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A NOVELIST OF THE DAY.
"HE style is the man"; and there is a infallible oracle that he is in his sociological writ
sense in which the remark has more ings. I have never yet been told that Dickens truth about it than may generally be suspected. lacked, at Gad's Hill or in London, or wherever There is no need to dwell here on the deeper else he happened to be, the animal spirits which idiosyncrasies of character which an analysis of suffuse every page of his writings; or that Charles the mode of expression adopted by distinguished Lever, across the walnuts and the wine, was not or undistinguished authors may reveal. The precisely the man in whom one would expect to meaning now attached to the famous phrase is recognize the creator of Charles O'Malley and purely personal, and the proposition now laid Harry Lorrequer. I have never yet found Prodown is that one may trace, very much more fessor J. S. Blackie less exuberant in his converfrequently than is perhaps generally supposed, a sation than in his printed prelections on modern strong likeness between books and their authors Greek, modern education generally, and in his —that the ring of the printed sentence often “Lays of the Highlands and Islands.” It seems echoes in the writer's voice; that his or her to me that the gifted author of “Piccadilly" talks casual conversation reflects the published periods, and acts in private life very much as one would whether long or short; that the letter-press is an expect the profound believer in the virtues of extension of the presence; and that as the poet, episcopacy, which he is known to be, to act and humorist, or historian is on paper, so is he for talk. the most part in society. It is sometimes said This list of such instances might be matethat the men who are the wittiest in the study rially lengthened from the resources of even a are the dullest at the dinner-table; and one is limited experience, but it will be enough to crown reminded that Thackeray, unless he found him- it with one crucial illustration. If the identity self in congenial company, was very apt to pre- between the Mr. Anthony Trollope of private serve a moody and melancholy silence. Again, life and the Mr. Anthony Trollope who has enone has been told the ideas and jokes of authors riched English literature with novels that will represent the greater part of their literary capi- yet rank as nineteenth-century classics is not imtal; how, then, can it be expected that they mediately perceived, it can only be because the should shower upon a miscellaneous assemblage observer is destitute of the faculty of percepthose jewels of thought and gems of wit which tion. “The style is the man”; the popular and have their market value in Fleet Street and Pater- successful author is the straightforward, unrenoster Row? Hence the notion exists that the served friend; the courageous, candid, plainwriter of the most laughter-moving of contem- speaking companion. As it is with the dialogue porary volumes should be severely reserved in of Mr. Trollope's literary heroes and heroines, public; and that in all cases there is a great gulf so is it with the conversation of Mr. Trollope fixed between the life and atmosphere, so far as himself. In each there is the same definiteness the personality of the author is concerned, of the and directness; the same Anglo-Saxon simplicity printed page and that with which he is identified which can only not be called studied, because in in the actual world of fact. It may be very much all things it is Mr. Trollope's characteristic to be doubted whether this view is adequately sup- spontaneous. As a writer—I do not of course ported by experience. I have yet to learn that speak of the elaboration of his plots-Mr. Trollope the accomplished wag who enlivened the public is precisely what he is as a talker, and what he is, with his “ Happy Thoughts” strictly insists upon or used to be, as a rider across country. He sees giving his private friends the benefit of his seri- the exact place at which he wants to arrive. He ous meditations. I should be disposed to say makes for it; and he determines to reach it as that the brilliancy and knowledge which are to directly as possible. There may be obstacles, be found in the writings of the most remarkable but he surmounts them. Sometimes, indeed, journalist of the day are adequately reflected in they prove for the moment serious impediments. his ordinary talk, and that the felicitous choice Perhaps they actually place him hors de combat, of words which characterizes his pen is in the like a post and rails that can not be negotiated, same degree the quality of his lips. I should be or a ditch of impracticable dimensions. It does surprised to hear that the great philosopher of not matter. He picks himself up, pulls himself our time who has applied the doctrine of evolu- together, and presses on as before. The symtion to the phenomena of human progress was pathy which is the invariable accompaniment of not, when standing on the drawing-room hearth- a broad and manly imagination, Mr. Trollope has rug, or strolling on a well-shaven lawn, the same in abundance. But an opinion rapidly crystallizes
with him into a conviction, and a conviction is, in Thackeray executed by another hand, and perhis estimation, a thing for which to live or die. haps of a different original, he would probably He does not exclude from his consideration all criticise it as being too angelically perfect; but that conflicts with this view, but he has far it on such a matter as this what is the use of arguonly a theoretical toleration. One is almost re- ment? minded in his case of the nearly instantaneous In this temper may be seen evidence of the luxuriance displayed in the growth of tropical intensity of enthusiasm with which Mr. Trollope's vegetation—a phenomenon, by the by, which was nature is charged. Never certainly was there an never described better than by Mr. Trollope him- enthusiast who had about him so little that is self in his book on the “West Indies and the dreamy and so much that is absolutely impractiSpanish Main.” The impression seems hardly cable. The ordinary enthusiast meditates largeto have been formed when it blossoms forth into ly, perpetually cultivates a fine sort of inspired an article of faith. The climate may be uncon- frenzy, and does nothing. He builds castles in genial to the development-so much the worse the air, and he never thinks of inhabiting them. for the climate ; the facts may be stubbornly op- He piles imaginary towers upon fictitious founposed to it; but is man, then, a slave, that he dations, and the whole fabric topples over beshould bow to facts ?
cause the lessons of experience have been disreOne could scarcely have a better illustration garded by the architect. Now, Mr. Trollope, enof this generous and most chivalrous tendency thusiast and castle-builder though he is and has on the part of Mr. Trollope, as it may be wit- always been, is practical as well. He may have nessed in his writings, than is to be seen in his his phantasies and chimeras and crotchets and recently published little work on Thackeray. The hobbies; yet for all this the world in which he view here taken of Thackeray's character is, if I lives is no visionary one, but one in which close may be pardoned for saying so, the conventional attention to facts and details is a paramount neone-that the immortal author of “Vanity Fair” cessity. Enthusiasm—it may be impetuosity—is had nothing in the veins of his moral nature but only one of the accidental modes of development the pure, unadulterated milk of human kindness; assumed by Mr. Trollope's imagination. It has that he was superior to petty animosities and lit- become a species of necessary condition of his erary jealousies; that he had nothing about him thought; and just as great athletes find it dewhich was not great and almost godlike; that it sirable frequently to exercise their muscles and is as preposterously unrighteous to hint at the sinews by wielding dumb-bells, brandishing Inpresence of the cynic in his writings as to sup- dian clubs, and other feats of strength, so does pose that envy, malice, or any other form of un- Mr. Trollope keep his mental elasticity fresh and charitableness has a home in the Elysian Fields. vigorous by tilting against windmills and by deThis is hero-worship with a vengeance. It is as fending paradoxes. This is part of the charm unreasonable as the cloying panegyric with which of the man, or at least of the secret of his the late James Hannay smeared the memory of charm. As with his writings, so with his social his patron, though it has the redeeming merit of converse. In Mr. Trollope's nature extremes being absolutely disinterested. But Mr. Trollope may be said to balance extremes. The most enfails to perceive that Thackeray, as he paints thusiastic of men, he is of all men also the most him, is an impossible personage, a human crea- practical. The qualities which he has consistture infinitely too good for human nature's daily ently displayed in the exercise of his art as novfood. Of course there is the sham cynic and the elist are those which, applied to any other dereal one, and Thackeray's cynicism was not of partment of intellectual industry, would have .that very cheap and shallow order which can see secured him success, and probably eminence. nothing but material for laughter in the softer His energy has been untiring; his productive and more sentimental aspects of human nature. powers have neither flagged nor paused. Mr. What is or what ought to be meant by cynicism Trollope was not an inexperienced author long is a refusal, based upon experience and observa- before he was an author who found authorship a tion, to explain all human actions by reference to lucrative concern. He had written two or three the same guileless and disinterested motives as novels, chiefly illustrative of Irish life; he had are alone recognized in the philosophy of gush. written some extremely able letters on the state In this sertse Thackeray was a consummate of Ireland in the “Examiner,” then conducted cynic; and those have studied his works to small by his friend, the late John Forster : he had done purpose who have not carried away from them all this, and he had produced one or two unacted more than enough of knowledge to be aware of plays into the bargain, before he saw his way the fact. Mr. Trollope knows life, and has ob- clear to making an income by his pen. At an served it well. If he were to look upon such a age when many men are thinking of relaxing portrait as that which he himself has painted of their toils, or are at least anticipating as not far distant the day when they may be able to medi- best defense possible; and so, after an empty tate retirement, Mr. Anthony Trollope found his bout of controversy, the matter ended. But with career as a prosperous and indefatigable man of Mr. Anthony Trollope it had only just begun. letters really at its commencement. Unless I Perhaps no man has, in his broad views of life, am mistaken, the golden harvest which “ The less of the casuist about him ; in minor matters Warden " yielded was not ingathered till its au- few have the same fondness for the arguing of thor had not merely reached, but passed, Thack- nicely casuistical questions. Here was a casus coneray's age of wisdom, and was the wrong side scientiæ after his own heart. It set him thinking. of the Rubicon of “forty year."
His quick imagination and social experience The publication of this novel was the first opened up a vista of characters and situations, great era in Anthony Trollope's literary life. It and “ The Warden” was the result. placed a career manifestly within his reach ; it But what is to be said of the originals of the gave him a name; it opened up to him large op- characters of “The Warden ”—Bishop Proudie, portunities of future and most remunerative toil. Mrs. Proudie, and the rest of them? Probably The chief historical and general interest of the Mr. Trollope might tell us that, after all, in cleribook arises from the fact that it was the earliest cal nature, masculine or feminine, there is a great venture made by Mr. Trollope in that depart- deal of human nature; that, though the outer ment of socio-ecclesiastical fiction which he may garb of humanity may vary much, its inward be said to have created for his own special delec- heart varies astonishingly little; that prelates tation and profit. It is natural to ask what were with aprons, gaiters, shovel-hats, and other clerithe circumstances which first led Mr. Trollope to cal trappings, are amenable to the same laws and seek the materials of his fictions in the doings considerations as any other middle-aged gentleof ecclesiastical circles, and what were the spe- men clad in black, or in whatever other hue may cial opportunities of observing these which he be affected. Be this as it may, it is quite certain had enjoyed. The son of a barrister, his mother that Mr. Trollope took to writing novels of cleribeing an authoress of great power and sprightli- cal life with no special knowledge of clerical ness, Anthony Trollope was at two public schools character; and that he certainly knew not a -Winchester first and Harrow afterward. He did tithe of what was known by George Eliot of the not go to Oxford; and before he was twenty got an gossip and scandals of cathedral precincts when appointment in the Post-Office. He kept up his he made Barchester Towers and all their chief classics; and he did more than this, he perpetually personages thoroughly familiar to the English cultivated his faculties of observation. He was al- public. In the town of Barchester one will in ways recording the experiences of his every-day vain search for any evidence of identity with life on the tablets of his memory, always planning Winchester. Here and there a touch of Salissomething, always devising situations, and mental- bury may be detected, but for the most part it is ly inquiring what action on the part of individuals, the general idea of a cathedral-town that is deof a certain variety of temperament, placed in cer- picted, and not any particular city. Knowledge tain circumstances, would follow a particular set of the world, based upon great and varied expeof motives. This is the true education of the brain, rience, increased by study, fortified and enlarged and indeed of the pen, of the novelist, or of any by culture—these are the data out of which Mr. artist who determines to make mankind his Trollope has manufactured what it is only natutheme. Ever observant, ever vigilant, Mr. Trol- ral to consider his extraordinary knowledge of, lope gradually acquired a fund of knowledge, and insight into, clerical life. And is this not, it gathered first-hand, and relating to a hundred may be asked, the way in which genius usually different phases of existence, which was certain, works? The facts genius itself can not create; sooner or later, to fructify. It was natural that but the facts once given are capable of any numaccident should for the most part decide the line ber of combinations; and facts, when they are in which he was to make his début as a success- placed in juxtaposition, have a tendency to creful novelist. Accident did decide it, and an ac- ate new facts. cident of a character which shows the enthusias- For eighteen years Mr. Trollope lived in Iretic quality of his mind. Rather less than twen- land, seeing all that there was to be seen-readty-five years ago there appeared in the “ Times' ing, writing, hunting, dining. Novel succeeded · a correspondence raising the issue whether a novel, and each was a success. The opportunibeneficed clergyman was morally justified in be- ties of his official life he did not, indeed, entirely ing a systematic absentee from the congregation refuse to utilize. His innate sense of justice, and for whose spiritual welfare he was responsible. of practical expediency, was scandalized by the The unfortunate ecclesiastic who had placed him- proposal to institute the system of competitive self in this position was vehemently attacked. promotion in the Civil Service ; and “ The Three He or his friends advanced on his behalf the Clerks " was the result. But “ The Three
Clerks" is almost the only purely departmental mate mastery of his art. That, indeed, is prefiction, if the phrase be permissible, which Mr. cisely what Mr. Trollope has done. Practice, Trollope has ever written. He has given us skill, literary ability, would not have enabled him touches of official life in all his novels, just as he to do all that he has done. It was necessary has in most of club life, political life, hunting life, that these should be informed and quickened, as to say nothing of clerical life. But he likes an in Mr. Trollope's case they have been, by that extended area; he enjoys the sensation of a free enthusiasm which is itself a certain mood of geand unobstructed atmosphere. Hence it is that nius—an enthusiasm intimately allied, in the case his best novels are novels of character rather of Anthony Trollope, with the spirit of honor, than of incident. Throughout all of them there loyalty, and integrity. Had he been less chivalruns a central thread of unity, and this unity is rous, he might, from a purely worldly point of to be found in the presence and development of view, have been even more successful. He has a single character. Even in “Orley Farm,” had, and he has never abandoned, his views of which, regarded as a story, is probably the best the uses and objects of fiction; and he has enof his works, there can not be said to be any deavored consistently to act up to them, writing episode which is not subordinated to the charac- nothing which shame could ever prompt him to ter of the heroine, and which is not directly de- blot, and nothing which has not a practical bearsigned to illustrate the temptations that befalling upon human life. So industriously and so her. When Mr. Trollope has hit upon such a successfully has he done this, that he has won, leading idea as this, he exemplifies and enforces in a quarter of a century, nearly the most conit with whatever suggests itself as suitable in the spicuous place in the first rank of novelists of treasure-house of diversified knowledge and ex- the day. Of the charm which his novels have perience which he has assimilated. And it is his to the contemporary reader, this only need be peculiar power to be able to run this experience, said—that they charm him for the same reason so to speak, into any mold that the occasion sug- that they will be invaluable to the future historian gests. To say that he can do this is the same of social England in the nineteenth century. thing as to say that he has acquired a consum
doubt, believe that a very large number of people of the ABOUT MELANCHOLY AGAIN. most cultured class, men of thoroughly disciplined and
highly serious minds, are having nothing better to do 'HE interesting and suggestive communication than acting a part? Is affectation really the motive with
acceptance than our own view of the subject which of the mysterious coil in which they find life evermore it discusses. There is room, however, for wide wound? Are they all without sincerity who become difference of opinion, and in the comments that we
finally sad with watching the repeating rounds of existe have subjoined to the letter of our correspondent
ence as it is? If this is all that melancholy is the
mere caprice of a generation, a trick or fashion as we we have rather given expression to some of the ideas
may say—it would naturally soon reach the end, even if it has awakened than attempted to distinctly answer reason or ridicule were without effect in restraining it, all its points. It is almost needless to say that the and thus might be, perhaps, of comparatively minor conwriter is a lady, of whose intelligent discernment sequence. But if, instead, it be a more predominating the epistle bears ample evidence:
thing of nature, something inevitable in the course of
human development, a hard struggle would be indicated To the Editor of Appletons' Journal :
by an attempt to overcome it. In current reading-matter I have but just come to the It seems to me there are some reasons a priori for July number of “ Appletons' Journal," and to the edi- thinking the condition real, and not a pretense of poets torial article on the prevalence of melancholy. The ideas and sentimentalists. In the world's present consciousthere expressed being of that character which induces ness, we must remember, are ages upon ages of sorrow. thought and inquiry, I should like to ask you a question And what else could we expect but that with the inherior two on that subject, if I may so without too much tance of treasur knowledge the world's old suffering presuming on your time; for I hardly can think that should transmit itself to the modern soul with new age your full belief is to be read in that discussion, which gravation ? Humanity is under the conditions of the rather represents, to my mind, more of what is reserved child described by Wordsworth as imbued with the spirit than of what is offered.
of its mother's woe. You no doubt remember, what I First, I should be glad to know if you, without a do not, whether it was in the poem of “The Traveler” My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like I believe, are sometimes very sad. I do not remember
that the wife's grief on account of the husband's never joy and despondency, the world gets no better teaching returning communicated itself to the child, which would from these men of science than from the others who are sit quietly on the floor “and weep amid its toys." represented as gathering storms within their souls, and
Men's spirits would be unlikely to grow lighter where suffering more. But hethe accumulations of learning deepen. As
" Whose feet are firm although his heart be tost,
Who holds his agony with steady hand
Till it be dumb, and dares his work remand,
Not weakly sacrifice, is never lost." our own mere joy in existence becomes least of what we are bent on. It is not egotism certainly, but the reverse,
The type of all that is best in the human life we ought which leads men to consider how the tale of life's latest not to forget was one in whose countenance the light of era is that of the first ; too gloomily, perhaps, some ob- laughter was never seen. serve the human race as always equally at the mercy of
Melancholy seems never to have been regarded as the destiny, held and blinded, rising up with new hope each natural accompaniment of evil-mindedness-a fact acnew day to its groping among the shadows. Without counting for its having been so frequently assumed in such yearning, idiots and animals are more happy in wicked purposes, as those of Gloster's Edmund: their daily lives—although the more intelligent animals,
Tom o' Bedlam." ever having noticed an apparently very melancholy fly,
And, unless there is something better than goodness but horses will sometimes have almost as sorrowful an
to desire the increase of in the world, I do not see the reaexpression as any human countenance is seen to wear.
son why our capacity for cheerfulness should be cultiIs it possibly to be imagined they get some conscious- vated beyond other powers we have—or, rightly limiting ness of death in the world to abstractly trouble them ?
the idea to the point assumed, cultivated specially in any not with very intellectual reasoning, but do you believe degree. The most that St. George Mivart is able to there would be nothing but vagary in a supposition of make out in answer to the question, “ Is life worth livtheir having sometimes a kind of physico-spiritual sense ing ?” is that of the idea of our having duty to do in of destiny which gives them that pathetic look ? I won
our place in the world—which we should find reason der if that order of life is not sadder too than when the enough for continuing in it, I have no doubt ; but your friezes of the Parthenon were modeled ? Yet, I suppose,
instruction comes to less than that as it seems to me, and, it would hardly be thought necessary to recall these
as I fancy, could be almost resolved into a charge, “Be friends of ours to the ancient state of mind among their happy and you will be good.” We must ask no disturbspecies. And I confess to doubts about any such neces- ing questions, but go and tend our flowers, and so on. sity in our own case. What is the real object, after all, Yet, let me admit at once that, wherever you strike outof trying to keep the world very gay-appearing, as it of-doors, your aim appears to me to be perfect. One were, with false complexion, and attempting the futile thing in the world we have to be thankful for, and that trick of being the same as in some former age ? Ac. is the beauty of the world. Lest we be touched too little cording to sociologists, we are to understand that the with the grace of reverent worship, we should not miss race is wiser and better than it ever has been; so that an
that loveliness you counsel us to seek ; yet I do not see in increase of sadness seems not to go with a retrograde of it the means of preventing melancholy. And it seems to moral and intellectual life. Then longevity increases, it
me we have more reason to be sad for anything else than is said, from which we could hardly charge the graver that we are sad.
L. human mood with working ill to the physical order of the world any more than we could reckon it a result of
We must say that our correspondent did not read this better material state,
our article with sufficient care, or she would not The sad people of the present who are complained of are generally those who are finding the most light for the have asked us whether we believe that a very large world in one way or another. They make no pretense number of persons of the cultured class are acting a of being satisfied that man should live without knowing part. We affirmed that melancholy has frequently why, should die unwilling, and that he knows not wheth- been cultivated as a fashion; that the melancholy er all be for him or he for all, but they have the courage of the poets is often no more than a whimsical egoto live their appointed days as nobly as is permitted them tism or selfish bitterness,“ but that the sadness that to do.
comes over the world now seems to have arisen Where the people are gayer, as in Paris, it is largely from mental strain, from excess of meditation and otherwise. Our poets, touching upon the irksomeness of these article answers the first question of our correspon
study.” Assuredly this sentence from our previous days, teach only a lofty abnegation of self to the unseen purpose of creation, and I do not know that scientific dent. Undoubtedly there are many, persons who men lead higher than they. What, indeed, is the evi- suffer acutely from melancholy, but the people who dence, will you tell me, that the study of science dissi- write about it most, who burst out into pathetic pates gloom from the mind? Taken by itself, it seems rhymes, who go about mourning the sadness and misto me to tend to coarsen feeling, although, with imagi- ery of life, are a set of idle and egotistic dreamers nation and religiousness sufficient in the nature, not hav- who either cultivate melancholy as a sign of poetic ing that effect. And it is my impression (although I can not profess to have a knowledge of the facts which should idleness, or whose melancholy is nothing more than
genius, or who are oppressed with ennui from pure warrant the assertion) that what you imagine the healthful mental state of scientific men does not prevent sui
a reaction from dissipation. We have heard stalwart cide from happening among them as frequently as among
fellows deploring in lachrymose strains the misery classes engaged in other forms of learning; but at the of life in the very presence of confirmed invalids instant I can think of no other than Dr. Petermann as an whose cheerfulness shed radiance upon all within example. Whatever their lives may show as respects their circle. The men who either affect melan.