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contrive so soon to outgrow that dangerous quality), except that they never cross-examine themselves on the subject. The moment that process begins, their speech loses its gift of unexpectedness, and they become as tediously impertinent as the rest of us." And again, “Genius is a simple thing of itself, however much of a marvel it may be to other men."

Of the endless twaddle about Originality our author makes as short work as does Mr. Emerson, and very much in that prophet's own spirit : "Originality is the power of digesting and assimilating thoughts, so that they become parts of our own life.” Or elsewhere: “Originality consists quite as much in the power of using to purpose what it finds ready to hand as in that of producing what is absolutely new.” Compare this with Emerson, who points out that Shakespeare was little solicitous whence his thoughts were derived, and adds, " Chaucer was a huge borrower," but both “steal by apology—that which they take has no worth where they find it, and the greatest where they leave it. ... It has come to be practically a sort of rule in literature that a man having once shown himself capable of original writing is entitled thenceforth to steal from the writings of others at discretion. Thought is the property of him who can entertain it, and of him who can adequately place it. A certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts, but as soon as we have learned what to do with them they become our own."

"Shakespeare once more!” Mr. Lowell calls his essay. Does he say anything new? The reader who has read all that has been written about Shakespeare is the best judge of that. I have no such pretensions ; but the summing-up on various counts is very good and clear, especially the remarks on Heminge and Condell, “ the two obscure actors to whom we owe the preservation of several of his plays and the famous Folio edition of 1623.” Mr. Lowell is of opinion that bad is the best extant version as to accuracy ; that the rugged incomplete, obscure, and irregular passages are all imperfect, and, that Shakespeare never wrote bad metre, rugged rhyme, nor loose and obscure English. This may be true ; at all events, no one can say that it is not so. To me it appears like saying that Handel never wrote indifferent music, or that Raffaelle is never out of drawing. It always seems to me to be putting an ideal strain upon human nature-this steady elimination of the “pot-boiling” element

. It may not always have been so prominent as in the case of Handel, or poor Morland, or Fielding, or the divine Mozart; but one who, like Shakespeare, must have produced with great speed at high pressure, and who certainly was not above writing

down to his public, may have occasionally had such a moderate opinion of his audience, and such an indisposition to do the plus quam satis, as to leave a passage rough on occasion without much injury to himself or to posterity.

But here am I emptying my little basket on the mighty rubbishheap of Shakespearian speculation! Let me rather note Mr. Lowell's fine appreciation of the way in which at first every one feels himself on a level with this great impersonal personality-how Alphonso of Castile fancies he could advise him-how another could tell him there was never a seaport in Bohemia. “Scarce one (for a century or more after his death) but could speak with condescending approval of that prodigious intelligence, so utterly without compare that our baffled language must coin an adjective-Shakespearian—to qualify it.” And then, as time goes on, every one seems to get afraid of him in turn. Voltaire plays the gentleman usher--but when he perceives that his countrymen are really seized, turns round upon the placid Immortal and rails at him with his cowardly “Sauvage ivre, sans la moindre étincelle de bon goût !” Even Goethe, who tries to write like him in “Götz” and fails, comes to the conclu. sion that Shakespeare is no dramatist; and Chateaubriand thinks that he has corrupted art. “He invented nothing,” says Lowell,“ but seems rather to rediscover the world about him."

Mr. Lowell's view of “Hamlet” will be specially interesting to Mr. Irving and his admirers--the more so because Mr. Irving seems to have come to the same conclusion. “Is Hamlet mad?” “High medical authority has pronounced, as usual, on both sides of the question;" but no-Hamlet is not mad intellectually, he is a psychologist and metaphysician, a close observer both of others and of himself, " letting fall his little drops of acid irony on all who come near him, to make them show what they are made of.” Hamlet deprived of reason is a subject for Bedlam--not the stage. If Hamlet is irresponsible, the play is chaos; besides, the feigned madness of Hamlet is one of the few points in which it has kept close to the old story. Morally, Hamlet drifts through the whole tragedy, never keeping on one tack; feigned madness gives to the indecision of his character the relief of seeming to do something, in order as long as possible to escape the dreaded necessity of doing anything at all. He discourses of suicide, but he does not kill himself-he talks of daggers, uses none-goes to England to get farther from present duty - he is irresolute from over-power of thought. He is an ingrained sceptic-doubts the soul, even after the ghost scene--doubts Horatio, doubts Ophelia-his charaeter is somewhat feminine :--but here we break off in despair of being able to give even a rough idea of Mr. Lowell's Hamlet—it is by far the finest piece of literary criticism in the book, and must be studied at the Lyceum.

We here sum up with Shakespeare's moral—“ Lear may teach us to draw the line more clearly between a wise generosity and loosehanded weakness of giving; Macbeth, how one sin involved another and for ever another by a fatal parthenogenesis, and that the key which unlocks forbidden doors to our will or passion leaves a stain on the hand that may not be so dark as blood, but that will not out; Hamlet, that all the noblest gifts of mind slip through the grasp of an infirm purpose."

We turn the closing pages of this essay, unquoted, with reluctance, and pass to two essays which should be hung like pendant pictures “ in every gentleman's library,"--Lessing and Rousseau.

To begin an elaborate essay on Lessing with a disquisition on Burns is characteristic of an author who prefaces a brief notice of Poe with instances of some dozen poets who gave small early promise, as a contrast to Poe, who gave great early promise of ability. After about seven pages, we at last reach Lessing; the seven preceding pages show the extent and carefulness of Mr. Lowell's studies at Dresden; of the definite opinions he formed of Goethe, “ limpidly perfect in his shorter poems-failing in coherence in his longer works;" of the Grand Duke, with his whole court in a sensational livery of blue, yellow, and leather breeches, but still capable of manly friendships with Goethe and Herder, whose only decoration was genius; of Heine, who could be daintily light even in German; of German love-making, which he explains to be “a judicious mixture of sensibility and sausages.” However, Lessing is at last seized in the midst of a setting a little laboured, with great firmness, and Mr. Lowell shows his essential gift, commenting with due appreciation on Herr Stahr's life of Lessing, while leaving on the literary easel a portrait of Lessing very unlike Herr Stahr's. It is in all those points where Lessing differs most from Rousseau, that Lessing charms Mr. Lowell ; his character was more interesting than his works-he was lover of truth first and of literature afterwards; his struggles with poverty brought out his native manliness, his genuineness saved him from that fritter, haste, and vapidity which are the snare of book-makers; when he wants to earn a penny, he says, “I am unhappy, if it must be by writing.” “To call down fire from heaven to keep the pot boiling" is no doubt the prophet's bitterest pill—but we are comforted when we think of the many noble works in art and literature which the world

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would never have had “but for the whips and scourges” of necessity.

In truth, few writers have not discovered that, although inspiration will not always come when called for, it will not often come if it be never called. Emerson's " laying siege to the oracle" is not a bad plan. “Nothing comes of being long in a place one likes,” strikes the key-note of that "restless mounting-upward” endeavour that makes Lessing so congenial a subject to our author.

To him, and not to Wieland, is traced that revolt from pseudoclassicism in poetry, prelude to the romanticism which ran wild in France in the next century. In 1767 Lessing was working at the “Laocoon,” and in 1758 “Emelia Galotti” was begun; and in 1779 “ Nathan the Wise,” by which he was chiefly known outside Germany, was published. In 1781 he died. He may almost be said to have invented German style, and to have converted criticism from the science of party spirit to the service of simplicity and truth. The greatest critic of his age, he also was the first to see that “criticism,” as Mr. Lowell says, can at best teach writers without genius what is to be avoided or imitated. It cannot communicate life, and its effects, when reduced to rule, has commonly been to produce that correctness which is so praiseworthy—and so intolerable.” That so intolerable " is quite in M. Renan's best manner.

Mr. Lowell's candour and breadth are happily displayed in his remarks upon the sentimentalist Rousseau. He dislikes him. His half-conscious hypocrisy, his false sentiment, his self-indulgence and want of true moral fibre, are exactly what are most sickening to his reviewer. Yet will he not suffer him to be pommelled by Burkenay, Irish Edmund is called “ a snob ;” but then Rousseau, with all his faults, was a good red-republican, and Mr. Burke was a person of royalist proclivities. Neither is old Dr. Johnson allowed to jump upon the blithe author of " Emile;” he is promptly remirded of his own friend, “ that wretchedest of lewd fellows, Richard Savage,”

- which is a little hard upon Johnson, as Richard Savage by no means so adequately represented the noscitur a sociis of Johnson's mature life, as did “ Emile” or the “ Confessions” the settled views and tastes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is used, perhaps, a little stringently, to “cheapen ” Byron and Moore with. In comparison with such pet aversions of his, Mr. Lowell evidently considers JeanJacques a man of parts and principles. On the whole, the essay seems very fair to Jean-Jacques, and certainly contains some of Mr.



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Lowell's finest and most sensitive paragraphs. “There is nothing so true, so sincere, so downright and forthright as genius; it is always truer than the man himself is-greater than he.”

And well is the trenchant line drawn between poetical and moral sentiment. “Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action, and that, while tenderness of feeling and susceptibility to generous emotions are accidents of temperament, goodness is an achievement of the will and a quality of life.” And, further, “ There is no selfdelusion more fatal than that which makes the conseience dreamy with the anodyne of lofty sentiments, while the life is grovelling and sensual.” Yet, although Rousseau indulged this self-delusion, "I cannot help looking on him," writes his American critic, “as one capable beyond any in his generation of being Divinely possessed.... The inmost core of his being was religious. . . . Less gisted, he had been less hardly judged. . . . He had the fortitude to follow his logic wherever it led him. . . . More than any other of the sentimentalists, except, possibly, Sterne, he had in him a staple of sincerity. Compared with Chateaubriand, he is honesty; compared with Lamartine, he is manliness itself.” This last is just a little caustic on a man of whom Mr. Lowell wrote in 1848,

This side the Blessed Isles, no tree

Grows green enough to make a wreath for thee ; and

Only the Future can reach up to lay

The laurel on that lofty nature. But times change ; so do men and their opinions. Has not Mr. Emerson, in one of his Olympic moods, declared that “consistency is the bugbear of little minds"? and has not Mr. Lowell analogued the thought in—“the foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions”?

In the bright little essay called, “On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners,” Mr. Lowell expresses what are possibly the feelings of many Americans when he says, “It will take England a great while to get over her airs of patronage towards us, or even possibly to conceal them.” The whole essay is intended, evidently, to be “overheard” on this side of the Atlantic, and is full of humour, wisdom, and wholesome truth, both for Americans and Englishespecially English. It contains this remarkable political utterance, which could never have been written except by an American, and perhaps by no American but Mr. Lowell : “Before the war we were to Europe but a huge mob of adventurers and shopkeepers."

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