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now and again the wearied student longs forthis delightful inconsequence. When we pick up a volume of his, or of Lamb's, we have left the beaten road and wandered into some charming maze of inextricable forest paths. Dry and dusty facts are left behind, or covered over with the green turf. Here is the place to lounge on a summer's day, and we stroll along none too hurriedly, resting, as the mood takes us, against the trunk of some giant tree of thought. It is the touch of egotism that marks the ideal writer in this form—a touch, however, that should not be overdone. Naturally, our opinion of what is the right amount depends largely on our affection or otherwise for the writer. Thackeray allowed just sufficient of himself to appear in his Roundabout Papers, but it is possible that Leigh Hunt showed a trifle too much. Like the lyric poem, the essay should contain a suspicion of the writer's personality, and should also have the look of careless ease, but the look merely, like a thin glittering sheet of ice over deep waters. It should be desultory, but not too desultory; there should be some slight thread of connection running through the whole, to lead us insensibly from point to point. For it is annoying in the

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highest degree to meet on a sudden with some abrupt change of thought for which no reason is discoverable. It jars the mind, and puts the reader out of conceit with himself, as if in strolling along our woodland path he should strike his foot against some hidden rock. The author should gossip, but there should be purpose in his seeming divagations. decorate with arabesques the line on which he travels, but there must be a line, even though it wander like a mountain track. Indeed, the slenderest peg will serve for the true essayist to hang his disquisition upon. The subject should not be too narrowly defined. In good hands a book or an author will be no mere dull review; but for the less practised writer, the more ordinary craftsman, it were perhaps safer to take some more general subject as his starting-point. I like best in Lamb those rambling discourses where he makes some imaginary acquaintance the text for his sermon, as with Captain Jackson in his cottage on the Bath Road, or the redoubtable Sarah Battle, tutelary goddess of the whist-table. And so we note that a touch of character-drawing, though not perhaps strictly proper to the style, has been ever found a useful adjunct. Addison, of course, has

his worthy knight and his satellites, and Johnson, in his Idler, would occasionally introduce imaginary friends to the public, as his Drugget and Minim. And it is remarkable that this does in fact give a lighter tone, and that the commonly heavy doctor does attain to some degree of sprightly vivacity in the employment of this machinery, that distinguishes these sketches pleasantly enough from their more ponderous companions.

Johnson was not, as a rule, overweighted with thought. He was apt to dress up delicate ideas in rather incongruous robes, like young children in the armour of full-grown men. He could, with anyone, make little fishes talk like whales ; but if he could have attained an easy style, or if he had chosen to drop the cumbrous method he affected, he would have been no unworthy successor to Addison. It is wonderful what a pretty fancy occasionally peeps, half stifled, through the chinks of his laboured sentences. In wit and sound scholarship he was more than a match for his model, but his love of form was too strong. Antithesis was his bane; he permitted what should have been a dainty flower to spread unchecked through his garden of thought until it became a straggling weed.

Some of his sentences resemble a heavily weighted pack-saddle, accurately balanced and even pleasing to the eye, with just an equal number of clauses on either side, but the total burden of which is almost too much for the sturdiest mule of a reader. But this was the case not because he was striving to express by inadequate means thoughts that were too subtle for him to grasp, but merely because he preferred to equip quite ordinary ideas with a disproportionate amount of travelling paraphernalia. He was wont to habit them with solicitous care, as though he feared that they might catch cold from the raw air of criticism, until they came forth at last from his hands with as many garments as the Esquimaux, or as the British fisherman when he sets out for the winter season in the North Sea. In fact, he was too anxious as to the manner he employed to be a great or deep thinker. It is worth remarking that these latter are not commonly stylists. They have in general too serious an occupation in the matter of what they are saying to harass themselves about minor graces of form. It might be pleasanter if they did, but it is idle to hope for everything. The ideal essayist, I imagine, has yet to be evolved—the man who

shall combine in his own person the original power of Bacon, the grace of Addison, the transcendental insight of Emerson, the gay fancy of Charles Lamb, with any unconsidered trifles that he may chance to pick up from other masters. But, until we see his work, we may well be content with his component parts, which, after all, may possibly afford us more pleasure separately than they would in never so cunning a combination.

It is, to my mind, a blemish in Emerson's writings that he seems to state his matter with so slight an adornment. Indeed, his fault is the exact reverse of this of Johnson's, inasmuch as the thought here often steps boldly—and baldly—forth without so much as a rag of covering to give it a decent appearance. He has the air of shovelling down his opinions, and they are frequently weighty ones, as one shovels coal down into the cellar. They lie in a heap, in any order, for the industrious reader to quarry out as he can.

It is possible that this may be done purposely, in a refinement of art, to the end that in its coarse setting the diamond here and there may show up with a finer lustre, or that the traveller may hail with a keener delight the unexpected flower in the

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