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Sir Wyville Thomson was an intimate friend brought forward by Messrs. Murray and of mine, and I am glad to have been afforded Guppy against Darwin's theory are not facts ; one more opportunity of clearing his character secondly, that the others are reconcilable with from the aspersions which have been so reck. Darwin's theory; and, thirdly, that the theo. lessly cast upon his good sense and his scien- ries of Messrs. Murray and Guppy tific honor.
tradicted by a series of important facts” (p. (6) As to the “overthrow" of Darwin's 13). theory, which, according to the Duke of Argyll, Perhaps I had better draw attention to the was patent to every unprejudiced person four circumstance that Dr. Langenbeck writes un. years ago, I have recently become acquainted der shelter of the guns of the fortress of Strasswith a work, in which a really competent burg; and may therefore be presumed to be authority,* thoroughly acquainted with all the unaffected by those dreams of a “ Reign of new lights which have been thrown upon the Terror” which seem to disturb the peace of subject during the last ten years, pronounces some of us in these islands.-T. H. H., April, the judgment; firstly, that some of the facts 1891.
AMOR IN EXTREMIS.
BY FLORENCE PEACOCK,
'Say, hast thou lied ?' And 'I have lied
R. BROWNING (Count Gismond).
LORD, I have sinn'd; yet grant me grace
Lord, I had vowed to fight for Thee there,
Yet for my vow is there nought to show,
Lied, because a woman was fair,
Blame her not, Lord, for the sin was mine,
* Dr. Langenbeck, Die Theorien über die Entstehung der Korallen-Inseln und Korallen Riffe (p. 13), 1890. NEW SERIES. – VOL. LIV., No 1.
LETTERS IN PHILISTIA.
BY GRANT ALLEN.
A French author addresses, or may
Yet a French author addresses at address, directly in their own tongue some once a vast ready-made auditory over the seventy million human souls at most. civilized earth ; while an English author Indeed, this is a very inclusive estimate, addresses at_best but his own fellowfor I throw in ali Belgium, whether speakers in Europe, America, and AusFlemish or French-speaking, with a liberal tralia. Not only are Renan and Daudet allowance for Gallic Switzerland, Canada, known and read wherever printed books Haiti ; and I deduct nothing at all from can penetrate, but even very young men the total sum (since I hate subtraction) (as we count youth nowadays), like Paul for the mass of Southern Frenchmen who Bourget and Guy de Maupassant, can can speak or read no language save Pro- achieve at one blow a European reputavençal, nor yet for the remnant of German tion. Whereas English men of lettersAlsace, for La Bretagne Bretonnante, for as distinguished from English men of scithe Basques of the Pyrenees, for the ence-rarely attain any celebrity at all, at Italians of Corsica, for the Arabs and least during their own lifetime, outside the Kabyles and Berbers of Algeria. narrow limits of their essentially provincial reality, were I disposed to be strict, a English-speaking world. modest estimate of forty-five inillion peo * That," the suburban critic interposes ple who have used French from childhood glibly, with the easy confidence begotten as their mother-tongue would be far of plentiful want of thought, “ that is, of nearer the mark than the generous figures course, because everybody everywhere I here assign them. But let that pass. learns at least to read French, while comWe will allow for argument's sake, just to paratively few foreigners ever learn to read prevent unpleasantness, that a French English.” You think so? Well, so be novelist, poet, rhetorician, or thinker ad. it. I fancied, my friend, you would raise dresses directly an audience of some sev- offhand that cheap and ineffective solution enty millions. Well, and an English au- of a hard problem. But, then, how about thor addresses directly, in Europe, Asia, Russian ? Tolstoi, Dostoieffski, TourgéAfrica, Australia, America, a roughly esti- nieff, and the rest are so much appreciated mated audience of at least one hundred and admired in Western Europe, I supand ten million souls. He speaks to the pose, because all of us know how to read greatest theatre the world has ever known. and speak Russian so fluently ! His breast swells with manly pride as he fainiliar acquaintance with the Scandinavian thinks of his Mission. From his stage in dialects forms an integral part of a polite London he scatters his words broadcast to education, of course ; which is why all all the four winds of heaven, to be wafted the world goes wild about Ibsen. A genon the breeze (or, more practically, in the tleman can hardly confess to a complete mail-bags) to the uttermost parts of the ignorance of Provençal ; and that explains earth, from the Shetlands to New Zea- the vogue accorded to Mireio. land, from Labrador to California, from nonsense! The plain truth is this--it Jamaica to Mauritius, from the Cape of matters little nowadays in what language Good Hope to Honolulu and Fiji and a man delivers himself, provided only he British Columbia.
has something to say that interests the naBut with what effect ? Ah, there tions. Given that prime factor, and the comes the difference! We may blush to greedy translator pounces upon his work admit it. France is an almost restrictedly from afar off, like the hawk upon the European republic, with a dwindling pa- laverock. You may read Herbert Spencer tive population of forty million souls ; nowadays in Japanese or Gujerati ; and England is the centre of a world-wide em- my friend Edward Clodd has seen his pire, which has colonized enormous tracts graceful and beautiful Childhood of the of all the outlying continents, and ab. World rendered not only into the Finnish sorbed in its colonies, revolted or faithful, tongue but also into the guttural clicks of the entire overflow of other tongues and the Bechuana Kaffirs.
Yet the fact remains that, while the In England, indeed, literature has a English author addresses at first hand the strange environment. No rare plant ever largest audience in the world, fewer Eng- throve on stonier soil. It is Bohemia in lish authors are known outside the English. Philistia, a little archipelago of island speaking people than Scandinavians or specks that fleck a vast wide sea of stag. Russians. It is quite true, the names nant indifference. The man of letters in alone of a few icy peaks in our contem- Britain lives and moves and has his being porary literature, now hoary with age and in an alien world, that distrusts and disclogged with gathering glaciers, may be likes him. The light shines in the darkfreely heard in Continental salons. Even ness, and the darkness comprehendeth it Frenchmen are probably aware that we not. For we English, owing in part to possess a Tennyson-perhaps (though ethnical causes, in part to that singular isothere I am more doubtful) a Morris, a lation of our component classes which Meredith, a Froude, a Swinburne. But Matthew Arnold deplored—itself, as I benobody on the Continent really reads Eng- lieve, a result of imperfect ethnical interlish books (except in science and philoso- mixture—we English consist of more phy); nobody certainly ever opens an sharply demarcated intellectual and English novel. Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, æsthetic grades than any other people on Tyndall, Thompson, are names as familiar earth one has seen or read of. Nobody throughout Europe as in Burlington House could ever have asked about Englishmen, itself. Not so our contemporary poets, as the French wit asked about Germans, romance-writers, essayists. They address si un anglais peut avoir de l'esprit. at best England, America, Australia. Genius, intelligence, humor, brilliancy, With that magnificent audience ready-made cleverness, exist among us in rank abunfor their effusions, not an echo of their dance. But they exist for all that as comvoice ever transcends for a moment the parative exceptions. No nation produces provincial bounds of Greater Britain.
more ; but no nation produces them in It's always a pleasure to me to agree such strange isolation. The mass of our with Mr. Stead, with whom one can so middle class is as dull as ditch-water or often and so amicably differ; and I agree the dullest German. The exceptions are with him cordially in his profound belief almost as sparkling as champagne or the in the glorious future reserved for the most sparkling Frenchman. And between Anglo-Celtic race. The world is to the the two extremes there are but few gradayoung, says the Servian proverb ; and tions. What we lack, in a word, is not England shows its perennial youth to the men of genius, but a large appreciative present day, by being fruitful and multi- and critical body of the general public. plying and replenishing the earth, which Now, English literature is all, in the no effete organism, be it man or nation, main, and roughly speaking, produced in ever yet through all time has succeeded in England. The thirty millions do the doing. The English-speaking writer thinking and writing for the hundred and ought, therefore, to have the whole world ten. McKinley has failed to protect ocat his feet. Instead of that, he is ousted cidental culture. There is an American on his own ground, often enough, by the literature, it is true ; but it is relatively Zolas and the Gaboriaus, the Tolstois and insignificant in amount for a population the Ibsens. It's easier to boom a Basque of over fifty millions, and most of it is poet or a Queen of Roumania than to gain modelled on native English forms. With attention abroad for an English writer. few exceptions, indeed — Mark Twain, And why! Not surely because English Bret Harte, Walt Whitman-the best of writers have nothing to say : ideas spring it rings but a faint echo of Britannic muras thick and as spontaneous on English soil, murs, thrives feebly as a Bostonian exotic, I verily believe, as on Muscovite steppes nursed with studious care in the artificial or Norwegian fiords—Britain pullulates hothouses of the Back Bay and the halls with genius : but because that Philistine of Harvard. There is even beginning to English spirit which Mr. Stead adores be in a certain vague and formless way, as effectually nips those ideas in the bad, be- of the evolving jelly-fish, some rudimentary fore they have ever the chance of bursting foreshadowing of Australian and Canadian into flower and bringing forth kindly fruits literature. But these formative efforts on in due season.
the part of the outlying members of the
hundred and ten affect but little as yet wares, contre cour, to suit the taste of the either the outer shape or the informing British public, and would far rather try spirit of English letters. Our literature is their hand ai something airy, light, true, still of London, Londony. From “the sympathetic, artistic. Only they can't. great heart of the empire," to quote for Supply and Demand govern the market in once our apostle of the English-speaking literature as they govern the market in race, most English thinking, most English Manchester piece goods. art as expressed in words, still proceeds, headed beast, says publisher or editor to as point of origin. New York, Chicago, his “bands," the authors, requires for Montreal, Melbourne, are at best receptive; the moment such and such mental pabufrom London springs the thought that lum. Very well, responds the obedient moves the English-speaking world, as far hack, with the cheerful alacrity born of as the English-speaking world is moved at long disregard of one's own tastes and all by thought or by language.
feelings; then the many-headed beast And there comes the rub. C'est là le shall be humored to the top of his bent. diable! This purely English milieu, in We will tickle his thick ribs. We will suit which and for which our literature is him to his fancy. produced, is a milieu utterly alien and Hence it has come about that English inimical to the whole literary or artistic producers of popular literature are mostly spirit. When the English writer says hack-workers. The Sons of the Prophets so, the gentleman in the street thinks inhabit a new and better-paid Grubb Street. the English writer means merely that he In so far as a larger and more clamorous isn't allowed to use ugly words and de- public demands their wares, to be sure, scribe risky situations of a peculiar charac- they are immensely better off than the ter. What a grotesque misunderstanding! wretched immortals who toiled at starvaAs well might he suppose that Puritanism tion wages for Tonson and Lintott. Curmilitated against literature and art only in rent quotations of literary labor rule now so far as it insisted on cutting out the name almost a quarter as high as the earnings of of the deity and all profane oaths from doctors, lawyers, dentists, clergymen ; dramatic pieces, and on eschewing the they frequently reach to perhaps as much nnde in mythological painting. The effect as a twentieth part of the average stockof the Philistinism of the English public broker's. On the purely material side, upon the English artist, in words or in col- therefore, divine genius cannot reasonably ors, is something infinitely deeper, more complain : it is recompensed in some cases cramping, more pervasive, more soul- quite as highly as many commercial travdestroying in every way, than that. It is ellers. But the material side doesn't an effect due to a resolutely inartistic at- altogether close the question. Genius has titude of mind, an utter absence of sym- tastes—likes and dislikes of its own. pathy with or interest in whatever most Authors, in the lump, are men above the moves the true artist or the true literary average in intellect and ability. They worker. Art in France and in many other tend, as a rule, to have opinions and ideas. countries can count upon intelligent recep- They would usually prefer to consult those tion from an immense public. Art in Eng- opinions and ideas in writing their books land can expect little but chilly neglect, or or journalistic utterances. Most often, even open hostility, from the vast mass of indeed, in their callow apprenticeship, they the unreceptive or actively hostile crowd begin by doing so. But, schooled by exthat passes it by in contempt or throws perience, they soon learn better. Editors mud from the gutter at it.
return their immortal blank verse, unread : The British public is, in one word, publishers decline (with thanks) their stodgy. Stodginess is the salient charac- psychological novel. Then gradually they teristic of the bourgeois class that gives grow wise. They acquiesce in the inevitone to the whole, including society; and table. They bow down their heads meekly whatever is produced for its palate must before Demand and Supply, those ecobe stodgy also. But it doesn't follow that nomic Demogorgons of a commercial age, who drives fat oxen should himself be fat. and obediently produce what their public Nay, more, for the most part, I believe, requires of them. It is Samson and the the producers of stodgy literature and Philistines. Divine genius must needs stodgy art turn out their solidly insipid make sport for the daughters of the enemy.
See here, then, this paradox. The public round to them. But such exceptions public are stodgy and crave for stodginess.
For the most part, our men of But no stodgy person is fitted by nature to letters have to bend themselves from the supply what they want to them. For why? first to the public will. Bohemians by the public likes its stodgy material served birth, unsuited to crook the supple knee up to it piping hot, with delicate sauce before vile conventions, and endowed with which may titillate its dull nerves, and wide and comprehensive views of men and make the old food seem new to its jaded nature, they have to narrow their scope palate. It
says, in effect, to the would and confine their ideas, for hire, till they be author-"You're a clever fellow. suit the limited purview of their Philistine Come now, then, dress me up a nice tale
paymasters. to my fancy. Let it be stodgy, of course; Come out and be a leader !” says the let it be flat as I am ; let it tell of my own seer to the man who thinks. But what is commonplace uninteresting loves and the good of being a leader where no man hates ; let it flatter my base prejudices ; follows ? Obey the finest intuitions of let it carefully avoid treading on my favor- your own genius," says the critic to the ite corns : but let it also be amusing, cun neophyte. But what is the good of the ningly wrought, deftly worded. Make it intuitions of genius if the publisher returns bloody, if you like ; inake it sensational, genius its manuscript by parcel post, with exciting ; but don't for a moment intrude a polite intimation that Mr. Mudie would upon ine your own singular tastes and refuse to circulate such stuff, and that the ideas. They're not the same as mine, and Right Honorable Goliath of the railway therefore I don't like them. I don't un bookstalls would exercise his moral cenderstand them. They either shock me, sorship to suppress it sternly? or hurt me, or annoy me, or bore me ; or It is on the modern novel, above all else they strike me (who am confessedly things, that this Philistine supervision less clever than you) as simply ridiculous. weighs hardest and worst. We have no So absurd that any fellow should think Maupassants over here, no Tolstois, no otherwise than as I do ! He can have no Lotis. And why? Do you really supcommon-sense ; he must be a wild sort of pose all the intelligent and experienced harum-scarum idiot! At the same time, men who dish up serial stories, hot and I must get you and your likes to write for hot, for our periodical press—able statesme, perforce—not others like myself, be men, some of them ; brilliant poets ; deep cause you only, you other phrasemongers, thinkers-do you really suppose those tried know how to dress up these meagre and hands of the craft like to write the concommonplace and threadbare ideas of mine ventional little variations upon familiar in such a way as tickles my mirth and ex themes, the criss-cross love of two worthy cites my sluggish liver. Go to, therefore ; young men and two amiable young women, you have brains ; exercise them to please on which they ring the changes, sans cesse, ine. Trim you my tale as the tailor trims in magazine and newspaper? Do you my coat, to satisfy the customer.” really suppose none of them is capable of
And most men of letters have to submit originating anything profounder or wiser, to this hateful drudgery. They have to of revealing the abysmal depths of comwrite things which perpetually offend their plex personality, of dissecting into its own philosophic creed, their own artistic prime elements some genuine tragedy of sensibilities, They have to please the the human heart? I for one will never hundred-handed bourgeois Briareus, on believe it. There are as good fish in the pain of starvation. Some few of them, sea as ever came out of it.
There are as to be sure—some very, very few, are men many great souls in England as ever. It's of means, and can afford to write as they only the latter-day dominance of the will, regardless of their public. Ruskin stodgy bourgeois spirit which warps them did that, from the first, very much to his from their true bent, and sends them off advantage. So, in another way, more on the bias to produce, against their will, heroic, did Herbert Spencer. So too did insipid cakes and mild ale for the British George Meredith ; so also did Swinburne. Philistine. And they each in the end, by dint of studi Mr. W. E. Henley, that acute and clever ous interpretation at the hands of admiring critic, once did a minor writer (in point disciples, succeeded at last in bringing the of fact, the present humble scribe) the