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The natural result of permitting such topics / manding more liberty than the great majoris to produce a lively competition in invent- ity are disposed to grant. Nothing is more ing a series of ingeniously varied plots, all essential than that every theological or po turning upon the violation of the marriage litical creed should be tried in the fire of law, which can in the long run be healthy the freest criticism; and there is nothing neither for readers por writers, especially as from which the faithful are more disposed to in such a competition it is not the purest shrink. The only limit is that such attacks method of treatment which generally wins should be as free as possible from the desire the prize. If art suffers from our stricter to give pain, or wantonly to shock honest system, there are higher considerations even believers. Voltaire's influence would have than the welfare of art; but it may be been almost entirely good if he had not been doubted whether the restriction of the field possessed by this substantially irreverent is necessarily so great an evil as it seems, spirit, for his attacks upon orthodoxy by for there is room enough for descriptions of themselves could only end in fuller investilife and character without running foul of gation of the truth. He used poisoned the Seventh Commandment; and it is not weapons, and so far his warfare was unfair. always the worse for a writer to be compul- Till people understand liberty better than sorily debarred from the easiest way of they do, we should be slow to draw the pressnatching an illegitimate success.
ent restrictions tighter. Books which, on the whole, show a polluted mind, or wbich pander to corrupt tastes in their readers, will generally soon be recognized. It is, or should be, unpleasant to accuse a good writer of being foul-minded, and the more so as the accusation is an easy
From the Saturday Review. one to make, whether false or true. Therefore, there is always a strong tendency on THE LIFE OF JAMES GATES PERCIVAL.* the part of generous critics to avoid 'making it. Like similar accusations in actual It is probable that very few of our readlife, it should not be made unless fully sub- ers ever heard of James Gates Percival, stantiated ; and, as we must add, it is not and that still fewer have ever read bis often sustained for any time, unless there is works. Mr. Julius H. Ward, however, besome truth in it. Indeed, the fact that a lieves that Percival was “a wonderful gegreat many average people denounce a book nius,” and has for nearly ten years been putas immoral raises a presumption that it does ting together a memoir of the object of his harm to the morals of average persons
admiration. The method in which the book which is, as we have argued, the real mean- has been compiled is simply detestable. Mr. ing of the accusation. It is very different Ward has arbitrarily tacked together a with those books which are accused, not of number of letters, partly written by Perobscenity, but of political or theological ini- cival and partly by his friends, mixing quity. If they have any success, it is as occasional fragments of magazine articles the expression of a strong revolutionary and bits of his own composition. The book, sentiment; and the question of their moral- in consequence, requires as a malicious critity depends upon the justification of that ic said of Percival's own poetry, “a vigorsentiment. As a large part of mankind
ous moral effort to read it." It is not so and especially of educated mankind — will much that the book is long, as that it is always regard revolutionary sentiments with totally wanting in art. Tedious stories about horror, there is little doubt that the critical squabbles with booksellers, given in wearilaws will generally err on the side of strict- some detail, fill a most disproportionate ness. Many persons of tolerable intelligence space. Like many other biographies of more still look upon the French revolution as an out- pretension, it gives us less a picture of its break of diabolical malignity. They fail to victim's life than a panorama in which all recognise the immense benefits which, in the events are drawn to the same scale. the opinion of all enlightened men, have Fortunately, materials were not very plenbeen its net result; and therefore they con- tiful; and some of the incorporated frag. tinue to look with simple horror upon the ments rise considerably above the general echo which the revolutionary ideas called level. Moreover, the biographer gives us forth in poetry. The whole thing is a mys- every view of his hero with perfect impartery of iniquity, at which they may hold up their hands in pious indignation. In this
* The Life and Letters of James Gates Percival.
By Julius H. Ward. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. case, therefore, we are seldom wrong in de- London : Tribüner & Co. 1860.
tiality. We are thus able to discover that, life. He was, however, although the term has in the hand of a more skilful writer, the story acquired an awkward connotation, really of Percival's life might have been made inte a remarkable man; and his life might be resting as well as instructive. He was really recommended for the study of young poets, a very original figure, especially amongst our if only because he decidedly gave up poprestless, pushing, and practical cousins. Of try. As may be supposed from his suicidal his poetry, indeed, by which we are told tendencies, be possessed the morbid temperhe is principally to be remembered, we ament generally productive of second-rate cannot express any high opinion.
One of the innumerable authors of Wbittier exclaims enthusiastically, “ God this book tells us that he was actually “depity the man who does not love the poet ranged,” but this seems to be an over-strong ry of Percival.” " It is not enough,” expression. He was, however, sensitive, resays another gentleman, “ to say of these tiring, and unworldly, after a fashion very productions that they glow with the fire of uncommon amongst his countrymen. On Æschylus and Pindar." “ In manners," the occasion of an early disappointment in adds a third critic, " he resembles Addison, love, we hear that, on once accidentally in disposition the cccentric and excellent touching the lady's hand, he became so conGoldsmith, and in mind be possesses the her- fused as to be unable to speak; and that he culean vigour of Johr son combined with finally retired in confusion. In later life, the tuneful equability of Pope.” He is fur- he lived in habitual fear of ladies' conther compared, on apparently equal terms, versation. Indeed' for some years he hid with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and bimself in almost complete seclusion in some Byron, to each of whom, as well as to Moore, rooms allowed to him in a hospital at New he had certain points of likeness; and, as a Haven, Connecticut. No stranger was ever mathematical proof of his remarkable pow- allowed to enter them. He used to buy his ers, we are told that, “in the poem called food for himself in the evening when he had • Maria,' there are seventy-eight lines of money, and to go without when he had done. continuous poetic association without a pe- His library often thousand volumes and his riod." These praises, we should add, for the collection of minerals filled one of his three credit of American criticism, were for the rooms (it must have been a spacious apartmost part bestowed upon Percival on the ment); another contained a bed without publication of his first poems, not long afier sheets, and with a bloek of wood for a pil1820 ; when we may presume that a very low, the dirty blankets marked by his shoes, little poetry would go a very long way. which, we are solemnly told, he never blackThe conclusion of most persons would doubt- ed throughout his life; the rooms were unless be that Percival was a humbug; and, so swept; there were probably two inches of far as his poetry is concerned, we bave no rolling lint on the floor; there was a beaten reason to think that they would be very far. path from his bed to his stove, to his writingwrong. From the specimens given we should table, to his library, and to the door.” His infer that he was a very fluent and very dress, we are told, was neat, but the value dreamy writer, whose more serious poetry of his entire wardrobe was “not above fifty resembled a bad imitation of Shelley. The dollars"; bis hat was worn for years, and only lines quoted which have any force are bis only outer garment was a thin brown called the “ Suicide,” and have the merit of camlet cloak. This strange Yankee hermit being apparently a genuine expression of used, however, to venture forth at times feeling. Percival had, in fact, attempted to among his friends, and to talk ; he would kill himself by throwing a large cobble-stone stand with bis eyes on the ground, rubbing at his own head, and afterwards by taking two fingers of his right hand across the palm opium. This is a fair proof of sincerity, of the lest, and hold forth in a tone just above though the cobble-stone savours of the mel- a whisper for hours together, regardless of odramatic; and the verses in the “ Sui- times and seasons; he would collar his cide” are as good as most young men of friends in the middle of a street to let off one ability would write on their passage through of these strange discourses ; and if accidentthe Byronic stage. His other poetry. will, ally interrupted, he would begin again the we should imagine, only interest the few next day he met them with, “ As I was who are anxious to trace the rise of a na- saying." Some of his friends talk in the tional literature in America from its earliest proper terms of their attention having been beginnings.
riveted by this marvellous flow of learning If Percival were merely one of the justly and eloquence; but the only discourses forgotten versifiers of forty years ago, it whose subjects are reported to us are one would scarcely be worth while to notice his upon hickory-trees, and another upon a
peach-tree. No notes of his conversations, utterly morbid state of mind which might or rather monologues, survive, except from be interred. When he was in great dili-, one of his hearers, who gives us such quo- culties his friends raised money to prevent tatious as this : Dr. Percival seems to the sale of his library, and, before he died, doubt (in 1848) the capacity of the French be succeeded in paying off the debt. He to establish a republic; says they are sub- supported himselt at one time by acting as stantially the saine people they were in the assistant to Webster in bringing out a new days of Tacitus. He also thinks the water- edition of his dictionary, and afterwards by cure system pretty much a hombug." It superintending a new edition of Maltethese are fair specimens of Percival's talk, Brun's Geography. His earnings at this we should consider a stream of it flowing back-work were naturally low enough ; but for hours to be superfluous. He had a very he was made comparatively comfortable by queer trick of playing upon divers musical employment in making a geological survey instruments so gently that, if they made of Connecticut, and, some years later, of any sound, it was audible to himself alone Wisconsin. He died in 1856, whilst en(a desirable accomplishment for amateurs), gaged in this last piece of work. The rehe being meanwhile convinced that every ports which he produced are said to be one heard him. He once sung a song to a prools of very great skill and of an extraorlarge party, really in dumb-show, but, as he dinary amount of labour. It is also said believed, to the delight of his audience. And that they are totally unreadable, except for yet he certainly was a man of ability, and purposes of reference. one whose ability was not quite thrown The geology and the poetry will probably away. Besides his poetical gifts, he was a sleep together, or, if either is to survive, man of science. He knew, it is said, all the a collection of dry facts is better than a colEuropean languages, down to the most re- lection of bad verses. Still there is enough mote dialects, and especially the Slavonic, in the story to make us wish that it had been and had also studied the modern languages told by an abler writer. Percival was a of India - accomplishments which were victiin to a very common mental disease certainly remarkable in Connecticut in his the morbid sensibility which persuades the youth. He was, moreover, a good geologist man himself that he is a poet, and his friends and botanist, and a man of extensive read that he is a madman. But, amongst all his ing. In early life he attempted, but with- misfortunes, he shows certain good qualities out success, to settle in his native State as which retain our sympathies. He paid his a surgeon.
The death of some of his first debts, as if he had not been a man of genius; patients, or complaints by the survivors of he was ready to make his bread by the lowhis bills, seemed to have frightened him out est kind of work when he had failed in the of the profession. He was exceedingly an- highest; and, after breaking down as a poet, noyed after this, as young poets are apt to be became, in later life, a hard-working be, by finding that he could not live by the geologist. Although the hardships of life sale of bis poems. Calhoun, however, gave made him eccentric, and drove him into him the appropriate reward of the post of himself, they do not seem to have made him assistant-surgeon at West-Point, with, as it morose or utterly useless. And such nega seems, some eye to his future poetry being tive praise is rarely deserved in similar on the Government side. He soon became cases. disgusted with the labour of the place, and took, after a time, to that pursuit which all Americans appear to follow for part of their lives — that of editing a newspaper.
He describes it as the most degrading and disgraceful of all occupations"; and, either
From Blackwood's Magazine, for this reason, or because he was totally incapable of understanding business, he soon
THE POPE. gave He had a theory indeed that, when he made made any agreement, it was We have most of us heard of that singubinding only upon the other person, which lar traveller who followed Van Amburg ail was found to work very ill in his relations over Europe that he might not fail to witto booksellers and newspaper proprietors. ness the evening on which the lions should He was thus compelled for some years to eat poor Van Amburg, an event of whose lead a sort of Bohemian life, part of which certainty he never so much as entertained a was spent in the hermitage already describ- doubt. ed. He did not, however, sink into the There are in every country and in every
class sensation-loving people of this sort, sonally, or to his immediate followers, than to
It is, I am persuaded, this morbid eager- an Italian, if I could so regard the question. ness, and not any cruelty of disposition, As we cast our eyes over Europe, we see that impels men to be present at executions. that each nation has some specialty, which There is no hard heartedness, no pleasure- is either a source of material wealth, or of able sense of human suffering, in these peo- power and prestige. France asserts her ple; they are simply the victims of a craving military glory; Germany her race of prodesire for excitement; their dull tempera- found thinkers and scholars; England has ments cannot be moved by the light breezes her coal-fields; and Italy has the Popedom. of ordinary pleasures; they want the hurri- Assail Ca•holicism as men may; let them cane force of actual passions to stir them rail at the dogmas of the Church, revile its into activity.
superstitions, and ridicule its mock miracles, The lower we go in the social scale the there is an inherent grandeur in a monarchy more of this element we shall find. The of nigh two thousand years, and which, at stories of the • Family Herald' are famous various periods within that time, swayed for their horrors, and there is nothing so in the destines of all Christendom. That there tensely, thoroughly sensational as servant- is no denying. galism.
It has often been said that the Italians Comedy, except in the very broadest were the worst Papists of Europe; but stili, farce, is totally banished from every minor tew expected to see them actually forgetful theatre of Europe, and none but the most of wbat gave them their greatest attraction bloody-minded of dramas can find audience in the eyes of ths whole Curistian world, and with what are called the people.
endowed them with a prestige of which all There is, however, a great deal more of the cities of the earth could not produce the this sentiment in the educated and well-to- equal. do ranks than we might at first blush admit. As a grand spectacle, what was ever like Jeslipgly treated, laughingly acknowledged, it? Where were ever such accessories as or veiled by conventionalities, it exists and that gloriou: church and that noble palace, as gives a strong and not very healthy flavour rich in memories as in art-treasures ? What to the whole of our society. To instance train of courtiers could compare with that what I mean, look at Rome. The word has line of princes of the Church on whose gone out over Europe that this is to be the thoughtful brows were stamped the signs of last winter of the Papacy - that over the intellectual vigour, and an ambition that grand drama of two thousand years the cur- soared far beyond the bounds of ordinary tain is at last about to fall, and that Pio aspiration ? Around what other tarone were Nono will make his positively last appear. ever grouped, not alone the devotion of loyance at the Vatican before his retirement alty and the bonage of fidelity, but the from the boards altogether. This announce- deeper homage and the puror faith that ment, now made with all the force of a logi- link this life with eternity, and impart to the cal argument - now dimly shadowed forth spirit of earthly obedience all the fervour of in the language of prophecy now eagerly Christian love and worship? declared in the words of hope, is widespread I maintain that the Pope was the best over Europe; and the consequence is, the thing Italy had, and would " draw," while wbole world is flocking this winter to Victor Einmanuel, and even Garibaldi, the Holy City, all madly eager to witness will play to empty benches. This may not the great catastrophe - to be “in at the be the very highest ground to take in the death.”
matter; nor am I sure that Cardinal Paul There are three questions now which men Cullen will accept me as his ally on such are asking on every side: Will the Pope go? showing; but I am looking at the question If so, why? And lastly, where will he go to? in a very speculative spirit.
Here is a counThe first is the only really important one to try with an embarrassed exchequer, a heavy the world at large, for, as regards his rea- taxation, and undeveloped resources, which sons, or his future destination, they are in must so continue till capital be forthcoming reality more interesting to his Holiness per- to promote them. With a large public
debt, costly engagements, the funds at fifty- seraphic music, were splendid adjuncts to four, and credit nowhere, what are they to the voice of him who sang out, per orbes do ? They have vast tracts of corn-growing et terras, his peace to mankind. land, but no roads to convey the produce; Italians are intensely sensitive to all exthey have mines, but are without money to ternal impressions; and how is it that they work them; they are, in a word, pretty have overlooked all this? Nor is it as if the much in the condition in which the Times' Papacy was to cost them dear; they are not lately, pictured Ireland, as a country with going to pay it either in liberty or in power. great natural resources, in which few people The Pope can no more menace them with would like to risk their capital, and which Austrians nor crush them with concordats. must be satisfied to be interesting to tourists, Even his bulls are tamed. without, for the present at least, attracting to The question resolves itself into this, Can it the attention of traders and merchants. Italy, with an empty treasury and an overRich in monuments, abounding in treasures taxed people, not only divest herself of one of art, and stored with objects of interest on of the greatest attractions of the nation, but every side, Italy has no rival in the world assume all the liabilities of the Papacy? as a great gallery of curiosities, amongst Speaking commercially, Venice may pay, which there was no gem could compare but there is a great doubt if Rome will. with the Pope. He was the Koh-i-noor The contributions of true believers went of the collection, and I cannot conceive for largely in aid of the budget; and he would be an instant how Italians could have over- a sanguine man that thought Peter's pence looked the fact. Bear in mind, it was not would drop as freely into Victor Emmanalone to the true believers that his Holiness uel's hat as into the Pope's tiara. extended the attraction of his
For the whole complex machinery of people who sought admission to the Vatican Rome there is but one machinist in all were often stern platform men of Exeter Christendom — the Pope. To convert this Hall. There came to his audience Calvin. ecclesiastical hive into a modern capital is ists from the north, and Quakers from an anachronism and a political blunder. It Philadelphia. . All that was rugged and is like turning a cathedral into a cottonself-asserting in Protestantism desired the mill. blessing of him they were ready to call The Popedom was the great specialty of Antichrist. Bishops of the Establishment Italy. It was the one thing no other counbent reverently before him; and in the try could rival. I am not going to break a very newspaper under my eyes I see that lance with Exeter Hall. I am not assumthe historian of Poerio has been paying his ing to even advert to the doctrines of the court to infallibility.
Church ; I am alone speaking of that marWhy surrender all this, I say? Will vellous rule which was felt in the most reGaribaldi or Mazzinists, think you, be more mote parts of the universe, and which had picturesque features in the landscape than its centre at Rome. Call it superstition, these gorgeous groupings? or will the grand idolatry, Antichrist, what you will - there monuments of Catholicism evoke the won- it was, and there it drew hundreds of thouderment and worship of Europe when their sands to do it homage. living centre has left them, and the spirit If I were Baron Ricasoli, I would do anythat animated the whole departed ? thing rather than drive the Pope out of
There is nothing which so sternly arraigns Italy. It would not be very easy to convert the cruelty of annexation as the sight of him to liberal ideas, all the less so that he the empty palace where royalty once dwelt. got a surfeit of them in '48, and has never How will it be here when it is not merely recovered from it since. If I were an Italthe prince has departed, but where it will ian minister, I would strain any point to be the shrine without the saint, the throne make wbat the French call a transaction” without him whose breath gave hope and with him. Surely if what they style the comfort to many, and blessing to all? Re- Leonine City was secured to him, and a move the Pope from Rome, and you take wide liberty as regards allocutions, someaway the great cicerone who made the thing might be done. There are plenty of joys of eternity intelligible to millions. And schismatics to be cursed out of Italy; let do not imagine he can ever be as effec- him have his will of them. Russia is likely tive in exile at Avignon, or Seville, or to torment the Poles for many a day to Malta; he will ever need the grand scenic come, and there are eighty odd millions to illustrations of the Eternal City. The noble be anathematised a banquet of maledicvault of St. Peter's, half-dimmed with in- tion that might satisfy even gluttony. cense, the Sistine Chapel, vibrating with With clever management, the whole poli