invention of Homer, the wisdom of Socra- 1 reverential, sometimes regretful, sometimes tes, the criticism of Longinus, the philoso- compassionate, always keen and sensitive, an phy of Aristotle, united to form a court of interest not only in the great actions, but popular appeal from whose dicta there was in the every-day lives, the homes, the no escaping The “wisdom of the an- streets, the costume, the occupations, the cients,” and the genius of the ancients, follies, the most trifling gossip of our anwere lauded in proportion to the progress cestors, whether remote or only a few genwhich the polite world considered itself to erations separated from us, in the standard be making in the true principles of taste writings of the eighteenth century, on the beyond the knowledge and practice of the other hand, this interest is entirely mute, generations preceding. It did not occur as though a whole department of intellito that polite world anxiously to inquire gent curiosity had been as yet unopened. where and in how far the Greeks and Ro- The style in which the writers of the mans were right in their principles, nor Augustan age” of our literature looked how their position in the world's history back on the England of the past was that came to affect their conceptions of human of immeasurable and self-satisfied superioriculture. Simply they were the classics ; ty. Nothing, it seemed to them, was to be and, being the classics, had as divine a learned from those epochs of twilight civiliright over the province of taste as Tory zation; then why waste time in decipherpoliticians once held a Stuart to have over ing their paltry riddles? These were the the laws and liberties of England:- and authorities who voted Shakspeare an inthis species of classic conventionalism con- spired barbarian * and would only endure tinued to be the orthodox test of elegant his genius in the travesties of Dryden. education while the old state of things These were the authorities whose histrionic lasted; that is to say, before the French conceptions were satisfied with Hamlet in Revolution and its stupendous results had the full dress-coat of St. James's, and the startled mankind out of all their former Roman stoic giving himself the mortal proprieties. Now be it observed, we dif- wound in a long gown, flowered wig, and fer, indeed, entirely from those who assert lacquered chair.' For though their models that it was that great crisis in European of taste and fancy were formed chiefly on history and society, which, throwing the scholastic traditions, yet in the cla-sical preceding constitution of the world to an notions which men affected in the days of immeasurable distance, first awoke, from Anne and the early Georges, there was no contrast, that interest in bygone thoughts spirit of antiquarian criticism, no real inand habits of life which is so marked a feel- telligent sympathy even with old Greece ing of our age. That interest had, as we and Rome : of “Gothic,” or old English conceive, been in fact growing for a long antiquarianism there was professedly and time before, and would eventually have boastingly nothing. The very word Gothic supplanted the quasi-classical fashions of was, with our great-grandfathers, synonyour great-grandfathers, even if the change mous with utter and contemptible barof taste had not been precipitated, as it no barism : doubt was, by the great political convulsion aforesaid. But of this in its place. “La Fable offre à l'esprit mille agrémens

divers : At present we wish to point out distinctly the fact of the change. Let any one read

Là, tous les noms heureux semblent nés pour two or three essays in the Spectator or Rambler, and then a few of those by Charles * Oliver Goldsmith, a generation later, was scarceLamb, or let him dip into the works of ly more enlightened in his estimate of Shakspeare. Dickens or Thackeray, or those of almost player to the Vicar of Wakefield, ' are quite out of any of the lesser humorists of our own fashion ; our taste has gone back a whole century. generation. Setting aside such peculiarities speserlerine Ben Jonson; and all the plays of shak; of allusion as might naturally belong to said I (the Vicar is the narrator), is it possible the the different states of society a hundred present age can be pleased with that antiquated years earlier or later, what will strike him characters, which abound in the works you menas the most characteristic difference in the tion?' 'Sir,' returned my companion, 'the public setting of the two pictures, in the atmos- acter, for that is none of their business. They only

think nothing about a dialect, or humour, or char. pheric conditions, so to speak, of the two go to be amused, and find themselves happy when regions of taste? Surely it is this: that they can enjoy a pantomime under the sanction of

It, is' evident, whereas in these our actual times there is however, even from this passage, that whatever the an ever wakeful sympathy with the past of creed of the arbiters of literary taste might be, the history and society, a feeling sometimes I ly less than his own contemporaries had done.

les vers ;

Ulysse, Agamemnon, Oreste, Idomenée, Europe; bow, after the learned had laid Helene, Menelas, Paris, Hector, Enée; broad and deep foundations, and poets had 0! le plaisant projet d'un Poete ignorant imitated the classics in their verse, the Qui de tant de Héros va choisir Childe

superstructure of sentiment and fancy rose, brand!”

displacing those whimsical extravagances

of mediæval chronicle and fable, which, So sung the poetical satirist of a foreign when printing first began, were the staple kingdom, unconscious that Childebrand's of the press, and which, even in Shakspeare's day was yet to come, – that the Gothic time, had by no means lost their hold over renaissance was looming in the future. the popular mind. It would be curious

In the older generation whom we can next to trace how a certain blending took ourselves remember, among ladies and gen- place between the older taste and what tlemen who did not affect deep study, but was then the new, and how the eclectic only a fair share of refined cultivation, the fancy of the Scudéris and Calprenédes in fruit of training under these influences was France formed a school of stilted romance. still apparent, in a somewhat pedantic con- partly chivalrous, partly classic, which versance with the hackneyed stories of moulded the taste of the age in that counheathen mythology, in the remembrance of try, and to a certain extent in England too, readings, more or less extensive, in such till Boileau and Addison and common sense books as Melmoth's translations of Cicero gave it the death-blow. In England too, and Pliny, Mrs. Carter's Epictetus, Plu- we say; for the spirit of French imitation, tarch's Lires, Homer and Virgil as versi- introduced under the second Charles, confied by our English poets. These studies, tinued long to infect English habits, whether and such as these, were the credentials of a in letters or in social intercourse, notwithgood education eighty, or even seventy standing the episode of the Silent Dutchyears ago; and by them literary taste, ex- man and his anti-Gallican propensities. cept in some few daring spirits, was guided controlled, suggested. The cultivation of “We conquered France,” said Pope, “but felt the softer sex was as

assuredly very

inconsid- our captive's charms; erable in those days compared with the re

Her arts and letters triumphed o'er our arms.” sults it displays now ; yet we may venture to assert that the “ elegant young female” Thus in the Spectator we often come upon to whom a paper in the Spectator was traces of warfare which the best writers of the prescribed sedative of each succes- the age were still waging against the affecsive morning,* and whose tastes were tations of a waning fashion. It passed away, trained in strict accordance with the intel and then the guage of all good composition lectual standard therein displayed, would and elegant imagery became, as we have noin soine chapters of acquirement have been ticed, a greater or less conformity with the entitled to put to shame many a pupil of modes of ancient literature; wbile invention, the present day advanced in German and reduced to topics of quiet social speculation geology, and distinguished in the class- and humour gave us the prelude to much of rooms of a ladies' college. Did not Ogilby's the essay-writing and novel-writing of our Virgil and Dryden's Juvenal occupy the own time. most honoured places on the bookshelves It is fon the succeeding revolution in of that model to her sex described by Ad- Fancy's wheel that we now wish to fix atdison, the well-read Leonora, t even at a tention. Our aim is to show how, while date when women required the popular classical taste (to use the language of the moralist's special castigation to rouse them schools) still ruled the hour, an underout of their ignorance?

growth of romantic taste struck root, subIt would be curious, though beside our tending the accepted fashions, and pushing present purpose, to trace how these airs and forth a new vegetation, which was soon to graces of classical pedantry in our lighter contest the place of the old and effete foliterature were themselves, in accordance liage. with the process which we set out with in- A hint of the coming change may be disdicating, a result of the laborious classi- cerned where least we might expect it, even cal renaissance of the fifteenth century in in the early pages of the Specta'or. Addi

son, notwithstanding the prejudices of his Miss Berry speaks of herself as in the habit of age against “Gothicism,” was too much a reading (when a child, in 1775) a Saturday paper in the Spectator every Sunday morning, to her grand- the vigorous and the picturesque where

man of genius not to possess sensibility for Spectator, No. 37.

ever it might be found ; and in the rough


old ballad of Chevy Chace he discerned the there were many instances in his day and workings of true poetry, for which he was that preceding; and of which the school of not afraid to claim the admiration of his poets, called by Johnson the “metaphysical contemporaries, though in accordance with school," were perhaps the most systematic the loyalty to classical precedents which was artists. The real aim and meaning of a the creed of his age, he sought to establish Gothic revival, in the sense of a due apprethe merits of the ballad in question rather ciation of the elements of beauty to be found on its imagined coincidences with the style in the self-developed culture of the northern and treatment of Virgil than on its spirited nations had been as yet unexplained by the description of Border life and habits; in- philosophy of criticism; and in the interim deed, he owns that without such corrobora- the progress of real knowledge and taste was tion his favourable judgment of this out-of- hampered, as so often happens, by prethe-way minstrelsy would naturally have tension and imposture, and by the confusion laid him open to the charge of singularity of a vague nomenclature. For if Chevy Chace had been written in the Meanwhile, Addison's criticism on Chevy Gothic manner, he says, " which is the de- Chace niay in all probability have been the light of all our little wits, whether writers seed which bore fruit half a century later or readers, it would not have hit the taste in the collections of Percy, afterwards Bishof so many ages, and have pleased the read- op of Dromore, who, in 1765, published his ers of all ranks and conditions.” But what Reliques of Ancient Poetry; at all events, then did Addison mean by the Gothic man- Percy cites Addison's remarks as a precener? it may here be asked; for he speaks dent and an excuse for his own undertakas if a style so called were really in vogue ing. The apologetic tone of his preface at the date of his own writing a style tbroughout sounds not a little singular to clearly not the same with the rough old our ears in the present day. In connection English balad style, of Chevy Chase. The with the subject before us, it is very signifimeaning which Addison attached to the cant. term Golhic will be apparent if we compare “ In a polished age like the present,” he this passage in the Spectator with others in says, “ I am sensible that many of these relwhich the same word is used by him. For iques of antiquity will require great allowinstance, in one of his criticisms, where he ances to be made for them.” And then, is occupied in distinguishing between “ true after citing Dr. Johnson, Warton, and other wit," false wit,” and “ mixt wit,” he adduces literary characters, as taking an interest in Martial among the ancients, and Cowley his work, he adds: “ The names of so many among the moderns, as eminent instances men of learning and character, the editor of this last, and then proceeds, “ I look upon hopes, will serve him as an amulet to guard these writers as Goths in poetry, who, like him from every unfavourable censure for those in architecture, not being able to having bestowed any attention on a parcel come up to the simplicity of the old Greeks of old ballads. It was at the request of and Romans, have endeavoured to supply many of these gentlemen, and of others emits place with all the extravagances of an inent for their genius and taste, that this irregular fancy.” And again, “ Our gene- little work was undertaken. To prepare it ral taste in England is for epigram, turns of for the press has been the amusement of, wit, and forced conceits, which have no now and then, a vacant hour amid the leismanner of influence, either for the bettering ure and retirement of rural life, and hath or enlarging the mind of him who reads them only served as a relaxation from graver and have been carefully avoided by the studies.

The editor hopes he greatest writers, both among the ancients need not be ashamed of having bestowed and moderns. I have endeavoured, in sev- some of his idle hours on the ancient literaeral of' my speculations, to banish this Gothic ture of our own country (!) or in regaining taste, which has taken possession among from oblivion some pieces (though but the

amusements of our ancestors) which tend to From these indications, it is clear that place in a striking light their taste, genius, “ Gothic” poetry and “ Gothic” art were sentiments, or manners.” Hopes he need not in Addison's view what, fifty years later, not be ashamed of critical researches than they were in the view of Horace Walpole. which none are more highly estimated now, Addison seems to have understood the alike by poet, philologist, historian, and man word as expressive of a certain blending of of taste, as furnishing indispensable aid tothe uncouth and the whimsical, of which wards one of the most cherished objects of

our time — the appreciation of the historic * No. 409.


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Still, Percy's tone of apology was an ad- | almost anticipated the popularizing process vance upon the confusion of Addison's ideas of time on the materials before him. respecting old English ballads. Percy, at Within the ten years succeeding the publeast, did not fall into the error of suppos- lication of Percy's Reliques, appeared Dr. ing that the merit of Chevy Chace depended Johnson's and Steevens's editions of Shakupon its supposed resemblance to the style speare, and Warton's History of English and sentiments of Virgil. On the contrary, Poetry, both most important labours, as he clearly indicates the essential diversity turning up the as yet nearly virgin soil of of origin and character between mediæval English philological research. Antiquaripoetry and the poetry of Greece and Rome. anism in the various departments of litera

By the time Percy entered the field, in- ture and art now began to form a school of deed, much had been going on in other de- ardent disciples. Dr. Johnson, with sentenpartments of taste to foster the glimmering tious condescension, uttered his celebrated interest in these memorials of an age of dictum, “ Whatever withdraws us from the " barbarism.” Shenstone and Horace Wal- power of our senses, whatever makes the pole, in the middle of the century, success- past, the distant, or the future, predominate fully sought to introduce a reform into the over the present, advances us in the dignity arts of landscape gardening and architec- of thinking beings. .. That man is litture, of which the chief characteristics tle to be envied whose patriotism would not were an attention to the natural features of gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or scenery and a revival of the “ Gothic” prin- whose piety would not grow warmer among ciples of art. In the World, a fashionable the ruins of Iona.Shenstone, devoted to periodical of 1753–1755, formed on the or- song writing as well as landscape-gardenthodox model of the Spectator, we find a ing, found the hunt after old abbeys and fancy for Gothic architecture mentioned as old ballads congenial to his sense of the pica recent and prevalent whim, likely to be turesque both in scenery and verse. Capdisplaced by a still later whim, for Chinese tain Francis Grose, from 1773 to 1776, construction and decoration. The writer made the tour of England and Wales, and in the World speaks of both with equal con- published its results in four quarto volumes tempt; but while the Chinese fancy, an ex- of Antiquities, elaborately got up with deotic imported after Lord Anson's voyage in scriptions and plates. Gough and Pennant 1744, proved itself a mere transitory caprice prosecuted their topographical investigaand passed away, Gothicism, the purer kind tions. The Society of Antiquaries put -- for here, as so often happens, real knowl- forth in 1770 the first volume of their Archedge was struggling with pretension - held æologia. All tended in the same direction. its ground. Horace Walpole was its most Then, after a short interval, followed the efficient advocate and champion. Writing era of the German classics, and of inquiry from Worcestershire just at this time, he into the antiquities of Teutonic fable; and, says:— " Gothicism, and the restoration of contemporaneously with these, the stupenthat architecture, and not of the bastard dous wars and convulsions of the French breed, spreads extremely in this part of the Revolution, giving that impetus to the imworld.” And when in Yorkshire he ex- aginative faculty which is never so effectuclaims with kindling enthusiasm at sight of ally supplied as by the vivid experiences the ancient remains, “ O what quarries for and sharp vicissitudes of human fate. working in Gothic!” His letters are full So the train was laid, and preparation of this new taste, which for many years was made for the glowing romance of Walter quite the passion of his life. He worked Scott. The Northern Enchanter fired with out his own conceptions in what, though it the torch of his genius the pyre heaped up seems to us now but a spurious and flimsy by the labour and research of previous stuimitation of mediæval art, was doubtless dents. He first, to any noteworthy degree, one of the most important initiatory steps popularized the new education of taste. in that renaissance movement which has to He brought a poet's soul to bear on ideas of so great an extent given the law to our feudality and chivalry, and on the many modern æsthetics - the famous toy of picturesque aspects of historic and tradiStrawberry. And not only in architecture tional lore; and from his time, not mediæand decoration, but in literature also, Hor-val research only, but mediæval sentiment, ace Walpole may be said, perhaps by his may be said to have fairly become a prizeal, to have deserved the meed of original- mary element in our æsthetic culture. *Siity in this revival more than any of his con- lenced now was the orthodox jargon of the temporaries, while, by his lively fancy, he past about the “ barbarous productions of a Gothic genius,” and the dread of their at large. We allude to a prefatory essay superseding in the realm of taste that “sim- in one of his republications of old litera. plicity which distinguished the Greek and ture. Roman arts as eternally superior to those of every other nation” (World, vol. iii. p. The present age,” he says, “has been so 81). Greek and Roman art, indeed, was distinguished for research into poetical antiquinot deposed from its claims to man's hom- ties, that the discovery of an unknown bard is, age, but room was conceded in the realm in certain chosen literary circles, held as curi. of beauty for another and not less influen- stars would be esteemed by astronomers.

ous as an augmentation of the number of fixed

It is tial potentate. How does one blast from true, these blessed twinklers of the night,' the clarion of the “ romantic” muse pro- are so far removed from us, that they afford no claim her attributes !

more light than serves barely to evince their ex

istence to the curious investigator; and in like “ If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,

manner the pleasure derived from the revival of Go visit it by the pale moonlight;

an obscure poet is rather in proportion to the For the gay beams of gladsome day

rarity of his volume than to its merits ; yet this Gild but to flout the ruins grey.

pleasure is not inconsistent with reason and When the broken arches are black in night, principle. We know by every day's experience And each shafted oriel glimmers white;

the peculiar interest which the lapse of ages When the cold light's uncertain shower

confers upon works of human art. The clumsy Streams on the ruin'd central tower ;

strength of the ancient castles, which, when When buttress and buttress alternately

raw from the hand of the builder, inferred only Seem framed of ebon and ivory;

the oppressive power of the barons who reared When silver edges the imagery

them, is now broken by partial ruin into proper And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; The monastery, too, which was at first but a

subjects for the poet or the painter. When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's tion of monarchs, or of the purple pride of fat

fantastic monument of the superstitious devograve, Then go; but go alone the while,

tened abbots, has gained, by the silent influence Then view St. David's ruin'd pile,

of antiquity, the power of impressing awe and And home returning, soothly swear

devotion...: If such is the effect of time Was never scene so sad and fair."

in adding interest to the labours of the architect, if partial destruction is compensated by

the additional interest of that which remains, The sentiment soon, in fact, came to be can we deny his exerting a similar influence far more commonly professed from affecta- upon those subjects which are sought after by tion than ignored from indifference; for the bibliographer and poetical antiquary? The who, pretending to any nineteenth century obscure poet, who is detected by their keen recultivation, would not have been ashamed search, may indeed have possessed but a slento own that a mediæval work of art, as such der portion of that spirit which has buoyed up - a poem, a picture, a relic, a building, a

the works of distinguished contemporaries durchronicle of past days — exercised no more shall, in the lapse of time, acquire an interest

ing the course of centuries. Yet still his verses spell over him than the yellow cowslip did which they did not possess in the eyes of his over the rude soul of Peter Bell? How

own generation.

The mere attribute many lisping ladies, we may be sure, were of antiquity is of itself sufficient to interest the

to echo Scott's genuine enthusiasm fancy, by the lively and powerful train when lionizing visitors over the ruins of sociations which it awakens.” Melrose Abbey! “ There is no telling,” he used to say," what treasures are hid in that If these observations upon the taste of the glorious old pile. It is a famous place for day, which take so much for granted that antiquarian plunder. There are such rich Bishop Percy dared only timidly to suggest, bits of old-time sculpture for the architect, do notwithstanding appear somewhat trite and old-time story for the poet. There is to us fifty years later still, it is because the as rare picking in it as in a Stilton cheese; retrospective sentiment has become so much and in the same taste - the mouldier the more a matter of course now, than it was better." *

even at the date of the publication of Nevertheless, in 1812, Scott's own lan- Rokeby. guage on the new development of taste his We come now to the third stage of the days had witnessed bore something of the assimilating process which we set out with character of alvocacy, as though its results | describing; and as we have indicated Horwere not yet fully credited with the world ace Walpole’s as on the whole the most rep

resentative name in the first, or exploring * See Washington Irving's Recollections of Abbottsford.

* See Lockhart's Life of Scott, vol, iii. p. 30.



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