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be done is to make the best of a bad job. And here the decorator is placed in a dilemma, for he must never descend to the level of much that he can not remove, and much of his work is on this account made to seem out of keeping, and to jar with things that are near to it.
Many who read this article will be inclined to resent the application of the term vulgar to their house-decoration. They will say that these things are matters of taste, and that they have as much right to call my recommendations vulgar as I have their drawing-rooms. I attempted to prove at the beginning that the essence of vulgarity in people was the desire to get as much show, independent of beauty, for the sum of money they are prepared to lay out. Though I believe this vulgarity is often owing to long neglect of taste,
and may coexist with refinement in other things, I believe that most of us, when we look round our rooms, will find that this is the spirit that has prevailed. I have tried to describe ways of decorating that shall not make show but beauty their chief object. The result will often be simplicity verging on plainness. But if any will honestly try to work in the line I have laid down, they will find that they have discovered for themselves new interests and pleasures in life, which will perpetually surround them. And they will find, as time goes on, that the pleasure is a growing one, and that, as we are able to buy new treasures out of our savings, we shall not despise our earlier efforts, and that the new picture or the new piece of china we have bought will add a luster to, without creating a discord in, the old room.
EUSTACE BALFOUR (Good Words).
DR. HILLEBRAND ON MODERN ENGLAND.
[IN the October "Nineteenth Century" Dr. Karl Hillebrand begins a series of papers which he designates "Familiar Letters on Modern England," the purpose of which is to show Englishmen "how they appear to foreign eyes." The first article exhibits much acute and suggestive comment. We can not find room for all of Dr. Hillebrand's "Letter," nor would all its topics be of as much interest to American as to English readers, but we select a few passages which seem to us specially noteworthy.-EDITOR APPLETON'S JOURNAL.]
HERE are two things which first strike the foreigner who wanders through the endless and perplexingly homonymous streets of west London, or lounges through the lanes of its innumerable suburbs, or the scarcely less numerous watering-places of England. These two things are the immense wealth of this country and the apparent sameness of its domestic life.
If you chance to pass before these houses between one and two in the afternoon, the shining silver and the shining linen of the luncheon-table will intrude themselves on your sight, even without your throwing an indiscreetly piercing eye through the large and well-polished glass pane of the thousands of ground-floors you pass by. Together with the sight comes upon you the thought of the expensiveness of the life which the inmates of these thousands of identical three-windowed houses lead. To speak the striking language of num
bers, and to take a rough estimate, one might say that on every one of these dwellings comes a yearly income of at least twelve hundred pounds; that is to say, double the average income of the same class of society in the richest country of the Continent (France), fourfold that of a German, eightfold that of an Italian family of the same position! Nay, the revenue of an Italian Minister himself-even since the radical friends of the poor tax-payers on the day of their accession to office raised the salary by three hundred pounds-does not yet attain to two thirds of that income which I suppose necessary for the maintenance of an ordinary household in one of the simpler abodes of the West End of London. And all these well-to-do people are English. They are not like the rich of Paris and Rome, the privileged few of every distant country flocking together in a Western capital, as in a great pleasure-factory or round a curiosity-shop. All the inmates of these houses wear the British stamp as well as the houses they inhabit, and suggest at once the wealth of the whole higher middle class in this country.
elsewhere, but also to accumulate enough that after their death thousands and thousands might still continue to live so on their fathers' work and without working themselves, or at least with a margin of leisure which might allow the nation to maintain its high standard. It is this surplus of leisure, indeed, which insures to England its grand position in modern civilization. The English gentleman has already for more than a century found the time to cultivate athletic sports without sacrificing his professional work, and, to put it in Mr. Bagehot's words, to "spend half of his day in washing the whole of his person "-a by no means unimportant start over the Continent, where such civilizatory habits could only be introduced a very short time ago. But the Englishman of business has not only time to devote to his body, he has also leisure to cultivate his mind. England is the only country where people read-where they read instructive books, I mean, not novels only. Next to England ranges France, where the species of "general reader" still exists, although it is on the wane, and people begin to put their Thierry and Guizot nicely bound on their book-shelves, convinced that they have in this way sufficiently proved their respect for higher literature. As for the Italian, he seldom masters courage and perseverance enough to read more than a newspaper article of one paragraph; and the German, as everybody knows, reads a book only when he wants to write another book destined to supersede the one he is reading. The English alone find the leisure and the humor to read works of a general but serious character. I do not enter a sitting-room without finding some new volumes on the table; if expensive, coming from Mudie's or Smith's library—which always supposes that such a library purchases at once a hundred copies or more of a book-or, if cheap, bought at the next bookseller's shop. No wonder, when on opening one of these by no means "popular" works, you read "seventh thousand" on the back of its title-page. On the Continent such a thing happens only with books destined for amusement or for the flattering of vulgar passions and vulgar curiosity, such as M. Tissot's and Herr Busch's twaddle. The leisure, coexisting with hard work, and the noble use made of leisure, are perhaps the most remarkable results of the enormous wealth which first strikes the eye of the foreigner in England.
There is, however, another feature of English life which a guest from the Continent can not fail to notice when he strolls for the first time through the streets of London or a provincial town, and this is the wonderful sameness of existence. There you pass house after house for miles and miles, and one is as like the other as VOL. VII.—36
any twin-brothers can be; and not the outside alone. You enter, and you find the disposition the same everywhere; the dining-room here, the drawing-room there, the bedrooms above. At the same hours the inmates sit down to the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the same moment the same roast-lamb is brought in with the same mint-sauce; at the same period of the dinner the same kind of glass is removed, to be replaced by the same set of new glasses. People rise at the same hour, go to business or to church at the same hour, wear the same hats and caps, and read the same book. Why should they not, one is tempted to ask one's self, think the same thoughts and feel the same feelings, from Regent Street to Kensington? And so it is, to a certain degree. The more vigorous the inborn individualism of the race, the stronger the fetters of conventionalism which must be imposed upon them, if they are to form a powerful society. Nowhere is there greater individual liberty than in England, and nowhere do people renounce it more readily of their own accord.
When I live among the English I always feel as if I were aboard ship, and every now and then all the passengers at once rushed to starboard when their attention was called to something on that side, and again to larboard, with the same awkward impetus, as soon as some authoritative voice pointed out something there. Yesterday it was Fra Angelico who was the object of general worship; to-day it is Sandro Botticellidon't forget the "Sandro," it gives more charac、 ter to the thing-and young ladies fresh from school forthwith hunt through all Tuscany after Botticellis, without giving even so much as a glance to a Benozzo Gozzoli or a Masaccio, the Lippis or the Ghirlandajos, who might perchance have some of those qualities which the infallible art-critic has pointed out in Sandro Botticelli. Years ago Lord Byron was the poet of poets; nowadays it has been discovered that Keats was infinitely greater; and it becomes a sure sign of inferior taste and being behind the times, a proof of "philistinism" at least, to find that the singer of "Childe Harold" had a somewhat stronger breath than the poet of "Endymion." So mighty is the gregariousness that everybody blindly obeys the orders of the arbiter of taste as a regiment might those of its officers. When a foreigner timidly suggests that there are perhaps two Byrons-the Byron who obeyed "fashion" and was "fashionable" then, and consequently has perished and deserved to perish, and the Byron who gave utterance to the most personal feelings and thoughts in a most chastened though apparently neglected form, he encounters the commiserating glances of his astonished
hearers, and never finds a single ally to remind them that, if there is the Byron of "Lara" and "The Corsair," there is also such a thing as the Byron of "Don Juan," the stanzas for music or the verses to Augusta, which no Keats ever equaled in power and ease.
Fashions, however, are fashions, and you might as well try to demonstrate to a lady that crinolines are unnatural and ugly, as long as fashion imposes them, as to endeavor to make a fashionable public understand that fashionable poets are perhaps no poets at all.
Art-under whatever form it may be, poetry and music, sculpture or painting-is the reproduction (or the management) of what is eternal in nature, man, and society. It may in its forms submit with impunity to all the caprices of fashion, be it the academical form of the classics or the Gothic of the romanticists; be it the conventionalities of Racine's tragedy and Guarini's pastorales, or even those, more open to censure, of Victor Hugo's drama and George Sand's villagestory, provided its essence is eternally human and true as it is in the former, instead of being artificial and false as in the latter two. For it will be judged by posterity on this standard alone. When, consequently, art makes itself the expression of transient feelings and thoughts, of feelings and thoughts nobody will understand a hundred years hence, it will perish, whatever may be the form in which it has produced itself. If D'Urfé's novels were written in Pascal's French -which they are not and which they could not be, Pascal's prose supposing Pascal's thought they would have died nevertheless, as have died those parts of "Clarissa Harlowe" and the "Nouvelle Héloïse" which only expressed the thoughts and feelings of the time, as also will die most of the poems and pretentious novelslet me say of Germany, in order to hurt nobody in this country-which have now il grido. "Wilhelm Meister," on the contrary, will be as eternally young as "Don Quixote" and "Tom Jones," although its form is as exclusively of its time and its country as that of Cervantes's and Fielding's works; and it will be so because it paints human nature as it will be always and everywhere, whereas certain novels of our day are not likely to live a day longer than the conventional feelings and thoughts they embody. It is not so with science, although the object of science is likewise unchanging nature; because science has not to reproduce or manage its object; it has to analyze it and to discover its laws. Science is a collective, and consequently a progressive work, to which every workman brings his stone. Art is an individual concern, and consequently not susceptible of progress, except in
A rather narrow national exclusiveness was characteristic of English thought and feeling ever since the great French Revolution. A reaction set in toward 1840, when it first became fashionable to depreciate English things; and, together with a strange infatuation for this our own advanced time, to adopt a sort of severely censorious tone in speaking of England. Till then the idea an Englishman of average culture had of a German, a Frenchman, and an Italian, did not differ widely from the popular one of the uncouth pedant, the dapper dancing-master, and the darkeyed bravo. They were altogether not taken au sérieux by the Englishman of 1830. Things have since been reversed by one of those violent reactions I spoke of a moment ago; for, when the English do a thing, they do not stop midway. Just as Macaulay has in our own days become, from an English Thucydides, a species of British Capefigue, so did the awkward scholar of Jena or Heidelberg, who "did not understand himself," change into a poetical dreamer, full of hidden treasures of thought; the flippant and frivolous Parisian wit, half malicious monkey, half good-natured child, into the model of all radical and democratic virtues; the passionate plotter and schemer of Italy into the hero and martyr of patriotism. The great virtue of the Englishman at home-confidence-was extended slowly to the foreigner, who till then had been mostly looked upon with quite different feelings; and, as usual, the virtue was carried too far. All society rests on credit-not the state, if we may believe Hume, who would have it based on distrust. No social relations could indeed be possible, any more than commercial, without credit. But credit supposes knowledge-if not scientific, analytical knowledge, at least experimental or intuitive knowledge-of the persons you have to deal with. Now, Englishmen knew little of the foreigner whom they began thus to trust, and to whom they lent all sorts of fine sentiments and deep thoughts, until they seem to have come in our days to a rather extravagant estimate, which will lead, sooner or later I am afraid, to a reaction in favor of national exclusiveness.
Germany received the first caresses of this strange xenomania from the hands of youthful Carlyle and old Coleridge, but the friendship developed into fashion only half a generation later, in the days of Bunsen and Sir Cornewall Lewis, Liebig and Sir James Graham, Mrs. Austin and Felix Mendelssohn. It was Italy who succeeded
her in the favors of Britannia, and for ten years there was no end to the admiration of the resurging nation, who was to produce new Dantes and Galileos by the score, and showed already political aptitude of character and mind worthy of old Rome. Since then it is France who has become the pet. People here have discovered that under the shiny surface of the Frenchman there lies many a good and sterling virtue-thrift, and sobriety, and taste, and common sense; that, besides the frivolous literature which they used to take for the expression of French intellectual life, there was solid scientific work being done; that the uniformity of the modern democratic state which the Revolution and the First Consul had founded, if it exposed the country to the surprises of despotism, guaranteed it a system of administration, justice, finance, as well as a civil law, which were not so easily to be found in freer countries. This led to a more attentive study of French laws and literature, and, the natural and generous compassion for the misfortunes of the hereditary enemy supervening, the fashion moreover helping, as in the days of Charles II., the consequence has been an overrating admiration, which scarcely admits any spots on the sun.
From the seriousness of the contemporary English mind-the contemporary, I say, for it was by no means so in former times-comes also the want of perspective, which is so perceptible in the English judgments on the Continent, as well as the absence of nuance in the English endeavors first to master, then to appropriate and assimilate to themselves foreign ideas and ways. You hear people speak quietly of Mademoiselle Sarah Bernhardt and Rachel, of Gambetta and M. Dufaure, of G. Planche and Sainte-Beuve, of O. Feuillet and Mérimée, without the slightest perception of the distance between such names and the very relative consideration their bearers enjoy in their own country. And such jarring discords are by no means peculiar to second-rate hack-writers; I see also one of the foremost authors of the younger generation, and one who would occupy a still higher rank if he did not persist in giving to his admirable disquisitions on historical problems the name and the form of history-I see also a Mr. Lecky, sinning alike against proportion and accuracy, speak of "the class of (French) mind that once followed Bossuet or Pascal" and "now follows Voltaire or Comte," as one might speak of "Hume or Shadworth Hodgson." Even when the discrepancy is less shocking, the nuance and the taste are often wanting in the use made of foreign names. I am confident, for instance, that the illustrious author of "Theophrastus Such" would be the first to be disagreeably touched by the over-zealous critic's pavé-like declaration, that
La Bruyère had been superseded for ever since the summer of 1879. Had such English writers lived only for a short time in the French atmosphere, the unseen degrees of literary, artistic, and social hierarchy would have forced themselves naturally upon them, unless the characteristic rigidity of the strong English mind had not been too developed, as is often the case.
It is strange, on the other side, how awkwardly eminent English writers, who recommend to their countrymen French models, often fail in what they recommend so zealously—nuance and lightness of touch. I see an important review say of Heine that "he is a German in nothing but language"; I hear a well-known critic declare roundly that Englishmen ought to take method in Germany, but form in France, because there existed no such thing as a "well-written book" in Germany; I read in a celebrated writer's warnings against metaphysics, that there is absolutely nothing to be learned from "Kant, Strauss, and all the other Germans" (the copulation "Kant-Strauss" is delightful); I discover in a fourth not less eminent author, that Macaulay is the "King of Philistinism." Now, to take up only one of those instances of want of nuance resulting from a misunderstanding of foreign words and ideas, the word philistine is a new expression, taken from the German, and if an Englishman uses it he is bound to use it in the German sense, or to declare that he gives it another sense, else nobody will understand his meaning. But if there was ever a man who was not a philistine in the German sense of the word, it was Macaulay. I do not attempt to write an apology of Macaulay. Few men have stronger than he the two qualities most antipathetic to the Germans, faithful to the rhetoric and party spirit. Still he is not the least a philistine for all that. A man who takes part in a great public life, who has breasted and breathed the storms of Westminster, who has seen the wonderland of India, and legislated for a hundred million British subjects; a man who alternated in his readings between Alexandre Dumas and Thucydides, and could relish Charles II.'s mots and Peterborough's freaks without allowing his moral disapprobation to disturb his enjoyment—such a man is not a philistine, can not be a philistine. This word, indeed, has always kept in the German mind something of its origin: the opposition to the liberty and Bohemian life of the student. What constitutes philistinism is pedantic regularity of habits, both in life and thought, prosiness, want of enthusiasm, narrowness of social and intellectual horizon, a certain mild conventionalism and timid shrinking from paradox, noise, and phantasy. Never was there any man less philistine than the dashing,
creed of their fathers:
bustling, passionate Whig, whose ponderous rhetoric charmed the youth of our generation throughout the civilized world.
Frenchmen are particularly struck by the want of proportion in certain English books and essays, Germans by the subjective tone of many of them. With the former the smallest essay has its regular plan, with an introduction, well-balanced parts, and a peroration. They never break up abruptly, alleging want of space, never dwell disproportionately on one argument or fact of their subject. I have read English articles on M. Rénan which neglected the most elementary rules of composition in the very praise of the master in architectural harmony. So it is with simplicity of language. There are some modern English writers who seem to have gone to school at Victor Hugo's and T. Gautier's rather than at Musset's or Mérimée's, who, in our century, represent the real tradition of France in poetical literature. Clearness and fluency, once the characteristic sign of English prose and verse, such as Addison and Pope framed them, seem to be no longer considered as virtues; at least the combination of both these qualities becomes rarer and rarer. And, as the sentences are often either hacked up and minced, or intricate and involved, so the words have a tendency to become more and more abstract and pale, or of a coloring so loud and glaring that the ordinary reader shuts his eyes after a few pages. This, however, is-as the aforesaid defects—not exclusively English: Germany, France, Italy, are also having their "Venetian writers, after having had their "Giotteschi." Nor is the extreme subjectivity of the modern English writer, particularly the critics and literary historians, more exclusively British. The person of the modern author is everywhere nowadays inclined to put himself unconsciously into the foreground. He is always present, even when he deprecates his presence, and precisely when he does so. He will never allow his subject to speak for itself, never allow the reader the highest pleasures of reading, viz., to draw his own conclusions, make his own observations, and connect his own reminiscences. The writer seems ever preoccupied to show his own wealth of ideas, aperçus, and knowledge, lest the reader should not know what a thoughtful and learned and superior man the critic is. Nor can there be anything more un-English than the modern mania of generalizing and discovering historical laws (instead of collecting facts), of which England seems to have caught the infection from the Continent. What is perhaps more particularly characteristic of the English writer is that he has generally his practical aim in writing. He likes to be a reformer. I might name English unbe
No nation is absolutely devoid of the intellectual and moral qualities which are more characteristic of their neighbors, and more frequent among them. The thing Heine most wondered at in history, after the fact that Jesus was a Jew, was the circumstance of Shakespeare being an Englishman. Witty as this may be, it would betray a very shallow view of national characteristics if we were to take it for more than a joke. There are many sides, assuredly, by which Shakespeare is totally un-English, as Goethe is totally un-German by many of his qualities. So was Luther, so is Bismarck. Still, the one and the other would only have been possible in England and Germany. What they have over and above the highest degree of national qualities is not French or Italian, but the highest expression of the human-it is genius. Obviously it would be ridiculous to pretend that all the cultivated men of a nation should be geniuses, and unite the best of national qualities with the noblest gifts of humanity at large; still, something of the kind must be the ideal aim of a national culture if that culture is to be looked up to by the civilized world as one of the highest expressions of human civilization.
I have always thought that the true English gentleman (I mean gentleman not in the modern sense-for jampridem vera vocabula rerum amisimus-but in the good old sense of the word, because with a strong race like the Teutonic it requires the education of generations to refine the rough nature and bring out a higher type)—I have always been of opinion that the Englishman of good birth, well balanced in body and soul, a master of manly sport, but fed with the classical education of an English university, accustomed to liberty and public life, having seen the Continent and understood it, never shrinking from responsibility, full of national pride, but putting truth higher than blind love of his country, and having the courage to denounce his country's shortcomings-that such an Englishman comes nearer than any other national type of modern times to the kalokagathia of the ancients. Doubtless he has not in a general way the artistic nor the speculative bent of mind which even the Dorian possessed so eminently, but in amends he has often an almost virginal delicacy of feeling, coming out in his family life as well as in his love and poetry, and which was utterly unknown to the ancients. Doubtless this type of the Englishman is here and there veiled, as it were, and threatens to disappear altogether, be it before