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that the opinions advanced are adverse to those of many, whose genius and professional success entitle their judgment on this subject to the very highest respect. But yet the weight of authority, if that is to be appealed to, is decidedly in favour of the principles of the Greek being the true ones of the drama. From the days of Aristotle to those of Addison, the greatest critics have concurred in this opinion; and he is a bold innovator on this subject who sets at naught the precepts of Horace * and Quintilian, forgets the example of Sophocles and Schiller, of Euripides and Alfieri, of Corneille and Metastasio, of Racine and Molière, and disregards the decided judgment of Pope and Byron.
“Those rules of old discover'd not devised,
Essay on Criticism. The opinion of Lord Byron was peculiarly strong in favour of the unities, and was repeatedly expressed in his correspondence preserved in Moore's Life : although his own noble dramas, being avowedly constructed with no view to representation, but as a vehicle for powerful declamation or impassioned poetry, often exhibit, especially in Manfred, the most glaring violations of them. Johnson confessed that the weight of authority in favour of the Greek rules was so great, that it required no small courage to attempt even to withstand it. But it is not by authority that this, or any other question of taste, is to be decided. The true test of the correctness of opinion on such matters is to be found in experience, and the inward feelings of persons of cultivated minds and enlarged observations. And in the preceding observations we have only extended to the drama principles familiar to artists in every other department of human imagination, and generally admitted in them, at least, to be correct; and appealed, we trust not in vain, to the experience gained, and the lessons learned, by those who have cultivated the sister arts in these times with the greatest success.
*“Vos exemplaria Græca Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.”
[CHURCH OF ENGLAND REVIEW, APRIL 1845]
GENIUS," says Dr Johnson, " is nothing but strong natural parts accidentally turned into one direction.” Few can have surveyed with an attentive eye the varieties of human character, at least of the highest class, whether in the historic mirror or real life, without being convinced that the observation of the great moralist is well founded. It is a very common thing, indeed, to see a strong propensity evinced, even in the earliest years, by particular persons, and it is the frequency of this peculiarity which has caused genius to be so frequently associated, in general opinion and common language, with an original and unalterable bent. It undoubtedly is so in many instances. Mozart, three years old, displayed not only a taste but a genius for music ; Correggio declared in boyhood, “I, too, am a painter;" Canova, at nine years of age, made a little lion out of a pound of butter ; Byron, at ten, felt an ardour of passion for an infant beauty of the same years, which was scarcely surpassed by the subsequent attachments of his impassioned mind. But in these early and precocious displays of inherent disposition, it is rarely, if ever, that the premonitory symptoms of the highest kind of intellectual power, or the noblest flights of original conception, are to be found. They appear thus early in persons in whom the imaginative are far stronger than the reasoning powers—the former often spring up with the utmost vigour at once; the latter require time for their growth—they rarely, if ever, appear before the age of puberty. Imagination combined with intellect, genius with reason, the greatest triumph of the
Macims and Opinions of the Duke of Wellington, collected from his Despatches and Speeches. London: 1845.
human mind, of tardy development, and generally little conspicuous in youth, goes on gathering strength and increasing in intensity to the close of life.
This is easily explained, if we consider that a quick and fervent mind readily fans a flame from a few perishable materials ; but a great one requires mighty and durable elements to warm into a glow : “Materiâ alitur, motibus excitatur, et urendo lucescit."
If instances are numerous in which persons destined for future celebrity have given tokens of their inherent bent in their early years, examples are not less frequent of persons of the greatest future fame being remarkable for nothing at all in the first stages of life, or, if distinguished, known only by qualities the very reverse of those on which their future celebrity was founded. Julius Cæsar, to the age of thirtyseven, was distinguished only by the licentiousness and profligacy of his life ; he was a living example of the oftrepeated saying, “that no man who had both in his
power, ever did anything among men till he had ceased to have any influence with women.' Burke evinced no particular ability at school or college ; and, what is very remarkable, the reasoning powers are chiefly conspicuous in his earlier compositions, the fervour of imagination, united to the vigour of intellect, in those of his maturity or old age. The common story of Shakspeare having been a deer-stealer in his youth, be it true or false, may be regarded as at least a certain proof that he did not, in early life, evince any of those extraordinary powers of conception and imagination which have rendered his name immortal. His profound knowledge of the human heart demonstrates the reverse ; that is never gained but by experience and suffering. Bacon's latest writings exhibit far greater original genius, vigour of expression, and energy of thought, than his earlier compositions. It was when blinded by study, and worn out by care, old and unfortunate, that Milton wrote his Paradise Lost. Sophocles composed his Tragedies in such advanced years, that, when engaged in writing one of the most perfect of them, his sons brought him before the courts of law to have him deprived, as incapable, of the management of his affairs. Dante's Inferno was the fruit of twenty years' exile, in which
life,” as he himself said, “ had been watered only by his
tears." Nothing that can be relied on is known of the youth of Homer ; but common and unvarying tradition, which represents him in extreme old age, blind, and in misery, charming the inhabitants of the Isles of Greece by his strains, is an indication that it was in mature years that • his deathless poems were composed. A long life of observation, thought, and reflection, combined with the utmost ardour of imagination, were required to form the Iliad and Odyssey.
Wellington belongs to the latter, and by far the highest class of illustrious characters. He was not a great man because he was a great general, but a great general because he was a great man.
He would have been equally great in anything else which he undertook. It is reported that he has said, " that the native bent of his mind was towards finance and civil government rather than military affairs.” It is certain that when he took his seat at the board of the cabinet council, it was the vigour of thought and perfect command of every subject which came before them, even more than his military fame, which won such general respect, and ultimately raised him, in difficult times, to the highest place in the government. From his earliest youth, his despatches and observations evince a soundness of judgment, a maturity of thought, and an elevation of principle, which we generally look for in vain in persons of the most advanced years and extensive experience ; and which were the more remarkable if, as is commonly said, his amusements at that period were of a much lighter description, and partook more of the gaiety of Cæsar's youth than the austerity of Cato's age. But these distractions never affected the solid foundations, the deep substratum of his mind; and we perceive in his despatches, from first to last, unequivocal and frequent proofs of the same constant sense of duty, the same unfailing strength of judgment, the same singleness and patriotism of heart. The vigour and energy of his understanding, however, seems to have increased, rather than diminished, as he grew older ; and at no period so much as in his later years, are such profound and far-seeing observations to be met with, which, in advance of the age in which they were spoken, only come to be fully understood and appreciated in the next.
The Duke of Wellington, however, is essentially a man of action. He was born to be the ruler, rather than the instructor of men; he has no poetical imagination, and little turn for abstract speculations or visionary thought. Hence his sway over the great majority of society, in future times, will never equal that of Napoleon, in whom the ardour of poetic fancy was singularly blended with the exactness of mathematical reasoning, and speculation on general subjects possessed as great charms as the pursuits of ambition or the excitement
Wellington's maxims and opinions, as will immediately appear, are invaluable : but they have all a bearing on practical affairs, and the immediate direction and government of men. A few great principles of rectitude and morality, applicable alike to nations as to individuals, were firmly fixed in his mind; and it was in applying them with undeviating steadiness and unerring sagacity, that bis wisdom, as measured by the event, consists. But he always took a practical view of affairs : he considered them, on every occasion, as the subjects of action, not speculation. He did not think that, because he had taken up one position with one enemy in one campaign, therefore he was bound to take
up the same position with another enemy in every future campaign. His great merit consisted in seeing more clearly than other men, at all times, the coming course of events, and shaping his conduct so as to render it as little injurious, or as beneficial as possible, to the cause with which he was intrusted. In one particular only he was always the same, and that was in love to his country : his conduct, variable in other respects, was ever true to the pole-star of duty.
Of Wellington's far-seeing sagacity, which almost amounted to prescience, no more remarkable example can be presented than the constant and unchanging firmness with which he affirmed, after the catastrophe of the Corunna retreat, that the cause of the Peninsula was not only noways hopeless, but that Portugal might be successfully defended by Great Britain against any force which France could bring against it. Few among the elder part of the present generation, by whom that dismal termination to all the highlyexcited hopes of the nation is recollected, can ever forget the general feeling of despair which seized upon the public mind when the gallant army, once thirty thousand strong, which