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a very natural and orderly way? Wherever he is egotistic, he is not so in conversation--the great test of the polite
Years in the quarry have not dimmed in Hugh Miller that finishing gleam of genial light which plays over the framework of character, and is politeness. Not only did he require honest manliness for this; gentleness was also necessary. He had both, and has retained them; and so merits fairly
“ The grand old name of gentleman.”
It is now 1857; and with all the hopes and forebodings of a new year, there mingles, in my breast, the recollection of a kindness no more to be experienced, of a condescending genial helpfulness no longer to instruct, of a steadfast nobleness whose living presence will no longer animate and cheer, of a great and godly man who has passed away. In the last days of 1856, Hugh Miller died: a self-sacrificed martyr to science. At the great work which was to complete his service to his country and mankind, he toiled on with indomitable resolution, amid the paroxysms of fearful disease. His powerful brain, wearied with the sustained tension of twenty years, recoiled from its work, and, as it were, groaned and struggled for rest. But that adamantine will knew no flinching. Ever, as the paroxysm passed by, and the soft glow of the old genius spread itself again along the mind, the most intense and unremitted exertion was compelled. The light burnt nightly in his chamber,
long after the midnight hour, as Hugh Miller continued to write, the body failing, the nerves fluttering, the brain held to its work only by that indomitable will. He feared madness might dash the pen from his hand, before the last line was traced. But the work was finished. On the last day of his life, Hugh Miller said it was done. Madness and the grave could not at least deprive him of that. Then, as might have been expected, despite consultation with a physician, the paroxysm returned with redoubled fury: ere it again subsided, Hugh Miller was no more. Let science honor her too devoted son! For her he worked on undaunted under the thunder-cloud; the lightnings of madness flashing ever and anon around him. He finished his work; closed the book; and looked up as if defiant of the lightning. But it came down and smote him; and he died, may we not say, the greatest of the martyrs of science.
THE MODERN NOVEL.
“ LITERATURE,” says so distinguished a novelist as Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, “ commences with poetical fiction, and usually terminates with prose fiction. It was so in the ancient world -- it will be so with England and France. The harvest of novels is, I fear, a sign of the approaching exhaustion of the soil.” Of whatever the harvest spoken of is a sign, there can be no doubt of its own exuberance. The novel has gone far to supersede all other forms of literature; and where it does not supersede, it has an influence. Philosophy has receded into the background. Poetry, if in itself of rare perfection, occupies no such place in public estimation as it did in the days of Byron. History, is specially commended as being equally pleasant reading with fiction. We have dukes and earls patronizing mechanics institutes and public libraries; we have platform speeches of the sweetest eloquence, setting forth the way in which science and philosophy are to be used in the self-culture of readers; we have the shelves well filled with metaphysical, historical, and scientific treatises. In eighteen months we revisit the institution, and inspect the books. The philosophers, the men of science, the historians, have enjoyed, like kings and queens at their country-seats, an honorable
seclusion: the novels are dog's-eared, crumpled, soiled, from the effects of affectionate familiarity. The attraction by which the young aspirant to literary distinction is at present drawn towards fictitious composition seems, at first sight, overpowering. Who would not enlist in an army in which the discipline is lax, the fighting not severe, and the prizes dazzling, rather than in one in which the discipline is the rigid restraint of truth, the fighting a stern struggle up the rugged crags of fact, and the prizes comparatively poor? With all our enlightened support of literature, a young man who would at present determine to devote himself, with energies untrammelled by any other profession, with zeal undivided with any other pursuit, to philosophy, theology, social science, or history, trusting thereto for his daily bread, would do so at the risk of his life. We know an instance of a young literary man in London, of distinguished ability and high aims, who pursued studies of an important nature, but was compelled, at intervals, in order to secure subsistence, to write novels. There is a gentleman, now in Edinburgh, whose name is known in every part of the island, and whose works, in philosophy, political economy, and apologetics, are of high standing, who yet, we are confident, has derived no pecuniary profit whatever from the main labor of his life, and finds his talents of pecuniary avail, only in such off-hand work as occasional lecturing and contributions to the journals. Is not the temptation strong for such a man, to ungird the armor of the legionary, and bind on the light arms which are so effective? Why should the youthful poet keep gazing into the face of the Beautiful, why should the young philosopher dig sedulously in the mines of thought for the True, if literary tinsel will best exchange for current coin, and men prefer the flowers that grow on the surface to the metal that is hidden below ?
These remarks may seem logically to require an unqualified denunciation of novels. But, for many reasons, we should deem this an unwise proceeding.
In the first place, he who would engage in the highest literature must always so do with somewhat of the spirit of a martyr. It has ever been the way to reward the most severe and noble efforts of mind in a manner which in itself seems paltry. Milton got five pounds for Paradise Lost. We cannot too often recall the remarkable fact. If every generation of mankind, succeeding the appearance of that poem, had raised to its author a new statue of solid gold, they would have made no approach to paying him. The Dantes, the Keplers, the Pascals, and such as they, are not so paid for their mental labors. It is a manifest appointment of nature that they should not be: and, let us say, it is a right appointment, benign, beautiful, and, for the men who seem passed over, an appropriate and sublime honor. By their capacity for such work, they afford a reasonable presumption that they can rightly estimate and duly contemn material payment. It is in celestial coin that they receive their wages. If they know not what this is, if they scorn it, let them descend to lower grades of intellectual labor; let them deal in goods known and wanted in the market, and they will have the success of ordinary traders. But the general law is open to no doubt: the highest spir- -itual employments are not distinguished by yielding large material rewards. The fact is exemplified in the case of whole professions. Ministers of the gospel will always be paid, on an average, at a rate in no degree correspondent to the abilities they possess or the functions they perform. To men of learning, to professors of erudition and philosophy, the same rule applies. No spectacle appears to us more truly despicable than that of any one who pretends to com