« AnteriorContinuar »
last years passed as regularly Marlborough Junto.
“When a as clockwork. At nine at night reconciliation had been patched he had cards in the apartment up between the two courts, and of his daughters ... with Lady my father became First Lord Yarmouth, two or three of the of the Treasury a second time, late queen's ladies, and as many Lord Sunderland in a tête-à-tête of the most favoured officers of with him said, Well, Mr Walhis own household. Every Sat- pole, we have settled matters urday in summer he carried for the present, but we must that uniform party, but with- think whom we will have next.' out his daughters, to dine at Walpole said, “Your lordship Richmond They went in may think as you please, but coaches and six in the middle my part is taken.'
We gain of the day, with the heavy a pleasant glimpse of the clever, horseguards kicking up the stoical Queen Caroline, who on dust before them—dined, walked the accession of her husband an hour in the garden, returned undid his rash choice of the in the same dusty parade, and zany Sir Spencer Compton for his majesty fancied himself the minister. The crowd of turnmost gallant and lively prince coat courtiers flocked to Leicesin Europe.” Every one ter House and fought studiousmembers his dramatis personæ. ly shy of the favourite, whom What a galaxy of shabby they deemed rejected.
“ Mr state and magnificent mean- Walpole being descried by the ness! There are the princesses queen, There I am sure I see Amelia and Caroline in two a friend,' she cried."
And in camps with their two heart- Horace Walpole himself runs less and titled lovers orientally an unsuspected vein of his cooped up in that royal seraglio; father's patriotic fibre. In there are royalties enthusiastic 1745, when the national horifor the deposed family; there is zon was threatening, he thus the royal father always hating writes to Sir Horace Mann: the royal son, and, by a trans
"... How much I wish myference of the wars of succession self with you! anywhere where to the cabals of the successor, I could have my thoughts deensuring the peace of England. tached in some degree by disThere is dark-eyed insolent tance and length of time from Anne Brett, the late King's England. With all the reasons English mistress, whose mother that I have for not loving great was Savage's. Abishag was part of it, it is impossible not lodged in the palace under the to feel the shock of living at eyes of Bathsheba." There is the period of all its greatness. aging Duchess Sarah, still ra- To be one of the Ultimi Romanpacious and still revengeful; orum.” One can scarcely check and there is cool, dogged Sir a smile at the affectation of Robert, who buys boroughs as Horace Walpole as “Last of a grazier buys oxen, and who the Romans." No better comwith his matter-of-pocket mas- mentary could be instanced than terfulness annihilates the old the description of the frontis
piece to his • Memories of to be a talebearer, an eayesGeorge the Second’: “The dropper, a common butt in the author leaning on a globe of taverns of London." Dickens the world, between Heracleitus calls him “ an unconscious coxand Democritus, presents his comb." It was Carlyle who book to the latter. In the first drew attention to Boswell's landscape is a view of the higher nature. But Carlyle, author's villa at Strawberry with his love of exaggerated Hill, near Twickenham, where alternative, and his fatal inthe memoirs
chiefly capacity for thinking out things written. At the bottom is the thoroughly, delineates Johnson date of the year, with emblems as a sort of practical Don Quixand the author's arms and ote, with Boswell as Sancho motto. ... To complete the Panza. Johnson sallies forth contrast we append the follow- with the broadsword of truth ing “short notes” of his diary to slay giants; the sensual, for 1754 : “ June 25.—I erected ignorant Boswell has yet the a printing-press at my house in saving instinct of hero-worship, Strawberry Hill. August 8.- and chooses and serves valiantly I published two odes by Mr a spiritual master. Gray, the first production of All this is hyperbole. It is my press. In September I true that Boswell drank deep, erected a tomb in St Anne's but then so on occasion did churchyard, Soho, for Theo- Johnson : it was a drinking age. dore King of Corsica.” Could The question is not whether he forcible feebleness further go? drank, but what he did while
It is refreshing to turn to drinking. Boswell loved to lisBoswell. We shall confine our ten to wisdom—a gift almost selves to Boswell's character, as rare as wisdom itself—and which has been little studied. port stimulated the wisdom and If the Journal to Stella' is a kindled the conversation. At diary of two worlds, Boswell's their opening rendezvous in the *Life’ is an atmosphere of one Mitre Tavern each finished a
- that of his hero. Yet through bottle, and, among other things, this atmosphere his own person- discussed orthodoxy. It was on ality emerges clear and palpable. this that Johnson, with the geRogers (also a diarist) instances nial glow around him, exclaimed, in his commonplace-book “Bos- "Give me your hand—I have well drunk at Lord Falmouth's taken a liking to you.” It is in Cornwall, kicking about his true that Boswell, before he bed at midnight, swearing at met Johnson first at Davies's the house, in which he said there shop in 1763, had been in search was no bed to lie on and no of a celebrity, but when one wine to drink.” Macaulay, in
Macaulay, in comes close up to him one dishis famous essay, brands him cerns the reason. He had comore suo as “vile and impertin- quetted with Romanism. He ent, shallow and pedantic, a was a man of weak will but bigot and a sot, bloated with good instincts, who had hitherto family pride, .. yet stooping seen the better and followed the
worse ; he searched for a Mentor His wife—who afterwards reto brace his resolutions—for a conciled herself by a pot of her tonic. There is something touch- own marmalade remarked ing and not ridiculous in his caustically that she had seen early perseverance to propitiate many a bear led by a man, but the oracle. He will take no re never before a man led by a buff. He calls on him in the bear. The bore as martyr is Temple. He waylays him at surely a rara avis. Two conone o'clock in the morning. siderations must also be borne This is no Silenus approaching in mind. One, that Boswell was Socrates. As he himself re- hypochondriacal — a
a touch of marks of Goldsmith : “He had nature that made them kin. sagacity enough to cultivate The other, that he rejoiced in a assiduously the acquaintance of faculty in which Johnson was Johnson, and his faculties were deficient—an extreme patience gradually enlarged. . . It -perhaps inherited from that was idleness in painful earnest, Dutch ancestress of whom he sympathy eager for support. was so proud. The microscopic It is true, again, that Boswell finish of his detail was not ob“blustered about the dignity of tained during the 276 days only a born gentleman.” But what
But what of actual association without does the Doctor observe on this immense effort. “ The stretch very subject : "To be sure, sir, of mind,” he naïvely asserts, if you were only to dine once, “and prompt assiduity by which and it were never to be known so many conversations were prewhere you dined, you would served, I myself, at some dischoose rather to dine with the tance of time, contemplate with first man for genius, but to gain wonder."
wonder.” A man inspired with most respect you should dine one idea is usually either a with the first duke in England.” genius or a madman. Boswell It is true, further, that Boswell was certainly no madman; we was a bore: “I wonder, sir, that are persuaded that he was a you have not more pleasure in genius. If we except Spence, writing than in not writing." Boswell was the first who subJohnson : " "Sir, you may won- stituted the oratio recta for the der.” But for this grande curio- obliqua—who made a drama of sité he would never have been a diary. This practice aftersnubbed, nor we enlightened. wards became common. HazAt any rate, Johnson gave him litt interspersed it in his “Cona handsome testimonial on their versations with Northcote"; Scotch journey for “acuteness,” Medwin employed it in those gaiety of conversation, and civil- with Byron ; Trelawny in those ity of manners. And Boswell, with Shelley. As individualbe it remembered, served his ity, fostered by English freedom bustling apprenticeship against and sociability, multiplied, these the wishes of the family he so diaries increased.
Their name much revered. His old Whig is now legion. “ D-me, sir, father regarded Johnson as a they breed,” as the old Duke of dangerous Tory “ Dominie." Cumberland remarked of the
VOL. CLXV.NO. DCCCCXCIX.
papers. The consequence has and inhabitants somewhat savbeen a vast number of second- age, rather treacherous and hand platitudes and ineptitudes. highly inflamed by politics. “Un sot a toujours un plus sot Fine fellows, though, good qui l'admire."
material for a nation. Out of The diaries that enthral — chaos God made a world, and that present great actors off the out of high passions comes a stage, and commanders at ease people.” And out of high pas-have been comparatively few. sions came Byron. If only he One such diary was destroyed had oftener transcended the do-Byron's. But portions of his main of the merely passionate ! journals
embalmed in The Swiss diary—a fragment Moore's Life, and agree so -contains an episode of charclosely with the spirit of his acteristic scorn about the Enletters that some mention of glish lady who exclaimed of them must here be made. No Mont Blanc, “Did you ever see one in perusing them can fail anything more rural ?”—“as if to be struck with their pre- it was Highgate or Hampton or dominant, even violent, sin- Brompton or Haye's !” while cerity. Byron's writing was his earliest diary of all shows a mainly a vent for his impetu- specimen of quite “Don Juan" ous feelings. In all his com- calibre : “ Went to bed and positions, public as well as slept dreamlessly, but not reprivate, a sense of lurid smoke freshingly: awoke and up an from the flame of passion is hour before being called, but manifest; they are the craters dawdled three hours in dressing. of his heart. His emphasis and When one subtracts from life directness of expression, the infancy (which is vegetation), shrewd common sense imputed sleep, eating and swilling to him by Disraeli, his vivid in- buttoning and unbuttoning tuitions of men, things, and how much remains of down scenery, his moody sense of right existence ?—the summer doom-originally implanted by of a dormouse.” the Calvinist superstitions of But the most methodical his nurse, and apparent in his diary of any, one beginning very scepticism—his thirst for while Byron was a boy and action, his untamable genius lasting till 1867, is that of for rebellion, his proud intensity Henry Crabb Robinson–a man in collision with the filmed whose elevation of spirit, alerthollowness of fashionable life, — ness of mind, and volatile salt all these forces are welded to companioned him with the most gether, not in chaos, as might various intellects of his prohave been supposed, but in a tracted life. The intimate of weird creative harmony. Let the Clarksons and Mrs Barus cull one example from his bauld, the comrade of Hazlitt, Ravenna diary: "Hear the car- the friend and correspondent of riage-order pistols and great- Goethe and his court, of Tieck coat as usual—necessary articles and Schelling, the acquaintance -weather cold-carriage open of Schiller and Madame de
Staël, the cherished associate of diary. Of Wordsworth's depth the whole Lake school of poets, and difficulty of expression, of he had seen Shelley and Mrs Coleridge's eloquent mysticism, Siddons, travelled with Southey of Lamb's “antic disposition, to Paris and Wordsworth to of Goethe's clear-cut serenity, Italy, conversed with Coleridge, his pages are among the most supped and walked often with authentic exponents. But they Charles Lamb, watched the are also dedicated to the goodrhapsodies of Blake, breakfasted ness of smaller men. Above all with Rogers, chatted with Syd- things Robinson possessed the ney Smith and Lady Blessing many - travelled heart.” His ton (at whose house he met the patient sympathy with loftiyoung Disraeli), discoursed with ness of mind is evinced by his Bunsen, and vied with “Con- late correspondence with Lady versation Sharpe; a philoso- Byron. To him Wordsworth pher and unitarian, a philan- addressed the lines beginning thropiston principle, almost with “Companion, by whose the first foreign correspondent buoyant spirit cheered.” With of the Times, and, later, a some faculty of imagination, practising barrister, sprung however, he lacked fancy and from a lower middle-class that feeling for the picturesque. has now nearly evaporated—a Venice, in Wordsworth's own class with temperament as well company, leaves him untouched; as character, with refinement and the whole world is to him as well as determination—he rather a panorama of excellence impressed his virtues on the than a landscape of light and most illustrious. He seldom shade. soars, but he never grovels; he Space presses, and we must rarely startles, but he never glance at two recent diaries, not intrudes. The want of “liber- omitting the familiar Greville ality” in his boyish education by the way. But first a glimpse was atoned for by the un must be given of two diaries in checked originality of his char- the form of letters which have acter and by his visits to been, we think, too little in Germany in her golden age. public prominence. We allude There, besides being a deep to the correspondence of Felix student, he opened the gates of Mendelssohn, and of Charles cultivated aristocracy and aris- Dickens. Of the former it may tocratic culture. He was told well be said that they are how, at the outset, he had only “words without songs." The to assert that he was “English same pure feeling and exalted to be treated as a “nobleman.” ideals, affectionate humility, His chief interest throughout conscientious aspiration, and the journal is for "characters." pathetic playfulness that per“ The half-literary conversations vade the music are the qualities of half-learned people, the com- of the Letters. We must remonplaces of politics and reli- luctantly be content with two gious dispute, are to me intoler- examples: “So I am said to able.” This is the canon of his have become a saint! If this