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Full text of "The real and ideal in literature"

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EEAL AND IDEAL 

IN 

LITEKATTJEE. 

■■ for nothing itornctbut tiitiking maiet U lo." 

SHAK.BPBARB. 

" Toumai/ call me an IdtaiiH-UtiUtarian." 



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REAL AND IDEAL 

IN 

LITERATURE. 



PRANK PRESTON STEARNS, 



BOSTON: 
J. G. 0UPPLB8 COMPANY. 

260 BOTIfTON SXBEBT. 



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COPTBIOUT, IMta, 

Bi J. O. CTPPLBS COMPAHT. 



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TO THE MEMORY 
OF 

JFreScricfe aEaistoortI) lortnff, 

THIS VOLUME 
IS EE8FECTFULLY DEDICATED. 



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PEEFACE. 



The tendsDcy to materialism at the present time 
is attracting more and more attention. It is to be 
found not only in the lives o£ men, and in philoso- ■ 
phy, which is the theory of life, bat in science, 
politics, medicine, jurisprndence, and art. Old spir- 
itual forms are fast giving way before new facts, 
and the human mind, in the uncertainty which re- 
sults from this, naturally clings to what is visible 
and tangible. Positivism, the popular philosophy 
of the day, would instruct us that our only source 
of knowledge is to be derived from our five senses. 
A majority of the medical profession deny the im- 
mortality of the soul. A European physiologist 
has attempted to prove that even thought is a 
material substance, and an American jurist de- 
nounces what are called legal principles as glitter- 
iug generalities. The noble conception of our 
ancestors that the individual exists for the state, 
and finds his own interests best in an unselfish 
surrender to the good of the community, has been 



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viii PREFACE. 

replaced by the Dotioa that govemmeat exists 
only to further the private eods of each iadividual. 
The doctTine of realism threatens to crash oat 
evetything that is great and eleratiDg ia our litera- 
ture. Nerer has the Anglo-Saxon race, at least, 
been so devoted to the acqaiaitioa of wealth and 
the eajoyment of ereatote oomforte. 

If this conditiOD of things were to continue in- 
definitely, oivUizatioa woold come to an end. But 
that is sot litely to happen. At the close of the 
last century, French art vas wholly given over to 
realism. The works of the great masters were de- 
rided as fantasies and impossible creations, but an 
ezhibitioa of Raphael's pictures brought from Italy 
changed the whole current of public opinion. So 
it will be again. The mind of man will never long 
rest contented with a purely physical existence. 
His spiritual nature will again aeserii itself, and in- 
struct him that the only true rest is to be found in 
what is invisible and immutable. He will leam 
once amxe the lesson of his childhood ; he will re- 
turn again to the study of the great teachers in art, 
literatnte, and philosophy, and leaiTi from them 
that we should not only hold fast to the real and 
avoid whatever is visionary and indefinite, but also 
to keep the ideal ever before as as the guiding star 
of onr destiny. 



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PREFACE. ix 

To farther this end, even in a small way, is the 
-object of the present volnme. A nomber of the 
essays included in it have been published in the 
Unitarian Review, and others elBevhere. The two 
chapters on " The Modern Novel " and " Romance 
and Bealism" weie declined by the editor of oar 
best popular magazine, on the ground that nine- 
tenths of his readers voold not be able to under- 
stand them. Now, a writer who writes down to 
his audience never comes to very much good. But 
I have a better opinion of the American people 
than this. The query occurred to me, what be- 
-comes of the thousands of graduates which our 
colleges turn out every year ? Do they foiget all 
that they have learned, or do they read only foreign 
)r^ periodicals ? Leaving college graduates out of the 
■question, I believe there is little in this book but 
what a laige majority of my countrymen may 
readily comprehend. 



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CONTENTS. 



PRBPACB vii 

KosNBT, J, G. W xiii 

• Reai. aits Idbai. 1 

^Classic and Bomantic 19 

. EOVANCE, Httmob, ani> Rbalibh 40 

Thb Modern Novel S8 

Idolb 76 

PoBH, F. W. L 87 

Fbbd W. Lobins 8S 

The Art Consciesck 108 

Hbbmah Gbihu. — 'I. 109 

" " II 128 

SoHNET, R. W. E 147 

"" Emeeson Aa A Poet 148 

A POBTIO AtlTOBIOOBAPHT 168 

The Uullbb and Whitney Contbovebsy ... 187 

The Science of Thodoht 20& 



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J. G. W. 

Caprldoiis is tbeHiue; no certain way 

Sbe holds directed by the will of maD, 
But ever seeks in fancy's aportlTe play 

Her comae by what strange mazy paths sbe can>. 
Wealth ahans she; scorned are power and place; 

The eager lover toils for her in Tain 
Whilst suddenly she bends with radiant face 

And showers on some sby boy her golden rain. 
He in his torn power, wealth, and place doth leave 

To muse on lite — to watch the clmiiglngsky; 
Tilt we through him a brighter world perceive, 

With nobler forms, in inspiration high. 
Why thus her coarae, he who ia wise may tell : 
That Fate approves it, be assured well. 



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REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



BEAL AND IDBAI« 

Thb fine arts considered as a whole may be 
imagined as the terms of a proportion, in whioli 
music is to literature as arciiitecture is to seolpture 
and painting. Music and literature are immaterial 
arts, vhich we apprehend primarily through the 
sense of hearing ; architecture, painting, and sculp- 
ture are material arts, which we apprehend by the 
sense of sight. Fine architecture has often been 
compared to frozen mnsic, and poems to pictures 
in verse. Architecture and mnsic appeal to our 
love of order, proportion, harmony, and Tariation ; 
literature, sculpture, and painting impress us by 
the representation of human life iu its most im- 
portant phases. The first terms of this proportion 
deal with general conceptions so subtle, vague, and 
recondite as almost to defy mental analysis ; the 
last terms deal with particular instances, so cleai- 
and well defined as commonly to require no ex- 
planation. 

If, however, we consider the fine arts in relation 
to their subject-matter, we find that Boolpture is 



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2 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

closely related to arcliitecture, painting to Bculp-- 
tuie, literature to painting, and mosio to literature. 
Id this Boheme, arobitectare and music occupy the 
extremes, as the most material and immaterial of 
the acts ; aad, if we separate the (^eis into such 
anbdivisions as statuary, bas-relief, fresco and oil- 
painting ; crayon drawing, history, fiction ; epic, dra- 
matic, and lyric poetry ; we have a series as closely 
connected as the links of a chain. In the Qothic 
cathedrals we can see how scnlpture springs to life 
out of architectural decoration : the incised outline- 
of fresco painting brings it very close to incised 
bas-relief work ; and the opera, with the songs, 
which are its accompaniment, closes the gap be- 
tween literature and music. There appears to be 
a rather sharp break between painting and literar- 
ture ; but this is physical rather than intellectual, 
— the sudden break between sight and hearing, — 
and as soon as we think of it, the oircle becomes: 
complete again. Some of Knskin's descriptions. 
of pictures and scenery surpass any pen-and-ink 
drawings. Architecture was the first and music 
the last of the arts to attain a consistent develop- 
ment, so that it seems as if there had been a kind 
of progress here from the visible to the invisible. 

Literature, again, is divided into two important 
classes — prose and poetry. Of these, poetry is 
the earlier and more genuine. A mere narrative of 
facts, like the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, has no value 
as literature ; nor have the numerous works of 
fiction which one gathers along the seaooast in sum- 
mer, unless they happen to be something more than 
a rehearsal of imaginary events. Other accounts of 



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REAL AND IDEAL. 3 

Cliarles XII. may be more correct than Voltaire's ; 
but bis is the most celebrated because of its rare 
artistic merit. In fact, if prose is to enter into the 
list of the fine aits, it must borrow from poetry 
one or more of its characteristics, either elegance, 
humor, imagination, or some other quality. On 
this account, the best prose writers are either poets 
also, like Goldsmith, or, like Plato and Carlyle, have 
attempted poetry in their youth. Now, prose is in 
its nature realistic. People speaik to each other in 
prose, and describe each other's actions in prose. 
The very form of poetry, on the contrary, is an 
ideal. Priam and Achilles did not converse with 
each other in hexameters, as Homer represents 
them ; and an accidental rhyme in our modem 
drawing-rooms sometimes tangles the thread of 
conversation. Poetry is therefore not an exact 
reproduction of life, but something different from 
that. " Art," says Goethe, " is called by that 
name in order to distinguish it from nature; " and 
yet Goethe is the poet of nature, if there ever was 
one. It is rather a reproduction of life with the 
coordinates transposed. Poetry is properly the 
art of versification, as architecture is that of build- 
ing, and sculpture that of carving ; but what peo- 
ple commonly mean by the word " poetic " is the 
ideal. We say that a scene, a statue, a picture, or 
a piece of music is poetic when it cont^s this 
element. A man is said to have a poetic nature 
when ideality is a prominent trait in bis composi- 
tion. It is sot requisite that he should be a poet : 
he may be a merchant or a cavalry officer. It may 
be noticed, also, that poetic is often used to desig- 



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4 nEAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

nate perfection of a high order, but rarely, if everj 
that of a low order. We think of the night as 
poetic, bnt not of the day, because the former 
appeals more to our imagination. 

This division of the arts into the real and the 
ideal runs through them all, though it is nowhere 
else indicated bo definitely as in litetatute. Reli- 
gious architectuie has always been of an ideal 
sort, from the temple of Kamak to Trinity 
Church in Boston. The spites and minarets of the 
European cathedrals are supposed to exemplify 
the heavenward aspirations of Christian faith, and 
the rock temples of India make also a profound 
impression of religious solemnity. The Parthenon 
was the crowning glory of Hellas, and has never 
been excelled. Greek sculpture was an ideal, as 
all religious scnlpture must be. The so-called 
Greek pi-ofile was ideal, as one can see from an 
examination of their portrait busts and statues. 
Mithridatea of Fontus appears to have had a pro- 
file of this kind, and perhaps also Alcibiades ; but 
it is doubtful if they were more common among 
the Greeks than among Americans of the present 
day. Italian sculpture was also of a strongly ideal 
cast, until it degenerated into the grotesque ; while 
French sculpture, the best of the present century, 
is quite as forcibly realistic. English and Amer- 
ican sculpture is, for the most part, neither one 
nor the other ; but Crawford's statue of Beethoven 
is a fine example of ideal treatment in bronze. 

In regard to painting, it may be said that in no 
other art are the real and ide^ so conspioaous and 
clearly defined. fTothing can be more literal than 



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nEAL AND IDEAL. 5 

pictures of the old Dutch school, or less so than 
the Italian. Diiret, the greatest German master, 
occupies a peculiar position; for he was no less 
realistio in his treatment than ideal in hia concep- 
tion of a subject. In music, it is more difficult to 
make this distinction ; but the poetic element is 
certainly strongest in Beethoven, and scarcely per- 
ceptible in Gounod. Neither are the lines shaxpty- 
drawn in literature itself. There is realistic poetry, 
though not very mnch of it, and, as already inti- 
mated, a large amount of idealism in prose. The 
true romance, like Hawthorne's " Marble Faun," is 
always ideal, and so also the romantic novel, if the 
romance in it is of a genuine kind. Works of 
humor are properly ideal, if the humor, as in "Don 
Quixote," is high comedy, but must be classed 
as realistic if the humor is of low comedy, like 
Rabelais, or burlesc[ue, like Mark Twain. These 
are truths so plain that they requiie no argument 
to support them. 

What, then, is this ideal which is so closely con- 
nected with art in all its different phases ? I^oth- 
ng more than the plan which the wise man makes 
n the morning for his day's work ; nothing but the 
image of his vase which hovers before the mind 
of the potter as he turns his wheel ; it is only this, 
and yet this is something of the highest import. 
Without it, civilization would be impossible. For, 
if we go back to the tme genesis of human life, 
what was the first word spoken but an image of 
something in the mind of the speaker, brought 
forth in the inspiration of the moment ? " In the 
beginning was the Word ; " and what more likely 



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6 BEAL AND IDEAL JN LITERATURE. 

than that it was Elohim, Dyans, oi Zeus, — now 
the French 7>ieu, — a recognition of that Power 
above, from which man has no escape ? Were not 
the oldest hieroglyphics all pictures, and very forci- 
ble ones, too, from which our alphabet is descended ? 
Each letter was originally an ideal, now crystal- 
lized and made a dummy of, but with its former 
power and beauty still latent in it. There are no 
records, except in language perhaps, how humanity 
struggled on thiough unknown eras, with this 
vision constantly before it of something better 
than itself; how often it was led astray in pursuit 
of false ideals, and returned ^ain through the 
inevitable chastisement of those who offend the 
nmrersal laws; or how many nameless heroes 
struggled, fought, and perished for the advance- 
ment of the race, until we come to Moses and 
Homer, with whom civilization may be said to 
have fairly begun. These are the two greatest 
names of that Eocene period, in themselves, per- 
haps, equal to any who have since been bom; and 
one was a lawgiver, and the other a poet. Each 
was the perfected type of an idealist. 

It is one of the materialistic tendencies of the 
present period for jurists to ridicule legal princi- 
ples as glittering generalities, and attempt to 
derive the elements of law from a sense of utility 
rather than from a sense of justice in mankind. 
It remained for the Anglo-Saxon race to invent a 
utilitarian philosophy: there was no such sect 
among the Greeks or among the old Roman found- 
ers of jurisprudence. The sense of justice is the 
highest of human attributes ; for through it we 



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SEAL AND IDEAL. 7 

obtain the pioof of immortality, and the comple- 
tion of our too fragmentary life on earth. It is 
this ideal of right which Michel Angelo has ex- 
pressed on the countenance of his statue of Moses, 
and which he has rendered more striking by con- 
trast with its huge physique. So, some centuries 
later than Moses, an Indian prince retires to the 
depths of the forest to meditate upon a plan by 
which mankind might become better than he 
found them. The ten commandments formed the 
basis of Hebrew law, and many of the enactments 
now in force among European nations are derived 
from them. The laws of the New England colo- 
nies in regard to a strict observance of the Sabbath 
may be traced directly to the fifth chapter of 
Deuteronomy. Some less conspicuous hero-moral- 
ist, no doubt, long forgotten perhaps in Cicero's 
time, stood in the background of the Twelve 
Tables and Numa Pompilius. Civil law, however, 
has only a negative character. It forma a- system 
of ideal limitations within which human nature 
can have free play. It serves as the framework of 
the house we live in, for which art supplies the 
furniture and decoration. Moses made a rough 
subjective sketch of the ideal man. Homer painted 
such types of human excellence that they served 
as models for the Greco-Roman world until the two 
streams of Aryan and Semitic culture were united 
in Christianity. 

Dr. Harris defines art as logic expressed in fo 
This statement is, however, too concentrated to 
easily intelligible. It would not be true if we 
to understand by logic merely the investigatioi 



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8 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

syllogisms ; but if we are to accept it in a broader 
sense, as the science of thought, comprising the 
whole range of onr mental reflections, the defini- 
tion is correct, and we shall have to take logic in 
this way, if it is to have any practical application. 
Are not the decisions which a mature man makes 
every day based upon the whole experience of his 
past life ? Is not he the minor premise himself, 
with infinite conclusions before bim ? 

"Betwixt two worlds life hovers like a star," 
appears to be true also of our reasoning faculty. 

And what are these words which the reasoning 
faculty makes use of but pictures, originally ? 
Logic might be defined as art expressed in reason : 
in the beginning, art, language, and thought would 
seem to have been united.' Such a mind as 
Homer's or Dante's is like a magnificent picture- 
gallery, through which the soul moves in con- 
templation. Reasoning is to art what a rule in 
grammar or arithmetic is to the example that illus- 
trates it. The rule is taken from the example ; 
but, if it is rational, and not empirical, the rule 
has also an independent existence. We under- 
stand the example more readily than the rule, 
because our minds are more accustomed to dealing 
with pictures (called in this instance concrete 
objects) than with abstract ideas. After all, it is 
not the objects themselves which form onr cogni- 
tions, but such mental pictures of them as we are 
capable of making for ourselves. A granite ledge 
forms in the geologist and the landscape painter 
t h&TS pnoeded BI17 



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REAL AND IDEAL. 9 

two totally different conceptions. So the word 
"man" to A young child and a mature woman 
sounds differently enough. The best works of art 
are all founded upon some important philosophical 
truth. It muat be this which draws us toward 
them so strongly. Murillo's Magdalen is a type of 
the mental reaction which is certain to follow the 
indulgence of an unreasonable wish. It is of little 
moment whether the desire be a physical or spirit- 
ual one : it may even be the divulgenoe of truth 
before its time. Goethe's ballad of the "Erl- 
king," often called the finest of minor poems, 
instructs us that the tender minds of children 
require protection as well as their bodies. An idle 
myth causes the death of a boy even in the arms 
of his father. This is an ideal of the common 
tragedy of childhood ; and only those who remem- 
ber the sufEerings of that period can appreciate its 
pathos. Aristotle analyzed the Greek drama so 
closely that it seems as if little were left to the 
genius of the poet ; and modem German Aesthe- 
tikera have treated "Hamlet," the "Last Judg- 
ment," the "Sistine Madonna," and other great 
works, in the same manner. 

Kuskin tells the story of a little girl who was 
left alone in his kitchen while pies were making, 
and, when the cook returned, she found her soft 
pastry cnt into figures resembling birds and mice. 
This, the art critic thinks, must have been the 
origin of sculpture. So it may have been, but not 
of sculpture as one of the arts. In one of the 
caves of south-east France, among the bones and 
utensils of the early Celtic period, there was found 



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10 REAL AND IDEAL IN UTERATURB. 

a flat piece of limestone, on which had been in- 
cised the figure of a mammoth. The delineation 
was evidently a trnthful one, as could be seen from 
the long mane and cimeter-curved tusks which we 
know those animals to have possessed; but we do 
not dignify this or the pastry mice by the name of 
art. It may be called so in a secondary sense : it 
was art perhaps to the Celtic who chiselled it, but 
to us it is only a valuable relic. It is properly not 
a picture, but a sketch. Among forty young pupils 
in drawing or painting, there may be a dozen who 
can make good sketches, but only three or four 
who will ever create a picture. The artist must 
either transfer his own mind into his subject, or he 
must imitate nature with such skill as to excite 
our admiration. The former is called ideal, the 
latter realistic art. Let it be noticed, however, 
that even in the most realistic of all art, the repre- 
sentation of animal life, it is the human skill that 
we value chiefly. Bealistic art began with the 
picture of the mammoth (oi something similar) ; 
ideal art, with portraits of gods. 

Carlyie says of Schiller what is equally true of 
himself, that art was with him an inspired function, 
and the artist a priest and prophet also. The 
hymns of the Big-Yeda compose the earliest liter- 
ature that has come down to us, and the idols and 
temples of upper Egypt are the most ancient 
remains of sculpture and architecture. In the 
days when kings were shepherds of the people, art 
and religion could not be distinguished one from 
the other. The Homeric hymns are simple tales 
of the Oreek divinities. Tlie Book of Job is the 



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REAL AND IDEAL. 11 

first and finest of all romances. What does 
Homer sing for, but to show that the destinies of 
men are ordained by the Immortals ? There are 
many realistic passages in Homer, such as no 
French or Russian writer has ever equalled in 
accuracy ; but it is doubtful if even Count Tolstoi 
could discover any realism in the Yedas. Those 
archaic sages cared little for things of earth. 
Their imaginations, vast and lofty as the Hima- 
layas, pierced the heavens and brought back tidings 
of a world above, half articulate mutterings of a 
deathless life beyond the everlasting snows. They 
recounted the great phenomena of nature in meta- 
phors more enigmatic than nature itself. Keither 
does Egyptian art appear more realistic than San- 
skrit literature. Huge statues carved from gran- 
ite and solid pyramids of stone are an ideal of 
strength and durability. The sculptors and archi- 
tects of the Nile valley, like the Vedic poets, were 
filied with a sense of eternity ; and it is this 
which their works represent to us. They belonged 
to the iige of Saturn, which may have been no 
fiction, but referred to this period. Assyria, which 
was only a political nation, produced nothing to 
be compared with them. Those rigid statues, 
with the arms fastened to theit sides, were not 
made according to the laws of anatomy ; but they 
possess, what nineteenth century sculpture de- 
cidedly lacks, from Ganova to Bartholdi, true 
dignity of style and character. It is this we are 
impressed by qnite as much as by their antiquity. 
In the sphinx the Egyptians created an ideal 
which is among our most familiar conceptions. 



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12 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Serious reflection upon what is grand, eternal, 
and awe-inspiring is a bolj and elevating occupa- 
pation, but it is not human. It even has a ten- 
dency to make men cold and inhuman. To be 
high-minded and at the same time warm-hearted is 
one of the most difficult problems of life. The 
Egyptian respect for death opened the door to 
Hebrew and Hellenic perception of an immortal 
life ; but that could only be fully attained by a 
thorough respect for human nature. All nations 
of men have posseBsed a dim sense of immortality ; 
but that is not like Plato's clear consciousness of 
it, Dor the perfect confidence in a futare state 
which illumined the life of Christ. Egyptian art 
was attained by a disregard of hnmanity which 
appears to us monstrons. Thousands of lives were 
sacrificed in building the tomb of one person. 
Likewise, iu India, the gods were everything, and 
men were nothing. In mankind the finite and the 
infinite are united together. It was right and 
necessary that the infinite portion should be first 
considered; but the other also has all-important 
claims. A soul without a body may be valuable 
elsewhere ; but there is no place for it in this 
world- Our thoughts may soar above the clouds ; 
but our feet are rooted to the soil and partake of 
its nature. It may be compared to the infinite, as 
a bow-string is to the bow. The bow-string does 
not send the arrow, but neither could the arrow be 
sent without it. The right consideration in art of 
\ man's finite quality is called realism ; and, in truth, 
the right consideration of it is not more common 
than the right consideration of man's spiritual 



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REAL AND IDEAL. 13 

quality. Tliere has been ao really great artlBt 
withoat both of them. Plato has been called the 
idealist, and Aristotle the realist ; but Plato was 
only somewhat more ideal than Aristotle, and 
Aristotle somevhat more realistic than Plato. 
Plato, however, was much the better artist of the 
two. Goethe styled himself an idealist-utilitarian. 
This reconciliation of the real and ideal first 
found expression in the warm sunlight of Homer's 
genius. An English commentator has described 
him as " that savage with the lively eye ; " but 
Homer knew what true civilization is better than 
that. The falcon is a very intelligent bird, and 
has the finest of all eyes ; but a falcon could not 
write a line of poetry. Homer must have been a 
good observer ; and if it be true that he was blind, 
he must have lived vigorously and witnessed some 
stirring events before he became so. But Dawes, 
the astronomer who discovered land and water on 
the planet Mars, was also a good observer, and yet 
we do not hear of his writing poetry. Behind the 
falcon eye there must have been a memory trained 
to preserve the most delicate impressions, an intel- 
lect capable of arranging and correlating these 
according to the mysterious rules of art, a reason- 
ing faculty which divines correctly the motives of 
men from their actions, a musical nature eager to 
express its happiness in song, a love of beauty, 
order, and virtue, the keenest sympathy with the ' 
joys, sufEerings, passions, with even the faults of 
mankind, and better than all, a clear consciousness 
of the spiritual in man and that in mortal life 
which seems to mock our own. If those are the- 



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14 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

qualities of a earage, let us hare more aaoh 
Homeric saragea. If he had been metelj a good 
observer, that alone would have raised him above 
the rank of a savage, the best of whom have aji 
eye for little basides their physical needs ; but to 
be no more than that would also have placed lim 
in the olaas of realistic imitators, — what no true 
Greek ever was, — and his work would be of value 
now only as a record of the life and manners of 
his time. 

Homer saw life illuminated from within, as 
in Giorgione's paintings. He felt that there was 
a meaning in it which was better than itself. He 
did not perceive the immortality of the soul in 
the sense of Plato and Socrates; but he knew, 
like the Yedic poets, that there is an enduring life, 
-and he discovered further that it is possible to live 
this life on earth. Achilles is the impersonation 
of this idea, and through this Homer also remains 
immortal to us. Achilles is about to draw his swotd 
on Agamemnon when Pallas Athene seizes him by 
the yellow hair : he recognizes the goddess by her 
dazzling eyes, and the blade goes rattling back into 
its sheath.* What is Pallas Athene but divine 
wisdom, restraining the passions of men, and in- 
structing them how they may become better than 
they are ? Homer also had met the goddess face 
to face, and learned from her the same wisdom 
that Moses learned in the desert and Shake- 

' ThiB ia oolj the story of Theodore Parker and the tortoise 
in a different dreaa. Father, when a small boy, came upon a 
tortoise in the Lexington meadows, and was going to strike 
it, but hii arm was arrested by an impolie which he coold 
.Dot understand. 



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REAL AND IDEAL. IS- 

speare on the dreamy banks of Avon. Conscions 
of the vonderfal gifts she had beBtowed on him, 
he entered on the mission of his life vith modesty 
and reverence. " Sing, mnse," he begins with, 
for he is aware that it is not himself in any finite 
sense that can achieve ao grand an enterprise. He 
must seek aid continually from above. So the 
niad and the Odyssey became a bible to all Hel- 
lenic nations, — not a religious bible so much as an 
art-bible, which, indeed, was the- sort best suited to- 
the genius of that race. There is enough impure 
mythology in them, but also many passages of the 
purest religious character; and the famous prayer 
of Ajax, " Give ua light, O Zeue, and then destroy 
us if thou wilt, but destroy us not in the dark- 
ness," has a deep significance which every spiritual- 
minded person will recognize. 

Thus we see the tjrpical artist as an idealist. 
Homer chose his subjects from an ideal past, in 
order to hold before his contemporaries the picture 
of an ideal future. He represented the Greeks of 
his time as they were, so far as was essential 
to their appe^ng honian, and as they ought to 
be, to such extent as he oould conceive of their 
improvement. With a just sense of reality, he 
neither attempted to recall an imaginary age of 
universal peace and happinesa, nor did he look 
forward to a socialistic Utopia. He passed by the 
manners and fashions of his own time, which he 
knew would change with the next generation, and 
portrayed such traits of hnman nature as are 
invariable, unfailing. Thus his characters are at 
once individual and universal. His women are; 



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16 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

more feminine, more cliarming, and more lovable 
than those of the less ideal Nibelungen, written 
two thousand years later; and in his heroes 
Homer presented his countrymen with such exam- 
ples of manliness, piety, and self-devotion that 
one can hardly believe that without these models 
Xerxes could have been driven back to Asia. His 
divinities are, with the exception of Zeus, the 
forces of nature humanized. This is, no doubt, 
the genesis of that pantheistic tendency in poets 
to give a living personality to inanimate objects. 
Indeed, this is the mark of the true poet, if there 
is one. Homer's Zeus, however, is elevated above 
this divine natuialism, a genuine Deity and friendly 
arbiter in the affairs of men. He represents the 
spirit of justice tempered with mercy, — an ideal 
Homer, the oloud-eompeller who lifts care from the 
soul and warms the hearts of his hearers. We 
know that Buonarotti considered art a sacred 
vocation ; and so it has ever been to men of heroic 
nature. 

It is the proper business of the artist to repre- 
sent the real with the ideal shining through it^ 
A beautifnl instance of this is the return of Ulysses 
to Ithaca, asleep after his twenty years' absence. 
Another is the last meeting of Hector and Androm- 
ache, repeated afterwards by Oustams in the Thirty 
Years' War. The whole Odyssey is an ideal of 
the hardships and reverses of a prudent and st^a- 
cions man on his way through life. But there are 
in Homer purely realistic passa^s, sufficiently dry 
and accurate to satisfy the most prosuc mind. The 
' A nmark of D. A. Waason's. 



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REAL AND IDEAL. 17 

«atalo^e of Grecian ebips in tlie Iliad must have 
been more inteiesting to the ancients than it is to as, 
though it possesses still a kind of scientific value. 
In the combats of his heroes, the gods frequently 
interfere, — what the Puritans call divine provi- 
dence, — but otherwise they are terribly realistic. 
Hector's death-wound is just above the collar-bone, 
" but the wind-pipe was not severed, so that he was 
still able to speak." It is said that all the death- 
wounds be describes are in mortal parts of the 
body; and be never commits such errors as Desde* 
mona's coming to life and dying again after she 
bad once been smothered. No doubt, like M&chj- 
Ins, he was a atout fighter himself. The tactics of 
AchiUes are similar to those of Napoleon at Aus- 
terlitz. For a piece of the very finest realism, 
never since equalled, take the description of the 
games celebrated iu honor of Fatroclus, and com- 
pare it with that of the shield of Achilles, not 
only an ideal, but an impossible work ; then say if 
one is more impressive than the other. Homer 
understood perfectly the valu e of re^ ism, — indeed, 
there is no good literature without it, — but also 
that its place in art js a sutior dinate oae, that it 
exists not for itself alone, but as a foundation 
upon which divine harmonies or heaven-piercing 
spires may be sustained. He is the first and one 
of the best examples of the complete reconciliation 
of the leaJ and ideal; but fifty others in all 
branches of art, as weU as among statesmen, phil- 
osophers, and ministers of the gospel, might have 
been selected to prove the same point. Lord Bacon 
— lawyer, courtier, and scientific investigator — 



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18 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

was filled to the brim with ideality. N'apoleon 
also had his share of it. When his field-marshals 
were oDoe discussing the problem of creation, he 
pointed to the stars and said, "You may taJk, 
gentlemen, but look up there and tell me who 
made all thatl" 



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c 



CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 



CLABSIO A»D BOMANTIC. 

After ait, irith civilizatioii, bad been wander- 
ing about in an uncertain way for hundreds and 
thousands of years, had been nearly strangled in 
Indian jungles, and had come to a full stop at last 
in the mud of the Euphrates, the Grreeks in Asia 
and Europe took it up and set it on the right path 
once and forever. Accuracy seems to have been as 
strong in the Hellenic mind as vital force was in 
the Teutonic hordes. 

" On sea-girt isle and foreland bleab 
Forward slept the perfect Greek." 

The Greeks were so correct that we have to 
return to them continually, and measure ourselves 
by their standard in order to see if we are right. 
One reason for this lies in the ideal which they 
endeavored to realize as a nation, and another in 
the fact that they trod on virgin soil and inherited 
no traditional formalities or affectations to blind 
and misguide them. In one sense, all art is classic" 
which survives its own time, and is found useful 
by succeeding generations ; but, more strictly, 
classic art is Grecian art. Its distinctive features 
are, first, an ideal conception of the subject ; second, 
purity of feeling ; third, a careful selection of mate- 



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20 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

rial ; and, fourth, completeness of development and 
perfection of form. lu addition to these there is 
another element which it is somewhat dif&cult to 
describe. We cannot quite call it t emperanc e, 
though it reminds one of that ; for it is necessary 
for a great artist sometimes to go to an extreme. 
Reserve is a better name for it The artist hides 
himself behind bis -work, and yet ffe feel that he 
is there and animates the whole^ ' 

How exacting were these conditions we realize 
when we consider that out of many excellent 
American authors ^Nathaniel Hawthorne is the 
only one who has fulfilled them alL His material, 
it is true, was romantio rather than classic ; but that 
matters little, since it was of good quality. Gold- 
smith, his English prototype, wrote also in a 
classic manner. Emerson was as ideal as Haw- 
thome, and equally pure in feeling, but not suffi- 
ciently a master of form. Where he has attained 
a perfect form, as in " Voluntaries," " The Humble 
Bee," " Days," and a few other poems, he rises to 
the very summit of Parnassus. Longfellow and 
Bryant are also classic in some respects, but do not 
maintain a sufficiently high standard in the choice 
of material They are both lacking in the strength 
that comes from mental concentration. In Eng- 
land, also, if there has been any classic poet since 
Goldsmith, it is Matthew Arnold. He never rises 
to eloquence, and yet his verses are all of the best 
sort. His prose, however, is far from classic 
Wordsworth, like Emerson, is sometimes beauti- 
fully classic, ■ — as in " Matthew," the " Ode to 
Dion," and "We are Seven," — but he is also very 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 21 

unequal. Byron, a wonderful master of rhyme 
and metre, did not descend to trivialities bo often 
as Wordsworth ; but his work often suffers from a 
painful lack of reserve. Tennyson belongs to the 
romantic school both in thought and expression. 
Dante, Raphael, Cervantes, Milton, Moli^re, Les- 
sing, are all good examples of true classic style. 

Purity of Feeling. — Art is the reflection of the 
life of the many in the mind of one; and it 
necessarily happens that, if the reflecting medium ' 
becomes discolored iu any way, the objects reflected 
in it will become discolored likewise. We can see 
beautiful images of clouds and trees in a calm 
lake, but as soon as a breath of air stiis its surface 
the panorama vanishes. So it is with the mind 
of the artist. He must possess that calmness of 
nature which can only arise from a pure heart. 
No anger, envy, vain thought, or sordid motive may 
be allowed to intrude itself upon his work. If it 
does, the evil effect ia at once perceptible. It has 
been repeatedly affirmed that there is no genius 
without passion. A strong interest in some ele- 
vated pursuit is without question essential to the 
development of genius; but how much passion 
there is also without any genius resulting from it ! 
It would perhaps be better to say that there is no 
genius without self-development, which includes 
self-control. Passion may be necessary, but re- 
straint of passion is more necessary still. Of all 
men, the artist should be habitually the most dis- 
passionate. A celebrated Italian painter laid down 
the rule, " The utmost fervor in conceiving a sub- 
ject, and the greatest coolness in executing it ; " 



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22 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

but the conception mast go on dating the exemi- 
tion. TMs accounts for the supposed uritability 
of artiats ; a small matter such aa men of the 
world would scarcely notice disturbs their mental 
balance. How are poems written ? We learn 
from Qoethe's confessions that his songs and bal- 
lads came to him in precious moments of contem- 
plation, while there was peace without and harmouf 
within. Osly in such fine summer weather of the 
soul is the artist able to accomplish his best work, 
to bring his highest ideal to a complete realization. 
Only then can the lake be clear and smooth. The 
youths and maidens in procession on the frieze of 
the Parthenon appear to move in an atmosphere of 
joyous serenity ; and a similar spirit perrades the 
plays of Sophocles and the dialogues of Plato. It 
was then the midsummer of Hellenic civilization. 
But the best witness of their mental serenity 
comes to us in the modesty of their nude statuea. 
Take, for instance, the Discobolus of Myton. I 
should like to meet a man on Wall Street or Tn^ 
falgar Square who looks half so modest in hi» 
clothes as this ancient athlete does without them. 

The classic artist may have weaknesses of char- 
acter, — and, indeed, if he remains human, he must 
have them, — but originally he must be sincere 
and high-minded. Guido Beni became a gambler, 
Byron and Heine libertines ; but they were never 
mercenary. In the beginning, they were pure and 
holy. If they bad lived better lives, their pictures 
and poems (taken altogether) would hold a higher 
rank. Unhappily, we know little of the lives of 
the Greek sculptors and poets. The simple, out- 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 23 

•dooT, half-clad habits of their coantrymeii were 
favorable to the deyelopment of an artistic aatuie. 
It was more fortunate for them than for the public 
that there were neither printing-presses nor legis- 
lative committees. They never wrote for money ; 
for there was little of that to be had, even by the 
merchants. The sculptors worked mainly in the 
service of religion. "Sufficiently provided for 
within, they had need of little from without." 
The Greeks aod the Italians had a passion for 
poetry. People listened to a poefs recitation of 
spirited verses where we now beguile the hours 
■with prosy novels. Fine statues were everywhere. 
It is only when a whole nation takes an interest in 
art that grand results can be obtained. A few 
isolated individuals can do little, no matter how 
gifted they may be, without the loyal support of 
the community in which they dwell. The com- 
munity must possess suf&cient intelligence to 
recognize what is of superior q^uallty, and the 
good taste not to overpraise merit or glorify 
success. Hawthorne exposed the inconsistencies 
of Xew England Puritanism in a gracefully pitiless 
manner, but the severe virtues of Puritanism united 
to an artistic temperament made him what he was. 
The Selection of Material. — A noted American 
carriage-maker always bad the spokes of his wheels 
weighed in a balance, and those which were found 
to be lighter than the rest were thrown aside as 
unfit for service. Thus the classic artist always 
weighs hia material mentally, and rejects all ideas, 
figures, tints, harmonies, attitudes, or expression 
oi any kind which is not at least eighteen carat 



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24 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

fine. There must be no dead wood in his sentences : 
nothing commonplace is allowed. He will liave 
nothing like Byron's, — 



or Tennyson's, — 

*' With thftt he turned, and look'd as keenly at her 
Ab careful robins e;e the delver's toil." 

(the comparison of one of King Arthur's knights to 
a robin being a decided anti-climax), or Crawford's 

statue of James Otis, which from a front view is a 
spirited and eloi^uent portrait (rather in the Ber- 
nini style), but when seen in profile is little better 
than a block of marble. Compare the even quality 
of Horace's Odes with the minor poems of Long- 
fellow, or one of Virgil's Eclogues with Whittier's 
" Snow-Bound." Writing materials were so ex- 
pensive in the age of Pericles that authors felt 
obliged to refiect prudently before they made use 
of them. This led to a habit, no doubt, of think- 
ing over very carefully what they were going to say 
before they set it down. Fhooion, when some one 
asked him what was in his mind, replied that he 
was studying how to abbreviate what he was about 
to say in the public assembly. Any one who may 
follow this method of composition will soon find 
that it tends to a concentration of both thought and 
expression. The cheap publication of boobs, with 
all its inestimable advantages, has brought about 
an unfortunate dilution of the material. The im- 
provements in artificial light have contributed to 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 25 

tte same result Three hundred years ^o reading 
at night was not considered worth the candle. 
People now read more than they used to do, but 
the quality is not so good. 

Concentration In literatuie gives strength to the 
work, saves time, and invigorates the reader. 
Mind condensed in a fine sonata or a great painting 
invigorates as well ; and sculpture is an art which 
necessitates concentration. Nothing that is weak 
or diluted proves to be durable iu this world. . 
Life is short, and literature is long. The scholar 
has much ground to go over and meanwhile a hun- 
dred cares distract his mind, and eat up his time. 
He prefers writers like Bacon and Mommsen, who 
give bim the result of their investigations in a 
condensed form. Who can read through the fifty 
volumes of Yoltaire or the hundred and fifteen 
plays of Calderon? Scott and Dickens might be^ 
cut down one-half, as Wordsworth and Byron ' 
have been. Books multiply with terrible rapidity. 
People become confused amid such a variety of 
material, and the best is easily lost sight of. 
Nothing except a vicious course of life is so 
weakening to the intellect of man as reading 
continuously what it requires neither study nor 
reflection to understand. After two or three hours 
spent upon a novel by Charles Keade or Victor 
Hugo, we close the book with a feverish sense of 
dissatisfaction, and find ourselves unfit for either 
mental or physical exertion. Information obtained 
in the same manner makes little impression on us, 
and is soon forgotten. But read a chapter of 
Thucydides or Napoleon's letters to Joseph Bona- 



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26 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

parte, and you feel stimulated as if by a dose of 
moral itoD. Even the muscular system seems to 
be better for it. You spring to your feet in good 
spirits and ready for action j or, if you feel fatigue, 
it is of the healthy sort which leads to an increase 
of strength. Beading without reflection is a sen- 
.suous rather than intellectual occupation. It serves 
only to excite those sensations that are customary 
with us : it affects the nerves rather than the 
brain. 
,—- Perfection of fmin, is not possible without com- 
( pleteness of development. This is the case in 
Vtoature. A fir, a maple, or an American elm will 
attain a fair perfection of shape if its development 
is not hindered by winds or cattle or the proximity 
of other trees. A man who is to serve as a model 
for classes in drawing must exercise every muscle 
in his body. Consider the Discus-thrower already 
referred to. The poise of the head, the outstretched 
left arm, the graceful curvature of the back, the 
cautious station of the feet, the right leg thrown 
slightly across the left, as well as the self-possessed, 
self-forgetful expression of the face, all relate to 
and depend upon the action of the right hand. 
From every point of view it is equal and perfect. 
Compare with it the Perseus of Canova, in which 
the carriage of the head is supercilious, the right 
leg flying oS in a half pirouette, and the rest of the 
posture a compromise between the artist's vanity 
and the conditions of his subject. In the Agamem- 
non of .^schylus, the first dark intimations of the 
watchman on the roof, the false-hearted greeting of 
the king by his wife, her haish orders to Cassandra, 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 27 

the prophetic ravings of the daughter of Friam, 
and the suspicious appearance of ^gistbus, all in- 
dicate more and more significantly the catastrophe 
of the piece. The dial<^ue is grave and majestic, 
the chorus of the highest lyric beauty. Nothing, 
apparently, is omitted that could add to its com- 
pleteness, and nothing irrelevant is introduced. 
The "Manfred" of Byron, on the contrary, consists 
mostly of disconnected incidents, enlivened by 
flashes of poetic brilliancy, but leading to little in 
the end. In sculptnre, good form ia everything. 
One might suppose that the excellence of the Greeks 
in this respect was derived from their practice in 
chiselling marble. We find, however, that their 
genius culminated in literature nearly fifty years 
before it did in sculpture. Their fine military train- 
ing may have had something to do with this excel- 
lence; but properly it is to be assigned to the 
faculty of the race. 

Reserve ia the reticence of nature, and no work 
is truly great without it. Who shall describe fine 
manners, or the perfume of violets, or the modesty 
of a beautiful maiden ? If the artist appear per- 
sonally in his work, it is spoiled ; and yet his spirit 
must permeate it, or it will he lacking in style and 
character. William Hunt used to say that what an 
artist always needs is to express himself; but he 
ought to have added " through something different 
from himself." There must be a power behind the 
throne. We feel this especially in the works of 
Michel Angelo, whose reserve no critic has ever 
been able to fathom. How admirable is the reserve 
of the dramatist, who represents all oharaotera but 



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28 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Us own, and yet is represented in them all ! Even 
more admirable is the self-repression of Plato, who 
always gives the credit of his own wisdom to his 
master, Socrates. Dante does not hesitate to men- 
tion himself in the first peison ; but his reserve is 
still equal to the rest. 

. The net result of classic art is perfect beauty ; 
but this is never its object. The portrayal of the 
ideal life of man, of which beauty is the outward 
symbol and expression, is the aim. . Certain things 
which we esteem of great importance should never 
be sought for their own sake. Among these are 
wealth, power, and beauty. A merchant who seeks 
gain in order to be rich is sure to attain his object 
only by serious injury to his own character. Power 
judiciously exercised is the highest reward of the 
patriotic statesman; and yet how many statesmen 
have wrecked their fortunes in efforts to obtain it ! 
So have many sculptors of various nations attempted 
since the time of Ganova to create a type of perfect 
beauty, male or female; bnt the only result has 
been something pretty and insipid. Perfection of 
form is not sufficient of itself to give beauty : there 
must be a soul in the marble. The Greeks and the 
mediaeval Italians of romantic art never wasted their 
talents in such efforts. Phidias desired to make such 
a statue of Zeus as would be worthy of the idea 
which Zeus represented, and the result was a type 
of majestic beanty which endured until the six- 
teenth century. Of all the statues of Venus which 
have been dug up, each has a certain individuality 
of style which prevents it from being accepted as 
an absolute standard of feminine beauty. Few 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 29 

people axe so lacking in sestlietic sense as to fail io 
admitation for the Yeuus of Milo; and yet her 
features taken separately are not of the finest tpye. 
It is the tout etisemble that impresses us. 

Perfection, however, is a barren virtue : with it 
development is at an end. The course of mankind 
lies onward. Men are like drops of rain which fall 
from the sky and after a longer or shorter time 
find their way back to the ocean. They may be 
shut up for a time in stagnant pools or run off in 
clear brooks and turbid rivers; but change they 
must have by the laws of their nature, even if it 
be temporarily a change for the worse. The Greeks 
and Bomans, having realized their ideal, disap- 
peared, leaving a rich legacy to civilization. Mean- 
while, there hunted in the woods of Germany or 
fished on the coast of the Korth Sea the rude an- 
cestors of a man who was destined to cany liters 
ture, and art with it, by new methods, to a still 
higher and more comprehensive development. Of 
all genuine romantic writers Shakespeare is the 
chief. 

Romantic art is essentially Christian art. In the 
last book of the Odyssey there is a sentence which 
sounds as if it were written by Emerson. Ulysses 
and Telemachus are preparing to fight with the 
friends of the suitors of Penelope, who bad been 
slain the day previous, when old Laertes cries out, 
" What a day is this, when I behold my son and 
grandson contending in excellence!" This is in 
the true spirit of Hellenic culture, and a noble 
spirit it was, — the competition in excellence. 
Christianity, however, introduced a new principle, 



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30 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

that of gelf-examination. The Fathers of the 
Church taught that it was better to be pure within 
thau fair without, better to save one's own bouI than 
to gain a kingdom. As Hegel says, " The Same of 
eelf-eonseiousness consumed the pantheon of gods, 
and left only the One." Since the human race 
never leama more than one truth at a time, this 
doctrine made men so exceedingly self-conscious 
that art, which is only possible through self-forget- 
fulnesB, was entirely destroyed by it. The invasion 
of the Goths did not accomplish this downfall, as 
the rapid decline in sculpture between Aurelius and 
*Constantine shows. The equestrian statue of Au- 
relius Antoninus is one of the finest that have been 
preserved ; but one hundred and fifty years later 
bas-reliefs for the triumphal arch of Constantine 
were stolen from older monuments. Art lay buried, 
as it were, for a thousand years, when suddenly it 
spTang up all over western Europe, fresh and vig- 
orous under the impulse of a new ideal. Among 
many different nations it appeared in several dif- 
ferent forms — in Italy as painting, in Germany as 
song, in England as ballad poetry, and in France as 
romance. Gothic architecture, originating at Paris 
and extending far, became the most consistent 
exposition of the new era. 

Fortunately, we can trace the modem art of 
painting to its very source, proving beyond ques- 
tion the close relation between art and religion. 
The artist steps in to finish the spiritual work 
roughly hewn out by priest and prophet. What 
an influence the "Inferno" of Dante must have had 
<upon a public who believed there was a physical 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 31 



hell to which sinners would be certainly condemned ! 
The progress of Christian civilization waa sloir 
enough before his time, but afterwards much more 
rapid. Thongh of the purest Christian spirit, he 
followed after classic models. Kot so Giotto, the 
painter, and his sacoessors. While in the earliest 
Greek sculptures, the .^ginetan marbles for in- 
stance, the expression of the face is strangely con- 
Tentional, the form and attitude of the naked 
figures alone being considered of importance, in 
Italian pictures of the fourteenth century the fig- 
ures are scmpnlonsly draped, form and attitude are- 
of no moment, and all the energy of the artist is. 
concentrated upon the expression of the face and a 
spiritual conception of his subject. There is no 
more remarkable fact in history than this. The 
Greek began with what was external, and pene- 
trated inwards : the Christian began at the heart, 
and thence proceeded outward. The subjects of 
the Italian artists were Christ, the Virgin, and the 
saints, that is, holy men. Their ideal was moral 
perfection ; and at laat, when it became united with 
the classic principle of perfection in form, during 
the Renaissance period, the noblest and most beau- 
tiful works were produced that the world has ever 
seen. Here, ^ain, we are compelled to notice that 
the conception of the ideal precedes by some cen- 
turies the observation of the real, and that their 
union is attended by most important conse- 
quences. 

Though Italian art was possessed of the pure* 
romantic spirit, — more pure than the art of any 
other nation, at that period, — nevertheless, it had not . 



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32 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

the tme romantic style. It can hardly be said to 
have had any style of its own, until it adopted the 
classic. During the dark ages the inhabitants 
of Italy suffered great hardships. They were 
ploughed over, harrowed, and trodden down by 
successive invasions of hostile armies. Only the 
spiritual power of the Church of Borne pat an end 
to these horrors. The patience, resignation, humil- 
ity, and exalted faith of the Saviont the Italians 
had in a measure made their own. Very difEeient 
was the effect of Christianity upon the victorions 
German hordes. It could mitigate their arrogance ; 
but it could not tame their impetuous nature. In 
their former northern home perpetual activity 
had become the rule of their lives ; and per- 
haps this was the ultimate cause of that remark- 
able variety of detail, that fulness of material, 
which soon fojmd its way into Germanic art. 
The Teutons surrendered their Scandinavian gods, 
Odin, Thor, and the rest ; bnt they held fast to a 
mass of tradition about giants, dwarfs, witches, 
elves, gnomes, and drains, just as the Catholic 
Church retained many of the old pagan ceremo- 
nials and customs. A belief in 'these figments of 
the mind did not interfere in any wise with the 
Catholic creed ; it served an excellent purpose in 
providing subjects for the decoration of Gothic 
architecture. In their poetic form they have con- 
tinued to subsist until the present day, and it is 
difficult to see what the English poets would have 
done without them. 

K The ancient Germans were a nation of soldiers. 
(They believed in the spirit militant. Christianity 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 33 

indeed, would bare perished but for their stout 
resistance to MohammedaDism, or have survlTed 
only in the negative Byzantine type. Their ideal 
was incarnated in a Charlemagne, a Boland, and a 
Tancred, — men pure of faith and strong of limb. 
Modern fiction may be said to have its origin in 
the religious wars between Christians and the 
infidel. Whether we examine the legends of King 
Arthur ot the more historical tales of Charle- 
magne's time, we come always upon the same 
story : incredible feats of courage and strength are 
accomplished for the sake of Christianity and to 
succor the oppressed. Boland, who was without 
doubt a real personage, is the favorite in these 
€arliest works of fiction. Like Sir Gawain, he is 
represented as a model of honor, courtesy, and 
valor. The fiaws, possible or probable, in his 
character are not mentioned. When a hero is 
being canonized in the holy conclave of artists, the 
mention of his faults is bad manners. Boland 
appears to have been the Achilles of the Franks. 
With a chronicler of true genius to celebrate him, 
he might have equalled Achillea in fame. Now ho 
has become merely a name to most men ; but be is 
the typical hero of romantic literature, and we 
meet him again and ^ain in various disguises. 
He is Ogier the Dane, Godfrey the Crusader, the 
Ivanhoe of Scott, and, in a peasant costume, the 
Jean Valjean of Victor Hugo, a reformed convict 
who accomplishes incredible feats of strength in a 
most Christ-like spirit. In the course of histoiy 
he is transformed from one century to another into 
the ideal crusader, the avenging knight-errant, Sir 



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34 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Philip Sidney, the Duke of Wellington,' the modem 
French or English gentleman. 

The supposition that heroes exist only in ths 
imagination of authors is similar to the theory now 
in vogue that only an insane person will commit 
suicide. Both notions are derived from a poor 
observation. Shakespeare is supposed to have 
understood human nature pretty well. Does he 
represent Brutus and Othello aa insane at the time 
of their death ? Do they show signs of mental 
aberration in their last words ? Shakespeare also 
has an Orlando, a fine young Hercules without a 
blemish, who defeats and kills the duke's wrestler^ 
and very easily too. Because a few donkeys have 
been stripped of the liona' skins they were wearing, 
are we to become sceptical of the existence of 
lions ? On the contrary, where did the skins come 
from ? There can be no pretence where there ia 
not some positive good to be imitated. The chief 
requisites of the hero are courage, self-denial, and 
fidelity to an ideal, ail in the absolute degree. 
Marshal Ney, who was the last man to cross the 
Beresina with ten thousand Cossacks at his heels, 
was one kind of hero. Another was the common 
sailor, who in a naval action sat down on a box of 
ammunition lest it should be ignited by an explod- 
ing shell. Tamb^ry, the Hungarian philologist, 
was a third, when in his devotion to learning he 
disguised himself first as a Turk and afterwards as 
an Arab derrish, and thus, at the daily risk of his 
life, penetrated to the centre of Tartary. If the 

t This should not be andarstood to mesD the actual Sidney 
and WelllngtoD, but tbe populat notion of theia , 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 35 

lives of these men could be followed, like a Tirec 
to its source, they would be found, qo doubt, ooo- 
sistent, hanuonioua, ererywhere of a single piece. 
When we remember Leonardo da Tinci, an artist 
who could twist horse-shoes in his hands, a Bich- 
ard Cceui.de Leon, and Augustus the Strong, we 
need not be surprised to read of an Achilles, a 
Launcelot, and other prodigies of fiction. It is 
probable that an accurate account of Boland's 
exploits, could we obtain it, would be more won- 
derful than the fables told of him. 

Thackeray says," Depend upon it that the Duke 
of Wellington is no more a hero to his valet than 
you or I." This may be true ; for the hero of a 
valet is only an idealized valet, not a Duke of 
Wellington. The sun does not shine on people in 
coal-mines ; but there are heroes even at the pres- 
ent day for those who have eyes to see them. 
They are not easily discovered at an evening enter- 
tainment or on a seashore piazza. They cultivate 
reserve, because they^must hide their virtue fram 
themselves. Their seriousness prevents them from 
being popular companions. Their acquaintances 
cannot understand why they appear neither to seek 
pleasure nor to act from self-interest They do 
not depend upon the ordinary formulas of society, 
but live by laws of their own which baffle caloula- 
tion. They are recognized most quickly by those 
who have themselves endured something for an 
ideal (this may or may not be the same as suffer- 
ing for a principle) ; but commonly they are looked 
upon as enigmas until the great occasion comes, 
sooner or later, for which their previous life has 



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86 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TURE. 

only been a preparation. Sometimes the oocaaion 
does not come at all, and the hero remains unrec- 
ognized hj 3X\. except one or two personal friends. 
Strength has its heroes, but weakness has its 
heroes as well, — such as from some infirmity or 
unfavorable situation must take life at a disadvan- 
tage from first to last. They play a losing game 
to the end, and only death can conquer them. 

The spirit of Christian chivalry animated the 
body of mediseval romance. The fabulous element 
was only a wild kind of efflorescence, caused by 
Berserker young blood. Men delighted in the 
marvellous, as they do now in our newly settled 
Western country. The north of Europe was in 
the stage of must; but clear wine was sure to fol- 
low. After a time the boy becomes tired of his 
games : he discovers that they are unreal, and 
turns soberly to the plain facts of life. Some 
unexpected event, like the loss of property, per- 
haps, awakens in him a sense o£ his responsibility 
to fact. In romantic literature we can easily per- 
ceive the influence of the tales of Boccaccio, a 
keen, practical, and classical Italian mind, upon the 
strong honest sense of English Chaucer, ^e first 
important representative of the new era. Fiction 
as good as truth was more interesting than the 
most improbable chimeras. Human nature was 
not a thing to be despised, but a thing to be 
studied and made the most of. The real came 
once more to the assistance of the ideal, to give it 
a solid foundation. The details of Boccaccio's 
writing are frequently disgustii^ ; but his love of 
truth and his cheerful healthy humor compensate 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. S7 

for this fanlt. The spirit of fiee inqaii7, evoked 
by the classical lenaissance, helped theiroik forrard 
mightily. The fabulous portiou of mediseval art 
—the giants, di^^ons, fairies, witohes, and enchant- 
ments — came to be more and more clearly seen as 
mere phantasms, but by a peaceful evolution they 
were transformed into ornaments and allegories. 
The ideal of the age of chivalry, the man pnie in 
thonght, coarteons in speech, and disinterested in 
action, survived in fall force, and continued to be 
a vitalizing element in modem liteiature. 

In Shakespeare we have the romantic style in all 
its fulness, freshness, and redundant strength. To 
read the opening lines of " Bichard III.," — 

" Now 1b the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious summer by this sun of York " — 

is like entering the doorway of Cologne cathedral.. 
He is sometimes terribly realistic, and often beau-\ 
tif ully classic, as in Antony's oration over the body ^ 
of Giesar ; but his prevailing tone is the romantic 
one. He evidently read the Greek and Latin 
authors in translations, and the slight influence they 
exerted over him may be inferred from the use he 
makes of the tale of Troilus and Cieasida. His 
two greatest tragedies were founded upon the me- 
diaeval legends of Hamlet and King Lear, and both i 
are full of the quaint conceits of the romantic . 
period. Like the Gothic architect, he produces an t 
impression by greatness of design, splendor of die- ' 
tion (which may be compared to Uie stained glass ( 
windows), an exalted conception of his subject, a 
great variety of interesting characters, and a 



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88 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

greater variety of mental im^es or figures of 
speech. The action of his plays moTes forward 
I not with stately grace, but with the power of a 
\ river that has overflowed its banks. It reminds 
one distantly of the Gothic invasion of the Roman 
Empire. He is the perfect master of blank verse, 
I but otherwise cares little for form or for the quality 
\ of his materiaL Everything human, infernal, or 
divine is grist to his mill ; and yet he never loses 
self-control : we feel that Sh^espeare is every- 
where master. It has been said of the Prometheus 
of .^chylaB that it is not only a tragedy but trage- 
dy itself. In like manner it may be said that 
" The Tempest " is romance itself. A contempl^ 
tive Duke of MUan is pushed from the throne by 
his worldly brother, and exposed upon an uninhab- 
ited island. There, however, by means of the wi^ 
dom he has learned from books he becomes master 
of the situation, and in the course of time fortune 
tumB in his favor. His brother happens to be 
wrecked on the same island, falls into his power, 
repents, is forgiven, and the dukedom recovers its 
legitimate prinoe. The fairies and magical powers 
that Prospero calls to his aid represent his com- 
mand over the forces of nature, as the witches who 
confront Macbeth after the battle is won represent 
the evil thoughts of an ambitions nature. Is not 
this the simple essence of romance ? Is it not also 
a universal law that virtue is at first defeated, but 
afterward recovers itself by the aid of wisdom ? 
"As You Like It" gives the same subject a differ- 
ent treatment, leavit^ out the supernatural element. 
It is the final test of the ideal that it most ap- 



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CLASSIC AND ROMANTIC. 89 

peat perfectly real and yet beyond reality, Shake- 
speare was an idealist, it one ever existed. Even 
Ms historioal plays seem to be lifted above the 
earth and to float in an atmosphere of theii own. 
Henry V. and Cardinal Wolsey are not more life- 
like to ns than Bosaliod and Ariel. So Hamlet 
says that nothing is but thinking makes it so ; and 
this may be considered the keynote of the poet's 
own life. He distinguishes the ideal from the real 
in art by representing the former in verse and the 
latter in prose. It will be noticed that the prinei- 
pal person^^es in his plays, however they may 
differ in character, speak always in the same style, 
in Shakespeare's style. This is the ideal method 
of treatment, which, as in Greek sculpture, ignores 
unimportant peculiarities, and strives to reprodnoe 
only such traits as ate necessary to form a symmet- 
lical whole. Servants, jesters, rogues, tavern braw- 
lers, and the like, are portrayed in a wholly different 
manner, and very much as Dickens represents the 
same class of people. They are highly individual- 
ized, and their peculiarities are made the most of. 
So it is with the pictures of Teniers and other 
painters of the Dutch realistic school. The only 
value they have comes from their accurate presen- 
tation of conunonplace things. As there is no 
ideality in the scenes themselves, there is need of 
little in the pictures. The element of beanty does 
not enter into their composition. The proper rela- 
tions and respective values of the real and ideal 
can be studied to the best advantage in the works 
of Shakespeare. 



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40 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



KOBUNCB, HUMOB, AlTD BEAUBM. 

Aftes a well-freiglited ship has been running 
for many hours before the storm a serious moment 
comes, when the wind has died away and the roll- 
ing masses of water threaten contdnnally to break 
ove/the stem and carry her down. Then the cap- 
tain who can turn the bow of his vessel safely 
round to face the waves shows good seamanship. 
Something like this takes place in great social and 
political revolutions. After the popular ardor has 
somewhat spent itself it usually depends on the 
courage and sagacity of a single individual how the 
transition from the old to the new riffime shall be 
accomplished. Caesar has at length received the 
tardy credit of having swung civilization round on 
its axis in a time of greatest emergency, and a 
similar service to modem literature was performed 
by Shakespeare. He seized upon the romantic ele- 
ment when it was nearly at the point of dissolu- 
tion; revived, enei^zed, and improved it. He 
found it buried under a mass of stupid mediseval 
traditions, and he liberated it, ^as Frospero did 
Ariel. We owe to him the survival of the romantic 
spirit in England, and probably in Germany also, — 
the spirit of Christian chivalry, of which the motto 
of the Knights of the Garter is perhaps the most 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 41 

modem expression, — and with it the freshness, 
vigor, and good moial health of English and Oer- 
man Literature. In France, where medieeval chiv- 
alry reached its finest development, the Catholic 
counter-revolution and massacre of St, Bartholomew 
prevented the possibility of such large mi^;nani- 
mous minds as graced the reign of Elizabeth. The 
classic revival of Bicheliea and the French Acad- 
emy was too exotic, not sufficiently in the national 
soil, and so led the way to the present unhappy 
decline in their literatore. Certainly there have 
heen no French writers of the present century who 
can be compared to advantage with Wordsworth, 
Byron, Thackeray, Carlyle, George Eliot, and Eus- 
kin. If any, one would say Sainte-Beuve and 
Victor Hugo ; but the style of the former lacks 
manliness, and the latter is ultra-romantic. 

Cervantes and Shakespeare put an end to the 
mediEBval romance with all its eztrav^ances and 
vain conceits ; but the kernel of truth that was in 
it, being imperishable, survived the renaissance 
period, and came to life ^ain, first in the modem 
romance, and then in the romantic novel. What, 
then, is the difference between a novel and a ro- 
mance in the modem sense ? We have familiar 
examples before us. " The Vicar of Wakefield " is a 
celebrated romance, and " Middlemarch " an equally 
celebrated novel. Does not the difference chiefly 
reside in the ideality of the former ? Is not a re- 
spect for the Christian ideal the best legacy we 
have inherited from the Middle Ages, and where do 
we find this ideal exemplified better than in " The 
Vicar of Wakefield" ? It is this which gives the 



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42 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

modem romance its poetic oharactei and Bpiiitnal 
nndertone, so different from tlie practical good 
sense of the tme novel. The poetic reflections and 
anthropomorphio tenches of Hawthorne would be 
wholly ont of place in an ordinary novel or even in 
such a novel as " Middlemarch." It is, in fact, a 
transposed form of the drama, sometimes a melo- 
drama, as in the Vicar, but oftener a tn^edy like 
the " Sorrows of Werther," and is governed mainly 
t^ the roles of dramatic composition. Thus we 
find that romances are generally written by fine 
poets, and there is little doubt that if Hawthorne 
had possessed the lyiie gift he might have surpassed 
Longfellow and 'Wiiittier. 

In a novel the movement of the story is contin- 
ually retarded to prevent the reader from fore- 
seeing prematurely its conclusion. The action of 
a romance hastens forward and hurries the reader 
to a result which he dreads, and hopes may be 
averted. It also permits the author much less 
freedom of choice than the novel in regard to plot 
and incident. Its characters have to be of a cer- 
tain type and are obliged to follow given lines of 
action, which finally converge to a common centre. 
It is not necessary that the leading personage 
should be an ideal of excellence, rather the reverse ; 
but he must possess some excellence which makes 
him ideal. It is the Chiist-like serenity and resig- 
nation of Dr. Primrose, or the amiable simpli- 
city of Donatello, which continually charms ns, 
which leads up to the final good fortune of the one 
and the sudden downfall of the other. They 
arouse our sympathies the more keenly because 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 48 

they possess distincfcion. A Vivian Grey, a Gwen- 
dolen, a Daisy Miller, or a Silaa Lapluun -would 
not do. Goethe, who knew it best, says of a 
young man in his father's office who had ruined 
his health hy over-study, " He was a true romance 
character, and I only regret that I have never made 
use of him as the maiaspring in some work of fic- 
tion." This does not impress one as bearing much 
resemblance to the heroes of mediaeval romance. 
Neither are modem romances written in what is 
called the romantic style. The best of them are 
purely classic; and hence much confusion has 
arisen in regard to these terms classic and roman- 
tic. It proves that the romantic spirit can be 
successfully united with the classic form in litera- 
ture as well as in painting; where we find such 
bright examples of it as Oorreggio's Magdalen and 
the Sistine Madonna. There are likewise some 
instances of this in music, as in the Moonlight 
Sonata and Beethoven's Opus 90. These classic 
pure romances are the rarest and most valuable 
of literary productions. It would seem to be only 
the finest genius that could grapple with this 
species of art. 

Louis the Fourteenth disciplined his courtiers in 
well-bred manners as he disciplined his army in 
military evolutions. It was to this high-toned 
school of gentility that Sir Walter Scott belonged ; 
but with him it was not only a respect for dignified 
appearance, for his refined and sincere nature made 
him a gentleman to the soles of his feet He was 
par excellence the man who thought evil of no one, 
the last of the garter knights. There was in him. 



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44 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

moreover, a profound respect for antiquity. The 
feudal castles and old suits of armor whicli filled 
his hoyish mind with awe and mystery became the 
study and contemplation of his more mature years. 
He thought, what kind of life did these old fellows 
live in their heavy steel clothing? So the mantle 
of mediaeval fiction descended upon him in a way, 
and by transferring this archaeological interest into 
literature he originated what may be called the 
romantic novel. His mind was of the artistic 
Older, but not profound enough for the higher sort 
of poetry. If we compare hia verses with those of 
Bums we find something lacking in them, — what 
is called the anthropomorphic power. Then, if we 
compare Scott's prose with Hawthorne's we are 
compelled to notice the same difference. Haw- 
thorne humanizes even the watches in a shop 
window, "inhospitably disinclined to show their 
faces," he says ; while Scott appears almost formal 
and cold beside him. He could not have brought 
down the gods to men from Olympus, as Homer 
did. 

If, however, Scott was not an idealist in the full 
sense, yet he had an ideal, and that was the type 
of hero whom he represented in his novels. A 
young man, handsome, brave, accomplished, cour- 
teous, and irreproachable, we immediately recog- 
nize in him the hero of the age of chivalry brought 
within the limits of reason and probability. Such 
are Quentin Durward, Waverley, Ivanhoe, Henry 
Smith, and others. Very naturally they become 
attached to young ladies as handsome and irre- 
proachable aa themselves, and the obstaoles which. 



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ROMANCE, EUMOR, AND REALISM. -15 

arise to prevent the happy constunmatioii of their 
wishes form the current material of the story. 
This is not an elevating subject, but it is always 
a pleasant uid interesting one. In the hands of a 
mediocre writer it becomes tame and common- 
place, bat with Scott it rises to the dignified level 
of the author's own character. Certainly it can 
do us no harm, but a great deal of good, to have 
these models of youthful purity and manliness 
before us. If there are such characters, is it any 
reason that they should not be chosen as sub- 
jects of fiction becanse they are rare ? Major 
Winthrop, the author of " John Brent," and CoL 
Charles B, Lowell, both of whom were killed in the 
civil war, would have answered very well 33 heroes 
of the Walter Scott description, and there are 
others atill living. We call them heroes as a con- 
ventional term for the leading character in a story; 
but we are conscious that they are not real heroes 
like Garibaldi and Charles Sumner. Scott's char- 
acters appear to us as people do in company, at 
their counting-rooms, or in the courts. It is not 
good manners to study human nature too closely 
in public, but in boarding-houses, on sea voy^es, 
or in our own homes their peculiarities are thrown 
into relief, and we are compelled to notice them 
even against our own wills. This knowledge of 
human nature in its hidden sources is very valu- 
able, but would be out of place in a novel of the 
romantic order. Scott's genius was not of the 
analytic sort. He delineated the actions of men 
and women, and left the reader to discover their 
motives. He always remembers that he is in polite 



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46 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

-society. If he describes a scoffle in the street be 
narrates it as one wonld before ladies. Snch an 
incident may be described in as many different 
■wa,ya as there are persons concerned in it. Scott 
chooses the one vbich combines the most dignity 
Tith dramatic effect. Thackeray's short story of 
" Lovell the Widower " is a delightful piece of 
humor, bat Scott would hare said that a gentleman 
had no right to visit at the house of a friend and 
£nd out so much of what was taking place behind 
the scenes. There it such a thing as " considering 
too curiously." 

What he lacks in depth he atones for in breadtiL 
His leading characters are not all like Iranhoe, — 
witness Kob Boy and Jeannie Deans, — and none 
except the great dramatists have portrayed so 
many vailed and striking personalities, and sus- 
tained them with so strong a hand. He is suffi- 
ciently realistic for all practical purposes : not 
realistic like Dilrer, who represented almost every 
hair in a man's beard, but like Titian who could 
give the effect of a beaid by skilfully disposed 
shadows and a few points of light. For an author 
to prove his sense of reality, it is not essential 
that he should follow a male character to the 
washing-room, or a female to her toilet-table. 
Such details belong to comic writing, and if not 
humorous they are insufferable. Axe not Meg 
Merrilies and Dandle Dinmont sufSciently real- 
istic, and the opening chapters of the Antiquary 
and Peveril ? Scott was an enthusiastic royalist, 
but his personation of James the First presents 
the mean nature and ordinary quality of that 



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i 



ROMANCE, HUMOS, AND REALISM. 47' 

monarch witbont his Baling it. His descriptions 
of sceneiy were taken, if possible, upon tlie spot, 
even the flowers by the roadside being ooted down 
by him. How eloquent is the speech of Bob Boy 
to Mr. Osbaldistone : "Ton talk like a boy, who 
thinks the auld, gnailed oak can be bent aa easily 
as the young sapling. Do yon forget that I have 
been hunted as an outlaw, branded as a traitor, 
a price set upon my head aa if I had been a wolf ? 
. . . They shall hear of my vengeance who re- 
fused to listen to the atory of my wrongs. They 
shall find that the name they have dared to pro- 
scribe, that the name of MacGregor is a spell to 
raise the wild deTil withal." This breathes tha 
tme spirit of the monntaineer, rugged and untam- 
able. Helen UfacGregor, who sent one of their 
enemies to the bottom^ of a lake, was more realistic 
stilt 

In truth, the perfect union of the real and the- 
romantio is no more impossible than the perfect 
union of the teal and ideal. So it is with persons 
of a romantic or ideal temperament. Many years 
of experience in the world are often required 
before they succeed in reconciling themselves to 
the aetnal state of thinga, but if they earnestly 
strive for it they always succeed at length. The 
rule should be to keep each element well in hand, 
to restrict each to its proper limits, and never to 
permit a premature or inauspicious fusion of them;, 
especially to hold the ideal and the romantic pnt 
dently in reserve, as a modest maiden conceals her- 
affection nntfl the last moment from her fortunate 
lover. To acoDnq)lish. this either in one's own life- 



db,GoogIe 



48 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

01 in the other world of art shows a piactical skill 
of the very highest order. It is in this that Scott's 
followers and imitators in romantic fiction, espe- 
cially women, have commonly failed ; their imma- 
ture efforts resulting in an unreal, sentimental, 
and heterogeneous kind of work which has nata- 
rally brought the romantic style into disrepute. 
To pass by lesser examples, of whom the number 
is multitude, we find in Disraeli's Lothair, (a bright 
book, but wholly artificial aud of no value there- 
fore as literature) the romantic adventures of a 
rosy-faced scion of nobility, the great Boland in 
his last decadence, described in a vein of reaJistie 
incisireness which borders on irony. Intelligent 
readers have pronounced it all a burlesque, bnt 
what makes it appear so is the discordant elements 
from which it was constructed. Mrs. Burnett's 
" Gwenn " is a charming story of Franco-American 
life, but in the concluding chapter she has intro- 
duced a romantic catastrophe which is too sudden 
and appalling. We feel that either she has not 
told us the whole truth about her heroine, or that 
she has sacrificed her to dramatic effect. A sensi- 
ble, firm-hearted peasant girl is not likely to become m £^a^ 
distracted and throw away hei life because a hand- 
some man has kissed her two or three times. 
People who live an out-of-door life never suffer 
from fine-spun sensibilities. Jeanoie Deans, when 
she saw the fine grazing land of England, thought 
little of the scenery, but much of her favorite 
cows. We are, however, drifting away from Soott'e 
position. The " Waverley Novels " could not be re- 
peated again any more than Shakespeare's plays 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 49 

or the .^Jneid of Virgil. Yet their inflnenoe ia 
perceptible in all English fictioa that has ainoe 
beetk written, eren in the viitings of those vho 
are disposed to doabt their genius and quarrel with 
their form. 

The Greeks despised piose fiction and would 
have nothing to do with it. If a man oould not 
tell his fables in verse he was not considered worth 
listening to. Indeed, the first tales we find any 
record of appear to have been of a most disreput- 
able kind. They are supposed to have originated 
in Persia, and were translated into Latin during 
Sulla's profligate reign. Prose was reserved for 
more serious subjects, — for history, rhetorio, and 
oratory ; and one might almost wish that this dis> 
tinction had been preserved perpetually when it is 
eonsidered how habitual reading of fiction at the 
present day has taken the place of all better read- 
ing, distracts the young from their studies, en- 
feebles the minds of women, and weakens the 
bodies of men by late hours and an in-door life. 
Nothing, for one item, is more injurious to the 
eyesight than hasty and excited reading. The 
diamond edition of Dickens, published at the time 
of that author's last visit to America, placed thou- 
sands of dollars in the pockets of the oculists. 
The novel is the most diluted form of literature, 
and requires less imagination on the part of the 
reader than any other. The reading of novels will 
weaty the mind from a pure lack of mental exer- 
tion; as people become more fatigued standing 
about at a fair than by a lively walk. Yet it must 
be admitted that on certain occasions there is no 



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50 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

comfort for a man like a good uoveL It has this 
adrantage over poetiy, Hmt it is less formal, more 
like conversatioD. It is, like the art of printing, 
one of the blessings we have not yet learned to 
use judiciously. Poetry has been called a criti- 
cism of life ; and if this is to some degree correct, 
it is still more true that the norel is a criticism of 
one's neighbors. That is what Fielding, Dickens, 
George Eliot, Howells, and others have made of 
it. The criticism is, of course, good humored or 
the public would not permit it. In this way a 
novelist, if he possess genius, can< wield great 
power. Dickens was a true philanthropist, not of 
the theoretical sort, but directing his satirical 
shafts for the reformation of real abuses. Aretino 
was not more the scourge of princes than Thack- 
eray of London fashionable society, and recent 
developments have proved that he told of it noth- 
ing less than the truth. The royal family could 
not escape the keen edge of his sincerity. In a 
somewhat diSerentmanner Hawthorne exposed the 
unconscious duplicity of Puritanism. 

It is well known that in the most civilized oom- 
mnnities crimes take place which the ingenuity of 
jurists have never been able to reach. A famous 
instance of this was the hypochondria of Zimmer- 
mann, the German scholar, which first destroyed 
his son, then his daughter, and finally turned like 
the sting of a scorpion upon himself. A woman 
was not long since arrested for allowing her sick 
child to die of neglect, while she and her friends 
tried the faith cure experiment upon it ; but how 
many children die of neglect whom we know nothing 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 51 

abOTit ? Bmtal husbands may torment their wives 
into insanity or death; unprincipled wives may 
desolate their husband's homes ; parents, as Bus- 
kin says, destroy their children, and sous ruin 
their parents ; an unacrupnlous lawyer may make 
use of Mb profession to defraud his creditors ; a 
mischievous widow may spoil the jreaoe of half a 
dozen families : and for all this there is neither rem- 
edy nor punishment except throngh the languid and 
nncertain action of public opinion. Keither is it 
judicious to attempt an ezposuie of these .enor- 
mities in the public prints. The novelist, however, 
may do so under the mask of different scenery and 
fictitious names. He cannot avenge the wrong, but 
he may do much to prevent a repetition of it. 
Whether it be true or not that Dickens was threat- 
ened with a libel suit by a Yorkshire school- 
master, Thackeray openly declared that his Mar- 
quis of Steyne was taken from one of the dissolute 
companions of George the Fourth. How open the 
imitations from real life are to be is, like most 
problems in literature, a question of good judg- 
ment. If we were always to consider the effect 
upon the tender sensibilities of our neighbors very 
little truth would ever have been told. The indig- 
nation of the people of Salem upon the publication 
of Hawthorne's " Scarlet Letter " arose, no doubt, 
from a misapprehension of the nature of art. The 
poet, if he is to make his characters life-like, must 
obtain models for them as well as the painter and 
sculptor. There is no need of attributing to the 
living model the wayward behavior of a fictitious 
character. Goethe's old friend Merck served as a 



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52 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

model for MepMstopbeles. He V3s a good-hearted 
man, but liked to play the cynic among his familiar 
acqnaintances. In most instances it ought to be 
looked nppn as a compliment, this artistic theft of 
one's portrait; but the persons whom Hawthorne 
made use of in this manner, the young clergyman 
especially, were highly displeased by it. So it was 
with the friends of the young American painter 
who is represented in the story of " Guenn." It 
is the peculiar merit of the novel that in it we 
may see the spirit reflected with whatever limita- 
tion oi eccentricity pertains to it. 

If it is admitted that the coarseness of Fielding 
is an essential part of his subject (as in the play 
of Othello), then he is the perfection of a realis- 
tic novelist. His style is one of the best, if not the 
very best, of English prose writers. Thackeray 
says, " Since the author of Tom Jones died, it has 
not been permitted any English novelist to de- 
scribe a man as he really is." The question arises, 
however, whether it is worth while to do this. 
Does not the same rule apply here which we have 
already accepted in regard to Greek sculpture. A 
young lady unwittingly purchased a copy of Field- 
ing's " Amelia " at the railway station, but her more 
experienced friend advised her to throw it out of the 
car window, for it would ruin her reputation even 
to be seen with it. So greatly have we changed 
since the days of Burke and Dr. Johnson ; but the 
remarkable part of it is that Fielding is now well- 
nigh excluded from polite society, while " Othello " 
ia the most popular of all Shakespeare's plays 
(Maoaulay considered it the best), and its per- 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 68 

formance is mvaiiably a.ttended by crowds of young 
ladies. Is it not the grand sweep of the tragedy 
-whicb carries as through and over everything that 
stands in the way, and in the final catastrophe we 
forget all unpleaaant impressions. But the pure 
stream of Fielding's humor also does much to wash 
the mind of his impurities ? That is why we call it 
humor, because it moistens and refreshes our men- 
tal faculties. It acts upon the intellect like a wet 
sponge on a slate, leaving it clean and ready for 
new sensations. In one of the Homeric hymns 
Hermes is represented as having, the day after his 
birth, stolen the cows of Fhcebus Apollo, and, 
after eating up three of them, sequestrated the 
rest of the herd. Phoebus accordingly summoned 
him before a synod of the gods, and demanded the 
restoration of his property ; but Hermes swore by 
the throne of Zeus that he knew nothing of the 
matter. " Then inextinguishable laughter seized 
upon Father Zeus and the other blessed gods when 
they heard little Hermes so stoutly denying the 
theft of the cows." This inextinguishable laughter 
is a strain of moral good health which runs 
through the whole course of Gfrecian art, and pre- 
serves it from ever becoming form^, cold, pedan- 
tic, or pretentious. The humor of Fielding is also 
of an Olympian quality, and saves him from be- 
ing classed as merely a gifted realist. 

The essence of humor consists in a disadvanta- 
gious comparison ; and this may be either ideal or 
realistic, according as the comparison is of an ele- 
vated or inferior character. The former is called 
high comedy, and the latter low comedy. Tartnffe 



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54 HEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

is high comedy because ve instinctively compare 
the shameless hypocrite of a priest vith the ideal 
of religious devotioD to which he pretends. The 
return of Kip Yan Wintde to his home after the 
long sleep reminds us pathetically of the happy 
return of a father from a distant journey, and at 
the same time we are amused at the oddity of his 
appearance. Once when a self-important man of 
small stature was strutting about, a bystander said, 
quoting from the play of Julius Gsesar, " Ye gods, 
he is a colossus, and we petty beings walk under 
his huge limbs ! " A realistic treatment of the 
same case would be to hare compared the man to 
Falstaff or a bantam rooster. Irony and satire are 
properly ideal; sarcasm, ridicule, caricature, and 
burlesque, realistic. Good examples of realistic 
humor may be met with on Saturday evenings at 
the grocery stores and among men working on the 
highways ; but for ideal humor we must look to the 
court room, because whatever is said there must be 
respectfuL Was it not Bufus Ghoate who said of 
an immensely fat lawyer, " He carries all before 
him ? " Yet realistic humor, when it is applied to 
a great subject, may rise to a higher plane than this, 
as ia Lowell's verses ; — 

"We own the ocean too, John ; — 
Yon muBt not think it bard, 
li we can't agree with you, John, 
That it's just yont own back yoid." 

And in the foDowing the two are happily united ; — 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 55 

There is a. kind of grand realism la the compari- 
son of the monument to a stone spike, but the 
idea of a bridge talking across the countTy is any- 
thing but realistic. Sometimes two objects can be 
compared so as to make both of them appear in a 
humorous light, Carlyle, speaking of Soutliey's 
last marriage, says that the lady ofEered herself and 
her fortune most heroically to him, and he (per- 
haps quite as heioically) accepted her. Irony is 
the connecting link between tragedy and comedy. 

Fielding's humor, like that of Shakespeare, 
ranges from the highest to the lowest, but its tone 
is always strong, sunny, and generous, — an ema- 
nation of the man. He never goes out of his path 
to seek it, nor Introduces it on the wrong occasion. 
Ki(ficule of what is serious or venerable he nevei 
indulged in, and would have scorned to perpetrate 
jokes on the blindness of Milton or the lameness 
of Byron. Neither did he seek favor with his 
countrymen by ridiculing the ways and customs of 
other nations. Humoi has its highest value when 
it also includes a profound truth. One of the best 
of Fielding's descriptions is his contrast of Squire 
Western and his sister, of whom he finally says 
that, different as they were in other respects, yet 
they were alike in this, for Miss Western who was 
ever looking into the future foresaw a great many 
things which never came to pass, and her brother 
who rarely realized an event until after it had taken 
place remembered a good deal more than ever bad 
happened. It is one of the mysteries of heredity 
that in the same family there will be bom two 
children one of whom will appear as an inveited 
counterpart of the other. 



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66 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

He is no pettifogging moialist, but respects real 
virtue, the virtue of charactet, wherever it is to be 
found. He proves his respect for woman by the 
finest female characters known to fiction. It is not 
too great a risk to say of Sophia Western that she 
is the peer of Imogen and Desdemona, delineated 
too as if by the hand of a Titian. Wherever she 
is introduced in the book she sheds a radiance like 
the evening star. Kor are Amelia Booth and 
Fanny Goodwill far behind her. Fielding lives 
vigorously and wishes others to do so. If he has 
not described men and women as they are, where 
shall we find the manliness and sincerity that will 
do it ? He was a fine scholar, and bis writings are 
replete with classical quotations, and so appropriate 
that not one could be spared. 

Thackeray stands alone by himself, and perhaps 
always wilL He is a satirist, but his satire con- 
tains no artificial acid : it is the pure, wholesome 
jnice of ripe fruit. Nothing can be more health- 
ful and refreshing than this ; but many who think 
the devil still wears boms and a tail and lives in 
the woods (instead of right in the midst of ns) do 
not like it. Others may have a secret misgiving 
that they are indirectly the subjects of his amiable 
censorship. In artistic skill he is not equal to 
Fielding, but surpasses him in his knowlec^e of 
boman nature, in tenderness of feeling, in pathos, 
in refinement, and in wisdom. With such a writer 
it matters little what sort of a plot forms the frame- 
work of bis narrative, or whether he have any plot. 
His place in literature is a high one, almost among 
the highest. It has been lately stated by an Eng- 



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ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND REALISM. 57 

lisb critic, and repeated with approval in America, 
that " the mannerism of Dickens or the confiden- 
tial attitude of Thackeray vould no longer be per- 
mitted in a writer of fictiou," — so much hare we 
improred. These are faults, no donbt, and to be 
avoided in future if possible, but even greater de- 
fects would be condoned in writers who possessed 
the genius of Dickens or Thackeray. What is 
wanted in an orchard is not so much symmetrical 
trees as those which will bear good apples and 
pears. His female characters are not equal to his 
men, — sometimes it seems almost as if he had a 
spite against the sex, — and yet how many children 
have been named for Ethel If ewcome I Henry 
Esmond, too, has become the ideal of a high- 
minded Hfe. 



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REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



THB MODEBS HOTEL. 

CouPAKATiTELT iew noTels of the vast number 
that are viitten deserve the name of literature, 
aod feirei still will be honored with a permanent 
place in it. Novelists were also numerous in the 
last century, and yet only three of them, Fielding, 
Smollett, and Kichardson are now well known. 
Only three novelists have survived among more 
than twenty English writers of distinction ; and is 
it safe to predict that a larger number will be 
remembered from the present century when an- 
other hundred years have passed? Scott and 
Thackeray and George Eliot certainly will; but 
who beside them ? Is it safe to predict that even 
the broad-humored, philanthropic Dickens will last 
another generation ? One cannot imagine a literary 
immortality for Charles Beade, Trollopc, or Wil- 
liam Black. How is this to be accounted for? 

Novel-writing is the easiest and most Incrative 
form of art. It is the most lucrative because 
thousands of people will purchase a work of fiction 
who cannot be persuaded to read any other sort of 
book ; and it is the easiest to write because neither 
trainii^ nor experience is required for the purpose. 
Poetry is a rare gift; music and sculpture require 
a course of the severest study ; the painter most 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 59 

spend years in practising with the brush ; but to 
compose a modeiately good norel requires only a 
lively faucy, a, habit of imitation, and a. faculty of 
consistent derelopmeut. The last quality is essen- 
tial to all constructive work, and the first two are 
so common that the wonder is we do not find 
twice as many novels as there are. To write a 
" Middlemarch " as much genius and self-denial 
are needed as for one of Winer's operas, but to 
write a " Robert Falconer " little more than ink, 
paper, pens, and a moralising turn of mind. Leo- 
nardo da Vinci said, "He who cannot shade an 
object so that one can take hold of it, has no 
talent; " and it may be remarked of noyelists and 
poets that those who are unable to write a satis- 
factory essay in prose have no claim upon liters 
ture. This might be a good test, not only with 
respect to aspirants for literary honors, but also 
for their readers. There are people still alive in 
America, though not very many, who look ux>on it 
as a sin to read anything which is "not strictly 
true ; and absurd as this is, there can be no doubt 
that the reading of even the best fiction, of 
Shakespeare himself, may have an injurious influ- 
ence on a certain class of minds. Children they 
cannot hurt much, for nothing except pain, or the 
sight of suffering in others, makes a deep impres- 
sion on the minds of children ; but if read too 
sympathetically and without reflection they tend 
to perpetuate those illusions of childhood which 
we ought to leave behind us. The right corrective 
for this, if it can be applied, is to persuade these 
persons to read something that is not a story. 



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60 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

something whicli it requiisB reSection to nnder- 
Btand, like Bacon'a essays or Schiller's aesthetic 
prose. It ia only when we have properly learned 
to think about what we read that works of fiction 
can bring to ns their full measure of profit and 



Fielding divides " Tom Jones " into a number 
of books according to the ancient manner, and 
begins each book with an introductory essay on 
some subject connected with his narrative. They 
are all good, and the one which forms the first 
chapter of the ninth book may be fairly compared 
to the " Ars Poetica " of Horace. In it be gives the 
net result of his experience as a writer of fiction, 
and those qualifications which are required for it. 
This is invaluable, and had better be studied by all 
young people who think of making a profession of 
novel-writing. The first qualification, he says, is 
geniut ; by which he means not so much the crea- 
tive faculty (for what is altogether fabulous may 
be created on paper), but the inventive, discovering 
faculty "or, to explain it at large, a quick and 
sagacious penetration into the true essence of all 
the objects of our contemplation." The second is 
learning. A competent knowledge of history and 
belles-lettres he considers necessary even to a 
novelist ; and if it be true that he who only knows 
one language knows none, it is as likely to be true 
that he knows little of the time he lives in who 
does not understand the current of all time. 
Scott, Thackeray, and Geoi^e Eliot were all well 
versed iii historical lore. Third, the novelist must 
acquire thorough observation of men and things — 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 61 

that knowledge whicli boots cannot supply to him. 
Especially should he converse with people of every 
description and condition of life, contrasting them 
together in his mind, and thus making their 
several peculiarities to appear more plainly, for 
correct behavior would scarcely attract attention 
if it were not for the follies and vices of others. 
The last is most important. The anther must 
possess a generous, sensitive, and deeply-feeling 
heart : he must feel the joys and sorrows of the 
world if he is to move the world, " or," as Horace 
says, " if he is to make others weep, he must first 
weep himself." Fielding's definition of genius is 
rather too realistic, for it is precisely the greatest 
geniuses who have dealt most largely in the fabu- 
lous, or marvellous, element. It may aJso be 
noticed that he does not mention that which is 
his own chief excellence, the sense of humor. 

It is a strange fact, and suitable food for the 
moralist, that the modem demand for realism 
should have originated among a people who, of all 
civilized nations, are at present the most unreal 
and the least veracious. In France fiction is ex- 
pected to be real, and life has become mainly a 
fiction. The rational and customary order appears 
to be inverted. It is not that we charge the 
French with dishonesty. In their dealii^s be- 
tween man and man they are quite as trustworthy 
as the English or Americans. The high standard 
of personal honor among French gentlemen has 
always been proverbial. The mischief would seem 
to be that they have separated themselves from 
what is actual and wandered off into the region 



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62 REAL AND IDEAL TN LITERATURE. 

-of illnsioD and self-deception. It is well known 
that they hare slight regard for oidinary forms of 
Teta^ity, but the evil lies deeper ; it lies in a dia- 
regajrd for the plain facts of life. Figures of 
rhetoric are valued more highly than the objects 
or ideas they represent. M. Benaii says, " There is 
no such thing as chastity in nature." Any good 
natuialist could hare told him that in animal life 
there is a great deal of chastity, and that it almost 
might be said that only human beings could be 
unchaste ) but that was not what M. Beuan wanted. 
He wanted an effective sentence which would 
serve as an argument. Such brilliant guesses are 
frequent in the writings of Taine and Victor 
Hugo. Wendell Phillips was a good American 
example of the same mental dereliction ; and those 
who recollect his graceful orations, so bright, so 
keen-witted, and yet so illusory, can understand 
what is the condition of a large portion of the 
French people at the present time. 

i Perhaps it is as a reactionary movement against 
this condition of affairs that the demand for 
absolute realism has arisen. Sober-minded men 
having observed what dangerous things ideas have 
often proved to be in the brains of their neighbors, 
have somewhat rashly concluded to let ideas alto- 
gether alone. Having satisfied themselves that 
men are unable to fly, they think their proper busi- 
ness must be to burrow in the ground. 
I Bealistic art is correct, literal, and prosaic. It 
J ooncerns itself mainly with the petty details of 
life, which may, however, be of great importance to 
certain individuals. Its trae value consists in this, 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 63 

that it mast be geDuine ; aod amid so much pieten- 
sion, affectatioii, and unreality, this is not to be- 
despised. Its place, however, is not a high oue. 
It has no interior significance ; it leads to ootMng 
beyond itself. It represents life, and yet is with- 
out that spirit which informs all life. Its novelty 
may interest ua, but it finds no abiding-place in 
our affection. It can have neither depth of thought 
nor feeling ; for depth of thought leads directly to 
an ideal conception, and depth of feeling to roman- 
tic situations. In the art galleries of Europe the 
realistic paintings of Holland and France barely 
attract attention beside the ideal works of Italy. 
Enbens was a realist by inheritance, but he acquired 
a kind of reflected ideality by his study and ad- 
miration of Michel Angelo. Yet to pass from the 
mi^nlficent collection of Kubens's paintings at 
Munich into the apartments devoted to the Italian 
masters is like going from Munich into the Tyrolese 
Alps. Two pictures, one by Luini and the other 
by Pordenone, at the right side of the doorway, 
show even by their tone of coloring the transition 
to a purer air and higher life. 

The French are good actors because they are the 
best of imitators. This is also a prominent trait 
in their realistic literature, of which the " C4sar 
Birotteau " of Balzac is an excellent example and to 
Anglo-Saxon taste one of the least objectionable. 
O^sar himself is a good little shopkeeper, whose 
success in his own line of business emboldens him 
against the advice of his wise, cool-headed wife to 
try his hand in a more ambitious enterprise for 
which he has neither the skill nor the courage. 



b,GoogIe 



64 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

His given name is a. piece of natural irony, and one 
can see from the first that be is doomed to failure. 
There is no more consistent character in the history 
of fiction. He swoons with joy when Ms sweet- 
heart accepts him ; wakes up in the night to think 
over his plans ; ruins his last hope by an imprudent 
speech ; and finally dies in the moment when his 
troubles have ended and honor has returned to him. 
These and similar incidents all betray the same 
kind of weakness, — a lack of reserved force. 
The story is written with perfect precision of 
statement, is lively and interesting ; but when we 
close the book there is an end of it. We feel no 
affection for the author; he is so impersonal that 
we do not care to see a picture of him. We make 
B. few simple reflections, and pass on. There are 
neither beautiful nor elegant passages in the book. 
It is not easy to imagine how a pure realist can be 
eloquent, as Scott, Dickens, and Thackeray are 
eloquent. There is a great deal of pathos in the 
Darrative, — too much if anything ; but there is 
little in the writing. It is not necessary, as some 
critics suppose, that a writer must be subjective in 
order to be pathetic. Of humor there are only a 
few light touches, chiefly in the chapter where 
Crandissart the illustrious makes his appearance, — 
a most refreshing chapter amid the longnlrawn 
misery of Birotteau's financial embarrassments. 
I The tendency of realism is towards materialism. 
(The life of civilized man is a continuous spiritual 
struggle, not so much against evil as out of eviL 
If he ceases to stm^le the weight of his animal 
nature pulls him downward ; and he returns to bai- 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 65 

barism. Cases of this frequently happen and pass 
by the najne of demoralization. NBither will a man 
stri^gle long without an object; what we have al- 
ready called an IdeaL Bemove this from him, and 
you take away the staff of his moral nature. The 
real should no more be separated from the ideal than 
the body from its soul. It has been considered 
that souls may exist without bodies, but bodies 
without souls turn rapidly to clay. 

Absolute realism tends either to what is minute 
and commonplace or to what is sensual and sensa- 
tionaL This follows from the foregoing. A ma- 
terialized life, if it keeps within the bounds of 
propriety, soon becomes tame and monotonous. 
Otherwise it inevitably seeks entertainment in 
coarse and exciting pleasures. The direct state- 
ment of Thackeray ou this point in regard to a 
large portion of the English nobility is strongly 
supported by the internal evidence of Disraeli's 
fashionable novels. Materialized people are proper 
food for satire, for that is the only corrective that 
will reach them. Balzac does not escape sensuality ; 
Zola is notorious for it. It may be realistic, but it 
is very disagreeable. There are also sensational 
characters in real life as well as romantic and tragic 
ones. This form of sensationalism has not yet 
found a place in American prose ; but such plays as 
Mr. William Story's "Nero" and Gen. Wallace's 
" Commodus " are more disgustingly sensational be- 
cause they are realistic, and because the events re- 
lated in them have actually happened. Not long 
since a poem was published in one of our popular 
magazines called "Morgan the Buccaneer ;" and the 



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66 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

life of thab desperado iras described in it with suc& 
minuteness and precision of detail as would horrify 
almost any reader. Its effect upon the mind is to 
efface all pleasant impressions for several hours. 
It gratifies no sense of beauty or grandeur or any 
other artistic feeling. Perhaps it is well enough 
to know that there are such monsters in order to 
check our optimism ; but are they suitable subjects 
for ait ? The photograph of a dead highwayman is 
refreshing in comparison. 

Eussia may be called a nation without a national 
existence. The individual exists properly for the 
state, as the leaf exists for the tree, but in Russia 
the individual exists for the government. Such a 
political machine is useful in Asia, to prevent the 
Tatars from gouging out each others' eyes, but in 
the European family of nations it is little better 
than a pest. Of intellectual life there, at least in 
the more advanced stages, there is and has been 
little or none, and of art only the reflection of such 
French or German originals as might be smuggled 
into the country. Among a people who are with- 
out an ideal it is quite natural that realism should 
predominate. Turgienief and Tolstoi are both 
good ; better perhaps than the French models upon 
which they formed themselves. They are better 
because they are more serious. Tolstoi's narratives 
are, however, sometimes more like autobiography 
than literature ; for a work of art must have a 
central figure, call it what you will. His true 
merit consists not in being a realist or a philan- 
thropist, but because, like Thackeray, he handles 
human nature without gloves and is not afraid to- 



L;,,l,;.:M.,G00gIe 



TBE MODERN NOVEL. 6T 

tell what he knows. He would be a still better 
writer it he were a wiser man. His socialistic 
theories aie an injiur to him. 

Bomanee is dear to the human heart, and eren 
the most severe realist cannot wholly escape from 
it. In the first chapter of " C^sar Birotteau " his 
wife has a dream that she saw herself knocking at 
the door of her own house, — a presage of their 
coming misfortunes, — and in the last chapter 
C4sar himself falls down and dies at the feet of his 
father confessor. On the third page of Tolstoi's 
" Invaders " we meet with a discussion concerning 
Plato's definition of a brave man, and that too in 
the camp of a Bossian army. In the same narra- 
tive also occurs this sentence, " Nature breathed 
peacefully in beauty and power." The meeting of 
Ferris and Florida in "A Foregone Conclusion," in 
front of the portrait of the Venetian priest, is a 
romantic incident which every one will recognize. 
Hawthorne or George Eliot would have improved 
the situation in a telling manner. Such instances 
could be multiplied without number. 

How are we to be sure of what is real, and what 
is not ? Qoethe in the " Walpurgis-night " intro- 
duces a realist who exclaims in this fashion (freely 
translated) : — 

"BeaUty throi^h every land 

I seek; yet donbts offend me, 
For fesr tbe ground on whjcb I stand 
Sball bre&k, uid hetlward send me. 

Here truth and poetry are in full agreement — 
as they always should be. A solid block of ebony 
seems real enough ; but that black, heavy substance 



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68 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

is composed of gases, things invisible to the eye, 
and may be resolved into them agajn. All that 
we know of them is the ^q^ualities they possess. 
Whether the gas or the quality is the teal essence 
it were difficult to say. A. man is prosperous in 
his profession and saves fifty thousand dollars. He 
buys with it a building in the middle of a large 
city, and has it fully insured. He marries a hand- 
some wife. He has several children and plenty of 
friends. But his building is destroyed in a gen- 
eral conflagration, and the insurance companies 
fail : his property disappears in a puff of smoke. 
He finds that Fair Rosamond is not the treasure 
that he thought hei. Hia sons are a disappoint- 
ment to him : not one of them will ever fill his 
place. His friends cannot do much to help him. 
Such has been the life of many a brave man, and 
he finds at last that amid all mutations of fortume 
the one solid rock that he can rest on is bis own 
character, — that intangible, ideal something which 
he has built up within himself. His self-iespect 
is of all things the most reaL 

Improvement in novel-writing probably lies in 
the direction of Anerbach's "On the Heights." 
The novel of the future was already written twenty 
years ago, it would seem. The sensation that it 
then produced has long since subsided, but the 
book yet remains to be fully appreciated. One 
reverend gentleman condemned it as an immoral 
publication, while another of the same denomina- 
tion declared with equal boldness that in his esti- 
mation it held a place close to the Bible. These 
were the extremes, and between them there waa 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 69 

every shade and variety of opinion ; bat it was 
generally admitted to be a vork of unusual power. 
Some people objected to it because, as they said, it 
had ideas in it : when they read for pleasure they 
did not like to think. 

" On the Heights " is no more an immoral book 
than the Venus of Milo is immoral. It is rather 
too strictly and severely moral, for Auerbaeh was 
of Jewish parentage, and the rigorous Hebrew 
element was strong in him. Much more is it/ 
immoral to ignore what everybody knows, to cover/ 
up what cannot be hidden, and to evade those plaint 
facts of life upon which the happiness of everyl 
married person must depend. How much can be' 
said with propriety of any domestic matter is 
always a question of good judgment, aud Auer- 
baeh keeps within safe limits. That the Countess 
Irma should expiate a transgression, for which she 
was not wholly to blame, by a voluntary exile 
which was the cause of her death, would seem 
almost an unequal penalty. Far better for her to 
have reformed her character in the world than 
out of it ; far better to have preserved her health 
and maintained her relations with the society in 
which she was so useful and influential a member. 
Yet it is not every one who has the strength of 
will to do this, and Auerbach's solution is in ac- 
cordance with human nature. The work is classic 
in its form, romantic in its incidents, realistic in 
its representation of German peasant life, and 
ideal in its noble thought and elevated tone. Soott 
and George Eliot are often heavy. Thackeray is 
sometimes garrulous. Dickens is tui^id and prolix ; 



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70 BEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

but none of these faults are to be found in " On the 
Heights." It is written with a light, swift touch, 
aod few sentences in it could be spared. It has not 
the fine humor of " The Hewcomes," or the dramatic 
power of " Middlemarch," but it surpasses them 
in a perfect and many-sided culture. When Count 
Ebeihard says to his daughter, " I shall pass away 
and no trace of me will remain on the earth ; but 
I have lived the enduring life with the greatest 
minds," one might suppose that Auerbach was 
speaking of himself. The book stands the test of 
every classical principle, and yet is fresh, modem, 
■ and progressive. Its dramatis peraoniE are inter- 
esting; and we follow their fortunes with some' 
thing more than mere curiosity. It is a fault in 
"Daniel Deronda" that we have slight glimpses 
of characters like Miss Arrowpoint and Klesmer, 
who are more attractive than the leading person- 
ages of the story. Gwendolen Haileth is little 
better than a spirited animal, and she attracts 
the sordid nature of Guardcourt very much as a 
thoroughbred horse might be attractive to him ; 
but Irma Wildenort is a gifted and delightful 
woman, whose gifts are largely the cause of her 
misfortune, as a ship goes down in the storm when 
too heavily fre^hted. Her peasant friend Wal- 
purga has also the charm of true distinction ; and 
the contrast between the two shows no slight 
artistic skill. Dr. Gunther and Colonel Bronnen 
are types of superior men, rare enough in real 
life and still more so in fiction. They remind one 
slightly of Titian's portraits in their quiet, stoical 
gravity. 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 71 

There is yet more than this in the book. It 
vill be admitted that one of the chief events 
of the present ceutnry is Darrin'a development 
theory of the origin of species. It may even be 
called the keynote of the century. Goethe how- 
ever preceded Darwin Id this (as Lord Bacon pre- 
ceded Newton in regard to the true method of 
scientific inquiry), by applying the same prin- 
ciple to the study of hnman nature. The nnder- 
coiient in "Wilhelm Meiater" is the evolution of 
mental culture ; in " Faust " that of the moral con- 
sciousness, — not of formal but of innate morid- 
ity. This regeneration of the spirit, this being 
bom from above (Aradtr), as it says in the New 
Testament, is something not to be mistaken for the 
reform of criminals or civilizing the Indian. It 
comes not to the bad but to the good, not to the 
weak but to the strong ; to the most valuable 
members of society, and not to those who are the 
least so. Victor Hugo's character of Jean Valjean 
— the regenerated convict who became a philan- 
thropic Hercules — may be a failure, but his 
punctilious Jarert is a fine snocess. Who does 
not know Jarert, — the formal, correct, irreproach- 
able, sonlless man ? Or yon may call him Cato of 
Utica; the man who hates natural superiority. 
For such there can be no spiritual regeneration ; 
but for the deeply feeling soul that forgets itself 
for both good and evil it is always possible even in 
the eleventh hour. It is this metamorphosis which 
must lead the way to the purer and better civiliza- 
tion of the future. Shakespeare has given in the 
" Taming of the Shrew " a salutary example of the 



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72 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

refomiatiou of a spoiled ehild ; bat Goethe was 
the first to portray the erolution of a higher kind 
of life. Auerbach is his legitimate suoeessor. 
We not only trace the Countess Inna's decline and 
fall, her remorse, repentance, and self-imposed 
punishment till she rises to a better life than she 
had known before ; but Walpurga'a fine nature 
expands in the sunshine of her educated friends 
like a plant that has been taken from the crowded 
forest and placed in a garden. The peasant goes 
to court to obtain mental culture ; the courtier 
seeks moral rigor among the peasantry. The 
transformation in the King's character and in 
Hansel's are drawn with a firm, strong hand. 
The novel may hare been written as a warning to 
the late King of Bavaria. 

A great work of art often contains much that 
was not intended by its author. " On the Heights," 
considered analytically, might prove to be a better 
treatise on human freedom than those of Boussean, 
or John S. Mill. The old count, whose name 
Wildenort is suggestive of political naturalism, 
retires from court in order to preserve his inde- 
pendence ; and by permitting his children similar 
independence of action, especially by refusing his 
counsel and authority to his daughter at one of 
those critical moments when women need the con- 
trol of a stronger nature than their own, becomes a 
factor in the demolition of his own family. Col- 
onel Bronnen succeeds in preserving his independ- 
ence of character amid the evils of court life, and 
rises at last to the highest position in the state. 
The responsibility, too, of a king to his subjects, or, 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 73 

rather, to the good of the nation, is strongly set 
forth. 

Thoughtless people care little whether what 
they read be trne or false, but a serious person 
wants either the truth or what is as good as true. 
Every particle of truth, even the smallest and most 
remote from human activity, has some value, 
greater or less. £very one must have noticed in 
the best works of fiction certain passages which 
stand out for their intense reality in bold relief 
from the rest. Such are, the conversation at 
breakfast between Fred Yincy and his sister in 
" Middlemarch," and the awful family battle de- 
scribed in Thackeray's " Philip." There is good 
reason to believe, for we know it to be the fact In 
some cases, that these are literal transcripts of 
scenes that have actually taken place. In "Joseph 
Andrews " there is one sentence, of which Fielding 
considers it necessary to remark that he had once 
overheard a gentleman make such a statement; 
but any one would suspect as much without being 
told of it. So Miss Alexander's "Tales of Tuscan 
Life," besides being in the purest English seen 
since the days of Goldsmith and Addison, interest 
us more powerfully because we know that they are 
true. The " Story of Ida" is the common tragedy 
of womanhood in Its simplest form. The innocent 
young girl escapes the snare intended for her, but 
afterwards dies of love for the man she cannot 
marry. How often has this subject been treated 
before, and yet here with renewed pathos and 
originality. The perfection of Its charm lies in its 
freedom from all artistic contrivances. We owe 



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74 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

the saggestion of this new form of biograph; to 
Jotm Buskin, to whom we are also mainly indebted 
for whatever is beautiful and elevating in Ameri- 
can aichitectuie. Intheptefaoeto"Ida"hesa;8, — 

"For now some ten or twelve yean I have been uking 
every good writer whom I knew to write some part of what 
was exactly true in the greatest of tbe acleuees, that of 
bomanity. It seemed to me time that the poet and ro- 
mance-writei shoold become now the strict historian o( days 
whicli, professing tbe openest proclamation of themselves, 
kept yet In secrecy all that was most beautiful, all that was 
most wotol, in the multitude of their mishepherded souls. 
And during these years of nnanswered petitioning I have 
become more and more convinced tliat the wbolesomest 
antagonism to wliatever la dangerous In the temper, or fool- 
ish in tbe extravagance, of modem fiction, would be found 
In sometimes antistitnting for the artfully combined lmproI>- 
ability the catefnl record of providentially ordered fact." 

Here there opens a fresh, extensive, and fruit- 
ful field for the student of human nature to delve 
in. 

The historical method that has been pursued in 
this investigation was not intentional on the part of 
the writer, but was found essential to the develop- 
ment of the subject What other method is there of 
learning the whole truth of any matter ? How can 
we judge of a man unless we know what his life has 
been, and how can we understand tbe true nature 
of romantic literature, unless we also appreciate 
the spirit of Christian chivalry which presided at 
its birth ? The past is our inheritance ; and we 
can no more escape from it than a hereditary 
prince can fly from the vacant throne of his father. 
It is cowardly to do so, and those who attempt it 



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THE MODERN NOVEL. 75 

soon find themselves, like the so-called radicals, in 
conflict with all the forces of human nature. A. 
man may sail to Fatagonia or the South Sea Islands, 
bat an invisible cord, stronger than Bessemer steel, 
will hold him fast to the place whence he started, 
and will most likely bring him back there, if he 
remains a man and does not become a moral cast- 
away. And so the chain goes back from father to 
grandfather, from America to England, and from 
England to Greece and Egypt. Every well-edu- 
cated person is as old as the pyramids, iuid contains 
within himself a large portion of what humanity 
has accomplished since that time. All great minds 
have recognized this fact, that the present is of 
little value unless built upon the past 



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76 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



Idol and ideal ate so nearly alike that one tniglit 
suppose they were derived from the same word in 
Latio or G-reek. This, however, does not prove to 
be the case. Idol comes from " eidolon," an image, 
and ideal, or, rather, idea, is derived from "idtos" 
that which is peculiar to one's self. Yet, if we 
trace them farther back, it seems probable that both 
originated in an old Aryan root similar to Sanskrit 
vid, perceiving or knowing : and curiously enough, 
after having been separated in this manner for sev- 
eral thousand years, they come together again in 
modem usage. For an idol is in reality a mate- 
rialized ideal, and imagination, or the conatmction 
of mental forms, is the faculty which creates 
ideals. 

" I never knew a thing but I saw it," said Web- 
ster, in explanation of the most brilliant and artis- 
tic of his orations. It seems likely that in this 
necessity of seeing what we know or believe in lies 
the genesis of all representations of deity. For 
the Greek or Roman mind idolatry had no exist- 
ence. In spite of their mythological fables, which 
are only more absurd than many in the Boman 
Catholic creed, their religion was not lacking in 
tme spirituality. They did not worship the sun. 



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IDOLS. 7T 

but Apollo, the beneficent spirit of the sun : they 
did not try to propitiate the sea, but Poseidon, the 
ruling power of the sea. They felt that behind 
these great physical forces there vas something in- 
telligent, friendly, and akin to human nature. 
They believed, like the Hebrews, that the deity 
possessed a form similar to their own. Thus Zeus, 
Heta, Pallas, and others, from representing the 
chief active principles of life, became finally trans- 
formed into ideals of human excellence, and they 
erected statues to them portraying men and women, 
not as they are, or were, but very much better. 
Even the Grecian profile as we see it on the heads 
of their gods and goddesaea, appears to have been 
an ideal, for little more than a tendency to it can 
be discovered in the portrait busts of that time. 
It was this keen perception of the divinity in 
nature and their delineation of it, so that all men 
might recognize its .value, which gave Hellenic art 
its elevated character, and made the Greeks the 
first of civilized races. 

They were the only people who ever broi^ht 
their idols to an artistic perfection so as to make a 
clear and distinct impression oh the beholder. 
The Hindoo gods with six arms, and the Assyrian 
deities are rude and indefinite ideals, intended to 
express power, which always has been and still is 
worshipped by a large portion of mankind. A 
sense of horror is closely related to the thrill of 
awe J and serpent-worship, thought by some. writers 
to have been the earliest known type of religion, 
no doubt originated in the fear and dread of ven- 
omous reptiles. But the flame of self-conscious-. 



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'78 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

ness, as Hegel says, oousmned all other deities and 
left only the One. Abraham and Moses perceived 
that the best evidence of a supreme being vas to 
be found in the moral nature of man, in his sense 
of right and wrong. This was a grand discoTery, 
destined in time to sapeiaede the use of idols, at 
least for religious purposes. This is the reason 
why the Hebrew prophets so severely condemned 
the worship of images, because their god, being the 
deity of inner life, could not be represented by any 
outward form. 

The time for this change was slow in coming. 
The evolution of man's spiritual nature requires 
that it should first become cooscioua of itself, then 
that it should go out from itself iuid foi^t itself 
in conflict with the external world, and finally re- 
turn to itself in peace and rest. This is the ex- 
perience of every cultivated man, as well as of the 
race. The dove returning to the ark with an olive 
branch is a poetic symbol of it. Hebrew monothe- 
ism could only escape from its selfish and unfruit- 
ful isolatign — and the Jews continue an isolated 
people to the present day — through a union with 
Hellenic art, science, and practical activity. But a 
harmonious, spiritual union could not at first be 
accomphshed ; and indeed it has not been wholly 
accomplished yet. It first took the form of social 
antagonism. The Christians separated themselves 
from all others ; they were looked upon as misan- 
thropes, as haters of men. Next came political 
compromise. Niebuhr, who wrote history better 
than he understood it, doubts if Gonstantine who 
built several temples for the pagans can properly 
-be called a Christian. 



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IDOLS. 79* 

The fact is indicative of the times. It was a 
period of transition. The pagan party was still 
a strong one ; and Constantino wisely concluded it 
was best to conciliate them. Many religious cere- 
monies and the religions festivals, with new names 
attached to them, were transferred from the old 
faith to the new. The adoration of images also 
continued as before. Statues of Hermes and Yenus 
were broken in pieces, bat their place was sup- 
plied by ima^s of the saints and pictures of the 
holy virgin. In Italian art Christ was sometimes 
depicted with the features of Zeus, and sometimes 
with those of Apollo : and the representations of 
God in the Vatican at Rome would certainly have 
horrified Moses and Elijah. In Protestantism 
came i^ain the return to a pure, spiritual, and im- 
material faith ; and the iconoclasts of the sixteenth 
century went about destroying statues and stained- 
glass windows, just as the early Christians had 
done twelve hundred years before. 

Idols have done their work, and now belong to 
the past, except for the illiterate classes in coun- 
tries like Spain and Italy, They serve now, like 
the giant in Ooethe's fable, as a dial to mark the 
progress of religious ideas. No one who can read 
a religious book will care much for a religious 
picture, merely as such. We now regard the 
madonnas of Raphael or the angel of Fra Angelico 
purely as works of genius, as the outward re&ec- 
tion of beantifully gifted minds. A sunset or a 
symphony is quite as likely to inspire us with 
devotional feeling. Tet we come to have no slight 
respect for image-worship when, we consider that. 



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80 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

the two sister arts, sculpture and painting, not only 
owe their existence to it, but through its infiuence 
they attained that exalted perfection which even 
excels the best of natoie's prodigies. The Dres- 
den Gallery is more interesting than the Falls of 
Niagara, and mote pilgrims visit it than go to the 
Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. The refining and 
elevating influence of great works of art is incal- 
culable: and it is a noteworthy fact that at the 
time when the Boman Catholic Chorch had degen- 
erated into a corrupt political machine, and the 
sale of indulgences was threatening to exterminate 
the moral sense of Europe, the spirit of truth and 
holiness, which never wholly leaves this planet, 
took refuge in the art of painting, uid blazed forth 
there in such splendor as was never known before. 
That the best poets and artists should possess a 
strikingly ethical nature is not to be wondered at, 
for it is only by constant self-denial ajid a consci- 
entious devotion to their work that they can reach 
the highest pitch of excellence. 

The transition from sculpture to painting in the 
early Christian period is a significant one, and 
marks an epoch in the spiritual development of 
the race. Sculpture is the more tangible, realistic, 
and concrete art; its range of expression is a 
limited one. The eyes have been called the win- 
dows of the SDol, and the eyes of a statue have no 
expression. Grecian sculpture charms us after 
the manner of young children, by its natural 
grace and self-contained repose. It represents the 
eocene period of life — the dawn of civilization, 
before man had become fully conscious of his 



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IDOLS. 81 

existence. Painting is the more abstract, — imma- 
terial axt, and capable of a much wider range of 
expression. Its main principle is intention, or 
light and shade ; while that of ecnlpture is exten- 
sion, or form. It permits, therefore, not only a 
greater &eedom and variety of action, but a greater 
depth of thought and f eeKng. In the best portraits 
the eyes are the chief centre of expression, and 
are sometimes more eloquent than words. It will 
readily be seen how this applies to Christianity. 
The life of Christ and the works of the Apostles 
are the best subjects that painters hare ever had, 
even better than scenes from Shakespeare. It may 
also be perceived that in painting the danger of 
mistaking a material object for the idea it stands 
for, which is the one evil of image-worship, is 
very much diminished. 

It is this exaggerated respect for religions form 
rather than the animating idea that is commonly 
known by the name of idolatry. The Beformation 
did not put an end to it, nor is there any present 
prospect that it will come to an end. Beligioos 
bigots are always idolaters ; and I think this is the 
rational explanation of such characters as Carat^ 
Loyola, Ferdinand of Austria, and Mary of Eng- 
land. They persecuted heretics in so savage and 
relentless a manner because they were at heart 
savages themselves, and had no more sense of 
Christianity than a newly converted Polynesian. 
They idolized the church as a sacerdotal organiza- 
tion, but they probably never considered what 
churches and creeds were instituted for. Wasson 
osed to say of Archbishop Land that he was not a 



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82 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

man at all, but a preaeMng and ptaying machine^ 
and he persecuted the Puritans because he wished 
to make machines of all other men. The race of 
such people is not yet extinct, though they are not 
so congpicnoas and harmful as formerly. A milder 
form of the same evil is met with in too great vene- 
ration for creeda, — as if they had a divine origin, 
though it ia very well known they have not. Uni- 
tarians, for instance, are often spoken of as infidels 
beeanse they do not believe in the Trinity, a doc- 
trine which may have a deep philosophical meaning, 
bat which originated with the Greek theologians 
of Alexandria in the fourth century. It is curious 
to see how the general public, after it had lost 
faith in the divinity of the pope, suddenly dis- 
covered the divine right of kings, and now that 
having been exploded, sets up for a motto vox 
popuH vox dei, or the divine right of the people. 
A common form of idolatry among women ia to 
worship the clergyman instead of the faith that 
he professes. In the case of a young and hand- 
some minister this is often very embarrassing ; and 
the annals of the church are full of anecdot«a re- 
lating to it. 

Secondary types of idolatry arise from false 
ideals, realized ideals, idols of possession, and self- 
idolatry. Either of these might be made the sub- 
ject of a chapter. 

It has been said that every man has his ideal, 
the stock'^amblet and the fashionable dandy, as 
well as the statesman and the poet. This is not 
quite correct. A genuine ideal should always be 
an intellectual conception. A statesman's object 



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IJDOLS. 88 

is an improved organizatioD of the community ; 
bnt the object of the stock-gambler is a mixed and 
sensual one, and that of the dandy is the gratifica- 
tion of an artistic self-love. These are false ideals. 
So also are wealth, power, and fame, things of 
themselves of great value, but which to be of real 
benefit must be acquired indirectly. The pursuit 
of wealth makes men covetous and hard-hearted ; 
of power, unprincipled and domineering ; of fame, 
vain and worthless. They are the strong forces of 
society, — which only men of integrity and a well- 
rounded character, men who are neither vain nor 
covetous, can employ to advantage ; others are only 
too likely to be crushed by them. But this is 
mere truism. What is not so generally recognized 
is that reform and philanthropy often become idols 
to those who practise them, and in this way some- 
times do no slight mischief. This may be because 
the chief evils of humanity are so inherent in the 
race that they cannot be removed, or even very 
much ameliorated, except in specific cases ; and 
even these require delicacy and nice judgment ; but 
whatever may be the reason, it is certain that the 
professed philanthropist too readily degenerates 
into a demagogue aud a trickster. If men are 
to have sound, healthy minds, they must live 
a vigorous, objective life, and not trouble them- 
selves too much about their own fate or that of 
others. 

Eealized ideals are always in danger of becom- 
ing idols. A brilliant coquette once said with a 
laugh, " We break our idols in order to form new 
ones ; " and though this may seem rather heartless 



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84 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

on her pait, it is actually what happens all throagh 
life. An ideal once realized ceases to be an ideal, 
and we must either go forward to new and, if 
possible, higher conceptions, or descend to batten 
on the moor of materialisin. It is better, at any 
rate, to destroy our idols than to cherish and pre- 
serve them, and the gentlemen who were attracted 
by the young woman referred to probably made a 
fortunate escape. As a moral disease idolization 
comes next to infatuation. Carlyle has given the 
name of realised ideals to one of the chapters in 
his history of the French Revolution, and nothing 
could better express in abstract terms the condi- 
tion of France previons to that catastrophe. His 
friend, Edward Irving, a strong and vigorous man, 
went to pieces in middle life, evidently, as Alex- 
ander of Afacedon is supposed to have done, because 
he had reached the summit of his ambition, which 
was to be a popular London preacher. A good 
many cases of intemperance originate in this 
manner. After a man ceases to have an object in 
life, even good habits will not always save him 
from losing his balance. Such has been the fate 
of some of our most noted public men; while 
youth often takes to dissipation wholly from the 
lack of an ideal. A curious phenomenon happened 
in 1S65, after the liberation of the Southern negroes. 
The national anti-slavery society divided itself into 
two factions, like the horses which Gortez left ia 
Mexico, and fought each other with as much energy 
as they had formerly contended against the slave- 
holders. 
Idols of possession are closely related to realized 



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IDOLS. 85 

ideals. Familiar examples of them aie : the fanner 
who prateB about the superiority of hia land and 
cattle ; the banker who counts up the market value 
of his stocks and bonds ; the husband who idolizes 
his pretty wife ; and the mother who idolizes her 
children, valuiog her interest in them rather than 
their own welfare. This idealization, as it is called, 
of one's own property is often favorably spoken of 
as tending to make people contented with what 
they have, but I do not believe that any habit can 
be of ultimate good which encourages self-decep- 
tion. The Canadian who sent a barrel of apples to 
Queen Victoria probably thought they were the 
best in the world, but he equally deserved their 
being returaed to him. His neighbors must have 
been rejoiced at it. To the outside world such 
people only appear very disagreeable, but it is in 
the retirement of their families that they do mis- 
chief. The law of primogeniture wtiich prevails 
in most European countries was in the first place 
a military necessity, but it has long since become 
an ancestral idol to which the younger members of 
the family are sacrificed for the sake of a certain 
social prestige. 

Of all forms of idolatry, self-idolatry is the 
worst. " Self," says Bacon, " is a mean centre of 
one's actions: it is right earth." What shall wc 
say, then, of that egotism which imagines itself a 
thing of gloiy and the centre of animated life? 
The poor savi^ worshipping his fetich is at least 
seeking something external to himself and is so 
far disinterested; in the course of a thousand 
years his descendants may come to some good: 



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86 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

bat what hope can there be for the soul that con- 
siders itself perfect I -BuQh was the mainapring of 
yero and Comroodos, ex^gerated by their abuoi- 
mal positioa in life, and so it is of the Soathem 
daellist, the Western desperado, and the Parisian 
commnnifit who wishes to guillotine all men who 
ate better than himself. It was evidently a la^e 
is^redient in the composition of Guitean, and of 
Nfibeling, the wonld-be assassin of Emperor Wtl- 
liam. It sometimes leads to crime, and is lome- 
tdmes apparently harmless — as in the 8eU-mad» 
man who erects a statue to his own memory, and 
a worldly-religions woman who lives on the adora- 
tion of priests and parasites. Idolatry, like the 
spirit of pedantry, enters into ns nnawares, and 
there is no escape from it except as the good 
{otist escapes from mannerism — t^ a persistent^ 
effort S9 see things as they are. 



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Etkr the ripest blackberries 
At« hid beneath the leaves; 

In thicket deep the mavis 
Her pretty nest-home weares. 

Where walks a maiden lonely 
The violet loves to grftw ; 

And ah ! what tender confidence 
They to each other show I 

Apart the poet lingers 
And silent waits his time; 

If the gay saloon he enters, 
His verses cease to rhyme. 

ThnS hide deep natures erer 
From souls unlike their own : 

Through love or friendship only 
Their virtue can be known. 



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88 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERA TURE. 



FBZD W. LOBINO. 

In the antnnin of 1866 the editors of the 
Harvard Advocate received a manasciipt poem 
called the "Old Innkeeper," which was bo much 
bettei than the ordinary verses of college students 
that they were afraid the same trick was intended 
for them which afterwards led a New York editor 
to pay for and publish an old poem of Herbert's 
written in the last century. It proved to be, bow- 
ever, an original production, being easily traced to 
one Loring, a Freshman, who roomed in Gray's 
HalL He soon became the chief support of our 
paper, writing witty and sensible prose as well as 
poetry, and in his Sophomore term was elected an 
editor, a year in advance of the usual time. 

He was a slender, fragile-looking youth, with 
wavy, brown hair which evidently covered a la^e 
brain. His features were delicate and feminine, 
and yet there was something in the cast of them, 
especially of his brow, which reminded every one 
of the head of Crawford's Beethoven. In his large 
hazel eyes could sometimes be seen a flickering 
light, like the reflection of a fire on the window- 
pane. His face, his voice, his manners, his dreas, 
all gave evidence of a refined and sensitive nature. 
He was by turns either gay, witty, and animated. 



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FRED W. LORING. 89 

or serious and thoughtful. There was a slightly 
scornful curl to his thin lips, — a scorn, as we dis- 
covered at length, not of inferior people, but of 
mean and despicable things. He disliked the 
gymnasium, and all athletic games, especially base- 
ball, but was fond of walking to Boston, and could 
do unlimited blain work without much fatigue. It 
is of more importance for a young man to keep his 
mind in good training than to acquire the muscles 
of a gladiator : even in the long run better for his 
health. I never could learn much about Loring'a 
earlier life. His father was a stock and money 
broker in Boston (most unpoetic of professions), 
and at this time resided in Newton. His mother 
belonged to the Wadsworth family of New York, 
and he had a cousin of that name in the class of 
1867, who resembled him in figure but not other- 
wise. She died, unfortunately, while he was still 
very young, and was followed by two or more step- 
mothers, of whom Fred used to speak in a mildly 
satirical, but not unkind manner. He learned to 
read with marvellous rapidity. At the age of six 
he was familiar with a number of Shakespeare's 
plays, and declaimed passages from them about the 
house. He went through the puppet theatre ex- 
perience, whieli Goethe and so many others have 
before him ; and one of his companions in 
that affair was Greener, the first colored graduate 
of Harvard University. He was not, however, a 
diligent scholar, but rather desultory, so that he 
was nearly, if not quite, eighteen when he entered' 
college, though he might easily have done so one or 
two years earlier. He was fitted for college at 
Andover. 



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90 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

The Advocate and Yale Courant wei« the first of 
that brood of oollege newspapers since become so 
munerous. In the spring teim of 1866 a paper ap- 
peared at Hairard called the Collegian, edited 
chiefl; by Charles Sibley Gage of the class of 
1867, a fellow of rare talents who only lacked 
the spur of ambition to have become a distin- 
guished man. As it was, he suited college life 
so perfectly and enjoyed it so much that it almost 
seems to be a pity that he should ever have gradu- 
ated. His witty pen, however, soon brought him 
into collision with the college government. In the 
second number he entered a strong argument 
against morning prayers (which were afterwards 
abolished for similar reaaona), and in the third he 
published a pointed but harmless satire on the reci- 
tations of our Latin professor. " It encourages 
radicalism," said the faculty, and voted to suppress 
the Collegian; but it was not to be suppressed. 
There was need of an organ to represent the opin- 
ions and interests of the students, however crude 
and short-sighted these might be. New and un- 
known editors came to the front, and in a short 
time another paper appeared called the Advocate, 
but similar in other respects to the former one. In 
a temperate and logical editorial the right of free 
speech was a^ued anew, and the Boston daily 
press warmly supported the cause of the students. 
Before these invisible adversaries the college fac- 
ulty yielded, and the Advocate still continaes to 
flourish now in its twenty-seventh year. It has 
rarely been since, however, what it was while Lor- 
ing was editor. He gave it a life, a style, and an 



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FRED W. LORING. 91 

independecoe of character, such as are rare amoi^ 
American periodicals. He satirized the bad verses 

of the students, t^e sensational novels they read, 
and the sensational plays they attended; and in 
this he did them great service. He discovered old 
college legends and set them to verse. One was 
about a Prench tutor vrho amused his classes with 
an account of the strange dreams he had; another 
was of a student named Sargent, who was expelled 
for using profane langu^e before a meeting of the 
faculty. His poems were copied into the Boston 
Advertiser, and from that all over the country. 
The following is one of his earliest pieces, and 
.shows both his peculiar wit and graceful diction : — 



■CHILDEEN AT PLAY.— No. 1. 
From the German. 

I SAT by my window in summer. 

And I beard the voices clear 
' Of merry and happy children 

Who knew not that I was near, — 
Herbert, the son of a neighbor ; 

Charley, and Arthur, and Paul ; 
And my fair little golden-hairad Alice, 

The mistrcaa and queen oi all 

And softly were tbey talking, 

As tbey played there in the sun ; 
And I listened to their chatters 

Till evening had begun. 
Their heads, black, brown, and golden, 

Together were nestling there; 
And I said, "Ah, happy clilldhood! 

There is nothing half so f^." 



Jm,l,z.:d=,G00gIe 



92 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE, 

CHILDREN AT PLAT. — No. 2. 
From the Hibernian. 
I BAT bj my window in sununer ; 

The " Piim'rj school bad let out," 
And remarkabl; noisy chlldTen 

Were constantly nmning abont. 
Patrick, the sou of a Fenian ; 

Uichaet and Tommy and Jini ; 
And Tim O'Hara, and ttiddy, 

Who waa moch beloved by bilD. 
And loadly were they squalling. 
And nothing was going li^t; 
And Tim O'Hara and Tonuny 

Showed symptoms of a fight; 
And I looked at my mathematics, 

While their noise was raclting my head; 
And I said, " O confounded children! 
Why won't somebody put yon to bed t " 
This would hare done credit to Heinrich Hein& 
at the age of nineteen, and I doubt if any Ameri- 
caa poet has succeeded better at so early a period. 
It waa not appreciated by the editors who received 
it, and it was put on the last page with the adver- 
tisements. I suspect it would be difficult to find 
the German original of the first part, but it may 
be a free version of something. 

Loring was initiated into the mysteries of the 
gieen room even before he went to college. His 
father was an inveterate frequenter of theatres, 
was well acquainted with actors and actresses, — 
knew William Warren, Maggie Mitchell, and others. 
In that den of iniquity, as some people think it^ 
Loring contracted no evil ways, save at times a 
slightly theatrical manner ; but he learned to have 
a great respect for the professionals he met there. 



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FRED W. LORING. 98 

He always contended tliat the life of a player was 
a very liaid one, and requited more self-control aud 
self-denial tlian any other. Maggie Mitchell made 
quite a pet of him, and in his junior year he wrote 
a play for her .which he called " Ahleke Fotf s 
Daughter." When he produced it at an afternoon's 
rehearsal, Collyer, who acted the part of Babo in 
"Fanchon," said, "Ton will have to change the 
aame of this, Loring. All the boys in the street 
will ory out, 'A leaky pot's daughter! A. leaky 
pot's daughter ! ' " Maggie, in the bountiful kind- 
ness of her heart, at first decided to try the piece, 
aud even posted up a notice for its first rehearsal, 
but after studying it somewhat she changed her 
mind, and no doubt it was better for Fred that 
she did so. 

The danger of such matters lies in our being 
praised for them. It takes a good many years for 
young men to learn that the value of praise or 
censure depends on the source whence it cometh. 
I remember in those days an excellent fellow 
whose college course was utterly Tuined by the 
admiration of his classmates for his fine muscular 
physique and imperturbable temper. He fancied 
himself a modem Hercules, a glorious creation, 
and studying was no longer possible. Loring 
spent a good deal of time at theatres which might 
hare been better employed. His older friends 
ehook their heads gravely and said, " Fred is not 
laying a solid foundation for his future career." 
1 do not think he was intended by nature for 
a close student, but what may be called diligent 
study never hurts any one. There was at this 



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■94 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

time a growing Beotiment of diatrust in tht com- 
munity in legard to the methods of instiuction in 
OUT colleges. This had already foond a vigorons 
expression in Cr. Hedge's celebrated nnirersity 
address in which he attacked the existing order of 
things, and opened the door for that magnificent 
reform in higher education for which the yonng 
men of to-day have so much reason to be grateful. 
Iioring had read this address, and very likely was 
influenced by it 

There is nothing like the charm of a youthful 
friendship. 

It pains me now to recall those happy hoars 
when we dreamed, and argued, and discussed, 
often on subjects that were much too deep for us. 
He was not always logical, but his good taste 
seemed to be infallible. This was his final test 
for everything ; and he was not far wrong, for what 
is good taste but the logic of perfect sensation ? 
It was on this ground that he condemned the 
woman suffrage movement, which followed in the 
wake of negro suffr^e, and was being supported 
by some very sensible men. " If it were going to 
do good," he would say, " these females who ram- 
page about the country would not appear so ab- 
surdly ridiculous. If there is anything I hate it is 
a bold-faced woman on a platform. There are two 
or three of them I would like to dangle over a preci- 
pice." The only cloud upon out sky was the feel- 
ing I often had of being unequal to this brilliant, 
-aspiring young souL 

One day he was walking in an open field with a 
iriend who had lately returned from Europe, when 



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FRED W. LORIIfO. 95' 

be said, " Now, I want to say just here that I have 
missed you very much, and I hope we shall never 
be separated so long again." At that moment 
they came in sight of a dead eat, almost in tbeir 
path. "There," he said, "look at that. Nature 
no longer abbots a vaouum, but I believe she does 
abbor sentiment." 

I never knew bim to quite lose Ma mental 
balance, but he sometimes met with sitaatioiis 
which were unfavorable to bim. He was too sen- 
sitive and excitable to make a good presiding 
officer, or to stop a runaway horse. He was at our 
house during the September hurricane of 1869, 
and as the trees began to blow over, his alarm, 
excitement, and fruitless efforts to be of service 
were very amusing. Still more so was an adven- 
ture which happened to bim at Mount Desert, dur- 
ing one of bis summer vacatious. Base-ball was 
then the rage, and some enterprising spirits started 
a match game. Loring was invited to play to fill 
up the number, but be said, " Ko ; it is quite im- 
possible." — "Yea, Iioring, you must play," said a 
clergyman present. "/ am going to play, and 
when the cleigy play — " — " Enough," replied 
Fred. " I wUl sacrifice myself for the occasion." 

The captain placed bim in right field, where he 
could do little harm or good, but when his turn to 
strike came, he was so evidently afraid of being 
bit by the ball, that every one began to laugh. 
After he bad made several vain efforts, a stout 
gentleman in a white vest came forward and said, 
" I will strike for Loring." Fred gracefully yielded 
the bat, and presently the stout gentleman made a, 



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96 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

very good hit : then he and Loring and a small 
boy, who had caught the excitement, started to- 
gether foi first base, amid unlimited laughter and 
applause. After completing the ciiouit of the 
bases, he took refuge with one of his lady friends, 
and declared that oa no acoonnt would he risk hia 
life in that a 



Loring was not popular at college. College pop- 
ularity is a freaky thing at best, and depends 
largely on the constitution of the claas one is in. 
I think he could have found himself at home in 
the class of 1869, and have been a general fa^ 
vorite. In those days there were two cliques at 
Harvard, called the Boston set and the Exeter set, 
and woe to the unlucky outsider who failed to 
make himself acceptable to one of the two. They 
held possession of the societies, the boat clubs, and 
the ball grounds, and handed them down tioia one 
class to another. It would have been better for 
him if he had come from a distance instead of 
from the suburbs of Boston. It was very much 
against him that he did not use tobacco. College 
life is like a play in which the actors imagine that 
they really are what they represent. The stu- 
dents' games, societies, class elections, seem to 
them the most important things in the world. 
Loring saw through thiB childlike illusion, and was 
too frank and manly to conceal the tact "My 
neighbor Lawrence," he said, "who is a leading 
spirit in onr class, always addresses me as 'Mr. 
Loring.' It may be complimentary, but it shows I 
hare no chance for the Hasty Pudding Club." It 



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J 



FRED W. LORINO. 97 

was generally considered a disgrace to his class 
that he was not elected to the Institute of 1770. 
That he was not a member of the Hasty Pudding 
was more of a loss to that venerable society than 
to himself. Negro minstrel songs, clog dances, 
and bad claret were never much to his taste, and 
he was at 'least saved from an unpleasant and 
humiliating initiation. He belonged to a secret 
society called the ZetePsi, which, to escape obser- 
vation, held its meetings in Somerville; but.this 
was little comfort to him.. It was supposed as a 
matter of course that he would be chosen class 
poet, and there were many who supported him for 
that place, but the choice fell instead upon the 
nephew of a distinguished American poet. 

A friendly professor made some inquiries among 
Loring's classmates as to the cause of the disfavor 
in which he was held, but could get little satisfac- 
tion. Many said that they could see no reason for 
it; others said that he was conceited. I suppose 
they meant self-conceit ed. Conceited in the old 
Shakespeaiian sense, certainly he could be called, 
but not otherwise. He was, no doubt, fully con- 
scious of his own ability, but for a Harvard student 
he was remarkably modest and unpretending. Had 
he been a bold, swaggering fellow who wore load 
trousers and played on the banjo, he might have 
been quite a favorite. 

Revenge, however, was in store for him. His 
Mend, Kev. Edward E. Hale, who was then editing 
an excellent monthly magazine, said to him : " It 
was too bad, Fred, but if you'll write me a poem, 
and do your level best, I will publish it in Old and 



Diqiiii^dbyGoogle 



98 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

yew." Loring was not slow to take saoh a hint as^ 
this, and in the April number there appeared & 
poem over his signature entitled " The Queen and 
Elisor," It was not one of his very beat pieces,. 
being more in the style of William Morris than in 
his own, and more remarkable in its graceful 
versification than for elevation of thonght or depth 
of sentiment ; but its effect at Harvard was like a 
fchnnderbolt in a clear sky. It was an honor to the 
University, and no one could recollect when such an 
event bad happened before, Loring's superiority 
was now fairly established. The snobs still held 
up their noses, but all others manfully admitted it. 
Young women wrote to him for his autograph. 
There was even talk of carrying him in a proces- 
sion around the college yard. Fiske, of 1869, a bril- 
liant scholar and former editor, wrote to him, " Let 
me congratulate you on your rising fame of which 
the air is full." One of the gravest professors 
called to bim in the college yard and said, 
*' Loring, I have read your poem with great pleas- 
ure." — " Thank you, sir," replied Fred, "I wish I 
could Bay the same of your work on logic." The 
professor laughed and invited him to tea. In the 
midst of all this Loring was assigned the Bowdoin 
prize for an essay on the " Authorship of Shake- 
speare's Plays," taking the ground that they were 
written by Shakespeare. 

"I hope it won't spoil you, Fred," his father 
said to him one Sunday morning at breakfast. 
" If such stuff can do it, I deserve to be spoiled," 
was his reply. It did not spoil him. It increased 
his self-confidence and his contempt for base and 



b,GoogIe 



FRED W. LORING. 99 

mean things, but lie remained as modest and 
respectful as before. I remember that he kept 
Lent this year, although his religions views were 
of a decidedly transcendental character. In a letter 
written at this time he said: "The other day a 
certain amiable professor met me in the yard, and, 
laying his hand on my shoulder, said witb patri- 
archal sweetness, ' My young friend, let me advise 
you not to be a reformer because — it doesn't 
pay.' " Loring had no idea of being a reformer 
except so far as all people have to be reformers 
who think for themselves and act according to 
their thoughts. For a college student to attempt 
the role of a world-reformer is absurd enough, but 
is it not even more absurd for matured and expe- 
rienced men ? In a young man it proves at least 
a certain nobility of nature, a love of the ideal. 
Loring's acquaintance in college was largely with 
this class of men, but he saw, or perhaps /eii, the 
matter more clearly than they did. Like Goethe, 
he recognized the value of radicalism, but be also 
respected conservatism. He thought it was best 
to leave the roots of things under ground only to 
be dug up sometimes for scientific purposes, or 
when the tree shows signs of bad health. All 
dogmatism, blind traditionalism, living upon for- 
mulas or fixed principles was very repugnant to 
him, and he was fond of quoting these lines : — 

" Leave to the pedants their vain disputations; 
Strict and sedate let the pedagogues be; 
Ever the wise of all ages and nations 
Nod to each other and wink and ^ree." 



3,a,i,zMbvCoOglc 



100 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

He held a high admiration for Ber. John Weiss, 
and went to hear him preaoh as often as possible. 
He considered him the most eloquent, witty, and 
altogether brilliant man of that time. 

After graduating, Loring ought to have been 
sent to a German university for a year, with a 
trip to Florence and Bome in the winter. This 
would have expanded and deepened his artistic 
nature, and when he returned to America he might 
have started in life on a broad, historical basis. 
Whether there was any one about him at this time 
wise enough bo give such advice I do not know. 
Loring wished to be independent, to earn his own 
living, and he soon found employment on a weekly 
Boston newspaper. This saved him from the in- 
jurious haste of daily journalism, and allowed him 
time for better work. It was wonderful the amount 
of writing he accomplished during the next year 
— the last of his precious life. He carried two 
poems to the editor of the Atlantte Monthly, who, 
to his surprise, accepted both of thero. The best 
of these was about an epitaph of a man who 
lies buried in Fredericksburg, Ya., and was one of 
those who bore the pall at the funeral of Shake- 
speare. It was composed in a simple and pleasing , 
manner. He also published several poems in Old 
and New, and wrote a succession of short stories 
for that periodical, — " Two Song and Dance Men," 
" Rebecca's Ma," "Two College Friends," and 
others. He was in frequent demand as a dramatic 
critic, often working at the newspaper offices until 
one in the morning. But his most important work 
was a vaudeville play called "The Wild Bose," 



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FRED W. LORING. 101 

which he wrote for his friecd, Miss Mary Carey, 
the inginue actress. 

Hia life must have been very well regulated, for 
I never knew him to seem weary or dispirited. 
This may be attributed to the purity of his taste, 
and shows how much can be accomplished with a 
slender physique, when the powers of body and 
mind are both directed to the right point. He was 
not obliged to control himself, for he never wished 
to do anything that was bad for him. He was a 
literary athlete in full training; he lived five 
years in one. It is the mental purity which gives 
the final charm to his early writings. His stories 
were good in themselves, but written too much in 
the style of Charles Reade — a very poor style ios 
a.Tij one to imitate. Why he should not rather 
have followed after Thackeray, who was to him 
the king of novelists, is not very clear. Still, they 
prove a decided talent in this direction, a rare 
combination scarcely met with since Goldsmith's 
time. " The Wild Rose " was performed for a 
fortnight at the Globe Theatre, and with very good 
success. It was a simple, refined play, as its title 
indicates. What attracted more attention at this 
time was a poem of Loriog's in society verse 
called "Alice to Gertrude." It runs very smoothly, 
but he told his friends that he never had labored 
so much over any of his other pieces. Here it 
is ; — 

Dear Gertf, — Tom will give you this; 

He leaves na by this evening's boat: 
No ch&nce of seeing you he'll miss, 

And so I've made him take this note, 



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102 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

And pattern, too. You'll see the cape 
It balf turned back, nbich brings in view 

Tbe rose-tint, and improves tbe shape, 
And makes tbe irhole effect quite nev. 

Speaking of Tom, —you must tecall, 

A veek twf ore you went from town, 
That waltz at Mrs. Vpham's ball, 

Wben all your lovely hair came down. 
Well, Tom's not been tlie same since then, 

Not that he's said a word to me: 
But I'm eighteen, and I know men; 

And I've got eyes, and I can see. 

Two weeks ago be went away 

To spend some days at Harry Brlgbt's; 
Hamma and 1 both saw onr way 

To set the fellow's room to rights, 
So In we went. Oh, such a pile 

Of clothes and books thrown hit and miwl 
But, darling, — I can see you smile, — 

Midst the disorder I found this ; 

To a . 

If your eyes were duaky gray. 

Instead of azure rare; 
If your bloom should fade away. 

Still would you be fair: 
E'en though your lovely smile went too, 

Still, still would you l>e fair, 
If yoa but kept your hair, my love, 

If you but kept your Itair. 

When its heavy colls nniolled 

Amidst the ballroom's glare, 
In a floating cloud of gold 

You stood an Instant there; 
And then you blushed and fled away: 

My heart went with you there; 
Ton bound It in your lialr, my love, 

In the meshes of your hair. 



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FRED W. LORING. 103 

Veil, dear, are ;on snrprised, or not f 

It's a nice piece of work you've made! 
Im't it Incky yon forgot 

That evening to put on your braid ? 
Tom's heart at last is really gone: 

It seems so avfully absurd I 
So, darling, as affairs go on, 

Be sure you often write me woid. 
Tom's a good fellow, you must own; 

And handsome, too, as all can see. 
A better brother ne'er was known 

Than Tom bas always been to me. 
So, Oerty, though you'll dirt, of course, 

StiU give his woes a speedy end ; 
And please, now, don't use all your force, 

For he's the brother of your fileud. 

Alice. 

This temindB one again of Heine, but it liaa 
a better tone thaii Heine's. It is more Hellenic, 
and less subjective, less self-conscious. 

And now our story hastens to its catastrophe. 

It is part of the machinery of American politics 
that every prominent politician must have several 
young journalists in his retinae who depend on him 
for information and whom he depends on in turn 
to keep his name before the public. One of these 
took notice of Loring, and marked him for his 
ptey. He invited him to his house and made a pet 
of him. His wife also played her part, and found 
Fred very useful for social purposes. But affairs 
soon took an unexpected turn. There was a dark- 
haired, elfish-looking daughter in the house, and 
she and Loring fell suddenly and desperately in 
love with each other. It was a most imprudent 
business, for the girl was only sixteen and had not 



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104 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

yet finished her education. It was said that Fred 
used to dance about her on the sidewalk on her 
way from school. Why are not young men told by 
their parents that falling in love is a serious and 
even dangerous matter not to be indulged in with- 
out due caution? Some, no doubt, are properly 
instructed, but the majority have their heads filled 
by their female relatives with such nonsense as 
often leads to a great deal of trouble. And yet 
there are cases which seem to resemble chemical 
affinities and no foresight is proof against them. 

The politician and his wife decided that the only 
remedy was complete separation, and plainly told 
Iioring 30 ; neither did they give him any hope for 
the future. At this juncture, as the devil would 
have it, a New York publishing house offered 
Loring a large aura to go on Lieutenant Wheeler's 
exploring expedition in Arizona and write an 
account of it for their magazine. It was a miser- 
able piece of work for which a common reporter 
would have done just as well, but Boston had be- 
come hateful to him, the money was a temptation, 
and he decided to go. He was aware of the danger 
before him, but his mind was made up for desper- 
ate things. His departure was sudden, and I have 
never heard that any attempt was made to dissuade 
him from going. After leaving Boston he remained 
several days in New York with a friend, who was 
the first person at Harvard to discover his poetic 
gift. Of these final hours in which Loring is 
visible to us he writes as follows : — 

Tfaoae iMt nighta we did not go to bed much before morn- 
ing. It was twenty years ago, and to think of wh&t Fred 



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FRED W. LORING. 105 

said and did, makes me feel very yonng again. Wagner was 
new, except that we had had some bits of blm in this country. 
The Germans were giving bis entln operas, in an humble way 
as regards scenery, but witb much oiUpouring of booI. They 
were given on tbe Bowery. Fred bad never seen the like. 
He enjoyed Lohengrin more tban I can tell yon. FrolMbly 
Wachtel aang, and Habelmann, and maybe Car) Fomes. It 
waa before tbeii decay. Alt Germany In onr town was alive 
and enthusiastic. His aoul expanded with them. 

At midnight of the last night we called at his private office 
on the chief editor of the Tribune, Whitelaw Reid, to arrange 
with him that Fred ahoold write for the Tribune. This 
editor received Lorlng aa one assured of a literary future, as 
one already admitted within the sacred fold. It made him 
feel very, very happy. He told me that he knew be could do 
work and make a fame that would win the love of tbe girl 
whose love be lived for. 

Several letters from Loring appeared in Apple- 
ton's Journal during the summer and autumn of 
1871. They are only interestiDg now, as all his writ- 
ings are interesting, from his pleasant personality. 
The last one, published November eighteenth, 
described Tvhat is called the Valley of Death where 
the bones of many a prairie voyager lie whitening 
under the sun that never sees a cloud. But the 
news of his death had already reached us. The 
expedition had accomplished its course, and Loring, 
with six others, was returning to San Francisco 
by stage when they were attacked by savages near 
Wickenburg, Arizona, and the whole party, includ- 
ing a woman, were massacred. No clew to their 
murderers has ever been discovered, but this in. it- 
self is enough to indicate that they were Indians and 
not white savages. Where so many were engaged 
in a plot it is likely that in course of time, if they 



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106 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

had been highwaymen, the secret would have 
leaked out. Indians never confess anything, and 
it is only Indians usually who do such thorough 
work. He was huried near Wickenburg, and a 
plain sort of monument has been erected over his 
grave. 

Tragedy has been said to result from a superior 
intelligence coming under the power of an inferior 
one; but what a travesty of tragedy is this, when 
a man of genius becomes the prey of a vUlanous 
redskin, himself a mere caricature of humanity. 
Some years afterwards an Apache chief was con- 
victed and executed in Kew Mexico for the murder 
of a stage-driver with whom he had previously been 
on social and intimate terms. When he was asked 
why he committed such a deed, he replied, " The 
coward can kill his enemies, bat it takes a brave 
man to kill his friends." I have always thought of 
this wretch as the possible assassin of Fred Loring; 
certainly he was worthy of it. 

Who knows what he might have been ! One felt 
in him a certain lack of vital strength which is too 
often the case among poets, but otherwise he was 
armed at all points. His mental purity, his fine 
taste, and accurate observation, it is safe to conclude, 
would have carried him a long way. Moreover, he 
was an idealist, and without ideality there is not 
even a sense of real greatness. He showed this 
trait in his first poem, " The Old Innkeeper," and 
still more in his conversation about art and litera- 
ture. Yet he made no vain attempts to soar among 
the clouds, but walked the earth with a firm step to 
bring the real and ideal into s harmonious union. 



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FRED W. LORING. 107 

That is the difficult thing. Only a perfectly healthy 
mind can do it, and Loiingpioved his mental health- 
fnlness in this, that he could admire and honor the 
works of the greatest writers without even attempt- 
ing to imitate them. He was always himself : no 
easy matter in one who had so keen a sense of 
character. Greatness of design only comes after 
our natures have been broadened and deepened by 
the strain of a severe struggle. Those who float 
with the current of things about them never meet 
nith this, but Loring's independence of character 
made it inevitable that he should. It is enough 
that he was genuine and original ; the rest would 
have come in time. In native talent he seems to 
me as a humorist somewhat less than Thackeray, 
and as a poet somewhat better than Matthew Ajnold. 
The qn^ity of the man lay between these two and 
was auperioi to anything he wrote. 



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108 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



THE ABT C0M8CIBNCB. 

Life is duty — is not beauty, 
So they tell me — till tlie grave. 

But I find a life of duty 
Maketh one a drudge or slave. 

Better then to live /or beauty, 
Make each life a work of art j 

When beauty ia sustained by duty, 
Each fulfils its lawful part. 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 



HESHA24 ORIMH. 

THE LIFE OF BAFHABL. 



A HEW volume by Hermaa Grimm is to the cul- 
tivated reader of to-day what a mw volume of 
EmeisoD's was to the mind which thirsted for 
spiritual truth forty years a^o. More than any 
other living writer, he auceeeds in lifting us out 
of the miserable things which surround us into 
that olear bine sky where everything mean and 
hateful disappears from view. 

When a. number of great poets, artists, thinkers, 
and statesmen come together in the history of a 
people, and unite in mutually aiding and sustain- 
ing each other, there results what may be called 
an epoch of culture, which urges civilization 
forward with a mighty impetus. Such was the 
epoch ot Michel Angelo in Italy, of Shakespeare 
in England, and Moligre in France. Shakespeare 
was bom within a year after Michel Angelo died j 
and Moliere was bom not seven years after Shake- 
speare's death. The latest, and on some accounts 
the most important, of the great epochs of culture 
is the Oerman, which began with Lessing and 
Winkelmann in the middle of the last century and 
ended with Heinrich Heine and Mendelssohn. 



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110 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

From a literary point of view, the English epoch 
may surpass it, — Shakespeare being a sort of 
Sirius in that constellation, — and in the matter 
of brilliancy so may the Italian and Spanish ; but 
when we consider the broad basis which the Ger- 
mans laid in philosophy, criticism, and scholar- 
ship, and their wonderful achievements in the art 
of music, not inferior to those of the Greeks in 
sculpture or of the Italians in painting, we feel 
confident that it was fully equal to any epoch of 
culture that has preceded it. Keret since the age 
of Pericles had a whole people roused itself to so 
vigorous an intellectual effort The influence of 
this was soon felt in other countries, and still con- 
tinues to be felt more and more. German philos- 
ophy is said to have played an important part in 
the reconstruction of Italy. German literature 
struck upon the shores of America like a wave of 
light, and was reflected back in the writings of 
Channing, Emerson, and Longfellow. Even the 
recluse Hawthorne was finally penetrated by it, 
as may be seen in the last of his romances, where 
he attempts to reconcile the tradition of an expul- 
sion from Paradise with the evolution of man's 
moral nature through experience of evU. The 
music of Germany has become, almost as much as 
poetry, a refining and elevating power among the 
forces of civilization. In Great Britain at the 
same period were assembled a brilliant coterie of 
literary men ; but they were not sufficiently united 
nor of such individual greatness of character as 
to form a true national epoch. They were, besides, 
too strongly under German influences. Words- 



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HERMAN GRIMM, 111 

worth and Byron pulled in opposite directions f. 
Scott modelled ten or a dozen novels upon a sin- 
gle play of Goethe's ; Coleridge became a poetical 

exponent of German metaphysics ; and Carlyle,. 
the strongest and niost self-reliant man in Eng- 
land, went wholly over to the conqueror, and wrote 
in a half-Germanized English. 

This last of the golden ages seems now to have 
passed away ; but it has left a rich inheritance to- 
such as were worthy to receive it, and, of all 
Germans that we hear of at this distance, Herman 
Grimm has received the fullest share. Whatever- 
is best in literature, painting, Greek art, music, 
philosophy, classic and mediEeval life, that he has 
made his own, — not as a man adorns himself with, 
accomplishments, bet as a tree assimilates the' 
nourishment which will make it grow. Whatever- 
is second or third rate he discards : he has no use 
for it. German criticism has taught htm that no 
infinite number of small things will ever make a 
great one; that little graios of sand do not consti- 
tute the pleasant land, but only arid and unfruitful 
deserts. He deals always in what is large, gener- 
ous, and of the best quality. This comes to him 
not only by education, but inheritance, and is so 
thoroughly his nature that he moves among such 
elements with the grace and simplicity of a child 
in its home. Like Goethe, the only things he 
hates are envy and hatred. He lives to let live, 
and to develop the best that is in him. Is it the 
result of this, or was it a special birth-^ift of the 
Muses, — that mellow atmosphere in his writing, 
that Ionian climate, such as one meets with in the- 



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112 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Odyssey, Plato's Bepublic, and the best of Flm- 
tarct's Lives? Yet he is no child in literature, 
but a trained and well-disoiplined intelligence, — 
trained in thought and observation as thoroughly 
as the Prussian soldier is in his military evolu- 
tions. He is the first living authority on the 
German language, and aa a critic ranks as Matthew 
Arnold does in England and James B. Lowell in 
America. If he ha^ not the keen penetration of 
Buskin and Arnold, neither has he their incisive- 
ness, their love of vivisection. He criticises, not 
to find fault, but to separate the chaff from the 
wheat ; and, as to what becomes of the chaff after- 
ward, he does not trouble himself. He knows 
that the winds of heaven will take care of it. 
Such mental serenity, such confidence in man and 
nature, are scarcely possible any longer in the tur- 
moil of English and American life. How much 
longer will it be so in Germany also ? Arnold 
and Buskin are not to be blamed for their incisive- 
ness : they are noble natures in perpetual warfare 
with the demons of modern life; and it will not 
be until the demons are all quelled that another 
epoch of culture will make its appearance. Neither 
would I say that Grimm was lacking in iiLsight. 
His quick appreciation of Emerson's genius, for 
which we cannot be too grateful, is proof against 
that. Perhaps he sometimes sees more than he 
is willing to tell us ; and his criticism of Yasari 
in the I4fe of Michel Angela could not have been 
equalled by Sainte-Beuve. But it is his mental 
attitude, his perfect tone, that we value the most. 
A great deal has been written about Baphael 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 113 

Sanzio ; bat a good life of him has long been one 
of the things which were much to be desired. It is 
a pity that Buskin has said so little of him, as he has 
also said little of Michel Angelo. Mrs. Jameson 
has written of him in an eloquent but not suffi- 
ciently discriminating manner. Professor Lubke 
has given, in his History of Art, the most adequate 
statement hitherto of the man's genius; but the 
standard authority on the subject during this pres- 
ent generation, for England and America at least, 
has been the biography of 3. D. Fassavant, formerly 
director of the museum of Frankfort-on-the-Main. 
This, however, though an excellent work of its kind, 
is little better than a catalogue of Raphael's works, 
with a critical estimate of the principal of them. 
It is much to say of Fassavant that he is almost 
invariably right ; but, as Giimm says, Baphael was 
Dot only a great artist, but a great man, and he de- 
serves to be considered equally from both points of 
view. Passavaut's book also is written in brief 
paragraphs, — a manner well suited to its general 
character, but one which prevents it from being easy 
and pleasurable reading. It is the work of a con- 
noisseur in art, and not of a literary artist. 

Herman Grimm k a literary artist and a connois- 
seur as well. He is not only a good judge of paint- 
ings, but of painting itself. It is impossible to 
copy the old masters now so as to avoid detection 
even from a fairly experienced amateur, so different 
is the handling from one period to another; but 
there have been many writers on art who could 
easily be deceived by a skilful copy executed dur- 
ing the lifetime of the artist or soon afterwards. 



:!,q,i,i.:db,.G00^k 



114 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

There have, in fact, beea instances of this. Grimm's 
eyes, however, have been trained to distinguish what 
is genuine in painting or sculpture, as a diplomat 
learns to decide between true and false information. 
He ranks among the best judges of Germany in 
this respect. In the picture galleries of Europe 
there are many paintings attributed to Raphael 
which, nevertheless, strike a careful observer as 
essentially lacking in genius. All these he sweeps 
into oblivion, — even the portrait of Johanna of 
Aragon (which certainly is not of Raphael's color- 
ing), and the so-called Raphaels of the royal gal- 
lery at Berlin, — and proceeds at once to indubitable 
and more important works. As an evidence of the 
thorough investigation he has made of his subject 
may be cited a foot-note in which Grimm records 
his first observations on Raphael's portrait of Julius 
II. in the Pitti Palace. He says of it : — 

Compared with Leo X. and bis cardinals, it impressea us 
like a Titian, — soft, no harsti outliues, coloring made of 
chief importance, tlie brush everywhere visible. Color soft 
and liquid. Facial outlines done with tbe brush. Delicacy 
of the hands {the left repainted). Softness of the beard and 
of the fur trimming. Transparency of the shadows. Grand, 
broad tiandliug of accessories. Radiance over the whole. 
Entirely new treatment of the red silk collar. Background 
of a very dark green. (1873.) 

Here the curtain is lifted for a moment, and we 
catch a view of Grimm's methods of study and the 
permanent basis which underlies his work. Noth- 
ing could be more interesting; for otherwise we 
would hardly have felt tbe same confidence in the 
certainty of his conclusions. It is a fresh instance 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 115 

of German thoroughness. Writing about Baphaet 
is like working in a rose garden ; and, as there is 
a good deal of diligent toil required In the latter 
case, so there is in the former. 

The life of Baphael Sanzio might throw some 
light upon our ignorance of that of Shakespeare. 
He lived in the full noontide splendor of fame and 
popularity'. He and Michel Angelo together were 
the most conspicuous persons at the most brilliant 
court of modem times. From morning till night 
he was under public observation ; and yet how little 
is recorded of him ! He surrendered himself wholly 
to his art, and apparently had no other external life. 
What are called the biographies of great men are 
too often only the chips that have fallen at the base 
of the finished statue. We know that Baphael 
was born in Urbino, probably nine years before the 
discovery of America. In early youth he was 
placed under the care and tuition of Perugino. 
At what age he went to Florence, upon what occca- 
aion, or how long he remained, cannot be positively 
ascertained. It is quite as uncertain when he was 
invited to Borne by Pope Julius, though there is 
little doubt of his being there at the commence- 
ment of his twenty-sixth year. His attachment to 
a beautiful young woman called the Fornarina is 
likely enough, but also legendary. He died on the 
6th of April, 1520, — as Grimm likes to believe, 
on the anniversary of his birth. He was buried 
in the Pantheon. This, besides a few simple anec- 
dotes, is all that we can learn of a genius so fa- 
mous that there are not ten others who have ever 
equalled him. What signs and omens accompanied 



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116 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

his advent here ? What education did he have be- 
yond the pale of his art ? Whence did he draw 
his lofty ethical consciousness as well as his mar- 
vellous skill ? Kone of these could he hare derived 
in any large measure from Ms master Perugino. 
Grimm saja, truly enough, that it is of vastly more 
importance to know into what intelleotaal atmos- 
phere Eaphael entered as a child with Perugino 
than how far he was influenced by Perugino's style 
as an artist. " The maturity of soul which shines 
forth from the ' Sposalizio,' painted when Baphael 
was twenty years old, imposes on as the task of in- 
quiring whence he could have attained such mental 
development" Here we have the keynote of the 
book. 

Of Raphael's internal life we have plenty of evi- 
dence in his drawings and paintings. To interpret 
these rightly is to understand the man ; and this 
is the task Grimm sets himself to do. Of the di- 
vine, incomparable Baphael, the Shakespeare of 
painters, of the genius, as Fassavant says, which 
defies estimation, we have long since heard enoagh. 
What we have wanted has been a clear, impartial 
estimate of his merits. Buskin might have given 
this, if his inclination had led bim to do so ; for 
none have ever gone deeper into the psychology of 
art than he. But Buskin, for some mysterious 
reason, has always slighted the giants of the Boman 
school: the Yenetians, Turner, and the earlier 
Florentines have wholly absorbed his interest. It 
has rather been the fashion with English critics o£ 
late to disparage Baphael as an effeminate painter, 
the first of the eclectics, and so on. Paasavant, on 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 117 

the otlier hand, exalts him hy a comparison vith 
Michel Angelo to the latter'a disadvantage. Even 
his pliant and amiable disposition (which appears 
to hare been a limitation to him in one way as an 
artist) is held np by Passavant in contract to the 
less popular mannera of his rivaL Grimm, having 
already written a life of Michel Angelo, would 
not be likely to commit such an ordinary blunder 
as this, even if his sense of propriety permitted it ; 
neither is he to be caught in the snares of modem 
scepticism. He who has a true feeling for the 
beautiful cannot be a disbeliever. Already, in an 
essay published many years since, he said that Ti- 
tian and Veronese were great painters, but Raphael 
and Michel Angelo were also great men. In the 
present volume he offers us his estimate of this 
twofold greatness, not in a single passage of con- 
centrated rhetoric, but quietly and gradually, as the 
charms of Italian scenery unfold themselves on the 
journey from Florence to Rome, The impression 
made at first is not a strong one ; but, as we pro- 
ceed from the account of one work to another, we 
become filled with an enthusiasm which it is at 
last difSenlt to restrain. Among these occasional 
glimpses of the real Raphael which he gives us 
there are none finer than the following extract 
from his chapter on " The Entombment " : — 

He cruWs like nUura herself. A rose ia a rose, and it le 
nothing more; the song ot the nightingale la the nightin- 
gale's song; there ate no fnrther mysteries to fathom. Thus 
Baphael'a works arefree from penonalacoessoriee; it la only 
' br a pecnliar glamour over averrtliliig b; his hand that we 
are led to exclaim, " Bapbael painted this!" 

We never eojoj a work of Michel Angelo with the aam« 



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118 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

immniilt;. A. low Tolce seems to whisper out of each one 
of them, "I am the work of Michel Angelo, and only 
through his ch&neter uui the way be found to any correct 
interpretation." This breathes also from Dante's vetsea. 

The German critics have not a good repatation 
for brevity and conciseness. They run their in- 
vestigations into rather too minate details. In re- 
gard to the present TOlume, hoivever, we feel that 
it comes to an end too soon, and then we recollect 
that a portion has been omitted by the Amerioaa 
translator. The studies irhich Grimm has made 
of Baphael's great dramatic compositions are all 
interesting, but especially so what he says of " The 
Entombment" and the Tapestries. A number of 
sketches for "The Entombment" are in existence, 
all differing from each other and from the finished 
picture. The subject seems to have gone through 
a regular process of development in the artist's 
mind, and to have been worked out to his satisfao* 
tion only by slow degrees. 

Tbna we see Raphael Bparing no pains to create a work 
which he could allow himself in the end to prononnce per- 
fect. At first nothing is really his own. Prom atl sides he 
takes what is adapted to his ajm, Antiqoe bas-reliefs, an 
engnviog by Uantegca, a painting by Signorelli, a marble 
by Michel Angelo, all these work most powerfully on his 
imagmation. He imitates nuhesltatingly. . . . But when 
has he taken anything without transforming it by his own 
genius into what he needs ? 

What Raphael struggled with here was tie rela- 
tion of the different figures in his group to the body 
of the Saviour. In the first conception (called the 
"Death of Adonia"), three figures appear, bearing 



cGoogle 



HERMAN GRIMM. 119 

the corpse. la the Oxford sketchy thiee fif^ures 
appeal ^ain, but in a more compact group, tke 
body being neatly doubled up. " In the Florentine 
design, the body is once mote stretched, and the 
bearers are separated into two distinct gtoups." The 
final representation, however, shows these groups 
resolved i^aiu, and only two persona bearing the 
body of the Saviour, — an elderly man at the head 
and a stout athletic youth carrying the feet. 
Now comes the wonderful patt of it. XTpon Greek 
urns dug up in recent times there are tepresenta- 
tions of entombments in which an old man with 
wings bears the head, and a strong youth with 
wings is at the feet, and these two are supposed to 
be meant for Death and Sleep ; and who that has 
read Lessing can doubt it ? It is nearly impossible 
that Raphael should have been aware of this fact ; 
and thus we see the two great streams of antique 
luid Christian art perfectly united by his genius. 

In the "Saint Cecilia" group, frequently in the 
Stanze of the Vatican, and throughout the Tapes- 
tries, Saint Paul with the book and the sword 
appears in ever varying conception of heroic man- 
liness. Was this accidental, or to serve the pur- 
poses of art ? or was he a favorite ideal of Raphael's 
contemplation? Grimm considers the last the 
true solution. Saint Faul is the pure type of the 
religious reformer ; and at this time church refor- 
mation was in the air. Savonarola and Macchi- 
avelli, who were the antipodes of each other, had 
both proclaimed the necessity of it. In fact, there 
had been a demand for it since Dante's time. 
There was the same feeling in France, Germany, 



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120 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

and England. Men welcomed the brif^ht red sui^ 
rise of a new day without realizing that it was the 
forerunnei of another deluge. It is incredible that 
Baphael, whose nature was so deeply religious, 
could have escaped this influence. Though of 
slender physique, he was of a moat powerful intel- 
lect, devouring knowledge upon all sides and inter- 
ested in everything elevated or refining. Grimm 
is not far wroi^ in comparing his mental quality 
with that of Emerson. The difference in ability 
between them is undeniable ; but, as he says, there 
was in both the same transparent purity, the same 
unfailing serenity and cheerfulness, which lifted 
them above the evils of theii time. As Emerson, 
however, was horrified at African slavery, it seuos 
as if the unfioly practices of the Bomau de^y must 
have been equally abhorrent to Baphael. Could he, 
with his clear pei-ceptions of human life, be imposed 
upon by the mixture of ecclesiastical mummery 
and shallow political makeshifts which emanated 
itom the Vatican ? Emerson, also, was interested 
IB religioaa reform, and had a special liking for an 
engraving of Raphael's " Saint Paul at Lystra." 
Now Luther, as Grimm again says, in the preface 
to bis translation of the Bible, speaks of Paul's 
letters as the proper source of all Christian doc- 
trine. 

The book should be read with a collection of 
photographs from Baphael's paintings and draw- 
ings before one, but is also interesting if these 
do not happen to be accessible. Engravings of the 
Madonnas are everywhere ; and the chapter on that 
subject may be illustrated without difficulty. We 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 121 

are naturally curious to know Grimm's opinion of 
them. The Madonna of the Croldfinch is the first 
one which he praises warmly. " The Virgin has a 
supreme motherliness ; and her exquisite face is 
painted with indescribable care." Neit comes the 
Madonna da Foligno, which only the Madonna of the 
Fiah, the deUa Sedia, and the Sistine Madonna sur- 
pass in excellence. The large "Holy Family" in 
the Louvre is comparatively an inferior work, of 
which only the drawing of the Virgin bears certain 
evidence of Raphael's own hand. It is woriihy of 
notice that the Madonna della Sedia, which runs a 
very close risk of being eclectic, — for her eyebrows 
might have been drawn with compasses almost, — he 
ranfea next to the Dresden wonder. Such eyebrows 
are, however, sometimes to be met with, as is 
proved by a photograph of an American girl now 
before me ; as another phenomenon to be seen in 
several of Raphael's works, of a shadow dividing 
the face by a perpendicular line, may also be 
observed in real life. The Sistine Madonna is 
treated at greater length than the others, as it 
deserves to be. Orimm notices that the floating 
movement of her veil shows that the Virgin is 
being home through the air, and that the simplicity 
of her dress, whose texture is invisible, gives her a 
spiritual superiority over Pope Sixtus and Saint 
Barbara, whose garments are of a richer and more 
earthly type. Her eyes are painted in such a 
reserved manner that upon cloudy days the drawing 
can scarcely be distinguished; and this gives a 
depth of expression to her face which could not 
otherwise be obtained. The green curtains serve 



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122 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

to bring tlie scene home to as ; jnst as the moon 
appears to be nearer when we look at it through 
the branches of a tiee. 

Herman Grimm considers Friedrich Mailer's 
engraving of the Sistine Madonna the only satis- 
factory one. An English travellei once, in his 
Notes on Amsnea, said that in every Boston parlor 
there might be seen an engraving or copy of the 
Dresden masterpiece. While walking on Beacon 
Street one «vening, I remembered this statement 
by some chance, and looked in through the win- 
dows of the nearest house, where the gas had 
already been lighted, but the shades not yet drawn 
down. There, truly enough, was the Sistine Ma- 
donna, in a conspicuous position ; and, as I believe, 
it was Mflller's engraving also. The infiaence of 
this picture in softening the manners and elevating 
the moral tone of our Kew England women has 
been very great. It has given them an ideal of 
perfect motherhood such as no written description 
in prose or verse could impress upon the mind. 

One of the desiderata at present is an equally 
good engraving of Baphael's " Transfiguxation," 
which properly holds the next place among his oil 
paintings. It has been heretofore alighted some* 
what, from the supposition that it was not com- 
pleted by Baphael himself, but by Giulio Bomano 
after the death of his master. Grimm says that 
there is no better proof of this than of many of 
the other allegations in regard to him, Neither 
does a close examination of the painting show evi- 
dence of any but Baphael's own handling. Among 
so many wonderful works in the Vaticwi, its true 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 123 

value is not readily appreciated : if it were hung in 
the gallery of the Lonvre, it would no doubt eclipse 
all others there. Its ethical import is the relief we 
obtain from the confusion and ruin of our earthly 
life by the consideration of spiritual subjects. As 
it says in the Dhammapada, " Bun not after the 
pleasures of love ; in coutetnplation there is suffi- 
cient joy." On earth there is perpetual conflict, 
but peace may be obtained in the serene sky of the 
soul. Critics have not been wanting who con- 
demned the painting on this account, as lacking in 
essential unity ; whereas no higher type of artistic 
unity is conceivable. It is the drama of man's 
spiritual nature. Giovio, who was a contemporary 
of Baphael, speaks of " The Trausflguration " as 
his last and greatest work; and yet, strangely 
enough, asserts that the best thing in it is the boy 
possessed of demons, — a truly fearful reductio ad 
absurdum. Grimm says of this, " it is the opinion 
of a realistic dilettante." Is it not the tendency 
of realism always to interest itself in demoniac 
boys and other distortions of nature rather than 
with what is beautiful and elevated in human life ? 
Raphael has never failed of being a stumbling- 
block to the realist ; for, with all his ideality, none 
of them could ever draw so correctly as he. What 
is the real, after all, but an unsuccessful attempt 
to attain the ideal ? Unless we recognize this, it 
has no value for us. 

There is a kind of glory which emanates from 
these pictures, and it is a satisfaction to know that 
they were painted wholly by Baphael. They will 
always be more popular than his greater Boman 



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124 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TURE. 

frescos, both because the; can be seen to better 
adrantage and because they are more genoine. His 
designs were alivays of the finest, bat only a well* 
practised eye can readily distinguish the strokes of 
his own brush from those of his numeious and 
mediocre assistants. If he was unable to maintain 
constantly his own highest level, his work became 
still more unequal by the infusion of this foreign 
element. In some degree, it vitiates the whole. 
We recollect that fiuonarotti closed the doors of 
the Sistine Chapel to his incompetent followers, and 
hesitated to approve of organizing industry in this 
way. In the beautiful group at one side of the 
" Fire in the Borgo," the boy, a figurative lulns, 
who leads the way, has arms which are conspicu- 
ously too large for him. Who is responsible for 
this ? Did Raphael draw them so, or did he leave 
it to another ? Sometimes, as in the angels who 
support the tobe of Pope Urban, Raphael fell under 
the tyranny of Michel Angelo's style, always to his 
disadvantage. Another peculiarity of his was to- 
give his faces a washed expression, as if they had 
just come from a bath. This is most noticeable in 
the bust of a lady said to have been modelled by 
him. The effect intended would seem to be to 
reproduce a delicate softness of complexion; in 
one case, also, perhaps to depict mental emotion. 

The quality of an artist's work depends largely 
upon the intelligence and character of his patrons. 
Pope Julius the Second was by no means a Peri- 
cles ; but he appreciated Michel Angelo and 
Raphael equally well, and employed them both in 
a suitable manner. But Leo the Tenth, a man of 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 126 

fine tastes, but luxurious and effeminate, disliked 
Michel Angelo, and vould have nothing to do 
with him. The nobler natme of Bnonarotti was a 
reproach to him. So much the more he showered 
&Tors upon Raphael, and theieby produced that 
enmity between their respective adherents for 
which Michel Angelo has been often unjustly 
blamed. That Raphael should have been ap- 
pointed architect of St. Peter's, while Michel 
Angelo lacked employment, was an absurdity of 
the first magnitude. Raphael's work does not con- 
tain the element of grandeur, though it often 
reaches a dizzy height of moral elevation, what we 
call sublimity. It is to be feared that Leo the 
Tenth shortened Raphael's life by over-stimulat- 
ing it in this way, just as he squandered the treas- 
ures of his prudent predecessor, and provoked the 
Oerman Reformation. The fever of which Ra- 
phael died might have been fatal to a strong ma%— 
bat it was mote likely to be so to one in a debili- 
tated condition. But I must absolve Professor 
Grimm from the responsibility of these last 
remarks. 

In the author's introductory letter to the Amni- 
can edition there is a mention of Bismarck in a 
way that wiU surprise many people on this side of 
the ocean. He speaks as if his advent had proved 
an era of liberation to Germany, So it has, ac- 
cording to Grimm's own definition, that a nation 
is free when its people obey laws which they 
believe to be just His father, Wilhelm Grimm, 
and his uncle Jacob were expelled from Hesse^ 
Cassel some fifty years f^o, by the duke of that 



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126 HEAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

state for their liberal opinioiiB, and were welcomed 
to BerHn, where the persecuted of other countries 
have always found a refuge, even the Jesuits when 
Kauniz drove them out of Austria. The greater 
part of Germany was then governed by irresponsi- 
ble small princes, who made their subjects happy 
or miserable according to their different disposi- 
tions. Bismarck has replaced this by the govern- 
ment of uniform constitutional law ; and now, 
though the individual has not the same freedom 
of speech and action as in America, he is as cer- 
tain of justice as if he lived under the Antonines, 
and nowhere else is crime so rare. In Prussia 
there can hardly be said to be any criminal class 
at all. 

Herman Grimm was rewarded for his Life of 
Michel Angela by a professorship of art and belles- 
lettres in the University of Berlin. American 
readers of Goethe will also be interested to know 
that Ms wife is the youngest daughter of Bettina 
von Amim. He is now in hia sixty-first year, a 
tall, elegant man, of distinguished manners and 
judicial aspect. Franz Tybolt, a respected German 
contempotaxy, says of him : — 

When I was ft yonng student and did not know Hermui 
Grimm, I invottmtarily pictnred Xo myself, p&rtlcularl; on 
account of his descent, a typically German personality; and 
I was quite astonialied, on flrsl meeting him at tbe college, 
to see a mau who wore a cylinder bat and appeared to have 
French sympathies. Herman Grimm resembles externally 
neither his father nor his ancle. The only thing that reminds 
one of the brothers Grimm is the long gray luiir, which be 
also — though not in such abuodauce — allows to wave 
smoothly down each side of his face. The somewbst long 



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HERMAN QRIMM. 127 

and 1a^»'featared face gets from Its steadfast, searching 
eyes an attractive expression. A sliort, white beard, shov- 
ing here and there traces of Its former reddish blond, encits 
cles It. On the whole, the more than aTerage-sized Bgtu« 
makes a strifcing impression. When Herman Grimm, his 
anns folded over his breast, stands on the platform and 
speaks, one does not think of the professor, who tias pre- 
pared an exact address for the college, and now teaches, but 
rather feels himself in good company with a finely educated 
elderly gentleman, who with taste and amiability gives one 
the advantage of his rich stores of knowledge. In his lec- 
tures sparkles, here and there, a witty turn, and sometimes 
he will make a humorous remark without changing his 
face; and he is always interesting and able to command 
attention. The way Herman Grimm talks is rather a chat 
than a delivery. He speaks in an easy, comfortable way, 
wholly without restraint, and always hears entirely the 
character of an extemporlst. 

He is sometimes accused of indifference by the 
extremiBts, as Goethe was foimeily ; but those who 
possess the key to his writings know better thaa 
that. Power to move the hearts of thousands, 
never emanated from a cold nature. Also, to- 
reach the acme of good taste either in art or lil^ 
erature requires a life of persistent self-denial. 



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SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



BEBMAN GKIHU.— n. 

It is not an uncommon error to suppose that 
Btyle is untranslatable. This is nsaallf tlie case 
vith regard to poetry, for in verse ohoice and 
arrangement of vords, ^hicb constitute the style 
of an author, must often be sacrificed to the urgent 
demands of rhyme and metre ; but there is no sach 
reason in prose. The neat elegance of Voltaire, 
the resonance of Ronssean, and the cimeter strokes 
of MaccbiaTelli have all been faithfully rendered 
into English. Miss Adams has given new proof 
of this by translating not only the style and tone 
of Grimm, but also by showing how much hia 
style has changed at different periods. The clear 
and vigorous sentences of the "Life of Goethe" 
are replaced in the " Life of Eaphael " by gAcefnl, 
delicate touches which resemble the handling of 
a painter. The volume of Grimm's essays called 
" Literatnre," for which we are indebted also to 
Miss Adams's scholarly enterprise, is written in 
this last manner. They are not brilliant or remark- 
able essays, and that is just their charm, — that 
they are not intended to be remarkable. It is, as 
the excellent literary critic of the Boston Past has 
called it, that rare commodity, a book of fine man- 
ners. They are like easy, pleasant coavetsation 
in Professor Grimm's own study. Id the two 



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BERMAN GRIMM. 129 

«6BayB on Emerson he pays a rare ttibute to the 
most famous American of our time. He does not, 
like Matthew Arnold, attempt a critical estimate 
of his merits and limitations, but speaks of him as 
we like to hear our friends spoken of. "I think/' 
he says, " no other writer of the present age has 
had so great and so good an influence upon me." 
The book is remarkable for its light and shade. 
His tender and affectionate treatment of Albert 
DUrer is a striking contrast to the censorious 
remarks on the character of Voltaire, which seem 
almost like a reflection of the Franoo-Frusaian 
war. He has written more in praise of Voltaire in 
the " Life of Groethe," and the two statements should 
be taken together. Voltaire was determined to be 
leveuged, and what he says against Frederick is 
not likely to be true or we should have heard of it 
from other sources. Grimm never poses for effect, 
and if a commonplace sentence will serve his pur- 
pose, he makes no effort to avoid it. 

He places Lord Kfacaulay in the same box with 
Voltaire. Macanlay knew neither the German 
language nor German history, and his essay on 
Frederick the Great was based on an unfinished 
life by the poet CampbelL In France or Germany 
such a piece of charlatanism would have been ex- 
posed and condemned at once, bat it passed cur- 
rent in England for about thirty years, and is 
still accepted by those who are unwilling to read 
Carlyle and Saint-Beuve. Macaulay himself lays 
down the rule that an historian should not take 
too much pains to be aooorate, or his narrative 
will become diy, and he will lose the interest of 



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130 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

hia readers. After this, one need not be surprised 
to find mistakes by the dozen in his writing. 
With a really great writer, the main point is always 
not to consider his readers, bat to satisfy his own 
conscience. I think, however, that Grimm lets 
Maeaulay ofF easily enough. He says nothing of 
his vicious rhetorical style, his bad manners, his 
love of scandal, or his savage treatment of other 
writers. Yet, in spite of these defects the man 
has his value. He speaks his mind ont boldly and 
freely. He fills a popular demand for general 
information on a great variety of subjects. He 
has a clear understanding of politics, and is always 
interesting when he discourses in that line. He is 
a patriot of the best order, without national vanity 
or national prejudices. He appreciates the solid 
qualities in other nations, and does not fail to 
reprimand the errors and delinquencies of his own 
countrymen when there is sufficient reason for it. 
Would this have been permitted of him on our side 
of the Atlantic ? 

Macanlay's faults as a writer do not apply to 
Voltaire, who was in his way a consummate artistr. 
Of all the qualifications necessary for a great dram- 
atist, he lacks only two, a depth of feeling and 
nobility of conception. They do apply, however, 
pretty closely to George H. Lewes, well known in 
America as the author of the "Life of Goethe." 
Kevei has a great man suffered from a more 
unworthy biographer. In a certain English his- 
tory of sixty years ago, it says that after the bat- 
tle of Borodino, Napoleon issued the following 
bulletin:. "My soldiers, this is the first time th^ 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 13t 

you have been defeated. Wash out the disgrace 
in the blood of the Bussians ! " This sounds suffi- 
ciently fetociooa, but as the French were victori- 
ous at Borodino there cannot be much truth in it. 
There are passages not veiy unlike this in Ijewes's 
"Life of Goethe." Men who are endowed with a 
keen sense of the beautiful aie always fond of the 
society of ladies. To this Goethe was no excep- 
tion. He was perhaps careless in forming a lai^ 
number — no doubt too great a number — of fem- 
inine attachments. Some of these were friend- 
ships pure and simple ; others may be classed as 
mere summer flirtations; others also were of a 
more serious oharactei. Had he been the presi- 
dent of a bank or a popular physician they would 
have attracted but little attention. Lewes, how- 
ever, concludes upon no better evidence than a 
common report, that most of them were of an 
immoral nature. We all know what common 
report is worth in such matters, and I pity any 
man who is willing to condemn the character of 
another upon such evidence. The view that 
Orimm takes in his " Life of Goethe " is a different 
one, more human, charitable, and sensible. It has 
already done much, and it is to be hoped will yet 
do more^ to correct the mischievous impression 
that Lewes long since created here and in Eng- 
land. There is an excellent article on Goethe in 
the " New British Encyclopedia " which supports 
Grimm and states the case in a few sentences. 

"My friend," said Dr. Johnson to Boswell, 
"do not mix up virtue and vice." This is good 
eoonsel; but we should also remember Hamlet's 



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182 REAL AND IDEAL JN LITERATURE. 

saTing, that if we all had our deserts, feir would 
escape hanging. Women are not the innocent 
lambs some men suppose. They calculate their 
matrimonial ohanoes with more exactness, and 
look after theii future interests more closely, than 
the stronger sex do. A fly-away lover soon 
becomes a marked man, and the woman who 
accepts attentions from him knows that she does 
80 at her peril. Many like to take this risk, as 
men like to take their chajices in real estate or 
the stock market. Grimm does not spare Goethe 
for his desertion of Frederica, bat blames him 
sererely ; and yet this happened during his aca- 
demic years ; and such an experience is more likely 
to happen to a modest, virtuous youth than to one 
who is otherwise. Beethoven also is said to have 
been always in love, and perhaps it is to that we 
owe the beautifully appealing tone of bis music. 

At a dinner party many years ago, the conver- 
sation chanced to fall npon Grerman wine, and a 
gentleman remarked that Goethe was accustomed 
to drink two bottles of hock a day. The poet 
Longfellow, who was fortunately present, asked, 
" Who says he did ? " " It is in Lewes's ' Life,' " 
replied the gentleman. " I don't believe it," said 
the poet, setting down his glass with some empha- 
sis. Surely Goethe is a modem instance of the 
evolution of a myth. 

He has been accused of coldness, selfishness, in- 
gratitude, and, worst of all, of taking no interest in 
the politics of his time. These are fearful charges, 
and fearfully has Goethe answered them. 

I have been informed on better authori^ than 



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BERMAN GRIMM. 1S3 

Mt. Lewes tliat Goethe apent a ]aige part of his 
income for aeveral years in supporting a miserable 
ontoast whom nobody eUe would touch. He did 
this so quietly that few were aware of it. At the 
time of Schiller's death he was slightly unwell and 
his friends were afraid to inform him of it for 
several days. The death of his son nearly killed 
him. He avoided erei; one, and studied mathe- 
matioB until he burst a blood vessel. There yoa 
have the man. 

It is folly to suppose that a cold, selfish nature 
can move the hearts of millions as they were 
moved by the " Sorrows of Werther." If heat comes 
from the fnmaee there must be a fire within it 
High art is the perfection of disinterestedness, and 
such poems aa "Iphigenia," "The Minstrel," and 
" The Erl Eing " could only have emanated from a 
pure and beautiful soul. 

Mr. Lowell speaks of both Goethe and Burke as 
sentimentalists. I should call them anti-senti- 
mentalists. Neithet was troubled with Utopian 
virtues. It were well if some of onr representa- 
tives in Washington were as much interested in 
the noble soienoe of politics as Goethe was. We see 
by his conversations with Bickenaann and others 
that he took a lively interest in politics, and could 
predict political events with great certainty. 
What is meant by his political indifference is that 
he did not take part in the general attack upon 
Ni^leoo in 1813. Goethe knew his duty in tiiat 
matter better than his o<mimentators. He was a 
member of the grand duke's cabinet, and could take 
no independent aotton without compromising hia 



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184 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

friend and patrcm. Tlie duohy of Weimar la; just 
outside of the FmsBian lines, so that the interest 
of the duke and of his people consisted in remain- 
ing nentral as long as possible. To suppose that 
Goethe at sixty-four oi^ht to have shouldered a 
musket and thrown his valuable life away at the 
battle of Leipsio is the depth of all absurdities. 

"What is the meaning of all this? Why is 
Goethe so often denounced as a reprobate, while 
Burns, Byron, and Heine, who were dissolute men^ 
only leceive a mild censure 7 

President Lincoln objected to Goneial Fremont 
because he was too much bespattered with the mud 
of reform. It is true that nothing disturbs the- 
minds of men so much as to interfere with their 
onstoms and traditions, for these are the founds 
tion on which the social fabric rests. A reformer 
who is a reformer excites more hatred than a high- 
way robber. He is fortunate if nothing worse than 
mud is thrown at him. Socrates was put to death 
for enlightening the minds of the young men of 
Athens. Goethe also was a great intellectual r^ 
former, the standard-bearer of the new light, and 
there were many who would hare liked to kill 
him too, if they could have done it with im- 
punity. He represented the law of nature as op- 
posed to historical tradition. He respected custom 
and tradition, — no man more so, —and he knew 
their proper Talne, but he lived by reason and re- 
flection and he said to mankind^ "You must lire 
80 too, if yon would fulfil the destiny of the race; 
Thiuk for yourselves, and do not try to believe any 
longer what is contrary to the laws of nature.'^ 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 185 

His motto was not " Watch aod pray," but " Work 
aud think." Foi this he was called an infidel, 
an enemy to Christianity ; bat let them say vhat 
they will, all intelligent people now act upon these 
principles. The code Kapoleon, also, is largely 
baaed upon the law of natoie, and it ia not with- 
out significance that these two giants of modem 
times should have coincided in this manner. Like 
Goethe, Napoleon has beeD greatly abused and mis- 
represented, accused of crimes which were not 
«rimes at all. He said, "Qod is always on the side 
with the strongest battalions." And so it prored to 
him in the end. The equal laws which he enacted 
still remain in force over Western Europe, and 
they are all that remain of his wonderful career. 
He did not, however, understand the laws of his- 
tory ; he set himself against them and they over- 
threw him. (loethe in this respect was his supe- 
rior. 

A good deal of irritation has been occasioned in 
England, and some in America also, by Grimm's 
statement in the "Life and Times of Goethe," 
that Goethe was the superior of Shakespeare. 
There is no reason, however, why this should 
occasion surprise. Much worse things have been 
said of Shakespeare before, and by eminent writers. 
Ben Jonson thought his works would be better for a 
good deal of prunii^. Goldsmith was always rail- 
ing at him. .Yoltaire considered him barbarous, 
monstrous. Wordsworth had no great admiration 
for him. Lord Byron, according to Macaulay, 
thought Pope as a poet greatly his superior. The 
■admirers of Browning are wont to exalt their 



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136 REAL AND IDEAL 7iV LITERATURE. 

farorite to an eqoalit; witt him ; and lifr. S. X*. 
Thaxter, the apostle of BrowniDg in America, a 
man of broad vievs and fine culture, also considered 
Aeschylus "as good as Shakespeare any day." 
Meanwhile Shakespeare remains immutably what 
he was and is. 

The man himself, as veil as Goethe, has long 
been beyond the reach of critics. The value of his 
works, however, depends largely at any given time 
upon the opinions of them which ace expressed \tf 
leading authorities in such matters. Here, as it 
is with personal character, extrayaga&t praise is 
more injurious than its opposite. More absurd 
statements have been made in favor of Shakespeare 
thim against him. An English poet has said of 

"Othen ftbide our question; thon alone art frw." 
Ani also an American : — 



It ia true that such hyperbolas are considered 
admissible in poetry when they would not be in 
prose ; but I do not find it in the best poetry, espe- 
cially in classic poetry. Shakespeare appears to 
have been almost without influence upon his own 
time, and for more than a hundred years afterward 
received little attention from the public ; but now 
to be told that any other writer can compare with 
him creates only astonishment and incredulity in 
the general AogloSaxon mind. Is he, however, so 
very much greater than some others t 



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BERMAN ORIMM. 187 

He IB certainly tlie greatest of dramatic poets. 
That is a fact generally, perhaps aniversally, ad- 
mitted. Homer, however, is the greatest of epic 
poets, and considering the prehistoric period in 
which he lived, he appears to ns the most vonder- 
ful of all human phenomena save one. He excels 
Shakespeare in the mellow tone and parity of his 
style, as Shakespeare excels him in subtlety of 
thought and in the variety of human moods and 
passions he portrays. Such plays as " Troilus and 
Cressida" or "Timon" seem fantastic after reading 
the interview between Priam and Achilles, and as 
the perfection of art on a grand scale the Odyssey 
remains still without an equal. Professor Soph- 
ocles was of opinion that Homer was also a great 
man of affairs like Pisistratns. The " Prometheus " 
of ^schylus stands like the Matterhom in solitary 
grandeur: there is nothing else like it. So the 
" Agamemnon " of ^schylus and the " CEdipus " of 
Sophocles may not be equal to "Hamlet" and 
" Macbeth," but they make a stronger impression 
than " Julius Cseaar " and " Coriolanus." Only 
here and there in Shakespeare's plays are passages 
to be met with which can compare with the lyrio 
beauty of the Greek chorus. The " (Edipus 
Tyrannus " is the most terrible of tragedies, and 
yet the man himself is perfectly human. Consider- 
able portions of Shakespeare's Roman plays, espe- 
cially "Antony and Cleopatra," were taken from a 
sixteenth-century translation of Plutarch ; and yet 
these extracts, slightly adorned with the author's 
own genius, do not appear greatly inferior to the 
rest. As Dr. Johusou remarked, the last half of 



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138 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

" Julius CiBsar " ia injured by a too close follow- 
ing after Plutarch, and has rather a cold effect. 
Tet had the literature of the Greeks been even 
better than it was, it conld never be to the modem 
European what Shakespeare's plays are. We are 
at too great a distanoe from their modes of life 
and thought. It is only after years of patient 
study and reflection that we can appreciate them. 

Bat this is a rule which also holds good in another 
way. Each nation must depend upon its own rep- 
resentatives in the general congress of letters. 
Shakespeare cannot be to the ItaJiaJis what Dante 
is, nor to the Germans what Goethe is, nor perhaps 
to the Spanish even what Calderon is. 'So doubt 
it is largely owing to Shakespeare's influence that 
the Anglo-Saxon race has attained such political 
importance; and the invigorating effect of Goethe's 
writings upon the modern German mind is auf&- 
ciently evident. Calderon's burgher character, the 
sturdy alcalde of Zalamea, who tells the king's 
ofReer: "My daughter has become the bride of one 
who is no respecter of hidalgos," still keeps alive 
the spirit of manliness in a nation that has suffered 
overmuch from the pride of hidalgos. 

A just comparison of Shakespeare's and Goethe's 
genius vould be a valuable contribution to critical 
literature ; but it conld only be done by a writer of 
rare intellectual attainments. They are both of 
such wide extent, such lofty altitude, that it seems 
at first glance as if a whole battalion of critical 
surveyors would be required to take their dimen- 
sions. Whichever the eye rests upon seems for 
that moment to surpass the other. It is not, how- 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 139 

«Ter, so important to decide whicb is the greater of 
the two, as to disciiminate properly between them 
and thus by contrast to cause each to appear more 
clearly as he is. Shakespeare — to speak briefly 
here upon this question — is the chief modem 
poet of the romantic class ; Goethe of the classic. 
To say that they are idealists is only to say they 
axe true poets ; making use of realism only in sub- 
ordinate scenes, or for artistic effect. They are 
both equally forcible, spirited, and so well sustained 
in the varied and numberless details of their worfa 
that it seems as if they could have easily achieved 
even greater undertakings. Yet they are not more 
xematkable for this than for their depth of feeling 
and delicacy of perception. Their judgment was 
equal to their penetration. Never were Damascus 
blades tempered so well for strength, keenness, and 
^flexibility. Whatever mental gifts the heart of 
man could desire were theirs at birth, and the use 
they made of them was better than the gifts. Of 
Shakespeare's early training we know nothiikg, but 
we read in " Wahrheit und Dichtung " how Goethe 
improved all his opportunities, and schooled him- 
self to endure whatever was fearful or disagree- 
able. Their courses did not, however, like those of 
Sophocles and ^Bchylus, run side by side. It is 
likely enough they would have if they had lived 
in the same age and country ; but as it was each 
did the work assigned to him by the destinies of 
his time. Shakespeare was an Homeric ^schylus ; 
Qoethe a Sophoclean Plato. If the creed of the 
Theosophists be true. Homer may have returned 
to OS as Shakespeare, .^Isohylns as Michel At^elo, 



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140 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Sophocles as Goethe, time and sitoation mak- 
ii^ vhat diffeiences are evident between them. 
Shakespeare has supplied the modem voild, m 
Homei did the ancient, vith vaiied forms of 
human nature; and while these appear to us as 
creatnies of Sesh and blood and so transparent that 
we can see the working of their minds and the beat- 
ing of their hearts, we thus learn from him what life 
is, and in a manner how to faee its dangers. Goethe 
has given us, like Sophocles, types of poetic beauty,, 
and like Flato, instmcted us better how to nndw* 
stand ourselves. There is a deal of Platonism ia 
Shakespeare, but I am not aware that he goes any* 
where beyond Plato except in his adaptation to 
modem conditions. Goethe has, however, taken » 
clear step forward, and is as much beyond his time 
and onrs as the Attic philosophers were in advance- 
of the age of Alexander. Flato taught the gospel 
of reSectioD ; Goethe the gospel of reflection and 
work. In "Wilhelm Meister" he says, "To do is 
easy ; to think is difficult ; and to act according tO' 
our thought is very hard." Emerson has caught 
this from him, and expressed it in the verse ; — 
" Bight tboD feelsBt, nuh to do." 

Goethe knew better thau to attempt to do Shake- 
speare's work over again, even in another language. 
He was not only a poet but a seer: he accepted 
the knowledge Shakespeare had stored up, and in^ 
stmcted ns how to make use of it for onr own and 
the common good. 

Shakespeare is the genins of the present ; Goeths 
of the future. One represents action, passion, and 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 141 

the conflict of life ; the other repose, harmony, and 
internal developmeiit. One is the poet of war; 
the other of peace. We go to Shakespeare as we 
set forth in the morning eager and confident for 
the day's struggle ; we seek Goethe as we retnm 
at night worn and weary to the quiet and compo- 
sure of our homes. 

It is in his pathos that the secret lies of Shake- 
speare's bold upon the hearts of men. We misa this 
in the French dramatists, and if we think well, it 
is what we prize most in Beethoven and Michel 
Angelo. Yet the most marvelloas of Shakespeare's 
mental qualities was his faculty of divination, of 
discovering by imagination what he could not have 
known by experience. This ia something more 
than Wellington's guessing at "what was on the 
other side of the hill," and in Shakespeare it ap- 
pears at times almost like a supernatural gift. 
We have to reckon it in the same category with 
the radiance of Bapbael and the early prodigies of 
Mozart. An American physiologist,' after investi- 
gating the phenomena of visions, of which he had 
known remarkable instances, by purely scientific 
methods, anatomical studies, and inductive reason- 
ing, found to his surprise that Shakespeare, who 
knew nothing of inductive reasoning and less than 
Homer about anatomy, had already anticipated hi» 
conclusions seriatim in the murder scene of "Mac- 
beth." When he speaks of the phantom d^ger as 
" a da^er of the heated brain " it is no mere ^ure 
of poetry. The heat produced by extreme mental 

* Dr. EdwBtd H. Clatk of Beaton. 



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142 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

excitement disorders the nervous ceatres and 
causes them to report falsely. 

Shakespeare within his ovn lines — and they are 
exceeding vide ones — may fairly be styled omnip- 
otent. He has limits, hoTrerer, though it might 
require a good deal of intellectual surveying and 
engineering to find their exact location. They 
must be high qualifications if he does not possess 
them. We find in him the heroism that comes 
from necessity, the heroism of Imogen and Henry 
the Fifth ; but not the voluntary heroism which is 
bom of a lofty and aspiring mind. The legal mas- 
querade of Portia is his nearest approach to this, 
Jmt it falls far short of the self-devotion of Alcestis, 
Antigone, or the Constant Prince. He missed an 
excellent opportunity of this sort in the case of 
Joan of Arc, who in the First Fart of Henry the 
Sixth is sorrowfully sacrificed either to dramatic 
effect or national prejudice. Shakespeare, however 
(and Goethe as well), was not in the habit of glori- 
fying his own country at the expense of others ; 
and this play is probably one of those which were 
remodelled by him. Antigone's reply to Creon, 
"Not for fear of any man was I going to disobey 
the unwritten and immovable laws of the gods," has 
no parallel by any other dramatist. Shakespeare 
is not wanting in religious feeling, but neither is 
it conspicuous in him. Hamlefs soliloquy con- 
tains no evidence of serious refiection on that sub- 
ject. We know now that dreams after death are 
an impossibility. The ghost of the old monarch 
comes back from purgatory to claim vengeance for 
his assassination ; he complains that he was taken. 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 14S' 

off with all his sina upon Ms head, and it has been 
argued from this that Shakespeare must have been- 
a Boman Catholic. Tet this is contradicted ^ain 
in the last act by the well-known speech of 
Laertes: — 

" I tell thee, chnrliBh priest, 
A minlateiiiig angel tihall 1117 sUter be. 
When thoQ llest howling;" 
and both taken together would seem to show that. 
Shakespeare cared little for church doctrines and 
tenets. 

Neither did Ooetbe care for them ; yet he yields 
to none in ethical insight or purity of religious 
belief. Let the opening chapters of "Wilhelm 
Meister's Wanderjahre " be a witness of this ; of 
which Edward Irving, who did not like Qoethe, 
confessed that nothing else so well expressed the 
true spirit of Christianity. Such truths are only 
possible in the simple epic form, perhaps only in 
epic prose. Neither is there anything in Shake- 
speare like Faust's reply to Gietchen when she asks 
him, " Do you believe in God ? " nor this single 
line which holds so much r — 

" The thrill of awe is hniiiiuiit7*s best portion; " 
nor: — 

" Were not the eye itself a snn, 
No Bim for it would e^er shine : 
By nothing godlike conid the heart be won. 
Were not the heart itself divine ; " 
nor these lines from Emerson's " Garden " (not in.; 
ferior to the rest): — 

" Wonderful verse of the gods: 
Of one accent yet varied tone. 
They chant the bliss of their abodes 
To man ImprisoDed in his own." 



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144 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

A certain power of poetic generalization seems 
to be almost a specially with Goethe, and wheo 
this is combined with humor (the human element), 
it proves very effective, as in the following : — 

" Iieave to tbe peduita tbalr t^d dUpntattons; 
Strict uid Md&te let the pedagogaet be; 
Ever the wise of all agea and nations 
Nod to each other, utd wink, and agree." 

We are gradually moving away from Shake- 
speare's standpoint, and approaching Goethe's. 
Lear, Othello, Cleopatra exist to-day only as the 
blindly obstinate parent, the jealoos husband, and 
the extrav^ant wife. All the grandeur has de- 
parted from them in this transition. Meanwhile 
Tassos, Hignons, Faosts, and Ottilies live and walk 
amongst us unrecognized. Shakespeare's characters 
axe the common types of mankind intensified by 
exceptional conditions; Goethe's characters are 
exceptional personages taken from every-day life. 
No doubt the time will come when Goethe's writ- 
ings will be tbe rage among nations, and it is to be 
hoped that his breadth of statement and freedom 
from dogma will prevent any religious sect, as in 
the case of the Swedenborglans, firom identifying 
themselves with bis name. The time may also 
come when both these prodigious men will, like far- 
off luminaries, be to the human taoe only what 
Homer and Plato are now. 

Neither Goethe nor Grimm has been wanting 
in proper respect for Shakespeare. The latter refers 
to him constantly in the Life of Raphael, and says 
in his account of the Transfiguration ; " In Shake- 



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HERMAN GRIMM. 145 

speare'a finest tragedies tlie figures are sucli compre- 
henBire types of real beings as to inspire as with 
the feeling that the share they have in the scenes 
(where ve imagine they only accidentally appear 
before as) seems to reveal but a small portion of a 
life which we know throughout as a whole," — 
and then proceeds to apply this principle fco the 
Transfiguration. No higher praise can be given to 
a dramatist as dramatist. Likewise Goethe's criti- 
cism of " Hamlet " is the only one which does the 
play full justice, and it is not read nearly bo much as 
it deserves to be. He considered Shakespeare supe- 
rior to himself, but also said of Byron, "If it were 
not for his hypochondria he would be equal to 
Shakespeare and the ancients ; " intimating that 
there might be others who were very great. There 
is something exq^uisitely good-humored in the fol- 
lowing tribute which he pays to Shakespeare's 
immortality on earth : — 

" Old Saturn eats his cbildren np. 
And makea no conscience of It: 
For sauce or mustard he doesn't Stop; 
His taste is quite above it. 

Now Shakespeare's turn was coming fast; 

His day is well-nigh dona. 
'Set bim aside; I'll eat Aim last,' 

Qnoth Cyclops' dainty son." ' 

There is a certain simplicity in G-rimm's writ- 
ing which is more noticeable in his essays than in 
the larger works. When a common phrase will 

1 This and the other translations aie taken, vith a few 
changes, ttom Dwight's tfanslatlona ol Goethe's and Sohillei'B 
minor poems. 



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146 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

serve his purpose he does not hesitate to make usa 
of it lather than to seek some more novel espressioo. 
There is no harm in this certainly, and it is much 
better than the continue effort for ingenuity which 
is not so common now perhaps as it was among the 
litterateura of thirty yeais ^o. Those shrewd fel- 
lows who can walk on theii hands and turn back 
summersaults soon become tiresome in literature or 
anywhere except a circus. 



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As pale-blue moimtaiD that I see from tae, 

Its olassie beauty marked against tbe sky; 
Or diamond splendor of some midnight stat. 

That first in spaikling grandeur awes my eye ; 
Look I on him, who, parted from his age 

By measure like none other of our day, 
Stands like some TeneriSe alone, while rage 

Vain storms, and cast about Us feet their spray. 
For those same laws that placed the peak sublime, 

And move each planet in majestic curve. 
This man hare guided in such noble rhyme 

That from their limit would he never swerve. 
Who lives on manna fallen from the skies 
Must soon or late all other men surprise. 



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148 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 



EMBB80N AS A FOET. 

It was sud of Dawes, tbe astronomei, called tlie 
eagle-eyed, who helped to discover land and water 
on tlie planet Mars, that he was peihaps the most 
ehaip-sighted person that ever used a telescope, 
but was greatly avene to mathematical calculations. 
He therefore left others to work out the problems 
for which he prOTided the material. Emerson like- 
wise was a star-gazer, of the more ancient sort, 
and brought down celestial observations which will 
always be of value, but as he said of himself, he 
was a stranger to reasonii^. He was no stranger 
to that every-day logic which is called common 
sense, and in all practical matters he had the very- 
best judgment, but true constractiTe thinking did 
not belong to him. Architectural skill, the power 
of numbers, of co-ordination, were not among his 
gifts. With the fire, the pathos, the tenderness, 
and, it may also be added, the severity of a Dante, 
he could not have composed a canto of the " Divina 
Commedia." He is famous for his pithy, keen- 
pointed sentences, but he rarely wrote a connected 
symmetrical paragraph, and perhaps never a clear 
comprehensive statement on any subject. In the 
last book that he published ' he evidently attempted 
> 8odet7 and SoUCnde. 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 149 

to improre Ms style in this respect, but only suc- 
ceeded at the espense of his pristin e rigoi and., 
freshness. As one of his friends remarked, Emer- 
son invented rified projectiles in literature long 
before they were used for firearms. 

Every notable man should be considered in re- 
lation to the times in which he lives. This cannot 
be said too often, for it is rather the fashion with 
critics, and even among historians, to measure all 
men by an arbitrary standard of their own ideal 
of human excellence.^ I^ow, the hard doctrines 
of John Calvin, so strengthening to the character 
but 80 narrowing to the intellect, had for nearly two 
centuries been dominant in Kew England. It was 
spiritual faith without spiritual insight. It filled 
men with a tremendous energy, but it blinded them 
to the true perception of things as they are; to 
the fine arts, as well as singing, dancing, and every 
species of merriment. The active conflict with 
Catholicism which was the primal cause of its 
being, had long since come to an end, and Puritan- 
ism having become traditional, was tightening like 
an iron band the minds of Kew England people. 
It seemed as if all future .progress would be cut 
off ; but the American oak was not to be dwarfed 
in that manner. A new sun had arisen in the east, 
bright and warm with the true spirit of intellectual 
humanity. Every importation of foreign books 
brought with it an invoice of fresh and invigorating 
thought. Channing, Emerson, Hawthorne, Long- 

I B«c»iiM BowTson himaelt hu Jodged Cbmu, Goethe, 
and otheis maoh Id this miuiner Is the more immh why it 
abonld be made a point of here. 



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150 MEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

fellow, came ioTward as the champions of a new 
faitli, — of that which has been the soul of every 
faith, a belief in the ideal. Each of them fought 
against FaritaDism in his own way and with 
his own weapons. To Emerson the lot fell to 
break through the chalybeate crust of traditional- 
iem, and let daylight in there again. So he concen- 
trated himself in single sentences as the panther 
concentrates in his spring and the hunter in hift 
single shot. If he had, like Spinoza, written oat 
his thought in more puie and flowing language, he 
might have attained gieatei posthumous fame, but 
he would scarcely have been noticed in hispwn day 

I and generation. It was his moral vehemeno^, united 
with rare perfection of character, that won the 
victory for him. 

Kothing could be more inimical to the formation 
of good verses than a lack of continuity, unless it 
be this epigrammatic concentration, for the one 
interferes with the harmonious movement of the 
poem, and the other prevents that mental flexi- 
bility which is a chief requisite of poetic art. 
Yet Emerson was essentially a poet, probably the 
most poetic nature of his time. He was always 
the same; morning and evening, at home and 
abroad, with friends or with strangers, his con- 
versation like his books was filled with poetic 
thoughts and im^es. " What, are there clocks in 
Newport ?" he said in reference to the somnolent 
forgetful atmosphere of that place as one of them 
struck the midnight hour ; and to a boy who was - 
picking up horse^hestnuts by his gate, " Ah, they 
are apples of Sodom; you can do nothing with 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 151 

ttem." StUl mora Significant w^a }^. ant faropo- ^ 
morphie teait, his facnlty for_ making aU_ thi ngs 
bnmao. Qoetlte is much the best aathority on ^ 
fEese matters, for be not only^ excelled in nearly *• 
ereiy branch of literature, but was equally correct 
as an author and as a critic. It is, he said of 
Eobert Bums, his lirely, cheerful anthropomor- 
phism in which we discover at once the genuine 
poet. The same trait is to be recognized in 
Homer's line : — 

"And thedark wave nwredlondlyuomid the hollow speed- 
ing ship." 

and in Shakespeare : — 

" The daffodil that cornea before the Bwallow daroi 
And takes the winds of March with beanty; 

and Emerson says in " The Sphinx : " — 

" The waves unashamM, 
In difference aweet. 
Play glad with the breezea. 
Old playtellowB meet." 

It also appears in his prose in seateaces like 
this: "An apple-tree is but a stupid creature, yet 
it knows the soil that ie good for it." 

Anthropomorphism can only succeed with such_ 
objects as are familiar to us and possess at the , 
same time an interesting character. Wordsworth 
could homanize a mountain, but not a wash-tub ; 
Burns a field-mouse, bnt not a white rabbit ; Emer- 
son a chickadee, but not a turkey buzzard. It is 
the cheering note and friendly confidence of the 
ehicadee that make him the possible subject 



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152 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

of a poem. And here we may discover the mean- 
ing of this matter, and a pretty deep one it 
is. We find oontinnally in external nature some- 
thing that coTresponds to our own nature and with 
which we feel an involnntaiy sympathy. We 
reflect with awe that there mast be an invisible 
mind without us which is closely related to that 
within. This is the burden of those oldest chron- 
icles of human thought, the Sanscrit hymns. It 
eeems probable that poetry may have aiiseu in 
this maaner, the earliest poets being also priests 
and prophets. In fact, the correlation and conser- 
vation of spiritual forces was discovered by the 
poets centuries before the same principle was 
thought of in chemical physics. Nothing less 
was the old Hellenic imagination that there was a 
demi-god in every river and various kinds of deities 
in the woods and mountains. Thus we find also 
Croethe's statement verified, that it was a poet 
who first made gods for us, who brought them 
down to us and lifted us up to them. A generous 
interest in all things about him, a desire to pene- 
trate to the heart of them, is the special happiness 
of poetic natures, and separates them from that 
larger class who seek only material advantages. 

We must not expect therefore to find Emerson 
either a melodious singer or an elegant master of 
versification. He gave us no songs, no ballads. 
He appears to have cared little for his rhymes, 
and even less about metre. To rhyme hearth 
with worth, and wood with flood is well enough, 
and even gives a pleasant variety to the measure, 
like the change in music from the dominant to the 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 168 

sub-dominant ; but eowl and soul chims but harshly 
together, while pans and romance can scarcely be 
called a rhyme at all. The metres he commonly 
depends on are the eight-syllable couplet of Scott 
and the eight- and six-syllable stanza as in the 
Boston Hymn. These are the metres which school- 
boys resort to when requested to write a composi- 
tion in verse ; but it is also true that a great deal 
of fine poetry has been written, in them. By his 
habit of concentration he frequently abbreviates 
the eight syllables to seven, thus forming a metre 
of his own as in the poem on Art, 

" GiTB to barrowa, trayB, and pans 
Grace and glimmer of romance." 

He might have said, — 

It givea to barrows, traye, and pani 
The grace and glimmer of romance, 

but it would oot have been Emersonian nor so 
dramatic. He also used effectively a short iambic 
or choriambic measure of four or five syllables, but 
this is generally rather irregular. " The Sphinx " 
is a good example of it, and is perfectly sustained 
throughout. The sonnet on Days, the most artistic 
of his poema, is a rare instance of faultless blank 
verse ; and there are certain passages in " The Prob- 
lem," " Wood Notes," and " Voluntaries " which can- 
not be excelled for grace and melody. For the most 
part, however, Emerson's lines remind me of chips 
freshly struck off by the woodsman ; and they have 
that kind of beauty, but often make a rough path 
for tender feet to walk over. In addition to this 
it may be said that of his longer poems only two or 



/ 



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l^ 



154 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

three can be considered a decided success. " Mo- 
nadnoc," " Uriel," " Saadi," " Tlie Adirondacks," 
are, like 'Wordaworth'a " Excursion," dry and inef- 
fective, composed probably in hours of imaginary 
inspiration. " May-Day " and " Threnody " also, 
though they contain some very fine verses, do not 
as a -whole make a strong impression. Brevity is 
the natural child of concentration. 

" Do not quarrel with the form," said Jamo to 
Wilhelm Meister, on loaning him a volnme of 
Shakespeare ; and it is undeniable that the same 
complaints one often hears of Emerson as a poet, 
that hia verse is unpolished, his diction quaint, his 
metaphors strange, and his thought abstruse, would 
apply quite as weU to large portions of the great 
master's plays. It is not easy to comprehend 
" King Lear," and " Troilus and Ciessida " is still 
more difficult. We cannot remind ourselves too 
often that no die however perfect can stamp gold 
coin without pure metal. Macaulay's " Lays of An- 
.cient Eome" are only a fraction of the counterfeits 
current in literature and admired even by persona 
of good taste. Form is itself an ideal and of great 
value, but it must be matched by an equally ideal 
context. The literal translation of Dante's "In- 
ferno" is more poetic and more beautiful than any 
of the metrical ones, and the reason plainly is be- 
cause Dante was more completely a poet than Gary 
or Longfellow. It is ihe same cas&^with Virgil 
and Horace. Genuine poetic- thought^ too often 
replaced by rhetoric or mere sentiment, is rare and 
precioaa. We are glad to recognize it even in 
disguise. 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 155 

Yet it was precisely in his poems that Emerson's 
"thought found at times its free and complete ex- 
pression. Whoever has once felt "the rapture of 
rhyme and metre " knows that it is a most powerful 
solvent. It takes hold of mind and body like new 
wine. It brings with it an atmosphere iu which 
all things acquire fresh color, and the most diverse 
elements become reconciled. It gives clearer in- 
sight, purer thought, and a sense of higher freedom. 
It cuts loose the bonds of conventionality ; pedantry 
And every form of egotism fly from it like mists 
driven by the sun. The cadence of verse affects 
the poet more strongly than his hearers : under its 
influence the mightiest works have been accom- 
plished. And the secret of it lies in this, — in an 
unselfish devotion to the ideal, which always leads 
up to h^h art of some kind (though it may not 
appear in external form). Emerson knew this 
secret; probably he knew it as a boy, and had 
grown up with it as the companion of his lonely 
and contemplative hours, sure to become an open 
secret in due season, as fruit-trees bloom in May. 
It was the stimulus he needed to overcome his 
Jiereditary infirmity, weld his ideas together, and 
make the " hard repellent particles " give place to 
.more tender thought. 

Besides this, a lack of continuity in verse not 
■aaly offends against our sense of perfection, but is 
■a blow aimed at the foundation itself of poetic art. 
Consider what art is for. The painter and sculptor 
seize upon an ideal expression or attitude, and pre- 
serve for us permanently what would otherwise 
vanish in a moment. The poet cannot well do 



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156 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

this; he most follov the ideal through a serieB of 
events or a traio of thought till it reaches its logi- 
cal coQclusioQ. Every poem has its movement likfr 
a musical oompositioa. Whether Emerson was 
conscious of this or not, it is certain that a large 
number of Ms poems possess both unity and con- 
tinuity of a high order, and many of his shorter 
pieces are gems of artistic perfection, while a few 
rise above even this and can only be compared 
with the noblest passages in English and German 
verse. Consider his tribute to Michel Angelo in 
"The Problem:" — 

" The h&tid that rowided Peter's dome, 
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome, 
Wrought In a sad sincerity. 
Himself from God he could not tree ; 
Hebnllded better than be knew ; — 
Tlte ctmsdoQS stone to beauty grew." 

This is in the grand manner. " The hand that 

rounded Peter's dome ! " Did Milton ever writ* 

six better lines ? 

' Emerson's poetry is chiefly of the refleotlve or 

I philosophic order, and only those who have re- 

I fleeted ' disinterestedly, who value thought for its 

' own sake, can be expected to appreciate it. Senti- 

I mentalizing over reform, or young women, or the 

beauties of nature, will not help one to understand 

it ; neither will the calculations of self-interest, or 

other ingenious mental devices. If a work of art 

'What Is called reflection diflets from raaaoninf In being 
mostly a matter of intight. We examine and jndge of tba 
piotoiea in oui own minilB as an art critic does those in a gal- 
lery. There is, however, no dividing line between tbem. 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 15T 

does not give pleasure it fails of its effect, bat the 
fault may lie in the spectator or hearer. Beflectire 
poetry is the most modern form of poetry, and a 
few consetvative critics (as well as a good many 
other persons) decline to recognize it as poetry at 
all. Instead of investigating the true nature of 
poetry, and making that the touchstone of excel- 
lence, they rest their case on an old decision of 
Aristotle that " poetry is an imitative art," — a 
realistic deduction too hastily drawn from the 
Greek drama. They argue that the subject of a 
poem, like that of a picture, should always be some- 
thing concrete ; that the poet should avoid every- 
thing of an abstract nature ; and they point to the 
mischievous effect of philosophical ideas in the 
plays of Schiller and Euripides. Lemcke, Lotze, 
and other German writers on aesthetics, hold a 
different opinion, and a number of Emerson's 
poems have been translated into German; but 
sesthetics as a serious study has not yet penetrated 
to England and America. 

This is not one of Aristotle's best statements, 
though it has a value in the connection in which 
he uses it. All the arts, even music and architec- 
ture, are based ou imitation; but if they were 
nothing mora than this, civilization might have 
perished from lack of nourishment. The artist 
must, like Prometheus, bring down fire from 
heaven if he would give enduring life to bis forms 
of clay. If he acquires for himself a distinct 
spiritual personality it becomes manifest in his 
work. He must become something in order to 1 
create something. This is the subjective element I 



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168 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

in art, frequently in its most striking effects called 
inspiration. It is stiong even in the earliest and 
most objective poets, and still stronger in the 
great masters of modem times. It is what gives 
them style and character. Strictly imitative poetry 
is objective, and necessarily realistic ; but the sub- 
jective and objective are often as closely united to- 
gether as lead and silver in the ore. Plato, who 
was already laying the broad foundations of Chris- 
tian art, distinguished between imitative poetry 
and that which is not, and wished to exclude the 
former from his republic on the ground that it 
filled the minds of men with illusions. This may 
be looked on now as a strong demand for sincerity ; 
but it is likely that Plato noticed the same evil 
effects among the Athenians from too much theatre 
going that result nowadays from reading too many 
novels. Even Shakespeare's plays may prove dele- 
terious for minds unaccustomed to an honest self- 
examination. It is by means of the lesson we 
have learned from Plato that the theatre is now a 
most beneficent instructor of mankind. 

The Satires of Horace certainly are not imitative ; 
nor Petrarch's sonnets and many others that hold 
Iiigh rank in literature. " Ghilde Harold " also is in 
its general tenor a reflective poem. 

Subjective poetry is not always philosophical 
poetry, but it leads naturally thereto. There is no 
exact boundary line between the simplest reflec- 
tion and the most profound thought. Little Jane 
Carlyle's saying, "Wine makes oosy, mother," and 
ithe Cogito ergo sum of Descartes are only extreme 
inks in the great intellectual chain. The mistake 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 159' 

of Schiller and Euripides appears to have been in 
mixing their poetij with philosophical conceptions- 
instead of eztracting the poetry that is to be found 
in philosophy. There are few things connected 
with human life, from the union of the sexes to 
Springfield armory, which have not their poetio 
side ; and the vocation of the poet is always to 
seize upon this and leave everything else, — just 
as we winnow wheat and chaff. There is a fine- 
philosophy in Horace. In Dante and Shakespeare 
also there are many long philosophical passages. 
A demon of the Inferno says, " For it is not pos- 
sible to will a thing and at the same tiiAe repent- 
of it, the contradiction not permitting it. Perhaps 
thou didst not think that I was a logician." Is it 
not its philosophic character that gives " Hamlet" 
the precedence over " Macbeth " and " Othello " ? and 
would not Hamlet's famous soliloquy still be highly 
valuable if the rest of the play were lost and that 
only remained ? Is not " Eaust " a great philosophic 
poem which contains both subjective and imitative 
poetry of every form and shade? "Troilus and 
Cressida" never appears on the stage, but it is 
greatly prized for the discussions that are in it on 
metaphysics and politics. Then there is Words- 
worth's "Ode on Immortality," and Byron's lines 
of similar import commencing: — 

" Betwixt twi> worlds life hovers like a atar." 

In brief, it is no longer possible for a poet to be 
really great unless he is a good deal of a philoso- 
pher likewise, as of old they were sages and 
prophets. It is only the lesser lights that resent 



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160 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

this fact and refuse to believe it. Conoreteness has 
DO doubt aa inestimable virtue ; for we must stand 
on firm unsliaken ground when we take observations 
of the stars ; but is there not quite as much virtue 
in what is abstract and immateiial ? They are re- 
lated to each other as the real and ideal are re- 
lated. Let us return again to Homer, that old art- 
conscience of the Greeks, and see what he thinks 
of it. 

"Sing unto me, Muse, the wrath of Achilles 
Felides," the Iliad begins. The burden of his song 
is not the Trojan war, nor the pathetic fate of 
Hector, but the injustice of Agamemnon and the 
chain of unhappy events resulting from it. Per- 
haps if we were to look closely enough we might 
discover that all ideal art work has a similiar 
nucleus. Is not thought itself an abstraction, — 
SchifF says it is an abstraction of the brain, — and 
has that no value ? In this commercial and scien- 
tific period, when the pursuit of gain and the in- 
vestigation of matter threaten to absorb the whole 
energy of mankind, let us be grateful to one who 
never swerved from his devotion to the ideal, the 
invisible. 

An English critic, whom we always read with 
interest and respect, lays down the rule that poetry 
should be simple, sensuous, and impassioned," ^ and 
proceeds to jui^e Emerson by this standard in 
rather a severe manner. This is the popular 
notion with respect to poetry, and it is true that a 
lai^e nnmbei of the poems which we like best an- 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 161 

flwer to tliis description ; but it does not cover the 
subject. Tested by the logic of identification, we 
see plainly that it applies well enougb to tbe mel- 
odies of Burns and Moore, to " Highland Mary " or 
" Lesbis hath abeamlng eje," 

but not to works of the highest kind like "Farar 
disc Lost" or MoliSre's "Misanthrope." It does 
not describe Emerson certainly, nor any intellectual 
poetry. Life is not altogether simple and sensu- 
ous. It is oftener hard, difficult, and complicated. 
Simplify it as much as possible, and it is still 
more than a match for the brightest men. What 
is civilization but a constant effort to simplify life, 
.and the pond fills up as fast as we can drain it. 
The very worst solecism of the present time is the 
prevalent notion that politics and government are 
such simple matters that any one who reads a 
newspaper can understand them. Let us not intro- 
duce the same error in the republic of letters. 
There are simple truths of great value; others 
are more recondite and require study. It is the 
same in art. Of sensuous poetry there is and 
always has been enough and to spare. Too much 
of it is debilitating. 

Apart from its philosophic quality, and what- 
ever else may have already been said of it, Emer- 
son's poetry is distinguished for its earnestness, 
its depth of feeling, its manliness, and its original- 
ity. That it should be perfectly sincere is a mat- 
ter of course. Art isjihe^refuge^f sincerity fram 
the t^annj^ of trade an d the pro fessions. So 
gnat writer ever was withont that. More than all 
is it remarkable for its ideality. 



:!,q,i,i.:db,.G00^k 



162 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE: 

In tlie union of these qualities be rem&ins nov 
almost alone. We do well to admire the natural 
grace of Longfellow and the more studied elegance 
of Tennyson ; but these are feminine traits, and 
we require masculine ones as well. The oak can 
stand without the ivy, but not the ivy by itself. 
One can barely imagine Tennyson and Longfellow 
as fighting, like jEscbylus, in the battle of Salamis. 
Emerson had not the physique of a hero, hut he 
fairly proved his courage in the anti-slavery con- 
flict, and there are passages of ^schylus which 
sound like his own sentences. He wished his son 
to learn boxing, fencing, and all manly exercises. 
Too much of the fiction and poetry of the nine- 
teenth century has been written for women, and 
especially for young women, Byron was the last 
of the manly vigorous English poets, and yet with 
his incomparable genius he lacks earnestness and 
depth of feeling. There is something in his verses 
which resembles new silver ; too bright and shin- 
ing. They need the toning down that comes from 
hard work, from the attrition of the world. Wo 
are sensible of the man, and the kind of life he led 
behind hia writing. 

The thought of Emerson's temperate, industrious, 
and resolute life is vitalizing. He preached the gos- 
pel of Goethe's three Kings, Wisdom, Beauty, and 
Strength ; and he lived this gospel. His earnest- 
ness is sometimes terrible. He says a thing as if 
he willed it : he speaks of the hero as if he knew 
him, of the eternal laws as if he saw them. Where 
he has set his foot he remains master. Moreover, 
he possesses the rare distinction of a musical toue^ 



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EMERSON AS A POET, 163 

— a tone like that from an .^k>liaa harp, by turns 
veiid, tender, penetrating, and resonant. Those 
jxovr living vho are so fortunate as to have heard 
his voice will recognize what is meant by this ; bat 
an attentive ear may detect it also in his Terse. I 
think it can be heard plainly in the opening pas- 
sage of " Voluntaries " which was Emerson's best 
contribution to the civil war period. 

" Low and mournful be the stnUn, 

Haughty tliouglit be far from me; 
Tones of penitence and pain, 

Hoanings of the tropic sea; 
Low and tender in tbe cell 

Wbere a captive sits in chains. 
Crooning ditties treasured well 

From his Afric's torrid plains. 
Sole estate his sire bequeathed, — 

Hapless sire to hapless son, — 
Waa the wailing song be breathed, 

And hig chaia when life was done." 

Certainly there is more music here than such 
simple versification can account for. Its peculiar 
harmony arises no doubt from the author's style, 
from the careful selection and disposition of his 
words. To those who can hear it there is no more 
enchanting strain. One other American genins 
was endowed with a similar gift. In Webster's 
orations there is often an undertone like the roll 
of distant thunder. 

The nineteenth century has not been favorable 
for the production of great works of art. 

It is commonly called an age of progress, but 
to the artistic mind it seems more like an ^e of 



D,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



164 HEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

confoaioo. It is really an eta of religious and 
political reorganization. Wbeu that has been ac- 
complished, we shall move forward again. All 
historical periods consider themselves i^es of 
progress, bat whether they are so or not is de- 
termined afterwards. Possibly the Goths and 
Vandals, when they overran the Boman empire, 
thought they were making very fine progress; 
whereas they went to their own destruction. Tall 
trees do not grow in windy places. " Paradise 
Lost " is the last of the epics, and some think it the 
last that ever will be. Tennyson's tragedies have 
not been found satisfactory, and his legends of the 
knights of King Arthur, though more poetic, rep- 
resent a period too far removed from the author's 
own. If art is to be enduring, it most be based on 
a radical study of its subject ; but in this case such 
study is no longer possible. Place Tennyson's 
"Idyls" beside the German " Hibelungen " or 
the best old English ballads, and they seem unresd 
and fastidious. "Hiawatha," too, is in truth a 
sylvan sort of Longfellow, and no red Indian at 
alL One must live among the aborigines in order 
to know them. It is from these and similar works 
that the mischievous notion has arisen that poetry 
does not represent actual life, but something fanci- 
ful and altogether different. 

Keither are there great works in punting, 
sculpture, or architecture. Classical music is 
an exception; and so is Garlyle's prose epic of 
the French Bevolution, really of much more value 
than some of the metrical ones. Emerson may 
not have equalled that, — for Carlyle is one of the 



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EMERSON AS A POET. 166 

giants of liistory, — bat his literary w(»k, taken as 
a whole, most be eonsidered a great one, and in 1 
parts he is not only great but a match for the ' 
greatest. The true grandeur of poetry is found i 
nowhere more plainly than in the sonnets on 
"Days" and "Character." 

" Tlie Btin Mt, bat set not his bope; 
SUrs roBe; bis laltta was earlier up; 
Fixed on the enormous galaxy, 
Deeper and older seemed Ua eys; 
And matched bis snSerance snblime 
The tacltuTDit; of time." 

What a glorious picture is this I a portrait 
worthy of Bishop Latimer or John Brown. 
We hare seen It too, — some time-worn, venera- 
ble man looking silently at the stars as if they, 
and they alone, were eonseious of his thought and 
motive. "Deeper and older seemed his eye" 
shows imagination of the nobler sort ; and we do 
not notice the faulty rhymes so strong is the cur- 
rent that carries us along. There are many great 
pasSE^es in " Voluntaries ; " but the best of them 
is that wherein he speaks of his young friends who 
Aolisted for the war, who — 

" Break sharply off their jolly games. 
Forsake their comrades gay. 
And leave bright liomes and hlgh-boni damrn. 
For famine, toil, and fray." 

Then follow the already famous lines : — 

" So dose Is gnndenr to ont dait, 
So neu I* Qod to man, 
Whan Dot; whispers lew, ffUm tmUt, 
The yonth re^tea, I eon." 



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166 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TURE, 

This is probably the finest ^natraiii in the 
Anglo-American tongue. At least I cannot now 
think of another that equals it, and it is difficult 
to imagine how anything could surpass it. What 
is more rare than this perfect union of grandeor 
and simplicity ? It has the grace and purity 
of Gray, but also what Gray apparently never 
dreamed of, the sublimity of ^schylus or Goethe. 
In form it is classic, but the thought is eminently 
modem. Emerson says in an essay, " The discov- 
ery of the correlation and conservation of forces 
brings us very near to God," — a parallel state- 
ment, and in itself a discovery equal to the other. 
\But the crowning glor y of^th^jverse is its beauti- 
I fullmmility. 

Another fine passage is his description of Crom- 
' well, — an heroic subject well suited to him : — 

" He works, plots, ^hts in rude affaira. 
With aqoires, lords, Idnga, liis craft comparaa, 
Till late he learned, tliroogb doubt and fear. 
Broad Bngland harbored not his peer : 
Obeying Time, the last to own 
The genioB on his cloudy throne." 

This is a grand climax ; but the last four lines of 
the poem are an anti-climax and might have been 
replaced by something better. 

Ifeither is he wanting in beautifully musical 
passages, — as in this quatrain from "Wood 
Notes : " — 

" Thou canst not wave thy stafF in ait. 
Or dip thy paddle in the lake. 
But it carves the bow of heaaty there. 
And ripples in rhymes the oar forsake." 



Diqiiii^dbyGbogle 



EMERSON AS A POET. 167 

And again : — 

" When the forest Bludl mislead me, 
When the night and morning lie, 
When sea and land refiise to feed me, 
'Twill be time enough to die; 
Then will yet mj mother yield 
A piUow in her greenest field, 
Nor the Jane flowers sconi to corer 
The clay of their departed lover." 

These extracts are so far from being exceptional 
tliat any true lover of Emerson can easily recollect 
a, dozen or more like them. That we remember 
them without an effort, or even intending to do so, 
is a signal proof of their power and perfection. 
If a collection could be made of American poetry 
in which only such pieces were included as might 
be compared to gold coinage twenty-two oatat fine, 
I believe that even in number Emerson's poems 
would hold the first rauk. He became a better 
critic of his verses as he ripened in years, and there 
is little in his second volume which has not intrin- 
sic value. To appreciate them one must be high- 
minded and have a clear sense of the ideal 



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168 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 



A. FOETIQ ACTOBIOQBAPHT. 

EvBBT good writer paints a portrait of himself ; 
and the more unconscious he is of this the more 
perfect will be the picture he delineates. Yet, 
among poets at least, very few have evet giren an 
account of themselves, either direct or indirect. 
Shakespeare concealed himself so perfectly behind 
his work that he has long since become a mTthieal 
personage. All that we know of him is that he 
read Plato, Plutarch, and some other good books. 
From the plays of Moli^re and Schiller, who come 
next to him as dramatists, we can only leaiu that 
they were observing, reflective, and practical men. 
In the present century, however, there have lived 
three conspicuous poets who have left us a pretty 
clear account of themselves; not certainly in a 
direct narrative, but by such indications as we fol- 
low a path in the forest, or a trail up the side of a 
mountain. Where Byron went, what he saw, and 
what he thought about it, as well as his love affairs, 
his hatred and quarrels, are plainly evident to us. 
Of Wordsworth we know the kind of life he lived, 
the lakes and old ruins that he frequented, the 
character of his companions, and many other mat- 
ters. We may add to these an American writer 
whose resolute and independent attitude towards 



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A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 169 

the public has oftea found a reflection in his prose 
and verse. 

There is extant an early poem of Emerson's in 
which he laments the frail physique which he has 
inherited from his ancestors, and considers whether 
he had better under such conditions attempt a 
public career, but finally decides that a bold course 
is the best one, and that be will, if need be, " die 
for fame, a glorious martyr." The ambition which 
this shows is the more remarkable because his 
friends never could be sure whether the trans- 
parent man cared for his celebrity or not. About 
this time Elizur Wright, afterwards the founder of 
American life-insurance, travelled with him in a 
stage from Fitchbuig to Groton, and discovered 
him to be a most agreeable companion, but so 
fragile-looking that it seemed impossible that he 
should live many years. It is likely that his 
ambition saved him and carried him through his 
long career. 

"The Sphinx "has often proved a barrier to those 
who wish to know what Emerson's poetry was like. 
It deserves, however, the first place in the volume ; 
for he who cannot understand it will never compre- 
hend Emerson. Considered abstractly it is the same 
subject that was treated dramatically in "Faust" 
and in " The Marble Faun " — the question of man's 
moral nature, the problem of good and evil. The 
solution in each case is the same, that man's moral 
nature can only be developed through experience 
of sin, and that the expulsion from Paradise was 
properly a rise in life. It says in " The Sphinx : " — 



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170 REAL AND WEAL IN LITERATURE. 

"Tbe fiend that man lurries 

Is loTS of the Beat; 
Tawns tha pit of Qxe Dngon, 

Lit by rays from the BlMt. 
The Lethe of Nature 

Can't trance lilm again, 
Whose Boul aeeka the perfect. 

Which his eyes seek in vain." 

And yet neitlier of them has explained why one 
man is regenerated by Binning, and another is de- 
graded by it; while Lucretia Borgia became an 
ezemplaiy wife and mother, Kero turned into a 
human tiger. Much would seem to depend on the 
nature of the indlTidual. " The Sphinx " is not an 
inspired work of genius like " The Problem," but it 
is graceful, artistic, and well sustained throi^hout. 
The four lines: — 

" Had I a lorer 

Who was noble and tree. 
Would be were not)ler 
Than to lore me," 

deserve an eqaal celebrity with Goethe's noted 
expression for generosity: "True, if I lore you, 
what is that to you ! " 

As he deals in " The Sphinx " with the genesis of 
evil, in " Each and All " be considers the inequality 
of human conditions. He evidently needed to settle 
these two weighty questions for himself before 
plunging into active life. 

" The Problem " and his Divinity School address 
in 1838 are what made Emerson famous. It com- 
bines the breadth and eloquence of Byron with the 
ethical purity of Milton. It is remarkable for the 



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A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 171 

grandeur of its figures, and almost every line of it 
has been quoted again and again. It marks the 
taming-point in the writer's life. His mind is 
fully made up. He will cruise no longer in the 
narrow channels and fog-banks in which he was 
educated, and sails forth bravely upon the high 
seas. He has resolved the problem of his own 
life. He finds that an artistic career is the only 
one which will permit him sufficient fieedom of 
thought and action. He respects religions observ- 
ances, but he perceives the immanence of God jnst 
38 clearly in nature and in those works of high art 
which most resemble nature. 

" Enow'Bt tbon what wove yon woodbtRl'a neat 
Of leaves, and feathers from her breaat ? 
Or how the fish outbuilt her eheU, 
Painting with morn each annual cell ? 
Or how tbe sacred pine-tree adds 
To her old leaves new myriads ? 
Such and so grew these holy piles. 
Whilst love and terror laid the tllei. 
Earth proodly wears the Parthenon, 
As the best gem npon her iwne, 
And Uoniing opes with haste her lids 
To g»ze opon the Pyramids; 



These temples grew as grows the giaw; 

Art might otiey, but not surpass. 

The passive master lent his hand 

To the vast Honl that o'er him planned; 

And the same power that reared the shrine 

Bestrode the tribes that knelt within." 

This came to the thirsty souls of that time, 
wearied with dry formalism, like the proclama- 
tion of a higher spiritual life. It was the word that 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



172 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

needed to be said, and believers of every seet and 
denominatioa are better for it to-day. 

After " The Problem " come a nnmber of poems — 
"Khea," " Uriel," "Alphonao of CaatUe," " Destiny," 
" Guy," and others, which indicate little or nothing 
to ns, and if published at all ought to have been 
placed at the close of the volume. No wonder that 
Matthew Arnold and other critics have condemned 
Emerson's verses, since they found such a mass 
of dead wood between them and what was really 
excellent. In " The World-Soul " he expresses bis 
dislike of ci^ life and the follies and vices engen- 
dered by it. The first stanza of it is fine and spir- 
ited. " The Visit " leads one to suspect that he was 
much troubled at this time, as he was also after- 
wards, by idle persons who wished to consult him 
in regard to the condition of their souls. 

" Aakwt hov long thou ghAlt aU;, 
Devaatstair of the da; ? " 

Latterly he used to turn these people over to his 
friend, Bronaon Aloott 

The next poem of importance is called " Good- 
bye," and celebrates his return to Concord, the 
home of his ancestors. He has descended from 
the pulpit, and given up a profession which he felt 
nnsuited to him. Every line of it is spirited, and 
Uie whole is a perfect gem. 

«Oood-by« to FlatterT's fawning fUe; 
To Onndenr with his wise grinuoe; 
To npstait Wealth's averted eye; 
To simple Offlce, low and high. 



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A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 17a 

I un going to my own heartb-atone, 
Boaomed in yon green hills aJone, — 
A secret nook in a pleasant land. 
Whose groves tbe frolic fairies planiud; 
Where arches gceeo, the livelong day. 
Echo the blackbird's roundelay, 
And Tulgar feet have never trod 
A spot that Is Bacred to thooi^t and God." 

Walking across his little farm in Concord he 
feels acoDScious pride in the possession of thesoil, 
but the thought occurs to him, "In the end also 
the earth will own me." Upon this hint he writes 
"Hamathreya" and "The Earth Song." "TheEho- 
dora," "The Titmouse," "The Snowstorm," and es- 
pecially "The Humble Bee," are tbe most genuine 
of American poetry, for they could not have been 
written elsewhere. There was formerly a dark 
pool of water at the edge of the woods on the way 
from his house to Walden Fond, where the rhodora 
grew. An eminent critic has called " The Humble 
Bee" the finest of its kind in any language. 

To bathe in WaMen on a summer afternoon, and 
read Emerson's " Wood Kotes " under the pine-trees, 
is one of the luxuries of life. It is the best of all his 
longer pieces, and very interesting from tbe insight 
it gives us into bis views and opinions at that time. 
The proper way to look at Emerson's naturalism 
is as a protest and reaction f^aiost the stilted con- 
ventionality of the day. Kever since the Norman 
Conquest had the artistic sense of the Saxon race 
been at so low an ebb as from 1815 to 1850. This 
is indicated plainly enough by the public buildings 
of that period, which are made as nearly as possible 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



174 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

like prisons, a symbol perhaps of the mental con- 
dition of mankind. Of all the arts archltectnre is 
most dependent on an enlightened patronage. We 
discorer from Hawthorne's Diary how barren and 
insipid was the social life of Boston and the 
smaller cities. What enjoyment is there in snch 
a case for a noble mind except in the beauty of 
nature, in the wild flowers, the songs of the birds, 
the stateliness of trees, the graceful lines of rireis, 
and the glory of the sunset ? 
" The World-Soul " begins : — 

"Thanks to the morning light, 
Thanks to the foaming sea, 
To the nplandB of New Hampahlre, 
To the green-hatred forest free." 

Man is often false, but nature is always true : 
ier laws are immutable, and we have to return 
again and again to the " foaming sea " and the 
" green-haired forest " to correct ourselves morally 
and repair ourselves physically. At the same 
rtime we should recollect that the tornado, and the 
rattlesnake, and malaria are also products of na- 
ture, and that even blue Walden is a dismal place 
in an easterly storm. One cannot live wholly on 
admiration: after a while we feel the need of 
action, and that brings us back to the haunts and 
ways of out fellowmen. To live according to 
nature, in the way Thoreau attempted it, would 
ultimately make savages of us again. Emersou 
was too sensible to imitate his friend in this 
respect, and in his mature years he came to the 
^conclusion that an isolated life was bad for any 



b,GoogIe 



A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 175 

one, but especiallj for women. At this time, how- 
ever, he sympathized theoretically with Thorean, 
as the following passage from "Wood Kotes" 
clearly indicates : — 

"The rough and b«srded foresCer 

Is better thao the lord; 
God fills the acrip and canister, 

Sin piles the loaded board. 
The lord is the peasant that WM, 

The peasant the lard that shall be; 
The lord is hay, the peasant grass. 

One dry, and one the liTing tree." 

" What prizes the town and the tower ? 
Only what the pine-tree yields ; 
Sinew that subdued the fields." 



" He shall be happy whilst he wooes, 
Hnse-bom, a daughter of the Muse. 
But if with gold she bind her hair, 
And deck her breast with diamond, 
Take off thine eyes, thy heart forbear, 
Though thoti lie alone on the ground." 

This falls little shott of French communism 
which took shape soon afterward la the celebrated 
Brook Farm experiment. It does not jar apon 
UB here, because we all feel so more or less in oar 
youth when camping in the Adirondacks, or hunt- 
ing on the great plains. 

A la^e portion of " "Wood Notes " is devoted to 
Thoreau and his solitary pilgrimage in the forests 
of Maine. He is the only one of Emerson's friends . 
who enjoyed such an honor. 

" And sncti I knew, a forest seer, 
A minstrel of the natural year. 
Foreteller of the vernal ides. 
Wise baAiDger of spheres and tides, 



Diqiiii^dbyGoogle 



176 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

A loTor trae, who knew by beart 

Each joy the mountain dales impart; 

It seemed tbat Natnre could not niee 

A plant in any secret place, 

But he would come in the very hour 

It opened in its virgin bower, 

Ab if a aunbeam showed the place, — 

And tell Its long-descended r&ce." 

"Through these green tents, by eldest natnie drsssad. 
He roamed, content alike with man and beast. 
Where darkness fonmd him he lay glad at night; 
There the red morning touched him with its ll^t. 
Three moons his great heart bim a hermit made. 
So long he lOTed at will the boundless shade." 

Thoreaa deserved this ; for thoagh lie waa nei- 
ther a naturalist nor a poet, he was a character. 
His ideal in life was a mistaken one, but he lived 
np to it as few men ever do. His brave and elo- 
quent address in behalf of John Brown in 1859 
proved the stuS he was made of. In the last part 
of this poem may be found also the only confession 
of faith that its author ever seems to have made. 
He believes in Crod as "conscious law," that 

" Ever fresh the broad creation, 
A divine improvisation. 
From the heart of Crod proceed!, 
A single will, a million deeds." 
And — 

" The world is the ring of hit spdla. 
And the play of hi* minclea." 



Finally - 



" He is the axis of the star; 
He is the sparkle ol the spar; 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 177 

He is the heut of every ereatore; 

He ia tbe mesniDg ol eMh feature; 

And his mind Is tbe sky. 

Than all It holda more deep, more high." 

In brief, be is tbe idea of everytbing. Emerson 
baa often been called a pantbeist ; but tbis is not 
tbe pantheism of Spinoza and l^heophilas Parsons, 
wbo concluded that since even God could not make 
something oat of nothing, he must have made tbe 
oniTerse out of bimself. ITeither is it like the 
Qieek pantheism whicb diBcovered a god in erery- 
tbing; for Emerson always held fast to tbe divine 
Qiiitj. It is of a similar strain with Pope's coup- 
let:— 

"We are all parts of one Btnpendoua whole, 
Whoae body nature is, and God tbe soul." 

Tet we never hear of Pope as a pantheist. 
" Monadnoc " is not what it might have been, 
but there are good passages in it. 



is a lively expression for tbe exultation we feel 
npon setting out for our summer campaign. The 
mountain is in full view from the hills about 
Walden; and Emerson was tempted to visit it 
sometimes for solitude, and sometimes to enjoy 
better the society of a friend. The fable of the 
" Mountain and the Squirrel " perhaps occurred to 
him on one of these excursions. It is well worthy 
.Xsop or La Fontaine, and strange to say, the only 
fable, as far as I know, ever written in English. 



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178 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TURE. 

Thoreau again ifl tbe subject of " Forbearance."' 
The line — 

" He wbo lu3 nuned the birds without a gun," 

evidently refers to him. The attachment betveem 
those two men who seemed so strange to their fel- 
low townsmen must hare been a very strong ong. 
It was sadly interfered with afterwards by the at- 
tack on Thoreau in Lowell's " Fable for Critics,"' 
for which Emerson never quite forgave Lowell, It 
caused Thoieau to avoid his society, and in I860' 
Emerson complained that he saw little of him. 

"Thine Eyes still shine for me," it is natural 
to presume, was written while he was engaged to- 
Miss Lidioi Jackson, who had very blight, keen 
eyes. In " Threnody " he laments the death of his 
eldest boy. It has an archaic simplicity, something 
like Hesiod, and it is the only one of Emerson's 
poems which contains much pathos. 

The year 1846 marks an epoch in the politics of 
America, The era of Clay, Webster, and Galhouu 
went out, and the era of Seward, Sumner, and Lin- 
coln came in. Emerson was not one of the early 
abolitionists. His conciliatory nature and dislike 
o^ controversy were enough to account for this ; 
but to a mind which was almost pure ethics, there 
could be no hesitation as to which side of the 
slavery question he ought to range himself on. 
President Folk's invasion of Mexico aroused all 
thinking and feeling people to the great peril 
which menaced the republic. Rev. Dr. Channing 
sounded the alarm from his pulpit, and urged 
Emerson to come forward also and take the field.. 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 179 

To this Emerson replied in an ode so full of pith, 
sense, and concentrated iovective that it may be 
fairly said to stand alone. 

" WLftt boots th; zeal, 
O glowing friend, 
Tliat would indignant rend 
The nortliland from the Sontb P 
Wherefore ? to what good end P 
Boston Bay and Bunker Hill 
Would Berre things still ; — 
Things are of the snake." 

This is a tmly original a^nment against the 
dissolatioQ of the Union. 

" Virtue falters ; lUght \a hence ; 
Freedom praised, bat hid; 
Funeral eloqnence 
Battles the coffin-lid." 

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave bill, he 
lelt that the time had come for him to act, and 
made a number of speeches in aid of the Free Soil 
party. One of them was delivered at Cambridge- 
port, and a body of Southern students from Har- 
vard College attended it for the purpose of mob- 
bing him; but they were so much impressed by 
his calmness, dignity, and intrepid courage, that 
after making some slight disturbance, they settled 
quietly in theii seats, and went peaceably home — 
a conclasiOD very creditable to all concerned. 

He seems somehow to have missed in John 
Brown of Harper's Ferry the best subject that he 
ever had, or eould have had. Brown waa a verita- 
ble Samson Agonistes, and perhaps only one of the 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



180 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

epic Titans of literature coald deal with him. He 
Tiaited Concord during the winter of 1867, and 
then Emerson recognized for the first; and last time 
in his life a stronger personality than his own. 
In this or the following year the people of Concord 
invited Emerson to write a Fourth of July ode for 
them. This he did, but included in it a serious 
wamii^ : — 

" Be jut U home, then write your acroll 

Of honor o'er the sea ; 
And bid the broad Atlantic roll 

A ferry of the free." 

The Atlantic Jtfonthltf, from 1856 to 1864, edited 
hy Lowell, and with Agassiz, Holmes, Whittier, 
Emerson, Longfellow, as contributora, was a peri- 
odical of which any nation might justly be proud. 
Whom have we now to replace such men, and when 
shall we see their like again ? With Hunt the 
artist, and a few other friends, they formed a Sat- 
urday dinner club which they called after the title 
of their magazine. In the summer of 1858 they 
all decided to go to the Adirondacks. ConsideriBg 
the number of guns they carried, it was certainly 
fortunate that they all came home alive. I never 
heard that they killed many deer, but one can easily 
imagine what a glorious summer Uiey made of it. 
Emerson has left us a memorial of the expeditioa 
in a journal in blank verse which is more interest- 
ing on this account than for anything it contuns. 

Much the best of his Atlantic poems, and as it 
seems to me the best he ever wrote, is the " Song of 
Xatnre." To appreciate it we must recollect that it 
is not Emerson, but Xature, that is speaking. She 



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A POETIC AUTOBIOQRAPHY. 181 

s with herself over the great things she 
has accomplished, but laments at the end that she 
has never created a man in whom is fulfilled the 
promise of the child. 

" Bnt be, the man-child Morions, — 

Where buries he the while ? 

The nUnbow sbines hia harbingei. 

The sunset BleamB his smile. 

Unst time and tide forever run P 
Will never my winds go sleep in the west f 

Will never my wheels which whirl the sun 
And satellites have rest ? " 

This is the counterpart of Michel Angelo's 
fresco of the Ancestors of Christ. Every verse in 
the poem is perfect and linked closely to the 
succeeding one so that the whole forms a series 
of grand pictures much like those in the Sistine 
Chapel. There is a cadence through it like the 
roar of a cataract; it is a conception of the 
universe. 

Still grander, were it wholly original with Emer- 
son, is the poem called "Brahma." Nothing except 
transcendentalism was ever made so much fun of 
as this when it first appeared, and for a very good 
reason. It is in itself the foundation of all tran* 
scendentalism. Those easily amused people who 
ridiculed "Brahma" probably were not aware that 
it was a nearly literal translation from the Sanscrit 
Vedas, those earliest records of human speech, in 
which thought, poetry, and religion are one. 
]^either is it likely that if they had been asked 
what a traoBceudentalist was, they could have 



db,GoogIe 



182 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

given an intelligible answer. What is transcen- 
dentalism ? It is the consciousness or perception 
of a mind or spiritual entity, something different 
from matter in man, and of a great spirit, or univer- 
sal mind outside of man ; or in more common lan- 
guage, a perception that there is a soul in man, and 
God in the universe. It differs from religious faith 
or belief as the discovery of a truth differs from 
the knowledge of it. One is philosophy ; the other, 
theology. Many of the Vedic sages were transcen- 
dentalists ; so were the twelve disciples of Christ ; 
and Socrates and Plato, and Shakespeare and 
Goethe. There is nothing to prevent a transceu- 
dentaiist from being a Christian, or a Christian 
from being a transcendentalist ; but those vho care 
more for the form than for the spirit in which a 
thing is done are not willing to admit this. 

The "Boston Hymn " was recited by Emerson in 
the Boston Music Hall, Jan. 1, 1863, almost at the 
same moment that President Lincoln issued his 
proclamation of emancipation. 

When he came to the stanza, 

' ' Pay ransom to the owner. 
And ail the bag to the brim. 
Who is the owner ? The slave is owner 
And ever was. Pa; him," 

he spoka the last verse with such emphasis that the 
whole audience were startled by it. I can see him 
now. It was not a hymn that could be set to music 
— full of rough, grand sentences which would seem 
to have been struck out with an axe. Its politics 
remind us of " Wood Notes," and are, to say the 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 183 

least, rather proTincial, but in this they agree with 
the colonial period be describes. This same winter 
he went to Washington to lecture, ajid called upon 
Lincoln, of whom he always spoke af terwaids with 
great respect. 

"Voluntaries," evidently taken from volanteer, 
is another contribution to the war period, and 
stands next in merit to " The Problem " and the 
" Song of Nature." Tbere is great comfort in it. 
How tenderly beautiful are the lines : — 

" O, well for tbe fortnnate soul 
Wtiom Hiuic's wings Infold, 
Stealing awa; the memory 
Of sorrow, new and old I" 

They probably refer to tbe Jubilee concert on 
the first of January, and bring us face to faoewith 
a very strange fact. Emerson, like the great mor- 
jority of poets, cared little or nothing for muaio. 
This is the more surprising when we consider that 
the art of poetry is baaed on melody, and in extreme 
cases can scarcely be distinguished from it. Else- 
where be says, " Music casts on mortals its beauti- 
ful disdain." Bat those who are so fortunate as to 
enjoy good music, find in it a helpful and sustain- 
ing friend. In "Voluntaries" he complains, as 
was the fashion of those days, that our earlier 
statesmen, by recognizing the right to hold slaves 
under the Constitution, brought upon us the horrors 
of tbe civil war. This is not quite just to those 
great men ; for if we consider it, what would have 
happened if there had been no national govern- 
ment ? There can be no doubt that slavery would 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



184 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

still be fionrisMng in alarge portion of the country. 
It was only throogh the Constitution that slavery 
was finally abolished ; and any one who examines 
the history of that period will see plainly that the 
agitation of so nwmentous a side issue would have 
wrecked the whole undertaking. The sovereign 
will of the people was opposed to forming a national 
government, and the project was carried through 
only by the strenuous exertions of far-sighted and 
patriotic men. 

After the war came rest, peace, the happy mar- 
riage of his daughter, and such celebrity as does 
not often fall to the lot of those who deserve it. 
An English traveller who was present at a dinner 
of the Harvard Alumni, said in his remarks, " When 
I return home I shall be asked two questions, ' Have 
I seen Ni^aia?' and 'Have I met Emeraon?"* 
Even the highest praise does not weigh heavily 
where it is well deserved. The Concord sage had 
long since known his own value, and with the same 
courageous humility which had carried him through 
the severest trials, he returned to his books, his 
writing, and his woodland walks. He wrote " May- 
Day," and published it in a fresh volume of poetry 
which was much better received than the former 
one. Compared with " Wood Notes " and other 
pieces, "May-Day" is like a water-color landscape, 
full of delicate tints and fine aerial effects. I think 
there are glimpses in it of a place where his daugh- 
terand other maidens of Concord used to go to cele- 
brate the day. There are exquisite passages in it, 
one of which has been commended by Matthew 
Arnold for its rare grace and purity. 



3,q;i,i.:db,GoogIe 



A POETIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 185 

" Sea-Shore " is a reminiscence of Gape Ann. 
One of Ms critics called it TenQysoaian, and it is 
true that the style is somewhat different from bis 
usual Tcin. When his young friends informed faim 
of this he remarked, " It is not Tennysonian but 
Pigeon Covean," and then told them how he hap- 
pened to compose it. He was resting on the rocks 
at Pigeon Cove one afternoon, and not to wa^te his 
time, took note of the objects about him ; after- 
wards he noticed that with some slight changes 
they would form a poem. " The Titmouse " is also 
said to have been a personal experience ; and the 
last line, " Paean 1 veni, vidi, viei," spoken rapidly 
is supposed to represent the short song of the 
chickadee. 

"Rubies," "Days," "Politics," "Heroism," 
"Character," "Freedom," and Culture," poems on 
abstract subjects, are all manly, vigorous, and origi- 
nal. They have a purifying and strengthening 
effect on the reader. " Politics " especially is like 
a dose of moral iron ; and "Freedom " might have 
served as an antidote to the Fourth of July orations 
of former days. It should be taught in the public 
schools as an after-piece to the national Constitu- 
tion, He says, — 

" Speak It not, or speak it low." 

Whether the " Ode to Friendship " was addressed 
to any particular person is uucerain. Who can be 
the subject of these impassioned lines : — 

" O friend, my bosom said, 
Tbrougb tbee alone the akj is arcbad, 
Tbiougb tbee tbe roee ia red," 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



186 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

except that nigged old human Toloano, Thomas 
Carlyle. Despite their many differences of opinion, 
there was no other man for whom he cared so 
much, or perhaps felt was really his equal. A 
man named Holmes, who served under John 
Brown in the Kansas fights, once carried this 
poem to the top of Pike's Peak and read it alond 
there to the anow-clad summits. 

Finally old age comes upon him, and with char- 
acteristic calmness he writes "Terminus," a fittii^ 
consummation of a glorious life. 

" A3 the bird trimu her to the giJe, 

I trim myself to the Btonn of time, 
I mui the mdder, reef the sai), 

Obey tbe voice at eve obeyed at prime ; 
Lowly (ftltliful, banish tear, 

lUght onward drive nnhamied; 
The port, well worth the cmise, la near, 

And every wave la charmed." 



db,GoogIe 



MULLER AND WHITNEY. 



TEE Mt^LLER AND WHITNEY GONTBOTBBST. 

[Note. Hy ezciue for bringing thiB subject before tbe 
public now is that it bas never been properly considered 
before. Not long since I made inquiries among professors 
and other learned men in regard to it, and fotmd, to mj 
Burpriae, tbat tbey either knew notblng abont the matter, 
or were decidedly of tbe opinion that Prof. Whitney was 
in tbe ri^t and Frof. Miiller in tbe wrong. One of these 
went BO far as to call Max Muller a tricky fellow, while 
scTcral regretted the acrimonious manner with which 
Prof. Whitney bad conducted bis side of the contro- 
versy. I decided, therefore, to examine into tbe case my- 
self, which I accordingly did, with the result which is here 
given.] 

Thebe can be no greater miBtake than to supi>03e 
it takes two to make a quarrel, or eyen a contro- 
versy, and of this the case now before ns is a suffi- 
cient example. When Prof. Max MUller's lectures 
on the Science of Language were first published 
they carried the Ai^lo-Saxon public by stotm. 
Only the more scholarly class were already aware 
of the existence of such a science, and among those 
only a very few had more than a vague and nebu- 
lous idea of its general scope and bearings. Prof. 
Miiller was remarkably fortunate in his exposition 
of the subject. His book was written in clear, 
vivid, and copious English, such as is most likely 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



188 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE, 

to sustain the interest of the reader. Its popular- 
style may be attributed rather to the native fresh- 
ness and vigor of the author's mind than to any 
conscious desire to please bis hearers. It read 
like a good novel. It was the history of civiliza- 
tion viewed from a fresb staJidpoint, projected, as 
it were, upon human speech; and not only fine 
scholars, but those who knew little of foreign lan- 
guages, could find profit and satisfaction in it- 
A-bout two years later another book appeared ou 
uearly the same subject, by Prof. W. D. Whitney 
of Yale College, written in the dry and argumen- 
tative manner of an attorney who was pleading a 
case in court, a most unsuitable style for either 
literary or scientific writing. The book, however^ 
contained much that was new and interesting^ 
especially in regard to languages of the North 
American savages, and was otherwise remarkable 
for its similarity to Prof. Mailer's work in some 
parts and for the inimical manner in which his- 
Opinions and statements were contradicted in 
others. The ethical tone of the book is of a low 
quality. 

Prof. Mailer made no reply to this attack, and 
Prof. Whitney continued his assaults through a 
series of years in the North American, Review and 
other magazines. This part of the controversy is 
very dif&cult to follow, scattered as it is through a 
number of periodicals, nor does it seem to be im- 
portant that we should follow it. It does not 
differ in essential character from what is to be 
found in Prof. Whitney's book, and now that the 
case has been dismissed from court, it is not likely 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



MiJLLER AND WHITNEY. 18& 

to hare the dust shaken from it ag^n. What has 
been published in book form is of more importance, 
for it is still studied by mciny, and exercises a 
certain influence on public opinion. Prof. Whit- 
ney's chief objections to Piof. Mfltler are, in regard 
to the power of creating neir words ; in regard to 
the so-^ed Turanian group of languages ; whether 
we are able to think without the use of words ; and 
in regard to the origin of human speech. The dif- 
ference between these renowned philologists would 
seem to be largely owing to the difference of their 
philosophical training. Prof. MdUer was educated 
in the metaphysics of his native country, while 
Prof. Whitney belongs to the Scotch-English school 
of Locke and Beid. Now, the outcome of German 
philosophy is to consider the individual as a frac- 
tional part of the human race to which he is bound 
socially and politically by inseparable ties; and 
the outcome of Locke's philosophy considers the 
individual as a unit whose self-will is only limited 
by its interference with the will of others. From 
another point of riew it is indeterminism against 
determinism, or the universal versus the particular. 
If we bear this continually in mind, the subject 
before us becomes more intelligible. 

THB FOBHATIOH OF NEW WORDS. 

This is, as every one will recognize, an ezt^nsiTe 
snbject, and Prof. MuUer devotes considerable space 
to it 

Id the beginniug he says, — 

Ahhongh there la a eoationoiu chaage in langtuge, it [» 
not in the power of nan either to produce or to prevent It.. 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



190 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TVRB. 

We ml^t tbink at well of chuiglDg tbe Uwa which coDtrol 
the circulation of our blood, or of adding an Inch to our 
height, as of altering the laws of speech or inventing new 
wordi according to our pleasure. 

He then supports and illuBtrates his meaning hj 
two anecdotes: one of a German Emperor who 
vainly attempted to set himself above the rules of 
grammar ; and the other of a Boman grammarian, 
who boldly told Tiberius that he could give Boman 
citizenship to men but not to words. A better 
instance than either perhaps is vhat Suetonius 
Telates of Claudius Csesai who was much given to 
dilettante literature, and madeanumber of changes 
in the Latin language which he had introduced 
into the public documents, but they went no fur* 
ther, and after his death wholly disappeared. 

Here Prof, Whitney, without waiting for a further 
-explanation, springs suddenly upon his prey. " The 
utter futility," he says, "of deriving such a doc- 
trine from such a pair of incidents, or from a score, 
a hundred, or a thousand like them, is almost 
too obvious to be worth the trouble of pointing 
out." (Ex. p. 36, No. 2.) 

Where do the new words come from that appear 
inalanguage from time to time ? If they were not 
made by man, who could have made them ? All men 
do not speak at once, so the change must have origi- 
nated with some one individual, St. Louis of France 
changed, by a witty remark, the word " Tatar " into 
"Tartar." It is permitted, says Prof. Whitney, for a 
famous writer or orator now and then to coin a new 
word; and a Yankee shipbuilder gave the name 
of schooner to a vessel of his own invention. He 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



MiJLLER AND WHITNEY. 191 

gires galTanism, Biluriaa, paleontology, odlite, plio- 
cene, as examples of vorda that originated in our 
own time. He tlien proceeds to consider in what 
manner new words came into existence, and Bays, — 

The speakers of language constitate a republic, or rather 
a democracy, (n wliicb authority is conferred only by general 
BuSrage and for due cause, and is exercised under constant 
Buperrisioii and control. Individuals are abundantly per- 
mitted to make additions to tbe common speech, if there 
be reason for it, and If, In their work, tbey respect tbe sense 
of tbe commnnlty. 

(And Prof. MQller makes a statement also not 
Tery unlike this.) Prof. Whitney continues to 
argue on this line, approaching constantly nearer 
to Prof. KUllei's standpoint, and finally concludes, 
as follows : — 

Thus it JB Indeed true that tbe indiTidaal has no power 
to change language. But it is not true in any senae which 
ezclndes bis agency, bnt only bo far as that agency is con- 
fessed to be Inopemtlve except as it is ratlfledbytboseabout 
bim. Speech and tbe changes of speecb are tbe work of 
tbe community; but the community cannot effect this except 
tbrougb the initiative of its individual members, whicb it 
follows or rejects. (Ex. p. 46.) 

And taking one step more, says on page 52, — 

So far as concerns the purposes for which he examines 
tbem, and the results be would derive from them, words are 
almost as little tbe work of the man as is the form of his 
akoll, the outlines of hia face, or the construction of bis arm 
and band. 

A casuist may discover some slight difEerence 
between this last and the proposition which the- 
Yale professor first attempted to disprove, bat I 
do not think the candid reader will find mnolu 



:!,5iiii.:db,GoogIe 



192 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

The fact is, that Piof. Whitney's subject has led 
faim about in a circle ; and absurd as this may seem, 
he really deserves credit for baring irorked it out 
to a logical conclusion. The ease is a metaphysi- 
cal one of great inteiest It is a problem of fate 
and free will, or as it is now called, determinism 
and iDdeterminism. We are conscious of free will, 
but unless we act according to certain inviolable 
law3 whose number is legion, we are compelled 
by mental or physical suffering to retrace our steps 
and begin over again. Thus we are ultimately 
obliged, not as indiTiduals perhaps, but as a race, 
to accept our destiny, and fate and free will be- 
come reconciled in just and normal action. Politi- 
cal freedom can only be attained by obedience to 
good goTemment ; social freedom by submitting to 
sensible rules of etiquette. So it is in language. 
Of what use to us is freedom of speech unless other 
people will listen to what we wish to say ? We 
must speak what is E^reeable to oui hearers or 
they will leave us and go away ; and if we make 
use of new and strange words they will be likely 
to laugh at us. Language is so imbedded in the 
mental methods of mankind that it will only 
change as those methods change. 

The changes of English in our own time do not 
amount to much; but from the age of Bacon to 
Pope, which was a revolutionary period, the change 
was marked and decided. The most famous writ- 
ers seem to have but little effect upon langu£^, so 
far as the me of a particular form is concerned. 
Kobody thinks of imitatii^; Shakespeare's double 
superlatives, and the most devout readers of tbe 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



MULLER AND WHITNEY. 193 

Bible do not use scriptural language in common 
-conversation, Byron, Webster, and Hawthorne 
have not added one syllable to their native tongue. 
Dickens coined the word " rampage " either from 
lam or rampant, and for a time it was quite popu- 
lar, and then passed into oblivion. Good writers 
are the true conservators of speech, and do the 
best they can to prevent it from changing. There is 
ti fashion in the current use of words, as there is in 
dress, carriages, and other matters. Now the lead- 
ers of fashion in large cities are invariably pleas- 
ant, popular persons, who reflect the prevailing 
sentiment of those about them. Strong, original, 
decisive characters tbey could not be. A good deal 
depends in this discussion on what we choose to 
call a new word or a change in langn^e. If the 
names of proprietary articles are to be considered 
such, then any quack can force a new word upon 
the community, and both our learned professors 
are in the wrong. Next to these come slang terms 
like "dude," "blizzard," "skedaddle," — the pecu- 
liar wit of the vulgus. I am told there is a large 
number of such in the new edition of Webster's 
Dictionary, but most of them might just as well 
have been left out. " Skedaddle " is already obso- 
lete, and "dude " is following after it. Such words 
are short-lived because they have no roots. Com- 
pounds derived from the Greek like oiilite and plio- 
cene hoYt greater dignity, but are not in current 
use and cannot be said to form part of the solid 
body of our language. The change from Tatar 
to Tartar was not intentional on the part of King 
liouia, and took place at a time when small respect 



:!,q,i,i.:db,.G00^lc 



194 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERA TURE. 

was paid to spelling. Schooner is a better in- 
stance, but it is easy to see that the term has been 
preserved chiefly by good luck. If the shipbuilder 
had named his ressel a skimmer, should we con- 
sider that an original word ? On the whole, Prof. 
Whitney's exceptions tend strongly to confirm 
Prof. Mttller's rule. Dr. Johnson once said to Bos- 
well : " If I tell you there are no apples in that 
orchard and there comes a prying fellow who finds 
half a dozen on different trees, he does not, for all 
that, controvert my statement." 



r AND SCYTHIAN. 

Prof. Whitney objects to the classification by 
Prof. Muller and others of all the agglutinative 
languages of central and eastern Asia as Turanian 
until some closer connection has been proved to 
exist between them than we have now evidence of. 
It is well enough to enter this protest, for the 
term Turanian would indicate properly a blood 
relationship between those races such as evidently 
exists among the different branches of the Aryan 
family. At the same time Prof. Whitney's own 
classification of Chinese and Scythian is open to 
an equal objection that it excludes the possibility 
of such a relationship which, if not certain, is yet 
very likely. Neither do we know surely whether 
the ancient Scythians were a Sclavonic race. That 
the Greeks should have learned from them, as 
^schylus tells us, the manufacture of steel, would 
seem to indicate the latter, for no good has ever 
come to civilization from the Tartar hordes. But 
it is no more safe to class languages by races thaa 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



MULLER AND WHITNEY. 195 

races by their languages. Keither aggliitiaation 
nor physical resemblances between the two races 
would be sufBcient to prove tliat the languages of 
China and Bokhara had emanated from the same 
source ; and I hare always believed from internal 
evidence that the Hungarians, one of the most 
enlightened races of men, were originally an Aryan 
tribe, which at some ancient period came onder 
the dominion of Tartars and afterwards absorbed 
its conquerors. 

THE EaSEITTIAL UNITY OF TBOtTGET AKD SPEECH. 

This is purely a philosophical question and a 
most profound one, but no account of the science 
of language would be complete without some con- 
sideration of it. It is a problem on which meta- 
physicians have been divided for at least a hun- 
dred and fifty years. There is indeed a strong 
array of distinguished names on either side of the 
question, and the subject is one so subtle, far-reach- 
ing, and difficult of appcehenaion, that there would 
seem to be no near prospect of an agreement upon 
it. Frof. Mailer is a fine philosophical scholar; 
and after giving his own view of the subject, be 
supports this by extracts from the best writers on 
his side. He considers language the distinguish- 
ing characteristic between man and the brute ; 
that it is impossible to think without the use of 
words ; and, unless I do him injustice, he believes 
that language even preceded thought, and is its 
natural parent. 

To follow human speech to its origin is like 
trying to trace the lines of a river which loses 
itself in the horizon. 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



196 HEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

This can only be done, if accomplished at all, by 
careful and delicate perception and a disiiiteiested 
comparison with the obserrationa of others. The 
worst possible way to treat such a. subject is by the 
dogmatic method ; but Prof. Whitney has been 
educated in that and knows no othet. He quotes 
no authorities in support of his position, nor is be 
willing to let the fair-minded reader judge for 
himself, but, baring stated his opinion, proceeds to 
enforce it with the customary ardor of an advo- 
cate. Language, be declares, is only the Tehicle 
of thought; — that a great deal of thinking is 
done without the use of words, and the best proof 
of it is that babies thiuk before they are able to 
talk at all ; that crows can count, and that dogs 
deliberate at the street corners which way they 
shall go. He condemns Prof. Mailer's view as the 
emanation of " that superficial and unsound phi- 
losophy which confounds and identifies speech, 
thought, and reason" (p. 439), and says (p. 
407),— 

How often moat we labor b; p&infol circomloimtion, by 

gradual approach and limiUtioD, to place before the minds 
cf others a conception which is dearly present to our own 
consciousness! How often when we have the expression 
near); complete, we miss a single word that we need, and 
must search for it. In onr memories or onr dictionaries, per> 
haps not finding It In dtheil 

And again (p. 414), — 

And who will dare to deny even to the nninstmcted deaf- 
mute the possession of ideas, of cogmtions mnltittidinous 
and various, of powers to combine observations and draw 
COnclosions from them, of reasonings, of imaginings, of 



^laiiizMbyGoogle 



MULLER AND WHITNEY. 197 

hopes ? Who will say then that he does not think, tbongh 
his thinking fscnlt; has not been tr^ned and developed bf 
the aid of a system of signs 9 

And elsevbere, — 

If only that part of man's superior endowments which 
finds its manUestation in langoage is to receive the name of 
reason, what shall we style the rest ? We had thought that 
the love and intelligence, the sonl, that looks out of a 
child's eye upon us to reward oar care long before it b^ns 
to prattle, were also marks of reason. 

And 80 on throagh a long and closely printed chap- 
ter. 

These extracts do not quite give a fair accotut 
of Prof. Whitney's statement, portions of which 
are both valuable and interesting, but they indicate 
plainly that it is an argument rather than a scien- 
tific investigation. 

It strikes my humble judgment that both these 
distinguished writers have carried their respective 
theories to somewhat of an extreme. I do not see 
how Prof, MftUer can reconcile the essential unity 
of thought and speech with the statement he 
makes on page 389, that parrots (and sqainels) 
can distinguish hollow nuts from good ones, by 
syllogistic reasoning. I have studied the mental 
faculties of animals for many years past, and I do 
not believe that any of them can think or reason. 
What supplies the place of reason with them — as 
it often does with men and women — is habit and 
what is called the association of ideas, that is, of 
sensuous impressions. A setter will follow a man 
with a gnn, because it reminds him of chasing 
quails and grouse. If a bridge shakes under the 



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198 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

tread of an elephant, a sense of danger is oom- 
mnnioated to his brain. Even the smallest insecta 
take alarm at anything new and stTange. That 
oioffs should be able to connt is incredible to me. 
Let any one place a roll of gold coin before him, 
and then im^ne if he can, how he is to count it 
vithont the aid of numerals. The stories of farm- 
ers about crows are like those of whalers aboat 
the kaler, a marine animal unknown to naturalists. 
A crow is quickly frightened at the sight of an 
unarmed man, but he is not afraid of a man with 
a gun if he is riding in a w^on. So a horse is a 
very intelligent animal, but he does not realize his 
danger on the edge of a precipice. As for think- 
ing babies, one may well ask what kind of unsound 
and superficial philosophy it is which mixes up 
intellectual concepts with hereditary instincts, sen- 
suous impressions, and emotional feeling. Thought 
can only come with or after self-consciousness, for 
it is only after consciousness that we can wholly 
separate ourselves from the rest of the world and 
individuality becomes possible. Cogito ergo sum 
was not written in vain. I have always believed 
that a certain amount of elementary thinking can 
be done without the aid of language. Thinking, as 
Oarlyle says, originally meant dealing with things. 
So it is in German — denken and dinge. We think 
primarily in objects, and we use names when the 
objects are not before us. It is true that we some- 
times remember the sensuous image of a distant 
object before we do its name, but it is hardly pos- 
sible to unite two or more such images without the 
help of words. Besides language, there is another 



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MiJLLER AND WHITNEY. 199 

prominent distinction between man and other ani- 
mals, and this consists in the nse of tools. It 
seems likely that it may even hare preceded the 
use of language. Consider the origin of a club. 
For the primev^ man to break off the branch of 
a tree and use it as a weapon of offence must 
have resulted from a mental calculation, even if 
he knew no name for tree or branch. 

A carpenter working at his bench thinks partly 
in his tools, and partly in words. Perhaps a good 
part of his work could be accomplished without 
any words at all. St. John says, "In the begin- 
ning was the Word;" but Goethe says, "In the 
beginning was the act." Howevei, it is only 
the simplest kind of thinking — thinking in a 
single syllogism — that can be done in this way. 
Cdiiimonly we think in three or four syllogisms 
together, and for that, as well as for all abstract 
reasoning, and in fact for whatever passes by the 
name of thinking, language is indispensable. It is 
often difficult to describe sensuous imptessioDB, 
for these do not come to us in words ; but other- 
wise when we have acquired a clear understand- 
ing of the problem before us, it is easy enough to 
demonstrate it to others. 

THE OBIOIN OF LAKOUA^QE. 

Our theories on this subject will inevitably be 
affected by our theories in regard to the origin of 
mankind. We are brought faoe to face with the 
conflict between the Mosaic cosmogony and Dar- 
winian evolution, and here we must consider the 
position in which Fiof. Whitney is placed. How- 



:!,q,i,i.:db,.GoOglL"' 



200 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

ever it may be bow, do Yale professor thirty years 
ago could have raoged himself on Darwin's side, 
without losing bis position in a summary manner. 
Prof, Whitney dees not, however, ofEer any super- 
natural explanation for the origin of language, but 
traces human speech from father to grandfather 
and so on until becomes to a single pair — pre- 
aumably Adam and Ere — before whom the beasts 
of the field and the birds of the air presented them- 
selves for the first time. He says (p. 181), — 

Bnt if a population of Bcattered communities implies dis- 
persion from a, single point, if we must follow back the fates 
of OUT race until they centre in a limited number of families 
or in a single pair, which expanded by oatural increase, and 
scattered, forming (be little communiUes wbicb later fused 
together into greater ones — and who will deny that it was 
so ? — then also, both by analogy and by historical necessity, 
it follows that tbat is the true view of the relation of dialects 
andlanguage to which we have beenled above : namely, that 
growth and divers! flcation of dialects accompany the spread 
and diaconnectioD of communities, and tbat assimilation of 
dialects accompanies the coalescence of communities. 

Does "dispersion from a common centre " refer 
to the tower of Babel, or to the ancient home of 
the Arj^an family ? I believe tbat philologists are 
agreed that there is nothing to prove or disprove 
the common origin of language, but ethnologists 
find many difficulties in the way of it. If all races 
came from the Eiver Euphrates, why do we find 
the lowest specimens of humanity in Fat^onia, in 
Borneo, and at the Cape of Good Hope ? Prof. 
Whitney believes the earliest root words were 
formed partly from interjections and partly from 



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Mi}LLER AND WHITNEY. 201 

imitation of the natnral soands of objects. Now 
the cries of animals are properly interjections ; and 
at one time Mr. Oeorge Darwin and Prof. MflUer 
had a lively controrersy about this theory ; a sub- 
ject which we have not space to enter on here. 
Prof. Whitney places his main dependence on the 
imitative theory, and argues that since there are 
many such words as rush, roar, plunge, euekoo, 
katydid, etc., in every mordern language, and as 
time produces great modifications in speech, it is 
highly probable that in the beginning they were 
very much more numerous. He says (on p. 430),— 
There is no real discordance between tlia onomatopoetic 
and Inteijectiooal theories, nor do the advocates of either, 
it is believed, deny or disparage the value of the other, or 
refuse its aid in the solution of their commou problem. The 
definition of the onomatopoetic principle might be without 
dUQcultj' or violence so widened that It should include the 
inteijectionaL We must indeed beware of restricting its 
action too nairowl;. It is by no means limited to a repro- 
duction of the BODnds of animate and Inanimate nature — 
it admits also a kind of symbolical representation — as an 
IntimatioQ of abrupt, or rapid, or laborious, or smooth action 
1 making an analogous impression upon the 



1 There can be no doubt that the onomatopoetic principle 
has a decided influanoe on the formation of language, but there 
is this objection to it, that it cannot possibly covec the whole 
ground. Id fact, the great majority ol objects and hnman ac- 
tions have no characteristic Bouiid that can very well be imi- 
tated in words; and out of more than fifty Sanscrit words which 
I have eiamined for this purpose, I do not find as many ono- 
matopoetic words as among the corresponding terms In Eng- 
lish. Very young cllildren often make up root words which 
last them for a year or more. One small boy, now a well-known 
artist, always insisted on calling water ap which was Sanscrit 
for water; andacertaiDyounggirlalBOOiUiledit ar. She colled 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



202 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

Be then proceeds to make war on Max Miiller 
again for supporting Prof. Heyae's ring theory of 
langnage, oamely : that as everything in nature 
has ita peculiar ring, — oak gives forth one sound, 
silver another, every bird and beast has its pecu- 
liar cry, — 80 language is the peculiar ory or ring of 
human beings. This seems rather fanciful, and 
Prof. Whitney is not slow to condemn it. He 
says (p. 427), — 

It is Indeed not a little ■nrpriiing to lee a man of the 
itckDowledged abilitj and great learning of Frol. Miilier, 
after depreciating and casting ridicule upon the views of 
others respecting so Importaut a point, put forward one of 
his own as a mere authoritative dictom, resting it upon 
nothing better than a fanciful comparison which lacks every 
element of true analogy, not venturing to attempt its sup- 
port by a single ai^ument, instance, or illustration drawn 
from either tlie nature or tiistory of language. 

Now this pasa^e indicates plainly enough the 
spirit in which Prof. Whitney's book was written. 
On referring to the Science of Language ( p. 429), 
we find that Prof. Muller haa no idea of supporting 
such a theory. Nothing could be more sensible 
nor, one may add, more just, than what he says of 
it (p. 429), — 

There may be some v^ue in speculations of tltis kind, 
but I should not like to indorse them, for we have no right 
to say that a vi^ne analogy is an explanation of the problem . 
of the origin of roots. 

What Prof. Mailer does believe in is the theory 
of language by evolution or elimination from 

the river " the big cold ar," and a biook " tlie bit oold ar; " a 
ooTiona ease of agglntltiative language. Both children were 
nearly related to dialing aished writers. 



db,GoogIe 



MULLER and WHITNEY. 203 

phonetic types. Speech did not originate probably 
vith a single pair or at a particuIaT time, but giad- 
oally, and, like the art of printing, in a number of 
different places. We speak as we do because our 
Tocat o^ans are constructed as they are, and not 
otherwise. He says (p. 429), — 

The number of these phooetic types must luTe been al- 
most infinite in tbe beginning ; and it wu only through the 
same process of natural elimination which we ob»erTed in 
tlie early history of words, that clusters of roots, more or 
less synonymoni, were gndoall; reduced to one definite 
type. 

This would aeem to be reasonable. 

For a long time Frof. MOller could not imagine 
the cause of these merciless attacks upon himself; 
but he finally concluded that it was on account of 
his opposition to the Boehtlingk and Boths' San- 
scrit Lexicon, a work compiled by a gronp of philol- 
ogists in St. Petersburg, with whom Frof. Whit- 
ney was for some time in correspondence. This 
may account for some portion of it ; but I think 
much was due to Prof. Whitney's intolerance of 
-German philosophy, which forms the basis of Frof. 
Miiller's writing, and to which he is largely in- 
debted for what he is. At the time his book was 
written the feeling against German philosophy was 
very strong in all American colleges. Little was 
known of it (perhaps nothing in the original, for 
Kant's " Critique " and Hegel's " Philosophy of His- 
tory " had alone been translated), but that little was 
considered bad. If not atheistic, it was certainly 
pantheistic, and the main support of Goethe and 
Emerson, two very dangerous writers, one of whom 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



204 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

studied it but little, aad the other never at all. 
It permitted the discussion of the existence of God 
and the immortality of the soul, two subjects which 
properly belonged to religion, and metaphysics had 
no right to deal with. It was confounded with 
New England transcendentalism, — a very different 
aSair, more poetical than philosophical. It was 
called senseless, absurd, monstrous, ridiculous, — 
the very terms with which Prof. Whitney attacks 
Prof. MtUler's views on the science of languages. 
In brief, it was looked upon much as a Spanish 
Jesuit of two hundred years ago looked upon 
Lutheranism. But the last third of the nineteenth 
century was intended for better things. Sherman's 
march through Georgia and the battle of Sadowa 
had their counterpart in the intellectual world also. 
In 1868 Prof. Max Mdller, in au address on assum- 
ing the chair of comparative philology at Oxford, 
pointed out in unsparing terms the time-honored 
shortcomings of English universities. Then came 
President Eliot of Harvard, in 1869, with his em- 
phatic inaugural statement that philosophical sub- 
jects should not be taught with authority, and a 
new era began. The retreating past still casts a 
long shadow over us; there are yet to be found 
pedants and philistines among us, the natural oS- 
spring of dogmatism ; but we may trust that like 
the shadow of the giants in Goethe's fable, it is 
now doing mischief for the last time. 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



TBE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 



XV. 

THE BGIEHGE OF THOUGHT. 

1S7S. 

Thebe is no word which we hear more frequently 
than "logic;" we are told every day by lawyers, 
politicians, and the newspapers, what is logical 
and what is not ; yet to tell us exactly what logic 
itself is would puzzle many a skilful manufacturer 
of at^uments. There are not a few indeed who 
have been applied to lately, men who possess 
considerable scholarship, and yet were unable to 
supply the information required. One might have 
begun to suspect that the power of defining logic 
was among the lost arts, had not the recent publi- 
cation of a book, called "The Science of Thought," 
by Rev. C. C. Everett, arrived to convince us of 
the contrary. This octavo volume has now been 
before the public for about three years, and as 
yet only one edition of it has l)een sold, — a dis- 
couraging fact when we consider its possible value 
not only to American, but to universal literature. 
Evidently, like many other works of art, it must 
wait its time for due appreciation. One alone, 
whose extensive scholarship and deep philosophical 
penetration ought to give weight to his opinion, 
declares it to be the most important work of its 
kind in English since the time of Bacon and his 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



206 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

"Novum Organum." This is certainly a startling 
announcement. The development of modem sci- 
ence with all its wonderful results can be traced, 
it is said, directlj back to Bacon's exposition 
of the inductive method of reasoning. Leibnitz, 
Newton, Herschel, and others deserve credit for 
what each specially did, but it was Bacon who first 
pointed out the way for them to work in. When 
we consider the immense importance which mod- 
ern science has for us — how, for insbmee, we 
depend upon it for our commercial prosperity — 
we may begin to measure the value of a theory, if 
only that theory be a true one. It would be haz- 
ardous to prophesy that Mr, Everett's theories were 
also to produce such remarkable effects. History 
does not usually repeat itself in that way. But 
that he has also, like Bacon, been instrumental in 
bringing somewhat out of darkness into daylight, I 
venture to say will one day be admitted. 

Take, to commence with, his definition of logic, 
vhich is also the title to his book — "the science 
of thought." What light that throws upon the 
subject at once I The indistinct impressions of 
those who have so long used the word without 
knowing what it meant, must now be cleared up. 
Statements are logical which are made according 
to those laws which govern the correct use of our 
minds; and the illogical is what results from 
mental perversion. Notice how this widens our 
horizon. The old theory was that logic had only 
to do with the truth or falsehood of arguments, 
but here we have it extended over every depart- 
sient of human activity ; for there is nothing done 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 20T 

but what mind direets the doing of it ; and to b» 
done well and wisely, it must be done logically too. 
The most praotical arts, and most abstract sciences 
as well, are then in direct dependence npon this 
new system of reasoning, which indeed has long 
been in nse with the best reaaoners, snch as Shake- 
speare and Lessing, but for want of explanation 
has remained even to philosophers unknown. 

From the time of Aristotle to the opening of the 
present centnry, logic had remained almost entirely 
unprogressive. What is now tanght in the schools 
of England and America is Aristotle's theory of 
logic, invented by him twenty-two centuries ago, 
at a historic period of great intellectual brilliancy 
indeed, but at the same time one almost destitute 
of science and scholarship. Fortunately few ever 
undertake to use it in practice. During the middle 
ages, when people did use it, the result was such 
an enormous mass of tangled and twisted discus- 
sions as modem times only look at to laugh over. 
To the great Gkrman Hegel belongs the honor of 
taking up again the thread where Aristotle had 
let it fall. He was the inventor, and Mr. Everett 
now the translator, although not without consid- 
erable invention, too, of his own. What Hegel in 
his effort for discovery stated in so difficult and 
obscure a manner that even in Germany his name 
has become a symbol for perplexity, Mr. Everett 
has been so fortunate as to explain in a style so 
clear and intelligible as English prose has rarely 
seen before. Schopenhauer and Stuart Mill have 
also stood behind Mr. Everett's work to a slight 
extent^ bat, for all that, there is such value in thfr 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



208 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

BupetioT form of his Btatement that we mnet still 
consider the entire book in the light of an original 
production. 

To explain this new system of reasoning satis- 
factorily woold require hardly less space than Mr. 
Everett himself has given to it. Where a subject 
is so vast as the domain of thought, it is not to be 
described, or even more than hinted at, in any such 
sketch as the present. If one or two principal 
points are seized upon and put forward in a clear 
light, something, however, will be gained, and pnb- 
lic attention, it is to be hoped, attracted in the 
right direction. 

One such point we find in the statement that 
logic is not, and never can be, an exact science. 
As far as Truth extends its path into the region 
of the unknown, Logic must march with her, and 
be at the same time both guide and follower. As 
fast as human thought improves, the science of 
thought will have a chance to improve with it, in 
the same way that chemistry must be ready at any 
moment to accept the discovery of a new element 
or chemical principle. This is in direct contra- 
diction of the old doctrine which teaches that logic 
is only concerned with the form of thought, not 
with thought itself, and therefore to be contained 
in certain rigid formulas, the complete mastery of 
which would enable the student to reason correctly 
under all circumstances. Instead of doing so, 
however, it rather tends to make him dogmatic and 
sophistical. The difference is like that between 
a progressive and a stationary civilization. Then, 
since the progress to be real must be unlimited, w» 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 209 

feel ourselves enabled, with the prospect before 
us, not only of making infinite new discoveries, 
but infinite improvement of the means of discov- 
ery. The deficiencies of the old system in this 
lespect are just what inclined Bacon to throw it 
aside altogether and adopt a new method of his 
own. In his day it stood in the way of physical 
science, but now with us in the way of metaphys- 
ical — although, what at first sight seems rather 
strange, not so much so as that very method which 
Bacon's genius established. 

The most important difference, however, the 
precise point where Hegel and Everett leave all 
predecessors behind them, is In their treatment of 
the syllogism. Every one is familiar with the 
old Aristotelic syllogism, its major premise, minor 
premise, and conclusion. One quite common ex- 
ample in the schools is : — 

" No person deserving respect is a boaster; but 
Some heroes are boasters; and therefore 
Some heroes do not deserve respect." 

By means of an A B C formula this was changed 
into four different figures, all of them amounting 
to pretty much the same thing, as, for instance, 
"No boaster deserves respect," in place of "No 
person deserving respect is a boaster." Each 
particular argument which came into the mind, or 
issued from the lips of man, was to be reduced to 
this form, and its truth or falsehood decided by 
simply ascertaining whether the minor premise 
was really included by the major or not. To 
make this reduction correctly, however, it was 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



210 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

necessary to ase a contrivance of fire Latin verses 
to assist tbe memory, a contrivance which Mr. 
DeMorgan, an English logician of the old school, 
has named "the magic words more full of mean- 
ing than any that were ever made," and they 
certainly are wonderful after their fashion. Here 
we have them : — 

Barbara, CeUreat, Darii, Perloque prioris, 
Ces&r«, Oamestres, Feslino, Baroko Becuudn, 
Tertla Daraptl, Disamls, Datisl, Felapton, 
Bokardo, FerisoD babet. Qnarta inauper addlt, 
Bramantip, Cam«aea, Dlmaris, Fesapo, Fresison. 

Of course, it ia evident to all practical persona- 
that no effective thinking can be done while a 
man's brain is encumbered with such a load as- 
that. In justice to Mr, DeMorgau's own writings, 
it should be said that he probably never used it 
himself. To explain the special significance of 
each of these magic words, and the way in which 
they can be made to work, would require many 
pages of difficult reading, and even then might 
not help us to a better understanding of the case. 
It is enough to have taken this bird's-eye view of 
the Aristotelie syllogism, and perceived in a rough 
general way what its special characteristics are. 
Xow let us look at the Hegelian. 

In the argument, " No person deserving respect 
is a boaster, and some heroes are boasters, and 
therefore some heroes do not deserve respect," 
the conclusion is undoubtedly correct if we can 
be sure, among other things, that the first clause 
is true. But this if ia just what probably gave 
Hegel the key to his great dieooTery. How are- 



3,q,i,..:db,GoogIe 



THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 211 

■we to know whether it is true or not ? Evidently 
not by means of other syllogisms of this same 
kind. Where axe we to find a major premise 
which will now and forever be absolutely true? 
The universal consent of the human race would 
not make one so as long as the possibility re- 
mained of one Individual changing his mind. 
Some sceptics may even be found who will 
demand proof of the fact that all men are mortal; 
and how are you going to prove that they are ? 
In the case of the example given above, any dis- 
criminating person acting upon common-sense 
principles would declare at once that the major 
premise was false — not because boasters do de- 
serve respect, but because a man may have many 
virtues, and be a boaster besides. Common sense, 
however, works without explaining itself, and can- 
not be taken as a standard for us to judge by. 
Hegel knows better than the common sense of 
moat men. He tells as that we must have two 
other forms of the syllogism to prove and correct 
the first, the three together forming a triad, mutu- 
ally supporting each other. The one already 
given, the Axistotclic, is called Deduction; the 
second, the Baconian, Induction; and the third, 
belonging especially to Hegel, Identification. Mr. 
Everett represents them by the formulas 

I P 0, P I D, and I U P, 

in which U represents the universal, P the particu- 
lar, and I the Individual term ; the important 
point in each form being, which of the three terms 
connects the two others. It makes no diffeienoe 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



212 SEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

which stands first or last ; we can have U P I as 
well as I F U. "John i» mortal beeauaa all men 
are mortal.^' The indlTidual John is couneeted 
with the uiuTeTsal term mortal by means of the 
particnlu term men. 

It is proved that John is mortal if we are aoie 
at the same time that all men are mortal, and that 
John is a man. These facts are necessary to make 
the deduction of any valne, and how are we to ob- 
tain them ? The second form, the Inductive, gives 
us F I U, or " Man is mortal because John is moi- 
tal," only in this case it ia not really John but oui 
experience of all other men besides John that we 
insert for Uie indiyidual term. Also the third 
form, that of Identification, ends the series, con- 
vincing us in the formula I IT P that John is a 
man because he poasesses those marks and peculi- 
arities which distinguish mankind from t»utea. 
In going throi^h this process, however, and in the 
second step as well, we shall find ourselves contin- 
ually falling back for support upon the two other 
forms of the syllogism. Thus do we arrive at a 
unity in the three, a sort of logical trinity, by 
means of which the separate tesolta of the differ- 
ent forms may be combined together in a harmoni- 
ous and substantial whole. Indeed, no course of 
reasoning can be considered sound unless eonduoted 
by this method, and the results of deduction, induc- 
tion, and identification are made to harmonize and 
combine with each other as naturally and pufectfy 
as the elements in a chemical compound. 

So far all seems sufficiently simple. Bat when 
we eome to praotieal application, each form branches 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 218 

out into a soienofi by itself. The pursuit of these 
difEerent s<ueDce3 becomes aa ttnlimited atndy, al- 
tlumgh' not OB that aecount aa indefinite or obscuie 
one. This will best be aeen when we consider that 
in Induction ^one the materials to be nsed are co- 
extensive with the scientific knowledge of the 
world, and liable to increase with CTery future (Us- 
o^rery. Fnll information in this regard, however, 
is not necessary for good reasoning. A certain 
amount of ignorance is inevitable in the best fur- 
nished minds, and every day we are all of ns com- 
pelled to think and act according to the beat light 
we have. A machinist may make good engines 
without knowing anything of the last invention in 
mechanios. He knows enough to be logical in his 
deparbment. Common sense is the avera^ logical 
power of the community. It has already been 
hinted that common sense and Hegelianism are 
not very different. It admits of progress, and be- 
comes a better common sense as the community 
becomes more and more civilized. The beet com- 
mon sense for any individual must alwuys be the 
amount of logical science which he is capable of 
putting to a practical application. It is necessary, 
however, that caution should be observed in this 
application, not to attempt to deal with problems 
more extensive than one's logical knowledge. The 
logic which will teaoh a man to get out of the way 
of a mad dog, though perfectly good' and efficient 
for the occaaion, is of a much lower< degree than 
that a judge has need of to decide properly upon a 
case in court. 
Mr. Evwett sketeheo the outSine» ct theso three 



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214 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

sciences, Deduction, IndnctioD, and Identification, 
in a most clear and Lnteresting manner. First, 
under Deduction we have a consideration of those 
transcendental facts or truths through which alone 
experience becomes poseilde. Existence, or the 
universal, comes before the particular and individ- 
ual ; and the very idea which would induce one to 
learn the lesson which experience teaches, must be 
admitted before any experience can take place. 
In this direction we are led into the provioces 
of Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, and Esthetics. 
Knowledge and progress in truth, beauty, and 
goodness are requisite for sound deductive reason- 
ing. This is certainly the most abstruse and difB- 
cult branch of the subject. But it must be a great 
satisfaction to those who esteem the good and 
beautiful as well as cold truth, to find that these 
also are logical The old system leaves no place 
for such an idea. Id that, logic was an inflexible 
mathematical form, rigid as a railroad track — 
upon which, indeed, those who would educate their 
minds were to be dragged along at such a rate that 
no sight could be had of what the world and life 
was made of. 

With Induction we come upon the extensive 
array of the natural sciences and the correct 
course of pursuing them. A number of facts are 
collected together. On examination a certain simi- 
larity is detected among them, which leads to the 
suspicion that a natural law pervades the group. 
This law immediately has to be tested by applica- 
tion to other facte, and if it agrees with all the 
instances we know of, then its real existence may 



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THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 215 

be inferred. Absolute certainty, however, is not 
assured until the rule tlius obtained has been put 
into the other two forms of syllogism also, and 
found to answer for what they require of it. 
There is a distinction, however, to be drawn be- 
tween rules which may be temporarily serviceable, 
as a sort of scaffolding of thought, and those which 
hare their origin in the nature of things, existing 
as necessary laws. Both are requisite, but the 
last are much more important than the first. The 
peculiar art of inductive reasoning consists in 
judging how many facts ought to be collected 
before we proceed to generalize from them. Clear- 
ly it is impossible to collect all facts, and hasty 
generalization from an InsufQcient number is the 
most common of all sources of error. ISo exact 
regulations can be given in this direction; but 
much experience in thinking and testing the truth 
of one's thoughts finally gives a sort of intuitive 
perception of when the right point has been 
reached. Practice, also, and the sense of harmony 
which is innate in all good minds, give intuitively 
the power to reach true generalizations from very 
few instances, or even from only one. Drawing 
inferences from a single example, however, can 
only be done by the class we call geniuses, — those 
wonderfully endowed minds whose action, even in 
unconscious moments, is similar to that of the 
universal laws. Analogy, oi what the phrenolo- 
gists call comparison, is another variety of induc- 
tive reasoning. The old school admit it only in 
the way of a rhetorical finish to other and more 
solid arguments. They say, " Compare a man with 



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216 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

a bone, if yoa like, foe the sake of a figure of 
speech, bat not for piaotical purposes." Mr. Everett, 
(m the «0Dtrar7, expl^DS hov all things ia the 
world, physical and metaphysical, are related to 
each other as the parts of an organic whole, and 
are not to be justly considered except through this 
faculty of comparison. In truth, oonsiderii^ our 
present lack of facts sufficiently broad to serve for 
universal terms in deduction, Analogy, xaised to 
this high rank, becomes at least as important as 
any other braocli of reasoning. It might be called 
the poetic form of logic, because poets so much 
depend upon it ; and on that account there is more 
correct reasoning in Homer's Iliad than in all the 
metaphysics written previous to the last century. 
A satisfactory explanation of how the science of 
thought is concerned with poetry as the highest 
form in which mind ever states itself, is yet among 
the things of the future. We yet await the 
philosopher who shall tell us wherein the superi- 
ority of Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare consists. 
Hr. Wasson, in his Epic Philosophy,' has opened 
tiie doorway in this direction, but the grandeur 
and beauty of a new unappropriated world is yet 
to be sought for in the subject. 

In the third and last form of the syllogism an- 
other and quite different process must be followed. 
In order to identify the individual "John" with 
tbiO p^icnlar "man," we have to observe ajid note 
down all the general characteristics which belong 
to John, then consider whether they ^ree with the 
special characteristics of man. For such an opera- 
' North AtneHean Reviein tor October, 1608. 



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THE SCIENCE OF THOUGHT. 217 

tion rales and theoiies are of little use ; it is lather 
the field of the scientific inrestigstOT. A good 
example wonld be, the discovery of a nev species 
of fish, and the discussion which would follow as to 
which of the numerous genera of fishes it should 
properly be classed with. As heretofore, we hare 
to face and overoome an element of uncertainty. 
Different anthorities give different systems of 
classification, improvemeuts are oontinnally ap- 
pearing, and, abore all, it is difficult to decide at 
what point to draw the line where subdivision of 
genera into species is to stop. The very example 
you have in hand may be the cause of changing 
the arrangements of whole groaps. This uncer- 
tainty, however, is not illogical, as I have already 
tried to prove. Its right interpretation is, that we 
should not consider onr results too much as abso- 
lute facts, but as being the best to be had now, and 
to be acted on in the way a merchant invests his 
money where there is the greatest probability of 
gain. It also teaches a careful and studious inves- 
tigation of the world as it is, and admonishes not 
to hurry on hastily to unripe conclusions. 

In Identification, as already in Deduction and 
Induction, the other two forms of the syllogism 
play an important part. The naturalist reasons 
down from all the established facts in regard to 
fishes, and up from the peculiarities of the speci- 
men before him. Thus is the unity and mutual 
dependence of the three established. To quote Mr. 
Everett's own words, "The first form is that of 
abstract deduction. The second that of compari- 
son. The scattered objects of the world are taken 



db,GoogIe 



218 HEAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

in all their diversity and arranged over against 
each otfaei. The third brings ua to ooncrete in- 
dividuality, and thus appropriately foims the cli- 
max and close of die series." The neir system is, 
indeed, compared with the old, what a living, ac- 
tive, thinking human being is to an Egyptian 
mummy. The last is an historical relic, valuable 
and interesting to the student ; but the first is the 
real fact of to-day, on a mission of vital impor- 
ance, and with all the great possibilities of the 
future before him. 



Diqiiii^dbyGoogle 



J'OSTSCRIPT. 



POSTSCEIPT. 



Now that I take ap this book again, after many 
years, I am more thaa ever astonished at its clear- 
ness, its simplicity, its completeness, — in short, its 
rare perfection. I cannot hear of another book 
like it in any langu^e, at least, no philosophical 
work. As D. A. Wasson has said, it can only be 
compared to Bacon's Exposition of the Inductive 
Method. If the stndy of logic, which has always 
been considered difficult, can be made as easy as 
reading a novel at forty pages an hour, there is good 
hope that other branches of metaphysics may yet 
be made more intelligible and interesting than they 
are at present This were a better objective for 
writers to aim at than to spend their spare hours 
in controversies with one another. As a matter 
of course, Rev, Mr. Everett's work has not received 
the recognition it deserves, and another century 
may pass by before this happens. Let us trust 
that in the mean while it may not fall into oblivion. 
Those instructora who have given it to their classes 
have been surprised at the eagerness and enthusi- 
asm with which their scholars seized upon it. It 
ought to be translated into other langu^es. 

I knew an undergraduate who studied Bowen's 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



220 REAL AND IDEAL IS LITERATURE. 

Logic for STeral months before he discovered that 
it had anything to do with the operations of his 
own mind. The art of reasoning should be taught 
practic^f as veil as theoretically, as sophistry 
was among the Greeks. Problems in logic might 
be given to the students to solve, as they are now 
in mathematics. This would make the recitations 
more interesting, and the instructors might also 
learn something. What can be more important 
tbao that educated men should learn to reason 
correctly ? Ai the ease now stands, lawyers are the 
best logicians, and doctors are the worst, because 
the former always argne before a judge, and the 
latter can rarely be called to account for what they 
say or do. I do not often take up a book, news- 
paper, or periodical but I meet with some instances 
of erroneous reasoning which were evidently not 
intended for misrepresentations. The following 
example will illustrate this point : — 

When Caesar was about to take possession of the 
Boman treasury one of ttie senators interposed to 
prevent him, but Gfesar said, "If you stand in my 
way, I shall have you put to death ; and it will be 
easier to do it than to say it." A certain famous 
writer comments upon this anecdote, saying, "It 
must be confessed that an entire lack of principle 
gives a man great power." According to the old 
method this would be looked upon as a satisfactory 
deduction ; but it is really very bad logic. It is in 
fact no deduction at all, but an induction from a 
single instance, and needs to be identified with 
other instances before it can be accepted as the 
living truth. There are, indeed, a few incidents in 



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POSTSCRIPT. 221 

Cesfiar's oaiaer irhi^ tend to Bupport this view, but 
t^ preat majtmtj of them ate a,gQiii8t it He re- 
formed the calendar, enacted juat laws, was a ccm- 
structire statesman, faithful to his frieDds and be- 
jTond meamue meieiful to bis enemies. Soch men 
oaiinot be wholly un|)rincipled. On the otiier 
hand, there are thousands of unpriiMipled men in 
Idle Torld who possess no power worth mentioning. 

The dodirine at infant damnation is another 
case in point. This was falsely derired by the 
theologians from two dogmatic premises : First, 
tiist only Christians eonld go to heaven ; second, 
that the lite of baptism was essential to becom- 
ii^ a Obristian. Nothing oould be more repugnant 
to the meroiful and s^-denying spirit of Christ 
than this infernal notion, and yet it has been be- 
lieved in by many millions of people. Christ said, 
" Let little children come onto me, for of sach is 
the kingdom of heaven," but the learned mag- 
nates of the church thought they knew better. 
In this instance identification was out of <^e 
question. 

That legal enormity, the judicial combat of the 
feudal period, could only have originated in an age 
of extreme credulity. It was believed that a just 
Ood, if appealed to in a suitable mumei, would 
always give victory to the right side. In the 
course <^ time men learned by induction that this 
was not tiie ease. 

Hunt attempted to regain his kingdom of 
ITafdes by an enterprise based on Napoleon's retnm 
from £lt^ He neglected to eoosider that Napo- 
ieoa cetomed to his own eountiy, and to a people 



:!,q,i,i.:db,GoogIe 



222 REAL AND IDEAL IN LITERATURE. 

who honored him, vhile he was going baok to a 
foreign cooiiti; where the French hare always 
been disliked. He lost his life from a lack of 
identification. 

An English wit has said thai studying Hegel 
was like walking the highway with a cannon-ball 
attached to each ankle ; and there is a good deal of 
truth in this. Yet it is a highway which goes to 
the stars, and among a gieat many difficult and 
obscure sentences there are some which cannot be 
spared foi their clear and luminons intelligence. 
He is in philosophy what Browning is in poetry — 
gold in die quartz rock which has to go throi^h a 
miUing process in oar own minds before we can 
^t at it Later writers may have added to him of 
amended him, yet none of these have eq^ualled him 
in breadth, or depth, or in that personal quality 
which gives distinction. He is one of the great 
figures of the past, and must remain so. His 
writings on politics and history are of the highest 
value. Next to Bismarck and Von Moltke, no 
other has done so much for German national unity, 
itself a historical event of the first magnitude. He 
created a new German Empire in the minds of his 
countrymen, and it only required the wand of the 
magician to give it external form. In Italy also 
he has had great influence, and has been largely 
studied by those statesmen who are now regenerat- 
ing that country. Taine and Ernest Benan have 
drawn extensively from him. Sterling's " Secret of 
Hegel " is one of the best Scotch works on meta- 
physics. Perhaps he may yet regenerate America, 
after Bonsseau's doctrine of political egotism has 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



POSTSCRIPT. 22a 

txime its ineTitable fruit. Instead of representing 
the execative as tlie servant of the people, Hegel 
iroold Iiaye Mm the serrant oi the state as an ideal. 
— a much nobler conception} bat the reform in^ 
Ic^ic is his finest aohieTement. 



3,q,i,i.:db,.GoogIe 



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