« السابقةمتابعة »
matter congenial to the taste, and level with the understandings, of those who came to hear it. The profound wisdom and the noble language of the writers of that time were ill suited for such a purpose.
This new demand, therefore, called into existence an entirely new class of writers.
Men hitherto had written from the fulness of their souls; these latter were more actuated by the emptiness of their stomachs. The editor of the Illustrated London News (December 6th, 1856) states :- So far was the vocation of dramatist for pecuniary profit from being attended with dishonour or fraught with detriment to a writer's professional prospects, that Sackville, the Lord Treasurer under the reigns of Elizabeth and James, was a confessed dramatist."
The Athenæum (September 13th, 1856), says :“ Connection with 'poets and players' was no bar to public employments, under either Elizabeth or James. Sackville, the Lord Treasurer under both reigns, was a poet and a dramatist. Sydney and Raleighi, though occupying places at court, and commanding armies and fleets, were poets. Some of the strongest men of the time, such as Donne, rose wholly by the tower of rhyme. The Shepherd's Calender made Spenser secretary to the
Lord Deputy of Ireland. A weakness for verses did not prevent Wotton from going as ambassador to Venice. Nay, poetry was no obstacle to success at the bar, for Davis was eminent as a poet before he was known as Irish Attorney-General or Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. All these facts help to prove that, if Bacon were the author of the Shakespeare Plays, he had some other motive for concealing the fact than the fears imagined by Mr. Smith."
We cannot find the slightest trace that these great men were either paid for writing, or obtained any pecuniary advantage by so doing. We believe that Bacon and others were, on the contrary, rather impoverished by it. So far from seeking pecuniary profit in the discharge of this self-imposed duty, they had often a greater regard to the general good, than to their own reputations.
“I have heard his lordship often say," writes Rawley, in the Address which precedes the Sylva Sylvarum, “that if he should have served the
, glory of his own name, he had been better not to have published this Natural History; but that he resolved to prefer the good of men, and that which might secure it, before anything that might have relation to himself.”
“I hold every man," says Bacon, in his Preface to the Elements of the Common Law," a debtor to his profession; from which, as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves, by way of amends, to be a help and ornament thereunto;" and he adds :-“I have in all points, to the best of my understanding and foresight, applied myself not to that which might seem most for the ostentation of my own wit and knowledge, but to that which may yield most use and profit to the students and professors of the laws."
Hallam says of the learned men of that day :They deemed themselves a distinct caste, a priesthood of the same altar, not ashamed of poverty and the world's neglect, but content with the praise of those whom themselves thought worthy of praise, and hoping something more from posterity than they obtained from their own age.”
“I account,” says Bacon, in his Dedication to An Advertisement touching a Holy War, “the use that a man should seek of the publishing of his own writings before his death, to be but an untimely anticipation of that which is proper to follow a man, and not to go along with him.”
Ben Jonson says :-"Poetry, in this latter age,
hath proved but a mean mistress to such as have wholly addicted themselves to her, or given their names up to her family. They who have but saluted her by-the-by, she hath done much for, and advanced in the way of their own profession (both the law and the gospel), beyond all they could have hoped or done for themselves without her favour."
A learned man * laments—“ that scientific and literary men have, with us, no recognised social position. A man of science, who is perhaps making the most wonderful discoveries, is obliged to obtain the degree of doctor, and make use of his academical title, in order to claim a social position; and
; a literary man will get called to the bar, at which he will never practise, in order to be somebody, because, as a writer or a man of taste, he belongs to no class, is therefore nobody, and he wants to classify himself somewhere.” Surely the Cardinal does not state the case candidly. Wisdom and learning have, with us, their fit and appropriate rewards. He that exercises his talents in the service of his country-who enrols himself a member of the church, the law, and the state-is ho
* Dr. Wiseman, in his Lecture on the Influence of Words or Thought, and on Civilization.
noured for his devotion, and in most cases rewarded in proportion to his merits. The man who uses his learning solely for “lucre or profession,” falls into quite a different position.
No self-conferred general name can distinguish or give distinction to the literary or scientific man: like mixed seed cast on the garden border, when it is grown up, some will be strong by drawing much nourishment to itself; some prized for the beauty of its form or richness of its colour; or other its individual excellences; but none, simply because it grew in the garden border.
When acting and authorship became “a trade and calling,” those who had acted gratuitously, and the wise and noble who had published their lucubrations from the worthiest motives, looked down upon
these new men with the utmost contempt. Though in this our day we can but rejoice at an arrangement which has brought a Macaulay, a Bulwer, a Landor, a Carlyle, to be as it were, in the pay of the public, we cannot wonder that at the commencement of the system, the great men of the day should view this new order of writers as virtuous women do their fallen sisters, and class actors and authors in the category of courtezans.
Nor can it be denied, that learning lost much of