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overwhelmed under such an avalanche of Human Stupidities as no Heroism before ever did. Intrinsically and extrinsically it may be considered inaccessible to these generations. Intrinsically, the spiritual purport of it has become inconceivable, incredible to the modern mind. Extrinsically, the documents and records of it, scattered waste as a shoreless chaos, are not legible. They lie there, printed, written, to the extent of tons and square miles, as shot-rubbish; unedited, unsorted, not so much as indexed; full of every conceivable confusion;—yielding light to very few; yielding darkness, in several sorts, to very many. Dull Pedantry, conceited idle Dilettantism,—prurient Stupidity in what shape soever,—is darkness and not light! There are from Thirty to Fifty Thousand unread Pamphlets of the Civil War in the British Museum alone: huge piles of mouldering wreck, wherein, at the rate of perhaps one pennyweight per ton, lie things memorable. They lie preserved there, waiting happier days; under present conditions they cannot, except for idle purposes, for dilettante excerpts and such like, be got examined. The Rushworths, Whitlockes, Nalsons, Thurloes; enormous folios, these and many others, they have been printed, and some of them again printed, but never yet edited,—edited as you edit wagonloads of broken bricks and dry mortar, simply by tumbling up the wagon! Not one of these monstrous old volumes has so much as an available Index. It is the general rule of editing on this matter. If your editor correct the press, it is an honorable distinction to him. Those dreary old records were compiled at first by Human Insight, in part; and in great part, by Human Stupidity withal ;—but then it was by Stupidity in a laudable diligent state, and doing its best; which was something :—and, alas, they have been successively elaborated by Human Stupidity in the idle state, falling idler and idler, and only pretending to be diligent; whereby now, for us, in these late days, they have grown very dim indeed! To Dryasdust Printing-Societies, and such like, they afford a sorrowful kind of pabulum; but for all serious purposes, they are as if non-extant; might as well, if matters are to rest as they are, not have been written or printed at all. The sound of them is not a voice, conveying knowledge or memorial of any earthly or heavenly thing; it is a wide-spread inarticulate slumberous mumblement, issuing as if from the lake of Eternal Sleep. Craving for oblivion, for abolition and honest silence, as a blessing in comparison.!
'This, then,' continues our impatient friend, 'is the Elysium we English have provided for our Heroes! The Rushworthian Elysium. Dreariest continent of shot-rublvish the eye ever saw. Confusion piled on confusion to your utmost horizon's edge: ob. scare, in lurid twilight as ot the Shadow of Death; trackless, without index, without finger-post, or mark of any human fore goer;—where your human footstep, if you are still human, echoes bodeful through the gaunt solitude, peopled only by somnambulant Pedants, Dilettants, and doleful creatures, by phantasms, errors, inconceivabilities, by Nightmares, pasteboard Norroys, griffins, wiverns, and chimeras dire! There, all vanquished, overwhelmed under such waste lumber-mountains, the wreck and dead ashes of some six unbelieving generations, does the Age of Cromwell land his Puritans lie hidden from us. This is what we, for our share, have been able to accomplish towards keeping our Heroic Ones in memory. By way of sacred poet they have found voluminous Dryasdust, and his Collections and Philosophical Histories.
'To Dryasdust, who wishes merely to compile torpedo Histories of the philosophical or other sorts, and gain immortal laurels for himself by writing about it and about it, all this is sport; but to us who struggle piously, passionately, to behold, if but in glimpses, the faces of our vanished Fathers, it is death !—O Dryasdust, my voluminous friend, had Human Stupidity continued in the diligent state, think you it had ever come to this? Surely at least you might have made an Index for these huge books! Even your genius, had you been faithful, was adequate to that. Those thirty thousand or fifty thousand old Newspapers and Pamphlets of the King's Library, it is you, my voluminous friend, that should have sifted them, many long years ago. Instead of droning out these melancholy scepticisms, constitutional philosophies, torpedo narratives, you should have sifted those old stacks of pamphlet matter for us, and have had the metal grains lying here accessible, and the dross-heaps lying there avoidable; you had done the human memory a service thereby; some human remembrance of this matter had been more possible!'
Certainly this description does not want for emphasis: but all ingenuous inquirers into the Past will say there is too much truth in it. Nay, in addition to the sad state of our Historical Books, and what indeed is fundamentally the cause and origin of that, our common spiritual notions, if any notion of ours may still deserve to be called spiritual, are fatal to a right understanding of that Seventeenth Century.' The Christian Doctrines which then dwelt alive in every heart, have now in a manner died out of all hearts,—very mournful to behold; and are not the guidance of this world any more. Nay, worse still, the Cant of them does yet dwell alive with us, little doubting that it is Cant;—in which fatal intermediate state the Eternal Sacredness of this Universe itself, of this Human Life itself, has fallen dark to the most of us, and we think that too a Cant and a Creed. Thus the old names suggest new things to us,—not august and divine, but hypocritical, pitiable, detestable. The old names and similitudes of belief still circulate from tongue to tongue, though now in such a ghastly condition: not as commandments of the Living God, which we must do, or perish eternally; alas, no, as something very different from that! Here properly lies the grand unintelligibility of the Seventeenth Century for us. From this source has proceeded our maltreatment of it, our miseditings, miswritings, and all the other ' avalanche of Human Stupidity,' wherewith, as vur impatient friend complains, we have allowed it to be overwhelmed. We have allowed some other things to be overwhelmed! Would to Heaven that were the worst fruit we had gathered from our Unbelief and our Cant of Belief!—Our impatient friend continues:
'I have known Nations altogether destitute of printer's-types and learned appliances, with nothing better than old songs, monumental stone-heaps and Quipo-thrums to keep record by, who had truer memory of their memorable things than this! Truer memory, I say: for at least the voice of their Past Heroisms, if indistinct, and all awry as to dates and statistics, was still melodious to those Nations. The body of it might be dead enough; but the soul of it, partly harmonized, put in real accordance with Ihe "Eternal Melodies," was alive to all hearts, and could not die. The memory of their ancient Brave Ones did not rise like a hideous huge leaden vapor, an amorphous emanation of Chaos, like a petrifying Medusa Spectre, on those poor Nations: no, but like a Heaven's Apparition, which it was, it still stood radiant beneficent before all hearts, calling all hearts to emulate it, and the recognition of it was a Psalm and Song. These things will require to be practically meditated by and by. Is human Writing, then, the art of burying Heroisms, and highest Facts, in Chaos; so that no man shall henceforth contemplate them without horror and aversion, and danger of locked-jaw? What does Dryasdust consider that he was born for; that paper and ink were made for?
'It is very notable, and leads to endless reflections, how the Greeks had their living Iliad where we have such a deadly indescribable Cromwelliad. The old Pantheon, home of all the gods, has become a Peerage-Book,—with black and white surplicecontroversies superadded, not unsuitably. The Greeks had their Homers, Hesiods, where we have our Rymers, Rushworths, our , Norroys, Garter-Kings, and Bishops Cobweb. Very notable, I say. By the genius, wants and instincts and opportunities of the one People, striving to keep themselves in mind of what was memorable, there had fashioned itself, in the effort of successive centuries, a Homer's Iliad: by those of the other People, in successive centuries, a Collins's Peerage improved by Sir Egerton - Brydges. By their Pantheons ye shall know them! Have not we English a talent for Silence? Our very Speech and PrintedSpeech, such a force of torpor dwelling in it, is properly a higher power of silence. There is no Silence like the Speech you cannot listen to without danger of locked-jaw! Given a divine Heroism, to smother it well in human Dulness, to touch it with the mace of Death, so that no human soul shall henceforth recognize it for a Heroism, but all souls shall fly from it as from a chaotic Torpor, an Insanity and Horror,—1 will back our English genius against the world in such a problem! Truly we have done great things in that sort; down from Norman William all the way, and earlier: and to the English mind at this hour, the past History of England is little other than a dull dismal labyrinth.
in which the English mind, if candid, will confess that it has found of knowable (meaning even conceivable), of loveable, or memorable—next to nothing. As if we had done no brave thing at all in this Earth ;—as if not Men but Nightmares had written of our History f The English, one can discern withal, have been pel haps as brave a People as their neighbors; perhaps, for Valor of Action and true hard labor in this Earth, since brave Peoples were first made in it, there has been none braver anywhere or any when: but also, it must be owned, in Stupidity of Speech they have no fellow! What can poor English Heroisms do in such case, but fall torpid into the domain of the Nightmares 1 For of a truth, Stupidity is strong, most strong: as the poet Schiller sings, "Against Stupidity the very gods fight unvictorious:" there is in it a placid inexhaustibility, a calm viscous infinitude, which will baffle even the gods,—which will say calmly, " Try all your lightnings here; see whether I cannot quench them!"
"Mit der Dummheit kampfen GStter selbst vergebens."'
Has our friend forgotten that it is Destiny withal as well as "Stupidity;" that such is the case more or less with Human History always! By very nature it is a labyrinth and chaos, this that we call Human History; an abatis of trees and brushwood, a world-wide jungle, at once growing and dying. Under the green foliage and blossoming fruit-trees of Today, there lie, rotting slower or faster, the forests of >all other Years and Days. Some have rotted fast, plants of annual growth, and are long since quite gone to inorganic mould; others are like the aloe, growths that last a thousand or three thousand years. You will find them in all stages of decay and preservation; down deep to the beginnings of the History of Man. Think where our Alpha, betic Letters came from, where our Speech itself came from; the Cookeries we live by, the Masonries we lodge under! You will find fibrous roots of this day's Occurrences among the dust of Cadmus and Trismegistus, of Tubalcain and Triptolemus; the tap-roots of them are with Father Adam himself and the cinders of Eve's first fire! At bottom, there is no perfect His| lory; there is none such conceivable.