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world went mad after intellectual theories and and the addition of more studies and more
[Scotsman, March 23.]
ONE question particularly interesting to our time upon which Mr. Froude touched was the manner in which literature is paid. He charges this generation with so paying for literature as to insure bad work — “the more words, the more pay; it ought to be the reverse." Mr. Ruskin brings the same charge against us with regard to art. moment's consideration will show that truth is here slightly sacrificed to epigrammatical point. As a matter of fact, a few writers
and not so few as Mr. Froude would lead his hearers and readers to understand who have obtained the popular ear may command any price for their productions, however short. For them, the less work the more pay. Witness the unparalleled sums paid to Mr. Tennyson or Mr. Dickens. But with this reservation, which excludes from Mr. Froude's remarks many writers who are deservedly popular, there are reasons for thinking that Mr. Froude is right, and that the adjustment of wages for literature is awry. Those who know the history of the literature of this or any other country will be disposed to say the same; for they will remember that Shelley, the greatest poet of the last generation, could not have earned by his poems enough to keep him in shoestrings; that Southey was driven
There are several praises it would be impossible to deny to this address. It is really interesting. It throws the light of experience, of wit, and even of genius, on the folly of trying to teach a youth every-to apprentice work, and finally to idiotcy, thing while he can do nothing, and while he by his manly struggle to make of literature really knows nothing. He exhibits the at once a calling and a career; that Leigh man stuffed with words and ideas hardly Hunt could only keep his head above water better than words, possessed with the con- by means of a pension thrown by Governceit of universal knowledge and universal ment to him when in a sinking condition; capacity, when a slight change of place and that Hazlitt, who might have been a greater circumstances would bring out the lamenta- Lessing had he been but well paid, was ble truth that he can do nothing but break forced to prepare for market gaudy goods, stones on the road-if, indeed, his physi- dazzling paradoxes; and that Coleridge, cal strength has survived his educational for the same reason, left writing good training. The world is full of such wrecks, poetry to write very bad politics. Such is
the manner in which the present system | Author of Flemish Interiors,* and will, we pins down to the earth even those who are, in Dante's words,
believe, be that of every one who thinks for half an hour over that remarkable little narrative. It is strange to enter Pompeii, and "Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.” see the life of two thousand years ago still And, of course, coarser minds get hope- petrified around you; and it must be still lessly damaged. They write articles, more strange to observe the Cambodian poems, plays, &c., as another man makes ruins, to study those endless flying arches matches simply to sell. Instead of being which no man in Asia could reproduce, and inspired, they compose; by-and-by, instead which were piled in almost wanton profuof composing, they manufacture. Hence sion by a race whose very name has been the numerous prætorian bands of the lower obliterated by some unknown calamity; but empire of literature, the mob of gentlemen a visit to Gheel, a place where all are free who write with ease, the sophists of the and half are mad,-where the sane and the nineteenth century, the profane who daily insane are indistinguishable,― where the commit intellectual simony. These come children are bred up at the knees of madof "the more work the more pay;" and if men, and old people do not fear monomaa tree is to be judged by its fruits, do these niacs,- where the strongest tradition is the bushels of crab-apples testify that the tree lore of mental medicine, and the liveliest is radically good? A well-known French commerce the lodging of the insane,novelist has happily illustrated these evil where a mother has been known to place effects. An author has written but does her child in the arms of a furious maniac not publish a novel that is to rival Le Sage's because her duty was to pacify him,- where masterpiece. Why does he withhold it from the inns are hospitals, the farmhouses cells, the public? Why, because publishing it, the tradesmen warders, the workwomen he would have told all his secrets, expended nurses, the government a mad doctor, the all his capital. When we pass from litera- passers-by patients, the history for twelve ture pure to science, we find a still greater hundred years a vast register of mania,— a incompatibility between good work and visit to such a place must be the strangest good pay. If the pay is to be earned by of all. Yet such a place exists, and has the pen, there appears no option except existed from the days of Charlemagne, in starving or becoming one of those wretched one of the best known countries of the men who mutilate science in the name of world; and yet unique as it is, both in hispopular knowledge. Mr. Froude, though tory and in circumstances, it has almost seeing these evils, does not use his knowl-escaped European, and more especially Britedge with perfect wisdom. To those who ish, attention. For more than twelve hunwould take up literature as a profession, he dred years, it is believed, has the little town says, "Reconcile yourselves to poverty." of Gheel, twenty-six miles south-east of But, assuming, the soundness or complete- Antwerp, with the villages about it, been a ness of his argument, the really wise advice great asylum for lunatics, and its people for would perhaps be- "Let nobody take up forty generations a population of warders, literature as a profession." The tempta- till they have grown to understand mental tions in literature as a profession to stoop disease as it were by instinct, and their reto inferior or mediocre work are too great lation to men so afflicted appears radically for flesh and blood. The problem never- to differ from that of the rest of mankind. theless remains, how, otherwise than as That fear of lunacy which must be instincwork in a profession, even the highest lit-tive with some races, or lunatics could never erary work is to be recompensed.
have been so cruelly treated in the West, while almost reverenced in the East, has been by long and traditional habit totally eradicated, and with it has departed all disposition to oppression, and every vestige of the desire to mock. Lunatics are to the Gheelois simply afflicted persons, whom it is their traditional business to protect and if possible to cure, but who are welcome to the town as tourists to Florence or Lucerne, and excite an interest almost of the same kind, though gentler and nobler in its man
From The Spectator.
In the whole world there can be nothing quite so bizarre, so eerie, so utterly unlike preconceived ideas, so at variance with everything one ever heard, or read of, or saw, as the town of Gheel. At least, that is our impression while fresh from the vivid account of the place, just published by the|
Gheel: the City of the Simple. By the author of "Flemish Interiors." London: Chapman and Hall.
ifestations. There, and there alone in the
cated of all the phenomena of madness, namely, the permanent motives of the mad, and as to the means of suspending a dangerous fit by turning the mind from its contemplation of the then dominant idea. We quote from a mass of similar instances a story in illustration of each of these points. One of the patients was incessantly threatening suicide, till his “nourricier,” a cobbler, who had been attentively studying his boarder, at last remarked to him:
"I'll tell you what it is, Yvon, you've talked of this so often that I am quite tired of the subject, and I am persuaded you are right, and that the best thing you can do is to try the window, since you are not satisfied with going out at the door." But I shall be killed!' replied the lunatic, completely taken aback by the coolness of his host. Oh, that is your look-out; see here, I'll help you as far as opening the window goes, but the rest you must do for yourself.' And he rose and deliberately opened the lattice, which was only one story from the ground, and below it was a dungheap, reaching fully half the distance. Now, he continued, bye,' for I suppose you don't want me.'-If the 'I am going down to dinner, so I'll say goodcobbler felt any alarm for the result of his experiment, he was soon reassured, for the lunatic, looking steadily at him to see if he could possibly be in earnest, walked to the casement and closed it, observing, To dinner, you said? Well, I don't mind if I dine too; I can do this afterwards.' ''
Another patient, who was considered doubtful, furious at the incessant though guarded watch kept over him, seized a huge pair of tailor's shears, and declared that he would murder his "nourricière: '
"The woman, who, doubtless from her long
familiarity with the various forms of this fright-
compelled to compulsory idleness, learn to does not, why do hereditary priesthoods control themselves, go out into the fields always tend to intellectual stereotype? when afflicted with the desire to rave, tear up worthless articles when the destructive fit is on them, and acquire the most touching attachment for those with whom they reside, an attachment constantly reciprocated, and extending even to the children, who," reared from their earliest years with, and often by, these unhappy creatures, acquire a tender veneration for their infirmity, and the affectionate sympathy reciprocally entertained between them and the children is almost incredible to a stranger." A child is as safe with them as if they were sane, though, as we have said, the lunatics move about at will, pursue all trades, wander on all roads, and even frequent the inn-where, however, excess in drinking is prohibited by heavy penalties on the landford, only sixty-eight out of some eight hundred being under the smallest physical restraint. The cures under this treatment are numerous, though the statistics are not of Wordsworth's lake, whereof he affirmgiven, but the main result is the compara-edtive happiness experienced by human beings who must otherwise be wretched.
We know no writers, except the author of Lilliput Levée, who mingle poetry and sparkling childish gaiety with such exquisite ease and in such finely adjusted proportions as the authors of Poems Written for a Child and Child-World. The new volume, if it does not contain any poem quite up to the level of one or two in the first volume, The Fisherman's Boy,' for example, and 'Wooden Legs,' and the delicious little piece called "In the Fields," is yet quite on the same general level of excellence, and contains several poems at once brilliant and playful, as full of glee and motion as those immortal wild daffodils on the shore
From The Spectator.
"The waves beside them danced, but they
To us the most curious fact in all this strange history is not the conduct of the lunatics, who, though free, are really under the most steadfast of all supervisions, that of an entire population, but that of the Gheelois townsmen. In themselves they like are rough peasants or workmen very ordinary Flemings, with no special education or peculiarities, yet it is certain that they have acquired a special temper of mind towards the insane, a fearlessness, a gentleness, and, as it were, a reverence which are exhibited by all classes alike, by women as which extend even to the well as men, children, and are deemed by great physicians absolutely peculiar to themselves. Much, no doubt, is due to the life-long character of their occupation, much to the skilful training of a succession of superintendents, invested apparently with considerable legal powers, and much to the relation between their pursuit and their incomes; but after all these allowances, something heart and humour, many lyrical touches still remains not easily to be accounted for, which transmute the spiritual gaiety into
and that too is the feeling excited by these
A New Fern," The Fairies' Nest," and "What may Happen to a Thimble," and "Grandmamma and the Fairies," at least, there are, besides the lightness of
an intuitive relation so to speak, between
themselves and the insane which can only be true poetry. In not a few of these little traced to the effect of a habitude continued poems the lyrical feeling entirely overduring centuries, an explanation which sug-powers the humour; and in one or two at least, the child-world is forgotten, except gests problems almost stranger than the one it solves. Clearly, such an occupation is in in that sense in which almost every lyrical this one department equivalent to cultiva- poet's heart must be child-like, as every tion, but then does hereditary cultivation Christian's heart must be child-like, the increase the inborn faculty for receiving sense, we mean, in which the estimates of culture? If it does, the human race has a * Child-World. By the Authors of Poems Written future to which its past is nothing; but if it for a Child. London: Strahan and Co.
the World are reversed, and the humblest things become of the first importance. The beautiful pieces called "Flax," River," "The Two Swans," "" Sunshine," "Butter"The Butterfly's cup versus Glowworm," Song," " Once," our list is by no means exhaustive, are children's poems only in their simplicity; and into some of them we doubt whether children would enter at all. But, on the whole, the pieces in which glee of heart seems just to pass into a mood of meditative wonder, of which "The Fairies' Nest" is so fine a specimen, are to us the most delightful and original in the book. There is something in them which at once delights and lifts the mind like sunshiny mountain air. The exaltation is heightened by the disguise of fresh unassuming gaiety under which it steals upon us. Without any of the moral strain on us which most poetry demands, we have the stimulus of it planted in our spirits, and that subtle enjoyment which results from sheathing a higher and more refined delight within a slighter and commoner one. The Fairies' Nest" is the best example of this perfect blending of humour with lyrical poetry, the shading off of joyousness into something like meditative rapture; but, as we could hardly extract so long a piece, we will take instead "What may Happen to a Thimble," where the playfulness passes to and fro between a real poetic feeling for nature and a child's gay fancy, in a most charming kind of intellectual trellis