Imatges de pÓgina

and a new and stronger tone in literature will be the result. The Kentucky stump-oratory, the exploits of Boon and David Crockett, the journals of western pioneers, agriculturalists, and socialists, and the letters of Jack Downing, are genuine growths, which are sought with avidity in Europe, where our European-like books are of no value. It is easy to see that soon the centre of population and property of the English race, which long ago began its travels, and which is still on the eastern shore, will shortly hover midway over the Atlantic main, and then as certainly fall within the American coast, so that the writers of the English tongue shall write to the American and not to the island public, and then will the great Yankee be born.

But at present we have our culture from Europe and Europeans. Let us be content and thankful for these good gifts for a while yet. The collections of art, at Dresden, Paris, Rome, and the British Museum and libraries offer their splendid hospitalities to the American. And beyond this, amid the dense population of that continent, lifts itself ever and anon some eminent head, a prophet to his own people, and their interpreter to the people of other countries. The attraction of these individuals is not to be resisted by theoretic statements. It is true there is always something deceptive, self-deceptive, in our travel. We go to France, to Germany, to see men, and find but what we carry. A man is a man, one as good as another, many doors to one open court, and that open court as entirely accessible from our private door, or through John or Peter, as through Humboldt and Laplace. But we cannot speak to ourselves. We brood on our riches but remain dumb; that makes us unhappy; and we take ship and go man-hunting in order by putting ourselves en rapport, according to laws of personal magnetism, to acquire speech or expression. Seeing Herschel or Schelling, or Swede or Dane, satisfies the conditions, and we can express ourselves happily.

But Europe has lost weight lately. Our young men go thither in every ship, but not as in the golden days, when the same tour would show the traveller the noble heads of Scott, of Mackintosh, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Goethe, Cuvier, and Humboldt. We remember when arriving in Paris, we crossed the river on a brilliant morning, and at

the bookshop of Papinot, in the Rue de Sorbonne, at the gates of the University, purchased for two sous a Programme, which announced that every Monday we might attend the lecture of Dumas on Chemistry at noon; at a half hour later either Villemain or Ampère on French literature; at other hours, Guizot on Modern History; Cousin on the Philosophy of Ancient History; Fauriel on Foreign Literature; Prevost on Geology; Lacroix on the Differential Calculus; Jouffroy on the History of Modern Philosophy; Lacretelle on Ancient History; Desfontaines or Mirbel on Botany.

Hard by, at the Place du Panthéon, Dégérando, Royer Collard, and their colleagues were giving courses on Law, on the law of nations, the Pandects and commercial equity. For two magical sous more, we bought the Programme of the College Royal de France, on which we still read with admiring memory, that every Monday, Silvestre de Sacy lectures on the Persian language; at other hours, Lacroix on the Integral Mathematics; Jouffroy on Greek Philosophy; Biot on Physics; Lerminier on the History of Legislation; Elie de Beaumont on Natural History; Magendie on Medicine; Thénard on Chemistry; Binet on Astronomy; and so on, to the end of the week. On the same wonderful ticket, as if royal munificence had not yet sufficed, we learned that at the Museum of Natural History, at the Garden of Plants, three days in the week, Brongniart would teach Vegetable Physiology, and Gay-Lussac Chemistry, and Flourent Anatomy. With joy we read these splendid news in the Café Procope, and straightway joined the troop of students of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, whom this great institution drew together to listen to the first savans of the world without fee or reward. The professors are changed; but the liberal doors still stand open at this hour. This royal liberality, which seems to atone for so many possible abuses of power, could not exist without important consequences to the student on his return home.

The University of Gottingen has sunk from its high place by the loss of its brightest stars. The last was Heeren, whose learning was really useful, and who has made ingenious attempts at the solution of ancient historical problems. Ethiopia, Assyria, Carthage, and the Theban Desart 65


are still revealing secrets, latent for three millenniums, under the powerful night glass of the Teutonic scholars, who make astronomy, geology, chemistry, trade, statistics, medals, tributary to their inquisitions. In the last year also died Sismondi, who by his History of the Italian Republics reminded mankind of the prodigious wealth of life and event, which Time, devouring his children as fast as they are born, is giving to oblivion in Italy, the piazza and forum of History, and for a time made Italian subjects of the middle age popular for poets, and romancers, and by his kindling chronicles of Milan and Lombardy perhaps awoke the great genius of Manzoni. That history is full of events, yet, as Ottilia writes in Goethe's novel, that she never can bring away from history anything but a few anecdotes, so the "Italian Republics" lies in the memory like a confused melée, a confused noise of slaughter, and rapine, and garments rolled in blood. The method, if method there be, is so slight and artificial, that it is quite overlaid and lost in the unvaried details of treachery and violence. Hallam's sketches of the same history were greatly more luminous and memorable, partly from the advantage of his design, which compelled him to draw outlines, and not bury the grand lines of destiny in municipal details. Italy furnished in that age no man of genius to its political arena, though many of talent, and this want degrades the history. We still remember with great pleasure, Mr. Hallam's fine sketch of the external history of the rise and establishment of the Papacy, which Mr. Ranke's voluminous researches, though they have great value for their individual portraits, have not superseded.

It was a brighter day than we have often known in our literary calendar, when within the twelvemonth a single London advertisement announced a new volume of poems by Wordsworth, poems by Tennyson, and a play by Henry Taylor. Wordsworth's nature or character has had all the time it needed, in order to make its mark, and supply the want of talent. We have learned how to read him. We have ceased to expect that which he cannot give. He has the merit of just moral perception, but not that of deft poetic execution. How would Milton curl his lip at such slipshod newspaper style! Many of his poems, as, for example, the Rylstone Doe, might be all improvised. Noth

ing of Milton, nothing of Marvell, of Herbert, of Dryden, could be. These are such verses as in a just state of culture should be vers de Société, such as every gentleman could write, but none would think of printing or of claiming the poet's laurel on their merit. The Pindar, the Shakspeare, the Dante, whilst they have the just and open soul, have also the eye to see the dimmest star that glimmers in the Milky Way, the serratures of every leaf, the test objects of the microscope, and then the tongue to utter the same things in words that engrave them on all the ears of mankind. The poet demands all gifts and not one or two only.

The poet, like the electric rod, must reach from a point nearer to the sky than all surrounding objects down to the earth, and into the dark wet soil, or neither is of use. The poet must not only converse with pure thought, but he must demonstrate it almost to the senses. His words must be pictures, his verses must be spheres and cubes, to be seen and smelled and handled. His fable must be a good story, and its meaning must hold as pure truth. In the debates on the Copyright Bill, in the English Parliament, Mr. Sergeant Wakley, the coroner, quoted Wordsworth's poetry in derision, and asked the roaring House of Commons, what that meant, and whether a man should have a public reward for writing such stuff. Homer Horace, Milton, and Chaucer would defy the coroner. Whilst they have wisdom to the wise, he would see, that to the external, they have external meaning. Coleridge excellently said of poetry, that poetry must first be good sense, as a palace might well be magnificent, but first it must be a house.

Wordsworth is open to ridicule of this kind. And yet Wordsworth, though satisfied if he can suggest to a sympathetic mind his own mood, and though setting a private and exaggerated value on his compositions, though confounding his accidental with the universal consciousness, and taking the public to task for not admiring his poetry, is really a superior master of the English language, and his poems evince a power of diction that is no more rivalled by his contemporaries, than is his poetic insight. But the capital merit of Wordsworth is, that he has done more for the sanity of this generation than any other writer. Early in life, at a crisis, it is said, in his private affairs, he made

his election between assuming and defending some legal rights with the chances of wealth and a position in the world and the inward promptings of his heavenly genius; he took his part; he accepted the call to be a poet, and sat down, far from cities, with coarse clothing and plain fare to obey the heavenly vision. The choice he had made in his will, manifested itself in every line to be real. We have poets who write the poetry of society, of the patrician and conventional Europe, as Scott and Moore, and others who, like Byron or Bulwer, write the poetry of vice and disease. But Wordsworth threw himself into his place, made no reserves or stipulations; man and writer were not to be divided. He sat at the foot of Helvellyn and on the margin of Winandermere, and took their lustrous mornings and their sublime midnights for his theme, and not Marlow, nor Massinger, not Horace, nor Milton, nor Dante. He once for all forsook the styles, and standards, and modes of thinking of London and Paris, and the books read there, and the aims pursued, and wrote Helvellyn and Winandermere and the dim spirits which these haunts harbored. There was not the least attempt to reconcile these with the spirit of fashion and selfishness, nor to show with great deference to the superior judgment of dukes and earls, that although London was the home for men of great parts, yet Westmoreland had these consolations for such as fate had condemned to the country life; but with a complete satisfaction, he pitied and rebuked their false lives, and celebrated his own with the religion of a true priest. Hence the antagonism which was immediately felt between his poetry and the spirit of the age, that here not only criticism but conscience and will were parties; the spirit of literature, and the modes of living, and the conventional theories of the conduct of life were called in question on wholly new grounds, not from Platonism, nor from Christianity, but from the lessons which the country muse taught a stout pedestrian climbing a mountain, and in following a river from its parent rill down to the sea. The Cannings and Jeffreys of the capital, the Court Journals and Literary Gazettes were not well pleased, and voted the poet a bore. But that which rose in him so high as to the lips, rose in many others as high as to the heart. What he said, they were prepared to hear and confirm. The influence was in

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