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The light Serena to the window springs, On curiosity's amusive wings. And so on. We may have some sympathy for Mr. Hayley, and more for his readers, when, after writing four cantos of this stuff, he exclaims, at the commencement of the fifth :

Why art thou fled, O bless'd poetic time! When fancy wrought the miracles of rhyme ?

A poetic time was coming, though Hayley knew it not, and Landor's "Gebir" was one among the first signs to herald the new birth. It is a poem in seven books, far from faultless, for the story is feeble, the transitions are abrupt, and the charge of obscurity, often made against Landor's writing, must be admitted here; but its style is lofty and harmonious, it contains innumerable fine, sonorous lines, and some pictures drawn with great delicacy and power. The sea-shell lines have been so frequently cited, as though they were the only good ones Landor ever wrote, that we forbear to quote them. Take instead the picture of Charoba's bath. Mr. Alma-Tadema should paint it.

A bath of purest marble, purest wave,
On its fair surface bore its pavement high:
Arabian gold enchased the crystal roof,
With fluttering boys adorned and girls un-
robed ;

than anything in English poetry since Milton:

A roar confused Rose from a river rolling in its bed, Not rapid, that would rouse the wretched souls;

Not calmly, that would lull them to repose. But with dull weary lapses it upheaved Billows of bale, heard low, yet heard afar.

And so is the witch's call to Dalica, as she crosses the desert sands towards the ruined city of Masar. Begone, nor tarry longer, or ere morn The cormorant in his solitary haunt Of insulated rock or sounding cove Stands on thy bleached bones and screams for prey!

But we must not linger over Laudor's poetry. Despite all its high qualities, it has not been, and is never likely to be, popular. The statuesque grace, definiteness of outline, and severe simplicity of presentment, which are the characteristics of classic or pure art, will never have that fascination for the mass of readers which is exercised by the vague suggestiveness, the mysterious magic, the accumulated wealth of adornment and color, as of clouds that gather round the setting sun, which are the characteristics of Romantic art.

Such, then, was Landor's work up to the end of 1820. The next eight years were passed in or near Florence, and These, when you touch the quiet water, during the whole of that time he


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was busily employed in writing his form of composition he had at last dis"Imaginary Conversations." In this covered a vehicle admirably adapted to his genius. The idea of writing dialogues was not altogether new to him. Twenty years earlier he had offered a dialogue between Burke and Grenville to the Morning Chronicle; it was not accepted, and from that time to this he does not appear to have repeated the experiment. Now, with characteristic impetuosity, he turned all his energy into this direction, and early in 1822 had completed fifteen "Conversations." These he sent off to Longmans' for publication. Some unaccountable delay in the delivery of the parcel caused him dire anxiety. He jumped to the


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conclusion that it was lost, burnt what too, was a man who came forward with he had since written, took to his bed, none of the assumed humility and difficalled himself a dead


and, assert- dence of the ordinary scribe, but who ing his freedom to speak unreservedly spoke with a voice of authority, calmly of a dead man's work, declared that demanding the acknowledgment of his " those conversations contained as for- place among those who are not for an cible writing as exists on earth. He age, but for all time. " What I write,” had regained his composure, and was he says, “is not written on slate, and busy writing fresh dialogues, before no finger, not of Time himself, who the missing manuscript arrived at its dips it in the clouds of years, can efface destination, and the fact that Long-it.” The writing of more dialogues mans' declined to publish it had the proceeded rapidly, and before 1829 he little effect on him. His friend Julius had published five volumes, containing Hare took all the troublesome business about eighty “conversations," comoff his hands, and finally arranged for prising all those that were given to the its publication with Messrs. Taylor and public before the first collected edition Hessey. The book made some little of his works, which appeared in 1846. stir among the critics, and was noticed Landor professed to expect no popuat length by the Edinburgh the Quar- larity for any of his writings. With terly, and the London reviews ; the the sublime egotism of Bacon, he left public received it with indifference. his fame to the next age, and among What Laudor valued far more than his contemporaries courted only “ fit popularity, however, was the praise of audience, though few.” What he had men like Southey and Wordsworth, written he believed to be durable as and this was given ungrudgingly. The marble, but he thought it above the subjects treated in these conversations reach of the vulgar mind

the vulgar are of various kinds, and the interloc- mind being with him a very compreutors are of all ages and countries. hensive term, including all but some There is no connection between the thirty minds in each generation. “I dialogues other than the boards be- shall dine late," he says; “but the tween which they are bound, and there dining-room will be well lighted, the is slight pretence, if any, that the guests few and select.” In regard to opinions expressed were really those of this, as in most things, however, he the persons to whom they are attrib- was not free from inconsistency, and uted. Landor does, indeed, stipulate we may reasonably suspect him of that no opinion is to be taken as his cherishing some hopes in another direcown unless expressed in his name ; but tion. Time after time, heedless of reit is evident, on the face of it, that peated experience, he had publicly Cicero and Horne Tooke, Pericles and devoted the (purely imaginary) profits Roger Ascham, Sir Philip Sidney and of a publication to some charitable purDemosthenes, are only so many mouth- pose ; and, after the appearance of pieces for the writer's own thoughts on “ Gebir," he confessed that even if poetry, morality, eloquence, spelling, foolish man had cared for the poem, he literature, life, and death.

would have persevered in a poetic Whatever may have been thought of career, seeing that “there is something the opinions of the book, one thing of summer in the hum of insects." ought to have been evident ; a new Professor Dowden sums up Landor's prose writer of the first magnitude had position with the remark that “ he had arisen in the literary firmament. So no great authentic word of the Lord to copious a stream of faultless English, utter," and we must admit this to be of high and sustained eloquence, carry- true. He was an Epicurean ; holding, ing along in its stately flow, weighty indeed, that abstinence from low pleasand dignified judgments on men and ures is the only means of meriting or things in general, was not to be of obtaining the higher, but quite conmatched by any living writer. Here, tent to take his share of the goods the

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gods provide us, without troubling his no writer is so seldom quoted. The

mind overmuch about things beyond. He was never bowed down by "the heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world;" like Goethe, he believed the mystery of existence to be insoluble, but, unlike Goethe, he did not think man was nevertheless bound to attempt it, so that he may know how to keep within the limits of the knowable. He held it to be the proper business of religion and philosophy to promote human happiness, and leave obscurer problems alone. Thus Diogenes is made to reply to Plato :

I meddle not at present with infinity or eternity; when I can comprehend them, I will talk about them. You metaphysicians kill the flower-bearing and fruit-bearing glebe with delving, and turning over, and sifting, and never bring up any solid and malleable mass from the dark profundity in which you labor. The intellectual world, like the physical, is inapplicable to profit and cultivation a little way below the surface.

And again

This is philosophy, to make remote things tangible, common things exten

sively useful, useful things extensively common, and to leave the least necessary

for the last. Truth is not reasonably the main and ultimate object of philosophy; philosophy should seek truth merely as the means of acquiring and propagating happi


Many of the dialogues deal with politics, but beyond an ardent love of liberty, and a hatred of all forms of despotism, there is nothing in Landor's political creed deserving of notice. He was a hero-worshipper, and his heroes were mostly those of the ancient world. Democracy he detested, and the needs and conditions of modern political societies his mind failed to grasp. Consecutive reasoning of any kind he was incapable of; his power and charm lie in the abundance of his great but isolated thoughts, and the noble aspirations with which his heart was filled, expressed as these always are in language of unrivalled delicacy and force. No writing is more quotable than Landor's, yet, strange to say,

reader continually comes across sentences like the following, arising naturally and with no appearance of effort, in the course of a conversation.

Those who are quite satisfied, sit still and do nothing; those who are not quite satisfied, are the sole benefactors of the world.

There is no funeral so sad to follow as the funeral of our own youth, which we have been pampering with fond desires, ambitious hopes, and all the bright berries that hang in poisonous clusters over the path of life.

The noble mansion is most distinguished by the beautiful images it retains of beings passed away and so is the noble mind.

How many who have abandoned for public life the studies of poetry and philosophy, may be compared to brooks and rivers, which in the beginning of their course have assuaged our thirst, and have invited us to tranquillity by their bright resemblance of it, and which afterwards partake the nature of that vast body whereinto they run, its dreariness, its bitterness, its foam, its storms, its everlasting noise and commotion.

flowers, soon canker in cities, and no The sweetest souls, like the sweetest purity is rarer than the purity of delight.

We may enjoy the present while we are insensible of infirmity and decay but the present, like a note in music, is nothing but as it appertains to what is past and what is to come. There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave: there are no voices, O Rhodopè, that are not soon made mute however tuneful: there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last.

The dramatic quality of Landor's dialogues is very unequal. In some cases nothing would be lost to the reader if any other name were substituted for that of the supposed speaker, while in many we are conscious of nothing but the strident tones of the irascible and dogmatic author himself. But some exhibit a very high degree of power. The scene between Henry VIII. and his discarded wife, Aune Boleyn; the conversation between Essex and Spenser; the charming

dialogue of Tancredi and Constantia, | about him for a new house, and Mr. and that between Leofric and Godiva, Ablet insisted on advancing the money to name no others, show the true dra- for him to buy the Villa Gherardesca, matic artist at his best, and are instinct with beauty and pathos.

Landor's most obvious defects, as shown in the characters of his "Conversations," are want of humor, incapacity for sustained reasoning, and inability to tell a good story. His attempts at the humorous and at storytelling are certainly productive of laughter, but we laugh at, and not with, him.

Landor's residence in the Palazzo Medici was brought to a close in characteristic fashion. His friend Mr. Kirkup writes the following account of it to Mr. Forster.

a fine house, with splendid grounds, which stood on a height just below Fiesole, a spot made famous by Landor's favorite author Boccaccio. Here he surrounded himself with a cloud of pictures, some good, some worthless. He had conceived a great admiration for the pre-Raphaelite masters who are now so fashionable, but his judgment was far from infallible, and the Florentine picture-dealers did not scruple to take advantage of him. The year 1833 brought Lord Houghton (then Mr. Monckton Milnes) to stay some weeks at the Villa Gherardesca ; and he has drawn a very charming picture of the old lion, of his stately and agreeable presence, his complimentary old-world manners, of his elegant though simple hospitality, of his "conversation SO affluent, animated, and colored, so rich in knowledge and illustration, so gay and yet so weighty-such bitter irony and such lofty praise, uttered with a voice fibrous in all its tones, whether gentle or fierce" — and of his laughter “so pantomimic, yet so genial, rising out of a momentary silence into peals so have heard Landor's shout of laughter at cumulative and sonorous, that all conhis own anger when it was all over, inex-tradiction and possible affront were tinguishable laughter which none of us could resist. Immediately after he sent the marquis warning by the hands of a policeman, which is reckoned an affront, and quitted his house at the end of the

I remember one day, when he lived in the Medici Palace, he wrote to the marquis and accused him of having seduced away his coachman. The marquis, I should tell you, enjoyed no very good name, and this exasperated Landor the more. Mrs. Landor was sitting in the drawing-room the day after, where I and some others were, when the marquis came strutting in without removing his hat. But he had scarcely advanced three steps from the door when Landor walked up to him and quickly knocked his hat off, then took him by the

arm and turned him out.


You should

A fresh house was found for him, and dialogue-writing and picture-buying proceeded as before. Visitors were fairly plentiful in these days. His chief associates were Mr. Kirkup and Charles Armitage Brown, the friend of Keats, who both lived in Florence. Hither also came Francis Hare, Hogg, Leigh Hunt, and Hazlitt, and his good friends Lord and Lady Blessington, with Count D'Orsay. From Mr. Ablet, a Welsh gentleman of fortune, who visited him about this time, Landor subsequently received a substantial proof of friendship. He was looking

merged forever." Emerson also came, and found him noble and courteous, the most patient and gentle of hosts.

His literary activity never flagged. In 1834 appeared the "Examination of Shakespeare," of which Charles Lamb said there were only two men who could have written it- he who did write it, or he on whom it was written. We find it difficult to believe that Lamb was serious when he said this, for the "Examination" appears to us as disappointing a failure as ever was penned. The difficulties of the subject were enormous, and Landor's powers were not of the kind to successfully cope with them. Mr. Leslie Stephen must have had the "Examination " in his mind, when he confessed that Landor often bored him. Its wit is so cumbrous, its humor- to put it mildly

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so un-Shakespearian, and its story so the country, he made over the bulk of feeble, that po number of fine sayings his fortune to his wife and children, and harmonious periods avail to make reserving £400 a year for himself, and it anything but a weariness and vexa- settled down at Bath. tion of spirit to the reader.

At Bath, Landor soon became a con“Pericles and Aspasia," his next spicuous figure. Somebody had given book, was a happier effort.

him a pretty Pomeranian dog, and Through the trumpet of a child of Rome

many people still remember the venerRang the pure music of the flutes of Greece. able and stately but ill-dressed old gen

tleman, with his Olympian laughter, It is impossible, in our limited space, who was daily to be seen walking to give any idea of the book. Suffice about the neighborhood of that pleasit to say that Landor is here at his aut place, with the little companion best. Nowhere is the beauty of his that perpetually barked and gambolled style more manifest, nowhere are the about bim. His literary activity conrichness and compass of his mind more tinued unimpaired, as the “ Hellenabundantly displayed, than in this ics,” additional “ Dialogues,” “ Last store-house of noble thoughts and Fruits,” and “ Dry Sticks,” sufficiently splendid illustrations Yet his pub- attest. He still bought pictures, and lisher lost money by it, as he did, also, the picture-dealers of Bath proved no by the “Pentameron,” which appeared whit more scrupulous than those of in the following year. Here again Florence. It seemed that the autumn Landor reached his high-water mark. of this stormy life was destined to pass We can imagine no greater treat, for in retirement and peace. Landor's one even slightly familiar with Italian habit was to breakfast at nine, write literature, who loves Petrarch and Boc- or meditate till noon, and dine at two, caccio, and can forgive some hard alone or with a single friend. He sayings against Dante, than to lie a always had a hatred of dinner parties. whole summer's day, under some He makes Epicurus, in one of the shady tree, with the “ Pentamerou” Dialogues,” say : for his only companion.

Dinner is a less gratification to me than The year that saw the publication of to many. I dine alone, to avoid the noise, the “Pentameron” witnessed Lan- the heat, and the intermixture both of dor's banishment from his home and odors and of occupations. I cannot bear from Italy. Discord had been growing the indecency of speaking with a mouth in in his household. The little rift within which there is food. I careen my body the lute had been gradually widening, (since it is always in want of repair) in as and now the music ceased altogether. unobstructed a space as I can, and I lie

down and sleep when the work is over. One can readily believe that Landor was no easy man to live with ; and so The evening, after a frugal tea, he far as we can gather, his wife never devoted to reading. For twenty years made any but the feeblest attempts to this was the round of his daily life ; keep matters smooth and pleasant. varied by an occasional run to London, The immediate cause of the disruption or a visit from his friends Dickens and appears to have been Mrs. Landor's re- Forster. Old frieuds

dying peated remonstrances with her hus- around him, one by one, Southey, band in the presence of their children. Francis Hare, Ablet; and he had to This, to a temperament like Laudor's supply their place, so far as might be, was intolerable, and he conceived it to with those of a generation younger be as demoralizing to the children as it than his owu. " When death calls was humiliating to himself. In the me," said the old man, looking calmly spring of 1835, therefore, he parted to the end, " he shall find me ready." with them all, and travelled slowly to Ou his seventy-lifth birthday he proEngland. After a short time spent in duced the following quatrain, and read visiting his friends, in various parts of lit aloud before breakfast :

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