« AnteriorContinuar »
region of the lowest savagery. Learn- ing, and such romping, and such laughing with us is a pursuit instead of a ing, I never heard or saw before. Ruspastime; the men of the last century tic happiness was afloat; the girls' faces were nearer the facts (for the ancient were tinged beyond their native bloom, English customs are now fallen into and the maidens' blush enlivened the disuse, and shun our eyes), but we are lilies around them. The men's legs and much nearer the theories, and so the arms were as busy as if they had hung student will fancy that he now attends on wires. In an instant half a dozen only to what the old scholars observed, youths pulled off their shoes and stockand may skip what they thought. There ings, when I noticed their legs had been is truly a mine of observations in these previously girt with party-colored ribbooks with regard to country manners bons. On being started by the bride, that were then to be seen as periodically they spanked off as hard as they could, as the seasons themselves. Many of the amidst the whoops of the young and contributors would seem to have lived old. This I understand is a race of in the country, — clergymen, one thinks, kisses : and he who first reaches the for the most part; and they had an eye bride's house is rewarded with a kiss for the old and the picturesque in the and a ribbon. If they were to have people's life, and were as much inter- been rewarded by a bag of gold, they ested in such finds as some of us are in could not have looked more eager ; they unearthing Indian relics. No inconsid- took different roads (without heeding erable part of the charm of these pages the rough stones they had to encounter), lies in their passing but vivid disclosure and which we were told were previously of some old English sight. One passage, agreed upon, in proportion to the known in particular, is so fine a bit in the old swiftness of the candidates. We remanner, is given in such bright words gretted that we could not stay to see and in the familiar yet well-bred style the result of this Hymenean race; and of the letters of that period, that we left them in the midst of their mirth, cannot forbear quoting it at length. after a donation which would not take Tempus, Anno Domini 1793.
from it, but which was only received, on “ Passing along that delightful range condition of mutually drinking healths, of valleys between Bradford in York- and our accepting a ribbon apiece. I shire to Kendal, we saw a number of got upon the top of the coach to look at country people rush out of a church them as long as I could. Marrowbones founded upon a pleasant hill, and im- and cleavers could not express half the mediately the bells chimed most mer- hilarity which we witnessed ; and when rily. We desired the coachmau to stop the coach set off they gave us breastsin the village underneath, till the group full of huzzas. We answered them with approached, following a new-married such sincerity, I shall have a twist in couple : — the whole bedizened with rib- my hat as long as it lasts; and for some bons, the bride most glaringly so,
heard bursts large true-blue bows were across the of noise.
A RAMBLER.” full of her breast, lessening till they Dick Steele would have welcomed reached the waist; white, red, and every such a correspondent, and given the other color were conspicuous about her scene the immortality of a page of the gown and hat, except forsaken green, Tatler, at least, and that was the most which I was glad to perceive was not he could confer. worn by one of the throng. It would This spirit of geniality, together with have gladdened any heart to have seen the landscape that makes so fit a backthem striking down the hill, — such kiss- ground for the antiquarian lore, gives one constantly the sense of being in of most of the work. The interest of pleasant company, with a touch of oddity the author in his subject is generally not in the people. One would like to meet due to any cultivation of the historical a man who found an absorbing interest sense, which makes time long past an in the history of sign-boards, and took object of curiosity as ardent as is felt pains to catalogue all that were in his in contemporary affairs ; some fact of exneighborhood or had been swinging there perience instead of one of book-learning within the memory of men ; and even is the source of his little essay, or note, a modern Shakespearean scholar, al- or query, as the case may be, and his though he stands aghast at the etymolo- limited stock of information is drawn gies of his fathers, must experience some upon only to illustrate and elucidate the fellow - feeling with the correspondent matter in hand. Possibly one is now who tried to crack that nut of “ leading and then reminded of our old and deapes in hell" with which Beatrice still lightful friend the Antiquary himself, puzzles the commentators. The fre and how he found the lines of the Roquency of references to Shakespeare, too, man castra and quoted his polysyllabic by these Englishmen before Schlegel authorities apropos thereof, when the is very gratifying, with its ample proof beggarly Ochiltree could have told him of the enormity of that pretentious false- in good broad Scotch the facts about his hood which declares that the Germans mare's nest, and so spared him his Latin ; discovered Shakespeare for us. Our but the exhibit of learning is occasioned ancestors knew a good play as well as in the same way by something seen or good ale, and that they were seldom heard, and comes as naturally in place as deceived is tolerably clear to those of genealogies to the lips of country gossips us who have worried through the re- when an old man dies. These parish prints of the comedies and tragedies they clergymen, who read with interest the damned. Shakespeare had a place in forms and ceremonies of the Biddings their minds with Lucan and Virgil, be- to Welsh marriages, might have felt a cause they were educated to seek for less lively curiosity about the kingdom worth, and what they gathered passed of the Hittites that Professor Sayce into their lives and became related to has rescued from the maw of oblivion; things about them ; now, knowledge is and they, we dare say, would try much the cry,
and large part of what is re- harder to interpret that curious letter covered seems meant only to pass into in the Shetland dialect, or to get the exlibraries, and be stood up there as the act sense of the Exmoor Courtship, than Egyptians embalmed the dead. Thus, to translate cuneiform inscriptions or considered generally, these volumes bring enjoy the love-songs of the Egyptians home to the mind very sharply the before Moses, as we have them now in change in the temper of our scholarly that very valuable collection of the leafclass. A literary instead of a scientific lets of antiquity published as Records spirit informs them; cultivation as con- of the Past. Not that there was no tradistinguished from exact knowledge true learning in those easy-going days, is the trait that especially belongs to nor any lack of an enlightened interest the writers in them ; in other words, in it; but men who were merely cultithey are a fine illustration of the culture vated had a narrower range, and did not of the old school.
trouble themselves much with what did The peculiar propriety of the old word not in some way come with warmth to for the branches of a liberal education, their hearts and have a personal value “ the humanities,” is thus one of the to them; and even the men of widest striking impressions made by the perusal acquisitions wore their learning, as Milton did, like a panoply in wbich to en- of this change underlies the opposition due themselves when the controversial to classical studies, which in becoming giant should appear on the other side. largely the apparatus of a profession Now we go light-armed, and if any fray have lost their character of being modes arises, take an index and write our re- of culture. Even the undergraduate joinder by its aid. Beside those great does not need a very thorough acquaintbattles that used to be waged, our modern ance with the books and conversations contests seem mere fencing-bouts. We of the gentlemen of the old school in do not carry what we know about with order to conclude quite certainly that if us any more, whether it be much or little, he knows more Latin they knew vastly but put it into a dictionary for reference. more Horace. In our academies and In other words, knowledge has been be- colleges the language is taught as never coming more and more impersonal, just before, but the old boys of Eton and as scholarship has gradually taken on a Harvard learned what the language was professional character. One smiles at used for, and that was their great gain. the very suggestion of an Englishman The whole literature of the eighteenth of the old school taking a “ disinter- century proves how truly the classics ested” view in any matter; and disin- were appropriated then by those who terestedness, as we are told, is the es- read them; and when an elegant writer sence of the modern scholarly ideal. A of compliments now and then pleasantstudent nowadays is much like a lawyer ly mentions “our own Waller,” the acor doctor : he makes an investigation cent of the phrase discloses a state of edand writes a book as they examine and ucation, of literary standards and modes conduct a case, and when he is through of comparison, very different from any with his task the volume is put on the that now obtain either here or in Engshelves, and he goes on to a new work land. It is not that the humanities have as they to a fresh client or patient. Nor lost their humanizing power, but that does the frame of mind in which he they are inculcated as sciences. Culture goes through the routine of research must always be literary, but the classics, differ much from that of his brethren
in consequence of the change in the in the bar; for his pursuit is to him a ideal of scholarship, have become phibusiness, and is as disconnected with his lology, antiquities, and cognate branches own individual affairs as is the case with of research. This subject, however, is the others. Scholarship is in fact al- too broad and too old a one, and is in ready one of the professions, and its vota- a fair way to be settled, willy-nilly, by ries, who were once nearer the literary, the logic of social needs. It is glanced are now nearer the scientific class. As at here, because the older contributors a consequence, learning, which was once to the Gentleman's Magazine, and by truly, like poetry, a part of culture, is inference the far larger number of its passing over to that division where it readers, exhibit admirably the strength becomes, like the study of the law or of and weakness of that old culture, so medicine, merely an item of civilization; living, personal, familiar, so uninterit ceases to be a thing that can be in- ruptedly entering into daily interests, so corporated into the body and substance at ease with itself, and, with all the of our lives, and now constitutes a part limitations that made it parish-like, so of those possessions of society in com- essentially humane. What is to be in mon with which the individual is con- the place of it, what a gentleman may cerned not continuously nor for his own be assumed to know and how he bears sake alone, but incidentally and as his knowledge, belongs to the future, social being. An obscure perception since at present the intellectual furni
ture of a well-bred man, beyond a con- customs, and disused games lies in the versational acquaintance with the talk familiarity they have acquired by being of the hour, is a matter almost of hap- mentioned in our old dramatic literature, hazard, an unlimited curiosity being or memoirs, diaries, and letters. The perhaps his most useful trait; but let local coloring that was unconsciously the education of the next age be what put upon their works by the writers of it will, it can hardly make men more a former day, before it became a recogagreeable, refined, and truly enlightened nized element in the novelist's art, is than were the gentlemen bred under the brightened, and the blurred and faded old régime, nor leave a pleasanter tradi- spots are restored by the reminiscences tion behind it than flavors the pages of and survivals of ancient customs and their monthly
the descriptions of forgotten things that From what has been said it will be are gathered here as in a final reposithought quite rightly that these are vol- tory. Next to the very valuable record umes to be read in by a winter fire, and of traditional usages in the life of the not studied. The seeker after facts country people, the dialect pieces seem will take the books of latest authority, of most interest and best worth reprintwhich the editor has been careful to list ing, from the view of modern scholarin his prefaces as furnishing the neces- ship, though they add little to the colsary corrections to the vagaries of the lections of the Dialect Society. If we old-fashioned text, and find in them the were to treat of the several topics knowledge he desires; but when study separately, however, our notice could grows wearisome, he can scarcely have be nothing but an inventory, owing to better diversion, nor one more consonant the diversity of the matter. The rewith his tastes, than in the rambling and maining volumes of the series will add gossipy antiquarianism of the body of to this difficulty; and though we are not the volumes. On the whole, one cannot informed as to the topics to be included more easily characterize their contents in them, they cannot fail to be well than as the literature that old men are filled with literary curiosities, and perespecially fond of; for the instinct of the haps the later volumes of the Magazine antiquary can hardly consist with the may furnish a larger proportion of the sense of utility so engrossing in young extracts. When it is remembered that minds. In fact, too, one must have some Gibbon first proposed the scheme that spice of the old culture in order to en- is now, almost a century since, being joy the magazine that flourished under carried out, the vitality of the interest its influence ; he cannot otherwise be the series has seems beyond question ; placed en rapport with it. The list of and, after all, he will be a dull reader the London pageants, for example, will who does not find in it, however much be dry unless one is already attached to he may smile at its unscientific characthe memory of those parades, and can ter, something more than the most comimagine from a hint the moving tableaux plete and varied expression of the spirit vivants of the trades ; and no inconsid- that breathed in the now discredited erable part of the attraction there is in education that bred Gray and Joseph discussion of proverbial sayings, village Spence and John Evelyn.
RECENT AMERICAN FICTION.
MR. CABLE's novels differ essentially couple; but he discovers before the book from his short stories, and disclose in is done that Mr. Cable's own interest is what phase of his work this author takes not so much in these people, either as the liveliest interest. He has a quick people or as representatives of certain apprehension of the physiognomy both motives, as it is in the working out of of persons and places; he watches eager- certain problems which vex him regardly the dramatic exhibition of life; he ing poverty and labor. It is not wholly is concerned with the development of clear what he thinks, beyond the general character. All this is discernible in his proposition that the question of poverty short stories, but when he is permitted is, in the last analysis, one of personal the breadth and freedom of the novel he relations, and not of merely social ordiscloses the fact that over and above ganization; but it is evident that his all this he is absorbed in the contempla- own novel does not absorb his thought, tion of the struggle which is going on and he has not succeeded in making the in the world between the forces of good persons and the action clearly carry the and evil. In this he shows his kinship moral which lay in his own mind. Inwith the great moralists who have used deed, he has forced the situation, we the novel as a microcosm which should think, and produced results in the case reflect their conception of the macro- of John Richling which ihe circumcosm. Thus the Grandissimes showed stances and the character of Richling how profoundly Mr. Cable had studied lead one to doubt. Is it quite reasonathe question of slavery and races, and ble to suppose that the repeated success thas Dr. Sevier 1 hints very directly at which Richling is shown to have attained studies in poverty as a social problem. had no accumulative effect upon his for
In art, however, a humane or relig- tunes ? In the final success with the ious sentiment must possess a work; it German baker, the question of credenmust not interrupt it. The Grandissimes tials comes up anew to perplex John was a strong book in its intention, but and the doctor. Mr. Cable seems to the author had not so mastered his great forget that he has told us how again theme that he was able to present it and again John had secured a situation, through a culminating process of per- shown himself capable of filling it, and sons and events, and the consequence is then had lost it through no fault of his that one enjoys only a series of massive own, but by circumstances beyond his fragments. Dr. Sevier again illustrates control. Now these cases of temporary the same tendency of this writer to for- success certainly should have afforded get the limitations of his mimic art, and basis enough for credentials. But no; to confound his characters with real per- it was necessary to keep up the fiction sons. The attentive reader imagines for in order to remind the reader what he the greater part of the book that he is might easily forget, - that John's origin engaged in tracing the fortunes of John is a mystery. Richling and his wife. He is willing, The truth is that Mr. Cable desired a indeed, to concede, in deference to the character of essentially noble qualities, title of the work, that the main theme is who had thrown away, in marrying out Dr. Sevier's relation to this struggling of his class and section, the advantages 1 Dr. Sevier. By GEORGE W. CABLE. Bos
to which he had been born and bred, ton: James R. Osgood & Co. 1885.
and was now to fight the battle of life