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regard ourselves so much wealthier and bluster so ill. It is very rarely than the “beggarly foreigner,” we these dull folk indulge themselves have caught the habit of imposing with the luxury of being angry. our opinion at all times and places, And as for the various modes in and for the life of us we cannot which they were to wreak a vengesee how any should oppose it. The ance on England, they were simply self-conceit engendered by this pro- laughable. Perhaps it may proceed cess has made us something little from our very affinity—but strange short of detestable abroad! What it is, there are few nations have lectures have I not heard Brown commercially less need of each and Jones administer to foreigners other than Germany and England. of real distinction! What sage That Prussian threat t'other day, suggestions to imitate this or that that if England moved hand or custom of England! totally ignorant, foot, they'd march down and take as they might be, of some insuper. Hanover! By what confusion of able obstacle to their suggested im- even Berlin brains they imagined provement.
this could affect England, is hard In the old days of the Peninsu- to say. They evidently never heard lar war, we were pretty much like of the remark of the absentee Irish our neighbours. What we could landlord, when he was told that not do by men, we did by money. the people had shot his agent. Now, however, we have grown “Strange nation the Irish! What wiser, and will not spend either. an extraordinary notion it was to This universal medicine, “moral imagine that by shooting my agent aid,"moral co-operation, or whatever they could possibly intimidate me!” it be called, is the cheap panacea To conclude, if we are never for all troubles. Not but it has met to deal in any other ware than a rather rough experience lately. “moral aid," let us be frank and The Germans wouldn't taste it at open about it. Let us dress the all; and I doubt greatly if the army in drab, and put broadDanes will ask for another dose brims on the navy. Above all, let of it.
not our newspapers be filled with We may try to laugh at it, but target - practice, and the relative it's too sore to be a joke. One merits of Armstrong and Whitwould like, if he could, to take the worth. The neatest duelling-pisjest in good part, and show no ill- tols in the world would never get temper; but it pushes patience too the owner a character for courage hard to see the hard-won glories after he refused to fight. I say of Old England so frittered away over and over again, we ought not and dissipated, that every trait by to go to war. Some hundreds of which our fathers stamped man- savages at the end of the earth are hood on the nation is now inso- giving us quite as much war as we lently denied us, and we are told want; and to face armies raised to go back to our cotton-mills and by conscription, with an army supcoal-mines, and leave the game of plied by voluntary enlistment, is war and its ambitions to others. as rank nonsense as to assert that
They have a saying in Italy, the financial burdens of a nation that there are two things no man could be as easily met by voluntary ever asks for in vain there-light contributions as by enforced taxafor his cigar, or the Cross of St tion. And let any one imagine Mr Maurice and St Lazaro. So in Gladstone standing with a plate at England we are splendidly lavish Whitehall, and, even with all the of our good advice. Would that courteous persuasiveness for which we could practise a little parsi- he is known, saying to the passersmony !
by, “You are requested to leave For many reasons we ought not something for the support of the to have taken the German vapour institution,” and is it likely that the results would bear compari- that Right Hon. Gentleman, and son with the income-tax ? Con- who now ask, Can nothing be deceive the impatient anxiety with vised less offensive to public feelwhich we should await the finan- ing than this? Is it not possible, cial statement ! Picture to your in this great nation of thirty milmind how eagerly we should look lions, to assess the revenue in some out for a captivating manner and a mode less insulting to the symseductive address in our Chancellor pathies of Englishmen?" of the Exchequer! Ay, and im- Whatever is voluntary will very agine the scores of letters in the seldom be general, and never will 'Times' from indignant citizens, be universal. We want soldiers who “were really anxious to con- pretty much as we want money; tribute their mite towards relieving and if it should happen that we the burdens of the State, but who need either in large quantities, I were deterred by the stern aspect am pretty certain we must not deand forbidding exterior of this or pend on Volition for the supply.
SERIALS AND THREE VOLUMES.
I like what in our modern slang you dislike the conveyance, or feel are called serial stories. The tired of the company, you can get writers understand one require- out and walk home. For all these ment at least of their trade—they reasons I incline much to the do not give too much at a time; and serial. in so far they resemble the heads I do not know how it may be of the profession, the old Eastern with others, but for myself I am story-tellers, who only told the not over-grateful to the man who Calif each evening enough to set invests his story with that amount him asleep. Now this alone is a of interest that engrosses my attengreat point.
tion too far, and in this way turns Another advantage is this—they me from the real business of life to cannot cram into their limited involve me in cares and sorrows space any of those long-winded that have no reality. I want to be descriptions, especially of scenery, amused by the novel pretty much which the three-volume people are as I feel amused by the play—that 80 prone to inflict; neither have is, I want what will present a certhey so much of the page open to tain number of pictures to my mind emotional expatiation. They are without the cost of being obliged bound by their very limits to be to retain them thereafter. If I be more short, sharp, and decisive. obliged to do this, the novel be
Lastly, they must endeavour to comes a burthen, not a relaxation. interest by something else than I want, besides, the writer to let story—that is, they must try what me so far into his mind that I may can be done to amuse by humor- know what he thinks is droll, istic views of life, shrewd touches what strange, what picturesque, of character, quaint pictures of what attractive, what ridiculous. people not the less recognisable When I have arrived at that unthat they are not met with every derstanding—any one number will day, and occasionally_which Three suffice for so much-I am able to Volume probably thinks beneath guess if I should care for more of him—they must make us laugh. his company. The three-volume
In the very fact that the reader man affords me no such clue as this. is not bound to them beyond the All he is thinking of is his wind-up monthly part before him, lies their in the last volume. It is for the heaviest obligation to interest him. grand finish alone he cares; his It is like a shilling stage, and if heart, like the Irish postilion's, is
fixed on keeping a "trot for the public for these, heaven help the town." No matter how he stumbled real humorist when he craves an and staggered during the stage, so audience! That there is a public that he comes up to the door at for them he would be a bold man last with whip-cracking, and the that should deny, and a very large jaded team spirited up to a lively and a very faithful public, too! tramp.
I do not make a great demand The serial writer, too, performs on my novelist. I ask him to usually to a larger public, and, help me through a stray hour of consequently, is less addicted to ennui, a dreary half-day of rainy conventionalities than Three Von weather in a dull house, the time I lume, who has a more select few have to wait for my train, or the for his audience, and who could not morning in which the post has so easily stoop to the vulgarity of either failed or brought nothing of common people, and their ways any interest. I protest loudly and and doings. But, as I have said in toto against accepting the storyalready, the serial is more prone to teller as either preacher or teacher. make me laugh, and for this great I will neither listen to him about gift I prize him most of all. I law reform, nor prison discipline, have very grave doubts if age has nor madhouses, nor public schools. anything heavier in all its inflic- Let him, if he must, season his pages tions than in the difficulty-yearly by the introduction of these instiincreasing in a terrific ratio—the tutions; but let him not insinuate difficulty of enjoying a good laugh. his own theories about their manFor my own part, baldness, adi- agement, or pretend to tell me how posity, and suchlike, are all lighter much more smoothly would suits in evils to me than the gravity I Equity go were he the Chancellor, feel stealing over me, the little or what a happy day would it be tolerance I have for small fun, and for the lunatics did the writer sit the growing conviction that the in Whitehall with the dignity of a pleasant people have gone home, Commissioner. I never heard an and that I am left to walk back amateur fiddler that one would with the dreary ones.
have given a sixpence to ; and I That my own capacity for the have rarely seen one of those wouldenjoyment is not totally blunted, I be reformers in fiction who apcan test by seeing how the old racy proached his subject with even the humour of Molière and Cervantes- vaguest knowledge of its details, or how Scott, too, and Sydney Smith any conception of its difficulties.
- continue to amuse me. What “ Mark me, Mr Vagabond," said has become of this gift? is it gone Junius to Garrick, when the actor, and lost, like the art of painting on forgetting his real province, had atglass, like the glaze of Luca della tempted a negotiation with the pubRobbia, or the wonderful pottery- lisher to betray the name of the paste of Maestro Giorgio ? One great satirist-"mark me, Mr Vagathing is certain, Three Volume has bond ; stick to your pantomimes.” none of it; and, latterly, the serial I do not think there is anything has not more than enough to sea- so good in Alexandre Dumas as his son his quality and remind you of total exemption from this vice. He bygones. As nothing so much never tries the didactic, and I redisgusts a man with wine-drinking spect him for his abstinence. Let as plying him for a while with bad not the clown, when he casts a liquor, so there is no such certain somersault in the circus, tell me death to the appreciation of real hum- that he means to emblematise the our as in the race of small jokers motion of the earth! Suum cuique. perpetually letting off a fire of petty Let the story-teller understand that drolleries suggested by the passing his mission is simply to amuse withevents of the hour. If there be a out any outrage to good manners, or any offence to good morals. Let nothing in the actual records of him be as pleasant as he can, and the time will recall it. leave the task of making the world It is hard to believe or to unbetter and wiser to men who have derstand it, but the literature of to accept the charge with heavier France in those dreadful years ran responsibilities than attach to tale- upon idylls and odes and paswriting.
torals. Pastorals, when the creak Scott understood something about of the charrette that carried the his craft, and something about the victims to the scaffold was the one world too. Had he deemed that sound heard in the streets ! when fiction was the proper channel to the channels ran with blood, amidst instil correct notions about hos- the carnage of helpless women, and pitals for the blind, drainage of the noyades of the Loire ! Pastowns, ragged schools, or reforma- torals! One is inclined to ask, Is tories, we should doubtless have it in ethics as in optics, and does had these and suchlike discussed, the eye, gorged and inflamed by though, perhaps, we might have red, turn to seek repose, to rest lost something in not having the upon green? ‘Antiquary,' 'Ivanhoe,' and a score Now, if Fiction had to deal with more as good.
this era, we should find the guilloBalzac, also, wrote indifferent tine in every page. Every event good novels, and knew one sort of and every action would revolve life as few others ever did, and yet around the scaffold; the headshe never addressed himself to as- man everywhere-everywhere the sail some institution or attack some axe : and what truth would there system. He knew well that no be in such a portraiture ? group of people ever yet lived who The Irish rebellion of '98 was, revolved round one grievance ; that while it lasted, a dreadful scene of life is a very particoloured affair, cruelty and carnage on all sides; and, however a particular wrong and yet I have heard more stories of may tinge existence, that the daily convivial gaiety, more narratives of business of the world goes on amidst country-house life and hospitality, innumerable cares and troubles and of that period, than of all I ever joys and anxieties, and it is of these remember to have heard of any fiction ought to treat, showing as other time of Irish history. truthfully as she can what human Of what is now going on in nature does, says, thinks, and en- America, let Wall Street and Fifth dures, with very little reference to Avenue, in their respective spheres, some great stumbling-block, which, tell how much sympathy is felt after all, has hurt the shins of only for the countless thousands dying one, perhaps, in the company. in every form of agony, or com
That the ordinary business of ing back, pitiably maimed and life can go on amidst the most ter- crippled, to drag out lives of sufrible convulsions, and men follow fering and penury! Fiction would the pursuits of ambition, of plea- doubtless paint New York breathsure, or of money-getting, unaffect- less for the last news from the ed by that great event which in battle-field ; and so it might, but history will absorb the whole page, not for the record of victory or dewill be readily acknowledged by feat as a source of triumph or sorany one who will turn to the me- row, but simply to know how it moirs of the years of the French would affect the exchanges, or reRevolution, or the Magazines of act on the price of gold. Ireland during '98. Jeffrey, in one To my thinking, 'Les Misérables' of his essays, remarks on this, and is only a blue-book gone mad; and says, that while posterity will be a census return done by a sensaentirely occupied by the dreadful tional hand would be just as amusphantom of the Reign of Terror, ing reading as any of this school.
There is another practice of cer- author, and gifted with a retentive tain novelists which annoys me not memory besides, a man feels like a a little—that is, to dish up the parvenu suddenly introduced into a same characters either as principals society where, except himself, each or secondaries in every story. It knows and is known to his neighis not merely objectionable on the bour. He has the humiliating con ground that character-drawing is sciousness that in a company so almost the best part of fiction, as intimately united, he himself, the it is certainly the most instructive; intruder, is de trop. He sees that but there is such poverty in in- every one knows the Duke of Allvention, or such inveterate indo- sorts, and that nobody is surprised lence implied in the practice. It when Lady Mumford appears, and is bad enough if a strolling company he naturally concludes that he has must perform Coriolanus' with no business in a society where he the same corps that gave the ‘Road is the only one who has to into Ruin ;' and it is hard to sur- quire who are those around him. render one's sympathy to Romeo, Why will not these writers give us when he perpetually recalls Jeremy with a new book a chronological Diddler : still, these poor creatures table, and let us learn who begat do their utmost so to disguise their whom? identities that you shall not detect B ut, in point of fact, the thing is them. Whereas, in the novel, it harder than mere chronology-it is the same dreary personage that is far more ; it is the Darwinian broke your heart in the Three theory applied to fiction, and the Crows,' that is now dogging your law of development introduced into steps in ‘Drivelling Manor ;' and tale-writing. The homunculus of the Bore that cost you the thread some book of ten years ago may be of one story by your efforts to skip the foreground figure of a later him, turns up in a totally differ- work; and the child you have ent book to be your misery once scarcely noticed at one time, may more,
have been developed into the grandWhen Sancho was relating the mother of a present heroine. memorable story of the shepherd to This is simply intolerable. I his master, he found himself sud- ask for a story, and you give me denly arrested in his narrative by a census return; I want a tale, and Don Quixote's inability to tell how I get an extract from a baptismal many sheep had been ferried over registry. the stream. "'Fore God," said he, There are a few characters of fic“ if you have forgotten the score, tion, and really they are very few, it is impossible for me to continue that could not recur too often. It the story." These people are, how- would be difficult to shut the door ever, more exacting still, for they against Sancho, or Falstaff, or percall on you to bear in mind who haps Dugald Dalgetty ; but have was each person's father and mother, the writers I have just been speakwho their uncles and aunts and ing of given us any creations like good friends. A name turns up these? or are not their personages suddenly in the story without any only real in the one respect, that intimation who he is and whence they are as tiresome as living he comes. You turn back to trace men ? him; alas! it is to a story published Let me record one splendid exthe year before, and nine others ception from this judgment in dating successively as many years him who has given to our fictionback, you must go a labour that literature a racy vigour and a may possibly not be requited by any freshness which only genius can interest intended to surround him. give. With Charles Dickens we In the reading of these books, if encounter no repetitions ; all is varnot well“ posted” in all by the same ied, novel, and interesting as na