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money and all bodily luxuries, and thus to ensure a temperate conduct. (pp. 209–210.) His views are grand and expansive, and altogether free from that illiberality and over-estimate of trifles (ouikpoloyia) which Plato judiciously deems more inconsistent than any other quality of mind, with philosophy. (p. 210.) The same turn of thought prevents him from over-rating the desirableness of life, and confers upon him genuine intrepidity and contempt of death. He is gentle and good-tempered, and possesses a natural decency and elegance which sets off the rest of his character to the best advantage. (p. 211.) μνήμων, ευμαθής, μεγαλοπρεπής, εύχαρις, φίλος τε και ξυγγενής αληθείας, δικαιοσύνης, ανδρίας, σωφροσύνης. (ibid). Such is the splendid assemblage of qualities, without the combination of which no man (according to Plato) is fit for the pursuit of philosophy as it ought to be pursued.
Here Adimantus objects : that the actual character and situation of existing philosophers by no means corresponded to the description of Socrates. For of those who devoted their lives to this pursuit, the greater number were persons of inconsiderable talents, indeed base and contemptible*, while the very best of them were by their pursuit rendered useless to the state. (p. 212.) To this Socrates accedes, and proceeds to explain the reasons which rendered such a result inevitable, from the actual state of institutions and manners.
So brilliant an union of endowments must naturally occur very rarely, under any circumstances ; and each of those accomplishments, which constitute when combined the philosophic character, will, if possessed singly, disqualify and withdraw him from the pursuit. Wealth, beauty, strength, and powerful connexions (should such be his situation) will also distract and dissipate his mental powers. (p. 217.) Should his genius still shine forth as superior, he will meet with caresses and flattery from parties who are anxious to enlist in their service so able an auxiliary; and this will render him satisfied with his own attainments, and remove all motive to that application without which the science of government cannot be acquired.f When too, on his entrance into public life, he listens to the opinions in general circulation, the current of fashionable applause and censure will overmaster his mind, and will wash away the very best previous instruction imaginable. His estimate of virtue and vice will thus become altogether debased, and adjusted to the reigning errors, even on the supposition that his private education beforehand had been excellent. But this will in all probability not have been the case ; for the instructors of youth will be obliged by their own interest to inculcate lessons conformable to the dominant opinions, and to bestow upon
these precepts the name of wisdom.His notions of truth and justice will thus be perverted from the earliest period of infancy, and the whole tone of morality becomes nothing but a wretched flattery of the actual preferences of the public.* All this is still farther confirmed and enforced by the tenour of the laws, which inflict disgrace and punishment upon the dissentient. (p. 219.) Under such disadvantageous circumstances, the formation of a single valuable and philosophical character must be matter of the greatest rarity.t And the man of surpassing energy and abilities, who under a good system of education would have been foremost in promoting the welfare of his country, becomes only the instrument of deeper and superior injury. (p. 222.)
* Πάνυ αλλοκότες, ίνα μή παμπονήρες είπωμεν.
1 Ποίαν αν αυτή (δοκείς) παιδείαν ιδιωτικήν άνθέξειν, ήν ο κατακλυσθείσαν υπό το τοιούτου ψόγου ή επαίνου, οιχήσεσθαι φερομένης κατά ρούν ή αν ούτος φέρ''. ' 218.
5 Μή άλλα παιδεύειν, ή ταύτα τα των πολλών δόγματα, α δοξάζουσιν όταν αθροισθώσι, και σοφίαν ταύτην καλείν. p. 219.
SONG TO MARY.
The spirit of our joys,
Each fleeting hour destroys :
More calm, without decline;
With deeds and ihoughts divine ;
And all they promised us,
Still may delight us, thus-
As then it brightly lay
A game for us to play,
Of many a distant day
Behind, before us lay;
And dazzling dawn of youth ;
The high, full noon of truth-
Forget not thou our childish days."
Οίς μεν χαίροι εκείνος, αγαθά καλών οις δε άχθοιτο, κακά. p. 220. * Ο,τι περαν σώθη και γίνεται οίον δεί εν τοιάυτη κατανάσει πολιτικών, θεού μοίραν αυτό σωσαι λίγων, ου κακώς έρείς. p. 219.
THE FORTUNES OF NIGEL,
BY THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY. Here is another work of the mighty magician of Scotland, produced with a rapidity which will excite mingled admiration and regret in all who take a deep interest in his lasting fame. In the lively preface appended to these volumes, he condescends to notice the feeling which we have ventured to express, and to justify his speed.
He states, what we can readily believe, that those passages which have been praised for their high finishing, have really been struck off fastest in his felicitous moments, while those in which he has comparatively failed have been produced with the greatest toil.
But this is scarcely an answer to the complaint, which is not applied to the imperfect execution of particular passages, but to the quantity of dull and common-place matter which is retained in his volumes. We do not ask him in vain to labour for the perfection of his happiest effusions; but to give us more of his best in a certain space, with a smaller portion of alloy. He shews no cause why the noble pictures of external nature, the fresh and breathing characters, the high tragic scenes, which of late he has scattered sparingly through his works, should not be presented within a smaller space, especially as he confesses that his plots are of no use except to bring in his “fine things.” He is not bound down by his story to a certain quantity of dullness. When he consoles himself that, while many of his works will be consigned to oblivion, his best will survive, he forgets that posterity will not collect together all his most brilliant fragments, and form them into a perfect whole. The scenes of a novel, however deep an impression they may make on the reader's mind, will not live in the memory like the golden couplets of a poet. They do not derive their charm from the nobleness of individual images, from the exquisite choice of expressions, or from the condensed depth of their sentiment, but from the striking exhibition of persons and scenes, which leave only traces of their outlines behind them. Unless, therefore, the works to which they belong are altogether preserved, they are in imminent danger of being altogether lost, with the present generation of readers. Full many a passage-nay, many a volume-worthy of immortality, will, we are afraid, be weighed down by the
inferiority of the matter with which it is encircled. The chapters of Fielding's works are almost all separate gems, any one of which inserted in an ordinary book would make it. worth purchasing; but what would have become of their author's fame, if, instead of lavishing them on three or four novels, he had scattered them through fifty? Would they have the same effect as “ Elegant Extracts," even if they were so collected, as they have in their natural and connected arrangement directed by a master's hand ? The mere story we grant to be of minor importance: we can allow the author to be led astray from it by such characters as Dalgetty, and Baillie Nichol Jarvie, which he instances; but we cannot concede to him that he is incapable of sustaining a simple and consistent plot, or that he must become dull so to succeed. We have not forgotten “ The Bride of Lammermuir," the most complete of all his works; which is almost as single and as harmonious as a tragedy of Sophocles. Here a deep interest is excited at the first-events move regularly on, and the shadows of fate gradually extend more darkly over them—and the whole is conducted to a terrible yet majestic catastrophe, in which the prophecies of old are fulfilled. And assuredly, in the course of this noble tale, there is no want of high individual excellences ; for, passing over the stern and towering Ravenswood; the resolution of Lucy, springing out of seeming weakness, and overpowering the reason of a delicate nature; the sweet love-scenes at the haunted well; and the ludicrous invention of the faithful Caleb—there are those fearful hags whose horribly disinterested love of matters appertaining to the charnel-house and the grave places them almost on an equality with the weird sisters of Shakspeare !
“ The Fortunes of Nigel” is, we are afraid, one of the most unequal of its author's productions. Its brightest passages are among the very best which he has written ; but they are far between, and the intervals are singularly dreary. There is no principle of unityno central point of interest-not an individual whose fortunes we desire to follow. It seems poured out of a great novelist's common-placebook, and put together by a very unskilful hand. His nominal heroes are generally vapid; but then he usually introduces some other character whose changes we delight to observe, or affords us rich glimpses of historic story. Here, however, is neither of these sources of enjoyment: the author confesses that he has no story to tell ; and although many of his persons are well worthy of observation, none of them are calculated to awaken very
cordial sympathy. Lord Nigel Olifaunt, the aristocratic hero, is an individual for whom no one can fəel; who has no romantic virtues or vices to endear him to us; but whose fault is, that he is a careful, prudent, and successful gamester, and who obtains his means of sharing in the luxuries of the metropolis by winning small sums of inexperienced players. There is something peculiarly revolting to the imagination, too, in the punishment of mutilation which hangs over him, and his liability to suffer which, connects unpleasant associations with every step he takes to avoid it. As if this were not enough, he is the victim of an accumulation of petty misunderstandings, perpetually placed in ambiguous situations which produce vexatious mistakes—like the Cecilias, Camillas, and Evelinas, of Miss Burney. Lord Dalgarno's deep-laid scheme for his ruin, and the means which he employs, are very painfully conceived, and inartificially conducted. The whole scheme of Margaret, for his release is quite a puzzle, the solution of which we give up in despair ; and the episode of Lady Hermione is as drearily incredible as any Spanish tale in the circulating library. The marriage of the peer with the watchmaker's daughter is perhaps rather too jacobinical an event for a romance; but we concede our author's right to introduce and to consecrate as many innovations in the etiquette of fiction as he pleases.
Notwithstanding these deficiencies, and others which it would only be tedious to mention, this work contains passages which are far beyond the power of any contemporary novelist. Here, by what conjuration and mighty magic we know not, the very image of the time of James the First is set palpably before us. “ Life in London" as it was at the beginning of the seventeenth century, is revived, “ in form as palpable” as that which Mr. Egan now draws. We seem to remember Fleet-street as it then was, as well as we know it in its present aspect: the houses, the persons, the humours of the scene are here ; and so strong a hold has the picture taken on our imagination, that we have once or twice looked with disappointment on its gay variety of shops, and wondered that the stalls were not there, and that the voices of the apprentices were not heard. Every thing is not only accurately depicted, but endowed with present life: we do not look on a museum of stuffed anatomies, but on a crowd of animated beings in whom we take a present interest; we feel the past in the instant, and live in the very bosom of the age to which the great magician transports us. He does not call from the “ vasty deep” spirits which never were, but men who have been-not shadowy abstractions, but creatures of flesh and blood, just as they were and might be. We only wish he had done as much justice to the Temple as to its neighbouring street; that he had not entirely joined the faction of the apprentices against the Templars ; but had seen something like fair play between them.
What a delicious glimpse he might have given us of high revels in chambers; how might he have set before us the gay suppers in which the players and poets of the age condescended to mingle with the young gownsmen ; what frolics might he bave kept up at the Devil Tavern, what words have made us listen to, spoken at the Mermaid !" All this is reserved, we dare say, for another novel ; wisely, as far as concerns the author's account with his publishers, but not as affecting his great reckoning with posterity. This part of the work, too, admirable as it is in itself, leads to nothing. It would answer just as well for the beginning of any other tale. The two 'prentices who are there introduced to us with such note of preparation, make no figure afterwards, but utterly disappoint all our reasonable hopes. “ Jin Vin," indeed, seems just fitted for his place, and promises either to fill the state coach or the 'Tyburn cart, as fortune may please ;--but Tunstall, “ the gentle Tunstall," seemed created with a more sentimental destiny. Pale, patient, thoughtful, he deserved at least to fall in love, and to be jilted, as Sir Walter's delicate heroes regularly are by their sturdier rivals. We took Mr. Puff's advice, and made sure he was not really a watchmaker ; but we looked in vain for his change. We have our suspicions that full justice has not been done him, and that he was originally designed for a better lot than it afterwards pleased his careless manufacturer to grant him.
There is perhaps nearly equal power exerted in the painting of the low debaucheries and wretchedness of the inhabitants of Whitefriars, famed under the name of Alsatia; there is a prodigious number of varied figures crowded into the scenes, and a picturesque arrangement of all the accompaniments of the melancholy orgies which Crabbe might envy. But the general effect is merely painful, for want of some true piece of human kindness to sweeten the mass of hardened profligacy and wretchedness; some touch of Nature, as there ever is in Hogarth’s pictures, to reconcile us to our species ; some redeeming trait which makes us feel that “there is a soul of goodness in things evil,” and that fragments of nobleness will ever survive in man, however degraded his condition. If, however, the revels of the Duke of Hildebrod, prodigious as he is in his way, sicken us, we are soon, even