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Sonnets as things privy to myself, yet, of theatrical work which came to his hand. courtesy having lent them to some they Glorious as the work is, it was work done as were secretly committed to the Press and a back-playwright. All the little evidence almost finished before it came to my we have points to that, all cxcept Mr. knowledge. Wherefore, making as they Donelly's : his position at the theatre ; the say, Virtue of Necessity, I did deem it sneers of the University wits; the traces of most convenient to prepose my epistle, his manner of work, first his furbishing up only to beseech you to account of them as of stock pieces, then his gradually transof toys and amorous devices ; and ere forming them by his genius, as occasion long, I will impart unto the World an offered and as he felt, his genius firm under other Poem, which shall be both more him ; and finally, for crowning proof, his fruitful and ponderous. In the mean- placid early retirement, leaving a body of while I commit these as a pledge to your actors to complete the famous first folio indifferent censure. W. Percy. London without his assistance or direction. Not,
You see the indiscreet friend mind you, that Shakespeare was not keenly served the bashful Elizabethan the same and fully alive to the omnipotence of his turn that the American pirate served the genius ; you have but to turn to the Sonbashful Macaulay. These Elizabethan toys nets to recognize serene pride of genius and amorous devices are as fresh to-day and a sense of triumphant achievement. as three centuries ago, and thanks to Dr. But the set production of Magna Opera Grosart, Mr. Arber, and Mr. Arthur Bul- was, it would seem, the very last of his len, are still ministering to our exceeding thoughts. great enjoyment. Whether W. Percy Certainly it was the very last of Scott's ever imparted to the world his more thoughts, when he poured forth the fruitful and ponderous poem I am not Waverley Novels in anonymous profu Elizabethan scholar enough to say.
At sion. If ever there was a man free from least I never heard of it. If he did, I all tinge of the superstition of the Magdare swear it is not without reasons that num Opus that man was Walter Scott. the Sonnets to Celia, which are not by Unless we had the convincing evidence of any means the happiest examples of Eliza- Lockhart's book and Scott's own letters bethan sonneteering, are still afloat, while and prefaces to prove it, it would be unthe ponderous poem has gone to the bot- imaginable that this Wizard of Romance tom,
should have flung forth his wonders with Lest such promises of a Magnum Opus so unpremeditated prodigality and held by to follow should be accounted the mere them and the faine of them so lightly. coxcombry of conventional mock-mod- To remember the frank, unaffected, manly esty, let me remind you, that in just such modesty of this man, who justly enjoyed wise did Prior excuse himself for dedicat- in his lifetime unrivalled literary prestige ; ing his light occasional verse to his Me to think of the nonchalance of this giant, cænas Lord Dorset. “I humbly hope of the simplicity of spirit in which he that as I may hereafter bind up my fuller poured out bis immortal tales ; and then sheaf and lay some pieces of a very differ to think of the punctilios and pretensions ent Nature (the product of my severer and professions and protestations of the Studies) at your Lordship’s Feet, I shall novelists of the hour is matter for tears engage your more serious reflection,” and laughter. etc. Now Prior kept this promise. He Scott with characteristic modesty bad achieved bis Magnum Opus, the product consulted James Ballantyne as to his of his severer studies, a piece of a very hopes of him as a novelist. James's hopes different nature from Paulo Furganti and were not high. Scott saw it at a glance ; Hans Carvel. It was Solomon, a Poem but all he said was that he did not see in Three Books. We hope it engaged why he should not succeed as well as other his Lordship's more serious reflections. people.—that is, remember, as well as At least it seems worthy to engage our ** Monk” Lewis and Mrs. Radcliffe and serious reflection in connection with the Jane Porter. “ The Edinbro' faith now present discussion.
is," wrote Scott to Mr. Morritt, one of Pass to the supreme name not only in the very few to whom from the first be Elizabethan but in all literature. Shake- entrusted the secret of the authorship, speare simply did with all his might the "that Waverley is written by Jeffrey,
having been composed to lighten the moor in the midst of intense physical suftedium of his late Transatlantic voyage. fering, the affectionate Laidlaw beseechSo you see the unknown infant is like to ing Scott to stop dictating, when his audicome to preferment. In truth I am not ble suffering filled every pause. “Nay, sure it would be considered quite deco- Willie,' was the answer,
only see the rous for me, as a Clerk of Session, to write doors are fast. I would fain keep all the novels. Judges being monks, Clerks are cry as well as all the wool to ourselves." a sort of lay brethren from whom come
are among these kingly solemnity of walk and conduct may be names, let me be candid and make a presexpected. So whatever I may do of this ent of one to the enemy. For one, and kind, I shall whistle down the wind to one of the mightiest, of the lords of Engprey on fortune.”
And the preface to lish poetic literature the set production of the third edition of Waverley was in just a Magnum Opus was the first and last the same strain of unaffected modesty. thought. Milton's was a life dedicated And if this was before the new success or from the beginning. By the age of in the early days of it, you may see how twenty-three, as appears from a letter to a lasting his mood was by reading the pref- Cambridge friend enclosing the second aces in the collected edition of 1829–30, sonnet, he was cherishing a long-formed long after his literary empire, all unsolic- resolve to devote his life to some great ited, had been universally acknowledged. work. This was his apology for standing Read, for example, the preface to Ivanhoe, aloof from the ordinary money getting the novel which had been received with a pursuits of early inanhood.
This was perfect acclaim of applause. Never was his excuse for his late spring, which still there less blowing of the trumpet and the no bud nor blossom showed, as the sonnet new moon to accompany the birth of mas- phrased it. With this aspiration he enterpieces. Scott was simply filled full to couraged himself, when he became the lips with romance, and when his hour thing suspicious of himself and did take came he just let himself go. You remem notice of a certain belatedness in him.' ber the anecdote in Lockhart, of the hand His deliberate aim was self-cultivation and ceaselessly writing which so bothered self-devotion to the accomplishment of Menzies in his cups ? “I have been some great thing. Very early he found watching it,-it fascinates my eye,-it and took poetry to be his vocation. At never stops,-page after page is finished twenty eight he wrote the famous letter and thrown on a heap of MS., and still it to bis friend Diodati.
" What am I goes on unwearied ; and so it will be till thinking of? Why, with God's help, of candles are brought in, and God knows immortality! Forgive the word, I only how long after that. It is the same every whisper it in your ear! Yes, I am plumnight, I can't stand the sight of it, when ing my wings for a flight.” He wrote so I am not at my books." Some stupid, at the end of the Horton period, when dogged, engrossing clerk, probably,” ex the minor poems had already been given claimed some giddy youth in the com to the world and he had already done pany. “No, boys," answered their enough, you might bave thought, for one host; “I well know what hand it ism'tis life's fame. Tho following year we find Walter Scott's.” And when it came to him casting his thoughts, as so many of still more rapid dictation, Scott preferred our greatest poets have done, on the leJohn Ballantyne as an amanuensis to gend of Arthur for the subject of his Willie Laidlaw, because his pen was the great poem. Then in 1641, being thirtyfaster and also because he kept it to the two years of age, he publicly uttered his paper without interruption, though with apologia and confessed his aspirations. mang an arch twinkle in his eyes and now and then an audible smack of his None hath by more studious ways endeav. lips. Whereas Ladlaw entered with such ored, and with more unwearied spirit none
shall—that I dare almost aver of myself, as far keen zest into the interest of the story as as life and full license will extend. Neither it flowed from the author's lips, that he do I think it shame to covenant with any could not forbear interrupting with his knowing reader that for some few years yet “Gude keep us a'! the like o' that—eh, ment of what I am now indebted, as being a
may go on trust with him toward the pay. sirs, eh, sirs !” Thus was composed no
work not to be raised from the heat of youth, less a work than the Bride of Lammer or the vapors of wine, like that which flows at
waste from the pen of some vulgar annorist, or who has sometimes been regarded, who the trencher fury of a rhyming parasite, nor regarded bimself as a victiın sacrificed to Memory and her siren daughters, but by de journalistic task-work, the man whose vout prayer to that Etertal Spirit, who can
life suggested the remarks in the Daily enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and News with which I started, Theophile sends out his seraphim with the hallowed fire Gautier. What are the odds, if Gautier of his altar to touch and purify the life of had been free from the obligation to turn whom he pleases. To this must be added in. dustrious, select reading, steady observation,
out a weekly dramatic feuilleton, that he insight into all seemly and generous acts and would have given the world any better affairs. Till which in some measure be com. poetry than Emaux et Camées ? Are not passed at mine own peril and cost, I refuse the chances rather that, without the pressnot to sustain this expectation, from as many as are not loth to hazard so much credulity
ure of daily needs, we should have had upon the best pledges that I can give them.
to go without many of the very delightful
volumes we now have from his pen, and And again in that famous and often have got nothing whatever in their place? quoted passage :
Any way, the story goes, and it is an odd Perceiving that some trifles which I had in story when you come to think of it, that memory, composed at under twenty or there the young Theo in early manhood had to abouts, met with acceptance I began to be shut up in his bedroom by his mother, assent to them (my Italian friends) and divers to write Mlle. de Maupin ! of my friends here at home, and not less to an inward prompting, which now grows daily in Milton's own case to take their stand
Some bold spirits have not feared even upon me, that by labor and intent study, which I take to be my portion in this life. against the superstition of the Magnum joined with the strong propensity of nature, Opus. They would that he had dwelt I might perhaps leave something so written all his life amid the glades of Horton and to aftertimes as they should not willingly let it die.
gone on giving them the magic of the
They lament the sacrifice And the accomplishment of this noble of the poet of Comus and Lycidas to the vow, the end of this nobly dedicated life, poet of the Paradise Lost. They regret was the sublime Puritan Epic, Paradise that many priceless trinkets and much Lost.
matchless filigree work, which would bare There, I hope that I have given away a lent adornment and pleasantness to their handsome enough present in Milton. Yet daily living, must have been melted down really I am making no concession at all. to make that cold colossal statue. Milton did say to himself, Go to, I will fact at least, no doubt, that dozens have write a Great Work,” but thercin he only Lycidas by heart, for every reader who followed the strong propensity of na gets beyond the first book of the great
He did precisely what he had it Epic. The readers indeed of the twelve in him to do. He, if ever any man, had books of Paradise Lost are probably as the call from within. Such call when select a band as the readers of the twelve vonchsafed let all men follow. All my cantos of the Faerie Queene, another of protest is against the call from without the Magna Opera of our poetic literature. Conceive, if you can, Milton turned aside Edgar Poe, who of course dearly loved a from his high and almost holy purpose, paradox, and had besides a theory of his by the allurements of journalism or the own about poetry to support, went so far needs of the passing hour. Why, a civil as to maintain that Paradise Lost was war failed to turn him aside, and, a closer only to be enjoyed by being regarded as affliction still, his own total blindness. a series of minor poems ! Neithər the Protectorate and political em Finally, let not the advocates of the ployment, nor the Restoration and politi. Magnum Opus pretend that, at worst, cal disgrace, could make him forget his these admonitions of theirs have a bracing call. It is a flattering but mistaken and effect and can do no harm. They may misleading notion, that the gentlemen do a great deal of harm. There are inwho do political squibs and literary causerie stances to cite where the harm has been for the newspapers could, by simply taking done. If Milton is the saint of the true thought, add several thousand cubits to religion of the Magnum Opus, the supertheir stature and write a Paradise Lost. stition does not want for martyrs. Mark Take, just by way of example, the man Pattison was a martyr to a mistaken de
It is a
votion to the Magnum Opus. Not con- Amiel. Had not his friends insisted upon tent just to put forth what he had to put his regarding hinself as a genius, he might forth, he was always gathering, pruning, have lived a prosperous life as a Swiss preparing for something big to come, – gentleman and father of a family, doing which never came. The result was that his duty in that state of life in which it his temper was soured, his life was a had pleased God to call him as a lecturer wasted life, and the world never reaped to ladies. But once he got into his head adequate advantage from his unquestioned that he was a genius from whom great ability and erudition.
things were expected, his life thenceforth If Mr. Casaubon in Middlemarch had was the life of the impotent man, longcontented himself with something short ing, yet powerless, to struggle down into of a Key to all Mythologies, had con- the troubled waters of literary production tributed, let us say, pithy paragraphs for into which others continually plunged be. The Guardian, he would have been a fore his eyes. So he maundered in a more profitable writer as well as a better Journal Intime. When people talk of husband. I have a notion also, though the slavery of journalism, at least let it be I may very likely be wrong, that the late confessed that it is better to be the slave Mr. Cotter Morison was an able man steril- of any respectable public journal than the ized by too large ideals.
slave of a Journal Intime.—Macmillan's But the typical martyr was the wretched Magazine.
in the way of constructive politics, and
ideas which are only mooted at home are The observant traveller is certain to find put into actual effect. Whether these himself struck by one fact before he has inovements are for the final good, or been long in Australia. There are certain whether it will be seen wise in the long daring and adventurous things being done run to retrace some of the steps already
taken, only time can show. But from * I am privately informed on high authority the fact to the reason for it is a direct that my estimate of the relative positions of and single step. A considerable number Victoria and its capital are curivusly super- of the men who hold Ministerial appointficial and misleading. Tf Melbourne, with a population amounting to very nearly one-half inents are so young that, in the more of that of the whole colony, did only the crowded political spheres at home, they business work of that colony--if, that is to would be occupying (at their most adsay, forty-four non-producers lived on the vanced) positions which might more or profits of the labors of fifty-six producers less afford an opportunity for the display the thing might be regarded as abnormal, and even, possibly, as mischievous from an eco
of promise. There nobody asks for pronomico-social point of view. But Melbourne, bation. A clever and ambitious young so I am instructed, does the trade of the Aus man does not dream of waiting through a tralian continent, and my contention therefore falls to the ground. Let us see. In the quarter of a century of public service, as
he would be compelled to do with us, year 1888—the latest of which I have com. plete statistical information-the total ton. before he can be rewarded with the least nage entered and cleared in Australian ports responsible of Ministerial positions, (not Australasian) amounted to 12,855,575. Young brains are in demand, and the The total tonnage entered and cleared in Vic. dreams of young heads are translated into torian ports for the same year amounted to fact more rapidly than those of old ones. about one-third of this-viz, 4,307,833. Of this 92 per cent. is credited to Melbourne, As in politics, so in law, medicine, eduwhose inhabitants form nearly a sixth of the cation, and business ; lofty and responsientire population of the continent, while they ble positions are held by men much youngdo rather less than one-third of its trade. er than those who have found similar proWhether there be danger in over-centralization or no, here, as I have said already, is the motion in the older countries. There is most abnormal instance of it in the world. more work to be done and there are fewer
competitors. In most cases the positions strike one as riding rather cruelly, and lose nothing in real dignity or in useful- their distances are much heavier than ness; but in politics there is an ever ours. Lindsay Gordon, whose dashing present fear of over-impetuosity, and Australian verse is hardly as well known in there is no safeguard against it. Within England as in the colonies, was a courageits own limits the feeling of democracy is ous and successful steeple-chase rider, and absolute. The veto of the Crown has was praised for bis faculty of getting caused delay, and may cause delay again ; "the last ounce out of a horse," a phrase but if the Australian voter sets his heart which is less humane than its writer probupon a thing he will have it, and the de- ably thought it. They breed grand horsesires of the Mother Country will go for flesh, and it is open to doubt if there is a Jess than she imagines.
better horse than Carbine in the world. How far climate and environment may The noble beast is something of a fetish, ultimately change the race no man can and it was odd to see the skin of a deguess with any degree of certitude. It is ceased racer exbibited in the Intercolonial a question on which Australians them- Exhibition recently held at Dunedin. I selves are fond of speculating, and on made the passing acquaintance of one which they like to induce their visitors youth who bad travelled hundreds of and critics to speculate also. One of the miles to visit that show, and who, of all contentions favored is that they are run- the things he had seen there, could recall, ning to the Greek type. The average or thought it worth while to recall, nothtraveller will probably change his concep- ing but the skin of“ old Musket.” Side tion of the Greek type very broadly before by side with the leathery remnant of that he gives any warmth of acceptance to this equine hero nothing was worthy of reclaim. That they cannot long remain membrance. unchanged by the influences which pour In all up-country places men drink tea. in upon them every day seems certain. They drink it all day long and at every The average mean temperature of Mel- meal, in amazing quantities, and at a most bourne itself is only slightly lower than unwholesome strength. The method of that of Marseilles. Sydney is five or six preparation is simple, and one would think degrees higher, Adelaide is higher yet, that if the aim were to brew a concoction and part of Queensland is of course dis- altogether poisonous it ought to be effectinctly tropical. In the northernmost tual. On Sunday mornings the tea-maker parts of Australia it is evidently impossi- starts with a clean pot and a clean record. ble that any race of men can for many The pot is hung over the fire with a suffigenerations preserve the characteristics of ciency of water in it for the day's brew, European peoples. In the towns the peo- and when this has boiled he pours into it ple show less change than in the country. enough of the fragrant herb to produce a The country-bred man has already shown deep coffee-colored liquid. On Monday, the beginning of a new racial type, a type without removing yesterday's tea leaves, less heavy and solid than the English, but he repeats the process. On Tuesday da taller, slimmer, and more alert. These capo, and on Wednesday da capo, and so men ride like centaurs, and drive at break- on through the week. Toward the close neck speed where an English charioteer of it, the great pot is filled with an acrid would infallibly get down and lead his mash of tea-leaves, out of which the horses. They are born to the companion- liquid is squeezed by the pressure of a tin ship of the horse, and ride almost as soon cup. By this time the tea” is of the as they can walk. The riders of trained color of rusty iron, incredibly bitter and buck-jumpers in the “ Wild West” shows disagreeable to the uneducated palate. excited derision among men who do the The native calls it “real good old postreal thing in that direction constantly and and-rails” (the simile being obviously in the way of business. They are rather drawn from a stiff and dangerous jump). ugly horsemen to an English eye, slouch- and regards it as having been brought to ing and lanky, but they can take a horse the very pitch of perfection. anywhere and can sit anything that has tell of cases resulting from this abuse four legs. No Briton, however expert, which closely border, in their manifestacan hold a candle to the native-born co- tions, on the signs of delirium tremens. lonial in this respect. In their races they They have ample opportunity of com