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Title: Note Book of an English Opium-Eater

Author: Thomas De Quincey

Release date: November 1, 2004 [eBook #6881]
Most recently updated: December 30, 2020

Language: English


Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Franks

and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.








It is impossible to conciliate readers of so saturnine and gloomy a class, that they cannot enter with genial sympathy into any gaiety whatever, but, least of all, when the gaiety trespasses a little into the province of the extravagant. In such a case, not to sympathize is not to understand; and the playfulness, which is not relished, becomes flat and insipid, or absolutely without meaning. Fortunately, after all such churls have withdrawn from my audience in high displeasure, there remains a large majority who are loud in acknowledging the amusement which they have derived from a former paper of mine, 'On Murder considered as one of the Fine Arts;' at the same time proving the sincerity of their praise by one hesitating expression of censure. Repeatedly they have suggested to me, that perhaps the extravagance, though clearly intentional, and forming one element in the general gaiety of the conception, went too far. I am not myself of that opinion; and I beg to remind these friendly censors, that it is amongst the direct purposes and efforts of this bagatelle to graze the brink of horror, and of all that would in actual realization be most repulsive. The very excess of the extravagance, in fact, by suggesting to the reader continually the mere aeriality of the entire speculation, furnishes the surest means of disenchanting him from the horror which might else gather upon his feelings. Let me remind such objectors, once for all, of Dean Swift's proposal for turning to account the supernumerary infants of the three kingdoms, which, in those days, both at Dublin and at London, were provided for in foundling hospitals, by cooking and eating them. This was an extravaganza, though really bolder and more coarsely practical than mine, which did not provoke any reproaches even to a dignitary of the supreme Irish church; its own monstrosity was its excuse; mere extravagance was felt to license and accredit the little jeu d'esprit, precisely as the blank impossibilities of Lilliput, of Laputa, of the Yahoos, &c., had licensed those. If, therefore, any man thinks it worth his while to tilt against so mere a foam-bubble of gaiety as this lecture on the aesthetics of murder, I shelter myself for the moment under the Telamonian shield of the Dean. But, in reality, my own little paper may plead a privileged excuse for its extravagance, such as is altogether wanting to the Dean's. Nobody can pretend, for a moment, on behalf of the Dean, that there is any ordinary and natural tendency in human thoughts, which could ever turn to infants as articles of diet; under any conceivable circumstances, this would be felt as the most aggravated form of cannibalism—cannibalism applying itself to the most defenceless part of the species. But, on the other hand, the tendency to a critical or aesthetic valuation of fires and murders is universal. If you are summoned to the spectacle of a great fire, undoubtedly the first impulse is—to assist in putting it out. But that field of exertion is very limited, and is soon filled by regular professional people, trained and equipped for the service. In the case of a fire which is operating upon private property, pity for a neighbor's calamity checks us at first in treating the affair as a scenic spectacle. But perhaps the fire may be confined to public buildings. And in any case, after we have paid our tribute of regret to the affair, considered as a calamity, inevitably, and without restraint, we go on to consider it as a stage spectacle. Exclamations of—How grand! How magnificent! arise in a sort of rapture from the crowd. For instance, when Drury Lane was burned down in the first decennium of this century, the falling in of the roof was signalized by a mimic suicide of the protecting Apollo that surmounted and crested the centre of this roof. The god was stationary with his lyre, and seemed looking down upon the fiery ruins that were so rapidly approaching him. Suddenly the supporting timbers below him gave way; a convulsive heave of the billowing flames seemed for a moment to raise the statue; and then, as if on some impulse of despair, the presiding deity appeared not to fall, but to throw himself into the fiery deluge, for he went down head foremost; and in all respects, the descent had the air of a voluntary act. What followed? From every one of the bridges over the river, and from other open areas which commanded the spectacle, there arose a sustained uproar of admiration and sympathy. Some few years before this event, a prodigious fire occurred at Liverpool; the Goree, a vast pile of warehouses close to one of the docks, was burned to the ground. The huge edifice, eight or nine stories high, and laden with most combustible goods, many thousand bales of cotton, wheat and oats in thousands of quarters, tar, turpentine, rum, gunpowder, &c., continued through many hours of darkness to feed this tremendous fire. To aggravate the calamity, it blew a regular gale of wind; luckily for the shipping, it blew inland, that is, to the east; and all the way down to Warrington, eighteen miles distant to the eastward, the whole air was illuminated by flakes of cotton, often saturated with rum, and by what seemed absolute worlds of blazing sparks, that lighted up all the upper chambers of the air. All the cattle lying abroad in the fields through a breadth of eighteen miles, were thrown into terror and agitation. Men, of course, read in this hurrying overhead of scintillating and blazing vortices, the annunciation of some gigantic calamity going on in Liverpool; and the lamentation on that account was universal. But that mood of public sympathy did not at all interfere to suppress or even to check the momentary bursts of rapturous admiration, as this arrowy sleet of many-colored fire rode on the wings of hurricane, alternately through open depths of air, or through dark clouds overhead.

Precisely the same treatment is applied to murders. After the first tribute of sorrow to those who have perished, but, at all events, after the personal interests have been tranquillized by time, inevitably the scenical features (what aesthetically may be called the comparative advantages) of the several murders are reviewed and valued. One murder is compared with another; and the circumstances of superiority, as, for example, in the incidence and effects of surprise, of mystery, &c., are collated and appraised. I, therefore, for my extravagance, claim an inevitable and perpetual ground in the spontaneous tendencies of the human mind when left to itself. But no one will pretend that any corresponding plea can be advanced on behalf of Swift.

In this important distinction between myself and the Dean, lies one reason which prompted the present writing. A second purpose of this paper is, to make the reader acquainted circumstantially with three memorable cases of murder, which long ago the voice of amateurs has crowned with laurel, but especially with the two earliest of the three, viz., the immortal Williams' murders of 1812. The act and the actor are each separately in the highest degree interesting; and, as forty-two years have elapsed since 1812, it cannot be supposed that either is known circumstantially to the men of the current generation.

Never, throughout the annals of universal Christendom, has there indeed been any act of one solitary insulated individual, armed with power so appalling over the hearts of men, as that exterminating murder, by which, during the winter of 1812, John Williams in one hour, smote two houses with emptiness, exterminated all but two entire households, and asserted his own supremacy above all the children of Cain. It would be absolutely impossible adequately to describe the frenzy of feelings which, throughout the next fortnight, mastered the popular heart; the mere delirium of indignant horror in some, the mere delirium of panic in others. For twelve succeeding days, under some groundless notion that the unknown murderer had quitted London, the panic which had convulsed the mighty metropolis diffused itself all over the island. I was myself at that time nearly three hundred miles from London; but there, and everywhere, the panic was indescribable. One lady, my next neighbor, whom personally I knew, living at the moment, during the absence of her husband, with a few servants in a very solitary house, never rested until she had placed eighteen doors (so she told me, and, indeed, satisfied me by ocular proof), each secured by ponderous bolts, and bars, and chains, between her own bedroom and any intruder of human build. To reach her, even in her drawing-room, was like going, as a flag of truce, into a beleaguered fortress; at every sixth step one was stopped by a sort of portcullis. The panic was not confined to the rich; women in the humblest ranks more than once died upon the spot, from the shock attending some suspicious attempts at intrusion upon the part of vagrants, meditating probably nothing worse than a robbery, but whom the poor women, misled by the London newspapers, had fancied to be the dreadful London murderer. Meantime, this solitary artist, that rested in the centre of London, self-supported by his own conscious grandeur, as a domestic Attila, or 'scourge of God;' this man, that walked in darkness, and relied upon murder (as afterwards transpired) for bread, for clothes, for promotion in life, was silently preparing an effectual answer to the public journals; and on the twelfth day after his inaugural murder, he advertised his presence in London, and published to all men the absurdity of ascribing to him any ruralizing propensities, by striking a second blow, and accomplishing a second family extermination. Somewhat lightened was the provincial panic by this proof that the murderer had not condescended to sneak into the country, or to abandon for a moment, under any motive of caution or fear, the great metropolitan castra stativa of gigantic crime, seated for ever on the Thames. In fact, the great artist disdained a provincial reputation; and he must have felt, as a case of ludicrous disproportion, the contrast between a country town or village, on the one hand, and, on the other, a work more lasting than brass—a [Greek: chtaema es aei]—a murder such in quality as any murder that he would condescend to own for a work turned out from his own studio.

Coleridge, whom I saw some months after these terrific murders, told me, that, for his part, though at the time resident in London, he had not shared in the prevailing panic; him they effected only as a philosopher, and threw him into a profound reverie upon the tremendous power which is laid open in a moment to any man who can reconcile himself to the abjuration of all conscientious restraints, if, at the same time, thoroughly without fear. Not sharing in the public panic, however, Coleridge did not consider that panic at all unreasonable; for, as he said most truly in that vast metropolis there are many thousands of households, composed exclusively of women and children; many other thousands there are who necessarily confide their safety, in the long evenings, to the discretion of a young servant girl; and if she suffers herself to be beguiled by the pretence of a message from her mother, sister, or sweetheart, into opening the door, there, in one second of time, goes to wreck the security of the house. However, at that time, and for many months afterwards, the practice of steadily putting the chain upon the door before it was opened prevailed generally, and for a long time served as a record of that deep impression left upon London by Mr. Williams. Southey, I may add, entered deeply into the public feeling on this occasion, and said to me, within a week or two of the first murder, that it was a private event of that order which rose to the dignity of a national event. [2] But now, having prepared the reader to appreciate on its true scale this dreadful tissue of murder (which as a record belonging to an era that is now left forty-two years behind us, not one person in four of this generation can be expected to know correctly), let me pass to the circumstantial details of the affair.

Yet, first of all, one word as to the local scene of the murders. Ratcliffe Highway is a public thoroughfare in a most chaotic quarter of eastern or nautical London; and at this time (viz., in 1812), when no adequate police existed except the detective police of Bow Street, admirable for its own peculiar purposes, but utterly incommensurate to the general service of the capital, it was a most dangerous quarter. Every third man at the least might be set down as a foreigner. Lascars, Chinese, Moors, Negroes, were met at every step. And apart from the manifold ruffianism, shrouded impenetrably under the mixed hats and turbans of men whose past was untraceable to any European eye, it is well known that the navy (especially, in time of war, the commercial navy) of Christendom is the sure receptacle of all the murderers and ruffians whose crimes have given them a motive for withdrawing themselves for a season from the public eye. It is true, that few of this class are qualified to act as 'able' seamen: but at all times, and especially during war, only a small proportion (or nucleus) of each ship's company consists of such men: the large majority being mere untutored landsmen. John Williams, however, who had been occasionally rated as a seaman on board of various Indiamen, &c., was probably a very accomplished seaman. Pretty generally, in fact, he was a ready and adroit man, fertile in resources under all sudden difficulties, and most flexibly adapting himself to all varieties of social life. Williams was a man of middle stature (five feet seven and a-half, to five feet eight inches high), slenderly built, rather thin, but wiry, tolerably muscular, and clear of all superfluous flesh. A lady, who saw him under examination (I think at the Thames Police Office), assured me that his hair was of the most extraordinary and vivid color, viz., bright yellow, something between an orange and lemon color. Williams had been in India; chiefly in Bengal and Madras: but he had also been upon the Indus. Now, it is notorious that, in the Punjaub, horses of a high caste are often painted—crimson, blue, green, purple; and it struck me that Williams might, for some casual purpose of disguise, have taken a hint from this practice of Scinde and Lahore, so that the color might not have been natural. In other respects, his appearance was natural enough; and, judging by a plaster cast of him, which I purchased in London, I should say mean, as regarded his facial structure. One fact, however, was striking, and fell in with the impression of his natural tiger character, that his face wore at all times a bloodless ghastly pallor. 'You might imagine,' said my informant, 'that in his veins circulated not red life- blood, such as could kindle into the blush of shame, of wrath, of pity— but a green sap that welled from no human heart.' His eyes seemed frozen and glazed, as if their light were all converged upon some victim lurking in the far background. So far his appearance might have repelled; but, on the other hand, the concurrent testimony of many witnesses, and also the silent testimony of facts, showed that the oiliness and snaky insinuation of his demeanor counteracted the repulsiveness of his ghastly face, and amongst inexperienced young women won for him a very favorable reception. In particular, one gentle-mannered girl, whom Williams had undoubtedly designed to murder, gave in evidence—that once, when sitting alone with her, he had said, 'Now, Miss R., supposing that I should appear about midnight at your bedside, armed with a carving knife, what would you say?' To which the confiding girl had, replied, 'Oh, Mr. Williams, if it was anybody else, I should be frightened. But, as soon as I heard your voice, I should be tranquil.' Poor girl! had this outline sketch of Mr. Williams been filled in and realized, she would have seen something in the corpse-like face, and heard something in the sinister voice, that would have unsettled her tranquillity for ever. But nothing short of such dreadful experiences could avail to unmask Mr. John Williams.

Into this perilous region it was that, on a Saturday night in December, Mr. Williams, whom we suppose to have long since made his coup d'essai, forced his way through the crowded streets, bound on business. To say, was to do. And this night he had said to himself secretly, that he would execute a design which he had already sketched, and which, when finished, was destined on the following day to strike consternation into 'all that mighty heart' of London, from centre to circumference. It was afterwards remembered that he had quitted his lodgings on this dark errand about eleven o'clock P. M.; not that he meant to begin so soon: but he needed to reconnoitre. He carried his tools closely buttoned up under his loose roomy coat. It was in harmony with the general subtlety of his character, and his polished hatred of brutality, that by universal agreement his manners were distinguished for exquisite suavity: the tiger's heart was masked by the most insinuating and snaky refinement. All his acquaintances afterwards described his dissimulation as so ready and so perfect, that if, in making his way through the streets, always so crowded on a Saturday night in neighborhoods so poor, he had accidentally jostled any person, he would (as they were all satisfied) have stopped to offer the most gentlemanly apologies: with his devilish heart brooding over the most hellish of purposes, he would yet have paused to express a benign hope that the huge mallet, buttoned up under his elegant surtout, with a view to the little business that awaited him about ninety minutes further on, had not inflicted any pain on the stranger with whom he had come into collision. Titian, I believe, but certainly Rubens, and perhaps Vandyke, made it a rule never to practise his art but in full dress—point ruffles, bag wig, and diamond-hilted sword; and Mr. Williams, there is reason to believe, when he went out for a grand compound massacre (in another sense, one might have applied to it the Oxford phrase of going out as Grand Compounder), always assumed black silk stockings and pumps; nor would he on any account have degraded his position as an artist by wearing a morning gown. In his second great performance, it was particularly noticed and recorded by the one sole trembling man, who under killing agonies of fear was compelled (as the reader will find) from a secret stand to become the solitary spectator of his atrocities, that Mr. Williams wore a long blue frock, of the very finest cloth, and richly lined with silk. Amongst the anecdotes which circulated about him, it was also said at the time, that Mr. Williams employed the first of dentists, and also the first of chiropodists. On no account would he patronize any second-rate skill. And beyond a doubt, in that perilous little branch of business which was practised by himself, he might be regarded as the most aristocratic and fastidious of artists.

But who meantime was the victim, to whose abode he was hurrying? For surely he never could be so indiscreet as to be sailing about on a roving cruise in search of some chance person to murder? Oh, no: he had suited himself with a victim some time before, viz., an old and very intimate friend. For he seems to have laid it down as a maxim—that the best person to murder was a friend; and, in default of a friend, which is an article one cannot always command, an acquaintance: because, in either case, on first approaching his subject, suspicion would be disarmed: whereas a stranger might take alarm, and find in the very countenance of his murderer elect a warning summons to place himself on guard. However, in the present ease, his destined victim was supposed to unite both characters: originally he had been a friend; but subsequently, on good cause arising, he had become an enemy. Or more probably, as others said, the feelings had long since languished which gave life to either relation of friendship or of enmity. Marr was the name of that unhappy man, who (whether in the character of friend or enemy) had been selected for the subject of this present Saturday night's performance. And the story current at that time about the connection between Williams and Marr, having (whether true or not true) never been contradicted upon authority, was, that they sailed in the same Indiaman to Calcutta; that they had quarrelled when at sea; but another version of the story said—no: they had quarrelled after returning from sea; and the subject of their quarrel was Mrs. Marr, a very pretty young woman, for whose favor they had been rival candidates, and at one time with most bitter enmity towards each other. Some circumstances give a color of probability to this story. Otherwise it has sometimes happened, on occasion of a murder not sufficiently accounted for, that, from pure goodness of heart intolerant of a mere sordid motive for a striking murder, some person has forged, and the public has accredited, a story representing the murderer as having moved under some loftier excitement: and in this case the public, too much shocked at the idea of Williams having on the single motive of gain consummated so complex a tragedy, welcomed the tale which represented him as governed by deadly malice, growing out of the more impassioned and noble rivalry for the favor of a woman. The case remains in some degree doubtful; but, certainly, the probability is, that Mrs. Marr had been the true cause, the causa teterrima, of the feud between the men. Meantime, the minutes are numbered, the sands of the hour-glass are running out, that measure the duration of this feud upon earth. This night it shall cease. To-morrow is the day which in England they call Sunday, which in Scotland they call by the Judaic name of 'Sabbath.' To both nations, under different names, the day has the same functions; to both it is a day of rest. For thee also, Marr, it shall be a day of rest; so is it written; thou, too, young Marr, shalt find rest—thou, and thy household, and the stranger that is within thy gates. But that rest must be in the world which lies beyond the grave. On this side the grave ye have all slept your final sleep.

The night was one of exceeding darkness; and in this humble quarter of London, whatever the night happened to be, light or dark, quiet or stormy, all shops were kept open on Saturday nights until twelve o'clock, at the least, and many for half an hour longer. There was no rigorous and pedantic Jewish superstition about the exact limits of Sunday. At the very worst, the Sunday stretched over from one o'clock, A. M. of one day, up to eight o'clock A. M. of the next, making a clear circuit of thirty-one hours. This, surely, was long enough. Marr, on this particular Saturday night, would be content if it were even shorter, provided it would come more quickly, for he has been toiling through sixteen hours behind his counter. Marr's position in life was this: he kept a little hosier's shop, and had invested in his stock and the fittings of his shop about 180 pounds. Like all men engaged in trade, he suffered some anxieties. He was a new beginner; but, already, bad debts had alarmed him; and bills were coming to maturity that were not likely to be met by commensurate sales. Yet, constitutionally, he was a sanguine hoper. At this time he was a stout, fresh-colored young man of twenty-seven; in some slight degree uneasy from his commercial prospects, but still cheerful, and anticipating—(how vainly!)—that for this night, and the next night, at least, he will rest his wearied head and his cares upon the faithful bosom of his sweet lovely young wife. The household of Marr, consisting of five persons, is as follows: First, there is himself, who, if he should happen to be ruined, in a limited commercial sense, has energy enough to jump up again, like a pyramid of fire, and soar high above ruin many times repeated. Yes, poor Marr, so it might be, if thou wert left to thy native energies unmolested; but even now there stands on the other side of the street one born of hell, who puts his peremptory negative on all these flattering prospects. Second in the list of his household, stands his pretty and amiable wife, who is happy after the fashion of youthful wives, for she is only twenty-two, and anxious (if at all) only on account of her darling infant. For, thirdly, there is in a cradle, not quite nine feet below the street, viz., in a warm, cosy kitchen, and rocked at intervals by the young mother, a baby eight months old. Nineteen months have Marr and herself been married; and this is their first-born child. Grieve not for this child, that it must keep the deep rest of Sunday in some other world; for wherefore should an orphan, steeped to the lips in poverty, when once bereaved of father and mother, linger upon an alien and murderous earth? Fourthly, there is a stoutish boy, an apprentice, say thirteen years old; a Devonshire boy, with handsome features, such as most Devonshire youths have; [3] satisfied with his place; not overworked; treated kindly, and aware that he was treated kindly, by his master and mistress. Fifthly, and lastly, bringing up the rear of this quiet household, is a servant girl, a grown-up young woman; and she, being particularly kind-hearted, occupied (as often happens in families of humble pretensions as to rank) a sort of sisterly place in her relation to her mistress. A great democratic change is at this very time (1854), and has been for twenty years, passing over British society. Multitudes of persons are becoming ashamed of saying, 'my master,' or 'my mistress:' the term now in the slow process of superseding it is, 'my employer.' Now, in the United States, such an expression of democratic hauteur, though disagreeable as a needless proclamation of independence which nobody is disputing, leaves, however, no lasting bad effect. For the domestic 'helps' are pretty generally in a state of transition so sure and so rapid to the headship of domestic establishments belonging to themselves, that in effect they are but ignoring, for the present moment, a relation which would at any rate dissolve itself in a year or two. But in England, where no such resources exist of everlasting surplus lands, the tendency of the change is painful. It carries with it a sullen and a coarse expression of immunity from a yoke which was in any case a light one, and often a benign one. In some other place I will illustrate my meaning. Here, apparently, in Mrs. Marr's service, the principle concerned illustrated itself practically. Mary, the female servant, felt a sincere and unaffected respect for a mistress whom she saw so steadily occupied with her domestic duties, and who, though so young, and invested with some slight authority, never exerted it capriciously, or even showed it at all conspiciously. According to the testimony of all the neighbors, she treated her mistress with a shade of unobtrusive respect on the one hand, and yet was eager to relieve her, whenever that was possible, from the weight of her maternal duties, with the cheerful voluntary service of a sister.

To this young woman it was, that, suddenly, within three or four minutes of midnight, Marr called aloud from the head of the stairs—directing her to go out and purchase some oysters for the family supper. Upon what slender accidents hang oftentimes solemn lifelong results! Marr occupied in the concerns of his shop, Mrs. Marr occupied with some little ailment and restlessness of her baby, had both forgotten the affair of supper; the time was now narrowing every moment, as regarded any variety of choice; and oysters were perhaps ordered as the likeliest article to be had at all, after twelve o'clock should have struck. And yet, upon this trivial circumstance depended Mary's life. Had she been sent abroad for supper at the ordinary time of ten or eleven o'clock, it is almost certain that she, the solitary member of the household who escaped from the exterminating tragedy, would not have escaped; too surely she would have shared the general fate. It had now become necessary to be quick. Hastily, therefore, receiving money from Marr with a basket in her hand, but unbonneted, Mary tripped out of the shop. It became afterwards, on recollection, a heart-chilling remembrance to herself—that, precisely as she emerged from the shop-door, she noticed, on the opposite side of the street, by the light of the lamps, a man's figure; stationary at the instant, but in the next instant slowly moving. This was Williams; as a little incident, either just before or just after (at present it is impossible to say which), sufficiently proved. Now, when one considers the inevitable hurry and trepidation of Mary under the circumstances stated, time barely sufficing for any chance of executing her errand, it becomes evident that she must have connected some deep feeling of mysterious uneasiness with the movements of this unknown man; else, assuredly, she would not have found her attention disposable for such a case. Thus far, she herself threw some little light upon what it might be that, semi- consciously, was then passing through her mind; she said, that, notwithstanding the darkness, which would not permit her to trace the man's features, or to ascertain the exact direction of his eyes, it yet struck her, that from his carriage when in motion, and from the apparent inclination of his person, he must be looking at No. 29.

The little incident which I have alluded to as confirming Mary's belief was, that, at some period not very far from midnight, the watchman had specially noticed this stranger; he had observed him continually peeping into the window of Marr's shop; and had thought this act, connected with the man's appearance, so suspicious, that he stepped into Marr's shop, and communicated what he had seen. This fact he afterwards stated before the magistrates; and he added, that subsequently, viz., a few minutes after twelve (eight or ten minutes, probably, after the departure of Mary), he (the watchman), when re-entering upon his ordinary half-hourly beat, was requested by Marr to assist him in closing the shutters. Here they had a final communication with each other; and the watchman mentioned to Marr that the mysterious stranger had now apparently taken himself off; for that he had not been visible since the first communication made to Marr by the watchman. There is little doubt that Williams had observed the watchman's visit to Marr, and had thus had his attention seasonably drawn to the indiscretion of his own demeanor; so that the warning, given unavailingly to Marr, had been turned to account by Williams. There can be still less doubt, that the bloodhound had commenced his work within one minute of the watchman's assisting Marr to put up his shutters. And on the following consideration:—that which prevented Williams from commencing even earlier, was the exposure of the shop's whole interior to the gaze of street passengers. It was indispensable that the shutters should be accurately closed before Williams could safely get to work. But, as soon as ever this preliminary precaution had been completed, once having secured that concealment from the public eye it then became of still greater importance not to lose a moment by delay, than previously it had been not to hazard any thing by precipitance. For all depended upon going in before Marr should have locked the door. On any other mode of effecting an entrance (as, for instance, by waiting for the return of Mary, and making his entrance simultaneously with her), it will be seen that Williams must have forfeited that particular advantage which mute facts, when read into their true construction, will soon show the reader that he must have employed. Williams waited, of necessity, for the sound of the watchman's retreating steps; waited, perhaps, for thirty seconds; but when that danger was past, the next danger was, lest Marr should lock the door; one turn of the key, and the murderer would have been locked out. In, therefore, he bolted, and by a dexterous movement of his left hand, no doubt, turned the key, without letting Marr perceive this fatal stratagem. It is really wonderful and most interesting to pursue the successive steps of this monster, and to notice the absolute certainty with which the silent hieroglyphics of the case betray to us the whole process and movements of the bloody drama, not less surely and fully than if we had been ourselves hidden in Marr's shop, or had looked down from the heavens of mercy upon this hell-kite, that knew not what mercy meant. That he had concealed from Marr his trick, secret and rapid, upon the lock, is evident; because else, Marr would instantly have taken the alarm, especially after what the watchman had communicated. But it will soon be seen that Marr had not been alarmed. In reality, towards the full success of Williams, it was important, in the last degree, to intercept and forestall any yell or shout of agony from Marr. Such an outcry, and in a situation so slenderly fenced off from the street, viz., by walls the very thinnest, makes itself heard outside pretty nearly as well as if it were uttered in the street. Such an outcry it was indispensable to stifle. It was stifled; and the reader will soon understand how. Meantime, at this point, let us leave the murderer alone with his victims. For fifty minutes let him work his pleasure. The front-door, as we know, is now fastened against all help. Help there is none. Let us, therefore, in vision, attach ourselves to Mary; and, when all is over, let us come back with her, again raise the curtain, and read the dreadful record of all that has passed in her absence.

The poor girl, uneasy in her mind to an extent that she could but half understand, roamed up and down in search of an oyster shop; and finding none that was still open, within any circuit that her ordinary experience had made her acquainted with, she fancied it best to try the chances of some remoter district. Lights she saw gleaming or twinkling at a distance, that still tempted her onwards; and thus, amongst unknown streets poorly lighted, [4] and on a night of peculiar darkness, and in a region of London where ferocious tumults were continually turning her out of what seemed to be the direct course, naturally she got bewildered. The purpose with which she started, had by this time become hopeless. Nothing remained for her now but to retrace her steps. But this was difficult; for she was afraid to ask directions from chance passengers, whose appearance the darkness prevented her from reconnoitring. At length by his lantern she recognized a watchman; through him she was guided into the right road; and in ten minutes more, she found herself back at the door of No. 29, in Ratcliffe Highway. But by this time she felt satisfied that she must have been absent for fifty or sixty minutes; indeed, she had heard, at a distance, the cry of past one o'clock, which, commencing a few seconds after one, lasted intermittingly for ten or thirteen minutes.

In the tumult of agonizing thoughts that very soon surprised her, naturally it became hard for her to recall distinctly the whole succession of doubts, and jealousies, and shadowy misgivings that soon opened upon her. But, so far as could be collected, she had not in the first moment of reaching home noticed anything decisively alarming. In very many cities bells are the main instruments for communicating between the street and the interior of houses: but in London knockers prevail. At Marr's there was both a knocker and a bell. Mary rang, and at the same time very gently knocked. She had no fear of disturbing her master or mistress; them she made sure of finding still up. Her anxiety was for the baby, who being disturbed, might again rob her mistress of a night's rest. And she well knew that, with three people all anxiously awaiting her return, and by this time, perhaps, seriously uneasy at her delay, the least audible whisper from herself would in a moment bring one of them to the door. Yet how is this? To her astonishment, but with the astonishment came creeping over her an icy horror, no stir nor murmur was heard ascending from the kitchen. At this moment came back upon her, with shuddering anguish, the indistinct image of the stranger in the loose dark coat, whom she had seen stealing along under the shadowy lamp-light, and too certainly watching her master's motions: keenly she now reproached herself that, under whatever stress of hurry, she had not acquainted Mr. Marr with the suspicious appearances. Poor girl! she did not then know that, if this communication could have availed to put Marr upon his guard, it had reached him from another quarter; so that her own omission, which had in reality arisen under her hurry to execute her master's commission, could not be charged with any bad consequences. But all such reflections this way or that were swallowed up at this point in over-mastering panic. That her double summons could have been unnoticed—this solitary fact in one moment made a revelation of horror. One person might have fallen asleep, but two—but three—that was a mere impossibility. And even supposing all three together with the baby locked in sleep, still how unaccountable was this utter—utter silence! Most naturally at this moment something like hysterical horror overshadowed the poor girl, and now at last she rang the bell with the violence that belongs to sickening terror. This done, she paused: self-command enough she still retained, though fast and fast it was slipping away from her, to bethink herself—that, if any overwhelming accident had compelled both Marr and his apprentice-boy to leave the house in order to summon surgical aid from opposite quarters—a thing barely supposable—still, even in that case Mrs. Marr and her infant would be left; and some murmuring reply, under any extremity, would be elicited from the poor mother. To pause, therefore, to impose stern silence upon herself, so as to leave room for the possible answer to this final appeal, became a duty of spasmodic effort. Listen, therefore, poor trembling heart; listen, and for twenty seconds be still as death. Still as death she was: and during that dreadful stillness, when she hushed her breath that she might listen, occurred an incident of killing fear, that to her dying day would never cease to renew its echoes in her ear. She, Mary, the poor trembling girl, checking and overruling herself by a final effort, that she might leave full opening for her dear young mistress's answer to her own last frantic appeal, heard at last and most distinctly a sound within the house. Yes, now beyond a doubt there is coming an answer to her summons. What was it? On the stairs, not the stairs that led downwards to the kitchen, but the stairs that led upwards to the single story of bed-chambers above, was heard a creaking sound. Next was heard most distinctly a footfall: one, two, three, four, five stairs were slowly and distinctly descended. Then the dreadful footsteps were heard advancing along the little narrow passage to the door. The steps—oh heavens! whose steps?—have paused at the door. The very breathing can be heard of that dreadful being, who has silenced all breathing except his own in the house. There is but a door between him and Mary. What is he doing on the other side of the door? A cautious step, a stealthy step it was that came down the stairs, then paced along the little narrow passage—narrow as a coffin—till at last the step pauses at the door. How hard the fellow breathes! He, the solitary murderer, is on one side the door; Mary is on the other side. Now, suppose that he should suddenly open the door, and that incautiously in the dark Mary should rush in, and find herself in the arms of the murderer. Thus far the case is a possible one—that to a certainty, had this little trick been tried immediately upon Mary's return, it would have succeeded; had the door been opened suddenly upon her first tingle-tingle, headlong she would have tumbled in, and perished. But now Mary is upon her guard. The unknown murderer and she have both their lips upon the door, listening, breathing hard; but luckily they are on different sides of the door; and upon the least indication of unlocking or unlatching, she would have recoiled into the asylum of general darkness.

What was the murderer's meaning in coming along the passage to the front door? The meaning was this: separately, as an individual, Mary was worth nothing at all to him. But, considered as a member of a household, she had this value, viz., that she, if caught and murdered, perfected and rounded the desolation of the house. The case being reported, as reported it would be all over Christendom, led the imagination captive. The whole covey of victims was thus netted; the household ruin was thus full and orbicular; and in that proportion the tendency of men and women, flutter as they might, would be helplessly and hopelessly to sink into the all-conquering hands of the mighty murderer. He had but to say—my testimonials are dated from No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway, and the poor vanquished imagination sank powerless before the fascinating rattlesnake eye of the murderer. There is not a doubt that the motive of the murderer for standing on the inner side of Marr's front-door, whilst Mary stood on the outside, was—a hope that, if he quietly opened the door, whisperingly counterfeiting Marr's voice, and saying, What made you stay so long? possibly she might have been inveigled. He was wrong; the time was past for that; Mary was now maniacally awake; she began now to ring the bell and to ply the knocker with unintermitting violence. And the natural consequence was, that the next door neighbor, who had recently gone to bed and instantly fallen asleep, was roused; and by the incessant violence of the ringing and the knocking, which now obeyed a delirious and uncontrollable impulse in Mary, he became sensible that some very dreadful event must be at the root of so clamorous an uproar. To rise, to throw up the sash, to demand angrily the cause of this unseasonable tumult, was the work of a moment. The poor girl remained sufficiently mistress of herself rapidly to explain the circumstance of her own absence for an hour; her belief that Mr. and Mrs. Marr's family had all been murdered in the interval; and that at this very moment the murderer was in the house.

The person to whom she addressed this statement was a pawnbroker; and a thoroughly brave man he must have been; for it was a perilous undertaking, merely as a trial of physical strength, singly to face a mysterious assassin, who had apparently signalized his prowess by a triumph so comprehensive. But, again, for the imagination it required an effort of self-conquest to rush headlong into the presence of one invested with a cloud of mystery, whose nation, age, motives, were all alike unknown. Rarely on any field of battle has a soldier been called upon to face so complex a danger. For if the entire family of his neighbor Marr had been exterminated, were this indeed true, such a scale of bloodshed would seem to argue that there must have been two persons as the perpetrators; or if one singly had accomplished such a ruin, in that case how colossal must have been his audacity! probably, also, his skill and animal power! Moreover, the unknown enemy (whether single or double) would, doubtless, be elaborately armed. Yet, under all these disadvantages, did this fearless man rush at once to the field of butchery in his neighbor's house. Waiting only to draw on his trousers, and to arm himself with the kitchen poker, he went down into his own little back-yard. On this mode of approach, he would have a chance of intercepting the murderer; whereas from the front there would be no such chance; and there would also be considerable delay in the process of breaking open the door. A brick wall, nine or ten feet high, divided his own back premises from those of Marr. Over this he vaulted; and at the moment when he was recalling himself to the necessity of going back for a candle, he suddenly perceived a feeble ray of light already glimmering on some part of Marr's premises. Marr's back-door stood wide open. Probably the murderer had passed through it one half minute before. Rapidly the brave man passed onwards to the shop, and there beheld the carnage of the night stretched out on the floor, and the narrow premises so floated with gore, that it was hardly possible to escape the pollution of blood in picking out a path to the front-door. In the lock of the door still remained the key which had given to the unknown murderer so fatal an advantage over his victims. By this time, the heart- shaking news involved in the outcries of Mary (to whom it occurred that by possibility some one out of so many victims might still be within the reach of medical aid, but that all would depend upon speed) had availed, even at that late hour, to gather a small mob about the house. The pawnbroker threw open the door. One or two watchmen headed the crowd; but the soul-harrowing spectacle checked them, and impressed sudden silence upon their voices, previously so loud. The tragic drama read aloud its own history, and the succession of its several steps—few and summary. The murderer was as yet altogether unknown; not even suspected. But there were reasons for thinking that he must have been a person familiarly known to Marr. He had entered the shop by opening the door after it had been closed by Marr. But it was justly argued—that, after the caution conveyed to Marr by the watchman, the appearance of any stranger in the shop at that hour, and in so dangerous a neighborhood, and entering by so irregular and suspicious a course, (i.e., walking in after the door had been closed, and after the closing of the shutters had cut off all open communication with the street), would naturally have roused Marr to an attitude of vigilance and self-defence. Any indication, therefore, that Marr had not been so roused, would argue to a certainty that something had occurred to neutralize this alarm, and fatally to disarm the prudent jealousies of Marr. But this 'something' could only have lain in one simple fact, viz., that the person of the murderer was familiarly known to Marr as that of an ordinary and unsuspected acquaintance. This being presupposed as the key to all the rest, the whole course and evolution of the subsequent drama becomes clear as daylight. The murderer, it is evident, had opened gently, and again closed behind him with equal gentleness, the street-door. He had then advanced to the little counter, all the while exchanging the ordinary salutation of an old acquaintance with the unsuspecting Marr. Having reached the counter, he would then ask Marr for a pair of unbleached cotton socks. In a shop so small as Marr's, there could be no great latitude of choice for disposing of the different commodities. The arrangement of these had no doubt become familiar to the murderer; and he had already ascertained that, in order to reach down the particular parcel wanted at present, Marr would find it requisite to face round to the rear, and, at the same moment, to raise his eyes and his hands to a level eighteen inches above his own head. This movement placed him in the most disadvantageous possible position with regard to the murderer, who now, at the instant when Marr's hands and eyes were embarrassed, and the back of his head fully exposed, suddenly from below his large surtout, had unslung a heavy ship-carpenter's mallet, and, with one solitary blow, had so thoroughly stunned his victim, as to leave him incapable of resistance. The whole position of Marr told its own tale. He had collapsed naturally behind the counter, with his hands so occupied as to confirm the whole outline of the affair as I have here suggested it. Probable enough it is that the very first blow, the first indication of treachery that reached Marr, would also be the last blow as regarded the abolition of consciousness. The murderer's plan and rationale of murder started systematically from this infliction of apoplexy, or at least of a stunning sufficient to insure a long loss of consciousness. This opening step placed the murderer at his ease. But still, as returning sense might constantly have led to the fullest exposures, it was his settled practice, by way of consummation, to cut the throat. To one invariable type all the murders on this occasion conformed: the skull was first shattered; this step secured the murderer from instant retaliation; and then, by way of locking up all into eternal silence, uniformly the throat was cut. The rest of the circumstances, as self-revealed, were these. The fall of Marr might, probably enough, cause a dull, confused sound of a scuffle, and the more so, as it could not now be confounded with any street uproar—the shop-door being shut. It is more probable, however, that the signal for the alarm passing down to the kitchen, would arise when the murderer proceeded to cut Marr's throat. The very confined situation behind the counter would render it impossible, under the critical hurry of the case, to expose the throat broadly; the horrid scene would proceed by partial and interrupted cuts; deep groans would arise; and then would come the rush up-stairs. Against this, as the only dangerous stage in the transaction, the murderer would have specially prepared. Mrs. Marr and the apprentice-boy, both young and active, would make, of course, for the street door; had Mary been at home, and three persons at once had combined to distract the purposes of the murderer, it is barely possible that one of them would have succeeded in reaching the street. But the dreadful swing of the heavy mallet intercepted both the boy and his mistress before they could reach the door. Each of them lay stretched out on the centre of the shop floor; and the very moment that this disabling was accomplished, the accursed hound was down upon their throats with his razor. The fact is, that, in the mere blindness of pity for poor Marr, on hearing his groans, Mrs. Marr had lost sight of her obvious policy; she and the boy ought to have made for the back door; the alarm would thus have been given in the open air; which, of itself, was a great point; and several means of distracting the murderer's attention offered upon that course, which the extreme limitation of the shop denied to them upon the other.

Vain would be all attempts to convey the horror which thrilled the gathering spectators of this piteous tragedy. It was known to the crowd that one person had, by some accident, escaped the general massacre: but she was now speechless, and probably delirious; so that, in compassion for her pitiable situation, one female neighbor had carried her away, and put her to bed. Hence it had happened, for a longer space of time than could else have been possible, that no person present was sufficiently acquainted with the Marrs to be aware of the little infant; for the bold pawnbroker had gone off to make a communication to the coroner; and another neighbor to lodge some evidence which he thought urgent at a neighboring police-office. Suddenly some person appeared amongst the crowd who was aware that the murdered parents had a young infant; this would be found either below-stairs, or in one of the bedrooms above. Immediately a stream of people poured down into the kitchen, where at once they saw the cradle—but with the bedclothes in a state of indescribable confusion. On disentangling these, pools of blood became visible; and the next ominous sign was, that the hood of the cradle had been smashed to pieces. It became evident that the wretch had found himself doubly embarrassed— first, by the arched hood at the head of the cradle, which, accordingly, he had beat into a ruin with his mallet, and secondly, by the gathering of the blankets and pillows about the baby's head. The free play of his blows had thus been baffled. And he had therefore finished the scene by applying his razor to the throat of the little innocent; after which, with no apparent purpose, as though he had become confused by the spectacle of his own atrocities, he had busied himself in piling the clothes elaborately over the child's corpse. This incident undeniably gave the character of a vindictive proceeding to the whole affair, and so far confirmed the current rumor that the quarrel between Williams and Marr had originated in rivalship. One writer, indeed, alleged that the murderer might have found it necessary for his own safety to extinguish the crying of the child; but it was justly replied, that a child only eight months old could not have cried under any sense of the tragedy proceeding, but simply in its ordinary way for the absence of its mother; and such a cry, even if audible at all out of the house, must have been precisely what the neighbors were hearing constantly, so that it could have drawn no special attention, nor suggested any reasonable alarm to the murderer. No one incident, indeed, throughout the whole tissue of atrocities, so much envenomed the popular fury against the unknown ruffian, as this useless butchery of the infant.

Naturally, on the Sunday morning that dawned four or five hours later, the case was too full of horror not to diffuse itself in all directions; but I have no reason to think that it crept into any one of the numerous Sunday papers. In the regular course, any ordinary occurrence, not occurring, or not transpiring until fifteen minutes after 1 A. M. on a Sunday morning, would first reach the public ear through the Monday editions of the Sunday papers, and the regular morning papers of the Monday. But, if such were the course pursued on this occasion, never can there have been a more signal oversight. For it is certain, that to have met the public demand for details on the Sunday, which might so easily have been done by cancelling a couple of dull columns, and substituting a circumstantial narrative, for which the pawnbroker and the watchman could have furnished the materials, would have made a small fortune. By proper handbills dispersed through all quarters of the infinite metropolis, two hundred and fifty thousand extra copies might have been sold; that is, by any journal that should have collected exclusive materials, meeting the public excitement, everywhere stirred to the centre by flying rumors, and everywhere burning for ampler information. On the Sunday se'ennight (Sunday the octave from the event), took place the funeral of the Marrs; in the first coffin was placed Marr; in the second Mrs. Marr, and the baby in her arms; in the third the apprentice boy. They were buried side by side; and thirty thousand laboring people followed the funeral procession, with horror and grief written in their countenances.

As yet no whisper was astir that indicated, even conjecturally, the hideous author of these ruins—this patron of grave-diggers. Had as much been known on this Sunday of the funeral concerning that person as became known universally six days later, the people would have gone right from the churchyard to the murderer's lodgings, and (brooking no delay) would have torn him limb from limb. As yet, however, in mere default of any object on whom reasonable suspicion could settle, the public wrath was compelled to suspend itself. Else, far indeed from showing any tendency to subside, the public emotion strengthened every day conspicuously, as the reverberation of the shock began to travel back from the provinces to the capital. On every great road in the kingdom, continual arrests were made of vagrants and 'trampers,' who could give no satisfactory account of themselves, or whose appearance in any respect answered to the imperfect description of Williams furnished by the watchman.

With this mighty tide of pity and indignation pointing backwards to the dreadful past, there mingled also in the thoughts of reflecting persons an under-current of fearful expectation for the immediate future. 'The earthquake,' to quote a fragment from a striking passage in Wordsworth—

'The earthquake is not satisfied at once.'

All perils, specially malignant, are recurrent. A murderer, who is such by passion and by a wolfish craving for bloodshed as a mode of unnatural luxury, cannot relapse into inertia. Such a man, even more than the Alpine chamois hunter, comes to crave the dangers and the hairbreadth escapes of his trade, as a condiment for seasoning the insipid monotonies of daily life. But, apart from the hellish instincts that might too surely be relied on for renewed atrocities, it was clear that the murderer of the Marrs, wheresoever lurking, must be a needy man; and a needy man of that class least likely to seek or to find resources in honorable modes of industry; for which, equally by haughty disgust and by disuse of the appropriate habits, men of violence are specially disqualified. Were it, therefore, merely for a livelihood, the murderer whom all hearts were yearning to decipher, might be expected to make his resurrection on some stage of horror, after a reasonable interval. Even in the Marr murder, granting that it had been governed chiefly by cruel and vindictive impulses, it was still clear that the desire of booty had co-operated with such feelings. Equally clear it was that this desire must have been disappointed: excepting the trivial sum reserved by Marr for the week's expenditure, the murderer found, doubtless, little or nothing that he could turn to account. Two guineas, perhaps, would be the outside of what he had obtained in the way of booty. A week or so would see the end of that. The conviction, therefore, of all people was, that in a month or two, when the fever of excitement might a little have cooled down, or have been superseded by other topics of fresher interest, so that the newborn vigilance of household life would have had time to relax, some new murder, equally appalling, might be counted upon.

Such was the public expectation. Let the reader then figure to himself the pure frenzy of horror when in this hush of expectation, looking, indeed, and waiting for the unknown arm to strike once more, but not believing that any audacity could be equal to such an attempt as yet, whilst all eyes were watching, suddenly, on the twelfth night from the Marr murder, a second case of the same mysterious nature, a murder on the same exterminating plan was perpetrated in the very same neighborhood. It was on the Thursday next but one succeeding to the Marr murder that this second atrocity took place; and many people thought at the time, that in its dramatic features of thrilling interest, this second case even went beyond the first. The family which suffered in this instance was that of a Mr. Williamson; and the house was situated, if not absolutely in Ratcliffe Highway, at any rate immediately round the corner of some secondary street, running at right angles to this public thoroughfare, Mr. Williamson was a well-known and respectable man, long settled in that district; he was supposed to be rich; and more with a view to the employment furnished by such a calling, than with much anxiety for further accumulations, he kept a sort of tavern; which, in this respect, might be considered on an old patriarchal footing—that, although people of considerable property resorted to the house in the evenings, no kind of anxious separation was maintained between them and the other visitors from the class of artisans or common laborers. Anybody who conducted himself with propriety was free to take a seat, and call for any liquor that he might prefer. And thus the society was pretty miscellaneous; in part stationary, but in some proportion fluctuating. The household consisted of the following five persons:—1. Mr. Williamson, its head, who was an old man above seventy, and was well fitted for his situation, being civil, and not at all morose, but, at the same time, firm in maintaining order; 2. Mrs. Williamson, his wife, about ten years younger than himself; 3. a little grand-daughter, about nine years old; 4. a housemaid, who was nearly forty years old; 5. a young journeyman, aged about twenty-six, belonging to some manufacturing establishment (of what class I have forgotten); neither do I remember of what nation he was. It was the established rule at Mr. Williamson's, that, exactly as the clock struck eleven, all the company, without favor or exception, moved off. That was one of the customs by which, in so stormy a district, Mr. Williamson had found it possible to keep his house free from brawls. On the present Thursday night everything had gone on as usual, except for one slight shadow of suspicion, which had caught the attention of more persons than one. Perhaps at a less agitating time it would hardly have been noticed; but now, when the first question and the last in all social meetings turned upon the Marrs, and their unknown murderer, it was a circumstance naturally fitted to cause some uneasiness, that a stranger, of sinister appearance, in a wide surtout, had flitted in and out of the room at intervals during the evening; had sometimes retired from the light into obscure corners; and, by more than one person, had been observed stealing into the private passages of the house. It was presumed in general, that the man must be known to Williamson. And in some slight degree, as an occasional customer of the house, it is not impossible that he was. But afterwards, this repulsive stranger, with his cadaverous ghastliness, extraordinary hair, and glazed eyes, showing himself intermittingly through the hours from 8 to 11 P.M., revolved upon the memory of all who had steadily observed him with something of the same freezing effect as belongs to the two assassins in 'Macbeth,' who present themselves reeking from the murder of Banquo, and gleaming dimly, with dreadful faces, from the misty background, athwart the pomps of the regal banquet.

Meantime the clock struck eleven; the company broke up; the door of entrance was nearly closed; and at this moment of general dispersion the situation of the five inmates left upon the premises was precisely this: the three elders, viz., Williamson, his wife, and his female servant, were all occupied on the ground floor—Williamson himself was drawing ale, porter, &c., for those neighbors, in whose favor the house-door had been left ajar, until the hour of twelve should strike; Mrs. Williamson and her servant were moving to and fro between the back-kitchen and a little parlor; the little grand-daughter, whose sleeping-room was on the first floor (which term in London means always the floor raised by one flight of stairs above the level of the street), had been fast asleep since nine o'clock; lastly, the journeyman artisan had retired to rest for some time. He was a regular lodger in the house; and his bedroom was on the second floor. For some time he had been undressed, and had lain down in bed. Being, as a working man, bound to habits of early rising, he was naturally anxious to fall asleep as soon as possible. But, on this particular night, his uneasiness, arising from the recent murders at No. 29, rose to a paroxysm of nervous excitement which kept him awake. It is possible, that from somebody he had heard of the suspicious-looking stranger, or might even personally observed him slinking about. But, were it otherwise, he was aware of several circumstances dangerously affecting this house; for instance, the ruffianism of this whole neighborhood, and the disagreeable fact that the Marrs had lived within a few doors of this very house, which again argued that the murderer also lived at no great distance. These were matters of general alarm. But there were others peculiar to this house; in particular, the notoriety of Williamson's opulence; the belief, whether well or ill founded, that he accumulated, in desks and drawers, the money continually flowing into his hands; and lastly, the danger so ostentatiously courted by that habit of leaving the house-door ajar through one entire hour—and that hour loaded with extra danger, by the well-advertised assurance that no collision need be feared with chance convivial visiters, since all such people were banished at eleven. A regulation, which had hitherto operated beneficially for the character and comfort of the house, now, on the contrary, under altered circumstances, became a positive proclamation of exposure and defencelessness, through one entire period of an hour. Williamson himself, it was said generally, being a large unwieldy man, past seventy, and signally inactive, ought, in prudence, to make the locking of his door coincident with the dismissal of his evening party.

Upon these and other grounds of alarm (particularly this, that Mrs. Williamson was reported to possess a considerable quantity of plate), the journeyman was musing painfully, and the time might be within twenty-eight or twenty-five minutes of twelve, when all at once, with a crash, proclaiming some hand of hideous violence, the house-door was suddenly shut and locked. Here, then, beyond all doubt, was the diabolic man, clothed in mystery, from No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway. Yes, that dreadful being, who for twelve days had employed all thoughts and all tongues, was now, too certainly, in this defenceless house, and would, in a few minutes, be face to face with every one of its inmates. A question still lingered in the public mind—whether at Marr's there might not have been two men at work. If so, there would be two at present; and one of the two would be immediately disposable for the up-stairs work; since no danger could obviously be more immediately fatal to such an attack than any alarm given from an upper window to the passengers in the street. Through one half-minute the poor panic-stricken man sat up motionless in bed. But then he rose, his first movement being towards the door of his room. Not for any purpose of securing it against intrusion—too well he knew that there was no fastening of any sort—neither lock, nor bolt; nor was there any such moveable furniture in the room as might have availed to barricade the door, even if time could be counted on for such an attempt. It was no effect of prudence, merely the fascination of killing fear it was, that drove him to open the door. One step brought him to the head of the stairs: he lowered his head over the balustrade in order to listen; and at that moment ascended, from the little parlor, this agonizing cry from the woman-servant, 'Lord Jesus Christ! we shall all be murdered!' What a Medusa's head must have lurked in those dreadful bloodless features, and those glazed rigid eyes, that seemed rightfully belonging to a corpse, when one glance at them sufficed to proclaim a death-warrant.

Three separate death-struggles were by this time over; and the poor petrified journeyman, quite unconscious of what he was doing, in blind, passive, self-surrender to panic, absolutely descended both flights of stairs. Infinite terror inspired him with the same impulse as might have been inspired by headlong courage. In his shirt, and upon old decaying stairs, that at times creaked under his feet, he continued to descend, until he had reached the lowest step but four. The situation was tremendous beyond any that is on record. A sneeze, a cough, almost a breathing, and the young man would be a corpse, without a chance or a struggle for his life. The murderer was at that time in the little parlor —the door of which parlor faced you in descending the stairs; and this door stood ajar; indeed, much more considerably open than what is understood by the term 'ajar.' Of that quadrant, or 90 degrees, which the door would describe in swinging so far open as to stand at right angles to the lobby, or to itself, in a closed position, 55 degrees at the least were exposed. Consequently, two out of three corpses were exposed to the young man's gaze. Where was the third? And the murderer—where was he? As to the murderer, he was walking rapidly backwards and forwards in the parlor, audible but not visible at first, being engaged with something or other in that part of the room which the door still concealed. What the something might be, the sound soon explained; he was applying keys tentatively to a cupboard, a closet, and a scrutoire, in the hidden part of the room. Very soon, however, he came into view; but, fortunately for the young man, at this critical moment, the murderer's purpose too entirely absorbed him to allow of his throwing a glance to the staircase, on which else the white figure of the journeyman, standing in motionless horror, would have been detected in one instant, and seasoned for the grave in the second. As to the third corpse, the missing corpse, viz., Mr. Williamson's, that is in the cellar; and how its local position can be accounted for, remains a separate question much discussed at the time, but never satisfactorily cleared up. Meantime, that Williamson was dead, became evident to the young man; since else he would have been heard stirring or groaning. Three friends, therefore, out of four, whom the young man had parted with forty minutes ago, were now extinguished; remained, therefore, 40 per cent. (a large per centage for Williams to leave); remained, in fact, himself and his pretty young friend, the little grand-daughter, whose childish innocence was still slumbering without fear for herself, or grief for her aged grand-parents. If they are gone for ever, happily one friend (for such he will prove himself, indeed, if from such a danger he can save this child) is pretty near to her. But alas! he is still nearer to a murderer. At this moment he is unnerved for any exertion whatever; he has changed into a pillar of ice; for the objects before him, separated by just thirteen feet, are these:—The housemaid had been caught by the murderer on her knees; she was kneeling before the fire-grate, which she had been polishing with black lead. That part of her task was finished; and she had passed on to another task, viz., the filling of the grate with wood and coals, not for kindling at this moment, but so as to have it ready for kindling on the next day. The appearances all showed that she must have been engaged in this labor at the very moment when the murderer entered; and perhaps the succession of the incidents arranged itself as follows:—From the awful ejaculation and loud outcry to Christ, as overheard by the journeyman, it was clear that then first she had been alarmed; yet this was at least one and a-half or even two minutes after the door-slamming. Consequently the alarm which had so fearfully and seasonably alarmed the young man, must, in some unaccountable way, have been misinterpreted by the two women. It was said, at the time, that Mrs. Williamson labored under some dulness of hearing; and it was conjectured that the servant, having her ears filled with the noise of her own scrubbing, and her head half under the grate, might have confounded it with the street noises, or else might have imputed this violent closure to some mischievous boys. But, howsoever explained, the fact was evident, that, until the words of appeal to Christ, the servant had noticed nothing suspicious, nothing which interrupted her labors. If so, it followed that neither had Mrs. Williamson noticed anything; for, in that case, she would have communicated her own alarm to the servant, since both were in the same small room. Apparently the course of things after the murderer had entered the room was this:—Mrs. Williamson had probably not seen him, from the accident of standing with her back to the door. Her, therefore, before he was himself observed at all, he had stunned and prostrated by a shattering blow on the back of her head; this blow, inflicted by a crow-bar, had smashed in the hinder part of the skull. She fell; and by the noise of her fall (for all was the work of a moment) had first roused the attention of the servant; who then uttered the cry which had reached the young man; but before she could repeat it, the murderer had descended with his uplifted instrument upon her head, crushing the skull inwards upon the brain. Both the women were irrecoverably destroyed, so that further outrages were needless; and, moreover, the murderer was conscious of the imminent danger from delay; and yet, in spite of his hurry, so fully did he appreciate the fatal consequences to himself, if any of his victims should so far revive into consciousness as to make circumstantial depositions, that, by way of making this impossible, he had proceeded instantly to cut the throats of each. All this tallied with the appearances as now presenting themselves. Mrs. Williamson had fallen backwards with her head to the door; the servant, from her kneeling posture, had been incapable of rising, and had presented her head passively to blows; after which, the miscreant had but to bend her head backwards so as to expose her throat, and the murder was finished.

It is remarkable that the young artisan, paralyzed as he had been by fear, and evidently fascinated for a time so as to walk right towards the lion's mouth, yet found himself able to notice everything important. The reader must suppose him at this point watching the murderer whilst hanging over the body of Mrs. Williamson, and whilst renewing his search for certain important keys. Doubtless it was an anxious situation for the murderer; for, unless he speedily found the keys wanted, all this hideous tragedy would end in nothing but a prodigious increase of the public horror, in tenfold precautions therefore, and redoubled obstacles interposed between himself and his future game. Nay, there was even a nearer interest at stake; his own immediate safety might, by a probable accident, be compromised. Most of those who came to the house for liquor were giddy girls or children, who, on finding this house closed, would go off carelessly to some other; but, let any thoughtful woman or man come to the door now, a full quarter of an hour before the established time of closing, in that case suspicion would arise too powerful to be checked. There would be a sudden alarm given; after which, mere luck would decide the event. For it is a remarkable fact, and one that illustrates the singular inconsistency of this villain, who, being often so superfluously subtle, was in other directions so reckless and improvident, that at this very moment, standing amongst corpses that had deluged the little parlor with blood, Williams must have been in considerable doubt whether he had any sure means of egress. There were windows, he knew, to the back; but upon what ground they opened, he seems to have had no certain information; and in a neighborhood so dangerous, the windows of the lower story would not improbably be nailed down; those in the upper might be free, but then came the necessity of a leap too formidable. From all this, however, the sole practical inference was to hurry forward with the trial of further keys, and to detect the hidden treasure. This it was, this intense absorption in one overmastering pursuit, that dulled the murderer's perceptions as to all around him; otherwise, he must have heard the breathing of the young man, which to himself at times became fearfully audible. As the murderer stood once more over the body of Mrs. Williamson, and searched her pockets more narrowly, he pulled out various clusters of keys, one of which dropping, gave a harsh gingling sound upon the floor. At this time it was that the secret witness, from his secret stand, noticed the fact of Williams's surtout being lined with silk of the finest quality. One other fact he noticed, which eventually became more immediately important than many stronger circumstances of incrimination; this was, that the shoes of the murderer, apparently new, and bought, probably, with poor Marr's money, creaked as he walked, harshly and frequently. With the new clusters of keys, the murderer walked off to the hidden section of the parlor. And here, at last, was suggested to the journeyman the sudden opening for an escape. Some minutes would be lost to a certainty trying all these keys; and subsequently in searching the drawers, supposing that the keys answered—or in violently forcing them, supposing that they did not. He might thus count upon a brief interval of leisure, whilst the rattling of the keys might obscure to the murderer the creaking of the stairs under the re-ascending journeyman. His plan was now formed: on regaining his bedroom, he placed the bed against the door by way of a transient retardation to the enemy, that might give him a short warning, and in the worst extremity, might give him a chance for life by means of a desperate leap. This change made as quietly as possible, he tore the sheets, pillow-cases, and blankets into broad ribbons; and after plaiting them into ropes, spliced the different lengths together. But at the very first he descries this ugly addition to his labors. Where shall he look for any staple, hook, bar, or other fixture, from which his rope, when twisted, may safely depend? Measured from the window-silli.e., the lowest part of the window architrave—there count but twenty-two or twenty-three feet to the ground. Of this length ten or twelve feet may be looked upon as cancelled, because to that extent he might drop without danger. So much being deducted, there would remain, say, a dozen feet of rope to prepare. But, unhappily, there is no stout iron fixture anywhere about his window. The nearest, indeed the sole fixture of that sort, is not near to the window at all; it is a spike fixed (for no reason at all that is apparent) in the bed-tester; now, the bed being shifted, the spike is shifted; and its distance from the window, having been always four feet, is now seven. Seven entire feet, therefore, must be added to that which would have sufficed if measured from the window. But courage! God, by the proverb of all nations in Christendom, helps those that help themselves. This our young man thankfully acknowledges; he reads already, in the very fact of any spike at all being found where hitherto it has been useless, an earnest of providential aid. Were it only for himself that he worked, he could not feel himself meritoriously employed; but this is not so; in deep sincerity, he is now agitated for the poor child, whom he knows and loves; every minute, he feels, brings ruin nearer to her; and, as he passed her door, his first thought had been to take her out of bed in his arms, and to carry her where she might share his chances. But, on consideration, he felt that this sudden awaking of her, and the impossibility of even whispering any explanation, would cause her to cry audibly; and the inevitable indiscretion of one would be fatal to the two. As the Alpine avalanches, when suspended above the traveller's head, oftentimes (we are told) come down through the stirring of the air by a simple whisper, precisely on such a tenure of a whisper was now suspended the murderous malice of the man below. No; there is but one way to save the child; towards her deliverance, the first step is through his own. And he has made an excellent beginning; for the spike, which too fearfully he had expected to see torn away by any strain upon the half-carious wood, stands firmly when tried against the pressure of his own weight. He has rapidly fastened on to it three lengths of his new rope, measuring eleven feet. He plaits it roughly; so that only three feet have been lost in the intertwisting; he has spliced on a second length equal to the first; so that, already, sixteen feet are ready to throw out of the window; and thus, let the worst come to the worst, it will not be absolute ruin to swarm down the rope so far as it will reach, and then to drop boldly. All this has been accomplished in about six minutes; and the hot contest between above and below is steadily but fervently proceeding. Murderer is working hard in the parlor; journeyman is working hard in the bedroom. Miscreant is getting on famously down-stairs; one batch of bank-notes he has already bagged; and is hard upon the scent of a second. He has also sprung a covey of golden coins. Sovereigns as yet were not; but guineas at this period fetched thirty shillings a-piece; and he has worked his way into a little quarry of these. Murderer is almost joyous; and if any creature is still living in this house, as shrewdly he suspects, and very soon means to know, with that creature he would be happy, before cutting the creature's throat, to drink a glass of something. Instead of the glass, might he not make a present to the poor creature of its throat? Oh no! impossible! Throats are a sort of thing that he never makes presents of; business— business must be attended to. Really the two men, considered simply as men of business, are both meritorious. Like chorus and semi-chorus, strophe and antistrophe, they work each against the other. Pull journeyman, pull murderer! Pull baker, pull devil! As regards the journeyman, he is now safe. To his sixteen feet, of which seven are neutralized by the distance of the bed, he has at last added six feet more, which will be short of reaching the ground by perhaps ten feet—a trifle which man or boy may drop without injury. All is safe, therefore, for him: which is more than one can be sure of for miscreant in the parlor. Miscreant, however, takes it coolly enough: the reason being, that, with all his cleverness, for once in his life miscreant has been over-reached. The reader and I know, but miscreant does not in the least suspect, a little fact of some importance, viz., that just now through a space of full three minutes he has been overlooked and studied by one, who (though reading in a dreadful book, and suffering under mortal panic) took accurate notes of so much as his limited opportunities allowed him to see, and will assuredly report the creaking shoes and the silk-mounted surtout in quarters where such little facts will tell very little to his advantage. But, although it is true that Mr. Williams, unaware of the journeyman's having 'assisted' at the examination of Mrs. Williamson's pockets, could not connect any anxiety with that person's subsequent proceedings', nor specially, therefore, with his having embarked in the rope-weaving line, assuredly he knew of reasons enough for not loitering. And yet he did loiter. Reading his acts by the light of such mute traces as he left behind him, the police became aware that latterly he must have loitered. And the reason which governed him is striking; because at once it records—that murder was not pursued by him simply as a means to an end, but also as an end for itself. Mr. Williams had now been upon the premises for perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes; and in that space of time he had dispatched, in a style satisfactory to himself, a considerable amount of business. He had done, in commercial language, 'a good stroke of business.' Upon two floors, viz., the cellar-floor and the ground-floor, he has 'accounted for' all the population. But there remained at least two floors more; and it now occurred to Mr. Williams that, although the landlord's somewhat chilling manner had shut him out from any familiar knowledge of the household arrangements, too probably on one or other of those floors there must be some throats. As to plunder, he has already bagged the whole. And it was next to impossible that any arrear the most trivial should still remain for a gleaner. But the throats—the throats—there it was that arrears and gleanings might perhaps be counted on. And thus it appeared that, in his wolfish thirst for blood, Mr. Williams put to hazard the whole fruits of his night's work, and his life into the bargain. At this moment, if the murderer knew all, could he see the open window above stairs ready for the descent of the journeyman, could he witness the life- and-death rapidity with which that journeyman is working, could he guess at the almighty uproar which within ninety seconds will be maddening the population of this populous district—no picture of a maniac in flight of panic or in pursuit of vengeance would adequately represent the agony of haste with which he would himself be hurrying to the street-door for final evasion. That mode of escape was still free. Even at this moment, there yet remained time sufficient for a successful flight, and, therefore, for the following revolution in the romance of his own abominable life. He had in his pockets above a hundred pounds of booty; means, therefore, for a full disguise. This very night, if he will shave off his yellow hair, and blacken his eyebrows, buying, when morning light returns, a dark-colored wig, and clothes such as may co-operate in personating the character of a grave professional man, he may elude all suspicions of impertinent policemen; may sail by any one of a hundred vessels bound for any port along the huge line of sea-board (stretching through twenty-four hundred miles) of the American United States; may enjoy fifty years for leisurely repentance; and may even die in the odor of sanctity. On the other hand, if he prefer active life, it is not impossible that, with his subtlety, hardihood, and unscrupulousness, in a land where the simple process of naturalization converts the alien at once into a child of the family, he might rise to the president's chair; might have a statue at his death; and afterwards a life in three volumes quarto, with no hint glancing towards No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway. But all depends on the next ninety seconds. Within that time there is a sharp turn to be taken; there is a wrong turn, and a right turn. Should his better angel guide him to the right one, all may yet go well as regards this world's prosperity. But behold! in two minutes from this point we shall see him take the wrong one: and then Nemesis will be at his heels with ruin perfect and sudden.

Meantime, if the murderer allows himself to loiter, the ropemaker overhead does not. Well he knows that the poor child's fate is on the edge of a razor: for all turns upon the alarm being raised before the murderer reaches her bedside. And at this very moment, whilst desperate agitation is nearly paralyzing his fingers, he hears the sullen stealthy step of the murderer creeping up through the darkness. It had been the expectation of the journeyman (founded on the clamorous uproar with which the street-door was slammed) that Williams, when disposable for his up-stairs work, would come racing at a long jubilant gallop, and with a tiger roar; and perhaps, on his natural instincts, he would have done so. But this mode of approach, which was of dreadful effect when applied to a case of surprise, became dangerous in the case of people who might by this time have been placed fully upon their guard. The step which he had heard was on the staircase—but upon which stair? He fancied upon the lowest: and in a movement so slow and cautious, even this might make all the difference; yet might it not have been the tenth, twelfth, or fourteenth stair? Never, perhaps, in this world did any man feel his own responsibility so cruelly loaded and strained, as at this moment did the poor journeyman on behalf of the slumbering child. Lose but two seconds, through awkwardness or through the self-counteractions of panic, and for her the total difference arose between life and death. Still there is a hope: and nothing can so frightfully expound the hellish nature of him whose baleful shadow, to speak astrologically, at this moment darkens the house of life, than the simple expression of the ground on which this hope rested. The journeyman felt sure that the murderer would not be satisfied to kill the poor child whilst unconscious. This would be to defeat his whole purpose in murdering her at all. To an epicure in murder such as Williams, it would be taking away the very sting of the enjoyment, if the poor child should be suffered to drink off the bitter cup of death without fully apprehending the misery of the situation. But this luckily would require time: the double confusion of mind, first, from being roused up at so unusual an hour, and, secondly, from the horror of the occasion when explained to her, would at first produce fainting, or some mode of insensibility or distraction, such as must occupy a considerable time. The logic of the case, in short, all rested upon the ultra fiendishness of Williams. Were he likely to be content with the mere fact of the child's death, apart from the process and leisurely expansion of its mental agony—in that case there would be no hope. But, because our present murderer is fastidiously finical in his exactions—a sort of martinet in the scenical grouping and draping of the circumstances in his murders—therefore it is that hope becomes reasonable, since all such refinements of preparation demand time. Murders of mere necessity Williams was obliged to hurry; but, in a murder of pure voluptuousness, entirely disinterested, where no hostile witness was to be removed, no extra booty to be gained, and no revenge to be gratified, it is clear that to hurry would be altogether to ruin. If this child, therefore, is to be saved, it will be on pure aesthetical considerations. [5]

But all considerations whatever are at this moment suddenly cut short. A second step is heard on the stairs, but still stealthy and cautious; a third—and then the child's doom seems fixed. But just at that. moment all is ready. The window is wide open; the rope is swinging free; the journeyman has launched himself; and already he is in the first stage of his descent. Simply by the weight of his person he descended, and by the resistance of his hands he retarded the descent. The danger was, that the rope should run too smoothly through his hands, and that by too rapid an acceleration of pace he should come violently to the ground. Happily he was able to resist the descending impetus: the knots of the splicings furnished a succession of retardations. But the rope proved shorter by four or five feet than he had calculated: ten or eleven feet from the ground he hung suspended in the air; speechless for the present, through long-continued agitation; and not daring to drop boldly on the rough carriage pavement, lest he should fracture his legs. But the night was not dark, as it had been on occasion of the Marr murders. And yet, for purposes of criminal police, it was by accident worse than the darkest night that ever hid a murder or baffled a pursuit. London, from east to west, was covered with a deep pall (rising from the river) of universal fog. Hence it happened, that for twenty or thirty seconds the young man hanging in the air was not observed. His white shirt at length attracted notice. Three or four people ran up, and received him in their arms, all anticipating some dreadful annunciation. To what house did he belong? Even that was not instantly apparent; but he pointed with his finger to Williamson's door, and said in a half-choking whisper—'Marr's murderer, now at work!'

All explained itself in a moment: the silent language of the fact made its own eloquent revelation. The mysterious exterminator of No. 29 Ratcliffe Highway had visited another house; and, behold! one man only had escaped through the air, and in his night-dress, to tell the tale. Superstitiously, there was something to check the pursuit of this unintelligible criminal. Morally, and in the interests of vindictive justice, there was everything to rouse, quicken, and sustain it.

Yes, Marr's murderer—the man of mystery—was again at work; at this moment perhaps extinguishing some lamp of life, and not at any remote place, but here—in the very house which the listeners to this dreadful announcement were actually touching. The chaos and blind uproar of the scene which followed, measured by the crowded reports in the journals of many subsequent days, and in one feature of that case, has never to my knowledge had its parallel; or, if a parallel, only in one case—what followed, I mean, on the acquittal of the seven bishops at Westminster in 1688. At present there was more than passionate enthusiasm. The frenzied movement of mixed horror and exultation—the ululation of vengeance which ascended instantaneously from the individual street, and then by a sublime sort of magnetic contagion from all the adjacent streets, can be adequately expressed only by a rapturous passage in Shelley:—

  'The transport of a fierce and monstrous gladness
      Spread through the multitudinous streets, fast flying
  Upon the wings of fear:—From his dull madness
      The starveling waked, and died in joy: the dying,
  Among the corpses in stark agony lying,
      Just heard the happy tidings, and in hope
  Closed their faint eyes: from house to house replying
      With loud acclaim the living shook heaven's cope,
  And fill'd the startled earth with echoes.' [6]

There was something, indeed, half inexplicable in the instantaneous interpretation of the gathering shout according to its true meaning. In fact, the deadly roar of vengeance, and its sublime unity, could point in this district only to the one demon whose idea had brooded and tyrannized, for twelve days, over the general heart: every door, every window in the neighborhood, flew open as if at a word of command; multitudes, without waiting for the regular means of egress, leaped down at once from the windows on the lower story; sick men rose from their beds; in one instance, as if expressly to verify the image of Shelley (in v. 4, 5, 6, 7), a man whose death had been looked for through some days, and who actually did die on the following day, rose, armed himself with a sword, and descended in his shirt into the street. The chance was a good one, and the mob were made aware of it, for catching the wolfish dog in the high noon and carnival of his bloody revels—in the very centre of his own shambles. For a moment the mob was self-baffled by its own numbers and its own fury. But even that fury felt the call for self-control. It was evident that the massy street-door must be driven in, since there was no longer any living person to co-operate with their efforts from within, excepting only a female child. Crowbars dexterously applied in one minute threw the door out of hangings, and the people entered like a torrent. It may be guessed with what fret and irritation to their consuming fury, a signal of pause and absolute silence was made by a person of local importance. In the hope of receiving some useful communication, the mob became silent. 'Now listen,' said the man of authority, 'and we shall learn whether he is above-stairs or below.' Immediately a noise was heard as if of some one forcing windows, and clearly the sound came from a bedroom above. Yes, the fact was apparent that the murderer was even yet in the house: he had been caught in a trap. Not having made himself familiar with the details of Williamson's house, to all appearance he had suddenly become a prisoner in one of the upper rooms. Towards this the crowd now rushed impetuously. The door, however, was found to be slightly fastened; and, at the moment when this was forced, a loud crash of the window, both glass and frame, announced that the wretch had made his escape. He had leaped down; and several persons in the crowd, who burned with the general fury, leaped after him. These persons had not troubled themselves about the nature of the ground; but now, on making an examination of it with torches, they reported it to be an inclined plane, or embankment of clay, very wet and adhesive. The prints of the man's footsteps were deeply impressed upon the clay, and therefore easily traced up to the summit of the embankment; but it was perceived at once that pursuit would be useless, from the density of the mist. Two feet ahead of you, a man was entirely withdrawn from your power of identification; and, on overtaking him, you could not venture to challenge him as the same whom you had lost sight of. Never, through the course of a whole century, could there be a night expected more propitious to an escaping criminal: means of disguise Williams now had in excess; and the dens were innumerable in the neighborhood of the river that could have sheltered him for years from troublesome inquiries. But favors are thrown away upon the reckless and the thankless. That night, when the turning-point offered itself for his whole future career, Williams took the wrong turn; for, out of mere indolence, he took the turn to his old lodgings—that place which, in all England, he had just now the most reason to shun.

Meantime the crowd had thoroughly searched the premises of Williamson. The first inquiry was for the young grand-daughter. Williams, it was evident, had gone into her room: but in this room apparently it was that the sudden uproar in the streets had surprised him; after which his undivided attention had been directed to the windows, since through these only any retreat had been left open to him. Even this retreat he owed only to the fog and to the hurry of the moment, and to the difficulty of approaching the premises by the rear. The little girl was naturally agitated by the influx of strangers at that hour; but otherwise, through the humane precautions of the neighbors, she was preserved from all knowledge of the dreadful events that had occurred whilst she herself was sleeping. Her poor old grandfather was still missing, until the crowd descended into the cellar; he was then found lying prostrate on the cellar floor: apparently he had been thrown down from the top of the cellar stairs, and with so much violence, that one leg was broken. After he had been thus disabled, Williams had gone down to him, and cut his throat. There was much discussion at the time, in some of the public journals, upon the possibility of reconciling these incidents with other circumstantialities of the case, supposing that only one man had been concerned in the affair. That there was only one man concerned, seems to be certain. One only was seen or heard at Marr's: one only, and beyond all doubt the same man, was seen by the young journeyman in Mrs. Williamson's parlor; and one only was traced by his footmarks on the clay embankment. Apparently the course which he had pursued was this: he had introduced himself to Williamson by ordering some beer. This order would oblige the old man to go down into the cellar; Williams would wait until he had reached it, and would then 'slam' and lock the street-door in the violent way described. Williamson would come up in agitation upon hearing this violence. The murderer, aware that he would do so, met him, no doubt, at the head of the cellar stairs, and threw him down; after which he would go down to consummate the murder in his ordinary way. All this would occupy a minute, or a minute and a half; and in that way the interval would be accounted for that elapsed between the alarming sound of the street-door as heard by the journeyman, and the lamentable outcry of the female servant. It is evident also, that the reason why no cry whatsoever had been heard from the lips of Mrs. Williamson, is due to the positions of the parties as I have sketched them. Coming behind Mrs. Williamson, unseen therefore, and from her deafness unheard, the murderer would inflict entire abolition of consciousness while she was yet unaware of his presence. But with the servant, who had unavoidably witnessed the attack upon her mistress, the murderer could not obtain the same fulness of advantage; and she therefore had time for making an agonizing ejaculation.

It has been mentioned, that the murderer of the Marrs was not for nearly a fortnight so much as suspected; meaning that, previously to the Williamson murder, no vestige of any ground for suspicion in any direction whatever had occurred either to the general public or to the police. But there were two very limited exceptions to this state of absolute ignorance. Some of the magistrates had in their possession something which, when closely examined, offered a very probable means for tracing the criminal. But as yet they had not traced him. Until the Friday morning next after the destruction of the Williamsons, they had not published the important fact, that upon the ship-carpenter's mallet (with which, as regarded the stunning or disabling process, the murders had been achieved) were inscribed the letters 'J. P.' This mallet had, by a strange oversight on the part of the murderer, been left behind in Marr's shop; and it is an interesting fact, therefore, that, had the villain been intercepted by the brave pawnbroker, he would have been met virtually disarmed. This public notification was made officially on the Friday, viz., on the thirteenth day after the first murder. And it was instantly followed (as will be seen) by a most important result. Meantime, within the secrecy of one single bedroom in all London, it is a fact that Williams had been whisperingly the object of very deep suspicion from the very first—that is, within that same hour which witnessed the Marr tragedy. And singular it is, that the suspicion was due entirely to his own folly. Williams lodged, in company with other men of various nations, at a public-house. In a large dormitory there were arranged five or six beds; these were occupied by artisans, generally of respectable character. One or two Englishmen there were, one or two Scotchmen, three or four Germans, and Williams, whose birth-place was not certainly known. On the fatal Saturday night, about half-past one o'clock, when Williams returned from his dreadful labors, he found the English and Scotch party asleep, but the Germans awake: one of them was sitting up with a lighted candle in his hands, and reading aloud to the other two. Upon this, Williams said, in an angry and very peremptory tone, 'Oh, put that candle out; put it out directly; we shall all be burned in our beds.' Had the British party in the room been awake, Mr. Williams would have roused a mutinous protest against this arrogant mandate. But Germans are generally mild and facile in their tempers; so the light was complaisantly extinguished. Yet, as there were no curtains, it struck the Germans that the danger was really none at all; for bed-clothes, massed upon each other, will no more burn than the leaves of a closed book. Privately, therefore, the Germans drew an inference, that Mr. Williams must have had some urgent motive for withdrawing his own person and dress from observation. What this motive might be, the next day's news diffused all over London, and of course at this house, not two furlongs from Marr's shop, made awfully evident; and, as may well be supposed, the suspicion was communicated to the other members of the dormitory. All of them, however, were aware of the legal danger attaching, under English law, to insinuations against a man, even if true, which might not admit of proof. In reality, had Williams used the most obvious precautions, had he simply walked down to the Thames (not a stone's-throw distant), and flung two of his implements into the river, no conclusive proof could have been adduced against him. And he might have realized the scheme of Courvoisier (the murderer of Lord William Russell) —viz., have sought each separate month's support in a separate well- concerted murder. The party in the dormitory, meantime, were satisfied themselves, but waited for evidences that might satisfy others. No sooner, therefore, had the official notice been published as to the initials J. P. on the mallet, than every man in the house recognized at once the well- known initials of an honest Norwegian ship-carpenter, John Petersen, who had worked in the English dockyards until the present year; but, having occasion to revisit his native land, had left his box of tools in the garrets of this inn. These garrets were now searched. Petersen's tool- chest was found, but wanting the mallet; and, on further examination, another overwhelming discovery was made. The surgeon, who examined the corpses at Williamson's, had given it as his opinion that the throats were not cut by means of a razor, but of some implement differently shaped. It was now remembered that Williams had recently borrowed a large French knife of peculiar construction; and accordingly, from a heap of old lumber and rags, there was soon extricated a waistcoat, which the whole house could swear to as recently worn by Williams. In this waistcoat, and glued by gore to the lining of its pockets, was found the French knife. Next, it was matter of notoriety to everybody in the inn, that Williams ordinarily wore at present a pair of creaking shoes, and a brown surtout lined with silk. Many other presumptions seemed scarcely called for. Williams was immediately apprehended, and briefly examined. This was on the Friday. On the Saturday morning (viz., fourteen days from the Marr murders) he was again brought up. The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming; Williams watched its course, but said very little. At the close, he was fully committed for trial at the next sessions; and it is needless to say, that, on his road to prison, he was pursued by mobs so fierce, that, under ordinary circumstances, there would have been small hope of escaping summary vengeance. But upon this occasion a powerful escort had been provided; so that he was safely lodged in jail. In this particular jail at this time, the regulation was, that at five o'clock, P. M. all the prisoners on the criminal side should be finally locked up for the night, and without candles. For fourteen hours (that is, until seven o'clock on the next morning) they were left unvisited, and in total darkness. Time, therefore, Williams had for committing suicide. The means in other respects were small. One iron bar there was, meant (if I remember) for the suspension of a lamp; upon this he had hanged himself by his braces. At what hour was uncertain: some people fancied at midnight. And in that case, precisely at the hour when, fourteen days before, he had been spreading horror and desolation through the quiet family of poor Marr, now was he forced into drinking of the same cup, presented to his lips by the same accursed hands.

* * * * *

The case of the M'Keans, which has been specially alluded to, merits also a slight rehearsal for the dreadful picturesqueness of some two or three amongst its circumstances. The scene of this murder was at a rustic inn, some few miles (I think) from Manchester; and the advantageous situation of this inn it was, out of which arose the two fold temptations of the case. Generally speaking, an inn argues, of course, a close cincture of neighbors—as the original motive for opening such an establishment. But, in this case, the house individually was solitary, so that no interruption was to be looked for from any persons living within reach of screams; and yet, on the other hand, the circumjacent vicinity was eminently populous; as one consequence of which, a benefit club had established its weekly rendezvous in this inn, and left the peculiar accumulations in their club- room, under the custody of the landlord. This fund arose often to a considerable amount, fifty or seventy pounds, before it was transferred to the hands of a banker. Here, therefore, was a treasure worth some little risk, and a situation that promised next to none. These attractive circumstances had, by accident, become accurately known to one or both of the two M'Keans; and, unfortunately, at a moment of overwhelming misfortune to themselves. They were hawkers; and, until lately, had borne most respectable characters: but some mercantile crash had overtaken them with utter ruin, in which their joint capital had been swallowed up to the last shilling. This sudden prostration had made them desperate: their own little property had been swallowed up in a large social catastrophe, and society at large they looked upon as accountable to them for a robbery. In preying, therefore, upon society, they considered themselves as pursuing a wild natural justice of retaliation. The money aimed at did certainly assume the character of public money, being the product of many separate subscriptions. They forgot, however, that in the murderous acts, which too certainly they meditated as preliminaries to the robbery, they could plead no such imaginary social precedent. In dealing with a family that seemed almost helpless, if all went smoothly, they relied entirely upon their own bodily strength. They were stout young men, twenty-eight to thirty-two years old; somewhat undersized as to height; but squarely built, deep- chested, broad-shouldered, and so beautifully formed, as regarded the symmetry of their limbs and their articulations, that, after their execution, the bodies were privately exhibited by the surgeons of the Manchester Infirmary, as objects of statuesque interest. On the other hand, the household which they proposed to attack consisted of the following four persons:—1. the landlord, a stoutish farmer—but him they intended to disable by a trick then newly introduced amongst robbers, and termed hocussing, i.e., clandestinely drugging the liquor of the victim with laudanum; 2. the landlord's wife; 3. a young servant woman; 4. a boy, twelve or fourteen years old. The danger was, that out of four persons, scattered by possibility over a house which had two separate exits, one at least might escape, and by better acquaintance with the adjacent paths, might succeed in giving an alarm to some of the houses a furlong distant. Their final resolution was, to be guided by circumstances as to the mode of conducting the affair; and yet, as it seemed essential to success that they should assume the air of strangers to each other, it was necessary that they should preconcert some general outline of their plan; since it would on this scheme be impossible, without awaking violent suspicions, to make any communications under the eyes of the family. This outline included, at the least, one murder: so much was settled; but, otherwise, their subsequent proceedings make it evident that they wished to have as little bloodshed as was consistent with their final object. On the appointed day, they presented themselves separately at the rustic inn, and at different hours. One came as early as four o'clock in the afternoon; the other not until half-past seven. They saluted each other distantly and shyly; and, though occasionally exchanging a few words in the character of strangers, did not seem disposed to any familiar intercourse. With the landlord, however, on his return about eight o'clock from Manchester, one of the brothers entered into a lively conversation; invited him to take a tumbler of punch; and, at a moment when the landlord's absence from the room allowed it, poured into the punch a spoonful of laudanum. Some time after this, the clock struck ten; upon which the elder M'Kean, professing to be weary, asked to be shown up to his bedroom: for each brother, immediately on arriving, had engaged a bed. On this, the poor servant girl had presented herself with a bed-candle to light him upstairs. At this critical moment the family were distributed thus:—the landlord, stupefied with the horrid narcotic which he had drunk, had retired to a private room adjoining the public room, for the purpose of reclining upon a sofa: and he, luckily for his own safety, was looked upon as entirely incapacitated for action. The landlady was occupied with her husband. And thus the younger M'Kean was left alone in the public room. He rose, therefore, softly, and placed himself at the foot of the stairs which his brother had just ascended, so as to be sure of intercepting any fugitive from the bedroom above. Into that room the elder M'Kean was ushered by the servant, who pointed to two beds—one of which was already half occupied by the boy, and the other empty: in these, she intimated that the two strangers must dispose of themselves for the night, according to any arrangement that they might agree upon. Saying this, she presented him with the candle, which he in a moment placed upon the table; and, intercepting her retreat from the room threw his arm round her neck with a gesture as though he meant to kiss her. This was evidently what she herself anticipated, and endeavored to prevent. Her horror may be imagined, when she felt the perfidious hand that clasped her neck armed with a razor, and violently cutting her throat. She was hardly able to utter one scream, before she sank powerless upon the floor. This dreadful spectacle was witnessed by the boy, who was not asleep, but had presence of mind enough instantly to close his eyes. The murderer advanced hastily to the bed, and anxiously examined the expression of the boy's features: satisfied he was not, and he then placed his hand upon the boy's heart, in order to judge by its beatings whether he were agitated or not. This was a dreadful trial: and no doubt the counterfeit sleep would immediately have been detected, when suddenly a dreadful spectacle drew off the attention of the murderer. Solemnly, and in ghostly silence, uprose in her dying delirium the murdered girl; she stood upright, she walked steadily for a moment or two, she bent her steps towards the door. The murderer turned away to pursue her; and at that moment the boy, feeling that his one solitary chance was to fly while this scene was in progress, bounded out of bed. On the landing at the head of the stairs was one murderer, at the foot of the stairs was the other: who could believe that the boy had the shadow of a chance for escaping? And yet, in the most natural way, he surmounted all hindrances. In the boy's horror, he laid his left hand on the balustrade, and took a flying leap over it, which landed him at the bottom of the stairs, without having touched a single stair. He had thus effectually passed one of the murderers: the other, it is true, was still to be passed; and this would have been impossible but for a sudden accident. The landlady had been alarmed by the faint scream of the young woman; had hurried from her private room to the girl's assistance; but at the foot of the stairs had been intercepted by the younger brother, and was at this moment struggling with him. The confusion of this life-and- death conflict had allowed the boy to whirl past them. Luckily he took a turn into a kitchen, out of which was a back-door, fastened by a single bolt, that ran freely at a touch; and through this door he rushed into the open fields. But at this moment the elder brother was set free for pursuit by the death of the poor girl. There is no doubt, that in her delirium the image moving through her thoughts was that of the club, which met once a- week. She fancied it no doubt sitting; and to this room, for help and for safety she staggered along; she entered it, and within the doorway once more she dropped down, and instantly expired. Her murderer, who had followed her closely, now saw himself set at liberty for the pursuit of the boy. At this critical moment, all was at stake; unless the boy were caught, the enterprise was ruined. He passed his brother, therefore, and the landlady without pausing, and rushed through the open door into the fields. By a single second, perhaps, he was too late. The boy was keenly aware, that if he continued in sight, he would have no chance of escaping from a powerful young man. He made, therefore, at once for a ditch, into which he tumbled headlong. Had the murderer ventured to make a leisurely examination of the nearest ditch, he would easily have found the boy—made so conspicuous by his white shirt. But he lost all heart, upon failing at once to arrest the boy's flight. And every succeeding second made his despair the greater. If the boy had really effected his escape to the neighboring farm-house, a party of men might be gathered within five minutes; and already it might have become difficult for himself and his brother, unacquainted with the field paths, to evade being intercepted. Nothing remained, therefore, but to summon his brother away. Thus it happened that the landlady, though mangled, escaped with life, and eventually recovered. The landlord owed his safety to the stupefying potion. And the baffled murderers had the misery of knowing that their dreadful crime had been altogether profitless. The road, indeed, was now open to the club-room; and, probably, forty seconds would have sufficed to carry off the box of treasure, which afterwards might have been burst open and pillaged at leisure. But the fear of intercepting enemies was too strongly upon them; and they fled rapidly by a road which carried them actually within six feet of the lurking boy. That night they passed through Manchester. When daylight returned, they slept in a thicket twenty miles distant from the scene of their guilty attempt. On the second and third nights, they pursued their march on foot, resting again during the day. About sunrise on the fourth morning, they were entering some village near Kirby Lonsdale, in Westmoreland. They must have designedly quitted the direct line of route; for their object was Ayrshire, of which county they were natives; and the regular road would have led them through Shap, Penrith, Carlisle. Probably they were seeking to elude the persecution of the stage-coaches, which, for the last thirty hours, had been scattering at all the inns and road-side cabarets hand-bills describing their persons and dress. It happened (perhaps through design) that on this fourth morning they had separated, so as to enter the village ten minutes apart from each other. They were exhausted and footsore. In this condition it was easy to stop them. A blacksmith had silently reconnoitred them, and compared their appearance with the description of the hand-bills. They were then easily overtaken, and separately arrested. Their trial and condemnation speedily followed at Lancaster; and in those days it followed, of course, that they were executed. Otherwise their case fell so far within the sheltering limits of what would now be regarded as extenuating circumstances—that, whilst a murder more or less was not to repel them from their object, very evidently they were anxious to economize the bloodshed as much as possible. Immeasurable, therefore, was the interval which divided them from the monster Williams. They perished on the scaffold: Williams, as I have said, by his own hand; and, in obedience to the law as it then stood, he was buried in the centre of a quadrivium, or conflux of four roads (in this case four streets), with a stake driven through his heart. And over him drives for ever the uproar of unresting London!


[1] See 'Miscellaneous Essays,' p. 17.

[2] I am not sure whether Southey held at this time his appointment to the editorship of the 'Edinburgh Annual Register.' If he did, no doubt in the domestic section of that chronicle will be found an excellent account of the whole.

[3] An artist told me in this year, 1812, that having accidentally seen a native Devonshire regiment (either volunteers or militia), nine hundred strong, marching past a station at which he had posted himself, he did not observe a dozen men that would not have been described in common parlance as 'good looking.'

[4] I do not remember, chronologically, the history of gas-lights. But in London, long after Mr. Winsor had shown the value of gas-lighting, and its applicability to street purposes, various districts were prevented, for many years, from resorting to the new system, in consequence of old contracts with oil-dealers, subsisting through long terms of years.

[5] Let the reader, who is disposed to regard as exaggerated or romantic the pure fiendishness imputed to Williams, recollect that, except for the luxurious purpose of basking and revelling in the anguish of dying despair, he had no motive at all, small or great, for attempting the murder of this young girl. She had seen nothing, heard nothing—was fast asleep, and her door was closed; so that, as a witness against him, he knew that she was as useless as any one of the three corpses. And yet he was making preparations for her murder, when the alarm in the street interrupted him.

[6] 'Revolt of Islam,' canto xii.

[7] See his bitter letters to Lady Suffolk.


It is sometimes said, that a religious messenger from God does not come amongst men for the sake of teaching truths in science, or of correcting errors in science. Most justly is this said: but often in terms far too feeble. For generally these terms are such as to imply, that, although no direct and imperative function of his mission, it was yet open to him, as a permissible function—that, although not pressing with the force of an obligation upon the missionary, it was yet at his discretion—if not to correct other men's errors, yet at least in his own person to speak with scientific precision. I contend that it was not. I contend, that to have uttered the truths of astronomy, of geology, &c., at the era of new- born Christianity, was not only below and beside the purposes of a religion, but would have been against them. Even upon errors of a far more important class than errors in science can ever be—superstitions, for instance, that degraded the very idea of God; prejudices and false usages, that laid waste human happiness (such as slavery, and many hundreds of other abuses that might be mentioned), the rule evidently acted upon by the Founder of Christianity was this—Given the purification of the well-head, once assumed that the fountains of truth are cleansed, all these derivative currents of evil will cleanse themselves. As a general rule, the branches of error were disregarded, and the roots only attacked. If, then, so lofty a station was taken with regard even to such errors as really had moral and spiritual relations, how much more with regard to the comparative trifles (as in the ultimate relations of human nature they are) of merely human science! But, for my part, I go further, and assert, that upon three reasons it was impossible for any messenger from God (or offering himself in that character) to have descended into the communication of truth merely scientific, or economic, or worldly. And the three reasons are these:—First, Because such a descent would have degraded his mission, by lowering it to the base level of a collusion with human curiosity, or (in the most favorable case) of a collusion with petty and transitory interests. Secondly, Because it would have ruined his mission, by disturbing its free agency, and misdirecting its energies, in two separate modes: first, by destroying the spiritual auctoritas (the prestige and consideration) of the missionary; secondly, by vitiating the spiritual atmosphere of his audience—that is, corrupting and misdirecting the character of their thoughts and expectations. He that in the early days of Christianity should have proclaimed the true theory of the solar system, or that by any chance word or allusion should then, in a condition of man so little prepared to receive such truths, have asserted or assumed the daily motion of the earth on its own axis, or its annual motion round the sun, would have found himself entangled at once and irretrievably in the following unmanageable consequences:—First of all, and instantaneously, he would have been roused to the alarming fact, that, by this dreadful indiscretion he himself, the professed deliverer of a new and spiritual religion, had in a moment untuned the spirituality of his audience. He would find that he had awakened within them the passion of curiosity—the most unspiritual of passions, and of curiosity in a fierce polemic shape. The very safest step in so deplorable a situation would be, instantly to recant. Already by this one may estimate the evil, when such would be its readiest palliation. For in what condition would the reputation of the teacher be left for discretion and wisdom as an intellectual guide, when his first act must be to recant—and to recant what to the whole body of his hearers would wear the character of a lunatic proposition. Such considerations might possibly induce him not to recant. But in that case the consequences are far worse. Having once allowed himself to sanction what his hearers regard as the most monstrous of paradoxes, he has no liberty of retreat open to him. He must stand to the promises of his own acts. Uttering the first truth of a science, he is pledged to the second; taking the main step, he is committed to all which follow. He is thrown at once upon the endless controversies which science in every stage provokes, and in none more than in the earliest. Starting, besides, from the authority of a divine mission, he could not (as others might) have the privilege of selecting arbitrarily or partially. If upon one science, then upon all; if upon science, then upon art; if upon art and science, then upon every branch of social economy his reformations and advances are equally due—due as to all, if due as to any. To move in one direction, is constructively to undertake for all. Without power to retreat, he has thus thrown the intellectual interests of his followers into a channel utterly alien to the purposes of a spiritual mission.

The spiritual mission, therefore, the purpose for which only the religious teacher was sent, has now perished altogether—overlaid and confounded by the merely scientific wranglings to which his own inconsiderate precipitance has opened the door. But suppose at this point that the teacher, aware at length of the mischief which he has caused, and seeing that the fatal error of uttering one solitary novel truth upon a matter of mere science is by inevitable consequence to throw him upon a road leading altogether away from the proper field of his mission, takes the laudable course of confessing his error, and of attempting a return into his proper spiritual province. This may be his best course; yet, after all, it will not retrieve his lost ground. He returns with a character confessedly damaged. His very excuse rests upon the blindness and shortsightedness which forbade his anticipating the true and natural consequences. Neither will his own account of the case be generally accepted. He will not be supposed to retreat from further controversy, as inconsistent with spiritual purposes, but because he finds himself unequal to the dispute. And, in the very best case, he is, by his own acknowledgment, tainted with human infirmity. He has been ruined for a servant of inspiration; and how? By a process, let it be remembered, of which all the steps are inevitable under the same agency: that is, in the case of any primitive Christian teacher having attempted to speak the language of scientific truth in dealing with the phenomena of astronomy, geology, or of any merely human knowledge.

Now, thirdly and lastly, in order to try the question in an extreme form, let it be supposed that, aided by powers of working miracles, some early apostle of Christianity should actually have succeeded in carrying through the Copernican system of astronomy, as an article of blind belief, sixteen centuries before the progress of man's intellect had qualified him for naturally developing that system. What, in such a case, would be the true estimate and valuation of the achievement? Simply this, that he had thus succeeded in cancelling and counteracting a determinate scheme of divine discipline and training for man. Wherefore did God give to man the powers for contending with scientific difficulties? Wherefore did he lay a secret train of continual occasions, that should rise, by relays, through scores of generations, for provoking and developing those activities in man's intellect, if, after all, he is to send a messenger of his own, more than human, to intercept and strangle all these great purposes? This is to mistake the very meaning and purposes of a revelation. A revelation is not made for the purpose of showing to indolent men that which, by faculties already given to them, they may show to themselves; no: but for the purpose of showing that which the moral darkness of man will not, without supernatural light, allow him to perceive. With disdain, therefore, must every thoughtful person regard the notion, that God could wilfully interfere with his own plans, by accrediting ambassadors to reveal astronomy, or any other science, which he has commanded men, by qualifying men, to reveal for themselves.

Even as regards astronomy—a science so nearly allying itself to religion by the loftiness and by the purity of its contemplations—Scripture is nowhere the parent of any doctrine, nor so much as the silent sanctioner of any doctrine. It is made impossible for Scripture to teach falsely, by the simple fact that Scripture, on such subjects, will not condescend to teach at all. The Bible adopts the erroneous language of men (which at any rate it must do, in order to make itself understood), not by way of sanctioning a theory, but by way of using a fact. The Bible, for instance, uses (postulates) the phenomena of day and night, of summer and winter; and, in relation to their causes, speaks by the same popular and inaccurate language which is current for ordinary purposes, even amongst the most scientific of astronomers. For the man of science, equally with the populace, talks of the sun as rising and setting, as having finished half his day's journey, &c., and, without pedantry, could not in many cases talk otherwise. But the results, which are all that concern Scripture, are equally true, whether accounted for by one hypothesis which is philosophically just, or by another which is popular and erring.

Now, on the other hand, in geology and cosmology, the case is stronger. Here there is no opening for a compliance even with a language that is erroneous; for no language at all is current upon subjects that have never engaged the popular attention. Here, where there is no such stream of apparent phenomena running counter (as in astronomy there is) to the real phenomena, neither is there any popular language opposed to the scientific. The whole are abtruse speculations, even as regards their objects, nor dreamed of as possibilities, either in their true aspects or their false aspects, till modern times. The Scriptures, therefore, nowhere allude to such sciences, either as taking the shape of histories, applied to processes current and in movement, or as taking the shape of theories applied to processes past and accomplished. The Mosaic cosmogony, indeed, gives the succession of natural births; and probably the general outline of such a succession will be more and more confirmed as geology advances. But as to the time, the duration, of this successive evolution, it is the idlest of notions that the Scriptures either have, or could have, condescended to human curiosity upon so awful a prologue to the drama of this world. Genesis would no more have indulged so mean a passion with respect to the mysterious inauguration of the world, than the Apocalypse with respect to its mysterious close. 'Yet the six days of Moses!' Days! But is it possible that human folly should go the length of understanding by the Mosaical day, the mysterious day of that awful agency which moulded the heavens and the heavenly host, no more than the ordinary nychthemeron or cycle of twenty-four hours? The period implied in a day, when used in relation to the inaugural manifestation of creative power in that vast drama which introduces God to man in the character of a demiurgus or creator of the world, indicated one stage amongst six; involving probably many millions of years. The silliest of nurses, in her nursery babble, could hardly suppose that the mighty process began on a Monday morning, and ended on Saturday night. If we are seriously to study the value and scriptural acceptation of scriptural words and phrases, I presume that our first business will be to collate the use of these words in one part of Scripture, with their use in other parts, holding the same spiritual relations. The creation, for instance, does not belong to the earthly or merely historical records, but to the spiritual records of the Bible; to the same category, therefore, as the prophetic sections of the Bible. Now, in those, and in the Psalms, how do we understand the word day? Is any man so little versed in biblical language as not to know, that (except in the merely historical parts of the Jewish records) every section of time has a secret and separate acceptation in the Scriptures? Does an aeon, though a Grecian word, bear scripturally (either in Daniel or in St. John) any sense known to Grecian ears? Do the seventy weeks of the prophet mean weeks in the sense of human calendars? Already the Psalms (xc.), already St. Peter (2d Epist.), warn us of a peculiar sense attached to the word day in divine ears. And who of the innumerable interpreters understands the twelve hundred and sixty days in Daniel, or his two thousand and odd days, to mean, by possibility, periods of twenty-four hours? Surely the theme of Moses was as mystical, and as much entitled to the benefit of mystical language, as that of the prophets.

The sum of this matter is this:—God, by a Hebrew prophet, is sublimely described as the Revealer; and, in variation of his own expression, the same prophet describes him as the Being 'that knoweth the darkness.' Under no idea can the relations of God to man be more grandly expressed. But of what is he the revealer? Not surely of those things which he has enabled man to reveal for himself, but of those things which, were it not through special light from heaven, must eternally remain sealed up in inaccessible darkness. On this principle we should all laugh at a revealed cookery. But essentially the same ridicule, not more, and not less, applies to a revealed astronomy, or a revealed geology. As a fact, there is no such astronomy or geology: as a possibility, by the a priori argument which I have used (viz., that a revelation on such fields would counteract other machineries of providence), there can be no such astronomy or geology in the Bible. Consequently there is none. Consequently there can be no schism or feud upon these subjects between the Bible and the philosophies outside.


In the person of this Mr. Schlosser is exemplified a common abuse, not confined to literature. An artist from the Italian opera of London and Paris, making a professional excursion to our provinces, is received according to the tariff of the metropolis; no one being bold enough to dispute decisions coming down from the courts above. In that particular case there is seldom any reason to complain—since really out of Germany and Italy there is no city, if you except Paris and London, possessing materials, in that field of art, for the composition of an audience large enough to act as a court of revision. It would be presumption in the provincial audience, so slightly trained to good music and dancing, if it should affect to reverse a judgment ratified in the supreme capital. The result, therefore, is practically just, if the original verdict was just; what was right from the first cannot be made wrong by iteration. Yet, even in such a case, there is something not satisfactory to a delicate sense of equity; for the artist returns from the tour as if from some new and independent triumph, whereas, all is but the reverberation of an old one; it seems a new access of sunlight, whereas it is but a reflex illumination from satellites.

In literature the corresponding case is worse. An author, passing by means of translation before a foreign people, ought de jure to find himself before a new tribunal; but de facto, he does not. Like the opera artist, but not with the same propriety, he comes before a court that never interferes to disturb a judgment, but only to re-affirm it. And he returns to his native country, quartering in his armorial bearings these new trophies, as though won by new trials, when, in fact, they are due to servile ratifications of old ones. When Sue, or Balzac, Hugo, or George Sand, comes before an English audience—the opportunity is invariably lost for estimating them at a new angle of sight. All who dislike them lay them aside—whilst those only apply themselves seriously to their study, who are predisposed to the particular key of feeling, through which originally these authors had prospered. And thus a new set of judges, that might usefully have modified the narrow views of the old ones, fall by mere inertia into the humble character of echoes and sounding-boards to swell the uproar of the original mob.

In this way is thrown away the opportunity, not only of applying corrections to false national tastes, but oftentimes even to the unfair accidents of luck that befall books. For it is well known to all who watch literature with vigilance, that books and authors have their fortunes, which travel upon a far different scale of proportions from those that measure their merits. Not even the caprice or the folly of the reading public is required to account for this. Very often, indeed, the whole difference between an extensive circulation for one book, and none at all for another of about equal merit, belongs to no particular blindness in men, but to the simple fact, that the one has, whilst the other has not, been brought effectually under the eyes of the public. By far the greater part of books are lost, not because they are rejected, but because they are never introduced. In any proper sense of the word, very few books are published. Technically they are published; which means, that for six or ten times they are advertised, but they are not made known to attentive ears, or to ears prepared for attention. And amongst the causes which account for this difference in the fortune of books, although there are many, we may reckon, as foremost, personal accidents of position in the authors. For instance, with us in England it will do a bad book no ultimate service, that it is written by a lord, or a bishop, or a privy counsellor, or a member of Parliament—though, undoubtedly, it will do an instant service—it will sell an edition or so. This being the case, it being certain that no rank will reprieve a bad writer from final condemnation, the sycophantic glorifier of the public fancies his idol justified; but not so. A bad book, it is true, will not be saved by advantages of position in the author; but a book moderately good will be extravagantly aided by such advantages. Lectures on Christianity, that happened to be respectably written and delivered, had prodigious success in my young days, because, also, they happened to be lectures of a prelate; three times the ability would not have procured them any attention had they been the lectures of an obscure curate. Yet on the other hand, it is but justice to say, that, if written with three times less ability, lawn-sleeves would not have given them buoyancy, but, on the contrary, they would have sunk the bishop irrecoverably; whilst the curate, favored by obscurity, would have survived for another chance. So again, and indeed, more than so, as to poetry. Lord Carlisle, of the last generation, wrote tolerable verses. They were better than Lord Roscommon's, which, for one hundred and fifty years, the judicious public has allowed the booksellers to incorporate, along with other refuse of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, into the costly collections of the 'British Poets.' And really, if you will insist on odious comparisons, they were not so very much below the verses of an amiable prime minister known to us all. Yet, because they wanted vital stamina, not only they fell, but, in falling, they caused the earl to reel much more than any commoner would have done. Now, on the other hand, a kinsman of Lord Carlisle, viz., Lord Byron, because he brought real genius and power to the effort, found a vast auxiliary advantage in a peerage and a very ancient descent. On these double wings he soared into a region of public interest, far higher than ever he would have reached by poetic power alone. Not only all his rubbish—which in quantity is great—passed for jewels, but also what are incontestably jewels have been, and will be, valued at a far higher rate than if they had been raised from less aristocratic mines. So fatal for mediocrity, so gracious for real power, is any adventitious distinction from birth, station, or circumstances of brilliant notoriety. In reality, the public, our never-sufficiently-to-be- respected mother, is the most unutterable sycophant that ever the clouds dropped their rheum upon. She is always ready for jacobinical scoffs at a man for being a lord, if he happens to fail; she is always ready for toadying a lord, if he happens to make a hit. Ah, dear sycophantic old lady, I kiss your sycophantic hands, and wish heartily that I were a duke for your sake!

It would be a mistake to fancy that this tendency to confound real merit and its accidents of position is at all peculiar to us or to our age. Dr. Sacheverell, by embarking his small capital of talent on the springtide of a furious political collision, brought back an ampler return for his little investment than ever did Wickliffe or Luther. Such was his popularity in the heart of love and the heart of hatred, that he would have been assassinated by the Whigs, on his triumphal progresses through England, had he not been canonized by the Tories. He was a dead man if he had not been suddenly gilt and lacquered as an idol. Neither is the case peculiar at all to England. Ronge, the ci-devant Romish priest (whose name pronounce as you would the English word wrong, supposing that it had for a second syllable the final a of 'sopha,' i.e., Wronguh), has been found a wrong-headed man by all parties, and in a venial degree is, perhaps, a stupid man; but he moves about with more eclat by far than the ablest man in Germany. And, in days of old, the man that burned down a miracle of beauty, viz., the temple of Ephesus, protesting, with tears in his eyes, that he had no other way of getting himself a name, has got it in spite of us all. He's booked for a ride down all history, whether you and I like it or not. Every pocket dictionary knows that Erostratus was that scamp. So of Martin, the man that parboiled, or par- roasted York Minster some ten or twelve years back; that fellow will float down to posterity with the annals of the glorious cathedral: he will

'Pursue the triumph and partake the gale,'

whilst the founders and benefactors of the Minster are practically forgotten.

These incendiaries, in short, are as well known as Ephesus or York; but not one of us can tell, without humming and hawing, who it was that rebuilt the Ephesian wonder of the world, or that repaired the time- honored Minster. Equally in literature, not the weight of service done, or the power exerted, is sometimes considered chiefly—either of these must be very conspicuous before it will be considered at all—but the splendor, or the notoriety, or the absurdity, or even the scandalousness of the circumstances [1] surrounding the author.

Schlosser must have benefitted in some such adventitious way before he ever could have risen to his German celebrity. What was it that raised him to his momentary distinction? Was it something very wicked that he did, or something very brilliant that he said? I should rather conjecture that it must have been something inconceivably absurd which he proposed. Any one of the three achievements stands good in Germany for a reputation. But, however it were that Mr. Schlosser first gained his reputation, mark what now follows. On the wings of this equivocal reputation he flies abroad to Paris and London. There he thrives, not by any approving experience or knowledge of his works, but through blind faith in his original German public. And back he flies afterwards to Germany, as if carrying with him new and independent testimonies to his merit, and from two nations that are directly concerned in his violent judgments; whereas (which is the simple truth) he carries back a careless reverberation of his first German character, from those who have far too much to read for declining aid from vicarious criticism when it will spare that effort to themselves. Thus it is that German critics become audacious and libellous. Kohl, Von Raumer, Dr. Carus, physician to the King of Saxony, by means of introductory letters floating them into circles far above any they had seen in homely Germany, are qualified by our own negligence and indulgence for mounting a European tribunal, from which they pronounce malicious edicts against ourselves. Sentinels present arms to Von Raumer at Windsor, because he rides in a carriage of Queen Adelaide's; and Von Raumer immediately conceives himself the Chancellor of all Christendom, keeper of the conscience to universal Europe, upon all questions of art, manners, politics, or any conceivable intellectual relations of England. Schlosser meditates the same career.

But have I any right to quote Schlosser's words from an English translation? I do so only because this happens to be at hand, and the German not. German books are still rare in this country, though more (by one thousand to one) than they were thirty years ago. But I have a full right to rely on the English of Mr. Davison. 'I hold in my hand,' as gentlemen so often say at public meetings, 'a certificate from Herr Schlosser, that to quote Mr. Davison is to quote him.' The English translation is one which Mr. Schlosser 'durchgelesen hat, und fur deren genauigkeit und richtigkeit er burgt [has read through, and for the accuracy and propriety of which he pledges himself]. Mr. Schossler was so anxious for the spiritual welfare of us poor islanders, that he not only read it through, but he has even aufmerksam durchgelesen it [read it through wide awake] und gepruft [and carefully examined it]; nay, he has done all this in company with the translator. 'Oh ye Athenians! how hard do I labor to earn your applause!' And, as the result of such herculean labors, a second time he makes himself surety for its precision; 'er burgt also dafur wie fur seine eigne arbeit' [he guarantees it accordingly as he would his own workmanship]. Were it not for this unlimited certificate, I should have sent for the book to Germany. As it is, I need not wait; and all complaints on this score I defy, above all from Herr Schlosser. [2]

In dealing with an author so desultory as Mr. Schlosser, the critic has a right to an extra allowance of desultoriness for his own share; so excuse me, reader, for rushing at once in medias res.

Of Swift, Mr. Schlosser selects for notice three works—the 'Drapier's Letters,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' and the 'Tale of a Tub.' With respect to the first, as it is a necessity of Mr. S. to be forever wrong in his substratum of facts, he adopts the old erroneous account of Wood's contract as to the copper coinage, and of the imaginary wrong which it inflicted on Ireland. Of all Swift's villainies for the sake of popularity, and still more for the sake of wielding this popularity vindictively, none is so scandalous as this. In any new life of Swift the case must be stated de novo. Even Sir Walter Scott is not impartial; and for the same reason as now forces me to blink it, viz., the difficulty of presenting the details in a readable shape. 'Gulliver's Travels' Schlosser strangely considers 'spun out to an intolerable extent.' Many evil things might be said of Gulliver; but not this. The captain is anything but tedious. And, indeed, it becomes a question of mere mensuration, that can be settled in a moment. A year or two since I had in my hands a pocket edition, comprehending all the four parts of the worthy skipper's adventures within a single volume of 420 pages. Some part of the space was also wasted on notes, often very idle. Now the 1st part contains two separate voyages (Lilliput and Blefuscu), the 2d, one, the 3d, five, and the 4th, one; so that, in all, this active navigator, who has enriched geography, I hope, with something of a higher quality than your old muffs that thought much of doubling Cape Horn, here gives us nine great discoveries, far more surprising than the pretended discoveries of Sinbad (which are known to be fabulous), averaging quam proxime, forty- seven small 16mo pages each. Oh you unconscionable German, built round in your own country with circumvallations of impregnable 4tos, oftentimes dark and dull as Avernus—that you will have the face to describe dear excellent Captain Lemuel Gulliver of Redriff, and subsequently of Newark, that 'darling of children and men,' as tedious. It is exactly because he is not tedious, because he does not shoot into German foliosity, that Schlosser finds him 'intolerable.' I have justly transferred to Gulliver's use the words originally applied by the poet to the robin- redbreast, for it is remarkable that Gulliver and the Arabian Nights are amongst the few books where children and men find themselves meeting and jostling each other. This was the case from its first publication, just one hundred and twenty years since. 'It was received,' says Dr. Johnson, 'with such avidity, that the price of the first edition was raised before the second could be made—it was read by the high and the low, the learned and the illiterate. Criticism was lost in wonder. Now, on the contrary, Schlosser wonders not at all, but simply criticises; which we could bear, if the criticism were even ingenious. Whereas, he utterly misunderstands Swift, and is a malicious calumniator of the captain who, luckily, roaming in Sherwood, and thinking, often with a sigh, of his little nurse, [3] Glumdalclitch, would trouble himself slightly about what Heidelberg might say in the next century. There is but one example on our earth of a novel received with such indiscriminate applause as 'Gulliver;' and that was 'Don Quixote.' Many have been welcomed joyfully by a class —these two by a people. Now, could that have happened had it been characterized by dulness? Of all faults, it could least have had that. As to the 'Tale of a Tub,' Schlosser is in such Cimmerian vapors that no system of bellows could blow open a shaft or tube through which he might gain a glimpse of the English truth and daylight. It is useless talking to such a man on such a subject. I consign him to the attentions of some patriotic Irishman.

Schlosser, however, is right in a graver reflection which he makes upon the prevailing philosophy of Swift, viz., that 'all his views were directed towards what was immediately beneficial, which is the characteristic of savages.' This is undeniable. The meanness of Swift's nature, and his rigid incapacity for dealing with the grandeurs of the human spirit, with religion, with poetry, or even with science, when it rose above the mercenary practical, is absolutely appalling. His own yahoo is not a more abominable one-sided degradation of humanity, than is he himself under this aspect. And, perhaps, it places this incapacity of his in its strongest light, when we recur to the fact of his astonishment at a religious princess refusing to confer a bishoprick upon one that had treated the Trinity, and all the profoundest mysteries of Christianity, not with mere scepticism, or casual sneer, but with set pompous merriment and farcical buffoonery. This dignitary of the church, Dean of the most conspicuous cathedral in Ireland, had, in full canonicals, made himself into a regular mountebank, for the sake of giving fuller effect, by the force of contrast, to the silliest of jests directed against all that was most inalienable from Christianity. Ridiculing such things, could he, in any just sense, be thought a Christian? But, as Schlosser justly remarks, even ridiculing the peculiarities of Luther and Calvin as he did ridicule them, Swift could not be thought other than constitutionally incapable of religion. Even a Pagan philosopher, if made to understand the case, would be incapable of scoffing at any form, natural or casual, simple or distorted, which might be assumed by the most solemn of problems—problems that rest with the weight of worlds upon the human spirit—

'Fix'd fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute.'

the destiny of man, or the relations of man to God. Anger, therefore, Swift might feel, and he felt it [7] to the end of his most wretched life; but what reasonable ground had a man of sense for astonishment— that a princess, who (according to her knowledge) was sincerely pious, should decline to place such a man upon an Episcopal throne? This argues, beyond a doubt, that Swift was in that state of constitutional irreligion, irreligion from a vulgar temperament, which imputes to everybody else its own plebeian feelings. People differed, he fancied, not by more and less religion, but by more and less dissimulations. And, therefore, it seemed to him scandalous that a princess, who must, of course, in her heart regard (in common with himself) all mysteries as solemn masques and mummeries, should pretend in a case of downright serious business, to pump up, out of dry conventional hoaxes, any solid objection to a man of his shining merit. 'The Trinity,' for instance, that he viewed as the password, which the knowing ones gave in answer to the challenge of the sentinel; but, as soon as it had obtained admission for the party within the gates of the camp, it was rightly dismissed to oblivion or to laughter. No case so much illustrates Swift's essential irreligion; since, if he had shared in ordinary human feelings on such subjects, not only he could not have been surprised at his own exclusion from the bench of bishops, after such ribaldries, but originally he would have abstained from them as inevitable bars to clerical promotion, even upon principles of public decorum.

As to the style of Swift, Mr. Schlosser shows himself without sensibility in his objections, as the often hackneyed English reader shows himself without philosophic knowledge of style in his applause. Schlosser thinks the style of Gulliver 'somewhat dull.' This shows Schlosser's presumption in speaking upon a point where he wanted, 1st, original delicacy of tact; and, 2dly, familiar knowledge of English. Gulliver's style is purposely touched slightly with that dulness of circumstantiality which besets the excellent, but 'somewhat dull' race of men—old sea captains. Yet it wears only an aerial tint of dulness; the felicity of this coloring in Swift's management is, that it never goes the length of wearying, but only of giving a comic air of downright Wapping and Rotherhithe verisimilitude. All men grow dull, and ought to be dull, that live under a solemn sense of eternal danger, one inch only of plank (often worm-eaten) between themselves and the grave; and, also, that see for ever one wilderness of waters—sublime, but (like the wilderness on shore) monotonous. All sublime people, being monotonous, have a tendency to be dull, and sublime things also. Milton and Aeschylus, the sublimest of men, are crossed at times by a shade of dulness. It is their weak side. But as to a sea captain, a regular nor'-nor'-wester, and sou'-sou'-easter, he ought to be kicked out of the room if he is not dull. It is not 'ship-shape,' or barely tolerable, that he should be otherwise. Yet, after all, considering what I have stated about Captain Gulliver's nine voyages crowding into one pocket volume, he cannot really have much abused his professional license for being dull. Indeed, one has to look out an excuse for his being so little dull; which excuse is found in the fact that he had studied three years at a learned university. Captain Gulliver, though a sailor, I would have you to know, was a gownsman of Cambridge: so says Swift, who knew more about the Captain than anybody now-a-days. Cantabs are all horsemen, ergo, Gulliver was fit for any thing, from the wooden shoon of Cambridge up to the Horse Marines.

Now, on the other hand, you, common-place reader, that (as an old tradition) believe Swift's style to be a model of excellence, hereafter I shall say a word to you, drawn from deeper principles. At present I content myself with these three propositions, which overthrow if you can;—

1. That the merit, which justly you ascribe to Swift, is vernacularity; he never forgets his mother-tongue in exotic forms, unless we may call Irish exotic; for Hibernicisms he certainly has. This merit, however, is exhibited—not, as you fancy, in a graceful artlessness, but in a coarse inartificiality. To be artless, and to be inartificial, are very different things; as different as being natural and being gross; as different as being simple and being homely.

2. That whatever, meantime, be the particular sort of excellence, or the value of the excellence, in the style of Swift, he had it in common with multitudes beside of that age. De Foe wrote a style for all the world the same as to kind and degree of excellence, only pure from Hibernicisms. So did every honest skipper [Dampier was something more] who had occasion to record his voyages in this world of storms. So did many a hundred of religious writers. And what wonder should there be in this, when the main qualification for such a style was plain good sense, natural feeling, unpretendingness, some little scholarly practice in putting together the clockwork of sentences, so as to avoid mechanical awkwardness of construction, but above all the advantage of a subject, such in its nature as instinctively to reject ornament, lest it should draw off attention from itself? Such subjects are common; but grand impassioned subjects insist upon a different treatment; and there it is that the true difficulties of style commence.

3. [Which partly is suggested by the last remark.] That nearly all the blockheads with whom I have at any time had the pleasure of conversing upon the subject of style (and pardon me for saying that men of the most sense are apt, upon two subjects, viz., poetry and style, to talk most like blockheads), have invariably regarded Swift's style not as if relatively good [i.e. given a proper subject], but as if absolutely good—good unconditionally, no matter what the subject. Now, my friend, suppose the case, that the Dean had been required to write a pendant for Sir Walter Raleigh's immortal apostrophe to Death, or to many passages that I will select in Sir Thomas Brown's 'Religio Medici,' and his 'Urn-burial,' or to Jeremy Taylor's inaugural sections of his 'Holy Living and Dying,' do you know what would have happened? Are you aware what sort of ridiculous figure your poor bald Jonathan would have cut? About the same that would be cut by a forlorn scullion or waiter from a greasy eating-house at Rotterdam, if suddenly called away in vision to act as seneschal to the festival of Belshazzar the king, before a thousand of his lords.

Schlosser, after saying any thing right and true (and he really did say the true thing about Swift's essential irreligion), usually becomes exhausted, like a boa-constrictor after eating his half-yearly dinner. The boa gathers himself up, it is to be hoped for a long fit of dyspepsy, in which the horns and hoofs that he has swallowed may chance to avenge the poor goat that owned them. Schlosser, on the other hand, retires into a corner, for the purpose of obstinately talking nonsense, until the gong sounds again for a slight refection of sense. Accordingly he likens Swift, before he has done with him, to whom? I might safely allow the reader three years for guessing, if the greatest of wagers were depending between us. He likens him to Kotzebue, in the first place. How faithful the resemblance! How exactly Swift reminds you of Count Benyowski in Siberia, and of Mrs. Haller moping her eyes in the 'Stranger!' One really is puzzled to say, according to the negro's logic, whether Mrs. Haller is more like the Dean of St. Patrick's, or the Dean more like Mrs. Haller. Anyhow, the likeness is prodigious, if it is not quite reciprocal. The other terminus of the comparison is Wieland. Now there is some shadow of a resemblance there. For Wieland had a touch of the comico-cynical in his nature; and it is notorious that he was often called the German Voltaire, which argues some tiger-monkey grin that traversed his features at intervals. Wieland's malice, however, was far more playful and genial than Swift's; something of this is shown in his romance of 'Idris,' and oftentimes in his prose. But what the world knows Wieland by is his 'Oberon.' Now in this gay, musical romance of Sir Huon and his enchanted horn, with its gleams of voluptuousness, is there a possibility that any suggestion of a scowling face like Swift's should cross the festal scenes?

From Swift the scene changes to Addison and Steele. Steele is of less importance; for, though a man of greater intellectual activity [4] than Addison, he had far less of genius. So I turn him out, as one would turn out upon a heath a ram that had missed his way into one's tulip preserve; requesting him to fight for himself against Schlosser, or others that may molest him. But, so far as concerns Addison, I am happy to support the character of Schlosser for consistency, by assuring the reader that, of all the monstrosities uttered by any man upon Addison, and of all the monstrosities uttered by Schlosser upon any man, a thing which he says about Addison is the worst. But this I reserve for a climax at the end. Schlosser really puts his best leg foremost at starting, and one thinks he's going to mend; for he catches a truth, viz., the following—that all the brilliances of the Queen Anne period (which so many inconsiderate people have called the Augustan age of our literature) 'point to this— that the reading public wished to be entertained, not roused to think; to be gently moved, not deeply excited.' Undoubtedly what strikes a man in Addison, or will strike him when indicated, is the coyness and timidity, almost the girlish shame, which he betrays in the presence of all the elementary majesties belonging to impassioned or idealized nature. Like one bred in crowded cities, when first left alone in forests or amongst mountains, he is frightened at their silence, their solitude, their magnitude of form, or their frowning glooms. It has been remarked by others that Addison and his companions never rise to the idea of addressing the 'nation' or the 'people;' it is always the 'town.' Even their audience was conceived of by them under a limited form. Yet for this they had some excuse in the state of facts. A man would like at this moment to assume that Europe and Asia were listening to him; and as some few copies of his book do really go to Paris and Naples, some to Calcutta, there is a sort of legal fiction that such an assumption is steadily taking root. Yet, unhappily, that ugly barrier of languages interferes. Schamyl, the Circassian chief, though much of a savage, is not so wanting in taste and discernment as to be backward in reading any book of yours or mine. Doubtless he yearns to read it. But then, you see, that infernal Tchirkass language steps between our book, the darling, and him, the discerning reader. Now, just such a barrier existed for the Spectator in the travelling arrangements of England. The very few old heavies that had begun to creep along three or four main roads, depended so much on wind and weather, their chances of foundering were so uncalculated, their periods of revolution were so cometary and uncertain, that no body of scientific observations had yet been collected to warrant a prudent man in risking a heavy bale of goods; and, on the whole, even for York, Norwich, or Winchester, a consignment of 'Specs' was not quite a safe spec. Still, I could have told the Spectator who was anxious to make money, where he might have been sure of a distant sale, though returns would have been slow, viz., at Oxford and Cambridge. We know from Milton that old Hobson delivered his parcels pretty regularly eighty years before 1710. And, one generation before that, it is plain, by the interesting (though somewhat Jacobinical) letters [5] of Joseph Mede, the commenter on the Apocalypse, that news and politics of one kind or other (and scandal of every kind) found out for themselves a sort of contraband lungs to breathe through between London and Cambridge; not quite so regular in their systole and diastole as the tides of ebb and flood, but better than nothing. If you consigned a packet into the proper hands on the 1st of May, 'as sure as death' to speak Scottice, it would be delivered within sixty miles of the capital before mid-summer. Still there were delays; and these forced a man into carving his world out of London. That excuses the word town.

Inexcusable, however, were many other forms of expression in those days, which argued cowardly feelings. One would like to see a searching investigation into the state of society in Anne's days—its extreme artificiality, its sheepish reserve upon all the impassioned grandeurs, its shameless outrages upon all the decencies of human nature. Certain it is, that Addison (because everybody) was in that meanest of conditions which blushes at any expression of sympathy with the lovely, the noble, or the impassioned. The wretches were ashamed of their own nature, and perhaps with reason; for in their own denaturalized hearts they read only a degraded nature. Addison, in particular, shrank from every bold and every profound expression as from an offence against good taste. He durst not for his life have used the word 'passion' except in the vulgar sense of an angry paroxysm. He durst as soon have danced a hornpipe on the top of the 'monument' as have talked of a 'rapturous emotion.' What would he have said? Why, 'sentiments that were of a nature to prove agreeable after an unusual rate.' In their odious verses, the creatures of that age talk of love as something that 'burns' them. You suppose at first that they are discoursing of tallow candles, though you cannot imagine by what impertinence they address you, that are no tallow-chandler, upon such painful subjects. And, when they apostrophize the woman of their heart (for you are to understand that they pretend to such an organ), they beseech her to 'ease their pain.' Can human meanness descend lower? As if the man, being ill from pleurisy, therefore had a right to take a lady for one of the dressers in an hospital, whose duty it would be to fix a burgundy-pitch plaster between his shoulders. Ah, the monsters! Then to read of their Phillises and Strephons, and Chloes, and Corydons—names that, by their very non-reality amongst names of flesh and blood, proclaim the fantasticalness of the life with which they are poetically connected— it throws me into such convulsions of rage, that I move to the window, and (without thinking what I am about) throwing it up, calling, 'Police! police!' What's that for? What can the police do in the business? Why, certainly nothing. What I meant in my dream was, perhaps [but one forgets what one meant upon recovering one's temper], that the police should take Strephon and Corydon into custody, whom I fancied at the other end of the room. And really the justifiable fury, that arises upon recalling such abominable attempts at bucolic sentiments in such abominable language, sometimes transports me into a luxurious vision sinking back through one hundred and thirty years, in which I see Addison, Phillips, both John and Ambrose, Tickell, Fickell, Budgell, and Cudgell, with many others beside, all cudgelled in a round robin, none claiming precedency of another, none able to shrink from his own dividend, until a voice seems to recall me to milder thoughts by saying, 'But surely, my friend, you never could wish to see Addison cudgelled? Let Strephon and Corydon be cudgelled without end, if the police can show any warrant for doing it But Addison was a man of great genius.' True, he was so. I recollect it suddenly, and will back out of any angry things that I have been misled into saying by Schlosser, who, by-the-bye, was right, after all, for a wonder.

But now I will turn my whole fury in vengeance upon Schlosser. And, looking round for a stone to throw at him, I observe this. Addison could not be so entirely careless of exciting the public to think and feel, as Schlosser pretends, when he took so much pains to inoculate that public with a sense of the Miltonic grandeur. The 'Paradise Lost' had then been published barely forty years, which was nothing in an age without reviews; the editions were still scanty; and though no Addison could eventually promote, for the instant he quickened, the circulation. If I recollect, Tonson's accurate revision of the text followed immediately upon Addison's papers. And it is certain that Addison [6] must have diffused the knowledge of Milton upon the continent, from signs that soon followed. But does not this prove that I myself have been in the wrong as well as Schlosser? No: that's impossible. Schlosser's always in the wrong; but it's the next thing to an impossibility that I should be detected in an error: philosophically speaking, it is supposed to involve a contradiction. 'But surely I said the very same thing as Schlosser by assenting to what he said.' Maybe I did: but then I have time to make a distinction, because my article is not yet finished; we are only at page six or seven; whereas Schlosser can't make any distinction now, because his book's printed; and his list of errata (which is shocking though he does not confess to the thousandth part), is actually published. My distinction is—that, though Addison generally hated the impassioned, and shrank from it as from a fearful thing, yet this was when it combined with forms of life and fleshy realities (as in dramatic works), but not when it combined with elder forms of eternal abstractions. Hence, he did not read, and did not like Shakspeare; the music was here too rapid and life-like: but he sympathized profoundly with the solemn cathedral chanting of Milton. An appeal to his sympathies which exacted quick changes in those sympathies he could not meet, but a more stationary key of solemnity he could. Indeed, this difference is illustrated daily. A long list can be cited of passages in Shakspeare, which have been solemnly denounced by many eminent men (all blockheads) as ridiculous: and if a man does find a passage in a tragedy that displeases him, it is sure to seem ludicrous: witness the indecent exposures of themselves made by Voltaire, La Harpe, and many billions beside of bilious people. Whereas, of all the shameful people (equally billions and not less bilious) that have presumed to quarrel with Milton, not one has thought him ludicrous, but only dull and somnolent. In 'Lear' and in 'Hamlet,' as in a human face agitated by passion, are many things that tremble on the brink of the ludicrous to an observer endowed with small range of sympathy or intellect. But no man ever found the starry heavens ludicrous, though many find them dull, and prefer a near view of a brandy flask. So in the solemn wheelings of the Miltonic movement, Addison could find a sincere delight. But the sublimities of earthly misery and of human frenzy were for him a book sealed. Beside all which, Milton, renewed the types of Grecian beauty as to form, whilst Shakspeare, without designing at all to contradict these types, did so, in effect, by his fidelity to a new nature, radiating from a Gothic centre.

In the midst, however, of much just feeling, which one could only wish a little deeper, in the Addisonian papers on 'Paradise Lost,' there are some gross blunders of criticism, as there are in Dr. Johnson, and from the self-same cause—an understanding suddenly palsied from defective passion, A feeble capacity of passion must, upon a question of passion, constitute a feeble range of intellect. But, after all, the worst thing uttered by Addison in these papers is, not against Milton, but meant to be complimentary. Towards enhancing the splendor of the great poem, he tells us that it is a Grecian palace as to amplitude, symmetry, and architectural skill: but being in the English language, it is to be regarded as if built in brick; whereas, had it been so happy as to be written in Greek, then it would have been a palace built in Parian marble. Indeed! that's smart—'that's handsome, I calculate.' Yet, before a man undertakes to sell his mother-tongue, as old pewter trucked against gold, he should be quite sure of his own metallurgic skill; because else, the gold may happen to be copper, and the pewter to be silver. Are you quite sure, my Addison, that you have understood the powers of this language which you toss away so lightly, as an old tea-kettle? Is it a ruled case that you have exhausted its resources? Nobody doubts your grace in a certain line of composition, but it is only one line among many, and it is far from being amongst the highest. It is dangerous, without examination, to sell even old kettles; misers conceal old stockings filled with guineas in old tea-kettles; and we all know that Aladdin's servant, by exchanging an old lamp for a new one, caused an Iliad of calamities: his master's palace jumped from Bagdad to some place on the road to Ashantee; Mrs. Aladdin and the piccaninies were carried off as inside passengers; and Aladdin himself only escaped being lagged, for a rogue and a conjuror, by a flying jump after his palace. Now, mark the folly of man. Most of the people I am going to mention subscribed, generally, to the supreme excellence of Milton; but each wished for a little change to be made— which, and which only was wanted to perfection. Dr. Johnson, though he pretended to be satisfied with the 'Paradise Lost,' even in what he regarded as the undress of blank verse, still secretly wished it in rhyme. That's No. 1. Addison, though quite content with it in English, still could have wished it in Greek. That's No. 2. Bentley, though admiring the blind old poet in the highest degree, still observed, smilingly, that after all he was blind; he, therefore, slashing Dick, could have wished that the great man had always been surrounded by honest people; but, as that was not to be, he could have wished that his amanuensis has been hanged; but, as that also had become impossible, he could wish to do execution upon him in effigy, by sinking, burning, and destroying his handywork—upon which basis of posthumous justice, he proceeded to amputate all the finest passages in the poem. Slashing Dick was No. 3. Payne Knight was a severer man even than slashing Dick; he professed to look upon the first book of 'Paradise Lost' as the finest thing that earth had to show; but, for that very reason, he could have wished, by your leave, to see the other eleven books sawed off, and sent overboard; because, though tolerable perhaps in another situation, they really were a national disgrace, when standing behind that unrivalled portico of book 1. There goes No. 4. Then came a fellow, whose name was either not on his title page, or I have forgotten it, that pronounced the poem to be laudable, and full of good materials; but still he could have wished that the materials had been put together in a more workmanlike manner; which kind office he set about himself. He made a general clearance of all lumber: the expression of every thought he entirely re-cast: and he fitted up the metre with beautiful patent rhymes; not, I believe, out of any consideration for Dr. Johnson's comfort, but on principles of mere abstract decency: as it was, the poem seemed naked, and yet was not ashamed. There went No. 5. Him succeeded a droller fellow than any of the rest. A French book-seller had caused a prose French translation to be made of the 'Paradise Lost,' without particularly noticing its English origin, or at least not in the title page. Our friend, No. 6, getting hold of this as an original French romance, translated it back into English prose, as a satisfactory novel for the season. His little mistake was at length discovered, and communicated to him with shouts of laughter; on which, after considerable kicking and plunging (for a man cannot but turn restive when he finds that he has not only got the wrong sow by the ear, but actually sold the sow to a bookseller), the poor translator was tamed into sulkiness; in which state ho observed that he could have wished his own work, being evidently so much superior to the earliest form of the romance, might be admitted by the courtesy of England to take the precedency as the original 'Paradise Lost,' and to supersede the very rude performance of 'Milton, Mr. John.' [7]

Schlosser makes the astounding assertion, that a compliment of Boileau to Addison, and a pure compliment of ceremony upon Addison's early Latin verses, was (credite posteri!) the making of Addison in England. Understand, Schlosser, that Addison's Latin verses were never heard of by England, until long after his English prose had fixed the public attention upon him; his Latin reputation was a slight reaction from his English reputation: and, secondly, understand that Boileau had at no time any such authority in England as to make anybody's reputation; he had first of all to make his own. A sure proof of this is, that Boileau's name was first published to London, by Prior's burlesque of what the Frenchman had called an ode. This gasconading ode celebrated the passage of the Rhine in 1672, and the capture of that famous fortress called Skink ('le fameux fort de'), by Louis XIV., known to London at the time of Prior's parody by the name of 'Louis Baboon.' [8] That was not likely to recommend Master Boileau to any of the allies against the said Baboon, had it ever been heard of out of France. Nor was it likely to make him popular in England, that his name was first mentioned amongst shouts of laughter and mockery. It is another argument of the slight notoriety possessed by Boileau in England—that no attempt was ever made to translate even his satires, epistles, or 'Lutrin,' except by booksellers' hacks; and that no such version ever took the slightest root amongst ourselves, from Addison's day to this very summer of 1847. Boileau was essentially, and in two senses, viz., both as to mind and as to influence, un homme borne.

Addison's 'Blenheim' is poor enough; one might think it a translation from some German original of those times. Gottsched's aunt, or Bodmer's wet- nurse, might have written it; but still no fibs even as to 'Blenheim.' His 'enemies' did not say this thing against 'Blenheim' 'aloud,' nor his friends that thing against it 'softly.' And why? Because at that time (1704-5) he had made no particular enemies, nor any particular friends; unless by friends you mean his Whig patrons, and by enemies his tailor and co.

As to 'Cato,' Schlosser, as usual, wanders in the shadow of ancient night. The English 'people,' it seems, so 'extravagantly applauded' this wretched drama, that you might suppose them to have 'altogether changed their nature,' and to have forgotten Shakspeare. That man must have forgotten Shakspeare, indeed, and from ramollissement of the brain, who could admire 'Cato.' 'But,' says Schlosser, 'it was only a 'fashion;' and the English soon repented.' The English could not repent of a crime which they had never committed. Cato was not popular for a moment, nor tolerated for a moment, upon any literary ground, or as a work of art. It was an apple of temptation and strife thrown by the goddess of faction between two infuriated parties. 'Cato,' coming from a man without Parliamentary connections, would have dropped lifeless to the ground. The Whigs have always affected a special love and favor for popular counsels: they have never ceased to give themselves the best of characters as regards public freedom. The Tories, as contradistinguished to the Jacobites, knowing that without their aid, the Revolution could not have been carried, most justly contended that the national liberties had been at least as much indebted to themselves. When, therefore, the Whigs put forth their man Cato to mouth speeches about liberty, as exclusively their pet, and about patriotism and all that sort of thing, saying insultingly to the Tories, 'How do you like that? Does that sting?' 'Sting, indeed!' replied the Tories; 'not at all; it's quite refreshing to us, that the Whigs have not utterly disowned such sentiments, which, by their public acts, we really thought they had.' And, accordingly, as the popular anecdote tells us, a Tory leader, Lord Bolingbroke, sent for Booth who performed Cato, and presented him (populo spectante) with fifty guineas 'for defending so well the cause of the people against a perpetual dictator.' In which words, observe, Lord Bolingbroke at once asserted the cause of his own party, and launched a sarcasm against a great individual opponent, viz., Marlborough. Now, Mr. Schlosser, I have mended your harness: all right ahead; so drive on once more.

But, oh Castor and Pollux, whither—in what direction is it, that the man is driving us? Positively, Schlosser, you must stop and let me get out. I'll go no further with such a drunken coachman. Many another absurd thing I was going to have noticed, such as his utter perversion of what Mandeville said about Addison (viz., by suppressing one word, and misapprehending all the rest). Such, again, as his point-blank misstatement of Addison's infirmity in his official character, which was not that 'he could not prepare despatches in a good style,' but diametrically the opposite case—that he insisted too much on style, to the serious retardation of public business. But all these things are as nothing to what Schlosser says elsewhere. He actually describes Addison, on the whole, as a 'dull prosaist,' and the patron of pedantry! Addison, the man of all that ever lived most hostile even to what was good in pedantry, to its tendencies towards the profound in erudition and the non- popular; Addison, the champion of all that is easy, natural, superficial, a pedant and a master of pedantry! Get down, Schlosser, this moment; or let me get out.

Pope, by far the most important writer, English or Continental, of his own age, is treated with more extensive ignorance by Mr. Schlosser than any other, and (excepting Addison) with more ambitious injustice. A false abstract is given, or a false impression, of any one amongst his brilliant works, that is noticed at all; and a false sneer, a sneer irrelevant to the case, at any work dismissed by name as unworthy of notice. The three works, selected as the gems of Pope's collection, are the 'Essay on Criticism,' the 'Rape of the Lock,' and the 'Essay on Man.' On the first, which (with Dr. Johnson's leave) is the feeblest and least interesting of Pope's writings, being substantially a mere versification, like a metrical multiplication-table, of common-places the most mouldy with which criticism has baited its rat-traps; since nothing is said worth answering, it is sufficient to answer nothing. The 'Rape of the Lock' is treated with the same delicate sensibility that we might have looked for in Brennus, if consulted on the picturesque, or in Attila the Hun, if adjured to decide aesthetically, between two rival cameos. Attila is said (though no doubt falsely) to have described himself as not properly a man so much as the Divine wrath incarnate. This would be fine in a melodrama, with Bengal lights burning on the stage. But, if ever he said such a naughty thing, he forgot to tell us what it was that had made him angry; by what title did he come into alliance with the Divine wrath, which was not likely to consult a savage? And why did his wrath hurry, by forced marches, to the Adriatic? Now so much do people differ in opinion, that, to us, who look at him through a telescope from an eminence, fourteen centuries distant, he takes the shape rather of a Mahratta trooper, painfully gathering chout, or a cateran levying black-mail, or a decent tax-gatherer with an inkhorn at his button-hole, and supported by a select party of constabulary friends. The very natural instinct which Attila always showed for following the trail of the wealthiest footsteps, seems to argue a most commercial coolness in the dispensation of his wrath. Mr. Schlosser burns with the wrath of Attila against all aristocracies, and especially that of England. He governs his fury, also, with an Attila discretion in many cases; but not here. Imagine this Hun coming down, sword in hand, upon Pope and his Rosicrucian light troops, levying chout upon Sir Plume, and fluttering the dove-cot of the Sylphs. Pope's 'duty it was,' says this demoniac, to 'scourge the follies of good society,' and also 'to break with the aristocracy.' No, surely? something short of a total rupture would have satisfied the claims of duty? Possibly; but it would not have satisfied Schlosser. And Pope's guilt consists in having made his poem an idol or succession of pictures representing the gayer aspects of society as it really was, and supported by a comic interest of the mock-heroic derived from a playful machinery, instead of converting it into a bloody satire. Pope, however, did not shrink from such assaults on the aristocracy, if these made any part of his duties. Such assaults he made twice at least too often for his own peace, and perhaps for his credit at this day. It is useless, however, to talk of the poem as a work of art, with one who sees none of its exquisite graces, and can imagine his countryman Zacharia equal to a competition with Pope. But this it may be right to add, that the 'Rape of the Lock' was not borrowed from the 'Lutrin' of Boileau. That was impossible. Neither was it suggested by the 'Lutrin.' The story in Herodotus of the wars between cranes and pigmies, or the Batrachomyomachia (so absurdly ascribed to Homer) might have suggested the idea more naturally. Both these, there is proof that Pope had read: there is none that he had read the 'Lutrin,' nor did he read French with ease to himself. The 'Lutrin,' meantime, is as much below the 'Rape of the Lock' in brilliancy of treatment, as it is dissimilar in plan or the quality of its pictures.

The 'Essay on Man' is a more thorny subject. When a man finds himself attacked and defended from all quarters, and on all varieties of principle, he is bewildered. Friends are as dangerous as enemies. He must not defy a bristling enemy, if he cares for repose; he must not disown a zealous defender, though making concessions on his own behalf not agreeable to himself; he must not explain away ugly phrases in one direction, or perhaps he is recanting the very words of his 'guide, philosopher, and friend,' who cannot safely be taxed with having first led him into temptation; he must not explain them away in another direction, or he runs full tilt into the wrath of mother Church—who will soon bring him to his senses by penance. Long lents, and no lampreys allowed, would soon cauterize the proud flesh of heretical ethics. Pope did wisely, situated as he was, in a decorous nation, and closely connected, upon principles of fidelity under political suffering, with the Roman Catholics, to say little in his own defence. That defence, and any reversionary cudgelling which it might entail upon the Quixote undertaker, he left—meekly but also slyly, humbly but cunningly—to those whom he professed to regard as greater philosophers than himself. All parties found their account in the affair. Pope slept in peace; several pugnacious gentlemen up and down Europe expectorated much fiery wrath in dusting each other's jackets; and Warburton, the attorney, finally earned his bishoprick in the service of whitewashing a writer, who was aghast at finding himself first trampled on as a deist, and then exalted as a defender of the faith. Meantime, Mr. Schlosser mistakes Pope's courtesy, when he supposes his acknowledgments to Lord Bolingbroke sincere in their whole extent.

Of Pope's 'Homer' Schlosser think fit to say, amongst other evil things, which it really does deserve (though hardly in comparison with the German 'Homer' of the ear-splitting Voss), 'that Pope pocketed the subscription of the "Odyssey," and left the work to be done by his understrappers.' Don't tell fibs, Schlosser. Never do that any more. True it is, and disgraceful enough, that Pope (like modern contractors for a railway or a loan) let off to sub-contractors several portions of the undertaking. He was perhaps not illiberal in the terms of his contracts. At least I know of people now-a-days (much better artists) that would execute such contracts, and enter into any penalties for keeping time at thirty per cent. less. But navies and billbrokers, that are in excess now, then were scarce. Still the affair, though not mercenary, was illiberal in a higher sense of art; and no anecdote shows more pointedly Pope's sense of the mechanic fashion, in which his own previous share of the Homeric labor had been executed. It was disgraceful enough, and needs no exaggeration. Let it, therefore, be reported truly: Pope personally translated one-half of the 'Odyssey'—a dozen books he turned out of his own oven: and, if you add the Batrachomyomachia, his dozen was a baker's dozen. The journeyman did the other twelve; were regularly paid; regularly turned off when the job was out of hand; and never once had to 'strike for wages.' How much beer was allowed, I cannot say. This is the truth of the matter. So no more fibbing, Schlosser, if you please.

But there remains behind all these labors of Pope, the 'Dunciad,' which is by far his greatest. I shall not, within the narrow bounds assigned to me, enter upon a theme so exacting; for, in this instance, I should have to fight not against Schlosser only, but against Dr. Johnson, who has thoroughly misrepresented the nature of the 'Dunciad,' and, consequently, could not measure its merits. Neither he, nor Schlosser, in fact, ever read more than a few passages of this admirable poem. But the villany is too great for a brief exposure. One thing only I will notice of Schlosser's misrepresentations. He asserts (not when directly speaking of Pope, but afterwards, under the head of Voltaire) that the French author's trivial and random Temple de Gout 'shows the superiority in this species of poetry to have been greatly on the side of the Frenchman.' Let's hear a reason, though but a Schlosser reason, for this opinion: know, then, all men whom it concerns, that 'the Englishman's satire only hit such people as would never have been known without his mention of them, whilst Voltaire selected those who were still called great, and their respective schools.' Pope's men, it seems, never had been famous—Voltaire's might cease to be so, but as yet they had not ceased; as yet they commanded interest. Now mark how I will put three bullets into that plank, riddle it so that the leak shall not be stopped by all the old hats in Heidelberg, and Schlosser will have to swim for his life. First, he is forgetting that, by his own previous confession, Voltaire, not less than Pope, had 'immortalized a great many insignificant persons;' consequently, had it been any fault to do so, each alike was caught in that fault; and insignificant as the people might be, if they could be 'immortalized,' then we have Schlosser himself confessing to the possibility that poetic splendor should create a secondary interest where originally there had been none. Secondly, the question of merit does not arise from the object of the archer, but from the style of his archery. Not the choice of victims, but the execution done is what counts. Even for continued failures it would plead advantageously, much more for continued and brilliant successes, that Pope fired at an object offering no sufficient breadth of mark. Thirdly, it is the grossest of blunders to say that Pope's objects of satire were obscure by comparison with Voltaire's. True, the Frenchman's example of a scholar, viz., the French Salmasius, was most accomplished. But so was the Englishman's scholar, viz., the English Bentley. Each was absolutely without a rival in his own day. But the day of Bentley was the very day of Pope. Pope's man had not even faded; whereas the day of Salmasius, as respected Voltaire had gone by for more than half a century. As to Dacier, 'which Dacier, Bezonian?' The husband was a passable scholar—but madame was a poor sneaking fellow, fit only for the usher of a boarding- school. All this, however, argues Schlosser's two-fold ignorance—first, of English authors; second, of the 'Dunciad;'—else he would have known that even Dennis, mad John Dennis, was a much cleverer man than most of those alluded to by Voltaire. Cibber, though slightly a coxcomb, was born a brilliant man. Aaron Hill was so lustrous, that even Pope's venom fell off spontaneously, like rain from the plumage of a pheasant, leaving him to 'mount far upwards with the swans of Thanes'—and, finally, let it not be forgotten, that Samuel Clarke Burnet, of the Charterhouse, and Sir Isaac Newton, did not wholly escape tasting the knout; if that rather impeaches the equity, and sometimes the judgment of Pope, at least it contributes to show the groundlessness of Schlosser's objection—that the population of the Dunciad, the characters that filled its stage, were inconsiderable.


It is, or it would be, if Mr. Schlosser were himself more interesting, luxurious to pursue his ignorance as to facts, and the craziness of his judgment as to the valuation of minds, throughout his comparison of Burke with Fox. The force of antithesis brings out into a feeble life of meaning, what, in its own insulation, had been languishing mortally into nonsense. The darkness of his 'Burke' becomes visible darkness under the glimmering that steals upon it from the desperate commonplaces of this 'Fox.' Fox is painted exactly as he would have been painted fifty years ago by any pet subaltern of the Whig club, enjoying free pasture in Devonshire House. The practised reader knows well what is coming. Fox is 'formed after the model of the ancients'—Fox is 'simple'—Fox is 'natural'—Fox is 'chaste'—Fox is 'forcible;' why yes, in a sense, Fox is even 'forcible:' but then, to feel that he was so, you must have heard him; whereas, for forty years he has been silent. We of 1847, that can only read him, hearing Fox described as forcible, are disposed to recollect Shakspeare's Mr. Feeble amongst Falstaff's recruits, who also is described as forcible, viz., as the 'most forcible Feeble.' And, perhaps, a better description could not be devised for Fox himself—so feeble was he in matter, so forcible in manner; so powerful for instant effect, so impotent for posterity. In the Pythian fury of his gestures—in his screaming voice—in his directness of purpose, Fox would now remind you of some demon steam-engine on a railroad, some Fire-king or Salmoneus, that had counterfeited, because he could not steal, Jove's thunderbolts; hissing, bubbling, snorting, fuming; demoniac gas, you think—gas from Acheron must feed that dreadful system of convulsions. But pump out the imaginary gas, and, behold! it is ditch-water. Fox, as Mr. Schlosser rightly thinks, was all of a piece—simple in his manners, simple in his style, simple in his thoughts. No waters in him turbid with new crystalizations; everywhere the eye can see to the bottom. No music in him dark with Cassandra meanings. Fox, indeed, disturb decent gentlemen by 'allusions to all the sciences, from the integral calculus and metaphysics to navigation!' Fox would have seen you hanged first. Burke, on the other hand, did all that, and other wickedness besides, which fills an 8vo page in Schlosser; and Schlosser crowns his enormities by charging him, the said Burke (p. 99), with 'wearisome tediousness.' Among my own acquaintances are several old women, who think on this point precisely as Schlosser thinks; and they go further, for they even charge Burke with 'tedious wearisomeness.' Oh, sorrowful woe, and also woeful sorrow, when an Edmund Burke arises, like a cheeta or hunting leopard coupled in a tiger-chase with a German poodle. To think, in a merciful spirit, of the jungle—barely to contemplate, in a temper of humanity, the incomprehensible cane-thickets, dark and bristly, into which that bloody cheeta will drag that unoffending poodle!

But surely the least philosophic of readers, who hates philosophy 'as toad or asp,' must yet be aware, that, where new growths are not germinating, it is no sort of praise to be free from the throes of growth. Where expansion is hopeless, it is little glory to have escaped distortion. Nor is it any blame that the rich fermentation of grapes should disturb the transparency of their golden fluids. Fox had nothing new to tell us, nor did he hold a position amongst men that required or would even have allowed him to tell anything new. He was helmsman to a party; what he had to do, though seeming to give orders, was simply to repeat their orders—'Port your helm,' said the party; 'Port it is,' replied the helmsman.—But Burke was no steersman; he was the Orpheus that sailed with the Argonauts; he was their seer, seeing more in his visions than he always understood himself; he was their watcher through the hours of night; he was their astrological interpreter. Who complains of a prophet for being a little darker of speech than a post-office directory? or of him that reads the stars for being sometimes perplexed?

But, even as to facts, Schlosser is always blundering. Post-office directories would be of no use to him; nor link-boys; nor blazing tar-barrels. He wanders in a fog such as sits upon the banks of Cocytus. He fancies that Burke, in his lifetime, was popular. Of course, it is so natural to be popular by means of 'wearisome tediousness,' that Schlosser, above all people, should credit such a tale. Burke has been dead just fifty years, come next autumn. I remember the time from this accident—that my own nearest relative stepped on a day of October, 1797, into that same suite of rooms at Bath (North Parade) from which, six hours before, the great man had been carried out to die at Beaconsfield. It is, therefore, you see, fifty years. Now, ever since then, his collective works have been growing in bulk by the incorporation of juvenile essays (such as his 'European Settlements,' his 'Essay on the Sublime,' on 'Lord Bolingbroke,' &c.) or (as more recently) by the posthumous publication of his MSS; [9] and yet, ever since then, in spite of growing age and growing bulk, are more in demand. At this time, half a century after his last sigh, Burke is popular; a thing, let me tell you, Schlosser, which never happened before to a writer steeped to his lips in personal politics. What a tilth of intellectual lava must that man have interfused amongst the refuse and scoria of such mouldering party rubbish, to force up a new verdure and laughing harvests, annually increasing for new generations! Popular he is now, but popular he was not in his own generation. And how could Schlosser have the face to say that he was? Did he never hear the notorious anecdote, that at one period Burke obtained the sobriquet of 'dinner-bell?' And why? Not as one who invited men to a banquet by his gorgeous eloquence, but as one that gave a signal to shoals in the House of Commons, for seeking refuge in a literal dinner from the oppression of his philosophy. This was, perhaps, in part a scoff of his opponents. Yet there must have been some foundation for the scoff, since, at an earlier stage of Burke's career, Goldsmith had independently said, that this great orator

————'went on refining, And thought of convincing, whilst they thought of dining.'

I blame neither party. It ought not to be expected of any popular body that it should be patient of abstractions amongst the intensities of party-strife, and the immediate necessities of voting. No deliberative body would less have tolerated such philosophic exorbitations from public business than the agora of Athens, or the Roman senate. So far the error was in Burke, not in the House of Commons. Yet, also, on the other side, it must be remembered, that an intellect of Burke's combining power and enormous compass, could not, from necessity of nature, abstain from such speculations. For a man to reach a remote posterity, it is sometimes necessary that he should throw his voice over to them in a vast arch—it must sweep a parabola—which, therefore, rises high above the heads of those next to him, and is heard by the bystanders but indistinctly, like bees swarming in the upper air before they settle on the spot fit for hiving.

See, therefore, the immeasurableness of misconception. Of all public men, that stand confessedly in the first rank as to splendor of intellect, Burke was the least popular at the time when our blind friend Schlosser assumes him to have run off with the lion's share of popularity. Fox, on the other hand, as the leader of opposition, was at that time a household term of love or reproach, from one end of the island to the other. To the very children playing in the streets, Pitt and Fox, throughout Burke's generation, were pretty nearly as broad distinctions, and as much a war- cry, as English and French, Roman and Punic. Now, however, all this is altered. As regards the relations between the two Whigs whom Schlosser so steadfastly delighteth to misrepresent,

  'Now is the winter of our discontent
  Made glorious summer'

for that intellectual potentate, Edmund Burke, the man whose true mode of power has never yet been truly investigated; whilst Charles Fox is known only as an echo is known, and for any real effect of intellect upon this generation, for anything but the 'whistling of a name,' the Fox of 1780-1807 sleeps where the carols of the larks are sleeping, that gladdened the spring-tides of those years—sleeps with the roses that glorified the beauty of their summers. [10]


Schlosser talks of Junius, who is to him, as to many people, more than entirely the enigma of an enigma, Hermes Trismegistus, or the mediaeval Prester John. Not only are most people unable to solve the enigma, but they have no idea of what it is that they are to solve. I have to inform Schlosser that there are three separate questions about Junius, of which he has evidently no distinct knowledge, and cannot, therefore, have many chances to spare for settling them. The three questions are these:—A. Who was Junius? B. What was it that armed Junius with a power so unaccountable at this day over the public mind? C. Why, having actually exercised this power, and gained under his masque far more than he ever hoped to gain, did this Junius not come forward in his own person, when all the legal danger had long passed away, to claim a distinction that for him (among the vainest of men) must have been more precious than his heart's blood? The two questions, B and C, I have examined in past times, and I will not here repeat my explanations further than to say, with respect to the last, that the reason for the author not claiming his own property was this, because he dared not; because it would have been infamy for him to avow himself as Junius; because it would have revealed a crime and published a crime in his own earlier life, for which many a man is transported in our days, and for less than which many a man has been in past days hanged, broken on the wheel, burned, gibbeted, or impaled. To say that he watched and listened at his master's key-holes, is nothing. It was not key-holes only that he made free with, but keys; he tampered with his master's seals; he committed larcenies; not, like a brave man, risking his life on the highway, but petty larcenies—larcenies in a dwelling-house—larcenies under the opportunities of a confidential situation—crimes which formerly, in the days of Junius, our bloody code never pardoned in villains of low degree. Junius was in the situation of Lord Byron's Lara, or, because Lara is a plagiarism, of Harriet Lee's Kraitzrer. But this man, because he had money, friends, and talents, instead of going to prison, took himself off for a jaunt to the continent. From the continent, in full security and in possession of the otium cum dignitate, he negotiated with the government, whom he had alarmed by publishing the secrets which he had stolen. He succeeded. He sold himself to great advantage. Bought and sold he was; and of course it is understood that, if you buy a knave, and expressly in consideration of his knaveries, you secretly undertake not to hang him. 'Honor bright!' Lord Barrington might certainly have indicted Junius at the Old Bailey, and had a reason for wishing to do so; but George III., who was a party to the negotiation, and all his ministers, would have said, with fits of laughter—'Oh, come now, my lord, you must not do that. For, since we have bargained for a price to send him out as a member of council to Bengal, you see clearly that we could not possibly hang him before we had fulfilled our bargain. Then it is true we might hang him after he comes back. But, since the man (being a clever man) has a fair chance in the interim of rising to be Governor-General, we put it to your candor, Lord Barrington, whether it would be for the public service to hang his excellency?' In fact, he might probably have been Governor-General, had his bad temper not overmastered him. Had he not quarrelled so viciously with Mr. Hastings, it is ten to one that he might, by playing his cards well, have succeeded him. As it was, after enjoying an enormous salary, he returned to England—not Governor-General, certainly, but still in no fear of being hanged. Instead of hanging him, on second thoughts, Government gave him a red ribbon. He represented a borough in Parliament. He was an authority upon Indian affairs. He was caressed by the Whig party. He sat at good men's tables. He gave for toasts—Joseph Surface sentiments at dinner parties— 'The man that betrays' [something or other]—'the man that sneaks into' [other men's portfolios, perhaps]—'is'—ay, what is he? Why he is, perhaps, a Knight of the Bath, has a sumptuous mansion in St. James's Square, dies full of years and honor, has a pompous funeral, and fears only some such epitaph as this—'Here lies, in a red ribbon, the man who built a great prosperity on the basis of a great knavery.' I complain heavily of Mr. Taylor, the very able unmasker of Junius, for blinking the whole questions B and C. He it is that has settled the question A, so that it will never be re-opened by a man of sense. A man who doubts, after really reading Mr. Taylor's work, is not only a blockhead, but an irreclaimable blockhead. It is true that several men, among them Lord Brougham, whom Schlosser (though hating him, and kicking him) cites, still profess scepticism. But the reason is evident: they have not read the book, they have only heard of it. They are unacquainted with the strongest arguments, and even with the nature of the evidence. [11] Lord Brougham, indeed, is generally reputed to have reviewed Mr. Taylor's book. That may be: it is probable enough: what I am denying is not at all that Lord Brougham reviewed Mr. Taylor, but that Lord Brougham read Mr. Taylor. And there is not much wonder in that, when we see professed writers on the subject—bulky writers—writers of Answers and Refutations, dispensing with the whole of Mr. Taylor's book, single paragraphs of which would have forced them to cancel their own. The possibility of scepticism, after really reading Mr. Taylor's book, would be the strongest exemplification upon record of Sancho's proverbial reproach, that a man 'wanted better bread than was made of wheat—' would be the old case renewed from the scholastic grumblers 'that some men do not know when they are answered.' They have got their quietus, and they still continue to 'maunder' on with objections long since disposed of. In fact, it is not too strong a thing to say—and Chief Justice Dallas did say something like it—that if Mr. Taylor is not right, if Sir Philip Francis is not Junius, then was no man ever yet hanged on sufficient evidence. Even confession is no absolute proof. Even confessing to a crime, the man may be mad. Well, but at least seeing is believing: if the court sees a man commit an assault, will not that suffice? Not at all: ocular delusions on the largest scale are common. What's a court? Lawyers have no better eyes than other people. Their physics are often out of repair, and whole cities have been known to see things that could have no existence. Now, all other evidence is held to be short of this blank seeing or blank confessing. But I am not at all sure of that. Circumstantial evidence, that multiplies indefinitely its points of internexus with known admitted facts, is more impressive than direct testimony. If you detect a fellow with a large sheet of lead that by many (to wit seventy) salient angles, that by tedious (to wit thirty) reentrant angles, fits into and owns its sisterly relationship to all that is left of the lead upon your roof—this tight fit will weigh more with a jury than even if my lord chief justice should jump into the witness-box, swearing that, with judicial eyes, he saw the vagabond cutting the lead whilst he himself sat at breakfast; or even than if the vagabond should protest before this honorable court that he did cut the lead, in order that he (the said vagabond) might have hot rolls and coffee as well as my lord, the witness. If Mr. Taylor's body of evidence does not hold water, then is there no evidence extant upon any question, judicial or not judicial, that will.

But I blame Mr. Taylor heavily for throwing away the whole argument applicable to B and C; not as any debt that rested particularly upon him to public justice; but as a debt to the integrity of his own book. That book is now a fragment; admirable as regards A; but (by omitting B and C) not sweeping the whole area of the problem. There yet remains, therefore, the dissatisfaction which is always likely to arise— not from the smallest allegatio falsi, but from the large suppressio veri. B, which, on any other solution than the one I have proposed, is perfectly unintelligible, now becomes plain enough. To imagine a heavy, coarse, hard-working government, seriously affected by such a bauble as they would consider performances on the tight rope of style, is mere midsummer madness. 'Hold your absurd tongue,' would any of the ministers have said to a friend descanting on Junius as a powerful artist of style— 'do you dream, dotard, that this baby's rattle is the thing that keeps us from sleeping? Our eyes are fixed on something else: that fellow, whoever he is, knows what he ought not to know; he has had his hand in some of our pockets: he's a good locksmith, is that Junius; and before he reaches Tyburn, who knows what amount of mischief he may do to self and partners?' The rumor that ministers were themselves alarmed (which was the naked truth) travelled downwards; but the why did not travel; and the innumerable blockheads of lower circles, not understanding the real cause of fear, sought a false one in the supposed thunderbolts of the rhetoric. Opera-house thunderbolts they were: and strange it is, that grave men should fancy newspapers, teeming (as they have always done) with Publicolas, with Catos, with Algernon Sidneys, able by such trivial small shot to gain a moment's attention from the potentates of Downing Street. Those who have despatches to write, councils to attend, and votes of the Commons to manage, think little of Junius Brutus. A Junius Brutus, that dares not sign by his own honest name, is presumably skulking from his creditors. A Timoleon, who hints at assassination in a newspaper, one may take it for granted, is a manufacturer of begging letters. And it is a conceivable case that a twenty pound note, enclosed to Timoleon's address, through the newspaper office, might go far to soothe that great patriot's feelings, and even to turn aside his avenging dagger. These sort of people were not the sort to frighten a British Ministry. One laughs at the probable conversation between an old hunting squire coming up to comfort the First Lord of the Treasury, on the rumor that he was panic-struck. 'What, surely, my dear old friend, you're not afraid of Timoleon?' First Lord.—'Yes, I am.' C. Gent.—'What, afraid of an anonymous fellow in the papers?' F. L.—'Yes, dreadfully.' C. Gent.—'Why, I always understood that these people were a sort of shams—living in Grub Street—or where was it that Pope used to tell us they lived? Surely you're not afraid of Timoleon, because some people think he's a patriot?' F. L.—'No, not at all; but I am afraid because some people think he's a housebreaker!' In that character only could Timoleon become formidable to a Cabinet Minister; and in some such character must our friend, Junius Brutus, have made himself alarming to Government. From the moment that B is properly explained, it throws light upon C. The Government was alarmed—not at such moonshine as patriotism, or at a soap-bubble of rhetoric—but because treachery was lurking amongst their own households: and, if the thing went on, the consequences might be appalling. But this domestic treachery, which accounts for B, accounts at the same time for C. The very same treachery that frightened its objects at the time by the consequences it might breed, would frighten its author afterwards from claiming its literary honors by the remembrances it might awaken. The mysterious disclosures of official secrets, which had once roused so much consternation within a limited circle, and (like the French affair of the diamond necklace) had sunk into neglect only when all clue seemed lost for perfectly unravelling its would revive in all its interest when a discovery came before the public, viz., a claim on the part of Francis to have written the famous letters, which must at the same time point a strong light upon the true origin of the treacherous disclosures. Some astonishment had always existed as to Francis—how he rose so suddenly into rank and station: some astonishment always existed as to Junius, how he should so suddenly have fallen asleep as a writer in the journals. The coincidence of this sudden and unaccountable silence with the sudden and unaccountable Indian appointment of Francis; the extraordinary familiarity of Junius, which had not altogether escaped notice, with the secrets of one particular office, viz., the War Office; the sudden recollection, sure to flash upon all who remembered Francis, if again he should become revived into suspicion, that he had held a situation of trust in that particular War Office; all these little recollections would begin to take up their places in a connected story: this and that, laid together, would become clear as day-light; and to the keen eyes of still surviving enemies—Horne Tooke, 'little Chamier,' Ellis, the Fitzroy, Russell, and Murray houses—the whole progress and catastrophe of the scoundrelism, the perfidy and the profits of the perfidy, would soon become as intelligible as any tale of midnight burglary from without, in concert with a wicked butler within, that was ever sifted by judge and jury at the Old Bailey, or critically reviewed by Mr. John Ketch at Tyburn.

Francis was the man. Francis was the wicked butler within, whom Pharaoh ought to have hanged, but whom he clothed in royal apparel, and mounted upon a horse that carried him to a curule chair of honor. So far his burglary prospered. But, as generally happens in such cases, this prosperous crime subsequently avenged itself. By a just retribution, the success of Junius, in two senses so monstrously exaggerated—exaggerated by a romantic over-estimate of its intellectual power through an error of the public, not admitted to the secret—and equally exaggerated as to its political power by the government in the hush-money for its future suppression, became the heaviest curse of the successful criminal. This criminal thirsted for literary distinction above all other distinction, with a childish eagerness, as for the amrecta cup of immortality. And, behold! there the brilliant bauble lay, glittering in the sands of a solitude, unclaimed by any man; disputed with him (if he chose to claim it) by nobody; and yet for his life he durst not touch it. He stood—he knew that he stood—in the situation of a murderer who has dropt an inestimable jewel upon the murdered body in the death-struggle with his victim. The jewel is his! Nobody will deny it. He may have it for asking. But to ask is his death-warrant. 'Oh yes!' would be the answer, 'here's your jewel, wrapt up safely in tissue paper. But here's another lot that goes along with it—no bidder can take them apart—viz. a halter, also wrapt up in tissue paper.' Francis, in relation to Junius, was in that exact predicament. 'You are Junius? You are that famous man who has been missing since 1772? And you can prove it? God bless me! sir; what a long time you've been sleeping: every body's gone to bed. Well, then, you are an exceedingly clever fellow, that have had the luck to be thought ten times more clever than really you were. And also, you are the greatest scoundrel that at this hour rests in Europe unhanged!'—Francis died, and made no sign. Peace of mind he had parted with for a peacock's feather, which feather, living or dying, he durst not mount in the plumage of his cap.


[1] Even Pope, with all his natural and reasonable interest in aristocratic society, could not shut his eyes to the fact that a jest in his mouth became twice a jest in a lord's. But still he failed to perceive what I am here contending for, that if the jest happened to miss fire, through the misfortune of bursting its barrel, the consequences would be far worse for the lord than the commoner. There is, you see, a blind sort of compensation.

[2] Mr. Schlosser, who speaks English, who has read rather too much English for any good that he has turned it to, and who ought to have a keen eye for the English version of his own book, after so much reading and study of it, has, however, overlooked several manifest errors. I do not mean to tax Mr. Davison with, general inaccuracy. On the contrary, he seems wary, and in most cases successful as a dealer with the peculiarities of the German. But several cases of error I detect without needing the original: they tell their own story. And one of these I here notice, not only for its own importance, but out of love to Schlosser, and by way of nailing his guarantee to the counter—not altogether as a bad shilling, but as a light one. At p. 5 of vol. 2, in a foot-note, which is speaking of Kant, we read of his attempt to introduce the notion of negative greatness into Philosophy. Negative greatness! What strange bird may that be? Is it the ornithorynchus paradoxus? Mr. Schlosser was not wide awake there. The reference is evidently to Kant's essay upon the advantages of introducing into philosophy the algebraic idea of negative quantities. It is one of Kant's grandest gleams into hidden truth. Were it only for the merits of this most masterly essay in reconstituting the algebraic meaning of a negative quantity [so generally misunderstood as a negation of quantity, and which even Sir Isaac Newton misconstrued as regarded its metaphysics], great would have been the service rendered to logic by Kant. But there is a greater. From this little brochure I am satisfied was derived originally the German regeneration of the Dynamic philosophy, its expansion through the idea of polarity, indifference, &c. Oh, Mr. Schlosser, you had not gepruft p. 5 of vol. 2. You skipped the notes.

[3] 'Little nurse:'—the word Glumdalclitch, in Brobdingnagian, absolutely means little nurse, and nothing else. It may seem odd that the captain should call any nurse of Brobdingnag, however kind to him, by such an epithet as little; and the reader may fancy that Sherwood forest had put it into his head, where Robin Hood always called his right hand man 'Little John,' not although, but expressly because John stood seven feet high in his stockings. But the truth is—that Glumdalclitch was little; and literally so; she was only nine years old, and (says the captain) 'little of her age,' being barely forty feet high. She had time to grow certainly, but as she had so much to do before she could overtake other women, it is probable that she would turn out what, in Westmoreland, they call a, little stiffenger—very little, if at all, higher than a common English church steeple.

[4.] 'Activity,'—It is some sign of this, as well as of the more thoroughly English taste in literature which distinguished Steele, that hardly twice throughout the 'Spectator' is Shakspeare quoted or alluded to by Addison. Even these quotations he had from the theatre, or the breath of popular talk. Generally, if you see a line from Shakspeare, it is safe to bet largely that the paper is Steele's; sometimes, indeed, of casual contributors; but, almost to a certainty, not a paper of Addison's. Another mark of Steele's superiority in vigor of intellect is, that much oftener in him than in other contributors strong thoughts came forward; harsh and disproportioned, perhaps, to the case, and never harmoniously developed with the genial grace of Addison, but original, and pregnant with promise and suggestion.

[5] 'Letters of Joseph Mede,' published more than twenty years ago by Sir Henry Ellis.

[6] It is an idea of many people, and erroneously sanctioned by Wordsworth, that Lord Somers gave a powerful lift to the 'Paradise Lost.' He was a subscriber to the sixth edition, the first that had plates; but this was some years before the Revolution of 1688, and when he was simply Mr. Somers, a barrister, with no effectual power of patronage.

[7] 'Milton, Mr. John:'—Dr. Johnson expressed his wrath, in an amusing way, at some bookseller's hack who, when employed to make an index, introduced Milton's name among the M's, under the civil title of— 'Milton, Mr. John.'

[8] 'Louis Baboon:'—As people read nothing in these days that is more than forty-eight hours old, I am daily admonished that allusions the most obvious to anything in the rear of our own time, needs explanation. Louis Baboon is Swift's jesting name for Louis Bourbon, i.e., Louis XIV.

[9] 'Of his MSS.:'—And, if all that I have heard be true, much has somebody to answer for, that so little has been yet published. The two executors of Burke were Dr. Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, a well-known M. P. in forgotten days, and Windham, a man too like Burke in elasticity of mind ever to be spoken of in connection with forgotten things. Which of them was to blame, I know not. But Mr. R. Sharpe, M. P., twenty-five years ago, well known as River Sharpe, from the [Greek: aperantologia] of his conversation, used to say, that one or both of the executors had offered him (the river) a huge travelling trunk, perhaps an Imperial or a Salisbury boot (equal to the wardrobe of a family), filled with Burke's MSS., on the simple condition of editing them with proper annotations. An Oxford man, and also the celebrated Mr. Christian Curwen, then member for Cumberland, made, in my hearing, the same report. The Oxford man, in particular, being questioned as to the probable amount of MS., deposed, that he could not speak upon oath to the cubical contents; but this he could say, that, having stripped up his coat sleeve, he had endeavored, by such poor machinery as nature had allowed him, to take the soundings of the trunk, but apparently there were none; with his middle finger he could find no bottom; for it was stopped by a dense stratum of MS.; below which, you know, other strata might lie ad infinitum. For anything proved to the contrary, the trunk might be bottomless.

[10] A man in Fox's situation is sure, whilst living, to draw after him trains of sycophants; and it is the evil necessity of newspapers the most independent, that they must swell the mob of sycophants. The public compels them to exaggerate the true proportions of such people as we see every hour in our own day. Those who, for the moment, modify, or may modify the national condition, become preposterous idols in the eyes of the gaping public; but with the sad necessity of being too utterly trodden under foot after they are shelved, unless they live in men's memory by something better than speeches in Parliament. Having the usual fate, Fox was complimented, whilst living, on his knowledge of Homeric Greek, which was a jest: he knew neither more nor less of Homer, than, fortunately, most English gentlemen of his rank; quite enough that is to read the 'Iliad' with unaffected pleasure, far too little to revise the text of any three lines, without making himself ridiculous. The excessive slenderness of his general literature, English and French, may be seen in the letters published by his Secretary, Trotter. But his fragment of a History, published by Lord Holland, at two guineas, and currently sold for two shillings (not two pence, or else I have been defrauded of 1s. 10d.), most of all proclaims the tenuity of his knowledge. He looks upon Malcolm Laing as a huge oracle; and, having read even less than Hume, a thing not very easy, with great naivete, cannot guess where Hume picked up his facts.

[11] Even in Dr. Francis's Translation of Select Speeches from Demosthenes, which Lord Brougham naturally used a little in his own labors on that theme, there may be traced several peculiarities of diction that startle us in Junius. Sir P. had them from his father. And Lord Brougham ought not to have overlooked them. The same thing may be seen in the notes to Dr. Francis's translation of Horace. These points, though not independently of much importance, become far more so in combination with others. The reply made to me once by a publisher of some eminence upon this question, was the best fitted to lower Mr. Taylor's investigation with a stranger to the long history of the dispute. 'I feel,' he said, 'the impregnability of the case made out by Mr. Taylor. But the misfortune is, that I have seen so many previous impregnable cases made out for other claimants.' Ay, that would be unfortunate. But the misfortune for this repartee was, that I, for whose use it was intended, not being in the predicament of a stranger to the dispute, having seen every page of the pleadings, knew all (except Mr. Taylor's) to be false in their statements; after which their arguments signified nothing.


Every thing in our days is new. Roads, for instance, which, being formerly 'of the earth earthy,' and therefore perishable, are now iron, and next door to being immortal; tragedies, which are so entirely new, that neither we nor our fathers, through eighteen hundred and ninety odd years, gone by, since Caesar did our little island the honor to sit upon its skirts, have ever seen the like to this 'Antigone;' and, finally, even more new are readers, who, being once an obedient race of men, most humble and deferential in the presence of a Greek scholar, are now become intractably mutinous; keep their hats on whilst he is addressing them; and listen to him or not, as he seems to talk sense or nonsense. Some there are, however, who look upon all these new things as being intensely old. Yet, surely the railroads are new? No; not at all. Talus, the iron man in Spenser, who continually ran round the island of Crete, administering gentle warning and correction to offenders, by flooring them with an iron flail, was a very ancient personage in Greek fable; and the received opinion is, that he must have been a Cretan railroad, called The Great Circular Coast-Line, that carried my lords the judges on their circuits of jail-delivery. The 'Antigone,' again, that wears the freshness of morning dew, and is so fresh and dewy in the beautiful person of Miss Faucit, had really begun to look faded on the Athenian stage, and even 'of a certain age,' about the death of Pericles, whose meridian year was the year 444 before Christ. Lastly, these modern readers, that are so obstinately rebellious to the once Papal authority of Greek, they—No; on consideration, they are new. Antiquity produced many monsters, but none like them.

The truth is, that this vast multiplication of readers, within the last twenty-five years, has changed the prevailing character of readers. The minority has become the overwhelming majority: the quantity has disturbed the quality. Formerly, out of every five readers, at least four were, in some degree, classical scholars: or, if that would be saying too much, if two of the four had 'small Latin and less Greek,' they were generally connected with those who had more, or at the worst, who had much reverence for Latin, and more reverence for Greek. If they did not all share in the services of the temple, all, at least, shared in the superstition. But, now-a-days, the readers come chiefly from a class of busy people who care very little for ancestral crazes. Latin they have heard of, and some of them know it as a good sort of industrious language, that even, in modern times, has turned out many useful books, astronomical, medical, philosophical, and (as Mrs. Malaprop observes) diabolical; but, as to Greek, they think of it as of an ancient mummy: you spend an infinity of time in unswathing it from its old dusty wrappers, and, when you have come to the end, what do you find for your pains? A woman's face, or a baby's, that certainly is not the better for being three thousand years old; and perhaps a few ears of wheat, stolen from Pharaoh's granary; which wheat, when sown [1] in Norfolk or Mid-Lothian, reaped, thrashed, ground, baked, and hunted through all sorts of tortures, yields a breakfast roll that (as a Scottish baker observed to me) is 'not just that bad.' Certainly not: not exactly 'that bad;' not worse than the worst of our own; but still, much fitter for Pharaoh's breakfast-table than for ours.

I, for my own part, stand upon an isthmus, connecting me, at one terminus, with the rebels against Greek, and, at the other, with those against whom they are in rebellion. On the one hand, it seems shocking to me, who am steeped to the lips in antique prejudices, that Greek, in unlimited quantities, should not secure a limited privilege of talking nonsense. Is all reverence extinct for old, and ivy-mantled, and worm-eaten things? Surely, if your own grandmother lectures on morals, which perhaps now and then she does, she will command that reverence from you, by means of her grandmotherhood, which by means of her ethics she might not. To be a good Grecian, is now to be a faded potentate; a sort of phantom Mogul, sitting at Delhi, with an English sepoy bestriding his shoulders. Matched against the master of ologies, in our days, the most accomplished of Grecians is becoming what the 'master of sentences' had become long since, in competition with the political economist. Yet, be assured, reader, that all the 'ologies' hitherto christened oology, ichthyology, ornithology, conchology, palaeodontology, &c., do not furnish such mines of labor as does the Greek language when thoroughly searched. The 'Mithridates' of Adelung, improved by the commentaries of Vater and of subsequent authors, numbers up about four thousand languages and jargons on our polyglot earth; not including the chuckling of poultry, nor caterwauling, nor barking, howling, braying, lowing, nor other respectable and ancient dialects, that perhaps have their elegant and their vulgar varieties, as well as prouder forms of communication. But my impression is, that the Greek, taken by itself, this one exquisite language, considered as a quarry of intellectual labor, has more work in it, is more truly a piece de resistance, than all the remaining three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, with caterwauling thrown into the bargain. So far I side with the Grecian, and think that he ought to be honored with a little genuflexion. Yet, on the other hand, the finest sound on this earth, and which rises like an orchestra above all the uproars of earth, and the Babels of earthly languages, is truth—absolute truth; and the hatefulest is conscious falsehood. Now, there is falsehood, nay (which seems strange), even sycophancy, in the old undistinguishing homage to all that is called classical. Yet why should men be sycophants in cases where they must be disinterested? Sycophancy grows out of fear, or out of mercenary self-interest. But what can there exist of either pointing to an old Greek poet? Cannot a man give his free opinion upon Homer, without fearing to be waylaid by his ghost? But it is not that which startles him from publishing the secret demur which his heart prompts, upon hearing false praises of a Greek poet, or praises which, if not false, are extravagant. What he fears, is the scorn of his contemporaries. Let once a party have formed itself considerable enough to protect a man from the charge of presumption in throwing off the yoke of servile allegiance to all that is called classical,—let it be a party ever so small numerically, and the rebels will soon be many. What a man fears is, to affront the whole storm of indignation, real and affected, in his own solitary person. 'Goth!' 'Vandal!' he hears from every side. Break that storm by dividing it, and he will face its anger. 'Let me be a Goth,' he mutters to himself, 'but let me not dishonor myself by affecting an enthusiasm which my heart rejects!'

Ever since the restoration of letters there has been a cabal, an academic interest, a factious league amongst universities, and learned bodies, and individual scholars, for exalting as something superterrestrial, and quite unapproachable by moderns, the monuments of Greek literature. France, in the time of Louis XIV., England, in the latter part of that time; in fact, each country as it grew polished at some cost of strength, carried this craze to a dangerous excess—dangerous as all things false are dangerous, and depressing to the aspirations of genius. Boileau, for instance, and Addison, though neither [2] of them accomplished in scholarship, nor either of them extensively read in any department of the classic literature, speak every where of the classics as having notoriously, and by the general confession of polished nations, carried the functions of poetry and eloquence to that sort of faultless beauty which probably does really exist in the Greek sculpture. There are few things perfect in this world of frailty. Even lightning is sometimes a failure: Niagara has horrible faults; and Mont Blanc might be improved by a century of chiselling from judicious artists. Such are the works of blind elements, which (poor things!) cannot improve by experience. As to man who does, the sculpture of the Greeks in their marbles and sometimes in their gems, seems the only act of his workmanship which has hit the bull's eye in the target at which we are all aiming. Not so, with permission from Messrs. Boileau and Addison, the Greek literature. The faults in this are often conspicuous; nor are they likely to be hidden for the coming century, as they have been for the three last. The idolatry will be shaken: as idols, some of the classic models are destined to totter: and I foresee, without gifts of prophecy, that many laborers will soon be in this field—many idoloclasts, who will expose the signs of disease, which zealots had interpreted as power; and of weakness, which is not the less real because scholars had fancied it health, nor the less injurious to the total effect because it was inevitable under the accidents of the Grecian position.

Meantime, I repeat, that to disparage any thing whatever, or to turn the eye upon blemishes, is no part of my present purpose. Nor could it be: since the one sole section of the Greek literature, as to which I profess myself an enthusiast, happens to be the tragic drama; and here, only, I myself am liable to be challenged as an idolater. As regards the Antigone in particular, so profoundly do I feel the impassioned beauty of her situation in connection with her character, that long ago, in a work of my own (yet unpublished), having occasion (by way of overture introducing one of the sections) to cite before the reader's eye the chief pomps of the Grecian theatre, after invoking 'the magnificent witch' Medea, I call up Antigone to this shadowy stage by the apostrophe, Holy heathen, daughter of God, before God was known, [3] flower from Paradise after Paradise was closed; that quitting all things for which flesh languishes, safety and honor, a palace and a home, didst make thyself a houseless pariah, lest the poor pariah king, thy outcast father, should want a hand to lead him in his darkness, or a voice to whisper comfort in his misery; angel, that badst depart for ever the glories of thy own bridal day, lest he that had shared thy nursery in childhood, should want the honors of a funeral; idolatrous, yet Christian Lady, that in the spirit of martyrdom trodst alone the yawning billows of the grave, flying from earthly hopes, lest everlasting despair should settle upon the grave of thy brother,' &c. In fact, though all the groupings, and what I would call permanent attitudes of the Grecian stage, are majestic, there is none that, to my mind, towers into such affecting grandeur, as this final revelation, through Antigone herself, and through her own dreadful death, of the tremendous wo that destiny had suspended over her house. If therefore my business had been chiefly with the individual drama, I should have found little room for any sentiment but that of profound admiration. But my present business is different: it concerns the Greek drama generally, and the attempt to revive it; and its object is to elucidate, rather than to praise or to blame. To explain this better, I will describe two things:—1st, The sort of audience that I suppose myself to be addressing; and, 2dly, As growing out of that, the particular quality of the explanations which I wish to make.

1st, As to the audience: in order to excuse the tone (which occasionally I may be obliged to assume) of one speaking as from a station of knowledge, to others having no knowledge, I beg it to be understood, that I take that station deliberately, on no conceit of superiority to my readers, but as a companion adapting my services to the wants of those who need them. I am not addressing those already familiar with the Greek drama, but those who frankly confess, and (according to their conjectural appreciation of it) who regret their non-familiarity with that drama. It is a thing well known to publishers, through remarkable results, and is now showing itself on a scale continually widening, that a new literary public has arisen, very different from any which existed at the beginning of this century. The aristocracy of the land have always been, in a moderate degree, literary; less, however, in connection with the current literature, than with literature generally—past as well as present. And this is a tendency naturally favored and strengthened in them, by the fine collections of books, carried forward through successive generations, which are so often found as a sort of hereditary foundation in the country mansions of our nobility. But a class of readers, prodigiously more extensive, has formed itself within the commercial orders of our great cities and manufacturing districts. These orders range through a large scale. The highest classes amongst them were always literary. But the interest of literature has now swept downwards through a vast compass of descents: and this large body, though the busiest in the nation, yet, by having under their undisturbed command such leisure time as they have at all under their command, are eventually able to read more than those even who seem to have nothing else but leisure. In justice, however, to the nobility of our land, it should be remembered, that their stations in society, and their wealth, their territorial duties, and their various public duties in London, as at court, at public meetings, in parliament, &c., bring crowded claims upon their time; whilst even sacrifices of time to the graceful courtesies of life, are in reference to their stations, a sort of secondary duties. These allowances made, it still remains true that the busier classes are the main reading classes; whilst from their immense numbers, they are becoming effectually the body that will more and more impress upon the moving literature its main impulse and direction. One other feature of difference there is amongst this commercial class of readers: amongst the aristocracy all are thoroughly educated, excepting those who go at an early age into the army; of the commercial body, none receive an elaborate, and what is meant by a liberal education, except those standing by their connections in the richest classes. Thus it happens that, amongst those who have not inherited but achieved their stations, many men of fine and powerful understandings, accomplished in manners, and admirably informed, not having had the benefits when young of a regular classical education, find (upon any accident bringing up such subjects) a deficiency which they do not find on other subjects. They are too honorable to undervalue advantages, which they feel to be considerable, simply because they were denied to themselves. They regret their loss. And yet it seems hardly worth while, on a simple prospect of contingencies that may never be realized, to undertake an entirely new course of study for redressing this loss. But they would be glad to avail themselves of any useful information not exacting study. These are the persons, this is the class, to which I address my remarks on the 'Antigone;' and out of their particular situation, suggesting upon all elevated subjects a corresponding tone of liberal curiosity, will arise the particular nature and direction of these remarks.

Accordingly, I presume, secondly, that this curiosity will take the following course:—these persons will naturally wish to know, at starting, what there is differentially interesting in a Grecian tragedy, as contrasted with one of Shakspeare's or of Schiller's: in what respect, and by what agencies, a Greek tragedy affects us, or is meant to affect us, otherwise than as they do; and how far the Antigone of Sophocles was judiciously chosen as the particular medium for conveying to British minds a first impression, and a representative impression, of Greek tragedy. So far, in relation to the ends proposed, and the means selected. Finally, these persons will be curious to know the issue of such an experiment. Let the purposes and the means have been bad or good, what was the actual success? And not merely success, in the sense of the momentary acceptance by half a dozen audiences, whom the mere decencies of justice must have compelled to acknowledge the manager's trouble and expense on their behalf; but what was the degree of satisfaction felt by students of the Athenian [4] tragedy, in relation to their long-cherished ideal? Did the representation succeed in realizing, for a moment, the awful pageant of the Athenian stage? Did Tragedy, in Milton's immortal expression,

———come sweeping by In sceptred pall?

Or was the whole, though successful in relation to the thing attempted, a failure in relation to what ought to have been attempted? Such are the questions to be answered.

* * * * *

The first elementary idea of a Greek tragedy, is to be sought in a serious Italian opera. The Greek dialogue is represented by the recitative, and the tumultuous lyrical parts assigned chiefly, though not exclusively, to the chorus on the Greek stage, are represented by the impassioned airs, duos, trios, choruses, &c. on the Italian. And there, at the very outset, occurs a question which lies at the threshold of a Fine Art,—that is of any Fine Art: for had the views of Addison upon the Italian opera had the least foundation in truth, there could have been no room or opening for any mode of imitation except such as belongs to a mechanic art.

The reason for at all connecting Addison with this case is, that he chiefly was the person occupied in assailing the Italian opera; and this hostility arose, probably, in his want of sensibility to good (that is, to Italian) music. But whatever might be his motive for the hostility, the single argument by which he supported it was this,—that a hero ought not to sing upon the stage, because no hero known to history ever summoned a garrison in a song, or changed a battery in a semichorus. In this argument lies an ignorance of the very first principle concern in every Fine Art. In all alike, more or less directly, the object is to reproduce in mind some great effect, through the agency of idem in alio. The idem, the same impression, is to be restored; but in alio, in a different material,—by means of some different instrument. For instance, on the Roman stage there was an art, now entirely lost, of narrating, and, in part of dramatically representing an impassioned tale, by means of dancing, of musical accompaniment in the orchestra, and of elaborate pantomime in the performer. Saltavit Hypermnestram, he danced (that is, he represented by dancing and pantomime the story of) Hypermnestra. Now, suppose a man to object, that young ladies, when saving their youthful husbands at midnight from assassination, could not be capable of waltzing or quadrilling, how wide is this of the whole problem! This is still seeking for the mechanic imitation, some imitation founded in the very fact; whereas the object is to seek the imitation in the sameness of the impression drawn from a different, or even from an impossible fact. If a man, taking a hint from the Roman 'Saltatio' (saltavit Andromachen), should say that he would 'whistle Waterloo,' that is, by whistling connected with pantomime, would express the passion and the changes of Waterloo, it would be monstrous to refuse him his postulate on the pretence that 'people did not whistle at Waterloo.' Precisely so: neither are most people made of marble, but of a material as different as can well be imagined, viz. of elastic flesh, with warm blood coursing along its tubes; and yet, for all that, a sculptor will draw tears from you, by exhibiting, in pure statuary marble, on a sepulchral monument, two young children with their little heads on a pillow, sleeping in each other's arms; whereas, if he had presented them in wax-work, which yet is far more like to flesh, you would have felt little more pathos in the scene than if they had been shown baked in gilt gingerbread. He has expressed the idem, the identical thing expressed in the real children; the sleep that masks death, the rest, the peace, the purity, the innocence; but in alio, in a substance the most different; rigid, non-elastic, and as unlike to flesh, if tried by touch, or eye, or by experience of life, as can well be imagined. So of the whistling. It is the very worst objection in the world to say, that the strife of Waterloo did not reveal itself through whistling: undoubtedly it did not; but that is the very ground of the man's art. He will reproduce the fury and the movement as to the only point which concerns you, viz. the effect, upon your own sympathies, through a language that seems without any relation to it: he will set before you what was at Waterloo through that which was not at Waterloo. Whereas any direct factual imitation, resting upon painted figures drest up in regimentals, and worked by watchwork through the whole movements of the battle, would have been no art whatsoever in the sense of a Fine Art, but a base mechanic mimicry.

This principle of the idem in alio, so widely diffused through all the higher revelations of art, it is peculiarly requisite to bear in mind when looking at Grecian tragedy, because no form of human composition employs it in so much complexity. How confounding it would have been to Addison, if somebody had told him, that, substantially, he had himself committed the offence (as he fancied it) which he charged so bitterly upon the Italian opera; and that, if the opera had gone farther upon that road than himself, the Greek tragedy, which he presumed to be so prodigiously exalted beyond modern approaches, had gone farther even than the opera. Addison himself, when writing a tragedy, made this violation (as he would have said) of nature, made this concession (as I should say) to a higher nature, that he compelled his characters to talk in metre. It is true this metre was the common iambic, which (as Aristotle remarks) is the most natural and spontaneous of all metres; and, for a sufficient reason, in all languages. Certainly; but Aristotle never meant to say that it was natural for a gentleman in a passion to talk threescore and ten iambics consecutively: a chance line might escape him once and away; as we know that Tacitus opened one of his works by a regular dactylic hexameter in full curl, without ever discovering it to his dying day (a fact which is clear from his never having corrected it); and this being a very artificial metre, a fortiori Tacitus might have slipped into a simple iambic. But that was an accident, whilst Addison had deliberately and uniformly made his characters talk in verse. According to the common and false meaning [which was his own meaning] of the word nature, he had as undeniably violated the principle of the natural, by this metrical dialogue, as the Italian opera by musical dialogue. If it is hard and trying for men to sing their emotions, not less so it must be to deliver them in verse.

But, if this were shocking, how much more shocking would it have seemed to Addison, had he been introduced to parts which really exist in the Grecian drama? Even Sophocles, who, of the three tragic poets surviving from the wrecks of the Athenian stage, is reputed the supreme artist [5] if not the most impassioned poet, with what horror he would have overwhelmed Addison, when read by the light of those principles which he had himself so scornfully applied to the opera! In the very monsoon of his raving misery, from calamities as sudden as they were irredeemable, a king is introduced, not only conversing, but conversing in metre; not only in metre, but in the most elaborate of choral metres; not only under the torture of these lyric difficulties, but also chanting; not only chanting, but also in all probability dancing. What do you think of that, Mr. Addison?

There is, in fact, a scale of graduated ascents in these artifices for unrealizing the effects of dramatic situations:

1. We may see, even in novels and prose comedies, a keen attention paid to the inspiriting and dressing of the dialogue: it is meant to be life- like, but still it is a little raised, pointed, colored, and idealized.

2. In comedy of a higher and more poetic cast, we find the dialogue metrical.

3. In comedy or in tragedy alike, which is meant to be still further removed from ordinary life, we find the dialogue fettered not only by metre, but by rhyme. We need not go to Dryden, and others, of our own middle stage, or to the French stage for this: even in Shakspeare, as for example, in parts of Romeo and Juliet (and for no capricious purpose), we may see effects sought from the use of rhyme. There is another illustration of the idealizing effect to be obtained from a particular treatment of the dialogue, seen in the Hamlet of Shakspeare. In that drama there arises a necessity for exhibiting a play within a play. This interior drama is to be further removed from the spectator than the principal drama; it is a deep below a deep; and, to produce that effect, the poet relies chiefly upon the stiffening the dialogue, and removing it still farther, than the general dialogue of the including or outside drama, from the standard of ordinary life.

4. We find, superadded to these artifices for idealizing the situations, even music of an intermitting character, sometimes less, sometimes more impassioned—recitatives, airs, choruses. Here we have reached the Italian opera.

5. And, finally, besides all these resources of art, we find dancing introduced; but dancing of a solemn, mystical, and symbolic character. Here, at last, we have reached the Greek tragedy. Probably the best exemplification of a Grecian tragedy that ever will be given to a modern reader is found in the Samson Agonistes of Milton. Now, in the choral or lyric parts of this fine drama, Samson not only talks, 1st, metrically ( as he does every where, and in the most level parts of the scenic business), but, 2d, in very intricate metres, and, 3d, occasionally in rhymed metres (though the rhymes are too sparingly and too capriciously scattered by Milton), and, 4th, singing or chanting these metres (for, as the chorus sang, it was impossible that he could be allowed to talk in his ordinary voice, else he would have put them out, and ruined the music). Finally, 5th, I am satisfied that Milton meant him to dance. The office of the chorus was imperfectly defined upon the Greek stage. They are generally understood to be the moralizers of the scene. But this is liable to exceptions. Some of them have been known to do very bad things on the stage, and to come within a trifle of felony: as to misprision of felony, if there is such a crime, a Greek chorus thinks nothing of it. But that is no business of mine. What I was going to say is, that, as the chorus sometimes intermingles too much in the action, so the actors sometimes intermingle in the business of the chorus. Now, when you are at Rome, you must do as they do at Rome. And that the actor, who mixed with the chorus, was compelled to sing, is a clear case; for his part in the choral ode is always in the nature of an echo, or answer, or like an antiphony in cathedral services. But nothing could be more absurd than that one of these antiphonies should be sung, and another said. That he was also compelled to dance, I am satisfied. The chorus only sometimes moralized, but it always danced: and any actor, mingling with the chorus, must dance also. A little incident occurs to my remembrance, from the Moscow expedition of 1812, which may here be used as an illustration: One day King Murat, flourishing his plumage as usual, made a gesture of invitation to some squadrons of cavalry that they should charge the enemy: upon which the cavalry advanced, but maliciously contrived to envelope the king of dandies, before he had time to execute his ordinary manoeuvre of riding off to the left and becoming a spectator of their prowess. The cavalry resolved that his majesty should for once ride down at their head to the melee, and taste what fighting was like; and he, finding that the thing must be, though horribly vexed, made a merit of his necessity, and afterwards pretended that he liked it very much. Sometimes, in the darkness, in default of other misanthropic visions, the wickedness of this cavalry, their mechancete, causes me to laugh immoderately. Now I conceive that any interloper into the Greek chorus must have danced when they danced, or he would have been swept away by their impetus: nolens volens, he must have rode along with the orchestral charge, he must have rode on the crest of the choral billows, or he would have been rode down by their impassioned sweep. Samson, and Oedipus, and others, must have danced, if they sang; and they certainly did sing, by notoriously intermingling in the choral business.[6]

'But now,' says the plain English reader, 'what was the object of all these elaborate devices? And how came it that the English tragedy, which surely is as good as the Greek,' (and at this point a devil of defiance whispers to him, like the quarrelsome servant of the Capulets or the Montagus, 'say better,') 'that the English tragedy contented itself with fewer of these artful resources than the Athenian?' I reply, that the object of all these things was—to unrealize the scene. The English drama, by its metrical dress, and by other arts more disguised, unrealized itself, liberated itself from the oppression of life in its ordinary standards, up to a certain height. Why it did not rise still higher, and why the Grecian did, I will endeavor to explain. It was not that the English tragedy was less impassioned; on the contrary, it was far more so; the Greek being awful rather than impassioned; but the passion of each is in a different key. It is not again that the Greek drama sought a lower object than the English: it sought a different object. It is not imparity, but disparity, that divides the two magnificent theatres.

Suffer me, reader, at this point, to borrow from my-self, and do not betray me to the authorities that rule in this journal, if you happen to know [which is not likely] that I am taking an idea from a paper which years ago I wrote for an eminent literary journal. As I have no copy of that paper before me, it is impossible that I should save myself any labor of writing. The words at any rate I must invent afresh: and, as to the idea, you never can be such a churlish man as, by insisting on a new one, in effect to insist upon my writing a false one. In the following paragraph, therefore, I give the substance of a thought suggested by myself some years ago.

That kind of feeling, which broods over the Grecian tragedy, and to court which feeling the tragic poets of Greece naturally spread all their canvas, was more nearly allied to the atmosphere of death than that of life. This expresses rudely the character of awe and religious horror investing the Greek theatre. But to my own feeling the different principle of passion which governs the Grecian conception of tragedy, as compared with the English, is best conveyed by saying that the Grecian is a breathing from the world of sculpture, the English a breathing from the world of painting. What we read in sculpture is not absolutely death, but still less is it the fulness of life. We read there the abstraction of a life that reposes, the sublimity of a life that aspires, the solemnity of a life that is thrown to an infinite distance. This last is the feature of sculpture which seems most characteristic: the form which presides in the most commanding groups, 'is not dead but sleepeth:' true, but it is the sleep of a life sequestrated, solemn, liberated from the bonds of space and time, and (as to both alike) thrown (I repeat the words) to a distance which is infinite. It affects us profoundly, but not by agitation. Now, on the other hand, the breathing life—life kindling, trembling, palpitating—that life which speaks to us in painting, this is also the life that speaks to us in English tragedy. Into an English tragedy even festivals of joy may enter; marriages, and baptisms, or commemorations of national trophies: which, or any thing like which, is incompatible with the very being of the Greek. In that tragedy what uniformity of gloom; in the English what light alternating with depths of darkness! The Greek, how mournful; the English, how tumultuous! Even the catastrophes how different! In the Greek we see a breathless waiting for a doom that cannot be evaded; a waiting, as it were, for the last shock of an earthquake, or the inexorable rising of a deluge: in the English it is like a midnight of shipwreck, from which up to the last and till the final ruin comes, there still survives the sort of hope that clings to human energies.

Connected with this original awfulness of the Greek tragedy, and possibly in part its cause, or at least lending strength to its cause, we may next remark the grand dimensions of the ancient theatres. Every citizen had a right to accommodation. There at once was a pledge of grandeur. Out of this original standard grew the magnificence of many a future amphitheatre, circus, hippodrome. Had the original theatre been merely a speculation of private interest, then, exactly as demand arose, a corresponding supply would have provided for it through its ordinary vulgar channels; and this supply would have taken place through rival theatres. But the crushing exaction of 'room for every citizen,' put an end to that process of subdivision. Drury Lane, as I read (or think that I read) thirty years ago, allowed sitting room for three thousand eight hundred people. Multiply that by ten; imagine thirty-eight thousand instead of thirty-eight hundred, and then you have an idea of the Athenian theatre. [7]

Next, out of that grandeur in the architectural proportions arose, as by necessity, other grandeurs. You are aware of the cothurnus, or buskin, which raised the actor's heel by two and a half inches; and you think that this must have caused a deformity in the general figure as incommensurate to this height. Not at all. The flowing dress of Greece healed all that.

But, besides the cothurnus, you have heard of the mask. So far as it was fitted to swell the intonations of the voice, you are of opinion that this mask would be a happy contrivance; for what, you say, could a common human voice avail against the vast radiation from the actor's centre of more than three myriads? If, indeed (like the Homeric Stentor), an actor spoke in point of loudness, (Greek Text), as much as other fifty, then he might become audible to the assembled Athenians without aid. But this being impossible, art must be invoked; and well if the mask, together with contrivances of another class, could correct it. Yet if it could, still you think that this mask would bring along with it an overbalancing evil. For the expression, the fluctuating expression, of the features, the play of the muscles, the music of the eye and of the lips,—aids to acting that, in our times, have given immortality to scores, whither would those have vanished? Reader, it mortifies me that all which I said to you upon the peculiar and separate grandeur investing the Greek theatre is forgotten. For, you must consider, that where a theatre is built for receiving upwards of thirty thousand spectators, the curve described by what in modern times you would call the tiers of boxes, must be so vast as to make the ordinary scale of human features almost ridiculous by disproportion. Seat yourself at this day in the amphitheatre at Verona, and judge for yourself. In an amphitheatre, the stage, or properly the arena, occupying, in fact, the place of our modern pit, was much nearer than in a scenic theatre to the surrounding spectators. Allow for this, and placing some adult in a station expressing the distance of the Athenian stage, then judge by his appearance if the delicate pencilling of Grecian features could have told at the Grecian distance. But even if it could, then I say that this circumstantiality would have been hostile to the general tendencies (as already indicated) of the Grecian drama. The sweeping movement of the Attic tragedy ought not to admit of interruption from distinct human features; the expression of an eye, the loveliness of a smile, ought to be lost amongst effects so colossal. The mask aggrandized the features: even so far it acted favorably. Then figure to yourself this mask presenting an idealized face of the noblest Grecian outline, moulded by some skilful artist Phidiaca manu, so as to have the effect of a marble bust; this accorded with the aspiring cothurnus; and the motionless character impressed upon the features, the marble tranquillity, would (I contend) suit the solemn processional character of Athenian tragedy, far better than the most expressive and flexible countenance on its natural scale. 'Yes,' you say, on considering the character of the Greek drama, 'generally it might; in forty-nine cases suppose out of fifty: but what shall be done in the fiftieth, where some dreadful discovery or anagnorisis (i.e. recognition of identity) takes place within the compass of a single line or two; as, for instance, in the Oedipus Tyrannus, at the moment when Oedipus by a final question of his own, extorts his first fatal discovery, viz. that he had been himself unconsciously the murderer of Laius?' True, he has no reason as yet to suspect that Laius was his own father; which discovery, when made further on, will draw with it another still more dreadful, viz. that by this parricide he had opened his road to a throne, and to a marriage with his father's widow, who was also his own natural mother. He does not yet know the worst: and to have killed an arrogant prince, would not in those days have seemed a very deep offence: but then he believes that the pestilence had been sent as a secret vengeance for this assassination, which is thus invested with a mysterious character of horror. Just at this point, Jocasta, his mother and his wife, says, [8] on witnessing the sudden revulsion of feeling in his face, 'I shudder, oh king, when looking on thy countenance.' Now, in what way could this passing spasm of horror be reconciled with the unchanging expression in the marble-looking mask? This, and similar cases to this, must surely be felt to argue a defect in the scenic apparatus. But I say, no: first, Because the general indistinctiveness from distance is a benefit that applies equally to the fugitive changes of the features and to their permanent expression. You need not regret the loss through absence, of an appearance that would equally, though present, have been lost through distance. Secondly, The Greek actor had always the resource, under such difficulties, of averting his face a resource sanctioned in similar cases by the greatest of the Greek painters. Thirdly, The voluminous draperies of the scenic dresses, and generally of the Greek costume, made it an easy thing to muffle the features altogether by a gesture most natural to sudden horror. Fourthly, We must consider that there were no stage lights: but, on the contrary that the general light of day was specially mitigated for that particular part of the theatre; just as various architectural devices were employed to swell the volume of sound. Finally. I repeat my sincere opinion, that the general indistinctness of the expression was, on principles of taste, an advantage, as harmonizing with the stately and sullen monotony of the Greek tragedy. Grandeur in the attitudes, in the gestures, in the groups, in the processions—all this was indispensable: but, on so vast a scale as the mighty cartoons of the Greek stage, an Attic artist as little regarded the details of physiognomy, as a great architect would regard, on the frontispiece of a temple, the miniature enrichments that might be suitable in a drawing-room.

With these views upon the Grecian theatre, and other views that it might oppress the reader to dwell upon in this place, suddenly in December last an opportunity dawned—a golden opportunity, gleaming for a moment amongst thick clouds of impossibility that had gathered through three-and-twenty centuries—for seeing a Grecian tragedy presented on a British stage, and with the nearest approach possible to the beauty of those Athenian pomps which Sophocles, which Phidias, which Pericles created, beautified, promoted. I protest, when seeing the Edinburgh theatre's programme, that a note dated from the Vatican would not have startled me more, though sealed with the seal of the fisherman, and requesting the favor of my company to take coffee with the Pope. Nay, less: for channels there were through which I might have compassed a presentation to his Holiness; but the daughter of Oedipus, the holy Antigone, could I have hoped to see her 'in the flesh?' This tragedy in an English version, [9] and with German music, had first been placed before the eyes and ears of our countrymen at Convent Garden during the winter of 1844—5. It was said to have succeeded. And soon after a report sprang up, from nobody knew where, that Mr. Murray meant to reproduce it in Edinburgh.

What more natural? Connected so nearly with the noblest house of scenic artists that ever shook the hearts of nations, nobler than ever raised undying echoes amidst the mighty walls of Athens, of Rome, of Paris, of London,—himself a man of talents almost unparalleled for versatility,— why should not Mr. Murray, always so liberal in an age so ungrateful to his profession, have sacrificed something to this occasion? He, that sacrifices so much, why not sacrifice to the grandeur of the Antique? I was then in Edinburgh, or in its neighborhood; and one morning, at a casual assembly of some literary friends, present Professor Wilson, Messrs. J. F., C. N., L. C., and others, advocates, scholars, lovers of classical literature, we proposed two resolutions, of which the first was, that the news was too good to be true. That passed nem. con.; and the second resolution was nearly passing, viz. that a judgment would certainly fall upon Mr. Murray, had a second report proved true, viz. that not the Antigone, but a burlesque on the Antigone, was what he meditated to introduce. This turned out false; [l0] the original report was suddenly revived eight or ten months after. Immediately on the heels of the promise the execution followed; and on the last (which I believe was the seventh) representation of the Antigone, I prepared myself to attend.

It had been generally reported as characteristic of myself, that in respect to all coaches, steamboats, railroads, wedding-parties, baptisms, and so forth, there was a fatal necessity of my being a trifle too late. Some malicious fairy, not invited to my own baptism, was supposed to have endowed me with this infirmity. It occurred to me that for once in my life I would show the scandalousness of such a belief by being a trifle too soon, say, three minutes. And no name more lovely for inaugurating such a change, no memory with which I could more willingly connect any reformation, than thine, dear, noble Antigone! Accordingly, because a certain man (whose name is down in my pocket-book for no good) had told me that the doors of the theatre opened at half-past six, whereas, in fact, they opened at seven, there was I, if you please, freezing in the little colonnade of the theatre precisely as it wanted six-and-a-half minutes to seven,—six-and-a-half minutes observe too soon. Upon which this son of absurdity coolly remarked, that, if he had not set me half-an-hour forward, by my own showing, I should have been twenty-three-and-a-half minutes too late. What sophistry! But thus it happened (namely, through the wickedness of this man), that, upon entering the theatre, I found myself like Alexander Selkirk, in a frightful solitude, or like a single family of Arabs gathering at sunset about a solitary coffee-pot in the boundless desert. Was there an echo raised? it was from my own steps. Did any body cough? it was too evidently myself. I was the audience; I was the public. And, if any accident happened to the theatre, such as being burned down, Mr. Murray would certainly lay the blame upon me. My business meantime, as a critic, was—to find out the most malicious seat, i.e. the seat from which all things would take the most unfavorable aspect. I could not suit myself in this respect; however bad a situation might seem, I still fancied some other as promising to be worse. And I was not sorry when an audience, by mustering in strength through all parts of the house, began to divide my responsibility as to burning down the building, and, at the same time, to limit the caprices of my distracted choice. At last, and precisely at half-past seven, the curtain drew up; a thing not strictly correct on a Grecian stage. But in theatres, as in other places, one must forget and forgive. Then the music began, of which in a moment. The overture slipped out at one ear, as it entered the other, which, with submission to Mr. Mendelssohn, is a proof that it must be horribly bad; for, if ever there lived a man that in music can neither forget nor forgive, that man is myself. Whatever is very good never perishes from my remembrance,—that is, sounds in my ears by intervals for ever,—and for whatever is bad, I consign the author, in my wrath, to his own conscience, and to the tortures of his own discords. The most villanous things, however, have one merit; they are transitory as the best things; and that was true of the overture: it perished. Then, suddenly, —oh, heavens! what a revelation of beauty!—forth stepped, walking in brightness, the most faultless of Grecian marbles, Miss Helen Faucit as Antigone. What perfection of Athenian sculpture! the noble figure, the lovely arms, the fluent drapery! What an unveiling of the ideal statuesque! Is it Hebe? is it Aurora? is it a goddess that moves before us? Perfect she is in form; perfect in attitude;

  'Beautiful exceedingly,
  Like a ladie from a far countrie.'

Here was the redeeming jewel of the performance. It flattered one's patriotic feelings, to see this noble young countrywoman realizing so exquisitely, and restoring to our imaginations, the noblest of Grecian girls. We critics, dispersed through the house, in the very teeth of duty and conscience, all at one moment unanimously fell in love with Miss Faucit. We felt in our remorse, and did not pretend to deny, that our duty was—to be savage. But when was the voice of duty listened to in the first uproars of passion? One thing I regretted, viz. that from the indistinctness of my sight for distant faces, I could not accurately discriminate Miss Faucit's features; but I was told by my next neighbor that they were as true to the antique as her figure. Miss Faucit's voice is fine and impassioned, being deep for a female voice; but in this organ lay also the only blemish of her personation. In her last scene, which is injudiciously managed by the Greek poet,—too long by much, and perhaps misconceived in the modern way of understanding it,—her voice grew too husky to execute the cadences of the intonations: yet, even in this scene, her fall to the ground, under the burden of her farewell anguish, was in a high degree sculpturesque through the whole succession of its stages.

Antigone in the written drama, and still more in the personated drama, draws all thoughts so entirely to herself, as to leave little leisure for examining the other parts; and, under such circumstances, the first impulse of a critic's mind is, that he ought to massacre all the rest indiscriminately; it being clearly his duty to presume every thing bad which he is not unwillingly forced to confess good, or concerning which he retains no distinct recollection. But I, after the first glory of Antigone's avatar had subsided, applied myself to consider the general 'setting' of this Theban jewel. Creon, whom the Greek tragic poets take delight in describing as a villain, has very little more to do (until his own turn comes for grieving), than to tell Antigone, by minute-guns, that die she must. 'Well, uncle, don't say that so often,' is the answer which, secretly, the audience whispers to Antigone. Our uncle grows tedious; and one wishes at last that he himself could be 'put up the spout.' Mr. Glover, from the sepulchral depth of his voice, gave effect to the odious Creontic menaces; and, in the final lamentations over the dead body of Haemon, being a man of considerable intellectual power, Mr. Glover drew the part into a prominence which it is the fault of Sophocles to have authorized in that situation; for the closing sympathies of the spectator ought not to be diverted, for a moment, from Antigone.

But the chorus, how did they play their part? Mainly their part must have always depended on the character of the music: even at Athens, that must have been very much the case, and at Edinburgh altogether, because dancing on the Edinburgh stage there was none. How came that about? For the very word, 'orchestral,' suggests to a Greek ear dancing, as the leading element in the choral functions. Was it because dancing with us is never used mystically and symbolically never used in our religious services? Still it would have been possible to invent solemn and intricate dances, that might have appeared abundantly significant, if expounded by impassioned music. But that music of Mendelssohn!—like it I cannot. Say not that Mendelssohn is a great composer. He is so. But here he was voluntarily abandoning the resources of his own genius, and the support of his divine art, in quest of a chimera: that is, in quest of a thing called Greek music, which for us seems far more irrecoverable than the 'Greek fire.' I myself, from an early date, was a student of this subject. I read book after book upon it; and each successive book sank me lower into darkness, until I had so vastly improved in ignorance, that I could myself have written a quarto upon it, which all the world should not have found it possible to understand. It should have taken three men to construe one sentence. I confess, however, to not having yet seen the writings upon this impracticable theme of Colonel Perronet Thompson. To write experimental music for choruses that are to support the else meagre outline of a Greek tragedy, will not do. Let experiments be tried upon worthless subjects; and if this of Mendelssohn's be Greek music, the sooner it takes itself off the better. Sophocles will be delivered from an incubus, and we from an affliction of the auditory nerves.

It strikes me that I see the source of this music. We, that were learning German some thirty years ago, must remember the noise made at that time about Mendelssohn, the Platonic philosopher. And why? Was there any thing particular in 'Der Phaedon,' on the immortality of the soul? Not at all; it left us quite as mortal as it found us; and it has long since been found mortal itself. Its venerable remains are still to be met with in many worm-eaten trunks, pasted on the lids of which I have myself perused a matter of thirty pages, except for a part that had been too closely perused by worms. But the key to all the popularity of the Platonic Mendelssohn, is to be sought in the whimsical nature of German liberality, which, in those days, forced Jews into paying toll at the gates of cities, under the title of 'swine,' but caressed their infidel philosophers. Now, in this category of Jew and infidel, stood the author of 'Phaedon.' He was certainly liable to toll as a hog; but, on the other hand, he was much admired as one who despised the Pentateuch. Now that Mendelssohn, whose learned labors lined our trunks, was the father of this Mendelssohn, whose Greek music afflicts our ears. Naturally, then, it strikes me, that as 'papa' Mendelssohn attended the synagogue to save appearances, the filial Mendelssohn would also attend it. I likewise attended the synagogue now and then at Liverpool, and elsewhere. We all three have been cruising in the same latitudes; and, trusting to my own remembrances, I should pronounce that Mendelssohn has stolen his Greek music from the synagogue. There was, in the first chorus of the 'Antigone,' one sublime ascent (and once repeated) that rang to heaven: it might have entered into the music of Jubal's lyre, or have glorified the timbrel of Miriam. All the rest, tried by the deep standard of my own feeling, that clamors for the impassioned in music, even as the daughter of the horse-leech says, 'Give, give,' is as much without meaning as most of the Hebrew chanting that I heard at the Liverpool synagogue. I advise Mr. Murray, in the event of his ever reviving the 'Antigone,' to make the chorus sing the Hundredth Psalm, rather than Mendelssohn's music; or, which would be better still, to import from Lancashire the Handel chorus- singers.

But then, again, whatever change in the music were made, so as to 'better the condition' of the poor audience, something should really be done to 'better the condition' of the poor chorus. Think of these worthy men, in their white and skyblue liveries, kept standing the whole evening; no seats allowed, no dancing; no tobacco; nothing to console them but Antigone's beauty; and all this in our climate, latitude fifty-five degrees, 30th of December, and Fahrenheit groping about, I don't pretend to know where, but clearly on his road down to the wine cellar. Mr. Murray, I am perfectly sure, is too liberal to have grudged the expense, if he could have found any classic precedent for treating the chorus to a barrel of ale. Ale, he may object, is an unclassical tipple; but perhaps not. Xenophon, the most Attic of prose writers, mentions pointedly in his Anabasis, that the Ten Thousand, when retreating through snowy mountains, and in circumstances very like our General Elphinstone's retreat from Cabul, came upon a considerable stock of bottled ale. To be sure, the poor ignorant man calls it barley wine, [Greek: oitos chrithinos:] but the flavor was found so perfectly classical that not one man of the ten thousand, not even the Attic bee himself, is reported to have left any protest against it, or indeed to have left much of the ale.

But stop: perhaps I am intruding upon other men's space. Speaking, therefore, now finally to the principal question, How far did this memorable experiment succeed? I reply, that, in the sense of realizing all that the joint revivers proposed to realize, it succeeded; and failed only where these revivers had themselves failed to comprehend the magnificent tendencies of Greek tragedy, or where the limitations of our theatres, arising out of our habits and social differences, had made it impossible to succeed. In London, I believe that there are nearly thirty theatres, and many more, if every place of amusement (not bearing the technical name of theatre) were included. All these must be united to compose a building such as that which received the vast audiences, and consequently the vast spectacles, of some ancient cities. And yet, from a great mistake in our London and Edinburgh attempts to imitate the stage of the Greek theatres, little use was made of such advantages as really were at our disposal. The possible depth of the Edinburgh stage was not laid open. Instead of a regal hall in Thebes, I protest I took it for the boudoir of Antigone. It was painted in light colors, an error which was abominable, though possibly meant by the artist (but quite unnecessarily) as a proper ground for relieving the sumptuous dresses of the leading performers. The doors of entrance and exit were most unhappily managed. As to the dresses, those of Creon, of his queen, and of the two loyal sisters, were good: chaste, and yet princely. The dress of the chorus was as bad as bad as could be: a few surplices borrowed from Episcopal chapels, or rather the ornamented albes, &c. from any rich Roman Catholic establishment, would have been more effective. The Coryphaeus himself seemed, to my eyes, no better than a railway laborer, fresh from tunnelling or boring, and wearing a blouse to hide his working dress. These ill- used men ought to 'strike' for better clothes, in case Antigone should again revisit the glimpses of an Edinburgh moon; and at the same time they might mutter a hint about the ale. But the great hindrances to a perfect restoration of a Greek tragedy, lie in peculiarities of our theatres that cannot be removed, because bound up with their purposes. I suppose that Salisbury Plain would seem too vast a theatre: but at least a cathedral would be required in dimensions, York Minster or Cologne. Lamp-light gives to us some advantages which the ancients had not. But much art would be required to train and organize the lights and the masses of superincumbent gloom, that should be such as to allow no calculation of the dimensions overhead. Aboriginal night should brood over the scene, and the sweeping movements of the scenic groups: bodily expression should be given to the obscure feeling of that dark power which moved in ancient tragedy: and we should be made to know why it is that, with the one exception of the Persae, founded on the second Persian invasion, [11] in which Aeschylus, the author, was personally a combatant, and therefore a contemporary, not one of the thirty-four Greek tragedies surviving, but recedes into the dusky shades of the heroic, or even fabulous times.

A failure, therefore, I think the 'Antigone,' in relation to an object that for us is unattainable; but a failure worth more than many ordinary successes. We are all deeply indebted to Mr. Murray's liberality, in two senses; to his liberal interest in the noblest section of ancient literature, and to his liberal disregard of expense. To have seen a Grecian play is a great remembrance. To have seen Miss Helen Faucit's Antigone, were that all, with her bust, [Greek: os agalmatos] [12] and her uplifted arm 'pleading against unjust tribunals,' is worth—what is it worth? Worth the money? How mean a thought! To see Helen, to see Helen of Greece, was the chief prayer of Marlow's Dr. Faustus; the chief gift which he exacted from the fiend. To see Helen of Greece? Dr. Faustus, we have seen her: Mr. Murray is the Mephistopheles that showed her to us. It was cheap at the price of a journey to Siberia, and is the next best thing to having seen Waterloo at sunset on the 18th of June, 1815. [13]


[1] 'When sown;' as it has been repeatedly; a fact which some readers may not be aware of.

[2] Boileau, it is true, translated Longinus. But there goes little Greek to that. It is in dealing with Attic Greek, and Attic poets, that a man can manifest his Grecian skill.

[3] 'Before God was known;'—i.e. known in Greece.

[4] At times, I say pointedly, the Athenian rather than the Grecian tragedy, in order to keep the reader's attention awake to a remark made by Paterculus,—viz. That although Greece coquettishly welcomed homage to herself, as generally concerned in the Greek literature, in reality Athens only had any original share in the drama, or in the oratory of Greece.

[5] 'The supreme artist:'—It is chiefly by comparison with Euripides, that Sophocles is usually crowned with the laurels of art. But there is some danger of doing wrong to the truth in too blindly adhering to these old rulings of critical courts. The judgments would sometimes be reversed, if the pleadings were before us. There were blockheads in those days. Undoubtedly it is past denying that Euripides at times betrays marks of carelessness in the structure of his plots, as if writing too much in a hurry: the original cast of the fable is sometimes not happy, and the evolution or disentangling is too precipitate. It is easy to see that he would have remoulded them in a revised edition, or diaskeue [Greek.] On the other hand, I remember nothing in the Greek drama more worthy of a great artist than parts in his Phoenissae. Neither is he the effeminately tender, or merely pathetic poet that some people imagine. He was able to sweep all the chords of the impassioned spirit. But the whole of this subject is in arrear: it is in fact res integra, almost unbroken ground.

[6] I see a possible screw loose at this point: if you see it, reader, have the goodness to hold your tongue.

[7] 'Athenian Theatre:'—Many corrections remain to be made. Athens, in her bloom, was about as big as Calcutta, which contained, forty years ago, more than half a million of people; or as Naples, which (being long rated at three hundred thousand), is now known to contain at least two hundred thousand more. The well known census of Demetrius Phalereus gave twenty- one thousand citizens. Multiply this by 5, or 4-3/4, and you have their families. Add ten thousand, multiplied by 4-1/2, for the Inquilini. Then add four hundred thousand for the slaves: total, about five hundred and fifty thousand. But upon the fluctuations of the Athenian population there is much room for speculation. And, quaere, was not the population of Athens greater two centuries before Demetrius, in the days of Pericles?

[8] Having no Sophocles at hand, I quote from memory, not pretending therefore to exactness: but the sense is what I state.

[9] Whose version, I do not know. But one unaccountable error was forced on one's notice. Thebes, which, by Milton and by every scholar is made a monosyllable, is here made a dissyllable. But Thebez, the dissyllable, is a Syrian city. It is true that Causabon deduces from a Syriac word meaning a case or enclosure (a theca), the name of Thebes, whether Boeotian or Egyptian. It is probable, therefore, that Thebes the hundred-gated of Upper Egypt, Thebes the seven-gated of Greece, and Thebes of Syria, had all one origin as regards the name. But this matters not; it is the English name that we are concerned with.

[10] 'False:' or rather inaccurate. The burlesque was not on the Antigone, but on the Medea of Euripides; and very amusing.

[11] But in this instance, perhaps, distance of space, combined with the unrivalled grandeur of the war, was felt to equiponderate the distance of time, Susa, the Persian capital, being fourteen hundred miles from Athens.

[12] [Greek: Sterna th'os agalmatos], her bosom as the bosom of a statue; an expression of Euripides, and applied, I think, to Polyxena at the moment of her sacrifice on the tomb of Achilles, as the bride that was being married to him at the moment of his death.

[13] Amongst the questions which occurred to me as requiring an answer, in connection with this revival, was one with regard to the comparative fitness of the Antigone for giving a representative idea of the Greek stage. I am of opinion that it was the worst choice which could have been made; and for the very reason which no doubt governed that choice, viz.— because the austerity of the tragic passion is disfigured by a love episode. Rousseau in his letter to D'Alembert upon his article Geneve, in the French Encyclopedie, asks,—'Qui est-ce qui doute que, sur nos theatres, la meilleure piece de Sophocle ne tombat tout-a-plat?' And his reason (as collected from other passages) is—because an interest derived from the passion of sexual love can rarely be found on the Greek stage, and yet cannot be dispensed with on that of Paris. But why was it so rare on the Greek stage? Not from accident, but because it did not harmonize with the principle of that stage, and its vast overhanging gloom. It is the great infirmity of the French, and connected constitutionally with the gayety of their temperament, that they cannot sympathize with this terrific mode of grandeur. We can. And for us the choice should have been more purely and severely Grecian; whilst the slenderness of the plot in any Greek tragedy, would require a far more effective support from tumultuous movement in the chorus. Even the French are not uniformly insensible to this Grecian grandeur. I remember that Voltaire, amongst many just remarks on the Electra of Sophocles, mixed with others that are not just, bitterly condemns this demand for a love fable on the French stage, and illustrates its extravagance by the French tragedy on the same subject, of Crebillon. He (in default of any more suitable resource) has actually made Electra, whose character on the Greek stage is painfully vindictive, in love with an imaginary son of Aegisthus, her father's murderer. Something should also have been said of Mrs. Leigh Murray's Ismene, which was very effective in supporting and in relieving the magnificent impression of Antigone. I ought also to have added a note on the scenic mask, and the common notion (not authorized, I am satisfied, by the practice in the supreme era of Pericles), that it exhibited a Janus face, the windward side expressing grief or horror, the leeward expressing tranquillity. Believe it not, reader. But on this and other points, it will be better to speak circumstantially, in a separate paper on the Greek drama, as a majestic but very exclusive and almost, if one may say so, bigoted form of the scenic art.


It sounds like the tolling of funeral bells, as the annunciation is made of one death after another amongst those who supported our canopy of empire through the last most memorable generation. The eldest of the Wellesleys is gone: he is gathered to his fathers; and here we have his life circumstantially written.

Who, and of what origin are the Wellesleys? There is an impression current amongst the public, or there was an impression, that the true name of the Wellesley family is Wesley. This is a case very much resembling some of those imagined by the old scholastic logicians, where it was impossible either to deny or to affirm: saying yes, or saying no, equally you told a falsehood. The facts are these: the family was originally English; and in England, at the earliest era, there is no doubt at all that its name was De Welles leigh, which was pronounced in the eldest times just as it is now, viz. as a dissyllable, [2] the first syllable sounding exactly like the cathedral city Wells, in Somersetshire, and the second like lea, (a field lying fallow.) It is plain enough, from various records, that the true historical genesis of the name, was precisely through that composition of words, which here, for the moment, I had imagined merely to illustrate its pronunciation. Lands in the diocese of Bath and Wells lying by the pleasant river Perret, and almost up to the gates of Bristol, constituted the earliest possessions of the De Wellesleighs. They, seven centuries before Assay, and Waterloo, were 'seised' of certain rich leas belonging to Wells. And from these Saxon elements of the name, some have supposed the Wellesleys a Saxon race. They could not possibly have better blood: but still the thing does not follow from the premises. Neither does it follow from the de that they were Norman. The first De Wellesley known to history, the very tip-top man of the pedigree, is Avenant de Wellesleigh. About a hundred years nearer to our own times, viz. in 1239, came Michael de Wellesleigh; of whom the important fact is recorded, that he was the father of Wellerand de Wellesley. And what did young Mr. Wellerand perform in this wicked world, that the proud muse of history should condescend to notice his rather singular name? Reader, he was—'killed:' that is all; and in company with Sir Robert de Percival; which again argues his Somersetshire descent: for the family of Lord Egmont, the head of all Percivals, ever was, and ever will be, in Somersetshire. But how was he killed? The time when, viz. 1303, the place where, are known: but the manner how, is not exactly stated; it was in skirmish with rascally Irish 'kernes,' fellows that (when presented at the font of Christ for baptism) had their right arms covered up from the baptismal waters, in order that, still remaining consecrated to the devil, those arms might inflict a devilish blow. Such a blow, with such an unbaptized arm, the Irish villain struck; and there was an end of Wellerand de Wellesleigh. Strange that history should make an end of a man, before it had made a beginning of him. These, however, are the facts; which, in writing a romance about Sir Wellerand and Sir Percival, I shall have great pleasure in falsifying. But how, says the too curious reader, did the De Wellesleighs find themselves amongst Irish kernes? Had these scamps the presumption to invade Somersetshire? Did they dare to intrude into Wells? Not at all: but the pugnacious De Wellesleys had dared to intrude into Ireland. Some say in the train of Henry II. Some say—but no matter: there they were: and there they stuck like limpets. They soon engrafted themselves into the county of Kildare; from which, by means of a fortunate marriage, they leaped into the county of Meath; and in that county, as if to refute the pretended mutability of human things, they have roosted ever since. There was once a famous copy of verses floating about Europe, which asserted that, whilst other princes were destined to fight for thrones, Austria—the handsome house of Hapsburgh—should obtain them by marriage:

'Pugnabunt alii: tu, felix Austria, nube.'

So of the Wellesleys: Sir Wellerand took quite the wrong way: not cudgelling, but courting, was the correct way for succeeding in Kildare. Two great estates, by two separate marriages, the De Wellesleighs obtained in Kildare; and, by a third marriage in a third generation, they obtained in the county of Meath, Castle Dengan (otherwise Dangan) with lordships as plentiful as blackberries. Castle Dangan came to them in the year of our Lord, 1411, i.e. before Agincourt: and, in Castle Dangan did Field- marshal, the man of Waterloo, draw his first breath, shed his first tears, and perpetrate his earliest trespasses. That is what one might call a pretty long spell for one family: four hundred and thirty-five years has Castle Dangan furnished a nursery for the Wellesley piccaninnies. Amongst the lordships attached to Castle Dangan was Mornington, which more than three centuries afterwards supplied an earldom for the grandfather of Waterloo. Any further memorabilia of the Castle Dangan family are not recorded, except that in 1485 (which sure was the year of Bosworth field?) they began to omit the de and to write themselves Wellesley tout court. From indolence, I presume: for a certain lady Di. le Fl., whom once I knew, a Howard by birth, of the house of Suffolk, told me as her reason for omitting the Le, that it caused her too much additional trouble.

So far the evidence seems in favor of Wellesley and against Wesley. But, on the other hand, during the last three centuries the Wellesleys wrote the name Wesley. They, however, were only the maternal ancestors of the present Wellesleys. Garret Wellesley, the last male heir of the direct line, in the year 1745, left his whole estate to one of the Cowleys, a Staffordshire family who had emigrated to Ireland in Queen Elizabeth's time, but who were, however, descended from the Wellesleys. This Cowley or Colley, taking, in 1745, the name of Wesley, received from George II. the title of Earl Mornington: and Colley's grandson, the Marquess Wellesley of our age, was recorded in the Irish peerage as Wesley, Earl of Mornington; was uniformly so described up to the end of the eighteenth century; and even Arthur of Waterloo, whom most of us Europeans know pretty well, on going to India a little before his brother, was thus introduced by Lord Cornwallis to Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth, the Governor-general), 'Dear sir, I beg leave to introduce to you Colonel Wesley, who is a lieutenant-colonel of my regiment. He is a sensible man, and a good officer.' Posterity, for we are posterity in respect of Lord Cornwallis, have been very much of his opinion. Colonel Wesley really is a sensible man; and the sensible man, soon after his arrival in Bengal, under the instigation of his brother, resumed the old name of Wellesley. In reality, the name of Wesley was merely the abbreviation of indolence, as Chumley for Cholmondeley, Pomfret for Pontefract, Cicester for Cirencester; or, in Scotland, Marchbanks for Majoribanks, Chatorow for the Duke of Hamilton's French title of Chatelherault. I remember myself, in childhood, to have met a niece of John Wesley the Proto-Methodist, who always spoke of the, second Lord Mornington (author of the well-known glees) as a cousin, and as intimately connected with her brother the great foudroyant performer on the organ. Southey, in his Life of John Wesley, tells us that Charles Wesley, the brother of John, and father of the great organist, had the offer from Garret Wellesley of those same estates which eventually were left to Richard Cowley. This argues a recognition of near consanguinity. Why the offer was declined, is not distinctly explained. But if it had been accepted, Southey thinks that then we should have had no storming of Seringapatam, no Waterloo, and no Arminian Methodists. All that is not quite clear. Tippoo was booked for a desperate British vengeance by his own desperate enmity to our name, though no Lord Wellesley had been Governor-General. Napoleon, by the same fury of hatred to us, was booked for the same fate, though the scene of it might not have been Waterloo. And, as to John Wesley, why should he not have made the same schism with the English Church, because his brother Charles had become unexpectedly rich?

The Marquess Wellesley was of the same standing, as to age, or nearly so, as Mr. Pitt; though he outlived Pitt by almost forty years. Born in 1760, three or four months before the accession of George III., he was sent to Eton, at the age of eleven; and from Eton, in his eighteenth year, he was sent to Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated as a nobleman. He then bore the courtesy title of Viscount Wellesley; but in 1781, when he had reached his twenty-first year, he was summoned away from Oxford by the death of his father, the second Earl of Mornington. It is interesting, at this moment, to look back on the family group of children collected at Dangan Castle. The young earl was within a month of his majority: his younger brothers and sisters were, William Wellesley Pole (since dead, under the title of Lord Maryborough), then aged eighteen; Anne, since married to Henry, son of Lord Southampton, aged thirteen; Arthur, aged twelve; Gerald Valerian, now in the church, aged ten; Mary Elizabeth (since Lady Culling Smith), aged nine; Henry, since Lord Cowley, and British ambassador to Spain, France, &c. aged eight. The new Lord Mornington showed his conscientious nature, by assuming his father's debts, and by superintending the education of his brothers. He had distinguished himself at Oxford as a scholar; but he returned thither no more, and took no degree. As Earl of Mornington, he sat in the Irish House of Lords; but not being a British peer, he was able to sit also in the English House of Commons; and of this opening for a more national career, he availed himself at the age of twenty-four. Except that he favored the claims of the Irish Catholics, his policy was pretty uniformly that of Mr. Pitt. He supported that minister throughout the contests on the French Revolution; and a little earlier, on the Regency question. This came forward in 1788, on occasion of the first insanity which attacked George III. The reader, who is likely to have been born since that era, will perhaps not be acquainted with the constitutional question then at issue. It was this: Mr. Fox held that, upon any incapacity arising in the sovereign, the regency would then settle (ipso facto of that incapacity) upon the Prince of Wales; overlooking altogether the case in which there should be no Prince of Wales, and the case in which such a Prince might be as incapable, from youth, of exercising the powers attached to the office, as his father from disease. Mr. Pitt denied that a Prince of Wales simply as such, and apart from any moral fitness which he might possess, had more title to the office of regent than any lamp-lighter or scavenger. It was the province of Parliament exclusively to legislate for the particular case. The practical decision of the question was not called for, from the accident of the king's sudden recovery: but in Ireland, from the independence asserted by the two houses of the British council, the question grew still more complex. The Lord Lieutenant refused to transmit their address, [3] and Lord Mornington supported him powerfully in his refusal.

Ten years after this hot collision of parties, Lord Mornington was appointed Governor-General of India, and now first he entered upon a stage worthy of his powers. I cannot myself agree with Mr. Pearce, that 'the wisdom of his policy is now universally recognized;' because the same false views of our Indian position, which at that time caused his splendid services to be slighted in many quarters, still preponderates. All administrations alike have been intensely ignorant of Indian politics; and for the natural reason, that the business of home politics leaves them no disposable energies for affairs so distant, and with which each man's chance of any durable connection is so exceedingly small. What Lord Mornington did was this: he looked our prospects in the face. Two great enemies were then looming upon the horizon, both ignorant of our real resources, and both deluded by our imperfect use of such resources, as, even in a previous war, we had possessed. One of these enemies was Tippoo, the Sultan of Mysore: him, by the crushing energy of his arrangements, Lord Mornington was able utterly to destroy, and to distribute his dominions with equity and moderation, yet so as to prevent any new coalition arising in that quarter against the British power. There is a portrait of Tippoo, of this very ger, in the second volume of Mr. Pearce's work, which expresses sufficiently the unparalleled ferocity of his nature; and it is guaranteed, by its origin, as authentic. Tippoo, from the personal interest investing him, has more fixed the attention of Europe than a much more formidable enemy: that enemy was the Mahratta confederacy, chiefly existing in the persons of the Peishwah, of Scindia, of Holkar, and the Rajah of Berar. Had these four princes been less profoundly ignorant, had they been less inveterately treacherous, they would have cost us the only dreadful struggle which in India we have stood. As it was, Lord Mornington's government reduced and crippled the Maharattas to such an extent, that in 1817, Lord Hastings found it possible to crush them for ever. Three services of a profounder nature, Lord Wellesley was enabled to do for India; first, to pave the way for the propagation of Christianity,—mighty service, stretching to the clouds, and which, in the hour of death, must have given him consolation; secondly, to enter upon the abolition of such Hindoo superstitions as are most shocking to humanity, particularly the practice of Suttee, and the barbarous exposure of dying persons, or of first-born infants at Sangor on the Ganges; finally, to promote an enlarged system of education, which (if his splendid scheme had been adopted) would have diffused its benefits all over India. It ought also to be mentioned that the expedition by way of the Red Sea against the French in Egypt, was so entirely of his suggestion and his preparation, that, to the great dishonor of Messrs. Pitt and Dundas, whose administration was the worst, as a war administration, thus ever misapplied, or non-applied, the resources of a mighty empire, it languished for eighteen months purely through their neglect.

In 1805, having staid about seven years in India, Lord Mornington was recalled, was created Marquess of Wellesley, was sent, in 1821, as Viceroy to Ireland, where there was little to do; having previously, in 1809, been sent Ambassador to the Spanish Cortes, where there was an affinity to do, but no means of doing it. The last great political act of Lord Wellesley, was the smashing of the Peel ministry in 1834 viz. by the famous resolution (which he personally drew up) for appropriating to general education in Ireland any surplus arising from the revenues of the Irish Church. Full of honors, he retired from public life at the age of seventy- five, and, for seven years more of life, dedicated his time to such literary pursuits as he had found most interesting in early youth.

Mr. Pearce, who is so capable of writing vigorously and sagaciously, has too much allowed himself to rely upon public journals. For example, he reprints the whole of the attorney-general's official information against eleven obscure persons, who, from the gallery of the Dublin theatre, did 'wickedly, riotously, and routously' hiss, groan, insult, and assault (to say nothing of their having caused and procured to be hissed, groaned, &c.) the Marquess Wellesley, Lord-Lieutenant General, and General Governor of Ireland. This document covers more than nine pages; and, after all, omits the only fact of the least consequence, viz., that several missiles were thrown by the rioters into the vice-regal box, and amongst them a quart-bottle, which barely missed his excellency's temples. Considering the impetus acquired by the descent from the gallery, there is little doubt that such a weapon would have killed Lord Wellesley on the spot. In default however, of this weighty fact, the attorney-general favors us with memorializing the very best piece of doggerel that I remember to have read; viz., that upon divers, to wit, three thousand papers, the rioters had wickedly and maliciously written and printed, besides, observe, causing to be written and printed, 'No Popery,' as also the following traitorous couplet—

  'The Protestants want Talbot,
  As the Papists have got all but;'

Meaning 'all but' that which they got some years later by means of the Clare election. Yet if, in some instances like this, Mr. Pearce has too largely drawn upon official papers, which he should rather have abstracted and condensed, on the other hand, his work has a specific value in bringing forward private documents, to which his opportunities have gained him a confidential access. Two portraits of Lord Wellesley, one in middle life, and one in old age, from a sketch by the Comte d'Orsay, are felicitously executed.

Something remains to be said of Lord Wellesley as a literary man; and towards such a judgment Mr. Pearce has contributed some very pleasing materials. As a public speaker, Lord Wellesley had that degree of brilliancy and effectual vigor, which might have been expected in a man of great talents, possessing much native sensibility to the charms of style, but not led by any personal accidents of life into a separate cultivation of oratory, or into any profound investigation of its duties and its powers on the arena of a British senate. There is less call for speaking of Lord Wellesley in this character, where he did not seek for any eminent distinction, than in the more general character of an elegant litterateur, which furnished to him much of his recreation in all stages of his life, and much of his consolation in the last. It is interesting to see this accomplished nobleman, in advanced age, when other resources were one by one decaying, and the lights of life were successively fading into darkness, still cheering his languid hours by the culture of classical literature, and in his eighty-second year drawing solace from those same pursuits which had given grace and distinction to his twentieth.

One or two remarks I will make upon Lord Wellesley's verses—Greek as well as Latin. The Latin lines upon Chantrey's success at Holkham in killing two woodcocks at the first shot, which subsequently he sculptured in marble and presented to Lord Leicester, are perhaps the most felicitous amongst the whole. Masquerading, in Lord Wellesley's verses, as Praxiteles, who could not well be represented with a Manon having a percussion lock, Chantrey is armed with a bow and arrows:

'En! trajecit aves una sagitta duas.'

In the Greek translation of Parthenopaeus, there are as few faults as could reasonably be expected. But, first, one word as to the original Latin poem: to whom does it belong? It is traced first to Lord Grenville, who received it from his tutor (afterwards Bishop of London), who had taken it as an anonymous poem from the 'Censor's book;' and with very little probability, it is doubtfully assigned to 'Lewis of the War Office,' meaning, no doubt, the father of Monk Lewis. By this anxiety in tracing its pedigree, the reader is led to exaggerate the pretensions of the little poem; these are inconsiderable: and there is a conspicuous fault, which it is worth while noticing, because it is one peculiarly besetting those who write modern verses with the help of a gradus, viz. that the Pentameter is often a mere reverberation of the preceding Hexameter. Thus, for instance—

  'Parthenios inter saltus non amplius erro,
  Non repeto Dryadum pascua laeta choris;'

and so of others, where the second line is but a variation of the first. Even Ovid, with all his fertility, and partly in consequence of his fertility, too often commits this fault. Where indeed the thought is effectually varied, so that the second line acts as a musical minor, succeeding to the major, in the first, there may happen to arise a peculiar beauty. But I speak of the ordinary case, where the second is merely the rebound of the first, presenting the same thought in a diluted form. This is the commonest resource of feeble thinking, and is also a standing temptation or snare for feeble thinking. Lord Wellesley, however, is not answerable for these faults in the original, which indeed he notices slightly as 'repetitions;' and his own Greek version is spirited and good. There, are, however, some mistakes. The second line is altogether faulty;

        [Greek: Choria Mainaliph pant erateina theph
  Achnumenos leipon

does not express the sense intended. Construed correctly, this clause of the sentence would mean—'I, sorrowfully leaving all places gracious to the Maenalian god:' but that is not what Lord Wellesley designed: 'I leaving the woods of Cyllene, and the snowy summits of Pholoe, places that are all of them dear to Pan'—that is what was meant: that is to say, not leaving all places dear to Pan, far from it; but leaving a few places, every one of which is dear to Pan. In the line beginning

[Greek: Kan eth uph aelikias]

where the meaning is—and if as yet, by reason of my immature age, there is a metrical error; and [Greek: aelikia] will not express immaturity of age. I doubt whether in the next line,

[Greek: Maed alkae thalloi gounasin aeitheos]

[Greek: gounasin] could convey the meaning without the preposition
[Greek: eth]. And in

[Greek: Spherchomai ou kaleousi theoi.]

I hasten whither the gods summon me—[Greek: ou] is not the right word. It is, however, almost impossible to write Greek verses which shall be liable to no verbal objections; and the fluent movement of these verses sufficiently argues the off-hand ease with which Lord Wellesley must have read Greek, writing it so elegantly and with so little of apparent constraint.

Meantime the most interesting (from its circumstances) of Lord Wellesley's verses, is one to which his own English interpretation of it has done less than justice. It is a Latin epitaph on the daughter (an only child) of Lord and Lady Brougham. She died, and (as was generally known at the time) of an organic affection disturbing the action of the heart, at the early age of eighteen. And the peculiar interest of the case lies in the suppression by this pious daughter (so far as it was possible) of her own bodily anguish, in order to beguile the mental anguish of her parents. The Latin epitaph is this:

  'Blanda anima, e cunis heu! longo exercita morbo,
      Inter maternas heu lachrymasque patris,
  Quas risu lenire tuo jucunda solebas,
      Et levis, et proprii vix memor ipsa mali;
   I, pete calestes, ubi nulla est cura, recessus:
      Et tibi sit nullo mista dolore quies!'

The English version is this:

  'Doom'd to long suffering from earliest years,
      Amidst your parents' grief and pain alone
  Cheerful and gay, you smiled to soothe their tears;
      And in their agonies forgot your own.
  Go, gentle spirit; and among the blest
      From grief and pain eternal be thy rest!'

In the Latin, the phrase e cunis does not express from your cradle upwards. The second line is faulty in the opposition of maternas to patris. And in the fourth line levis conveys a false meaning: levis must mean either physically light, i.e. not heavy, which is not the sense, or else tainted with levity, which is still less the sense. What Lord Wellesley wished to say—was light-hearted: this he has not said: but neither is it easy to say it in good Latin.

I complain, however, of the whole as not bringing out Lord Wellesley's own feeling—which feeling is partly expressed in his verses, and partly in his accompanying prose note on Miss Brougham's mournful destiny ('her life was a continual illness') contrasted with her fortitude, her innocent gaiety, and the pious motives with which she supported this gaiety to the last. Not as a direct version, but as filling up the outline of Lord Wellesley, sufficiently indicated by himself, I propose this:—

  'Child, that for thirteen years hast fought with pain,
      Prompted by joy and depth of natural love,—
   Rest now at God's command: oh! not in vain
      His angel ofttimes watch'd thee,—oft, above
   All pangs, that else had dimm'd thy parents' eyes,
      Saw thy young heart victoriously rise.
   Rise now for ever, self-forgetting child,
      Rise to those choirs, where love like thine is blest,
   From pains of flesh—from filial tears assoil'd,
      Love which God's hand shall crown with God's own rest.'


[1] Memoirs and Correspondence.

[2] 'As a dissyllable:'—just as the Annesley family, of which Lord Valentia is the present head, do not pronounce their name trisyllabically (as strangers often suppose), but as the two syllables Anns lea, accent on the first.

[3] Which adopted neither view; for by offering the regency of Ireland to the Prince of Wales, they negatived Mr. Fox's view, who held it to be the Prince's by inherent right; and, on the other hand, they still more openly opposed Mr. Pitt.


This conversation is doubly interesting: interesting by its subject, interesting by its interlocutors; for the subject is Milton, whilst the interlocutors are Southey and Landor. If a British gentleman, when taking his pleasure in his well-armed yacht, descries, in some foreign waters, a noble vessel, from the Thames or the Clyde, riding peaceably at anchor—and soon after, two smart-looking clippers, with rakish masts, bearing down upon her in company—he slackens sail: his suspicions are slightly raised; they have not shown their teeth as yet, and perhaps all is right; but there can be no harm in looking a little closer; and, assuredly, if he finds any mischief in the wind against his countryman, he will show his teeth also; and, please the wind, will take up such a position as to rake both of these pirates by turns. The two dialogists are introduced walking out after breakfast, 'each his Milton in his pocket;' and says Southey, 'Let us collect all the graver faults we can lay our hands upon, without a too minute and troublesome research;'—just so; there would be danger in that—help might put off from shore;—'not,' says he, 'in the spirit of Johnson, but in our own.' Johnson we may suppose, is some old ruffian well known upon that coast; and 'faults' may be a flash term for what the Americans call 'notions.' A part of the cargo it clearly is; and one is not surprised to hear Landor, whilst assenting to the general plan of attack, suggesting in a whisper 'that they should abase their eyes in reverence to so great a man, without absolutely closing them;' which I take to mean—that, without trusting entirely to their boarders, or absolutely closing their ports, they should depress their guns and fire down into the hold, in respect of the vessel attacked standing so high out of the water. After such plain speaking, nobody can wonder much at the junior pirate (Landor) muttering, 'It will be difficult for us always to refrain.' Of course it will: refraining was no part of the business, I should fancy, taught by that same buccaneer, Johnson. There is mischief, you see, reader, singing in the air—'miching malhecho'—and it is our business to watch it.

But, before coming to the main attack, I must suffer myself to be detained for a few moments by what Mr. L. premises upon the 'moral' of any great fable, and the relation which it bears, or should bear, to the solution of such a fable. Philosophic criticism is so far improved, that, at this day, few people, who have reflected at all upon such subjects, but are agreed as to one point: viz., that in metaphysical language the moral of an epos or a drama should be immanent, not transient; or, otherwise, that it should be vitally distributed through the whole organization of the tree, not gathered or secreted into a sort of red berry or racemus, pendent at the end of its boughs. This view Mr. Landor himself takes, as a general view; but, strange to say, by some Landorian perverseness, where there occurs a memorable exception to this rule (as in the 'Paradise Lost'), in that case he insists upon the rule in its rigor— the rule, and nothing but the rule. Where, on the contrary, the rule does really and obviously take effect (as in the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey'), there he insists upon an exceptional case. There is a moral, in his opinion, hanging like a tassel of gold bullion from the 'Iliad;'—and what is it? Something so fantastic, that I decline to repeat it. As well might he have said, that the moral of 'Othello' was—'Try Warren's Blacking!' There is no moral, little or big, foul or fair, to the 'Iliad.' Up to the 17th book, the moral might seem dimly to be this—'Gentlemen, keep the peace: you see what comes of quarrelling.' But there this moral ceases; —there is now a break of guage: the narrow guage takes place after this; whilst up to this point, the broad guage—viz., the wrath of Achilles, growing out of his turn-up with Agamemnon—had carried us smoothly along without need to shift our luggage. There is no more quarrelling after Book 17, how then can there be any more moral from quarrelling? If you insist on my telling you what is the moral of the 'Iliad,' I insist upon your telling me what is the moral of a rattlesnake or the moral of a Niagara. I suppose the moral is—that you must get out of their way, if you mean to moralize much longer. The going-up (or anabasis) of the Greeks against Troy, was a fact; and a pretty dense fact; and, by accident, the very first in which all Greece had a common interest. It was a joint-stock concern—a representative expedition—whereas, previously there had been none; for even the Argonautic expedition, which is rather of the darkest, implied no confederation except amongst individuals. How could it? For the Argo is supposed to have measured only twenty-seven tons: how she would have been classed at Lloyd's is hard to say, but certainly not as A 1. There was no state-cabin; everybody, demi-gods and all, pigged in the steerage amongst beans and bacon. Greece was naturally proud of having crossed the herring-pond, small as it was, in search of an entrenched enemy; proud also of having licked him 'into Almighty smash;' this was sufficient; or if an impertinent moralist sought for something more, doubtless the moral must have lain in the booty. A peach is the moral of a peach, and moral enough; but if a man will have something better—a moral within a moral—why, there is the peach-stone, and its kernel, out of which he may make ratafia, which seems to be the ultimate morality that can be extracted from a peach. Mr. Archdeacon Williams, indeed, of the Edinburgh Academy, has published an octavo opinion upon the case, which asserts that the moral of the Trojan war was (to borrow a phrase from children) tit for tat. It was a case of retaliation for crimes against Hellas, committed by Troy in an earlier generation. It may be so; Nemesis knows best. But this moral, if it concerns the total expedition to the Troad, cannot concern the 'Iliad,' which does not take up matters from so early a period, nor go on to the final catastrophe of Ilium.

Now, as to the 'Paradise Lost,' it happens that there is—whether there ought to be or not—a pure golden moral, distinctly announced, separately contemplated, and the very weightiest ever uttered by man or realized by fable. It is a moral rather for the drama of a world than for a human poem. And this moral is made the more prominent and memorable by the grandeur of its annunciation. The jewel is not more splendid in itself than in its setting. Excepting the well-known passage on Athenian oratory in the 'Paradise Regained,' there is none even in Milton where the metrical pomp is made so effectually to aid the pomp of the sentiment. Hearken to the way in which a roll of dactyles is made to settle, like the swell of the advancing tide, into the long thunder of billows breaking for leagues against the shore:

  'That to the height of this great argument
   I may assert eternal Providence.'—

Hear what a motion, what a tumult, is given by the dactylic close to each of the introductory lines! And how massily is the whole locked up into the peace of heaven, as the aerial arch of a viaduct is locked up into tranquil stability by its key-stone, through the deep spondaic close,

'And justify the ways of God to man.'

That is the moral of the Miltonic epos; and as much grander than any other moral formally illustrated by poets, as heaven is higher than earth.

But the most singular moral, which Mr. Landor anywhere discovers, is in his own poem of 'Gebir.' Whether he still adheres to it, does not appear from the present edition. But I remember distinctly, in the original edition, a Preface (now withdrawn) in which he made his acknowledgments to some book read at a Welsh Inn for the outline of the story; and as to the moral, he declared it to be an exposition of that most mysterious offence, Over-Colonization. Much I mused, in my youthful simplicity, upon this criminal novelty. What might it be? Could I, by mistake, have committed it myself? Was it a felony, or a misdemeanor?—liable to transportation, or only to fine and imprisonment? Neither in the Decemviral Tables, nor in the Code of Justinian, nor the maritime Code of Oleron, nor in the Canon Law, nor the Code Napoleon, nor our own Statutes at large, nor in Jeremy Bentham, had I read of such a crime as a possibility. Undoubtedly the vermin, locally called Squatters, [1] both in the wilds of America and Australia, who pre- occupy other men's estates, have latterly illustrated the logical possibility of such an offence; but they were quite unknown at the era of Gebir. Even Dalica, who knew as much wickedness as most people, would have stared at this unheard of villany, and have asked, as eagerly as I did—'What is it now? Let's have a shy at it in Egypt.' I, indeed, knew a case, but Dalica did not, of shocking over-colonization. It was the case, which even yet occurs on out-of-the-way roads, where a man, unjustly big, mounts into the inside of a stage-coach already sufficiently crowded. In streets and squares, where men could give him a wide berth, they had tolerated the injustice of his person; but now, in a chamber so confined, the length and breadth of his wickedness shines revealed to every eye. And if the coach should upset, which it would not be the less likely to do for having him on board, somebody or other (perhaps myself) must lie beneath this monster, like Enceladus under Mount Etna, calling upon Jove to come quickly with a few thunderbolts and destroy both man and mountain, both succubus and incubus, if no other relief offered. Meantime, the only case of over-colonization notorious to all Europe, is that which some German traveller (Riedesel, I think) has reported so eagerly, in ridicule of our supposed English credulity; viz.—the case of the foreign swindler, who advertised that he would get into a quart bottle, filled Drury Lane, pocketed the admission money, and decamped, protesting (in his adieus to the spectators) that' it lacerated his heart to disappoint so many noble islanders; but that on his next visit he would make full reparation by getting into a vinegar cruet.' Now, here certainly was a case of over- colonization, not perpetrated, but meditated. Yet, when one examines this case, the crime consisted by no means in doing it, but in not doing it; by no means in getting into the bottle, but in not getting into it. The foreign contractor would have been probably a very unhappy man, had he fulfilled his contract by over-colonizing the bottle, but he would have been decidedly a more virtuous man. He would have redeemed his pledge; and, if he had even died in the bottle, we should have honored him as a 'vir bonus, cum mala fortuna compositus;' as a man of honor matched in single duel with calamity, and also as the best of conjurers. Over- colonization, therefore, except in the one case of the stage-coach, is apparently no crime; and the offence of King Gebir, in my eyes, remains a mystery to this day.

What next solicits notice is in the nature of a digression: it is a kind of parenthesis on Wordsworth.

'Landor.—When it was a matter of wonder how Keats, who was ignorant of Greek, could have written his "Hyperion," Shelley, whom envy never touched, gave as a reason—"because he was a Greek." Wordsworth, being asked his opinion of the same poem, called it, scoffingly, "a pretty piece of paganism;" yet he himself, in the best verses he ever wrote—and beautiful ones they are—reverts to the powerful influence of the "pagan creed."'

Here are nine lines exactly in the original type. Now, nine tailors are ranked, by great masters of algebra, as = one man; such is the received equation; or, as it is expressed, with more liveliness, in an old English drama, by a man who meets and quarrels with eighteen tailors—'Come, hang it! I'll fight you both.' But, whatever be the algebraic ratio of tailors to men, it is clear that nine Landorian lines are not always equal to the delivery of one accurate truth, or to a successful conflict with three or four signal errors. Firstly—Shelley's reason, if it ever was assigned, is irrelevant as regards any question that must have been intended. It could not have been meant to ask—Why was the 'Hyperion' so Grecian in its spirit? for it is anything but Grecian. We should praise it falsely to call it so; for the feeble, though elegant, mythology of Greece was incapable of breeding anything so deep as the mysterious portents that, in the 'Hyperion,' run before and accompany the passing away of divine immemorial dynasties. Nothing can be more impressive than the picture of Saturn in his palsy of affliction, and of the mighty goddess his grand-daughter, or than the secret signs of coming woe in the palace of Hyperion. These things grew from darker creeds than Greece had ever known since the elder traditions of Prometheus—creeds that sent down their sounding plummets into far deeper wells within the human spirit. What had been meant, by the question proposed to Shelley, was no doubt— How so young a man as Keats, not having had the advantage of a regular classical education, could have been so much at home in the details of the elder mythology? Tooke's 'Pantheon' might have been obtained by favor of any English schoolboy, and Dumoustier's 'Lettres a Emile sur la Mythologie' by favor of very many young ladies; but these, according to my recollection of them, would hardly have sufficed. Spence's 'Polymetis,' however, might have been had by favor of any good library; and the 'Bibliotheca' of Apollodorus, who is the cock of the walk on this subject, might have been read by favor of a Latin translation, supposing Keats really unequal to the easy Greek text. There is no wonder in the case; nor, if there had been, would Shelley's kind remark have solved it. The treatment of the facts must, in any case, have been due to Keats's genius, so as to be the same whether he had studied Greek or not: the facts, apart from the treatment, must in any case have been had from a book. Secondly—Let Mr. Landor rely upon it —that Wordsworth never said the thing ascribed to him here as any formal judgment, or what Scottish law would call deliverance, upon the 'Hyperion.' As to what he might have said incidentally and collaterally; the meaning of words is so entirely affected by their position in a conversation—what followed, what went before—that five words dislocated from their context never would be received as evidence in the Queen's Bench. The court which, of all others, least strictly weighs its rules of evidence, is the female tea-table; yet even that tribunal would require the deponent to strengthen his evidence, if he had only five detached words to produce. Wordsworth is a very proud man as he has good reason to be; and perhaps it was I myself, who once said in print of him—that it is not the correct way of speaking, to say that Wordsworth is as proud as Lucifer; but, inversely, to say of Lucifer that some people have conceived him to be as proud as Wordsworth. But, if proud, Wordsworth is not haughty, is not ostentatious, is not anxious for display, is not arrogant, and, least of all, is he capable of descending to envy. Who or what is it that he should be envious of? Does anybody suppose that Wordsworth would be jealous of Archimedes if he now walked upon earth, or Michael Angelo, or Milton? Nature does not repeat herself. Be assured she will never make a second Wordsworth. Any of us would be jealous of his own duplicate; and, if I had a doppelganger, who went about personating me, copying me, and pirating me, philosopher as I am, I might (if the Court of Chancery would not grant an injunction against him) be so far carried away by jealousy as to attempt the crime of murder upon his carcass; and no great matter as regards HIM. But it would be a sad thing for me to find myself hanged; and for what, I beseech you? for murdering a sham, that was either nobody at all, or oneself repeated once too often. But if you show to Wordsworth a man as great as himself, still that great man will not be much like Wordsworth—the great man will not be Wordsworth's doppelganger. If not impar (as you say) he will be dispar; and why, then, should Wordsworth be jealous of him, unless he is jealous of the sun, and of Abd el Kader, and of Mr. Waghorn—all of whom carry off a great deal of any spare admiration which Europe has to dispose of. But suddenly it strikes me that we are all proud, every man of us; and I daresay with some reason for it, 'be the same more or less.' For I never came to know any man in my whole life intimately, who could not do something or other better than anybody else. The only man amongst us that is thoroughly free from pride, that you may at all seasons rely on as a pattern of humility, is the pickpocket. That man is so admirable in his temper, and so used to pocketing anything whatever which Providence sends in his way, that he will even pocket a kicking, or anything in that line of favors which you are pleased to bestow. The smallest donations are by him thankfully received, provided only that you, whilst half-blind with anger in kicking him round a figure of eight, like a dexterous skater, will but allow him (which is no more than fair) to have a second 'shy' at your pretty Indian pocket-handkerchief, so as to convince you, on cooler reflection, that he does not always miss. Thirdly—Mr. Landor leaves it doubtful what verses those are of Wordsworth's which celebrate the power 'of the Pagan creed;' whether that sonnet in which Wordsworth wishes to exchange for glimpses of human life, then and in those circumstances, 'forlorn,' the sight

  '——Of Proteus coming from the sea,
  And hear old Triton wind his wreathed horn;'

whether this, or the passage on the Greek mythology in 'The Excursion.' Whichever he means, I am the last man to deny that it is beautiful, and especially if he means the latter. But it is no presumption to deny firmly Mr. Landor's assertion, that these are 'the best verses Wordsworth ever wrote.' Bless the man!

  'There are a thousand such elsewhere,
  As worthy of your wonder:'—

Elsewhere, I mean, in Wordsworth's poems. In reality it is impossible that these should be the best; for even if, in the executive part, they were so, which is not the case, the very nature of the thought, of the feeling, and of the relation, which binds it to the general theme, and the nature of that theme itself, forbid the possibility of merits so high. The whole movement of the feeling is fanciful: it neither appeals to what is deepest in human sensibilities, nor is meant to do so. The result, indeed, serves only to show Mr. Landor's slender acquaintance with Wordsworth. And what is worse than being slenderly acquainted, he is erroneously acquainted even with these two short breathings from the Wordsworthian shell. He mistakes the logic. Wordsworth does not celebrate any power at all in Paganism. Old Triton indeed! he's little better, in respect of the terrific, than a mail-coach guard, nor half as good, if you allow the guard his official seat, a coal-black night, lamps blazing back upon his royal scarlet, and his blunderbuss correctly slung. Triton would not stay, I engage, for a second look at the old Portsmouth mail, as once I knew it. But, alas! better things than ever stood on Triton's pins are now as little able to stand up for themselves, or to startle the silent fields in darkness, with the sudden flash of their glory—gone before it had fall come—as Triton is to play the Freyschutz chorus on his humbug of a horn. But the logic of Wordsworth is this—not that the Greek mythology is potent; on the contrary, that it is weaker than cowslip tea, and would not agitate the nerves of a hen sparrow; but that, weak as it is—nay, by means of that very weakness—it does but the better serve to measure the weakness of something which he thinks yet weaker—viz. the death-like torpor of London society in 1808, benumbed by conventional apathy and worldliness—

'Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.'

This seems a digression from Milton, who is properly the subject of this colloquy. But, luckily, it is not one of my sins. Mr. Landor is lord within the house of his own book; he pays all accounts whatever; and readers that have either a bill, or bill of exceptions, to tender against the concern, must draw upon him. To Milton he returns upon a very dangerous topic indeed—viz. the structure of his blank verse. I know of none that is so trying to a wary man's nerves. You might as well tax Mozart with harshness in the divinest passages of 'Don Giovanni,' as Milton with any such offence against metrical science. Be assured, it is yourself that do not read with understanding, not Milton that by possibility can be found deaf to the demands of perfect harmony. You are tempted, after walking round a line threescore times, to exclaim at last— 'Well, if the Fiend himself should rise up before me at this very moment, in this very study of mine, and say that no screw was loose in that line, then would I reply—'Sir, with submission, you are——.' 'What!' suppose the Fiend suddenly to demand in thunder; 'what am I?' 'Horribly wrong,' you wish exceedingly to say; but, recollecting that some people are choleric in argument, you confine yourself to the polite answer-'That, with deference to his better education, you conceive him to lie;'—that's a bad word to drop your voice upon in talking with a fiend, and you hasten to add—'under a slight, a very slight mistake.' Ay, you might venture on that opinion with a fiend. But how if an angel should undertake the case? And angelic was the ear of Milton. Many are the prima facie anomalous lines in Milton; many are the suspicious lines, which in many a book I have seen many a critic peering into, with eyes made up for mischief, yet with a misgiving that all was not quite safe, very much like an old raven looking down a marrow-bone. In fact, such is the metrical skill of the man, and such the perfection of his metrical sensibility, that, on any attempt to take liberties with a passage of his, you feel as when coming, in a forest, upon what seems a dead lion; perhaps he may not be dead, but only sleeping; nay, perhaps he may not be sleeping, but only shamming. And you have a jealousy, as to Milton, even in the most flagrant case of almost palpable error, that, after all, there may be a plot in it. You may be put down with shame by some man reading the line otherwise, reading it with a different emphasis, a different caesura, or perhaps a different suspension of the voice, so as to bring out a new and self-justifying effect. It must be added, that, in reviewing Milton's metre, it is quite necessary to have such books as 'Nare's English Orthoepy' (in a late edition), and others of that class, lying on the table; because the accentuation of Milton's age was, in many words, entirely different from ours. And Mr. Landor is not free from some suspicion of inattention as to this point. Over and above his accentual difference, the practice of our elder dramatists in the resolution of the final tion (which now is uniformly pronounced shon), will be found exceedingly important to the appreciation of a writer's verse. Contribution, which now is necessarily pronounced as a word of four syllables, would then, in verse, have five, being read into con-tri-bu-ce-on. Many readers will recollect another word, which for years brought John Kemble into hot water with the pit of Drury Lane. It was the plural of the word ache. This is generally made a dissyllable by the Elizabethan dramatists; it occurs in the 'Tempest.' Prospero says—

'I'll fill thy bones with aches.'

What follows, which I do not remember literatim, is such metrically as to require two syllables for aches. But how, then, was this to be pronounced? Kemble thought akies would sound ludicrous; aitches therefore he called it: and always the pit howled like a famished menagerie, as they did also when he chose (and he constantly chose) to pronounce beard like bird. Many of these niceties must be known, before a critic can ever allow himself to believe that he is right in obelizing, or in marking with so much as a ? any verse whatever of Milton's. And there are some of these niceties, I am satisfied, not even yet fully investigated.

It is, however, to be borne in mind, after all allowances and provisional reservations have been made that Bentley's hypothesis (injudiciously as it was managed by that great scholar) has really a truth of fact to stand upon. Not only must Milton have composed his three greatest poems, the two 'Paradises, and the 'Samson,' in a state of blindness—but subsequently, in the correction of the proofs, he must have suffered still more from this conflict with darkness and, consequently, from this dependence upon careless readers. This is Bentley's case: as lawyers say: 'My lord, that is my case.' It is possible enough to write correctly in the dark, as I myself often do, when losing or missing my lucifers—which, like some elder lucifers, are always rebelliously straying into place where they can have no business. But it is quite impossible to correct a proof in the dark. At least, if there is such an art, it must be a section of the black art. Bentley gained from Pope that admirable epithet of slashing, ['the ribbalds—from slashing Bentley down to piddling Theobalds,' i.e. Tibbulds as it was pronounced], altogether from his edition of the 'Paradise Lost.' This the doctor founded on his own hypothesis as to the advantage taken of Milton's blindness; and corresponding was the havoc which he made of the text. In fact, on the really just allegation that Milton must have used the services of an amanuensis; and the plausible one that this amanuensis, being often weary of his task, would be likely to neglect punctilious accuracy; and the most improbable allegation that this weary person would also be very conceited, and add much rubbish of his own; Bentley resigned himself luxuriously, without the whisper of a scruple, to his own sense of what was or was not poetic, which sense happened to be that of the adder for music. The deaf adder heareth not though the musician charm ever so wisely. No scholarship, which so far beyond other men Bentley had, could gain him the imaginative sensibility which, in a degree so far beyond average men, he wanted. Consequently, the world never before beheld such a scene of massacre as his 'Paradise Lost' exhibited. He laid himself down to his work of extermination like the brawniest of reapers going in steadily with his sickle, coat stripped off, and shirt sleeves tucked up, to deal with an acre of barley. One duty, and no other, rested upon his conscience; one voice he heard—Slash away, and hew down the rotten growths of this abominable amanuensis. The carnage was like that after a pitched battle. The very finest passages in every book of the poem were marked by italics, as dedicated to fire and slaughter. 'Slashing Dick' went through the whole forest, like a woodman marking with white paint the giant trees that must all come down in a month or so. And one naturally reverts to a passage in the poem itself, where God the Father is supposed to say to his Filial assessor on the heavenly throne, when marking the desolating progress of Sin and Death,—

  'See with what havoc these fell dogs advance
  To ravage this fair world.'

But still this inhuman extravagance of Bentley, in following out his hypothesis, does not exonerate us from bearing in mind so much truth as that hypothesis really must have had, from the pitiable difficulties of the great poet's situation.

My own opinion, therefore, upon the line, for instance, from 'Paradise Regained,' which Mr. Landor appears to have indicated for the reader's amazement, viz.:—

'As well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society,'

is—that it escaped revision from some accident calling off the ear of Milton whilst in the act of having the proof read to him. Mr. Landor silently prints it in italics, without assigning his objection; but, of course that objection must be—that the line has one foot too much. It is an Alexandrine, such as Dryden scattered so profusely, without asking himself why; but which Milton never tolerates except in the choruses of the Samson.

'Not difficult, if thou hearken to me'—

is one of the lines which Mr. Landor thinks that 'no authority will reconcile' to our ears. I think otherwise. The caesura is meant to fall not with the comma after difficult , but after thou; and there is a most effective and grand suspension intended. It is Satan who speaks— Satan in the wilderness; and he marks, as he wishes to mark, the tremendous opposition of attitude between the two parties to the temptation.

'Not difficult if thou——'

there let the reader pause, as if pulling up suddenly four horses in harness, and throwing them on their haunches—not difficult if thou (in some mysterious sense the son of God); and then, as with a burst of thunder, again giving the reins to your quadriga,

'——hearken to me:'

that is, to me, that am the Prince of the Air, and able to perform all my promises for those that hearken to any temptations.

Two lines are cited under the same ban of irreconcilability to our ears, but on a very different plea. The first of these lines is—

'Launcelot, or Pellias, or Pellinore;'

The other

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus.'

The reader will readily suppose that both are objected to as 'roll-calls of proper names.' Now, it is very true that nothing is more offensive to the mind than the practice of mechanically packing into metrical successions, as if packing a portmanteau, names without meaning or significance to the feelings. No man ever carried that atrocity so far as Boileau, a fact of which Mr. Landor is well aware; and slight is the sanction or excuse that can be drawn from him. But it must not be forgotten that Virgil, so scrupulous in finish of composition, committed this fault. I remember a passage ending

'——Noemonaque Prytaninque;'

but, having no Virgil within reach, I cannot at this moment quote it accurately. Homer, with more excuse, however, from the rudeness of his age, is a deadly offender in this way. But the cases from Milton are very different. Milton was incapable of the Homeric or Virgilian blemish. The objection to such rolling musketry of names is, that unless interspersed with epithets, or broken into irregular groups by brief circumstances of parentage, country, or romantic incident, they stand audaciously perking up their heads like lots in a catalogue, arrow-headed palisades, or young larches in a nursery ground, all occupying the same space, all drawn up in line, all mere iterations of each other. But in

'Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus,'

though certainly not a good line when insulated (better, however, in its connection with the entire succession of which it forms part), the apology is, that the massy weight of the separate characters enables them to stand like granite pillars or pyramids, proud of their self-supporting independency.

Mr. Landor makes one correction by a simple improvement in the punctuation, which has a very fine effect. Rarely has so large a result been distributed through a sentence by so slight a change. It is in the 'Samson.' Samson says, speaking of himself (as elsewhere) with that profound pathos, which to all hearts invests Milton's own situation in the days of his old age, when he was composing that drama—

'Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.'

Thus it is usually printed; that is, without a comma in the latter line; but, says Landor, 'there ought to be commas after eyeless, after Gaza, after mill.' And why? because thus 'the grief of Samson is aggravated at every member of the sentence.' He (like Milton) was—1. blind; 2. in a city of triumphant enemies; 3. working for daily bread; 4. herding with slaves; Samson literally, and Milton with those whom politically he regarded as such.

Mr. Landor is perfectly wrong, I must take the liberty of saying, when he demurs to the line in Paradise Regained:

'From that placid aspect and meek regard,'

on the ground that; 'meek regard conveys no new idea to placid aspect.' But aspect is the countenance of Christ when passive to the gaze of others: regard is the same countenance in active contemplation of those others whom he loves or pities. The placid aspect expresses, therefore, the divine rest; the meek regard expresses the divine benignity: the one is the self-absorption of the total Godhead, the other the eternal emanation of the Filial Godhead.

'By what ingenuity,' says Landor, 'can we erect into a verse—

"In the bosom of bliss, and light of light?'"

Now really it is by my watch exactly three minutes too late for him to make that objection. The court cannot receive it now; for the line just this moment cited, the ink being hardly yet dry, is of the same identical structure. The usual iambic flow is disturbed in both lines by the very same ripple, viz., a trochee in the second foot, placid in the one line, bosom in the other. They are a sort of snags, such as lie in the current of the Mississippi. There, they do nothing but mischief. Here, when the lines are read in their entire nexus, the disturbance stretches forwards and backwards with good effect on the music. Besides, if it did not, one is willing to take a snag from Milton, but one does not altogether like being snagged by the Mississippi. One sees no particular reason for bearing it, if one only knew how to be revenged on a river.

But, of these metrical skirmishes, though full of importance to the impassioned text of a great poet (for mysterious is the life that connects all modes of passion with rhythmus), let us suppose the casual reader to have had enough. And now at closing for the sake of change, let us treat him to a harlequin trick upon another theme. Did the reader ever happen to see a sheriff's officer arresting an honest gentleman, who was doing no manner of harm to gentle or simple, and immediately afterwards a second sheriff's officer arresting the first—by which means that second officer merits for himself a place in history; for at the same moment he liberates a deserving creature (since an arrested officer cannot possibly bag his prisoner), and he also avenges the insult put upon that worthy man? Perhaps the reader did not ever see such a sight; and, growing personal, he asks me, in return, if I ever saw it. To say the truth, I never did; except once, in a too-flattering dream; and though I applauded so loudly as even to waken myself, and shouted 'encore,' yet all went for nothing; and I am still waiting for that splendid exemplification of retributive justice. But why? Why should it be a spectacle so uncommon? For surely those official arresters of men must want arresting at times as well as better people. At least, however, en attendant one may luxuriate in the vision of such a thing; and the reader shall now see such a vision rehearsed. He shall see Mr. Landor arresting Milton—Milton, of all men!— for a flaw in his Roman erudition; and then he shall see me instantly stepping up, tapping Mr. Landor on the shoulder, and saying, 'Officer, you're wanted;' whilst to Milton I say, touching my hat, 'Now, sir, be off; run for your life, whilst I hold his man in custody, lest he should fasten on you again.'

What Milton had said, speaking of the 'watchful cherubim,' was—

             'Four faces each
  Had, like a double Janus;'

Upon which Southey—but, of course, Landor, ventriloquizing through Southey—says, 'Better left this to the imagination: double Januses are queer figures.' Not at all. On the contrary, they became so common, that finally there were no other. Rome, in her days of childhood, contented herself with a two-faced Janus; but, about the time of the first or second Caesar, a very ancient statue of Janus was exhumed, which had four faces. Ever afterwards, this sacred resurgent statue became the model for any possible Janus that could show himself in good company. The quadrifrons Janus was now the orthodox Janus; and it would have been as much a sacrilege to rob him of any single face as to rob a king's statue [2] of its horse. One thing may recall this to Mr. Landor's memory. I think it was Nero, but certainly it was one of the first six Caesars, that built, or that finished, a magnificent temple to Janus; and each face was so managed as to point down an avenue leading to a separate market-place. Now, that there were four market-places, I will make oath before any Justice of the Peace. One was called the Forum Julium, one the Forum Augustum, a third the Forum Transitorium: what the fourth was called is best known to itself, for really I forget. But if anybody says that perhaps it was called the Forum Landorium, I am not the man to object; for few names have deserved such an honor more, whether from those that then looked forward into futurity with one face, or from our posterity that will look back into the vanishing past with another.


[1] Squatters:—They are a sort of self-elected warming-pans. What we in England mean by the political term 'warming-pans,' are men who occupy, by consent, some official place, or Parliamentary seat, until the proper claimant is old enough in law to assume his rights. When the true man comes to bed, the warming-pan respectfully turns out. But these ultra-marine warming-pans wouldn't turn out. They showed fight, and wouldn't hear of the true man, even as a bed-fellow.

[2] A king's statue:—Till very lately the etiquette of Europe was, that none but royal persons could have equestrian statues. Lord Hopetoun, the reader will object, is allowed to have a horse, in St. Andrew's Square, Edinburgh. True, but observe that he is not allowed to mount him. The first person, so far as I remember, that, not being royal, has, in our island, seated himself comfortably in the saddle, is the Duke of Wellington.


I am myself, and always have been, a member of the Church of England, and am grieved to hear the many attacks against the Church [frequently most illiberal attacks], which not so much religion as political rancor gives birth to in every third journal that I take up. This I say to acquit myself of all dishonorable feelings, such as I would abhor to co-operate with, in bringing a very heavy charge against that great body in its literary capacity. Whosoever has reflected on the history of the English constitution—must be aware that the most important stage of its development lies within the reign of Charles I. It is true that the judicial execution of that prince has been allowed by many persons to vitiate all that was done by the heroic parliament of November, 1640: and the ordinary histories of England assume as a matter of course that the whole period of parliamentary history through those times is to be regarded as a period of confusion. Our constitution, say they, was formed in 1688-9. Meantime it is evident to any reflecting man that the revolution simply re-affirmed the principles developed in the strife between the two great parties which had arisen in the reign of James I., and had ripened and come to issue with each other in the reign of his son. Our constitution was not a birth of a single instant, as they would represent it, but a gradual growth and development through a long tract of time. In particular the doctrine of the king's vicarious responsibility in the person of his ministers, which first gave a sane and salutary meaning to the doctrine of the king's personal irresponsibility ['The king can do no wrong'], arose undeniably between 1640 and 1648. This doctrine is the main pillar of our constitution, and perhaps the finest discovery that was ever made in the theory of government. Hitherto the doctrine that the King can do no wrong had been used not to protect the indispensable sanctity of the king's constitutional character, but to protect the wrong. Used in this way, it was a maxim of Oriental despotism, and fit only for a nation where law had no empire. Many of the illustrious patriots of the Great Parliament saw this; and felt the necessity of abolishing a maxim so fatal to the just liberties of the people. But some of them fell into the opposite error of supposing that this abolition could be effected only by the direct negation of it; their maxim accordingly was—'The king can do wrong,' i.e. is responsible in his own person. In this great error even the illustrious wife of Colonel Hutchinson participated; [1] and accordingly she taxes those of her own party who scrupled to accede to the new maxim, and still adhered to the old one, with unconscientious dealing. But she misapprehended their meaning, and failed to see where they laid the emphasis: the emphasis was not laid, as it was by the royal party, on the words 'can do no wrong'—but on 'The king:' that is, wrong may be done; and in the king's name; but it cannot be the king who did it [the king cannot constitutionally be supposed the person who did it]. By this exquisite political refinement, the old tyrannical maxim was disarmed of its sting; and the entire redress of all wrong, so indispensable to the popular liberty, was brought into perfect reconciliation with the entire inviolability of the sovereign, which is no less indispensable to the popular liberty. There is moreover a double wisdom in the new sense: for not only is one object [the redress of wrong] secured in conjunction with another object [the king's inviolability] hitherto held irreconcilable,— but even with a view to the first object alone a much more effectual means is applied, because one which leads to no schism in the state, than could have been applied by the blank negation of the maxim; i.e. by lodging the responsibility exactly where the executive power [ergo the power of resisting this responsibility] was lodged. Here then is one example in illustration of my thesis—that the English constitution was in a great measure gradually evolved in the contest between the different parties in the reign of Charles I. Now, if this be so, it follows that for constitutional history no period is so important as that: and indeed, though it is true that the Revolution is the great era for the constitutional historian, because he there first finds the constitution fully developed as the 'bright consummate flower,' and what is equally important he there first finds the principles of our constitution ratified by a competent authority,—yet, to trace the root and growth of the constitution, the three reigns immediately preceding are still more properly the objects of his study. In proportion then as the reign of Charles I. is Important to the history of our constitution, in that proportion are those to be taxed with the most dangerous of all possible falsifications of our history, who have misrepresented either the facts or the principles of those times. Now I affirm that the clergy of the Church of England have been in a perpetual conspiracy since the era of the restoration to misrepresent both. As an illustration of what I mean I refer to the common edition of Hudibras by Dr. Grey: for the proof I might refer to some thousands of books. Dr. Grey's is a disgusting case: for he swallowed with the most anile credulity every story, the most extravagant that the malice of those times could invent against either the Presbyterians or the Independents: and for this I suppose amongst other deformities his notes were deservedly ridiculed by Warburton. But, amongst hundreds of illustrations more respectable than Dr. Grey's I will refer the reader to a work of our own days, the Ecclesiastical Biography [in part a republication of Walton's Lives] edited by the present master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who is held in the highest esteem wherever he is known, and is I am persuaded perfectly conscientious and as impartial as in such a case it is possible for a high churchman to be. Yet so it is that there is scarcely one of the notes having any political reference to the period of 1640-1660, which is not disfigured by unjust prejudices: and the amount of the moral which the learned editor grounds upon the documents before him—is this, that the young student is to cherish the deepest abhorrence and contempt of all who had any share on the parliamentary side in the 'confusions' of the period from 1640 to 1660: that is to say of men to whose immortal exertions it was owing that the very revolution of 1688, which Dr. W. will be the first to applaud, found us with any such stock of political principles or feelings as could make a beneficial revolution possible. Where, let me ask, would have been the willingness of some Tories to construe the flight of James II. into a virtual act of abdication, or to consider even the most formal act of abdication binding against the king,-had not the great struggle of Charles's days gradually substituted in the minds of all parties a rational veneration of the king's office for the old superstition in behalf of the king's person, which would have protected him from the effects of any acts however solemnly performed which affected injuriously either his own interests or the liberties of his people. Tempora mutantur: nos et mutamur in illis. Those whom we find in fierce opposition to the popular party about 1640 we find still in the same personal opposition fifty years after, but an opposition resting on far different principles: insensibly the principles of their antagonists had reached even them: and a courtier of 1689 was willing to concede more than a patriot of 1630 would have ventured to ask. Let me not be understood to mean that true patriotism is at all more shown in supporting the rights of the people than those of the king: as soon as both are defined and limited, the last are as indispensable to the integrity of the constitution—as the first: and popular freedom itself would suffer as much, though indirectly, from an invasion of Caesar's rights—as by a more direct attack on itself. But in the 17th century the rights of the people were as yet not defined: throughout that century they were gradually defining themselves—and, as happiness to all great practical interests, defining themselves through a course of fierce and bloody contests. For the kingly rights are almost inevitably carried too high in ages of imperfect civilization: and the well-known laws of Henry the Seventh, by which he either broke or gradually sapped the power of the aristocracy, had still more extravagantly exalted them. On this account it is just to look upon democratic or popular politics as identical in the 17th century with patriotic politics. In later periods, the democrat and the patriot have sometimes been in direct opposition to each other: at that period they were inevitably in conjunction. All this, however, is in general overlooked by those who either write English history or comment upon it. Most writers of or upon English history proceed either upon servile principles, or upon no principles: and a good Spirit of English History, that is, a history which should abstract the tendencies and main results [as to laws, manners, and constitution] from every age of English history, is a work which I hardly hope to see executed. For it would require the concurrence of some philosophy, with a great deal of impartiality. How idly do we say, in speaking of the events of our own time which affect our party feelings,—'We stand too near to these events for an impartial estimate: we must leave them to the judgment of posterity!' For it is a fact that of the many books of memoirs written by persons who were not merely contemporary with the great civil war, but actors and even leaders in its principal scenes—there is hardly one which does not exhibit a more impartial picture of that great drama than the histories written at his day. The historian of Popery does not display half so much zealotry and passionate prejudice in speaking of the many events which have affected the power and splendor of the Papal See for the last thirty years, and under his own eyes, as he does when speaking of a reformer who lived three centuries ago—of a translator of the Bible into a vernacular tongue who lived nearly five centuries ago—of an Anti-pope—of a Charlemagne or a Gregory the Great still further removed from himself. The recent events he looks upon as accidental and unessential: but in the great enemies, or great founders of the Romish temporal power, and in the history of their actions and their motives, he feels that the whole principle of the Romish cause and its pretensions are at stake. Pretty much under the same feeling have modern writers written with a rancorous party spirit of the political struggles in the 17th century: here they fancy that they can detect the incunabula of the revolutionary spirit: here some have been so sharpsighted as to read the features of pure jacobinism: and others [2] have gone so far as to assert that all the atrocities of the French revolution had their direct parallelisms in acts done or countenanced by the virtuous and august Senate of England in 1640! Strange distortion of the understanding which can thus find a brotherly resemblance between two great historical events, which of all that ever were put on record stand off from each other in most irreconcilable enmity: the one originating, as Mr. Coleridge has observed, in excess of principle; the other in the utter defect of all moral principle whatever; and the progress of each being answerable to its origin! Yet so it is. And not a memoir-writer of that age is reprinted in this, but we have a preface from some red-hot Anti- jacobin warning us with much vapid common-place from the mischiefs and eventual anarchy of too rash a spirit of reform as displayed in the French revolution—not by the example of that French revolution, but by that of our own in the age of Charles I. The following passage from the Introduction to Sir William Waller's Vindication published in 1793, may serve as a fair instance: 'He' (Sir W. Waller) 'was, indeed, at length sensible of the misery which he had contributed to bring on his country;' (by the way, it is a suspicious circumstance—that Sir William [3] first became sensible that his country was miserable, when he became sensible that he himself was not likely to be again employed; and became fully convinced of it, when his party lost their ascendancy:) 'he was convinced, by fatal experience, that anarchy was a bad step towards a perfect government; that the subversion of every establishment was no safe foundation for a permanent and regular constitution: he found that pretences of reform were held up by the designing to dazzle the eyes of the unwary, &c.; he found in short that reformation, by popular insurrection, must end in the destruction and cannot tend to the formation of a regular Government.' After a good deal more of this well-meaning cant, the Introduction concludes with the following sentence:—the writer is addressing the reformers of 1793, amongst whom—'both leaders and followers,' he says, 'may together reflect—that, upon speculative and visionary reformers,' (i.e. those of 1640) 'the severest punishment which God in his vengeance ever yet inflicted—was to curse them with the complete gratification of their own inordinate desires.' I quote this passage—not as containing any thing singular, but for the very reason that it is not singular: it expresses in fact the universal opinion: notwithstanding which I am happy to say that it is false. What 'complete gratification of their own desires' was ever granted to the 'reformers' in question? On the contrary, it is well known (and no book illustrates that particular fact so well as Sir William Waller's) that as early as 1647 the army had too effectually subverted the just relations between itself and parliament—not to have suggested fearful anticipations to all discerning patriots of that unhappy issue which did in reality blight their prospects. And, when I speak of an 'unhappy issue,' I would be understood only of the immediate issue: for the remote issue was—the revolution of 1688, as I have already asserted. Neither is it true that even the immediate issue was 'unhappy' to any extent which can justify the ordinary language in which it is described. Here again is a world of delusions. We hear of 'anarchy,' of 'confusions,' of 'proscriptions,' of 'bloody and ferocious tyranny.' All is romance; there was no anarchy; no confusions; no proscriptions; no tyranny in the sense designed. The sequestrations, forfeitures, and punishments of all sorts which were inflicted by the conquering party on their antagonists—went on by due course of law; and the summary justice of courts martial was not resorted to in England: except for the short term of the two wars, and the brief intermediate campaign of 1648, the country was in a very tranquil state. Nobody was punished without an open trial; and all trials proceeded in the regular course, according to the ancient forms, and in the regular courts of justice. And as to 'tyranny,' which is meant chiefly of the acts of Cromwell's government, it should be remembered that the Protectorate lasted not a quarter of the period in question (1640-1660); a fact which is constantly forgotten even by very eminent writers, who speak as though Cromwell had drawn his sword in January 1649—cut off the king's head— instantly mounted his throne—and continued to play the tyrant for the whole remaining period of his life (nearly ten years). Secondly, as to the kind of tyranny which Cromwell exercised, the misconception is ludicrous: continental writers have a notion, well justified by the language of English writers, that Cromwell was a ferocious savage who built his palace of human skulls and desolated his country. Meantime, he was simply a strong-minded—rough-built Englishman, with a character thoroughly English, and exceedingly good-natured. Gray valued himself upon his critical knowledge of English history: yet how thoughtlessly does he express the abstract of Cromwell's life in the line on the village Cromwell—'Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood!' How was Cromwell guilty of his country's blood? What blood did he cause to be shed? A great deal was shed no doubt in the wars (though less, by the way, than is imagined): but in those Cromwell was but a servant of the parliament: and no one will allege that he had any hand in causing a single war. After he attained the sovereign power, no more domestic wars arose: and as to a few persons who were executed for plots and conspiracies against his person, they were condemned upon evidence openly given and by due course of law. With respect to the general character of his government, it is evident that in the unsettled and revolutionary state of things which follows a civil war some critical cases will arise to demand an occasional 'vigor beyond the law'—such as the Roman government allowed of in the dictatorial power. But in general, Cromwell's government was limited by law: and no reign in that century, prior to the revolution, furnishes fewer instances of attempts to tamper with the laws —to overrule them—to twist them to private interpretations—or to dispense with them. As to his major-generals of counties, who figure in most histories of England as so many Ali Pachas that impaled a few prisoners every morning before breakfast—or rather as so many ogres that ate up good Christian men, women and children alive, they were disagreeable people who were disliked much in the same way as our commissioners of the income-tax were disliked in the memory of us all; and heartily they would have laughed at the romantic and bloody masquerade in which they are made to figure in the English histories. What then was the 'tyranny' of Cromwell's government, which is confessedly complained of even in those days? The word 'tyranny' was then applied not so much to the mode in which his power was administered (except by the prejudiced)—as to its origin. However mercifully a man may reign,—yet, if he have no right to reign at all, we may in one sense call him a tyrant; his power not being justly derived, and resting upon an unlawful (i.e. a military) basis. As a usurper, and one who had diverted the current of a grand national movement to selfish and personal objects, Cromwell was and will be called a tyrant; but not in the more obvious sense of the word. Such are the misleading statements which disfigure the History of England in its most important chapter. They mislead by more than a simple error of fact: those, which I have noticed last, involve a moral anachronism; for they convey images of cruelty and barbarism such as could not co-exist with the national civilization at that time; and whosoever has not corrected this false picture by an acquaintance with the English literature of that age, must necessarily image to himself a state of society as rude and uncultured as that which prevailed during the wars of York and Lancaster—i.e. about two centuries earlier. But those, with which I introduced this article, are still worse; because they involve an erroneous view of constitutional history, and a most comprehensive act of ingratitude: the great men of the Long Parliament paid a heavy price for their efforts to purchase for their descendants a barrier to irresponsible power and security from the anarchy of undefined regal prerogative: in these efforts most of them made shipwreck of their own tranquillity and peace; that such sacrifices were made unavailingly (as it must have seemed to themselves), and that few of them lived to see the 'good old cause' finally triumphant, does not cancel their claims upon our gratitude—but rather strengthen them by the degree in which it aggravated the difficulty of bearing such sacrifices with patience. But whence come these falsifications of history? I believe, from two causes; first (as I have already said) from the erroneous tone impressed upon the national history by the irritated spirit of the clergy of the established church: to the religious zealotry of those times—the church was the object of especial attack; and its members were naturally exposed to heavy sufferings: hence their successors are indisposed to find my good in a cause which could lead to such a result. It is their manifest right to sympathize with their own order in that day; and in such a case it is almost their duty to be incapable of an entire impartiality. Meantime they have carried this much too far: the literature of England must always be in a considerable proportion lodged in their hands; and the extensive means thus placed at their disposal for injuriously coloring that important part of history they have used with no modesty or forbearance. There is not a page of the national history even in its local subdivisions which they have not stained with the atrabilious hue of their wounded remembrances: hardly a town in England, which stood a siege for the king or the parliament, but has some printed memorial of its constancy and its sufferings; and in nine cases out of ten the editor is a clergyman of the established church, who has contrived to deepen 'the sorrow of the time' by the harshness of his commentary. Surely it is high time that the wounds of the 17th century should close; that history should take a more commanding and philosophic station; and that brotherly charity should now lead us to a saner view of constitutional politics; or a saner view of politics to a more comprehensive charity. The other cause of this falsification springs out of a selfishness which has less claim to any indulgence—viz. the timidity with which the English Whigs of former days and the party to whom They [4] succeeded, constantly shrank from acknowledging any alliance with the great men of the Long Parliament under the nervous horror of being confounded with the regicides of 1649. It was of such urgent importance to them, for any command over the public support, that they should acquit themselves of an sentiment of lurking toleration for regicide, with which their enemies never failed to load them, that no mode of abjuring it seemed sufficiently emphatic to them hence it was that Addison, with a view to the interest of his party, thought fit when in Switzerland, to offer a puny insult to the memory of General Ludlow; hence it is that even in our own days, no writers have insulted Milton with so much bitterness and shameless irreverence as the Whigs; though it is true that some few Whigs, more however in their literary than in their political character, have stepped forward in his vindication. At this moment I recollect a passage in the writings of a modern Whig bishop—in which, for the sake of creating a charge of falsehood against Milton, the author has grossly mis-translated a passage in the Defensio pro Pop. Anglicano: and, if that bishop were not dead, I would here take the liberty of rapping his knuckles—were it only for breaking Priscian's head. To return over to the clerical feud against the Long Parliament,—it was a passage in a very pleasing work of this day (Ecclesiastical Biography) which suggested to me the whole of what I have now written. Its learned editor, who is incapable of uncandid feelings except in what concerns the interests of his order, has adopted the usual tone in regard to the men of 1640 throughout his otherwise valuable annotations: and somewhere or other (in the Life of Hammond, according to my remembrance) he has made a statement to this effect—That the custom prevalent among children in that age of asking their parents' blessing was probably first brought into disuse by the Puritans. Is it possible to imagine a perversity of prejudice more unreasonable? The unamiable side of the patriotic character in the seventeenth century was unquestionably its religious bigotry; which, however, had its ground in a real fervor of religious feeling and a real strength of religious principle somewhat exceeding the ordinary standard of the 19th century. But, however palliated, their bigotry is not to be denied; it was often offensive from its excess; and ludicrous in its direction. Many harmless customs, many ceremonies and rituals that had a high positive value, their frantic intolerance quarrelled with: and for my part I heartily join in the sentiment of Charles II.—applying it as he did, but a good deal more extensively, that their religion 'was not a religion for a gentleman:' indeed all sectarianism, but especially that which has a modern origin— arising and growing up within our own memories, unsupported by a grand traditional history of persecutions—conflicts—and martyrdoms, lurking moreover in blind alleys, holes, corners, and tabernacles, must appear spurious and mean in the eyes of him who has been bred up in the grand classic forms of the Church of England or the Church of Rome. But, because the bigotry of the Puritans was excessive and revolting, is that a reason for fastening upon them all the stray evils of omission or commission for which no distinct fathers can be found? The learned editor does not pretend that there is any positive evidence, or presumption even, for imputing to the Puritans a dislike to the custom in question: but, because he thinks it a good custom, his inference is that nobody could have abolished it but the Puritans. Now who does not see that, if this had been amongst the usages discountenanced by the Puritans, it would on that account have been the more pertinaciously maintained by their enemies in church and state? Or, even if this usage were of a nature to be prohibited by authority, as the public use of the liturgy—organs—surplices, &c., who does not see that with regard to that as well as to other Puritanical innovations there would have been a reflux of zeal in the restoration of the king which would have established them in more strength than ever? But it is evident to the unprejudiced that the usage in question gradually went out in submission to the altered spirit of the times. It was one feature of a general system of manners, fitted by its piety and simplicity for a pious and simple age, and which therefore even the 17th century had already outgrown. It is not to be inferred that filial affection and reverence have decayed amongst us, because they no longer express themselves in the same way. In an age of imperfect culture, all passions and emotions are in a more elementary state—'speak a plainer language'—and express themselves externally: in such an age the frame and constitution of society is more picturesque; the modes of life rest more undisguisedly upon the basis of the absolute and original relation of things: the son is considered in his sonship, the father in his fatherhood: and the manners take an appropriate coloring. Up to the middle of the 17th century there were many families in which the children never presumed to sit down in their parents' presence. But with us, in an age of more complete intellectual culture, a thick disguise is spread over the naked foundations of human life; and the instincts of good taste banish from good company the expression of all the profounder emotions. A son therefore, who should kneel down in this age to ask his papa's blessing on leaving town for Brighton or Bath—would be felt by himself to be making a theatrical display of filial duty, such as would be painful to him in proportion as his feelings were sincere. All this would have been evident to the learned editor in any case but one which regarded the Puritans: they were at any rate to be molested: in default of any graver matter, a mere fanciful grievance is searched out. Still, however, nothing was effected; fanciful or real, the grievance must be connected with the Puritans: here lies the offence, there lies the Puritans: it would be very agreeable to find some means of connecting the one with the other: but how shall this be done? Why, in default of all other means, the learned editor assumes the connection. He leaves the reader with an impression that the Puritans are chargeable with a serious wound to the manners of the nation in a point affecting the most awful of the household charities: and he fails to perceive that for this whole charge his sole ground is— that it would be very agreeable to him if he had a ground. Such is the power of the esprit de corps to palliate and recommend as colorable the very weakest logic to a man of acknowledged learning and talent!—In conclusion I must again disclaim any want of veneration and entire affection for the Established Church: the very prejudices and injustice, with which I tax the English clergy, have a generous origin: but it is right to point the attention of historical students to their strength and the effect which they have had. They have been indulged to excess; they have disfigured the grandest page in English history; they have hid the true descent and tradition of our constitutional history; and, by impressing upon the literature of the country a false conception of the patriotic party in and out of Parliament, they have stood in the way of a great work,—a work which, according to my ideal of it, would be the most useful that could just now be dedicated to the English public—viz. a philosophic record of the revolutions of English History. The English Constitution, as proclaimed and ratified in 1688-9, is in its kind, the noblest work of the human mind working in conjunction with Time, and what in such a case we may allowably call Providence. Of this chef d'oeuvre of human wisdom it were desirable that we should have a proportionable history: for such a history the great positive qualification would be a philosophic mind: the great negative qualification would be this [which to the established clergy may now be recommended as a fit subject for their magnanimity]; viz. complete conquest over those prejudices which have hitherto discolored the greatest era of patriotic virtue by contemplating the great men of that era under their least happy aspect—namely, in relation to the Established Church.

Now that I am on the subject of English History, I will notice one of the thousand mis-statements of Hume's which becomes a memorable one from the stress which he has laid upon it, and from the manner and situation in which he has introduced it. Standing in the current of a narrative, it would have merited a silent correction in an unpretending note: but it occupies a much more assuming station; for it is introduced in a philosophical essay; and being relied on for a particular purpose with the most unqualified confidence, and being alleged in opposition to the very highest authority [viz. the authority of an eminent person contemporary with the fact] it must be looked on as involving a peremptory defiance to all succeeding critics who might hesitate between the authority of Mr. Hume at the distance of a century from the facts and Sir William Temple speaking to them as a matter within his personal recollections. Sir William Temple had represented himself as urging in a conversation with Charles II., the hopelessness of any attempt on the part of an English king to make himself a despotic and absolute monarch, except indeed through the affections of his people. [5] This general thesis he had supported by a variety of arguments; and, amongst the rest, he had described himself as urging this—that even Cromwell had been unable to establish himself in unlimited power, though supported by a military force of eighty thousand men. Upon this Hume calls the reader's attention to the extreme improbability which there must beforehand appear to be in supposing that Sir W. Temple,—speaking of so recent a case, with so much official knowledge of that case at his command, uncontradicted moreover by the king whose side in the argument gave him an interest in contradicting Sir William's statement, and whose means of information were paramount to those of all others,—could under these circumstances be mistaken. Doubtless, the reader will reply to Mr. Hume, the improbability is extreme, and scarcely to be invalidated by any possible authority—which, at best, must terminate in leaving an equilibrium of opposing evidence. And yet, says Mr. Hume, Sir William was unquestionably wrong, and grossly wrong: Cromwell never had an army at all approaching to the number of eighty thousand. Now here is a sufficient proof that Hume had never read Lord Clarendon's account of his own life: this book is not so common as his 'History of the Rebellion;' and Hume had either not met with it, or had neglected it. For, in the early part of this work, Lord Clarendon, speaking of the army which was assembled on Blackheath to welcome the return of Charles II., says that it amounted to fifty thousand men: and, when it is remembered that this army was exclusive of the troops in garrison—of the forces left by Monk in the North—and above all of the entire army in Ireland,—it cannot be doubted that the whole would amount to the number stated by Sir William Temple. Indeed Charles II. himself, in the year 1678 [i.e. about four years after this conversation] as Sir W. Temple elsewhere tells us, 'in six weeks' time raised an army of twenty thousand men, the completest—and in all appearance the bravest troops that could be any where seen, and might have raised many more; and it was confessed by all the Foreign Ministers that no king in Christendom could have made and completed such a levy as this appeared in such a time.' William III. again, about eleven years afterwards, raised twenty- three regiments with the same ease and in the same space of six weeks. It may be objected indeed to such cases, as in fact it was objected to the case of William III. by Howlett in his sensible Examination of Dr. Price's Essay on the Population of England, that, in an age when manufactures were so little extended, it could ever have been difficult to make such a levy of men—provided there were funds for paying and equipping them. But, considering the extraordinary funds which were disposable for this purpose in Ireland, &c. during the period of Cromwell's Protectorate, we may very safely allow the combined authority of Sir William Temple—of the king—and of that very prime minister who disbanded Cromwell's army, to outweigh the single authority of Hume at the distance of a century from the facts. Upon any question of fact, indeed, Hume's authority is none at all.


[1] This is remarked by her editor and descendant Julius Hutchinson, who adds some words to this effect—'that if the patriot of that day were the inventors of the maxim [The king can do no wrong], we are much indebted to them.' The patriots certainly did not invent the maxim, for they found it already current: but they gave it its new and constitutional sense. I refer to the book, however, as I do to almost all books in these notes, from memory; writing most of them in situations where I have no access to books. By the way, Charles I., who used the maxim in the most odious sense, furnished the most colorable excuse for his own execution. He constantly maintained the irresponsibility of his ministers: but, if that were conceded, it would then follow that the king must be made responsible in his own person:—and that construction led of necessity to his trial and death.

[2] Amongst these Mr. D'Israeli in one of the latter volumes of his 'Curiosities of Literature' has dedicated a chapter or so to a formal proof of this proposition. A reader who is familiar with the history of that age comes to the chapter with a previous indignation, knowing what sort of proof he has to expect. This indignation is not likely to be mitigated by what he will there find. Because some one madman, fool, or scoundrel makes a monstrous proposal—which dies of itself unsupported, and is in violent contrast to all the acts and the temper of those times, —this is to sully the character of the parliament and three-fourths of the people of England. If this proposal had grown out of the spirit of the age, that spirit would have produced many more proposals of the same character and acts corresponding to them. Yet upon this one infamous proposal, and two or three scandalous anecdotes from the libels of the day, does the whole onus of Mr. D'Israeli's parallel depend. Tantamne rem tam negligenter?—in the general character of an Englishman I have a right to complain that so heavy an attack upon the honor of England and her most virtuous patriots in her most virtuous age should be made with so much levity: a charge so solemn in its matter should have been prosecuted with a proportionate solemnity of manner. Mr. D'Israeli refers with just applause to the opinions of Mr. Coleridge: I wish that he would have allowed a little more weight to the striking passage in which that gentleman contrasts the French revolution with the English revolution of 1640-8. However, the general tone of honor and upright principle, which marks Mr. D'Israeli's' work, encourages me and others to hope that he will cancel the chapter—and not persist in wounding the honor of a great people for the sake of a parallelism, which—even if it were true—is a thousand times too slight and feebly supported to satisfy the most accommodating reader.

[3] Sir William and his cousin Sir Hardress Waller, were both remarkable men. Sir Hardress had no conscience at all; Sir William a very scrupulous one; which, however, he was for ever tampering with—and generally succeeded in reducing into compliance with his immediate interest. He was, however, an accomplished gentleman: and as a man of talents worthy of the highest admiration.

[4] Until after the year 1688, I do not remember ever to have found the term Whig applied except to the religious characteristics of that party: whatever reference it might have to their political distinctions was only secondary and by implication.

[5] Sir William had quoted to Charles a saying from Gourville (a Frenchman whom the king esteemed, and whom Sir William himself considered the only foreigner he had ever known that understood England) to this effect: 'That a king of England who will be the man of his people, is the greatest king in the world; but, if he will be something more, by G— he is nothing at all.'


He was a man of very extraordinary genius. He has generally been treated by those who have spoken of him in print as a madman. But this is a mistake and must have been founded chiefly on the titles of his books. He was a man of fervid mind and of sublime aspirations: but he was no madman; or, if he was, then I say that it is so far desirable to be a madman. In 1798 or 1799, when I must have been about thirteen years old, Walking Stewart was in Bath—where my family at that time resided. He frequented the pump-room, and I believe all public places—walking up and down, and dispersing his philosophic opinions to the right and the left, like a Grecian philosopher. The first time I saw him was at a concert in the Upper Rooms; he was pointed out to me by one of my party as a very eccentric man who had walked over the habitable globe. I remember that Madame Mara was at that moment singing: and Walking Stewart, who was a true lover of music (as I afterwards came to know), was hanging upon her notes like a bee upon a jessamine flower. His countenance was striking, and expressed the union of benignity with philosophic habits of thought. In such health had his pedestrian exercises preserved him, connected with his abstemious mode of living, that though he must at that time have been considerably above forty, he did not look older than twenty-eight; at least the face which remained upon my recollection for some years was that of a young man. Nearly ten years afterwards I became acquainted with him. During the interval I had picked up one of his works in Bristol,—viz. his Travels to discover the Source of Moral Motion, the second volume of which is entitled The Apocalypse of Nature. I had been greatly impressed by the sound and original views which in the first volume he had taken of the national characters throughout Europe. In particular he was the first, and so far as I know the only writer who had noticed the profound error of ascribing a phlegmatic character to the English nation. 'English phlegm' is the constant expression of authors when contrasting the English with the French. Now the truth is, that, beyond that of all other nations, it has a substratum of profound passion: and, if we are to recur to the old doctrine of temperaments, the English character must be classed not under the phlegmatic but under the melancholic temperament; and the French under the sanguine. The character of a nation may be judged of in this particular by examining its idiomatic language. The French, in whom the lower forms of passion are constantly bubbling up from the shallow and superficial character of their feelings, have appropriated all the phrases of passion to the service of trivial and ordinary life: and hence they have no language of passion for the service of poetry or of occasions really demanding it: for it has been already enfeebled by continual association with cases of an unimpassioned order. But a character of deeper passion has a perpetual standard in itself, by which as by an instinct it tries all cases, and rejects the language of passion as disproportionate and ludicrous where it is not fully justified. 'Ah Heavens!' or 'Oh my God!' are exclamations with us so exclusively reserved for cases of profound interest,—that on hearing a woman even (i.e. a person of the sex most easily excited) utter such words, we look round expecting to see her child in some situation of danger. But, in France, 'Ciel!' and 'Oh mon Dieu!' are uttered by every woman if a mouse does but run across the floor. The ignorant and the thoughtless, however, will continue to class the English character under the phlegmatic temperament, whilst the philosopher will perceive that it is the exact polar antithesis to a phlegmatic character. In this conclusion, though otherwise expressed and illustrated, Walking Stewart's view of the English character will be found to terminate: and his opinion is especially valuable—first and chiefly, because he was a philosopher; secondly, because his acquaintance with man civilized and uncivilized, under all national distinctions, was absolutely unrivalled. Meantime, this and others of his opinions were expressed in language that if literally construed would often appear insane or absurd. The truth is, his long intercourse with foreign nations had given something of a hybrid tincture to his diction; in some of his works, for instance, he uses the French word helas! uniformly for the English alas! and apparently with no consciousness of his mistake. He had also this singularity about him —that he was everlastingly metaphysicizing against metaphysics. To me, who was buried in metaphysical reveries from my earliest days, this was not likely to be an attraction any more than the vicious structure of his diction was likely to please my scholarlike taste. All grounds of disgust, however, gave way before my sense of his powerful merits; and, as I have said, I sought his acquaintance. Coming up to London from Oxford about 1807 or 1808 I made inquiries about him; and found that he usually read the papers at a coffee-room in Piccadilly: understanding that he was poor, it struck me that he might not wish to receive visits at his lodgings, and therefore I sought him at the coffee-room. Here I took the liberty of introducing myself to him. He received me courteously, and invited me to his rooms—which at that time were in Sherrard-street, Golden-square—a street already memorable to me. I was much struck with the eloquence of his conversation; and afterwards I found that Mr. Wordsworth, himself the most eloquent of men in conversation, had been equally struck when he had met him at Paris between the years 1790 and 1792, during the early storms of the French revolution. In Sherrard-street I visited him repeatedly, and took notes of the conversations I had with him on various subjects. These I must have somewhere or other; and I wish I could introduce them here, as they would interest the reader. Occasionally in these conversations, as in his books, he introduced a few notices of his private history: in particular I remember his telling me that in the East Indies he had been a prisoner of Hyder's: that he had escaped with some difficulty; and that, in the service of one of the native princes as secretary or interpreter, he had accumulated a small fortune. This must have been too small, I fear, at that time to allow him even a philosopher's comforts: for some part of it, invested in the French funds, had been confiscated. I was grieved to see a man of so much ability, of gentlemanly manners, and refined habits, and with the infirmity of deafness, suffering under such obvious privations; and I once took the liberty, on a fit occasion presenting itself, of requesting that he would allow me to send him some books which he had been casually regretting that he did not possess; for I was at that time in the hey-day of my worldly prosperity. This offer, however, he declined with firmness and dignity, though not unkindly. And I now mention it, because I have seen him charged in print with a selfish regard to his own pecuniary interest. On the contrary, he appeared to me a very liberal and generous man: and I well remember that, whilst he refused to accept of any thing from me, he compelled me to receive as presents all the books which he published during my acquaintance with him: two of these, corrected with his own hand, viz. the Lyre of Apollo and the Sophiometer, I have lately found amongst other books left in London; and others he forwarded to me in Westmoreland. In 1809 I saw him often: in the spring of that year, I happened to be in London; and Mr. Wordsworth's tract on the Convention of Cintra being at that time in the printer's hands, I superintended the publication of it; and, at Mr. Wordsworth's request, I added a long note on Spanish affairs which is printed in the Appendix. The opinions I expressed in this note on the Spanish character at that time much calumniated, on the retreat to Corunna then fresh in the public mind, above all, the contempt I expressed for the superstition in respect to the French military prowess which was then universal and at its height, and which gave way in fact only to the campaigns of 1814 and 1815, fell in, as it happened, with Mr. Stewart's political creed in those points where at that time it met with most opposition. In 1812 it was, I think, that I saw him for the last time: and by the way, on the day of my parting with him, I had an amusing proof in my own experience of that sort of ubiquity ascribed to him by a witty writer in the London Magazine: I met him and shook hands with him under Somerset-house, telling him that I should leave town that evening for Westmoreland. Thence I went by the very shortest road (i.e. through Moor-street, Soho—for I am learned in many quarters of London) towards a point which necessarily led me through Tottenham-court-road: I stopped nowhere, and walked fast: yet so it was that in Tottenham-court-road I was not overtaken by (that was comprehensible), but overtook, Walking Stewart. Certainly, as the above writer alleges, there must have been three Walking Stewarts in London. He seemed no ways surprised at this himself, but explained to me that somewhere or other in the neighborhood of Tottenham-court-road there was a little theatre, at which there was dancing and occasionally good singing, between which and a neighboring coffee-house he sometimes divided his evenings. Singing, it seems, he could hear in spite of his deafness. In this street I took my final leave of him; it turned out such; and, anticipating at the time that it would be so, I looked after his white hat at the moment it was disappearing and exclaimed—'Farewell, thou half- crazy and most eloquent man! I shall never see thy face again.' I did not intend, at that moment, to visit London again for some years: as it happened, I was there for a short time in 1814: and then I heard, to my great satisfaction, that Walking Stewart had recovered a considerable sum (about 14,000 pounds I believe) from the East India Company; and from the abstract given in the London Magazine of the Memoir by his relation, I have since learned that he applied this money most wisely to the purchase of an annuity, and that he 'persisted in living' too long for the peace of an annuity office. So fare all companies East and West, and all annuity offices, that stand opposed in interest to philosophers! In 1814, however, to my great regret, I did not see him; for I was then taking a great deal of opium, and never could contrive to issue to the light of day soon enough for a morning call upon a philosopher of such early hours; and in the evening I concluded that he would be generally abroad, from what he had formerly communicated to me of his own habits. It seems, however, that he afterwards held conversaziones at his own rooms; and did not stir out to theatres quite so much. From a brother of mine, who at one time occupied rooms in the same house with him, I learned that in other respects he did not deviate in his prosperity from the philosophic tenor of his former life. He abated nothing of his peripatetic exercises; and repaired duly in the morning, as he had done in former years, to St. James's Park,—where he sate in contemplative ease amongst the cows, inhaling their balmy breath and pursuing his philosophic reveries. He had also purchased an organ, or more than one, with which he solaced his solitude and beguiled himself of uneasy thoughts if he ever had any.

The works of Walking Stewart must be read with some indulgence; the titles are generally too lofty and pretending and somewhat extravagant; the composition is lax and unprecise, as I have before said; and the doctrines are occasionally very bold, incautiously stated, and too hardy and high- toned for the nervous effeminacy of many modern moralists. But Walking Stewart was a man who thought nobly of human nature: he wrote therefore at times in the spirit and with the indignation of an ancient prophet against the oppressors and destroyers of the time. In particular I remember that in one or more of the pamphlets which I received from him at Grasmere he expressed himself in such terms on the subject of Tyrannicide (distinguishing the cases in which it was and was not lawful) as seemed to Mr. Wordsworth and myself every way worthy of a philosopher; but, from the way in which that subject was treated in the House of Commons, where it was at that time occasionally introduced, it was plain that his doctrine was not fitted for the luxurious and relaxed morals of the age. Like all men who think nobly of human nature, Walking Stewart thought of it hopefully. In some respects his hopes were wisely grounded; in others they rested too much upon certain metaphysical speculations which are untenable, and which satisfied himself only because his researches in that track had been purely self-originated and self-disciplined. He relied upon his own native strength of mind; but in questions, which the wisdom and philosophy of every age building successively upon each other have not been able to settle, no mind, however strong, is entitled to build wholly upon itself. In many things he shocked the religious sense—especially as it exists in unphilosophic minds; he held a sort of rude and unscientific Spinosism; and he expressed it coarsely and in the way most likely to give offence. And indeed there can be no stronger proof of the utter obscurity in which his works have slumbered than that they should all have escaped prosecution. He also allowed himself to look too lightly and indulgently on the afflicting spectacle of female prostitution as it exists in London and in all great cities. This was the only point on which I was disposed to quarrel with him; for I could not but view it as a greater reproach to human nature than the slave-trade or any sight of wretchedness that the sun looks down upon. I often told him so; and that I was at a loss to guess how a philosopher could allow himself to view it simply as part of the equipage of civil life, and as reasonably making part of the establishment and furniture of a great city as police-offices, lamp- lighting, or newspapers. Waiving however this one instance of something like compliance with the brutal spirit of the world, on all other subjects he was eminently unworldly, child-like, simple-minded, and upright. He would flatter no man: even when addressing nations, it is almost laughable to see how invariably he prefaces his counsels with such plain truths uttered in a manner so offensive as must have defeated his purpose if it had otherwise any chance of being accomplished. For instance, in addressing America, he begins thus:—'People of America! since your separation from the mother-country your moral character has degenerated in the energy of thought and sense; produced by the absence of your association and intercourse with British officers and merchants: you have no moral discernment to distinguish between the protective power of England and the destructive power of France.' And his letter to the Irish nation opens in this agreeable and conciliatory manner:—'People of Ireland! I address you as a true philosopher of nature, foreseeing the perpetual misery your irreflective character and total absence of moral discernment are preparing for' &c. The second sentence begins thus—'You are sacrilegiously arresting the arm of your parent kingdom fighting the cause of man and nature, when the triumph of the fiend of French police- terror would be your own instant extirpation—.' And the letter closes thus:—'I see but one awful alternative—that Ireland will be a perpetual moral volcano, threatening the destruction of the world, if the education and instruction of thought and sense shall not be able to generate the faculty of moral discernment among a very numerous class of the population, who detest the civic calm as sailors the natural calm—and make civic rights on which they cannot reason a pretext for feuds which they delight in.' As he spoke freely and boldly to others, so he spoke loftily of himself: at p. 313, of 'The Harp of Apollo,' on making a comparison of himself with Socrates (in which he naturally gives the preference to himself) he styles 'The Harp,' &c., 'this unparalleled work of human energy.' At p. 315, he calls it 'this stupendous work;' and lower down on the same page he says—'I was turned out of school at the age of fifteen for a dunce or blockhead, because I would not stuff into my memory all the nonsense of erudition and learning; and if future ages should discover the unparalleled energies of genius in this work, it will prove my most important doctrine—that the powers of the human mind must be developed in the education of thought and sense in the study of moral opinion, not arts and science.' Again, at p. 225 of his Sophiometer, he says:—'The paramount thought that dwells in my mind incessantly is a question I put to myself—whether, in the event of my personal dissolution by death, I have communicated all the discoveries my unique mind possesses in the great master-science of man and nature.' In the next page he determines that he has, with the exception of one truth,—viz. 'the latent energy, physical and moral, of human nature as existing in the British people.' But here he was surely accusing himself without ground: for to my knowledge he has not failed in any one of his numerous works to insist upon this theme at least a billion of times. Another instance of his magnificent self-estimation is—that in the title pages of several of his works he announces himself as 'John Stewart, the only man of nature [1] that ever appeared in the world.'

By this time I am afraid the reader begins to suspect that he was crazy: and certainly, when I consider every thing, he must have been crazy when the wind was at NNE; for who but Walking Stewart ever dated his books by a computation drawn—not from the creation, not from the flood, not from Nabonassar, or ab urbe condita, not from the Hegira—but from themselves, from their own day of publication, as constituting the one great era in the history of man by the side of which all other eras were frivolous and impertinent? Thus, in a work of his given to me in 1812 and probably published in that year, I find him incidentally recording of himself that he was at that time 'arrived at the age of sixty-three, with a firm state of health acquired by temperance, and a peace of mind almost independent of the vices of mankind—because my knowledge of life has enabled me to place my happiness beyond the reach or contact of other men's follies and passions, by avoiding all family connections, and all ambitious pursuits of profit, fame, or power.' On reading this passage I was anxious to ascertain its date; but this, on turning to the title page, I found thus mysteriously expressed: 'in the 7000th year of Astronomical History, and the first day of Intellectual Life or Moral World, from the era of this work.' Another slight indication of craziness appeared in a notion which obstinately haunted his mind that all the kings and rulers of the earth would confederate in every age against his works, and would hunt them out for extermination as keenly as Herod did the innocents in Bethlehem. On this consideration, fearing that they might be intercepted by the long arms of these wicked princes before they could reach that remote Stewartian man or his precursor to whom they were mainly addressed, he recommended to all those who might be impressed with a sense of their importance to bury a copy or copies of each work properly secured from damp, &c. at a depth of seven or eight feet below the surface of the earth; and on their death-beds to communicate the knowledge of this fact to some confidential friends, who in their turn were to send down the tradition to some discreet persons of the next generation; and thus, if the truth was not to be dispersed for many ages, yet the knowledge that here and there the truth lay buried on this and that continent, in secret spots on Mount Caucasus—in the sands of Biledulgerid—and in hiding- places amongst the forests of America, and was to rise again in some distant age and to vegetate and fructify for the universal benefit of man,—this knowledge at least was to be whispered down from generation to generation; and, in defiance of a myriad of kings crusading against him, Walking Stewart was to stretch out the influence of his writings through a long series of [Greek: lampadophoroi] to that child of nature whom he saw dimly through a vista of many centuries. If this were madness, it seemed to me a somewhat sublime madness: and I assured him of my co- operation against the kings, promising that I would bury 'The Harp of Apollo' in my own orchard in Grasmere at the foot of Mount Fairfield; that I would bury 'The Apocalypse of Nature' in one of the coves of Helvellyn, and several other works in several other places best known to myself. He accepted my offer with gratitude; but he then made known to me that he relied on my assistance for a still more important service—which was this: in the lapse of that vast number of ages which would probably intervene between the present period and the period at which his works would have reached their destination, he feared that the English language might itself have mouldered away. 'No!' I said, 'that was not probable: considering its extensive diffusion, and that it was now transplanted into all the continents of our planet, I would back the English language against any other on earth.' His own persuasion however was, that the Latin was destined to survive all other languages; it was to be the eternal as well as the universal language; and his desire was that I would translate his works, or some part of them, into that language. [2] This I promised; and I seriously designed at some leisure hour to translate into Latin a selection of passages which should embody an abstract of his philosophy. This would have been doing a service to all those who might wish to see a digest of his peculiar opinions cleared from the perplexities of his peculiar diction and brought into a narrow compass from the great number of volumes through which they are at present dispersed. However, like many another plan of mine, it went unexecuted.

On the whole, if Walking Stewart were at all crazy, he was so in a way which did not affect his natural genius and eloquence—but rather exalted them. The old maxim, indeed, that 'Great wits to madness sure are near allied,' the maxim of Dryden and the popular maxim, I have heard disputed by Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth, who maintain that mad people are the dullest and most wearisome of all people. As a body, I believe they are so. But I must dissent from the authority of Messrs. Coleridge and Wordsworth so far as to distinguish. Where madness is connected, as it often is, with some miserable derangement of the stomach, liver, &c. and attacks the principle of pleasurable life, which is manifestly seated in the central organs of the body (i.e. in the stomach and the apparatus connected with it), there it cannot but lead to perpetual suffering and distraction of thought; and there the patient will be often tedious and incoherent. People who have not suffered from any great disturbance in those organs are little aware how indispensable to the process of thinking are the momentary influxes of pleasurable feeling from the regular goings on of life in its primary function; in fact, until the pleasure is withdrawn or obscured, most people are not aware that they have any pleasure from the due action of the great central machinery of the system: proceeding in uninterrupted continuance, the pleasure as much escapes the consciousness as the act of respiration: a child, in the happiest state of its existence, does not know that it is happy. And generally whatsoever is the level state of the hourly feeling is never put down by the unthinking (i.e. by 99 out of 100) to the account of happiness: it is never put down with the positive sign, as equal to + x; but simply as = 0. And men first become aware that it was a positive quantity, when they have lost it (i.e. fallen into—x). Meantime the genial pleasure from the vital processes, though not represented to the consciousness, is immanent in every act—impulse—motion—word—and thought: and a philosopher sees that the idiots are in a state of pleasure, though they cannot see it themselves. Now I say that, where this principle of pleasure is not attached, madness is often little more than an enthusiasm highly exalted; the animal spirits are exuberant and in excess; and the madman becomes, if he be otherwise a man of ability and information, all the better as a companion. I have met with several such madmen; and I appeal to my brilliant friend, Professor W——, who is not a man to tolerate dulness in any quarter, and is himself the ideal of a delightful companion, whether he ever met a more amusing person than that madman who took a post-chaise with us from —— to Carlisle, long years ago, when he and I were hastening with the speed of fugitive felons to catch the Edinburgh mail. His fancy and his extravagance, and his furious attacks on Sir Isaac Newton, like Plato's suppers, refreshed us not only for that day but whenever they recurred to us; and we were both grieved when we heard some time afterwards from a Cambridge man that he had met our clever friend in a stage coach under the care of a brutal keeper.—— Such a madness, if any, was the madness of Walking Stewart: his health was perfect; his spirits as light and ebullient as the spirits of a bird in spring-time; and his mind unagitated by painful thoughts, and at peace with itself. Hence, if he was not an amusing companion, it was because the philosophic direction of his thoughts made him something more. Of anecdotes and matters of fact he was not communicative: of all that he had seen in the vast compass of his travels he never availed himself in conversation. I do not remember at this moment that he ever once alluded to his own travels in his intercourse with me except for the purpose of weighing down by a statement grounded on his own great personal experience an opposite statement of many hasty and misjudging travellers which he thought injurious to human nature: the statement was this, that in all his countless rencontres with uncivilized tribes, he had never met with any so ferocious and brutal as to attack an unarmed and defenceless man who was able to make them understand that he threw himself upon their hospitality and forbearance.

On the whole, Walking Stewart was a sublime visionary: he had seen and suffered much amongst men; yet not too much, or so as to dull the genial tone of his sympathy with the sufferings of others. His mind was a mirror of the sentient universe.—The whole mighty vision that had fleeted before his eyes in this world,—the armies of Hyder-Ali and his son with oriental and barbaric pageantry,—the civic grandeur of England, the great deserts of Asia and America,—the vast capitals of Europe,—London with its eternal agitations, the ceaseless ebb and flow of its 'mighty heart,'— Paris shaken by the fierce torments of revolutionary convulsions, the silence of Lapland, and the solitary forests of Canada, with the swarming life of the torrid zone, together with innumerable recollections of individual joy and sorrow, that he had participated by sympathy—lay like a map beneath him, as if eternally co-present to his view; so that, in the contemplation of the prodigious whole, he had no leisure to separate the parts, or occupy his mind with details. Hence came the monotony which the frivolous and the desultory would have found in his conversation. I, however, who am perhaps the person best qualified to speak of him, must pronounce him to have been a man of great genius; and, with reference to his conversation, of great eloquence. That these were not better known and acknowledged was owing to two disadvantages; one grounded in his imperfect education, the other in the peculiar structure of his mind. The first was this: like the late Mr. Shelley he had a fine vague enthusiasm and lofty aspirations in connection with human nature generally and its hopes; and like him he strove to give steadiness, a uniform direction, and an intelligible purpose to these feelings, by fitting to them a scheme of philosophical opinions. But unfortunately the philosophic system of both was so far from supporting their own views and the cravings of their own enthusiasm, that, as in some points it was baseless, incoherent, or unintelligible, so in others it tended to moral results, from which, if they had foreseen them, they would have been themselves the first to shrink as contradictory to the very purposes in which their system had originated. Hence, in maintaining their own system they both found themselves painfully entangled at times with tenets pernicious and degrading to human nature. These were the inevitable consequences of the [Greek: proton pheudos] in their speculations; but were naturally charged upon them by those who looked carelessly into their books as opinions which not only for the sake of consistency they thought themselves bound to endure, but to which they gave the full weight of their sanction and patronage as to so many moving principles in their system. The other disadvantage under which Walking Stewart labored, was this: he was a man of genius, but not a man of talents; at least his genius was out of all proportion to his talents, and wanted an organ as it were for manifesting itself; so that his most original thoughts were delivered in a crude state—imperfect, obscure, half developed, and not producible to a popular audience. He was aware of this himself; and, though he claims everywhere the faculty of profound intuition into human nature, yet with equal candor he accuses himself of asinine stupidity, dulness, and want of talent. He was a disproportioned intellect, and so far a monster: and he must be added to the long list of original-minded men who have been looked down upon with pity and contempt by commonplace men of talent, whose powers of mind—though a thousand times inferior— were yet more manageable, and ran in channels more suited to common uses and common understandings.


[1] In Bath, he was surnamed 'the Child of Nature;'—which arose from his contrasting on every occasion the existing man of our present experience with the ideal or Stewartian man that might be expected to emerge in some myriads of ages; to which latter man he gave the name of the Child of Nature.

[2] I was not aware until the moment of writing this passage that Walking Stewart had publicly made this request three years after making it to myself: opening the 'Harp of Apollo,' I have just now accidentally stumbled on the following passage, 'This Stupendous work is destined, I fear, to meet a worse fate than the Aloe, which as soon as it blossoms loses its stalk. This first blossom of reason is threatened with the loss of both its stalk and its soil: for, if the revolutionary tyrant should triumph, he would destroy all the English books and energies of thought. I conjure my readers to translate this work into Latin, and to bury it in the ground, communicating on their death-beds only its place of concealment to men of nature.'

From the title page of this work, by the way, I learn that 'the 7000th year of Astronomical History' is taken from the Chinese tables, and coincides (as I had supposed) with the year 1812 of our computation.


It is a remarkable proof of the inaccuracy with which most men read—that Donne's Biathanatos has been supposed to countenance Suicide; and those who reverence his name have thought themselves obliged to apologize for it by urging, that it was written before he entered the church. But Donne's purpose in this treatise was a pious one: many authors had charged the martyrs of the Christian church with Suicide—on the principle that if I put myself in the way of a mad bull, knowing that he will kill me—I am as much chargeable with an act of self-destruction as if I fling myself into a river. Several casuists had extended this principle even to the case of Jesus Christ: one instance of which, in a modern author, the reader may see noticed and condemned by Kant, in his Religion innerhalb die gronzen der blossen Vernunft; and another of much earlier date (as far back as the 13th century, I think), in a commoner book—Voltaire's notes on the little treatise of Beccaria, Dei delitti e delle pene. These statements tended to one of two results: either they unsanctified the characters of those who founded and nursed the Christian church; or they sanctified suicide. By way of meeting them, Donne wrote his book: and as the whole argument of his opponents turned upon a false definition of suicide (not explicitly stated, but assumed), he endeavored to reconstitute the notion of what is essential to create an act of suicide. Simply to kill a man is not murder: prima facie, therefore, there is some sort of presumption that simply for a man to kill himself—may not always be so: there is such a thing as simple homicide distinct from murder: there may, therefore, possibly be such a thing as self-homicide distinct from self-murder. There may be a ground for such a distinction, ex analogia. But, secondly, on examination, is there any ground for such a distinction? Donne affirms that there is; and, reviewing several eminent cases of spontaneous martyrdom, he endeavors to show that acts so motived and so circumstantiated will not come within the notion of suicide properly defined. Meantime, may not this tend to the encouragement of suicide in general, and without discrimination of its species? No: Donne's arguments have no prospective reference or application; they are purely retrospective. The circumstances necessary to create an act of mere self- homicide can rarely concur, except in a state of disordered society, and during the cardinal revolutions of human history: where, however, they do concur, there it will not be suicide. In fact, this is the natural and practical judgment of us all. We do not all agree on the particular cases which will justify self-destruction: but we all feel and involuntarily acknowledge (implicitly acknowledge in our admiration, though not explicitly in our words or in our principles), that there are such cases. There is no man, who in his heart would not reverence a woman that chose to die rather than to be dishonored: and, if we do not say, that it is her duty to do so, that is because the moralist must condescend to the weakness and infirmities of human nature: mean and ignoble natures must not be taxed up to the level of noble ones. Again, with regard to the other sex, corporal punishment is its peculiar and sexual degradation; and if ever the distinction of Donne can be applied safely to any case, it will be to the case of him who chooses to die rather than to submit to that ignominy. At present, however, there is but a dim and very confined sense, even amongst enlightened men (as we may see by the debates of Parliament), of the injury which is done to human nature by giving legal sanction to such brutalizing acts; and therefore most men, in seeking to escape it, would be merely shrinking from a personal dishonor. Corporal punishment is usually argued with a single reference to the case of him who suffers it; and so argued, God knows that it is worthy of all abhorrence: but the weightiest argument against it—is the foul indignity which is offered to our common nature lodged in the person of him on whom it is inflicted. His nature is our nature: and, supposing it possible that he were so far degraded as to be unsusceptible of any influences but those which address him through the brutal part of his nature, yet for the sake of ourselves—No! not merely for ourselves, or for the human race now existing, but for the sake of human nature, which trancends all existing participators of that nature— we should remember that the evil of corporal punishment is not to be measured by the poor transitory criminal, whose memory and offence are soon to perish: these, in the sum of things, are as nothing: the injury which can be done him, and the injury which he can do, have so momentary an existence that they may be safely neglected: but the abiding injury is to the most august interest which for the mind of man can have any existence,—viz. to his own nature: to raise and dignify which, I am persuaded, is the first—last—and holiest command [1] which the conscience imposes on the philosophic moralist. In countries, where the traveller has the pain of seeing human creatures performing the labors of brutes, [2]—surely the sorrow which the spectacle moves, if a wise sorrow, will not be chiefly directed to the poor degraded individual—too deeply degraded, probably, to be sensible of his own degradation, but to the reflection that man's nature is thus exhibited in a state of miserable abasement; and, what is worst of all, abasement proceeding from man himself. Now, whenever this view of corporal punishment becomes general (as inevitably it will, under the influence of advancing civilization), I say, that Donne's principle will then become applicable to this case, and it will be the duty of a man to die rather than to suffer his own nature to be dishonored in that way. But so long as a man is not fully sensible of the dishonor, to him the dishonor, except as a personal one, does not wholly exist. In general, whenever a paramount interest of human nature is at stake, a suicide which maintains that interest is self-homicide: but, for a personal interest, it becomes self-murder. And into this principle Donne's may be resolved.

* * * * *

A doubt has been raised—whether brute animals ever commit suicide: to me it is obvious that they do not, and cannot. Some years ago, however, there was a case reported in all the newspapers of an old ram who committed suicide (as it was alleged) in the presence of many witnesses. Not having any pistols or razors, he ran for a short distance, in order to aid the impetus of his descent, and leaped over a precipice, at the foot of which he was dashed to pieces. His motive to the 'rash act,' as the papers called it, was supposed to be mere taedium vitae. But, for my part, I doubted the accuracy of the report. Not long after a case occurred in Westmoreland which strengthened my doubts. A fine young blood horse, who could have no possible reason for making away with himself, unless it were the high price of oats at that time, was found one morning dead in his field. The case was certainly a suspicious one: for he was lying by the side of a stone-wall, the upper part of which wall his skull had fractured, and which had returned the compliment by fracturing his skull. It was argued, therefore, that in default of ponds, &c. he had deliberately hammered with his head against the wall; this, at first, seemed the only solution; and he was generally pronounced felo de se. However, a day or two brought the truth to light. The field lay upon the side of a hill: and, from a mountain which rose above it, a shepherd had witnessed the whole catastrophe, and gave evidence which vindicated the character of the horse. The day had been very windy; and the young creature being in high spirits, and, caring evidently as little for the corn question as for the bullion question, had raced about in all directions; and at length, descending too steep a part of the field, had been unable to check himself, and was projected by the impetus of his own descent like a battering ram against the wall.

Of human suicides, the most affecting I have ever seen recorded is one which I met with in a German book: the most calm and deliberate is the following, which is said to have occurred at Keswick, in Cumberland: but I must acknowledge, that I never had an opportunity, whilst staying at Keswick, of verifying the statement. A young man of studious turn, who is said to have resided near Penrith, was anxious to qualify himself for entering the church, or for any other mode of life which might secure to him a reasonable portion of literary leisure. His family, however, thought that under the circumstances of his situation he would have a better chance for success in life as a tradesman; and they took the necessary steps for placing him as an apprentice at some shopkeeper's in Penrith. This he looked upon as an indignity, to which he was determined in no case to submit. And accordingly, when he had ascertained that all opposition to the choice of his friends was useless, he walked over to the mountainous district of Keswick (about sixteen miles distant)—looked about him in order to select his ground—cooly walked up Lattrig (a dependency of Skiddaw)—made a pillow of sods—laid himself down with his face looking up to the sky—and in that posture was found dead, with the appearance of having died tranquilly.


[1] On which account, I am the more struck by the ignoble argument of those statesmen who have contended in the House of Commons that such and such classes of men in this nation are not accessible to any loftier influences. Supposing that there were any truth in this assertion, which is a libel not on this nation only, but on man in general,—surely it is the duty of lawgivers not to perpetuate by their institutions the evil which they find, but to presume and gradually to create a better spirit.

[2] Of which degradation, let it never be forgotten that France but thirty years ago presented as shocking cases as any country, even where slavery is tolerated. An eye-witness to the fact, who has since published it in print, told me, that in France, before the revolution, he had repeatedly seen a woman yoked with an ass to the plough; and the brutal ploughman applying his whip indifferently to either. English people, to whom I have occasionally mentioned this as an exponent of the hollow refinement of manners in France, have uniformly exclaimed—'That is more than I can believe;' and have taken it for granted that I had my information from some prejudiced Englishman. But who was my informer? A Frenchman, reader, —M. Simond; and though now by adoption an American citizen, yet still French in his heart and in all his prejudices.


It is asserted that this is the age of Superficial Knowledge; and amongst the proofs of this assertion we find Encyclopaedias and other popular abstracts of knowledge particularly insisted on. But in this notion and its alleged proofs there is equal error—wherever there is much diffusion of knowledge, there must be a good deal of superficiality: prodigious extension implies a due proportion of weak intension; a sea-like expansion of knowledge will cover large shallows as well as large depths. But in that quarter in which it is superficially cultivated the intellect of this age is properly opposed in any just comparison to an intellect without any culture at all:—leaving the deep soils out of the comparison, the shallow ones of the present day would in any preceding one have been barren wastes. Of this our modern encyclopedias are the best proof. For whom are they designed, and by whom used?—By those who in a former age would have gone to the fountain heads? No, but by those who in any age preceding the present would have drunk at no waters at all. Encyclopedias are the growth of the last hundred years; not because those who were formerly students of higher learning have descended, but because those who were below encyclopaedias have ascended. The greatness of the ascent is marked by the style in which the more recent encyclopaedias are executed: at first they were mere abstracts of existing books—well or ill executed: at present they contain many original articles of great merit. As in the periodical literature of the age, so in the encyclopaedias it has become a matter of ambition with the publishers to retain the most eminent writers in each several department. And hence it is that our encyclopaedias now display one characteristic of this age—the very opposite of superficiality (and which on other grounds we are well assured of)—viz. its tendency in science, no less than in other applications of industry, to extreme subdivision. In all the employments which are dependent in any degree upon the political economy of nations, this tendency is too obvious to have been overlooked. Accordingly it has long been noticed for congratulation in manufactures and the useful arts— and for censure in the learned professions. We have now, it is alleged, no great and comprehensive lawyers like Coke: and the study of medicine is subdividing itself into a distinct ministry (as it were) not merely upon the several organs of the body (oculists, aurists, dentists, cheiropodists, &c.) but almost upon the several diseases of the same organ: one man is distinguished for the treatment of liver complaints of one class—a second for those of another class; one man for asthma— another for phthisis; and so on. As to the law, the evil (if it be one) lies in the complex state of society which of necessity makes the laws complex: law itself is become unwieldy and beyond the grasp of one man's term of life and possible range of experience: and will never again come within them. With respect to medicine, the case is no evil but a great benefit—so long as the subdividing principle does not descend too low to allow of a perpetual re-ascent into the generalizing principle (the [Greek: to] commune) which secures the unity of the science. In ancient times all the evil of such a subdivision was no doubt realized in Egypt: for there a distinct body of professors took charge of each organ of the body, not (as we may be assured) from any progress of the science outgrowing the time and attention of the general professor, but simply from an ignorance of the organic structure of the human body and the reciprocal action of the whole upon each part and the parts upon the whole; an ignorance of the same kind which has led sailors seriously (and not merely, as may sometimes have happened, by way of joke) to reserve one ulcerated leg to their own management, whilst the other was given up to the management of the surgeon. With respect to law and medicine then, the difference between ourselves and our ancestors is not subjective but objective; not, i.e. in our faculties who study them, but in the things themselves which are the objects of study: not we (the students) are grown less, but they (the studies) are grown bigger;—and that our ancestors did not subdivide as much as we do—was something of their luck, but no part of their merit. Simply as subdividers therefore to the extent which now prevails, we are less superficial than any former age. In all parts of science the same principle of subdivision holds: here therefore, no less than in those parts of knowledge which are the subjects of distinct civil professions, we are of necessity more profound than our ancestors; but, for the same reason, less comprehensive than they. Is it better to be a profound student, or a comprehensive one? In some degree this must depend upon the direction of the studies: but generally, I think, it is better for the interests of knowledge that the scholar should aim at profundity, and better for the interests of the individual that he should aim at comprehensiveness. A due balance and equilibrium of the mind is but preserved by a large and multiform knowledge: but knowledge itself is but served by an exclusive (or at least paramount) dedication of one mind to one science. The first proposition is perhaps unconditionally true: but the second with some limitations. There are such people as Leibnitzes on this earth; and their office seems not that of planets—to revolve within the limits of one system, but that of comets (according to the theory of some speculators)—to connect different systems together. No doubt there is much truth in this: a few Leibnitzes in every age would be of much use: but neither are many men fitted by nature for the part of Leibnitz; nor would the aspect of knowledge be better, if they were. We should then have a state of Grecian life amongst us in which every man individually would attain in a moderate degree all the purposes of the sane understanding,—but in which all the purposes of the sane understanding would be but moderately attained. What I mean is this:—let all the objects of the understanding in civil life or in science be represented by the letters of the alphabet; in Grecian life each man would separately go through all the letters in a tolerable way; whereas at present each letter is served by a distinct body of men. Consequently the Grecian individual is superior to the modern; but the Grecian whole is inferior: for the whole is made up of the individuals; and the Grecian individual repeats himself. Whereas in modern life the whole derives its superiority from the very circumstances which constitute the inferiority of the parts; for modern life is cast dramatically: and the difference is as between an army consisting of soldiers who should each individually be competent to go through the duties of a dragoon—of a hussar—of a sharp-shooter—of an artillery-man—of a pioneer, &c. and an army on its present composition, where the very inferiority of the soldier as an individual—his inferiority in compass and versatility of power and knowledge—is the very ground from which the army derives its superiority as a whole, viz. because it is the condition of the possibility of a total surrender of the individual to one exclusive pursuit. In science therefore, and (to speak more generally) in the whole evolution of the human faculties, no less than in Political Economy, the progress of society brings with it a necessity of sacrificing the ideal of what is excellent for the individual, to the ideal of what is excellent for the whole. We need therefore not trouble ourselves (except as a speculative question) with the comparison of the two states; because, as a practical question, it is precluded by the overruling tendencies of the age—which no man could counteract except in his own single case, i.e. by refusing to adapt himself as a part to the whole, and thus foregoing the advantages of either one state or the other. [1]


[1] The latter part of what is here said coincides, in a way which is rather remarkable, with a passage in an interesting work of Schiller's which I have since read, (on the Aesthetic Education of Men, in a series of letters: vid. letter the 6th.) 'With us in order to obtain the representative word (as it were) of the total species, we must spell it out by the help of a series of individuals. So that on a survey of society as it actually exists, one might suppose that the faculties of the mind do really in actual experience show themselves in as separate a form, and in as much insulation, as psychology is forced to exhibit them in its analysis. And thus we see not only individuals, but whole classes of men, unfolding only one part of the germs which are laid in them by the hand of nature. In saying this I am fully aware of the advantages which the human species of modern ages has, when considered as a unity, over the best of antiquity: but the comparison should begin with the individuals: and then let me ask where is the modern individual that would have the presumption to step forward against the Athenian individual—man to man, and to contend for the prize of human excellence? The polypus nature of the Grecian republics, in which every individual enjoyed a separate life, and if it were necessary could become a whole, has now given place to an artificial watch-work, where many lifeless parts combine to form a mechanic whole. The state and the church, laws and manners, are now torn asunder: labor is divided from enjoyment, the means from the end, the exertion from the reward. Chained for ever to a little individual fraction of the whole, man himself is moulded into a fraction; and, with the monotonous whirling of the wheel which he turns everlastingly in his ear, he never develops the harmony of his being; and, instead of imaging the totality of human nature, becomes a bare abstract of his business or the science which he cultivates. The dead letter takes the place of the living understanding; and a practised memory becomes a surer guide than genius and sensibility. Doubtless the power of genius, as we all know, will not fetter itself within the limits of its occupation; but talents of mediocrity are all exhausted in the monotony of the employment allotted to them; and that man must have no common head who brings with him the geniality of his powers unstripped of their freshness by the ungenial labors of life to the cultivation of the genial.' After insisting at some length on this wise, Schiller passes to the other side of the contemplation, and proceeds thus:—'It suited my immediate purpose to point out the injuries of this condition of the species, without displaying the compensations by which nature has balanced them. But I will now readily acknowledge—that, little as this practical condition may suit the interests of the individual, yet the species could in no other way have been progressive. Partial exercise of the faculties (literally "one-sidedness in the exercise of the faculties") leads the individual undoubtedly into error, but the species into truth. In no other way than by concentrating the whole energy of our spirit, and by converging our whole being, so to speak, into a single faculty, can we put wings as it were to the individual faculty and carry it by this artificial flight far beyond the limits within which nature has else doomed it to walk. Just as certain as it is that all human beings could never, by clubbing their visual powers together, have arrived at the power of seeing what the telescope discovers to the astronomer; just so certain it is that the human intellect would never have arrived at an analysis of the infinite or a Critical Analysis of the Pure Reason (the principal work of Kant), unless individuals had dismembered (as it were) and insulated this or that specific faculty, and had thus armed their intellectual sight by the keenest abstraction and by the submersion of the other powers of their nature. Extraordinary men are formed then by energetic and over-excited spasms as it were in the individual faculties; though it is true that the equable exercise of all the faculties in harmony with each other can alone make happy and perfect men.' After this statement, from which it should seem that in the progress of society nature has made it necessary for man to sacrifice his own happiness to the attainment of her ends in the development of his species, Schiller goes on to inquire whether this evil result cannot be remedied; and whether 'the totality of our nature, which art has destroyed, might not be re-established by a higher art,'—but this, as leading to a discussion beyond the limits of my own, I omit.


It has already, I believe, been said more than once in print that one condition of a good dictionary would be to exhibit the history of each word; that is, to record the exact succession of its meanings. But the philosophic reason for this has not been given; which reason, by the way, settles a question often agitated, viz. whether the true meaning of a word be best ascertained from its etymology, or from its present use and acceptation. Mr. Coleridge says, 'the best explanation of a word is often that which is suggested by its derivation' (I give the substance of his words from memory). Others allege that we have nothing to do with the primitive meaning of the word; that the question is—what does it mean now? and they appeal, as the sole authority they acknowledge, to the received—

Usus, penes quem est jus et norma loquendi.

In what degree each party is right, may be judged from this consideration —that no word can ever deviate from its first meaning per saltum: each successive stage of meaning must always have been determined by that which preceded. And on this one law depends the whole philosophy of the case: for it thus appears that the original and primitive sense of the word will contain virtually all which can ever afterwards arise: as in the evolution-theory of generation, the whole series of births is represented as involved in the first parent. Now, if the evolution of successive meanings has gone on rightly, i.e. by simply lapsing through a series of close affinities, there can be no reason for recurring to the primitive meaning of the word: but, if it can be shown that the evolution has been faulty, i.e. that the chain of true affinities has ever been broken through ignorance, then we have a right to reform the word, and to appeal from the usage ill-instructed to a usage better- instructed. Whether we ought to exercise this right, will depend on a consideration which I will afterwards notice. Meantime I will first give a few instances of faulty evolution.

1. Implicit. This word is now used in a most ignorant way; and from its misuse it has come to be a word wholly useless: for it is now never coupled, I think, with any other substantive than these two—faith and confidence: a poor domain indeed to have sunk to from its original wide range of territory. Moreover, when we say, implicit faith, or implicit confidence, we do not thereby indicate any specific kind of faith and confidence differing from other faith or other confidence: but it is a vague rhetorical word which expresses a great degree of faith and confidence; a faith that is unquestioning, a confidence that is unlimited; i.e. in fact, a faith that is a faith, a confidence that is a confidence. Such a use of the word ought to be abandoned to women: doubtless, when sitting in a bower in the month of May, it is pleasant to hear from a lovely mouth—'I put implicit confidence in your honor:' but, though pretty and becoming to such a mouth, it is very unfitting to the mouth of a scholar: and I will be bold to affirm that no man, who had ever acquired a scholar's knowledge of the English language, has used the word in that lax and unmeaning way. The history of the word is this.— Implicit (from the Latin implicitus, involved in, folded up) was always used originally, and still is so by scholars, as the direct antithete of explicit (from the Latin explicitus, evolved, unfolded): and the use of both may be thus illustrated.

Q. 'Did Mr. A. ever say that he would marry Miss B.?'—A. 'No; not explicitly (i.e. in so many words); but he did implicitly—by showing great displeasure if she received attentions from any other man; by asking her repeatedly to select furniture for his house; by consulting her on his own plans of life.'

Q. 'Did Epicurus maintain any doctrines such as are here ascribed to him?'—A. 'Perhaps not explicitly, either in words or by any other mode of direct sanction: on the contrary, I believe he denied them— and disclaimed them with vehemence: but he maintained them implicitly: for they are involved in other acknowledged doctrines of his, and may be deduced from them by the fairest and most irresistible logic.'

Q. 'Why did you complain of the man? Had he expressed any contempt for your opinion?'—A. 'Yes, he had: not explicit contempt, I admit; for he never opened his stupid mouth; but implicitly he expressed the utmost that he could: for, when I had spoken two hours against the old newspaper, and in favor of the new one, he went instantly and put his name down as a subscriber to the old one.'

Q. 'Did Mr.—— approve of that gentleman's conduct and way of life?'— A. 'I don't know that I ever heard him speak about it: but he seemed to give it his implicit approbation by allowing both his sons to associate with him when the complaints ran highest against him.'

These instances may serve to illustrate the original use of the word; which use has been retained from the sixteenth century down to our own days by an uninterrupted chain of writers. In the eighteenth century this use was indeed nearly effaced but still in the first half of that century it was retained by Saunderson the Cambridge professor of mathematics (see his Algebra, &c.), with three or four others, and in the latter half by a man to whom Saunderson had some resemblance in spring and elasticity of understanding, viz. by Edmund Burke. Since his day I know of no writers who have avoided the slang and unmeaning use of the word, excepting Messrs. Coleridge and Wordsworth; both of whom (but especially the last) have been remarkably attentive to the scholar-like [1] use of words, and to the history of their own language.

Thus much for the primitive use of the word implicit. Now, with regard to the history of its transition into its present use, it is briefly this; and it will appear at once, that it has arisen through ignorance. When it was objected to a papist that his church exacted an assent to a great body of traditions and doctrines to which it was impossible that the great majority could be qualified, either as respected time—or knowledge—or culture of the understanding, to give any reasonable assent,—the answer was: 'Yes; but that sort of assent is not required of a poor uneducated man; all that he has to do—is to believe in the church: he is to have faith in her faith: by that act he adopts for his own whatsoever the church believes, though he may never have hoard of it even: his faith is implicit, i.e. involved and wrapped up in the faith of the church, which faith he firmly believes to be the true faith upon the conviction he has that the church is preserved from all possibility of erring by the spirit of God.' [2] Now, as this sort of believing by proxy or implicit belief (in which the belief was not immediate in the thing proposed to the belief, but in the authority of another person who believed in that thing and thus mediately in the thing itself) was constantly attacked by the learned assailants of popery,—it naturally happened that many unlearned readers of these protestant polemics caught at a phrase which was so much bandied between the two parties: the spirit of the context sufficiently explained to them that it was used by protestants as a term of reproach, and indicated a faith that was an erroneous faith by being too easy—too submissive—and too passive: but the particular mode of this erroneousness they seldom came to understand, as learned writers naturally employed the term without explanation, presuming it to be known to those whom they addressed. Hence these ignorant readers caught at the last result of the phrase 'implicit faith' rightly, truly supposing it to imply a resigned and unquestioning faith; but they missed the whole immediate cause of meaning by which only the word 'implicit' could ever have been entitled to express that result.

I have allowed myself to say so much on this word 'implicit,' because the history of the mode by which its true meaning was lost applies almost to all other corrupted words—mutatis mutandis: and the amount of it may be collected into this formula,—that the result of the word is apprehended and retained, but the schematismus by which that result was ever reached is lost. This is the brief theory of all corruption of words. The word schematismus I have unwillingly used, because no other expresses my meaning. So great and extensive a doctrine however lurks in this word, that I defer the explanation of it to a separate article. Meantime a passable sense of the word will occur to every body who reads Greek. I now go on to a few more instances of words that have forfeited their original meaning through the ignorance of those who used them.

'Punctual.' This word is now confined to the meagre denoting of accuracy in respect to time—fidelity to the precise moment of an appointment. But originally it was just as often, and just as reasonably, applied to space as to time; 'I cannot punctually determine the origin of the Danube; but I know in general the district in which it rises, and that its fountain is near that of the Rhine.' Not only, however, was it applied to time and space, but it had a large and very elegant figurative use. Thus in the History of the Royal Society by Sprat (an author who was finical and nice in his use of words)—I remember a sentence to this effect: 'the Society gave punctual directions for the conducting of experiments;' i.e. directions which descended to the minutiae and lowest details. Again in the once popular romance of Parismus Prince of Bohemia—'She' (I forget who) 'made a punctual relation of the whole matter;' i.e. a relation which was perfectly circumstantial and true to the minutest features of the case.


[1] Among the most shocking of the unscholarlike barbarisms, now prevalent, I must notice the use of the word 'nice' in an objective instead of a subjective sense: 'nice' does not and cannot express a quality of the object, but merely a quality of the subject: yet we hear daily of 'a very nice letter'—'a nice young lady,' &c., meaning a letter or a young lady that it is pleasant to contemplate: but 'a nice young lady'—means a fastidious young lady; and 'a nice letter' ought to mean a letter that is very delicate in its rating and in the choice of its company.

[2] Thus Milton, who (in common with his contemporaries) always uses the word accurately, speaks of Ezekiel 'swallowing his implicit roll of knowledge'—i.e. coming to the knowledge of many truths not separately and in detail, but by the act of arriving at some one master truth which involved all the rest.—So again, if any man or government were to suppress a book, that man or government might justly be reproached as the implicit destroyer of all the wisdom and virtue that might have been the remote products of that book.


It is a remarkable fact, that the very finest epigram in the English language happens also to be the worst. Epigram I call it in the austere Greek sense; which thus far resembled our modern idea of an epigram, that something pointed and allied to wit was demanded in the management of the leading thought at its close, but otherwise nothing tending towards the comic or the ludicrous. The epigram I speak of is the well-known one of Dryden dedicated to the glorification of Milton. It is irreproachable as regards its severe brevity. Not one word is there that could be spared; nor could the wit of man have cast the movement of the thought into a better mould. There are three couplets. In the first couplet we are reminded of the fact that this earth had, in three different stages of its development, given birth to a trinity of transcendent poets; meaning narrative poets, or, even more narrowly, epic poets. The duty thrown upon the second couplet is to characterize these three poets, and to value them against each other, but in such terms as that, whilst nothing less than the very highest praise should be assigned to the two elder poets in this trinity—the Greek and the Roman— nevertheless, by some dexterous artifice, a higher praise than the highest should suddenly unmask itself, and drop, as it were, like a diadem from the clouds upon the brows of their English competitor. In the kind of expectation raised, and in the extreme difficulty of adequately meeting this expectation, there was pretty much the same challenge offered to Dryden as was offered, somewhere about the same time, to a British ambassador when dining with his political antagonists. One of these—the ambassador of France—had proposed to drink his master, Louis XIV., under the character of the sun, who dispensed life and light to the whole political system. To this there was no objection; and immediately, by way of intercepting any further draughts upon the rest of the solar system, the Dutch ambassador rose, and proposed the health of their high mightinesses the Seven United States, as the moon and six [1] planets, who gave light in the absence of the sun. The two foreign ambassadors, Monsieur and Mynheer, secretly enjoyed the mortification of their English brother, who seemed to be thus left in a state of bankruptcy, 'no funds' being available for retaliation, or so they fancied. But suddenly our British representative toasted his master as Joshua, the son of Nun, that made the sun and moon stand still. All had seemed lost for England, when in an instant of time both her antagonists were checkmated. Dryden assumed something of the same position. He gave away the supreme jewels in his exchequer; apparently nothing remained behind; all was exhausted. To Homer he gave A; to Virgil he gave B; and, behold! after these were given away, there remained nothing at all that would not have been a secondary praise. But, in a moment of time, by giving A and B to Milton, at one sling of his victorious arm he raised him above Homer by the whole extent of B, and above Virgil by the whole extent of A. This felicitous evasion of the embarrassment is accomplished in the second couplet; and, finally, the third couplet winds up with graceful effect, by making a resume, or recapitulation of the logic concerned in the distribution of prizes just announced. Nature, he says, had it not in her power to provide a third prize separate from the first and second; her resource was, to join the first and second in combination: 'To make a third, she joined the former two.'

Such is the abstract of this famous epigram; and, judged simply by the outline and tendency of the thought, it merits all the vast popularity which it has earned. But in the meantime, it is radically vicious as regards the filling in of this outline; for the particular quality in which Homer is accredited with the pre-eminence, viz., loftiness of thought, happens to be a mere variety of expression for that quality, viz. majesty, in which the pre-eminence is awarded to Virgil. Homer excels Virgil in the very point in which lies Virgil's superiority to Homer; and that synthesis, by means of which a great triumph is reserved to Milton, becomes obviously impossible, when it is perceived that the supposed analytic elements of this synthesis are blank reiterations of each other.

Exceedingly striking it is, that a thought should have prospered for one hundred and seventy years, which, on the slightest steadiness of examination, turns out to be no thought at all, but mere blank vacuity. There is, however, this justification of the case, that the mould, the set of channels, into which the metal of the thought is meant to run, really has the felicity which it appears to have: the form is perfect; and it is merely in the matter, in the accidental filling up of the mould, that a fault has been committed. Had the Virgilian point of excellence been loveliness instead of majesty, or any word whatever suggesting the common antithesis of sublimity and beauty; or had it been power on the one side, matched against grace on the other, the true lurking tendency of the thought would have been developed, and the sub-conscious purpose of the epigram would have fulfilled itself to the letter.

N.B.—It is not meant that loftiness of thought and majesty are expressions so entirely interchangeable, as that no shades of difference could be suggested; it is enough that these 'shades' are not substantial enough, or broad enough, to support the weight of opposition which the epigram assigns to them. Grace and elegance, for instance, are far from being in all relations synonymous; but they are so to the full extent of any purposes concerned in this epigram. Nevertheless, it is probable enough that Dryden had moving in his thoughts a relation of the word majesty, which, if developed, would have done justice to his meaning. It was, perhaps, the decorum and sustained dignity of the composition—the workmanship apart from the native grandeur of the materials—the majestic style of the artistic treatment as distinguished from the original creative power—which Dryden, the translator of the Roman poet, familiar therefore with his weakness and with his strength, meant in this place to predicate as characteristically observable in Virgil.


[1] 'Six planets;'—No more had then been discovered.


There is nothing extraordinary, or that could merit a special notice, in a simple case of oversight, or in a blunder, though emanating from the greatest of poets. But such a case challenges and forces our attention, when we know that the particular passage in which it occurs was wrought and burnished with excessive pains; or (which in this case is also known) when that particular passage is pushed into singular prominence as having obtained a singular success. In no part of his poetic mission did Pope so fascinate the gaze of his contemporaries as in his functions of satirist; which functions, in his latter years, absorbed all other functions. And one reason, I believe, why it was that the interest about Pope decayed so rapidly after his death (an accident somewhere noticed by Wordsworth), must be sought in the fact, that the most stinging of his personal allusions, by which he had given salt to his later writings, were continually losing their edge, and sometimes their intelligibility, as Pope's own contemporary generation was dying off. Pope alleges it as a palliation of his satiric malice, that it had been forced from him in the way of retaliation; forgetting that such a plea wilfully abjures the grandest justification of a satirist, viz., the deliberate assumption of the character as something corresponding to the prophet's mission amongst the Hebrews. It is no longer the facit indignatio versum. Pope's satire, where even it was most effective, was personal and vindictive, and upon that argument alone could not he philosophic. Foremost in the order of his fulminations stood, and yet stands, the bloody castigation by which, according to his own pretence, he warned and menaced (but by which, in simple truth, he executed judgment upon) his false friend, Addison.

To say that this drew vast rounds of applause upon its author, and frightened its object into deep silence for the rest of his life, like the Quos ego of angry Neptune, sufficiently argues that the verses must have ploughed as deeply as the Russian knout. Vitriol could not scorch more fiercely. And yet the whole passage rests upon a blunder; and the blunder is so broad and palpable, that it implies instant forgetfulness both in the writer and the reader. The idea which furnishes the basis of the passage is this: that the conduct ascribed to Addison is in its own nature so despicable, as to extort laughter by its primary impulse; but that this laughter changes into weeping, when we come to understand that the person concerned in this delinquency is Addison. The change, the transfiguration, in our mood of contemplating the offence, is charged upon the discovery which we are supposed to make as to the person of the offender; that which by its baseness had been simply comic when imputed to some corresponding author, passes into a tragic coup-de-theatre, when it is suddenly traced back to a man of original genius. The whole, therefore, of this effect is made to depend upon the sudden scenical transition from a supposed petty criminal to one of high distinction. And, meantime, no such stage effect had been possible, since the knowledge that a man of genius was the offender had been what we started with from the beginning. 'Our laughter is changed to tears,' says Pope, 'as soon as we discover that the base act had a noble author.' And, behold! the initial feature in the whole description of the case is, that the libeller was one whom 'true genius fired:'

  'Peace to all such! But were there one whose mind
  True genius fires,' &c.

Before the offence is described, the perpetrator is already characterized as a man of genius: and, in spite of that knowledge, we laugh. But suddenly our mood changes, and we weep, but why? I beseech you. Simply because we have ascertained the author to be a man of genius.

  'Who would not laugh, if such a man there be?
   Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?'

The sole reason for weeping is something that we knew already before we began to laugh.

It would not be right in logic, in fact, it would be a mis-classification, if I should cite as at all belonging to the same group several passages in Milton that come very near to Irish bulls, by virtue of distorted language. One reason against such a classification would lie precisely in that fact—viz., that the assimilation to the category of bulls lurks in the verbal expression, and not (as in Pope's case) amongst the conditions of the thought. And a second reason would lie in the strange circumstance, that Milton had not fallen into this snare of diction through any carelessness or oversight, but with his eyes wide open, deliberately avowing his error as a special elegance; repeating it; and well aware of splendid Grecian authority for his error, if anybody should be bold enough to call it an error. Every reader must be aware of the case—

  'Adam the goodliest man of men since born
  His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve'—

which makes Adam one of his own sons, Eve one of her own daughters. This, however, is authorized by Grecian usage in the severest writers. Neither can it be alleged that these might be bold poetic expressions, harmonizing with the Grecian idiom; for Poppo has illustrated this singular form of expression in a prose-writer, as philosophic and austere as Thucydides; a form which (as it offends against logic) must offend equally in all languages. Some beauty must have been described in the idiom, such as atoned for its solecism: for Milton recurs to the same idiom, and under the same entire freedom of choice, elsewhere; particularly in this instance, which has not been pointed out: 'And never,' says Satan to the abhorred phantoms of Sin and Death, when crossing his path,

  'And never saw till now
  Sight more detestable than him and thee.'

Now, therefore, it seems, he had seen a sight more detestable than this very sight. He now looked upon something more hateful than X Y Z. What was it? It was X Y Z.

But the authority of Milton, backed by that of insolent Greece, would prove an overmatch for the logic of centuries. And I withdraw, therefore, from the rash attempt to quarrel with this sort of bull, involving itself in the verbal expression. But the following, which lies rooted in the mere facts and incidents, is certainly the most extraordinary practical bull [1] that all literature can furnish. And a stranger thing, perhaps, than the oversight itself lies in this—that not any critic throughout Europe, two only excepted, but has failed to detect a blunder so memorable. All the rampant audacity of Bentley—'slashing Bentley'—all the jealous malignity of Dr. Johnson—who hated Milton without disguise as a republican, but secretly and under a mask would at any rate have hated him from jealousy of his scholarship—had not availed to sharpen these practised and these interested eyes into the detection of an oversight which argues a sudden Lethean forgetfulness on the part of Milton; and in many generations of readers, however alive and awake with malice, a corresponding forgetfulness not less astonishing. Two readers only I have ever heard of that escaped this lethargic inattention; one of which two is myself; and I ascribe my success partly to good luck, but partly to some merit on my own part in having cultivated a habit of systematically accurate reading. If I read at all, I make it a duty to read truly and faithfully. I profess allegiance for the time to the man whom I undertake to study; and I am as loyal to all the engagements involved in such a contract, as if I had come under a sacramentum militare. So it was that, whilst yet a boy, I came to perceive, with a wonder not yet exhausted, that unaccountable blunder which Milton has committed in the main narrative on which the epic fable of the 'Paradise Lost' turns as its hinges. And many a year afterwards I found that Paul Richter, whose vigilance nothing escaped, who carried with him through life 'the eye of the hawk, and the fire therein,' had not failed to make the same discovery. It is this: The archangel Satan has designs upon man; he meditates his ruin; and it is known that he does. Specially to counteract these designs, and for no other purpose whatever, a choir of angelic police is stationed at the gates of Paradise, having (I repeat) one sole commission, viz., to keep watch and ward over the threatened safety of the newly created human pair. Even at the very first this duty is neglected so thoroughly, that Satan gains access without challenge or suspicion. That is awful: for, ask yourself, reader, how a constable or an inspector of police would be received who had been stationed at No. 6, on a secret information, and spent the night in making love at No. 15. Through the regular surveillance at the gates, Satan passes without objection; and he is first of all detected by a purely accidental collision during the rounds of the junior angels. The result of this collision, and of the examination which follows, is what no reader can ever forget—so unspeakable is the grandeur of that scene between the two hostile archangels, when the Fiend (so named at the moment under the fine machinery used by Milton for exalting or depressing the ideas of his nature) finally takes his flight as an incarnation of darkness,

           'And fled
  Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of night.

The darkness flying with him, naturally we have the feeling that he is the darkness, and that all darkness has some essential relation to Satan.

But now, having thus witnessed his terrific expulsion, naturally we ask what was the sequel. Four books, however, are interposed before we reach the answer to that question. This is the reason that we fail to remark the extraordinary oversight of Milton. Dislocated from its immediate plan in the succession of incidents, that sequel eludes our notice, which else and in its natural place would have shocked us beyond measure. The simple abstract of the whole story is, that Satan, being ejected, and sternly charged under Almighty menaces not to intrude upon the young Paradise of God, 'rides with darkness' for exactly one week, and, having digested his wrath rather than his fears on the octave of his solemn banishment, without demur, or doubt, or tremor, back he plunges into the very centre of Eden. On a Friday, suppose, he is expelled through the main entrance: on the Friday following he re-enters upon the forbidden premises through a clandestine entrance. The upshot is, that the heavenly police suffer, in the first place, the one sole enemy, who was or could be the object of their vigilance, to pass without inquest or suspicion; thus they inaugurate their task; secondly, by the merest accident (no thanks to their fidelity) they detect him, and with awful adjurations sentence him to perpetual banishment; but, thirdly, on his immediate return, in utter contempt of their sentence, they ignore him altogether, and apparently act upon Dogberry's direction, that, upon meeting a thief, the police may suspect him to be no true man; and, with such manner of men, the less they meddle or make, the more it will be for their honesty.


[1] It is strange, or rather it is not strange, considering the feebleness of that lady in such a field, that Miss Edgeworth always fancied herself to have caught Milton in a bull, under circumstances which, whilst leaving the shadow of a bull, effectually disown the substance. 'And in the lowest deep a lower deep still opens to devour me.' This is the passage denounced by Miss Edgeworth. 'If it was already the lowest deep,' said the fair lady, 'how the deuce (no, perhaps it might be I that said 'how the deuce') could it open into a lower deep?' Yes, how could it? In carpentry, it is clear to my mind that it could not. But, in cases of deep imaginative feeling, no phenomenon is more natural than precisely this never-ending growth of one colossal grandeur chasing and surmounting another, or of abysses that swallowed up abysses. Persecutions of this class oftentimes are amongst the symptoms of fever, and amongst the inevitable spontaneities of nature. Other people I have known who were inclined to class amongst bulls Milton's all-famous expression of 'darkness visible,' whereas it is not even a bold or daring expression; it describes a pure optical experience of very common occurrence. There are two separate darknesses or obscurities: first, that obscurity by which you see dimly; and secondly, that obscurity which you see. The first is the atmosphere through which vision is performed, and, therefore, part of the subjective conditions essential to the act of seeing. The second is the object of your sight. In a glass-house at night illuminated by a sullen fire in one corner, but else dark, you see the darkness massed in the rear as a black object. That is the 'visible darkness.' And on the other hand, the murky atmosphere between you and the distant rear is not the object, but the medium, through or athwart which you descry the black masses. The first darkness is subjective darkness; that is, a darkness in your own eye, and entangled with your very faculty of vision. The second darkness is perfectly different: it is objective darkness; that is to say, not any darkness which affects or modifies your faculty of seeing either for better or worse; but a darkness which is the object of your vision; a darkness which you see projected from yourself as a massy volume of blackness, and projected, possibly, to a vast distance.