pure, severe, and truthful; and it holds every reader in thrall until the end of the dark story is reached.  There are many gems of thought scattered throughout the story, only a few of which we can venture to carry away.  For instance:—


    "There is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings, to linger around and haunt, beings ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked event has given the colour to their lifetime; and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it."

    "Mr. Dimmesdale was a true priest, a true religionist, with the reverential sentiment largely developed, and an order of mind that impelled itself powerfully along the track of a creed, and wore its passage continually deeper with the lapse of time.  In no state of society would he have been what is called a man of liberal views; it would always be essential to his peace to feel the pressure of a faith about him, supporting, while it confined him, within its iron framework.  Not the less, however, though with a tremulous enjoyment, did he feel the occasional relief of looking at the universe through the medium of another kind of intellect than those with which he habitually held converse.  It was as if a window were thrown open, admitting a freer atmosphere into the close and stifled study, where his life was wasting away, amid lamp-light or obstructed day-beams, and the musty fragrance, be it sensual or moral, that exhales from books.  But the air was too fresh and chill to be long breathed with comfort; so the minister, and the physician with him, withdrew again within the limits of what their church defined as orthodox."

    "When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see with its eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived.  When, however, it forms its judgment, as it usually does, on the intuitions of its great and warm heart, the conclusions thus attained are often so profound and so unerring, as to possess the character of truths supernaturally revealed."

    "It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly, often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society. The thought suffices them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action."

    "No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

    "A tendency to speculation, though it may keep woman quiet, as it does man, yet makes her sad.  She discerns, it may be, such a hopeless task before her.  As a first step, the whole system of society is to be torn down, and built up anew.  Then, the very nature of the opposite sex, or its long hereditary habit, which has become like nature, is to be essentially modified before woman can be allowed to assume what seems a fair and suitable position.  Finally, all other difficulties being obviated, woman cannot take advantage of these preliminary reforms, until she herself shall have undergone a still mightier change; in which, perhaps, the ethereal essence, wherein she had her tritest life, will be found to have evaporated.  A woman never overcomes these problems by any exercise of thought.  They are not to be solved, or only in one way.  If her heart chance to come uppermost, they vanish."


    Hawthorne's romance entitled "The House of the Seven Gables" more than sustained the reputation which "The Scarlet Letter" created.  In character it is widely different; not inferior in artistic excellence, but much more varied, and full of strongly-marked original character.  It is a thoroughly complete and satisfactory tale.

    One of Mr. Hawthorne's peculiar characteristics is that of individualizing places, localities, and things. He presents them before you in such a manner, paints their every feature so minutely, that he makes them present, as it were, to your very eyes; and their characteristics become part and parcel of his story.  Thus, this House of the Seven Gables figures before you as the prominent character of the story.  We saw the germs of the same remarkable power in his picture of the "Old Manse," which he endowed with a kind of vitality, and set before us as an object of almost human interest and sympathy.  So, in like manner, he introduced his House of the Seven Gables by throwing a dim halo of superstition about it, thus preparing the reader for being fully impressed by the powerful story that follows.


Nathaniel Hawthorne in the 1860s.  Picture Wikipedia.


    In his last work, "The Marble Faun," our author has taken up and pursued the same idea which predominates in his previous works,—the idea of secret guilt.  So repeatedly and so closely does he analyze the morbid, moral anatomy of this subject, that it seems to exercise a positive fascination for him.  Into this tomb and dungeon he loves to enter, and from it drags to light the secret criminal.  The minuteness and the closeness of his analysis of the secret workings of the human heart with guilt for a companion, and withal the extreme delicacy with which the subject is handled, is something marvellous, and has perhaps never been equalled by any writer.  His object, in the Faun, is to exhibit the revelation of the moral laws through transgression; and the manner in which the idea is worked out is most skilful.  But the exquisite finish of its style, and the grace and beauty of its thoughts, are perhaps not its least striking characteristics.  The Italian sky, under which the story was conceived, seems to have imparted to it a degree of softness and beauty wanting in its predecessors.  Yet for strength and fibre we do not deem it their equal.  We like the author best on American ground,—depicting the stern Puritan life of New England, the primitive habits and the early struggles of the first settlers,—for it is there he is strongest; and we trust again to meet him on that native soil.

    Mr. Hawthorne has now been absent from America for nearly eight years, filling the office of United States Consul at Liverpool during a part of the time; the later period he has spent in Italy.  "The Marble Faun" was written at the remote watering-place of Redcar, a little village on the northeast coast of Yorkshire, looking out upon the German Ocean; and the quiet of the place, and the bracing air of the sea-shore, enabled him to prosecute his undertaking without interruption and with increasing vigour of health.  Mr. Hawthorne has made many warm friends during his residence in England; but far larger than these is the number of ardent admirers of his genius, whose best wishes he carries with him on his return to his native country.  And both as a man and as an author, his country has good reason to be proud of him.


――――♦――――

 
THOMAS CARLYLE.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher.


NO one will deny the great influence which Carlyle has exercised upon thoughtful minds during the last twenty years.  Young men, in all professions, but especially in literature, have caught from him a contagious influence, which has coursed through their veins like fire.  He has uttered, with the voice as of an old Hebrew prophet, the feeling of disquiet and unrest which pervades society; and his "Woe! Woe!" and "Mene, Tekel, Upharsin!" have startled many in the midst of their pleasant dreams of peace and progress.  He is the Jeremiah of modern days, full of wailing at the backslidings of our race.  He recognizes no soundness in us, from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet.  All is foul and unclean.  We are but the creatures of shams, creeds, and formulas, without any real or God-like life in us,—worshippers of clothes, steam, machinery, sordid materialism, and Hudson statues!

    But there is more than this in Carlyle's utterances, and we should be doing him a deep injustice were we to say that this is all that he means.  He devoutly reverences the great mysteries of the universe, Being, and the source of Being, the spirit and essence of religion (for of creed we believe he has none), and the Divine in man's soul; he preaches, though ofttimes in mystic and unintelligible phrases, the nobility of work, and the duties of being and doing, even though we pursue them with bleeding feet, through the midst of grief, evil, errors, and sorrows of all kinds.  This gospel he proclaims in a wild, poetic, and ofttimes almost fanatic manner, with violent indignation; alternated with moanings and sobbings, up-welling from the depths of a sorrowful heart.

    We must admit, however, that the revolutionary and destructive genius is stronger in Carlyle than the conservative and constructive.  He is emphatically a puller-down, not a builder-up.  He never wields his giant's club with greater delight than when he is assailing some cherished idol of society; his humour is then almost savage, and his sneers sarcastic, bitter, and full of gall!  In him, we are reminded of the fury of the Iconoclasts of the Low Countries, and the Anabaptists of Munster, and of the blind rage of the followers of John Knox at the "dingin' down o' the cathedrals."  There is a puritanic fervour in his indignation, as he "hews the sons of Agag in pieces."  He does not seem to love the good so much as he hates the evil.  He tramples on over his foe as one possessed, breathing fierce disdain and defiance.  Kings and priests, self-chosen, he calls on to get out of the way; all professors of cant, of shams, of trickeries, quackeries, frauds of all kinds, no matter how high and snug they are seated, or whether robed in lawn, purple, or ermine, he will have none of; nay, he would even do battle against humane and true workers, because they do not, like him, wield the club of steel and whip of fire.  We have seen how he could fall foul of the humane treatment of prisoners, in one of his fits of indiscriminate anger at the popular movements of the age.  He has no sympathy for such notions of making men better; none but emphatic methods of dealing with the inferior mass will do; and, because milder methods of convincing, attracting, and sympathizing are advocated, he is down upon the "Humanity-mongers " with all his might.

    Carlyle never cares how or where his strokes tell.  The bullet shot by him may kill a general or a private, it matters nothing to him.  "Who is this man," said Queen Mary to John Knox, "who comes here to remonstrate with the ruler of this kingdom?"  "A subject of the same," replied the terrible sectary,—a remark which Carlyle loves to quote in various forms,—for in the same spirit he brings contemporary facts and social conditions to receive judgment at his hand.  Contemporaries may say to him, as Mary did to Knox, "Who are you that thus dares to attack your age and epoch?  Carlyle's answer, like Knox's, is, "A man living in this age and epoch, who suffers in it, who shares its sorrows, who dreads its tendencies, and who, in attacking the causes of actual evils, defends himself personally, and fights for his own life while you, voluntarily or involuntarily, are cramped, defiled, full of scoffing, scepticism, sensuality, and impiety.  I speak not in the name of Whigs or of Tories, of Radicals or of priests,—I speak in my own name; I speak not as the slave of a party, but as a man."

    Carlyle is, like Cobbett (a man very unlike him in many respects), an intense Englishman; an intense Protestant; a terrible iconoclast; a Voltaire, without his impiety; a breaker-down of idols, without bestowing a thought upon whose comfort he thereby disturbs.  "You deceive yourself with these idols of clay," says Carlyle; "down with them!"  "Away with your masks," he cries; "let us see your true features.  Enough of comedy, masking and mumming hypocrisies, lying philosophies, and false philanthropic sentiments,—away with them!  Show us what you are,—let your thoughts be your own; dare to be yourself—have the courage to dare to be something, anything, so that you are not false.  Action, action!—work, work!—not words and writing: by work alone can you develop your own nature, and elevate the world in which you live.  Rather be silent than speak or write.  But if you have anything to say, say it, and don't sing it.  None of your inarticulate, sing-song jargon!"  Such, in a few words, is the spirit of Carlyle's utterances.

    We think, therefore, that Carlyle must be regarded mainly in the light of a revolutionist.  True, there may be need of such as he.  We have too many idols which need tumbling into the dust; and Carlyle is doing a great work if he succeeds in accomplishing this.  We must wait for the builder-up to make his appearance, when the idols have been prostrated and the ground cleared of ruins.  Luther and Knox levelled the religious idols of Germany and Scotland; Voltaire and Rousseau levelled alike the political and religious idols of France; and Carlyle is now only completing what our Puritans of the seventeenth century began in England.  We have had no sweeping reformation yet; and Carlyle works as if he thought we stood in need of it.  He battles not with sword or gun, but with a more powerful weapon,—his pen.  Thus does he move the minds which move others.  Through them he flings down idols, and breaks in pieces the impostures which tyrannize over men.  Some claim for him a higher glory,—that of teaching reverence for the Infinite, love for the spiritual life, and a way of escape from the sordid materialism of the age.  But, to our mind, his great power consists in the daring bravery with which he wages war—too indiscriminatingly, many think—against what is evil in our life and institutions.

    Carlyle's most enthusiastic admirers must admit that he is eminently unpractical.  His religion consists in longings, his socialism in phrases without any plan,—his politics are altogether negative.  He clearly enough sees what is wrong, but he fails to point out what is right, or what we ought to substitute in place of the wrong which he would do away with.  He is baffled when he sits down to propose remedies.  He has none to offer, but goes on assailing, scourging, and pulling down.  He scorns logic, and has no sympathy with your "practical men."  He lives in another sphere; he is a seer, a prophet, a poet.  It is true, he is no rhyming poet; indeed he has a thorough contempt for this art, including it among his "shams;" and yet his keen insight into deep thought, his flashing revelations of spiritual life, his feeling, sometimes his tenderness and love, often his gloomy spectral fervour, show that he possesses the true poetic genius, without which, perhaps, he would not be the great power that he is.  His style is abrupt and rugged, but serious and energetic; his sentences are confused and involved, thought tumbled upon thought, so that you can read him but slowly; but when you have waded through, and apprehended his meaning, you are conscious of an action having been exercised upon your mind and heart such as few writers besides him are capable of exciting.  His historic pictures glow with life and action; and, in a few graphic sentences, he sets you at once in the midst of the fiery actions and the demoniac strife of the French Revolution.  In the same way, his "Past and Present" furnishes you with a most vivid insight into the past monastic and social life of England.


Echlefechan, Dumfries and Galloway, Carlyle's birthplace.  Picture Wikipedia.


    This great genius, like most others, has sprung "from the ranks."  He belongs to the common people, and, like Burns, his countryman, he comes from the better class of the Scottish peasantry.  His father was a small farmer at Middlebie, in the neighbourhood of Annan, in Dumfriesshire,—a rigidly religious man, universally respected by his neighbours as the best, wisest, and most intelligent man in the village.  He it was who was called in to settle disputes among the neighbours, and he was consulted in many delicate family matters, in which he was wont to display sound judgment, and always gave sagacious counsel.  In a word, Carlyle's father resembled the father of Diderot,—of whom Carlyle himself has painted a vivid portrait,—as the arbitrator of his district, by whose wisdom and advice village enmities and lawsuits were prevented, and domestic differences reconciled.  Carlyle has more than once earnestly thanked God that He gave him such a father.  Proud of his birth, at once popular and noble, he could say of himself what in some part of his works he says of Burns or Diderot, two plebeians like himself,—"How many kings, how many princes are there, not so well born!"  The opinions of Carlyle might be explained, so to speak, by his birth, and by the first education which he received.  With a heart full of sympathy for the people, he nevertheless holds aristocratic opinions of a very decided character: this was because, as a youth, he learned from his father how respectable the people may be, and, in listening to his lessons, how contemptible the populace.  Such is the sentiment which vibrates through the writings of Carlyle.  At a particular point in his life, he took in hand the cause of the people to the extent of attracting towards him the sympathy of the Chartists; yet he has never ceased, throughout his life, to express his contempt for all knaves.

    His first education was rustic and popular, and as his character was thus formed, so it has remained.  In his "Sartor Resartus," he himself has informed us of the impressions of his childhood, and the influence which those impressions, such as places, landscapes, and surrounding scenery, made upon his mind.  The cattle-fairs, to which his father sometimes took him, the apparition of the mail-coach passing twice a day through the village, seeming to him some strolling world, coming from he knew not where, and going he knew not whither,—all this is described in the "Sartor Resartus," with a freshness and vivacity which clearly indicate that they are the ineffaceable impressions of childhood.  Besides this first education,—the most important of all,—Carlyle received another at the High School of Annan, where he had for a school-fellow Edward Irving, the well-known orator and preacher, whom Carlyle afterwards nobly delineated.  At Annan he received the rudiments of his scholastic training, learned declensions, conjugations, and Greek and Latin syntax.

    It is a great and an honourable ambition, among even the poorest classes of Scotland, to confer a good "schooling" on their children; and many aspire to see one or other of them some day able to "wag his pow in a poopit."  Carlyle was, we believe, destined for the "Kirk," and, after the usual burgh school education, was sent to the University of Edinburgh, where he spent two sessions in the usual course of classical instruction there.  What he thinks of the Edinburgh routine of study may be gathered from his "Sartor Resartus," in the chapter on Pedagogy.  And here, by the way, we would remark, that that extraordinary book—though any one, on first reading it, would take it for a hodgepodge translation from some German book of the Richter school—contains a great deal of Carlyle's own life, and describes in the most vivid manner the history of his own mind.  No one who knows Annan and its High School can mistake the "Hinterschlag Gymnasium;" and the Edinburgh University is also quite unmistakable.

    During the vacations he returned to the country, to ramble among the old places so dear to him, and to revive his recollections and impressions of childhood.  His mental humour seems at that time to have tended towards the speculative and poetic: he studied closely the principles of mathematics, but at the same time was deep in the mysteries of Faust and Wilhelm Meister, which he sought to unravel.

    Though the scholastic education imparted at Edinburgh is very inferior to that communicated on the noble foundations of England, there are opportunities enough to learn, for those who are resolute and determined in their search for knowledge.  Carlyle was free both to think and to read, and he did both.  The college referred to has no tests, and no residence is required; so that, with all its slovenliness, as regards discipline, there is at least the redeeming feature of the entire mental freedom which it leaves to the student.  "From the chaos of that library," writes Carlyle as Teufelsdröckh, "I succeeded in fishing up more books perhaps than had been known to the very keepers thereof.  The foundation of a literary life was hereby laid.  I learned, on my own strength, to read fluently in almost all cultivated languages, on almost all subjects and sciences; further, as man is ever the prime object to man, already it was my favourite employment to read character in speculation, and from the Writing to construe the Writer.  A certain ground-plan of Human Nature and Life began to fashion itself in me; wondrous enough, now, when I look back on it; for my whole Universe, physical and spiritual, was yet a Machine!  However, such a conscious, recognized ground-plan, the truest I had, was beginning to be there, and by additional experiments might be corrected and indefinitely extended."

    In the pilgrim wanderings of Teufelsdröckh over the world, Carlyle only describes his own extensive survey of the realms of knowledge, as contained in books.  Thus, he traversed waste, howling wildernesses, crossed great mountain chains, ventured in stormy northwest passages, and journeyed among the highways of men in towns and cities.  He was tempest-tossed, storm-stayed, plunged in quagmires, lost and lone in the trackless desert.  His mind became plunged in agonies of Doubt on all subjects.  The great mysteries of Creed perplexed him beyond measure.  The orthodoxy of his early faith became rudely assailed in the course of his intercourse with books; one by one, his props fell from around him, and he was left standing alone, self-dependent, but miserable.  Here, however, was Carlyle's starting-point as an original thinker and writer.  He had to trust to himself.  His thoughts and opinions were carried out by himself, and were his own.  He had to pass through the furnace, and they were burnt into him by suffering.  Add to this, that Carlyle's life at college was a life of comparative poverty and privation,—though this he thought little of, compared with other men more genially brought up.  "In an atmosphere of poverty and manifold chagrin, the humour of that young soul, what character is in him, first decisively reveals itself, and, like a strong sunshine in weeping skies, gives out variety of colours, some of which are prismatic."  His first views of a profession having now changed, he became a member of the great corps of "unattached," floating through society, without an object to cling to,—without connections, and without prospects of profitable employment.  The young collegian, in such case, if he has nothing better to do, and if his literary training has disabled him (which it very often does) of all practical capacity for succeeding in any ordinary branch of industry, looks out for a tutorship; and for some time, accordingly, Carlyle officiated as tutor in a gentleman's family.  He could not like this office,—in most families one of dependence and drudgery, unbefitting a strong-hearted, self-reliant man; nor did he continue in it long.

    He had not yet entirely given up all thoughts of "the Kirk."  But about the year 1823, that is, when he was about twenty-seven years of age, after having hesitated for a long time, he determined to preserve his mental freedom entire, and he then embraced the profession of a man of letters,—a profession which he has since so well described in his Life of Sterling, as "an anarchic, nomadic, and entirely aerial and ill-conditioned profession."  We believe his first literary efforts were published in the columns of the Dumfriesshire Courier, which was then edited by Dr. Duncan, the founder of savings banks, with whom Mr. Carlyle continued in friendship until the close of his valued life.  Mr. Carlyle's first published book was a translation of Legendre's Geometry, which was followed by a "Treatise on Proportions."  His third work was the translation of the "Wilhelm Meister" of Goethe, in three volumes, which appeared in 1824.  It was given out by the publishers (Oliver and Boyd) to be the first work of a young gentleman of Edinburgh, and it was well received by the press, though the first edition went off very slowly.  The Preface to the book is simple, yet forcible, containing no traces of the peculiar style of Carlyle's later writings.  He invites thoughtful minds to the study of Meister in the following manner:—


    "Across the disfigurement of a translation, they will not fail to discover indubitable traces of the greatest genius of our times.  And the longer they study, they are likely to discover them the more distinctly.  New charms will successively arise to view; and of the many apparent blemishes, while a few superficial ones will be confirmed, the greater and more important part will vanish, or even change from dark to bright.  For, if I mistake not, it is with Meister as with every work of real and abiding excellence, the first glance is the least favourable.  A picture of Raphael, a Greek statue, a play of Sophocles or Shakespeare, appears insignificant to the unpractised eye; and not till after long and patient and intense examination do we begin to descry the earnest features of that beauty, which has its foundation in the deepest nature of man, and will continue to be pleasing through all ages."


    We defy anyone to detect in this extract, or, indeed, in the whole preface to the Meister, any germs of the grotesque style of the "Latter-day" Carlyle.

    Afterwards, Carlyle was engaged to supply three articles to the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, on the subjects of Montesquieu, Montaigne, and the two Pitts.  Then his "Life of Schiller" appeared, published bit by bit in the London Magazine, in which Hazlitt and Charles Lamb were then principal writers.  This Life of Schiller—the first remarkable essay of Carlyle—gives a good idea of the author's state of mind at the period at which he wrote it, when he was, in all the heat and fervour of his new ideas, meditating a reactionary onslaught upon the materialistic and sceptical theories which then prevailed in England, and which had held official sway from Priestley down to Malthus and Bentham.

    The publication of this Life of Schiller led to the commencement of a lengthened correspondence between Carlyle and Goethe.  In his letters to the great German, Carlyle, then married and living in retirement on his Scotch farm, bewailed the moral maladies of our time, which he afterwards so eloquently set forth in his "Sartor Resartus;" for he also, the declared enemy of sentimentality, appears to have had his period of groaning and desolation, of Byronism and Wertherism, like most young minds in our time.  But in one of these letters, dated in 1826, it is evident that the crisis had completely passed, and that Carlyle had profited by the advice which he gave to himself, of "Shut thy Byron, open thy Goethe."  He thus writes to Goethe:


"Our residence is not in the town [Dumfries] itself, but fifteen miles to the northwest of it, among the granite hills and the black morasses which stretch westwards through Galloway almost to the Irish Sea.  In this wilderness of heath and rock, our estate stands forth a green oasis,—a tract of ploughed, partly enclosed and planted land, where corn ripens and trees afford a shade, although surrounded by sea-mews and rough-woolled sheep.  Here, with no small effort, have we built and furnished a neat, substantial mansion; here, in the absence of a professional or other office, we live to cultivate literature with diligence, and in our own peculiar way.  We wish a joyful growth to the roses and flowers of our garden; we hope for health and peaceful thoughts to further our aims.  The roses, indeed, are still in part to be planted; but they blossom already in anticipation.  Two ponies, which carry us everywhere, and the mountain air, are the best medicines for weak nerves.  This daily exercise, to which I am much devoted, is my only dissipation; for this nook of ours is the loneliest in Britain,—six miles removed from everyone who in any case might visit me.  Here Rousseau would have been as happy as on his island of Saint Pierre."


    It was in this wild and lone dwelling among the moors that Carlyle wrote his articles for the Foreign Quarterly, his papers on "Burns" and "Characteristics" for the Edinburgh, and his "Sartor Resartus " for Fraser,—in the opinion of many of his admirers, his very best writings.

    The life of the student is generally barren of incident, and Carlyle is not an exception to his order.  He struggled on into notice by slow degrees, and with painful efforts.  At length, the remarkable articles from his pen, which appeared in the Edinburgh Review, excited considerable attention, and marked the advent of a new writer of great and striking powers.  In the brilliant articles on "Robert Burns," the "Signs of the Times," and "Characteristics," he first uttered his loud resounding wail, and proclaimed his gospel of duty, faith, and work; all old ideas, it is true,—and yet so startling was the voice of the preacher, that in the ears of most men they sounded as if entirely new.  He struck the key-note to which all earnest minds were ready to give an echo.  The essays were reprinted in America, where they evoked an Emerson and a Brownson; and in England they lit up a spark of fire in thousands of young bosoms.  Indeed, there is scarcely a writer of note in England or America now, who has not, to a greater or less extent, been influenced by these remarkable writings.



    Carlyle next penetrated the London press.  The pages of the Foreign Quarterly Review were enriched by essays on Foreign Literature, from his pen; as also Fraser's Magazine, in which he produced "Sartor Resartus," and many of his best essays.  The first of the articles above referred to were written at his remote home in Dumfriesshire, where he had settled down for a time, having married a lady of some property.  It was here that Emerson saw him when he paid his first visit to England, many years ago, mainly with the object of sitting at the feet of his Gamaliel, and seeing him face to face.  But Carlyle found the inconveniences of a residence so remote from the great centre of books, of learning, and intellectual movement; and accordingly he removed to London about a dozen years ago, where he has since resided.  Here he has produced some of his most famous books,—his "French Revolution," which greatly extended his reputation; and, later still, his "Past and Present," "Oliver Cromwell," "Chartism," and his "Heroes and Hero-Worship," originally delivered as lectures, before a select London audience.  Lecturing, however, he dislikes, except to his own private circle; and when recently applied to as a lecturer, he named such terms as necessarily precluded him from that order of "Circuit-Preachers."  And since the publication of his "Stump-Orator," in the Latter-day Pamphlets, probably he will be found more than ever unwilling to venture again into this field.

    Carlyle is almost as eloquent in his viva voce speech as he is in his books.  He has the same overbearing eloquence, the same impatience of opposition, bearing down all objections to his dogmas with tyrannous gusts of ridicule.  He is a Samuel Johnson, a Coleridge, and a Teufelsdröckh, in one.  It is curious to listen to the strong prejudice, mixed with the lofty and noble thoughts, clothed in that weird and grotesque phrase of his, fall from his lips in high-pitched Scotch patois, full of intense energy and power.  Sometimes, to a select few, he discourses in a torrent, like his favourite Teufelsdröckh, through rolling clouds of tobacco-smoke.  "Wonderful it is with what cutting words, now and then, he severs asunder the confusion; sheers down, were it furlongs deep, unto the true centre of the matter; and there not only hits the nail on the head, but, with crushing force, smites it home and buries it."  His power of irony and sarcasm is quite tremendous, and few care to come within its reach.  But the late Margaret Fuller so well described him in one of her letters, that we shall here transfer her "speaking likeness" to our pages.


    "Accustomed to the infinite wit and exuberant richness of his writings, his talk is still an amazement and a splendour scarcely to be faced with steady eyes.  He does not converse—only harangues.  It is the usual misfortune of such marked men (happily not one invariable or inevitable) that they cannot allow other minds room to breathe, and show themselves in their atmosphere, and thus miss the refreshment and instruction which the greatest never cease to need from the experience of the humblest.  Carlyle allows no one a chance, but bears down all opposition, not only by his wit and onset of words, resistless in their sharpness as so many bayonets, but by actual physical superiority, raising his voice and rushing on his opponent with a torrent of sound.  This is not the least from unwillingness to allow freedom to others; on the contrary, no man would more enjoy a manly resistance to his thought; but it is the impulse of a mind accustomed to follow out its own impulse as the hawk its prey, and which knows not how to stop in the chase.  Carlyle, indeed, is arrogant and overbearing, but in his arrogance there is no littleness, no self-love,—it is the heroic arrogance of some old Scandinavian conqueror,—it is his nature and the untameable impulse that has given him power to crush the dragons.  You do not love him, perhaps, nor revere, and perhaps, also, he would only laugh at you, if you did; but you like him heartily, and like to see him, the powerful smith, the Seigfried, melting all the old iron in his furnace till it glows to a sunset red, and burns you if you senselessly go too near.  He seems to me quite isolated, lonely as the desert, yet never was man more fitted to prize a man, could he find one to match his mood.  He finds them, but only in the past.  He sings rather than talks.  He pours upon you a kind of satirical, heroical, critical poem, with regular cadences, and generally catching up near the beginning some singular epithet, which serves as a refrain when his song is full, or with which, as with a knitting-needle, he catches up the stitches if he has chanced now and then to let fall a row.  For the higher kinds of poetry he has no sense, and his talk on that subject is delightfully and gorgeously absurd; he sometimes stops a minute to laugh at himself, then begins anew with fresh vigour,—for all the spirits he is driving before him seem to him as Fata Morganas, ugly masks, in fact, if he can but make them turn about, but he laughs that they seem to others such dainty Ariels.  He puts out his chin sometimes till it looks like the beak of a bird, and his eyes flash bright instinctive meanings, like Jove's bird; yet he is not calm and grand enough for the eagle; he is more like the falcon, and yet not of gentle blood enough for that either.  He is not exactly like anything but himself, and therefore you cannot see him without the most hearty refreshment and good will, for he is original, rich, and strong enough to afford a thousand faults; one expects some wild land in a rich kingdom.  His talk, like his books, is full of pictures, his critical strokes masterly; allow for his point of view, and his survey is admirable.  He is a large subject.  I cannot speak more or wiselier of him now, nor needs it; his works are true, to blame and praise him, the Siegfried of England, great and powerful, if not quite invulnerable, and of a might rather to destroy evil than legislate for good.  At all events, he seems to be what destiny intended, and represents fully a certain side; so we make no remonstrance as to his being and proceeding for himself, though we sometimes must for us."


    It is difficult to form a proper estimate of the influence of Carlyle on modern literature.  Doubtless it has been very great.  His books have been vehemently attacked and discussed, and scarcely defended.  He has let the noise spend itself, and left his ideas to make their own way in the world.  The influence which his writings have exercised upon others has been of a latent kind, almost a silent influence, notwithstanding the great éclat with which his works have been received.  You very often find his ideas reappearing dressed up by others in various forms, sometimes under the aristocratic, and sometimes under the democratic form; but it is easy to recognize the traces of his thoughts in the most remarkable works in modern English literature.  Tennyson is the most eminent of living English poets; who knows how much of his peculiar talent and its direction may be due to the influence of Carlyle?  Who knows how much even Disraeli may owe to Carlyle for the qualities of his political romances, though perhaps he would be the last to acknowledge the influence.  Carlyle has contributed, perhaps more than any other writer, to put an extinguisher upon the Byronic school; and, thanks to the views which he has enunciated on literature and art, to elevate Wordsworth—as much admired now as he was formerly despised—upon the ruins of the Satanic school.  Even the revolutionary and socialistic literature of the day owes its best writings to the influence of Carlyle.  The "Purgatory of Suicides," written by Thomas Cooper, the Chartist shoemaker, is dedicated to him; and another very curious and able book, "Alton Locke," is written by one of his most fervent disciples,—the Rev. Mr. Kingsley, a clergyman of the Church of England.  Without being the founder of a school,—without aspiring to the ambition of exercising any kind of intellectual dictatorship,—a vice so common among eminent literary men, and so barren in results,—Carlyle has exercised and is exercising a power which all parties recognize, even the most opposite, however they may hesitate to acknowledge it.

    The last work of Mr. Carlyle—the Life of Frederick the Great—is still in progress; and it exhibits his merits and defects in a striking form, the latter perhaps even more prominently than the former.  It is, nevertheless, a remarkable work, as might be expected from such a vigorous and original pen.


――――♦――――


[JOHN STERLING]

 



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