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ing. His observations are too often addressed directly to the reader, and not to the personages of the story. Mr. Dickens, in his preface, appears to resent the suggestion that Pecksniff is not true to nature; and he asks whether there are not quite as great hypocrites to be met with. Undoubtedly there are; but then they do not clothe their secret feelings with the same style of cloak.
The main notion of Pecksniff's character is that of a thoroughly selfish and hypocritical man, who is always intriguing for his own petty ends under cover of the most flowery and virtuous talk. "This notion is gradually made clear to the reader, and in some of the scenes the outline of the man, and his affectation of simple goodness, are exhibited in the most easy and natural manner. Nothing, for example, could show Mr. Pecksniff off more favourably than the account of his reception of young Martin as his pupil, and the way in which he showed the newcomer over the house. After a little display of the fascinations of his daughters, and of the devotion of Tom Pinch, he proposes to let Martin see his home then and there. There was the little room of state, and then the room in which “ my works, slight things at best,” had been concocted. “Portrait of myself by Spiller. Bust by Spoker. The latter is considered a good likeness. I seem to recognise something about the left-hand corner of the nose, myself.” He then opens the door of his own room, where he reads when the family suppose he has retired to rest, and where there is a “small round table, on which stand a lamp, divers sheets of paper, a piece of india-rubber, and a case of instruments, all put ready in case an architectural idea should come into Mr. Pecksniff's head in the night; in which event he would instantly leap out of bed, and fix it for ever.” Then comes the best touch of humbug in the whole. Mr. Pecksniff opens another door on the same floor, and shuts it again all at once," as if it were a Blue Chamber.” But he immediately looks smilingly round, and asks, “Why not?”—a question he answers himself by throwing open the door, and saying, “ My daughters' room. A poor first-floor to us, but a bower to them. Very neat. Very airy. Plants, you observe; hyacinths; books again; birds. Such trifles as girls love are here. Nothing more. Those who seek heartless splendour would seek here in vain."
This is entirely in keeping with the character of the man, and it is only just what a domestic humbug might do and say. Another of the most amusing incidents in Pecksniff's career may perhaps be accepted in the same way, although it takes us nearer to the region of comic improbability designed to please the reader. Pecksniff is thrown into great consternation by the arrival of Old Martin and Miss Graham at the very moment that he has Jonas in the house, whom he wishes to secure for one of his daughters. He cannot make up his mind to go to the door; but at last the knocking is so loud, that he determines to go out as if in the midst of a rustic occupation. Gently warbling an air, he seizes a spade, and opens the door, when, on seeing a gentleman and lady before him,—whom he had just reconnoitred from a window,-he starts back in confusion, until recognition comes upon him, and he cries out, “ A joyful hour, a happy hour indeed. Pray, my dear sir, walk in. You find me in my garden-dress. It is an ancient pursuit, gardening. Primitive, my dear sir ; for, if I am not mistaken, Adam was the first of our calling. My Eve is, I regret to say, no more, sir; but”-here he pointed to his spade, and shook his head, as if he were not cheerful without an effort" but I do a little bit of Adam still.” Doing “a little bit of Adam" nearly leads us to that stage of Mr. Pecksniff's conversation in which his exclamations are droll and diverting, but are beyond the reach of all the architects that ever were. For example, when Mr. Pecksniff learns from Mrs. Todgers that the young gentleman, whom she has been coaxing and wheedling in order to induce him to stay, only pays her eighteen shillings a week, he expresses his holy indignation. “The profit of dissimulation! To worship the golden calf of Baal for eighteen shillings a week.”
This is all well enough; but then, after a little pause, Mr. Pecksniff bursts out with the singular exclamation, “ Oh, calf, calf ! oh, Baal, Baal! oh, my friend Mrs. Todgers !” And this is rather more than a reader's credulity can stand. In the same way, when Martin addresses his old grandfather after his return from America, Mr. Pecksniff acts as chorus, and explains how horrible the young man's audacity is. Martin protests that his story is true. On this the chorus breaks out with “ Beautiful Truth, how is your name profaned by vicious persons! You don't live in a well, my holy principle, but on the lips of false mankind." That a bystander, during a conversation, should apostrophise truth as “my holy principle," is to transport us into the fairy-land of comedy.
Doubtless, however, it amuses us; and doubtless, whatever he may say, Mr. Pecksniff stands before us as a distinct character, and has been accepted as the popular type of the oily and wordy hypocrite. He is the English Tartuffe; and, although he seems farcical and strained by the side of the hypocrite of Molière, he probably conveys as clear a notion of a particular style of hypocrisy as any that is imparted by the Frenchman. Like almost every other person in Mr. Dickens's stories, except those who are mere ruffiians, he wins a certain portion of our goodwill. We do not quite dislike him or Mrs. Gamp, and cannot bring ourselves to abominate those who give us so much
amusement. This is a great charm in comedy. Perhaps it is allowable for comedy to be cast in a sterner mood occasionally, but it is certainly one of the highest arts of a comic writer to preserve even amidst ridicule this sense that our condemnation does not go very deep. It keeps comedy in its right place—and it is not a very high place-among the agents of moral improvement. It is not always that even Mr. Dickens succeeds in producing this impression; and because he produces it in this work so happily is among the special reasons why warm admirers of his genius are especially fond of Martin Chuzzlewit.
ART. VII.—THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA.
The New York Times. January to April 1861.
Galignani's Messenger. Paris, June 1861. When our last Number issued from the press, a mighty catastrophe hung over the great Republic of the West,-a catastrophe which many hoped might be averted, and which nearly every one combined to deprecate. We shared neither of these prevailing sentiments: we were satisfied that the menaced disruption was inevitable, and we even ventured to think it was desirable. Far from seeing in it only the seeds of evil, we hoped then, and we hope still, that it will be overruled for good. The gloom may be terrible, and the storm devastating for a while, but it will purify an unwholesome atmosphere and clear a lowering sky. Intonuit lævum : it is ominous of sunshine and of calm. When political and social problems have reached such a point of gravity and complication that man's wisdom cannot pierce them, and man's courage dare not face them, and man's resources cannot solve them, then crises and convulsions, however strange and awful, may without presumption be looked upon as Heaven's intervention in a dignus vindice nodus. When Irish pauperism and Irish multitudes baffled the efforts of statesmanship and philanthropy alike, the Irish famine removed the difficulty, but removed it in a way which no one could have dared to pray for or have incurred the responsibility of causing, -nay, which humanity compelled every one ineffectually to try to thwart, while confessing that it opened perhaps the only avenue to hope and salvation for the future. In like manner, the most promising young nation of the modern world, as we showed in our last Number, was sliding down a quick incline of degeneracy which it seemed impossible to arrest, and was weighted by a grievous social sin and burden which it seemed impossible to lift off:—may not the severance of the Union prove the means of rescue out of both calamities? Is it not, if rightly regarded, one of those OPPORTUNITIES which are God's richest and rarests gifts to nations ?
Nothing but sheer obligation drives us to handle this subject. It would be an unworthy dereliction in a journal like the National Review to pass over in silence the great event of the year, and one of the greatest events of our times; but there is nothing alluring in it, under any point of view, to writers who have both convictions and sympathies to cramp them. What we have to say will therefore be said in few words. It would be rash and dangerous to prophesy; it would be tedious merely to epitomise and narrate; it would be simply weak and silly to shudder and to preach :—we shall content ourselves with an attempt to place the real grounds of the quarrel, and the true position and prospects of the combatants, in as clear a light as we are able. We cannot, of course, hope to influence American proceedings; but we may do something to direct English sympathy and English action.
In the first place, we put aside all the disputes about the right of secession, on which so much paper and passion has been wasted, as idle logomachy. All that has been published on this matter by either side reads like the very pedantry of special pleading. Where disputants are subjects of one authority which both acknowledge and revere, the decision of that authority settles the question of right, inasmuch as it makes it by announcing it, and the discussion of abstract justice merges in that of actual power. When there is a written or an immemorial law to appeal to, and a recognised tribunal at once empowered to decree and able to enforce, the controversy may be determined by elaborate argument and a judicial verdict. But when eight millions of freemen wish to take any particular step, and believe that they are entitled to take it, the only argument which it is not futile and childish to oppose to them is that of force. We may say to them, “you shall not,” it is absurd to say " you may not.” They think they may, they are resolved that they will; and they must be the judges in their own case, for the simple reason that they will not accept their antagonists as judges; any umpire to whom the dispute may be referred must be selected by themselves; there exists no supreme Areopagus to which appeal can, without impertinence, be made, unless it can be clearly shown that some law of natural and eternal morality is broken. When a few citizens or subjects feel or fancy themselves injured or oppressed, become seditious and disobedient, secede, or take up arms against the sovereign authority, they are crushed because they are weak, they are punished because they are rebels, they are not harangued or chastised as sinners ; - if they are really aggrieved, we consider them as foolish, not as wrong. If their grievances are sufficiently heavy and their numbers sufficiently great to enable them to resist, insurge, or secede, with success, we do not blame them then, we applaud them : their might has made their right. The subjects of Francis II. of Naples were entitled to discard him, and hand over their allegiance to Victor Emanuel : this we all allow; but then (perhaps we plead) Francis II. was perfidious and cruel. Leopold of Tuscany, however, was neither, yet we agree that his subjects were entitled to desert him, and annex themselves to Piedmont, because they chose to do so, and because it was well for Italy that they should do so. Is it not clear, according to all unprejudiced sense, that whatever nations, or those great sections of them which may be called “peoples," desire to do, and believe it to be their duty to do, they must be held to have a right to do, unless it be immoral, i. e. unjust, perfidious, cruel, or licentious ? It may be foolish in them to exercise this right; but nations have a right to be foolish, or they may differ from us, and believe that to be wise which we see (or think) to be foolish.
“But,” say the Northern pleaders, “they have broken a contract. They agreed to form part of one State with us, and they have seceded.” The answer is obvious. The same people, the same authorities, who formerly agreed to join you, now wish to leave you. The same capacity which formed the partnership must be competent to dissolve it. No contract of the kind can be eternal, inasmuch as option is an inherent claim in human beings, and can never be permanently abnegated or taken away —not even by themselves, still less by their ancestors for them. It seems impossible, for freemen at least, to argue that Belgium had a right to separate from Holland, that Greece had a right to separate from Turkey, that Tuscans, Æmilians, Romans, and Neapolitans had a right to cashier their monarchs and to join Sardinia ;—and yet that the Gulf States had not a right to secede from the Union, and form a confederation among themselves. The original voluntariness of the connection confirms the right instead of impairing it. The secession may have been scandalously and treacherously contrived; it may have been a blunder, it may have been unwarranted by any real grievances, it may have been carried out in the most offensive and overbearing manner; but the right of seceding, i. e. of undoing by the sovereign will of the people what was once done by that sovereign will-cannot, we think, be denied. If one State only, and that a feeble State, had determined to secede, its secession would