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dangers of exciting ambition, bad passions, and the like; being merely a repetition with variations of the Laureate's lament for his privileges, and his “ Shut Sesame'' of the Lake country against the commonalty! Not so fast with your interpretation, charitable Sir! What my wife thought (or the partial female friend who copied my oration), I will not profess to assert ; but I, at least, was not jealous of any of the London gentlemen, who entertained us so pleasantly. I am jealous, not of, but for, those of my own order. I want them to enjoy the full benefit of the period they are living in. If the swords of feudal times are to fall to them for ploughshares-if, of the spears of a decrepid aristocracy of intellect, it is their privilege to make pruning-hooks, I want them to have the full use, and enjoyment, and profit of the weapon turned into an implement.
And, to this end, I would have a somewhat different language held to them than has hitherto been employed :-in some cases out of incapacity, in others out of mistake ; in most, with the speakers' idea of enhancing their own consequence. The friends and wellwishers of men of genius have been far too lavish of pity ; far too narrow in their ambitions, and gross in their encouragements. Let us take an instance. The world does not relish Mr. Amaranth's verses, or fathom the depths of Mr. Dive's philosophy in a twinkling ; and you shall see the poet and the thinker, encompassed by a choir of sympathetic or tragical persons, railing at Her Majesty because she does not there and then make Mr. Amaranth her prime minister; or at his Grace of , because he is slack in pensioning wise Professor Dive, while he works out the Good and Evil question. Now, I doubt not but the poet, if promoted, would at least play his part as well as nine-tenths of the official machines who turn and creak their hour, as long as they were wound up for, and then stop, to be replaced by cleverer inventions. And I will hope (this is much) that the admirable philosopher might, if glorified with purple and fine linen, continue to rack his brains for the benefit of mankind, as diligently as he does now in his home-spun attire. But do the sorrowful and irritable people, who surround these gifted ones with an atmosphere of complaint and scorn, ever take into account how their friends really stand? Why they exist ? What they possess ? Are thu Amaranths and Dives already so very far beneath kings and princes, as to make the denial of more places and treasures so very cruel an injustice ? Has the poet no empires wide beyond the swoop of Russia's ambition ?--the philosopher no mines of thought, such as the “ North Countrie” cannot match for profundity? And is it enough the usage to dwell on these heritages, as, in themselves, honours and possessions; in the warding of which there is glory ; in the stewardship of which, a noble duty ? Far too little. On the contrary, because the poet commands fair domains, and the thinker works veins of the purest ore, he is therefore also to have the honours of the world! He is encouraged to accuse Fortune, because he does not share in the splendours of an emptier greatness, in the money bags of the trader, whose ideas reach the mysteries of the rule of three, and little beyond. Is this not worldly? Is it not the counsel of weakness ?-the expectation of irrational assumption ? God wot, I am none of those hard and cruel preachers, who talk glibly of “ranks” and “ diversity of fortunes and of pleasures" and so forth :-and, themselves rubicund in the fatness of the earth and the fulness of good cheer, proclaim to the poor that a mouldy crust is the epicure's best eating ; and that rags, somehow or other, keep out the cold better (especially if the wearer be lean) than furred mantles and treble-piled velvets. But to insult the miserable, and to encourage the high-hearted, are widely different offices. To those who make verses, or who ponder grave questions, as a mere means of enriching themselves, my observations don't apply : nor my consolations. They are traders; and so that they have to sell what the world wants to buy, and so that they neither waste their substance, nor cheat their competitors, they are to be pitied, if opportunity is denied them, and bad debts fall in. But which among “the following" of either Poet Amaranth or Philosopher Dive will admit that his idol stands in his category? Why then, by the style of their Jeremiades, abase two sincere and admirable men, to the level of the tricking, the common-place, and the rapacious ?
Once again, I am not addressing the world at large, but the world of genius. Is not the mechanic who sees beautiful forms and colours in every tuft of moss and patch of heather, as he crosses the corner of the moor behind the foundry—who can call up the fairies in the blue mist of the hollow, or imagine Cleopatra's pomps in the red light careering from the furnace' chimney upward into the dark night-a richer and a happier man than the clod who trudges homeward thinking of nothing save his coarse appetites ? Cherish, then, you who have to do with the gifted, thankfulness for this privilege, as not the least valuable assistance you can give him ; who have possibly neither money, nor places, nor renown
at command. Do not lie to him by professing that he would be as great as Shakspeare if he had the opportunity, nor encourage him to strive to rise by pointing out the folly and madness of those in high places. Tell him of his own greatness :—of the high thoughts God has given him, if not to create, to appreciate withal; and should these fail to produce him earthly reward, remind him that he has enjoyed pleasures neither to be bought nor stolen away. Bid him prove himself worthy of these and better by patience and self-denial, and avoidance of all that shall tarnish their beauty. He has a brotherhood with the chosen spirits of the earth ; let him look to it. You will help him, if you can, to comfort and to fame, and to kind companionship; you will rejoice to see him wear them well; but, if these are long in coming, or come not at all, you will also help him to retire into the sanctuary of his own lovely imaginings or lofty contemplations, there to find the unequal lot made equal—the incompleteness of time and change completed !
This is what I want said to the People as an humble brother, and not as a callous overscer. For, if it applies to some among the uncomprehended great whose pilgrimage through life must be seriously embittered by the ceaseless wailing of the one or two who bear them company, how much the more is it a necessary wisdom for that far larger company of aspirants who have genius enough to excite them, but not to raise them, still less to sustain them, and whose part on earth is to partake by enjoying? I have seen much of this class, sir, from one or two circumstances. In some sort, I belong to it myself, since, whatever my Mrs. Bell may say when she is in a fond humour, I assure you that I am neither a Scott nor a Byron. Well, I am convinced by some experience, that the notorious amount of suffering which falls to its lot is in no small degree ascribable to a short-coming view of the functions of Genius on the part of the looker-on; which, conjointly with what is called affectionate sympathy, may and does drive the poor dreamer, many a time and oft, to vent himself in the manner recommended by Job's wife. B. writes pleasant poems on the aspects of Nature - B. has kind friends. He reads them his verses. They are honestly enchanted—“As good as Wordsworth's !” is the chorus. B. is modest ; " cannot form a judgment on his own poor productions ;” but his friends would not deceive him, surely! For a week or more, then, he walks about his counting-house, or homeward down the same daily insipid
lane, with a glory round his head. The world, however, always slow in saying “ Amen,” does not continue the praise ; accordingly, B.'s friends must begin again ; and, to prove themselves sincere, must rail at the world as stupid, or maliciously neglectful. B., who has been pondering “the Rydalian laurels,” in more shapes than one, is with little difficulty scratched up by his warm-hearted bepraisers into the half-delicious half-tormenting glow of feeling himself an ill-used man. Good bye, then, to the court of Oberon and Titania seen in the dingle ;-to “ Egypt ”floating down the Cydnus, as she once showed herself in the amber and crimson glow of the flame-light! His path is filled with mocking shapes instead; brandishing chains and bolts and barriers, making fast every door, blocking up every avenue; and in the fore-ground he sees a weary figure sinking forlorn to the earth, under the contempt of Man,—where so lately walked the thankful and enchanted lover of Nature and of Fantasy
I am not supposing, Sir-I am telling what I have seen. It is now many years since (so long ago that to mention the matter will harm or pain no one) some of my family were shown the verses of the wife of a fellow-clerk : husband and wife, as neat and happy a little pair as often start in the world, without much of “the deceitfulness of riches " to perplex them. She, it is true, was rather pale and thoughtful, with very large bright eyes; but the seriousness was well understood when once we were told that Mrs. Eden had a turn for verse-making/" mewing "as an old nurse of mine used to call it ;- and the ladies praised her all the more because she was no slattern with ink on her fingers and shoes down at heel : but a thrifty, if not a willing house-wife. Eden, the more foolish of the two, was very vain of his mate,—who can wonder?—and would sit long winter evenings copying her verses in copperplate-hand, in a ruled book not unlike a ledger. Moreover, he was perpetually reciting them to every listener he could find ; and this " poem,” so ran his commentary by way of deprecating censure, “would have been better finished if the baby had not been ill,” and “the other Italian legend must not be harshly blamed if the scenery was not quite right, since Mrs. Eden had not been in Italy, yet.” Resolution will always get its owner a hearing, sooner or later, nay, nine times out of ten, a congregation, if two or three will content him. Meek little Mrs. Eden became talked of up and down her street. Albums were sent her, all redolent of musk and otto of roses. Presently, something of
yet sweeter savour “smoked upon her board”-incense to herself.
and , best natured of poets and critics, had each acknowledged some specimen of her powers,—which, bolder grown, she had sent forth,-with phrases of delicious encouragement: to them, merely words of course ; to her, alas! gospel truth. She was heard to say that “her fame should make no difference in her feel. ings towards her old friends." In short, the clerk's wife was lost, and the Poetess, as she would have said herself, “ stood confessed.”
Did I wish, even for a wholesome purpose, to pain you need. lessly, I would write, day by day, the history of “ Susannah Eden's Poems,” and their publication ; how they were born in “ a fever of vain-longing ;” how they only saw the light through a series of struggles and economies, amounting to privations, not merely for herself and husband (they were proud, and preferred to spare and pinch and wait), but also for their poor infant. Publishers look on such effusions, Sir, with different eyes from those of friends “ having albums,” or indulgent celebrities. Sixty pounds was to be made up for the publication ; but what matter, when every one who had looked at “Mary Queen of Scots, a Drama,” declared, loud and long, that it was one of the most remarkable efforts of female genius, sure to produce an El Dorado of six hundred golden guineas at the least ! Eden, who was a clerk, ought to have tested this praise by the amount of money any one was willing to risk thereupon ; but he had lost his calculating head, and was become a dreamer for a dreamer. “More vigorous than Miss Baillie ; ” “ More musical than Mrs. Hemans ;" * Fuller of fancy than L. E. L.”—with such fine phrases did he keep off hunger and cold, and stave off, for a moment, the importunity of debt. And alas ! he was cheered on in his folly, not merely by honest, foolish friends, who thought such encouragement precisely what was best fitted to support the Genius ; but by base persons who found an interest in trading on his delusion. The Editor of the Eatansuil Gazette has too many kindred up and down the country ; and so long as the Edens, had a roof over their heads, they might count upon what their friend of “ The Caterpillar” called “the powerful influence of the press ; ”-meaning his promises of praise in that veracious and widely-spread journal.
I met the little woman two evenings before her book came out, walking with her husband. One could see in her face, sallow as death, traces of the severe emotions she had passed through (for her pangs over composition were to her, be sure, as severe as those of