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official, and demi-semi-official service. tain friendly relationship with the greatest Sometimes by express authority, but natal Power in the world—and this while oftener still mistaking their master's humor freely recognizing the reasons which must for a warrant, those obsequious journals always restrain England from giving her would speak about France and her policy formal, hard-and-fast adhesion to the in a way which could not fail to irritate Triple Alliance. and alarm the equally sensitive and re Frequently, since returning to England, vengeful Gauls, and thus it came to be I have been asked the question, “ Do you more the exception than the rule that the think Prince Bismarck will ever return to relationship of the two countries was not power ?” To this my answer has always suffering from the tension of a cantanker- been, “No : certainly not : never !" and ous Press feud. But all this, like the for the simple reason that he will never political life of Germany, has now changed he wanted, even if he were willing to for the better, and the change is due to come. The new Emperor and his new the fact that the new Chancellor has com- Chancellor have already shown the stuff of pletely discarded all the old journalistic which they are made, and proved that no Jack-in-the-box machinery of his prede- emergency with which they could not cessor. Unlike the Emperor, General cope is ever likely to arise. Amid what Caprivi does not bear a personal aversion conceivable circumstances, then, would from newspaper men.
On the contrary, the Emperor ask bis discarded Chancellor he speaks appreciatively of their profes- to resume office, even supposing that the sion; and when I had the honor of being personal breach between them, which was introduced to him, at his first parliamen- completed by the Bætticher incident and tary soirée, he regaled me, with marvellous its revelation of State-money transactions, freshness of memory, with genial anec did not, after all, prove what it now apdotes about the characters and methods of pears to be—irreparable ? Bismarck will some English Correspondents whom he certainly never return to power, and it is had known during the Bohemian and the more than doubtful whether he will even French campaigns. But, being deter- return to Berlin to exercise his formal mined to give no handle for the charges of rights as a member of the Reichstag. abusing the power of the Press that were For, apart from other considerations, how continually urged against his predecessor, could he come back to the capital without he entertains no relationship, direct or in- calling on the Emperor ? and how could direct, with any journal save the official he do that with a due regard to his pride ? Reichsanzeiger, where anything appears It is not, indeed, to be doubted that which it concerns him to make public. Prince Bismarck has left the service of And as for the so-called “Reptile Press the Emperor as definitively as Adam von Bureau”—that, I think, only now exists Schwarzenberg did that of the Great Elecin the diseased imaginations of those who tor, and his countrymen are quite resigned would fain draw upon its supposititious to the prospect. The Prince has done a store of ready subsidies, but cannot. For great and grand work in his time ; but this new departure the French as well as his day is over. He was a mighty fighter other nations are grateful to the new Ger- when in power ; but his was the epoch man Chancellor, who, for the rest, bas when fierce battling was wanted.
The produced as favorable an impression on cra of combat has come to a close ; the the diplomatists of Berlin as upon the va- period of consolidation has dawned ; and rious foreign statesmen (including Signor it is no disparagement to the great and imCrispi, M. de Giers, and Count Kalnoky) mortal man who created Germany to say whom he has already met, and who have that the further development of his task all been fascinated by his simplicity, sin- might now be better entrusted to other cerity, and straightforwardness. The bands. "Meine Herren,'' said General Czar, I happen to know, was particularly Caprivi, some little while ago, to a circle pleased with his character ; and English- of parliamentary guests, "Wir gehen men, too, have every reason to extend to einer sehr langweiligen Zeit entgegen" him their confidence and sympathy, see- (i.e., “Gentlemen, we have very dull ing that he is second to none of his coun times ahead of us”), meaning that the extrymen, including the Emperor, in the citing period of Germany's birth-throes ardor of his desire to establish and main- and precarious childhood had passed away ;
that the ship of State had weathered the said, whose annals are dull; and fortunate storms and dangers of her early voyage, will be the Emperor and his new Chanand at last reached a broad expanse of cellor if they can manage to render the placid water, where the crew, freed from annals of Germany for the next few years their long struggle, might now turn their more dull than dramatic.- National Reattention to the cleaning and trimming of view. their vessel. Happy is the country, it is
THE GREAT WORK,
BY W. P. J.
A WRITER in the Daily News, for rea and certain hope that some day he will sous of his own, entered a protest the produce the Great Work and be famous. other day against what he called the From gentlemen with a bent for adMagnum Opus theory. A man's friends monition, it must be said parenthetically, and acquaintance, he complained, were there is absolutely no way of escape. continually urging him to write a Great Delight your generation with occasional Work. It was in vain that the victim pro verse or graceful essays full of scholarship tested that he did not want to write a and urbane wit, and you are sternly bidGreat Work ; or that he had written a den, or perhaps urged by way of flattering Great Work which nobody ever heard of ; expostulation, to leave such trifling and or that he could not live (in this mortal do something worthy of your abilities. state) by a Great Work, and must pro- Essay an epic and you are recommended duce things which would yield him his to content yourself with shorter flights. daily bread. He might have added that The three-volume novelist is reminded if he did write one, the very last to read it that bigness is not greatness. Masters of would be these same monitors.
the short story are exhorted to do someThat a man's female relations should thing more “ important." One man hug the delusion that he was born for pleads modestly, that to earn his living he some high emprise and should persist in must defer to the popular taste, and it is exhortation is, no doubt, in the order of hinted that he is selling his birthright for nature. But less prejudiced advisers a mess of potage. Another in the proud should know better. Certainly censors, consciousness of genius scorns to prostiwhose admonitions get uttered in print, tute his Muse, and he is soundly rated for should know better. Believe me, the not thinking first of his family and his man who has a Great Work in him does social obligations. You lead a life of litnot, save in very exceptional cases, re- crary leisure like Edward Fitzgerald, and quire to have the sides of his intent pricked you are reproved for giving the time to by the casual friend or the indolent irre- writing letters to your friends which ought sponsible reviewer. Once in a way, a to have been given to writing books for George Eliot may wait for the encourage the publishers. You throw your soul into ment of a George Henry Lewes to turn poetry like Shelley's or novels like George from a Westminster Review to an Adam Sand's, and in the end the Olympian critic Bede. But in ninety-nine cases out of a serenely pronounces that nothing but your hundred it is true that, admonition or no private letters will live. admonition, a man does exactly what he But about this Magnum Opus. There has it in him to do. If a man is not a have been men no doubt, men of genias, Balzac, it is in vain that you will urge who have said to themselves deliberately, him to write a Comédie Humaine. If on “Go to, I will write a Great Work. the other hand he has a Comédie Humaine For example, there was Gibbon. Everyin him, he will go on writing rubbish for body remembers the passage where Gibbon ten years, in the teeth of parental remon- tells how the idea of his History occurred strance and public neglect, sustained by to him. “It was at Rome, on the 15th inward consciousness of power in the sure of October, 1764, as I sat musing amid
the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare an old barbarous German dialect, which footed friars were singing vespers in the he was ignorant of and not disposed to temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing grapple with. By way of contrast he had the decline and fall of the city first started in his mind's eye a history of the Repubto my mind." And everybody knows to lic of Florence under the House of the what good purpose he devoted himself to Medici ;-singular men and singular carrying out the conception into superb events, the Medicis four times expelled accoinplishment. But for our present and as often recalled, and the Genius of purpose, the interesting thing about Gib- Freedom reluctantly yielding to the army bon's case is, that he had made up his of Charles V.; the character and fate of extremely well-regulated mind to write a Savonarola, and the revival of arts and great work of some sort, long before he letters in Italy. At this point in his search had a glimmering of what the great work for subjects came his foreign tour and the was to be. Then with equal deliberation sojourn in Rome, during which, as we he set about choosing a subject. Already have seen, his true subject was revealed to in 1761, then at the age of twenty-five, he him in a flash. had passed in review a number of subjects I have dwelt on Gibbon's case, partly for a large historical composition, and had to show the kind of mind which may at length selected the expedition of Charles dream of great works without imputation VIII. of France into Italy. After this he of fatuity ; partly to show my own cansuccessively chose and rejected the Cru- dor. Because it undoubtedly is a genuine sade of Richard Cour de Lion, the Bar case to support the theory of the Magons' Wars against John and Henry III., num Opus. Here was a youth with no the history of Edward the Black Prince, notion what the work was to be, but posthe lives and comparisons of Henry V. sessed with a fixed idea that it was to be and the Emperor Titus, the life of Sir a Great Work. And the Decline and Philip Sidney, and the life of the Mar- Fall of the Roman Empire is a great quise of Montrose. At length he seemed work ; of that there can be no possible to have fixed on Sir Walter Raleigh for shadow of doubt. his hero ; he was attracted by his eventful Then again there is Bacon. There is a story varied by the characters of the soldier tradition that at sixteen, or thereabouts, and the sailor, the courtier and the histo- young Francis Bacon had already deterrian. Romantic subjects all of them, and mined to revolutionize the whole frame of so far not a hint of predilection for the human thought. That is no uncommon period and subject which were to make determination to come to at the age of him immortal. The next choice was sixteen. What is less common is that at equally wide of his final mark, the history sixty people should be able to persuade namely of the Liberty of the Swiss, of even themselves that they have done it. that independence which a brave people Least common of all is it for them to be rescued from the Honse of Austria, de- able to persuade anybody else of that. fended against a Dauphin of France, and Whether the story of Bacon be true or finally sealed. From such a theme, so apocryphal, at any rate at the age of full of public spirit, of military glory, of thirty-one, which is not old as we count examples of virtue, of lessons of govern- oldness now, he wrote to his uncle, Lord ment, the dullest stranger would catch fire; Burleigh, calmly informing him that he what might not himself hope, whose tal- had taken all knowledge to be his provents, whatsoever they might be, would be ince. How Lord Burleigh must have inflamed with the zeal of patriotism. For nodded ! Yet in due course there did Switzerland was Gibbon's fatherland by veritably come the Instauratio Mugna, the adoption ; it was the true alma mater to greatest birth of time ! one who found the breasts of Oxford diy ; Or to come to our own less spacious and finally it was the country of Mlle. age, consider the magnificence of fixed reCurchod, the heroine and victim of the solve with which Mr. Herbert Spencer anfamous love-story in one sentence of the nounced already in a prospectus of 1860 iconoclastic historian, “ who sighed as a the whole mighty scheme of his System lover and obeyed as a son." This subject of Philosophy. It was to be gradually was rejected because the sources were in- unfolded in five great treatises, each with accessible, fast locked in the obscurity of its contents already mapped out under
New SERIES. VOL. LIV., No: 5. 38)
multitudinous headings and sub-headings. cal love; the Rosaline to the Juliet he And, in pity, think of the unhasting, un wedded first after all, that finely-develresting persistency with which he has kept oped Juliet, The Norman Conquest. pegging away at that ichtheosauric pro- More than once he has dwelt lovingly on gramme ever since ! One of the very the supreme interest and importance reasons he gave for printing that prospec- throughout history (Professor Freeman tus was, that the outline of the scheme will not let us talk of ancient and modern should remain, in case he should not live history) of this mid-Mediterranean island, to complete the system. There you have
There you have this old battle-field of decisive race-strugthe true spirit of the devotee of the Mag- gles. And now that Juliet is on the shelf, num Opus.
he turns once more to woo Rosaline. One need be very sure of one's self, The first two volumes issued by the Clarand sure of a steady independent income endon Press bring that history, I underto boot, even with genius, to deliberately stand, only to the eve of the struggle in embark on a Great Work. Gibbon was the Peloponnesian War. Let the clever singularly sure of himself and enjoyed a young man who dashes off his essay or his monetary competency. Bacon was equally epigram between tea and dinner, pause to sure of himself, and got money indepen- consider what Professor Freeman has still dently of his philosophy in one way or before him, and take off his hat to this the other, especially, it has been said, the dauntless spirit. Nay, let him take off other. The worst of it is that a man may his hat, not to the veteran leader only, be as sure of himself as Gibbon or Bacon, but,—for research is a thing needful—to and after all produce instead of a Decline the rank and file, whether they are marchand Fall of the Roman Empire or a No- ing to the glory of Gibbon or the grave of vum Organum, an abortive key to All Alison. The body of the most muddleMythologies or a monumental listory of headed may fill a trench over which some Europe to prove that Providence is on the day an historian of genius may pass to side of the Tories. Providence, whether victory. or not it is always on the side of the big And yet, and yet, the irresponsible battalions, is by no means always on the young man is sometimes tempted to hint side of the big books. It is a solemn that to-day it is not so much the magnum thing to sacrifice one's life, the only life as the maximus opus that our industrious of the sort one has, in manufacturing a workers seem bent upon producing: Mabook like Alison's History of Europe only caulay's historical essays, some learned to fill with its voluminous respectability men say, are wofully inaccurate. So conan undisturbed shelf in every second-hand scious was Macaulay himself of the imperbookshop in the kingdom. Really, upon fection of his essays that he pleaded ibat a rational calculation of the chances, it his hand had been forced by unauthorized seems wiser for a young man just to re- American publication or he would never joice in his youth, than to use it up in have republished them. Yet these essays preparing or projecting a monumental are at least as full of life as ever, while History or a system of Synthetic Philoso- many an historical Magnum Opus is phy or a key to all the Mythologies, for stone-dead, One ventures to hope and all which things too, remember, God will believe that when the novelty of laying bring him to judgment.
open valuable historical sources has passed, Well
, perhaps, if we are to have world. when the mass of new material has been histories and philosophic systems, the risk not only displayed but digested, the hismust be faced. It may be as in love so torian without sacrifice of science will in literature.
once more have some conscience for form. He either fears his fate too much, Great histories, great beyond all cavilling, Or his deserts are small,
have been written which can be comfortaWho dares not put it to the touch bly packed into a Tauchnitz pocket-volTo gain or lose it all.
une or two. It is in truth a gallant sight to see Pro In philosophy again, the largest of the fessor Freeman at his age, and alas ! with Platonic Dialogues is not much longer enfeebled health, attacking on so lordly a than a shilling story-book; and Des. scale so superb a subject as the listory of cartes's Discourse can be read almost at a Sicily. It was, it seems, his first histori- sitting. And if Aristotle and Hegel bulk
large, it should be borne in nind that or two rare and remarkable exceptions, it most of the volumes are made up of lec- has not been by saying, Go to, we will tures, which in these days might be puh. write a Magnum Opus," that in this Jished journalistically, so to say, in Mind, sphere the most enduring books have been only in those days they had not a Mind of written. Flaubert—and I give the adthat kind.
herents of the theory I deprecate the full In his heart, let himn confess it, the lit- benefit of his name as I pass—Flaubert erary critic feels dislike and distrust of marvelled that Ste. Beuve should be conbulk and big pretensions. He feels as tent to go on writing for the newspapers, Heine did when he was attempting to ex- when he was not in want of food and plain to Frenchmen what the German might write books. Yet books, big philosophers were really driving at. books, have been written and printed too,
of less enduring valuo than the Causeries. Distinguished German philosophers [he Heine just wrote off a description of a wrote], who may accidentally cast a glance over these pages will superciliously shrug walking-tour, and the Reisebilder are imtheir shoulders at the meagreness and incom
mortal. In writing The Compleat Angler, pleteness of all which I here offer. But they Walton said he did but make “ a recrewill be kind enough to bear in mind that the ation of a recreation.” Addison and little which I say is expressed clearly and in. Steele wrote papers to amuse the town, telligibly, whereas their own works, although and Sir Roger de Coverley has outlived very profound,-unfathomably profound-very deep,--stupendously deep--are in the Cato. Mat Prior has considerably more same degree unintelligible. Of what benefit life in him than Robert Montgomery, the to the people is the grain locked away in great efficient elixir of Macaulay notwithstandgranaries, to which they have no key? The masses are famishing for knowledge, and will ing; and it is not by his Solomon, a Poem thank me for the portion of intellectual brend, in Three Books, that Mat Prior lives. small though it be, which I honestly share Montaigne carries bis years at least as well with them. . . I am not one of the seven as Montesquieu. And certain stray pahundred wise men of Germany. I stand with dom. And if a truth slips through, and if zine by a clerk of the India House, the great masses at the portals of their wis. pers written out of office hours for a magathis truth falls in my way, then I write it with whether or not it be fair to say that they pretty letters on paper, and give it to the com. have already outlived Mr. Spencer's Synpositor, who sets it in leaden type and gives thetic Philosophy, have at least outlived it to the printer ; the printer prints it, and the more ambitious works of two other then it belongs to the whole world.
distinguished servants of John Company, Many have felt like Heine who have the Mills, father and son, with their not had his wit to express their feelings. Analyses of the Phenomena of the Human Even in the case of so English a philoso- Mind and their Systems of Logic Ratioci. pher as Lord Bacon, they remember that native and Inductive. James I. who, if a fool, was at least ac What could be more unpremeditated knowledged to be the wisest fool in Chris- than the way in which that almost nametendom, compared the Novum Organum less throng of singers poured forth their to the peace which passeth understanding. songs, who made, as was prettily said of Not James nor anybody else, wise or fool. Elizabethan England, a nest of singing ish, ever said anything of that kind about birds? In those brave days their fashion the Essays, those wonderful short Essays, was to throw off, or affect to throw off, As Bacon said of them in his own day, so their tuneful trifles without a thought of have they been ever since,“ of all his publication. For publication they medi, other works, the most current, for that it tated, or affected to meditate, some Magseems, they come home to men's business num Opus to come later to justify them. and bosoms."
But they would show these trifles to their It is not, however, in the sphere of friends; and these friends would perphilosophy or history or science, but in suade them to publish, or bold, bad men the sphere of literature proper, literature would take the bull by the horns and send as a pure art, that the theory of the Mag- the poems to the printer themselves. num Opus and the exhortations and pro "Courteous Reader," writes W. Percy tests founded thereon are so absurd, fly so by way of preface to his Cycle of Sonnets directly, as it seems to me, in the face of to the Fairest Cælia,
" Whereas I was the facts of literary history. With one fully determined to have concealed my