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mirable balance. He is now sitting opposite to me ON THE BAG OF SILVER, forty pounds (it must be dreadfully hard), writing to Boulogne.
Best love to Mamie and Katie, and dear Plorn, and all the boys left when this comes to Gad's Hill; also to my dear good Anne, and her little woman. Ever affectionately.
The fame of these readings speedily reached the United States, and Dickens was repeatedly importuned and entreated to pay us a professional visit. He held out in his refusal to extend his travels so far until, in 1867, the representations as to the enormous monetary harvest he might expect to reap here overcame his resolution, and on November 19th of that year he landed once more upon our shores. A considerable portion of the second volume is filled with vivid descriptions of his readings in the various Eastern cities; but the scenes themselves can hardly have faded as yet from the popular mind, and it will be more interesting, perhaps, to learn how far the impressions received during the earlier visit were modified during the later one. Between the two visits, the impetuous author had evidently acquired discretion, even if he had not changed his opinions, and there are only two paragraphs in the later correspondence that can be set over against the long letter of 1842. In a letter written from the Parker House, Boston, under date of January 4, 1868, he says:
There are two apparently irreconcilable contrasts here. Down below in this hotel every night are the bar-loungers, dram-drinkers, drunkards, swaggerers, loafers, that one might find in a Boucicault play. Within half an hour is Cambridge, where a delightful domestic life-simple, self-respectful, cordial, and affectionate-is seen in an admirable aspect. All New England is primitive and puritanical. All about and around it is a puddle of mixed human mud, with no such quality in it. Perhaps I may in time sift out some tolerably intelligible whole, but I certainly have not done so yet. It is a good sign, maybe, that it all seems immensely more difficult to understand than it was when I was here before.
In another letter, addressed to Mr. Macready under date of March 21, 1868, he says:
You would find the general aspect of America and Americans decidedly much improved. You would find immeasurably greater consideration and respect for your privacy than of old. You would find a steady change for the better everywhere, except (oddly enough) in the railroads generally, which seem to have stood still, while everything else has moved. But there is an exception westward. There the express trains have now a very delightful carriage called a "" drawing-room car," literally a series of little private drawing-rooms, with sofas and a table
in each, opening out of a little corridor. In each, too, is a large plate-glass window, with which you can do as you like. As you pay extra for this luxury, it may be regarded as the first move toward two classes of passengers.
On the whole, it is evident that Dickens retained his insular prejudices to the last, and that in spite of the enthusiasm which he aroused and the kindnesses which he experienced—he never really liked either America or the Americans. From the hour of his landing he was counting the days until his return voyage should begin; and this fact lends an additional pathos to the knowledge that his sufferings while here from "true American catarrh," as he facetiously calls it, so weakened his constitution as to precipitate the attack that ended his life only two
A few other letters must be quoted as illustrating phases of Dickens's character that have not yet been touched upon. Here is a most characteristic one, in which he defends and justifies the first of those numerous attacks which he made in his novels upon religious cant:
[To Mr. David Dickson.]
1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, YORK GATE, REGENT'S PARK, May 10, 1843. SIR Permit me to say, in reply to your letter, that you do not understand the intention (I dare say the fault is mine) of that passage in the "Pickwick of "the Shepherd," and of this and every other Papers" which has given you offense. The design allusion to him, is, to show how sacred things are degraded, vulgarized, and rendered absurd when persons who are utterly incompetent to teach the commonest things take upon themselves to expound such mysteries, and how, in making mere cant phrases of divine words, these persons miss the
spirit in which they had their origin. I have seen a great deal of this sort of thing in many parts of England, and I never knew it lead to charity or
Whether the great Creator of the world and the creature of his hands, molded in his own image, be quite so opposite in character as you believe, is a question which it would profit us little to discuss.
I like the frankness and candor of your letter, and thank you for it. That every man who seeks heaven must be born again, in good thoughts of his Maker, I sincerely believe. That it is expedient for every hound to say so in a certain snuffling form of words, to which he attaches no good meaning, I do not believe. I take it, there is no difference between us. Faithfully yours.
The following extract from a letter to Mr. Macready (written in 1853) testifies to that sturdy faith in the people which was one of the dominating sentiments of Dickens's life. It refers to an
I know you would have been full of sympathy and approval if you had been present at Birmingham, and that you would have concurred in the tone I tried to take about the eternal duties of the arts to the people. I took the liberty of putting the court and that kind of thing out of the question, and recognizing nothing but the arts and the people. The more we see of life and its brevity, and the world and its varieties, the more we know that no exercise of our abilities in any art, but the addressing of it to the great ocean of humanity in which we are drops, and not to by-ponds (very stagnant) here and there, ever can or ever will lay the foundations of an endurable retrospect.
address which he had just previously delivered at such a collection. It was written in reply to a Birmingham: letter from Mr. Makeham remonstrating against of "Edwin Drood": a "figure of speech" used in the tenth chapter
This is from a letter to Mr. Charles Knight defending "Hard Times" against some strictures which the latter had made upon it:
My satire is against those who see figures and averages, and nothing else-the representatives of the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time -the men who, through long years to come, will do more to damage the real useful truths of political economy than I could do (if I tried) in my whole life; the addled heads who would take the average of cold in the Crimea during twelve months as a reason for clothing a soldier in nankeens on a night when he would be frozen to death in fur, and who would comfort the laborer in traveling twelve miles a day to and from his work, by telling him that the average distance of one inhabited place from another in the whole area of England is not more than four miles. Bah! What have you to do with these?
The last letter of all-written less than an hour before the fatal stroke ended for ever the labors of that teeming brain and prolific pen-is in a peculiar degree appropriate as the close of
GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, KENT, Wednesday Night, June, 1870. DEAR SIR: It would be quite inconceivable to me-but for your letter-that any reasonable reader could possibly attach a scriptural reference to a passage in a book of mine, reproducing a much-abused social figure of speech, impressed with all sorts of service, on all sorts of inappropriate occasions, without the faintest connection of it with its original source. I am truly shocked to find that any reader can make the mistake.
I have always striven in my writings to express veneration for the life and lessons of our Saviour;
because I feel it; and because I rewrote that history for my children-every one of whom knew it from having it repeated to them-long before they could read, and almost as soon as they could speak.
But I have never made proclamation of this from the house-tops.
JOHN M. MAKEHAM, ESQ.
The selections which we have made from the "Letters" will probably appear somewhat desultory and altogether inadequate; but then the letters themselves are desultory in subject, and we have not aimed to do more than indicate their quality and variety. Taken as a whole, they portray with wonderful vividness and fidelity nearly all possible phases of the author's thoughts and feelings; and it may be confidently said, in conclusion, that there are very few men whose hearts and lives could be laid so bare as in this correspondence and yet leave upon the reader so consistently pleasing an impression.
MATTHEW ARNOLD ON POETRY.
T is both interesting and instructive to hear what masters of a craft may choose to say upon the subject of their art. The interest is rather increased than diminished by the limitation of the imperfection of their view, inseparable from personal inclination, idiosyncrasy of genius, or absorbing previous course of study. When Heinrich exclaims, "There's no lust like to poetry"; when Goethe asserts, "Die kunst ist nur Gestaltung"; when Shelley writes, "Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the lan, 1879.
happiest and best minds," we feel in each of these utterances-too partial to express a universal truth, too profound to be regarded as a merely casual remark-the dominating bias and instinctive leanings of a lifetime. If, then, we remember that Mr. Matthew Arnold is equally eminent as a critic and a poet, we shall not be too much surprised to read the following account of poetry given in the preface to his selections from Wordsworth: * "It is important, therefore, to hold fast
"Poems of Wordsworth." Chosen and edited by Matthew Arnold. "Golden Treasury Series," Macmil
ering its loveliness, may be said to judge. The greatest poet is not the poet who has said the best things about life, but he whose work most fully and faithfully reflects life in its breadth and largeness, eliminating what is accidental, trivial, temporary, local, or rendering insignificant details the mirror of the universal by his treatment. He teaches less by what he inculcates than by what he shows; and the truth of Plato's above-mentioned theory is that he may himself be unaware of the far-reaching lessons he communicates. From Shakespeare we could better afford to lose the profound remarks on life in "Timon" or "Troilus and Cressida" than the delineation of Othello's passion. The speeches of Nestor in the "Iliad" are less valuable than the portrait of Achilles; and what Achilles says about fame, heroism, death, and friendship, could be sooner spared than the presentment of his action.
The main thing to keep in mind is this, that the world will very willingly let die in poetry what does not contribute to its intellectual strength and moral vigor. In the long run, therefore, poetry full of matter and moralized wins the day. But it must, before all else, be poetry. The application of the soundest moral ideas, the finest criticism of life, will not save it from oblivion, if it fails in the essential qualities that constitute a work of art. Imagination, or the power to see clearly and to project forcibly; fancy, or the power to flash new light on things familiar, and by their combination to delight the mind with novelty; creative genius, or the power of giving form and substance, life and beauty to the figments of the brain; style, or the power to sustain a flawless and unwavering distinction of utterance; dramatic energy, or the power to make men and women move before us with self-evident reality in fiction; passion, sympathy, enthusiasm, or the power of feeling and communicating feeling, of understanding and arousing emotion; lyrical inspiration, or the power of spontaneous singing-these are among the many elements that go to make up poetry. These, no doubt, are alluded to by Mr. Arnold in the clause referring to "poetic beauty and poetic truth." But it is needful to insist upon them, after having dwelt so long upon the matter and the moral tone of poetry. No sane critic can deny that the possession of one or more of these qualities in any very eminent degree will save a poet from the neglect to which moral revolt or indifference might otherwise condemn him. Ariosto's vulgarity of feeling, Shelley's crude and discordant opinions, Leopardi's overwhelming pessimism, Heine's morbid sentimentality, Byron's superficiality and cynicism, sink to nothing beneath the saving virtues of imagination, lyrical inspiration, poetic style, humor, intensity, and sweep of pas
sion. The very greatest poets of the world have combined all these qualities, together with that grand humanity which confers upon them immortal freshness. Of Homer, Pindar, Sophocles, Æschylus, Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare, Molière, Goethe, it is only possible to say that one or other element of poetic achievement has been displayed more eminently than the rest, that one or other has been held more obviously in abeyance, when we come to distinguish each great master from his peers. But lesser men may rest their claims to immortality upon slighter merits; and among these merits it will be found impossible to exclude what we call form, style, and the several poetic qualities above enumerated. .
The final test of greatness in a poet is his adequacy to human nature at its best; his feeling for the balance of sense, emotion, will, intellect in moral harmony; his faculty for regarding the whole of life, and representing it in all its largeness. If this be true, dramatic and epical poetry must be the most enduring, the most instructive monuments of creative genius in verse. These forms bring into quickest play and present in fullest activity the many-sided motives of our life on earth. Yet the lyrist has a sphere scarcely second in importance to that of the epic and dramatic poets. The thought and feeling he expresses may, if his nature be adequate, embrace the whole gamut of humanity; and if his expression be sufficient, he may give the form of universality to his experience, creating magic mirrors wherein all men shall see their own hearts reflected and glorified without violation of reality or truth.
J. A. SYMONDS (Fortnightly Review).
THAT no artist has so much actual enjoyment of success as the actor, and that no fame is so evanescent as his, has been generally accepted as a truth. But only the first part of the saying is altogether true; the last part will, at least, bear modification. Were it entirely and unfailingly true, neither actors nor spectators would be beset by traditions, no fulfilled renown would interpose its laurels between the student-artist and the dramatist's creation, or stir the air about his audience with the distant echo of its trumpets. On the contrary, the traditions of the great actors of the past are always with us--and, although we can not point to handiwork of theirs in stone or on canvas, they are the most interesting of memories, because the aiguillon of curiosity and question pricks all discussion of them. Did Garrick give this passage so? Did the Siddons make
that point? And what was Edmund Kean's reading? They come to the play with us, when it is a great play, and the actors are great actors, or approaching greatness, and is not that the survival of fame? Of all plays, "The Merchant of Venice" is that one which the spectator would, we fancy, go to see with the "historical" association most strongly in his mind, and also that one in which the actors of the great parts would be most pressed and overshadowed by the tradition of their predecessors. That was, however, no "historical" Shylock which Mr. Irving set before the closely-packed audience assembled on last Saturday evening to see Shakespeare's finest comedy put upon the stage of the Lyceum as it has certainly never previously been put upon any stage, and acted as it has not often been acted. Probably, to every mind, except that of Shakespeare himself-in which all potential interpretations of his Shylock, as all potential interpretations of his Hamlet, must have had a place the complex image which Mr. Irving presented to a crowd more or less impressed with notions of their own concerning the Jew whom Shakespeare drew, was entirely novel and unexpected; for here is a man whom none can despise, who can raise emotions both of pity and of fear, and make us Christians thrill with a retrospective sense of shame. Here is a usurer indeed, but no more like the customary modern rendering of that extortionate lender of whom Bassanio borrowed "moneys", than the merchants dei Medici were like pawnbrokers down Whitechapel way; a usurer indeed, and full of "thrift," which is rather the protest of his disdain and disgust for the sensuality and frivolity of the ribald crew, out of whom he makes his “Christian ducats," than of his own sordidness; a usurer indeed, but, above all, a Jew! One of the race accursed in the evil days in which he lives, but chosen of Jehovah in the olden time wherein lie his pride, and belief, and hope-the best of that hope being revenge on the enemies of himself and all his tribe, now wearing the badge of sufferance, revenge, rendered by the stern tenets of a faith which teaches that " the Lord, his God, is a jealous God, taking vengeance," not only lawful, but holy. A Jew, in intellectual faculties, in spiritual discipline, far in advance of the time and the country in which he lives, shaken with strong passion sometimes, but for the most part fixed in a deep and weary disdain. He is an old man, but not very aged, so that the epithet "old" used to him is not to be mistaken for anything but the insolence it means; a widower - his one pathetic mention of his "Leah" was as beautiful a touch as ever has been laid upon the many-stringed lyre of human feeling the father of a daughter who amply
justifies his plain mistrust of her, an odious, immodest, dishonest creature, than whom Shakespeare drew no more unpleasant character, and to whom one always grudges the loveliest love-lines that ever were spoken, especially when it is borne in mind that the speaker, Lorenzo, was at best a receiver of stolen goods. Mr. Irving's Shylock is a being quite apart from his surroundings. When he hesitates and questions with himself why he should go forth to sup with those who would scorn him if they could, but can only ridicule him, while the very stealthy intensity of scorn of them is in him, we ask, too, why should he? He would hardly be more out of place in the “wilderness of monkeys," of which he makes his sad and quaint comparison, when Tubal tells him of that last coarse proof of the heartlessness of his daughter "wedded with a Christian "—the bartering of his Leah's ring. What mean, pitiful beings they all are, poetical as is their language, and fine as are the situations of the play, in comparison with the forlorn, resolute, undone, baited, betrayed, implacable old man, who, having personified his hatred of the race of Christians in Antonio, whose odiousness to him, in the treble character of a Christian, a sentimentalist, and a reckless speculator, is less of a mere caprice than he explains it to be! He reasons calmly with the dullards in the court concerning this costly whim of his, yet with a disdainful doubt of the justice that will be done him; standing almost motionless, his hands hanging by his sides-they are an old man's hands, feeble, except when passion turns them into griping claws, and then that passion subsides into the quivering of age, which is like palsy—his gray, worn face, lined and hollow, mostly averted from the speakers who move him not, except when a gleam of murderous hate, sudden and deadly, like the flash from a pistol, goes over it, and burns for a moment in the tired, melancholy eyes! Such a gleam there came when Shylock answered Bassanio's palliative commonplace with
"Hates any man the thing he would not kill?" At the wretched gibes of Gratiano, and the amiable maundering of the Duke, the slow, cold smile, just parting the lips and touching their curves as light touches polished metal, passes over the lower part of the face, but does not touch the eyes or lift the brow. This is one of Mr. Irving's most remarkable facial effects, for he can pass it through all the phases of a smile, up to surpassing sweetness. Is it a fault of the actors or of ours that this Shylock is a being so absolutely apart that it is impossible to picture him as a part of the life of Venice, that we can not think of him "on the Rialto" before Bassanio wanted "moneys," and Antonio had "plunged,"
like any London city-man in the pre-" depression" times, that he absolutely begins to exist with the "Three thousand ducats-well!" These are the first words uttered by the picturesque personage to whom the splendid and elaborate scene, whose every detail we have previously been eagerly studying, becomes merely the background. He is wonderfully weird, but his weirdness is quite unlike that of any other of the impersonations in which Mr. Irving has accustomed us to that characteristic; it is impressive, never fantastic-sometimes solemn and terrible. There was a moment when, as he stood in the last scene with folded arms and bent head, the very image of exhaustion, a victim, entirely convinced of the justice of his cause, he looked like a Span ish painter's “Ecce Homo." The likeness passed in an instant, for the next utterance is:
In the opinion of the present writer, his Shylock is Mr. Irving's finest performance, and his final exit is its best point. The quiet shrug, the glance of ineffable, unfathomable contempt at the exultant booby Gratiano, who, having got hold of a good joke, worries it like a puppy with a bone, the expression of defeat in every limb and feature, the deep, gasping sigh as he passes slowly out, and the crowd rush from the court to hoot and howl at him outside, make up an effect which must be seen to be comprehended. Perhaps some students of Shakespeare, reading the Jew's story to themselves, and coming to the conclusion that there was more sentiment than legality in that queer, confused, quibbling court, where judge and advocate were convertible terms, may have doubted whether the utterer of the most eloquent and famous satirical appeal in all dramatic literature, whose scornful detestation of his Christian foes rose mountains high over what they held to be his ruling passion, drowning avarice fathom-deep in hatred, would have gratified those enemies by useless railing, and an exhibition of impotent rage. But there is no "tradition" for this rendering, in which Mr. Irving puts in action for his Shylock one sense of Hamlet's words—"The rest is silence!" The impression made by this consummate stroke of art and touch of nature upon the vast audience was most remarkable; the thrill that passed over the house was a sensation to have witnessed and shared.
Although Mr. Irving sinks the usurer in the Jew in a quite novel manner, he does not do so too entirely, departing from Shakespeare's intention arbitrarily; he only reverses the general estimate of the intensity of Shylock's two master
passions. Both are present always, and his last effort to clutch the gold when the revenge has escaped his grasp, his cunning, business-like Give me my principal, and let me go," is an admirable point. Throughout the entire performance the actor's best qualities are at their best, and his characteristic faults are hardly apparent. The picturesqueness of his appearance is largely assisted by the grave, flowing robe and shawl-girdle which he wears; his self-restraint fails not before his Christian foes; Shylock's passionate agony is in soliloquy, or when only Tubal, a Jew, like him, who understands him and their common holy faith, and what dogs these Christians are, as well as "Father Abraham" himself understands it, is with him. In the scene with Tubal, the sentence, “The curse never fell upon our nation till now-I never felt it till now!" is as finely delivered as Mr. Irving's "I know, I know-I was a dauphin myself once,” in his "Louis XI." There was a fine effect-and it, too, thrilled the house-in the third scene of the first act. In the striking of the terrible bargain between Antonio and the Jew, Shylock touches the Christian lightly on the breast; Antonio recoils, and Shylock, without breaking his discourse, bows low, in apologetic deprecation of his own daring and the merchant's indignation, while his face is alight for an instant with a gleam of hatred and derision truly devilish.
All those liberties which Mr. Irving has taken with the text of the play are not only allowable, but welcome. It is to be wished that his good taste had suggested just one more alterationonly one, for we suppose the heavy fooling of Launcelot Gobbo must remain, like those detestable rhymes in "Hamlet," on pain of accusation of treason against Shakespeare, who was, no doubt, proud of his bad puns. That one is the omission of Gratiano's horrid jest when Shylock is whetting his knife on the edge of his shoe"Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, thou mak'st thy knife keen." Could not this flagrant vulgarity be discarded?
Of Miss Ellen Terry's Portia, it is almost superfluous to speak, for it has been long and well known to be of an excellence without rival or compeer. Probably no more beautiful sight than the "casket scenes" has ever been beheld on any stage, with this consummate actress, in her golden-hued, gold-fringed, satin robes, with her beautiful face, her sweet, flexible voice, her graceful, exquisitely appropriate movements and gestures, her sweet, womanly perplexity, girlish fun, swiftly growing passion, and gracious wifely surrender, amid surroundings which are almost ideally perfect.