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Show'd its bright fountains, show’d its rueful wastes, Its shoals and headlands; and a tower he raised Resulgent, where eternal breakers roll, For all to see, but no man to approach.”
It is curious that, in the only detraction we see made from Shakspeare in these added passages, we detect Mr. Landor's only critical fallacy in reference to him. Speaking of his Clowns, he remarks that they should appear in their proper places; for that a picture by Morland or Frank Hals ought never to break a series of Frescoes by the hand of Raffaelle, or of senatorial portraits animated by the sun of Titian. But it is not the same thing Shakspeare's rudest Clowns have a fitness in them that does not break the line of order, of grace, or of pity, in relation to which they may happen to stand. Tragedy and Beauty are theirs, when there is need of either; and, lurking underneath their jests, lie the utmost depths of feeling and reflection.
In that conversation of Delille and Landor the insertions are extremely numerous. Among the most striking are the comparison of Gibbon and Voltaire, some defensive allusions to Johnson's critical faculty, the account of the writer's own early studies, and a remark on the sources of satirical inspiration. Mr. Landor seems to think that no good writer was ever long neglected; no great man overlooked by men equally great. Certainly impatience is some proof of inferior strength, and in some cases perhaps a destroyer of what little there may be ; but the doctrine may be carried too far. And let us say that we do not go the whole of Mr. Landor's lengths against the versification of Boileau. In the observation that the greater part of the heroic verses in the French language may be read with more facility as anapaestic than as iambic, we may agree without arriving at the adverse inference. The cause, in fact, proceeds from the variety of accent, and a far greater freedom of it than in English verse. In what is charged as a fault, resides what we think the tact and delicacy of this versification. The ground is iambic; and the very changes made upon it are (so to speak) iambicized by means of rests and pauses.
Finding ourselves on this subject, we may remark, that in one of the Dialogues now first printed, we observe some heresies on the harmony and construction of English verse; which we can only attribute to the
These are among the niceties of the art musical, which Mr. Landor is often curiously indifferent to. He even quotes a famous chorus from Samson Agonistes, in proof that Milton must have “intended' it to be inharmonious. Oh, no! The great poet had no such intention. In that kind of half-prose and half-verse, lay the earnestmess which was meant, there, to constitute the soul of the music. Mr. Landor proceeds to allude, with infinite scorn, to those writers of English verse who think it necessary, as he says, to ‘shovel in the dust of a discord ' now and then. But shoveling in the dust of a discord, is not a good metaphor; nor is good musical reasoning implied in it, as musicians would tell Mr. Landor. The use of the discord is a principle in music, and an exquisite increase of the harmony. There is not a more honied drop in music than what is technically called the ‘resolution of the discord;’ that is to say, the note that follows it, and which it is intended to prepare. We are reminded of the pleasing lines of Mr. Leigh Hunt, which happen to be much to the purpose:
* Sorrow, to him that has a true-touch'd ear,
Now, since Mr. Landor, through the coarse mouth of his friend Porson, accuses the Scotch in particular, in one of these in
terpolated passages of the conversation with Southey, of a ‘scabby and frostbitten ear for harmony,' we think that we may fairly leave the reader to judge whether we might not pay back the compliment. He instances in the same Dialogue, for seesaw sameness, the celebrated lines in Douglas, ‘This is the place—the centre of the grove,’ &c. We do not care greatly for these verses, though we should somewhat reluctantly surrender a certain schoolboy fondness for them ; but we may remind Mr. Landor of cases where this sameness may be even not a little desirable and impressive—as where the intention is to enforce the idea of calmness or firmness. At any rate, we have shown that he does not prove himself in possession of the right to advance that national reproach. To adopt an illustration of his own : there are some who, in a few years, can learn all the harmony of Allan Ramsay or Burns; but there are others who must go into another state of existence for this felicity. We leave the subject with one example more. He tells us that no authority will reconcile him to roll-calls of proper names; and then he quotes in proof a line from Milton, which surely, even for the repetition of the accents, is most lovely:
all the Conversations, (that of Cicero with his brother Quinctus the night before his death,) upon the nature of worldly Enmities. They are excited, it is said, by an indistinct view; they would always be allayed by conference. ‘Look at any long avenue of trees by which the traveller on our principal highways is protected from the sun. Those at the beginning are wide apart ; but those at the end almost meet. Thus happens it frequently in opinions.” And thus happens it with the writer himself;—that he has come nearer and nearer, the course of life, to men from whom at its outset he was far asunder;-having had strength enough to quell, or good sense to temper and assuage, not a few of his earlier animosities. In these classical Dialogues we see many instances. In the additions to Eubulides and Demosthenes, to Anacreon and Polycrates, and, above all, to the divine Epicurus, Leontius, and Ter
missa;-the last perhaps the masterpiece of all. It is the duty of the cheerful philosopher (and it is delightfully discharged) to show how polemics serve men ill, and the gods no better; how they mar what is solid in earthly bliss, by animosities and dissensions; and intercept the span of azure to which the weary and the sorrowful would look up. Exceptions, nevertheless, there are. Matters are retained in many of the Dialogues we could wish to have been dispensed with; arguments enlarged that would have borne compression; and declamations reiterated which force from us the unavoidable Cui Bono 2 “There are nations, it is reported, which aim their arrows and javelins at the sun and moon, on occasions of eclipse or any other offence; but I never have heard that the sun and moon abated their course through the heavens for it, or looked more angry when they issued forth again to shed light on their antagonists. They went onward all the while in their own serenity and clearness, through unobstructed paths, without diminution and without delay. It was only the little world below that was in darkness.’ Some enthusiasts might even apply this image to Mr. Landor's continued assaults on Plato. In this direction, certainly, he abates none of his old animosities. There is no conversation more enlarged than that of Diogenes and Plato; and never flew from Tub to Porch so many, such glittering, and such deadly missiles, in rapid and incessant fire. The Cynic protests himself no weaver of fine words; no dealer in the plumes of phraseology; and is all the while covering his stately victim with copious imaginative garlands, at once beauteous and most deadly. Never did ragged beard so carry it against pumiced face and persumed hair. Mr. Landor swells out the Sinopean, till the Athenian shrinks into nothing. The ample, puffed, versi-colored, cloudlike vestiary of Plato, dwindles to a rag;-the short, strait, threadbare, chinky cloak of Diogenes, becomes a dominant and imperial vesture. Mr. Landor, in short, likes a practical,
better than a poetical philosophy. He wants positive, useful, available results. The difference between such reasoners as Plato and Bacon, to him, is the difference between a pliant luxuriant twig, waving backward and forward on the summit of a tree, and a sound, stiff, well-seasoned walking-stick, with a serule that sticks as far as is needful into the ground, and makes every step secure. He thinks that philosophy should not say things to make people stare and wonder; but things to withhold them hereafter from staring and wondering;that she should pave the streets, and not the clouds. In a word, he puts aside all the commentary which our German friends have for the last quarter of a century been making upon the Greek; and declares that he recognizes no higher aim in a philosopher than to make remote things tangible; common things extensively useful; useful things extensively common; and to leave the least necessary for the last. But he is little likely to force unanimity on this point; and, as long as disagreement exists, there will be submission to the genius, of Plato; and a veneration which will not subside at even Mr. Landor's eloquent voice.
‘Grandiloquent and sonorous, his (Plato's) lungs seem to play the better for the absence of the heart. His imagination is the most conspicuous, buoyed up by swelling billows over unsounded depths. There are his mild thunders, there are his 'glowing clouds, his traversing coruscations, and his shooting stars. More of true wisdom, more of trustworthy manliness, more of promptitude and power to keep you steady and straightforward on the perilous road of life, may be found in the little manual of Epictetus, which I could write in the palm of my left hand, than there is in all the rolling and redundant volumes of this mighty Rhetorician, which you may beÉ. to transcribe on the summit of the great
yramid, carry down over the Sphynx at the bottom, and continue on the sands half-way to Memphis.’
We can afford but a few lines more to this revision of the Old Conversations. The notices of Italian life and manners in Leopold and President du Paty, receive large additions. This is one of those Dialogues which have contributed much to our knowledge of the beautiful country in which Mr. Landor resided many years. He is as intimate with it as a native, and loves it well; but not a fault of its government or religion escapes him; and, as Cosmopolite as he is, he is most emphatically, on these subjects, an Englishman also. He never subserved an over-fear or an over-admiration of Napoleon. He will not suffer French bullyings in Tahiti or in Algeria to pass undenounced or underided. And whatever praise or blame he gives in this direction, is ratified with the downright echo of a doubled-up English fist. He has, withal, a salutary hatred of war: he would be strong, but only to keep down that foul abuse and
wicked absurdity, which cry havoc against the weakness of nations. It is a shrewd remark we find thrown out in one of these passages, that the French have always undervalued the English, since the English
conquered and rendered them tributary; and that the Englishman has always looked
up to the Frenchman, since he threw the
Frenchman down and tied his wrists behind him. We are glad to observe, at the same time, that, in moderation, Mr. Landor can
‘look up ' too; and that not a few old anti
Gallican caprices are visible in his Dialogues no longer. It is true that, when we are displeased with any thing, we are unable to confine the displeasure to one spot; and are apt to dislike every thing a little when we dislike anything much; but, even in relation to French Tragedy, Mr. Landor so far conquers his displeasure as to make some agreeable admissions. He has found in it, he says, (speaking in his own person,) some of the finest didactic poetry in the world; “peculiarly adapted both to direct the reason and to control the passions;’ and he compares their Drama to a welllighted saloon of graceful eloquence, ‘where the sword-knot is appended by the hand of Beauty, and where the snuff-box is composed of such brilliants as, after a peace or treaty, Kings bestow on Diplomatists.” There is also, in the dialogue of Rousseau and Malesherbes—among additions worthy of the exquisite original—a fine piece of just and proud eloquence put into the mouth of the Genevan ; to the effect that, while others cling to a city, to a faction, to a family, the French, in all their fortunes, cling to France. The remarks on Montesquieu, in the same insertion, are inimitable. In connexion with it, we may name, too, several happy touches in the charming Conversation of Bossuet and the Duchess of Fontanges ; and when we have added, of the remaining Dialogues, that the most striking and large insertions will be found in those of Barrow and Newton, Landor and Visitors, James the First and Isaac Casaubon, and of Peterborough and Penn, (in the last most especially,) we may —first quoting from these passages a few disconnected thoughts we find it difficult to pass—proceed to mention briefly the New Conversations.
‘Your former conversation has made me think repeatedly what a number of beautiful words there are of which we never think of estimating the value, as there are of blessings. How carelessly, for example, do we (not we, but people) say, “I am delighted to hear from you.” No other language has this beautiful expression, which, like some of the most lovely flowers, loses its charms for want of close inspection, When I consider the deep sense of these very simple and very common words, I seem to hear a voice coming srom afar through the air, breathed forth, and entrusted to the care of the elements, for the nature of my sympathy.’
“The Arts cannot long exist without the advent of Freedom. From every new excavation whence a statue rises, there rises simultaneously a bright vision of the age that produced it; a strong desire to bring it back again; a throbbing love, an inflaming regret, a resolute despair, beautiful as Hope herself: and Hope comes too behind.”
‘How refreshing, how delicious, is a draft of
ure home-drawn English, from a spring a
ittle sheltered and shaded, but not entangled in the path to it, by antiquity!”
‘It is no uncommon thing to hear, “He has humor, rather than wit.” Here the expression can only mean pleasantry : for whoever has humor has wit; although it does not follow that whoever has wit has humor. Humor is wit appertaining to character, and indulges in breadth of drollery, rather than in play and brilliancy of point. Wit vibrates and spirts; humor springs up exuberantly as from a fountain, and runs on. In Congreve you wonder what he will say next: in Addison you repose on what is said, listening with assured expectation of something congenial and pertinent. The French have little humor, because they have little character: they excel all nations in wit because of their levity and sharpness. The personages on their theatre are generic.’
“We not only owe our birth to women, but also the better part of our education; and if we were not divided after their first lesson, we should continue to live in a widening circle of brothers and sisters all our lives. After our infancy and removal from home, the use of the rod is the principal thing we learn of our alien preceptors; and, catching their dictatorial language, we soon begin to exercise their instrument of enforcing it, and swing it right and left, even after we are paralyzed by age, and until Death's hand strikes it out of ours.”
‘Shame upon historians and pedagogues for exciting the worst passions of youth by the display of false glories . If your religion hath any truth or influence, her professors will extinguish the promontory lights, which only allure to breakers. They will be assiduous in teaching the young and ardent that
great abilities do not constitute great men, without the right and unremitting application of them; and that, in the sight of Humanity and Wisdom, it is better to erect one cottage than to demolish a hundred cities. Down to the present day we have been taught little else than falsehood. We have been told to do this thing and that; we have been told we shall be punished unless we do ; but at the same time we are shown by the finger that prosperity and glory, and the esteem of all about us, rest upon other and very different foundations. Now, do the ears or the eyes seduce the most easily, and lead the most directly to the heart? But both eyes and ears are won over, and alike are persuaded to corruptus.”
The Conversations which have not before been collected, are in number fortyfour; but of these, twenty have been printed, chiefly in periodical publications. The remaining twenty-four are now given to the world for the first time. We can only briefly speak of them, as we have said ; but they show, in undiminished force and vivacity, every characteristic of Mr. Landor's genius. Any writer might have built, upon these compositions alone, an enduring reputation. The same beauties and the same saults recur; but the latter in diminished intensity. They have matter as various, and character as opposite and enlivening ;-as much to occupy the intellect of the thoughtful, and as much to satisfy the imagination of the lively. They form an after-course, in short, worthy of the original banquet;-spread with the same solid viands, the same delicate rarities, and sparkling wines; the like vases of burnished gold on the board, the like statues of antique marble gracing the chamber ;—but the very richness of the vases showing dark to imperfect vision, and the pure Greek on the plinths of the marble not easy to common appreciation.
Four of these new Dialogues seem to us to stand out pre-eminently from the rest. These are Lucian and Timotheus, Marvel and Parker, Emperor of China and his Minister, and Melancthon and Calvin. In these the dramatic tone is as perfect as every other quality in the composition; and we may doubt if, in any other equal portion of Mr. Landor's writings, there will be found so much beauty and fitness, so much point and gusto, so much condensation and strength. We have heard his friend Southey characterize his style, as uniting the poignancy of Champagne to the body of old English October; and nowhere, assuredly, but in Bacon or Jeremy Taylor, do we find Prose-Poetry to compare with his, —in weight and brilliancy, or in wonderful suggestiveness. What Lucian says of Aristotle in the latter respect, we may apply to him. Whenever he presents to his readers one full-blown thought, there are several buds about it which are to open in the cool of the study. He makes us learn even more than he teaches. Without hesitation we say of these four Dialogues, and eminently of that between Marvel and Parker, that they contain a subtle discrimination of character, and passages of feeling and philosophy, pathetic, lofty, and profound, which we should not know where to equal in any living writer, and in very few of those who are immortal. The idea of the Emperor of China and his Minister is not taken from either Montesquieu or Goldsmith. The aim is different; and would have delighted the author of Candide. The Emperor has heard and seen so much evil of the Jesuits, who had penetrated into his dominions, that he conceived an idea of Christians as the most quarrelsome and irreconcilable of all men; and, resolving to introduce a few of their first-rate zealots to sow divisions and animosities among the Tartars, dispatches his minister to Europe for that purpose. But the voyage being tedious, Tsing-Ti, uninfluenced by the prejudices of his master, is able in the course of it to make himself thoroughly master of the Bible; and when he lands in London, resolves, by way of being in the fashion, to shape his conduct entirely, by its precepts. He fears, indeed, that he cannot go the whole length of the commandment to cut off his right hand if it offend him; but he will try to do his best. With what success the reader may here perceive, in a passage written in the best style of Voltaire.
‘I myself did not aim precipitately at this perfection, but in order to be well received in the country, I greatly wished the favor of a blow on the right cheek. Unfortunately I got several on the left before I succeeded. At last I was so happy as to make the acquisition of a most hearty cuff under the socket of the right eye, giving me all those vague colors which we Chinese reduce into regular features, or into strange postures of the body, by means of glasses. As soon as I knew positivel whether my head was remaining on my nec or not, I turned my left cheek for the testimony of my saith. The assailant cursed me and kicked me; the bystanders instead of calling me Christian, called me Turk and Malay;
and, instead of humble and modest, the most impudent dog and devil they had ever set eyes upon. I fell on my knees and praised God, since at last I had been admitted into so pure and pious a country, that even this action was deemed arrogant and immodest.’
In short, poor Tsing-Ti finds Christianity to be every where known and confessed as so excellent, undeniable, and divine a thing, that no man needs to practise it at all. Indeed a than is not permitted at once to be a Christian, and to call himself so. “He may take what division he likes; he may practise the ordinances of Christ without assuming the name, or he may assume the name on condition that he abstain from the ordinances.” A series of remarkable experiences, as wisely as amusingly detailed, settles this conclusion in the Minister's mind, and he returns to his imperial Master to lay both at his feet. But his Master cannot credit what he is told. He is especially incredulous as to what Tsing-Ti tells him of the Ministers of Christianity. He is sadly afraid that he has purposely set his face against the Priests, for no better reason than because he could not find his favorite Christianity among them. The Minister, nevertheless, sticks to his point; and continues to astound his Majesty by new revelations from his budget.
‘TsING-Ti. A priest of the first order, on which it is not incumbent either to preach or sing, either to pray or curse, receives an emolument of which the amount is greater than the consolidated payment of a thousand soldiers, composing the king's body-guard.—EMPERoR. Did they tell thee this? TsING-Ti. They did.—And dost thou believe it?—TsINGTi. I do.—EMPERoR. Then, Tsing-Ti, thou hast belief enough for both of us.”
The end of it is, that the Emperor and the Minister are fain to compound their differences, by falling back upon a hearty agreement of admiration for their own native teacher, Confucius. Beautifully says the Emperor, and wisely as beautifully :
‘My children will disdain to persecute even the persecutor, but will blow away both his sury and his fraudulence. The philosopher whom my house respects and venerates, KongFu-Tsi, is never misunderstood by the attentive student of his doctrines; there is no contradiction in them ; no exaction of impossibilities, nothing above our nature, nothing below it. The most vehement of his exhortations is to industry and concord ; the severest of his denunciations is against the sels-tormentor, vice. He entreats us to give justice and kindness a fair trial, as conductresses to happiness, and only to abandon them when