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of his writings, while it gave him 1814 and 1831, or in about 17 pain, did him no good, as it always years; which alone would give an came too late. This with him, as average of 4 volumes a-year, or one with many others, did not arise for every three months. But, befrom any self-sufficiency, or over- sides these, he had already written estimate of himself and of what he 21 volumes of poetry and prose, had achieved. In the Introduction which had been previously pubto the · Lady of the Lake' he says: lished. And all this was done with “As the celebrated John Wilkes is an ease which seems astonishing, said to have explained to his late leaving him time to devote himself Majesty, that he himself, amid his to society and all sorts of other ocfull tide of popularity, was never a cupations. That marvellous hand Wilkite; so can I with honest truth was never weary. The stream of exculpate myself from ever having fancy and invention never ran dry. been a partisan of my own poetry, Temporary disease did not check even when it was in the highest his inspiration, and one of his most fashion with the million."
striking works-one indeed in which Belton. Still a man must believe he touched perhaps the highest point in himself, or he will do nothing of his genius, 'The Bride of Lamgreat. If he had no faith in his mermoor,'—was dictated from a bed work, there would be no sufficient of sickness. Not until paralysis spur and motive to do it.
had struck him down, and the hand Mallett. While we are doing it, of death was on him, did that pen, yes; but after it is done, no. One which had so long enchanted the might as well fall in love with one's world, drop from his hand. And own face, as with one's own work. what a loss he was! What possiIt is astonishing, after it is done, bilities of joy and delight and feelhow flat, tame, and unsatisfactory ing died with him, when the splenseem those passages which in the did light of his genius, which had writing seemed so lively, spirited, so long shed its glory on Scotland, and clever. There is always a ter dropped below the horizon! But rible back-water after a thing is go where you will in that romantic done.
land, his genius still irradiates it. Belton. Perhaps. Yet authors There is scarcely a rock, or a crag, generally seem to be amazingly fond or a lake, a city, a town, or a vilof their own works. As long as lage, where his ideal creations do you praise them, they pretend to be not live and walk and breathe, more modest; but attack them, and they real than the actual men and women will start up to prove that the very who tread the streets, or climb the defects you point out constitute their fastnesses, or trample upon the greatest merits.
heath of Scotland. Mallett. What a wonderful worker Belton. I am glad to hear you Scott was! In quantity, to say speak with such enthusiasm of him. nothing of quality, I know of no It is the fashion, I fear, now to rank English writer of his time who can him in literature far lower than he be compared with him ; though in deserveslater days others have equalled him
“So our virtues in the number of their works. He Lie in the interpretation of the time. wrote, if I remember right, some
One fire drives out one fire, one nail one 90 volumes. Of these, 48 volumes
nail." of novels, and 21 of history and When he wrote he was almost alone biography, were produced between in the field. But literature has since swarmed with novelists, and and contrasted with eminent skill tastes have changed.
the comic, swaggering, good-natured, Mallett. I don't know that they fussy little coward, Oliver Proudfute, have altogether changed for the bet- who provokes a perpetual smile; and ter. Where is the “Great Magician” the sullen, irritable, proud, and reto take his place? For great magi- vengeful coward Conachar, whom cian he was; and out of the realms we cannot but pity, while we deof history and of ideal regions be- spise him. "The Fair Maid of Perth' yond our ken, he had the art to was always a favourite of mine. evoke beings of the past, and of the It has perhaps more variety of inimagination, with whom to delight terest, incident, and characters than us. Over all the scenery of Scot- any he ever wrote, and it never land he threw a veil of poetic en- flags. Think of Ramorny, Rothechantment. He amused us with bis say, and Bonthron; the sturdy rich humour, he excited us with smith, and his comic reflection thrilling incidents, he painted with Proudfute; Dwining the physician; equal facility the days of chivalry Simon Glover the plain burgess; and the common life of the people Conachar the apprentice and the of his day.
Some of the char- chief of his clan, and his heroic acters he drew are living portraits, foster father, who was ready to drawn with wonderful truth to na- sacrifice life, family, everything for ture. What can be more admirable his weak-hearted foster-son. Think in drawing than Andrew Fairser- of the gay morrice-dancers, the riot vice, Edie Ochiltree, Caleb Balder- and recklessness of the Duke and stone, the Antiquary Monkbarns, his boon companions, the darkened Dugald Dalgetty, Mause and Cuddie chamber of the mutilated Headrigg, and a score of others in morny, and his grim interview his comic gallery? What more with Rothesay and Dwining, the touching and simple than Jeanie glee-woman at the castle, and the Deans? What more romantic than troubles of the honest and fiery the Master of Ravenswood? What smith, the pathetic death of the more fanatically powerful than Bal- young prince, and the silence and four of Burley? In his female her- horror that is thrown over it, and oines he was less successful; and it the exciting, vivid, and bloody is only exceptionally that he gives fray of the clan Chattan and the us such spirited sketches as Die clan Quhele, which is epic in its Vernon and Rebecca. But in his character. What variety, what insecondary female characters he is terest, what excitement there is admirable, and in many of his men throughout! masterly. To me one of the most Belton. This novel was a favourite remarkable figures he ever drew was also of Goethe, which it may give that of Conachar. Nothing could you satisfaction to know; but I do be more difficult than to provoke at not think ordinarily that it is reckonce pity, contempt, and sympathy oned one of Scott's best novels. for a coward. Yet he has success- Mallett. Tastes differ. I only fully achieved this feat; and, as far speak for myself. I always read it as I can recollect, it is the sole in- with pleasure. stance in English literature where Belton. You were speaking of the such an attempt was ever made. wonderful fertility of his genius, More than this, he has drawn two and of the amount of work he did. cowards in this remarkable novel— It is indeed surprising; but in each quite different from the other, quantity he cannot compare with
Lope de Vega, who, I fancy, is the morning in order to get through most voluminous of all writers, and with his half of the play, and by whose fertility of creation and ease 11 o'clock he had completed it. of execution seems simply mar- When one considers that a play vellous. He left, it is said, no less' ordinarily covered from 30 to 40 than 21 million 300 thousand verses pages, each of 100 lines, this seems in print, besides a mass of MSS. extraordinary feat in itself, According to the account of Mon-exhibiting at least immense facility. talvan, himself a voluminous writer Six lines a minute is about as and the intimate friend of De Vega, fast as one can easily write, merely he furnished the theatre with 1800 mechanically; and to achieve this regular plays, and 400 autos or feat, Montalvan must have averaged religious dramas. He himself states this number every minute for nine that he composed more than 100 hours, with no pause for invention comedies in the almost incredibly or hesitation. Having finished his short space of 24 hours each, each work, he went down to walk in the comedy averaging between two and garden, and there found his brother three thousand verses, a great part poet Lope pruning an orange-tree. of them rhymed and interspersed “Well, how did you get on?” said with sonnets and difficult forms of he. “Very well,” answered Lope; versification. One would suppose “I rose early, at about five, and that this was enough for any man after I had finished my work I ate to do; but besides this his time was my breakfast; since then I have occupied by various other occupa- written a letter of fifty triplets, tions than writing. Nor did he and watered the whole garden, break down under this labour: on which has tired me a good deal.” the contrary, he lived to a good old What do you say to that? age, dying when he was seventy-two, Mallet. I don't believe it: I and thoroughly enjoying life. Sup- don't think merely mechanically it posing him to have given fifty years would be possible. This would of his life to composition alone, he have required him to write 9 lines must have averaged a play a week, a minute, and there are very few without taking into consideration persons who can copy 5 lines, though 21 volumes quarto, 7 miscellaneous word for word it be read out to them works including 5 epics, all of which in that space of time. I write very are in print.
fast, and it takes me that time to Mallett. The quantity is over- write 7-I have tried it. powering; but the quality, how is Belton. I merely repeat the story that?
of Montalvan : and I suppose many Belton. Remarkably good, con- of the lines are very short; he may sidering the quantity. They had have used shorthand. great success when they were Mallett. That alone could in written, though tastes have changed, my belief have made it possible. and only very few of them still Such excessive production must, keep possession of the stage in however, lead to mannerism and Spain. Montalvan tells rather an repetition. The mind requires falamusing story about one of these low times of leisure between its plays. It seems that he himself harvests. The stream finally runs once undertook, in connection with shallow if too much be constantly Lope, to furnish the theatre with a drawn from it. comedy at very short notice : ac- Belton. One cannot give absocordingly he rose at 2 o'clock in the lute rules in such cases. Genius
is with some a perennial spring, of art, he says : “Here was a grand which never runs dry; with others work of talent, earnestness, industry, it is a petroleum well, which sud- and consecutive advantages. Here denly goes out; but with the highest was an element for the natural and minds it is like a light which is not artistic development of admirable spent with giving.
powers. We see whole dozens of Mallett. A bad comparison, for excellent artists produced by it, the light itself consumes the candle. each practising and cultivating his
Belton. As the mind consumes peculiar talent according to the same the flesh, but not itself. But since general idea ; so that it seems hardly you object to my figures of speech, possible that after-times should prolet me call in Shakespeare to help duce anything similar.” He then
proceeds to exalt Rubens and the "Our poesy is as a gum which oozes “crowd of Dutch painters of the From whence 'tis nourished : the fire in seventeenth century," and the “in
the flint Shows not till it be struck; our gentle credible sagacity with which their eye flame
pierced into nature, and the facility Provokes itself, and, like the current, flies with which they succeeded in exEach bound it chafes."
pressing her legitimate charm, so as Shallow minds fall soon into man
to enchant us everywhere. Nay," nerism, but great minds are not to he continues, “in proportion as we be bounded by old limits. They possess the same qualities, we are overflow their banks in times of willing for a time to limit ourselves fulness, and go ever on, enlarging exclusively to the examination and and deepening their currents. Be- attraction of these productions, and sides, does not one's mind strengthen are contented with the possession as much as one's muscles by constant and enjoyment of this class of picpractice? Does not lying fallow often tures exclusively." And then folmean merely being idle? Does not lows an elaborate analysis of a series mannerism arise rather from laziness of etchings by Sebastian Bourbon, of purpose than limitation of facul- an artist of the fifteenth century, ties? Of course one cannot be ori. "whose talent," he says, “ has never ginal to order—even to one's own received its due praise.” This, I conorder; but does doing nothing for a fess, surprised me in Goethe. time help us?
Mallet. It does not surprise me. Mallett. I have no doubt it does. His genius had a deliberate method Does it not strengthen one to sleep? of action and composition which
Belton. I was struck the other resembled in many respects the art day in reading Goethe's essay on of the Caracci, and of even the lower 'Ancient and Modern,' by his de- school of their followers. He was liberate confession that he likes essentially academic in his turn of mannerists, and is pleased with mind; and naturally he overvalued the possession of their works. He academic and almost mechanical places Raffaelle above Leonardo da facility above the higher methods Vinci and Michael Angelo, and and daring graspings of great genius. values his facility above all their He had a high esteem for the Muses, great qualities. After strenuously and no passion for them. He shook praising the school of the Caracci, hands in the most friendly manner which, by almost universal consent, with them, always was proper, someis placed in the second rank, and re- times condescending, to them, and garded as academical in its character never omitted the forms and cereand wanting the highest inspiration monies of politeness ; when he called on them he always said, "Ich emp- with facts and observations and fehle mich," and bowed low. But commonplaces. Their works are he was never passionately in love tedious beyond measure. In their with them-never gave his heart to poetry there is, for the most part, them with a complete self-surrender. no irradiation-no fire to fuse and He did not feel with Schiller that transmute it from substance to spirit. "Der allein besitzt die Musen,
"The German genius," says Matthew Der sie trägt im warmen Busen, Arnold, in his admirable paper on Dem Vandalen sind sie Stein.'
the study of Celtic literature, "has No; he rather put them to school, steadiness with honesty," while the like a stiff old schoolmaster. English has "energy with honesty."
Belton. I am sorry I introduced But steadiness and honesty are this subject. You are thoroughly qualities which, admirable as they unfair to Goethe ; and though there are in life and in certain forms of is a certain truth in all you say, literature, have little relation to the you exaggerate it until it becomes imagination, save in a very exalted a falsity.
sense. The poetic imagination Mallett. I like Schiller's essays on takes slight heed of honesty. It art far better than Goethe's. There has a higher office. It fuses while are some passages in his æsthetic it uses, and in its glow all things letters on the education of man that
“Suffer a sea-change are wonderfully noble, eloquent, and Into something rich and strange." ideal in character; and I wish I It is often absolutely dishonest to had them here, that I might read real fact, and only true to ideal feelyou some. I am almost tempted ing. Fuel becomes flame in its enthuto try and recall them now from siastic embrace. What steadiness memory, but I should do them in
or honesty in their common-sense justice, and so let it be for another is there in such lines as these day, when I will bring you the
“ Take, oh ! take those lips away book and read them to you.
That so sweetly were forsworn ; Belton. You know I am fond of And those eyes, the break of day, the Germans.
Lights that do mislead the morn." Mallett. I know you are ; but I Literally this is absurd : ideally it cannot see what you find so admir- is exquisite. There is no bane to able in their imaginative literature, poetry like commonplace, however nor can I sympathise with the pre- true, however honest. But such sent rage for Germanism. In scholar- graces as these are never snatched ship, philosophy, and criticism they by the German muse, and she stand very high, and in these wearies us with platitudes and probranches their literature is admir- positions. Even Goethe is so deterable. But in almost all their books mined to be accurate to the fact, there is an absence of literary diges- that in writing his Alexis and tion. They ransack libraries with an Dora he stopped to consider whether astonishing zeal and industry, and Alexis, when he takes leave of leave nothing to desire in the way Dora, ought to put down or take up of aecumulation; but they have no his bundle; so at least Eckermann power of rejection and assimilation. reports from Goethe's own lips. Everything is fish which comes to This is purely German in its litetheir net. A German's capacity of ralness. boring and of being bored is inex- Belton. Have you raved enough haustible. In the higher grade of against the Germans? If so, let us the imagination they are encumbered go back to Sir Walter Scott, in re