Imagens das páginas

can turn these into artistic shapes. He plucks “copy” from rising and setting suns.

He sees marketable pathos in his friend's death-bed.

He carries the peal of his daughter's marriage-bells into his sentences or his rhymes; and in these the music sounds sweeter to him than in the sunshine and the wind. If originally of a meditative, introspective mood, his profession can hardly fail to confirm and deepen his peculiar temperament. He begins to feel his own pulse curiously, and for a purpose. As a spy in the service of literature, he lives in the world and its concerns. Out of everything he seeks thoughts and images, as out of everything the bee seeks wax and honey. A curious instance of this mode of looking at things occurs in Goethe's “ Letters from Italy," with whom, indeed, it was a fashion, and who helped himself out of the teeming world to more effect than any man of his time :

“From Botzen to Trent the stage is nine leagues, and runs through a valley which constantly increases in fertility. All that merely struggles into vegetation on the higher mountains has here more strength and vitality. The sun shines with warmth, and there is once more belief in a Deity.

“A poor woman cried out to me to take her child into my vehicle, as the soil was burning its feet. I did her this service out of honour to the strong light of Heaven. The child was strangely decked out, but I could get nothing from it in any way.”

It is clear that out of all this the reader gains ; but I cannot help thinking that for the writer it tends to destroy entire and simple living—all hearty and final enjoyment in life. Joy and sorrow, death and marriage, the comic circumstance and the tragic, what befalls him, what he observes, what he is brought into contact with, do not affect him as they affect other men ; they are secrets to be rifled, stones to be built with, clays to be moulded into artistic shape. In giving emotional material artistic form, there is indisputably a certain noble pleasure ; but it is of a solitary and severe complexion, and takes a man out of the circle and sympathies of his fellows. I do not say that this kind of life makes a man selfish, but it often makes him seem so; and the results of this seeming, on friendship and the domestic relationships, for instance, are as baleful as if selfishness really existed. The peculiar temptation which besets men of letters, the curious playing with thought and emotion, the tendency to analyse and take everything to pieces, has two results, and neither aids his happiness nor even his literary success.

On the one hand, and in relation to the social relations, it gives him somewhat of an icy aspect, and so breaks the spring and eagerness of affectionate response. For the best affection is shy, reticent, undemonstrative, and needs to be drawn out by its like. If unrecognised, like an acquaintance on the street, it passes by, making no sign, and is for the time being a stranger. On the other hand, the desire to say a fine thing about a phenomenon, whether natural or moral, prevents a man from reaching the inmost core of the phenomenon. Entrance into these matters will never be obtained by the most sedulous seeking. The man who has found an entrance cannot tell how he came there, and he will never find his way back again by the same road. From this law arises all the dreary conceits and artifices of the poets; it is through the operation of the same law that many of our simple songs and ballads are inexpressibly affecting, because in them there is no consciousness of authorship ; emotion and utterance are twin-born, consentaneous—like sorrow and tears, a blow and its pain, a kiss and its thrill. When a man is happy, every effort to express his happiness mars its completeness. I am not happy at all unless I am happier than I know. When the tide is full there is silence in channel and creek. The silence of the lover when he clasps the maid is better than the passionate murmur of the song which celebrates her charms. If to be near the rose makes the nightingale tipsy with delight, what must it be to be the rose herself? One feeling of the “wild joys of living—the leaping from rock to rock,” is better than the “muscular-Christianity” literature which our time has produced. I am afraid that the profession of letters interferes with the elemental feelings of life; and I am afraid, too, that in the majority of cases this interference is not justified by its results. The

entireness and simplicity of life is flawed by the intrusion of an inquisitive element, and this inquisitive element never yet found anything which was much worth the finding. Men live by the primal energies of love, faith, imagination; and happily it is not given to every one to live, in the pecuniary sense, by the artistic utilisation and sale of these. You cannot make ideas; they must come unsought if they come at all.

“From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine” is a profitable occupation enough, if you stumble on the little churchyard covered over with silence, and folded among the hills. If you go to the churchyard with intent to procure thoughts, as you go into the woods to gather anemones, you are wasting your time. Thoughts must come naturally, like wild flowers; they cannot be forced in a hotbed-even although aided by the leaf-mould of your past—like exotics. And it is the misfortune of men of letters of our day that they cannot afford to wait for this natural flowering of thought, but are driven to the forcing process, with the results which 'were to be expected.



THE present writer remembers to have been visited

once by a strange feeling of puzzlement; and the puzzled feeling arose out of the following circumstance :—He was seated in a railway-carriage, five minutes or so before starting, and had time to contemplate certain waggons or trucks filled with cattle, drawn up on a parallel line, and quite close to the window at which he sat. The cattle wore a muchenduring aspect; and, as he looked into their large, patient, melancholy eyes,-for, as before mentioned, there was no space to speak of intervening,—the feeling of puzzlement alluded to arose in his mind. And it consisted in an attempt to solve the existence before him, to enter into it, to understand it, and his inability to accomplish it, or indeed to make any way toward the accomplishment of it. The muchenduring animals in the trucks opposite had unquestionably some rude twilight of a notion of a world ; of objects they had some unknown cognizance; but he could not get behind the melancholy eye within a yard of him, and look through it. ' How, from that

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