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BY LORD TENNYSON.
IN the following epigrammatic lines we have Lord Tennyson's mind on the present posture of our political affairs. It is uncertain to which "steersman" of the political ships the epigram is addressed, since it would be applicable to either Lord Salisbury or to Mr. Gladstone; but it is quite clear that Lord Tennyson is, like the Duke of Argyll, strongly in favor of a compromise:
Steersman, be not precipitate in thine act
But tho' the cataract seem the nearer way-
We hope almost against hope that the laureate may yet have cause to trust to what he calls Our crown'd Republic's crowning common St. James's Gazette.
How often have I now outwatched the night
The islands that were blots of purple bloom,
From The Fortnightly Review. MEN OF LETTERS ON THEMSELVES.
press affords, was never submitted to by Mr. Payn, between whom, however, and Mr. Yates there exist, in spite of marked dissimilarities, some resemblances or coincidences. Both may be said to have been brought up in the school, and at the feet, of Dickens; both enjoyed in varying degrees his friendship; both formed his acquaintance about the same time, Mr. Yates in 1854, Mr. Payn two years later; both made their real literary début in Household Words. The first appearance of each in print was poetical Mr. Yates, when a mere boy, sending to Mr. Harrison Ainsworth some stanzas which were inspired by Thackeray's "At the Church Gate; " and Mr. Payn at the same tender age contributing a composition entitled "The Poet's Death" to Leigh Hunt's journal. Both have, or have had, many common friends, and many of the same famous or familiar characters appear and reappear in the pages of the books of each. The education, like the natural tastes and aptitudes, of Mr. Payn and Mr. Yates was widely different. The former, who went from Eton to Woolwich, and from Woolwich to Cambridge, was without any turn whatever for languages.
THE two entertaining and instructive volumes in which Mr. Edmund Yates has recorded the experiences and reminiscences of a varied, animated, and successful career, had as their predecessors some interesting recollections by a popular novelist, and have been followed by the narrative of "Episodes in the Second Life" of a distinguished journalist, told by himself. Certain characteristics are possessed by each of these autobiographies in common. Mr. Yates combines, or has combined, in his own person the function of Mr. James Payn and Mr. Antonio Gallenga. Like the former he is a novelist; like the latter he is, or has been, a writer of newspaper articles, and among the most locomotive and picturesque of newspaper special correspondents. With Mr. Yates, as with the two other literary autobiographers, existence has been a strenuous and a prosperous affair, full of labor and effort, but of effort ending in fruition, and of labor sweetened by fame. Mr. Yates tells us how first, at the bidding of the post-office authorities, he performed rapid journeys between London and foreign capitals, and how when the government" Languages," he writes, "have been alwas taking over the telegraphs, he visited nearly every portion of the United Kingdom; how, next, at the bidding of the editor of the New York Herald, he had no sooner returned to England from Amer-facility." Mr. Yates received the rudi. ica, than he was summoned to Paris, and ments of a sound classical and general then instructed to proceed without a mo- training at Highgate School, was transment's delay to Vienna or Madrid, to St. ferred to Dusseldorf and Bonn, whence in Petersburg or Berlin. The correspon- nine months' time he returned to England dence of Mr. Gallenga was for the most with a perfect command of the German part in a more serious vein than that of vocabulary and accent. It is to his knowl. Mr. Yates. He was present at scenes of edge of French and German that Mr. greater historic significance, and he chron-Yates attributes much of his success in icled the decision of more momentous life, and notably the opportunities of issues. But both men were in their sepa- studying men, manners, and cities, which rate departments of journalism equally in his Continental missions for the postthe first rank; equally prompt, accurate, office supplied. persevering, graphic. This discipline, perhaps the most trying of any that the
• Edmund Yates: his Recollections and Experiences. 2 vols. (Bentley). Episodes of my Second Life, by A. Galienga. 2 vols. (Chapman & Hall). Some Literary Recollections, by James Payn. vol. (Smith, Elder, & Co.).
ways as unattainable to me as the science of music. I spent many years over French and German, but could never read, far less converse in, either tongue with
One admirable quality pervades, in a conspicuous degree, each of these works. "I do not think," writes Mr. Yates in his preface, "I have said any harsh thing of any person, alive or dead. I am certain that I have not said such a thing con. sciously." As a matter of fact, Mr. Yates
has not said it at all. "Whatever judg-| are balloted for, by far the greatest num ment," writes Mr. Gallenga, "I may have ber consisted of twaddling and cackling passed upon myself, whether the picture fogies, whose bald pates, toothless gums, of my character resulting from the narra- and rickety limbs sent a chill through my tive of my thoughts and deeds be too veins, and acted as an unpleasant reminder partial or too severe, I must at least be that I also had left the mid career of life held guiltless of having indulged in any behind me. I met but few old friends, personality offensive to the dead or liv- and made fewer new ones." Again, "The ing." As for Mr. Payn, he makes no Athenæum Club was to me a workshop professions, because he spares himself the where I saw few I knew, and hardly spoke trouble of a preface, but he is consistently to those few. Literary men like Bulwer amiable and genial. It is only natural and Disraeli; statesmen like Lord Clarthat there should be more traces of a mel- endon, Lord Granville, Lord Salisbury, ancholy humor, bordering on bitterness, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Forster, and Lord in Mr. Gallenga than in Mr. Yates or Mr. Hartington; diplomatists like Lord Ly. Payn. In the first place, he was a patriot ons, Lord Cowley, Lord Ampthill, Lord and an exile. He took life seriously; he Lytton, Lord Howden, have all come withfelt acutely the vicissitudes and humilia in the orbit of my acquaintance; but with tions to which, in his earliest attempts all the good-will on my part and all the to earn a living in America and in En- courtesy and amiability on theirs, the gland as a teacher of languages and a intercourse almost invariably ended where writer of magazine articles, he was com- it began." The truth is, as he explains, pelled to submit. In the second place, Mr. Gallenga was very busy, very shy, though the success which Mr. Gallenga and very near-sighted. Mr. Payn, indeed, achieved as an English journalist and the is uniformly cheery, sometimes positively command he acquired of forcible and cor- chirpy. Yet a bubbling drop of somerect English are for a foreigner unique, thing very like acrimony occasionally wells he never forgot that he was a stranger, up to the smooth and smiling surface. living among strangers. "In spite," he "My experience," he says, “of men and writes, "of the unfailing kindness and women of letters, which has been contindeference which I received abroad, I was uous, and extends over thirty years, is full of silly complaints borrowed from that for kindness of heart they have no Dante about the salt that savors other equals. I have known but one absolutely people's bread, and the hardship of climb- offensive man of letters, and even he was ing and descending other people's stairs." said to be pleasant when sober, though But he had other hardships than these, as I only met him some half-dozen times, and for some years he was a man with a and his habits were peculiar, I never had grievance. He could not get back his a fair chance of finding him in that condi. manuscripts when he wanted, or see edi- tion." "I am well aware," he writes in tors when he called. "Paying editors another place, "that there are a good were not many, and were accessible to many people who dislike me very cordialnone but their intimate friends." Of De- ly. If they do so for a good reason I lane and Morris, under whom he did much exceedingly regret it. But there are some splendid work for the Times, he speaks in folks whose animosity is the highest of terms of unstinted admiration; but, with compliments. There is in my opinion no the exception of Mr. Sala, there is no one more fatal weakness in human nature than about whom he expresses himself with the desire to be thought well of by everymore than conventional cordiality. Elect- body" a doctrine to which perhaps no ed in 1853, after his name had been down one can take exception. Neither Mr. nine years, a member of the Athenæum Payn nor Mr. Gallenga is as uniformly Club, "he did not much value the mere charitable and kindly, as absolutely free honor of belonging to a learned society. from all after thought of rancor, all hint As," he continues, “members have to ing of faults and hesitating of dislikes, as wait at least a score of years before they Mr. Yates, who, indeed, shows himself in
these volumes to be the incarnation of | to my neighbor on the right, our host, from buoyancy, good nature, and good fellowship. Mr. Payn and Mr. Yates seem both of them to be brimming over with an exuberance of joyousness which may well excite the admiration of those whose moral
the opposite end, where the conversation was flagging, suddenly and apropos to nothing, called out loudly to me across the table, and asked: "Pray, Mr. Gallenga" (he never omitted the mister), "pray, who is your dentist?" There was instant silence, and most mercury seldom rises above a figure con of the guests looked up at me. But I was temptibly low. It is not so long since, if ready with my answer and spoke out instantly. I remember correctly, that Mr. Payn pub- "John Heath, No. 11, Albemarle Street, the lished a volume of stories called "High best in London." Upon which the guests Spirits." Mr. Payn's title has been from looked at each other for a few moments wonhis earliest youth Mr. Yates's property, dering, and soon the confused buzz of voices and as Mr. Payn, although he was not went on as before. What whim was it that addicted to any form of physical exercise, prompted Michael Angelo Titmarsh with that had as a boy a fatal propensity towards apparently idle question? Did it arise from practical jokes, so Mr. Yates's inborn an ill-natured desire to call attention to the vivacity was so indomitable that his de- havoc that time might have made with my partmental chief in the post-office bade which art now repairs the grievous losses of jaws and at the truly marvellous skill with him, as a preliminary discipline to the nature? Did he expect me to blush or faint day's routine, walk from St. John's Wood like any middle-aged madam, the mystery of to St. Martin's-le-Grand instead of being whose golden chignon or rosy cheek is by some driven on the omnibus. For genuine untoward accident brought into light in the amiability, as has been said, the palm presence of her most devoted admirers? Or must be given to Mr. Yates. His vol- was that merely his pleasantry, his wish to umes are not only in their way a master-give a fillip to a languid conversation by sup piece, excellently written, whether as regards taste or literary style, with their component parts admirably arranged, the product at once of an exceedingly clever man, wielding a practised and artistic pen; they are also the product of a kindly, courteous, and considerate nature, strong and impetuous, but sympathetic even to tenderness. Unless Mr. Yates was endowed in an unusually liberal measure with these qualities, it is certain that he would not have refrained from some animadversions which might have been pardonably severe on Thackeray. Mention is made of Thackeray by Mr. Payn and Mr. Gallenga as well. Mr. Payn tells what some persons may suppose to be a characteristic anecdote of the great nov. elist. "Even B-I will call him B, for indeed he was busy enough, though he made no honey-speaking to Thackeray of Leitch Ritchie, admitted that he was 'a very gentlemanly man.' But how does B know?' said Thackeray." Mr. Gallenga, as an instance of Thackeray's playfulness, cites the following:
One day, at a large men's party, when we were sixteen present, as I was seated nearly at the lower end of the table and I was talking
plying a new subject which might raise a laugh no matter at whose expense? If the latter was his purpose, it flew wide of the mark, for though some of our friends may have been no one seemed to perceive its drift. No one struck by the strangeness of his sudden sally, noticed its "fun" or humor. The joke, if joke it was, fell flat.
As there were reasons which might have excused Mr. Yates if he had adopted a very different tone in regard to Thackeray, so there is much in the unavoidable circumstances of a literary career which might have prompted him, as well as Mr. Payn and Mr. Gallenga, to reflections far more acrimonious than are to be found in any of the volumes I am now considering. The life of a writer was defined by Pope as" a warfare upon earth." Few warriors could have illustrated the principles of amnesty with more generosity than Mr. Yates. Speaking of literature, Mr. Payn says there is "no calling so bright and pleasant, so full of genial friendship, so radiant with the glories of success; but there is also no pursuit so doubtful, so full of risks, so subject to despondency and disappointments, so open to despair. Oh, my young friend, with a turn for literature, think twice and thrice before committing
upon the subject. There is, I firmly be lieve, no instance on record of a man of letters who, having trodden so persistently the uphill path of an opposed career as Mr. Yates, and having gone through such a series of exertions and encounters, ever took so urbane and kind a retrospect of the past.
In his chapter entitled "The Influence of Pendennis," Mr. Yates gives us what is, from an autobiographical point of view, one of the most interesting portions of his work : —
To get admitted into the ranks of literary men, among whom I might possibly, by inbegan to be my constant thought; and I was dustry and perseverance, rise to some position, encouraged in the hope that I might succeed, perhaps more than anything else, by reading the career of "Pendennis," which, in its wellremembered yellow cover, had then been appearing month by month for the last two years, and in its complete form was just obtainable at the libraries. There is no prose story in our English language, not even the "Christmas Carol," not even "The Newcomes," not even the "Scenes of Clerical Life" or "Silas Marner 37 - and now I have named what are
yourself to it, or you may bitterly regret to find yourself where that turn may take you." Yet though these are Mr. Payn's sentiments, everything is rose-colored in his autobiography, and as it is with Mr. Payn so is it in a greater degree with Mr. Yates. Now it is no sufficient explana tion of this circumstance in the case of a man like Mr. Yates to say that he has been brilliantly successful. Success in most men is no remedy for resentment, and does not remove the causes of embitterment. If there ever existed a calling which could justify embitterment and resentment, it is that of the professional writer. Thackeray in one of the most acid chapters in his "Book of Snobs," after having shown that literature was full of them, exclaimed in bitter irony, "There are no snobs in literature." Mr. Yates has had a good deal more to do with journalism than Mr. Payn: he has therefore been brought more into contact with all kinds and conditions of gentlemen who write. He has had as many opportunities as an Old Bailey barrister, or Mr. George Lewis himself, of seeing the seamy side of human nature. It is not too much to to me the most precious-which interests and say that the social commerce and the pro- affects me like "Pendennis." It had this fessional intercourse inseparable from a effect from the very first. I knew most of it literary life is to moderately sensitive na- so thoroughly. The scenes in the provincial tures a protracted torture. The compe-theatre-the Fotheringay, her father, the tition which must be encountered and prompter, the company - were such perfect defeated before the position is won, is creations (to this day I have never seen any incessant, bitter, and frequently humiliatint as to where Thackeray got his study of ing. When a sort of tableland of success line); the position of Pendennis and his these people, who were quite out of his usual and influence has been reached, and the mother was so analogous to that of me and competitor has at his disposal some degree mine-her devotion, his extravagance; the of literary patronage, he is upon the thres- fact that I was personally acquainted with hold of fresh troubles. The responsible Andrew Arcedeckne, the original of Foker, in conductor of any literary enterprise has whom he was reproduced in the most ludito deal with every sort of knavery and crously lifelike manner: all this awakened in incapacity as to which let the intelligent me a special interest in the book; and when, reader consult Mr. Payn's remarks in the in the course of Pen's fortunes, he enters upon last hundred pages of his volume. He is the literary career, writes his verses for the "Spring Annual," dines with Bungay, visits perpetually assailed by the importunity of incompetence and the impudence of inapti- and chums with Warrington, who makes that Shandon, is engaged on the Pall Mall Gazette, tude. He will find himself beset alter-ever-to-be-quoted speech about the power of nately by the entreaties and impertinences of the opiniated dullard whose conceit is a bar to his improvement, and who in his relations with the men whose kindly offices he solicits begins with flattery, then breaks into a snarl, and ends by suing with a whine. The monitions of experience are thrown away upon these persons. They are the parasites of our literary system, and it is infinitely to the credit of Mr. Yates's native kindliness that he should have been able to practise a self-control beyond that of Mr. Payn, and not have had an unkind word to say
the press: "Look at that, Pen! There she is, the great engine; she never sleeps," etc.,when I came to this portion of the book my fate was sealed. To be a member of that wonderful Corporation of the Goosequill, to be recognized as such, to be one of those jolly fellows who earned money and fame, as I thought, so easily and so pleasantly, was the tion could do it, I determined that my desire one desire of my life; and, if zeal and applicashould be gratified.
One can understand that men should, even from the sober eminence of middle age, look back to the novels of Marryat