Puslapio vaizdai

even supposing you get the right sow by the ear fect reviews, either good or bad, have upon his -or rather, the wild boar with the “raging circulation. Those who like his works continue tooth”—what can it profit you? It is not like to read them, no matter what evil is written of that difference of opinion between yourself and them; and those who don't like them are not to twelve of your fellow countrymen which may be persuaded (alas !) to change their minds, have such fatal results. You are not an Adonis though his latest effort should be described as (except in outward form, perhaps), that you can though it had dropped from the heavens. I be ripped up with his tusk. His hard words do could give some statistics upon this point not a not break your bones. If they are uncalled for, little surprising, but statistics involve comparitheir cruelty, believe me, can hurt only your sons—which are odious. As for fiction, its sucvanity. While it is just possible—though indeed cess depends more upon what Mrs. Brown says in your case in the very highest degree improb- to Mrs. Jones as to the necessity of getting that able—that the gentleman may have been right. charming book from the library while there is

In the good old times we are told that a yet time, than on all the reviews in Christendom. buffet from the hand of an Edinburgh or Quar

“ O Fame ! if I e'er took delight in thy praises, terly Reviewer would lay a young author dead at his feet. If it was so, he must have been

'Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases

Than to see the bright eyes of those dear ones disnaturally very deficient in vitality. It certainly

cover. did not kill Byron, though it was a knock-down

They thought that I was not unworthy"blow; he rose from that combat with earth, like Antæus, all the stronger for it. The story of its of a special messenger to Mr. Mudie's. having killed Keats, though embalmed in verse, Heaven bless them! for, when we get old and is apocryphal ; and if such blows were not fatal stupid, they still stick by one, and are not to be in those times, still less so are they nowadays. seduced from their allegiance by any blaring of On the other hand, if authors are difficult to slay, trumpets, or clashing of cymbals, that heralds a it is infinitely harder work to give them life by new arrival among the story-tellers. what the doctors term “artificial respiration "- On the other hand, as respects his first venpuffing. The amount of breath expended in the ture, the author is very dependent upon what the days of “the Quarterlies” in this hopeless task critics say of him. It is the conductor, you know would have moved windmills. Not a single (I wouldn't call him a “cad,” even in fun, for ten favorite of those critics-selected, that is, from thousand pounds), on whom, to return to our favoritism, and apart from merit—now survives. metaphor, the driver is dependent for the patronThey failed even to obtain immortality for the age of his vehicle, and even for the announcewriters in whom there was really something of ment of its existence. A good review is still the genius, but whom they extolled beyond their de- very best of advertisements to a new author; serts. Their pet idol, for example, was Samuel and even a bad one is better than no review at Rogers. And who reads Rogers's poems now ? all. Indeed, I have heard it whispered that a reWe remember something about them, and that view which speaks unfavorably of a work of ficis all; they are very literally “ Pleasures of Mem- tion, upon moral grounds, is of very great use to

it This, however, the same gossips say, is mainAnd if these things are true of the past, how ly confined to works of fiction written by female much more so are they of the present! I ven- authors for readers of their own sex"

-" by ladies ture to think, in spite of some voices to the con- for ladies," as a feminine “Pall Mall Gazette" trary, that criticism is much more honest than it might describe itself. used to be: certainly less influenced by political Nor would I be understood to say that even feeling, and by the interests of publishing houses; a well-established author is not affected by what more temperate, if not more judicious, and—in the critics may say of him; I only state that his the higher literary organs, at least—unswayed circulation is not-albeit they may make his very by personal prejudice. But the result of even blood curdle. I have a popular writer in my the most favorable notices upon a book is now mind, who never looks at a newspaper unless it but small. I can remember when a review in comes to him by a hand he can trust, for fear his the “Times " was calculated by the “Row” to eyes should light upon an unpleasant review. sell an entire edition. Those halcyon days—if His argument is this : “I have been at this work halcyon days they were—are over. People read for the last twelve months, thinking of little else, books for themselves now; judge for themselves; and putting my best intelligence (which is conand buy only when they are absolutely compelled, siderable) at its service. Is it humanly probable and can not get them from the libraries. In the that a reviewer who has given his mind to it, for case of an author who has already secured a a less number of hours, can suggest anything in public, it is indeed extraordinary what little ef- the way of improvement worthy of my consid


eration ? I am supposing him to be endowed with the tongs, when nobody is looking, and with ability and actuated by good faith ; that he make yourself very miserable; or you buy it, gohas not failed in my own profession, and is not ing home in the cab, and, having spoiled your jealous of my popularity; yet even thus, how is appetite for dinner with it, tear it up very small, it possible that his opinion can be of material and throw it out of window; and of course you advantage to me? If favorable, it gives me plea- swear you have never seen it. sure because it flatters my amour propre, and I One forgives the critic—perhaps—but never am even not quite sure that it does not afford a the good-natured friend. It is always possible stimulating encouragement; but, if unfavorable, I -to the wise man—to refrain from reading the own it gives me considerable annoyance. [This lucubration of the former, but he can not avoid is his euphemistic phrase to express the feeling the latter, which brings me to the main subject of being in a hornets' nest without his clothes of this paper—the Critic on the Hearth. One on.) On the other hand, if the critic is a mere can be deaf to the voice of the public hireling, hireling, or a young gentleman from the univer- but it is impossible to shut one's ears to the prisity, who is trying his 'prentice hand at a lowish vate communications of one's friends and family rate of remuneration upon a veteran like myself, —all meant for our good, no doubt, but which how still more idle would it be to regard his are nevertheless insufferable. views !"

In Miss Martineau's recently published autoAnd it appears to me that there is really some- biography there is a passage expressing her surthing in these arguments. As regards the latter prise that, whereas in all other cases there is a cerpart of them, by-the-by, I had the pleasure of tain modest reticence in respect to other people's seeing my own last immortal story spoken of in business when it is of a special kind, the profesan American magazine—the “ Atlantic Monthly” sion of literature is made an exception. As -as the work of “a bright and prosperous young there is no one but imagines that he can poke a author.” The critic (Heaven bless his young fire and drive a gig, so every one believes he can heart, and give him a happy Whitsuntide !) evi- write a book, or at all events (like that blasphedently imagined it to be my first production. In mous person in connection with the Creation) another transatlantic organ, a' critic, speaking of that he can give a wrinkle or two to the author. the last work of that literary veteran, the late I wonder what a parson would say if a man Mr. Le Fanu, observes, “If this young writer who never goes to church save when his babies would only model himself upon the works of Mr. are christened, or by accident to get out of a William Black in his best days, we foresee a shower, should volunteer his advice about sergreat future before him."

mon-making ? or an artist, to whom the man There is one thing that I think should be set without arms, who is wheeled about in the down to the credit of the literary profession— streets for coppers, should recommend a greater that for the most part they take their " slatings" delicacy of touch ? Indeed, metaphor fails me, (which is the professional term for them) with at and I gasp for mere breath when I think of the least outward equanimity. I have read things of astounding impudence of some people. If I late, written of an old and popular writer, ten possessed a tithe of it I should surely have made times more virulent than anything Mr. Ruskin my fortune by this time, and be in the enjoyment wrote of Mr. Whistler; yet neither he nor any of the greatest prosperity. It must be rememother man of letters thinks of flying to his moth- bered, too, that the opinion of the Critics on the er's apron-string, or of setting in motion old Hearth is always volunteered (indeed, one would Father Antic, the Law. Perhaps it is that we as soon think of asking for it as for a loan from have no money, or perhaps, like the judicious the Sultan of Turkey), and in nine cases out of author of whom I have spoken, we abstain from ten it is unfavorable. One has no objection to reading unpleasant things. I wish to goodness their praise, nor to any amount of it; what is so we could abstain from hearing of them; but the abhorrent is their advice, and still more their dis"d-d good-natured friend” is an eternal crea- approval. It is like throwing “half a brick" at tion. He has altered, however, since Sheridan's you, which, utterly valueless in itself, still hurts time in his method of proceeding. He does not you when it hits you. And the worst of it is say, “ There is a very unpleasant notice of you in that, apart from their rubbishy opinions, one the Scorpion,' my dear fellow, which I deplore.” likes these people; they are one's friends and The scoundrel now affects a more light-hearted relatives, and to cut one's moorings from them style. “ There is a review of your last book in altogether would be to sail over the sea of life the 'Scorpion,'” he says, “which will amuse you. without a port to touch at. It is very malicious, and evidently the offspring The early life of the author is especially emof personal spite, but it is very clever.” Then bittered by the utterances of these good folks. you go down to your club, and take the thing up As a prophet is of no honor in his own country,

Yours ever,

so it is with the young aspirant for literary fame assure you it was quite a drop down for me, to find with his folks at home. They not only disbe- that he was referring to some other writer of the lieve in him, but-generally, however, with one same name. Of course I did not undeceive him. I or two exceptions, who are invaluable to him in wish, my dear fellow, you would write stories in one the way of encouragement—“ make hay" of him volume instead of three. You write a short story and his pretensions in the most heartless style. capitally. If he produces a poem, it achieves immortality

JACK. in the sense of his “never hearing the last of

Tom the surgeon belongs to that very obit"; it is the jest of the family till they have all jectionable class of humanity called by ancient grown up. But this he can bear, because his writers wags : noble mind recognizes its own greatness; he regards his jeering brethren in the same light as

MY DEAR DICK: I can not help writing to thank the philosophic writer beholds “the vapid and you for the relief afforded to me by the perusal of irreflective reader.” When they tell him they your last volume. I had been suffering from neu“can't make head or tail of his blessed poetry,” for producing sleep had failed until I tried that


ralgia, and every prescription in the pharmacopoeia he comforts himself with the reflection of the Dear Maggie [an odious woman, who calls novels great German (which he has read in a transla- light literature, and affects to be blue] read it to me tion) that the clearest handwriting can not be herself, so it was given every chance : but I think read by twilight. It is when his literary talents you must acknowledge that it was a little spun out. have received more or less recognition from the Maggie assures me—I have not read them myself, public at large that home criticism becomes so for you know what little time I have for such things painful to him. His brethren are then boys no that the first two volumes, with the exception of longer, but parsons, lawyers, and doctors; and, the characters of the hero and heroine, which she though they don't venture to interfere with one pronounces to be rather feeble, are first rate. Why another as regards their individual professions, don't you write two-volume novels? There is always they make no sort of scruple about interfering something in analogy: reflect how seldom Nature with him. They write to him their unsolicited herself produces three at a birth : when she does, it advice and strictures. This is the parson's let- is only two, at most, which survive. We shall look ter :

forward to your next effort with much interest, but

we hope you will give more time and pains to it. MY DEAR DICK: I like your last book much Remember what Horace says upon this subject. better than the rest of them; but I don't like your [He has no more knowledge of Horace than he has heroine. She strikes both Julia and myself (Julia is of Sanskrit, but he has read the quotation in that vile his wife, who is acquainted with no literature but review in the “Scourge."] Maggie thinks you live the cookery-book] as rather namby-pamby. The too luxuriously: if your expenses were less you would descriptions, however, are charming; we both recog- not be compelled to write so much, and you would nized dear old Ramsgate at once. [The original of do it better. Excuse this well-meant advice from the locality in the novel being Dieppe.) The plot an elder brother. is also excellent, though we think we have some rec

Yours always,

Том. . ollection of it elsewhere ; but it must be so difficult to hit upon anything original in these days. Thanks One's sisters, and one's cousins, and one's for your kind remembrance of us at Christmas : the aunts " also write in more or less the same style, oysters were excellent. We were sorry to see that though, to do their sex justice, less offensively. ill-natured little notice in the “Scourge.”

“If you were to go abroad, my dear Dick,” says Yours affectionately,

Вов. one, “it would expand your mind. There is no

thing to blame in your last production, which Jack the lawyer writes :

strikes me (what I could understand of it at

least, for some of it is a little Bohemian) as very DEAR DICK : You are really becoming she thinks pleasing, but the fact is, that English subjects that becoming] quite a great man: we could hardly are quite used up.” Others discover for themget your last book from Mudie's, though I suppose selves the originals of Dick's characters in perhe takes very small quantities of copies, except from sons he has never dreamed of describing, and really popular authors. Marion was charmed with otherwise exhibit a most marvelous familiarity your heroine (Dick rather likes Marion; and doesn't

with his materials. Hennie, who has just been think Jack treats her with the consideration she de. serves), and I have no doubt women in general will here, is immensely delighted with your satirical admire her, but your hero—you know I always speak sketch of her husband. He, however, as you my mind-is rather a duffer. You should go into may suppose, is wild, and says you had better the world more, and sketch from life. The Vice- withdraw your name from the candidates' book Chancellor gave me great pleasure by speaking of at his club. I don't know how many black balls your early poems very highly the other day, and I exclude, but he has a good many friends there.”

VOL. VII.-17

Another writes : “Of course we all recognized “Alexander the Great” or a popular history of the Uncle John in your Mr. Flibbertigibbet; but we Visigoths. To them literature is literature, and try not to laugh ; indeed, our sense of loss is too they do not concern themselves with little niceties recent. Seriously, I think you might have waited of style or differences of subject. Others, again, till the poor old man—who was always kind to though extremely civil, are apt to affect more enyou, Dick-was cold in his grave.”

thusiasm than they feel. They admire one's works Some of these dear good creatures send in- without exception—“they are all absolutely charmcidents of real life which they are sure will be ing ”—but they would be placed in a position of useful to “dear Dick” for his next book-narra- great embarrassment if they were asked to name tives of accidents in a hansom cab, of missing their favorite: for, as a matter of fact, they are the train by the Underground, and of Mr. Jones ignorant of the very names of them. A novelist being late for his own wedding, “which, though of my acquaintance lent his last work to a lady nothing in themselves, actually did happen, you cousin because she “really could not wait till she know, and which, properly dressed up, as you so got it from the library"; besides, “she was ill, well know how to do,” will, they are sure, obtain and wanted some amusing literature.” After a for him a marked success. “ There is nothing month or so he got his three volumes back, with like reality,” they say, he may depend upon it, a most gushing letter. It “had been the com“ for coming home to people.”

fort of many a weary hour of sleeplessness," etc. After all, one need not read these abominable The thought of having “smoothed the pillow and letters. One's relatives (thank Heaven !) usually soothed the pain " would, she felt sure, be gratilive in the country. The real Critics on the fying to him. Perhaps it would have been, only Hearth are one's personal acquaintances in town, she had omitted to cut the pages even of the first whom one can not escape.

volume. “My dear friend,” said one to me the other But, as a general rule, these volunteer censors day—a most cordial and excellent fellow, by-the- plume themselves on discovering defects and not by (only too frank)—“I like you, as you know, beauties. When any author is particularly popubeyond everything, personally, but I can not read lar, and has been long before the public, they your books."

have two methods, of discoursing upon him in “ My dear Jones,” replied I, “I regret that relation to their literary friend. In the first, they exceedingly; for it is you, and men like you, represent him as a model of excellence, and recwhose suffrages I am most anxious to win. Of ommend their friend to study him, though withthe approbation of all intelligent and educated out holding out much hope of his ever becoming persons I am certain ; but, if I could only obtain his rival; in the second, they describe him as that of the million, I should be a happy man.” “worked out,” and darkly hint that sooner or

But, even when I have thus demolished Jones, later [they mean sooner) their friend will be in I still feel that I owe him a grudge. “What the the same unhappy condition. These, I need not infernal regions,” as our 'bus-driver would say, say, are among the most detestable specimens of "is it to me whether Jones likes my books or their class, and only to be equaled by those exnot? and why does he tell me he doesn't like cellent literary judges who are always appealing them?”

to posterity, which, even if a little temporary sucOf the surpassing ignorance of these good cess has crowned you to-day, will relegate you to people, I have just heard an admirable anecdote. your proper position to-morrow. If one were A friend of a justly popular author meets him in weak enough to argue with these gentry, it would the club and congratulates him upon his last be easy to show that popular authors are not story in the “Slasher" [in which he has never “worked out,” but only have the appearance of written a line). It is so full of farce and fun [the being so from their taking their work too easily. author is a grave writer). “Only I don't see why Those whose calling it is to depict human nature it is not advertised under the same title in the in fiction are especially subject to this weakness; other newspapers.” The fact being that the they do not give themselves the trouble to study story in the “Slasher" is a parody—and not a new characters, or at first hand, as of old; they very good-natured one-upon the author's last sit at home and receive the congratulations of work, and resembles it only as a picture in “ Van- Society without paying due attention to that someity Fair” resembles its original.

what changeful lady, and they draw upon their Some Critics on the Hearth are not only good- memory, or their imagination, instead of studynatured, but have rather too high, or, if that is ing from the life. Otherwise, when they do not impossible, let us say too pronounced, an opinion give way to that temptation of indolence which of the abilities of their literary friends. They won- arises from competence and success, there is no der why they do not employ their gigantic talents reason why their reputation should suffer, since, in some enduring monument, such as a life of though they may lack the vigor or high spirits of those who would push them from their stools, taken up by persons of far greater intelligence, their experience and knowledge of the world are is inconsistent with itself. The praisers of posalways on the increase.

terity are also always the praisers of the past; it As to the argument with regard to posterity, is only the present which is in their eyes conwhich is so popular with the Critic on the Hearth, temptible. Yet to the next generation this presI am afraid he has no greater respect for the ent will be their past, and, however valueless may opinion of posterity himself than for that of his be the verdict of to-day, how much more so, by possible great-great-granddaughter. Indeed, he the most obvious analogy, will be that of to-moronly uses it as being a weapon the blow of which row! It is probable, indeed, though it is difficult it is impossible to parry, and with the object of to believe it, that the Critics on the Hearth of the being personally offensive. It is, moreover, note- generation to come will make themselves even worthy that his position, which is sometimes more ridiculous than their predecessors.

JAMES PAYN, in the Nineteenth Century,



ing, and the danger there was for the throne and I.

the aristocratic possessors of the serfs. “If this I

HAVE given in a previous article a rapid power of the rebels,” says the anonymous writer,

sketch of the political movements and con- “consisting of two hundred thousand men, had spiracies in Russia, which had for their object been united and unanimous, it would have been the establishment of parliamentary government difficult for the forces of the Czar to have resistor of a democratic commonwealth. By way of ed and mastered the same.” But the rebels were parallel, something may be said now of the Cos- • divided among themselves, and could not agree sack and Serf Conspiracies, in which there is a about the supreme command.” Still Razin made mixed national, social, and political element. his way very quickly. “Everywhere,” the Eng

In 1670 the empire was for the first time lish author of 1672 says, “he promised liberty, shaken by a vast Cossack and Peasant Insurrec- and a redemption from the yoke (so he called it) tion. It occurred in the reign of Czar Alexei, of the boiars, or nobles, which he said were the father of Peter I. Stenko Razin was its the oppressors of the country. In Moscow itleader. The course of the insurrection lay along self men began to speak openly in his praise, as the Volga, where Tartar and Finnic races main- if he were a person that sought the public good ly dwell. In subsequent risings, too, this south- and the liberty of the people, for which cause the eastern quarter, which contains a more martial Great Czar was necessitated to make a public exstock than the inhabitants of the central Russian ample of some, to deter the rest." provinces, has always proved the more trouble- In order to quell the insurrection, Knes Dolsome for imperial and aristocratic misrule. gorukoff, as the commander of the Czar's army,

Sténko Razin, who sought to make an impres- had to make use of the help of German officers, sion upon the peasantry by professing to have who “ afterward were highly applauded by his the Czar's eldest son and a high church dignita- Majesty for having acquitted themselves so well ry with him, rapidly took Astrakhan, Saratov, in leading on their men." When the victory was Simbirsk, and other chief towns along the Volga, achieved, the customary torturing, hanging, bemeaning to strike thence toward Moscow, then heading, and burning of prisoners was ordered still the capital of Russia.

by the Autocrat. “Within the space of three I find in an old little book,t written by an months there were, by the hands of the execuEnglishman who had been in Muscovy at the tioners, put to death eleven thousand men, in a time, but who speaks of the insurrection as “a legal way, upon the hearing of witnesses.” A villainous attempt,” some highly interesting de- hundred thousand men had been killed in the tails, showing the extent and strength of the ris- field. Razin and his brother were put to the

rack. Then Razin had his right arm and his left * See “ Appletons' Journal” for July,

+ "A Relation concerning the Particulars of the Re- leg cut off, and was afterward beheaded. bellion lately raised in Muscovy by Stenko Razin." In There is a pathetic story of a nun in man's the Savoy, 1672.

habit, which she had put over her monastic dress,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »