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DR. JOHNSON AND HIS CENTURY.
University prize essays are not greatly sought after by an indifferent public, and the public is probably right, though we cannot forget that both Oxford and Cambridge have given to the world works of this nature which have deserved to live and have even occasionally done so. We have found in the Oxford Chancellor's English essay for 1899 an interesting theme, treated in a not uninteresting way. The theme is "Dr. Johnson as a Representative of the Character of the Eighteenth Century," the author is Mr. W. R. Barker. (London: F. E. Robinson & Co.) It is hard to say anything new of Johnson, and Mr. Barker scarcely succeeds in doing so, but his estimate is in the main exceedingly judicious. One asks with him. what it is about Johnson that has made and kept him an English hero. He was certainly not a great thinker, for we cannot forget his famous. "refutation" of Berkeley, which showed that he did not comprehend what are the root problems of philosophy. He was not a learned man, for his Greek was elementary, his knowledge of the East and of the Middle Ages almost non-existent, he had not the faintest idea that in his own time a new literature and philosophy were springing up in Germany, he knew little or nothing of Italian, not a very great deal of French literature, and though he was well up in his Latin, he knew the authors of that tongue rather as Fox knew them than as Bentley did-knew them, that is to say, as a man of general culture rather than as a scholar. Mr. Barker points out that there is no indication whatever of any intellectual growth in Johnson; he wrote in 1740 just as he wrote in 1780. His theory of the world was simple, his ideas were all "given" to him when still young, and he relied on them with dogmatic confidence until he died. Why. then, do we find in Johnson such a great figure? The answer is that we find him such because Boswell had the genius for making him so. But Boswell could not create a great man out of nothing, or, like the learned German, "out of his moral consciousness." Despite his obvious limitations, there must have been in Johnson some remarkable and representative qualities which have struck. the imagination of England. These qualities Mr. Barker finds in the "genuine characteristics of the Englishman in the 18th century," which "will remain as long as the nation preserves its separaate identity."
Now, we do believe that Johnson stands on so high a pedestal because he is so representative an Englishman, but we doubt if he ought to be called representative of the 18th century. Johnson was a typical Englishman in his sturdy individualism, in his suspicion of "foreigners," in his hearty hatred of all humbug, all pretence, all glitter and
show of rhetoric (witness his famous advice as to the "purple patches" in Robertson's historical works), in his utter incapacity for speculative thinking along with his deep capacity for moralizing, in his strange blend of Conservatism in thought with Radicalism in action ("Here's to the next revolution in the West Indies!") He stood firmly on his foot four-square to all the winds that blew, resolved to admit no sovereignty over his life that was not a moral power, looking the world boldly in the face, an insular, choleric, but merciful free-born Englishman. ful free-born Englishman. As such he is typical of the nation for all time, perhaps as typical a figure as could be found; but was he specially typical of the 18th century? The 18th century like many other generalizations, is a misleading term. There are two 18th centuries-that of arid logic and prosaic common-sense, and that of romantic "sensibility" and enthusiasm for the simplicity of nature. The first we trace in Pope, Locke and (spite of his brilliant persiflage) in Voltaire. The second is mirrored in Richardson, Rousseau, Sterne, and Cowper. As a matter of fact-though it is often convenient to assume that the century has a whole and continuous tissuethat is not the case in reality. As a matter of fact, most of the great world-events and movements like the discovery of America, the Reformation, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the rise of the new spiritual poetry in England, have come toward the ends of centuries, and surely the signs of the latter end of the 18th century are very strangely different from those of the early Georgian days. If, however, we are to strike a mean-omit the Revolution and its volcanic upheaval on the one hand and the beginning years of the century on the other-what, on the whole, do we get?
We get, in the first place, a certain conventional view of life and society based on optism, which might be intellectually expressed in the doctrine. of "pre-established harmony"-the doctrine tersely stated by Pope that "whatever is is right.” Now this doctrine, in Pope's sense, was certainly not held by Johnson, whose life was passed, like that of Cowper, under the shadow of a great apprehension. Johnson was not to be inveigled by any brilliant epigram from looking in the face the stern and menacing facts of life, which, to him, was far from being a May-day. It would be wrong to call him a pessimist, for he had a strong though troubled faith in the Divine; but assuredly he felt deeply the woes and sufferings of mankind, and he was not captivated by theories of progress. All governments were the same to him, few public causes were worth human effort. Resignation to the Divine will, rather than confident faith and unclouded hope, was his characteristic. In considering human life he usually
arrives at a sombre conclusion, and will no more admit airy chatter as to the "progress of the species" than will Carlyle. But he is even farther removed in another respect from his century, in that he is always and profoundly religious. If we strike the balance of the century, as suggested above, we find it represented by a certain hard, clear, excellent common sense, ranging from the religious common-sense of Butler to the non-religious common sense of Gibbon, and including all varieties of opinion marked by the same spirit of reliance on purely intellectual analysis and separation from mysticism and idealism. This is certainly not the spirit or attitude of Johnson. He was religious through and through with the fervor, and often with the extreme credulity, of a mediæval devotee. As Carlyle said of his devotions at St. Clement's Danes, "Samuel Johnson worshiped in the era of Voltaire." His worship, too, was the absolute prostration of a troubled and contrite soul before its just and awful God. Few, if any, writers of the time, whether flippant or cheerfully pious, give us any such impression of a deep and fervent piety as does Johnson. He rather suggests and foreshadows Newman and Pusey than represents the mind or disposition of his own age. Spite of his Toryism, his commonsense, his obstinate prejudices, we catch in him something more than a gleam of "the spirit of the years to come, yearning to mix itself in life." Under his little brown wig and gray coat the soul of a romanticism ready to blaze out in Scott, and a spirit which was to stir in its depths English religious belief, were scarcely concealed. The man who poured forth his soul in prayer for his dying friends, and who gave to young Thrale his benediction on his starting on a youthful career, was not altogether of the main stuff of which the 18th century was made. He was more nearly related, in some respects, to the Jacobine and Caroline minds, and he had, as Mr. Barker admits, some points in common with our time. Had his power of expression been ampler and more delicate, and had his formative period been somewhat later than it was in date, Johnson might have been more truly entitled "a great moralist" than he actually is. As it is, his life reflects the inner tragedy of a time when an old world was dying and a new world was being born. It may be said of him as of another and far greater man of letters:
AUGUSTIN DALY'S BIBLE.
Its Expansion to Forty-Two Volumes Cost Many Years and Thousands of Dollars.
Since the death of Augustin Daly some references have been made to his remarkable expanded copy of the Bible, but no account has been given -indeed, it would be scarcely possible to give one-to show what a wonderful work it really is. The account which is here given appeared in the New York Tribune, and was furnished by Henry Blackwell, who mounted all the pages, arranged the plates and bound the volumes.
Mr. Daly spent many years in collecting the plates which were to accompany, or, rather, were chiefly to make up the work. He then turned them over to Mr. Blackwell to be arranged and bound. It was a tremendous piece of work, and while Mr. Black well was about it Mr. Daly frequently sent him more plates, while the binder collected a considerable number himself. There were in the end about 8,000 plates, and in sorting and arranging these Mr. Blackwell declares he spent no less than 1800 hours before a beginning could be made with the actual binding. This took all of his spare time for two years.
In the course of his work he read the whole of the Bible through four times, and he thinks that when he got through he could have passed a good examination in theology. He arranged the plates by subjects, and when he found so many of a single subject that he did not care to place them altogether he scattered some of them about, placing them at passages containing more or less references to the subjects.
The next care was the text. The Douai (Catholic) version was used, and the edition was one printed in Dublin something over a hundred years ago. Two copies were used, because every page had to be mounted by itself on special paper, so that one side of each leaf was lost. Some of the pages were much soiled. In order to get them all clean, and uniformly so, Mr. Blackwell took the books all to pieces and boiled the pages, just as a washerwoman would boil clothes. Then he hung them on the clothes line in the back yard and sat smoking his pipe while they dried, the other members of his family and the neighbors being all the time filled with due horror at such a treatment of a valuable book.
But the pages came through the process sound and clean, and then came the work of mounting them, and finally of binding. They were bound into 42 volumes, in half white levant, with vellum sides. Sometimes there is a considerable amount of text in a volume, and sometimes there is extremely little, according to how many plates have to accompany it. The Gospel of Mat
thew, for instance, takes three or four volumes, and the Lord's Prayer alone takes a whole volThis volume, of course, contains only one leaf of the regular text of the book, but it also contains the prayer in 150 languages, besides the many plates.
Each of the volumes has a title page with a water-color drawing by Eugene Grivas. Mr. Blackwell estimates that the whole work must have cost Mr. Daly not less than $25,000.
SOME AUTHORS AND THEIR HOMES.
Mrs. Mary E. Braddon Maxwell, like Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, is one of the authors who, having won their fame before their marriage, have continued their authorship under their maiden names as pseudonyms. "Miss Braddon," for whom is claimed the distinction of being the most voluminous of English novelists, was born in Soho Square, London, in 1837, and is therefore now in the sixties. Her father, Henry Braddon, a solicitor, was known as a contributor of sporting articles to the magazines under the pseudonyms of "Gilbert Forrester" and "A Member of the Burton Hunt." The tradition runs that in her early life she took for a while to the stage, and certain it is that by the time she was twenty-three a comedietta by her, entitled "The Lover of Arcadia," had been performed at the Strand Theater, and also that, while she was yet in her 'teens, she had contributed positive sketches to the lesser journals and magazines. Her first book of verse was "Garibaldi and Other Poems," which appeared in 1861, and her first novel, "Lady Lisle," which followed soon; but her reputation was set up by her "Lady Audley's Secret," in 1862, and established by her "Aurora Floyd" in 1863. It was the reputation, however, of a "sensational novelist," to which term Miss Braddon gave a distinct meaning. In fact, it may be said with truth and in more senses than one, that Miss Braddon is the first sensational novelist of her time. In justice to her it must also be said that her later work has risen to a higher level than her earlier, and escapes much of the reproach that was cast upon the writings that made her famous. A note the past week to the Boston Advertiser has brought to America these interesting, fresh particulars concerning the personality, the habits, and the home of this distinguished figure of the Victorian Age:
4 and 5 P. M. she becomes "Miss Braddon," writing as steadily and evenly as if she were taking the words down from dictation. At dinner time she becomes Mrs. Maxwell again.
It might even be said that "Miss Braddon" and Mrs. Maxwell do not exactly get on well together. At any rate, Mrs. Maxwell does not like to talk about Miss Braddon's" novels, or hear others talk about them, while "Miss Braddon" betrays slight interest in Mrs. Maxwell's many social duties.
Evidently "Miss Braddon" is going to break all records. She has published her 60th successful novel, and no other English woman ever did that. She is as vigorous at 62 as she was 37 years ago, when "Lady Audley's Secret" made her famous. Throughout the day, until tea time, this novelist is Mrs. Mary Maxwell. Somewhere between
Mrs. Maxwell particularly objects to seeing "Miss Braddon's" picture in the papers, and rejoices that the only one ever printed was from a photograph made so long ago that no one recognizes the original of it to-day when she goes traveling, a diversion of which she is particularly fond.
Miss Braddon" lives in a glorious old mansion in Richmond, London's most beautiful suburb. Its great rooms are filled with evidences of luxury and good taste, and the walls of its drawing-room are almost concealed by paintings. The author spends most of her time in this home-Litchfield House it is called-and divides the rest between another home in the country and foreign travel.
Probably no woman writer ever made so much money from her books as "Miss Braddon," and judging by the prices she receives, her novels are increasing in popularity. She usually gets $20,000 for the English book rights alone of her later novels, and a correspondingly large sum for the serial rights--thanks, in part, to the business ability of her son, who looks after her affairs. It is estimated that over 3,000,000 copies of her books have been sold in the cheap edition alone.
She has lost count of the number of editions through which "Lady Audley's Secret" has gone, but it is known that there are at least fifty.
MRS. HARRIET PRESCOTT SPOFFORD.
Deer Island, in the Merrimac River, is a gem. Its rocky sides slope gently in some places to the water's edge, while in others they rise straight as a precipice, but adorned with graceful festoons of wild vines which hang from its brink. The island is partially covered with majestic pines, beautiful as they ever are. There are also lovely oaks near the house where lives Mrs. Harriet Prescott Spofford, one of America's gifted writers. The house is rather a plain one, surrounded with a flower garden containing lovely plants, and from the windows others hang on swinging shelves. A piazza adorns it, on which on sunny days the owner may be seen talking with her friends. Of the oaks, above mentioned, Whittier sang:
The Hawkswood oaks, the storm-torn plumes
Deer Island's mistress sings.
Here Mrs. Spofford pens her verse, while the flowing river sings its song. Newburyport is not far distant, and altogether it is an ideal home. Is it a wonder that amidst such environment have been woven the spells which make "The Amber Gods" and later romances the delight of readers the world over? Amesbury Mills, the home of Whittier for many years, is but a few miles distant. Merrimac, Mass. J. B. M. WRIGHT.
CONSIDERATIONS OF PLAGIARISM BY WRITERS.
Mr. Hall Caine stolidly declines to say anything in answer to the charge that in "The Christian " he bodly used a paragraph written by Dean Swift; but a friend of his says that before the publication of this book, Mr. Caine, in an interview intended for publication, declared that he had in several places used the thoughts of other writers. Mr. William L. Alden, writing in the New York Times, says it is inconceivable that Mr. Caine should have been guilty of conscious plagiarism, and suggests that an author may unconsciously use passages that have impressed themselves strongly upon him, and thus become a part of his habit of thought.
The Caine incident is trivial, because Mr. Caine can hardly be regarded as an author able to present great ideas without generous assistance from the masters. As he writes for the massess and not the critics, this exposure, if it be one, will not hurt his reputation, and his original guilt left no room for shame at its discovery. If he did say, in an interview, that in the book he had used the thoughts of others, a lawyer would probably regard this as manufacturing evidence. His admission at that time makes his present silence inconsistent. Silence in such cases often implies disdain rather than dignity.
Accepting Mr. Alden's charitable view, we find that it makes out hardly a better case for Mr. Caine; for if Swift's thoughts so impressed him as to become a part of his thinking habit, then he lacked the inherent force sufficient for his own independent thinking. The real power of a person is that which proceeds from within, after originating there, however closely it may resemble that which has originated in and proceeded from other persons. There may be just as much originality. in duplication as in singularity. But a thing must be original to indicate the power from which it proceeds; and no thinker, no creator, can have conspicuous force if the trend of his thoughts is guided by what he has absorbed of the thoughts. of others.
The imitative faculty is one of the strongest with which nature has endowed us; and, as we are gregarious and social animals, it is one of the most essential and useful that we have. If Mr. Caine manifests it in himself, that shows merely that he is a normal unit of his species. It is a matter of endless wonder that there is ever any individual differentiation-that we all do not think and act alike. Nature resorts to curious ways at times for abridging her slow evolutionary processes. Those who have studied the history of the rose, for instance, are aware that some of our most brilliant varieties originated as distinct shoots
appearing on sensible, sober bushes of established kinds. These shoots are called "sports." Dean Swift was a sport on the human rose-tree. Mr. Caine appears not to be one. But that is not his
A man is the product of two forces-heredity and environment. In the ordinary scheme of things there is little to draw conscious attention to what is born in us. On the contrary, nearly every tendency is to suppress individuality and produce a harmonious average through the operation of extraneous forces. Nature seems to have excellent reasons for this. Now and then the scheme receives a violent wrench-a Dean Swift is born, to grow plumes of a new and brilliant sort, and to shed them. He comes forth with a distinct-a consciously distinct-individuality. He impresses himself. Imitators spring up, perhaps thinking themselves original, genuine. But they soon pass and are forgotten. Only the genuine, the original, endure.
Plagiarism is somewhat different from that. To say that Mr. Caine stole from Swift is not to state his offense; that may be done by saying that he used Swift's thoughts for the purpose of deceiving the people and making them think he was as great as Swift.
Another thing: If Mr. Caine should say any thing about the matter, the incident would be dropped, and he would lose the benefit of the advertising that a keeping-up of the discussion brings his book. If he planned the whole incident to work out as it is doing, he could hardly have devised a more useful one, or one more strictly in accordance with the ways of up-to-date novelists. Authors are financially successful in proportion to the development of their business sense. Mr. Caine is not a Swift, but this does not imply that he is a fool. He is seemingly a gentleman of commercial ideas.
As for the ethics of plagiarism-but why discuss that? Its rewards are a more picturesque subject. The story of the ass in the lion's skin will have application so long as time endures. The one who plagiarizes shows by that act alone that he cannot produce strong, original and harmonious work. What ever popularity he may enjoy is not worth having. Conscience is essential to enduring artistic fame. He who borrows the strength of others weakens his own; he who resorts to deception is a greater dupe than those whom he deceives; he who writes chiefly for popularity sinks steadily and irretrievably in the mire. If Mr. Caine is innocent of plagiarism, his innocence is as deplorable as his guilt would have been. The fact of plagiarism is always worse than its motive or its cause.--Argonaut.
I love my books as drinkers love their wine; The more I drink, the more they seem divine. "MY BOOKS."-Francis Bennoch.
THE PRESENT POPULARITY OF OMAR KHAYYAM.
Amid much else that is interesting, Mr. Edward Heron-Allen's beautiful book published in 1898,* contains a complete Omar Khayyam bibliography. It is a really singular piece of literary history. Before FitzGerald arose, this Persian poet was only known, in Europe, to a few Orientalists-industrious Von Hammer Purgstalls, and the like. Garcin de Tassy rendered some of him into French prose in 1857. Edward FitzGerald's first publication was in 1859. He had then put together seventy-five quatrains and offered them in vain to a magazine. Subsequently he printed copies, kept some, and gave the rest to Quaritch's to sell. After a reprint in 1868, the third edition, with great improvments and containing the present 101 stanzas, appeared in 1872. This edition as I remember, could still be bought five or six years later in Cambridge bookshops. Probably every bookreading undergraduate can now declaim a quatrain or two; but twenty years ago the poem was known only to an initiated few in the Courts of Trinity, and that merely because one of the group was the son of an old Cambridge friend of FitzGerald. The next edition came out in 1879-the "final edition," as FitzGerald unprophetically termed it. The grand vogue did not begin till after his death in 1883; not really, indeed, till after the publication of his "Letters and Literary Remains," in 1889, just thirty years later than the first publication. But the tide has steadily risen. Messrs. Macmillan have issued reprints of Omar in 1890, 1891, 1893, and since then annually (twice in 1897) to the present date. In the United States the first edition was published in 1878, and by 1894 there had been twenty-three reprints of this, besides various popular editions, and editions de luxe, and one monumental work of collation and annotation. "At present there are," says HeronAllen,“American reprints appearing almost daily." Countless articles about the poem have appeared in English and American magazines. It has been rendered into Latin by an Oxford scholar, and set to music by a London lady of talent. Its sound has gone out into all the lands, and its fame into the ends of the world. The poem has had more than a literary success: it is the foundation of a cult. Mild men of letters, it is said, leave their blameless homes; decked with red roses they meet at a dinner, drink red wine, perform sundry mystic rites, offer parodies-alas! too easily made, of the sacred book, and return westwards with a feeling of lofty emancipation from the bonds If FitzGerwhich bind the dull and respectable. If FitzGerald could attend one of these banquets held in his honor his ghost would say perhaps as he did in
the flesh, "I was at a party of modern wits last night that made me creep into myself, and wish myself away talking to any Suffolk old woman in her cottage, while the trees murmured without." One can but rejoice for his sake that he died before he became famous. With what weariness and alarm would not the shy recluse of Woodbridge have received shoals of letters from earnest devotees-laudations, supplications for autographs and seen his quiet abode besieged by pilgrims from the uttermost States of America.
*Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Edward Heron-Allen. Nichols. London, 1898.
But FitzGerald was like unto a man who should amuse himself with a box of matches by the side of a great heath, should set a little heather on fire to see how it would look, and then depart, unconscious that the whole would break into flame.
FitzGerald was curiously led towards his main achievment. In 1853, when his friendship with Prof. Cowell first brought him on to the track of Persian poetry, he was 44. Since he had left Cambridge he had lived the contemplative life, eating no meat, with no fixed occupation, following no pastime, save in his earlier days, the hypnotizing sport of summer fishing in the Ouse. His visits to London were merely to hear music, see pictures and smoke pipes with his group of old Cambridge friends. The rest of his life was Suffolk, the country which had inspired the poetry of Crabbe -poetry of surface cheerfulness and deep underlying melancholy. Here he lived with slight variations and excursions-"a little Bedfordshire, a little Northamptonshire, a little more folding of the hands; the same faces-the same fields-the same thoughts, occuring at the same turns of road," while the Afghan War was fought, and the Crimean, and the Punjab was conquered; while fierce revolution filled with blood the streets of European capitals, and, like Marmion's banner, our dominion in India wavered, almost fell and rose again, "At Boulge," he wrote in 1841, "days follow days with unvaried movement; there is the same level meadow, with geese upon it, always lying before my eyes; the same pollard oaks; with now and then the butcher or the washerwoman trundling by in their carts." The homely unexciting fields, the changing seasons, the sky, the tidal rivers with collier sloops and fishing luggers drifting up and down, sometimes the low coast and yellow sea; letters to friends, pipes with neighboring parsons, music in the evening; a little translating from Greek or Spanish; books above all, Shakespeare and Jeremy Taylor, Plutarch and Thucydides, Homer and Virgil and Theocritus, the Greek tragedians, Aristophanes, in Dante and Spinoza; a seat in the garden summer and by the fire in winter-such were the elements of the life led by FitzGerald, and thus the soil was formed into which the seed of Persian thought was to fall. It is the kind of exist