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archæology more searching than any
(« It is true," he writes, “ that I neither novelist can attempt. Even if learn can nor do pretend to the observation of coming could supply the mediæval counter
plete accuracy, even in matters of outward
costune, much less in the important points of part of every detail in Adam Bede, it
langnage and manners. But the same motive would be of no use, because neither the which prevents my writing the dialogue of the writer nor the reader of to-day would
piece in Anglo-Saxon or Norman-French, and
which prohibits my sending forth to the pubhave the necessary instinctive feeling
lic this essay printed with the types of Caxton of its dramatic significance. The
or Wynken de Worde, prevents my attempting modern novelist uses his wealth of to confine myself within the limits of the modern detail intuitively, in a sense
period in which my story is laid. It is necesunconsciously, feeling immediately and
sary for exciting interest of any kind, that the
subject assumed should be as it were, transwithout effort its dramatic effect, in lated into the manners, as well as the language deed feeling the dramatic passion in of the age we live in. No fascination has ever and by means of the detail. Such
been attached to Oriental literature equal to
that produed by Mr. Galland's first translation tragedies as Adam Bede and Le Père
of the Arabian tales ; in which, retaining on Goriot are born incarnate in the minds
the one hand the splendour of Eastern costume, of a Balzac or a George Eliot. Similarly and on the other the wildness of Eastern ficthe reader immediately and without tion, he mixed these with just so much ordineffort takes in along with the details
ary feeling and expression, as rendered them
interesting and intelligible.” their full significance. In the historical novel this is impossible. “Either," The above reflections serve, we think, to quote Mr. Leslie Stephen once more, to make clear the negative limitations “ the novel becomes pure cram, a dic of the historical novel. Wherever the tionary of antiquities dissolved in a method adopted makes the dramatic thin solution of romance, or, which is force dependent on vivid portrayal of generally more refreshing, it takes mental experience, or wherever the leave of accuracy altogether.” The dramatic action is involved intimately, halves of Mr. Stephen's soul are in and so to speak organically, in a frame conflict, and in that “generally more of familiar circumstance, the historical refreshing” we see the novel-reading form presents unconquerable difficulDr. Jekyll, who loves his Ivanhoe and ties. Hence, in the first place, the his Raphael ben Ezra, getting the historical novel cannot achieve in its better of the scientific Mr. Hyde. sphere the triumphs of the great poetic
But there is an even subtler difficulty. tragedies. The attempt to present The spirit of man changes with the Hamlet as a veritable Dane in all the ages.
Sentiment, and a novel must Danish detail of his uprising and deal largely with sentiment, changes downsitting, or to embody the tragedy rapidly. A writer of to-day can no of Othello in a careful reproduction of more put his spirit back some centuries the daily life of old Venice, must than a man of fifty can feel like a boy necessarily break down, and we should of fifteen. And in this matter of accu find that the spiritual realism, so inrate sentiment, again, as in the matter tense in the poetry, had also vanished. of accurate detail, there is further the Novels, again, in which the interest reader to be considered.
If it were depends upon the reader's sympathetic possible to reproduce the sentiment of realisation of the most intimate feela bygone time, accuracy would be ings and passions depicted, and of dearly purchased by the sacrifice of every incident and habit of daily life dramatic impressiveness and of the in which the dramatic action is inreader's sympathy. Scott, in the dedi volved: or again, so-called psychologicatory epistle to Dr. Dryasdust prefixed cal novels, delighting their votaries to Ivanhoe, shows himself fully alive to by keen and accurate observation of this, and as an artist deliberately special character or shades of idiosynputs dramatic interest above historical crasy: or novels of manners like Miss accuracy.
Austen's or Trollope's or Thackeray's
(if we may isolate a side of his genius): literal truth at defiance, yet convince -all these fields are closed to the by its flawless decorative propriety. historical novelist.
When we read these romances, we are But to admit thus much is by no not studying archæology, nor are we means to give up the historical novel looking for solutions of psychological as Mr. Leslie Stephen has sorrowfully or moral problems : we simply ask to brought himself to do. A criticism be interested by the story, and charmed which is bound by its theory to say by romantic scenes and stirring incithat Ivanhoe and Les Trois Mousque- dents. We demand before all things taires are not good novels surely stands beauty and imaginative satisfaction. self-condemned. The keenest admirer We crave a poetic justice, which would of the art which has given us Eugènie be childish in the other sphere : Grandet, Mme. Bovary or Amos Barton heroism must triumph at last and will occasionally, when in the swing of villainy die horrid deaths. And proDumas' stride, and under the spell of vided the imagination be indeed satishis matchless buoyancy and resource, fied, literal accuracy is immaterial. recall those masterpieces with some In order to satisfy the imagination, thing like a mental yawn. Scott and the novelist, it is true, must produce & Dumas have fascinated and continue temporary illusion of reality; but it is to fascinate thousands, who are per- enough if the spirit is cheated or fectly well aware that the history of charmed into acquiescence. In their novels is as romantic as the recent book on Shakespeare it was fiction. Whatever else it may do, the laid down as a canon of dramatic inevitable inaccuracy, which, as we see, criticism, that improbability only Scott serenely admits, manifestly does apparent to subsequent reflection was not spoil the novel as a novel for the no valid objection to a piece of action unsophisticated reader. He instinc felt by an actual spectator to be at tively recognises that he has to do with the time natural and right. Now the a different kind of novel, depending magic of these masters of narrative for its effect upon different conditions. fiction produces at the time just the To confound the kinds, and require the illusion of reality appropriate to their same conditions in all, is but a blun class and scale of work. While you dering criticism. These historical surrender yourself to their spell, you romances bear to such novels feel yourself moving naturally among Balzac's something of the same rela historic scenes and personages.
While tion that the Epic bears to Tragedy. you have faith, you walk the treachThe attempt to include the Epic erous waters like the firm earth. The within the type of Tragedy involved interest and charm prevent your being Green in the critical blunder of rank disquieted by critical doubts at the ing Paradise Lost above The Iliad, like time, whatever history may have to Mr. Bright. If Le Père Goriot is say to you on the morrow when you! worthy to be called a French Lear, Les are in cold blood. And illusion is Trois Mousquetaires may not unfitly be rendered the easier to produce by the styled a French Iliad. Scott and kind of detail and scale of characterDumas were in fact born story tellers drawing appropriate to what we may --would there were more like them! call the Epic novel. Minute and —and story is not tied down to rigor elaborate character and familiar deous scientific accuracy.
It is as it tail are here out of place. Yet it is were a literary decorative art. It a grave mistake to suppose character depends, that is to say, upon a sense and incident independent of each of beauty, rather than on a demand other, much less antagonistic. They for truth: it appeals chiefly to the are strictly inseparable: being indeed, imagination. Like much beautiful if the expression be tolerable, statical Oriental decoration it may often set and dynamical aspects of the same
talk of this novel the period may be effectual to break being saved by its drawing of charac the charmalas! for the hapless ter, and that story by its plot or wight cursed with a too intrusive incidents; but true salvation lies in knowledge. And it may indeed be the right artistic proportion between that the old historical romances. are character and incident. The incidents, a delight destined to fade in the for after all they are incidents, of noonday glare of science. We shall Eugénie Grandet and Mme. Bovary are all eat of the Tree of Knowledge, just the inevitable incidents in the and shall be as Professors of History evolution of the moral tragedy. So knowing fact from fancy. But we on the other hand, there is in fact shall lose our paradise, and our sorrow admirable drawing of character in shall be greatly multiplied in our conAthos, Portbos and Aramis, above all ception of the historical novel of the in the incomparable d'Artagnan; but future. In sorrow we shall bring them it is of the precise scale fitted to carry forth, and we shall read them with the rush of exciting incident. The pearls of sweat upon our brows. In truth of this may be recognised by the secret places of our soul, there lurks, imagining the effect on the narrative we confess it, a love for the “fearless of replacing these splendid fellows by old fashion" of the old romances : yet some of Mr. Henry James's carefully the bliss of ignorance cannot perhaps analysed souls, – but, be it also last for ever. Let us illustrate the observed, we should equally destroy transitoriness of such bliss by reference the interest of the narrative by re to a romancer, whom no one has accused placing them with the wooden lay of being historical. Love for Quida figures of inferior craftsmen. If cannot blind us now to the fact that Dumas's people were mere lay-figures,
her fashion is a trifle too fearless; yet we should no longer listen with rap in our happy youth that wonderful ture to the click and clash of d'Artag- telegram in Idalia sent to check the nan's sword, nor follow the progress
of mission of the Queen's Messenger,-Aramis' subterranean intrigues with "The Border eagle flies eastward. Clip breathless interest, nor weep salt tears, the last feather of the wing, &c.”— as all right-minded people now do, over gave us a fearful joy, denied, possibly the Homeric death of Porthos. An to the permanent official familiar with historical novelist can only attempt the prose of Foreign Office cipher. elaborate character or familiar detail Perhaps one reason (among others on peril of awakening a fatal critical which it would be painful to press) spirit by inevitable modernisms. He that we cannot to-day write like Scott is however in no way obliged to incur and Dumas, is that we are in the fatal this peril. As Scott says in the transition state between blissful ignorEpistle to Dryasdust, our ancestors ance and complete knowledge. We “had eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, haye .
not acquired the historical senses, affections, passions'; were mastery which might enable us, per• fed with the same food, hurt with haps, to use historical detail naturally the same weapons, subject to the and easily; yet we are conscious of the same diseases, warmed and cooled by demand for accuracy, and work with the same winter and summer' as our the fear of the new broom of historical selves ;” and by confining himself to criticism before our eyes.
We have these permanent elements, and to the fallen from the innocency of Ouida, and simple character suitable to the Epic have not yet been redeemed by perfect style, he may produce and maintain knowledge. And in this interval, the all the illusion of reality which is needed hand of the artist is only paralysed by to give the full effect to his story. the continual demand of the critic for
No doubt a very intimate and accu. accuracy, and the yearning of historic rate acquaintance with the history of science to see the abomination of its
own desolation standing also where it more important and valuable to the ought not, in the temple of Romance. story-teller even than this wealth of
The foregoing remarks might seem scenes and incidents, of great causes to suggest that it is the romance which and great characters, is the circumamcharms, and that the historical romance
bient air of heroism and romance. charms not by reason but in spite of Herein we find perhaps the only its historical character,—the historical substitute now left to us for the character indeed but introducing ele mystery and magic of the world's wonments of difficulty and decay. But dering youth. Mr. Louis Stevenson has surely this is not the case : surely the taken the Arabian Nights as the crown. charm lies essentially in the historical ing type of pure romance,-alas ! that character. To recognise this, is it not
" should have been made enough to let the imagination wander equivocal. But such glorious tales it in memory for a few seconds amid the is not for us to write upon whom the romantic scenes of Scott's historical ends of the world are come. For many tales, or the variegated dramatic life of us the haunted and mysterious spaces of Dumas' greatocycles ? No, assuredly of unknown history are the next best historical romance has special charms playing-ground for the imagination, of its own, which the world should not and afford to the romancer the witchwillingly let die. What a relief it is ing gloom or glamour of golden haze, to get away from ourselves and our wherewith to work his miracles. So neighbours, our small concerns, petty let us still cling to the hope that even jealousies or petty ambitions, and all under the full blaze of the meridian the provinciality of our moment of sun of science, the world will keep time and corner of space, to breathe a apart a shady bower of art where the larger and more heroic air, at what eyes shall discern artistic excellence ever cost of archaeological accuracy : in the midst of much inaccuracy-do to rub shoulders with great events,
we not still admire Raphael's fiddling and feel the stir of mighty principles. Apollo 1—that it may still enjoy Scott's And see what boundless wealth of genuine enthusiasm for a misunderpicturesque character and scenic effect stood feudalism as we enjoy the enand dramatic clashings between de thusiasm of the Renaissance for a votion to great causes and personal misunderstood paganism, not merely loves and hates, the field of history because in each case the enthusiasm offers. Are we to rob romance of her was but the first step to a truer Paladins, and Huguenots and Covenan science, but because it was beautiful ters, of her witchcraft, and her in itself and produced much beautiful Inquisition, of her Cour de Lion, her work. However-learned the world Richelieu and her Queen of Scots ? may grow, it will be an ill day for What becomes of Ivanhoe, without its it when we can no longer take our strife of English feeling and Norman pleasure in the buoyant narrative and pride, and its medieval Judenhetze ; quick invention of Dumas, or in those or of Les Trois Mousquetaires without incomparable presentations of human the political entanglements of loyalty nature, eternally the same through to Richelieu or to the Queen, which all changes of place and time, in which but serve to beat out the heroic friend- only Homer and Shakespeare have ships into a nobler harmony? And rivalled Walter Scott.
No. 337.-TOL. LVII.
" They are quarto-decimans, and they poral punishment for breach of rules. have the tonsure of Simon Magus.
the panacea : when his That was the verdict pronounced by monks were ill with colds, he cured the Gallic clergy on a little knot of them by making them get up and strange-looking priests, speaking a thresh wheat till they sweated prostrange tongue, and shaven from the fusely.
Columban's rule was very brow as far back as the middle of the near superseding the Benedictine : the head, the hair behind being left as latter, which, besides being supported long as that of a Merovingian king by Rome, met human nature half-way, who appeared in the country of the did not gain the victory till fifty years Burgundians close on the last decade after Columban's death, A. D. 664, when, of the sixth century. Of these the indeed, the Scots were defeated all leader was Columban, the Scotic Saint along the line, for in that same year Francis Xavier, a man who has at Colman lost and Wilfrid won, at the least as much claim on
Council of Whitby. brance as Saint Nicholas of Myra, or At Bangor, he tells us : under Comsome two-thirds of our other black- gall, I, Columban the sinner, lived for letter saints.
twelve years in a cell far from home." Columban was a Scot, one of that Rudely built, though wattled work nation of whom bis biographer, the may be very artistically managed, a monk Jonas, second abbot of Bobbio, Scotic monastery was a place of culwonders that, “though outside the ture beyond most places in that day. laws of the rest of the world, it is Columban's Latin prose is quite Cicesuperior to the rest in both faith ronian compared with that of Jonas, and dogma.” Born in Leinster in 543, or with the turgid seventeenth century the year in which Saint Benedict died, stuff, which in Colgan is about as bad he studied under Saint Sinell at Clon it is in Neville's Furores NorInis (the meadow - isle), in Lough folckensium of seventy years earlier. Erne. But he was handsome, as other His Latin verse is elegance itself, Scotic saints seem to have been, and compared with the metrical life by his beauty was a snare to him. Α. Flodoard, canon of Rheims. And then holy woman of the neighbourhood, he knew Greek and Hebrew (as is seen perhaps a nun in one of those dual in his letters to Boniface the Fourth), monasteries of which Whitby was an very rare accomplishments then and English example, warned him :" Away long afterwards; and doubtless, like young man, away: shun ruin." So others of his countrymen, he held truer he went to Saint Comgall (who at views about astronomy than those with Bangor in Down, and its daughter which the rest of the world was satisfied houses, ruled three thonsand monks), till Copernicus's days. However, when entered under him and became his he was more than forty years old, the favourite disciple. Comgall's rule, Scotic lust for travel came on him which was practically that of Colum so irresistibly that he deemed it “a ban, was a vaguer, shorter, stricter Jonging kindled by the fire of God”; form of Saint Benedict's. It enjoined and, much against Comgall's will, he absolute obedience, encouraged labour passed through Britain, some twelve (the teaching and practice of hus years before Saint Augustine landed, bandry, especially), and provided cor and crossed to Gaul. Here Guntram,