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dents written any lines like these? One thing Longfellow had in common with the great poets—sincerity; and we do not mean merely that his intentions were good, or that his "magic mirror" was nothing but his own manifest heart. His literary workmanship was sincere. Even his worst poems are written along the lines of the true development of English literature. It was possible for "The Tales of a Wayside Inn," or for "The Golden Legend," to be better written and to be great. It Is impossible for some of the little poetic palpitations of the latter-day disciples of Verlaine or for the fluttering little fancies of Celtery to be better written, despite all their cunning and furtive avoidance in eccentricity of the real difficulties of verse; and it is also impossible that anything great should ever be produced in that line of work. Longfellow had none of those artificial conventions which, by supplying one with an extra vocabulary, a readymade "strangeness," and a reach-medown "renascence of wonder," make it so easy to hide deficiencies in technical mastery, and to produce a kind of smoky flashlight lyric, where a great poet, like Wordsworth, working in calm and splendid obedience to those laws of art "whose service is perfect freedom," would have revealed that Power
Whose dwelling la the light of setting suns,
—that Power which Is itself
The Light that never was on sea or
land. The consecration, and the poet's dream.
The writing of most of our decadents is what Kossetti called "intellectually incestuous,"—poetry seeking to beget its own offspring on itself. It is a much easier matter, for instance, to write about "passionate white women"
than to create a Cleopatra, or to reveal the beauty and passion incarnate, clothed, as it were, with the soft flesh and tender color of the verse. It is a very easy matter indeed, In comparison with the writing even of a "Psalm of Life," to write a poem like this:—
Oh, passionate woman, I hear
The drip of the rain!
The drip of the rain!
That is, of course, extempore; but it is to be hoped that the reader will note the "minute ecstasy of rhythm" and subtle shifting of the accent in the fourth line; for a Celt, in editing Spenser, has recently declared it is in these little matters that the great poets of the past are so deficient. Inasmuch, too, as we followed his advice and wrote that lyric offhand "In contemplative indolence, playing with fragile things," we feel It Is quite as good as most of the decadent poems that are thought worthy of occupying each a page with enormous margins at the present day; and In twenty-four hours one could write, say, twenty-four feverish little volumes of such fancies, all of which would be commended by certain sections of the press. With a week's thought—we are allowing in charity the very utmost limit—half a dozen decadent books on a more elaborate scale could be produced: such books as would be greeted with wouldbe-morbid ecstacy by certain wouldbe-artistic, long-haired, anti-Phillstian Bohemians or Bulgarians, with five smatterings of fifteen arts and a furtive heart-hankering after the mouth of Jenny Gloconda, Velvet Coats, and the Cities of the Plain. But It would be a very different matter to face the real difficulties of craftsmanship in verse as Longfellow faced them even when he failed. It would be a very different matter to produce even half a dozen stanzas like the following, mediocre though it be:—
Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave
Ferdinand Brunetlfire once remarked that all kinds of preciosity are really forms of burlesque: they aim at surprising the reader by a false novelty. It is much easier, for instance, to write a hundred thousand lines of an epic in Esperanto after this fashionStrange parfume nittles hath beneath
big lune, When meandereth beetles 'tween their
—much easier than to write one little poem like Longfellow's admirable "Fire of Drift-Wood." Burlesque and paradox, they have their day. But well may we call, after hearing such strains, to the lovelier Muse in that immortal cry of Shakespeare which itself outsings and annuls all the strange sounds omitted from the "screaming wryneck"—
O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
However lowly a worshipper he may have been, it was on the altar of this Muse that Longfellow strove to lay what he simply and sincerely felt. It was, therefore, as we said above, at least possible for him to do great and worthy things; and so it happened that, though he never achieved the greatest, he more than once did write a poem which outweighs all the productions of those latterday symbolist. Celtic, and sham archaic schools which, nevertheless, have the impertinence to treat him with their ineffable contempt,— a contempt which, with the word
"Philistine" for their chief weapon, they are ludicrously endeavoring to display towards Tennyson's boots (the only part of him that is on a level with their eyes),—a contempt which soon, in their ignorance of literary history and despicable subjection to every little ebb and flow, every little action and reaction, they will be endeavoring to extend to Swinburne.
Perhaps the best product of the Celtic school Is a little lyric called "Innlsfree." It is a jingle whose triviality is only hidden by its artificial and meretricious atmosphere. Metrically it is that old enemy of English verse, that old degenerate Alexandrine with the extra syllable, the well-known Elizabethan doggerel form, This is the penultimate line of the lyric under our notice:—
When I stand in the roadway, or on the pavements gray.
We venture to say that in his lyrics Longfellow never wrote so bad a line as that, with its assonances on the a sound all through, its semi-rhyme at the cccsura, its final inversion, and its loose metrical carpet-siippors.
Fi du rhythme commode,
Now Longfellow, as w'e said above, had no meretricious atmosphere to hide his failings; he had no artificial conventions to supply him with a double vocabulary. To put our meaning very crudely and in algebraic symbols, as it were, if he had required a rhyme for "green" he might have been obliged to use a somewhat Philistine or eighteenth-century "scene." (Considerations of literary history beneath the notice of the diseased critics come In again here.) But a Celt in search of that rhyme might have taken a pod from one of the "innisfree" "beanrows." Yet, in spite of this disadvantage, if we are still to cry—
L'oeuvre sort plus belle
Lutte avec le carrare,
—if we are still to accept that as anything like a working theory, what poem of all the decadents of all kinds in England can be compared for one moment—not only in sincerity of feeling but also in pure workmanship and faultless finish—with Longfellow's "Hymn to the Night"? Here, indeed, is classical precision, power, beauty, and something very like what Arnold called the "grand style":—
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like i breathe this prayer! Descend in broad-winged flight. The welcome, thrice-prayed-for, the most fair, The best-beloved Night .
in another kind of verse Longfellow was always on the verge of a supreme success which—perhaps because his ear was defective, and in spite of himself something always "remained undone"—he never quite attained. Yet for perfect simplicity—not the scholar's, but the child's,—for tender truth of absolutely unaffected feeling, for beauty and enchantment of the kind that only a true poet can summon up from the rich wells of memory rather than attempt to forge them by trick or artifice, is there anything very much better or more genuine in the language than that exquisite poem, "My Lost Youth"? it could only have been written by a man who loved Nature intensely, whose whole soul had been suffused
with the sunsets of that beautiful old town where his youth was passed— who was saturated, as it were, with the color and glow of its "far-surrounding seas," and was really haunted, as he wrote, by the verse of the Lapland song—
A boy's will is the wind's will, And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
Even in technique, the unrhymed line at the end of each stanza, at the time when Longfellow wrote, suggested new metrical possibilities in English verse; and indeed it is full of suggestion even at the present day. But the sweetness and truth of the poem can scarcely be praised too highly. Nothing is here exaggerated, wrenched, or over-stated. it is an absolutely true and yet ideal impression of the past. The remembered town is no more than "dear" and "old" and "beautiful"; the streets are merely "pleasant"; and yet what a glamor there is thrown over it all by the sheer beauty of a simple and heartfelt love!—
i can see the shadowy lines of its trees.
And catch, in sudden gleams, The sheen of the far-surrounding seas. And islands that were the Hesperldes Of all my boyish dreams. And the burden of that old song, it murmurs and whispers still: "A boy's will is the wind's will, And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."
i remember the black wharves and the slips, And the sea-tides tossing free; And Spanish sailors with bearded lips, And the beauty and mystery of the ships, And the magic of the sea. And the voice of that wayward
song is singing and saying still: "A boy's will is the wind's will, And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."
Poetry of that kind disinclines one from attacking even one's brother-decadents—only they must not scoff at Longfellow. He was born a hundred years ago, and when his bicentenary comes his work will still be vital.
Who knows but that when time has mellowed his language he may occupy a throne, some way below Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Swinburne, on Parnassus itself.
HIGHER CRITICISM AND THE KORAN.
In the discussion of the late Education Bill there is a point which appears to have escaped notice, but which, had the Bill become law, would have proved to be a matter of the first importance, and have given rise to more serious controversy and to more permanent and deep-seated differences than have yet occurred. No one now attempts to deny that the Bible—both the Old Testament and the New—is full of what appear to us Westerns to be inconsistencies and contradictions. One has only to mention the employment of the variant names for the Supreme Being — God, Jehovah, Jehovah-God—in Genesis and the following books, the discrepancies in the numbers given in the books of Chronicles and those given in the earlier narratives of Samuel and Kings, or the different accounts of the Resurrection of our Lord offered by St. Paul, by the Synoptists and by St. John, to start a stone rolling which it would be difficult to stop. Even with the most literal and simple Bible teaching such points as these are sure to give rise to questions on the part of intelligent scholars, and to demand some solution from the teacher. Hence a problem at once arises, How are these difficulties to be faced? Is the teacher to be left entirely to his own guidance, or is he to have the help of Instructions from headquarters? However the case be met, it is obvious that the problem is one which will have to be solved either by each individual teacher for himself and his class, or
by the Department for the country as a whole.
To the teacher who finds himself face to face with these apparent contradictions and inconsistencies, only three courses are open. In the first place, he may limit himself to merely stating the difficulty to his scholars— for example, that the apparition of God to Jacob at Bethel is said in one place (Gen. xxviii. 10-22) to have occurred when Jacob was on his way to Mesopotamia, in another (Gen. xxxv. 9-15) on his return—without attempting any solution. In the second place, he may deem it to be his duty in every instance to explain away the apparent discrepancy, as, indeed, may in many cases be done easily enough. But, thirdly—and this course would no doubt be followed by a large majority of thinking and reading men—he may accept in toto the conclusions of modern literary criticism as applied to the Bible as the only clue by which the mazes of that labyrinth become intelligible to the Western mind—the master-key by which alone its secret chambers can be unlocked. So universal has been the acceptance of this criticism amongst Bible, especially Old Testament, scholars, and so complete the surrender to It, that Its hypotheses are now regarded as demonstrated theories, and as being so firmly established that they may safely be Introduced into text-books intended for the religious instruction of the young, and may even be taught In Sunday schools.
In such circumstances it is obviously of the first importance that the truth and validity of these doctrines should if possible be made a mathematical certainty, or, at any rate, that the foundations upon which they rest should be made as broad and as sure as can be. it must be admitted that all has not been done in this direction which might have been done. indeed, the basis upon which the building stands is no broader than the superstructure itself. The present theories as to the composition and authorship of the books of the Bible may have been demonstrated beyond dispute, but they have been demonstrated out of these very books themselves. Any parallel instances which may have been brought forward in support of the critical analysis have been drawn from the literatures of Greece or Rome or of modern Europe. What one misses, and what one would very much like to see, is an attempt to apply those principles of literary criticism, to which the books of the Bible have been subjected, to some other .Semitic book as to the authorship and composition of which there is no room for two opinions. in the latter case we should know definitely whether the results of the critical process were true or false, and we could infer the correctness or otherwise of the same method when applied to books, like those of the Bible, as to the origin and authorship of which we have no independent and reliable information.
The question is a very large one and a full discussion of it would run into volumes. Here it is not possible to do more than examine the critical position from one side only, by selecting a particular book of the Bible and stating briefly the results which have been arrived at in regard to its composition and authenticity, and. finally, comparing this book with some other Semitic work exhibiting the same phenomena.
of which the origin and authorship are known, and so determine whether the conclusions drawn in the former case were legitimate and valid or not.
The element of the new Biblical criticism which may be most conveniently examined and tested in the way proposed is the analysis of the historical books of the Old Testament, of which the results are remarkably well defined and have won universal acceptance: and the portion which lends itself in an especial degree to the analytical process is found in the Books of Samuel.
it is almost a truism of criticism that the earlier books of the Old Testament have been pieced together from ancient narrative, hortatory and legal documents. Two historical works especially are believed to twine round one another from Genesis to Judges, or even to the Books of Samuel. As each of these covered the same ground, beginning, like most Semitic, especially Arab, histories, at the Creation and coming down to the author's own day, duplicate accounts are often given in these books of one and the same event. Thus, if we take the Books of Samuel, we find (1) that Ell 1s twice warned of the impending ruin of his house, first by an unnamed "man of God" (ii. 27 ff.), and afterwards through Samuel (11i. 18). (2) Three motives are given for the change in the form of government from a republic to a monarchy—the misrule of Samuel's sons (vili. 5), the Philistine oppression (lx. 16), and an incursion of the Ammonites (xii. 12). (3) There are two accounts of the election of the first monarch (in x. 1-16, where he is anointed by Samuel, and in x. 17-27, where he is chosen by lot) and (4) of his deposition (in xlll. 7-16, for sacrificing at Gilgal before the arrival of Samuel; in chapter xv.. for sparing the Amalekite king): (5) of David's in