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Tolstoy, but apologizes for him; and that, as we have seen, is the common tone of the Tolstoyan disciples towards their master. Tolstoy, they seem to say, is mad; but there is method in his madness.
Perhaps there is. Madness is not necessarily inconsequential or illogical. The difference between a fool and a madman, it has been said, is this: A fool reasons incorrectly from true premises ; a madman reasons correctly from false premises—and that is, broadly speaking, what Tolstoy has done. A sane reasoner, following his argument, and being led to his conclusions, would say: This is absurd; there must be something wrong with the premises; let us re-examine them and start afresh. Tolstoy, on the contrary, never flinches from his conclusions, and never doubts his premises. An argument which another man would regard as a reductio tid ab&urdum is to him a demonstration that the absurd is true. The Tolstoyans evidently feel this, though they do not admit it, and do not even see it .
For what reason, then, are they Tolstoyans? Why do they persist in walking, and in trying to persuade others to walk, in a path which they perceive to be so beset with stumbling-blocks? They write as men laid under a spell to which they would like to yield, but which both instinct and experience bid them resist. What is the nature of the fascination? Do they themselves understand it?
Apparently they do not; for Tolstoyism, as they present it to us, bristles with fallacies which any amateur logician can detect . The only premises from which the conclusions of popular Tolstoyism can be derived are these: that Christ spoke with divine authority and meant what he said when he said certain things, but did not speak with authority, and did not mean what he said, when
he said certain other things. That is absurd, whatever view one takes of the divinity of Christ; but the Tolstoyans lack nerve to brush the absurdity aside. Their instincts and their reason conflict . Reason tells them that Tolstoy is wrong; instinct tells them that he has grasped a profound and valuable truth. They cling to the absurdities for fear lest the truth should perish with them.
Perhaps we may best get at the root of the matter by distinguishing between exoteric and esoteric Tolstoyism. Exoteric Tolstoyism does consist of wrong-headed Christian exegetics. in esoteric Tolstoyism the selected sayings of Christ—certain selected saying, that is to say—are merely used as illustrations of a philosophy which is independent of them and might just as well be based upon the selected sayings of Buddha. Esoteric Tolstoyism, in short, is not a kind of Christianity, but a kind of Pantheism.
Pantheism, of course, is not necessarily a religious conception. To say that matter is God is neither to add to our knowledge of its attributes, nor (from the point of view of the materialist) to introduce any fresh theory of the Universe. It is merely (the materialist would say) to give matter a new name. And the materialists will also tell us that no other kind of Pantheism is possible. None the less, however, the Pantheism which is current is the Pantheism of the "God-intoxicated man" who insists upon imposing the religious conceptions of his own mind upon a philosophical conception which does not contain them; and the reason why it is current is that we are all, materialists included, God-intoxicated more or less—a condition of things with which every philosophy must, whether logically or illogically, in the long run, make terms. The real standpoint of Tolstoy as a teacher is that of the God-intoxicated Pantheist . He is a Christian only in so far as Pantheism—his own kind of Pantheism—can be read into or squeezed out of Christianity; and the text on which esoteric Tolstoyism is based is not, after all. "Resist not evil," but "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."
in that text lies the Tolstoyan sanction of morality, though not necessarily the sanction of all the detailed Tolstoyan precepts. All men are brothers because all men are manifestations of the divine. That is the central thought which pervades and animates Tolstoy's teaching. lt is very precisely stated, in a very popular form, in a short tale entitled -Exarhaddon, Kl-ng of
The Fortnightly Review.
Axxyria, published for the benefit of the Jews impoverished by the Kishineff riots; but it is implied in almost everything that Tolstoy has written in recent years. lt is, one cannot doubt, in their zeal for that conception of man's relations to man and to the infinite that the Tolstoyans labor so hard in apologizing for Tolstoy's impracticable code of conduct; but they have no need to do so. The conception to which they cling does not contain the conclusions which perplex them; and the premises which do contain them are not of the essence of Tolstoyism.
WORDSWORTH'S PATRIOTIC POETRY.
On August 30, 1808, the Convention of Cintra undid the work of Vimlero and checked for a time the revolt of Portugal and Spain against Napoleon. England as a whole took the disaplK)intment hardly; and one man—the most English of the English—was so moved that he broke what with him was. if not a rule, at least a practice of never publicly expressing his opinions on political affairs. During the following winter Wordsworth wrote a prose pamphlet; it was seen through the press by De Quincey. and published in the spring of 1809 under a title of which "The Convention of Cintni" is the fragment best known, but of which the words "those principles by which alone the independence and freedom of nations can be preserved or recovered" are the really important part. Wordsworth saw. what few men of the time appear to have seen, the essential difference between this and the other efforts to throw off the Napoleonic yoke. The revolt in Spain and Portugal spoke with the voice, not of a dynasty, but of a people.
LlVlNG AGE. VOL. XLl. 2135
Was there ever a people who presented themselves to the reason and the imagination, as under more holy influences than the dwellers upon the Southern Peninsula; as roused more instantaneously from a deadly sleep to a more hopeful wakefuiness, as a mass fluctuates with one motion under the breath of a mightier wind; as breaking themselves up, and settling into several bodies, in more harmonious order; as reunited and embattled under a standard which was reared to the sun with more authentic assurance of final victory?
So he writes in a pamphlet which, though it had no noticeable effect (bolug written by an unpopular poet out of touch with practical politics), is well worth reading for its eloquence, its ideas, and the light it throws on Wordsworth's patriotic poetry. Not kings nor armies, but the "soul" of a people is what matters.
O'erweening Statesmen have full long relied On fleets and armies, and external wealth:
But from within proceeds a Nation's health; Which shall not fail, though poor men
cleave with pride To the paternal floor; or turn aside, In the thronged city, from the walks
of gain, As being all unworthy to detain A Soul by contemplation sanctified. There are who cannot languish in this
strife, Spaniards of every rank, by whom the good Of such high course was felt and understood; Who to their Country's cause have
bound a life Erewhile, by solemn consecration given To labor and to prayer, to nature, and to heaven.
And as the war progressed it was not the English arms he sang of, but the Peninsular heroes, Palafox, and those nameless guerillas whom in two fine sonnets he celebrated as the equals of their ancestors, who defied home and Carthage, and as "hanging like dreams around the guilty bed" of the Tyrant.
The anniversary sends one back to Wordsworth's patriotic or political poetry; and to pick it out and read it as a whole is to realize what has been said before, that here is at once the largest and most valuable body of that kind of poetry in the English language. Its genesis and development are a familiar story. In May, 1802, a few months before his marriage, Wordsworth's sister Dorothy read him Milton's sonnets. He "look fire" at once, and he wrote immediately the sonnet "I grieved for Buonaparte." That summer the Peace of Amiens made it possible for them to go to France, and he was moved to further sonnets by the contrast between the France of 1792—"Fra»ee standing at the top of golden hours"— and the France which had just made Napoleon Consul for life—a France where the "two solitary greet
ings, 'Good-morrow, Citizen!'" sounded
a hollow word.
Al the same time, his changed feelings for England inspired him to use the sonnet as he and Milton alone have used it. The days had passed when he had
Exulted, in the trinmph of my soul, When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown;
and when, during the thanksgivings for our victories,
l only, like an uninvited guest
The result of that August in France was the famous apology to his country:—
When l have borne in memory what
has tamed Great Nations, how ennobling thoughts
depart When men change swords for ledgers,
and desert The student's bower for gold, some
fears unnamed I had, my Country!—am l to be
blamed? Now. when i think of thee, and what
thou art, Verily, in the bottom of my heart. Of those unfilial fears I am ashamed. For dearly must we prize thee; we who
find ln thee a bulwark for the cause of men: And l by my affection was beguiled: What wonder if a Poet now and then, Among the many movements of his mind, Felt for thee as a lover or a child!
To it we owe also the sonnet "Fair Star of Evening." which we only refrain from quoting because most people know it by heart; the sonnet "Here on our native soil," with its sextet:— Europe is yet in bonds; but let that pass, Thought for another moment. Thou art free, My Country! And 'tis joy enough and pride For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass Of England once again, and hear and
see, With such a dear Companion at my side;
and a third sonnet which is essential to the subject:—
lt is not to be thought of that the Flood Of British freedom, which, to the open sea
Of the world's praise, from dark antiquity
Hath flowed, "with pomp of waters, unwithstood," Roused though it be full often to a mood
Which spurns the check of salutary bands.
That this most famous Stream in bogs and sands Should perish: and to evil and to good Be lost for ever. ln our halls is hung Armory of the invincible Knights of old;
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held.—ln everything we are sprung
Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.
On his return, he was struck by the wealth and luxury of England contrasted with the "quiet and desolation" of the Calais which rejoiced so soberly over Napoleon's new honor; and—still clinging to the sonnet—he wrote the apology quoted above, the lines which include the much-quoted "Plain living and high thinking" and "Pure religion breathing household laws." the famous sonnet to Milton, and another which will appear valuably characteristic of his thought, as well as less valuably so of his expression:—
Great men have been among us; hands that penned
And tongues that uttered wisdom—better none:
The later Sidney, Marvel, Harrington, Young Vane, and others who called Milton friend. These moralists could act and comprehend:
They knew how genuine glory was put on;
Taught us how rightfully a nation shone
in splendor: what strength was, that would not bend But in magnanimous meekness. France, 'tis strange, Hath brought forth no such souls as we had then. Perpetual emptiness! unceasing change! No single volume paramount, no code. No master spirit, no determined road! But equally a want of books and men!
"No master spirit"; the words are deeply significant, as we shall see.
lt is hard to understand to-day how Wordsworth ever came to be regarded as a renegade. Not to mention his own very clear explanations of his mental processes, in "The Prelude" and elsewhere, only one who saw things with the eyes of a Hazlitt could full to admit that his was a consistent, the only consistent, path. lt is abundantly clear that Wordsworth's passion, like Milton's, was for that liberty in order which is the result of the justice of God and the laws which free man makes for himself. Napoleon, in his opinion, acted in defiance of both, and, after 1793. still more after 1802, Wordsworth could be nothing but an antlBonapartist. This is not the place to discuss how far Napoleon's "plebiscitary despotism stood for the Revolution." in Wordsworth's day the Napoleonic legend was not born, and he may be pardoned for not seeing what is not sharply clear to those who have known it for nearly a century. And as for Napoleon's "defence of nationality," what Wordsworth—no lover of the old order thought about that is clear from another of the 1810 sonnets —the "Indignation of a high-minded Spaniard":—
We can endure that He should waste
our lands, Despoil our temples, and by sword and
flame Return us to the dust from which we
came; Such food a Tyrant's appetite demands: And we can brook the thought that by his band, Spain may be overpowered, and he possess, For his delight, a solemn wilderness Where all the brave lie dead. But,
when of bands Which he will break for us he dares
to speak, Of benefits, and of a future day When our enlightened minds shall
bless his sway; Then, the strained heart of fortitude
proves weak; Our groans, our blushes, our pale
cheeks declare That he has power to inflict what we
lack strength to bear.
Napoleon, to Wordsworth, was always the Tyrant; and that phrase, "no master mind," is the keynote of his view of Consul and Emperor. "it was a high satisfaction," he writes in his pamphlet on the Convention of ('intra, "to behold demonstrated ... to what a narrow domain of knowledge the intellect of a Tyrant must be confined. ... To the eyes of the very peasant in the field, this sublime truth was laid open—not only that a Tyrant's domain of knowledge is narrow, but melancholy as narrow; inasmuch as—from all that is lovely, dignified, or exhilarating in the prospect of human nature —he is inexorably cut off; and therefore he is inwardly helpless and forlorn."
Wisdom doth live with children round
her knees: Books, leisure, perfect freedom, and
Man holds with week-day man in the
hourly walk Of the mind's business: these are the
degrees By which true Sway doth mount; this
is the stalk True Power doth grow on; and her
rights are these.
He was never deluded for a moment into thinking Napoleon either a great or an enviable man. To Wordsworth a tyrant could not be great; and when he was almost at the height of his power, this is all the poet has to say for him: that he had
Gained at length a prosperous height, Round which the elements of worldly might Beneath his haughty feet, like clouds, are laid. O joyless power that stands by lawless force! Curses are his dire portion, scorn, and
hate, Internal darkness and unquiet breath.
Such was his attitude towards the man whom every one else in Europe was pursuing with either fulsome adulation or violent hatred. Wordsworth did not hate him. While he wept or thundered over his successes or exulted in his overthrow, he looked down upon the man from a height where personal hatred could not breathe. And twenty years later he seems to include Napoleon in the pity he evidently felt for Trajan, as he looked upon the Pillar in Rome. But he followed his career with intense interest, and the suppressed excitement characteristic of him found vent in a series of sonnets that commemorate nearly every event in the story. So early as 1802 he wrote the great sonnet on Toussaint l'Ouverture and the greater still on Venice; and another on Gnstavus IV. of Sweden, who seemed to him no tyrant, but a true patriot, because he resisted Napoleon. In 1803 he defeated in imagination the French invaders. In 1800