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preliminary ifs and buts. You must take the physic first and the sugar afterwards. And you may think yourself lucky if your friends, in their zeal for your literary health, don't forget the sugar altogether. There never was a greater mistake than to suppose that friends help you on the first night. On the contrary, they do you harm. They give themselves up to criticism, while the public, who don't care a fig about you, don't know your name perhaps, give themselves up to entertainment. The dramatist's only true friends are the public.

Crasher's play succeeded with the public far beyond the expectation of his friends. But this did not wholly relieve Crasher of his misery. The congratulations of his friends were cold. They were not going to commit themselves to any outburst of enthusiasm until they saw if the piece was likely to run. Crasher saw in their eyes, and eyebrows, and ears a timorous hope that it might not run. And Crasher went about in a sort of quarantine for several weeks, when his friends began to come nearer to him; nearer and nearer as the weeks passed by, until the hundredth night, when they rushed at him in a body with outstretched hands, all trying by their looks to make him think that they had never doubted him, or wished him anything but the success which he had achieved. And Crasher could not be very angry with them, for he had examined himself, and was conscious that he was capable of similar feelings himself.

In other departments of literature there comes a time when the successful man reaches a pinnacle where he is secure from all attacks; but in the dramatic walk of life this time never comes. Though you should seat yourself on the highest pinnacle of the temple of dramatic fame, there will always be envious or malignant persons trying to pull you down, or striving to bespatter you with mud. But you can scarcely be astonished at this, when the very wife of your bosom grudges you your success. This is the greatest misery of all. You go home vexed, and worried, and heart-sick, in the hope of sympathy, and you find that your wife is jealous of the pretty actresses with whom you have to deal-those pretty actresses who hate you, and whom you hate more than you could ever have conceived it possible for man to hate woman. Your wife is jealous of the public too, the public who idolize you, as she foolishly supposes. She consoles you by telling you that you are vaulting too high; that it would be better for you to give up the drama and return to the peaceful paths of obscurity, and the humble crust which no hungry dogs will envy.

The critics-the gentlemen who publicly reckon you up in the

papers-what shall I say of them? Well, they too inflict misery upon you. Not, however, because they are envious, or malignant, or unfair. As a rule, these gentlemen go pretty honestly to work, and on the whole are rather disposed to be indulgent than over severe. But in most cases their praise and their blame are equally valueless. There is no standard of taste among them. One critic praises you through a whole column, another abuses you; but as neither gives his reasons or takes the trouble to point out the particular merits or demerits to which he refers, you are none the wiser or the better for their criticisms. The wide differences of opinion among them are exceedingly perplexing to the author, who is anxious to be advised and instructed. But the worst faults of the dramatic critics are carelessness and caprice. The most competent of them are apt, when they have to find fault with a piece, to write angrily and impatiently. It will not do for them to say that the rubbish they have to sit out would try the patience of Job. They accept their task, they have work to do, and it is their duty to do it to the best of their ability. The object of dramatic criticism I apprehend is, by praising what is good and censuring what is bad, to improve and elevate dramatic literature. Now, too frequently the critic, instead of giving the offending dramatist a quiet instructive lecture, seizes him by the scruff of the neck and beats him black and blue. That teaches him nothing except to hate the critic. The capriciousness of critics manifests itself in this way: A particular kind of piece becomes popular, and the critics uphold it for a certain time, when they suddenly turn round upon some unlucky wight who has ventured to adopt the fashion just as it is going out; and yet they themselves have encouraged this very fashion which they now denounce as monstrous. Authors are naturally led to supply what the public taste demands; and this taste the critics rarely make any attempt to correct and improve.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


Of a man of whom much has been said it is not easy to say anything It has been the misfortune of very few poets, English or American, to have been so much discussed as Longfellow: it has also been the happiness of but few to command such general attention and such spontaneous applause.

In considering the merits of Longfellow as a poet, it is not easy to know what position to assign to him in the department of literature which he has adopted. Mr. Longfellow belongs to a school of poetry that can only be called the devotional school. Now devotional poetry, as a rule, cannot often please. Miscarriage in the exposition of such awful subjects as those which the devotional poet selects to sing, comes not from inability on the part of the singer so much as from poverty in the subject. The necessity of Faith has been too frequently enforced to gain anything from repetition. The loveliness of the emotions of which Religion is the inspirer has been too often indicated to acquire new beauty by any further indication. The devotional poet can only sing feebly what has been before sung well. No strains can equal in majesty, in grandeur, in beauty the Biblical strains. There is little for the devotional poet to say that is not to be found in the Bible; and it is obvious that he who sings what the Bible has already sung can be but at the best a feeble echo, and cannot but unreasonably expect to be applauded.

Though Mr. Longfellow's poetry is everywhere coloured by the devotional spirit, its influence is only perceptible enough to impart to his strains a most desirable effect-earnestness. Fortunately, on dividing his poems, and allotting each division to the province of which such division may be called the expression or interpretation, we find that his strictly devotional poetry forms the most inconsiderable share in his works.

We have heard "Evangeline" commended as and generally pronounced to be Longfellow's finest poetic composition. In this poem there are, doubtless, many passages of surprising sweetness, which, considering the unexpressive and halting vehicle of metre through which they are conveyed, are all the more to be admired. Still,

although "Evangeline" seldom wants for sweetness, it cannot boast a uniformity of strength. This is, perhaps, rather the fault of the story than the treatment. There is a mixture of the dramatic and bucolic about it that seems pretty well to negative the effects which might have been produced by a more decided inclination to either the one or the other of these treatments. This is the impression imparted by a consideration of the poem as a whole. Taking it in details, the truth of my former remark is apparent; for in those parts of which the treatment is exclusively dramatic or exclusively pastoral, we shall find the impressions conveyed striking and effective. Here is an example of the latter mode of treatment :

"West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards, and corn-fields,
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain, and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains
Sea fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic,
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended.
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.

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There, in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset
Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys,
Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet, and blue, and green, with distaffs spinning the golden

Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors

Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens." I only quote a fragment of the picture; but seldom has a picture been more exquisitely painted, more admirably contrived, more delicately conceived. Of the exclusively dramatic mode of treatment I cannot find a better example than in the passage concluding the first part of the poem, commencing with these lines:

"Overwhelmed with the sight, and yet speechless, the priest and the maiden Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them."

"The Song of Hiawatha" is, probably, Mr. Longfellow's most ambitious attempt. As an effort of intellect, it is far superior to "Evangeline;" far superior to it, too, from an artistic point of view. This is the only one of Mr. Longfellow's poems which seems animated, not so much by American nationality as by American nature. Doubtless this is due, in a great measure, to the subject of which the poet treats. But the mere introduction of Indian names, the mere allusion

to American scenery, could never impart to the verse that strange airiness, that bounding sense of freedom, that exultant thrill and throb of unrestrained life, which are exhaled from this "Song of Hiawatha" as perfume is exhaled from the flower. To the poet this subject was probably more suggestive of a national poetry than any other he had before attempted. He may have perceived that the influence exercised by American nature over the minds of Americans needed a poetic exponent, and that its exposition would be the basis of an American literature. Hitherto, in his treatment of subjects which had before been treated, he had approached them with the same spirit with which those had approached them whom he imitated. Of such efforts the results had been nearly as successful as the results of most mimetic efforts usually are. We see this in the "Spanish Student," where the nature, the descriptions, the language are borrowed. We see this in the "Golden Legend," where the sentiments are English, where the passions are such as may be found in dozens of good plays, where, in short, will be found a combination of traditional excellences, characterized by no special feature such as might have been expected in the composition of an American. But in the "Song of Hiawatha," Mr. Longfellow ignores the standard which others had set up for him, and erccts one for himself. He renders his verse thrilling with the intoxica'ing influence which he brings to bear upon it, by the mere reciprocal influence which he permits his subject to exercise over him. The graces he has thus snatched beyond the reach of art are innumerable. He is restrained by no fear of infringing those rules which, judging from much of his poetry, we are inclined to believe he admires in others. He expatiates in an unexplored realm: his simplicity in this poem is without affectation; his numbers are uniformly melodiousmelodious to a degree that would be almost monotonous, were they not rescued by the unfailing novelty of thought and sentiment that they enshrine.

The "North British Review," in considering Longfellow, says, "His command of verse alone proves him to be a genuine poet." Undoubtedly Longfellow's command of verse helps him to be a genuine poet, but how it proves him to be so is beyond my capacity to conjecture. To very incompetent critics, to young ladies fresh from school, and to the general admirers of a man who rhymes, doubtless a particular command over the various forms of metre, is a sufficient guarantee of the man who rhymes being a poet. At least, such has been found to be the case in many instances, indeed. But unfortunately for those who can

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