THE Life of George Ticknor1 was begun by one of his intimate friends, Mr. George S. Hillard, but, owing to his failing health, the work after reaching the sixth chapter had to he committed to the hands of some of Mr. Ticknor’s relatives, subject still to Mr. Hillard’s revision. The principal task, however, was that of editing Mr. Ticknor’s journals and letters, for he had preserved so copious memoranda of his life that the work has to a considerable extent the charm of an autobiography. This task of making suitable selections from his papers has been well performed, and the matter that has gone to connecting the bits of Mr. Ticknor’s writing is always apt and of value. Of the early years of his life there is not much that is important to be said. His parents spared no pains with his education, and when, after graduating at sixteen from Dartmouth College, and studying law, he determined to go abroad to carry on his education as he could not in this country, not only was his plan found practicable, but he was aided and advised by his father, who seems to have been a man of noticeable intelligence and kindness. Before leaving this country he traveled through part of it, seeing, among other people,Thomas Jefferson, at Monticello, who gave him many letters for use abroad. It was in 1815, when twenty-three years old, that he set sail for Europe, reaching England just in time to hear of Bonaparte’s escape from Elba. It is with this date that the main interest of the book begins, for at once Mr. Ticknor was thrown with a number of remarkable people, of whose conversation he fortunately made ample notes. Not only was he well equipped with letters of introduction, but he also was fortunate in being able to use his position as an American for an introduction where at present it might be less sure of producing the same effect. Indeed, those early travelers from this country not only saw what was to them an unknown and longed-for land, but they also, it is clear, were themselves regarded with considerable curiosity and interest. Mr. Ticknor made a favorable impression wherever he went, but what is of more importance in this book is the impression other people made upon him. Of Lord Byron he says that he had not “ a thin and rather sharp and anxious face, as he has in his pictures, it is round, open, and smiling; his eyes are light, and not black ; his air easy and careless, not forward and striking ; and I found his manners affable and gentle, the tones of his voice low and conciliating, his conversation gay, pleasant, and interesting in an uncommon degree.” Again he says, “ He is, I think, simple and unaffected.” Testimony like this is certainly valuable. Of older men he saw Dr. Parr, and Dr. Rees, who was at one of the dinners at which Johnson and Wilkes met, and from all quarters he heard a number of interesting anecdotes, which he fortunately put down on paper. Here is one: “ There was a Captain Fuller present, who was in one of the frigates stationed off Elba to keep in Bonaparte and to keep out the Algerines. He told us several anecdotes of the rude treatment of Bonaparte by the English sailors, which were very amusing. Among them he said that Captain Towers, or * Jack Towers,’ as he called him, gave a ball, at which many of the inhabitants of Elba were present, and Bonaparte was invited. When he came along-side, and was announced, the dancing stopped, out of compliment to him as emperor; but Jack Towers cried out, ‘ No, no, my boys, none of that; you ’re aboard the king’s ship, and Bony’s no more here than any other man. So strike up again.' The band was English, and obeyed.” Another amusing thing is this remark of the Dey of Algiers to an English officer with regard to the same prisoner: “ Your masters were fools, when they had the Frenchman in their hands, that they did not cut off his head. If I catch him, I shall act more wisely.”
Mr. Ticknor did not linger long in London, but soon made his way to Göttingen, where he devoted himself to hard work under Eichhorn, Blumenbach, and others. In the summer of 1816 he traveled through parts of Germany, seeing every one of note on the way, and among others, naturally, Goethe, who made no very deep impression on him. What he seems to have noticed especially in the German poet was his freedom from stiff German manners. After another winter in Göttingen he went to Paris, and there, while not neglecting his studies, he devoted a good part of his time to what may be called the business of society. He was received everywhere with heartiness. He met Madame de Staël, of whose conversation he preserved some interesting notes, and at the salon of her daughter, the Duchess de Broglie, he used to see the best literary society of the time. A mere list of the names is enough to fill the reader with envy : Benjamin Constant, Alexander Humboldt, Madame Récamier, and Châteaubriand, “a short man, with a dark complexion, black hair, black eyes, and altogether a most marked countenance. . . . His general tone was declamatory, though not extravagantly so, and its general effect that of interesting the feelings and attention, without producing conviction or changing opinion.”
From Paris Mr. Ticknor went through Switzerland — where he met Borstetten, and studied the scenery which Rousseau taught the people of this century to admire— to Italy, falling in again with Byron at Venice. The winter of 1817-18 he spent in Rome, studying Italian literature. In the early summer of 1818 he went to Spain. His descriptions of this country are particularly full and hearty. In 1819, after visiting again France and England, he returned to America, and was made Professor of the French and Spanish Languages and of the Belles-Lettres at Harvard College. Narrowing space compels us merely to mention this important period of his life, as well as his second visit to Europe, from 1835 to 1838, in which, accompanied by his family, for he had married meanwhile, he again spent much of his time in society. Besides the preparation of his valuable History of Spanish Literature, one of the more noteworthy events of his life was the aid he gave to the public library of Boston, and his interest in this took him again abroad in the year 1856, From the time of his return, the next year, until his death in 1871, he lived mainly in Boston, keeping up many of the ties ho had formed in his long life by busy correspondence.
This outline gives even less indication of all that the book contains than do the full indexes or the table of contents. The number of people he met is simply enormous, and of almost every one he has recorded some observation of talk or appearance. The volumes give us, indeed, a crowded picture of European society during a good half-century. We can only be grateful that the tastes which threw him with so many people were found in conjunction with the habit of writing full journals and letters. His long life, too, adds to the interest of the book; mention is made of Washington’s death and of the late war between France and Germany. The meagre description we have given shows, too, how wide was the field that contributed great men for his delectation. It is curious to notice how many interesting persons have had no better luck than to slip, not quite into foot-notes, because no one writes footnotes in his diary, but into the corresponding hastily written line at the end of the day’s record. Charles Lamb (i. 294) figures as a decrier of more successful men’s reputations, in company with Hunt, Hazlitt, and Godwin, and the difference between their deportment and that of the genteeler men whom Mr. Ticknor was at the time in the habit of meeting is carefully pointed out; but fame is less punctilious. Sainte-Beuve, as it were, thrusts his head in the door and then disappears. Although Mr. Ticknor sat at dinner between Madame Récamier and Châteaubriand, his mention of her is very brief and unsatisfactory. In general, however, the reader has little of this sort to complain of, and it would be ungracious to overlook the vast amount of entertainment the book affords. It deserves to take a high place among a very readable sort of literature. It is not easy to recall any American book, nor many English, with the same generous supply of what shall surely delight the reader who cares to study his fellow-men through another’s glasses. The best thing that any one can do is to get the book and see for himself how cool our praise is in proportion to the entertainment and information it gives.
— In his preface, Mr. Greene frankly disclaims any pretensions to originality of research in his little book on the German element in our War of Independence,2 and acknowledges Mr. Frederick Kapp’s studies of our history as the chief sources of his information. Nevertheless the general reader owes Mr. Greene a distinct debt of gratitude for assembling in such short space and in such agreeable form so much that one ought to know upon the subject. The three chapters of the book are severally devoted to Baron von Steuben and General de Kalb, who fought for us, and those hapless Hessian mercenaries who fought against us. If any reader therefore finds the obligation conferred by the former more oppressive than it was felt by contemporary congressmen, who delayed a substantial acknowledgment of Steuben’s services during years of poverty and humiliation, he may relieve himself by turning to the story of the Hessians ; though here, indeed, there is a chance that his only feeling will be one of entire compassion. It is a very miserable story, quite as shameful to England as the fact of her arming the savages against us ; as for the poor, sottish little German princelings who sold her their subjects at so much a head, it would be rather hard asking them to account anything shameful. In those days a German recruit was a slave, no more nor less, and he was not otherwise treated than as a slave; what a slave’s treatment then was one may learn from this most interesting chapter of Mr. Greene’s book, which one may profitably supplement bv re-perusal of the recruiting episodes of The Luck of Barry Lyndon.
The paper on De Kalb is one of those romances wherein life shows itself so much greater master than fiction that one feels that when biographies come to be written as they should be, there will be no longer any reading of novels. The Steuben has much the same charm; and there is the added pathos, at the close, of his long waiting for the republic’s leisurely gratitude; De Kalb had the happier fortune to die in the war.
The Germans are now grown so great as a people, and their national self-complacency is naturally so vast, that we can fancy even our adoptive fellow-citizens not much caring remember what Germans did for American liberty ; but it is something that Americans cannot afford to forget. Mr. Greene has well outlined the record, and in such particulars as he has seized, he gives us one of the most entertaining volumes that this year of patriotic memories is likely to call forth. The matter is important, and the manner, without losing ease, is touched with that warmth of feeling which is the right tone of the time, and is the habitual mood of a writer whose name is forever related to the Revolution and its history.
— Duyckinck’s Cyclopædia of American Literature 3 was first published in 1856, and ten years later the surviving editor, Evert A. Duyckinck, issued a supplement bringing the work down to that date. The original work and supplement have been consolidated, and considerable additions made by Mr. Simons; the present edition, issued in numbers and now complete in two large volumes, closes with the year 1873. The new matter has been so marked that it may easily be distinguished from the old, but it is not easy to discover any departure from the general temper which pervaded the original work, unless it be in a somewhat more business-like performance of the editorial duty. Both the Messrs. Duyckinck and Mr. Simons have honestly sought to make the cyclopædia an impartial and unadorned record of what has been done by American writers. The book is what it professes to be, a cyclopædia and not a treatise, and the facts stated, so far as our own knowledge goes, are accurately and fairly given. It was not so difficult to do this when dealing with the older authors, but it is evident that great pains have been taken to give faithful reports of the literary life and the works of contemporary writers ; and the general absence of comment and explicitness of statement give evidence that the editor has recognized the limits of his responsibility. The work remains as a most comprehensive and convenient guide to American authorship; if the diligence and method of bibliographers will now keep track of the issues of the press from year to year, the labors of special students of our literature will be free from much of the drudgery of individual exploration, and any one who desires to acquaint himself with the names, general career, and productions of American writers up to the present day will find the cyclopædia an excellent base of operations.
The cyclopædia is arranged by a chronological method, and is not broken into divisions or periods; it affords thus an admirable means for making a survey of American literature with reference to its growth and development; any one conversant with the works of the principal writers can, when turning its pages, make for himself the general divisions, and remind himself of the occasional groups and coteries in which the authors named have been gathered. There is a disposition amongst some to deny the existence of a national literature in America as having any marked characteristics which separate it from English literature, and to resent the claims laid by certain productions having a wilding flavor to represent American literature in its possibilities and tendencies; on the other hand there always have been those who were fired with a zeal, most fiery when most ignorant, to demonstrate the existence of a national literature which would carry off the prize in any grand international literary exhibition, and who look eagerly to every erratic display of authorship for the appearance of some new champion of the independence of American art. It would be amusing, and no very difficult matter, with this cyclopædia before us, to trace the course of these opposing views from the beginning of colonial independence to the present time, marking the exhibition on one side of subservience to English literary manners, and on the Other of self-conscious posing and the admiration of make-believe swans. But these are only theories about national literature; the more substantial fact remains that it is impossible for a nation, as it is impossible for a man,to conceal character and individuality; and while literature may not, as in the case of the United States it does not, present the fullest illustration of national life, it is impossible that it should not, within the scope even of American life, afford a reflection of the conditions which accompanied its production. In some sense, however one may place limits; the literature of a nation is an outcome of the national life; and to those who believe in the positive personality of a nation the study of its literature must inevitably take the form of an inquiry into the extent and fullness with which that literature embodies the purposes, aspirations, temptations, and victories of the nation.
The student of our history seeks for institutional beginnings in the character of the early colonies and the laws and customs which they brought with them from an older civilization; watches for the first resolution of the new elements of social life in the New World into formal and orderly proceeding; traces the gradual combination of the particles of national life into one organic body; and notes how independence, while consolidating by a rapid process the several parts, was but one prominent sign of a destined union which it accelerated, but did not produce. No one simply reads the history of the United States from the date of its formal institution a hundred years ago. So the student of our literature, carrying back his inquiry to the, first beginnings of literary activity on this continent, as he reads in succession the representative writings, perceives, as he could not by the study of any formal history, that spiritual growth and change which in a man we know to be the last and finest result of our analysis, and in a nation can never be lost sight of if one aims to know the nation as a separate, independent body.
The study of literature as art will not best be pursued by an examination of the masterpieces of American literature, one or two exceptions being made, but as an exponent of American life it offers advantages which we suspect have been too much disregarded by students. How completely it has mirrored both the depth and the shallowness of American life! That singular company of men and women who move across the field of Winthrop’s Journal and Bradford’s History leave upon the pages the enduring memorial of their nobility and their folly, their perverseness and their steadfastness, while bursts of passionate utterance disclose the repressed fervor of the life portrayed in those literary memorials. The religion which had been allied with the practical work of founding a Christian commonwealth drove its power into abstractions when the pressure of necessity was withdrawn, and the literature which gathers about the Magnalia Christi Americana— theology run to seed, poetry ridiculously travestied in lumbering conceits of rhyme, learned trifles, interminable webs of useless learning — reflects with sardonic truthfulness the dreary commonplace of a community which had spent its first high energy, and was fed by no streams from the ever-living fountains of great political endeavor. The commercial instincts of a shrewd, self - reliant, thrifty community, looking out for the main chance, were reproduced in the perspicuous, easily comprehended pages of Franklin’s autobiography. Then the period of nascent force, when the country was agitated by profound questions which the conscience mooted, was open-minded, stirred by the re-discovery of the Old World in travel and art, conscious of its unfolding vocation, — this period was caught and contained in Hawthorne’s romances, the poetry and philosophy of the transcendental school, the traditional art of Longfellow and Irving, the hopeful expansive work of Bryant and Cooper, The feverish gallop to California, an intense, confined movement, has issued in a literature of sudden and striking form, while the waves of emigration that have extended across the continent, a movement of which history will yet make great account, have found already a partial reproduction in literature. We are confident that other separate phases of our national life might in turn be set forth in a survey of the corresponding period in literary endeavor. For such a study the cyclopædia under notice affords a valuable basis.
— Mr. Aldrich has studied the life of A Bad Boy as the pleasant reprobate led it in a quiet old New England town twenty-five or thirty years ago, where in spite of the natural outlawry of boyhood he was more or less part of a settled order of things, and was hemmed in, to some measure, by the traditions of an established civilization. Mr. Clemens, on the contrary, has taken the boy of the Southwest for the hero of his new book,4 and has presented him with a fidelity to circumstance which loses no charm by being realistic in the highest degree, and which gives incomparably the best picture of life in that region as yet known to fiction. The town where Tom Sawyer was born and brought up is some such idle, shabby little Mississippi River town as Mr. Clemens has so well described in his piloting reminiscences, but Tom belongs to the better sort of people in it, and has been bred to fear God and dread the Sunday-school according to the strictest rite of the faiths that have characterized all the respectability of the West. His subjection in these respects does not so deeply affect his inherent tendencies but that he makes himself a beloved burden to the poor, tender - hearted old aunt who brings him up with his orphan brother and sister, and struggles vainly with his manifold sins, actual and imaginary. The limitations of his transgressions are nicely and artistically traced. He is mischievous, but not vicious; he is ready for almost any depredation that involves the danger and honor of adventure, but profanity he knows may provoke a thunderbolt upon the heart of the blasphemer, and he almost never swears ; he resorts to any stratagem to keep out of school, but he is not a downright liar, except upon terms of after shame and remorse that make his falsehood bitter to him. He is cruel, as all children are, but chiefly because he is ignorant ; he is not mean, but there are very definite bounds to his generosity ; and his courage is the Indian sort, full of prudence and mindful of retreat as one of the conditions of prolonged hostilities. In a word, he is a boy, and merely and exactly an ordinary boy on the moral side. What makes him delightful to the reader is that on the imaginative side he is very much more, and though every boy has wild and fantastic dreams, this boy cannot rest till he has somehow realized them. Till he has actually run off with two other boys in the character of buccaneer, and lived for a week on an island in the Mississippi, he has lived in vain ; and this passage is but the prelude to more thrilling adventures, in which he finds hidden treasures, traces the bandits to their cave, and is himself lost in its recesses. The local material and the incidents with which his career is worked up are excellent, and throughout there is scrupulous regard for the boy’s point of view iu reference to his surroundings and himself, which shows how rapidly Mr. Clemens has grown as an artist. We do not remember anything in which this propriety is violated, and its preservation adds immensely to the grown-up reader’s satisfaction in the amusing and exciting story. There is a boy’s love-affair, but it is never treated otherwise than as a hoy’s love-affair. When the half-breed has murdered the young doctor, Tom and his friend, Huckleberry Finn, are really, in their boyish terror and superstition, going to let the poor old town-drunkard be hanged for the crime, till the terror of that becomes unendurable. The story is a wonderful study of the boy-mind, which inhabits a world quite distinct from that in which he is bodily present with his elders, and in this lies its great charm and its universality, for boy-nature, however humannature varies, is the same everywhere.
The tale is very dramatically wrought, and the subordinate characters are treated with the same graphic force that sets Tom alive before us. The worthless vagabond, Huck Finn, is entirely delightful throughout, and in his promised reform his identity is respected: he will lead a decent life in order that he may one day be thought worthy to become a member of that gang of robbers which Tom is to organize. Tom’s aunt is excellent, with her kind heart s sorrow and secret pride in Tom; and so is his sister Mary, one of those good girls who are born to usefulness and charity and forbearance and unvarying rectitude. Many village people and local notables are troduced in well - conceived character; the whole little town lives in the reader’s sense, with its religiousness, its lawlessness, its droll social distinctions, its civilization qualified by its slave-holding, and its traditions of the wilder West which has passed away. The picture will be instructive to those who have fancied the whole Southwest a sort of vast Pike County, and have not conceived of a sober and serious and orderly contrast to the sort, of life that has come to represent the Southwest in literature. Mr. William M. Baker gives a notion of this in his stories, and Mr. Clemens has again enforced the fact here, in a book full of entertaining character, and of the greatest artistic sincerity.
Tom Brown and Tom Bailey are, among boys in books, alone deserving to be named with Tom Sawyer.
— The author of the very pretty little comedy of The Queen of Hearts 5 has made a play in which one perceives nothing of the labor of doing an airy and graceful thing, and has completely realized a very charming conceit. He imagines that the various cards of the pack come to life under fairy influence, and play their different parts in a drama, which he makes a delicate burlesque of the ordinary human motive and action in love-making and court-intrigue, dimly following in outline the plot indicated in the old nursery-rhyme of the Queen of Hearts who made some tarts. In the comedy this august lady has goaded her lord, the King of Hearts, into allowing her to give a party, in spite of the deficit in the budget, and has promised to economize by providing tarts for refreshments, using kerosene instead of gas, and inviting a pianist; and she has announced her purpose to her daughter, the Ace of Hearts, and the Court Ladies, Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs, and Ace of Spades, when the Herald announces a minstrel who craves audience. The minstrel, who appears in an ulster, with a lute under his arm, proves to be the White Knight, or the Joker, whom the princess has met the previous summer at a wateringplace, and whom she altogether prefers to the Knave of Diamonds, her father’s favorite, and the Knave of Hearts, whom her mother wishes her to marry. After a violent scene, in which she declares that she will have no one but the Joker, it is arranged that her hand shall be the prize of a competitive examination, because, as the king says, “ It will please the people, and then I can give the place as I like, afterwards. That’s the way Grant does. Nobody will see through it except the editor of The Nation.”
Ace sends a book of conundrums to the White Knight, that he may prepare himself for the contest, but the Herald forgets to deliver it, and in the mean time the Knaves of Hearts and Diamonds wickedly plot to carry him the queen’s tarts as a gift from the princess. The unhappy Joker eats them with rapture, and at the court ball, after he has triumphed in the examination and has won the princess’s hand, the queen misses her tarts. The king of course orders the Joker to the block instantly, but he insists upon a trial, and they are preparing for this when the presiding fairy appears and says that they must not manage matters in this ridiculous human way ; they must cut for it, and the guilty one will cut lowest. The Knaves of Hearts and Diamonds each cut a deuce, and the king orders them to the block; but the fairy forbids, and turns them into statues. The court ladies intercede for them, because “ it’s a pity to waste young men in this way when there are so few,” and accordingly the fairy pardons them, on their promising “to be very kind and attentive, and never plot any more, nor steal any more, nor smoke, nor do anything that is n’t nice as long as they live ; ” and so all ends happily. The characterization is as charming as the plot, which is full of incident and action: the king with his furious moods, the queen with her alternate majesty and stizsa, the innocently guileful princess, the White Knight with his preposterous splendor, the Knave of Hearts, a comical rogue, and the Knave of Diamonds, a most desperate and unscrupulous villain, are all delightful, and a spirit of delicate fun rules throughout. It is a pity that some manager has not the wit to see how fascinating the play would be on the stage. In the mean time it is recommended to people desiring a play for private theatricals as the best imaginable thing for their purpose.
— Those who have faithfully clung to an early fondness for Thackeray’s quaint initial letters and illustrations for his novels will find ample justification for their taste in the new volume of his sketches, so tastefully issued, and so charmingly edited by his daughter.6 What strikes one first in this collection is the various facility of Thackeray’s pencil, no less than the complete mastery of his theme and his means, which he displays frequently and in the most diverse moods. The sketches accompanying the little extravaganza of The Orphan of Pimlico are perhaps on the whole the least meritorious, though they are full of exuberant fun ; and the head of “ the good admiral, Earl of Eitzmarlinspike,” is as admirable for its drawing as for its quiet satire. Mordaunt’s half-length, too, is no less deliciously desperate than well carried out. The genuineness of character-impressions and neatness of touch are remarkable, in all cases ; even in that of the page called De Juventute (from the Roundabout Paper of that name), which gives a couple of queer, coarse - lined, scratchy representations of Charter House school-day tussles. Very amusing are the negro Othello and a couple of American sketches ; and one could not easily tire of the many ingenious cartoons made out of the clubs and spades and hearts and diamonds of playing-cards. Then there are two or three colored drawings: City, City ! and Children at Play; the latter of which gives us, with mournful truth and the deep emphasis of pent-up pity, the spectacle of some squalid Scotch children at their dismal amusements in a murky street of Glasgow. Indeed, here and there one breaks suddenly through the surface of honest, hearty fun into little abysses of profound pathos, just as in the artist’s books. Nothing, in fact, is more charming or more curious in these pictured impressions than their exact and detailed correspondence to the author’s written impressions. Several of the designs have an associative literary interest, as the glimpse of Sir Pitt Crawley, and the first allegorical vision of Becky Sharp, and that misty but masterly ébuche of Colonel Newcome withdrawing Clive from the Cave of Harmony (adopted by John Hoyle, the illustrator of The Newcomes). Others again have the most intimate and delightful flavor of autobiography, presented as they are by the editor; for example, the one called Breakfast-Time, where “ some long-forgotten morning light is streaming on the breakfast-table at the window.” It makes us think (by its absence of figures) of the kindly and humane gentleman who will never more share in the little, cozy comforts of English life, or open his heart to the world in wholesome and vigorous novels about other sides of that life. One cannot take up a page of Thackeray’s prose description without seeing how inevitably his pen traces little pictures through the print; it was a part of his genius to frame things in their physical outline and to group his characters or note a facial expression just as a painter does these things. So that his actual pictorial expression has always been an inseparable sort of thing from the literary side of him. There is evidence in these pages that he might have made a name in illustration as eminent as Leech’s, while doing work more thorough than Leech’s and akin to the best of the later Punch draughtsmen’s productions. And, though no one can wish that he had confined himself to such a fame, it is valuable to have the fact made clear. On many accounts we have to thank Miss Thackeray for the rare gift of this collection to the public.
— This first installment of a Life of Lord Shelburne2 is chiefly a compilation by his grandson, Lord Fitsmaurice, from the interesting papers preserved in Lansdowne House. It begins with a fragment of autobiography, which one very much wishes the author could have lived to complete. To this are subjoined his official correspondence with the great statesmen under and with whom he held office before 1766, and several elaborate pen-and-ink portraits of famous men with whom Lord Shelburne was intimately acquainted at different periods of his changeful, yet not indirect nor inconsistent career. Among these are the elder Fox and the elder Pitt, the Earl of Bute and the infamous Lord George Sackville, General Wolfe, with whom Shelburne was serving in Canada at the time of the hero’s death, and that fiery soldier and orator, Colonel Barré, whose most famous philippic every American school-boy knows by heart. These personal sketches are somewhat dry and unsympathetic in tone, but vigorous and evidently truthful. If they fail of clearness at some points, it is owing to a species of grammatical clumsiness, which continually deforms the statesman’s style, and is doubtless due to that miserable early education which he never ceased to lament. Writing in 1800 of his neglected and joyless boyhood in Ireland, he says he should " hardly have known how to read, write, or even articulate,” but for his aunt, Lady Arabella Denny, a woman of distinguished qualities, of whom he speaks in what are for him terms of extreme tenderness and veneration. Born in 1737, and bred a tory of the tones, he took his seat in the House of Lords on his father’s death in 1761, and soon displayed political abilities of so uncommon an order that he obtained a place in Lord Bute’s cabinet, and was offered the presidency of the Board of Trade when he was only twenty-six. He accepted the latter office after having once declined it, but resigned at the end of a few months. It was at that time a thankless and most harassing place, owing to increasing troubles connected with American taxation ; and, moreover, its duties were ill-defined and confused with those of the Secretary of State, and Shelburne, even at that age, disdained a divided responsibility. He soon quarreled with Fox, with whom, as head of the Pay Office under Lord Bute, he was for a time on the most intimate terms, because Fox had promised to resign his paymaster’s place on condition of being made a peer, and then, after receiving the peerage, declined to do so. Fox argued with his young friend against what he called his “ romantic notions of honor,” and was deeply aggrieved at his final desertion. Lord Bute, who was very anxious to retain them both and have them work in harmony, attempted to smooth matters to Mr. Fox by describing Shelburne’s course (very inappropriately) as a kind of “ pious fraud.” “ I see the fraud,” replied Fox, bitterly, “ but where is the piety ? ” The fame of this remark seems to have lain at the bottom of a singularly incorrect notion that Lord Shelburne was a treacherous man. His faults were of quite another order. Horace Walpole, who hated him cordially, for no better reason, it would seem, than the essential antagonism between his own dilettante nature and Shelburne’s grave and zealous one, insinuates that the young minister wanted the paymaster’s place himself; but of this there is not the slightest evidence. Walpole had an equally uncharitable reason to assign for the resignation of the presidency of the Board of Trade, namely, that Lord Shelburne, " thinking Pitt must be minister soon, and finding himself tolerably obnoxious to him,” was “seeking to make his peace at any rate; ” and Shelburne’s definitive separation from the party with which he had first been identified, which occurred soon after, and his alliance with Mr. Pitt and the more liberal whigs, appeared to give some color to the sneer. But the character and subsequent career of the man allow us to believe that his conversion to more liberal views than those in which he had been educated was a genuine one, due to the natural growth of a generous and sagacious mind, willing to be taught by the movement of events, and that when he took service under the Great Commoner, who, with all his faults, was undoubtedly the most disinterested British statesman of his day, it was from no ignoble motive. Lord Shelburne was much too rich to care about the emoluments of office, and his own writings reveal him as too haughty and self-contained greatly to value personal popularity. The majority of men are liberal in their youth and conservative in their riper years ; but that smaller class who begin with high tory prejudices, which they gradually exchange for broader views, numbers some of the most honorable of mankind.
To the policy of Mr. Pitt Lord Shelburne remained ever afterwards attached, and Americans at least ought to hold him in respectful remembrance, as one of the wisest and most steadfast of their friends in the mother country before and during the Revolutionary War. The present volume closes with the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, for which Lord Shelburne had labored strenuously. Another is projected in which Lord Fitsmaurice proposes to give a more complete account of the “ political life of Lord Shelburne in office and in the opposition, to explain how it was that Mr. Pitt in 1783 did not have Lord Shelburne for his colleague, to give some new details as to the condition of the whig party during the French Revolution, to draw a picture of the society of which Bowood (the countryseat of Lord Shelburne) was the centre during the latter part of the century, and to describe the connection of Priestley, Price, and Bentham with Shelburne.” The forthcoming volume promises to be of unusual interest.
Of the life at Bowood we have already some interesting glimpses in the brief extracts from Lady Shelburne’s diary which are introduced near the close of the present volume. Lady Shelburne, néc Lady Sophia Cartaret, seems to have been not only a devoted wife, but a woman of vigorous intellect, on whose judgment the statesman relied no less than on her sympathy, He used to read aloud to her his own state papers before they were made public, or selections from Thucydides or Abernethy’s Sermons, which strikes one as a very dignified, not to say rigid, mode of recreation.
— A book of a very high order, altogether austere and manly, is Henry M. Good win’s Christ and Humanity.7 In his modest preface, after alluding to the urgent curiosity concerning the nature of Jesus Christ and the secret of his unique influence upon the minds of men which characterizes the present generation, and to the strange and contradictory theories concerning it which are constantly put forth both in orthodox and in skeptical quarters, Mr. Goodwin proposes to unfold one which to his own mind is consistent alike with Christian intuition, biblical history, and philosophic reason. He begins by decisively rejecting the always distracting notion of dualism, or the presence of two natures in Christ’s person. Christ was both divine and human certainly ; but his being was a natural and homogeneous one, for the simple reason that all humanity is divine, and all divinity human. The latter half of this proposition Mr. Goodwin finds plainly stated in the verse, “ God said, Let us make man in our image.” In this passage he sees both our patent of nobility and the promise of our perpetual individuality. Christ was the Platonic archetype of man in this world, the original, divine ideal of the creature whom we know, and in this sense he “ was in the beginning with God ;" a view which all who remember Charles Kingsley’s noblest work, Hypatia, will also remember to have been most eloquently advocated there. Mr. Goodwin waives what is known as the doctrine of redemption, and barely alludes to the presence of evil in the world, but concentrates all his powers on the solution of what he calls, not quite agreeably, “the Christological problem.”He argues for his own view of Christ’s nature and mission with great force and ingenuity, in a temper always admirable, and with an amount of learning which in itself induces confidence and respect. No narrow dogmatism need be apprehended from an author who finds supportfor his theory in Greek philosophy, in the profound speculations of Hegel and Schelling, and in the poetry of Wordsworth; and he does really succeed in bringing before the mind a clear and consistent conception, and one which harmonizes with the Bible without contradicting history or outraging common sense. Whether or no the mass of mankind, to whom, if to anybody, Christ’s coming must deeply import, will be made happier by knowing that he is the archetypal man, the few who think, and who love all honest books which make them think, will do very well to read Mr. Goodwin’s essay with attention. His historical sketch of the doctrine of Christ’s person, and particularly the tabular view of authorities on this interesting subject, are of extreme value. His manly maintenance of the divinity in humanity is tonic and refreshing to a mind long wearied by the ignominious deductions of Darwinism, and his book is in itself a refutation of the conceited notion so acceptable in some quarters, that all the learning and ability of the present generation are enlisted on the skeptical and materialistic side. It is not so, and they who reiterate it proclaim their ignorance of some of the finest fruits of recent, thought and scholarship, especially in Germany.
—if Cassandra had been a little more impressionable to Apollo’s personal passion, she might have had all her knowledge of futurity, and have delivered her warnings to ears that gave some heed to them. Mr. Greg, by the title of his book,8 invites us to consider a moment the rationale of the fable of Cassandra, and to inquire if he has not, with more or less deliberateness, placed himself in the attitude of that unfortunate prophetess. To interpret the fable by our modern methods, is not prophecy pretty sure to be idle words to idle ears, when its predictive side is the dominant one ? whereas prophecy, in its fullest scope, whether Jeremiad or Isaiah like, must needs be a distinct disclosure of superhuman and divine thought, acting in and by human conditions. It was when Cassandra forgot Apollo, that her revelations of the future failed to make any impression on her countrymen.
In Rocks Ahead, Mr. Greg points out the three great rocks on which, if his premises are correct, England is to go to pieces : the political, the economic, and the religious rock. The political supremacy of the lower classes, he argues, will transfer the power from those who are educated and capable of statesmanship, to the uneducated and those who are easy dupes of unprincipled demagogues; the management of government, even if it remains with the educated class, will be warped by the preponderating influence of the constituencies that elect; the average intelligence of the electoral body will determine the character of its representatives. Again, he claims that the approaching industrial decline of England may be predicted from three facts : the near period of the exhaustion of the supply of cheap coal, the increasing dishonesty of the artisans, and the gradual withdrawal of capital into countries where it can be more profitably used. He makes an important distinction between the absolute depletion of the coal fields, which is an impossibility, and such exhaustion as will increase the expense of mining coal beyond the point where the product can compete with the importation of coal from America. The increasing dishonesty of the artisans he refers to as a well-known fact, incapable from its nature of exact proof. Finally, he affirms that there is a divorce of the intelligence of the country from its religion, and that the unbelief which characterizes the great thinkers of England must eventually pass into the common mental habitudes of the people.
These theses Mr. Greg maintains with a sorrowful earnestness which forbids the suspicion that he is merely supporting a fanciful theory; he adduces facts and testimonies which would go far, in the absence of any rebutting evidence, to prove his assertions, and he undertakes in each case to make some faint show of resistance to the inevitable, laying down courses for the nation which may at least save the country from total shipwreck on either of the three rocks. The main security against the political danger lies, to his thinking, in the wider diffusion of property and a new organization of laws and institutions with reference to it; from the economic danger he can see no permanent relief save in a subsidence into the “ stationary state ” described by Mr. Mill, which will drain off superfluous population and leave England to the cultivation of her own resources for her own people. But this is scarcely more in Mr. Greg’s eyes, apparently, than a philosophic making the best of a degradation to the rank of a third-class power. His remedy for the divorce of religion and intelligence lies in the elimination from current, traditional religion of all dogmas and beliefs which are hard, questionable, and repellant, leaving as residuum “a faith which piety and science might combine to uphold; a national altar before which the highest intelligence and the most fervent devotion might in transparent sincerity kneel side by side ; a religion in which should lurk no seed for wars, no standing-ground for the sacerdotal element, no fair pretexts or gorgeous disguises for the low, bad passion of humanity.”
The field covered by Mr. Greg’s book is too wide to permit us to do more than present this brief synopsis of his argument, with a single reflection. The facts which he brings forward are not to be blown aside by any puff of sentiment or incredulity. They are, moreover, suggestive of problems set before our own nation, though it is difficult, when we consider the boundless resources of this continent and the more mobile society, to enter fully into sympathy with the author in his survey of England. Yet certain principles obtain which in different forms are applicable both to England and to the United States, and it is in Mr. Greg’s failure to apprehend the force of these that we find hope and courage to withstand the despairing note of his prophecy. The pass to which England has come, by his showing, has been the result of the greedy policy which has made her a nation of shopkeepers, with the high ambition of drawing the trade away from all other shops, and the consequent spirit of timidity and anxiety respecting the safety of the cash-box. The return to an England with a great policy can be made only by the process, slow or revolutionary, of an intenser and profounder national life. Only as England develops the resources of English life for Englishmen will she ever have a controlling voice in European polities. This is something more than a stationary state, and the reason why Mr. Greg’s warnings fall faint upon incredulous or listless ears is that they are uninspired by any energetic belief in the higher life of a nation. The restoration of Pingland will not be in some new adjustment of political majorities, nor in the discovery and application of contrivances for cheapening the cost of coal, nor in the gradual spread of a religious faith, courteously so called, which has no power to cleave society as energetic religion always does, making the good better and the bad worse. We cannot conceive of a more hopeless outlook, if one is to take his place by the side of Mr. Greg and shade his eyes against too strong a light from above. If Cassandra had responded to Apollo’s passion, her predictions would not only have had the truth of fact but the persuasive truth which prophecy carries when it is inspired by a divine enlightenment. If we were looking for the prophet of England to-day, we should not find his words in Rocks Ahead, but in hors Clavigera, for Mr. Ruskin, with all his vagaries and impulses, hitches his wagon to the stars. The principles which lie at the basis of the St. George’s Company are more radical, and permit a larger hope than do the feeble make-shifts of Mr. Greg’s philosophy. Both men see a coming destruction to England, yet we suppose Mr. Ruskin is called a visionary and Mr. Greg a practical man.
FRENCH AND GERMAN.9
M. Taine has for some time been turning his attention to the study of the recent history of his own country, following therein the tendency on the part of the French, which has been especially marked since the late war, of overhauling the various causes which led them to such swift and startling, though possibly temporary, decadence. This Taine is doing, not in order to make a display of captious fault-finding, but that it may be possible for his fellow-countrymen, taking warning from the past, to be wiser in the future when they undertake to put the political machine into good running order. As he says in his preface, thirteen times in the last eighty years the French have remodeled their form of government, and they have not yet hit upon any scheme which gives them general satisfaction. He considers, and with reason, that consultation of the popular voice is a very inadequate way of securing the wisest constitution; that the people can say what they wish, but not necessarily what is best for them; that in order to do so it is important to know what the needs of the country are.
The title of the whole book, which is to consist of three parts, is Les Origines de la France Contemporaine; 10 the first volume, the only one that has appeared, is entitled L’Ancien Régime. It is to be followed by studies of the Revolution and of the new régime. In the volume before us Taine endeavors to make out the causes of the Revolution as they existed in the last century in the politics, in the social life, in the prevailing ideas and modes of thought of the time. For this purpose he divides his subject into five books, and in this order discusses the structure of society, the manners and characteristics, the spirit and doctrine, the propagation of the doctrine, and the people. Each one of these subdivisions of his subject he treats with great care; for its full investigation he made careful researches, often in unpublished documents, and the results of his industry are stated by him with all the vigor of his brilliant though at times somewhat wearisome style. By this time Taine’s method of work is well known to us all. He does not deal with general principles and vague statements ; on the contrary, he accumulates details and statistics, and lets them explain whatever he has to say. In this book, certainly, he cannot be accused of attaching too much weight to isolated instances of what he is anxious to prove was the rule. He has amassed too many examples, and, moreover, he has had a very uncomplex task in showing the great variety of causes that produced the French Revolution. It was nothing obscure or hidden that started that great convulsion. A slight glance beneath the surface — or, for the matter of that, at the surface — of the civilization of the last century shows this. The closer the examination, the clearer does it become that the country was, and for a long time had been, suffering almost incredibly. Exactly of what this suffering consisted, this book shows.
The higher clergy and the nobles had all sorts of privileges. Their taxation was light, the clergy having succeeded in establishing their right to make a gratuitous gift at discretion to the treasury, instead of paying onerous taxes ; moreover, they were even ingenious enough to manage that money should be paid them from the treasury, instead of their paying money in ; and this besides the enormous revenues they received from their vast properties. The nobles had very much the same experience. The princes of the blood had possession of one seventh of the whole country, and, instead of paving 2,400,000 livres in taxes, paid only 188,000, with a revenue of from twenty-four to twenty-five millions. Other nobles, too, possessed colossal fortunes, which were equally spared by the tax-gatherer. Those of the nobles who lived on their estates, although lacking in public spirit, and ignorant in many respects about agricultural matters, were generally kind to their peasants and did what they could to free them from their sufferings. Those, on the other hand, — and they formed the vast majority, — who passed their time in Paris or Versailles, lived so extravagantly that they felt unable to forego any of the income they received from their estates, which they left in charge of stewards, forgetting the sufferings of the poverty-stricken, overworked peasants. At court, luxury ruled everywhere. There was no position that was not extravagantly paid. The treasury seemed to be regarded as an unfailing spring, and the illustrations of this that Taine cites are most curious reading ; they show how recklessly the money was spent; with what cruelty it was accumulated is shown in another book, which exposes at great length the dreadful misery of the people. It is indeed a terrible indictment that is brought against the frivolous, thoughtless, amiable, cultivated French nobility of the last century. It is not merely with the provocation to revolt that Taine concerns himself ; he goes on, in some most interesting chapters, to state what doctrines were at work dissolving those ties and sentiments which tended to keep society united, even if it were in every way miserable. Conservatism was attacked by three things. In the first place, the new activity in the physical sciences, and the explanation of much that had formerly been obscure by the discoveries of Newton, Leibnitz, Laplace, Lavoisier, etc., which showed how universal was the rule of law in the positive sciences, seemed to establish as a natural corollary that the same exactness applies to the moral sciences, and that these could be determined, understood, and controlled to the same extent as the natural sciences. It was considered that a principle of reason worked in the heart of man with the same uniformity that the laws of gravitation show in their work outside of him. This notion of reason, however, undermined the reverence which had been of so great service in keeping society together. A second element was what Taine calls the classical spirit, which, although it played an important part in improving literature, exceeded its powers when it forgot to take account of the difference between different ages and races of men, and led people to think that what was true of one man was true of all. Reason seemed to be the only power that existed, and respect for the processes of logic the only method of respecting it. Theories ran wild, and what these theories were are shown by frequent references to the writings of Diderot, Voltaire, and Montesquieu, — more especially Voltaire. The whole battalion of the encyclopædists cried for a return to nature, for the abolition of society ; this too was the cry of Rousseau. Civilization was condemned on all sides. The fashionable philosophy had destroyed the authority of both church and state, and shown that their creed is harmful; and now was the time for laying out the plans of the new and improved society which should be free of all the errors of its predecessor As Taine says, this was done on a mathematical system. Man, they said, was a reasonable being, who disliked pain and was fond of pleasure, capable of reasoning and of acquiring moral ideas ; all should be equal before the law, for equality may certainly be predicated of these shadowy creatures of the brain; all, too, will be led by natural instincts to respect the laws they have themselves made, and to obey the magistrates they have themselves chosen. We all know these theories and the reasoning which seems to hold them together; even the French Revolution, which, to state it mildly, showed that man is not all reason, has left a good deal of life in these notions yet.
In France this philosophy gained great success; in England, as is well known, its march was less triumphant. Taine finds that this difference is due to the brilliant social life of France, which made of philosophy a means of enjoyment, a fashionable amusement, while across the Channel the philosopher was buried in books and took as little interest in the gay world as that took in him. In drawing the picture of the way it spread in France, Taine has added to the interest of his book, but it may be doubted whether he has fully expressed one of the marked peculiarities of his fellow - countrymen which most strongly strikes a foreigner. The French in the last century, as well as some of their descendants in the present, built the world over again on paper, and were perfectly satisfied with their work. The English had practical experience of the difficulty of getting stubborn material to assent to everything that was said to them; they knew how hard it was to persuade ignorant or prejudiced men to agree with them; but their French contemporaries were without knowledge of their fellow-creatures except as they met them in a salon, where wit was occupied in detecting inconsistency in the theory when wisdom would have distrusted the theory in proportion to its smoothness. In fact, even now France is the country where theories not only are made but where they are tested, and that is what makes it so interesting a country to watch and study, and so important in our civilization. Then, too, atheism was rife there early in the last century, and became as much a matter of fashion as any affectation in dress; that was one of the earliest signs of what was to come. After this came the spirit of questioning the wisdom of the government; the gentler reforms had their day ; it became a mark of distinction to be interested in political, financial, agricultural matters: these were the first tokens of what was later to appear as a remodeling of society. Just before the Revolution everything seemed to promise for the best. As Taine says, “ The aristocracy was never so deserving of power as when it was just on the point of losing it; the privileged classes were just becoming public men, and were returning to their duty ; ” and he gives many instances of this. “ The nobility of Clermont in Beauvoisis orders its deputies ' to ask first of all an explicit declaration of the rights appertaining to all men.’ The nobility of Mantes and Meulan affirms that ‘ the principles of politics are as absolute as those of morals, since both are based on reason/ That of Rheims asks that ' the king he entreated to order the destruction of the Bastile/” Such sentiments were often applauded by delegates of the clergy and nobility, and were greeted with tears. “ They take it for granted that man, especially the man of the people, is good ; how could they suppose that he could wish ill to those who wish him well ? ” And they not only wished him well, they often did deeds of kindness; but it was too late. Long years of ill-treatment had filled the souls of the people with hatred; philosophy, which had gradually filtered down to them, had loosened the restraining bands of reverence and respect, and had taught them for what they had to strike ; and the blow was struck. What the horrors of the Revolution were, Taine will probably show in his next volume. We may be sure he will not spare our feelings in his portrayal of its excesses, but there can be no doubt he will make a useful book. Taine’s style is brilliant and picturesque; he sets everything before us in vivid colors, which in time lose their effect because there is no relief; everything is made of equal importance, and it is hard to preserve a due sense of the relative worth of the different parts. It is only fair to say, in addition, that the present book reads like the brief of an advocate of the Revolution ; with all its richness and ability, it does not present a full picture of French life in the last century, and Taine’s example would be a dangerous one for all historians to follow, but once in a while such an impassioned book performs a duty
- Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor. Two Volumes. Boston : James R. Osgood & Co. 1876.↩
- The German Element in the War of American Independence. By GEORGE WASHINGTON GREENE, LL. D. New York : Hurd and Houghton. 1876.↩
- Cyclopœdia of American Literature : embracing Personal and Critical Notices of Authors, and Selections from their Writings, from the Earliest Period to the Present Day ; with Portraits and Autographs, and other Illustrations. By EVERT A. DUYCKINCK and GEORGE L. DUYCKINCK. Edited to date by M. LAIRD SIMONS. In two Volumes. Philadelphia, New York, aud London : T. Ellwood Zell. 1875.↩
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. By MARK TWAIN. Hartford: American Publishing Co. 1876.↩
- The Queen of Hearts. A Dramatic Fantasia. For Private Theatricals. By an Amateur. Cambridge : Charles W. Sever. 1875,↩
- The Orphan of Pimlico, and Other Sketches, Fragments, and Drawings. By WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY. With some notes by ANNE ISABELLA THACKERAY. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott &. Co. 1876.↩
- Life of William Earl of Shelburne, afterwards First Marquis of Lansdowne, with Extracts from his Papers and Correspondence. By LORD EDMOND FITSMAURICE. Vol. I. 1737-1766.↩
- Christ and Humanity. With a Review Historical and Critical of the Doctrine of Christ’s Person. By HENRY M. GOODWIN. New York; Harper and Brothers. 1875.↩
- Rocks Ahead; or, The Warnings of Cassandra. By W. R. GHEG, author of Enigmas of Life, Literary and Social Judgments, etc. Boston : James R. Os good & Co. 1875.↩
- All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moeller’s, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.↩
- Les Origines de la France Contemporaine. (Volume I.) L’Ancien Régime. Par H. TAINE. Paris: Hachette. 1875.↩