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these things as great; but the word sits better on their there is no telling how many Miltons have been kept lips than on ours.
We have heard not a little during the last half-year of England's essential friendliness toward America and pride in her. Is it too much to ask that this good will be put to the simple test of a thoughtful reading of Mr. Bryce's American Commonwealth » and a candid study of the life of Lincoln? Or if this seem too plain and prosaic fare for palates long tickled by the high-spiced dainties of Captain Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope, we may at least suggest that our English friends make better acquaintance with Lowell. In the world of letters he is as typical an American as Lincoln was in the world of politics. Neither sacrificed his sturdy and consistent Americanism to the demands of personal or party policy. Each was quick to discern the distinction between accident and essence in American life. Both represented a great multitude of their most influential countrymen in the depth and earnestness of their convictions, and in the possession of that kindly humor which purges conviction of fanaticism and moroseness. When Lowell made Jonathan say to John in reference to the Trent » affair,
We give the critters back, John,
he felt that the reason assigned was quite sufficient to justify the act, not merely to the world at large, but to the mass of his excited and sorely tried countrymen. And when the voices of wise and sober men in our colleges and churches were raised in the difficult juncture of last winter, demanding a careful and dispassionate consideration of a perplexing question in order that the right might be discovered and done, it was a characteristic assertion of the will of law-abiding and selfrespecting America. No one can hope to understand American life who shuts his eyes to the controlling influence of this conservative element, and keeps them open, as too many of our English visitors do, merely to the grotesque, the crude, and the bizarre among us.
A Plea for the Poets.
THE poets have always had a hard time of it, not only because they often beg their bread, and always learn in suffering what they teach in song, but because they receive treatment so unequal, being abused until they conquer recognition, and then worshiped as gods. Perhaps there is a good reason for this. There is an instinctive feeling that the poet is divine; if he is a pretender he should be put down, if he is genuine he is to be adored. But he would, upon the whole, be happier, and perhaps more productive, if at the outset he had somewhat kinder treatment, even if the later recognition were less emphatic. It seems to be regarded as a main function of current criticism to trample poets under foot, and to sweep them out of the way, with utter disregard, not only of generosity, but of economy; for poets come about as do other choice products: there must be many in order to produce one; the whole choir of birds must be suffered to warble in order to secure the nightingale and the lark. It makes one tremble to reflect how narrow an escape from extinction Keats and Wordsworth and Tennyson underwent at the hands of the critics; and
mute by unwise repression of their noble rage.
Just now the process is very active. By an unusual conjunction of events there is hardly a great living English-speaking poet, and we are taking our revenge for this spiritual orphanage by abusing the fledglings and young birds of song (some of whom already pipe melodiously) as though they were to blame for the lack of Shelleys and Brownings. The magazines come in for a full share of this unreasoning censure, because they do not give us monthly an Each and All» or an «Ode to a Water-fowl or a « Locksley Hall.» To sneer at « magazine poetry,» as it is called in the cant of the day, is virtually to sneer at American poetry in general, which always has found its channel largely through the monthly periodicals and their congeners. To take this magazine as a familiar example,-and THE CENTURY gives more space to verse than any other similar publication,-a careful estimate covering two years shows that five sixths of our contributors have been sufficiently serious in the pursuit of the art to have collected their metrical work into volumes. A review of current American magazine poetry will show, if not great qualities, at least a fine sense of rhythm, and much delicacy, subtlety, intensity, and range. These are qualities to be encouraged, and it is only to be regretted that in these pages the limitations of space do not make practicable a larger hospitality. In no other way can the great poet be brought forward; all the birds must be heard in order to reveal the one supreme singer. Moreover, there is much cheer in the full chorus, and if the single clear note of the robin were hushed we should feel a loss.
We are not entering a protest against criticism, nor asking that it shall abate its high function of intelligent judgment; but we deprecate the discouragement which is cast upon poets and publishers of poetry by the tone of contempt with which the poetry of the day is received. The general attitude is destructive; it should be fostering. The critics and the public do not know what they are doing by discouraging the production of poetry: it is not only like opposing the cultivation of flowers; it is like trampling down wheat, for poetry is the bread of intellectual and spiritual life.
Hardly a better service could be rendered to literature at present than to revive a knowledge of Shelley's Defense of Poetry,» a work that has been undertaken by Professor A. S. Cook of Yale University, in a thin volume well packed with judicious comment. There are, perhaps, better defenses of poetry than this of Shelley's, but it has an indefinable charm as well as cogency of statement. It is a plea for the value of poetry. As with all other values, the condition of its production and the measure of its worth should be thoroughly understood.
There are many things that we profess to value which are in reality poetry, or draw their charm or power from poetry. We are now redeeming religion from dogma to ethics; but we must learn that religion is also poetry, because it is truer than dogma, and is the soul of ethics, and holds them both, as it were, in a solution of moral beauty. Dr. Bushnell put the matter in a nutshell, and also into a dozen stout volumes, in the title of one of his essays, «Our Gospel a Gift to the Imagination.» And Shelley is on the track of the same thought in his remark that a man, to be greatly good, must imagine
greatly and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another, and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.» It is to the poets we must go for our rendering of religion. They are the true theologians, from Dante down to Tennyson and Browning and Whittier, and when the poets cease to sing, religion will perish-if it does not live in the echoes of their songs.
In the same way education and culture lean on poetry. Here also Shelley says a good word: «Poetry enlarges the circumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight, which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their own nature all other thoughts, and which form new intervals and interstices, whose void forever craves fresh food,»-a remark which puts the poetic function at the root of all growth in knowledge, and falls in with his sayings, that all high poetry is infinite. Veil after veil may be withdrawn, and the inmost naked beauty of the meaning never be exposed,» and that «it is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.>>
In like manner poetry underlies history and government. No one has said a truer or profounder thing of Homer than Shelley in his remark that «he embodied the ideal perfection of his age in human character,» the very office and highest achievement of history. And as for government, Shelley translates the saying of Andrew Fletcher, that « if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation,» into the assertion that «poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, because they measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit,>> and are thus the very «spirit of the age,» which dominates society and issues in laws.
The part that poetry has played in public events is indeed a matter of familiar knowledge. Aside from the distinctive song-writing which animates all patriotic hearts, one recalls, to cite but a single instance, the glowing work of that band of poets who gave life and power to the anti-slavery cause. Lowell's philippics against the spurious statesmanship of the spoils system have not yet lost their occasion nor their animating force. Such large utterance » realizes what Milton had in mind in the concluding lines of his sonnet, «To the Lord General Fairfax »:
O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand (For what can war but endless war still breed?) Till truth and right from violence be freed,
And public faith clear'd from the shameful brand Of public fraud. In vain doth valor bleed,
While avarice and rapine share the land.
It is time to take to heart, these suggestions, and to open our minds a little more widely to these candidates and aspirants for the highest place the world can offer and the greatest service it can require. They can forego their hopes and miss possible fame, but society cannot go without what the poets can give, and must give, to save it from the slough of misconceived utility.
"Four Lincoln Conspiracies." A Correction. IN the article with the above title, printed in the April CENTURY, reference was made to Mr. Louis J. Weichmann as having escaped punishment for supposed know
ledge of the plot against President Lincoln, through his services as the most important government witness at the trial of the assassin conspirators.>>
In refutation of the imputation contained in that statement, Mr. Weichmann has referred us to General H. L. Burnett, who was Special Judge Advocate of the commission which tried the conspirators. General Burnett says that Mr. Weichmann at the time was a clerk in the War Department, and, as a college-mate of three years' standing and friend of John H. Surratt, became a boarder in Mrs. Surratt's house nearly three months before Booth's advent there. Mr. Weichmann voluntarily explained his connection with the Surratt household, was at once sent by Secretary Stanton to Canada with the party searching for John H. Surratt, and on his return and during the trial conducted himself like a person innocent of wrong-doing, and willing to state the facts within his knowledge. Also, in a letter dated January 27, 1867, General Burnett said to Mr. Weichmann: «I have always believed that in that trial of Mr. Lincoln's assassins you enacted an honorable and truthful part, and did our struggling country great service.»>
In a letter inclosing copies of other letters from officers connected with the trial, Mr. Weichmann says: <<I was appointed to an honorable position in the government service at Philadelphia on April 15, 1869, which I retained until the first day of October, 1886, when I resigned. During the early part of 1886 I was President of the Civil Service Board in the Philadelphia custom-house. My position was given me not as a reward, but as a measure of justice for what I had been compelled to suffer by reason of my testimony in the conspiracy trials.»
To quote from a few of these letters, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt wrote to Congressman W. D. Kelley on March 30, 1869: «Referring to our conversation this evening in regard to Mr. Louis J. Weichmann, a constituent of yours, I write to say that ever since this young man gave his testimony on the trial of the assassins of the President, he has been subjected to the most malignant proscription and persecution. . . In giving his testimony on that occasion, which I verily believe he did with entire truthfulness, he performed a public duty imposed upon him with a conscientious faithfulness which entitles him to the support of the government, and to the commendation of all loyal and honorable men. He has fine intelligence and culture, and sustains an irreproachable character.»
General Lew Wallace, a member of the commission which tried the conspirators, wrote November 8, 1865: «Friend Weichmann: Please accept my regards and consider me your friend.» General James A. Ekin, another member, wrote, June 7, 1876: «It affords me pleasure to bear testimony to your integrity of character. It was never questioned by me, and you were on several occasions favorably mentioned in conversation both by the late Secretary Stanton and General Joseph Holt. During the memorable trial of the conspirators your testimony was considered by the court as conclusive and clear, and your evidence was regarded as truthful in every particular. It stood the test of crossexamination, and remained unshaken on the record.>> General R. S. Foster, another member, wrote, July 30,
President Lincoln and the Widow of General Helm. THE following appeared in THE CENTURY for December, 1895, under « Appeals to Lincoln's Clemency»: Mr. Lincoln's absolute impartiality when dealing with affairs wherein he was personally interested is well illustrated in the following despatch to a Union general:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
MAJOR-GENERAL BURBRIDGE, Lexington, Ky.:
This despatch is a surprise to me, since I was never arrested and never had any trouble with the United States authorities. The circumstances of the protection paper given to me by President Lincoln were these: I had lost two of my brothers: one was killed at Corinth, the other died at Vicksburg from a wound received at Baton Rouge; at the battle of Chickamauga my husband had fallen. I had accompanied my husband South, and after his death I received from Mr. Lincoln a permit to return to Kentucky under flag of truce. Upon reaching Fort Monroe, a United States officer came on the boat and told me he had orders to require an oath of allegiance to the United States from every one who landed. I asked for permission to proceed to Washington on parole, stating that I would return in case I was called upon to take the oath. I had just left the friends in arms of my husband and brothers, with tears in their eyes and hearts for me in my great bereavement, and they would have felt, if I had taken the oath, that I had deserted them and had not been true to the cause for which my husband had given up his life. My refusal was therefore not bravado.
Soon after my conversation with the officer I was allowed to go on to Washington, and I immediately called on President Lincoln. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln (who
was my half-sister) received me with every sign of affection and kindness. Since I had last seen them they had buried from the White House a little son who had loved me very much; on each side we had had overwhelming sorrow, which caused our meeting to be painful and agitating.
I told Mr. Lincoln my object in coming, explained my position, and stated that I did not intend to embarrass him or make myself conspicuous in any way, in case he allowed me to proceed to my home in Kentucky. I was his guest for several days; when I left he gave me a paper worded to protect me in person and property (except as to slaves), and as I thanked him he said, I have known you all your life, and I never knew you to do a mean thing.>>
After I arrived in Kentucky I was careful that no act or word of mine should make him regret being so considerate of me. Every one was kind to me in Kentucky, irrespective of opinions; and I do not think I made any enemies on account of my opinions. I had no occasion to use the paper except once, when asking a Federal officer to keep his soldiers, who were camped near me, from trespassing upon the grounds and taking our meals as they were cooked from our kitchen, which he did in the kindest manner. It is possible that he reported the fact of the protection paper to General Burbridge, who was his superior officer; and the latter, perhaps, desired orders from President Lincoln as to what he ought to do in case I made myself conspicuous. I was not arrested; I gave no cause; I could never have been so lost to my sense of obligation to President Lincoln. That he did not believe that I had been imprudent is shown by the fact that in March, 1865, under the escort of his son (my nephew), with Mrs. Bernard Pratt, a relative of General Zachary Taylor and General Singleton of Illinois, I was allowed to go South or some private business of my own; but finding it impossible to go farther than Richmond, Virginia, and being advised by friends, I returned to Baltimore, where I had been only a short time when Richmond fell.
Emily Todd Helm.
Remington's "Bronco Buster." "THE CENTURY'S AMERICAN ARTISTS SERIES. (SEE PAGE 265.) A GOOD deal has been said and written about American subjects for American artists, and some fault has been found with such of our painters and sculptors as prefer
to live in foreign lands or to visit them in search of the picturesque when there is so much at home that ought to attract them. While the artist's choice of subject concerns nobody but the artist himself, and all that we may ask of him is that whatever he chooses to interpret shall be well rendered, we may agree with the contention that there is no lack of material to inspire the artist in our native land. To those who delight in things purely American, not as trees, fields, and skies are American, but as scenes of life and manners are, Mr. Remington's Bronco Buster will give much satisfaction.
The cow-man is an American product. He is neither a "greaser nor a peasant. He is not a planter, a mountaineer, a trapper, or a shepherd. When the cowboy undertakes to break in a bucking bronco, he takes upon himself a task that will amply satisfy his desire for excitement, and provide an interesting spectacle for bystanders. In the spirited group modeled by Mr. Remington, the horse, rearing on his hind legs, his body arched, and with his fore legs bent inward from the knees in a fashion that suggests the power of a tightly coiled spring, appears ready to snap forward. The rider, with the bridle-rein in his left hand, one foot out of the stirrup, and his right hand high in the air with the whip in it, is at the crisis of the action. The movement and force of both horse and rider are given with a strength and grasp that impress by their truth at first glance. The group is so good, and its aspect so attractive, that it deserves praise not only for its technical qualities, but also for its power to please those who care as much for subject as for treatment.
Frederic Remington, who before bringing out this excellent piece of character sculpture was most widely known as an illustrator and painter, was born in St. Lawrence County New York, in 1861. He studied drawing for a year in the Yale School of Fine Arts at New
Haven, and went West in 1880. With the exception of this single year of instruction, he has derived all his knowledge from constant observation and study. He has written entertainingly and cleverly of life in the West, as well as illustrated it in his drawings and pictures. Of «The Bronco Buster » he speaks in characteristic fashion: «I have always had a feeling for ‹mud,› and I did that-a long work attended with great difficulties on my part. I propose to do some more, to put the wild life of our West into something that burglar won't have, moth eat, or time blacken. It is a great art and satisfying to me, for my whole feeling is for form.>> William A. Coffin.
The Berthon Napoleon.
THE Berthon portrait of Napoleon I, which appears on page 285 of this number of THE CENTURY, is now published for the first time. It was painted from sittings given to Berthon in 1809, and represents the Emperor at the summit of his career. Although no mention is made of it in any published list of Berthon's works, its authenticity is beyond question. It was given by the artist to his son, George-Théodore Berthon, on the latter's departure from France in 1841, and was by him brought to Canada.
René-Théodore Berthon was a pupil (Lady Morgan says the «favorite pupil ») of David, and the influence of that master is perceptible in his works. He exhibited in all the Salons from 1806 to 1842, and many of his works, notably those painted to commemorate the victories of Napoleon, were executed at the command of the Emperor or of the state. The portrait of Napoleon as emperor is still in the possession of his granddaughters at Toronto. He also painted the portrait of Pauline Bonaparte. He died at Paris in 1859. His son, also an artist, died at Toronto in 1892. H. F. Mackintosh.
IN LIGHTER VEIN
OU will not tell it? Nay, what need?
Low beneath grass and bending weed,
Madeline S. Bridges.
SEEN you down at chu'ch las' night
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
What I mean? Oh, dat 's all right
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
Oh, you 's sma't ez sma't kin be,
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
Guess you thought you 's awful keen-
Nevah min', Miss Lucy;
Say now, honey, wha' 'd he say?
Paul Laurence Dunbar.
The War of the Roses.
"T WAS a brave battle, fought on holy ground.
The cause of all was just one word, said low,
Now Heaven forbid that Lancaster should yield! A moment, and the hosts of York advance;
With their pale pennants all the field grows white. The red flag wavers. Oh, ill-starred mischance! The day is lost, the Red Rose put to flight!
Yet see, a wave of color creeps along!
Closely embattled now the White and Red;
A bloodless battle, crowned with brave defeat,
The Passing of Abraham Shivers.
«I TELL ye, boys, hit hain't often a feller has the chance o' doin' so much good jes by dyin'. Fer 'f Abe Shivers air gone-shorely gone-the rest of us-every durn one of us—air a-goin' to be saved. Fer Abe Shivers-you hain't heerd tell o' Abe? Well, you must be a stranger in these mountains o' Kaintuck, shore.
"I don't know, stranger, as Abe ever was borned; nobody in these mountains knows it 'f he was. The fust time I ever heerd tell o' Abe he was a-hollerin' fer his rights one mawnin' at daylight, endurin' the war, jes outside o' ole Tom Perkins' door on Fryin' Pan. Abe was left thar by some home-gyard, I reckon. Well, nobody air ever turned out'n doors in these mountains, as you know, an' Abe got his rights that mawnin', an' he 's been a-gittin' 'em ever sence. Tom already had a houseful, but 'f any feller got the bigges' hunk o' corn-bread, that feller was Abe; an' ef any feller got a whalin', hit was n't Abe.
«Abe tuk to lyin' right naterally-looked like-afore he could talk. Fact is, Abe nuver could do nothin' but jes whisper, an' I've al'ays said the Lawd-jes to even things up-fixed Abe so he could n't lie on more 'n one side o' the river at a time. Still Abe could manage to send a lie furder with that rattlin' whisper than ole Tom could with that big horn o' hisn what tells the boys the revenoos air comin' up Fryin' Pan.
Did n't take Abe long to get to braggin' an' drinkin' an' naggin' an' hectorin'-everything, 'mos', 'cept fightin'. Nobody ever drawed Abe Shivers into a fight. I don't know as for that he was afeerd; looked like Abe was a-havin' sech a tarnation good time with his devilmint he jes did n't want to run no risk o' havin' hit stopped. An' sech devilmint!
«The boys was a-goin' up the river one night to git ole Dave Hall fer trickin' Rosie Branham into evil. Some feller goes ahead an' tells ole Dave they's comin'. Hit
was Abe. Some feller finds a streak o' ore on ole Tom
Perkins' land, an' racks his jinny down to town, an' tells a furriner thar, an' Tom comes might' nigh sellin' the land fer nothin'. Now Tom raised Abe, but, jes the same, the feller was Abe.
"One night somebody guides the revenoos in on Hellfer-Sartain, an' they cuts up four stills. Hit was Abe. The same night a feller slips in among the revenoos while they 's asleep, and cuts off their hosses' manes an' tails-muled every durned critter uv 'em. Stranger, hit was Abe. An' as fer women-folks-well, Abe was the
ill-favoredest feller I ever see, an' he could n't talk; still, Abe's whisperin' come in jes as handy as any feller's settin' up; so 'f ever you seed a man with a Winchester a-lookin' fer the feller who had cut him out, stranger, he was a-lookin' fer Abe.
«Somebody tells Harve Hall, up thar at a dance on Hell-fer-Sartain one Christmas night, that Rich Harp had said somep'n ag'in' him an' Nance Osborn. An' somebody tells Rich that Harve had said somep'n ag'in Nance an' him. Hit was one an' the same feller, stranger, an' the feller was Abe. Well, while Rich an' Harve was a-gittin' well, somebody runs off with Nance. Hit was Abe. Then Rich an' Harve jes draws straws fer a feller. Stranger, they drawed fer Abe. Hit 's purty hard to believe that Abe air gone, 'cept that Rich Harp an' Harve Hall don't never draw no straws fer nothin';
but 'f by any kind o' grace Abe air gone, why, as I was a-sayin', the rest of us air a-goin' to be saved, shore. Fer Abe 's gone fust, an' ef thar 's only one Jedgemint Day, the Lawd 'll nuver git to us.»
John Fox, Jr.
"I LOVE to look in the mirror,» remarked Vanity. «Yes; but you never see yourself,» said Truth.
slowly on a pleasant path. I always stumble when the « WHY do you limp?» asked a maiden, as Love walked road is smooth, he answered.
MISERY sought an abode. She chose an empty heart.
« WHERE,» asked one woman of another, «is the best
place to keep a man's heart?» «Away from his head,» she replied.
and again. «I would have had to listen to shrieks,» said A BIRD sang a beautiful song, which was echoed again the bird, «had I first uttered them.»
A WOMAN battled with a man. He disarmed her. «I am now at your mercy,» said the man.
« WHY can't I break the chains you weave?» asked Love of a clever woman. « Because I make them so light, she answered.
"WHAT helped you over the great obstacles of life? » they asked a successful man. <<The other obstacles,» he answered.
«Do you not regret the follies of the past?» asked a monk of an aged sinner. «Yes-that they are of the past, he answered.
WHY are you not more glad to see me?» asked Pleasure of one of her favorites. «Because you call so often,» answered the spoiled girl.
THE DE VINNE PRESS, NEW YORK.
E. Scott O'Connor.