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the "sentimental" wrongs of Irishmen, so | Wordsworth and Thomas De Quincey, surely as we acknowledge in word and plain John Campbell ” and “Christopher deed that they are our equals, entitled to North," not to mention other names, have respect even in their idiosyncrasies, to tol- all their rightful place of appreciation in even in their prejudices, to argu- her picture-gallery. Then the knowledge ment even in their errors, so surely shall of the authoress is seldom, if ever, at fault. we find that they are willing on those terms She is as equally at home with the happy to be our comrades- nay, that they have circumstances of Lockhart's early intimacy always in the worst hours been- our cor- with Walter Scott, as with those of the dial friends in every task which lies before Wordsworths at Rydal Mount, or with the the at last United Empire. What that political events in the long career of Lord friendship is worth to us as a people we Palmerston. Again, the sense of justice shall not attempt to describe, for this is makes itself felt in every one of her essays. not the moment to tell how bitterly our Or, at all events, if we were to make any Saxon people need the aid the Celt alone exceptions, it would be in these two incan bring, the genius and the dash, the stances: - She seems a little too severe on light-heartedness and the imagination of the Mrs. Jameson, and rather exaggerates the Irishman: but we may use one material influence of Lady Byron on the world at and unanswerable argument. We are now large-in the latter case imputing to a but twenty millions, for of our nominal wider outer circle feelings which only exthirty, the Milesian five neutralize by their isted within a comparatively limited one. discontent the strength of at least five more. Finally, the artistic ability with which the When Ireland is reconciled, we shall be authoress combines a careful analysis of thirty millions. character, with just so much thread of narrative as is necessary to render a given sketch intelligible and lifelike, and with telling anecdotes which at once illuminate the idiosyncrasy of the person depicted and also the wit or humour of the biographer, is of a kind highly admirable.
Ir is quite impossible, within the limits of a single article in this journal, to say all that we should like to say of the delightful volume. We must accordingly content ourselves with putting down a few observations as to the general merits revealed in Miss Martineau's biographical sketches, and singling out one or two of her portraitures for special comment, which, however, must in the main, prove for commendation.
Miss Martineau arranges her Essays under six divisions, which are the “ Royal, "Politicians," "6 Professional,” “ Scientific," Social," and "Literary." Beginning the first list with the Emperor of Russia, she closes it with the late Duchess of Kent. To the mother of the Queen she dedicates a which is altogether charming, paper, of womanly grace and geniality. Indeed, each of Miss Martineau's representations is Miss Martineau has furnished us in the dividual subject of her pen-and-ink art, that so thoroughly a caught reflection of the incompass of fewer than 500 pages with rep- the perusal of her sketches has been to us like resentations of forty-six more or less disa study of the portraits of one of our ablest tinguished or noteworthy personages, who artists have recently passed from the stage of late Thomas Phillips. The heads of Phillips mean especially those of the visible human life. Nine or ten pages are all the space which she affords to any He saw the object, and could paint it. And are all objective," if you like the word. of her delineations, and yet she never fails in reading Miss Martineau's volume, the to leave with the reader a singularly distinct impression of the character, the sur- awakened within us as we experienced, latesame sense of truth and reality has been roundings and the work of the subject of ly, in surveying in succession the masterher presentment. smug DissentIn the first place, we are struck, as, in- pieces of Phillips, such as his deed, we were prepared to be, with the redolent of high breeding, a copious cellar, ing parson, the fine old country gentleman, range of Miss Martineau's sympathies. and broad acres, side by side with the polGeorge Combe and Bishop Blomfield, Rob-ished bishop, the fiery Hetman Platoff, and ert Owen and Archbishop Whately, Mrs. the marvellous face of Lord Byron, in Jameson and Lady Noel Byron, David which last the whole complex character of Roberts and the Emperor Nicholas, Mrs. the man is rendered for those who can read it. To return to the essay last named, Miss Martineau tells us in it the following char
From The Spectator. MISS MARTINEAU'S BIOGRAPHICAL
Biographical Sketches. By Harriet Martineau. London: Macmillan. 1869.
acteristic story of the young Princess Vic- | autocrat were numbered. And if her lantoria :guage is prophetic, it is not less remarkable for its pathos and power. There is not perhaps in the whole volume a passage so striking as that in which she depicts the Russian Emperor sitting among the wreck of his his last. We must make room for a portion idols " on that birth-day which proved to be
"It became known at Tunbridge Wells that the Princess had been unable to buy a box at bazaar, because she had spent all her money. At this bazaar she had bought presents for almost all her relations, and had laid out her last shilling, when she remembered one cousin more, and saw a box, priced half-a-crown, which would suit him. The shop people of course placed the box with the other purchases, but the little lady's governess admonished them by saying, No, you see the Princess has not got the money, and, therefore, of course she cannot buy the box. This being perceived, the next offer was to lay by the box till it could be purchased; and the answer was, Oh, well, if you will be so good as to do that,' and the thing was done. On quarter-day, before seven in the morn-directions for the debts of his nobles, the bankas soon as his back was turned; cursed in all ing, the Princess appeared on her donkey to claim her purchase. Anecdotes like these, apparently small, have large meanings; and in such traits people saw promise of the rectitude and elevated economy which have made the mother of our Royal family respected by the people whose need and convenience she has so admirably respected."
"Hated by his nobles; liked only by an igreceive no good from him; drawn on by his own norant peasantry who can give him no aid, and passions to sacrifice them in hecatombs, while they fix their eyes on him as their only hope; appointed in his army and its officers; afraid to tricked by his servants all over the Empire; disleave his capital, because it would be laid waste
conscious of the reprobation of England and ruptcy of trade, and the hunger of his people; France, whose reprobation could be no indifferent matter to Lucifer himself; finding himself out in his count about Austria, and about everybody but his despised brothers of Prussia and (as an after-thought) Naples; and actually humbled before the Turk, what a position for a man whose birthday once seemed to be an event in the Calendar of the Universe! Be it remembered the while that he is broken in health and he cannot take sufficient food. The eagle glance has become wolfish. The proud calm of his fine face has given way to an expression of anxiety and trouble. Let him be pitied then, and with kindness. He is, perhaps, the greatest sufferer in Europe, and let him be regarded accordingly. But, as we need not say, he is totally unfit for the management of human destinies."
heart. . . . He trembles with weakness because
The first sketch is entitled the last birthday of the Emperor Nicholas, and there is something almost prophetic in its character. For though on the day in question, July 6th, 1854, Nicholas was broken in health, and stooped as if burdened with the weight of old age, yet he was only in his fifty-ninth year, and to the world at large he was still the most prominent and responsible actor in the Crimean drama. When, accordingly, eight months later, the tidings reached England that the Emperor had passed away, we can most of us recall the sensation which Among the politicians of whom Miss Marspread over the country, and with what tineau has thought it well to write there is bated breath men spoke under the sudden one name which was but little known to the overshadowing of the wings of the Angel general world — that of Lord Murray. But of Death. On Sunday, the 4th of March, we cannot doubt that this Edinburgh celebri1855, there was scarcely a pulpit in which ty will, for a short time, be a somewhat inreference was not made to the startling event teresting subject of discourse in literary cir which had occurred in the previous week; cles. Lord Murray, a Scottish judge, and and history was eagerly ransacked by many the son of a Scottish judge, was in his early reverend speakers for a parallel instance of days associated with the light-hearted and the unlooked-for intervention of the Divine audacious young men who, through the meProvidence in the fortunes of a great com- dium of the Edinburgh, bearded old Toryism paign. Tamerlane, Alaric, Attila, Sennac- in its den. In due course Murray became herib were not altogether injudiciously Lord Advocate, and while he held the ofbrought forward to point the moral on the fice, his tea-table at St. Stephens's, "with occasion, so suddenly had each one of an enormous and excessively rich Edinthese warriors been summoned by the Sov-burgh cake in the centre" (was it not canereign Will from the command of their arm- onical Scotch bun, we wonder?) was a very ies and the visions of their ambition. But popular board of gay and witty conference. Miss Martineau writes in the previous year There was to be seen no end of celebrities, as if a brain-wave of the coming end of Nic- including, of course, Sydney Smith, when holas had already reached her consciousness, in town. Then, in Mr. Murray's countryassuring her that the days of the haughtyhouse on Loch Fyne, the hospitalities of
host and hostess, to use Chaucer's phrase | she writes concerning Owen, Combe, and when writing of the Franklin's open table, Father Matthew. To the worth of their requite "snowed" all sorts of good things spective characters she is keenly alive, as upon the guests. Doubtless Lord Murray to the benevolence of all their intentions was a sufficient and companionable host, an and systems; but she is equally bold in ashonest Liberal, and wholly respectable in- serting of the three that their endeavours dividual; but as Miss Martineau is careful after the amelioration of human society must to note, the goodly fellowship of the Edin- needs fail, because of their imperfect views burgh reviewers did not turn out one great of the needs and deeper aspirations of the statesman. With the exception of Lord Human Being, whose welfare they all had Brougham, they said, and did not. Murray so much at heart. Vows, mechanical assohimself settled down into a mere steady pro- ciations, enlarged acquaintance with the moter of Whig elections, and rumours used structure of the animal portion of our nature, to be current in the northern metropolis of and of the laws which rule over its health his mild enjoyment of a good snooze on the will not cast out the demons which possess bench, with this special addition in one in- society. No; the culture of the higher facstance, that Lord Cockburn gently whis- ulties of man will alone lead to that hopedpered to him, Murray, dinna snore sae for consummation, and, as we believe, that loud, or ye'll wauken Cunningham." culture is only to be gained in the school of Miss Martineau writes in an altogether Christ. righteous tone of Murray's more distinguished brother reviewer, Lord Brougham; but we had occasion so very recently to give expression to our own estimate of the erratic nobleman, it would be rather supefluous to say more about him now; only the concluding paragraph of Miss Martineau is much too piquant to be omitted;
"Lord Brougham was at his château at Cannes when the first introduction of the daguerreotype process took place there; and an accomplished neighbour proposed to take a view of the château, with a group of guests in the balcony. The artist explained the necessity of perfect immobility; he only asked that his lordship would keep perfectly still for five seconds,' and his lordship vehemently promised that he would not stir. He moved about too soon, however, and the consequence was a blur where Lord Brougham should be; and so stands the deguerreotype to this hour. There is something mournfully typical in this. In the picture of our century, as taken from the life by history, this very man should have been a central figure; but now, owing to his want of steadfastness, there will for ever be a blur where Brougham should be."
We most reluctantly come to a conclusion, but ere doing so would specially call the attention of our readers to Miss Martineau's In Memoriam of Christopher North. It is altogether beyond praise of ours, and is written at once with the finest discrimination, and with a generous enthusiasm which makes us feel that the heart of our essayist is still young.
Did our space permit, we would gladly add to our selections from Miss Martineau's
From The Spectator. MR. BROWNING'S NEW POEM.* THERE can be no doubt but that in a
certain sense the alloy which Mr. Browning told us in his prologue was necessary to shape the pure gold of the ring into such a tempered, though fragile, circlet as would be fit for use, has been successfully manipulated. We have at last
"The rondure brave, the lilied loveliness Gold as it was, is, shall be evermore, Prime nature with an added artistry,"
in the exquisite and, we dare assert, immortal portraits of the dove-like yet indom
Recreations, as her essays might appro-itable Pompilia, and the gallant priestly priately be designated, and give our readers knight-errant Caponsacchi, in their sharp some account of the rare workmanship Count Guido's face, contrast to the glaring, wolfish eyes of
which is to be met with in the articles on Whately and Bloomfield, Miss Berry and Samuel Rogers, whose united ages nearly make out a couple of centuries; George Combe and Robert Owen, Mrs. Opie and Mrs. Wordsworth, John Gibson Lockhart and Lord Macaulay, Thomas de Quincey and John Wilson Croker; nor should we forget the one on good Father Matthew.
Miss Martineau is singularly candid in all
Hawknose and yellowness and bush and all;" - with, above them all, the grand figure of the old Pope Innocent XII. sitting in judgment, -a "grey ultimate decrepitude," as he calls himself,
*The Ring and the Book. By Robert Browning. In 4 vols. Vols III. and IV. London: Smith, Elder, and Co. 1869.
"Yet sensible of fires that more and more
These four figures, of Pompilia and Caponsacchi, in their tragic conflict with Count Guido, of Guido himself, and the old Pope of eighty-six tottering on the verge of the grave, but fearing the grave and the repute he will leave behind him so little, and God so much, are both sculptured and painted for us, as only a master in imaginative art can sculpture and paint; and we do not doubt that some part of the full effect may be due to that alloy which Mr. Browning warned us that he was compelled to use for the purpose of his moulding, and which he certainly has used somewhat prodigally. We do not dispute that had the contending ⚫ views of Pompilia's murder taken by "Half Rome," and the other Half Rome," and by that "Tertium Quid" whose tertiary quality we found it hard to guess, and finally, the opposite pleadings of the counsel for the defence, Dominus Hyacinthus de Archangeli, and the still dismaler counsel for the prosecution, Juris Doctor JohannesBaptista Bottinius, - we do not dispute, we say, that had the contending views of these secondary authorities, who "darken counsel by words without knowledge," not been heard, the impression made upon us by the principals in the story, by the yellow wolfishness of Guido's malice, by the ethereal depth of blue in Pompilia's clinging but saintly love, by the bright intensity of flame in Caponsacchi's indignation, by the keen, spiritual truthfulness of the old Pope's discriminating judgment, might have been much less sharp and vivid than it is. Doubtless the foil of unreality has added something to the clear and telling expressiveness of reality. Doubtless the groping, uncertain fancy-pictures of the facts by those who talked of what they knew not, have done something to quicken our appreciation of the drawing where every stroke tells and a figure grows out so lifelike and characteristic from the background that it confutes and dissipates at once all the misty shapes which the vague surmises of others have attempted to pass off. We may admit even more. We may concede that the conditions of society under which this great crime, Mr. Browning's theme, took place, would scarcely have been so completely pictured without the hollow pleadings of the Roman lawyers on each side, the guzzling, punning old buffoon who defends Guido, and the watery-eyed, conventional, petty, and spiteful formalist who pleads for Pompilia. Doubtless these two portraits
add something towards the completeness and vividness of the picture of the society in which this tragedy occurred, just as Ephesus adds a certain vividness to our apthe outline of the red-tape town-clerk of prehension of the character of St. Paul. Still we are compelled, after studying and reviewing carefully the whole course of this tragic story, to think that the alloy has been too freely used for the purposes of Mr. Browning's art. this, in long semi-dramatic reaches, where In a story told, like the reader is closeted, as it were, with each character for a couple of hours at a stretch, there is far less room for the use of an artistic foil, than in a proper drama, where the action and reaction of the secondary characters on the principals are rapid and effective. Polonius is a splendid foil to Hamlet, but we could hardly endure to let Polonius hold us mentally by the button for an hour and a half or two hours, even though Shakespeare himself developed his character for us during that period. We think that what Mr. Browning saw to be necessary for us in the way of putting in the background of Roman and Tuscan society, he might have very well done in his prologue, and that if he had kept the substance of the poem itself to the two discourses of the murderer, Count Guido, that outburst of lean and crafty malignity before his condemnation, and of hoarse and naked hatred after it, dress of Caponsacchi, the dying tale of the to the splendid adchildlike mother Pompilia, judgment and musings of the old Pope upon and the final the case, he would have given us a poem very nearly as effective in its features, even to those who studied it, as the present, and with a certainty, moreover, of having, at least, five times as many eager and interested students. Without disputing at all the marvellous cleverness of old Arcangeli's legal Latin and selfish epicurism, we must confess that we found his buffoonery very hard reading indeed, while Bottini's hollower and emptier conventionalism was well nigh inducing us to skip him outright. That we might have missed something in the finer effects of the whole, had we done so, we are ready to admit. All poetry probably needs the dull prose detail of life as a background to bring out its full meaning and force; still, even the greatest poets dare not embody too much of this in their poems, and Mr. Browning seems to us to have endangered the fame of a noble poem, -the dramatic masterpiece of this great writer, by giving us one-half of alloy to one-half of the highest imaginative painting. Of course, we do not mean that in
the views of " Half Rome," and "the other Half Rome," of the "Tertium Quid," of Arcangeli, and of Bottini, there is not a large share of Mr. Browning's peculiar genius. Still, we believe that the group for the sake of which he wrote his poem would be complete without these interpolations, and that without them the poem would have commanded both a wider and a more unflagging interest.
"Abate, God.. Pompilia! will you let them murder me?" -Pompilia standing at the very climax of his thought of everything Godlike, in spite of the fury of his hate. To her, dead, he appeals as to a power almost beyond God's, to save him. And yet with this high valour at the bottom of her, no more simple WO
With this qualification, it is not easy for us to express too highly our admiration for the four great full-length portraits we have now before us. Of Count Guido we have partly spoken in reviewing the second volume of this poem, and of the noble figure of man-child," as the old Pope finely calls her, the Canon Caponsacchi we then said suffi- was ever painted than Pompilia,- simple cient to fix upon it the attention of our read-alike in her religious maternal love for the ers. But in these two last volumes we have boy to whom she gave birth just a fortnight Pompilia the victim of the crime, and the before her own murder, and in the confesold Pope, its final judge, in a most impres- sion of the pure depth and intensity of her sive and living portraiture. We doubt if devotion to the young priest who saved her Mr. Browning's poem will be perpetuated from her husband, and for whose purity of by any of his intellectual studies so long. soul she fights as for her own. The Pope Pompilia is a figure at once of the most speaks of her as of a wayside flower that original and simplest school of art. It has something of the loveliness of Raffaelle's Madonna della Seggia about it, but with more both of the child and of the saint. Her husband, a murderer, calls her the "pale poison my hasty hunger took for food," and speaks of her as like one of the favourite figures of Fra Angelico,
"Who traces you some timid chalky ghost
That turns the church into a charnel. Ay,
"Rise from law to law,
Browning, in the most dramatic passage in his whole great poem, makes Guido, when at last the procession enters his cell to lead him away to execution, call out in his last agony of terror :
Cardinal, Christ, - Maria,
There is alacrity, even valour, at the bottom of Pompilia, in spite of what her husband calls the "timid chalky ghost" in her; she can seize his sword and point it at his breast when his cruelty and malignity pass all bounds; and even he feels this. Mr.
But that of course is the libel of the malig-Is all told? There's the journey: and where's
To tell you how that heart burst out in shine?
And the small river mitigates its flow
"Breaks all into blaze, Spreads itself, one wide glory of desire To incorporate the whole great sun it loves, From the inch-height whence it looks and longs."
And all these feelings are exquisitely painted in her last account of the tragedy she just survived. How fine and tender is this description of Caponsacchi's care and sympathy for her during the flight from her husband: