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mcmbering those remarkable coincidences which sometimes surprise and bafflo us, which in science make Adams and Le Verrier discover the same planet at the same time without knowing anything of each other's calculations, and which in any department seem to indicate that a great tide sweeps over humanity, bearing us on its bosom whithersoever it will, so that
u God's puppets, best and worst, Are we; there is no lost nor first," —
I institute an examination of Benlomond to discover those generic or specific peculiarities which are supposed to have made their mark on me, why, I find for resemblance, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon; there is also, moreover, a river in Monmouth: 't is as like as my fingers to my fingers, and there is salmons in both!
Have I taken Benlomond for my model? But why not Josephus and Ricardo and Francois and Michel, any and all who have poured their fancies and feelings into this mould? Why select the last disciple and ignore the first apostle? Many prophets have been in Israel whom I resemble as much, to say the least, as this Benlomond. Is it not, my friend, that, in the multitude of your words and ways, you have not found time to renew your acquaintance with these ancient worthies, and so their features have somewhat faded from your memory ? but Benlomond came in but yesterday, and because he is a newspaper-topic, him you know; and because at the first blush you running can read that there is a river in Monmouth and also a river in Macedon, and salmons in both, — 't is as like as my fingers to my fingers, and Monmouth was built on the model of Macedon! Ah, my eagle-eyes, Judea, too, had its Jordan, and Damascus-its Abana and PharI ir, and little Massachusetts its Merrimac, which,
"poet-tuned, Goes singing down his meadows."
Bnt Judea did not typo Damascus. The Merrimac bears not the sign of Abana, VOL. XIII. 7
nor was Abana born of Jordan : all, obedient to the word of the Lord, trickled forth from their springs among the hills, and wander down, one through his vineland, one through his olive-groves, and one to meet the roaring of the millwheel's rage.
I lay no claim to originality. Uttering feebly, but only
"The thoughts that arise in me,"
I know full well that the soil has been tilled and the seed scattered of all that is worthy in the world. Where giants have wrestled, it is not for pigmies to boast their prowess. Where the gods have trodden, let mortals walk unsandalled. The lowliest of their learners, I sit at the feet of the masters. To me, as to all the world, the great and the good of the olden times have left their legacy, and the monarehs of to-day have scattered blessing. Upon me, as upon all, have their grateful showers descended. My brow have they crowned with their goodness, and on my life have their paths dropped fatness. Dreaming under their vines and fig-trees, I have gathered in my lap and garnered in my heart their mellow fruits.
"With them I take delight in weal
And ?eek relief in woe,
How much to them I owe,
But, though with gladness and joy I render unto Ciesar the things that are Caesar's, he shall not have that which does not belong to him. Neither Benlomond, nor any living man, nor any one man, living or dead, has any claim to my fealty, be it worth much or little. If I cannot go in to the banquet on Olympus by the bidding of the master of tho feast, I will forswear ambrosia altogether, and to the end of my days feed on millet with the peasants in the Vale of Tempo.
Then you sail on another tack, smilo and shake your head and say, "It is all very well, but it has not the element of immortality. Observe the difference botween this writer and Charles Lamb. One is ginger-pop beer that foams and froths and is gone, while the other is the sound Madeira that will be better fifty years hence than now."
Well, what of it? Do you mean to lay, that, because a man has no argosies sailing in from the isles of Eden, freighted with the juices of the tropies, he shall not brew hops iu his own cellar? Because you will have none but the vintages of dead centuries, shall not the people delight their hearts with new wine? Because you are an epicure, shall there be no more cakes and ale? Go to! It is a happy fate to be a poet's Falernian, old and mellow, scaled in amphora, to be crowned with linden - garlands and the late rose. But for all earth's acres there are few Sabine farms, whither poet, sage, and statesman come to lose in the murmur of Bandusian founts the din of faction and of strife; and even there it is not always Caecuban or Calenian, neither Formian nor Falernian, but the vile Sabinum in common cups and wreathed with simple myrtle, that bubbles up its welcome. So, since there must be lighter draughts, or many a poor man go thirsty, we who are but the ginger-pop of life may well rejoice, remembering that ginger-pop-is nourishing and tonic,—that thousands of weary wayfarers who could . never know the taste of the costly brands, and who go sadly and wearily, will be fleeter of foot and gladder of soul because of its humble and evanescent foam. Ginger-pop beer is it. that you scoff? Verily, you do an unconsidered deed. When one remembers all the liquids, medicinal, soporific, insipid, poisonous, which flood the throat of humanity, one may deem himself a favorite of Fortune to be placed so high in the catalogue. Though upon his lowliness gleam down the rosy and purple lights of rare old wines aloft, yet from his altitude he can look below upon a profane crowd in thick array of depth immeasurable, and rejoice that he is not stagnant water nor exasperated vinegar nor disappointed buttermilk. Nay, I am not only con
tent, but exultant. It may be an ignoble satisfaction, yet I believe I would rather flash and fade in one moment of happy daylight than be corked and cobwebbed for fifty years in the dungeons of an unsunned cellar, with a remote possibility, indeed, of coming up from my incarceration to moisten the lips of beauty or loosen the tongue of eloquence, but with a far surer prospect of but adding one more to the potations of the glutton and wine-bibber.
And what, after all, is this oblivion which you flaunt so threateningly? Even if I do encounter it, no misfortune will happen unto me but such as is common unto men. Of all the souls of this generation, the number that will sift through the meshes of the years is infinitesimally small. The overwhelming majority of names will turn out to be chaff, and be blown away. I shall be forgotten, but I shall be forgotten in very good company. The greater part of my kin-folk and acquaintance, your own self, my critic, and your family and frienc's, will go down in the same darkness which ingulfs me. When I am dead, I shall be no deader than the rest of you, and I -shall have been a great deal more alire while I teas alive.
I am not afraid to be forgotten. Posterity will have its own soothsayers, and somewhere among the stars, I trust, I shall be living a life so intense and complete that I shall never once think to lament that I am not mulling on a bookshelf down here. Besides, if y"U insist upon it, I am not going to be forgotten. You don't know anything more about it than I do. Knowledge is not always prescience. "This will never do," ruled Jeffrey from his judgment-seat. "Order reigns in Warsaw," pronounced Sebastiani. "I have now gone throug'i the Bible," chuckled Tom Paine, "as a man would go through a wood with an axe on his shoulder, and fell trees. Here they lie, and the priests, if they can, may replant them. They may, perhaps, stick them in the ground, but they will never make thom grow." But Wordsworth to-day it reverenced by the nation that could barb no arrow sharp enough to shoot at him. The evening sky that bends above Warsaw is red with the watch-fires of her old warfare bursting anew from their smouldering ashes. And the oaks that doughty Paine fancied himself to have levelled show not so much as a scratch upon their sturdy trunks. Nay, I do not forget that even Charles Lamb was fiercely belabored by his own generation. So, when upon me you pass sentence of speedy death, I assure you that I shall live a thousand years, and there is nobody in the world who can demonstrate that I am in the wrong. Even if after a while I disappear, it proves nothing; you cannot tell whether I am really submerged, or only lying in the trough of the sea to mount the crest of the coming wave. Till the thousandth year proves me moribund, I shall stoutly maintain that I am immortal.
Concerning Charles Lamb the less you say the better. It is easy to build up a reputation for sagacity by offering incense to the gods who are already shrined. Of course there is a difference between us. A pretty rout you would make, if there were not. But, for all your adoration of Charles Lamb, I dare say he would have liked me a great deal better than he would you. Would? Why should I intrench myself in hypothesis? Does he not? When I knock at the door of the Inner Temple, does he not fling it wide open, and does not his face welcome me? When the red fire glows on the hearth, have I not sat far into the night, Bridget sitting beside me with heaven's own light shining in her beautiful eyes, and above her dear head the white gleam of guardian angels hovering tenderly? And when Elia arches his brows, and lowers at me his stormclouds, which I do not mind for the mnshine that will not be hidden behind them, — when in the sweet play of June lights and shadows, and the golden haze of Indian-summer, I forget even the kingly words that go ringing through the land, waking the mountain-echo,—
when I look out upon this gray afternoon, and see no leaden skies, no pinched and sullen fields, but green paths, gem-bestrewn from autumn's jewelled hand, and warm light glinting through the apple-trees under which he stood that soft October day, till
"Conscious seems the frozen sod And beechen slope whereon he trod," —
O Alexander, get out of my sunshine with your bugbear of a Charles Lamb! "I have heard you for some time with patience. I have been cool,— quite cool; but don't put me in a frenzy!"
Well, friend, when you have satisfied yourself with the limiting, you begin on the descriptive adjectives, and pronounce me egotistical. Certainly. I should be unlike all others of my race, if I were not. It is a wise and merciful arrangement of Providence, that every one is to himself the centre of the universe. What a fatal world would this be, if it were otherwise! When one thinks what a collection of insignificances we are, how dispensable the most useful of us is to everybody, how little there is in any of us to make any one care about us, and of how small importance it is to others what becomes of us, — when one thinks that even this round earth is so small, that, if it should fall into the arms of the sun, the sun would just open his mouth and swallow it whole, and nobody ever suspect it, (vide T^ndall on Heat,) one must see that this self-love, self-care, and self-interest play a most important part in the Divine Economy. If one did not keep himself affoat, he would surely go under. As it is, no matter how disagreeable a person is, he likes himself, — no matter how uninteresting, he is interested in himself. Everybody, you, my critic, as well, likes to talk about himself, if he can get other people to listen; and so long as I can get several thousand people to listen to me, I shall keep talking, you may be sure, and so would you, — and if you don't, it is only because you can't I You are just as egotistical as I am, only you won't own it frankly, as I do. True, I might escape censure by using such circumlocutions as "the writer," "the author," or still more cumbrously by dressing out some lay figure, calling it Frederic or Frederika, and then, like the Dclphic priestesses, uttering my sentiments through its mouth, tor the space of a folio novel; but at bottom it would be my own self all the while; and besides, in order to get at the thing I wanted to say, I should have to detain you on a thousand things that I did not care about, but which would be necessary as links, because, when you have made a man or a woman, you must do something with him. You can't leave him standing, without any visible means ef support. One person writes a novel of four hundred pages to convince you in a roundabout way, through thirty different characters, that a certain law, or the mode of administering it, is unjust . He does not mention himself, but makes his men and women speak his arguments. Another man writes a treatise of forty pages and gives you his views out of his own mouth. But he does not put himself into his treatise any more than the other into his novel. For my part, I think the use of "I" is the shortest and simplest way of launching one's opinions. Kven a lee bulges out into twice the space that / requires, besides seeming to try to evade responsibility. Better say "/" straight out, — " /," responsible for my words here and elseWhere, as they used to say in Congress under the old regime. Besides being the most brave, "I" is also the most modest. It delivers your opinions to the world through a perfectly transparent medium. "I" has no relations. It has no consciousness. It is a pure abstraction. It detains you not a moment from the subject. "The writer" does. It brings up ideas entirely detached from the theme, and is therefore impertinent. All you are after is the thing that is thought. It is not of the smallest consequence who thought it . You may be certain that it is not always the people who use "I" the most freely who think most about themselves;
and if you are offended, consider whether it may not be owing to a certain morbidness of your taste as much as to egotism in the offender.
Remember, also, that, when a writer talks of himself, he is not necessarily speaking of his own definite John Smithship, that does the marketing and pays the taxes and is a useful member of society. Not at all. It is himself as one unit of the great sum of mankind. He means himself, not as an isolated individual, but as a part of humanity. His narration is pertinent, because it relates to the human family. He brings forward a part of the common properly. He does not touch that which pertains exclusively to himself. His self is selfcreated. His imaginative may have as large a share in the person as his descriptive powers. You don't understand me precisely? Sorry for you.
You think me arrogant. You would think so a great deal more, if you knew me better. At heart I believe I incline very much to the opinion of a charming friend of mine, that, " after all, nobody in the world is of much account but Susy and me," — only in my formula I leave out Susy. Don't, therefore, think solely of the arrogance that is revealed, but think also of the masses concealed, and in consideration of the greater repression pardon the great expression. It is not the persons who sin the least, but those who overcome the strongest temptations, who are the most virtuous. People endowed by Nature with a sweet humility do not deserve half the credit for their lovely character that those who are naturally selfish and arrogant often deserve for being no more disagreeable than they are. Yes, it must be confessed, you are right in attributing arrogance, —though, after this meek confession and repentance, if you do not forgive me freely and fully, for past and future, your secondary will be a great deal worse than my original sin; — but you never would accuse ma of " an arrogance that disdains docility," if you had seen the mean-spirited way in which I sit down by the side of an editor and let him ram-page over my manuscript. Out fly my best thoughts, my finest figures, my sharpest epigrams, — without chloroform, — and I give no sign. I have heard that successful authors can always have everything their own way. I must be the greatest — or the smallest — failure of the age.
"It will be much better to omit this," says the High Inquisitor, turning the thumb-screw.
"No," I writhe. "Take everything else, but leave that."
"I am glad to see that you agree with me," he responds, with Mephistophelian courtesy; and away it goes, and I say nothing, thankful that enough is left to hobble in at all.
"Revealing somewhat of the arrogance of success," you comment, directed by your Evil Genius, upon that especial chapter which was written in a gully of the Valley of Humiliation, when I -was gasping under an .Ki im of rejected manuscripts, — when there was not it respectable newspaper in the country by which 1 had not been "declined with thanks,"—when, in the desperation of iny determination, I had recourse to bribery, and sent an editor a dollar with the manuscript, to pay him for the fifteen minutes it would take to read it. (Mi m. 1 never heard from editor, manuscript, or dollar. J No, it may be arrogance, but it is not the arrogance of success. Whatever it was, it was in the grain. And, to look at it in another light, I cannot have been "spoiled by the indulgent praise which my early efforts received," because, on the other hand, 1 have always been praised,—
"Like to the Comic monarch of old dnys, I fed on poisons, till they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment."
The earliest event I remember is being piesented with two cents by one of the "Committee" visiting the school. And if I could stand two cents in my tender infancy, don't you suppose I can stand your penny-a-lining now I am grown up? I may have been spoiled, or I may not liave been worth much to b»-»in with;
but the mischief was all done before you ever heard of me. Confine yourself to facts: dismiss conjectures. State actions: shun motives. Give results: avoid causes, if you would insure confidence in your sagacity.
But all this will I forgive and forget, if you will not tell me to stop writing. '1-in-i I cannot and will not do. You may iterate and reiterate, that the public will tire -of me. I am sorry for the public, but it is strong and will be easily rested. Sorry? No, I am not; I am glad. I should like to pay back a part of the weariness which the public has inflicted on me in the shape of lectures, lessons, sermons, speeches, customs, fashions. Why should it have the monopoly of fatiguing? Minorities have their rights as well as majorities. The spout of a teakettle is not to be compared, in point of bulk, to the tea-kettle, but it puts in a claim for an equal depth of water, and Nature acknowledges the claim. I cannot think of reining in yet. I have but just begun. And everything is so interesting. Nothing is isolated. Nothing is insignificant. Everything you touch thrills. It does not seem to matter much what you look at: only look long enough, and a life, its life, starts out . You see that it has causes and consequences, dependencies, bearings, and all manner of social interests; and before you know it, you have become involved in those interests and are one of the family. For the time, you stake all on that issue, and fight to the death. As soon as that is decided, and you stop to take breath a moment, something else comes equally interesting and seeming equally important, and again your lance is in rest. When it conies to the quantities of morals, there is n't much difference between one thing and another. And you ask me to fold my hands and sit still! Not L One of my youthful maxims was, "Do something, if it 's mischief"; and I intend to follow it, especially the condition. I promise to do the best I can, but I shall do it. I will never write foi the sake of writing, but I will gay my