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much of his own feelings and experience; and Was it not, then, the disgusting Milton the reader of the poem who knows anything who acted thus ? No, not the disgusting of Milton's life has this pressed upon him at Milton, but the very Milton who beheld every turn.
the lady of “Comus," and who presents in In Milton's life, as in Milton's prose his pamphlets on divorce noble and exwritings, occur passages which are not alted views on this same subject of mar. admirable, which are indeed the reverse riage. When, instead of picking and of admirable. The student of literature, choosing certain fragments of Milton and we may presume, is a lover of beauty, and constructing from these a charming vision the temptation with him to shirk the ugly to gratify our own particular sentiment, passages of a life is a temptation easily we come to know and understand the acunderstood. Here he may say, as Mr. tual man, we can do justice, and a justice Matthew Arnold has lately been saying of not devoid of charity, to the errors of the Shelley, here, in “Comus and Sam- haughty idealist; we shall find new meanson," here, in the Council Chamber shel- ings in the Eve and the Dalila of his potering Davenant from dangers incurred ems; and if we choose to moralize, we through his Royalist ardors, here, in com- may learn the humbling truth that human pany with Lawrence, listening to the lute greatness and human infirmity are often well touched, is the Milton we desire to near akin, and that to dwell in the empyknow, the Milton who delights. Let us, rean, though glorious for a mortal, is not at least as long as we are able, avert our always the best preparation for sitting with eyes from the Milton who disgusts, from grace and amiability by the fireside. the unamiable Milton, the Milton who We shall now assume that our student calls his opponent "an idiot by breeding of literature has mastered what I have and a solicitor by presumption,” the Mil. termed the biographical method of study. ton who helped to embitter his daughters' Inquiring how this or that piece of literalives, and remembered them as “unkind ture came to be what it is, he perceived children" in his will. What is gained by that it belongs to a group of works, all forcing this disgusting Milton on our at- possessing certain characteristics in comtention? We choose, if we can, to retain mon, works all of which proceeded from a charming picture of the great poet. The one and the same mind, and he has been delightful true Milton is the Milton after led to inquire into the nature of that mind all. Ah, give us back the delightful Mil- and the history of its development. There ton!
are qualities possessed in common by But the lover of beauty is sometimes a " King Henry IV.” and “Measure for lover of truth, and in the long run he will Measure” and “Lear” and “The Temgain not only more of truth but more of pest” which cannot be found in “Sejanus," beauty and delight by cultivating the or " The Jew of Malta," or "The Broken power and habit of seeing things as they Heart;" signs and tokens there are which are, and understanding them aright, and would make us cry “Shakespeare !” were acquiring the temper of justice and of we to discover one of these plays for the charity, than if he were to indulge what, first time in a copy without title-page or to speak plainly, is a kind of fastidious trace of the author's name. But looking egotism. A man compassed about with farther, our student finds certain common infirmity, yet a heroic man, is after all characteristics belonging to the plays of better worth knowing than either a phan- Shakespeare and to those of Ben Jonson tom or a fragment of a man. And indeed and Marlowe and Ford which he cannot unless we know the whole man we shall find in plays by Dryden or Lee or Rowe. comprehend no fragment aright. It was It becomes evident io him that all Shakenot admirable in Milton that he should speare's plays belong to a larger group have darkened and saddened his young consisting of the works of the Elizabethan wife's bridal days. It seems at a first age. Thus, seeking to discover how glance ridiculous and odious that he "Hamlet,” or “ Lear,” or “ The Tempest” should have celebrated her flight from his came to be what it is, he is compelled to house by rushing before the public with a pass beyond the author of those plays, to pamphlet on divorce; it seems something leave the biographical study of literature, worse than odious that he should have and to enter on the wider field of historical proposed marriage to another woman study. He now needs to know more than while Mary still lived, and when Miss an author, he must know a period. Davis, had she accepted his proposal, In the study of an individual author the must have sacrificed her reputation, and inquirer, as we have seen, first investi. perhaps her happiness, for his sake. Igates the peculiar nature of the author's
genius, and then endeavors to trace its and sorrows, their loves and hatreds, their development through successive stages; laughter and their tears; and hence the so here, in the historical study of litera. possibility of his great dramatic creations. ture, he will seek first to understand the The action, the emotions, and the ideas leading characteristics of the age, and of an age may to some extent, and as a secondly, to follow the movement of the matter of convenience, be studied apart age, observing how it arose out of the past, from one another; the action, in the lives how it culminated, how it prepared the of statesmen and warriors, and above all way for a new epoch and then declined. in records of the social life of the time; To know a period aright we must know the emotions, in its poetry and art; the its outward body and its inward spirit; ideas, in the writings of its theologians, we must study it in its actions, its pas- philosophers, moralists, men of science. sions, and its thought. What were its But we must also endeavor to see ideas, great achievements in the material world passions, action, in their vital relations and its daily habits of social life? What and mutual intercourse as parts of a living were its dominant emotions? what were organism; that is, we must study not only its guiding ideas? And finally, is there the anatomy but the physiology of the age. any common element or principle which There are epochs, such as that of the manifests itself alike in ideas, emotions, French Revolution, when ideas have inand action ?
flamed passions, and passions have transCan we, for example, perceive any cen- formed themselves into ideas, and when tral and ruling tendency in the age which both ideas and passions hurry forward to Shakespeare and Bacon and Hooker and obtain expression and realization in some Spenser represent in literature? I have stupendous deed; and such epochs of elsewhere ventured to assert that a pro- flood and fire seldom pass without displacfound interest in reality as opposed to ing old strata and creating a new stratum, abstractions, a rich feeling for concrete from which flowers and fruits of kinds fact, was the dominant characteristic of hitherto unknown will in due time arise. the Elizabethan age. The greatest theo I have said that the student will do more logical thinker of the time was not greatly than study the characteristics of the peconcerned about the abstract dogmas of riod; he will watch the life of the period theology, but gave the full force of his in the various moments of its developmind to laying the foundations and build- ment and its decline. If a writer belongs ing up, like a wise master builder, the to an age in which a revolution in ideas is fabric of the Anglican Church. The great accomplishing itself, in which old dogmas philosopher of the Elizabethan age looked are passing away, although this great fact with disdain on the speculations in vacuo, the dying of an old faith — may be the as they appeared to him, of the elder central characteristic of the epoch, it mat. philosophies; his own discoveries were ters much to the individual whether he is "copied,” as he says, "from a very an- suminoned to take part in the movement cient model, even the world itself.” He at this moment or at that. He may arrive too, like Hooker, desired to be a master at manhood just when the weariness and builder; he would fain“ lay a foundation profound indifference, proper to the first in the human understanding for a holy moment in the decay and approaching temple after the model of the world.” agony of an old belief, are universal. He Light indeed seemed precious to Bacon, will still continue a believer, but his belief but precious chiefly in order to the attain- will be no more than a piece of lifeless ment of fruit. Spenser, the dreamer of custom. Or he may belong to the moment fairyland, in his romantic epic professes of awakening doubt and critical inquiry. not to justify the ways of God to man as Or, yet again, to the moment when the Milton afterwards professed; he does not, negation of a received faith has itself belike Pope, turn into verse a series of phil. come the newer creed, when the old interosophical or pseudo-philosophical views ests and passions connected with tradi. concerning the nature and state of man tional beliefs are alarmed, and a combat with respect to the universe; he professes hand to hand is being waged. Or the no other general intention than “to fashi- epoch of contemptuous jest and mockery ion a gentleman or noble person in virtu- may have arrived. Or the first presages ous and gentle discipline." And Shake inay already have been felt of the serious speare, with his company of fellow-drama. faith of the future.* tists, is profoundly interested in the characters and deeds of men and women, in I have drawn my illustrations from Jouffrey's ro their relations one with another, their joys markable study, Comment les Dogmes finissent.
No period of our literature lends itself the last half of the century. Foreign influmore naturally to historical study, and ences, again, would have to be considered. indeed to biographical study also, than the French literature was to Dryden and Pope eighteenth century. The sources of in. what Italian had been to Spenser and Milton; formation are abundant; material as de. the influence of Bayle may be traced in the lightful as it is important lies open before earlier criticism, as at a later period Monthe student; he is constantly in the com- affected English thought. The attempt, then,
tesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire profoundly pany of eminent men and interesting to deduce Pope from Clarke, or to connect women. The period is sufficiently reinote Swift with Butler, to the neglect of the many from our own day to permit us to view it conflicting influences, would be necessarily dispassionately ; and the chief movements illusory. It is not the less true that remarkof the time can be clearly discerned in able analogies may be traced between the their origin, development, and issue. Our speculative and the imaginative literature. historian of English thought in that cen- ferred affected both modes of thought; and
The complex conditions to which I have retury, Mr. Leslie Stephen, in a lecture on sometimes we may best regard the two manithe study of English literature, lately de- festations as springing from the same root, livered at St. Andrews, spoke with excel. sometimes as directly influencing each other. * lent judgment of acquaintance with the philosophy of an age and acquaintance with Between the epoch of Puritan enthuits social conditions as essential to a right siasm and the epoch of revolutionary knowledge of its literature. The lecturer enthusiasm lies this rich level period of did not quote an admirable page from common sense, when enthusiasm was disthe ** History of English Thought in the credited and yet could not long be supEighteenth Century,” which is so much to pressed. If we would understand its my purpose that I shall make amends for literature aright we should study the age Mr. Stephen's error by copying it here. not only in "The Rape of the Lock" and
the " The character of an imaginative literature tor” and “Gulliver," in “ Clarissa" and
Essay on Man,” in “ The Spectais a function of many forces. It depends not only upon the current philosophy, but upon Walpole and those of Lady Mary Wort
" Tom Jones,” but in the letters of Horace its history, its climate, its social and political ley Montagu, the pictures of Hogarth, the relations, and upon individual peculiarities of sermons of Butler, the lives of Wesley mind and temperament, which defy all attempt and Whitefield, the operas and oratorios at explanation. Thus, in our English litera- of Handel, the brilliant mockeries of Volture of the eighteenth century, we can see the taire, and the tears and raptures of Rousreflection of the national character; its sturdy seau. common sense; the intellectual shortsightedness which enables it to grasp details whilst abroad, the student of English literature
Once more lifting his eyes and looking rejecting general systems; the resulting ten: will perceive that there are groups of dency to compromise, which leads it to acquiesce in heterogeneous masses of opinion ; 'its writings not arbitrarily formed and larger humor, its deep moral feeling, its prejudices, than can be comprehended within any age its strong animal propensities, and so forth or even within the history of any nation. Or, again, the social development affects the He will perceive a kinship between “ Macliterature. The whole tone of thought is evi- beth” and “ The Orphan" and " Phèdre dently colored by the sentiments of a nation and “ Le Roi s'amuse” and the “ Agamem. definitely emerging from the older organiza- non” and the “ Medea." All these belong tion to a modern order of society: We see to the dramatic order of writings. What the formation of an important middle class then is the drama ? What are its laws or and of an audience composed, not of solitary principles? How does it differ from the students or magnificent nobles, but of merchants, politicians, lawyers, and doctors, eager epic? What constitutes a tragedy? What for amusement, delighting in infinite personal are the essentials of a tragic plot? What gossip, and talking over its own peculiarities is required in the character of a tragic with ceaseless interest in coffee-houses, clubs, hero? That is to say, the investigator and theatres. Nor, again, are the political who has examined a piece of literature influences unimportant. The cessation of the simply in order to know what it is, and fierce struggles of the previous century culmi- who inquiring then how it came to be nating in the undisputed supremacy of a par- what it is, has studied first the genius of liamentary oligarchy, led to a dying out of the an individual author and next the genius vehement discussions which at other periods of a particular period to which that author have occupied men's minds exclusively, and made room for that theological controversy belongs, is now compelled to take a wider which I have described, and which itself disappeared as the political interests revived in • History of English Thought, etc., vol. ii., p. 330.
view; and seeking to know whether there the contrary, the members of my family be not certain principles common to all for generations past have been easy-going literature and derived from the general respectable yeomen, contented with their mind of humanity, he passes from the bio- placid country lives, and absolutely igno. graphical and the historical to the philo- rant and careless of the ever-widening sophical study of literature.
doctrines of modern schools of thought. That there are such general laws or prin My father is a well-to-do and respected ciples app!ying to the various forms of farmer in the west country, my mother a literature, in whatever age and in what- hard-headed, thrifty Yorkshire woman. ever clime produced, is certain; but now. Both are narrow-minded, intensely conadays the prevalence of the historical servative, and absolutely devoid of all method, as exercised most commonly spirituality and romance. I am the youngwithin some narrow field, has caused a est of five sturdy uninteresting boys and natural timidity in putting forth those girls – now men and women of the large inductions which the historical heavy Anglo-Saxon type. In my boyhood method itself would justify if the range of I exhibited no distinguishing characterisits operation were extended. It is not tics beyond a stubborn will, which brought desirable that the professor of English me continually into trouble, and an unliterature should become a lecturer on the usually strong faculty of sympathy with science of the beautiful or the theory of other beings - both' human and' brute the fine arts. In and through his histor- beasts. By sheer force of will and work ical criticism, however, will assuredly I raised myself at a comparatively early gleam certain openings and vistas leading age to the top of the grammar school in in the direction of that criticism which I the neighboring town. My progress was have termed philosophical. And if En considered to be so good that when I was glish literature be connected in our col- of fitting age my father was persuaded to lege and university courses with either allow me to compete for an unimportant Greek or Latin, or French or German scholarship at one of the universities, and literature, the thoughtful student can this I was fortunate enough to secure. hardly fail to be aroused by his compara A few months after this success a cirtive studies to consider questions which cumstance occurred, trivial in itself, which demand an answer from philosophy. Two created a considerable impression upon books which I should certainly like to see me, and had no small influence in shaping in the hand of every student of literature my destiny. One lovely summer morning are the “Poetic” of Aristotle and Les - a Monday, I remember - in my first sing's “ Laocoon.”
long vacation, having risen early I went EDWARD DOWDEN. out to enjoy the cool breeze on the dew
less tor behind our old home. I fell to thinking on the text of the young curate's
Sunday evening sermon, which had hauntFrom Blackwood's Magazine.
ed me through the night. It was “Know
ye not that we shall judge angels?” A DEAD MAN'S VENGEANCE.
Whether I had been inattentive, or CHAPTER 1.
whether the curate had failed to handle I WRITE this confession in the hope his theme skilfully or wisely, I do not that my sad example may prevent any know. But the effect of the sermon was over-confident and headstrong persons to raise ambitions within me little short of who may chance to read it from following blasphemous. With no very definite conthe disastrous path of self-will and self- ception of the meaning of the text, and flattery which has led me into the misery less of the conclusion to which my which I now endure, and which will thoughts were leading me, the idea of our plunge me hereafter into punishments implied superiority to, and future power which I dare not think of. I know that I over the beings of another and a higher have no one to blame but myself. The world fascinated me, and what was at first power — the coveted possession of which a whimsical fancy rapidly developed itself has brought me down to destruction of into desire, and soon I found myself – both body and soul – is by no means in. not without some sense of half-ámused herited, but is the result of years of care. shame - almost mechanically willing that ful cultivation on my part. No hereditary a heavenly being should acknowledge me second sight, no mysterious biological now, while I was still in this life, as its power, no magic susceptibility, has been judge and master. left me as a legacy by my forefathers. On I feel explanation is due here. When
I was quite a young lad at the grammar | laughingly assented, laid a shilling in her school, our little town was visited by a hand, and showed her my palm. She professed mesmerist, who claimed to ex- took my hand in hers, and had only ercise command over the minds and bodies glanced at it when I noticed her manner of men and women by directing upon them change from liveliness to considerable the concentrated power of his will, which, gravity, and even alarm. Gradually, as overpowering and beating down the voli. her scrutiny continued, she became more tion of the persons on whom he operated, and more agitated, and at last, pale as rendered them subservient to him in a death, she fell on her knees before me, greater or less degree, according to the placed my hand reverently on her head, extent of ascendancy which his will, nat- and then rising again, moved silently away. urally strong, and carefully trained to con. I stopped her and asked what was the centration, was able to obtain over the cause of her emotion. She turned round wills of those on whom he practised. His and faced me, raised her hands in a sup. demonstrations were fairly successful, but plicating attitude, and whispered rather the performance was not popular with the than spoke, “ Lord of the spirits, be merrustics, who were suspicious of witchcraft, ciful to me and to my father's house, for and the professor left the town after giv. we are all your slaves to do with as you ing only one exhibition of his powers. will." With that she bowed gracefully
treasured up in my mind what he had and deeply in semi-Oriental fashion; and said, and from that day began to practise though I called to her more than once to putting my will privately against the wills come back to me, she disappeared into of all with whom I came in contact. the double hedge of the lane, and I saw When wanting anything done by human her no more. being or animal, I was not content to ask This incident made a considerable imor to order, or where neither was possible pression on me at the time and flattered to wish, but I formed the habit of willing my boyish vanity more than I cared to with all my strength that the thing should confess to myself. Later in the day I be done. As time went on, I discovered took an opportunity of passing by where that I had undoubtedly acquired a certain the camp had been, but the gipsies had power over others, and the habit strength- fown, and no trace of them was left. ered itself until I was unable to resist The weeks passed by, and when it was endeavoring to bend even events to my time for me to return to college, the ocwill.
currence had nearly passed out of my And thus it was that I detected myself mind. A few days after the commencewilling that some heavenly being should ment of term I happened to meet in a be my servant. I lingered for a short friend's rooms a man who had just come time on the hilltop, and then dismissing up. He was rather older than most of us the absurd subject from my mind, began undergraduates, and was in some ways a to descend towards home for breakfast. remarkable figure. Tall, dark, with a And now occurred the incident which has square-cut resolute face and flashing dark been the source of so much of my present eyes, he impressed me at once as one who wretchedness.
was my equal, if not my master, in strength A long, narrow lane with high banks of will'; while there was something about and double hedges leads from the main him which showed he was a man of some road which winds round the foot of the tor knowledge of the world, which I was not. to the outlying parts of my father's farm. He seemed to recognize something symHalf-way the lane suddenly widens, and pathetic in my character, for before we a grassy patch, shaded by three huge had been many minutes in the same room beeches, affords'a favorite camping-ground we found ourselves talking to each other to gipsies, who were common enough in quite intimately. When I first saw him I those days in our part of the country. As felt there was something familiar in him, I passed this place I noticed that a few whether it was his face, voice, or manner, gipsies had arrived since I started in the I could not tell. I knew I had never seen morning. A hundred yards or so farther him before, yet he was not altogether a on I was suddenly confronted by a young stranger to me.
We thus became inti. gipsy girl about eighteen years old, tall, mate rather rapidly, and in a short time it dark, handsome, and straight, with a sin. was agreed that, if possible, he should gularly powerful face, and dark, imperious occupy the rooms next to mine, which by eyes. She offered to tell my fortune if I chance were vacant. To our mutual sat. would cross her hand with silver; and isfaction this was shortly arranged, and struck by her beauty and sweet voice, I | he soon became my constant companion,