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mirable balance. He is now sitting opposite to me in each, opening out of a little corridor. In each, ON THE BAG OF silver, forty pounds (it must be too, is a large plate-glass window, with which you dreadfully hard), writing to Boulogne.
can do as you like. As you pay extra for this lux. Best love to Mamie and Katie, and dear Plorn, ury, it may be regarded as the first move toward two and all the boys left when this comes to Gad's Hill; classes of passengers. also to my dear good Anne, and her little woman.
Ever affectionately. On the whole, it is evident that Dickens re
tained his insular prejudices to the last, and that The fame of these readings speedily reached -in spite of the enthusiasm which he aroused the United States, and Dickens was repeatedly and the kindnesses which he experienced-he importuned and entreated to pay us a profes- never really liked either America or the Amerisional visit. He held out in his refusal to extend cans. From the hour of his landing he was his travels so far until, in 1867, the representa- counting the days until his return voyage should tions as to the enormous monetary harvest he begin; and this fact lends an additional pathos might expect to reap here overcame his resolu- to the knowledge that his sufferings while here tion, and on November 19th of that year he landed from “true American catarrh,” as he facetiously once more upon our shores. A considerable por- calls it, so weakened his constitution as to pretion of the second volume is filled with vivid de- cipitate the attack that ended his life only two scriptions of his readings in the various Eastern
years later. cities; but the scenes themselves can hardly have A few other letters must be quoted as illusfaded as yet from the popular mind, and it will be trating phases of Dickens's character that have more interesting, perhaps, to learn how far the im- not yet been touched upon. Here is a most pressions received during the earlier visit were characteristic one, in which he defends and justimodified during the later one. Between the two fies the first of those numerous attacks which he visits, the impetuous author had evidently ac- made in his novels upon religious cant: quired discretion, even if he had not changed his opinions, and there are only two paragraphs in
[To Mr. David Dickson.] the later correspondence that can be set over
1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, YORK GATE, against the long letter of 1842. In a letter
REGENT'S PARK, May 10, 1843. written from the Parker House, Boston, under
Sir: Permit me to say, in reply to your letter, date of January 4, 1868, he says:
that you do not understand the intention (I dare say
the fault is mine) of that passage in the “ Pickwick There are two apparently irreconcilable con
Papers" which has given you offense. The design trasts here. Down below in this hotel every night of the Shepherd,” and of this and every other are the bar-loungers, dram-drinkers, drunkards, allusion to him, is, to show how sacred things are swaggerers, loafers, that one might find in a Bouci- degraded, vulgarized, and rendered absurd when cault play. Within half an hour is Cambridge, persons who are utterly incompetent to teach the where a delightful domestic life-simple, self-re
commonest things take upon themselves to expound spectful, cordial, and affectionate—is seen in an ad, such mysteries, and how, in making mere cant mirable aspect. All New England is primitive and
phrases of divine words, these persons miss the puritanical. All about and around it is a puddle of spirit in which they had their origin. I have seen a mixed human mud, with no such quality in it. Per
great deal of this sort of thing in many parts of haps I may in time sist out some tolerably intelligi. England, and I never knew it lead to charity or ble whole, but I certainly have not done so yet. It
good deeds. is a good sign, maybe, that it all seems immensely
Whether the great Creator of the world and the more difficult to understand than it was when I was
creature of his hands, molded in his own image, be here before.
quite so opposite in character as you believe, is a In another letter, addressed to Mr. Macready question which it would profit us little to discuss. under date of March 21, 1868, he says:
I like the frankness and candor of your letter, and
thank you for it. That every man who seeks heaven You would find the general aspect of America must be born again, in good thoughts of his Maker, and Americans decidedly much improved. You I sincerely believe. That it is expedient for every would find immeasurably greater consideration and hound to say so in a certain snuffling form of words, respect for your privacy than of old. You would to which he attaches no good meaning, I do not befind a steady change for the better everywhere, ex
lieve. I take it, there is no difference between us. cept (oddly enough) in the railroads generally, which
Faithfully yours. seem to have stood still, while everything else has moved. But there is an exception westward. There
The following extract from a letter to Mr. the express trains have now a very delightful carriage Macready (written in 1853) testifies to that sturdy called a
drawing-room car," literally a series of faith in the people which was one of the dominatlittle private drawing-rooms, with sofas and a table ing sentiments of Dickens's life. It refers to an
address which he had just previously delivered at such a collection. It was written in reply to a Birmingham :
letter from Mr. Makeham remonstrating against I know you would have been full of sympathy of “Edwin Drood”:
a “figure of speech” used in the tenth chapter and approval if you had been present at Birmingham, and that you would have concurred in the tone GAD'S HILL PLACE, HIGHAM BY ROCHESTER, I tried to take about the eternal duties of the arts to
Kent, Wednesday Night, June, 1870. the people. I took the liberty of putting the court DEAR SIR: It would be quite inconceivable to and that kind of thing out of the question, and rec me—but for your letter-that any reasonable reader ognizing nothing but the arts and the people. The could possibly attach a scriptural reference to a pasmore we see of life and its brevity, and the world sage in a book of mine, reproducing a much-abused and its varieties, the more we know that no exercise social figure of speech, impressed with all sorts of of our abilities in any art, but the addressing of it to service, on all sorts of inappropriate occasions, with. the great ocean of humanity in which we are drops, out the faintest connection of it with its original and not to by-ponds (very stagnant) here and there, source. I am truly shocked to find that any reader ever can or ever will lay the foundations of an en. can make the mistake. durable retrospect.
I have always striven in my writings to express This is from a letter to Mr. Charles Knight because I feel it ; and because I rewrote that history
veneration for the life and lessons of our Saviour ; defending “Hard Times” against some strictures for my children—every one of whom knew it from which the latter had made upon it:
having it repeated to them-long before they could My satire is against those who see figures and read, and almost as soon as they could speak.
But I have never made proclamation of this from averages, and nothing else-ihe representatives of
the house-tops. the wickedest and most enormous vice of this time
Faithfully yours, -the men who, through long years to come, will do
CHARLES DICKENS. more to damage the real useful truths of political
JOHN M. MAKEHAM, Esq. economy than I could do (if I tried) in my whole life ; the addled heads who would take the average The selections which we have made from the of cold in the Crimea during twelve months as a
“Letters” will probably appear somewhat desulreason for clothing a soldier in nankeens on a night when he would be frozen to death in fur, and who tory and altogether inadequate ; but then the letwould comfort the laborer in traveling twelve miles ters themselves are desultory in subject, and we a day to and from his work, by telling him that the have not aimed to do more than indicate their average distance of one inhabited place from anoth quality and variety. Taken as a whole, they er in the whole area of England is not more than portray with wonderful vividness and fidelity four miles. Bah! What have you to do with these? nearly all possible phases of the author's thoughts
and feelings; and it may be confidently said, in The last letter of all—written less than an conclusion, that there are very few men whose hour before the fatal stroke ended for ever the hearts and lives could be laid so bare as in this labors of that teeming brain and prolific pen-is correspondence and yet leave upon the reader so in a peculiar degree appropriate as the close of consistently pleasing an impression.
happiest and best minds," we feel in each of these MATTHEW ARNOLD ON POETRY.
utterances—too partial to express a universal IT T is both interesting and instructive to hear truth, too profound to be regarded as a merely what masters of a craft may choose to say
casual remark—the dominating bias and instincupon the subject of their art. The interest is tive leanings of a lifetime. If, then, we rememrather increased than diminished by the limitation ber that Mr. Matthew Arnold is equally eminent of the imperfection of their view, inseparable from as a critic and a poet, we shall not be too much personal inclination, idiosyncrasy of genius, or ab- surprised to read the following account of poetry sorbing previous course of study. When Hein- given in the preface to his selections from Wordsrich exclaims, “There's no lust like to poetry"; worth :* “It is important, therefore, to hold fast when Goethe asserts, “ Die kunst ist nur Gestal
*" Poems of Wordsworth.” Chosen and edited by tung"; when Shelley writes, “ Poetry is the rec Matthew Arnold. “Golden Treasury Series," Macmilord of the best and happiest moments of the lan, 1879.
ering its loveliness, may be said to judge. The sion. The very greatest poets of the world have greatest poet is not the poet who has said the combined all these qualities, together with that best things about life, but he whose work most grand humanity which confers upon them imfully and faithfully reflects life in its breadth and mortal freshness. Of Homer, Pindar, Sophocles, largeness, eliminating what is accidental, trivial, Æschylus, Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare, Molière, temporary, local, or rendering insignificant details Goethe, it is only possible to say that one or the mirror of the universal by his treatment. He other element of poetic achievement has been teaches less by what he inculcates than by what displayed more eminently than the rest, that one he shows; and the truth of Plato's above-men- or other has been held more obviously in abeytioned theory is that he may himself be unaware ance, when we come to distinguish each great of the far-reaching lessons he communicates. master from his peers. But lesser men may rest From Shakespeare we could better afford to lose their claims to immortality upon slighter merits; the profound remarks on life in “Timon” or and among these merits it will be found impos“Troilus and Cressida " than the delineation of sible to exclude what we call form, style, and the Othello's passion. The speeches of Nestor in several poetic qualities above enumerated. the “Iliad” are less valuable than the portrait of Achilles; and what Achilles says about fame, The final test of greatness in a poet is his heroism, death, and friendship, could be sooner adequacy to human nature at its best; his feelspared than the presentment of his action. ing for the balance of sense, emotion, will, intel
The main thing to keep in mind is this, that lect in moral harmony; his faculty for regarding the world will very willingly let die in poetry what the whole of life, and representing it in all its does not contribute to its intellectual strength largeness. If this be true, dramatic and epical and moral vigor. In the long run, therefore, poetry must be the most enduring, the most inpoetry full of matter and moralized wins the day. Structive monuments of creative genius in verse. But it must, before all else, be poetry. The ap- These forms bring into quickest play and present plication of the soundest moral ideas, the finest in fullest activity the many-sided motives of our criticism of life, will not save it from oblivion, if life on earth. Yet the lyrist has a sphere scarcely it fails in the essential qualities that constitute a second in importance to that of the epic and work of art. Imagination, or the power to see dramatic poets. The thought and feeling he exclearly and to project forcibly; fancy, or the presses may, if his nature be adequate, embrace power to flash new light on things familiar, and the whole gamut of humanity; and if his expresby their combination to delight the mind with sion be sufficient, he may give the form of uninovelty; creative genius, or the power of giving versality to his experience, creating magic mirrors form and substance, life and beauty to the fig- wherein all men shall see their own hearts rements of the brain ; style, or the power to sus- flected and glorified without violation of reality tain a flawless, and unwavering distinction of ut- or truth. terance; dramatic energy, or the power to make
J. A. SYMONDS (Fortnightly Review). men and women move before us with self-evident reality in fiction ; passion, sympathy, enthusiasm, or the power of feeling and communicating feeling, of understanding and arousing emotion ;
IRVING'S SHYLOCK. lyrical inspiration, or the power of spontaneous
That no artist has so much actual enjoyment singing—these are among the many elements of success as the actor, and that no fame is so that go to make up poetry. These, no doubt, evanescent as his, has been generally accepted are alluded to by Mr. Arnold in the clause refer- as a truth. But only the first part of the saying ring to “poetic beauty and poetic truth.” But is altogether true; the last part will, at least, bear it is needful to insist upon them, after having modification. Were it entirely and unfailingly true, dwelt so long upon the matter and the moral neither actors nor spectators would be beset by tone of poetry. No sane critic can deny that the traditions, no fulfilled renown would interpose its possession of one or more of these qualities in laurels between the student-artist and the dramany very eminent degree will save a poet from atist's creation, or stir the air about his audithe neglect to which moral revolt or indifference ence with the distant echo of its trumpets. On might otherwise condemn him. Ariosto's vul- the contrary, the traditions of the great actors of garity of feeling, Shelley's crude and discordant the past are always with us—and, although we opinions, Leopardi's overwhelming pessimism, can not point to handiwork of theirs in stone or Heine's morbid sentimentality, Byron's superfi- on canvas, they are the most interesting of memciality and cynicism, sink to nothing beneath the ories, because the aiguillon of curiosity and quessaving virtues of imagination, lyrical inspiration, tion pricks all discussion of them. Did Garrick poetic style, humor, intensity, and sweep of pas- give this passage so ? Did the Siddons make
that point? And what was Edmund Kean's justifies his plain mistrust of her, an odious, imreading ? They come to the play with us, when modest, dishonest creature, than whom Shakeit is a great play, and the actors are great actors, speare drew no more unpleasant character, and to or approaching greatness, and is not that the sur- whom one always grudges the loveliest love-lines vival of fame? Of all plays, “ The Merchant of that ever were spoken, especially when it is borne Venice " is that one which the spectator would, in mind that the speaker, Lorenzo, was at best a we fancy, go to see with the “ historical ” asso- receiver of stolen goods. Mr. Irving's Shylock is ciation most strongly in his mind, and also that a being quite apart from his surroundings. When one in which the actors of the great parts would he hesitates and questions with himself why he be most pressed and overshadowed by the tra- should go forth to sup with those who would dition of their predecessors. That was, how- scorn him if they could, but can only ridicule ever, no “historical" Shylock which Mr. Irving him, while the very stealthy intensity of scorn of set before the closely-packed audience assem- them is in him, we ask, too, why should he? He bled on last Saturday evening to see Shake- would hardly be more out of place in the “wilspeare's finest comedy put upon the stage of the derness of monkeys,” of which he makes his sad Lyceum as it has certainly never previously been and quaint comparison, when Tubal tells him of put upon any stage, and acted as it has not often that last coarse proof of the heartlessness of his been acted. Probably, to every mind, except daughter“ wedded with a Christian"—the barthat of Shakespeare himself—in which all poten- tering of his Leah's ring. What mean, pitiful tial interpretations of his Shylock, as all poten- beings they all are, poetical as is their language, tial interpretations of his Hamlet, must have had and fine as are the situations of the play, in coma place—the complex image which Mr. Irving parison with the forlorn, resolute, undone, baited, presented to a crowd more or less impressed with betrayed, implacable old man, who, having pernotions of their own concerning the Jew whom sonified his hatred of the race of Christians in Shakespeare drew, was entirely novel and unex- Antonio, whose odiousness to him, in the treble pected; for here is a man whom none can de- character of a Christian, a sentimentalist, and a spise, who can raise emotions both of pity and reckless speculator, is less of a mere caprice than of fear, and make us Christians thrill with a ret- he explains it to be! He reasons calmly with the rospective sense of shame. Here is a usurer dullards in the court concerning this costly whim indeed, but no more like the customary modern of his, yet with a disdainful doubt of the justice rendering of that extortionate lender of whom that will be done him ; standing almost motionBassanio borrowed “moneys ", than the mer- less, his hands hanging by his sides—they are an chants dei Medici were like pawnbrokers down old man's hands, feeble, except when passion Whitechapel way; a usurer indeed, and full of turns them into griping claws, and then that pas“thrift,” which is rather the protest of his dis- sion subsides into the quivering of age, which is dain and disgust for the sensuality and frivolity like palsy—his gray, worn face, lined and hollow, of the ribald crew, out of whom he makes his mostly averted from the speakers who move him “ Christian ducats,” than of his own sordidness; not, except when a gleam of murderous hate, a usurer indeed, but, above all, a Jew! One of sudden and deadly, like the flash from a pistol, the race accursed in the evil days in which he goes over it, and burns for a moment in the lives, but chosen of Jehovah in the olden time tired, melancholy eyes! Such a gleam there wherein lie his pride, and belief, and hope—the came when Shylock answered Bassanio's palliabest of that hope being revenge on the enemies tive commonplace withof himself and all his tribe, now wearing the
“Hates any man the thing he would not kill ?" badge of sufferance, revenge, rendered by the stern tenets of a faith which teaches that “the At the wretched gibes of Gratiano, and the Lord, his God, is a jealous God, taking ven- amiable maundering of the Duke, the slow, cold geance,” not only lawful, but holy. A Jew, in smile, just parting the lips and touching their intellectual faculties, in spiritual discipline, far in curves as light touches polished metal, passes advance of the time and the country in which he over the lower part of the face, but does not touch lives, shaken with strong passion sometimes, but the eyes or lift the brow. This is one of Mr. Irfor the most part fixed in a deep and weary dis- ving's most remarkable facial effects, for he can dain. He is an old man, but not very aged, so pass it through all the phases of a smile, up to that the epithet “old” used to him is not to be surpassing sweetness. Is it a fault of the actors mistaken for anything but the insolence it means ; or of ours that this Shylock is a being so absoa widower — his one pathetic mention of his lutely apart that it is impossible to picture him as “ Leah” was as beautiful a touch as ever has a part of the life of Venice, that we can not been laid upon the many-stringed lyre of human think of him “on the Rialto" before Bassanio feeling-the father of a daughter who amply wanted “ moneys,” and Antonio had “ plunged,"
like any London city-man in the pre-"depres- passions. Both are present always, and his last sion” times, that he absolutely begins to exist effort to clutch the gold when the revenge has with the “ Three thousand ducats—well!" These escaped his grasp, his cunning, business-like are the first words uttered by the picturesque “Give me my principal, and let me go,” is an personage to whom the splendid and elaborate admirable point. Throughout the entire perscene, whose every detail we have previously been formance the actor's best qualities are at their eagerly studying, becomes merely the back- best, and his characteristic faults are hardly apground. He is wonderfully weird, but his weird- parent. The picturesqueness of his appearance ness is quite unlike that of any other of the im- is largely assisted by the grave, flowing robe and personations in which Mr. Irving has accustomed shawl-girdle which he wears; his self-restraint us to that characteristic; it is impressive, never fails not before his Christian foes; Shylock's pasfantastic—sometimes solemn and terrible. There sionate agony is in soliloquy, or when only Tubal, was a moment when, as he stood in the last a Jew, like him, who understands him and their scene with folded arms and bent head, the very common holy faith, and what dogs these Chrisimage of exhaustion, a victim, entirely convinced tians are, as well as “ Father Abraham" himself of the justice of his cause, he looked like a Span. understands it, is with him. In the scene with ish painter's “ Ecce Homo.” The likeness passed Tubal, the sentence, “ The curse never fell upon in an instant, for the next utterance is :
our nation till now I never felt it till now!” is
as finely delivered as Mr. Irving's “I know, I “My deeds upon my head. I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond."
know-I was a dauphin myself once,” in his
“ Louis XI.” There was a fine effect—and it, In the opinion of the present writer, his Shy- too, thrilled the house–in the third scene of the lock is Mr. Irving's finest performance, and his first act. In the striking of the terrible bargain final exit is its best point. The quiet shrug, the between Antonio and the Jew, Shylock touches glance of ineffable, unfathomable contempt at the Christian lightly on the breast; Antonio rethe exultant booby Gratiano, who, having got coils, and Shylock, without breaking his discourse, hold of a good joke, worries it like a puppy with bows low, in apologetic deprecation of his own a bone, the expression of defeat in every limb daring and the merchant's indignation, while his and feature, the deep, gasping sigh as he passes face is alight for an instant with a gleam of haslowly out, and the crowd rush from the court tred and derision truly devilish. to hoot and howl at him outside, make up an ef All those liberties which Mr. Irving has taken fect which must be seen to be comprehended. with the text of the play are not only allowable, Perhaps some students of Shakespeare, reading but welcome. It is to be wished that his good the Jew's story to themselves, and coming to the taste had suggested just one more alterationconclusion that there was more sentiment than only one, for we suppose the heavy fooling of legality in that queer, confused, quibbling court, Launcelot Gobbo must remain, like those detestawhere judge and advocate were convertible terms, ble rhymes in Hamlet," on pain of accusation may have doubted whether the utterer of the of treason against Shakespeare, who was, no most eloquent and famous satirical appeal in all doubt, proud of his bad puns. That one is the dramatic literature, whose scornful detestation of omission of Gratiano's horrid jest when Shylock his Christian foes rose mountains high over what is whetting his knife on the edge of his shoethey held to be his ruling passion, drowning ava Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, rice fathom-deep in hatred, would have gratified thou mak'st thy knife keen.” Could not this fiathose enemies by useless railing, and an exhibi- grant vulgarity be discarded ? tion of impotent rage. But there is no “ tradi Of Miss Ellen Terry's Portia, it is almost sution” for this rendering, in which Mr. Irving puts perfluous to speak, for it has been long and well in action for his Shylock one sense of Hamlet's known to be of an excellence without rival or words—“The rest is silence !” The impression compeer. Probably no more beautiful sight than made by this consummate stroke of art and touch the “casket scenes" has ever been beheld on of nature upon the vast audience was most re- any stage, with this consummate actress, in her markable; the thrill that passed over the house golden-hued, gold-fringed, satin robes, with her was a sensation to have witnessed and shared. beautiful face, her sweet, flexible voice, her grace
Although Mr. Irving sinks the usurer in the ful, exquisitely appropriate movements and gesJew in a quite novel manner, he does not do so tures, her sweet, womanly perplexity, girlish fun, too entirely, departing from Shakespeare's inten- swiftly growing passion, and gracious wisely surtion arbitrarily; he only reverses the general es- render, amid surroundings which are almost timate of the intensity of Shylock's two master ideally perfect.