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An essay by Thomas De Quincey

Schlosser's Literary History Of The Eighteenth Century

Title:     Schlosser's Literary History Of The Eighteenth Century
Author: Thomas De Quincey [More Titles by De Quincey]

In the person of this Mr. Schlosser is exemplified a common abuse, not confined to literature. An artist from the Italian opera of London and Paris, making a professional excursion to our provinces, is received according to the tariff of the metropolis; no one being bold enough to dispute decisions coming down from the courts above. In that particular case there is seldom any reason to complain--since really out of Germany and Italy there is no city, if you except Paris and London, possessing _materials_, in that field of art, for the composition of an audience large enough to act as a court of revision. It would be presumption in the provincial audience, so slightly trained to good music and dancing, if it should affect to reverse a judgment ratified in the supreme capital. The result, therefore, is practically just, if the original verdict was just; what was right from the first cannot be made wrong by iteration. Yet, even in such a case, there is something not satisfactory to a delicate sense of equity; for the artist returns from the tour as if from some new and independent triumph, whereas, all is but the reverberation of an old one; it seems a new access of sunlight, whereas it is but a reflex illumination from satellites.

In literature the corresponding case is worse. An author, passing by means of translation before a foreign people, ought _de jure_ to find himself before a new tribunal; but _de facto_, he does not. Like the opera artist, but not with the same propriety, he comes before a court that never interferes to disturb a judgment, but only to re-affirm it. And he returns to his native country, quartering in his armorial bearings these new trophies, as though won by new trials, when, in fact, they are due to servile ratifications of old ones. When Sue, or Balzac, Hugo, or George Sand, comes before an English audience--the opportunity is invariably lost for estimating them at a new angle of sight. All who dislike them lay them aside--whilst those only apply themselves seriously to their study, who are predisposed to the particular key of feeling, through which originally these authors had prospered. And thus a new set of judges, that might usefully have modified the narrow views of the old ones, fall by mere _inertia_ into the humble character of echoes and sounding-boards to swell the uproar of the original mob.

In this way is thrown away the opportunity, not only of applying corrections to false national tastes, but oftentimes even to the unfair accidents of _luck_ that befall books. For it is well known to all who watch literature with vigilance, that books and authors have their fortunes, which travel upon a far different scale of proportions from those that measure their merits. Not even the caprice or the folly of the reading public is required to account for this. Very often, indeed, the whole difference between an extensive circulation for one book, and none at all for another of about equal merit, belongs to no particular blindness in men, but to the simple fact, that the one _has_, whilst the other has _not_, been brought effectually under the eyes of the public. By far the greater part of books are lost, not because they are rejected, but because they are never introduced. In any proper sense of the word, very few books are published. Technically they are published; which means, that for six or ten times they are _advertised_, but they are not made known to _attentive_ ears, or to ears _prepared_ for attention. And amongst the causes which account for this difference in the fortune of books, although there are many, we may reckon, as foremost, _personal_ accidents of position in the authors. For instance, with us in England it will do a bad book no _ultimate_ service, that it is written by a lord, or a bishop, or a privy counsellor, or a member of Parliament--though, undoubtedly, it will do an _instant_ service--it will sell an edition or so. This being the case, it being certain that no rank will reprieve a bad writer from _final_ condemnation, the sycophantic glorifier of the public fancies his idol justified; but not so. A bad book, it is true, will not be saved by advantages of position in the author; but a book moderately good will be extravagantly aided by such advantages. Lectures on _Christianity_, that happened to be respectably written and delivered, had prodigious success in my young days, because, also, they happened to be lectures of a prelate; three times the ability would not have procured them any attention had they been the lectures of an obscure curate. Yet on the other hand, it is but justice to say, that, if written with three times _less_ ability, lawn-sleeves would not have given them buoyancy, but, on the contrary, they would have sunk the bishop irrecoverably; whilst the curate, favored by obscurity, would have survived for another chance. So again, and indeed, more than so, as to poetry. Lord Carlisle, of the last generation, wrote tolerable verses. They were better than Lord Roscommon's, which, for one hundred and fifty years, the judicious public has allowed the booksellers to incorporate, along with other refuse of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, into the costly collections of the 'British Poets.' And really, if you _will_ insist on odious comparisons, they were not so very much below the verses of an amiable prime minister known to us all. Yet, because they wanted vital _stamina_, not only they fell, but, in falling, they caused the earl to reel much more than any commoner would have done. Now, on the other hand, a kinsman of Lord Carlisle, viz., Lord Byron, because he brought real genius and power to the effort, found a vast auxiliary advantage in a peerage and a very ancient descent. On these double wings he soared into a region of public interest, far higher than ever he _would_ have reached by poetic power alone. Not only all his rubbish--which in quantity is great--passed for jewels, but also what _are_ incontestably jewels have been, and will be, valued at a far higher rate than if they had been raised from less aristocratic mines. So fatal for mediocrity, so gracious for real power, is any adventitious distinction from birth, station, or circumstances of brilliant notoriety. In reality, the public, our never-sufficiently-to-be- respected mother, is the most unutterable sycophant that ever the clouds dropped their rheum upon. She is always ready for jacobinical scoffs at a man for being a lord, if he happens to fail; she is always ready for toadying a lord, if he happens to make a hit. Ah, dear sycophantic old lady, I kiss your sycophantic hands, and wish heartily that I were a duke for your sake!

It would be a mistake to fancy that this tendency to confound real merit and its accidents of position is at all peculiar to us or to our age. Dr. Sacheverell, by embarking his small capital of talent on the springtide of a furious political collision, brought back an ampler return for his little investment than ever did Wickliffe or Luther. Such was his popularity in the heart of love and the heart of hatred, that he would have been assassinated by the Whigs, on his triumphal progresses through England, had he not been canonized by the Tories. He was a dead man if he had not been suddenly gilt and lacquered as an idol. Neither is the case peculiar at all to England. Ronge, the _ci-devant_ Romish priest (whose name pronounce as you would the English word _wrong_, supposing that it had for a second syllable the final _a_ of 'sopha,' _i.e._, _Wronguh_), has been found a wrong-headed man by _all_ parties, and in a venial degree is, perhaps, a stupid man; but he moves about with more _eclat_ by far than the ablest man in Germany. And, in days of old, the man that burned down a miracle of beauty, viz., the temple of Ephesus, protesting, with tears in his eyes, that he had no other way of getting himself a name, _has_ got it in spite of us all. He's booked for a ride down all history, whether you and I like it or not. Every pocket dictionary knows that Erostratus was that scamp. So of Martin, the man that parboiled, or par- roasted York Minster some ten or twelve years back; that fellow will float down to posterity with the annals of the glorious cathedral: he will

'Pursue the triumph and partake the gale,'

whilst the founders and benefactors of the Minster are practically forgotten.

These incendiaries, in short, are as well known as Ephesus or York; but not one of us can tell, without humming and hawing, who it was that rebuilt the Ephesian wonder of the world, or that repaired the time- honored Minster. Equally in literature, not the weight of service done, or the power exerted, is sometimes considered chiefly--either of these must be very conspicuous before it will be considered at all--but the splendor, or the notoriety, or the absurdity, or even the scandalousness of the circumstances [1] surrounding the author.

Schlosser must have benefitted in some such adventitious way before he ever _could_ have risen to his German celebrity. What was it that raised him to his momentary distinction? Was it something very wicked that he did, or something very brilliant that he said? I should rather conjecture that it must have been something inconceivably absurd which he proposed. Any one of the three achievements stands good in Germany for a reputation. But, however it were that Mr. Schlosser first gained his reputation, mark what now follows. On the wings of this equivocal reputation he flies abroad to Paris and London. There he thrives, not by any approving experience or knowledge of his works, but through blind faith in his original German public. And back he flies afterwards to Germany, as if carrying with him new and independent testimonies to his merit, and from two nations that are directly concerned in his violent judgments; whereas (which is the simple truth) he carries back a careless reverberation of his first German character, from those who have far too much to read for declining aid from vicarious criticism when it will spare that effort to themselves. Thus it is that German critics become audacious and libellous. Kohl, Von Raumer, Dr. Carus, physician to the King of Saxony, by means of introductory letters floating them into circles far above any they had seen in homely Germany, are qualified by our own negligence and indulgence for mounting a European tribunal, from which they pronounce malicious edicts against ourselves. Sentinels present arms to Von Raumer at Windsor, because he rides in a carriage of Queen Adelaide's; and Von Raumer immediately conceives himself the Chancellor of all Christendom, keeper of the conscience to universal Europe, upon all questions of art, manners, politics, or any conceivable intellectual relations of England. Schlosser meditates the same career.

But have I any right to quote Schlosser's words from an English translation? I do so only because this happens to be at hand, and the German not. German books are still rare in this country, though more (by one thousand to one) than they were thirty years ago. But I have a full right to rely on the English of Mr. Davison. 'I hold in my hand,' as gentlemen so often say at public meetings, 'a certificate from Herr Schlosser, that to quote Mr. Davison is to quote _him_.' The English translation is one which Mr. Schlosser '_durchgelesen hat, und fur deren genauigkeit und richtigkeit er burgt_ [has read through, and for the accuracy and propriety of which he pledges himself]. Mr. Schossler was so anxious for the spiritual welfare of us poor islanders, that he not only read it through, but he has even _aufmerksam durchgelesen_ it [read it through wide awake] _und gepruft_ [and carefully examined it]; nay, he has done all this in company with the translator. 'Oh ye Athenians! how hard do I labor to earn your applause!' And, as the result of such herculean labors, a second time he makes himself surety for its precision; '_er burgt also dafur wie fur seine eigne arbeit_' [he guarantees it accordingly as he would his own workmanship]. Were it not for this unlimited certificate, I should have sent for the book to Germany. As it is, I need not wait; and all complaints on this score I defy, above all from Herr Schlosser. [2]

In dealing with an author so desultory as Mr. Schlosser, the critic has a right to an _extra_ allowance of desultoriness for his own share; so excuse me, reader, for rushing at once _in medias res_.

Of Swift, Mr. Schlosser selects for notice three works--the 'Drapier's Letters,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' and the 'Tale of a Tub.' With respect to the first, as it is a necessity of Mr. S. to be forever wrong in his substratum of facts, he adopts the old erroneous account of Wood's contract as to the copper coinage, and of the imaginary wrong which it inflicted on Ireland. Of all Swift's villainies for the sake of popularity, and still more for the sake of wielding this popularity vindictively, none is so scandalous as this. In any new life of Swift the case must be stated _de novo_. Even Sir Walter Scott is not impartial; and for the same reason as now forces me to blink it, viz., the difficulty of presenting the details in a readable shape. 'Gulliver's Travels' Schlosser strangely considers 'spun out to an intolerable extent.' Many evil things might be said of Gulliver; but not this. The captain is anything but tedious. And, indeed, it becomes a question of mere mensuration, that can be settled in a moment. A year or two since I had in my hands a pocket edition, comprehending all the four parts of the worthy skipper's adventures within a single volume of 420 pages. Some part of the space was also wasted on notes, often very idle. Now the 1st part contains _two_ separate voyages (Lilliput and Blefuscu), the 2d, _one_, the 3d, _five_, and the 4th, _one_; so that, in all, this active navigator, who has enriched geography, I hope, with something of a higher quality than your old muffs that thought much of doubling Cape Horn, here gives us _nine_ great discoveries, far more surprising than the pretended discoveries of Sinbad (which are known to be fabulous), averaging _quam proxime_, forty- seven small 16mo pages each. Oh you unconscionable German, built round in your own country with circumvallations of impregnable 4tos, oftentimes dark and dull as Avernus--that you will have the face to describe dear excellent Captain Lemuel Gulliver of Redriff, and subsequently of Newark, that 'darling of children and men,' as tedious. It is exactly because he is _not_ tedious, because he does not shoot into German foliosity, that Schlosser finds him '_intolerable_.' I have justly transferred to Gulliver's use the words originally applied by the poet to the robin- redbreast, for it is remarkable that _Gulliver_ and the _Arabian Nights_ are amongst the few books where children and men find themselves meeting and jostling each other. This was the case from its first publication, just one hundred and twenty years since. 'It was received,' says Dr. Johnson, 'with such avidity, that the price of the first edition was raised before the second could be made--it was read by the high and the low, the learned and the illiterate. Criticism was lost in wonder. Now, on the contrary, Schlosser wonders not at all, but simply criticises; which we could bear, if the criticism were even ingenious. Whereas, he utterly misunderstands Swift, and is a malicious calumniator of the captain who, luckily, roaming in Sherwood, and thinking, often with a sigh, of his little nurse, [3] Glumdalclitch, would trouble himself slightly about what Heidelberg might say in the next century. There is but one example on our earth of a novel received with such indiscriminate applause as 'Gulliver;' and _that_ was 'Don Quixote.' Many have been welcomed joyfully by a class --these two by a people. Now, could that have happened had it been characterized by dulness? Of all faults, it could least have had _that_. As to the 'Tale of a Tub,' Schlosser is in such Cimmerian vapors that no system of bellows could blow open a shaft or tube through which he might gain a glimpse of the English truth and daylight. It is useless talking to such a man on such a subject. I consign him to the attentions of some patriotic Irishman.

Schlosser, however, is right in a graver reflection which he makes upon the prevailing philosophy of Swift, viz., that 'all his views were directed towards what was _immediately_ beneficial, which is the characteristic of savages.' This is undeniable. The meanness of Swift's nature, and his rigid incapacity for dealing with the grandeurs of the human spirit, with religion, with poetry, or even with science, when it rose above the mercenary practical, is absolutely appalling. His own _yahoo_ is not a more abominable one-sided degradation of humanity, than is he himself under this aspect. And, perhaps, it places this incapacity of his in its strongest light, when we recur to the fact of his _astonishment_ at a religious princess refusing to confer a bishoprick upon one that had treated the Trinity, and all the profoundest mysteries of Christianity, not with mere scepticism, or casual sneer, but with set pompous merriment and farcical buffoonery. This dignitary of the church, Dean of the most conspicuous cathedral in Ireland, had, in full canonicals, made himself into a regular mountebank, for the sake of giving fuller effect, by the force of contrast, to the silliest of jests directed against all that was most inalienable from Christianity. Ridiculing such things, could he, in any just sense, be thought a Christian? But, as Schlosser justly remarks, even ridiculing the peculiarities of Luther and Calvin as he _did_ ridicule them, Swift could not be thought other than constitutionally incapable of religion. Even a Pagan philosopher, if made to understand the case, would be incapable of scoffing at any _form_, natural or casual, simple or distorted, which might be assumed by the most solemn of problems--problems that rest with the weight of worlds upon the human spirit--

'Fix'd fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute.'

the destiny of man, or the relations of man to God. Anger, therefore, Swift _might_ feel, and he felt it [7] to the end of his most wretched life; but what reasonable ground had a man of sense for _astonishment_-- that a princess, who (according to her knowledge) was sincerely pious, should decline to place such a man upon an Episcopal throne? This argues, beyond a doubt, that Swift was in that state of constitutional irreligion, irreligion from a vulgar temperament, which imputes to everybody else its own plebeian feelings. People differed, he fancied, not by more and less religion, but by more and less dissimulations. And, therefore, it seemed to him scandalous that a princess, who must, of course, in her heart regard (in common with himself) all mysteries as solemn masques and mummeries, should pretend in a case of downright serious business, to pump up, out of dry conventional hoaxes, any solid objection to a man of his shining merit. '_The Trinity_,' for instance, _that_ he viewed as the password, which the knowing ones gave in answer to the challenge of the sentinel; but, as soon as it had obtained admission for the party within the gates of the camp, it was rightly dismissed to oblivion or to laughter. No case so much illustrates Swift's essential irreligion; since, if he had shared in ordinary human feelings on such subjects, not only he could not have been surprised at his own exclusion from the bench of bishops, _after_ such ribaldries, but originally he would have abstained from them as inevitable bars to clerical promotion, even upon principles of public decorum.

As to the _style_ of Swift, Mr. Schlosser shows himself without sensibility in his objections, as the often hackneyed English reader shows himself without philosophic knowledge of style in his applause. Schlosser thinks the style of Gulliver 'somewhat dull.' This shows Schlosser's presumption in speaking upon a point where he wanted, 1st, original delicacy of tact; and, 2dly, familiar knowledge of English. Gulliver's style is _purposely_ touched slightly with that dulness of circumstantiality which besets the excellent, but 'somewhat dull' race of men--old sea captains. Yet it wears only an aerial tint of dulness; the felicity of this coloring in Swift's management is, that it never goes the length of wearying, but only of giving a comic air of downright Wapping and Rotherhithe verisimilitude. All men grow dull, and ought to be dull, that live under a solemn sense of eternal danger, one inch only of plank (often worm-eaten) between themselves and the grave; and, also, that see for ever one wilderness of waters--sublime, but (like the wilderness on shore) monotonous. All sublime people, being monotonous, have a tendency to be dull, and sublime things also. Milton and Aeschylus, the sublimest of men, are crossed at times by a shade of dulness. It is their weak side. But as to a sea captain, a regular nor'-nor'-wester, and sou'-sou'-easter, he ought to be kicked out of the room if he is _not_ dull. It is not 'ship-shape,' or barely tolerable, that he should be otherwise. Yet, after all, considering what I have stated about Captain Gulliver's nine voyages crowding into one pocket volume, he cannot really have much abused his professional license for being dull. Indeed, one has to look out an excuse for his being so little dull; which excuse is found in the fact that he had studied three years at a learned university. Captain Gulliver, though a sailor, I would have you to know, was a gownsman of Cambridge: so says Swift, who knew more about the Captain than anybody now-a-days. Cantabs are all horsemen, _ergo_, Gulliver was fit for any thing, from the _wooden shoon_ of Cambridge up to the Horse Marines.

Now, on the other hand, you, common-place reader, that (as an old tradition) believe Swift's style to be a model of excellence, hereafter I shall say a word to you, drawn from deeper principles. At present I content myself with these three propositions, which overthrow if you can;--

1. That the merit, which justly you ascribe to Swift, is _vernacularity_; he never forgets his mother-tongue in exotic forms, unless we may call Irish exotic; for Hibernicisms he certainly has. This merit, however, is exhibited--not, as _you_ fancy, in a graceful artlessness, but in a coarse inartificiality. To be artless, and to be inartificial, are very different things; as different as being natural and being gross; as different as being simple and being homely.

2. That whatever, meantime, be the particular sort of excellence, or the value of the excellence, in the style of Swift, he had it in common with multitudes beside of that age. De Foe wrote a style for all the world the same as to kind and degree of excellence, only pure from Hibernicisms. So did every honest skipper [Dampier was something more] who had occasion to record his voyages in this world of storms. So did many a hundred of religious writers. And what wonder should there be in this, when the main qualification for such a style was plain good sense, natural feeling, unpretendingness, some little scholarly practice in putting together the clockwork of sentences, so as to avoid mechanical awkwardness of construction, but above all the advantage of a _subject_, such in its nature as instinctively to reject ornament, lest it should draw off attention from itself? Such subjects are common; but grand impassioned subjects insist upon a different treatment; and _there_ it is that the true difficulties of style commence.

3. [Which partly is suggested by the last remark.] That nearly all the blockheads with whom I have at any time had the pleasure of conversing upon the subject of style (and pardon me for saying that men of the most sense are apt, upon two subjects, viz., poetry and style, to talk _most_ like blockheads), have invariably regarded Swift's style not as if _relatively_ good [_i.e. given_ a proper subject], but as if _absolutely_ good--good unconditionally, no matter what the subject. Now, my friend, suppose the case, that the Dean had been required to write a pendant for Sir Walter Raleigh's immortal apostrophe to Death, or to many passages that I will select in Sir Thomas Brown's 'Religio Medici,' and his 'Urn-burial,' or to Jeremy Taylor's inaugural sections of his 'Holy Living and Dying,' do you know what would have happened? Are you aware what sort of ridiculous figure your poor bald Jonathan would have cut? About the same that would be cut by a forlorn scullion or waiter from a greasy eating-house at Rotterdam, if suddenly called away in vision to act as seneschal to the festival of Belshazzar the king, before a thousand of his lords.

Schlosser, after saying any thing right and true (and he really did say the true thing about Swift's _essential_ irreligion), usually becomes exhausted, like a boa-constrictor after eating his half-yearly dinner. The boa gathers himself up, it is to be hoped for a long fit of dyspepsy, in which the horns and hoofs that he has swallowed may chance to avenge the poor goat that owned them. Schlosser, on the other hand, retires into a corner, for the purpose of obstinately talking nonsense, until the gong sounds again for a slight refection of sense. Accordingly he likens Swift, before he has done with him, to whom? I might safely allow the reader three years for guessing, if the greatest of wagers were depending between us. He likens him to Kotzebue, in the first place. How faithful the resemblance! How exactly Swift reminds you of Count Benyowski in Siberia, and of Mrs. Haller moping her eyes in the 'Stranger!' One really is puzzled to say, according to the negro's logic, whether Mrs. Haller is more like the Dean of St. Patrick's, or the Dean more like Mrs. Haller. Anyhow, the likeness is prodigious, if it is not quite reciprocal. The other _terminus_ of the comparison is Wieland. Now there _is_ some shadow of a resemblance there. For Wieland had a touch of the comico-cynical in his nature; and it is notorious that he was often called the German Voltaire, which argues some tiger-monkey grin that traversed his features at intervals. Wieland's malice, however, was far more playful and genial than Swift's; something of this is shown in his romance of 'Idris,' and oftentimes in his prose. But what the world knows Wieland by is his 'Oberon.' Now in this gay, musical romance of Sir Huon and his enchanted horn, with its gleams of voluptuousness, is there a possibility that any suggestion of a scowling face like Swift's should cross the festal scenes?

From Swift the scene changes to Addison and Steele. Steele is of less importance; for, though a man of greater intellectual activity [4] than Addison, he had far less of genius. So I turn him out, as one would turn out upon a heath a ram that had missed his way into one's tulip preserve; requesting him to fight for himself against Schlosser, or others that may molest him. But, so far as concerns Addison, I am happy to support the character of Schlosser for consistency, by assuring the reader that, of all the monstrosities uttered by any man upon Addison, and of all the monstrosities uttered by Schlosser upon any man, a thing which he says about Addison is the worst. But this I reserve for a climax at the end. Schlosser really puts his best leg foremost at starting, and one thinks he's going to mend; for he catches a truth, viz., the following--that all the brilliances of the Queen Anne period (which so many inconsiderate people have called the Augustan age of our literature) 'point to this-- that the reading public wished to be entertained, not roused to think; to be gently moved, not deeply excited.' Undoubtedly what strikes a man in Addison, or _will_ strike him when indicated, is the coyness and timidity, almost the girlish shame, which he betrays in the presence of all the elementary majesties belonging to impassioned or idealized nature. Like one bred in crowded cities, when first left alone in forests or amongst mountains, he is frightened at their silence, their solitude, their magnitude of form, or their frowning glooms. It has been remarked by others that Addison and his companions never rise to the idea of addressing the 'nation' or the 'people;' it is always the 'town.' Even their audience was conceived of by _them_ under a limited form. Yet for this they had some excuse in the state of facts. A man would like at this moment to assume that Europe and Asia were listening to him; and as some few copies of his book do really go to Paris and Naples, some to Calcutta, there is a sort of legal fiction that such an assumption is steadily taking root. Yet, unhappily, that ugly barrier of languages interferes. Schamyl, the Circassian chief, though much of a savage, is not so wanting in taste and discernment as to be backward in reading any book of yours or mine. Doubtless he yearns to read it. But then, you see, that infernal _Tchirkass_ language steps between our book, the darling, and _him_, the discerning reader. Now, just such a barrier existed for the Spectator in the travelling arrangements of England. The very few old heavies that had begun to creep along three or four main roads, depended so much on wind and weather, their chances of foundering were so uncalculated, their periods of revolution were so cometary and uncertain, that no body of scientific observations had yet been collected to warrant a prudent man in risking a heavy bale of goods; and, on the whole, even for York, Norwich, or Winchester, a consignment of '_Specs_' was not quite a safe spec. Still, I could have told the Spectator who was anxious to make money, where he might have been sure of a distant sale, though returns would have been slow, viz., at Oxford and Cambridge. We know from Milton that old Hobson delivered his parcels pretty regularly eighty years before 1710. And, one generation before _that_, it is plain, by the interesting (though somewhat Jacobinical) letters [5] of Joseph Mede, the commenter on the Apocalypse, that news and politics of one kind or other (and scandal of _every_ kind) found out for themselves a sort of contraband lungs to breathe through between London and Cambridge; not quite so regular in their _systole_ and _diastole_ as the tides of ebb and flood, but better than nothing. If you consigned a packet into the proper hands on the 1st of May, 'as sure as death' to speak _Scottice_, it would be delivered within sixty miles of the capital before mid-summer. Still there were delays; and these forced a man into carving his world out of London. That excuses the word _town_.

Inexcusable, however, were many other forms of expression in those days, which argued cowardly feelings. One would like to see a searching investigation into the state of society in Anne's days--its extreme artificiality, its sheepish reserve upon all the impassioned grandeurs, its shameless outrages upon all the decencies of human nature. Certain it is, that Addison (because everybody) was in that meanest of conditions which blushes at any expression of sympathy with the lovely, the noble, or the impassioned. The wretches were ashamed of their own nature, and perhaps with reason; for in their own denaturalized hearts they read only a degraded nature. Addison, in particular, shrank from every bold and every profound expression as from an offence against good taste. He durst not for his life have used the word 'passion' except in the vulgar sense of an angry paroxysm. He durst as soon have danced a hornpipe on the top of the 'monument' as have talked of a 'rapturous emotion.' What _would_ he have said? Why, 'sentiments that were of a nature to prove agreeable after an unusual rate.' In their odious verses, the creatures of that age talk of love as something that 'burns' them. You suppose at first that they are discoursing of tallow candles, though you cannot imagine by what impertinence they address _you_, that are no tallow-chandler, upon such painful subjects. And, when they apostrophize the woman of their heart (for you are to understand that they pretend to such an organ), they beseech her to 'ease their pain.' Can human meanness descend lower? As if the man, being ill from pleurisy, therefore had a right to take a lady for one of the dressers in an hospital, whose duty it would be to fix a burgundy-pitch plaster between his shoulders. Ah, the monsters! Then to read of their Phillises and Strephons, and Chloes, and Corydons--names that, by their very non-reality amongst names of flesh and blood, proclaim the fantasticalness of the life with which they are poetically connected-- it throws me into such convulsions of rage, that I move to the window, and (without thinking what I am about) throwing it up, calling, '_Police! police!_' What's _that_ for? What can the police do in the business? Why, certainly nothing. What I meant in my dream was, perhaps [but one forgets _what_ one meant upon recovering one's temper], that the police should take Strephon and Corydon into custody, whom I fancied at the other end of the room. And really the justifiable fury, that arises upon recalling such abominable attempts at bucolic sentiments in such abominable language, sometimes transports me into a luxurious vision sinking back through one hundred and thirty years, in which I see Addison, Phillips, both John and Ambrose, Tickell, Fickell, Budgell, and Cudgell, with many others beside, all cudgelled in a round robin, none claiming precedency of another, none able to shrink from his own dividend, until a voice seems to recall me to milder thoughts by saying, 'But surely, my friend, you never could wish to see Addison cudgelled? Let Strephon and Corydon be cudgelled without end, if the police can show any warrant for doing it But Addison was a man of great genius.' True, he was so. I recollect it suddenly, and will back out of any angry things that I have been misled into saying by Schlosser, who, by-the-bye, was right, after all, for a wonder.

But now I will turn my whole fury in vengeance upon Schlosser. And, looking round for a stone to throw at him, I observe this. Addison could not be so entirely careless of exciting the public to think and feel, as Schlosser pretends, when he took so much pains to inoculate that public with a sense of the Miltonic grandeur. The 'Paradise Lost' had then been published barely forty years, which was nothing in an age without reviews; the editions were still scanty; and though no Addison could eventually promote, for the instant he quickened, the circulation. If I recollect, Tonson's accurate revision of the text followed immediately upon Addison's papers. And it is certain that Addison [6] must have diffused the knowledge of Milton upon the continent, from signs that soon followed. But does not this prove that I myself have been in the wrong as well as Schlosser? No: that's impossible. Schlosser's always in the wrong; but it's the next thing to an impossibility that I should be detected in an error: philosophically speaking, it is supposed to involve a contradiction. 'But surely I said the very same thing as Schlosser by assenting to what he said.' Maybe I did: but then I have time to make a distinction, because my article is not yet finished; we are only at page six or seven; whereas Schlosser can't make any distinction now, because his book's printed; and his list of _errata_ (which is shocking though he does not confess to the thousandth part), is actually published. My distinction is--that, though Addison generally hated the impassioned, and shrank from it as from a fearful thing, yet this was when it combined with forms of life and fleshy realities (as in dramatic works), but not when it combined with elder forms of eternal abstractions. Hence, he did not read, and did not like Shakspeare; the music was here too rapid and life-like: but he sympathized profoundly with the solemn cathedral chanting of Milton. An appeal to his sympathies which exacted quick changes in those sympathies he could not meet, but a more stationary _key_ of solemnity he _could_. Indeed, this difference is illustrated daily. A long list can be cited of passages in Shakspeare, which have been solemnly denounced by many eminent men (all blockheads) as ridiculous: and if a man _does_ find a passage in a tragedy that displeases him, it is sure to seem ludicrous: witness the indecent exposures of themselves made by Voltaire, La Harpe, and many billions beside of bilious people. Whereas, of all the shameful people (equally billions and not less bilious) that have presumed to quarrel with Milton, not one has thought him ludicrous, but only dull and somnolent. In 'Lear' and in 'Hamlet,' as in a human face agitated by passion, are many things that tremble on the brink of the ludicrous to an observer endowed with small range of sympathy or intellect. But no man ever found the starry heavens ludicrous, though many find them dull, and prefer a near view of a brandy flask. So in the solemn wheelings of the Miltonic movement, Addison could find a sincere delight. But the sublimities of earthly misery and of human frenzy were for him a book sealed. Beside all which, Milton, renewed the types of Grecian beauty as to _form_, whilst Shakspeare, without designing at all to contradict these types, did so, in effect, by his fidelity to a new nature, radiating from a Gothic centre.

In the midst, however, of much just feeling, which one could only wish a little deeper, in the Addisonian papers on 'Paradise Lost,' there are some gross blunders of criticism, as there are in Dr. Johnson, and from the self-same cause--an understanding suddenly palsied from defective passion, A feeble capacity of passion must, upon a question of passion, constitute a feeble range of intellect. But, after all, the worst thing uttered by Addison in these papers is, not _against_ Milton, but meant to be complimentary. Towards enhancing the splendor of the great poem, he tells us that it is a Grecian palace as to amplitude, symmetry, and architectural skill: but being in the English language, it is to be regarded as if built in brick; whereas, had it been so happy as to be written in Greek, then it would have been a palace built in Parian marble. Indeed! that's smart--'that's handsome, I calculate.' Yet, before a man undertakes to sell his mother-tongue, as old pewter trucked against gold, he should be quite sure of his own metallurgic skill; because else, the gold may happen to be copper, and the pewter to be silver. Are you quite sure, my Addison, that you have understood the powers of this language which you toss away so lightly, as an old tea-kettle? Is it a ruled case that you have exhausted its resources? Nobody doubts your grace in a certain line of composition, but it is only one line among many, and it is far from being amongst the highest. It is dangerous, without examination, to sell even old kettles; misers conceal old stockings filled with guineas in old tea-kettles; and we all know that Aladdin's servant, by exchanging an old lamp for a new one, caused an Iliad of calamities: his master's palace jumped from Bagdad to some place on the road to Ashantee; Mrs. Aladdin and the piccaninies were carried off as inside passengers; and Aladdin himself only escaped being lagged, for a rogue and a conjuror, by a flying jump after his palace. Now, mark the folly of man. Most of the people I am going to mention subscribed, generally, to the supreme excellence of Milton; but each wished for a little change to be made-- which, and which only was wanted to perfection. Dr. Johnson, though he pretended to be satisfied with the 'Paradise Lost,' even in what he regarded as the undress of blank verse, still secretly wished it in rhyme. That's No. 1. Addison, though quite content with it in English, still could have wished it in Greek. That's No. 2. Bentley, though admiring the blind old poet in the highest degree, still observed, smilingly, that after all he _was_ blind; he, therefore, slashing Dick, could have wished that the great man had always been surrounded by honest people; but, as that was not to be, he could have wished that his amanuensis has been hanged; but, as that also had become impossible, he could wish to do execution upon him in effigy, by sinking, burning, and destroying his handywork--upon which basis of posthumous justice, he proceeded to amputate all the finest passages in the poem. Slashing Dick was No. 3. Payne Knight was a severer man even than slashing Dick; he professed to look upon the first book of 'Paradise Lost' as the finest thing that earth had to show; but, for that very reason, he could have wished, by your leave, to see the other eleven books sawed off, and sent overboard; because, though tolerable perhaps in another situation, they really were a national disgrace, when standing behind that unrivalled portico of book 1. There goes No. 4. Then came a fellow, whose name was either not on his title page, or I have forgotten it, that pronounced the poem to be laudable, and full of good materials; but still he could have wished that the materials had been put together in a more workmanlike manner; which kind office he set about himself. He made a general clearance of all lumber: the expression of every thought he entirely re-cast: and he fitted up the metre with beautiful patent rhymes; not, I believe, out of any consideration for Dr. Johnson's comfort, but on principles of mere abstract decency: as it was, the poem seemed naked, and yet was not ashamed. There went No. 5. _Him_ succeeded a droller fellow than any of the rest. A French book-seller had caused a prose French translation to be made of the 'Paradise Lost,' without particularly noticing its English origin, or at least not in the title page. Our friend, No. 6, getting hold of this as an original French romance, translated it back into English prose, as a satisfactory novel for the season. His little mistake was at length discovered, and communicated to him with shouts of laughter; on which, after considerable kicking and plunging (for a man cannot but turn restive when he finds that he has not only got the wrong sow by the ear, but actually sold the sow to a bookseller), the poor translator was tamed into sulkiness; in which state ho observed that he could have wished his own work, being evidently so much superior to the earliest form of the romance, might be admitted by the courtesy of England to take the precedency as the original 'Paradise Lost,' and to supersede the very rude performance of 'Milton, Mr. John.' [7]

Schlosser makes the astounding assertion, that a compliment of Boileau to Addison, and a pure compliment of ceremony upon Addison's early Latin verses, was (_credite posteri!_) the making of Addison in England. Understand, Schlosser, that Addison's Latin verses were never heard of by England, until long after his English prose had fixed the public attention upon him; his Latin reputation was a slight reaction from his English reputation: and, secondly, understand that Boileau had at no time any such authority in England as to _make_ anybody's reputation; he had first of all to make his own. A sure proof of this is, that Boileau's name was first published to London, by Prior's burlesque of what the Frenchman had called an ode. This gasconading ode celebrated the passage of the Rhine in 1672, and the capture of that famous fortress called _Skink_ ('le fameux fort de'), by Louis XIV., known to London at the time of Prior's parody by the name of 'Louis Baboon.' [8] _That_ was not likely to recommend Master Boileau to any of the allies against the said Baboon, had it ever been heard of out of France. Nor was it likely to make him popular in England, that his name was first mentioned amongst shouts of laughter and mockery. It is another argument of the slight notoriety possessed by Boileau in England--that no attempt was ever made to translate even his satires, epistles, or 'Lutrin,' except by booksellers' hacks; and that no such version ever took the slightest root amongst ourselves, from Addison's day to this very summer of 1847. Boileau was essentially, and in two senses, viz., both as to mind and as to influence, _un homme borne_.

Addison's 'Blenheim' is poor enough; one might think it a translation from some German original of those times. Gottsched's aunt, or Bodmer's wet- nurse, might have written it; but still no fibs even as to 'Blenheim.' His 'enemies' did not say this thing against 'Blenheim' 'aloud,' nor his friends that thing against it 'softly.' And why? Because at that time (1704-5) he had made no particular enemies, nor any particular friends; unless by friends you mean his Whig patrons, and by enemies his tailor and co.

As to 'Cato,' Schlosser, as usual, wanders in the shadow of ancient night. The English 'people,' it seems, so 'extravagantly applauded' this wretched drama, that you might suppose them to have 'altogether changed their nature,' and to have forgotten Shakspeare. That man must have forgotten Shakspeare, indeed, and from _ramollissement_ of the brain, who could admire 'Cato.' 'But,' says Schlosser, 'it was only a 'fashion;' and the English soon repented.' The English could not repent of a crime which they had never committed. Cato was not popular for a moment, nor tolerated for a moment, upon any literary ground, or as a work of art. It was an apple of temptation and strife thrown by the goddess of faction between two infuriated parties. 'Cato,' coming from a man without Parliamentary connections, would have dropped lifeless to the ground. The Whigs have always affected a special love and favor for popular counsels: they have never ceased to give themselves the best of characters as regards public freedom. The Tories, as contradistinguished to the Jacobites, knowing that without _their_ aid, the Revolution could not have been carried, most justly contended that the national liberties had been at least as much indebted to themselves. When, therefore, the Whigs put forth _their_ man Cato to mouth speeches about liberty, as exclusively _their_ pet, and about patriotism and all that sort of thing, saying insultingly to the Tories, 'How do you like _that_? Does _that_ sting?' 'Sting, indeed!' replied the Tories; 'not at all; it's quite refreshing to us, that the Whigs have not utterly disowned such sentiments, which, by their public acts, we really thought they _had_.' And, accordingly, as the popular anecdote tells us, a Tory leader, Lord Bolingbroke, sent for Booth who performed Cato, and presented him (_populo spectante_) with fifty guineas 'for defending so well the cause of the people against a perpetual dictator.' In which words, observe, Lord Bolingbroke at once asserted the cause of his own party, and launched a sarcasm against a great individual opponent, viz., Marlborough. Now, Mr. Schlosser, I have mended your harness: all right ahead; so drive on once more.

But, oh Castor and Pollux, whither--in what direction is it, that the man is driving us? Positively, Schlosser, you must stop and let _me_ get out. I'll go no further with such a drunken coachman. Many another absurd thing I was going to have noticed, such as his utter perversion of what Mandeville said about Addison (viz., by suppressing one word, and misapprehending all the rest). Such, again, as his point-blank misstatement of Addison's infirmity in his official character, which was _not_ that 'he could not prepare despatches in a good style,' but diametrically the opposite case--that he insisted too much on style, to the serious retardation of public business. But all these things are as nothing to what Schlosser says elsewhere. He actually describes Addison, on the whole, as a 'dull prosaist,' and the patron of pedantry! Addison, the man of all that ever lived most hostile even to what was good in pedantry, to its tendencies towards the profound in erudition and the non- popular; Addison, the champion of all that is easy, natural, superficial, a pedant and a master of pedantry! Get down, Schlosser, this moment; or let _me_ get out.

Pope, by far the most important writer, English or Continental, of his own age, is treated with more extensive ignorance by Mr. Schlosser than any other, and (excepting Addison) with more ambitious injustice. A false abstract is given, or a false impression, of any one amongst his brilliant works, that is noticed at all; and a false sneer, a sneer irrelevant to the case, at any work dismissed by name as unworthy of notice. The three works, selected as the gems of Pope's collection, are the 'Essay on Criticism,' the 'Rape of the Lock,' and the 'Essay on Man.' On the first, which (with Dr. Johnson's leave) is the feeblest and least interesting of Pope's writings, being substantially a mere versification, like a metrical multiplication-table, of common-places the most mouldy with which criticism has baited its rat-traps; since nothing is said worth answering, it is sufficient to answer nothing. The 'Rape of the Lock' is treated with the same delicate sensibility that we might have looked for in Brennus, if consulted on the picturesque, or in Attila the Hun, if adjured to decide aesthetically, between two rival cameos. Attila is said (though no doubt falsely) to have described himself as not properly a man so much as the Divine wrath incarnate. This would be fine in a melodrama, with Bengal lights burning on the stage. But, if ever he said such a naughty thing, he forgot to tell us what it was that had made him angry; by what _title_ did _he_ come into alliance with the Divine wrath, which was not likely to consult a savage? And why did his wrath hurry, by forced marches, to the Adriatic? Now so much do people differ in opinion, that, to us, who look at him through a telescope from an eminence, fourteen centuries distant, he takes the shape rather of a Mahratta trooper, painfully gathering _chout_, or a cateran levying black-mail, or a decent tax-gatherer with an inkhorn at his button-hole, and supported by a select party of constabulary friends. The very natural instinct which Attila always showed for following the trail of the wealthiest footsteps, seems to argue a most commercial coolness in the dispensation of his wrath. Mr. Schlosser burns with the wrath of Attila against all aristocracies, and especially that of England. He governs his fury, also, with an Attila discretion in many cases; but not here. Imagine this Hun coming down, sword in hand, upon Pope and his Rosicrucian light troops, levying _chout_ upon Sir Plume, and fluttering the dove-cot of the Sylphs. Pope's 'duty it was,' says this demoniac, to 'scourge the follies of good society,' and also 'to break with the aristocracy.' No, surely? something short of a total rupture would have satisfied the claims of duty? Possibly; but it would not have satisfied Schlosser. And Pope's guilt consists in having made his poem an idol or succession of pictures representing the gayer aspects of society as it really was, and supported by a comic interest of the mock-heroic derived from a playful machinery, instead of converting it into a bloody satire. Pope, however, did not shrink from such assaults on the aristocracy, if these made any part of his duties. Such assaults he made twice at least too often for his own peace, and perhaps for his credit at this day. It is useless, however, to talk of the poem as a work of art, with one who sees none of its exquisite graces, and can imagine his countryman Zacharia equal to a competition with Pope. But this it may be right to add, that the 'Rape of the Lock' was not borrowed from the 'Lutrin' of Boileau. That was impossible. Neither was it suggested by the 'Lutrin.' The story in Herodotus of the wars between cranes and pigmies, or the _Batrachomyomachia_ (so absurdly ascribed to Homer) might have suggested the idea more naturally. Both these, there is proof that Pope had read: there is none that he had read the 'Lutrin,' nor did he read French with ease to himself. The 'Lutrin,' meantime, is as much below the 'Rape of the Lock' in brilliancy of treatment, as it is dissimilar in plan or the quality of its pictures.

The 'Essay on Man' is a more thorny subject. When a man finds himself attacked and defended from all quarters, and on all varieties of principle, he is bewildered. Friends are as dangerous as enemies. He must not defy a bristling enemy, if he cares for repose; he must not disown a zealous defender, though making concessions on his own behalf not agreeable to himself; he must not explain away ugly phrases in one direction, or perhaps he is recanting the very words of his 'guide, philosopher, and friend,' who cannot safely be taxed with having first led him into temptation; he must not explain them away in another direction, or he runs full tilt into the wrath of mother Church--who will soon bring him to his senses by penance. Long lents, and no lampreys allowed, would soon cauterize the proud flesh of heretical ethics. Pope did wisely, situated as he was, in a decorous nation, and closely connected, upon principles of fidelity under political suffering, with the Roman Catholics, to say little in his own defence. That defence, and any reversionary cudgelling which it might entail upon the Quixote undertaker, he left--meekly but also slyly, humbly but cunningly--to those whom he professed to regard as greater philosophers than himself. All parties found their account in the affair. Pope slept in peace; several pugnacious gentlemen up and down Europe expectorated much fiery wrath in dusting each other's jackets; and Warburton, the attorney, finally earned his bishoprick in the service of whitewashing a writer, who was aghast at finding himself first trampled on as a deist, and then exalted as a defender of the faith. Meantime, Mr. Schlosser mistakes Pope's courtesy, when he supposes his acknowledgments to Lord Bolingbroke sincere in their whole extent.

Of Pope's 'Homer' Schlosser think fit to say, amongst other evil things, which it really _does_ deserve (though hardly in comparison with the German 'Homer' of the ear-splitting Voss), 'that Pope pocketed the subscription of the "Odyssey," and left the work to be done by his understrappers.' Don't tell fibs, Schlosser. Never do _that_ any more. True it is, and disgraceful enough, that Pope (like modern contractors for a railway or a loan) let off to sub-contractors several portions of the undertaking. He was perhaps not illiberal in the terms of his contracts. At least I know of people now-a-days (much better artists) that would execute such contracts, and enter into any penalties for keeping time at thirty per cent. less. But _navies_ and billbrokers, that are in excess now, then were scarce. Still the affair, though not mercenary, was illiberal in a higher sense of art; and no anecdote shows more pointedly Pope's sense of the mechanic fashion, in which his own previous share of the Homeric labor had been executed. It was disgraceful enough, and needs no exaggeration. Let it, therefore, be reported truly: Pope personally translated one-half of the 'Odyssey'--a dozen books he turned out of his own oven: and, if you add the _Batrachomyomachia_, his dozen was a baker's dozen. The journeyman did the other twelve; were regularly paid; regularly turned off when the job was out of hand; and never once had to 'strike for wages.' How much beer was allowed, I cannot say. This is the truth of the matter. So no more fibbing, Schlosser, if you please.

But there remains behind all these labors of Pope, the 'Dunciad,' which is by far his greatest. I shall not, within the narrow bounds assigned to me, enter upon a theme so exacting; for, in this instance, I should have to fight not against Schlosser only, but against Dr. Johnson, who has thoroughly misrepresented the nature of the 'Dunciad,' and, consequently, could not measure its merits. Neither he, nor Schlosser, in fact, ever read more than a few passages of this admirable poem. But the villany is too great for a brief exposure. One thing only I will notice of Schlosser's misrepresentations. He asserts (not when directly speaking of Pope, but afterwards, under the head of Voltaire) that the French author's trivial and random _Temple de Gout_ 'shows the superiority in this species of poetry to have been greatly on the side of the Frenchman.' Let's hear a reason, though but a Schlosser reason, for this opinion: know, then, all men whom it concerns, that 'the Englishman's satire only hit such people as would never have been known without his mention of them, whilst Voltaire selected those who were still called great, and their respective schools.' Pope's men, it seems, never _had_ been famous--Voltaire's might cease to be so, but as yet they had _not_ ceased; as yet they commanded interest. Now mark how I will put three bullets into that plank, riddle it so that the leak shall not be stopped by all the old hats in Heidelberg, and Schlosser will have to swim for his life. First, he is forgetting that, by his own previous confession, Voltaire, not less than Pope, had 'immortalized a great many _insignificant_ persons;' consequently, had it been any fault to do so, each alike was caught in that fault; and insignificant as the people might be, if they _could_ be 'immortalized,' then we have Schlosser himself confessing to the possibility that poetic splendor should create a secondary interest where originally there had been none. Secondly, the question of merit does not arise from the object of the archer, but from the style of his archery. Not the choice of victims, but the execution done is what counts. Even for continued failures it would plead advantageously, much more for continued and brilliant successes, that Pope fired at an object offering no sufficient breadth of mark. Thirdly, it is the grossest of blunders to say that Pope's objects of satire were obscure by comparison with Voltaire's. True, the Frenchman's example of a scholar, viz., the French Salmasius, was most accomplished. But so was the Englishman's scholar, viz., the English Bentley. Each was absolutely without a rival in his own day. But the day of Bentley was the very day of Pope. Pope's man had not even faded; whereas the day of Salmasius, as respected Voltaire had gone by for more than half a century. As to Dacier, '_which_ Dacier, Bezonian?' The husband was a passable scholar--but madame was a poor sneaking fellow, fit only for the usher of a boarding- school. All this, however, argues Schlosser's two-fold ignorance--first, of English authors; second, of the 'Dunciad;'--else he would have known that even Dennis, mad John Dennis, was a much cleverer man than most of those alluded to by Voltaire. Cibber, though slightly a coxcomb, was born a brilliant man. Aaron Hill was so lustrous, that even Pope's venom fell off spontaneously, like rain from the plumage of a pheasant, leaving him to 'mount far upwards with the swans of Thanes'--and, finally, let it not be forgotten, that Samuel Clarke Burnet, of the Charterhouse, and Sir Isaac Newton, did not wholly escape tasting the knout; if _that_ rather impeaches the equity, and sometimes the judgment of Pope, at least it contributes to show the groundlessness of Schlosser's objection--that the population of the Dunciad, the characters that filled its stage, were inconsiderable.


It is, or it _would_ be, if Mr. Schlosser were himself more interesting, luxurious to pursue his ignorance as to facts, and the craziness of his judgment as to the valuation of minds, throughout his comparison of Burke with Fox. The force of antithesis brings out into a feeble life of meaning, what, in its own insulation, had been languishing mortally into nonsense. The darkness of his 'Burke' becomes _visible_ darkness under the glimmering that steals upon it from the desperate commonplaces of this 'Fox.' Fox is painted exactly as he _would_ have been painted fifty years ago by any pet subaltern of the Whig club, enjoying free pasture in Devonshire House. The practised reader knows well what is coming. Fox is 'formed after the model of the ancients'--Fox is 'simple'--Fox is 'natural'--Fox is 'chaste'--Fox is 'forcible;' why yes, in a sense, Fox is even 'forcible:' but then, to feel that he was so, you must have _heard_ him; whereas, for forty years he has been silent. We of 1847, that can only _read_ him, hearing Fox described as _forcible_, are disposed to recollect Shakspeare's Mr. Feeble amongst Falstaff's recruits, who also is described as _forcible_, viz., as the 'most forcible Feeble.' And, perhaps, a better description could not be devised for Fox himself--so feeble was he in matter, so forcible in manner; so powerful for instant effect, so impotent for posterity. In the Pythian fury of his gestures--in his screaming voice--in his directness of purpose, Fox would now remind you of some demon steam-engine on a railroad, some Fire-king or Salmoneus, that had counterfeited, because he could not steal, Jove's thunderbolts; hissing, bubbling, snorting, fuming; demoniac gas, you think--gas from Acheron must feed that dreadful system of convulsions. But pump out the imaginary gas, and, behold! it is ditch-water. Fox, as Mr. Schlosser rightly thinks, was all of a piece--simple in his manners, simple in his style, simple in his thoughts. No waters in _him_ turbid with new crystalizations; everywhere the eye can see to the bottom. No music in _him_ dark with Cassandra meanings. Fox, indeed, disturb decent gentlemen by 'allusions to all the sciences, from the integral calculus and metaphysics to navigation!' Fox would have seen you hanged first. Burke, on the other hand, did all that, and other wickedness besides, which fills an 8vo page in Schlosser; and Schlosser crowns his enormities by charging him, the said Burke (p. 99), with '_wearisome tediousness_.' Among my own acquaintances are several old women, who think on this point precisely as Schlosser thinks; and they go further, for they even charge Burke with 'tedious wearisomeness.' Oh, sorrowful woe, and also woeful sorrow, when an Edmund Burke arises, like a _cheeta_ or hunting leopard coupled in a tiger-chase with a German poodle. To think, in a merciful spirit, of the jungle--barely to contemplate, in a temper of humanity, the incomprehensible cane-thickets, dark and bristly, into which that bloody _cheeta_ will drag that unoffending poodle!

But surely the least philosophic of readers, who hates philosophy 'as toad or asp,' must yet be aware, that, where new growths are not germinating, it is no sort of praise to be free from the throes of growth. Where expansion is hopeless, it is little glory to have escaped distortion. Nor is it any blame that the rich fermentation of grapes should disturb the transparency of their golden fluids. Fox had nothing new to tell us, nor did he hold a position amongst men that required or would even have allowed him to tell anything new. He was helmsman to a party; what he had to do, though seeming to _give_ orders, was simply to repeat _their_ orders--'Port your helm,' said the party; 'Port it is,' replied the helmsman.--But Burke was no steersman; he was the Orpheus that sailed with the Argonauts; he was their _seer_, seeing more in his visions than he always understood himself; he was their watcher through the hours of night; he was their astrological interpreter. Who complains of a prophet for being a little darker of speech than a post-office directory? or of him that reads the stars for being sometimes perplexed?

But, even as to facts, Schlosser is always blundering. Post-office directories would be of no use to _him;_ nor link-boys; nor blazing tar-barrels. He wanders in a fog such as sits upon the banks of Cocytus. He fancies that Burke, in his lifetime, was _popular_. Of course, it is so natural to be popular by means of '_wearisome tediousness_,' that Schlosser, above all people, should credit such a tale. Burke has been dead just fifty years, come next autumn. I remember the time from this accident--that my own nearest relative stepped on a day of October, 1797, into that same suite of rooms at Bath (North Parade) from which, six hours before, the great man had been carried out to die at Beaconsfield. It is, therefore, you see, fifty years. Now, ever since then, his _collective_ works have been growing in bulk by the incorporation of juvenile essays (such as his 'European Settlements,' his 'Essay on the Sublime,' on 'Lord Bolingbroke,' &c.;) or (as more recently) by the posthumous publication of his MSS; [9] and yet, ever since then, in spite of growing age and growing bulk, are more in demand. At this time, half a century after his last sigh, Burke _is_ popular; a thing, let me tell you, Schlosser, which never happened before to a writer steeped to his lips in _personal_ politics. What a tilth of intellectual lava must that man have interfused amongst the refuse and scoria of such mouldering party rubbish, to force up a new verdure and laughing harvests, annually increasing for new generations! Popular he _is_ now, but popular he was not in his own generation. And how could Schlosser have the face to say that he was? Did he never hear the notorious anecdote, that at one period Burke obtained the _sobriquet_ of 'dinner-bell?' And why? Not as one who invited men to a banquet by his gorgeous eloquence, but as one that gave a signal to shoals in the House of Commons, for seeking refuge in a _literal_ dinner from the oppression of his philosophy. This was, perhaps, in part a scoff of his opponents. Yet there must have been some foundation for the scoff, since, at an earlier stage of Burke's career, Goldsmith had independently said, that this great orator

--------'went on refining,
And thought of convincing, whilst _they_ thought of dining.'

I blame neither party. It ought not to be expected of any _popular_ body that it should be patient of abstractions amongst the intensities of party-strife, and the immediate necessities of voting. No deliberative body would less have tolerated such philosophic exorbitations from public business than the _agora_ of Athens, or the Roman senate. So far the error was in Burke, not in the House of Commons. Yet, also, on the other side, it must be remembered, that an intellect of Burke's combining power and enormous compass, could not, from necessity of nature, abstain from such speculations. For a man to reach a remote posterity, it is sometimes necessary that he should throw his voice over to them in a vast arch--it must sweep a parabola--which, therefore, rises high above the heads of those next to him, and is heard by the bystanders but indistinctly, like bees swarming in the upper air before they settle on the spot fit for hiving.

See, therefore, the immeasurableness of misconception. Of all public men, that stand confessedly in the first rank as to splendor of intellect, Burke was the _least_ popular at the time when our blind friend Schlosser assumes him to have run off with the lion's share of popularity. Fox, on the other hand, as the leader of opposition, was at that time a household term of love or reproach, from one end of the island to the other. To the very children playing in the streets, Pitt and Fox, throughout Burke's generation, were pretty nearly as broad distinctions, and as much a war- cry, as English and French, Roman and Punic. Now, however, all this is altered. As regards the relations between the two Whigs whom Schlosser so steadfastly delighteth to misrepresent,

'Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer'

for that intellectual potentate, Edmund Burke, the man whose true mode of power has never yet been truly investigated; whilst Charles Fox is known only as an echo is known, and for any real _effect_ of intellect upon this generation, for anything but the 'whistling of a name,' the Fox of 1780-1807 sleeps where the carols of the larks are sleeping, that gladdened the spring-tides of those years--sleeps with the roses that glorified the beauty of their summers. [10]


Schlosser talks of Junius, who is to him, as to many people, more than entirely the enigma of an enigma, Hermes Trismegistus, or the mediaeval Prester John. Not only are most people unable to solve the enigma, but they have no idea of what it is that they are to solve. I have to inform Schlosser that there are three separate questions about Junius, of which he has evidently no distinct knowledge, and cannot, therefore, have many chances to spare for settling them. The three questions are these:--A. Who _was_ Junius? B. What was it that armed Junius with a power so unaccountable at this day over the public mind? C. Why, having actually exercised this power, and gained under his masque far more than he ever hoped to gain, did this Junius not come forward _in his own person_, when all the legal danger had long passed away, to claim a distinction that for _him_ (among the vainest of men) must have been more precious than his heart's blood? The two questions, B and C, I have examined in past times, and I will not here repeat my explanations further than to say, with respect to the last, that the reason for the author not claiming his own property was this, because he _dared_ not; because it would have been _infamy_ for him to avow himself as Junius; because it would have revealed a crime and published a crime in his own earlier life, for which many a man is transported in our days, and for less than which many a man has been in past days hanged, broken on the wheel, burned, gibbeted, or impaled. To say that he watched and listened at his master's key-holes, is nothing. It was not key-holes only that he made free with, but keys; he tampered with his master's seals; he committed larcenies; not, like a brave man, risking his life on the highway, but petty larcenies--larcenies in a dwelling-house--larcenies under the opportunities of a confidential situation--crimes which formerly, in the days of Junius, our bloody code never pardoned in villains of low degree. Junius was in the situation of Lord Byron's Lara, or, because Lara is a plagiarism, of Harriet Lee's Kraitzrer. But this man, because he had money, friends, and talents, instead of going to prison, took himself off for a jaunt to the continent. From the continent, in full security and in possession of the _otium cum dignitate_, he negotiated with the government, whom he had alarmed by publishing the secrets which he had stolen. He succeeded. He sold himself to great advantage. Bought and sold he was; and of course it is understood that, if you buy a knave, and expressly in consideration of his knaveries, you secretly undertake not to hang him. 'Honor bright!' Lord Barrington might certainly have indicted Junius at the Old Bailey, and had a reason for wishing to do so; but George III., who was a party to the negotiation, and all his ministers, would have said, with fits of laughter--'Oh, come now, my lord, you must _not_ do that. For, since we have bargained for a price to send him out as a member of council to Bengal, you see clearly that we could not possibly hang him _before_ we had fulfilled our bargain. Then it is true we might hang him after he comes back. But, since the man (being a clever man) has a fair chance in the interim of rising to be Governor-General, we put it to your candor, Lord Barrington, whether it would be for the public service to hang his excellency?' In fact, he might probably have been Governor-General, had his bad temper not overmastered him. Had he not quarrelled so viciously with Mr. Hastings, it is ten to one that he might, by playing his cards well, have succeeded him. As it was, after enjoying an enormous salary, he returned to England--not Governor-General, certainly, but still in no fear of being hanged. Instead of hanging him, on second thoughts, Government gave him a red ribbon. He represented a borough in Parliament. He was an authority upon Indian affairs. He was caressed by the Whig party. He sat at good men's tables. He gave for toasts--_Joseph Surface_ sentiments at dinner parties-- 'The man that betrays' [something or other]--'the man that sneaks into' [other men's portfolios, perhaps]--'is'--ay, _what_ is he? Why he is, perhaps, a Knight of the Bath, has a sumptuous mansion in St. James's Square, dies full of years and honor, has a pompous funeral, and fears only some such epitaph as this--'Here lies, in a red ribbon, the man who built a great prosperity on the basis of a great knavery.' I complain heavily of Mr. Taylor, the very able unmasker of Junius, for blinking the whole questions B and C. He it is that has settled the question A, so that it will never be re-opened by a man of sense. A man who doubts, after _really_ reading Mr. Taylor's work, is not only a blockhead, but an irreclaimable blockhead. It is true that several men, among them Lord Brougham, whom Schlosser (though hating him, and kicking him) cites, still profess scepticism. But the reason is evident: they have not _read_ the book, they have only heard of it. They are unacquainted with the strongest arguments, and even with the nature of the evidence. [11] Lord Brougham, indeed, is generally reputed to have reviewed Mr. Taylor's book. _That_ may be: it is probable enough: what I am denying is not at all that Lord Brougham _reviewed_ Mr. Taylor, but that Lord Brougham _read_ Mr. Taylor. And there is not much wonder in _that_, when we see professed writers on the subject--bulky writers--writers of Answers and Refutations, dispensing with the whole of Mr. Taylor's book, single paragraphs of which would have forced them to cancel their own. The possibility of scepticism, after really _reading_ Mr. Taylor's book, would be the strongest exemplification upon record of Sancho's proverbial reproach, that a man 'wanted better bread than was made of wheat--' would be the old case renewed from the scholastic grumblers 'that some men do not know when they are answered.' They have got their _quietus_, and they still continue to 'maunder' on with objections long since disposed of. In fact, it is not too strong a thing to say--and Chief Justice Dallas _did_ say something like it--that if Mr. Taylor is not right, if Sir Philip Francis is _not_ Junius, then was no man ever yet hanged on sufficient evidence. Even confession is no absolute proof. Even confessing to a crime, the man may be mad. Well, but at least seeing is believing: if the court sees a man commit an assault, will not _that_ suffice? Not at all: ocular delusions on the largest scale are common. What's a court? Lawyers have no better eyes than other people. Their physics are often out of repair, and whole cities have been known to see things that could have no existence. Now, all other evidence is held to be short of this blank seeing or blank confessing. But I am not at all sure of _that_. Circumstantial evidence, that multiplies indefinitely its points of _internexus_ with known admitted facts, is more impressive than direct testimony. If you detect a fellow with a large sheet of lead that by many (to wit seventy) salient angles, that by tedious (to wit thirty) reentrant angles, fits into and owns its sisterly relationship to all that is left of the lead upon your roof--this tight fit will weigh more with a jury than even if my lord chief justice should jump into the witness-box, swearing that, with judicial eyes, he saw the vagabond cutting the lead whilst he himself sat at breakfast; or even than if the vagabond should protest before this honorable court that he _did_ cut the lead, in order that he (the said vagabond) might have hot rolls and coffee as well as my lord, the witness. If Mr. Taylor's body of evidence does _not_ hold water, then is there no evidence extant upon any question, judicial or not judicial, that _will_.

But I blame Mr. Taylor heavily for throwing away the whole argument applicable to B and C; not as any debt that rested particularly upon _him_ to public justice; but as a debt to the integrity of his own book. That book is now a fragment; admirable as regards A; but (by omitting B and C) not sweeping the whole area of the problem. There yet remains, therefore, the dissatisfaction which is always likely to arise-- not from the smallest _allegatio falsi_, but from the large _suppressio veri_. B, which, on any other solution than the one I have proposed, is perfectly unintelligible, now becomes plain enough. To imagine a heavy, coarse, hard-working government, seriously affected by such a bauble as _they_ would consider performances on the tight rope of style, is mere midsummer madness. 'Hold your absurd tongue,' would any of the ministers have said to a friend descanting on Junius as a powerful artist of style-- 'do you dream, dotard, that this baby's rattle is the thing that keeps us from sleeping? Our eyes are fixed on something else: that fellow, whoever he is, knows what he ought _not_ to know; he has had his hand in some of our pockets: he's a good locksmith, is that Junius; and before he reaches Tyburn, who knows what amount of mischief he may do to self and partners?' The rumor that ministers were themselves alarmed (which was the naked truth) travelled downwards; but the _why_ did not travel; and the innumerable blockheads of lower circles, not understanding the real cause of fear, sought a false one in the supposed thunderbolts of the rhetoric. Opera-house thunderbolts they were: and strange it is, that grave men should fancy newspapers, teeming (as they have always done) with _Publicolas_, with _Catos_, with _Algernon Sidneys_, able by such trivial small shot to gain a moment's attention from the potentates of Downing Street. Those who have despatches to write, councils to attend, and votes of the Commons to manage, think little of Junius Brutus. A Junius Brutus, that dares not sign by his own honest name, is presumably skulking from his creditors. A Timoleon, who hints at assassination in a newspaper, one may take it for granted, is a manufacturer of begging letters. And it is a conceivable case that a twenty pound note, enclosed to Timoleon's address, through the newspaper office, might go far to soothe that great patriot's feelings, and even to turn aside his avenging dagger. These sort of people were not the sort to frighten a British Ministry. One laughs at the probable conversation between an old hunting squire coming up to comfort the First Lord of the Treasury, on the rumor that he was panic-struck. 'What, surely, my dear old friend, you're not afraid of Timoleon?' First Lord.--'Yes, I am.' C. Gent.--'What, afraid of an anonymous fellow in the papers?' F. L.--'Yes, dreadfully.' C. Gent.--'Why, I always understood that these people were a sort of shams--living in Grub Street--or where was it that Pope used to tell us they lived? Surely you're not afraid of Timoleon, because some people think he's a patriot?' F. L.--'No, not at all; but I am afraid because some people think he's a housebreaker!' In that character only could Timoleon become formidable to a Cabinet Minister; and in some such character must our friend, Junius Brutus, have made himself alarming to Government. From the moment that B is properly explained, it throws light upon C. The Government was alarmed--not at such moonshine as patriotism, or at a soap-bubble of rhetoric--but because treachery was lurking amongst their own households: and, if the thing went on, the consequences might be appalling. But this domestic treachery, which accounts for B, accounts at the same time for C. The very same treachery that frightened its objects at the time by the consequences it might breed, would frighten its author afterwards from claiming its literary honors by the remembrances it might awaken. The mysterious disclosures of official secrets, which had once roused so much consternation within a limited circle, and (like the French affair of the diamond necklace) had sunk into neglect only when all clue seemed lost for _perfectly_ unravelling its would revive in all its interest when a discovery came before the public, viz., a claim on the part of Francis to have written the famous letters, which must at the same time point a strong light upon the true origin of the treacherous disclosures. Some astonishment had always existed as to Francis--how he rose so suddenly into rank and station: some astonishment always existed as to Junius, how he should so suddenly have fallen asleep as a writer in the journals. The coincidence of this sudden and unaccountable silence with the sudden and unaccountable Indian appointment of Francis; the extraordinary familiarity of Junius, which had _not altogether escaped notice_, with the secrets of one particular office, viz., the War Office; the sudden recollection, sure to flash upon all who remembered Francis, if again he should become revived into suspicion, that he had held a situation of trust in that particular War Office; all these little recollections would begin to take up their places in a connected story: _this_ and _that_, laid together, would become clear as day-light; and to the keen eyes of still surviving enemies--Horne Tooke, 'little Chamier,' Ellis, the Fitzroy, Russell, and Murray houses--the whole progress and catastrophe of the scoundrelism, the perfidy and the profits of the perfidy, would soon become as intelligible as any tale of midnight burglary from without, in concert with a wicked butler within, that was ever sifted by judge and jury at the Old Bailey, or critically reviewed by Mr. John Ketch at Tyburn.

Francis was the man. Francis was the wicked butler within, whom Pharaoh ought to have hanged, but whom he clothed in royal apparel, and mounted upon a horse that carried him to a curule chair of honor. So far his burglary prospered. But, as generally happens in such cases, this prosperous crime subsequently avenged itself. By a just retribution, the success of Junius, in two senses so monstrously exaggerated--exaggerated by a romantic over-estimate of its intellectual power through an error of the public, not admitted to the secret--and equally exaggerated as to its political power by the government in the hush-money for its future suppression, became the heaviest curse of the successful criminal. This criminal thirsted for literary distinction above all other distinction, with a childish eagerness, as for the _amrecta_ cup of immortality. And, behold! there the brilliant bauble lay, glittering in the sands of a solitude, unclaimed by any man; disputed with him (if he chose to claim it) by nobody; and yet for his life he durst not touch it. He stood--he knew that he stood--in the situation of a murderer who has dropt an inestimable jewel upon the murdered body in the death-struggle with his victim. The jewel is his! Nobody will deny it. He may have it for asking. But to ask is his death-warrant. 'Oh yes!' would be the answer, 'here's your jewel, wrapt up safely in tissue paper. But here's another lot that goes along with it--no bidder can take them apart--viz. a halter, also wrapt up in tissue paper.' Francis, in relation to Junius, was in that exact predicament. 'You are Junius? You are that famous man who has been missing since 1772? And you can prove it? God bless me! sir; what a long time you've been sleeping: every body's gone to bed. Well, then, you are an exceedingly clever fellow, that have had the luck to be thought ten times more clever than really you were. And also, you are the greatest scoundrel that at this hour rests in Europe unhanged!'--Francis died, and made no sign. Peace of mind he had parted with for a peacock's feather, which feather, living or dying, he durst not mount in the plumage of his cap.


[1] Even Pope, with all his natural and reasonable interest in aristocratic society, could not shut his eyes to the fact that a jest in _his_ mouth became twice a jest in a lord's. But still he failed to perceive what I am here contending for, that if the jest happened to miss fire, through the misfortune of bursting its barrel, the consequences would be far worse for the lord than the commoner. There _is_, you see, a blind sort of compensation.

[2] Mr. Schlosser, who speaks English, who has read rather too much English for any good that he has turned it to, and who ought to have a keen eye for the English version of his own book, after so much reading and study of it, has, however, overlooked several manifest errors. I do not mean to tax Mr. Davison with, general inaccuracy. On the contrary, he seems wary, and in most cases successful as a dealer with the peculiarities of the German. But several cases of error I detect without needing the original: they tell their own story. And one of these I here notice, not only for its own importance, but out of love to Schlosser, and by way of nailing his guarantee to the counter--not altogether as a bad shilling, but as a light one. At p. 5 of vol. 2, in a foot-note, which is speaking of Kant, we read of his _attempt to introduce the notion of negative greatness into Philosophy. Negative greatness!_ What strange bird may _that_ be? Is it the _ornithorynchus paradoxus_? Mr. Schlosser was not wide awake _there_. The reference is evidently to Kant's essay upon the advantages of introducing into philosophy the algebraic idea of _negative quantities_. It is one of Kant's grandest gleams into hidden truth. Were it only for the merits of this most masterly essay in reconstituting the algebraic meaning of a _negative quantity_ [so generally misunderstood as a _negation_ of quantity, and which even Sir Isaac Newton misconstrued as regarded its metaphysics], great would have been the service rendered to logic by Kant. But there is a greater. From this little _brochure_ I am satisfied was derived originally the German regeneration of the Dynamic philosophy, its expansion through the idea of polarity, indifference, &c.; Oh, Mr. Schlosser, you had not _gepruft_ p. 5 of vol. 2. You skipped the notes.

[3] '_Little nurse_:'--the word _Glumdalclitch_, in Brobdingnagian, absolutely _means little nurse_, and nothing else. It may seem odd that the captain should call any nurse of Brobdingnag, however kind to him, by such an epithet as _little_; and the reader may fancy that Sherwood forest had put it into his head, where Robin Hood always called his right hand man 'Little John,' not _although_, but expressly _because_ John stood seven feet high in his stockings. But the truth is--that Glumdalclitch _was_ little; and literally so; she was only nine years old, and (says the captain) 'little of her age,' being barely forty feet high. She had time to grow certainly, but as she had so much to do before she could overtake other women, it is probable that she would turn out what, in Westmoreland, they call a, _little stiffenger_--very little, if at all, higher than a common English church steeple.

[4.] '_Activity_,'--It is some sign of this, as well as of the more thoroughly English taste in literature which distinguished Steele, that hardly twice throughout the 'Spectator' is Shakspeare quoted or alluded to by Addison. Even these quotations he had from the theatre, or the breath of popular talk. Generally, if you see a line from Shakspeare, it is safe to bet largely that the paper is Steele's; sometimes, indeed, of casual contributors; but, almost to a certainty, _not_ a paper of Addison's. Another mark of Steele's superiority in vigor of intellect is, that much oftener in _him_ than in other contributors strong thoughts came forward; harsh and disproportioned, perhaps, to the case, and never harmoniously developed with the genial grace of Addison, but original, and pregnant with promise and suggestion.

[5] 'Letters of Joseph Mede,' published more than twenty years ago by Sir Henry Ellis.

[6] It is an idea of many people, and erroneously sanctioned by Wordsworth, that Lord Somers gave a powerful lift to the 'Paradise Lost.' He was a subscriber to the sixth edition, the first that had plates; but this was some years before the Revolution of 1688, and when he was simply Mr. Somers, a barrister, with no effectual power of patronage.

[7] '_Milton, Mr. John_:'--Dr. Johnson expressed his wrath, in an amusing way, at some bookseller's hack who, when employed to make an index, introduced Milton's name among the M's, under the civil title of-- 'Milton, Mr. John.'

[8] '_Louis Baboon_:'--As people read nothing in these days that is more than forty-eight hours old, I am daily admonished that allusions the most obvious to anything in the rear of our own time, needs explanation. _Louis Baboon_ is Swift's jesting name for _Louis Bourbon_, _i.e._, Louis XIV.

[9] 'Of his MSS.:'--And, if all that I have heard be true, much has somebody to answer for, that so little has been yet published. The two executors of Burke were Dr. Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, a well-known M. P. in forgotten days, and Windham, a man too like Burke in elasticity of mind ever to be spoken of in connection with forgotten things. Which of them was to blame, I know not. But Mr. R. Sharpe, M. P., twenty-five years ago, well known as _River_ Sharpe, from the [Greek: _aperantologia_] of his conversation, used to say, that one or both of the executors had offered _him_ (the river) a huge travelling trunk, perhaps an Imperial or a Salisbury boot (equal to the wardrobe of a family), filled with Burke's MSS., on the simple condition of editing them with proper annotations. An Oxford man, and also the celebrated Mr. Christian Curwen, then member for Cumberland, made, in my hearing, the same report. The Oxford man, in particular, being questioned as to the probable amount of MS., deposed, that he could not speak upon oath to the cubical contents; but this he could say, that, having stripped up his coat sleeve, he had endeavored, by such poor machinery as nature had allowed him, to take the soundings of the trunk, but apparently there were none; with his middle finger he could find no bottom; for it was stopped by a dense stratum of MS.; below which, you know, other strata might lie _ad infinitum_. For anything proved to the contrary, the trunk might be bottomless.

[10] A man in Fox's situation is sure, whilst living, to draw after him trains of sycophants; and it is the evil necessity of newspapers the most independent, that they _must_ swell the mob of sycophants. The public compels them to exaggerate the true proportions of such people as we see every hour in our own day. Those who, for the moment, modify, or _may_ modify the national condition, become preposterous idols in the eyes of the gaping public; but with the sad necessity of being too utterly trodden under foot after they are shelved, unless they live in men's memory by something better than speeches in Parliament. Having the usual fate, Fox was complimented, _whilst living_, on his knowledge of Homeric Greek, which was a jest: he knew neither more nor less of Homer, than, fortunately, most English gentlemen of his rank; quite enough that is to read the 'Iliad' with unaffected pleasure, far too little to revise the text of any three lines, without making himself ridiculous. The excessive slenderness of his general literature, English and French, may be seen in the letters published by his Secretary, Trotter. But his fragment of a History, published by Lord Holland, at two guineas, and currently sold for two shillings (not two _pence_, or else I have been defrauded of 1s. 10d.), most of all proclaims the tenuity of his knowledge. He looks upon Malcolm Laing as a huge oracle; and, having read even less than Hume, a thing not very easy, with great _naivete_, cannot guess where Hume picked up his facts.

[11] Even in Dr. Francis's Translation of Select Speeches from Demosthenes, which Lord Brougham naturally used a little in his own labors on that theme, there may be traced several peculiarities of diction that startle us in Junius. Sir P. had them from his father. And Lord Brougham ought not to have overlooked them. The same thing may be seen in the notes to Dr. Francis's translation of Horace. These points, though not _independently_ of much importance, become far more so in combination with others. The reply made to me once by a publisher of some eminence upon this question, was the best fitted to lower Mr. Taylor's investigation with a _stranger_ to the long history of the dispute. 'I feel,' he said, 'the impregnability of the case made out by Mr. Taylor. But the misfortune is, that I have seen so many previous impregnable cases made out for other claimants.' Ay, that _would_ be unfortunate. But the misfortune for this repartee was, that I, for whose use it was intended, not being in the predicament of a _stranger_ to the dispute, having seen every page of the pleadings, knew all (except Mr. Taylor's) to be false in their statements; after which their arguments signified nothing.

[The end]
Thomas De Quincey's essay: Schlosser's Literary History Of The Eighteenth Century