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himself and his doings, that a man of his sincerity could have been such a secret-keeper. It was not by measures of precaution as regarded his own conduct; it was not by plot and underplot, that the public was misled as to the authorship of the novels. It was by the coolness of his manner, and the simplicity of his speech and demeanour, that inquirers were baffled ; and this coolness could scarcely have been preserved by one so ardent and simple, if he had thought his achievements as marvel. lous as they appeared to others, or if they had been the objects of his principal interest. In what light he regarded them may be gathered from a passage in which he offers us his views of the duties of those who are entering on a literary life. “ Upon the whole, as I had no pretension to the genius of the distinguished persons who had fallen into such errors, [vanity and irascibility,] I concluded there could be no occasion for imitating them in such mistakes, or what I considered as such. With this view, it was my first resolution to keep as far as was in my power abreast of society; continuing to maintain my place in general company, without yielding to the very natural temptation of narrowing myself to what is called literary society. By doing so, I imagined I should escape the besetting sin of listening to language which, from one motive or another, ascribes a very undue degree of consequence to literary pursuits, as if they were indeed the business rather than the amusement of life.”
Whatever may be conjectured as to how much Sir Walter included under the term “ literary pursuits,” and as to how differently he might have estimated them if he had beheld another in his own position, the above passage vindicates the truth, that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The abundance of his heart did not consist of that of which he did not speak—of himself and his fame. He spoke of politics, of other men's literature, of antiquities, of planting and farming, of law and justice, of fishing and shooting ; " of man, of nature, of society;" and of these things his heart was full. He did not speak or encourage others to speak of his labours of the desk, and of their rewards; and of these things his heart was not full.
It seems rather strange that he should have spoken thus lightly of literature, when he himself applied its forces to some of the gravest purposes in which they can be employed,-in the delineation of the working of the darker passions. If the inquiry had been brought home to him he would scarcely have persisted that there was mere amusement to himself in the conception, or to his readers in the contemplation of such characters as his Dirk Hatteraick, Front-de-Bæuf, the Templar, Tony Forster, Varney and Leicester, and Rasleigh Osbaldistone, and many more, whose dark thoughts and deeds it would be as wrong as it is impossible to allow to pass before us as a mere spectacle, and be forgotten. There is too solemn a character belonging to the sufferings of Amy Robsart, and of the Master of Ravenswood, to permit their having no permanent effect on philosophy and morals, and too much depth in the genius which delineated them to justify the speaking lightly of such of its efforts as those in question. If the office of casting new lights into philosophy, and adding new exemplifications and sanctions to morals, be not the “ business” of literary genius, we know not what is. It is the “ business,” the first business of every man, to deduce these very lessons from actual life; and we can conceive of no more important occupation than his who does the same thing for many, while doing it for himself ; presenting the necessary materials, and their issues, unravelled from the complications, and separated from the admixtures which may impair their effect in real life, but no less palpably real than if they had passed under actual observation. This is the task, the real “ business” of moral philosophers of all ranks and times; of Socrates, Zeno, and Epicurus, in the temple and the garden ; of the Fathers of the Church in their twilight cells of learning; of the philosophers and bards of the middle ages; and, in the present, of Scott in his study, no less than of the divine in his pulpit. How much more conscious Scott really was than he seemed, of the importance of his office as an exhibitor of humanity, can probably never now be known; but that that office did, in fact, constitute the real business of his life, is as certain as it will be evident, when not one stone of Abbotsford shall be left upon another, when the last tree of his planting shall have tottered to its fall, and the last relic of the man shall have been lost, except that which is enshrined in his works.
It may be said, that he had little to do with the darker passions, and proved that there are but few villains among the host of characters; but these dark passions cast their shade far and wide, and one villain modifies the fortunes of many innocent persons. Rashleigh is at the bottom of all that happens in Rob Roy, and ambition gives its entire colouring to the romance of Kenilworth. These dark passions cause the predomi. nant impression left by moral pictures ; as a thunder cloud characterises the summer landscape, though the streams of sun-light may far outnum. ber the flashes of the lightning. That dark passions are introduced, and have excited an interest, is a sufficient basis for the argument, that their exhibition constituted an important part of the business of his life, who conceived and portrayed their workings.
The world, at least that part of it which knows what it is talking about, has ceased to be astonished at the union of mirth and pathos in the effusions of genius. That mirth is often found without pathos, and pathos without mirth, is no argument against their co-existence; as there have been some in every age to prove, beginning (at the nearest) from Solomon, when writing the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and finishing with Sir Walter Scott. Indeed, as an acute discrimination of analogies is the basis equally of poetry and wit, and as the same discrimination, applied to the workings of human emotion, is the chief requisite to pathos, the wonder is rather, that Milton should have been able to keep ludicrous combinations of ideas always out of sight, than that Shakspeare should hare been profuse in them; that the Man of Feeling should never have been moved to mirth, than that Uncle Toby should have brushed away his tears with a laugh. The power produced by this union has seldom been more fully shown than in the Abbot Boniface of Scott. While the Abbot of the Monastery, he is little better than contemptible. The man moves no sympathy, and is regarded as a fine satirical sketch ; as a representation of an obsolete class, and in nowise interesting as an individual. How miraculously he comes out as the old gardener, grown innocent in his tastes, and crossed in his sole desire,—their harmless indulgence ! The comic aspect of his official character is preserved, while we are made to feel a respectful compassion for the individual; and his last words sink deep into the heart, and return for ever upon the memory and the ear.
“ The Ex-Abbot resumed his spade. “I could be sorry for these men,' he said; ay, and for that poor Queen; but what avail earthly sorrows to a man of fourscore? and it is a rare dropping morn for the early colewort.'”
The most remarkable circumstance attending Scott's opposite powers of moving is, not their co-existence, but their keeping one another in check, as they ever did, except in the one (repented?) instance in which he allowed his wit to run riot-in his sketches of the Covenanters in Old Mortality. None probably deny, that fanaticism is a most tempting subject for wit to divert itself upon, and that there may be little exaggeration in the reports given of Mause Headrigg's conversation and achieve. ments; but there are also few to defend a needless outrage upon the religious prejudices of a nation, at the risk of disturbing something better than prejudices. Sir Walter did not excuse himself for this single indiscretion, or probably intend to do so, by his subsequent exposition of the absurdity of men of the present day clinging to the letter of the faith and practice of their forefathers. In all other instances his mirth was as discreet and innocent as his pathos was deep and true. Each enhanced, while it controlled the other; and their union afforded an infallible test of the power of the genius whose healthy development it characterised.
In no respect has the character of genius been more importantly vin. dicated by Sir Walter than in his habitual cheerfulness. There may be, and ought to be, an end for ever to the notion, that melancholy is an attribute of genius; for Sir Walter was as little given to melancholy as any whistling ploughboy within the realm of Scotland. If it be true, that genius dives deep into the recesses where pain shrouds itself from the light, it is also true, that genius opens up new and everspringing sources of joy ; while the common and wearing troubles of life are thrown off by its elasticity, and its own light sheds beauty on all that surrounds it. That many geniuses have been moody men, is not owing to their genius, but to habit of body or mind, which their genius was not power. ful enough to overcome. If the mind be its own place the highest mind must hold the happiest place; the wider its ken the more numerous the objects of good within the circle; the more various its powers the more harmonious the creation of which those powers take cognizance. Thus was it with Sir Walter Scott; his internal cheerfulness breathing music through the fiercest storms that gathered at his spell, and forming the basis of all the varied melodies which he drew from the chords of the human heart. It is never lost—not in the darkest scenes where his personages are raging, suffering, sinking under violence and wo: there is even here a principle of vigour in the humanity displayed,-a tacit promise, that there are better things beyond, which, without any obtrusion of the author's individuality, supports the reader's spirits upon the buoyancy of the writer's. We will not flatter even the dead. We will not say that this cheerfulness appears to us to spring so much from a lofty faith in humanity as from other causes, equally pure, but with which it is a pity that the faith we speak of should not co-exist. Walter Scott had a perpetual spring of joy within him from his love of nature, from his secret sense of power, from his wise regulation of his tastes and desires, and from the kindliness of disposition which endeared him to every one, and every one to him ; but there are no traces of that long clear foresight of the issues of social struggles, no evidences that he caught the distant echoes of that harmony into which all the jarrings of social interests must subside ; no aspirations after a better social state than the present; no sympathy beaming through its tears, for the sacrifices of patriotism, and the patient waiting of the oppressed for redress. No one showed more respect for opinion as the basis of prac
tice, or more sympathy for individual sorrows: no one could put a more benevolent construction on what passed before his eyes, or was more disposed to make the best of whatever is; but his perpetual, fond recur. rence to the past, his indisposition to change ; in a word, his Toryism prevented his recognising the ultimate purposes of society, and reposing amidst that faith in man which is next to trust in God, (of which indeed it forms a part,) the best resting place of the spirit amidst the tumults and vicissitudes of life. It was from a deficiency of support of this kind that his spirit once quailed ; that once, that will never cease to be mourn. ed, when multitudes, far his inferiors in all besides, were enabled to rejoice while he suffered, trembled, supplicated, all the more keenly, all the more urgently, from the might of the heart within him. The fear of change perplexed him, and he warned and petitioned against it ineffectually, and to his own great injury ; when, if he could but have seen that change was inevitable, and might be directed to the most magnificent achievements, he might have been one of the adored leaders of a heroic nation, instead of being made a spectacle to the people while offering his affecting farewell—“ Moriturus vos salutat.” He had vigour to support his own misfortunes, and to set about repairing them with unflinching heroism. But he had not faith in man collectively as he had in individual man, and could not resist the sadness with which political change inspired him, and which, more than any private sorrows, were thought to accelerate his decline. From the hopefulness which springs out of faith in man's progression, he was cut off. It was a great misfortune. Far be it from us to taunt his memory with it, or to ascribe it to any thing but the outward circumstances of his training. If the world lost something by it, he lost more, and moreover suffered by infliction as well as deprivation: and all this makes the depth and continuity of his cheerfulness the more remarkable. This cheerfulness, this tendency to put a kindly construction on all which has been and is, accounts for his popularity notwithstanding his Toryism, and is, in its turn, partly accounted for by his industry,--another test of the healthiness of his genius. On this industry little can be said. Its achievements are before every one's eyes, and are, we suppose, nearly as unaccountable to most people as to ourselves. We give up the attempt to settle how he did all, and when he did it. We have his own word for his works (except during an interval of two years) being all written by his own hand ; and if we had not had this unquestionable word, we should have dissented from Göethe's pposition, that he sketched and touched up, and left it to inferior hands to compose the bulk of his works. There is such a character of unity amidst all the diversity ; the dullest scenes are so evidently enjoyed by the author, however little they may be so by the reader; there is such gusto, such an absence of all sense of drudgery throughout, that we could (as we said at the time) have staked our character for penetration upon the fact, before the disclosure was made, that every chapter in this library of novels was written by the same hand. How it was done is another matter. How he wrote for years together, sixteen pages of print per diem, on an average, while discharging his official duties in town, or before beginning his daily occupations and pleasures of hospitality in the country,-sixteen pages of historical, as well as fictitious, narrative, including all the research which either required, is to us matter of pure astonishment. We must be content with it as a fact; and taking it thus, we can understand how so perpetual a flow of fresh ideas, so animating a consciousness of power,
so ever-present an evidence of achievement must have fed the springs of his cheerfulness, and have given that character of luxury to his intel. lectual refreshments which bodily toil gives to the meal and the couch of the labourer. There is a delight appertaining to earned pleasures which is common to all classes in the intellectual and social world ; and herein was Sir Walter least of all aristocratic. His example of this truth is so valuable, his sanction so impressive, that we must be excused the triteness of our morality. If there be any in whose eyes industry has not hitherto been majestic, they may now perhaps be led to appreciate her dignity. All others will dwell thankfully on every new testimony to her congeniality with genius.
It is not easy to see how it can ever be tolerable to genius to be idle. To conceive achievements, and not attempt them; to discriminate beau. ty, and not reach after it ; to discern that action is necessary to further contemplation, and not to act ;—these things seem, if not contradictory, unnatural; and the impulses arising from them are quite sufficient, with. out any help from the ambition of which Sir Walter had a very small share, to account for any degree of exertion that physical and mental energy can sustain. They are enough to render the spirit willing ; and where the spirit is willing, the might is strong ; and this willingness and might together constitute industry; an indispensable grace of the lofty, (whatever some who are great in their own eyes may think,) as well as the most ennobling virtue of the humble. Genius implies toil, both as its cause and its consequence; and the example of Walter Scott (unnecessary as a proof, though welcome as a sanction to some) will open the eyes of many as to a new truth. And herein we recognise another of his mighty services as a vindicator of genius.
The practical character of his conduct and conversation was another of his valuable characteristics,-implied in his industry, indeed, but remarkable apart from that. Good sense is as remarkable a feature of his most imaginative writings as illustration and humour were of his homeliest conversation. He had a considerable degree of worldly sagacity, not only of that which, being worked out in the study, makes a good show upon paper, but of that shrewdness which is ready for use in all the rapid turns of life, and sudden occasions of daily business. This is evident, not only in his portrait, and in his exposition of the system of Scotch banking, but in his most delicate delineations of his fairest heroines ; in his records of the conversation of the glorious Die Ver. non, in the tête-à-têtes of Minna and Brenda, and conspicuously in the interview between Rebecca and Rowena. It is the practical character, i. e. the reality which pervades his loftiest scenes, that gives to them their permanent charm : in the same manner as the writer him. self was respected as a man of superior rationality, and beloved as an endearing companion, instead of being regarded as a wayward dreamer, merely tolerated on account of supposed genius.
Here we must stop for the present. In pursuing this inquiry into the education and characteristics of his genius, we seem to have done little towards -expressing the emotions which his name awakens, exalted as it is amidst the coronach of a nation. We shall hereafter attempt some estimate of his achievements, and of his services to his race- ser. vices of whose extent he was himself nearly as unconscious as his con. temporaries are proud,