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good. It is the feeling of self-gratulation, arising from having overcome the present temptations, which more than anything else keeps up the selfdeceit necessary to make a man a miser : it is the knowledge that he himself is constantly overcoming such temptations, that makes him despise the spendthrift as a weak creature, who cannot deny himself anything. He will err grievously who supposes that the mere love of wealth, without more, will make the passion of ava rice. Some of the most grasping are also the freest in spending ; nor could the mere love of money enable al most any one to withstand the odium and other inconveniences, which the miser must incur ; but that, like the ascetic, he feels that the greater the difficulty, the greater the glory; there fore he says, “populus me sibilat at mihi plaudo ipse domi.”
But we are growing didactic, not to say dogmatic; and we know that to be didactic is to be prosy. Pardon us therefore, reader, for this ; and as to being dogmatic, we had at least hitherto no right to be so, since, for all we have said, we could give a reason : we admit, therefore, our error, and promise to amend. But we now approach a matter on which, as few understand it themselves and fewer still can make others do so, it is quite fashionable to dogmatize. It is the subject of art.
We anticipate a storm for mentioning it here, but we beg to be heard out ; let not your prejudices get the better of your judgments. Art does seem in one aspect of it to be toying, and we do not say this in a depreciating tone. The pleasure derived from the contemplation of a work of art, is, in many cases, the sole end of that contemplation ; for though we may be improved by such contemplation, the improvement expected is very rarely what induces us to it. The pleasure arising from the production of a work of art, is also, in many cases with the true artist, the sole end of that production. In this sense, and to this degree, art is a toy, and in this sense the pleasure derivable from the production of a work of art may, we think, be an alysed in the following manner :-It flows, in the first place, from the exercise of the creative faculty, and the moral development consequent there
VOL. XLVII.-NO. CCLXXXII.
on; next, from the exercise of skill, and the moral training in overcoming difficulties ; lastly, from the development and education of the sympathies with the feelings and emotions of others,
The first element we have already discussed in treating of the representative class of children's toys, and its presence in the case of art will not, we presume, be doubted; for which reasons we will not here enlarge upon it. Of the second source of pleasure we have also spoken, when discussing the last class of children's toys, and more largely when analysing the pleasure of sporting: we have here only to notice its effect on the artist. It is, in its proper place, a very legitimate source of pleasure to the lover of art ; but it is also apt to lead any but a genuine artist very far astray ; and this may be the reason of the constant painful exhibition by those who should know better, of mere tours de force, to the neglect of art's true object. The fact of this frequent abuse, however, is a strong evidence of the existence of the element, even in cases where it is not so prominent as to mislead. But the third source is that which most deserves examination—it is that without which it is utterly impossible for a true artist to exist; for, whatever his art may be music, painting, sculpture, poetry, or even the mimetic art-wherein does his excellence consist? Is it not in this, that by means of ideas which belong to the head, he excites emotions which belong to the heart? His power is shown by his capacity of exciting in those who contemplate his work, whatever feelings (as distinct from ideas) he may please ; and this he cannot do without possessing a keen sympathy, or tact, by which, beforehand, he knows almost instinctively what ideas, or combinations of ideas, are likely to suggest in other minds the emotions he wishes to produce.
This theory of art we merely suggest, as we have a strong abhorrence of dogmatism ; but if it be not at once accepted, we beg leave to look at it a little in detail, and to test it by application to the arts individually. Writing then conveys ideas. If those ideas are combined in such a manner as to affect the readers, or, in other words, to excite emotions, we
say the writer is a poetical writer; and this whether he touches us by an appeal to retlection or to external na ture. An auctioneer will probably give a more detailed, and, so far, a more accurate, description of a house than Sir Walter Scott would have done ; but the tradesman fails in suggesting the emotions which would arise on beholding the place, while the great novelist succeeds. Again, wherein does an explanatory diagram differ from a picture? The former suggests ideas only—the latter excites emotions also. A prosaic mind is susceptible of ideas, and often acute ly so; but unsusceptible of the emotions which naturally follow those ideas in the artist's soul, or at least not easily awakened to them :
“ A primroso by the river's brim, A yellow primrose is to him ;
And it is nothing more ;"
but the artist, even when dealing strictly with ideas, overflows with emotion, and excites it almost with out intending to do so. Witness Milton's speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing.
The case of music is that which seems most to militate against our theory, and this is probably owing to the difficulty of suggesting by music any ideas beyond those of the mere sounds. Emotions may, however, be excited; when they are, the music becomes a work of art, and it is the artist who alone is capable beforehand of “untwisting all thechains that tie the hidden soul of harmony." Although, too, it may be difficult to suggest ideas by music, it is easy to fail in exciting emotions ; and where they are not excited, few will be inclined to believe that the production is a work of art. Neither is it impossible to suggest even ideas by music; bus when they are excited, unaccompanied by emotions-as in some pieces of what is called descriptive music—the stigma still remains, and the pieces bear the same relation to good music, that signboards or diagrams do to fine pictures,
Take, for instance, one of those dramatico-musical performances, representing battles, sieges and so forth, with which M. Julien delights the mass of the people --the report of guns, the explosion of pyrotechny,
the bray of the trumpet, the boom of the drum, and even the shouts of men which occur in the performance-all these tricks are contemptible as emotional music, exactly in the degree that they are effective as mere descriptive sounds; and the more they are present in the composition, the more is the whole degraded in an artistic and ästhetical point of view.
Lastly, what distinguishes the ans tor from the mimic? Again we say, the same difference: the one suggests ideas principally; the other emotions. We say principally, because most mimics are to some extent artists, exciting chiefly, however, the lower emotion, as the satirist is a satiric poet, and the Dutch school are still painters.
Our theory, for which we hope we have made a case, has, however, another aspect, and this it is which inclines us still further to its adoption. It explains not only how in one view art is toying, but how in another, and a more extended aspect, it is very far removed from any such thing. The artist begins by a desire to express his own emotions ; so far he is tor. ing; but when having acquired the mastery over his art, he sets himself to raise particular emotions in the minds of others, when he ceases to le merely amusing himself, and begins to educate others, or rather to make the education of others an object, he ceases then indeed to toy, and undertakes a serious responsibility. His mode of using the great power given to him may do much good, and it may do much harm. Fra Angelico was not toying when he painted his pictures. Rouget de Lille was not toying when he composed the Marseillaise; and the man spoke wisely who said, he cared not who made the laws, if he might make the ballads.
The toying process, however, must generally have been first gone through. A man must bave made a toy of his art before he is able, frequently before he conceives a wish, to affect his fellows. To begin by desiring to educate others, is beginning at the wrong end, like trying to write before one has learnt to reall. A man learns fencing as an amusement, or an exercise, though it may be useful to him to be a good swordsman; but he would scarce be likely to acquire a proficiency, who should commence practice by an engagement with sharp points.
If, then, our theory be true, the educational quality in this third source of pleasure, is the stimulus given to the sympathies, on which, of course, it is needless to enlarge. So having thus, by going through some
of the most striking instances of the toys both of children and adults, shown, or endeavoured to show, that. this educational quality is present in most of them, we may be pardoned if we conclude this already overgrown essay, with the striking sentiment of La Fleur's drummer, Vive la bagatelle.
AN OCTAVE OF POETS.
A REVIEWER who balances the merits of books should have a twofold faceone looking towards the past, the other watching the present; bu: his brain should be single. He should be the Janus in the porch of the temple of literature. The critic of poetry should above all possess this double glance. He who has accurately thought on the poetry of the present and the past, will easily understand that the poetic idea of the present day is a natural consequent of the Protean developments of the idea in preceding times. The age of feeling everything and doing nothing has past away. The age of doing everything and feeling nothing is, we hope, also perishing. Mere action, whether for pleasure or for what are falsely called the splendid vices, when uninspired by any noble motive or pure aspiration arising from the soul, must perish, like Milo, of its own strength. Mere feeling, no matter how high and pure, if it does not eventuate in action, will, like Achilles, eat its own heart away, sitting idly in its tent by the far resounding shores of life. In poetry, the artificial school of which Pope was the head, and which closed in the dulness of Hayley, may represent the former. The passionate sentimentalism of Byron may illustrate the latter.
High-motived feeling which results in action--the type of which God has given us in marriage, or the union of strength and tenderness will proceed through the world like Valentine the chivalrous, and Orson the strong, conquering and to conquer. This is what in the progress of the poetic idea we hope we have attained to in the highest poetry of the day. The dry, unimpassioned ethical thinking of Pope was as use
less to influence the soul, as a smoothi straight road is to call forth the emotions with which we survey the winding negligence of nature's landscape.
The sentimentalism which Byron seized on to make it grand and terrible with a passionate fatalism, inHamed the heart indeed, but only to consume it. But from this phase of human feeling he has freed us for ever. It rose to an unprecedented height, and the mind of the mass will never endure it again. We have advanced from the mere love of nature which Byron gave us, and from the ideal and unsanctified love of humanity which Shelley disclosed to us, to a higher and a purer realm. In Wordsworth we have seen the spousal of nature and humanity. In the present poetry we have more fully developed Wordsworth's idea, by shewing, as Tennyson has done in “In Memoriam,'' the inward life of the soul, and teaching us the practical bearing which it has on nature and humanity, on social life, and public action. The danger of the present school is, that it may destroy action by making too much of the inner life. The life of the soul is nobler than the life of the intellect, but they are equally useless to mankind unless linked to action. When we understand that a spiritual meaning underlies all actions, and so gives them a symbolic universality, and that all spiritual feeling is useless unless it has its complement in action, then we shall strike the true balance, and our life will become equalized and real.
Perhaps it would not be amiss to lint at, briefly, the particular causes which gave rise to this school of mye. ticism. It is almost unnecessary to observe that great poets coincido
with great popular excitement. It is tiful. It isexquisitely true, moreover, a question whether such excitement that the feeling continues for a short does not create poets to express the time after he awakes, and he “cries struggling feeling of the people, as a to sleep again.” We have often wishdisturbance of the equilibrium of ed that a contrast were drawn, by the distribution of telluric magnetism some capable critic, between Caliban, results in the Aurora. The political who is brutal by nature, and Stephano excitement in England during the and Trinculo, who have brutalised time of Byron, and Shelley, and Cole themselves. The balance is certainly ridge was almost unprecedented. on the side of Caliban. As we have When the embers of this fire had said above, it was the reaction from died, a long period of quietude the age of work which produced the followed. At last an era of theolo- poetry of mysticism. Men began to gical excitement arose, chiefly owing feel that there was something deeper to the introduction of German modes than mere outward life. The cold of thought, the throes of which are abstractions of science, the whirl of still convulsing England. With the machinery, and the clash of hammers agony of this generation sprang up did not satisfy a want which preyed poetry anew. Further, the constella- upon them in spite of all their efforts tion which brightened the age of Pitt to deaden it. They had recourse to sank like the sun in the tropics. It their own souls, to find an answer to left us no twilight. Men were ex- these shapeless yearnings which ever hausted by So much imagination. protest fortheinfinite. They searched They fell back into the soft and their heart to discover what it was leathern arm-chair of calm, comfort which seemed to underlie everything able material life. They would no with something beautifully strange ; more of poetry. They devoted their and the feeling of which startled energy to cotton and railways. They them amidst nature, and terrified were never deeply stirred except by them in the centre of their workshops. a bankruptcy. The subjugation of na It is thus that the poetry of this age ture to practical use alone ; the in- has become mystical. It deals with difference to mere natural beauty; the individual soul, as connected with the utilitarian principles which pre the universal. It deals with all things, vaded science and art; all these not by themselves, but in connection spread till wealth increased and men with the pervasive spiritual meaning decayed; and truth, and love, and which links a part to the whole, and courage were all submerged in the the whole to a part. This is one of great golden sea which broke heavily the causes why the poetry of the age upon the heart of England. Men is so difficult of explanation, and spoke like Shylock. “There was no yet to those who can grasp its univerthing good but good security.” The sality, so simple. It would seem a reaction from this material life was paradox to assert that this mysticism the poetry of mysticism. It is the is at once simple, and yet inexplicable exponent of the soul. The very foun in words. Yet so it is. All pure dation stone of this mystical poetry intuitions are at once most simple, is that the soul of man has cognitions, and yet impossible of explanation. by which it intuitively recognizes If we only consider how easily we truth, and receives it ; and to these feel the idea of a cause, and yet how cognitions this poetry appeals in words impossible all men have found it to which cannot be so much understood state it in words, we shall see how as felt. Shakespeare, beyond all others, poetry, which chiefly deals with these was master of this power of appealing intuitions, is felt to be true, and yet to the intuitions ; and it is this which is not to be explained. Even those gives the felt reality to all he says. who possess the gift divine of expresThere is one instance which we have sion, can never express these ideas always thought most wonderful. It fully ; no, not even if they tried for is Caliban's perception of the beautiful ever. It is sufficient, if they give us in sleep. When awake, the brutal enough to make us feel what they and sensual body is completely pre- mean. But a certain receptivity is dominant; but in sleep, the half-soul needed in the mind of the reader, of the monster awakes in the dead and men understand and love accordness of the body, and feels the beau, ing to this receptivity. What is
in parts, never rising to the poetically great, but occasionally attaining to a degree of descriptive excellence. There are some natural touches, one of which we subjoin, which would give Mr. Michell a fair chance in front of the critical bayonets, if he would but consent to write a few hundred instead of a few thousand lines, and would not crush out the vitality of his mind, and the patience of his readers, by seven parts, and five thousand lines or more. Mr. Michell has built his own mausoleum, and his fame lies entombed beneath. Should he ever emerge from this superincumbent mass of five thousand lines, we hope he will write shortly, and he will write well; for Mr. Michell has an eye to see, and a heart to understand, as this description will witness for us :
truth to one is nothing to another, and sometimes seems positive falsehood. There are few inen who comprehend and like the same parts of Shakespeare as others; and yet there are certain points on which almost all men think and love alike. In the world of thought there is ever a great unity, lying under endless diversity; and one of the great ob jects of the poetry of mysticism is to link every diverse thought to the underlying unity.
We do not expect that this phase of the Poetic Idea will continue long. Already it is degenerating into much metaphysical uselessness. It must naturally descend before it rises to something higher. We confidently hope that before long the Poetic Idea will be influenced by a truer religious feeling — one more reverent, more humble, than at present; and yet more, that Science will take her true position in Poetry, and drive out the Unnatural with her spear of light. The great mistake of the time is giving too much honour to what is called “the man.” It has arisen from the American and German transcendentalism. The time will come when the soul of man will be represented not as identical with nature and God, but in its true place, a reflex of God in itself, and a percipient of God in everything. This is its true position in Poetry, though perhaps not in Theology ; for Poetry represents the soul not as it is, but as it ought to be, while it represents the heart as it is.
Thus far had we proceeded, when, lifting our eyes, eight reproachful covers met our view-brown, green, and blue they shimmered on the desk, and we remembered that we had intended to say something of their respective merits. Disregarding two or three conceited glances which some of them cast upon us, we took up one which looked the smallest, with ornaments, “ urns and flourishes," on its back and breast. Mr. Michell's Poetry of Creation* is an unpretending little volume, full of unpretending little poetry. We regret that we cannot in justice say more for it than that it is simple and pretty
Approach, at this high mountain's base, A curtained, solitary place,
Behold a radiant infant born! There shines no lovelier, purer thing, Than this upbubbling, gurgling spring, And nature doth all beauties bring,
The tiny stranger to adorn.
How smoothly hath she shaped the rim,
Within the hollow of her mountain, That none may come with trampling feet
To mar the beauty of her fountain.
The place is beauteous, while so lone,
An air of mystic sweetness thrown On this young fount, the mountain's
And as it dances shining out,
And laughs its sparkling spray about.
This is pretty ; but sometimes we regret to find Mr. Michell sinking into the positively bad. The following would seem to be culled from a school. boy's copy-book :
There is a sainted, worshipped tree,
That lives so long--no mortals knowo It e'er can die, 80 vast ye see
A mammoth among shrubs below.
The Poetry of Creation, in seven parts, by Nicholas Michell, author of “Ruins of Many Lands," etc. London: Chapman and Hall.